Dressing curves presents an interesting challenge. On one hand, shifting through racks of the trendy hipster options presented by Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, and the like can be damaging for your self esteem. This flowy fringed crop top looks way better on that petite girl at my church than it does on me.
On the other hand, once you finally get it right, you’re curves have the potential to look va-va-voom amazing. It just takes a little time to learn the tricks of the trade and to retrain your mind to think for your body type.
After years of trial and error, I’d like to think I learned a few things. Here are a few of my tricks for doing justice to your amazing curves.
1. Curate your wardrobe.
Having a capsule wardrobe is very “of the moment”, but it’s even more important when you are curvy. I’ve learned from experience that a wardrobe packed with low-quality items doesn’t serve me well.
Cheaper stores like Forever 21 churn out inexpensive clothing at the expense of quality. The outcome is that the clothes aren’t cut as well as an item you would purchase at Nordstrom. Besides the cut, cheaper fabrics tend to stretch and loose their shape more easily. Curves tend to require a more precise fit, which is why these clothes might look great on someone of a different build, but won’t work very well for the hourglass, top-heavy, or pear-shaped woman.
Plan your wardrobe in advance and buyer fewer pieces of higher quality. Shop frequently, but buy seldom — it’s good to be picky and to have an extra discerning eye.
My favorite way to stock up on quality items while saving money is to buy clothing from high-end thrift stores. I’ve gotten gorgeous items (sometimes with the tags still on!) from great brands at a fraction of the retail price. High-end thrift is the best option for finding quality on a budget. You’ll often pay more than you would at a Goodwill, but the clothes are in much better condition and are well-made.
I know all of the good thrift stores nearby, and I check them regularly for new items. Once again, the mantra, “Shop often, buy seldom” applies here. Your goal isn’t to buy something on every trip, it’s to keep an eye out for the real gems that are the perfect addition to your capsule wardrobe.
Here are a few of my spots (I’m from the Philadelphia area, so these are all local to me):
2. Treat your curves like an accessory.
I once knew a girl who had this fabulous, hippie-chic style. She would pile on jewelry like it was nobody’s business – bangles, rings, necklaces galore! It looked amazing on her, but when I tried it, it didn’t have the same effect.
You carry jewelry and accessories differently than someone with a different body type. Many people don’t pay attention to this, but it makes a huge difference in the outcome of your outfit. Piling on jewelry, belts, or scarves can add bulk if you are curvy. I tend to wear minimal jewelry or one piece of statement jewelry. You’ll rarely catch me wearing earrings and a necklace together or a bracelet with a ring. If I choose to wear a scarf, I’ll select thinner material that doesn’t add a lot of bulk to my chest area when I wear it.
3. Invest in tailoring AND Learn to Sew.
You’ll also want to invest in tailoring, since certain styles may not fit off-the-rack. The items I most often need to have tailored are pencil skirts, sheath dresses, and occasionally a blazer or jacket. These are usually worn for important work events where my outfit needs to fit properly.
I am fortunate that I have a sewing machine and a mother and grandmother that passed on basic sewing skills. I usually will take in my own clothes rather than spend on a tailor. If you are less experienced, I recommend taking important items to a tailor — it’s not worth ruining an item if you aren’t confident in your skills. Find one nearby that you like and use the same person every time, if possible. Building a relationship with a tailor will help both of you — they’ll get your repeat business, and they will get to know you and the way you like your clothes to fit, so you’ll end up with a better result. It’s a win-win!
Still, there are some very easy sewing tricks that even a novice can use to make little adjustments to clothes. A small tuck in a skirt, the addition of a hook and eye closure to an open blazer, or even taking in the sides of your t-shirt will make your clothes more flattering.
Stay tuned for my self-tailoring tricks, how to shop for items that will get tailored, and even more tricks for dressing curves.