Spring Fashions That Flatter

Learn how to dress 10 pounds thinner this spring without wearing black.

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
4 min read

What should you wear if you want to look svelte? Ask around and you'll probably get a one-word answer -- black. But who wants to wear black all spring? To get the skinny on dressing thin in today's styles, WebMD turned to Sam Saboura, style and image consultant for ABC's Extreme Makeover and author of Sam Saboura's Real Style: Style Secrets for Real Women With Real Bodies. Saboura helped us sort the latest fashions into those that flatter a full figure and those that don't.

  • Brown and Navy. While it's true that black is slimming, the same goes for other dark shades. "Chocolate brown and navy are big colors this spring and a great alternative to black," Saboura says. Replacing black with brown or other deep hues can refresh more than your wardrobe. Maryann Troiani, PsyD, co-author of Change Your Underwear, Change Your Life, tells WebMD, "If you're always wearing black, you're going to be in a dark mood." Adding a little color, even a dark color, "can make a person feel more vibrant."
  • Ethnic A-Lines. This year's flowing, gypsy-style skirts are flattering for most body types. "Looser skirts with an ethnic feel offer a wonderful way to camouflage the lower half of the body," Saboura tells WebMD. Current styles range from classic A-lines to fluffy, multitiered chiffon numbers. How much volume is too much? It depends on your body type. If you are larger on top, a fluffy skirt can fill out your bottom half to match. If you are fuller on the bottom, a leaner skirt will suit you better. "Tiered skirts balance out a diamond-shaped body," Saboura explains. "If you're pear-shaped, an A-line is still good, but avoid styles with exaggerated volume," such as ruffles or tiers.
  • Lapel-Free Jackets. "A lapel can overwhelm the top half of the body," Saboura says. The cleaner look of a lapel-free jacket can de-emphasize fullness while still showing some curves. "Oprah wears [this style] all the time."
  • Espadrilles and Wedges. Chunky heels add height without requiring a superhuman sense of balance. And according to Saboura, adding height is an essential step in dressing thin. "Any time you add height, you look a few pounds thinner. Women with fuller figures should always wear a heel."
  • White. "Monochromatic dressing is slimming," Saboura tells WebMD, but not if you're all in white. He suggests using white "as a layering tool" underneath darker, more vibrant shades. The same goes for pastels. "If you are going to wear superlight, wear it as a foundational piece."
  • Bermuda Shorts. "Bermuda shorts cut you at a wider part of the thigh," Saboura explains. They may be chic this spring, but "they are not very forgiving." Capri pants are a good alternative.
  • Cropped Jackets. Tight, short jackets -- particularly those that end just below the bust -- will exaggerate your curves. A hip-length jacket or cardigan is a safer choice.
  • Cargo Details. The safari look is back, but watch out for pants and tops with cargo details. Bulky pockets over the bust, hip or thigh will add volume to those areas.
  • Bold Patterns. This year's dizzying ethnic-themed prints and bold jungle patterns may be on the daring side, but they have their benefits. "Patterns can be a wonderful way to camouflage bumps and bulges on the body," Saboura says. The key is to choose patterns that are in proportion to the size of your body. Taller women can get away with larger patterns. Shorter women should stick to small or medium-sized patterns. While runway models sport bold prints from head-to-toe, full-figured women should pair a busy print with a solid. Another option is to wear monochromatic clothing and bring in the ethnic theme with a handbag, shoe, or chunky bracelet.
  • Chiffon and Sheers. Light and airy fabrics can be flattering when combined with solid foundation pieces. Saboura recommends wearing sheers over heavier fabrics that "hold the body in and give it shape." For example, try a thick, stretchy tank top under a gauzy overlay. "Structure is always a great thing for a full-figured woman. It gives her smoothness."
  • Tankinis. "The tankini is a great way of having the freedom of movement of a two-piece with the coverage of a one-piece," Saboura says. But like all swimwear, the right cut is essential. "Full-figured women with a big bust should wear a V-neck," which minimizes the top half of the body by drawing the eye down. Choose a bottom that is cut straight across and tie a sash around the waist for some camouflage. If you prefer more coverage for the butt and thighs, go for a "skirtini." "This is not your grandma's skirted bathing suit," Saboura says. Today's skirted swimsuits are sportier and sexier.

Investing in your wardrobe is about more than keeping up with the times. "The better a woman feels she looks, the more self-esteem she has," psychologist Dee Shepherd-Look, PhD, tells WebMD. She adds that wearing attire you're comfortable with is more important than being trendy.

Saboura agrees. He says assembling a thoughtful wardrobe based on your body type can improve your figure without plastic surgery. "Clothing can be corrective if you choose correctly." But don't get hung up on the rules. If you love the way you look in a cropped jacket, never mind that it's on the "Don't" list. According to Saboura, "The most important thing is to wear what you love."