How to Dress Your Overweight Figure

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Instead of black, try navy or brown shades to flatter you.
Instead of black, try navy or brown shades to flatter you. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

There's no excuse for putting off the wearing of great clothes until the day you are a size 6. Many clothes can be bought and worn for several sizes as you lose weight, if you are worried about throwing money away by buying "fat clothes." Throw all your baggy, saggy, black polyester garments into the trash immediately. Start looking fabulous every day, no matter what size you are. It will make you feel better about yourself and gain you more respect in the world, which in turn may open doors for you -- because you are worth it.

Get foundation garments that fit. If they don't fit right, your clothes won't fit right. To find out your true undergarment sizes, carefully measure yourself with a tape and compare your measurements with size charts. Or, better yet, go to a specialty store and get professionally fitted. Once you know your size, choose foundation pieces that fully cover and support. Steer clear of bras that have seams on the cup, padding and embellishments that can look like lumps and bumps under your clothing. Never buy low-cut or bikini style undies -- they give no support where you need it. Briefs may give you an unsightly bulge at the top of your leg. High-cut briefs are the most flattering.

Avoid tight pants. Go up as many sizes as necessary to get pants that fit. Fitting into pants is always tricky for fuller figures. Either the hips fit or the waist fits, but usually not both. Look for no-gap waist jeans or pants with partially elasticized waistbands. Wide-leg styles and boot-cut fits are famously flattering for all figure types, especially fuller figures. If you are 5'6" or 5'7", consider trying "tall" rather than "regular" sized pants. Pants that cover your shoes make you look slimmer. Lastly, stay away from pleated and drawstring-style pants.

Buy shirts and tops that, like pants, fit without being too tight or too baggy. They should draw the eye up and down, not across. Horizontal lines should be avoided. Any top that has the shape of a box when you hold it up should be avoided, too. V-necks, vertical lines and material that flows out and away from the body are good choices. Avoid puffy sleeves -- they'll add bulk to your shoulders. Try to choose shirts that have unique details or visual interest. A solid-color top paired with black pants is cliche.

Avoid bulky knit garments that will visually add pounds to you and make it hard for you to get your winter jacket on. Go for sleeker, finer knits. Look for cardigans that button or tie just under the bust, then fall away from the body. If you find a cute cardigan with a belt, cut the loops off the sweater and discard the belt to create a leaner silhouette.

Think long and lean, not short and full, for dresses. Ignore the current fashions and try to find dresses that fall just below the knee. If a dress cuts you off at the knee, your calves look wider. Avoid belts that cut you in half or any detailing that interferes with a long, lean look. Princess-cut dresses, v-necks and bell sleeves are flattering styles to look for.

Choose shoes too chunky, and they will make you look clunky. Choose shoes too dainty, and they will make you look heavier in contrast. Try to find substantial shoes that are neither too chunky nor too dainty, but still stylish and feminine. Backless heels may be especially comfortable.

Invest in a long wool coat for winter. This looks much prettier than wearing a big ski jacket over a dress. Your jackets should be sleek with minimal bulk. Pair your winter coats and jackets with interesting scarfs for added warmth.

Don't pick jewelry and accessories that are too dainty. Forgo the little gold cross on the delicate chain or tiny Coach bag. Big and bold is the way too go. Wear minimal accessories, maybe just one piece with each outfit, but make that piece special. Stay away from plastic jewelry and anything that looks too costumey.

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