Plus Size Guide

These Body Shape Style Tips are intended specifically for women who are feeling lost with their personal style and need some guidelines and boundaries to start with, until they find their confidence.

The best thing about fashion is that anything goes!  You can pull off pretty much anything if it authentically suits your personality and you have the confidence to pull it off.  However if you don’t, I have found that some of these style tips have helped my clients to start off by experimenting with new looks, leading eventually to greater confidence.

Plus Size OR for women who want to slim curves

Plus size style is all about confidence – it’s no different to styling any other body shape, height or size.  It’s all about how you sell yourself with the way you dress!  Love your curves, and they’ll love you back.

In my experience, some of my plus size female clients have made one of two mistakes and that is either wearing clothes that are too tight (because they don’t want to see themselves in the next size up) or too baggy because they are trying to cover up their body.

Both of these strategies means that the body then looks bigger than it actually is and worst still, because you are seeing your body dressed in clothes that make you look bigger, you feel worse about your body image and this dramatically impacts on your self-esteem.


A third of UK women are a size 16 or over, yet so many women in this category feel like they are alone when it comes to frustrating shopping trips, lack of choice and feeling frumpy. It really doesn’t have to be this way – there are lots and lots of great options for you on the high street to cater for a range of budgets, you may have just never heard of, tried or considered them.

The high street is starting to realise that they need to cater more for the curvier lady now with body shapes in the UK changing and are realising that plus size collections need to be “celebratory rather than apologetic” in the words of plus size designer Anna Scholz.


Firstly you want to look at your foundations, and by this I mean your underwear. So the first step is to get properly fitted for a bra. The right size and style of bra for your figure will knock at least a size off your waist, improve your posture and make your bust look more toned and younger!!

Don’t forget that style of bra is important too and for many larger busted ladies, I often recommend a balconette style bra which lifts and separates the bust, giving the appearance of a slimmer waist and flatter stomach and providing a fabulous hourglass figure to die for. Also, if you have a generous bust, ensure your bra doesn’t show underneath your clothing by wearing a beige coloured bra as this will blend your skin tone

Fabric Choices

Plus size ladies should avoid heavier fabrics, textured fabrics and shiny materials as these will all make you look larger than you actually are. Avoid thick chunky knits, angora, tweeds and satin for example, as they will add pounds.

Colour Choices

In general you want to opt for darker colours as they are often more slimming but please don’t just wear all black!

Darker or deeper shades of reds, blues, purples, browns, greys, greens are just as good of an option for example. If you are starting to feel that your wardrobe is too dark, use lighter, brighter layers or accessories in bright colours to add interest to your outfits and draw the eye to parts of your body which you like.

For example brightly coloured cocktail rings and bangles draw attention away from the tops of the arms if this is a problem area for you.  Earrings and necklaces draw the eye up to the face and away from the bust or tummy.

YOU take control by where you place your accessories of where you want the eye to go to. It also adds lots of colour, personality and fun to your look.


Patterns are often a source of debate with some stylists saying that plus size ladies should go for larger patterns and avoid small prints and vice versa. Many women are also afraid of wearing horizontal stripes, but here is some of my advice when to comes to patterns.

Wider horizontal stripes will draw the eye across the body width-ways therefore can give the illusion of a wider body, however thin – medium stripes can have the opposite effect and be very slimming. Even better, mix wider stripes across the bust and shoulders with thinner strips around the waist and stomach and this will give more of an hourglass effect!

Some horizontal stripes can look fantastic and really hug the curves of a woman in a very complimentary way. This usually works with most patterns if you have the larger print at the top near the shoulders, and bottom near the hips, with it thinning into a smaller print in the middle by the waist.

You may also find dresses with a mix of vertical, horizontal and diagonal stripes, which again can be really flattering as it breaks up the lines of the body. If the style is fitted to the body well, so don’t discount a beautifully shaped dress, just because it has a stripe on it.

The key to wearing patterns and prints is to use layers and mix with other block colour garments. Don’t just wear a bold pattern from head to toe. Add a tailored jacket to break up patterns, and highlight your waist, or use a long cardigan to draw the eye vertically down the body making you appear longer and slimmer. Just bear in mind if you wear a lot of any pattern, it will always add more volume to your body so it’s a good idea to break it up.

If you are plus size, or even just larger on one part of your body in particular, then try the following guidelines when working with patterns: –

Generous Bust
Ensure patterned tops have an open v neck e.g. wrap styles, halter-necks, v-necks.

Pear Shape
Wear patterns and prints up top and keep the bottom half plain.

Longer tops can make the tummy appear larger all over! Keep printed tops mid-belly (just below belly button) length which will ‘cut’ the tummy in half and minimise it.

Remember where you put a pattern on your body will attract the eye but also always consider the shape, style and fabric of a garment AND what you wear it with, as this will determine whether the outfit makes you sizes slimmer (or bigger).

Tops, Dresses and Jackets

For any shape or size woman, if there is an area of the body that is less toned or shapely we look for garments that add structure and shape to that part of the body, so opt for well fitting tailoring and jackets which give you a waist.

¾ sleeve length cropped cardigans can be great little cover up if you don’t like your arms as they will cover the tops of your arms whilst the ¾ length sleeves and length of the garment will highlight your waist.

Look for garments that lengthen, slim and elongate your body such as v-necks, low scoop necks, vertical panelling and ruching at the waist or tummy. Long trousers that fit well yet skim the leg are great and you can iron a crease down the front which will slim and lengthen your leg.

Sheer and loose flowing sleeve styles will help to disguise and slim heavier arms. Sheer fabric  is a great option for spring / summer and for evening-wear as it offers coverage yet still looks soft, feminine and sexy. Boleros, capes and shrugs are another great way of covering the tops of the arms if it’s something that you’re worried about.

With a fuller bust, look for neck lines-that are more open and that elongate the torso. V-necks are always winning styles on bustier ladies.  However use necklaces and scarves to break up the bust were higher necklines are involved.

When looking at jackets, avoid double breasted as this will make you look wider. If you have problems getting shirts to fit you, like with an apple shape, wear a good quality cami or vest underneath the shirt in a plain black and just button the shirt half way.

Dressing the Leg

Chunkier heels, platforms and wedges will work better for you as they will be far more slimming on the leg in comparison to stilettos so steer clear from thin heels.

If you ever feel boxy, opt for softer fabrics and flowing lines that elongate and soften your body were as if you are more rounded look for more structured styles that will define your shape.

Fit of Clothing

Don’t beat yourself up if a garment doesn’t fit you perfectly. No matter what size women are it’s very rare that they can nip in to a shop and find something that looks like it was made to measure so don’t start blaming yourself and saying it’s because your “fat”, get defeated and storm out the shop. Simply try the next size up and if that is a little bid, take it to a tailor who will advise if it can be adjusted to fit you better.

It’s far better to buy something a little big and get it made to measure rather than wearing something that looks and feels to tight. Again think skimming all the way, rather than sticking to or drowning you.


Oversized handbags are often a great addition to a plus size wardrobe and look far better than a small insignificant bag that may look lost, so go for a bright coloured statement shopper or maxi clutch.

You can get away with statement accessories such as neckpieces and earrings which will look absolutely fantastic and again, give you more control in where you place them on the body and draw the eye. If you’re building your confidence with your style, accessorising is always a really great place to start as it’s easy, there’s no concern about fit, and it’s relatively cheap when compared to clothing.

Plus Size Collections

It’s not necessary to limit yourself to plus size stores when you are above a size 18 or 20 as much of the high street offer their ranges in sizes up to 18, 20, 22, 24 these days. You just have to break out of your style habits and start looking in other stores. Do some research and you may be surprised at what you find!

I have often found these days that a lot of plus size women don’t like to spend a lot of money on new clothes always having in mind that they won’t be wearing them for very long because they are determined to lose weight, but consider investing in some key capsule pieces for your wardrobe which mean you can at least start feeling better about yourself today whilst you are working towards your goal weight. It will give you a more positive state of mind and means you’re not putting your life on hold until you’re the ‘perfect size’.

To just buy cheap in attempt to ‘save’ money that will go towards clothes in your ‘perfect size’ will just mean you end up wearing a lot of cheap fabric, which in turn will cheapen your image, and not to mention that cheaper materials will probably not skim or fit your body as nicely and may cling to those bits you’d rather disguise. This is a certain way to negative self-esteem and low confidence.

If you want to lose weight and do lose weight, great!  You can always have your key pieces adjusted to fit your new figure so there’s no point worrying about this in advance. You are better off starting to feel better about your wardrobe and image now, rather than making do until you reach your target weight.

I know so many women who have put looking and feeling good on hold for so many years, that they have forgotten how to feel amazing. You deserve to feel that way so start investing in your self-esteem today.

Other Body Shapes that may be worth checking out: –

Many women also have to deal with body shape challenges when it comes to proportion in terms of: –

  • Plus Size Body (Main Challenge Area: Find it hard to Find Stylish Clothes and may want to Look Slimmer)
  • Tall Women (Main Challenge: Find it difficult to get clothes to fit well in the arms and legs, and often avoid heels)
  • Petite Women (Main Challenge: Find it hard to get clothes to fit well around the torso, shoulders and in terms in length.  Can look drowned easily)

Still feel lost in the wardrobe wilderness?  Then check out our Wardrobe Consultations and Personal Shopper Experiences to see if we can help you out!