Curvy fashion: how to dress with style and elegance, but also in a modern way and in step with the fashions of the moment? These are questions I’ve been asked so many times.
So, it’s a real pleasure for me today to leave the word to Ilaria, a beautiful girl and curvy blogger, author of the blog Color Me Fall.
Ilaria is also involved in ethical and sustainable fashion. With a focus on second-hand and vintage clothing, to which she has recently added content on embroidery and tailoring.
So in this post you’ll find tips for knowing exactly what to do to highlight your assets. And what not to do, instead, to emphasize your flaws. But I’ll let Ilaria have the floor right away!
When we talk about curvy fashion for women, I know exactly how to move: from a size 42 I found myself to be a size 50, sometimes even 52, and I had to readjust my style. My experience, in this regard, I put it at your disposal and I’m very happy to share it with you! Are you ready?
WHAT IS MEANT BY CURVY FASHION?
Before moving on to the actual tips, it’s good to make a little clear: the term “curvy” has really been abused in recent times, and there’s no real guideline for how and when a woman is defined as curvy, opinions change and are very subjective.
In fact, the term, in English, means “curvy”, so in theory it would stand to identify a certain physical conformation, rather than a range of sizes. However, for convenience, it is made to fall into the category sizes from 46 to 52; beyond this size, there is the plus size, or large sizes.
It is a convention that the curvy woman has a certain line, that is, a narrow waist and accentuated hips and breasts: according to these canons, therefore, only women with an hourglass, triangle and inverted triangle shape can be curvy women, while the apple and the rectangle are not because, as we know, they have no waist or it is only hinted at.
I, being a bit of a non-conformist, do not agree with this convention: I believe that a woman with curves can be curvy, whatever her physical shape and I prefer to attribute, in fact, sizes from 46 to 52 to this category, whatever body shape they have.
CONFORMED AND CALIBRATED SIZES
In addition to this discussion, there is also an important difference to understand: that between conformed sizes and calibrated sizes.
How many times have you gone shopping and found a dress in your size and discovered that it fits you well in the upper part, but does not fit you well in the lower part (or vice versa)?
This happens for two reasons: either because that piece of clothing does not fit your body shape – for example, if you are an apple, a tight dress does not fit you – or because it is a size-caliber.
Calibrated sizes are standard sizes, simply increased in inches: for example, a size 38 garment is simply enlarged, maintaining the same proportions, to create it in a size 50.
However, we know that even having a similar size, or even the same body shape as another person, we are not all identical! I, for example, am an hourglass, size 50/52, and also have a more prominent butt and abdomen than a “normal” hourglass.
To overcome this problem, there are shaped sizes, that is, non-regular sizes, built to meet a precise need. To make it clear, clothing made to measure are garments of conformed sizes.
Of course, we don’t necessarily have to have only made-to-measure garments in our closet, but if we try something on in a store and we realize that it’s wrong, let’s not take it out on our bodies or our physical conformation, it could simply be that that piece of clothing is created in a calibrated size!
However, I feel like giving you an extra tip if you’re having real trouble finding the right clothing for you: consider, if you have a particular physical conformation, investing in a simple and versatile wardrobe consisting of a few items, but evergreen, created just for you, you won’t regret it.
Basically, that’s what I did: in addition to being a size 50, having a protruding butt and abdomen, I’m also short! (just 1.55m) It goes without saying that a pair of size 50 calibrated pants or skirt, which are also long as well as wider than a size 42, fit me huge (this is the particular reason I learned to sew my own clothes eventually!)
After these introductions, we can move on to the general advice I feel like giving a curvy woman to enhance her body by dressing in a stylish yet fitting way! To do this in the best possible way, I will divide the advice into general and specific by body type.
Below you will find the 4 tips that every woman with a few extra pounds should follow to make sure that what she wears falls well and enhances her.
The first and most important piece of advice is the choice of fabric: natural fabrics, preferably non-stretch (except for some special cases that we will see later), are one of the best allies of curvy women, even if you would say otherwise.
Compared to synthetic fabrics, natural fabrics are much softer and have a better, more fluid fit. So which are the fabrics to prefer? Surely chiffon, georgette and silk satin, flannel and wool crepe, velvet and natural cady and finally cotton and viscose.
2. CURVY FASHION: COLORS AND PATTERNS
Another point on which I’m against the majority of opinions is the one about the color: usually, the advice related to the colors to wear for curvy women, all consist in saying no to light colors (if not in small part), no to too big patterns and no to stripes.
I find myself in disagreement. Aside from during the winter when I dress mostly in neutral colors like black, brown and gray, during the rest of the year I am a very colorful person indeed! I love colors and patterns and wear them with pleasure, so I would never feel comfortable advising against it.
It’s all about balancing the colors well and creating a harmonious look, and in this sense we are also helped by the preferred models, which we will talk about shortly. However, if you don’t feel confident about the combinations or you don’t feel comfortable with too bright colors, the advice to keep on darker tones and basic colors is still very valid!
Think black, gray, brown, rust, but also burgundy, mustard and forest green, as well as various shades of deep blue. As for patterns, choose small patterns, whether polka dots, flowers, checks, but all small and delicate, otherwise stay on solid color – it never hurts! 😉
3. THE RIGHT SIZE AND SHAPE
It is important to choose the right size and model that will enhance you. Clothes that are form-flattering or even slightly tight are fine, but don’t squeeze your figure! That’s why it’s also important to be able to identify your size well and not be afraid to try on and eventually buy a larger size.
Absolutely avoid shapeless and/or oversized garments! It’s no good trying to hide your roundness by burying it under a mountain of layers, it would create exactly the opposite effect.
4. CURVY FASHION: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RIGHT UNDERWEAR
Underwear is so important, whatever size you are. Having the right underwear, comfortable and quality and above all suitable for your needs, helps you to see yourself better in the mirror and to raise your self-esteem. For us curvy people, shaping underwear is really a valuable ally. Usually, the “critical” areas for us are 3: thighs, buttocks and abdomen.
It’s important that you identify what your critical point is in order to choose the best solution: there are containing briefs and culottes, both high-waisted and ultra-high-waisted (they come up to below the breasts) and then there are the full-body suits or slips, as I use it.
Of course, it’s important to choose a suitable bra as well, one that has good support but doesn’t squeeze, otherwise you’ll see unsightly rolls. Remember that the right size is the one that allows you to insert only one finger between the skin and the bra band 😉
Now let’s move on to tips for each body shape: obviously these are general lines, these tips are mainly for those who don’t feel confident about their style and are not clear on how it’s best to dress to feel good about their image.
Nothing in short prohibits you from experimenting with different combinations and patterns! 😊 Of course, to be on the safe side, with these tips you won’t go wrong for sure!
TIPS FOR THE CURVY HOURGLASS WOMAN
Your strong point is your waist, and it should always be emphasized and enhanced, as well as, being a proportionate figure (with shoulders and hips of the same width) you must keep the volumes constant both in the upper and lower part of your figure.
For example, if you were to wear a top with balloon sleeves, it would be better to wear flared or palazzo pants underneath, rather than leggings.
Speaking of clothing in general, there are two golden rules to follow if you’re a hairdress, whether you’re curvy or not: the only waist height you should take into account is the high waist; the medium waist and low waist are not for you, especially if you have a protruding abdomen like me.
The second is that the length of the skirt must be from the knee down, the mini doesn’t fit us!
Dresses: the dresses that are good for you are definitely slinky dresses, in this case stretchy fabrics are also good (not squeezing though, remember what we said above), 50’s dresses and wrap dresses.
Top: Choose tops with a V-neck, but not too deep, to give breath to the neckline, and if they are screwed is even better. You can also wear the tops inside the pants, but if you have a protruding abdomen not always the effect will be harmonious, it depends on how you combine it: you can choose for example jeans or a pair of pants with a side zipper instead of the central one, to divert attention, or a skirt that is wheel or pencil (always provided that it does not squeeze the figure).
You look good in a crop top too: beware, wearing a crop top doesn’t automatically mean you’re walking around with your belly out. Wearing it with something high-waisted, perhaps with a cardigan or blazer on top, will help emphasize your waistline.
Pants/Skirts: Getting back to pants, we’ll make an exception about fabrics – it’s best to choose stretch pants in this case; I know the difficulty in finding a pair of pants that fall well at both the waist and hips, and stretch fabrics help us a lot in this! Palazzo and legging styles are perfect for you, as are bootcuts.
If you’re very tall you can also afford capri and culottes, otherwise keep your ankles covered because the ¾ length tends to shrink the figure. For skirts, as we said before, the wheel or pencil are fine for you, always paying attention to the fabric.
Taking into account the advice I’ve given so far for tops and pants, even a one-piece jumpsuit if it matches the same features will suit you well!
Coat/jacket: Belted trench coats look great on you; if you’re more into short, however, a structured jacket or blazer worn open is fine. 😊
Shoes: The hourglass, even the not fleshy one, wants a heel, so no to low and flat shoes like ballet flats. The heel should be sturdy and thick, or even cone-shaped, and it is not important that it is very high, the important thing is that it slims the figure.
Welcome also wedges and platforms. No to laces and strings or ankle straps because they break up the figure too much. The only ankle shoe that is okay is the ankle boot, provided it has a little heel. In winter, green light to knee-high boots that help to slim the figure!
TIPS FOR THE CURVY RECTANGLE SHAPE
The woman with a rectangle shaped body has also a proportionate figure, with shoulders and hips of the same width, but alas, no waist or at least little accentuated.
Also like the hourglass, she must maintain the same proportions in the upper and lower body, but there is a need to create some movement to harmonize the figure and create a waistline. Moreover, the rectangle figure gains weight very rarely, and if it does, it distributes the excess pounds throughout the body evenly.
Dresses: You have plenty of choice in terms of clothes, you can opt for an asymmetrical dress to create some movement in the figure, not too tight but, the 50’s dresses, the pencil dress, the A-line dress and the balloon dress, but be careful that the latter is not in a fabric too rigid otherwise it will swallow.
The empire cut dress also enhances you, because it hides the waist and in this case there will be no need to emphasize it. Beware, however, of the empire style dress: if you have a small bust it may not be recommended, you have to choose the right size for you so that it fits well to fill the breast area.
Tops: Con i top hai una vasta scelta, va bene per te quasi tutto, purchè non siano oversize o in tessuti rigidi! Va bene anche il crop top, come per la clessidra, anche portato con un cardigan o uno spolverino al di sopra.
Skirt/Pants: Same goes for skirts, full skirts are fine, as are pencil and A-line skirts.
If you’re quite tall, flouncy skirts are fine too, but remember that you don’t want to create disproportion between the top and the bottom of your body, so if you wear a particular skirt, which creates some volume, you’ll have to keep this proportion in the top too.
The same rules apply to pants, and if you choose the right size you can also wear shorts if you feel comfortable!
Coat/jacket: With coats and jackets, you can choose to either enhance your waistline with fitted or belted styles, or hide it with straight coats worn open or short jackets.
Shoes: If you don’t have a particularly large ankle you can afford to wear flats and ballet flats, or even strappy sandals, especially if you’re tall!
Same goes for the heel, you can also choose to wear a thin heel, but try wearing it for a short time at a time at the beginning if you are not used to: it often happens that, if the weight is excessive, with a thin heel you can overload the ankle, and this is not good for the bones.
TIPS FOR THE CURVY TRIANGLE SHAPED WOMAN
The woman with a triangle, or pear-shaped body, has a marked waist and the upper part of the body is smaller than the lower part; in fact, she tends to accumulate extra kilos on her hips, buttocks and thighs. It goes without saying that it is important to minimize the lower part and emphasize the upper part, from the waist up!
As with the hourglass, an important ally for you will be the high waist, which tends to slim give an impression of slimmer legs and hips.
Dress: The triangle woman, rather than with dresses, looks good with outfits composed of several elements, the only dress that enhances it is the 50s dress, which highlights the waist and cleavage, but hides the hips well thanks to the wider skirt.
Top: For tops, remember that the right length for you is the one at the waist, not higher, nor lower… I’m sure you’re particularly puzzled by this because usually, to camouflage the hips, you tend to use long tops, am I wrong? 😛 Well, remember that sometimes hiding flaws in this way only accentuates them!
The length of a belted top, when paired with a pair of pants or a fairly simple skirt underneath, will help to flare out and make your legs look longer! This, after all, is the only rule, then if you like them, you can also choose tops with ruffles or balloon sleeves, V or boat necklines and even jackets with straps because they help give more volume.
Speaking of skirts, the ideal length for you is the midi length, the one that reaches the calf to be clear, or the long. As well as for the dress, the skirt that enhances you more and a little ‘flared, soft and flowing fabrics, which accompany the curves without forcing.
Coat/jacket: Even for coats and jackets you can choose either short or long – for the short you may well opt for a bomber jacket, which creates volume in the upper body; if you choose the long, prefer a model screwed to emphasize the waist.
Shoes: A high, medium heel is ideal. If the toe is also slightly pointed, you’ve hit the jackpot! This type of footwear slims the leg a lot, as well as slimming.
I strongly advise you to avoid ankle boots because they break up your figure too much, while knee-high ones are suitable for your physicality.
TIPS FOR THE CURVY INVERTED TRIANGLE WOMAN
The inverted triangle is, exactly as the word says, the opposite of the triangle woman, ie she also has the accentuated waist, but has shoulders, breasts and back pronounced compared to the pelvis and legs that are minute. So the important thing is to minimize the upper part of the body and create harmony with the lower part.
Dress: you look very good in crisscrossed dresses that optically slim the bust, creating a very harmonious effect between the lower and upper body.
Tops: Tops, the simpler the better: simple, clean lines help hide extra pounds and choose raglan or batwing sleeves that help camouflage any imperfections in the arm area! A big no to strapless garments or with thin straps, or on the contrary too high-collared or high-necked. The masculine cut shirt is a great ally for you, try it worn with a belt at the waist to emphasize it. I recommend keeping the top off your pants, to elongate your torso.
Pants/Skirts: For pants and skirts, there are no restrictions for you! Even with a few extra pounds, your legs remain your strong point, so you can dare with miniskirts if you feel comfortable wearing them, or at least with mid-thigh length, as well as with shorts. If that’s not your style, choose longer skirts, but with a little slit, to emphasize the leg and not hide it completely. You can match your outfits with the pants or jeans that you like, except for palazzo models: having slim legs and pelvis do not enhance you.
Coat/jacket : As for jackets, I advise against long, double-breasted models: keep it short, single-breasted and with fabrics that naturally accompany your body shape.
Shoes: There are no particular restrictions regarding shoes, having a slender leg you can choose either low shoes or shoes with heels. The latter, exactly as for the rectangle woman, it would be good to choose them rather thin, the big ones contrast with your ankles.
But if you’re not used to them or if your ankle is a bit weak, I suggest you try to wear them for a short time at first to see if they’re right for you or not, because the weight could damage your ankle.
TIPS FOR THE CURVY APPLE SHAPED WOMAN
Also the apple woman, like the inverted triangle, has legs and hips more minute than the upper body, but unlike her does not have a waist or is little marked and therefore tends to accumulate there the excess pounds, abdomen and breasts.
This is therefore the part where minimize the defects and instead the lower part of the body must be enhanced.
This is perhaps the shape that, in its curvy variant, deviates the most from smaller sizes. It’s not good to try to create a waistline, because that’s where the excess pounds accumulate the most. So you need to divert attention from this point, focusing it on other parts of the body.
This is probably the form that has the most difficulty in dressing, but there is no problem whatsoever, there is a solution to everything! 😉
Dresses: The empire style dress is really a must have for you, the cut under the bust emphasizes the cleavage, but keeping the waist hidden so as to draw attention away from that point, as well as the wrap dress, with the crossover neckline, which falls softly from the waist down.
Straight tunic dress is also good for you, as long as you don’t have really big breasts because in that case it would create a “monoblock” effect and wouldn’t enhance you as you deserve!
Tops: The tops that are good for you are those with a V-neck, even deep, which slenderize the bust and highlight the décolleté area, as well as crew neck and strapless ones. Tunic tops are perfect as long as, as with the dress talk, you don’t have really very prosperous breasts.
In this case, I recommend all those garments that accompany the shape of the breasts and then come down soft on the abdomen. If you like to wear tops inside pants or skirts, leave them soft, unbuttoned at the waist. Or you can put on a vest, cardigan or blazer, with a length up to mid-thigh, worn open.
These, in any case, are the garments that should never be missing from your outfit. Not only do they conceal the waist, but they also make sure to minimize the belly area!
Absolutely avoid one-shoulder tops, halter tops and boat necklines that would emphasize your shoulders too much in relation to your tiny hips.
Pants/Skirts: As with the inverted triangle, the perfect length for you is the mini, or mid-thigh, as well as shorts, but I realize that not everyone feels comfortable wearing them: if that’s the case with you, a knee length or just above will do just fine. 😊
The golden rules to always follow are: high waist and soft fabrics that accompany the forms. The skirt models that best suit you are the trapeze skirt, the full skirt and the handkerchief skirt. Avoid pencils and all those models that would go too much to highlight the abdomen.
As for pants, the perfect styles for you are bootcut, flared and cigarette pants. And, if you can, choose styles that have zippers or buttons on the side instead of in the center front.
Coat/jacket: For jackets, it’s best to avoid the double-breasted because it’s stuffy and always prefer a mid-thigh length, maximum knee length. The short jacket intoxicates the upper part of your body, creating a disproportion with the lower part.
Shoes: Like the hourglass, the apple also wants a heel because this figure is characterized by a little protruding buttocks, so the heel goes to create a little more definition.
Choose a heel that’s somewhere in between, neither too thin nor too double. But beware of wedges and platforms because, having a slender leg of your own, this type of shoe would weigh the leg down. Best to avoid flats, and in winter, knee-high boots are your perfect footwear.
WHERE TO BUY CURVY FASHION ITEMS?
It’s not always easy to find something cute in a size larger than the standard, although now more brands are starting to cater to the needs of customers who are larger than a size 10.
I remember that until recently if you went to a store, in the comfortable size section, there was very little choice. Also, the items for sale were very anonymous, not at all youthful and really depressing.
Now fortunately this is no longer the case. We’re starting to see some color, some movement in items dedicated to curvy women, but I have a “trusted” selection of brands and retailers. That’s where I go to look if I need something in particular or just want to get a feel for new arrivals.
The brands in question are all committed to the environmental sector, with a focus on sustainability and ethics. As you may have seen in my introduction, I’m especially into ethical fashion, sustainable, vintage and second hand clothing. So in this first small list I’m going to introduce you to some brands I care about if you want to buy something new, in the second list instead, my favorite places to buy preloved clothing:
- Marks & Spencer (€): Marks & Spencer is my first choice when looking for something new to buy! It’s an affordable brand that’s really accessible to everyone, for all budgets, and I literally love their style – I find it young, fresh and clean. Also, even though it’s a British brand, they’ve been really well organized with regards to the UK leaving Europe. So there are no additional costs on the order, and the shipping costs are really negligible, they don’t reach 5€. The thing I like the most is the size range they have. The standard sizes go up to a size 50, and they have a plus size section from 50 and up. They also have some customization when it comes to jeans, pants and skirts, as for each size you can choose the length of the garment: short, regular or long – for example me being short I have the opportunity to order a size 50 garment, but with a short fit and for me that’s a big plus! If you’re not sure about the size, there is a size chart for each item, which is very detailed. Not to mention the reviews from customers are easily available on each product page.
- Adidas by Stella McCartney (€€€): If we talk about sportswear, Adidas by Stella McCartney is the first brand that comes to mind. I find it beautiful and functional at the same time and the sizes go up to 54! It’s a range that few brands have. The materials are quality, all from recycled materials and the performance is really great. The cost is a bit ‘high, but the money spent is really worth it because they are garments made to last, that you buy once and never buy again. Definitely a worthwhile investment in the long run.
- Wolf & Badger (€/€€€): Wolf & Badger is an online site that brings together small designers and independent brands from various parts of the world. I particularly appreciate it because for each brand it has very precise statistics about sustainability, work and ethics in general. It is difficult to establish a price range because each brand has its own costs. You can find items from 35€, as well as others at 1000€, it depends on what you are looking for and which brand. They have a good selection of sizes, which obviously changes from brand to brand. But if you spend some time on it and set the right search filters you can find some very interesting goodies!
Let’s move on to the sites where you can buy second hand clothing – which are the ones that saved me since, due to the general situation, you can’t go to vintage, thrift and flea markets which, of course, were my first choice 😛
- Depop and Vinted (€/€€) are basically marketplaces. They also have the app so you can browse and shop from your phone. You can really find anything there at any price range: from designer items, to unbranded, to handmade. Depop is more of an Instagram-like platform, I’ve been using it for longer and it has given me a lot of satisfaction. Vinted I’ve been using for a while now, but again I’ve been satisfied so far. Vinted is also cheaper than Depop because the shipping costs are almost always negligible, from 99 cents to 5€ maximum. On Depop instead, shipping costs are at the discretion of the seller; if you want to visit me you are welcome, you can find me under the username of @colormefall 😊
- Lampoo and Farfetch (€€/€€€): If you’re interested in designer and vintage items, Lampoo and Farfetch are the best places to look. There is a nice selection of items, all original, and you can easily find even large sizes. Obviously the prices are high, but we are still talking about big brands like Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier and Caroline Constas. By the way, if you are a fan of high end fashion, this is a sustainable way to have and wear branded clothes of a certain level without directly supporting the brands and their still very backward practices regarding sustainability. Unfortunately, fashion “biggies” are the first to not consider the environmental impact they have at all. Or to not offer adequate wages to the workers in their factories. So, if you like to dress in clothing of a certain level, but still care about not affecting the pollution of the planet, preloved is the solution!😊
CURVY FASHION: DISCOVER ILARIA’S BEAUTIFUL BLOG!