Wednesday, October 17, 2012

10 Tips for Looking Your Best No Matter Your Size

In the newest issue of Newsweek, Robin Givhan writes about "Fashion's Full-Figured Failure".  In a nutshell, it is about how fashion industry and Vogue had made a pledge to feature more "normal" size women, not stick-thin young teens, and how that pledge has gone by the wayside.  You know what, that's okay with me.  Fashion is a business and clothes show best on hangers, which happens to be stick thin models.  I never have based my attractiveness or self worth on how runway or print models look and you shouldn't either. 

Don't we all know by now, that even these beautiful girls or young women, are air brushed within an inch of their lives?  I don't want an air-brushed life.  I want a living, breathing, real life where I am not obsessed by my looks.  Oh, believe me, I think about what I look like and what I wear, but I don't obsess. 

As many of you know, I am currently a plus-size woman and have been for about 10 years.  I do not let that stop me from dressing beautifully.  In fact, most days I receive at least one compliment on what I am wearing and/or how I look.  I don't need to be a size zero to look terrific, but I do put effort into it.  Here are 10 tips to help you look terrific, too, no matter what your size:

1.  The first tip, put effort and thought into looking well-dressed and attractive.  It takes me about 5 minutes to do my hair - from wet to finished, 10 minutes to do my make-up, and 5 minutes to get dressed.  It takes just as much time to put on something ugly and ill-fitting, as it does to put on something that will make you feel fabulous all day.

2.  Smile, be interesting, and be friendly.  How much more attractive are people who greet you with a warm smile, a friendly hello, and follow that up by being able to converse in an interesting manner?

3.  Find your style.  I know what looks great on me and my body and I pretty much stick to it.  That helps me in a multitude of ways.  I know what stores I will find my style so I don't waste time wandering into places that aren't right for me, most of my clothes complement each other so I don't have odd pieces that don't go with anything, and I don't have to be a slave to the newest fad.

My St. John suits are timeless, as is my pearl necklace.  I also have several silk flower pins.  This one in orange looks perfect with my lime green suit.  I know this style is always flattering on me.  I am pictured with my friend, Renee Hamad.
Photo by Stephanie Hannum
4.  Buy things with a plan and when you see them, that way you will always have something to wear, no matter what the occasion.  I shop twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring.  I look at my calendar and see what I have coming up for that season and what I might need.  Then I usually wait for Saks Friends and Family weekend and get what I need.  At this point in my life, I rarely need anything.  Now, it goes something like this, "Okay, I haven't bought a new handbag in awhile, so maybe this is the season to add to my collection."  Or maybe something like this, "I am getting a little bored with some of my suits or they are getting a little worn looking, so I should look at replacing a few of them."  I am never desperate to find something because over the years I have built up a good, serviceable wardrobe where I always have something to wear for every part of my life.  I tend to do things in bunches.   I have all my ball gowns made for me, so I when I last went to Orlando to my favorite fabric store, I bought material for four gowns and had four new ones made.  I haven't had to think about a new one for a few years now.  It's just easier that way.  I also find that certains styles tend to come and go.  For instance, I have a lot of St. John suits.  Some years, I buy several and some years I buy nothing because their styles and colors cycle out and I know what colors and styles look best on me and those aren't always available each season.
One of the ball gowns I had made for me, with my friend Julie Milton.
Photo by Cliff Roles

5.  Buy the best you can afford.  I bought my first St. John suit for my 40th birthday.  I am now just coming up to my 55th birthday and I am STILL wearing that suit.  It might have been a little pricey when I bought it, but average that out over 15 years and you have yourself a bargain!  Same with shoes and handbags.  I mostly wear Ferragamo bow pumps because they fit me, are comfortable, and are classics.  I get them re-soled all the time and they look great year after year.  That leads into my next tip....

6.  Take care of  your things.  Polish your shoes, keep your handbags stuffed with tissue and in their cloth bags when you aren't using them.  Hang up your clothes when you take them off.  Treat your things with respect and they will look good for years.  I have a classic Chanel black quilted bag that is probably about 10 years old, but looks brand new because I take care of it.

7.  Tailor your clothes.  It makes a world of difference in how they hang on you.  I think every piece of clothing I have has been altered in some way.  I am plus size, but petite.  I am smaller on the top than I am on the bottom.  No matter what size I am, I am not ever going to be 5'10", so pretty much everything has to be shortened.  I think money for alterations is very well spent.

8.  Don't be afraid to wear your nice things.  I know women who buy nice things and keep them in plastic zippered bags in their closet, only bringing them out to wear once or twice a year.  What are you saving them for?  I wear my nice things constantly.  They give me pleasure when I am wearing them and their ROI is much greater if I actually wear them instead of letting them sit in my closet.

9.  Accessorize, Accessorize, Accesorize.  I wear accessories every day. I know what I like and I concentrate on buying those items.  Because I know my style, most of my accessories go with several outfits, so I get a lot of wear for my money and they make my clothes look more interesting and they also give people something to make small talk about.

I have accesorized with my big pearl necklace (which I noticed I have on in every photo I have featured on this page!) and a gorgeous red silk flower pin, and of course, my dog Bailey, the best accessory of all!
Photo by Rebecca Baxter

10. Lastly, when you are shopping for clothes, shop with a purpose. I never think of it as a social outing and I NEVER go on a shopping trip for myself with friends. I don't need anyone else's approval of my selections and you just get sidetracked with someone else tagging along. If you need help, find a knowledgeable salesperson to help guide you to appropriate choices. If you find a good one in a store you like, they are invaluable because they will know what you already own and can suggest pieces for you.

There you go.  This is what works for me.  I believe these tips work for whatever price point is appropriate for you.  It probably isn't anything you haven't heard before, but maybe you have never allowed yourself to be your best, no matter what your size.  I am allowing you.  Look beautiful, feel beautiful!


  1. Great post! Thank you. I am not plus sized right now--but close to it. I'm feeling not so attractive, but realize I can be attractive at any size if I try to do that.

  2. Thanks, Susan! I think the the tips really do work for any size. I don't we should put off making ourselves look our best, while we wait for the scale to be some magic number!