Plus-Size No-Nos Busted: How to Wear Tricky Looks

Full-figured fashionista Ashley Falcon shows how you can wear stripes, belts, and even skinny jeans, no matter your size.Plus: Ashley's Top 5 Must-Have Picks

Most Popular
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Big girls are forever being told what not to wear: Shiny fabrics add bulk; pleats make your hips look huge. Even my slimmer friends, self-conscious about this or that, are slaves to these rigid fashion diktats. One size-8 colleague looked like I'd splashed paint on her Louboutins when I suggested she rock a pair of booties with a shirtdress. "Booties?! They'll make my calves look like pork chops!" she shrieked.

Most Popular

While it's true that many fashion rules are based on a kernel of fact—shiny garments made of cheap fabrics will accentuate every roll—most are just guidelines and can be tweaked. Take skinny jeans. No question, these are less flattering on bottom-heavy women. One saleswoman had the gall to sniff, "These jeans aren't for you," as I was buying a killer pair of size-18 dark-rinse skinnys. "Tell that to my AmEx," I told her. Here's my no-fail antidote to the thunder-thigh effect: Pair skinny jeans with a tailored blazer, longer shirt, and towering heels. You'll look like a glamazon in them, trust me.

Another notorious plus-size no-no: horizontal stripes. Rummage through the drawers of a thousand full-figured fashionistas, and you'd sooner find sequined hot pants than a striped sweater or tee. It's true, thick stripes call attention to your width. If you've got a paunch, you could look like you're wearing a stack of Goodyear tires. But, in fact, the opposite is true for thin stripes stacked close together, which actually create a slimming optical illusion.

Disregard everything you've ever heard about the plumping effect of belts. The secret is wearing them above your natural waistline (also the smallest part of your torso), which helps even apple-shaped bodies cut an hourglass figure. This only works with flouncy shirts. Cinch a tight spandex number and brace yourself for some serious muffin top. As for accessories, experts (like me!) constantly plug chunky necklaces to balance an outfit far better than, say, a dainty necklace strand. Still, if you're jonesing for something subtler, I suggest layering several strands or adding a pendant to achieve a look that is ladylike and trendy, minus the heft of a big statement piece.

These days, I'm experimenting with menswear. While my wafer-thin friends look instantly chic matching their boyfriends' button-downs with jeans, oversize shirts tend to make me look, well, oversized. Here's how I combat the Roseanne-and-Dan effect: I look for fitted women's shirts with masculine touches—pinstripes, French cuffs—then buy them in a size or two larger than my own. The result is a sophisticated, relaxed look that complements my curves.

Got tips for turning a big-girl fashion don't into a do? Don't be stingy! Share them at marieclaire.com/ashley .

Fashion
Share
Beyoncé Wore a 'Lemonade'-Themed Outfit on Date Night with Jay Z
Fashion
Share
13 Just-Right-Sized Bags Because Who Wants to Carry That Much Stuff in the Summer?
Fashion
Share
Only Kim Kardashian Would Show Up to Scott Disick's Birthday Party Wearing *This*
Fashion
Share
Rihanna Dresses Like Tinker Bell IRL, Totally Pulls It Off
GIF
Fashion
Share
9 Clothing Items That Will Shake You Out of Your Fashion Funk
Fashion
Share
This Roland Mouret Alumna Wants You to Wear Athleisure—to Work
Fashion
Share
15 Celebrities Who Made Epic Fashion Comebacks
Fashion
Share
6 Styling Tricks to Play Up Your Absolute Favorite Parts
Created for Nordstrom
Street Style
Share
We're Never Working Out Again Unless It's in Taylor Swift's Latest Athleisure Look
Fashion
Share
Kate Middleton Wears Bright Green to a Flower Show, Gives the Plants a Run for Their Money