Who says trends are only reserved for size-2 teenagers? Thanks to a slew of fashion-forward plus-size stores, women of all sizes and shapes can partake in the latest styles. We asked the experts for their tips on how to translate runway trends for real figures. Truth be told, some of the current looks are challenging, no matter what your size.
"I think this season is one of the trickiest for plus-size women," says Clinton Kelly, co-host of TLC's What Not to Wear. "For crying out loud, skinny jeans can make a size 6 look like a size 12." Here, the pros offer their secrets on how to adapt trends for a curvier shape:
Skinny Jeans and Leggings
Although the boot cut is still a universally flattering classic, slimmer silhouettes are the look du jour. Fran Kauchner, style expert at plus-size retailer Silhouettes, says slim jeans and leggings are popular this year, despite the fact that they can be hard to wear. She recommends a denim legging that marries two great trends and looks modern tucked into a high boot. But Kelly counsels caution. "Skinny jeans put all the emphasis on your hips, thighs, and butt. Some women don't mind that, but most women I know want those body parts to look smaller," he says. If you do want to wear skinnies, "make sure you're doing them in a dark wash, and emphasizing your waist somehow."
Today's tunics are a godsend to those of us who love comfort dressing, but be careful with the cut. If your top is too roomy, you could look like you're wearing a tent. "The last thing a plus-size girl should wear is a shapeless tunic that covers the butt. She'll look top-heavy and bigger than she really is," says Kelly. "Tunics are great if they narrow a little at the waist and have darting at the bust." Kauchner recommends embellished and bohemian styles, or a "tress" -- a dress/tunic hybrid that will have the tailoring and the length in one piece.
Cinching the waist is an easy way to create an hourglass -- and to capitalize on a huge trend. "Wear a chain belt so it's not hugging tightly," says Kauchner. "Wider belts can break up the top half of your body." Should you position it at your hips, natural waist -- or even higher? "Most women are smallest under the bustline, so raise that belt higher than your natural waist -- right at the bottom of your rib cage," says Kelly.
Tucking pants into knee boots has been a big look for several years now, but now even those who don't have twig-like legs can pull off this style. Silhouettes, J.Crew, Lane Bryant, and Ann Taylor are among the retailers that offer extended-calf boots. Booties also look chic this year -- and fit everyone, regardless of calf size.
Big, bold prints -- especially animal-inspired -- have made a huge comeback and can help distract the eye from a problem area. Kauchner says a "bold, statement-driven top" with a dark bottom is a no-fail look. "Remember to keep your prints proportionate with your frame," says Kelly. "Just as a petite woman would be overwhelmed by gigantic prints, a plus-size woman can be underwhelmed by itsy-bitsy Holly Hobby florals." This daring tress from Silhouettes (pictured above) offers look-at-me swagger.