It’s always tempting to cling to an image of the body you had in your 20s, or the shape you plan to have someday after you start that diet or exercise program. 

But, don’t you think you’d be a heck of a lot happier if you took a few small steps to look — and feel — great right now?

One of the easiest ways to do that is to wear clothes that flatter your body — whatever shape or size — as it is today.

Here are my 6 best tips to help you dress to flatter the body you have right now:

Choose clothes that follow your contours — with some breathing room. Skintight clothes are not only uncomfortable but are unflattering on almost everyone.  Conversely, too-baggy clothes add bulk (and years) to your body. For the most flattering line, choose clothes that gently outline your shape and hang just a bit off your body. If you prefer oversized tops, look for styles with slim-fitting arms to avoid looking dowdy, and pair with fitted bottoms for balance.

Define your waist, no matter how big or small. Highlight your waist with belts, A-line skirts, wrap dresses and sweaters, and jackets that cinch or nip in at your natural waistline — even if only a little bit.  If you’re short-waisted, try a skinny belt to keep things in proportion. If you like loose clothing, choose things that either drape to show your form or have just a bit of seaming to hint at your curves. And track down a good tailor who can add contouring to many “almost perfect” garments.

Show a little skin. Instead of covering yourself from head to toe, be strategic in exposing one body part at a time, which looks both fresh and sophisticated.  You don’t have to overdo it: Try three-quarter length sleeves to reveal wrists; V-neck or wide-neck tops to show off your collarbone; or pants cropped slightly above the ankle And remember that the most flattering length for a skirt or dress is almost always at the slimmest part of your mid-leg — usually at the knee, or just above.

Reconsider color. As with makeup, it’s good to reevaluate how your wardrobe colors work with your skin and hair as you get older. Most of us will see our complexion soften over time — making the brightest shades a bit too harsh — and it may take on cooler or warmer undertones that can clash with colors from the opposite camp.  If you love bold colors, shift from the most saturated shades to mid-range and jewel tones, which tend to be more flattering. No matter what your skin tone, be wary of too much black near your face, which can make you look washed-out and emphasize dark circles under your eyes. Instead try less intense neutrals like navy, gray and chocolate brown. If you go with black, add a colorful scarf or bold statement necklace to soften the intensity and perk up your complexion.

Simplify your silhouette. Too many ruffles, fringes, bows and excessive ornamentation can come off as overdone. While there’s nothing wrong with being creative, clean lines and bold shapes tend to make you look more elegant and confident than overly fussy outfits. Less really is more in fashion, so if you love frills, choose tops and dresses with a draped neckline, ruched waist, or flared peplum rather than a cascade of flounces — and balance it out with simple bottoms and accessories.

Choose better fabrics. Yes, t-shirts are comfy, but cotton jersey isn’t flattering in dresses, skirts or pants, where it can look cheap and clings in all the wrong places. Instead look for fabrics that drape over your curves and hold their shape when you move, like denser interlock or ponte knits, gabardine, or twill. And while you’re at it, upgrade a few of your tees to silk, modal or linen blends, which hang beautifully and look more polished.

Check out last week’s post about the small steps we can all take to have better style, whatever our age!

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