News & Politics

Tips to Dress By

Can the right clothing take off ten years and ten pounds? Here are easy ways to look good.

By: Longsworth, Amy 

You don’t need Botox or liposuction to look younger or thinner when you have the advantage of wisdom.

Hide pounds and years by shopping for clothes strategically. Try to focus on fit, color, shape, proportion, and fabric.

Here are pointers from fashion experts.

Look Younger and More Vibrant

Try one color.
“Monochromatic dressing is streamlined, sophisticated, and youthful,” says Deb Waterman Johns, owner of Get Dressed Wardrobe, a personal-shopping service in Georgetown.

Some color is good. Shades of pink restore youthful pigment to older faces, says former model Sandy Dumont, a style consultant and owner of the Image Architect. Women of all skin colors benefit from wearing fuchsia, cherry red, violet, purple, or bright plum. Stay away from pastels, tea rose, or any “dusty” color—the gray tones age the skin. And black with a crisp white shirt works on almost everyone. “The whole face lights up,” Johns says.

Men should not be afraid of color, says Johns, especially “youthful brights and refreshing pales.” But salt-and-pepper hair will appear dull next to the wrong color; try to keep slate blue, taupe, and most shades of gray away from the face.

Feel the power.
When it comes to jewelry, Dumont recommends elegant, chunky hoops, not “mousy” earrings. Single-strand pearls are “demure and powerless,” she says; wear multiple strands to look successful.

Keep it up. “Wearing the right bra is the number-one way for a woman to look younger,” says Cyla Weiner, owner of Sylene, who has been advising Washington women on undergarments since 1975. “Elevating the bustline to the right place gives a woman a longer midriff—her waist looks thinner, and she looks taller.” Eighty percent of women wear the wrong size bra, usually too big, says Weiner. If the back rides up, the front sags down. Some bras can fix trouble spots, too. Sassybax, which comes in a bra or camisole, smoothes out flesh that may roll over the back of a bra.

Look Taller and Thinner

Think sleek. Dispense with scarves, dangly jewelry, blousy tops, baggy pants, hoods, cowl necks, and oversize or swinging handbags. A long, clean line makes a woman appear taller and more slender. Loose pants add pounds; instead, try a flat-front pant with a narrow leg, says Jo-anne Antonacci, a personal shopper in the Saks Fifth Avenue Club in Chevy Chase.

Take it in. Clothes should fit right. Women walk around with their pants and sleeves too long, says Antonacci. “Every person I help needs a fitting, and at a lot of stores tailoring is free.”

Go low-rise. Older women tend to prefer higher-rise pants. But it’s more important for people to balance their upper and lower halves, says Mauro Farinelli, co-owner of the Denim Bar in Arlington and Bethesda. If a woman is shorter in the torso, her waistband should be lower. If her torso is long and legs short, the waistband should come up. The same rule applies to men, but keep in mind that if you have a belly, lower trousers will accentuate it. “Pleated trousers camouflage the tummy most effectively,” Dumont says.

Slip into a glass slipper. Round-toed shoes make feet look fat; square-toed shoes make feet look big, says Dumont. The classic Cinderella shoe—long and narrow—is the most flattering.

Buy better clothes.
“Cut and fabric can take off pounds and hide thunder thighs,” says Dumont. “Quality items are always cut in the most figure-flattering manner. Cheaper fabrics are often more stiff, so they don’t glide over thighs and tummies.” Good wools (crepe or gabardine with a little stretch) and cottons (the best are lined and won’t wrinkle) give the most figure-flattering lines. Corduroy adds bulk.

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