Mar 17

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Expert Image Tips: The “Skinny” on Plus-Size Image


A conversation at Vibrant Nation (http://www.vibrantnation.com/our-blog-circle/menologues/clothing—it-could-be-the-biggest-single-menopausal-issue-/#replied-74012) prompted my response to the plus-size wardrobe dilemmas shared by so many:

“Isn’t it nice to see that none of us is alone?  In 30 years at the forefront of the image consulting industry, I’ve learned (and teach) that color and line are the cornerstones of image and the keys to a dynamic overall look.

“The lines of an outfit must fall correctly and enhance your shape–whatever your shape–rather than distort it. The right lines honor a woman’s curves. Great lines have to do with cut, stitching, details and the substantiality of the fabric . . .

“Two things I can tell you simply, right off the bat: the right colors will make your skin look beautiful, and framing your face with the right collar, jewelry and colors in fabric and makeup will keep the attention on your face rather than on your hips, legs, etc.  They say the eyes are the windows to the soul.  I’ve never heard it was the waistline.”

Heading into spring, a  season that typically evokes  sense of vitality and newness, I want my clients and readers to feel good about their overall images and I thought a little Plus-Size Primer might be useful to many.

Notice the differences between the two outfits above (Stein Mart).  The one on the left looks rather boxy, though, to be fair, we cannot tell from this photo whether or not the blouse is cut for a tailored look.  A tailored look is what we want; the cuts respect and enhance feminine curves.  I admit that I like the collar on the left, but the pattern is a bit overwhelming and creates an overall focal point of the torso, maximizing its size visually.

Notice how slimming the outfit on the right appears–regardless of the fact that the model is wearing white pants.  It’s a myth that larger women “shouldn’t” wear white.  This is a great example of the power of “line.”  The cut of the jacket is nice.  The detail at the collar helps to frame the face–though I think a bold necklace and some chunky earrings are also in order.  The long ruffle along only one side helps to elongate this woman’s body visually.  The fact that the ruffle is the same color as the jacket means it doesn’t detract from the face.  And of course, the jacket’s opening furthers the “slimming” effect by creating a solid thin line that merges with her legs.  Hips and upper legs are minimized by the “V” of the jacket’s bottom.

Overall, which look do you prefer, and why?

Permanent link to this article: http://sandydumont.com/expert-image-tips-the-skinny-on-plus-size-image/


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  1. Cathy Benton

    Being a plus size woman in an artistic field who also lectures it is the most difficult thing for me to try to find clothes in a world of nearly anything goes – and most of the time I would never wear what I find in the stores.

    I’d love to see conservative meets the art world someday and see exactly how those two worlds could “play well together”. I find my choices to be extremely limited and every time I think I’ve discovered a look that works, an “expert” tells me it’s the wrong for me. It is very frustrating and challenging.

    In the image you have discussed in this article -while I love the pattern in the top on the left, I do understand why it does not work yet the top on the right is simply too casual for my needs.

    I hope to learn more by reading your articles and I look forward to applying some of what I learn soon.

  2. Robin Ryan

    I’m an author of a new book Over 40 + You’re Hired. I’m swamped with ladies and men over 40 who simply don’t know how to dress up anymore…and since many ladies are size 14 or above they want to look fashionable and businesslike — sure would love to see more info, clothing line recommendations, etc. on the PLUS SIZE over 40 woman for what to wear to a job Interview.

  3. Sandy Dumont

    Cathy, thank you for writing. Yes, we all have our challenges with regard to finding not only what enhances our body types but also enables us to present our best professional images. One store I often recommend to local clients is Stein Mart, but once educated about how to look at clothes when shopping you’ll be able to apply proven principles anywhere. What’s more, you’ll save a lot of time and money by avoiding the colors and styles that convey the wrong messages on your behalf. If you haven’t already, please take advantage of my free monthly newsletter and e-book, found at http://www.theimagearchitect.com. Professional image is my specialty and I’m happy to share. Not every “expert” out there has the extensive background and experience that I have. I think that if you stick with me awhile you’ll learn a lot :)
    Happy creating,

  4. Sandy Dumont

    I also have a lot of clients who wear plus sizes, and it is hard to even find dynamic-looking business garments out there. Men have better luck than women. All the women’s suits are nothing more than pantsuits in unimaginative “Daddy Jacket” styles that are too long and too baggy and shapeless.

    I’m working on my “big book”at the moment. It is for women, and I will definitely devote a chapter to plus size women! I’ve also got some information in my newly-released book, “Seven Days to a Brand New You.”


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