InStyle’s Special Projects Editor Cindy Weber Cleary has been a fashion editor for the past 20+ years. Needless to say, she’s picked up some tricks along the way. Catch her column here each week for how-to tips and style secrets on her favorite, timeless styles.
Contrary to popular belief, not all fashion editors wear a size 0 and eat TicTacs for lunch. Me, for one. Luckily, I am tall but I have always been “big boned,” as they say (hate that expression!). I have a healthy appetite and weight, according to normal standards. My weight fluctuates. If it tips upwards on occasion, I just dress around it. Here are a few of my secrets which rely on optical illusions:
Use vertical lines to lengthen
Stripes, seams and details that run north to south keep the eye moving up and down and can make you appear taller and slimmer. These graphic designs (see the Narciso Rodriguez look above) also have a chic streamlined look that I love. Wearing a long oblong scarf in a color contrasting to your clothes is another easy way to create a vertical line.
Dress monochromatically or tonally
Wearing a dark solid dress that skims the body, but doesn’t hug it, achieves the same eye-tricking effect, especially if you pair it with tall boots in a similar color or match your hosiery and shoes to the dress. The goal is to create one unbroken “column” of color. A tailored pantsuit with a long blazer and slim-cut trouser can work wonders. The pants should be hemmed longer so you can wear a stacked heel or platform, which will give the illusion of mile-long legs. And finally, I love the look of a turtleneck sweater in, say, charcoal grey paired with a pencil skirt or trouser in the same shade. So chic. It’s the perfect work uniform—and with a quick change of accessories, it can transition easily from day to evening.
Atea Oceanie gray blazer, $695, shell, $290, and pant, $445, ateaoceanie.com; Reed Krakoff blue sweater, $1,090, net-a-porter.com, and dress, $1,790, net-a-porter.com; Zara olive green dress, $60, zara.com; Bally boots, $1,795, bally.com
Place pattern strategically
Think you can’t pull off a splashy print? Guess again. You can if you know where you want the eye to focus. This trick is particularly helpful if you are unevenly proportioned. Simply choose a printed item that will be worn on the smaller part of your body and wear it with something dark, matte, and solid on the other half. For example, if you are smaller on top than on the bottom, a bold print blouse or sweater draws the eye up and away from your hips, and vice versa. All-over prints can also minimize a thick waist. A loose, boxy t-shirt dress in a busy pattern distracts attention from your torso. Presto!
Runway inspiration (at top): Narciso Rodriguez