Slender Dressing Tips

“Please share tips for those of us carrying extra weight who want to look more slender.” “How can I dress to conceal my mid-life middle?” “I’m only 4′ 11″. Are there any tips I can use to look a little taller and more slender?” Today, I’ll attempt to answer more of your questions and show ways to wear colorful pieces with neutrals and a few of the styling tricks I use often.

Scoop or V necklines that show off the collarbones help us appear taller and slimmer. The same is true when you show your wristbones and, in warmer weather, the ankles. I tweaked the photo below to show the difference it can make.

Wearing a single dark neutral from head to toe is very slenderizing. Instead, add an open jacket or cardigan to provide color and break up the volume of your upper body.

Fit is a priority when you want to look more slender. Squeezing into a smaller size of jeans isn’t the answer. A size that skims your body without pulling at the hips or causing muffin-top will present a more slender-looking frame. Highwaist pants will always help you to look taller and more slender.

I’m wearing the same top, jeans, and boots with a different jacket in the same faux suede. Note how the lighter pastel color and sleeves that are too long make me appear heavier, shorter, and older. Lilac is not one of my flattering colors, and the boxy style is also not the best choice for my shape. These photos were all taken on the same day.

Consider where your tops end on your body. If they stop at the widest part, that’s where the eye goes. Tops that end at more narrow points will always be more flattering. Longer tops don’t always have the desired effect. Some hug under the tummy and draw more attention to wide hips. Look for tops that flow across the body without drawing attention to the parts we don’t want to feature.

Below, a red cardigan and a few accessories pull together an elevated casual look. The line of the top is shorter than the cardigan, which gives a more slender appearance. When both the cardigan and the top end simultaneously, the effect is not the same.

Fit, color, attitude, fabric, and proportion all create our most flattering looks. I hope the series for this week helped you see the possibilities in your wardrobe. (Scroll down below this post to see the previous two.)

  1. Such good fashion/dressing advice. Thanks!!! Now I know why I’ve felt frumpy in some jackets and wonderful in others!!

  2. Hello Susan. I was wondering if you had tips to share on how to pose for photos to look slimmer and younger. I really enjoy your blog!

  3. What a wonderful explanation! I have instinctively followed your advice without understanding the “science” behind it.

  4. Thank you for this column today. I love it when you illustrate your points with the side by side pictures. The cute shoulder bag in the first picture–do you have a link?

  5. Your styling tips are very sound and the side by side pictures help to demonstrate the concept. I had not noticed the pretty blue and white cache pot in your living room. Very nice!

  6. Wondered on your take on a soft jacket with collars (like the lilac jacket ) verses no collar (like the red cardigan ).
    Been trying to decide whether to keep on donate the collared soft jackets – or just push up the sleeves Any thoughts ?
    I find generally that collarless or mandarin collars are easier to wear , also waterfall jersey cardigans are handy.

  7. Thank you for everything here! The advice is very interesting and a lot can be implemented if you look honestly in the mirror and experiment with existing clothing. You are also welcome to buy a new jacket or shirt. Have fun for all of us in this beautiful blog. Thanks again, dear Susan!

  8. I am very happy to have found you on instagram! Just the fashion advice I have been looking for. You are beautiful and I appreciate your advice for ladies around 60! Thank you!

  9. The side by side pictures are very helpful !
    I have never thought the effect of too long sleeves. Very true .Thank you for the advice.

  10. Very helpful article! I appreciate how you use photos to illustrate your concepts. Where is the v-neck shirt that you wear under everything from? Comfy and flattering!

  11. The sangria moto jacket looks so great on you that I had to buy one for myself — at a simply fabulous sale price. Thanks for the suggestion and the excellent bargain.

  12. Great tips and well illustrated. Thank you. I often try to remember to follow your “column dressing” and usually wear only v necks. Thanks for all your advice.

  13. The V neck vs the round neck photos illustrate your point so well. I have a long (kinda wrinkly if I’m honest) neck, do you think I would be better with round neck clothing? Many thanks.

  14. Thank you for the comparisons- it helps a lot. I’m very much a visual learner. Since I’ve been following you for awhile I started taking pictures of myself. It’s easier to see what’s not working in a picture than in the mirror.

  15. Thank you. Have been wondering the same since following. It is wonderful how you explain the subject so simply and complete. During the warmer weather I wear kacki color and not white. White with my lifestyle would never look clean. Would this not look as sharp? Have been wondering. But will buy one pair of white pants.

  16. Hi Susan. I don’t seem to have much luck when buying over the Internet but I love the sangria moto jacket. Can you tell me what size you are wearing please. Thank you.

  17. I get so many good tips from you, Susan. One of the best has been to wear a belt when I wear a jacket or long sweater. Having that buckle show makes an enormous difference in my appearance, not only making me look slimmer but more pulled together. For several years, I’ve had a belt (from Chico’s) that has an elastic back. Total comfort and the elastic doesn’t show when worn with jacket or sweater, so I went searching online for more and have found some great ones at Macy’s that are even on sale right now. Thanks for the great idea!

  18. These tips were great! So amazing to see the difference the shape and style of a jacket make. I have to retrain my shopping mind to not look at things I am drawn to and like but to look for items that “work” for me.

  19. Great tips and so easy to do. Thank you!! I buy longer tunic tops but I am never quite sure how to accessorize them. How do you wear a scarf with a plain tunic top? Or is a long necklace better?

  20. I love the side by side pictures that compare your points on slimmer dressing! These tips are styling gold, many thanks for the advice!

  21. Susan, these kind of tips are invaluable. I really appreciate the visuals. I can now go to my closet and make adjustments to the clothes I already have. Thank you!

  22. A moto jacket with the lapels laid back are so much more slenderizing than a shirt like jacket! I never paid attention to that before, Now, I need new jackets. This tip alone is going to help a lot. Thank you.

  23. Wow! Great tips! and thanks for the photos to illustrate what you are trying to convey. My figure is the opposite – while I only weight about 110 lbs and am about 5’4″, I am more bottom heavy with narrower shoulders and small chest.

    Do you have suggestions for my type of figure? I want to look slender and taller, of course. I like classic clothing but need to jazz it up a bit!

    Thanks for your posts – you are so encouraging!

    1. Wear long, (1/2 inch off the floor) slim-fitting dark pants that skim your body with a pointed toe or almond toe shoes in the same color. You can wear jackets and other tops with print or other embellishments at the shoulders in a horizontal design. Brighter colors and prints worn on the top half will bring the focus to your face and upper body. Don’t wear large bracelets or bulky bags that land near your hips.

  24. Dressing slender is what you do BEST!! I am not naturally slim (broad shoulders/short neck/large breasts) so I have adopted your slimming style and am very grateful to you Thank you so much!!

    I have shared your blog with several other friends that I believe will appreciate it, as well.

  25. I have really enjoyed the dressing tips this week. Especially the tips for today since I am short and carrying a few extra pounds. I also like that when possible you provide links with different price points. I am working with a limited budget. Thank you for all the excellent work you do.

  26. Dear Susan,
    Love all your posts, but today’s has given me so many tips! Thank you for explaining exactly how to appear slimmer, especially when carrying extra weight around the middle and also under 5’5”. That’s me in a nutshell!
    I tried out the dark v neck top and bottom base layer trick together with a short jacket in a bright flattering color worn open; it looks great!
    The photos in today’s post really show the difference that wearing your best colors close to your face (ruby red vs lavender) can make. In one you look splendid and slim and in the other you appear washed out and heavier.
    I’d love to see more outfits styled using a dark color base (other than black) suitable for year around wear, such as navy. How about plum, dark chocolate or forest green? Would any of these work?
    I also keep thinking about that gorgeous silk Ruana you wore in an earlier posting some months ago. That fits your guidelines, plus it could be worn to any dressy event or a formal night on a cruise. I’d love to order one, especially (hint) if a discount is available!
    Finally, I absolutely love your tip about showing the collarbone, wrists and the ankles to create a longer slimmer look. Please tell me, what is the best length and shape for a statement necklace or large pendant next for someone with my body type?
    You’ve really got me brainstorming, Susan. Great post!

    Best regards,
    Annette in New York
    (currently in San Juan, Puerto Rico)

    1. You could use any dark flattering color to create a column or base for your more colorful items. The concept is the same. The Ruanas are hand made and hand dyed so they are all one of a kind and there aren’t any discounts to my knowledge. Contact the artist (here) for information about available items. The best pendant length for you is one that rests on your breastbone slightly above the bust.

  27. Susan, Your advice is so helpful to this 60+ group of ladies who want to look stylish. Thank you so much. I am so grateful that I found your blog. I especially like wearing V-necks. Also, having the camisole & pants in the same color create that extended slimming style is wonderful advice.

  28. The side by side pictures are very eye opening. Thank you for all of your helpful advice. I always look forward to reading your posts. Thank you for all of the work you put into your blog.

  29. Hi Susan,

    The Faux Suede Cropped Moto Jacket is really cute. I am considering it, what size do you have on?

    Thank you,
    Katherine in Arizona

    Great help to so many of us.
    Now can you tell what is the age limit to wearing
    Moto jacket ( 5’4 – 5’5…127 – 128 pd)
    P.S. my friends in Prague getting crazy about you and you informations. Many thanks.

    1. There is no age limit to wearing a moto jacket. Keep all the other pieces in your look classic and tailored to remain appropriate. Thank you for sharing my blog with your friends. I have always wanted to visit Prague!

  31. Susan, your recommendations are perfect for me. I am the same age and have similar coloring. I own the Chicos red cardigan and tank thanks to you. I even found a gorgeous white scarf to kick it up a notch. I received so many compliments when I wore it over the holidays. Now I have other options for the cardi. I just ordered the black camisole and Sangria moto. I can’t wait to receive them. I travel quite a bit for work and don’t have time to shop. You save me so much time and money. I am also hooked on Beauty Counter. So glad I found you.

  32. Just like all of your readers above, I can’t thank you enough for these styling tips. I would love to show my collarbone and wrists, but it’s so cold and snowy here in Canada. I’m living in turtlenecks and wool/cashmere sweaters. Any advice on how to appear slimmer while keeping warm? I look good in anything you wear because I’m a classic winter (5’4”, size 6-8). Thank you!
    A tip-I use vintage dress clips to keep a scarf secured to a blazer/lighter jacket with lapels.

  33. These are wonderful ideas.
    I was surprised at how differently they can look just by simple changes.
    Thank you so much for the help!

  34. Please keep offering tips for dressing slimmer, including for taller women. I really like the specific tips such as colors and lengths. Ideas for hair, jewelry and makeup help, too. I can tell what doesn’t look good, but it’s so hard to know how to fix that! I envy your knowledge but am grateful for it! Thank you.

  35. Love your succinct posts Susan! I have a question…I apologize if you have already addressed this, but do you have a recommendation of Clothing companies for those of us who prefer or look better in more muted colors? I just can’t do the clean, bright colors you feature, and the shopping sites seem to cater to these color choices. Or maybe I’m shopping for muted colors at the wrong time of year? Thanks for any help you can offer. Best regards

    1. You are correct. I can never find anything that appeals to me in the fall or spring. Chico’s, Talbots, and many other stores come out with several collections per year. In the fall, they offer bolder warm colors, and in the spring, the colors are warm and more muted or dusty.

  36. Patricia,
    I do not wear white jeans either. Too much of a klutz. Lolololol. And they are very unforgiving. I think kakhi or stone colored jeans are a great option for summer. You can pair them with a variety of colors. Paired with a white tee or shirt, they look cool and casual. Mix them with neutrals and they can look quite sophisticated and dressy. Think in terms of a summer “safari” look. They don’t look as heavy and dark as blue jeans. Maybe pair them with some metallic sandals for a dressier look and your done. Take a pair you already own and try them on with some things in your closet. If you don’t wear or like white, dont waste money on something that may only hang in your closet. Just my 2 cents.

  37. Thank you so much Susan-for all your tips! I too am only 4″11′ and carry weight in my middle. I just bought the cardigan you are wearing. Keep up the good work.
    again–Thank you!

  38. Now that you’ve got us all looking SO awesome, I wish there was some advice to get our old men to take it up a notch – out of their khakis and plaid button downs.
    Bea Arthur on “The Golden Girls” dressed well for her figure and utilized the vertical line/ column strategy very well. I sure miss those Girls! Thank you for all this great advice, Susan!

  39. Hi Susan, I moved to Florida from NC and am still having a hard time with how to dress down here. I like scarfs, jackets and sweaters but you really can’t wear them here most of the time. Do you have any videos on how you dress for vacation to a warm area? I’m really struggling as it’s so casual here and I’m so not. Thanks for your time.

    1. You should focus on natural fabrics such as cotton and linen. Loose-fitting garments made from rayon or chambray can also be comfortable to wear in the subtropics. Dresses are cooler than pants or shorts since there is no waistband to interrupt airflow.

  40. Thanks so much for tips on slender dressing. I’m over 65 and apple shape with a midsection that has gotten worse with age. Your tip about bare wrists and ankles has been very helpful. Still learning. 🙂

  41. Susan, do you use the stretchy cuff thingies to keep your sleeves up? Thanks for showing the difference the necklines and pushed up sleeves makes. I keep learning something from you in every post. I know I am not the only person who thinks “what would Susan do/think/say” now when I go shopping.

    1. I have sleeve garters but rarely use them. I push up my jacket sleeves or turn shirt sleeves up a couple of times. As with wearing a scarf, I don’t plan for them to stay in place all day.

    1. I have purchased scarves from Saks Off 5th, Nordstrom, and Talbot’s in the past couple of years. I used to offer square silk scarves on my now-closed shopping site and still wear a few of those as well.

  42. I love the Sangria Moto Jacket in Holly Red. But the link does not provide that jacket.
    Can you tell me where i can find it.

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.