A Stylist Shares How To Improve Her Outfits To Make Me Look Slimmer And Taller

  • I asked a stylist to improve six of my favorite outfits to help me feel more turned on by clothes.
  • The stylist said I should try fitted pants that come up to my ankles to make my petite frame look taller.
  • She suggested doing a half pleat on my tops or wearing a ruched dress to flatter my curves.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve struggled to find my personal style.

I’ve never been on the cutting edge of fashion, so a lot of my clothing choices were to wear what everyone else was and hope I looked half decent. But as I got older, my body changed. I’ve been a plus size since I was in high school and currently wear a size 16 or 18 in dresses and pants and an extra large size in tops.

There are plenty of options for women who need larger sizes, but I can’t seem to find a style I like that fits my body type. I’m usually stuck with patterns I don’t like – more polka dots and florals, please – or clothes that cling uncomfortably to my body.

I often hide my size and shape behind loose clothing that covers the parts I don’t like. But I want to feel excited about shopping for clothes and building a capsule wardrobe filled with only things I love.

So I consulted Erica Ball, former celebrity stylist and creator of Erica Ball Style, a personal style and fashion blog.

I sent Ball pictures of six of my current favorite outfits and asked her for advice on how I could make them look better on my petite plus-size figure.

This cotton culottes are my safe spot when paired with a sleeveless top and ballet flats

The writer wears an orange shirt with black baggy pants that hit his calf and black flats

Look one: mustard top, black culottes, black ballet flats.

Pascale Mondesir

I tend to hide my body instead of finding clothes that help me shine, so I look for clothes that cover the parts of me that bother me.

So I love these baggy pants, although I think they make me look wider than I would like in the midsection.

Ball agreed, pointing out that the open pockets on the pants might be what buries my curves instead of showing them off.

“I recommend having sewn-in pockets or looking for pocketless pants for any woman with curves,” she said. “The extra fabric on the pockets adds volume to the hip area.”

She also said people under 5’3″ should avoid cropped pants like culottes, which make us look smaller than we are.

“To elongate your legs, wear pants that reach to the ankle and have a straight, snug fit,” she says.

I recently added a denim skirt to my wardrobe

The writer wears a black spaghetti strap top with a light denim skirt that hits just above her knee and chunky black sandals

Look two: black top with spaghetti straps, slightly faded denim skirt, chunky black sandals.

Pascale Mondesir

I hadn’t worn a denim skirt since the early 2000s, but recently felt the urge to wear one again. I usually pair the skirt with this flowy shirt with spaghetti straps and chunky sandals.

Ball said the length and fit of the denim skirt is great because it hugs the shape and gives a slimming effect.

“Where it hits just above the knees is the right spot for shorter women and it helps elongate the look of your legs,” she said.

Ball said she was unconvinced by the spaghetti straps, which look “too delicate” for my figure.

“A wider strap or a short-sleeved top will look more flattering and help balance the proportions,” she explained.

I grab jeans and black flats for a casual look

The writer wearing a black sleeveless top with cuffed jeans

Look three: black spaghetti strap top, cuffed jeans and pumps.

Pascale Mondesir

I wish I had more jeans that work for my 5’1″ frame. I have to roll them up to make them wearable.

To avoid this, Ball suggested I get these pants tailored to make them look neater.

“Ask the tailor to put the original hem back on. That means the jeans won’t look like they’ve been hemmed,” she said. “Simple and inexpensive alterations to your clothes will instantly elevate your look.”

She also suggested that I do a half pleat in the front with my shirt to define my waist and make the outfit more polished.

I’m a fan of this dress because of its breathable fit and stretchy texture

The writer in a mustard colored t-shirt dress with white shoes

Look four: fitted mustard T-shirt dress, cream shoes.

Pascale Mondesir

I’m leaning towards shapeless t-shirt dresses, but I’m not sure if they’re the best fit for my body type.

Ball said the t-shirt dresses really worked on my figure, but had a few suggestions for improving this look.

“I love that neckline and length of sleeves on you, but I would make that dress slightly shorter,” she added. “A few inches below the knees will show off your legs and elongate your body.”

Her main issue with the dress is its color, which she called “a difficult color for anyone to wear.” When it comes to bodycon pieces, she says, darker colors (charcoal, navy or black) can make anyone look slimmer.

She also suggested I try a dress with gathers, which can also help me achieve an even prettier shape.

My work outfits usually consist of a dressy blouse with comfortable, casual pants

The writer wears a white shirt with ruffle sleeves and black ankle length pants with heels

Look five: white top with ruffled sleeves, black fitted pants, black heels.

Pascale Mondesir

I prefer pants without buttons or zippers because they are smoother and more comfortable around the waist and stomach. I love this outfit but the shirt is a bit too ruffled for me, and it’s not that breathable.

“I love everything about this look except the one thing you don’t love – the ruffles on the sleeves,” Ball said. “Just like pockets and pleats that add bulk to your bottom, the extra fabric of ruffles adds the illusion of wider arms.”

She suggested I look for sleek blouses with clean lines and avoid all sorts of puff sleeves – which is also in line with my vision for my minimal wardrobe. Ball said this piece would also benefit from a forward half pleat.

She gave the fit and length of my pants a thumbs up, saying it made me “look taller and slimmer.”

“The slim silhouette of these pants compared to the pair in your last photo elongates your legs beautifully,” she said.

The writer wearing black fitted pants and pumps

The stylist liked these pants and heels for my body.

Pascale Mondesir

Sometimes I pair the look with comfy black pumps, which Ball says is great because “heels elongate the body.”

This dress is brighter than I usually get, but I love it

The writer in a fitted cobalt blue dress and low heels

Look six: fitted royal blue dress, small black heels with a bow.

Pascale Mondesir

This dress is not muted or neutral like I prefer, but I really like the lower half and what it does to me. I can sit, stand, eat and breathe normally.

Ball said the silhouette of this dress works well because the length shows off my legs and the structure of this one shows off the curves I have.

She also suggested I see if a tailor could remove the ruffles, which I don’t like, to provide a cleaner sleeve line.

Ball also liked the color and said this shade flattered my skin tone.

A close up of the writers kitten heels with a bow

I love the comfort of kitten heels.

Pascale Mondesir

And she was on board with my love of kitten heels.

As a plus size woman who prioritizes comfort, I can only tolerate high heels for 20 seconds before having to be glued to a chair for the rest of the night. They’re super comfy and chic — and most importantly, I feel great in them.

“Little heels are totally in,” Ball said. “Being comfortable and chic is the key to elevated yet practical wardrobe essentials.”

Click to continue reading more style breakdowns from Insider’s Fashion Clinic.

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