The Golden Rules of Clothes for Big Girls

People ask me all the time* where I buy my clothes.

(*Hardly ever.)

I’ve been a student for the past six years, working in retail or as a temp. So Zara? Hells no, baby.

This is head to toe department store fashion. Mr Price, Pick n Pay, Edgars, Foschini (particularly the News range) and Woolworths (thanks to mom and her Buy Aid card) are my favourites. And on a recent stroll through the Truworths website I happened upon this outfit, and fell in love.


As it happens, I actually own a striped maxi skirt very similar to that. I was pretty nervous to buy it because, being a big girl, anything figure hugging is a bloody terrifying thought.

But ladies, my fellow Big Girls, here’s a trick I figured out.

Shapeless, tenty clothes tend to make us look shapeless and tent like.


(Oh and also, the thing about horizontal stripes making you look fat is a myth. They actually can be very flattering because they are infinite. Or something. I don’t know, but Google it because it is true.)

May I present to you my Golden Rules of Dressing For Big Girls:

1. Never Wear a Loose Top and a Loose Bottom Together.

Nope, never. Ever. You will look like a tent, or at the very least a balloon.

Or a tight top and a tight bottom because you will look like an overstuffed sausage. NO EXCEPTION. Fitted skirt or pants, loose top. Fitted top, loose skirt or pants.

2. Never Wear Anything That Doesn’t Have a Shape.

I am in shape. Round is a shape.

I kid. Luckily (ha) I carry most of my weight on my thighs so I still have a waist that curves. Pear shape versus apple. If I wear a shapeless top or dress, it hides the fact that I HAVE A WAIST.

Waist’s are sexy.

So I draw attention away from my monster thighs by wearing something that accentuates and draws attention to my natural womanly curves and cleavage.

This is especially relevant to dresses, pick something that nips in your waist or falls from below your cleavage.

Woolworths handkerchief top, tribal print.

Woolworths handkerchief top, tribal print.

See. Cute top. Because she’s skinny and it shows off her slender arms and neck. On me it would hide my cleavage and my waist, my most shapely elements, and emphasize my batwing arms.

3. Always Emphasize the Thinnest Parts of Your Body.

Like above, I have a waist and I have a fairly small rib cage and a generous cleavage. So I wear tops and dresses that fall from just below my cleavage or belt in at my waist. (NB: Belt in at my waist. Not on top of my love handles. Belt it at the thinnest part of your torso).

Never wear chunky bracelets, your wrists are the thinnest part of your arm so don’t hide them.

Chunky jewelry and shapeless clothes emphasize how thin a thin person is, by contrasting their slender shape. Cruelly, they do the complete opposite to us by showing everyone that we are as big as our jewelry and as shapeless as our clothes.

Wide leg pants, hide your ankles.

You get the point.

4. Black is Slimming and Boring.

I know. Black is slimming. Everyone knows.

It’s also really off-putting when someone is dressed all in black, all the time.

Don’t be afraid of colour. Just be smart about it.

5. Say No to Jeggings.

Please. Just don’t do it. There is no support in the material, it clings to your fat like it’s holding on for dear life.

Just wear jeans. And also, try slim leg jeans instead of skinny. Makes a world of comfort difference and doesn’t look like it’s strangling your calf.

6. There is No Excuse for an Elasticized Waistband.

Unless maybe you’re Ruby.

7. Or, for that matter, Elasticized Sleeves or Shirt Hems.

The elasticized sleeves cut off your arm, making it look sausage like. And also, it’s not cute unless you’re six.

The shirts that are elasticized at the bottom or have a think band chop you off at your waist, making your middle appear thicker. You want the end of your shirt to flow gracefully over your pants, streamlining your figure.

8. Actually, Sleeves.

T-shirt sleeves can be unflattering  Especially those weird short cap ones. If you’re adamantly against sleeveless, rather go for a longer sleeve. Not one that ends in the middle of your bicep, which is the thickest part of your arm.

9. The Quickest Way to Cankles is Wrap-Around Ankle Straps.

Shoe fashion drives me up the bloody wall. I cannot wear shoes that wrap around the ankle. I cannot wear shoes that come too high up my foot. My foot and ankle are the most slender part of my leg and as soon as you start to cover them up, you start to draw attention to the calves and the thighs and then suddenly WHAM.


10. Shirts That End Where Your Pants Meet Draw Attention To Your Bum.

Shirts that are a little bit longer and come over your ass, lengthen your torso making your stomach AND bum appear smaller, Miraculous!

I’m loving this summers trend of long, sleeveless blouses in bright colours. Like this one from Mr Price.

Mr Price, asymmetrical blouse

Mr Price, asymmetrical blouse

Ten seems like a good number to end on.

No? Okay, one more for luck.

11. Only You Know What the Label Says.

It is a gut wrenching moment when you realise you can no longer fit into your size 36 jeans. Or a size 38. Or, if it’s a skinny cut, even a size 40.

Guess what.

No one else knows. No one else cares. Wear the size that fits you.

We have to work harder to find flattering outfits so cut and size are crucial. Don’t go too small (you’ll look bigger) and don’t go too big (you’ll look bigger). Find the right size, it makes a world of difference.

These rules do mean I cut myself off from a lot of current fashion trends. But there’s more to style than being on trend. It’s about knowing your body, knowing your shape. Knowing what works for you and what makes you look your best.

This goes to anyone, of any size and build. Know yourself. Dress for you.

Remember, those fashion models look amazing thanks not only to Photoshop but also to a fantastic stylist who dressed them according to their shapes.

Also, I may be overweight but that doesn’t mean I have to dress like it. I am working on eating better, I exercise regularly and hard and one day I will be slim and slender again. But that won’t happen if I don’t love myself.

And I can’t love myself in elasticized pants.

[QUICK EDIT: Stumbled on the Donna Claire website the other day, they have a fantastic list of blogs for plus sized fashion AND (SO EXCITED) a shape advisor!]

Donna Claire Summer 2012

Donna Claire Summer 2012

4 thoughts on “The Golden Rules of Clothes for Big Girls

  1. Really love this post! Everything is so true, and just makes so much sense. There’s really nothing wrong with cutting yourself off from certain fashion trends. Come on, some of them look horrendous no matter how skinny the model.

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