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Ellen Seidman

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Ellen Seidman is a magazine editor, web content developer and award-winning writer. She blogs at 1000 Perplexing Things About Parenthood for Babble, as well as at Love That Max. Ellen lives in the New York area with her husband, two kids and assorted dustballs.

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11 Ways To Dress A Not-Slim Body

By Ellen Seidman |

WANTED: My waistline. It hasn’t been seen since approximately May 2002, when my baby-carrying belly popped. One gift of motherhood is that I haven’t had much time to mourn my shape’s disappearance. Recently, though, I had a body panic attack: I had two events to attend, and I no great outfits for them. I needed a dress, bad. I needed my waist even more.

Then a fairy godmother arrived in my email in-box: Kimberly Garrett of Plush Fashion Styling, to be exact. Formerly part of the celeb dressing team at Polo Ralph Lauren, she’s helped style Blake Lively, Julianne Moore and Debra Messing; she’s also worked with the wardrobe designers on Gossip Girl and Sex and the City 2. Turns out she now specializes in working with New York City moms, and she was up for lending me—non-celeb me!—her expertise for events. Free. Was I interested?

Two words: HELL yeah.

We met in person at MaxMara on New York City’s Madison Avenue. Kimberly looked just as chic as I’d expected, and she’s nice, too, so I instantly felt comfortable. Then she started grabbing dresses off the racks. I looked on, horrified, especially when she picked a turquoise blue wrap dress. A bright color?! A dress that was going to cling to my body?! What was she thinking?

I tried on dress after dress: OK, not bad, no way. Then I slipped on the turquoise blue one. Wait, could it be? My waist! Found! I couldn’t believe my eyes. It wasn’t like I’d suddenly morphed into Gisele or anything, but the dress gave me shape that even Spanx hadn’t. “When you go against your usual ‘type’ of clothes, you may be pleasantly surprised by how something makes you look and feel,” Kimberly said.

Given that I wasn’t going to be able to haul her along on shopping trips for the rest of my life, I asked for her best advice. “Once in a while, bring your most honest friend when you shop!” she said. “That may not necessarily be your best friend, but the one who’s going to tell you the truth about how things fit. Also, get past size-phobia! Some clothing runs small. Don’t feel bad about trying on stuff that’s one or two sizes up from what you usually wear.”

Here, top tips for the most flattering ways to dress a non-slim body (and, wait for it, one amazing Spanx pick).

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How to Dress Slimmer

Go for clothes that hug your curves

“Some clients get freaked out about clothes that conform to their shapes,” says Kimberly. (AHEM.) “They’re actually great for creating curves!” Try wrap dresses and ones with wide belts; for blazers, seek out jackets that nip at the waist, which give the illusion of a smaller waistline.

Look for: A stylish wrap dress, like this one from Talbots.

Photo credit: Talbots

Photo credit: Jess Levey for Josh Strauss Weddings

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More to read from 1000 Perplexing Things About Parenthood:

• 20 Not-Obvious Photos Every Parent Should Take
• 9 Genius Ways To Help Kids Learn To Read (And Love It)
• The Weird Stuff We Love About Our Kids


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About Ellen Seidman


Ellen Seidman

Ellen Seidman is a magazine editor, web content developer and award-winning writer. She blogs at 1000 Perplexing Things About Parenthood for Babble, as well as at Love That Max. Ellen lives in the New York area with her husband, two kids and assorted dustballs. Read bio and latest posts → Read Ellen's latest posts →

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19 thoughts on “11 Ways To Dress A Not-Slim Body

  1. Alison says:

    If this article is about dressing not-thin bodies…then why are the pictures of thin models? I want to see women with curves like me

  2. Ellen Seidman says:

    Alison, great point. And thanks for thinking I’m one of the thin models pictured. You did think that, right? RIGHT?! He.

    I wish there were more curvy girls featured in popular catalog and clothing sites. Over at J Crew, for instance, if you look at dresses offered up under 16, 18, or 20, the models shown are slim chicks. Many sites don’t even go up to those sizes.

  3. Korinthia Klein says:

    I’m surprised there isn’t an attempt to use bigger models more often because it always seems when it happens it receives a great deal of attention.
    Some good tips, thank you for sharing! And you look great in that wrap dress.

  4. Roxanna Sarmiento says:

    Nordstrom uses a variety of models in many sizes…and they’re not just in the plus section. It’s pretty cool.

  5. [...] like Karen Walrond, Kristen Howerton, Casey Mullins, Joanne Bamberger, Tracey Gaughran-Perez, Ellen Seidman, Tanis Miller, Megan Jordan, Sarah Braesch, Meagan Francis, Alli Worthington, Anissa [...]

  6. Ingrid says:

    Besides that the slidehows are a major pet peeve, then to take time and see all the skinny girls air brushed in the pictures is very disappointing. In a quick search I have found numerous sites who use real size models for their clothing. The thin models out of healthy body range sizes really make the article hard to take serious.

  7. CactusMom says:

    Love the silk crepe blouse – it’s $198.00…. Just shy of $200. For a blouse…. I’ll stick with my t-shirts and jeans. And I agree with everyone else – why are all the models skinny.

  8. Jenn says:

    I understand the theory of the structured blouse – but I have yet to find a flattering button down shirt that fits a woman with large breasts. they either don’t button on the chest or are huge around the waist and stomach and hips and do nothing for your shape. and that spanx would give me crazy uniboob.

  9. [...] 11 tips for dressing a not-slim body 25 fun and flirty nail trends to try 6 essential steps to a glowing complexion 25 beauty products you can make in your kitchen The 25 weirdest, wackiest prom dresses EVER [...]

  10. winnie says:

    I agree on the wrap dress – works wonders.

    Regarding the structured blouse that others are having less than positive comments about – they can be hard to have fit well if you have the inverted triangle figure. You need to find blouses that can be adjusted at the tailor. I have a hard time getting blouses large enough in the sleeves. If the sleeves are big enough the body lets me have two or three friends in the shirt. What a pain, but we’re all having to have them adjusted or learn to sew from scratch.

  11. Ana D says:

    Really Disappointing.
    This is an article to assist plus size women yet it uses skinny models.
    Wear was the common sense in the making of this article.
    This was insulting if anything.


  12. MamaC says:

    I am extremely disappointed in the article and pictures…the models are all the same size I was when I was 16! That was 3 babies and 30 years ago.

  13. Donna says:

    I think that it is unfortunate that an article about how to dress a curvy body uses very slim models. Is that because the advice doesn’t actually work on bodies that aren’t size 4 or smaller?

  14. ninette says:

    i went for the comment to write something about the size zero models in the picture an i am happx to see that i`m not the only one who thinks this ist wrong. it should be curvier women in the pictures.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    You can’t find 11 NOT slender women to model clothes for NOT slender women? I was looking forward to the suggestions. The illustrations are meaningless.

    Most women are NOT slender. Stop throwing bony models at us!

  16. Lori Mumma says:

    Couldn’t agree more with the previous comments. Really a tall thin model to explain how clothes fit and look on fuller

  17. Lori Mumma says:

    Couldn’t agree more with previous comments. You clearly don’t know the first thing about dressing fuller figures. Waste of time!

  18. Mimi says:

    how about being 5 foot and shrinking. at 75 and chunky, just try and find something to wear. if their in your size, they drag the floor and you have cut 2 to 3 inches off and then the look of the dress is ruined.

  19. robin says:

    I agree if you are not a size 2 or a size 22″ you got nuttin comin” and the truth is most of these fashion picks aren’t good if you are carrying a few extra pounds. Take 3/4 sleeves draw your eye to your middle, not a good choice for a size 12 to 16 normal woman!

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