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).
Photo credit: Jess Levey for Josh Strauss Weddings
Read more from Ellen at Love That Max
More to read from 1000 Perplexing Things About Parenthood:
More on Babble: