Scarlett Johansson, Kim Kardashian and Christina Hendricks wear their curves well. While they make it look easy, celebrity stylist Annabel Tollman knows that dressing a full-figure can be a real challenge.
The British stylist gets lots of practice dressing her own "rather curvy" body, but generally finds that when it comes to styling, the curvier the figure, the harder it can be to find a flattering fit.
We asked the Gemvara spokeswoman to share her top fashion advice for full-figured women — from finding the right undergarments to the perfect piece of jewelry (hint: avoid bulky necklaces).
What do you find most challenging about dressing curvaceous bodies?
I find personally that the curvier you are, the easier it is to look vulgar. Everything suddenly looks overstated. There are differences in bodies, though. I think, for example, that a generous hip or bottom is much easier than a large chest.
What are the most flattering styles for a full-figure?
If you have a little waist and a full bust and hip, then I think a classic fitted bodice with a full skirt is the ultimate figure flatterer. If your stomach is flat, then a narrow fitted pencil dress looks amazing.
What styles should you avoid?
I avoid a lot of volume — it’s a common misconception to put the "big" girl in a muumuu. I find it just makes you look bigger. I also don't like a lot of visual horizontal lines, such as a knee-high boot with a mini-skirt — it gets fussy and chops you up. Also, be wary of cotton shirts with a collar if you are busty (particularly if you have a short neck or wide shoulders). It's really much better to wear something with a simple neckline. Ditto lots of statement necklaces.
Is it true that patterns aren’t flattering on curvier figures?
I don't think that there are any specific rules about patterns, but I do think that jeans aren't for everybody. Frankly, most women — especially curvy ones — look and feel their best in a dress. They're so glamorous and also a lot more comfortable. And please don't wear leggings as pants (this goes for everybody, curvy or not!).
What about undergarments?
The correct undergarments are absolutely essential. If you have even the faintest inkling that you are chesty, then go and get properly fitted by a store that sells a variety of brands. It makes me nuts when bras only go up to a D cup — there's a whole alphabet beyond that! Foundation wear is not to be avoided — smoothing and shaping garments are your best friends. Your clothes only look as good as what lies beneath.
When dressing a curvaceous body, what items are worth the splurge and where can you save?
This kind of goes for everybody: save on summer clothing — cotton dresses, tops, pants and sandals shouldn't cost a fortune. In the winter, invest in a good coat, some great boots and a good handbag — and buy your sweaters and plain pieces inexpensively. Also, my ultimate chic on the cheap tip, if you have a small waist, accentuate it by adding a piece of grosgrain ribbon belt at the waist. You only need a yard or two and it adds a lot of look to a dress.
What’s your favorite thing about being a celebrity stylist?
I love glamour, and the red carpet is one of the truest expressions of that. I also love working with an actress to create a story. It's the ultimate fairytale!
Here are some of Tollman's favorite looks: