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Figure it out

Nobody is perfect, but if you dress to hide your figure's flaws, it is easy to mimic perfection, writes Smita Mitra.
Hindustan Times | By Smita Mitra, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 01, 2008 03:59 PM IST

Nobody is perfect and our bodies less so. But if you dress to hide your figure's flaws, it is easy to mimic perfection. If you have a short neck, invest in v-necks and wrap dresses to create the illusion of a long neck.

If we have one constant gripe, it is about the shape of our bodies. Your fingers will always restlessly find their way to that offending roll of fat. If you hail from the other side of the spectrum, you will wail about being mistaken for a boy. Such sessions of self-critical appraisal always end badly and make you feel about as attractive as a doormat.

While the temptation to reach for the loosest, baggiest clothes you've got is strong, don't. Instead, be proactive. There are no imperfections that can't be minimised or hidden if you plan your wardrobe right. Here are the six most cringe-inducing problems and how to tackle them.

Flabby arms
If you are scared to wave goodbye because of all the jiggling that ensues in your upper arm, don't fret. Buy tops with three-quarter sleeves that don't fit too snugly Avoid sleeveless and halter neck tops like the plague as well as puff and cap sleeves that only draw attention to what you want to hide. Long or short bell sleeves that flare out near the elbow or the wrist are also a great idea. If the weather is hot, try tops with loose, diaphanous sleeves. Loose, full sleeves that gather into an elastic band near the wrist can also create the illusion of leanness because the wrist is the narrowest part of your arm.

Short neck
If you have a short neck, invest in as many V-necks, wrap dresses and wide scoop necks as you can. Strapless tops and dresses also create an illusion of a longer neck. Turtlenecks and round neck tees are a complete no-no as are choker necklaces. Wear long chains instead and chandelier earrings that hang till your jaw.

Jelly belly
Anything shiny or tight is taboo if you have love handles. Instead go for cuts that are narrowest under the arm or the bust, before flaring out. The empire line cut is made for this figure. Choose materials like chiffon, voile and georgette when you are shopping for blouses and tops and ignore stretchy T-shirts and slim-fit shirts.

Avoid low-rise jeans or trousers that push the fat upwards to the torso, creating unsightly bulges. Most people go up one size to accommodate their increasing waistline. But this means they get stuck with the baggy look. Instead, hunt in plus size stores for pants with elastic bands near the waist that will fit snugly.You also have pants with tummy trimmers stitched into them, giving you a leaner look instantly.

Bottom heavy
Even though leggings are possibly the most comfortable fashion garment ever crafted, you should try stay away from them. Ditto for skinny or straight-fit jeans. If you are determined to wear them however, pair them with long, loose tunics that reach mid thigh. If you have shapely legs, opt for A-line skirts that are knee or mid-calf length. Long, flowing Victorian skirts are another op tion. However, don't buy pencil skirts that emphasise your bottom or short jackets that end right above your butt. Bell-bottom or boot cut jeans can also create the illusion of a balanced figure. Chiffon saris are a definite musthave if you have a slim waist and heavy bottom.

Boyish frame
If you are too skinny and have a narrow, boyish frame, you are a perfect candidate for layering. Team bright contrasting colours together and pile on the layers to look less waif-like. You might think that baggy clothes will make you look bigger than you are but the opposite is true. Corset or tube tops, sleeveless tees, pencil skirts and skinny jeans are all things that will look great on you and draw envious glances. If you have great legs, go for shift dresses that end mid thigh.

Small bust
The good thing about having a small bust is that you can experiment with plunging necklines and backless dresses that need to be worn without a bra. Halter-tops and sleeveless turtlenecks are also perfect for your body type. Go strapless or off-shoulder as often as you can. Team them with shrugs and bolero jackets. Wear padded bras to go up a cup size or two.

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