"Does this look too big?" If you're wearing certain types of clothing, the honest answer to this question may very well be a resounding YES. There's a reason every woman "needs" a little black dress in her wardrobe and not a big metallic muumuu. Whether it's their cut, shape, pattern or even texture, the clothes we wear have the power to either flatter us or make us look fatter. While body positivity is definitely something to be celebrated, knowing what to wear and what to ditch can help us look and feel our best at any size.


Too baggy

It's a common misconception that wearing oversized clothing makes people look smaller. Baggy-on-baggy actually adds volume to your entire silhouette, making your body seem much bigger than it actually is.

Instead of wearing a slouchy sweatshirt over wide-leg jeans, try replacing either your top or bottom with a fitted item. Not only will your outfit look more balanced, but you'll feel less sloppy and more confident — even on those dreaded days when you just want to hide under your clothes.

baggy clothes AlexandrBognat / Getty Images

Too tight

While fitted clothing is flattering, trying to squeeze into a size too small to look smaller never works. It doesn't matter if you're petite or plus size, fit or full-figured — if you look like you can't fit into your clothes, you're going to look bigger than you actually are. And face it, it's uncomfortable wearing clothing that pinches, restricts movement, and constricts breathing.

Sizing is never universal, and sizes sometimes vary even within the same brand. Always go for the garment that fits and feels good, no matter what size you see on the label.

Shot of a young woman struggling to fit into her jeans at home PeopleImages / Getty Images

The wrong underwear

Ill-fitting underwear can make or break even the most show-stopping outfit. What you choose to wear under your clothes shapes the foundation of your figure.

A bra that doesn't support the girls properly can drag you down and make you look heavier. Likewise, a bra that's too tight can cut into your skin, creating unflattering lumps and bumps under your clothing.

Too-snug undies create visible panty lines that add extra bulges where there shouldn't be. And, when they're too loose, that extra fabric adds junk to the trunk — and not in a good way!

While the majority of people you meet or pass on the street won't ever see your underwear, theywill see the underlying effect it has on your overall appearance.

The wrong bra Anetlanda / Getty Images


High necklines conceal one of the thinnest parts of your body — your neck! A turtleneck visually divides your body into two distinct parts: the head, and all the rest. This makes you look larger than you actually are. An exposed neckline, particularly a deep V-neck, creates a more elegant transition from top to bottom. It also draws attention up and away from your midsection. The more skin you show between your chest and your chin, the slimmer you'll appear.

turtlenecks mapodile / Getty Images

Horizontal stripes

It's an unfortunate optical illusion: your eyes register lines that go up and down as narrow, and lines that go across as wide. If your clothing has horizontal stripes, the part of your body those stripes are covering is going to look wider. The smaller the lines and the closer they are together, the more powerful the illusion.

You don't have to part with your favorite stripey items just yet — just make sure the lines are proportional to your size. Larger stripes work best on larger sizes.

You can also use stripes to your advantage to accentuate certain areas that you want to enhance. If you're small-boobed, for example, wearing a top with horizontal stripes across your chest can give your bust size a little boost.

Horizontal stripes RossHelen / Getty Images

Bells and whistles

Those cute little flourishes that add flair to your favorite fashion pieces can also add pounds to your appearance. Ruffles, bows, billows, oversized collars, big buttons, pleats, cargo pockets, zips, feathers, and fur make whichever part of the body they're adorning appear bigger. Unless you're trying to call attention to a certain area, keep your lines clean and stick to smooth and sleek silhouettes with minimal detail.

Ruffled shirt Kiuikson / Getty Images


Clothing with any kind of sheen will catch light from all directions, shining the spotlight on a larger surface area than matte materials. This creates the illusion of volume all over. Skip metallics, velvet, vinyl, patent leather, sparkle, and satin. Instead, opt for flat fabrics, such as silk, wool, gabardine, denim, and cotton.

Shiny dress CoffeeAndMilk / Getty Images

Chunky heels

They might be comfier than their spiky-heeled counterparts. But sadly, shoes with thick platforms and chunky heels live up to their name — they make ankles and calves look thicker and chunkier than they actually are. This creates a bottom-heavy appearance that can throw your whole outfit out of proportion.

For a leg-lengthening effect, go for shoes with a tapered toe, and with at least a two-inch stiletto.

chunky heels Alejandro Muñoz / Getty Images

Puffer coats

A big puffy jacket is a cozy winter staple with the unfortunate side effect of making you look like you've packed on a few winter pounds. While fashion is probably the last thing on your mind when you're trying to fend off frostbite, believe it or not, it is possible to stay warm all winter without going full-on Michelin Man. Pass on the bulk, and choose a well-insulated, water-resistant parka with a cinched or belted waist instead.

puffer coats Everste / Getty Images

Patterned leggings

The louder the print, the larger you look. Busy patterns and bright colors draw attention to potential problem areas by accentuating them from every angle. This is especially true when it comes to skin-tight clothing, like leggings. You'll be calling attention to every crease and curve when you have neon flowers all over your legs, hips, and waist.

While playful patterns are definitely fun in small doses, it's best to stick with darker, solid colors if your aim is to look trim.

patterned leggings patronestaff / Getty Images


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