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Curvy Women: 8 Tips on How to Layer Clothing & Not Look Like a Shapeless Slob

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The layered look is still wildly popular for fall 2010, so it's probably time you learned the right way to wear layers -- especially if you're curvy.

From both a fashion and a frugal standpoint, I love taking a summer dress and adding layers to make three more warmer autumn and winter looks.

But there's one small problem. The model in many pictures is super thin. If curvy women like me -- with breasts, a short waist, and hips -- try to layer clothes like this, we often look like walking, talking sloppy frumpfests of clothing.

So, ladies with curves, let's talk about how to layer clothes to our advantage.

When you're a combination of 5' 10" and 125 pounds, what's a few extra layers, right? However, many women with curves need to accentuate their waistlines as much as possible -- even in the autumn and winter -- unless they're cool with adding ten or twenty shapeless pounds to their physiques. And I don't know many women who are cool with that.

Done right, layering can actually mask any soft, round areas you're trying to play down. Here are eight tips for creating the layered look and not at the expense of your rockin' curvy body:

  1. Limit your layers. Three layers is probably ample.
  2. Nice silhouettes. If your outfit foundation is a dress, choose a dress with a nice silhouette, well fitted but not tight around the breasts and hips, drawn in at the waist.
  3. Structured pieces on top. Choose a top layer with a waistline -- a cinched or empire waist, a belted waist, a blouse with well-placed darts, a fitted blazer, or a cropped jacket or cardigan, something with a waist. A look with a shapeless military-style jacket is most problematic for a short- or no-waisted woman. However, a nice waistline can be created where a bright top meets a dark bottom. (Check out these military jackets, a fall must-have!)
  4. Chill on the chunky. Go easy on the fluffy and the puffy, the thick and the woolly. Rule of thumb: Don't add bulk around your bulk. For curvy women, the layered look is about adding color and warmth, not bulk. If you're trying to play down a large bust, wear an open neckline to draw the eyes up. If you're trying to camouflage your belly, keep layers at your midsection fitted, not tight, rather than oversized and floppy. Oversized and billowy clothes or sometimes even babydoll cuts can actually make you look larger than you are.
  5. Pair lightweight pieces under chunky fabrics. If you do choose a single chunky piece like a cropped faux fur coat or vest, then pair it with under-layers made from thin fabrics and follow tips #6 and #7, too. (Here's a hot -- and affordable -- faux fur vest.)
  6. Balance layered tops with slim bottoms. If you choose to wear several layers on top, keep the bottom half of your outfit long and lean. Try skinny-cut, tapered, or bootcut pants or leggings or tights. Elongate your body by matching your shoes or boots to your pants, leggings, or tights. Consider #7 when choosing your bottoms, too. (Lace-up oxfords might be a trend to try.)
  7. Use light and dark colors to your advantage. Since dark colors are slimming, you should wear darker colors in the areas you want to deemphasize. And no, that doesn't mean wear all black or charcoal gray. That's not great either. Look at your body with a loving but critical eye, and use whites and colors to emphasize your best features.
  8. Wear simple jewelry and accessories. When wearing the layered look, stick with simple accessories like stud earrings, plain necklaces, and thin, light scarves. It's really enough to have a few layers going on.

What do you think of the layered look? Any good tips you can share?

Written by Sheri Reed for CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

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