Remembering the basic principles that dark colours appear to shrink and light colours appear to enlarge, we can manipulate our outfits to create the shape we want.
If you have just one problem area, such as big hips, saddlebags or bust, it is a great technique to always use your dark tones on these areas and highlight your better features with lighter tones.
Those of us who are shorter, chunkier or have shorter legs than we would like would be well advised to avoid wearing strongly contrasting tones on our top and bottom halves. For example, don’t visually cut yourself in half by wearing a dark top and light trousers or light top and dark skirt. Any visual dissection like that will further reduce the length of your body (see illustration below).
By keeping your top and bottom halves tonally close you will give the illusion of a slimmer, taller you. This does not mean that both halves have to be the same colour – just tonally similar – as light or dark as each other.
This season there are cleverly designed dresses available which do the work for us, making use of tonal contrast to flatter any figure. It is a simple trick, not new, but very effective. The idea is that the central panel of the garment is in one colour, or print, while the side panels, framing it, are in a darker tone. If the contrast is too great, for example black and white, this technique can look too obvious, but Mark & Spencers have produced some very successful examples this season.
Play around with these ideas to visually sculpt a new you without the gym.