TV Segment: Dress Yourself Skinny with Dresses

This TV segment aired on Great Day Houston on KHOU Channel 11 on May 8, 2013. Thank you Dillard’s for providing the location for the shoot and all the clothing for the models. Thank you Tangie, Amanda and Carrie for modeling and agreeing to wear the “Wrong Dresses” so viewers could learn how to fit their different body types and see what a difference the “Right Dress” can make!  A video clip of the segment and all tips, details and where to buy info are provided below:

The fashion system has a flaw. Designers design clothing for the runway and sell that same clothing to the masses. Models on the runway need volume to fill out their bodies and make a statement on stage. Do you know that a in the fashion world a “Plus Size Model” is actually a size 6? That’s because when a size 6 model wears clothing that adds volume to her body, she looks like a plus size woman. Most mass-market women are looking for a lean look, not a biggerer look. So we are at odds with most of the clothing that is produced because much of it is not flattering for women who are a size 6 or larger. That’s why you get frustrated with the clothing choices that are available.

I wrote Dress Yourself Skinny so women could navigate the clothing that is available and be able to identify the clothing that does flatter their figures. Armed with this information, they can skip all those garments that make them look bigger and just concentrate on the clothing that makes them look fantastic.

The Ideal Figure

The ideal figure for a woman is an hourglass. When women look in the mirror at their bodies, they are instictively comparing their bodies to an hourglass. Most women don’t have an hourglass figure, so they are most likely unhappy their their reflection in the mirror.

Where women go wrong

  • Wearing clothing that is too big in an effort to cover or camouflage flaws. This adds 10, 20 or even 30 pounds to the appearance of her frame.
  • Distorting proportions by emphasizing her smallest features. This makes her figure appear more out of proportion and less like an hourglass…resulting in an even more unflattering look.

How to create the illusion of a “better body”

There are 3 steps to creating the illusion of a “better body”:

  • Create the illusion of being slimmer by appearing taller. A 5-foot tall woman who weights 150 pounds looks bigger than an 6-foot tall woman of the same weight. So the taller you look, the thinner you look. Most women know this step.
  • Get the right fit. Clothing that is too loose or too tight, makes you look bigger. Loose clothing makes you look bigger. Tight clothes that hug rolls or flabby areas make you look “fat.” Ideally, you want clothing that emphasizes the smallness of your ribcage or waist and floats smoothly over the rest of your body. Some women know this step.
  • Adjust the appearance of your proportions to create the illusion of an hourglass figure. Overlay an hourglass on your figure, fitting the biggest part of your body and fill out the smaller part of your body to complete the hourglass. Yes, you read that right. Sometimes you have to make part of your body look bigger, to make your whole body look slimmer. This is counterintuitive, but it works. This is the step no one knows.

Live Examples

Here are three models to show how to do this.

Model 1 – Tangie

Figure Flaw – Tangie feels like her shoulders are broad and her tummy is full. When you apply an hourglass to her figure, you can see that ther real “problem” is that her hips are too narrow for the rest of her proportions. We want to choose a dress that emphasizes her waist and makes her hips appear wider. That will make her whole body look slimmer.

  • The Wrong Dress – This ruched orange dress doesn’t work because it hugs her whole body, clinging to her hips. This emphasizes the narrowness of her hips, making her tummy look fuller and shoulders look broader. The ruching emphasizes her waist, but this doesn’t have a slimming effect because it makes the rest of the dress hugs her hips. This dress makes her figure an upside down triangle instead of an hourglass. It doesn’t work for Tangie, but it would be great on someone with a true hourglass figure. Ralph Lauren orange ruched dress, $154.
  • A Better Dress – This dress, actually a tunic with leggings, emphasizes her waist and then flares out on her hips, making her hips look wider. The flared hips create the illusion of an hourglass, making her waist appear smaller and her figure look slimmer overall. Sometimes you have to make a part of your body look bigger to make your whole body look smaller. The black leggings with black heels make her look taller and that makes her look slimmer too. Eva Varro blue and green multi print tunic, $128.

Model 2 – Amanda

Figure “Flaw” – Amanda feels like her hips are broad. When you apply an hourglass to her figure, you can see that the real “problem” is that her bustling is “too small” and out of proportion with her hips. So her body looks like an “I Dream Of Jeannie” bottle instead of an hourglass. We want to choose a dress that adds the illusion of a fuller bustline and slims her hips.

  • The Wrong Dress – This batik print sheath dress doesn’t work because it hugs her whole body. This emphasizes the difference between the width of her bust and hips, making her hips look wide and her bust look small. This dress doesn’t work for Amanda, but would work on a true hourglass figure. Karen Kane batik sheath dress, electric tide, $128.
  • A Better Dress – The color block pattern on this dress turns Amanda’s figure into an hourglass. White and lighter colors make things appear bigger, while black and darker colors make things appear smaller. The curved horizontal yellow line and white panels on the top of this dress gives the illusion of a bigger bust. The color blocking on the bottom of the dress – black vertical panels on the sides of the skirt and vertical center pane l-  make her hips appear more narrow. Now her body appears to be in proportion. Calvin Klein color block sheath dress, black and true white, $119.50.

Model 3 – Carrie

Figure “Flaw” – Carrie feels like her tummy is full. When you apply an hourglass to her figure, you can see that the her waist is about the same width as her bustline and hips, so her body appears to be a column instead of an hourglass. We need to find a dress that creates the illusion of a more narrow waist and broader bust and hips.

  • The Wrong Dress – This orange print sheath dress doesn’t work because it has a high neckline and clings to waist and tummy area. This makes her look like an oval which is the opposite of an hourglass. Donna Morgan shift dress, $99.
  • A Better Dress – Carrie is actually wearing this black and white ombre dress with peplum backwards. The front of the dress has a higher neckline, which is less flattering. When worn backwards, this dress has a v-neck, making her look taller and leaner (a high neckline makes you look shorter and wider). The best part of this dress is the ombre effect – the dress is darker at the waist. The darker the color, the smaller the area looks. So the darker waist makes her waist look narrower. Also, the dress has a drapey peplum, which covers the curve of her tummy and makes the area look flatter. This has the effect of turning her figure into an hourglass. Black and white peplum dress, $118.

You’ve heard all sorts of descriptions of different body types: apple, pear, banana, triangle, boyish, etc. You don’t have to figure out the name of your body type, just compare your body to an hourglass to see what parts are too small. Then choose clothing that makes that part look bigger. Then you will look slimmer and in proportion.

Sarah is wearing a leopard print knit sheath dress from Eloquii.

Dress Yourself Skinny is availabe in all ebook formats online or in paperback on Amazon or at Thanks for watching!

Behind The Scenes

Here are a few pics behind the scenes of our shoot at Dillard’s.

(Left) Sarah and Deborah Duncan warming up before the shoot. (Right) Kiana prepping models for their individual shots.

(Left) Producers and Deborah with models Tangie, Carrie and Amanda. (Right) Sarah with models Tangie, Carrie and Amanda with TV Styling Assistant Kiana.

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