A Curvy Girl's Guide to Spring's Trickiest Trends

Let's not beat around the bush, being curvy causes no end of fashion trouble. It’s a great asset in some instances, but I can imagine life (aka walking into Zara) would be breezy when you’re over 5’6” tall and have slim legs up to your eyeballs. Oh, the ease at which you could tackle those new super-long trousers, billowing dresses and teeny, tiny crop tops!

So, being both vertically challenged (just under 5’2”, and we have solutions for petite girls as well) and of the voluptuous variety (I ignore sizing tags, they only lie), as a fashion editor I’ve had to learn some pretty effective tricks for dressing my silhouette over the years. Some of them I acquire for the first time when a new season arrives—like, seriously, who knew that culottes would become my thighs’ best friend?—and some I can pull out year after year, knowing that they’ll slim when they need to slim and celebrate what they need to celebrate.

This spring, like any other before it, will of course present tricky trends for curvy girls—however, that doesn’t mean they cannot be done. I would never say “don’t even go there” to myself or anyone else, because it’s simply a matter of how you get there.

Keep reading to see my handy guide and shopping list for approaching the new trends when you've got curves…

Don’t assume that extra volume in the way of frills or ruffles will add inches. In fact, you can use these flirty details to your advantage. Maybe they’ll exaggerate just how small your waist is, or they’ll draw the eye diagonally across the body, which always slims.

I have it on good authority—from denim expert Donna Ida—that white denim can actually be far more slimming than a light blue wash. Try out a more tailored style for extra slimming brownie points.

If you're opting for vintage mom jeans, I'd suggest making sure they're cut above the ankle or rolled to show some skin; style them with heels for a little extra height. You could even try out a vintage pair that have been tailored to fit better; in which case, head to Re/Done as they are the experts in this field. For new-but-retro-look styles seek a high-rise and a dash of elastane—M.i.h's Lou Jeans are my new find.

The slip dress is something of a swine for those blessed with an ample bosom. It’s hard to find a bra that gives you the right silhouette without, let’s face it, big, ugly straps. So rather than faffing about on a quest to find an amazing strapless bra that doesn’t yet exist, instead look to layer this piece. A T-shirt, roll-neck or silk shirt are all compatible depending on your personal taste.

Big sleeves can be a wonderful thing, so embrace this season's adventurous arms!

Also, make a beeline for full culottes. They need to nip in at the waist and flare out in a structured fabric; this creates a wonderful illusion that skims over thighs, only to reveal a slim slice of ankle peeking out from underneath. You’ll find them so flattering that you’ll even be tempted to wear them with flats, in which case I’d recommend going for something with a chunky flatform heel… But that’s the shortie in me talking.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t even really like baring above the knee, even when it’s partially shrouded under lace. I’d rather keep up the myth that my pins are way slimmer by picking a lace dress or skirt that has a secretive under-layer. Self-Portrait does some of my favourites.

The cleavage strikes again, making off-the-shoulder styles somewhat tiresome. I’d suggest looking at the peekaboo styles that include shoulder straps but do bear your upper arms. You can feel supported but flesh-flashy at the same time. Perfect.

It’d be fun to emulate the nana-rave look head-to-toe, complete with a high-necked pussy-bow blouse layered under a cardigan and worn with a pleated skirt, but this is potentially matronly territory. I’d say ditch the cardigan so your waist is on show, find a pussy-bow blouse that reveals a slice of décolletage and be sure to pair that pleated skirt with some heels. Even little ones will help.

Feel ready to shop and style out the season? Swot up on the flattering tricks French girls always use if you're in the mood for more tips!

Opening Image: Phill Taylor