It’s finally summer! School is out, the pool is open and the temperature is blazing. With such hot temps, collegiettes™ everywhere are pulling out the shorts, tanks, swimsuits and sundresses. Being a curvy collegiette™, you may think you can’t wear some of these items, or you have to throw on a cardigan over everything, but that is very far from the truth! Summer is the perfect time to show off your curves in style. This guide will help you navigate past all the string bikinis and 1” inseam shorts to the perfect tanks, shorts, skirts, dresses and yes, even swimsuits that will accentuate your curves and make you feel fabulous. Lois Ann Marin, personal stylist and owner of Personal Couture in Huntsville, Alabama, shared her secrets to building the perfect summer wardrobe.
Jennifer, a collegiette™ who loves her curves, has always had a hard time finding tank tops that she feels confident wearing. She feels like she has to wear a cardigan over tank tops because she doesn’t like her upper arms.
Marin’s advice for women like Jennifer and all curvy women is to go for a halter top. “The whole goal is to elongate your body, and a halter will draw the eye upward,” Marin explains. She says that drawing the eye upward to your shoulders makes you look longer and leaner. Marin also suggests trying tanks with a straighter cut and with a print that is no bigger than your fist. This “rule of fist” is a universal rule that Marin said works for tops, dresses, swimsuits or anything with a print. She said that every woman’s fist fits with her body, so if the print is bigger than your fist, it will overwhelm your body, but if it fits in the fist, it will flatter your frame.
Old Navy has a great plus-sized line offered online. They offer classic cuts that flatter curves in multiple colors and prints, which makes accessorizing a cinch. Torrid, which offers plus sizes in everything from tops to dresses to wider calf boots, also has a great selection of tops as well as everything else. Torrid stores are all over the U.S., and they also have a great selection online.
Old Navy ($22.95)
Shorts are a summer essential that can be a challenge to shop for if you’re a curvy girl, especially if you are self-conscious about your bottom half; however, with the right rules to follow, you can feel amazing in shorts and look phenomenal. Marin says, first of all, to go for a length that hits your mid-thigh, and a rise that sits right below your belly button. Shorts that hit below mid-thigh (i.e., Bermuda shorts) can make you look stumpy. Mid-thigh shorts will elongate your legs and help you avoid a muffin top. She also suggests avoiding shorts with a cuff, which will visually cut your legs off, and she advised steering clear of contrasting stitching. Marin also mentions trying shorts in dark colors, which slim you instantly. High-waisted shorts have been everywhere this summer, and Marin encourages curvy collegiettes™ to try this trend, but make sure to tuck in your shirt in order to create a waist. Marin’s rule above all else regarding shorts is to make a choice: shorts or pants. Capris are not an option. Marin says that capris do not flatter any figure, and instead of making you appear longer and leaner, the cut of capris make you seem short and stocky, which are two things that I know we want to avoid.
Old Navy ($25.00)
Forever 21+ ($19.80)
As with tank tops, finding dresses to flatter your upper arms can seem challenging, but to add to the challenge, you must find a dress that flatters your bottom half as well. Never fear, curvy collegiette™! Marin says there are plenty of dresses that flatter and flaunt your curves. As with tops, Marin says that a halter is the best style for curves. She also said that a v-neck is another great choice. A v-neck will also elongate you, and this neckline is universally flattering in dresses and tops. Marin swears by the empire waist, saying that this style looks good on everyone, and it really creates a line that is beautiful and flattering. Maxi dresses have been a hot trend for summer, and Marin says that they are wonderful for curves because they make you look longer and leaner, and they show off curves in a more subtle way. Color blocking has been a huge trend this summer, and Marin suggests wearing this trend by placing the darkest color on the part that you don’t want to highlight, and the brighter colors will show off your favorite parts. Forever 21 has a great plus sized line, Forever 21+, that offers trendy, inexpensive selections in sizes XL-3X. While some Forever 21 stores carry the Forever 21+ line, they offer a wider selection online at Forever21.com.
Forever 21+ ($22.00)
Old Navy ($36.94)
Skirts are fabulous for the summer because they are cool, comfortable and chic. Marin says skirts hitting just above the knee are perfect on everybody. Skirts that hit below the knee can create a dwarfing effect, and shorter skirts can leave you constantly tugging and pulling at them all night. Marin also says that they should rise, like shorts, to just below your belly button. A-line skirts balance out your body, creating a lovely shape, and pencil skirts create a straight line that shows off your hourglass figure. Marin advises to make sure the pencil skirt you choose has a straighter cut and is not tapered in because these details make your hips appear larger than they are. Maxi skirts have been all over this summer, and like the maxi dress, they also elongate your figure. Just make sure to wear a fitted top with a flowy skirt to balance the whole look out. Also, be sure to stay away from a maxi skirt in denim. A denim maxi skirt screams to be paired with pigtails and plaid, and we aren’t going to a rodeo here.
Old Navy ($33.99)
Lane Bryant ($49.95)
Jessica London ($24.99-$34.99)
The age-old debate of tankini vs. one-piece has been fought since the tankini was introduced. The tankini provides the coverage of a one-piece, but the mixing and matching of a two-piece, right? This may be true, but Marin says that a tankini can be almost as unflattering as a bikini: a tankini cuts you into pieces, whereas a one-piece creates one solid curve that flatters every body type. She suggests trying a one-piece in a solid color, or applying the fist rule to a printed suit. She again suggests a halter top because it not only looks great, but also provides support. Swimwear with built-in shape wear is also a great option. Spanx by Sara Blakely has had a swimwear line for several seasons, but this season, her Assets line at Target has introduced swimwear as well. These suits provide the curve-flattering suits for half the price!
Macy's (Original Price $98.00; Sale Price $64.99)
As far as cover-ups go, skip the oversized tee and cut-offs and opt for a chic tunic. There are countless options available, and ones with embellishment tie your whole ensemble together without even needing jewelry.
Old Navy ($25.99)
Marin’s General Rule of Style
As a personal stylist, Marin assists women of all ages and body styles. One thing every woman has in common, though, is that she is an individual. The advice Marin gives every woman is to be herself. She says that choosing your own style and wearing what you want is the best way to feel confident in your clothes, no matter what size you are.
Lois Ann Marin, owner, Personal Couture of Huntsville, www.personalcoutureofhuntsville.com
Jennifer, University of North Alabama senior