More Image Myths

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Tidewater Women Magazine March 
2013. See the original article here .

More Image Myths

Written by Sandy Dumont 

"But I have a big waistline, I can't wear a wide belt," a recent workshop attendee bemoaned when I suggested she do so. The other women in the group agreed with me that she could. And furthermore, that it made her waistline look quite slim.

Before you throw your arms up in disbelief, as my client did, you need to know more about camouflage techniques. First of all, wearing a wide belt atop a snug black shell, exposing your midriff completely, would call attention to this figure flaw and make the waist look wider. Furthermore, wearing pants in a different color would also call attention to the tummy. Any time two different colors meet, they form a line where they meet; and the eye is compelled to look there. Since the stomach is round even with skinny people, it's inevitable that we'll see a rounded line where these two lines meet, suggesting a protruding stomach. Unless your stomach is flat, stick to black pants and black top for best camouflage.

Wearing black pants and shell underneath an unbuttoned blue shirt seems a good camouflage for a thick waist. It's also a bland look. I suggested my client wear a wide blue belt atop her black shell, and let the belt buckle peek out from underneath her blue shirt. An amazing thing happened. Suddenly her waist appeared very slim. It's all about "trompe-l'œil" (deceive the eye).

The success of this trick is the fact that once you cover your black top and pants with a shirt (in any color), the entire black area becomes very vague and indefinable to the eye. Then, all that's discernible to the eye is the fairly large belt buckle at the center of the waistline. This causes the eye to believe that the belt buckle represents the waist – and a very small waist at that!

This trick is so effective, my clients usually begin collecting wide belts in all their best colors, and then they find shirts to match. Jackets that are worn open also work. The beauty of this trick is that a matching belt gives you a pulled-together and polished look. Without the belt, you look ordinary, even blah. Add a pair of "statement" earrings or a bold Omega necklace, and you'll be given deferential treatment in your fairly casual attire!

Myth 1: Never wear a belt if you have a bulging midriff, sometimes called a "spare tire" or "muffin top." See above paragraph.

Myth 2: Wearing a long scarf that hangs nearly to the knees on both sides will enable you to look an entire size smaller.
This trick may actually slim a bit. However, there's a huge price to pay. You'll look like a former hippie who is stuck in the past, so you'll always appear dated. Your presence and credibility will be greatly diminished, so abandon this look now. Most of my clients who have done this for years have an array of scarves in wimpy prints and dreadful colors. There are better ways to fool the eye.

Myth 3: The best interview attire for a recent college grad is a black pantsuit with a crisp white shirt.
This is the uniform of today's young workforce. It has a robot-like quality attached to it because everyone wears it. When you go on an interview, you need to stand out from the crowd so you'll be remembered long after you've left the room. Instead of a pantsuit, wear a skirted suit with simple pumps that have two or three-inch heels. You'll look more worldly and experienced. To really set yourself apart, don't wear a blazer-style jacket; choose a more distinctive style. Lastly, black is fine, but unless you wear lipstick in a sophisticated color like fuchsia, black may look drab. Consider navy blue instead.

Myth 4: Understated colors are best for women in a serious business environment.
The truth is, wearing understated colors is like lying down and playing dead. Traditionally, women are wary of showing off, so they avoid bragging about themselves. They leave that to men and lose ground in the corporate world. Understated attire falls in the same category. It's better to stand up and make a statement literally and figuratively about who you are. Wear rich cobalt blue instead of beige; wear red, not pink; and magenta rather than brown or tan. Fabulous brands come packaged in eye-catching containers. Think of yourself as a luxury brand, not a plain-brown-wrapper brand.

Sandy Dumont is international image consultant who has authored several books and DVDs on the subject of image. Learn all the tricks of the trade in her latest e-book "Color Me Correctly, Please," the culmination of a decade of in-depth research. It is available at Amazon or at her website www.theimagearchitect.com.