Nikki’s Inbox: Figuring Out a Figure Eight

Hi Nikki! I’ve been reading your posts since I was in middle school, and though most did not address my particular concerns, I still loved reading them 🙂

I recently gained quite a bit of weight, and although medically and aesthetically to most people I seem perfectly “average,” it’s the biggest I’ve ever been and I’m having some major body image issues. I’m 5’7 and weigh 135lbs with 19-inch shoulders. The rest of my measurements are 36B-27-38. I also have high hip bones, giving me “hip dips” which accentuate my love handles and not-so-smooth figure. This makes wearing high-waisted bottoms look very square and lumpy instead of smooth and slimming.

I have pretty thick upper thighs as well. I’m pretty miffed about what my body type is — I feel like I look kind of lumpy and that a bunch of different body types were mushed together! I don’t really know how to dress myself honestly. If I wear something that is flattering to one body part, it makes another part look not-so-flattered. I’ve looked through older articles to find information of “curvier” bodies, but I don’t really know if I am curvy or not!

Overall, my confidence is low, I feel lumpy, and I have no idea how to flatter my body and boost my self-esteem. I do know, though, that I love pastels, flowy fabrics, showing the tops of my shoulders and collarbones, and that I have very slim forearms and lower legs. Can you help me figure out how to flatter my body during the summer and embrace this heavier body? Thank you. <3

Lauren, 22/Maryland, USA

Thanks for being such a loyal reader, Lauren, and for bringing up one of my own body questions. I just realized I have high hip bones myself!

You are indeed curvy — hourglass-curvy and slightly pear-shaped, in fact. Your hips are double the width of your shoulders and comparatively, your waist is quite narrow. I also suspect that those “love handles” might not really be what you think. It might be a natural consequence of your hips being close to your ribcage. Apparently, figure eights like us are mostly short-waisted. Here’s how to find out if you’re long- or short-waisted.

Put the Focus on Top

You already have a basic idea of what works for you — flowy fabrics and off-shoulder styles are great looks. Make sure the attention is on your upper half by having all the details there. Open necklines, V-necks, scoopnecks, off-shoulders, embellished collars and necklines – name it! Three-quarter and elbow-length sleeves can also make your arms and upper body look longer. Puff sleeves, embroidery, ruching, smocking, cutout shoulders and brighter colors also ensure all eyes are on top. Any top that has a defined waist (like peplum tops)emphasizes those 27 inches. Just remember to choose tailored styles over boxy, loose or oversized tops and shirts. Hemlines for tops should hit your hip bones — going higher or lower will draw attention to them or your thighs.

Balance the Lower Body

Sadly, high-waisted bottoms are out of the equation and so are skinny jeans (the stretch hugs all the wrong places) and short shorts, especially those with visible pockets hanging out. Skip the cargo pockets and those with side openings and sit squarely on your hips. They have a tendency to gape and make your hips look wider. Instead of wearing high-cut shorts, trousers and jeans, go for mid-rise bootcut and straight-leg jeans, and flat-front trousers as they don’t sit on the hips. They’ll work well with cropped jackets because they’ll highlight the waist instead of your hips. Darker, neutral colored bottoms keep everything under the radar.

Wide and Flared

For skirts, rock those with wider waistbands, and longline versions that flare out not from the hips but lower. Look for drapey styles in soft fabrics that skim your body instead of clinging. Dresses with defined, shaped waistlines are always better. For lengths, try a knee-length or midi-length as your height is suitable for it and you can also conceal your thighs.

The Right Accessories

Some of the most powerful accessories you can use for your figure are belts. Go for medium or wide belts, which you can wear with dresses, and over shirts, jackets and cardigans. Other accessories you can try are lovely statement necklaces — just make sure they don’t cover up your entire neck or bust. You can play with earrings and eye-catching hair accessories, especially if you put hair up in a bun to make you look even taller. Of course, don’t forget the power of makeup!

Lastly, you can also choose to wear waist-cinchers, girdles or corsets should you really wish to “keep it all in.” It might be uncomfortable, but hey, we vain don’t complain!

P.S. If you’re sending a question, please don’t forget to include any helpful information about your body type or shape, your tastes or personality. You can include a selfie (link only please) or a photo of your clothes (which I will never publish without pre-approval). Thank you!

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