How to Dress if you are Short and Overweight (The Complete Guide) (2023)

If you are short and overweight, dressing your shape can be a challenge. I know exactly how you feel because I have a petite clothing line for shorter women.

The reason is finding clothes that fit you can be hard, as the clothing industry give us very limited options for someone who is either petite size (under 5’4″) or plus size, letting alone someone who is in both categories.

That means if you are a short and curvy girl, you should be even more selective with anything you wear and pay attention to the details from neckline to silhouette. It is still possible to dress well if you are petite plus size, and below is tried-and-true tips I’ve gathered based on feedbacks from thousands of my petite customers!

Table of Contents

Styling Goal

Let me start with an important rule that applies to any short women, regardless of your weight.

Something that many overweight women have been made to believe throughout their lives is that they need to wear clothing that “hides” their bodies.

Here is the truth:

  • You don’t need to hide behind loose, baggy or shapeless dresses- these only make you look heavier than you are!
  • In fact, you shouldn’t wear anything shapeless.
  • While you might be overweight, you still have a body shape, and that’s why it’s so important to avoid clothing that doesn’t provide shape to your body.


Avoid chest ruffles

If you are short and curvy, you probably have a big bust. The key to flatter a full bust is to keep it simple in front of your chest. (That is why petite tops with minimum design are always the most popular in my clothing line!)

Ruffles and any of these types of details can look wonderful, but keep in mind that the bulkiness of them is going to translate to the part of the body they lay on.

So, if the tops have chest ruffles, most likely they will only make you look top-heavy.

Avoid balloon sleeves

Balloon sleeves is another details you should be very careful with, as it can also add bulkiness to your top..

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To put it bluntly, bulky clothes add the illusion of actual bulk to the body – and this is why avoiding bulky clothing is something to strive for if you are overweight and short.

Avoid dramatic shoulders

Any tops with excessively obvious shoulder pads are not a good idea for short and overweight women.

The reason is simple.

Shoulder pads broaden your shoulders, which will expand your top half overall and make your top look even heavier than you actually are.


High rise jeans

Based on the feedback from numerous petite customers of my jeans collection who wear size L and XL, high-rise everything is a much better and more flattering option on someone who carries weight on the butt and thighs.

When wearing high-rise styles it adds major waist definition to the body AND it makes legs appear much longer by lifting the waistband placement on the body – both of these attributes provide a slimming and elongating effect that’s perfect when you’re plus size.

Avoid Low Rise Bottoms

The early 2000’s made low-rise jeans a trend and fortunately, it’s not a trend that’s resurfaced (yet). Regardless of the trend, though,

  • Low-rise bottoms are something to try to avoid when you are plus size.
  • The main issue that comes up with low-rise styles is how they cut the body and the hip/waist area in a really odd place.

Stretchy pants

Great alternatives that give you comfort and ease of wear are fabrics that offer some stretch to them, think of your cotton-elastane combination fabrics.

Avoid puffy skirts

Any skirts that carry extra volume with them will not be the best option for women who are short and overweight.


Waist cinching dresses

Rather than hiding behind clothing, embracing and truly celebrating your body shape is the most flattering for your body shape– not to mention it’s a powerful way to feel more confident in your body.

To make one thing very clear- clothing doesn’t need to be super slim fit, just ensure that the clothing shows YOUR shape and creates balance to your body.

Caution with shift dresses

Shift dresses. can be flattering, but you want to make sure it is not too billowy.

If the dress has too much volume, it will only overwhelm a short woman and make your entire body look bigger than you actually are.

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Bespoke dresses

If you are short and curvy, tailoring is something you should have become accustomed to utilizing to get your clothes fitting properly.

The clothing industry make “standard” size for women who are over 5’4″, which means there are not that many options to begin with if you are a short girl.

On top of that, amongst the limited brands who do make petite size clothes, even fewer of them make clothes for someone who is overweight.

Therefore, to find dresses off the shelf that fit you just right is next to impossible.

As a short and overweight woman, getting used to tailoring your clothes will make a huge difference in how you look!

Tailoring can make a major difference in the way your dresses look and feel on your body.

Never underestimate the power of good tailoring, and make it a point to have necessary tailoring done to your clothes if and when needed.


Wear darker shades

A lot of overweight women default their outfits to all black, because, well, we have all been told that black is the most slimming color.

I agree that black is slimming, but it is not the only color that can make you look more slender.

  • If you genuinely enjoy wearing all black, then wear them by all means as long as they make you happy.
  • However, if you wear all black because you feel like you ‘have’ to, given you are overweight, then, listen up- all black is NOT the only option.
  • Short and plus size women can (and should!) wear any color(s) and prints they like.

While yes, black is known and loved for its slimming effect, you can look incredible wearing any color.

In fact, darker shades of blue, purple, and brown can all have an immediate slimming effect on you, and dark wash jeans are also a universally flattering choice for anyone who wants to make her legs look more slender.

Wear Prints with Caution

You may have heard many times that if you are short or overweight, then you should stay away from prints because they can make you look bigger.

That is only true to a degree.

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There are ways for you to wear prints, as long as you choose the right type of prints.

  • The only thing to keep in mind in regards to choosing the prints you wear is the scale of them.
  • Very small prints can sometimes appear disproportioned, if you are overweight.
  • Instead, try selecting options that are in alignment with the scale/size of your own body type.
  • This allows for the print to look great on you and not distract in any way.


Avoid anything clingy

Clingy fabrics…cling, obviously.

This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if clingy fabrics didn’t cling to the body in less than flattering ways.

  • Pay close attention to the way the fabrics lay on your body
  • If they’re extra clingy, especially in areas you don’t want them to cling, opt for something else.

Avoid flimsy fabrics

Flimsy fabrics are another element to avoid as a plus-size woman.

Wearing clothing that’s made of flimsy fabrics often leads to garments not laying properly on the body and not enhancing your natural body shape – both are things that you want to steer clear from when plus size.

If you have a muffin top, clingy fabrics are only going to show everything you do not want others to notice.


It’s easy to think ‘undergarments are UNDER clothes, no one will even notice if they’re not the right fit.’


Well, it’s time to kick this thought to the curb because it’s just not true.

If you are a short and overweight woman, wearing the right undergarments in the correct sizing is an absolutely essential component of your style and wardrobe.

If it’s not, it needs to be!

You can try this Lift Wear Cami ($84.00).

How to Dress if you are Short and Overweight (The Complete Guide) (14)

Use undergarments to your advantage. Believe it or not, they can completely shift the way clothes lay on the body.


When it comes to accessories, scale is key. If you are short and overweight, it is critical to choose the right style and design that complement your body’s size and structure.

Medium size bags

Small to medium-sized handbags are a much more figure-flattering option that will look great and act as an accent to your outfits.

Avoid oversized bags

If you are short, generally speaking, large handbags are not a good idea, because they can totally overwhelm someone with a shorter frame.

Avoid micro handbags

However, if you are short and overweight, then mini handbags are not flattering either.

Super small handbags have been trending this year, as you may have noticed. While it’s a fun trend it tends to be something that’s difficult to wear as a plus-size woman.

The problem with these micro bags?

They often take away from your shape and don’t offer a lot of balance to the body primarily because of the scale.

Keep it simple

Fashion is all about experimenting and expressing yourself and it’s definitely something you should do when getting dressed.

If you’re short and overweight, just make sure you’re not wearing TOO many things, details, etc. at one time. Over doing it on a lot of trend or details can add bulk and weight to the body, because there’s so much going on within an outfit.

As the infamous Coco Chanel said “before you leave the house take one thing off.”

This is a great rule to live by for plus size women.

For example, if you’re wearing statement earrings skip an over the top necklace to wear with them. Another example is wearing a statement blouse, avoid pairing it with a bold pair of pants and instead keep it on the more neutral side.

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A good rule of thumb here is to choose one or two items that are your focal points (or statements) within an outfit and the rest of the items should compliment those.


What to wear when fat and short? ›

A line dresses

The A-line silhouette is one of the most flattering on someone who is short and chubby. The reason is because they are fitted on top, and then they flare out under your waist. This shape will create the illusion of a smaller waist, which is what every short and curvy girl wants.

What is the best dress shape for overweight? ›

Here are the most flattering plus-size dresses:
  1. Feminine Wrap Dresses. The feminine wrap dress is the most flattering dress for plus size. ...
  2. A-line Dresses. ...
  3. Empire Dresses. ...
  4. Straight Dresses. ...
  5. Off-the-shoulder dresses. ...
  6. Peplum Dresses. ...
  7. Midi dresses. ...
  8. Fit-and-flare dresses.
Dec 3, 2022

What should you not wear if you are overweight? ›

Avoid large tops, wide tent dresses, and baggy pants that hide your shape and make your body appear larger than it is. Covering your body shape and trying to hide behind your clothes doesn't help your look at all. On the contrary, it makes everyone aware of the fact that you aren't comfortable with your body.

What size does a 200 pound woman wear? ›

Size Chart
X-Large190 - 210 lbs5'10" - 6'2"
1X-4X175 - 330 lbs5'2" - 6'4"
5X-8X330 - 480 lbs5'4" - 6'4"
M/L135 - 200 lbs5'5" - 6'0"
11 more rows

How to look classy when overweight? ›

If you are on the heavier side, we suggest you always opt for vertical prints over the horizontal variant as they make you look less bulky and more toned. Dark colors at night and pastel colors during the day can work in your favor. If you are busty and have a slim waist, wear jeans that enhance your curves.

Which fabric makes you look slim? ›

Cotton, denim, silk, or wool gabardine are generally on the slimmer side and won't add any extra volume. Wide wale corduroy, on the other hand, along with crushed velvet, leather, suede, mohair, angora, taffeta, boucle, and flannel, tend to be a bit bulkier.

What size is considered plus size? ›

According to PLUS Model magazine, "In the fashion industry, plus size is identified as sizes 18 and over, or sizes 1X-6X and extended size as 7X and up". The article continues "Susan Barone [...] shared, 'Plus sizes are sizes 14W – 24W. Super sizes and extended sizes are used interchangeably for sizes 26W and above.

How do you style a plus size body? ›

10 Plus-Size Fashion Tips with a Body-Positive Attitude
  1. Give your body, psyche and wardrobe a boost.
  2. Dress to elongate your body.
  3. Show off your shape.
  4. Define your waist.
  5. Or wear dresses and tunics that flow.
  6. Work with your personal proportions.
  7. Opt for relaxed pieces.
  8. Add jackets and cardigans.
Sep 15, 2022

How can I look thinner in a short dress? ›

Shapewear with tummy control help create a slenderer silhouette, especially under garments with high waists, like pencil skirts. Choose from bodysuits, boy shorts, briefs, camis, and more. Wear opaque black nylons to lengthen your legs. Opaque black tights are guaranteed to make your legs look longer and slimmer.

How can I hide my lower belly pooch? ›

How to dress to hide belly fat
  1. Do not wear tight clothing on your belly, favouring “smart” draped tops instead. ...
  2. Wear leggings or skinny jeans with longer tops, also draped or with asymmetric cuts. ...
  3. Create vertical lines with long cardigans, slim fit coats and long blazers.

What are the best jeans for belly fat? ›

In terms of hiding belly fat, high-waisted jeans could become your new best friend. Simply put, high-rise jeans help you hide belly fat by covering and smoothing the area. Wide Leg: In response to the skinny jeans phenomenon, wide-leg styles have become more popular as a way to offer something different.

What should I wear if I am 50 and fat? ›

Opt for longer tops to flatter your midsection.

Instead, stick with long, flattering tops that cover your entire waist and that go down to your hips. For example, you could wear a long tank top or t-shirt for a casual look. Try a long sweater or tunic-style blouse for something a bit dressier.

What should I wear when I weigh myself? ›

Wear as little clothing as possible when you weigh yourself, and try to wear the same or similar clothing each time you weigh in. Put your scale on a hard, flat surface, as a scale on an uneven surface won't read correctly. Stand still, barefoot, on the scale with your weight evenly distributed on both feet.

What should a short height girl wear? ›

Pants, slim jeans, skirts, and shorts with a high waist create the illusion of longer legs, making you appear taller. In addition, A tucked-in fitted blouse, a button-down shirt, or a crop top/bralette can be worn with high-waist bottoms.

How many pounds does it take to drop a dress size? ›

You can drop a dress size (anywhere from 10 to 15 pounds, or about an inch or two from your bust and hips) and be special-occasion slim in only six weeks.

What size is 160 pounds? ›

S4'11 - 5'4 /1.50 - 1.60cm95 - 115lbs / 43 - 52kg
M5'2 - 5'7 / 1.55 - 1.70cm115 - 135lbs / 52 - 61kg
L5'4 - 5'9 / 1.60 - 1.75cm135 - 155lbs / 61 - 70kg
XL5'6 - 5'11 / 1.65 - 1.80cm150 - 175lbs / 68 - 77kg
1 more row

How many pounds do you need to lose to go down a size? ›

How much weight do i need to lose to drop pants size? On average, every 10 lbs of weight a person loses will equate to 1 pant size smaller. So, for example, if someone lost 25 pounds, they would likely drop 2 and a half sizes in pants.

Which dress suit for short girl? ›

A mid-calf length will make you look a lot shorter than you are. An ankle-length dress will accentuate your length, and you will appear taller than usual. Mom jeans or distressed jeans will perfectly suit a petite body type. Try wearing vertical lines and not horizontal ones.

How can I look cute and chubby? ›

13 natural ways to get chubbier cheeks
  1. Perform facial exercises. Also called “facial yoga,” facial exercises tone the facial muscles for a more youthful appearance. ...
  2. Apply aloe to your skin. ...
  3. Eat aloe. ...
  4. Apply apple skin care products. ...
  5. Eat apples. ...
  6. Apply glycerin and rose water to your skin. ...
  7. Apply honey to your skin. ...
  8. Eat honey.
Jan 14, 2022

Which color makes you look slimmer? ›

Black never fails to make you look slim and elegant. Darker shades of colors like blue, purple and brown can also help to hide flaws and create a slimming illusion. On the other hand, lighter colors, like white and khaki, can add pounds and give the illusion of a larger frame.

What is the best top to look slimmer? ›

Choose Tops with a V-neck

Other elements of this outfit promote the idea of a slender body: the long V-neck attracts the eyes vertically, making the silhouette seem longer (and not wider). The long sleeves also give the illusion of a slimmer figure.

What neckline makes you look skinny? ›

V-Neck Tops

Tops or T-shirts with a V neckline help create an elongated appearance. The inverted triangle gives it an illusion of a slimmer body.

What clothes make you look frumpy? ›

However, there are some fashion choices that can make a woman look frumpy and unattractive. The most common factors that contribute to a frumpy look include clothing that is too tight or too loose, unflattering cuts and shapes, outdated styles, fabrics that don't flatter the body shape, and ill-fitting shoes.

Does being leaner make you look older? ›

Having low body fat may look great on your body but it causes your face to look prematurely older. As we age and lose collagen, our skin doesn't retract as much as it used to. Unable to tighten back up, our skin is left loose causing deep wrinkles and in some cases even hanging skin.

How big is a size 14 woman? ›

Women's Size Chart
M (8-10)36-37″29½-30½″
L (12-14)38½-40″32-33½″
XL (16-18)42-43½″34-36″
XXL (20-22)45-46½″38-40″
4 more rows

How big is a size 12 woman? ›

5'3"–5'6" tall, average: bust (3" < hips), waist (9" < hips)

Is 1X the same as XL? ›

That means there is a lot of overlap and many plus size women who wear sizes 14-22 will be able to wear styles from the straight-size section or the plus size section. While a size XL is designed to fit a size 16/18, she may prefer to wear a size 1X which equates to a size 14/16.

Is plus-size considered curvy? ›

“ Contrary to popular belief you can be plus-size and not be curvy. It's all about body dimensions and how you identify. Bodies that do not have much difference between the bust, waist and hip measurements are not considered curvy whether they fit a size 2 or a size 22.

How to pose overweight models? ›

Poses That Will Boost Confidence for Plus Size Models
  1. Make Sure She Knows That It's Okay to Fail.
  2. Hands on Hips.
  3. Avoid Tension.
  4. Above Eye Level.
  5. Highlight Her Best Features Using Foregrounds.
  6. Avoid Photographing Insecurities.
  7. Regularly Change Poses.
  8. Drop the Front Shoulder.
Jul 8, 2022

Is it harder to lose fat if you're short? ›

The reason is that smaller bodies require less energy and thus burn fewer calories. People with short height naturally have less lean mass. Lean mass includes tissues, muscles, organs, bones, connective tissues.

Does short hair make you look thinner? ›

Short hair can be slimming as well, as long as you have tons of texture and fullness, which make your face look smaller in proportion.

Can a short person wear a maxi dress? ›

Maxi dresses are the perfect choice for any woman who wants to look chic and trendy. They're a great style of dress for women of any shape or size, and certainly should not be shied away from if you have a petite frame or if you have a body shape that's short and curvy.

What clothes to wear if you are short waisted? ›

Wear your belt below the waistband of your pants and skirts. Go for thin belts less than 3/4 inch (1.91 cm) in width. Lower the loops on your pants, skirts, dresses, jackets and coats to create the illusion of a slightly longer torso than it actually is. Go for deep V-neck sweaters.

Which dress is best for 5 feet girl? ›

Lower necklines

V neck and off the shoulder are universally flattering to short girls under 5 feet tall. Deep V neck works on pretty much petite women of any height and any body type.

How can I look 20 lbs lighter? ›

How to Look 20 Pounds Thinner in Under Two Minutes
  1. Pay attention to vertical lines. These lines in seams, ...
  2. Steer clear of bulky fabrics like boucle and heavy wools. ...
  3. Keep embellishments to a minimum. ...
  4. To instantly appear more slender, try wearing the same. ...
  5. Don't wear clothes that are too large or too small.
Feb 15, 2010

How do you wear a short dress without showing skin? ›

Layer over the skirt.

This will help break up the short line of the skirt and allow you to feel more covered and secure. Try wearing a long coat or cardigan over a short skirt. Keep it unfastened in the front so you can still show off your skirt and bare legs while being covered in the back.

How can I lose weight fast to fit into a dress? ›

10 tips drop a dress size
  1. Bulk up your meals with leafy greens. ...
  2. Drink LOTS of water. ...
  3. Eat high protein diet. ...
  4. Eat more fibre. ...
  5. Reduce your alcohol. ...
  6. Cut down on processed foods. ...
  7. Focus on your core. ...
  8. Reduce dairy intake.
Jan 22, 2021

Can I wear shorts if I am fat? ›

It's YOUR body.

Whether you wear skirts or shorts or crop tops is your business. You are in charge of your body. Period. It doesn't matter if you have a short body or tall body or fat body or skinny body.

Is a size 14 fat? ›

Generally, yes, most people I know around a 14 I'd consider overweight but that doesn't mean I don't also think they're beautiful. Of course it's overweight. But then most people are these days, so it's normal. Under/healthy/overweight are factual categories based on weight and height, not dress size.

What jeans to wear if you have a big stomach? ›

Mid-rise and high-rise jeans help to cover your belly. These jeans are the most flattering shape if you have concerns about your tummy. Avoid wearing low-rise jeans. These don't cover your belly and tend to cause a “muffin-top”— bulges of skin—which may make you feel uncomfortable.

Can I wear leggings if I'm fat? ›

Wear High-Quality Leggings

Whichever ones you choose, make sure they are decently opaque, well made, slim-fitting, and stretch, but not too much! They need to hold you in and smooth out any lumps and bumps without losing their shape. A high, wide waistband also helps immensely to give you a sleek, sexy look.

What not to wear if you are short waisted? ›

We're not infringing on your right to wear colors; we just suggest avoiding tops and bottoms that contrast severely. It'll further exaggerate your shorter torso. You want to pick pieces that elongate your silhouette, and short jackets that showcase your mini torso won't do that.

How much should a 5 3 woman weigh? ›

Weight and height guide chart
HeightNormal weight BMI 19–24Overweight BMI 25–29
5 ft 3 in (63 in)107–135 lb141–163 lb
5 ft 4 in (64 in)110–140 lb145–169 lb
5 ft 5 in (65 in)114–144 lb150–174 lb
5 ft 6 in (66 in)118–148 lb155–179 lb
15 more rows

On what size am I considered fat? ›

Adult Body Mass Index

If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range. If your BMI is 18.5 to <25, it falls within the healthy weight range. If your BMI is 25.0 to <30, it falls within the overweight range. If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obesity range.

How many pounds is a size 14? ›

The healthy weight range for your height is between 121 pounds to 153 pounds. So yes, if you are female you need to gain around 15 pounds to be within the healthy weight range at your current height, and if you are male you would need to gain more like 25 pounds to be in the healthy range. How much did you weigh at 14?


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