Woman struggling to do up a skirt zipper

 Who ate all the mince pies?

January, boo hiss. The fun is over. No more: ‘Season of misty fruitfulness’ (eats giant apple pie). No more: ‘It’s okay, it’s Christmas. I’m just celebrating!’ (Eats entire box of Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Everything Collection).

Or is that just me?

It’s that time of year when if you have, in fact, eaten a lot of the aforementioned (delicious) chocolate, you have to choose what to wear very carefully when leaving the house. The school run is fine. Big coat – tick. Oversized blanket scarf – tick. Boots – tick. No one can see my actual body – I might as well wear my duvet! But, if I am going to be in the company of others without a coat, I may be struggling somewhat.

Are you the same? I know that come January 75% of my wardrobe either won’t fit me or, if I can squeeze myself in, I won’t be able to breathe. If, like me, you have gained a good few pounds (and enjoyed every minute of the work involved in said expansion) you will need to pay more attention than normal to your clothes for a few weeks.

Not being able to zip up my favourite trousers is all the motivation I need to cut back on the booze and the sugar until my body deflates. In the meantime, I rely on my post-Christmas styling techniques. These beauties are so subtle and effective, they will fox even the most Miss Marple-esque of observers into thinking you haven’t gained an ounce (okay, slight exaggeration, they might just think you are looking really good compared to last January.)

  1. Create the right silhouette

Depending on where you carry your weight, you can choose to make one half of your body loose and floaty and the other half a bit more streamlined. This will draw attention to your still slim bits and hide your wobblier areas.

For me, a loose or floaty top (to hide my tum) with straight legged trousers is the most flattering option but for you it may be a slightly huggy top with a loose floaty skirt (to hide your bum).

  1. Use colour and print wisely

I adore colour and print but when I’m at my heaviest I need to keep things plainer. Light and bright colours draw attention and can end up making the part of your body displaying the pattern look a bit bigger.

Print can confuse the eye which is good but the wrong print will make you look bigger. See my blog on patterns to work out your best style of print. http://helenreynolds.net/the-5-mistakes-people-make-when-wearing-print/

  1. Beware of layering and belts (and other such embellishments!)

For example: if you have a big tummy and you decide to try to disguise it by swathing a pirate-style belt across yourself, you will not be disguising it. In fact, you might as well opt for a neon flashing sign saying ‘BIGGEST TUMMY IN ENGLAND, SEE IT HERE (DRINKS AND SNACKS AVAILABLE)’. This is because, by putting any kind of detail on your largest area, the eye of the beholder is naturally drawn to look at this exact area. This is true, not just of belts and other details (e.g. pockets on shirts are a big no-no if you want to minimise how big your bust looks) but also for hemlines. So, if your hips are your widest point, try to avoid any long line tops that finish at the top of your hip. They are going to act like a great, big arrow, showing where you are biggest.

Okay. End of sermon. Actually, I do need to go now. I think my ‘disguise’ is working so well that I might be able to get away with one (or two) more chocolates. Don’t tell anyone.

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