Rule: Fitted clothes are the most flattering for bigger figures

In Clothes, Famous people, Plus sizes on April 19, 2011 at 5:51 pm


Adele is a phenomenon. The double Grammy-winning singer has equalled music sales records previously held by Madonna and the Beatles.

Her second album debuted at number one in the US charts and hit the same spot in seventeen other countries. She’s made the best cover version of a Bob Dylan track ever. And she’s only 22.

So what else is interesting about this British-born pop singer? Let me see… She has lovely auburn hair. She has a beautiful pouty mouth. She has skin like a porcelain doll. She works a liquid eyeliner even better than Amy Winehouse. Anything else? Hmmmm, oh yes, she’s a little large-boned, isn’t she?

Her size and shape really are the least interesting things about Adele, but what is worth comment is how she dresses for her size. She’s living proof that trying to hide heft looks much worse than being out and proud about it.

What Adele shows here it that fitted clothes are the way for bigger women to go. Not seeking refuge in stretch and layers, or hiding away under Mama Cass marquees, but shoulders back, chin up in fitted clothing. Here I am. Take a look.

That’s fitted, not as in tight, mind you, but as in tailored to fit, describing the shape truthfully, but not making it bulge anywhere. It’s like good upholstery. Makes the lines of whatever it is covering look sleek and sophisticated.

Seen here collecting her Grammys in February wearing a gorgeous shiny, belted dress, she’s breaking at least two of the standard rules for larger sized women, but I think she looks amazing. She looked equally good at the UK Brit music awards in a fitted black lace knee-length shift over a plain slip.

In both cases, what could have been a lot of black acreage was lifted by nifty details; the diamante brooch and belt at the Grammys and the sheer areas of lace at the Brits, where her beautiful ivory skin could shine through.

The other secret to Adele’s generous glamour is her stylised grooming. That full-on make up, with the false eyelashes and the liner. The hair as tailored as her clothing. It all adds to the gloss of her look. She’s big and she needs statements in proportion to carry it off. She’s as mannered in her styling as the babes on Madmen, there’s just more of her to love.

The one word which would define her approach is unapologetic. She doesn’t look great despite being big, it’s an essential part of it.

The thing I would like to see her embrace next is some colour. Black is the obvious choice for the downsizing optical illusion, but having pioneered the unapologetic approach, with that beautiful hair colour, I’d love to see her in emerald green satin, or even burnt orange.

Of course, Adele has a big budget (and probably a major league stylist…) and going the tailored route would involve some investment with a dressmaker, who can adjust things to fit. But wouldn’t it be worth it to have a few amazing outfits that really do the job, rather than a wardrobe of depressing it’ll-have-to-do compromises?

Another way to go would be to source old sewing patterns – you often see them in op shops – and have vintage-style pieces like Adele’s, tailor made.

Precious things come in big packages too.

  1. Just another superb column! Question for you, Madame of Style, I can understand the fitted aspect of dressing. Today I received 2 black (sorry, they didn’t offer navy) so-called fitted very nice tee=shirts. The problem is they seen to accentuate the muffin top around the waist line. Waistline nonexistent, mind you. What to do? What to do? I do wear a nice, but comfy, bra. I refused to wear an elastic under my garments. I won’t suffer. Any suggestions?

  2. Being more of an Adele than an Elle myself, I whole heartedly agree. The place to go for fabulous made to your measurements dresses for those of us who can’t do off the rack so well is (Heart My Closet is a particular favourite) – absolutely brilliant & dead cheep as well.


  3. And her voice is spectacular too! Love her, all of her!

  4. So true.
    This is also so true for mums with young children who are struggling to dress a changed body shape post-baby. Often it is tempting to cover ourselves in tent like dresses or baggy cargos (um, that was me..) yet clothes that are more fitted are far more flattering.
    This also came out of a survey I did with 150 mums about their 12 tops for looking good once you have kids (I hope you don’t mind me sharing here Maggie x)


  5. I think all body types look better in fitted (but not tight) clothes.
    It is only the very slim who can successful pull off the loose and voluminous, and even they need to contrast with fitted and show some skin or risk being swamped.

  6. Leona Edmiston works for my healthy build. And she now does plus sizes.

  7. Hey, thanks so much for putting your article into some sort of context of Adele’s brilliant singing and other achievements. It’s so boring, and disheartening, to constantly hear women dissected as if their looks were the most and only important aspect of them. To read a fashion article that reflects fashion as indicative of a greater, more complete life, is very refreshing. And it goes some way in redressing the vast majority of fashion writing that’s manipulative drivel.

    From a teenage girl, sick and tired of it all.

  8. I do think Adele is absolutely gorgeous, and I like the way she is being styled (or styles herself, not sure which it is). I do think that anyone who wasn’t very young and china doll exquisite like her might run the risk of looking a bit old and dumpy though with the stylised grooming and rather formal tailored clothes. It’s a very fine line for your average woman to walk, and definitely requires a delicate touch.

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