Able's Guide to Style at Any Size

Dressing tips to try today
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Able's Guide to Style at Any Size

Dress your best to feel good now

Able is a personalized program that adjusts to your lifestyle and addresses the needs of your body and mind in reaching your happy weight. It’s this comprehensive approach, centered on losing weight through behavior change and one-on-one coaching, that makes Able work for you in the long run. 

But what can you do now to look and feel your best? Losing weight sustainably takes time, but dressing well can put your best foot forward today. 

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When you’re overweight, it can be difficult to know what to wear to make the best impression. In this ebook, we’ll cover the basic principles of dressing for your body type, avoiding common fashion faux pas, and what you should focus on to make sure you look your best. We’ll also provide tips and advice on how to choose the right clothes and accessories to create a great first impression. 

Whether you’re looking to make a good impression on a first date, at an interview, or just want to look your best, you’ll find plenty of helpful advice in this ebook. We’ve broken the tips down into sections for men and women, but every tip can be helpful for any gender. Let’s get started!

Chapter
1

For Men

Read Chapter
Chapter
7

For Women

Read Chapter
CHAPTER 1

The problem with “ready to wear”

When you look at a clothing website or browse a rack at a brick-and-mortar store, you are looking at clothing that has fabric cut in pieces with lengths and widths that are all the same. And at the next size up, all the width and lengths get bigger in the same proportion. This isn’t how humans work. Not every gain gets bigger in every part (and bone!) in your body when you gain weight.

So even if the size says “large,” it’s really just another “one-size-fits-all.” This blanket approach, generalizing all men into a couple size categories, makes everyone look worse. 

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When you try something on and think there’s something wrong with you when it doesn’t look good, more often the real problem is that the clothing isn't suited to your specific body measurements. For example, no matter what your weight is, if the shirt forms a slim waist above or below where your actual waist line is, it’s the shirt’s fault not yours.

Similarly, the fashion industry uses male models who have extremely similar measurements so these “one-size-fits-all” clothes look the same in photos. And when the clothes don’t sit right because one model has different shoulders than another, they insert hidden clips in the clothes or use Photoshop to make it look like the clothing is cinched in the right places. The result is a great looking photo that has nothing to do with how regular people look in their clothes day-to-day. 

So forget about “measuring up” to what’s available in stores or websites and focus on what’s best for you.

CHAPTER 2

You deserve a custom fit

You may think that buying a bigger size will hide the parts of your body you feel less confident about. However, baggy clothing can pull people’s attention to your size and give them the false impression of sloppiness. If the fabric is folding over itself when you wear it, that’s a sign it’s too big. The best fit, that you will feel the most comfortable in, shouldn’t hug you or hang off you too much. 

What if you only fit into the next size up? Fair enough, but remember what we said about “ready-to-wear” clothing. That size up may not sit well on you. The best way to fix this is taking that size up to your local tailor. Have them measure you and adjust the length, arms and waist according to your unique body. And don’t forget that it’s not just you. Every body is unique!

And true, a tailor does cost money–$20 for example, but you can buy fewer clothes, have them fit well, and wear them more often. Trust us, it’s worth it!

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CHAPTER 3

What to wear

Now that you recognize the importance of fit and tailoring, let’s discuss what to buy in the first place. The best start is what’s called a “capsule” wardrobe. This is a small collection of essential clothing items that are high quality, can be mixed and matched easily, and are appropriate for multiple types of occasions. Think shirt, pants, lightweight jacket, sweater, heavier jacket, loafers and casual shoes. 

Fabric

When buying that first item–the shirt or pants–it’s important to pick light-weight fabrics. Why? Bulkier fabrics can make you look bigger. They can also make you sweat more and may stain more easily. Wool is an example of a heavy fabric that can also be itchy on your skin. 

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Cotton is usually a lightweight fabric. It drapes off of your skin easily. It’s not too lightweight, as linen can be. A fabric that’s too lightweight doesn’t drape. It clings to you, revealing bulges and sweat. 

Essential items

And while you may want to sweat to get into shape, we don’t recommend t-shorts and gym shorts for a capsule look. This is because of the shapelessness of these items. 

In fact, shorts in general distort your body’s proportions and draw attention to where skin is not shown–your midsection. If you have to wear shorts, opt for knee-length, low-rise fit rather than heavy cargo shorts with big pockets. 

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And when it comes to pockets, you may be tempted to wear all jeans all the time. However, that fabric is thick and it doesn’t drape nicely off your body. Rather it buckles and bulges. Smooth slacks, however, take up less space and fall against the body more delicately. Choose low-rise fit pants, with a cuffed leg. And remember to close your pants at your belly rather than below it, so as to deemphasize roundness. 

And tuck your shirt into those pants! For the broader man we recommend spread collars of more than 90 degrees. Narrow collars, like narrow ties, can look silly on a larger man. 

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You can also try a guayabera-styled shirt, which when tailored to your body can be worn untucked. In this scenario, the shirt must have a round hem, meaning the front or back is not longer than the other. It is a great way to take focus off the waistline if your tailor gets the shirt to fit just right.

V-neck tops and henleys are also great options because they create vertical lines  that flatter your body. And if you’re a fan of casual sweaters, opt for ones that have built-in collars. This can prevent false impressions that you as a bigger man aren’t taking things seriously. 

Outerwear

Much of looking your best is about looking proportional and together. Wardrobe staples such as the suit, sport coat and blazer make your body look contained. The best suit style for the bigger man is the single-buttoned style rather than the double-breasted because the single-button brings the eye toward the centerline of the body. While bomber and biker jackets can deliver a great silhouette, they are tougher to alter for the right length. In colder weather, a fully-length coat can give your body a solid and svelte impression.

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CHAPTER 4

Colors and patterns

You may be catching on to the fact that dressing well is about pulling people’s attention to where you want it to go. If you want to deemphasize a part of your body such as your thighs or belly, dressing that part in a darker color can draw attention away from it. On the other hand, covering those parts with busy patterns and logos will draw unwanted attention to them.

This doesn’t mean you have to avoid patterns altogether. Instead, bring the focus back to the centerline of your body and to balanced proportions. Shirts with a row of buttons down the middle provide this vertical line. More literally, vertical stripes can narrow your appearance, whereas horizontal ones could widen it.

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Checks can work too, as long as the squares are larger in size, in proportion with your larger body. Careful because larger squares can create the illusion of horizontal lines so choose a check pattern with less contrast (olive and green instead of red and white for example). 

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Stick to pants in neutral colors such as blue, olive and gray. Light colors exaggerate size but that doesn’t mean you need to wear black all the time. Try an outfit with deep hues, such as coffee brown slacks with a black shirt.

CHAPTER 5

Accessories still make the man

Society isn’t perfect. It tells us to look a certain way and if we don’t, we could be judged for it. Men who are overweight can be misjudged as unproductive and sloppy, but there are ways to counteract this false evaluation. You start by dressing in quality clothing rather than shapeless leisure wear, in proportions that align to your specific body and that draw attention to all the right places. 

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And while we can’t change the shape of your body overnight, adding the right accessories to your outfit shows the world that you are a thoughtful and industrious man who values himself and his endeavors with others. 

Putting in a little effort goes a long way. For example, putting your wallet and glasses in a stylish backpack or briefcase rather than bulky pockets will slim your appearance and show how organized and prepared you are. 

Similarly, growing and grooming a beard says to the world that you thought about the impression you would make today. Plus it elongates your face and covers folds of skin! Let’s explore more tips for stretching your frame and impressing everyone you meet.

Suspend your self-doubt

It’s a good thing you invested in high-quality pants. Why? The better pants tend to have loops for fastening suspenders, an accessory you won’t regret. Do you ever get annoyed with your pants falling down, as if your belt was ineffective? That’s because it is. Suspenders hold pants up better than belts, plus they cause less bunching of the shirt. And as with all vertical lines, they have a slimming, lengthening effect. 

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Tie it all together

Nothing says you’re ready for work (or any event really) more than a tie. For broader guys, the best ties span over three inches and get wider at their end. The wider your chest, the wider your tie can be. Otherwise, you’re making your torso look unnecessarily wide. Choose the windsor knot for your tie to keep in proportion with your broadness. And make sure the end of your tie hits roughly at the middle of your belt buckle (or suspender button). 

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Hats off to you!

We’ve said we can’t change your body shape, but did you know that a hat can indeed make you taller? It changes your proportions in the best way and draws attention upward to your face. So if you are ready to command attention, give a hat a go. 

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And before you go, put on accessories that match your proportions. In addition to the wider ties and collars, get a bigger watch face and a bigger tie clip. Remember, when you look balanced and proportional, you’re showing your best self.

CHAPTER 6

In style in no time

At Able we’re thrilled to have you start your custom program to achieve your weight and wellness goals. And it’s in this excitement that we urge you to cast off any thoughts of “when I’m this, then I can do that.” 

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There’s no better day than today to look and feel your best at any size. So make a note of a couple options in this ebook that you’d like to try and let us know how it goes this week. Nobody’s perfect, but with a few tips and tricks, you might be surprised at how light and confident you can be in your own skin. 

CHAPTER 7

A cultural conundrum

Women have long suffered inordinate pressure to convey their worth through their style of dress, often as a result of having limited power and fewer means of self-expression. 

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For an overweight woman, this pressure proves more intense as feelings of invisibility and inadequacy pile up. And as a result of manipulated images online and the generic sizing of fast fashion, curvier women continue to receive the message that they literally and figuratively do not “fit in.”

But that’s society’s problem. Every woman, no matter their size or shape, deserves a voice. And every woman deserves a wardrobe that fits their unique and beautiful body, empowering them to forge relationships and take on new challenges with confidence. 

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You’ve taken a great first step in prioritizing your health and well-being. While you work toward your longer-term goals, you can make style choices today to look and feel your best. Read on for the tips and tricks!

CHAPTER 8

Find your fit

When Goldilocks enters the bear’s house, she doesn’t settle for the papa bear’s bed or the infant bear’s bed. She tests the beds and falls peacefully asleep in the bed sized just for her. 

If there had been a carpenter in the house, we bet she would have asked him to customize the bed even further. 

You need to be Goldilocks. The fast fashion industry is not built to recognize anyone’s one-of-a-kind shape. When the factory increases a dress size, they expand every aspect of that size. If the waist gets bigger, so does the chest and so on. But that’s not how women’s bodies work. 

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You have a unique curve and length all your own and you deserve to feel comfortable, because comfort conveys confidence. So, to live your best life today, put on clothes that aren’t too tight (making your body look larger than it is) and aren’t too big. They should drape easily off your body. And they should have structure, because your body is not an exact square; it has a shape. Your clothes should too. 

There is a great fit for every body type. So make sure your clothing looks flattering on you. For example, if you have a flatter bust, make sure the fabric sits more closely on your chest and add some detail there such as ruffles, ruching or design. If your bust is larger, find tops that don’t pull the fabric too tight across you. You should be able to move and breathe while also showing a defined shape. 

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If you’ve found the right fit and fabric, but want to smooth out bulges, invest in shapewear. The right undergarments smooth out areas under clothing, helping your outfit sit well even if the fabric you’ve chosen has a tendency to cling. 

Tailoring

For the absolute best results, first measure yourself with a measuring tape, or stop by a local tailor to have them do it for you. Buy clothes that you like and have the tailor alter them to your specific measurements. You can budget the tailoring funds by purchasing fewer, higher-quality clothes that last longer. 

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Everyone has a waist

One of the best things you can do today to flatter the shape of your body is to define your waist. We all have one. It’s just a question of calling it out in the best way. So rather than layering clothing over your mid-section, take away that bulk from your frame. 

Cinch your clothing at the waist with a belt or a wrap to create an hourglass shape. Or buy clothing that has a defined waist that lines up with yours–not an inch above or below it unless your tailor can adjust it for you. Choose dresses and skirts with an A-line shape, flaring outward from your waist. 

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To draw attention away from your belly, you can also choose an empire waist, which sits just below your bust. However, make sure that the fabric drapes closely down your stomach from there if you don’t want to give the impression that you’re pregnant. 

Don’t neglect your neckline

What you wear defines what you emphasize. To bring attention up to your face, use the power of the neckline. A high neckline, for example, will bring people’s eyes up to your eyes. An open neckline such as a scooped shape will appear to add length to your neck. A v-neck will make your torso look longer. Pick the effect that works best on your body.

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CHAPTER 9

What to wear

Dress in what drapes well

So you’re eyeing a beautiful dress in your size with a cinched waist, an A-line skirt and a scooped neckline. You know a great tailor who can raise where the waist sits so it matches your proportions. How do you determine if this is the right fabric for you? Does it matter?

First off, more fabric makes you look more bulky. So you should check for layers you may not need, such as unnecessary lining (unless that lining contributes to a smoother appearance). Similarly, watch out for pockets that hang out, making you look bigger as well. 

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Fabric is also about texture. A frayed fabric with tinsel will draw attention, so be careful what fabric you place on what part of your body. Texture around the collar may have a more flattering effect than texture around areas of your body you want to deemphasize. 

Start with essentials

We get it. All of these style tips are a lot to take in, and seemingly a lot to pay for. There’s no need to break the bank. We recommend what’s called a capsule wardrobe–a collection of essential, high-quality pieces that can be easily mixed and matched and that last a long time. 

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Here’s an example of a capsule wardrobe:

Pairing pieces

The above list is perfect for mixing and matching. So how do you do it? For starters, pair tighter layers with flowier layers–for example a flowy white blouse draped over some snug jeans. And speaking of snug, make sure to wear a thong with tighter pants so there’s no panty line showing through. 

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Use layering to your full advantage. Throw a denim jacket over your wrap dress or a blazer over your graphic t-shirt. Once you’ve mastered simple pairings, you can add even more pieces, such as a long overcoat on top of those jeans, or a scoop neck crop top above a long flowy skirt. Throw on some sneakers to make it cool or some pumps to welcome the nightlife.

CHAPTER 10

Colors and patterns

When it comes to patterns, vertical stripes are your friend because they lengthen the appearance of your body. Horizontal stripes, on the other hand, increase the appearance of width. 

Try wearing darker clothing over areas you want to deemphasize. And bring more attention to other areas, such as your collar, with pops of bold color. Think of bright color as an accent rather than something to splash across you or put in blocks. Similarly, keep embellishments to a minimum, or at least put them in the right place. Fringe at the edge of your skirt may flatter your body more than fringe at your waistline. 

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Colors signal the time of day and the mood. For example, blacks, nudes and pastels usher in the evening while jewel tones of red and yellow brighten the day. Go for subtle contrasts of color to add personality and fun to your look.

CHAPTER 11

Accessories command attention

Dressing for success involves influencing what other people focus on. Accessories will help you direct their attention to where you want it. For example, to bring gazes from your stomach to your face, put on a pair of stand-out earrings or a chunky necklace. 

But be careful to match the size of the accessory to your frame. Thin, barely-there jewelry looks silly on a larger woman just as a sizable amulet looks ridiculous on a petite woman. As with your clothing, think about proportion when you choose your accessories. 

Also, not every accessory needs to be expensive jewels. A wide-brimmed hat or a lavish scarf show your care-free and festive side without the bling. And these pieces can be great in patterns such as florals and checks. 

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Keep it all in balance though. If you have a giant metallic scarf, there’s no need for a thick gold chain around your neck. So pick one or the other. And remember that capsule wardrobe? The little black dress? The accessory you add to it, whether a straw hat or a silk scarf, will determine whether you’re ready for the luau or the oscar party. 

Top off your look with a structured bag; not a giant sack bag. Remember, when it comes to style, the statement you rarely want to make is shapeless!

CHAPTER 12

Adapt clothes to you, not the reverse

With every daily decision, you are on your way to better health and wellness. Some of these decisions take months to manifest results, but dressing your best will give you a pep in your step this week. So what are you waiting for? Get the clothes you need to flatter your beautiful, one-of-a-kind shape now. And you can always alter and add to your wardrobe later on. In fact, if you remember one thing from this guide, it’s that your clothes should be adapted to your best self today–not the other way around. Cheers to you and your next steps in style!

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