Friday 9 December 2016

Optical Illusions: How to use contouring to hide imperfections

Published 03/10/2011 | 05:00

Kate Winslet in Stella McCartney. Getty Images
Kate Winslet in Stella McCartney. Getty Images
‘Mercury’ dress, €127, Monsoon
Panelled strapless dress €71.50, from Lipsy

Colour and contour are going to be your best friends if you want to flatter your body shape and to hide those, em, slight imperfections!

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The super-flattering Stella McCartney dress that Kate Winslet wore to the recent Venice Film Festival was a lesson to us all in how you can 'Photoshop' your body and achieve a nipped-in waist without resorting to the surgeon's knife, or shapewear that makes you lose the will to live.

Stella's stretch-cotton dress in black, beige and white was a triumph of optical illusion. It played up Kate's bustline magnificently through the judicious seaming of two contrasting colours, creating an almighty uplift, as cupped hands would do.

The magical dress also played down her silhouette with black side panels that crucially curved into the waist.

The eye reads the darker colour first, so that's why the narrowing of the black panel effectively whittled inches off her waist as far as the human eye could tell.

A tape measure might have told a different story.

However, you don't have to fork out Stella money (around €1,300) for a dress that gives the illusion of a boob job or a tummy tuck. I've done extensive homework on the high street and was thrilled with my finds.

Black is most girls' best friend for slimming down their thighs, but the whole dress doesn't have to be black. Achieve clever contouring as you would with a blusher brush on your face or chest and let those dark panels to the side of your dress tell some fabulous lies -- you don't have to 'fess up to a single bump.

The most affordable and effective dress I found was the Asos hour-glass pencil dress, with its built-in slimming colours(€51.28). The secret of its success lies in the gentle curves of the central boucle panel.

The lines are more vertical and less sexy on the 'Mercury' dress from Monsoon (€127). It's very slimming and more of a work option.

Closet at Alwear has a keenly priced dress in orange or lime green with black panels on the sides for just €30.

Another confidence booster is a super-slimming, black-and-cream 'bodycon' striped dress from Limited Collection at M&S. At €54, it was a total crowd pleaser at the recent autumn/winter 2012 fashion show in Dublin.

This dress really does the business, with lots of optical illusion created by the criss-cross stripes on top which draw the eye away from the black panels below, which in turn quieten and tame thighs.

Best of all, vertical lines give the illusion of making you taller.

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