Every woman’s body is unique, so a dress that looks drop-dead on your friend could make you feel like a shapeless blob, and vice versa. But that caveat aside, there are a few pieces that are pretty much universally flattering, and they’re the ones I always reach for when I’m not quite sure what to wear and want to feel my most confident.
A white or bright top: Shirts in vibrant or light colors draw attention up and make the top half of your body more prominent than the bottom half. Look for tops with clean lines that are neither body-hugging nor baggy, with a subtle V-neck or scoop neckline. A button down that’s cut for a woman’s body is another can’t-go-wrong style. You can usually find chic but classic tops at Ann Taylor.
The perfect black pants: It’s worth trying on ten (or twenty, or thirty) pairs of black pants until you find the perfect ones for your body. Generally, the most flattering styles hug the hips slightly and are cut close to the thigh (without squeezing it), then cover the ankles and flare slightly at the bottom.
Heels: It’s an unavoidable fact that wearing shoes with at least a bit of lift instantly takes five to ten pounds off, though if you find heels horribly uncomfortable it’s not worth it, since being visibly in pain is never a flattering look! Luckily, comfort-oriented brands like Aerosoles and Easy Spirit make some pretty stylish heels these days.
A slightly curvy jacket: A jacket that’s subtly nipped at the waist creates a slimming line and a feminine look.
A cool necklace or colorful scarf: An eye-catching necklace or beautiful scarf (like this chic colorblock one from LOFT) draws attention to your face and makes whatever you’re wearing look more flattering.