Holiday Fashion: Slenderize Your Look

The holiday season can be disastrous for our figures: It’s hard to avoid turkey, stuffing and sweets between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. But even if you put on a few pounds during the holidays, the rest of the world doesn’t have to know. Choosing the right clothes and accessories can make you look (and feel!) slimmer. Dress to impress with these slimming tricks.

Slimming Trick No. 1: Play Up Your Assets

Fight the urge to hide in baggy clothes, which can accentuate flaws. Instead, accentuate your best features. For instance, a scoop neck can play up your collarbone while drawing attention away from your stomach. Also avoid boxy shapes, such as cardigans and blouses that end at the hip, and opt for longer cuts. This elongates your body to give you a trimmer appearance. Need extra help? Consider shapewear, which will help smooth out any problem areas.

Slimming Trick No. 2: Go Dark

Dark hues have a slimming effect, so be strategic. If your hips are a problem area, reach for a black skirt or pants. Pair that with black tights and shoes to lengthen your figure. And consider adding a pop of red, which is another slenderizing shade. Vertical stripes -- especially thin ones like pinstripes -- can also mask a few pounds.

Slimming Trick No. 3: Choose the Right Cut

When it comes to jeans, a midrise dark-wash with a slight boot or flare cut is generally the most flattering. For dresses, look for an empire waist that’s tightest below the bust and flares outwards. This shape emphasizes the narrowest part of your body while covering up your belly and hips. Similarly, an A-line skirt offers the same effect. Finish the look with a belt around the waist to play up that hourglass shape.

Also, look for a long winter coat. A lengthy cut that covers your hips will create the illusion of a tall, lean figure.

Slimming Trick No. 4: Accessorize Wisely

Whether you’re sporting jeans, a dress or skirt, adding a pair of heels will make your legs and torso seem more slender.

Long scarves and necklaces are an excellent way to draw attention to the slimmest area of your body. To make your face look thinner, highlight the length of your neck by pulling your hair up and away from your face in the form of a sleek bun or ponytail.

Slimming Trick No. 5: Choose Flattering Fabrics

It’s possible to stay warm without looking chunky. Choose cashmere and cotton sweaters instead of wool and other bulky materials. And when you layer, put darker colors underneath and lighter colors on top for an added slimming effect. 

7 Commandments of Seasonal Stress Reduction

Sure, the holidays are full of cheer. But with the social obligations and gift shopping, it’s also packed with stress. In fact, a survey from the American Psychological Association found that 8 in 10 people expect to feel anxious sometime during the season. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend the holiday time in a Grinch-like mood. Follow these stress reduction commandments to remain calm and merry.

1. Take a deep breath. Breath work stimulates the vagal response, a nervous system reaction that has a calming effect, explains Julie Chen, M.D., an internist in San Jose, Calif. She recommends inhaling to a count of four and exhaling to a count of seven for a few minutes. 

2. Get moving. Even a short stroll or workout can relieve tension. It can also encourage the release of feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins, says Chen. So carve out a little time to take a walk or workout with a relaxing yoga DVD.

3. Prioritize your time. Cookie swaps, holiday cocktails, gift exchanges -- all of these holiday activities are loads of fun. But piling on too much can leave you feeling exhausted and stressed. Instead of responding “sure!” to invites immediately, check your schedule first and be honest about how much you can handle. And don’t feel shy about declining. A simple “thanks so much, but we can’t” works; you don’t need to go into too much detail.

4. Sip some tea. Whether you prefer green or black, a cup of tea is soothing. According to a study from the University College of London, people who drank a mug after completing a frustrating task experienced a 47 percent decrease in in their level of the stress hormone cortisol.

5. Whiff some lavender. Research shows that this fragrant herb can calm frazzled nerves. So light a candle, spritz some air freshener or plug in a diffuser filled with this relaxing scent.

6. Don’t forget quality time. When you’re rushing to tick off that to-do list, it’s all too easy to let the quiet moments fall to the wayside. But remember that the true meaning of the holidays is spending time with friends and family. While you’re at it, give that loved one a big hug: Scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that a 20-second embrace can lower your blood pressure and stress levels.

7. Eat your fruits and veggies. Along with the ham and sugar cookies, don’t forget to load up on apples, carrots and spinach. A study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that people felt calmer and happier on the days they ate at least seven to eight servings of produce. Make sure to incorporate fruits and vegetables into every meal and snack.