Excerpt: 'How Not to Look Fat'

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May 9, 2006 — -- As a former plus-size model, Danica Lo knows all about dressing for her weight. The key is not to squeeze into the smallest size possible but to find things that are flattering. Lo, whose columns have appeared in the New York Post, gives the reader tips on how to dress for her individual body type, no matter what the size.

Read an excerpt from the book below.

Chapter 4: PANTS

Trousers, slacks, dungarees -- no matter what funny name you give them, pants nowadays, far more than skirts, are what American women live in on a day to day basis.

But just as everyone's got their favorite pair -- mine are black Helmut Lang tuxedo trousers I bought years ago that, even my mother concedes, make me look thin -- everyone's also got some major pants problems hiding in their collections.

With so many styles to choose from, the temptation to stock up on unflattering styles of this indispensable wardrobe staple leads many women to fill their closets with tons of badly chosen bottoms -- all for the sake of variety. But here's a bit of advice: Variety's not all it's chalked up to be.

Ever notice how real fashion people -- industry icons like Giorgio Armani, Donna Karan, and Karl Lagerfeld -- always look basically the same?

It doesn't matter what's in style and what season it is.

They don't give a flying hoot if Russian cassock is the look of the year. Sod the peasant shirt and never mind the bollocks -- they're sticking to their guns and flying the flag for monotony.

They've found their look; they've found what works for them; they know what they like.

Not only does finding your true fashion self make getting dressed in the morning a piece of cake, but having a signature look shows that an individual has a point of view -- she knows herself, she knows what looks good, and she's not desperately grasping at trends.

That said, to put it to practical use, here's my advice: If you find pants that make you look hot, buy more than one pair. Buy, like, five. Good pants are hard to find. And anyway, who cares if they're all the same if you wind up with five pairs of pants that make you look hot?

If you haven't yet found the trousers of your dreams, don't panic. Shopping for pants is a lot like shopping for jeans -- real tough, but super rewarding in the end. Follow the same principles of proportion and color as you do with denim -- i.e., look for a dark color boot cut with a longer, wider calf proportion.

Vertical patterns, like pinstripes, lengthen the leg and tend to be very flattering. Try to avoid any patterns that are round, square, or that run horizontally -- at best they're harmless, but, for the most part, they're horrible.

Unless you're a model being paid to strut down a (specifically) Paris runway, stay away from high-waisted styles, pleats, and tapered trousers in light colors. Just remember that while you may covet the supermodel look, it is the supermodel look and (I'm going to take a wild stab and guess that) you are probably not a supermodel.

OBJECTS IN THE REAR VIEW MAY BE LARGER THAN THEY APPEAR: Improving your rear view is all about visually reducing the amount of fabric that seems to be devoted to the general badonkadonk area. A wider waistband defines the upper parameter, but what about the lower?

Unfortunately, since most dressier pants don't have externally stitched pockets to delineate the borders of your butt space, you're left relying on the interaction between center seam and the waistband for lifting and sculpting illusions. Make sure to check out your back view in the fitting room mirror.

In the case of trousers, I find that unless there are back pockets, a non-clinging material like gabardine, which doesn't cup your buttocks and, instead, hangs straight down from the center of your butt, yields a far more flattering rear view than any butt-clinging stretchy textile.

WAISTBAND: Look for a mid-rise style that's high enough to cover the lower abdomen, but low enough to see the side curvature of your waist. A wider waistband -- think 3 inches plus -- not only helps to rein in the tummy but also makes your butt look smaller from the back.

CREASES: You already know that pleats are the work of devil's spawn, but creases are like an angel singing. A clean, knife-sharp crisp crease straight down the front of each leg is terrific in suiting trousers -- the vertical line works wonders for elongating and slimming the leg.

ALWAYS: Wear heels with pants. Heels make your legs look longer.

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