How to wear tricky items: billowy tops

A few days ago, my housemate, Sam, was having a bit of a fashion dilemma. Sam’s got this gorgeous printed top that she loves, but isn’t sure how to wear it. If I were to describe the top, I’d call it a tunic or a kaftan. It’s basically square, with a scoop neck and wide sleeves. It’s a very billowy, shapeless sort of garment.



The biggest danger in wearing a top like this is that you run the risk of looking shapeless as well. This is especially true if you have an ample bosom and shapely hips. Because the garment is basically straight up-and-down, it’s going to hang from your shoulders and disguise your natural curves, so rather than looking lovely and shapely, you wind up looking like Spongebob Squarepants. There are several simple things that you can do to tweak this garment and incorporate it into outfits that accentuate your feminine assets.


The easiest way to lend shape to a billowy garment is to create a waistline. By nipping the garment in at the waist, you create a flattering hourglass shape that maxes your assets. It’s important that you create the waistline at the narrowest point of your torso. Most women seem to think that their waistline is around their navel, but actually it’s usually a few centimeters above your bellybutton. I blame the hipster-jean trend for giving us ‘waistline amnesia’. By placing the waistline at the narrowest point of your torso, you accentuate this area and create the most flattering silhouette possible.


There are several ways to create a waistline in a billowy top or dress. The simplest way is to add a belt. You could also add a waist-cincher or corset-style belt to the waistline of a loose-fitting top to pull it in and create a bit of shape. I have a corset belt that I wear all the time, which is fantastic for creating a waistline. If you wanted a more relaxed look, you could even use a silk scarf to cinch your waist.


While adding a belt will work beautifully, if the top is very floaty, this may cause the fabric to bunch and gather in an unflattering way. This will probably feel uncomfortable, and the top may ride up or sag down during the day. To combat this problem, I suggest sewing a length of ribbon or fabric to either side of the top. You can then use these as ties to pull the top in at the sides, which will create a waistline without bunching the material. Make sure that you try the top on and decide exactly where to sew the ribbons to give you the best shape. Once again, it’s best to aim for the narrowest point on your torso for the most flattering silhouette.


Billowy tops look best when the bottom half of your outfit is fitted. If you wear a loose top with a pair of baggy pants or a voluminous skirt, you’re going to completely obliterate the natural shape of your body, which may make you look shapeless and frumpy. If you’re wearing something baggy and loose on top, try wearing a pair of tight pants or jeans or even a fitted skirt. Wearing something tight on the bottom half of your body accentuates the shape of your legs and anchors the billowy top.

If you have a tricky item that you aren’t sure how to wear, feel free to get in touch with me. I’d love to help you out!


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