Cheat your way to a slim figure

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Worry not if your New Year resolution to lose a few pounds went awry, because a slimmer silhouette for spring is still possible – with zero effort required.

Thanks to designers like Stella McCartney and her coveted panelled dresses, which have been favoured by countless stars on the red carpet, the high street has cottoned on to the body-boosting trickery of illusion dressing.

Carefully-placed panels which can transform your figure in seconds have been worked into trousers and skirts, dresses and coats,

Master the art of illusion dressing and these eye-deceiving wonders do all the hard work for you.

Cheat yourself slim with our wardrobe short cuts, then have your cake and eat it.


Maximise curves that aren’t there or minimise lumps and bumps that are with a super-flattering panelled dress.

Clever use of black panels around the side of the dress create the impression of a Jessica Rabbit-esque hourglass figure. It’s a technique that can also be achieved with cheeky sheer panelling if you’re feeling brave.

Either opt for a sporty A-line shape for a looser silhouette or take the plunge with a body-hugging shift dress that clings to your new-found curves. For a variation on two contrasting colours, look for a dress featuring prominent vertical lines to accentuate your figure in all the right places.


No need for a corset; illusionist pieces can cinch your waist in for you.

While side stripes are a must for a leaner silhouette, black panels around the middle will whittle down your waistline in an instant.

Whether it’s one solid black panel or criss-cross contrasting lines, the cinching effect will bestow a waist of enviable proportions.

If your tummy’s a concern, seek out sculpting underwear or slips for an extra boost.

Playing with proportions can have a surprisingly flattering effect too – a peplum top with its large exaggerated frill focuses attention on the hips, making your waist look smaller for added curve appeal.


The 2012 Olympics sparked a sports luxe trend that’s a winner for flattering thighs. Look to trousers with go-faster stripes. A contrasting panel that runs from waistband to ankle down the side of your leg will create the illusion of longer, slimmer pins. The trend applies to a variety of trousers from skinny jeans and posh joggers to cigarette pants and tailored styles. Try trousers that sit higher on the waist to eliminate muffin tops, and flat front pleats will flatter hips. Avoid too sporty a look by wearing your side stripe trews with towering heels. Add pointed toes to the equation and say hello to your new supermodel legs.


Those lacking in stature can gain valuable inches with some clever clothing combinations.

The trend for trouser and skirt suits has really taken off on the high street, where you can opt for stylish geometric prints or bold block colours.

For ultimate figure flattery look for longer-length blazers tailored to nip in slightly at the waist.

Opting for a cohesive look with clean lines instantly lengthens your silhouette, making you look longer and leaner. Just add heels to really heighten the effect.

If you’re looking for a flattering evening dress, consider a maxi-length option. Any dark colour worn head-to-toe minus frills and fussiness has a dramatically lengthening effect.