Pssst: Black Clothing Doesn't Make You Look Thinner

Why is it almost every overweight female that I encounter is wearing black pants or a black skirt

Yes, I know the fashion gurus are telling you that this will make you magically appear thinner, but it doesn’t. I know 250 pounds when I see it. It doesn’t matter if it’s 250 pounds in black pants, or 250 pounds with fuchsia stripes on a canary background.

I don’t look at a black coffee cup and think, “whoa that’s too small to hold a decent portion. Here this white one will do much better.” I think you’ve all been hoodwinked.

What think the rest of you?

I think it looks “better” than many options, but not smaller. I also like the trend in large fashion to use bold color and the right patterns. Stylish is what women are looking for. They know it’s not going to create some miracle camo-smoke-and-mirrors effect. But they don’t want to look like they threw on a tarp on the way out, either. The correct cut will allow a woman to wear a rainbow of colors that a bad cut wouldn’t.

I think black clothes can make you look thinner, because they eliminate the shadows that rolls of fat or otherwise undesirable protrusions can throw.

I’m not making any sweeping generalizations here, but I will say that I know a lot of overweight women who wear avoid bright colors because they are trying not to draw attention to themselves because they don’t want to be more harshly judged then they continually are.

I don’t wear bright colors because I’m not a bright colors kind of person. I’m a dark and cynical wretch and wearing bright colors might lessen the pain by cheering me up. :smiley:

I’m not overweight, but I do wear black almost every day. I think more people should wear black, it’s much more fashionable than unflattering or gaudy colors. It just looks better, IMO.

I think for a lot of people (myself included), black becomes a sort of security blanket. When all else fails and I simply can’t find anything to wear, there’s always my good friend, the trusty black T-shirt/slacks/skirt/dress/etc. to fall back on.

Also, I agree that when you’re 250 pounds, not much is going to disguise it, but if you’re only sporting an extra 10-15, I think black can be quite slimming. JMO.

I think you’re discounting the ability of black to hide sweat spots. Someone who’s heavier will have areas where they sweat more, where a shirt gets rubbed over a roll of fat, or caught under a breast (or a man-boob), and so on-- and rather than show off their sweat stripes in a lovely red/green/blue shirt, someone may opt for a plain, absorbent black.

Another reason some people may wear a lot of black is that it’s difficult to find clothing in larger sizes, and often it’s expensive when you do find it-- somehow, people will write off wearing the same three pairs of black pants as “wearing black all the time” but wearing distinct, colored clothing is mentally filed as “wearing that parrot-green skirt all the time.” One gets you mentally written up as a fashion criminal much more than the other!

I think Lama Pacos is right on. It’s not about making a person appear smaller as much as it’s about not accentuating the flaws that being overweight brings. However, I’m overweight, and I wear mostly black, and that’s not the reason. The reason is that I’m a big geek who’s kind of goth, and who genuinely likes bright colors. (Also, I have a weird skin tone, and bright colors tend to make me look green. Go fig).

As a former 350 pound woman, lemme clue ya in on a few things, OK? :slight_smile:

  1. We don’t think we’re fooling anyone.
  2. If manufacturers would make a wider (heh) variety of clothing that would flatter more larger women, we wouldn’t hide behind black. (NOTE: I realize there are a LOT of options out there now; options that weren’t around 5/10/15 years ago).
  3. I like black. I was a blonde for years and black can be very flattering to blondes.
  4. If you’re on a limited budget, black is easy to work with and can be used to make numerous outfits with relatively few pieces.
  5. Some people don’t like colors.
  6. Relative to #5 - (another generalization here) colorful clothing for big broads can be…oh hell, it can be revolting. Sequins. Horizontal stripes. Shiny satin. Buttons, baubles, bangles & beads on everything. Cute little appliqued animals on everything. Hey - we all hate fat women - let’s not only de-sexualize them, let’s dress them like infants, too!
  7. Again - we’re not trying to fool anyone. Honest. I promise.


Let’s dissect these fashions…shall we?

First outfit: Depending on the type of “big girl” you are, I think that type of print can be fine. And while I’m not big on capri pants, those are the least offensive variation. On a scale of 1-10 (ten being the best), I’d give this a solid 7

2nd Outfit: Appliques suck on anyone over 6 years old. They are particularly offensive on bigger women. If you’re in good shape like the model, you can go sleeveless, but most of my bigger friends would never wear that top. I’d give this outfit a 4.

3rd Outfit: Hideous. I hate the whole thing and would give it a 1 purely because it is clothing.

4th outfit: I think it can be ok, depending on your proportions and the fitness of your arms. I’ll give it a 6

5th outfit: I don’t know many bigger women who think ruffles are cool. The length of the top spells “big butt” to me. I’d give this a 5.

I think color can work really well if it’s done right.

Well, I don’t have much to say about black. I wear it in winter - less so in summer - it’s very predictable and safe. I like to branch out a bit.

However, white pants will make your ass look at least a size bigger than it is, if not two. I do have a pair of white pants but they fit PERFECTLY, otherwise there’s not a chance in hell that I would wear them.

Regarding the outfits you linked to Kalhoun - I’m not super crazy about any of them, but if I saw someone wearing one of them I wouldn’t think “What was she thinking!” which happens occasionally. (Usually when a woman is wearing a hat for anything other than an afternoon tea with the queen or a wedding, or an outfit so coordinated it looks like paint by numbers.)

I don’t weigh 250 pounds, but I am overweight. I wear a lot of black for a few reasons:

  1. It’s my favorite color (or lack of colors. Whatever).

  2. I’m a stagehand, and stagehands tend to wear black by default. Doesn’t show on stage.

  3. If you’re wearing all-black, people are a lot less likely to start crap with you, because for some reason everyone thinks that everyone who wears all black is a satan worshipper who practices voodoo in their basements with live chickens and goats heads. So a good portion of my clothing is all black (although a good portion of that is “LOCAL CREW” shirts). And I’ve never thought once of using black to cover up my fat. I use CLOTHING to cover up my fat, big, loose, comfortable clothing, not colors.


No, they aren’t the best examples of big women clothing, but color can look good. My husband works with a very large woman who wears polka dots the size of my head. Now what the hell is SHE thinking?

There’s also a difference between weighing 250 lb and weighing, say, 140.

If you’re 250, nothing’s going to make you look like a supermodel. (I like the flowy skirt trend, myself. My little sister is around 250 and looks gorgeous in her flowy skirts.)

If you’re 140, though, all the fashion rules apply. Horizontal stripes make people think, “gosh, I didn’t realize she was that big.” where black can be very flattering, especially if it’s either paired with something bright at an area you want to accentuate or cut so that the areas you like are bare.
One thing about people who are very overweight is that it takes more loss to make a difference. The difference in appearance between somebody who weighs 255 and somebody who weighs 265 is practically nil, whereas the difference between someone who weighs 80 and someone who weighs 70 can be pretty drastic. So even if black does shave off ten pounds, it’s not going to make that much of a difference. (that’s kinda depressing, I know.)
I think black actually makes me look bigger, especially if the outfit isn’t form-fitting. The dark color hides the fact that it’s too big, while the bigness hides my smallness. I usually wear it when I want to hide my weight loss. Maybe it just brings everyone closer to average.

I realize black clothing doesn’t make me look thinner. I unfortunately weigh a whole helluva lot more than I’d like to, and it is damn hard to find clothes made by people who don’t assume that because I’m fat I’m either blind, deaf, without any taste whatsoever, or like looking like a tent. I wear black skirts and pants because they’re versatile–I can change tops around, and make fewer clothes go further. I have a dress that is mostly white with some blue flowers on it, and the white screams, “Here I am, fat and fatter! Look at me!” The black things I wear look a little more sophisticated and don’t outline every unbecoming roll of flesh for everyone to see.

Yes, I’m working on getting the weight off, but in the meantime, I’d like to look like a reasonably sophisticated woman (i.e., I don’t buy from Roamans).

In general, dark colors do make things look smaller. It’s particularly obvious with lips- dark lipsticks make lips look thinner. I’ve always heard that black makes you look thinner, and I always thought it true.

This is so true. I’m 140 and clothing makes all of the difference in how big I look. I’ve got a couple of “fat skirts” that make me look at least 20 lbs heavier. I’ve stopped wearing them (I didn’t notice they did that until my SO pointed it out and then I saw some pictures of me wearing them. Eek!) Black really does make a difference with me. If I’m wearing a light colored outfit that’s not cut in a very flattering way, I can easily look twice my size. However, if I wear an outfit that’s cut in a flattering way and in a flattering color, I can easily look like I’m not carrying any extra weight at all. It’s freaky. Also, 5 lbs makes a world of difference for someone my size. I stopped going to the gym for awhile and looked noticably bigger. When I went back I weighed myself and had only gained like, 4 lbs.

And that, my friends, is why black is a 140 lb girl’s best friend. :smiley:

Actually, for most people, compared to lighter colors it is slimming (the way that the eye perceives light and dark colors). It isn’t going to make anyone appear to have dropped a ton of weight - but if someone tries on an identical shirt in white and black, the black shirt will tend not to look as big as the white.

Also, I highly doubt you know 250 when you see it. You may know “larger,” “smaller,” “larger than I find attractive,” but most people I’ve met are flat out horrible at estimating actual weight.

I have to go with the OP for the most part, but there are qualifications.

  1. Black has been a perennial fashion favorite for eons. Ergo, if a fat person wears back, they look better. If a fat person looks better, it must be…(since they’re fat, they can’t have any good qualities, ergo)… they have lost weight!
  2. Black is a power color. Power translates to lean and mean.
  3. Black may not be slimming, but any other color definitely highlights the fat person. If a 250 pound person wears any other color, they will look heavier. If a 250 lb. person wears black, they will look like 250 lbs; ergo, by default, black, while not slimming, is slimming!

Black doesn’t make me look slimmer than I am. However, black doesn’t make me look bigger than I am, which is what a lot of patterns and colours can do.

Just a little OT related to the link Kalhoun posted - WTF is up with giving big girls capri pants? Most larger girls I’ve seen tend to have very chunky calves/ankles. Pants that cut you off in the middle of the calf, what’s that going to do. It’s going to make your calves look bigger, that’s what.

Yeesh. Capris are the bane of my existance. Thank god most of the larger size retailers over here have twigged that most big girls don’t like the cutoffs.