One of my absolute favorite dresses is far too tight. It was too tight when I bought it, and that was 10 years and about 15 pounds ago. But it was $15 and the pattern was so cute and I felt physically incapable of leaving it behind. You know how that goes. It wasn't until about a year ago when I discovered dress layering that I finally felt comfortable wearing this amazing frock.

And although I would never encourage any woman to actively seek out clothing that is too tight for her body, I know that many women have a snug-fitting item or two that just never makes it to the donation pile. They've got sentimental value, they were mind-blowing bargains, they're JUST TOO GORGEOUS to give away. So here are a few ways to work around a tight-fitting garment. You'll sense a theme emerging immediately ... 


  • Layer it beneath a vest, blazer, or button-down shirt worn open.
  • Layer it beneath an embellished tank top.
  • Layer it beneath a sweater, if it's absolutely skin-tight.
  • TIPS: Tuck into your bottoms. Wear with relatively loose-fitting bottoms or flared skirts to create balance.




  • Layer it beneath a sweater vest
  • Layer it beneath a v-neck sweater and let the collar peek out.
  • Layer it beneath a blazer.
  • TIPS: Tuck into your bottoms. Button-downs as bottom layers look great with statement necklaces.




  • Layer it beneath a sheath dress.
  • Layer it beneath a blazer.
  • TIPS: Too-tight cardigans can sometimes be worn open, but if worn closed are tougher to disguise than too-tight pullovers.





  • Layer a tunic top over them. This works best with straight or slim-cut pants.
  • Layer a duster or long blazer over them.
  • If it's just the waist that's tight, layer a shorter blazer over them. Make sure your top is a bit on the loose side, too.
  • TIPS: If you've got pull lines radiating from a zip fly, try to cover 'em up with a longer top. If the waist cuts into your midsection, make sure your outer layer is thick and sturdy.



  • Pair with a top, then layer an open shirt dress on top. Belt as needed.
  • If a full and/or floaty skirt that's just tight in the waist or hips, use it as an underlayer. Wear another skirt on top that fits you properly.
  • TIPS: If you've got pull lines around your waist or hips, try to cover 'em up with a longer top.





  • Layer an open shirt dress over it.
  • If the bodice fits but it's tight below the waist, layer a flowy skirt on top that will conceal the bottom half.
  • If the skirt fits but it's tight in the bodice, layer a sweater or blouse on top that will conceal the top half.
  • TIPS: See this video on dress layering for a demonstration.



Do you find clever ways to wear your slightly-too-tight clothes, or do you just get rid of them? Any of these tricks sound useful? Any others to add?

Sally McGraw is the author of Already Pretty, a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image.

Images courtesy J.Crew.

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