Forget your size, forget your age...every woman can be sexy, says designer Bradley Bayou who has dressed dozens of Hollywood stars. "Celebrities use red carpets as advertising," says Bayou, who shares his style secrets in his book, The Science of Sexy. "They have to think carefully about what they're going to wear, because what they're selling is their image. The same goes for you. No, you may not be walking down an actual red carpet, but the minute you walk out your door, you are selling yourself and your image."
Ten "Dress Sexy" Commandments:
I. Thou shalt choose the right undergarments. Yes, first things first, girls. "Before you put on anything, the very first things you need to get are a good bra and good underwear, especially if you're a full-sized or plus-size woman," he says.
II. Thou shalt choose the highest quality fabrics thou can afford. Bayou says buying cheap is like buying disposable clothing. "Yes, it might hurt to hand over the money for quality items, but over time, it will ultimately save you money by eliminating the constant need for new things. You and your credit card will never have to pay for your mistakes again."
III. Thou shalt not force your figure into every style. A few examples: Short women should not wear dark, knee-high boots. Women with large hips or bulging stomachs should not wear low-rise jeans. Shiny, charmeuse slip dresses should not be worn by women sizes 14 and up.
IV. Thou shalt use your skin to your advantage. Bayou reminds us that "A peek of flesh can instantly draw the eye straight to the spot you're showing off-and away from a flaw you're trying to conceal."
V. Thou shalt not buy big-ticket trendy items. A word of caution from Bayou, "If you look at something and have to ask yourself, 'Do I really think this will look good in two years?' it probably won't."
VI. Thou shalt select skinny fabrics and cuts. Bayou urges women to choose fabrics that gently flow and drape over the body to create more of a vertical, slimmer line. "Fabrics with a stiff texture or heavyweight or shiny surface will add either bulk or undue attention to the area," he says. "This stops the eye at a horizontal point on your body and makes you look wider or heavier than you are."
VII. Thou shalt ignore clothing tags-the fit is the thing. Bradley admits that companies size clothing in different ways. "The number on the little tag on the back of your pants or jacket is not important," he says. "Ignore it! Who even sees what size you're wearing anyway? Nobody. What people notice is how your clothes fit."
VIII. Thou shalt hail accessories. They can make or break your outfit, according to Bayou. He has five reasons: 1. They can change an outfit from formal to casual (and vice versa) in just a few seconds. 2. They're more affordable than clothes. 3. They can play up your sexiest assets. 4. They're a great diversion from your flaws. 5. They can add a trendy touch to your neutral basics.
IX. The prints and accessories must be in scale with the body. In a season full of dramatic prints, Bayou has a few rules: "If you want to make part of your body look larger or curvier, wear patterns with large spaces in between them, irregular print patterns, and strong color contrasts between the print and background. Reverse this rule if you want to make your body look smaller." And remember, he says, when it comes to accessories "little things on big people look ridiculous. And big things on little people look ridiculous."
X. Thou shalt wear the V-neck shape -- it looks good on every woman.
"There are some rules that apply to every woman, all the time, no matter what your height, weight or silhouette," Bayou says. "Heed them well."
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association. V-neck cocktail dress by Eliza J; one-shoulder dress by Calvin Klein. Photo courtesy of Nordstroms.