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4 Wardrobe Blunders That Can Make You Fat, Sick or Both

These wardrobe selections could affect your health as well as your social standing.

Stretch pants, wooly sweaters and platform shoes could be a health hazard. Here's why it can be risky to wear them, and what you can swap them for.

1. Soft, comfy stretch pants
The trap: Yep, they feel good. But all that stretch lets you ignore an expanding waistline—a huge risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. Not to mention self-esteem.

The impact: A wide middle—over 35 inches for women, 40 inches for men—kicks up your diabetes risk two to ten times, even if you’re not overweight! Your odds for high blood pressure and high cholesterol go up, too. The cause: visceral fat around your middle. Its gooey globules inflame your liver, blood vessels, immune system and more.

Swap 'em for: Pants that button at the waist. When they feel snug, exercise more and eat less.

2. Cozy-chic wool sweaters
The trap: Wool acts like Velcro for stuff (like cat dander) that causes sneezing fits in people with allergies.

The impact: If you have allergies or love someone who does, your sweater may trigger miserable sneezing, dripping and tearing. In one study, cat-dander levels were 11 times higher and dust mite levels 10 times higher on wool sweaters than on bare skin.

Swap 'em for: Cotton sweaters. If your allergies are super serious, just wear cotton T-shirts (layer 'em if it's cold). They pick up the fewest allergens.

3. Four-inch heels and perilous platforms
The trap: Torturing your tootsies by jamming them into fashion-victim shoes.

The impact: High heels boost your risk for serious foot pain down the road by a whopping 67 percent. Wearing heels that are two inches or higher every day shortens calf muscles and thickens your Achilles tendons, making the world's easiest exercise—walking—difficult. Chunky platforms are far easier on your feet, but because you can't feel the ground under you very well, tripping on uneven pavement is a daily risk.

Swap 'em for: Kitten heels and Audrey Hepburn flats. Not only are they stylish (flats are back, big-time), they're unlikely to send you careening onto the sidewalk.

4. Filmy, flirty swimsuit cover-ups
The trap: They feel cool, and you feel like you've added at least a little sun protection. Plus, you look hot.

The impact: Your skin will be toast in minutes. Gauzy materials are almost useless against burning, wrinkling rays. Most cotton and linen fabrics offer little to no sun protection, say researchers who tested 236 fabrics. The best sun-blocking materials they found were also the least practical: wool and polyester!

Swap 'em for: Tightly woven dark cotton. Even better, a cover-up with SPF protection built into the fabric. Got a favorite cover-up you think might be okay? Hold it up to the light. If you can see through it, the sun's burning rays can get through.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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