How To Look Awesome In A Skirt

So what skirt styles are ‘in’ or rather on trend for Spring Summer 2017?

Anyone who knows me will be scratching his or her head in wonder at that one!

I don’t do trends!  While I’d love to claim Coco Chanel’s lovely quote for my own, fashion is not and shouldn’t be the primary reason for buying clothes.

Coco Chanel quote fashion

Whenever a client asks me about trends I suggest they simply ignore them. But depending where you shop this isn’t always possible.

It’s worth noting that when fashion buyers are looking what they believe will sell, trends play a part. Remember the buyers are now making decisions about what will sell in 6-9 months’ time so need to start somewhere!

Right now we’re in the midst of the fashion shows for Autumn Winter 2017. This is while stock is being unwrapped for Spring Summer 2017.  It’s an exciting and stressful time of year if you work in fashion.

It got me thinking about this week’s post and in particular which style skirts are going to be available. But more importantly who can wear them.

What To Consider With Skirt Styles

The factors you want to consider when choosing what skirt styles to buy, are broadly the same as other garments:

  1. Style – its fullness and cut. Which skirt styles are right for you will be determined by your body shape
  2. Length – this is important for your height, the shape and length of your legs.
  3. Fabric – texture and print – this takes into account the size of your frame
  4. Colour – the most important colours to get right are those close to your face. But as I tell my clients it’s much easier to co-ordinate your wardrobe if you buy from your colour palette.
  5. Details – the pockets, pleats and embellishments that designers add to finish a style

But at the end of the day, the most important thing to consider is whether the design is right for you and the message you want to convey through your clothes.

Let’s take a look at the key skirt styles that are showing up in the new collections for Spring Summer 2017 and who can wear them.  I want to warn you that this gets a bit frustrating!

We begin talking about what I call proper trends! These are obvious skirt styles. Then the collective changes more to skirt lengths, which cover multiple styles.

This drives me mad, as it seems like the goal posts have moved! My perception is that this is the fashion media’s attempt to group and order things in a logical way.

Ruffle Skirt Styles

Ruffle Skirt Top Shop

Ruffle Skirts

With the emergence of the throwback to the 1980s, it’s no surprise that ruffles are making an appearance.    On the SS2017 catwalks, ruffle style skirts were very popular. I’m delighted to say that this look has been toned down for the high street audience.

As much as I think the designs are superb, the look is much more of a catwalk style than something that translates to the High Street.

Who Can Wear Ruffle Style Skirts?  The simple answer is anyone who has narrower hips than shoulders. So this means:

An inverted triangle body shape looking to create balance on her lower half

An athletic body shape and is looking to create curves. Just be careful that the bottom half doesn’t become too out of balance with the top half.

If you are tall and have long legs a ruffle style skirt will look great. But if you have wider hips than your shoulders and your legs are not slender, avoid ruffle style skirts. They will add bulk and draw attention to the wrong places!

Tiered Skirts Romantic ‘Boho Chic’

With very feminine looks on the catwalk for Spring Summer, there were quite a few tiered skirt styles on the runway.

These do not appear in the new styles being released by retailers at the moment for spring styles. But I would not be surprised to see tiered skirt styles in the summer collections for the festival and holiday seasons.

Tiered skirts, like ruffle skirt styles, work most effectively for inverted triangle body shape.   They are also great for athletic body shapes. They are a very feminine look. Tiered skirt styles can be made to look more boho and less ‘girly’ with denim or leather jackets, and ankle boots. The latter providing it’s not too hot!

If you are a curvy petite frame or curvy hips or a tummy then avoid tiered skirts as they will not flatter your lovely curves.

If you are slender petite frame you can wear tiered skirts if they are not bulky. Bulky skirts will simply overwhelm your body.

Pencil Skirt Styles

John Lewis Pencil Skirt

Pencil Skirts A Return To The 1980s?

As we’re looking back at the 1980s there’s no escaping the pencil skirt styles.

Pencil skirts look fabulous on all body shapes. But you need to pay attention to the fabric, how tapered the skirt styles are towards the hem. If you are a pear shaped body and carry weight around your hips then avoid pencil skirts that are too tapered.

If you have an hourglass body shape, you will look particularly amazing in a pencil skirt that accentuates your curves and your waistline.

Pencil skirt styles in the 1980s were focused on power dressing and were often the skirt design for a women’s suit. Later they became more noticeable in eveningwear, clinging fabrics or sequins.

Style tip – if you feel overdressed in pencil skirt styles then dress them down with denim jackets or a camisole top and an over-shirt.

Midi Skirts

There is no prescriptive length for a midi skirt. The hemline can fall just above the ankle right up to mid-calf.

Midi skirt styles vary immensely. The most popular styles for midi skirts are: A line, full skirts, pencil styles, pleated skirts or wrap over.

But midi skirt styles are not for everyone.

If you are a slender petite frame then be cautious with midi skirts, unless they are slender styles. The danger is that they will overwhelm you.   You can play down the effect with high heels.

For curvy petite women midi skirt styles are not a great look. With a horizontal line across your calves making you look shorter and broader.

For taller women and in particular athletic body shapes or inverted triangle body shapes a midi skirt will look great to create curves and balance on your bottom half.

Desigual Mini Skire

Desigual Mini Skirt

Mini Skirts

Again not a skirt shape but they do refer to the length.

Like midi skirts the mini has no formal length. The hemline can rest anywhere on your thighs.     Mini skirts can be figure hugging, straight or pleated or a flared out skater skirt.

Great legs? Show them off with a mini skirt. If you are tall or petite, mini skirts will look fabulous.

If you have broad hips and thighs then mini skirt styles are not really for you.

Wearing a mini skirt is partly about making a statement and you need to have the self-confidence to do that.

In winter it can be easier. I will team a dark mini skirt with opaque tights and boots and will be incredibly confident.

I wouldn’t feel so happy to wear a mini skirt in warmer weather with bare legs.

Tips To Consider

If you want to wear a skirt but are not sure what suits you and really don’t have the patience to shop around, then consider:

  1. Flattering length for most women is around knee length. So the hemline finishes just above or below the knee.
  2. Straight to Pencil Skirts are broadly speaking the most flattering skirt styles for most body shapes
  3. If you have broader hips and thighs don’t try to hide this look under A lines or voluminous shapes. It will have the opposite effect
  4. If you are wearing skirts that are quite figure hugging, look in the mirror before you leave the house. You don’t want a VPL!
  5. Have fun with skirts! Skirts can be really versatile and great way to mix and match your wardrobe.

I’d love to hear about your favourite skirt styles in the comments below.

 

 

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lines and curves magic

You Need To Know How To Create Wardrobe Magic

Now we’re going to talk about lines and curves, I tell my clients, offering to them the suggestion that we’re about to create some style magic!   It provokes an interesting reaction.

Some laugh, others smile politely wondering what’s coming next,. While others look slightly bewildered wondering if I’m going to get my Potterish wand out!

lines and curves magic

What Are Lines And Curves?

Once you understand your colour palette, it’s time to start working on what suits your body shape and your personality in terms of clothing styles.   In order to really make the most of this you need to understand lines and curves.

Let’s be clear lines and curves are not just about the fabric patterns or prints. As a fashion designer you would not be able to create a garment without lines and curves.

Lines and curves are created in clothing by:

  1. The shape/silhouette of the garment
  1. The seams and construction
  1. The fun stuff – finishes, details
  1. Fabrics – prints and patterns

The messages our brain and eyes exchange about lines and curves are always done in a split second but specific order.

Vertical and Horizontal Lines

LK Bennett – vertical and horizontal lines

How Do We See Lines And Curves?

Our eyes are drawn to horizontals first because horizontal lines help us to create balance. We then consider verticals, diagonals and then curves.  We can create illusions because of the way that our brains and eyes work.

Without diving down a fascinating scientific rabbit hole, let’s keep this simple. Our vision depends on our eyes to see and our brains to interpret what our eyes see. The brain receives messages from the eyes but also adds two elements: memory and interpretation (or perception). Optical illusions occur when the messages sent back from our eyes conflicts with what the brain is expecting. Result = confusion!

The bottom line is that this is great news for us as we can use lines and curves to guide others to see what we want them to see. This will enable us to show off the great bits and downplay the bits we are not so keen on!

So let’s take a look at how we can use the way we interpret lines and curves to our advantage.

Horizontal Lines

lines and curves

Desigual top

Most of us learn from an early age that you don’t wear horizontal stripes if you want to look slimmer and in most cases this is correct.

I’ll explain the exception in a moment!

Most of us are not looking to add width to our body, but if you have a small bust or a pear shaped body (hips wider than shoulders) you can create balance using horizontal lines.

You can do this by adding a horizontal line this can be in the form of:

  • Padded shoulders
  • Wide horizontal stripes
  • A different colour yoke on a top or blouse, bateau necklines
  • A shrug or bolero jacket in a different colour to the top underneath

Each horizontal line we create in an outfit will have a widening and shortening effect. This applies to hemlines, changes in colour, trims and decorative details.

If you want to add height and like wearing skirts or dresses the easiest way to do this is have tights the same colour as your shoes and outfit. This way you do not create a break of colour at your hemline.

Our eyes also take two short horizontal lines and ignore the gap. What do I mean by this?

If you have a large bust and wear short sleeves that finish at the level of your bust, our eyes will follow the line from one sleeve hem to the other and see it as one horizontal line.

However there is an exception and that is very narrow horizontal lines. When the horizontals are too fine for the eye to follow along one at a time, and when there are multiples of them, they can actually start working like a vertical line and become elongating.

 

Lines and Curves Vertical Lines

Karen Millen

Vertical Lines

Vertical lines lengthen, our eyes move along them more quickly than horizontal or curved lines. So anyone wanting to look taller or slimmer should look to include vertical lines in their wardrobe. The good news is that this is so easy to do, as I mentioned earlier you do not need patterns and prints to add lines and curves to your wardrobe.

You can define verticals simply by:

  1. The way you layer clothes, leaving a jacket open, wearing a sleeveless jacket are great examples.
  2. Accessories are a great way to create verticals too. A long pendant or a long scarf will add vertical lines.
  3. The structure of garments: vertical darts, pleats, trouser creases will all add vertical lines. Knitwear that is ribbed creates a vertical line.
  4. Details on garments – piping down the side of trousers, buttons in a contrasting colour on a jacket or blouse. Pussy bow blouses also add a vertical line.

But it is important to also note that just as horizontals can have an elongating effect, verticals can have a widening effect! Vertical stripes that are too wide in contrasting colours will add width.

You don’t want to add vertical lines to the widest part of your body, as they will draw attention to this area. If you have large hips or tummy then avoid verticals on these areas.

You can create a single vertical with an outfit and negate the effect of any horizontal lines by using the column of colour. An outfit all in one colour will have a lengthening effect.

Diagonal Lines

Lines and Curves Diagonal Lines

Joe Browns Top

Diagonal lines create movement and action.  They direct the eye from one element to another. We can have real fun playing with diagonal lines!

As we read from left to right, we tend to read diagonals this way.   So let’s take a one-shoulder top as an easy way to look at this.

If your left shoulder is exposed then the eye will follow the diagonal upwards towards your face and neck.

Alternatively if your right shoulder is exposed then the eye will follow down from your left shoulder towards your bust and body.

So clever isn’t it!

You don’t have to wear off the shoulder tops to create diagonals! You can create diagonal lines with the following details:

  1. Patterns and prints – look for designs that draw the eye in different ways – you’ll be amazed how differently you look at clothes. Joe Browns and Desigual are both brands that make good use of diagonals.
  2. Wrap-over tops and dresses. A really flattering way to guide the eye across your body
  3. V-necks. These do have diagonal lines, but depending on the depth and shape of the v-neck these lines can also be interpreted as vertical or horizontal lines.   A deep plunging neckline will act more as a vertical.   A wide, shallow neckline will create a horizontal.
  4. A cross body bag – great way to draw the eye up or downwards.
  5. Chevron stripe fabric. A lovely way to create a very slimming effect on a dress if the angle points downwards across your tummy.
lines and curves curved lines

Joules Dress

Curved Lines

The slowest line we see is the curved line. As our eye follows the curve it slows down and we follow the curve with our eyes. The effect is that curves add volume to our bodies.

Curves create a place for the eye to rest. Want to draw attention to an area of your body that you really love? Then add curves. Curves also add a feminine soft touch to an outfit.

As with diagonals our eyes will follow the line of the curve from left to right.

Curves can also soften the effect of straight lines. A curved hemline on a top will soften the horizontal line, particularly if this is ending on your hips.

We find curves in clothing in:

  1. Structure – necklines, hemlines and sleeve shapes, gathering and lapels (note how some lapels are very angular but some are rounded)
  2. Detailing – frills and lace are great examples
  3. Fabrics – patterns and texture. Softer fabrics will drape and naturally fall in a softer more curvy way than stiff structured fabrics.

Use curves to their best effect if you want to add balance to your body.

Again let’s take the example of a pear shaped body where the shoulders and bust are narrower than the hips. Add puff sleeves to add width to your shoulders.  If you have a small bust use a gathered neckline to make your bust appear larger.

Hopefully this post will have given you lots of ideas about how you can use lines and curves to create some real style magic with your wardrobe.

Give it a try…. why not try to work out what the lines on this dress are doing? Answers in the comments below!

 

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eating disorders

Eating Disorders: Just Grateful To Be Free

Eating Disorders and Size 0 Models* have hit the news again this week. This must mean we’re coming up to Fashion Week!

eating disorders fashion week

Tears Of Relief It’s No Longer My Life

Only this week I’ve read five articles about eating disorders. I’ve also pre-ordered former model Victoria Dauxerre’s autobiography Size Zero *2.   Tears welled up in my eyes as I read Victoria’s interview in the Times Magazine on Saturday.

‘ Weighed myself: 7.7 stone, I would stop eating until I got back down to 7.4 stone and to speed things up I would do all my travelling on foot.   I walked for miles on end, taking big strides to keep me warm and to lose my excess fat…’

I was shedding tears of relief that this nightmarish existence of eating disorders is no longer part of my life. Not that I was ever a fashion model (Ha!!) and I wasn’t being told to lose weight for the sake of my career but I was living with the hell that is anorexia.

eating disorders size 0

How Bad Is The Problem

Earlier this week I shared an article on Facebook about Amanda Prowse’s latest book Food Of Love*3 and her view that most middle aged women suffer from Eating Disorders or have a poor relationship with food.

The article elicited an interesting response from my followers. It showed that (thankfully) there are women who simply do not have or have not been exposed to eating disorders or a poor relationship with food.

A couple of weeks ago I gave a presentation and shared some of my story.   A Mum of 3 teenagers asked what advice could I give her to protect her children?

Her question got me thinking that perhaps there are people who do not have a clue what dealing with eating disorders is like. But the flip side is that would they recognize it if someone they loved developed an eating disorder?

I was de-cluttering over Christmas and came across some old diaries. I’d originally intended to just shred them, but had hung on to them for some reason.  I want to share a few extracts.

Why? If this helps raise even more awareness of eating disorders or gets one person who is suffering to seek help, then it’s been worthwhile.
eating disorders

When Annie Was My BF

August 12th 1981 – 8st 5lbs

Only 3 days until our wedding day now and I’m just below my target of 8st 7lbs – hurrah! But it’s my hen night tomorrow. We’re going to Cody’s for a meal, can’t eat during the day tomorrow. I’ll get out of the house so that Mum doesn’t notice.

October 20th 1982 – 7st 0lbs

Tried to shave my armpits this morning and couldn’t get the razor properly into my armpit as it’s now so concave… Mustn’t tell M as he’ll only worry.

May 21st 1983 – 7st 2lbs

Went shopping at Brent Cross today. Looking for a new pair of jeans. Only managed to find one pair that fitted – the rest were too big! I told M how fed up I was but secretly I felt really good.

July 3rd 1983 – 7st 4lbs

Feeling sick. We’re off to see the specialist again tomorrow at the Royal Free – dreading the consultation.

July 4th 1983 – 7st 4lbs

The Consultant wanted to admit me. Told me it was for my own good and I just burst into tears and pleaded with the doctor not to.  Mum and M, who had gone with me, took me outside.   When I’d calmed down I begged them not to let the doctors admit me. I promised I’d try harder to put on weight.

Eventually they agreed and persuaded the doctor to let me go home. I was allowed to on the grounds that I’d put on 3lbs before my next visit.

July 18th 1983 – 7st 7lbs

Done it – got the doctor off my back and can celebrate my 21st birthday tomorrow.

July 19th 1983 – 7st 7lbs

21 today! We had a great day at the East of England Show, but Mum, Dad and M were not impressed that I insisted on getting back for my 7pm aerobics class. But I just couldn’t miss it as I’d eaten more than usual for lunch.  They couldn’t say much as it was my birthday!

December 25th 1983 – 7st 8lbs

I was up at 6am so that I could sneak out to do a 6-mile run and be back before M woke up.  Christmas is such a struggle as I feel like everyone’s watching me and what I eat.  Really pleased with myself as I only had 4 peanuts and 3 Neapolitan chocolates apart from the ‘roast with the trimmings’ all day. Just hope that was enough to stop the scales rising tomorrow.

September 17th 1984 – don’t know and panicking

It’s the first day of our holiday in Zante.   Our first holiday abroad!

We headed into the town to look round and get breakfast. M got really angry when I struggled to find anything I felt was okay to eat. In the end I had a bowl of yoghurt.  Don’t know how I’m going to get through the next two weeks without weighing myself every morning.

My only salvation is that I’ve brought my trainers so I can still run every morning.

October 16th 1987 – 7st 10lbs

M was mad with me this morning when I got back from my run.  He’d been listening to the news – apparently I’d been running in a hurricane!   Okay so there’d been a fallen tree over the B656 and lots of water… It was pointless telling him that I’d had to go.  My day had been ruined when I got up and found I’d put on a pound.

eating disorders scales

Eating Disorders Were Part Of My Life

I look back on these entries now with mixed feelings. I’m angry that eating disorders ruled my world for so long. But equally my eating disorders shaped (no pun intended) me into the person I am today.

There was less information available in 1980s when my descent into anorexia took hold. It was long before the vast resources of the Internet were at our disposal.   So in a sense it was easier to hide. I could let it be my ‘normal’ and I was not challenged about it as much as I would have been with greater awareness.

We Must Keep Talking And Sharing

What is important though is that we don’t stop talking about eating disorders and thereby raising awareness.

Anyone can be affected by eating disorders. They are not confined to young women struggling with their identity and body image.

Eating disorders are a mental health condition. While there are symptoms relating to food, this often masks the underlying turmoil of sufferers.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 27th – March 5th in the UK and B-eat, the UK’s leading charity has a lot of information and suggestions on how you can help support their vision to overcome Eating Disorders.

I will be on Radio Veralum just after 11am on 21st October. I will be sharing my story and adding my voice to those creating more awareness.

You too can help by sharing this post on social media and remember ‘Alone we can do so little together we can do so much’ – Helen Keller

 

Size 0 Models* Is Size 0 still an issue

Victoria Dauxerre’s autobiography Size Zero – My Life as a Disappearing Model *2

Amanda Prowse Food Of Love*3

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winter boots sophia webster

Winter Boots: How To Make The Best Investment

Winter boots for me are a wardrobe essential.

Personally I live in boots from the autumn right through to when I get my toes out for summer! They are versatile, looking great with daywear – smart or casual, or for a more glammed up look.

purple ankle boots
As a runner and step aerobic addict enthusiast, finding boots to fit was my worst nightmare! Boot styles were not designed for my muscly calves and so my boot collection was entirely ankle boots. This may go some way to explain my personal extended boot season!

Gradually designers have realized we don’t all have naturally slender legs. This is great news, but with more choice, what styles should we look for?

Our choice of boots depends on a number of factors:

  • body shape
  • height
  • leg length
  • width of calves

Far too many factors, when all you want to do is buy a pair of winter boots!

But I’ve done the hard work for you just follow my top tips for winter boots!

Post Christmas sales are a good source of ‘bargain hunting’ for boots. Why? Well retailers have one eye on incoming spring fashion and our recent mild autumns have not been great boot selling weather!   But don’t get seduced with the price tag! The fact you are getting a bargain is the cherry on the top, not the reason for buying!

My tips below cover the five body shapes and then I also cover tips for petite and taller women. If you’re not sure what body shape you are then check out my guide.

 

Apple Body Shape

If you are a luscious apple, you will have a full tummy and but lovely slender legs.  You want to create balance and so wedges are perfect for this.  Calf length boots will show off your lovely legs.

If you are an apple body shape with short legs then choose a more slender heel.  If you have longer legs then go for a chunkier wedge heel.

winter boots wedge heel

Very.co.uk – wedge heel boots

Pear Shaped Body

You carry your weight in your lower half.

Avoid calf length winter boots. These will simply make you look broader.

Instead look for knee length winter boots or ankle boots.

Choose boots that do not have a lot of embellishment and wear tights or leggings that match the boots and have an elongating effect.

Winter Boots Knee High

John Lewis Knee High Boots

Hourglass Body Shape

With your lovely curves, you will look great in a pair of ankle boots.

These will show off your lovely curvy ankles.

Rounded toes will also accentuate your curves. Heels should be stacked to show off your curves and add balance to your body.

You should consider mid-height heels, as the boots will be in proportion, low or high heels will look too clumpy.

winter boots cone heels

Mint Velvet Boots

Athletic Body Shape

You are looking to create curves.

Stilettos will add definition to your lower legs and in particular your calves.

You can also wear boots with embellishment and details that will add width to your lower body.

With regard to length of winter boots, you can wear all styles except for slouchy boots, as these will be disproportionate to your slim legs.

winter boots stilettos

Very.co.uk

Inverted Triangle Body Shape

You want to add definition and balance to your lower half, so consider chunky heels and winter boot designs for this.

Calf length, slouch boots or cowboy boots will look fabulous on you to balance your broader top half.

Boots with embellishments or details will also help to balance your body shape.

winter boots calf length

Mustang Boots – Zalando

Petite Women

Add heels!

If you are a petite woman with long legs then over the knee boots will look fabulous. Pointed toes will also help to elongate your height.

Avoid embellishments and details around your ankles as this will create a horizontal line and have the effect of undoing the illusion of height.

If you are petite with short legs, then go for ankle boots with a heel.

Winter boots over the knee

Carvela Over The Knee Boots

 Tall Women

Winter boots look fantastic on tall women, particularly if you are tall and slender.

You can wear heels but you will also look amazing in low heel winter boots.

Riding boots with a low heel will look really glamorous.

If you have large feet then go for styles with a more rounded toe to help balance the length.

So What About ‘Difficult Feet’?

Wide Feet

I have wide feet and find that Dune’s shoes and boots generally work for me and so do some Russell & Bromley styles.   Apart from that it’s pot luck and very often tears of frustration!

Narrow Feet

For me this was always one of those ‘nice to have problems’. That was until a friend who has very narrow feet told me that she struggles to find footwear where her feet stay in the shoe! James Inglis cater for narrow feet.

Brands that cater for different width fittings (not necessarily across their entire range) are:

Ted & Muffy

Clarks

Vince Camuto

Sam Edelman

Hopefully this will give you some ideas and inspiration for boot shopping!

Just One Last Thing…

One question I’m regularly asked is how to style ankle boots with jeans or skirts/dresses.

My simple answer is you need to feel comfortable and confident. You do not want to feel self-conscious or faintly ridiculous with your outfit. This goes much deeper than simply boots but winter boots are a great example.

Here are a few suggestions, which are generalist and don’t take into account body shape:

Jeans

Skinny or straight jeans are best with ankle boots.

You can either tuck jeans in to your ankle boots or you can roll them over the top or create cuffs to sit on the top of your boots.

Skirts

Ankle boots look great with mini, knee length or midi skirts depending on the style and design of each.

I’ve found that wearing ankle boots extended the life of some of my summer skirts.

Mini or knee length skirts – you can add opaque tights, the same colour as your boots if you want to blend your look.

Finally … A Huge Thank You

I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who reads my blogs, either comments on the blog posts or on social media.   Your input means such a lot to me.

I would love to hear from you in the comments below what subjects you would like me to cover in 2017.

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large bust styling tips

How To Embrace And Love Your Large Bust

This week’s post looks at how to embrace your large bust and how to dress to love your curves!

large bust wardrobe malfunction

A large bust can create a number of problems. Not least of all a desire to hide it away. Women with a large bust often suffer from;

  1. Unwanted attention, from men who are fascinated by a large bust;
  2. Not being taken seriously by others – particularly in the workplace
  3. The potential for wardrobe malfunctions
  4. Many women with a large bust suffer from back pain
  5. Women with a large bust sometimes find it difficult to lie on their back.

So how do you get comfortable with a large bust, not just physically but also in terms of styling it up?

large bust styling tips

A Good Fitting Bra

It goes without saying (or at least I hope it does) with a large bust you must wear a well-fitted bra.
It’s very important that you renew your bras regularly. Don’t just keep hanging on to a bra because it’s comfortable. Chances are that the more comfortable it feels the less support it’s providing.

This does not just apply to women with a large bust but I always recommend getting your bra fitting checked every time you buy a new one. Different styles, brands and your body all change. That’s a lot of variables to consider in terms of the fit.

For example I took a bra back recently that I’d only bought two weeks ago

I might have felt awkward had I not known that you can fluctuate bra sizes. This can be due to the a number of factors from the stage of your menstrual cycle to the temperature in the changing room

Large Bust Style Tips

Now that’s where the general advice for women with a large bust stops! Why? A large bust is not the only thing that defines your clothing choices. While it may seem like it at times! You need to primarily consider your body shape, scale and proportion. With these factors in mind you then need to consider your large bust.

I will share with you some key styling tips for women with a large bust. But I will point out, where applicable, the differences for body shape and height. If you are not sure which body shape you are check out my guide to determining your shape.

dress for a large bust marisota-jd-williams

Marisota – wrap over dress with V-neck

Dresses

If you have a large bust, you probably struggle to find a dress that fits? When you do find one to fit your bust, it’s likely to be too big everywhere else.

But hopefully I can show you that it’s not all gloom and doom. The first thing to consider is that you want to show off your lovely curves and so you do not want to hide in a big voluminous shapeless tent.

You want to consider stretchy fabrics that will flatter your figure and enhance your shape.

If you are an apple body shape and carry weight around your tummy then look for A line styles that fall from the bust line but have shape.

An hourglass body shape look for styles that will flatter and show off your curves. If you are an inverted triangle body shape, you want to create curves. For both body shapes a wrap dress is perfect.

With a V-neck and an asymmetric style this will show off your large bust and perfectly enhance your curves. You can also add a belt to emphasize your waist.

If you are comfortable wearing a one-shoulder dress this will look fabulous with a large bust. The asymmetric neckline will flatter your curves. However, you need to be comfortable that you have a strapless bra that will give you the support.

The most flattering sleeve length regardless of your body shape is three quarter length. Avoid sleeves that end in line with your bust as this will simply make you look broader.

Jackets and Coats

coat for large breasts curvissa-coat

Curvissa – single breasted coat

Keep lapels narrow on jackets.

You want to flatter your silhouette and show off your shape, but not add width. Single-breasted jackets are a good option with a deep v. neck.

Perhaps you find that a jacket that fits on your bust may be too big everywhere else? If so, choose styles that can be worn open, but still offer some shape.

For example an edge-to-edge shape jacket will create vertical lines to elongate your shape.

Avoid anything that has no shape, or is a chunky fabric, this will simply make you look much bigger.

In terms of jacket length, this will depend on your body shape.

Jackets should not end on the widest part of your body. Equally you don’t want a jacket that is too cropped and ends just below your bust. It will simply make it look larger!

For coats a similar principle applies. You want shape – cocoon or blanket coats are simply not for you. You want some structure. If you are an apple shape then look for the structure to come from just above the tummy. If you are an hourglass, you want coats with a belt to emphasize your waist. For an inverted triangle look for coats that have a belt to create a waist.

If you are petite then consider coats that end above the knee line.   If you are taller then wearing a coat with a hemline below the knee will elongate your shape.

 Tops

blouse for large breasts bounteousV-Necks are your best friends and will enhance a large bust.  V-necks will elongate your body and draw the eye upwards. A deep curve will also look good.

Figure hugging wrap-over tops are a great option and will flatter your shape if you have a large bust.  If the V-neck is a bit deep try wearing a cami top underneath.

Avoid anything with details around the neckline – ruffles, bows and cowl necks are not great looks for anyone with a large bust. Avoid breast pockets. These all add unnecessary bulk to your large bust.

I would not advise wearing a turtleneck. It simply makes your large bust look even bigger because of the expanse of fabric from your chest to your neckline.

The exception is to wear a turtleneck with a scarf or necklace, One potential danger of wearing a scarf, is that you get too hot with the turtleneck and remove your scarf.

If you have a large bust then blouses in a traditional shirt style are a real challenge and represent a serious danger of a wardrobe malfunction. Gaping or worse still a button coming undone will just mean total embarrassment.

One option is to invest in a handmade shirt, designed for a large bust. These are not a cheap option but if you want a tailored look for special occasions this may be an option.

Alternatively if you have a smaller frame with a large bust, check out my link below to Bounteous, as an option.

Choose fabrics that will show off your curves and avoid those that are too light and will create volume.

 

Accessories

Jewellery

You can also add jewellery to draw the eye upwards to your face, but avoid long pendant necklaces that sit in your cleavage and require fishing out! Also avoid big chunky necklaces, which lie on top of your bust.

You want to choose necklaces that finish above your bust line and add detail.

You don’t want anything that is too delicate. This will simply make your large bust look bigger as the necklace will look smaller. A large pendant from a short chain is a fabulous look.

 

Belts

Depending on your body shape, adding a belt may help to draw attention to your waist and away from your large bust.

If you have an inverted triangle body shape, a belt will help define your curves. Or if you are a curvy hourglass body a belt will help to further define your curves.

But if you are petite (regardless of body shape) avoid a belt in a contrasting colour as this will simply add a horizontal line and make you look shorter.

 

Handbagsbags for large bust zulily-handbag

If you have a large bust then avoid a handbag that sits on your shoulder and ends in line with your bust.

This will simply create width at your widest point. Instead look for will simply create more bulk at your widest point. Instead look for bags that end at your waist.

You will probably find cross body bags uncomfortable, but even if they do work for you they are not going to look great with a large bust.

 

Shopping Guide

Bras

Brands to consider for large busts are: Bravissimo Elomi Royce

Blouses

Handmade tailored blouses Cast

For a petite frame Bounteous

All Items

It’s also worth checking out a site called Zulily.

Zulily caters for all sizes, menswear and children. It is an American site which features up and coming designers.

The stock is heavily discounted (up to 70% off) and is only available for only three days.

Items ship from America, but they handle the import so you just receive items as a UK delivery. If you need to return goods you return to a UK address.

The lead-time is the only drawback, but from my experience the wait has been worth it.

Conclusion

Embrace your gorgeous curves.   You are beautiful and you will draw attention if you have a large bust, so make sure you’re making the most of your beautiful body!  If you have any shopping suggestions then please share them in the comments below.

 

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small boobs styling tips

How Excited Would You Be To Increase A Cup Size?

If you have a large bust then you’re probably shaking your head in despair at the thought of a bigger bust.  But if like me you have small boobs then you might be nodding enthusiastically?

I recently got fitted for a new bra and found that I’d gone down a chest size but up a cup size. As someone who spent years lamenting my pancake chest I was grinning like a Cheshire cat!

Over the past 18 months I’ve added box fit and weight training classes into my workout routine. One of the positive effects this is apparently having is to reduce my back fat.

boxing training and weight training

But as I’ve mentioned before in my recent blog how many of us wish we were taller, the grass always seems greener!

A survey carried out by the Daily Mirror in 2015 found that 30% of women don’t like their boobs. Interestingly 20% of those surveyed wanted smaller boobs and 20% longed for a bigger bust!

While surgery may be an option, for most of us it’s about embracing our bodies. By following and applying a few styling tips we can make the most of our lovely busts.

Regardless of whether you have a bigger bust or smaller boobs all of us should get fitted for the right bra.

I’ve got small boobs – why do I need a bra?

I spent years not bothering with a bra – after all I had nothing to put in them!  As I recovered from anorexia and gained some weight, I saw my shape change.

I still wasn’t convinced I needed a bra. A chat with a lingerie expert made me realize I was wrong.

It’s obvious when you have a bigger bust that you need the support but why do you need one when you have small boobs?

  1. Gravity – sorry but regardless of your small boobs, time marches on! As we get older the ligaments that hold up your breasts will start to sag.
  2. Posture – you carry more weight at the front. Even with small boobs! The result is that your shoulders will start to slump forward.
  3. Confidence – the right bra will enhance your small boobs. It will give you shape and definition.   A bra can offer a real confidence boost.

 small boobs buying a bra

 Styling Tips For Small Boobs

So if you have smaller boobs what are the best styling tips I can give you to help you embrace and enhance your assets?

This will depend on your shape scale and proportion but if you have small boobs you are more likely to be:

  1. An athletic body shape -slender shape with no real curves. Or
  2. A pear shaped body smaller on top with larger hips

My tips will indicate any differences for your body shape.

Jackets

You want to add width to your top half; so wide lapels are perfect for this.  Double-breasted jackets are another great way to make the eye believe your top half is broader

In terms of jacket shape, choose something structured that defines or creates a waist.  You can also use shoulder pads to add shape and definition to your top half.

Small Boobs - Look great in double breasted jackets

Karen Millen – Double Breasted Jacket

Printed fabrics are another great way to make enhance your small boobs.

In terms of jacket length, this will depend on your body shape:

Pear Shaped Body – you want to avoid jackets that end on the widest part of your hips, as this will simply create a horizontal line and make you look broader.   Your best shape will be something that ends just below your hips

Athletic Body Shape – you want a jacket that will create the illusion of curves, so look for a jacket that ends on top of your hips.

Tops

You may be self-conscious about your top half but you have a great opportunity to wear tops that show off your small boobs.

Add detail with cowl necks or high necks. The trend for ruffle blouses is one that really works for you.   Pussy bow blouses are another option.

small boobs ruffle neck blouse

Ruffle Neck Blouse – Topshop

You can also add jewellery to draw the eye upwards. Another great trend that works for you this season are the choker necklaces.

You can also wear slash necks or crew necks. Scarves can also add another dimension of interest and add volume to your top half.

A shirt with a traditional collar unbuttoned at the top will also draw the eye upward.  Gathers and details that create shape are a great way to add definition and shape.

Halter necks are another option if you have an athletic body shape. The narrowing effect of a halter will not work for a pear shaped body.

Dresses

If you have small boobs and are a pear shaped body you may struggle to find dresses that fit properly.

One option is to choose a vintage 1950s style. But be careful that the skirt is not too full or the fabric too stiff. As this will simply have the effect of making your hips look wider.   You want fabrics that will skim your hips.

If you are an athletic body shape then shirt-dresses are a good choice for you and accentuate your waist with a belt. Shirt-dresses will often have a breast pocket. This is great if you have small boobs, as this will add volume.

You  may also want to consider backless dresses. Backless dresses cannot be worn with a bra, but many styles offer shaping around the bust line and a level of support.

Articles that I’ve read recently suggest that women with small boobs should go for a plunging neckline.  You may suffer from unwanted remarks and be too self-conscious to carry this off.

small boobs warehouse shirt dress

Warehouse Shirt Dress

Nuggets

The following are a few quick tips you might find useful

  1. Handbag – if you like to wear your handbag on your shoulder, ensure the strap length means the bag finishes in line with your bust. This will add volume to your top half.
  2. Trousers – this is for tall athletic body shape – wear flares to help add width and balance to your overall body shape
  3. Stripes – Wider stripes will make you look broader. Just be careful if you are a pear shaped body that the stripes end before your hips.
  4. Keep colours on your bottom half darker and plainer. This is important as well if you don’t want to draw attention to your hips.
  5. Layers on your top half will help to create volume. Bolero jackets and shrugs work well if you have a pear shaped body.

Conclusion

Embrace your body and learn to love your small boobs. Remember you are beautiful. That’s really the best possible advice I can give you!  If you have small boobs and would like to share your tips in the comments below that would be perfect!

 

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taller woman

Wouldn’t You Just Love To Be A Taller Woman?

Hands up those of us who are average height or below and have dreamt what it would be like to be a taller woman?

Many of us believe that those added inches would make all our style issues simply evaporate!

Well as we know the grass is always greener isn’t it?

grass greener taller woman

Now put yourself in the shoes of someone who is >5’10” (1.78M), so considered a taller woman. While it might feel great to survey the world from a different perspective; think about the challenges you face and if you’re stepping into those shoes you will probably find that they are too big!

Just for a moment envisage what it might be like to struggle to battle with jeans which appear to have a Mexican stand off with your shoes and sleeves that argue with your wrists!

Add to that a posture with a few legacy challenges; as you struggled not to be taller than your friends during that frenzied teenage growth spurt.

Like most style challenges if you are a taller woman it’s about following a framework. But as I will keep reiterating it’s about how you express yourself in a way that feels right for you.

Like my recent blog about petite fashion, if you are a taller woman you are not a unique body shape. Being tall is another dimension on top of your body shape. You are most likely to be either a slender athletic shape, an inverted triangle or a pear body shape.

I hope that the following tips and advice, along with my suggestions on where you can shop will be useful if you are a taller woman.

1. Jeans and Trousers

If you are a tall slender athletic body shape or an inverted triangle you are going to look great in most styles of trousers and jeans.

You will look fantastic in skinny jeans, but equally as good in flared jeans or trousers, which will add some width to your slender frame.

If you are a tall pear body shape, you want to look at trousers and jeans with a wide or straight leg but the key is to keep the area around the hips as fuss free as possible!

The real difference though comes around the detailing on trousers and jeans. Tall pear shapes should avoid adding bulk with pockets and pleats as this will add width at the widest part of your body.  But if you are a slender tall woman then you may want to add some detail and width at your hips to create a slightly curvier silhouette.

 

skinny jeans for taller woman

Bell Sleeve Blouse Taller Woman

Lipsy Bell Sleeve Blouse

2. Sleeves

I’m going to lump sleeves into a general pile rather than explore blouses, dresses, jackets and coats as separate elements.

The problem is the same regardless of garment – finding sleeves that are long enough for a taller woman and what to do when the sleeves are not quite right.

Bell sleeves look great on tall slender women. Flaring out from the shoulder and ending anywhere between elbow and wrist. The width of the sleeves will help to make your arms look shorter.

Regardless of your body shape, look for double cuffed blouses that you can create a slight boho chic look by wearing the cuff extended.

Sleeves that are just a bit too short can be pushed up to give a ¾ length appearance (versus finishing just shy of your wrists). Add chunky bracelets and a wide strapped watch to create balance.

 

3. Hemlines

You will look great in mid-calf length skirts and dresses. This length is really difficult to pull off unless you are a taller woman. This is because it creates a horizontal line just where you don’t need it at the widest part of your calves.

Maxi dresses will look amazing. If you are very tall just check that the length is long enough! A fitted maxi dress with a split for a party will just make your legs look endless!

If the style is quite loose then consider making a waist if you are a slender frame. If you have a tall pear shape body then consider styles that skim your hips and drawn attention to your top half. Strapless or spaghetti straps are great.

You will also look great in skirts that finish just above the knee and for those with slender legs then you can opt for mini skirts.

4. Heels

Do not feel you are consigned to a life in flats if they don’t appeal!taller woman can wear heels

Like most style tips that I give, it’s about your own confidence levels and not about what you ‘should’ do.   If you feel good and want to wear heels then go ahead.

I’m forever giving women tips on how to make their legs look longer. I normally advise avoiding shoes with chunky ankle straps and details. These make the wearer look shorter as they create horizontal lines.   Guess who will look absolutely fantastic in chunky ankle straps?

I would however look at more rounded toes and styles – avoiding pointy toe styles, as these will make your feet look longer. If you have very slender legs beware of footwear that’s too chunky as it will have a ‘Minnie Mouse’ effect.

You will also look fantastic in over the knee boots with those lovely long legs.

5. Accessories

Belts – As a taller woman you will look fantastic in belts.

They will create a horizontal line and add definition to your waist. If you choose contrasting colours this will create even more of a horizontal line.

Remember that every horizontal line will add width and reduce height to the eye.

Bags – large day bags are yours to wear and hold! Just a note of caution that any bag styles that are too chunky may still overwhelm you if you are very slender. So consider this when you are choosing handbags.

Large jewellery will look great on you, but again I will just say that if you are extremely slender be careful that the styles you pick are in proportion.

Choker necklaces look amazing on tall women as you have the height to really show off the look. If you are a pear shaped body then even better as you’re drawing the eye upwards.

Learn to love your height and not feel it’s a hindrance. I can guarantee that most women under 5’ 7” would love to be taller!

 

Shopping Suggestions If You Are A Taller Woman

Long Tall Sally – ‘At Long Tall Sally we don’t just sell clothes for tall women. We champion tall women.’ Since 1976 LTS has been specializing in sourcing clothing and footwear brands for tall women.

Legs For Days – only supplying fashion to long tall girls!

6 Foot Fashion – launched by Kelly Scott as a one stop shop for clothes and accessories for taller women.

Several High Street brands also offer a ‘tall range’ but their ranges are not as wide nor do they cater for the really taller woman as the specialist retailers I have listed.

 

 

 

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petite women

Petite Women Aren’t All Small And Dainty

Last night I was banging my head on the desk!

I was doing some research on clothes for petite women. This is because I have a client consultation coming up and I wanted to be prepared.

Normally I enjoy a good old ramble around the Internet when I’m vision boarding for clients. However, this was a major hiking expedition through a forest without a map!

petite women fashion problems

The good news is that tenacity pays dividends and my stock of tenacity is high! At the end of this post I’m going to offer you a round up of some of the key brands that design and manufacture for petite women.

 Petite Women Are Just One Shape Aren’t They?

The dictionary defines petite as ‘attractively small and dainty’.

But the definition for most petite women is that you can be any body shape.  The only common factor is that you are less than 5’ 4” (or 1.62M). Petite women are not necessarily just small and dainty!

Therefore the principles of dressing for your shape are still there. However there is an added dimension that height will affect the choice of clothing. Think of it in those terms and in theory it becomes easier!

My tips are focused on the petite women who would like to look taller. I’ve also added guidelines according to body shape.

 1. Necklines

V-neck for petite women

Banana Republic V-Neck

V-Neck is the best shape for petite women. A V-Neck creates more of a vertical line and the illusion of height. In comparison a square or wide rounded neckline adds width. If you have a small bust then a shallower V- neck or an open necked blouse is an option.

 2. Sleeves

A universal tip for anyone wanting to add height is to wear three quarter length sleeves. The sleeves end on the most slender part of the arm.

Just be aware that wherever the sleeve ends it will create width. So for example a curvy petite will not suit a short-sleeved top that ends in line with the bust.

 3. Handbags

An oversized handbag will overwhelm you, particularly if you also have a slender frame.

Smaller bags, although they don’t allow us to carry so much clutter (!) will be more in proportion to your height.

Curvy petite women can carry slightly bigger bags, but I’d avoid the big tote styles if you want to add height.

4.  Belts and Jewellerytassel leather belt

A bulky wide belt will create a line across your body that will make you look shorter.   As any horizontal pattern or shape will do.

But if you want to add shape and definition to your waist a narrow belt is a great idea.

Petite women will look better if their jewellery does not overwhelm them.

5. Shoes and Boots

Petite Women Pointed Toes

Sam Edelman on Nordstrom

The obvious choice for adding height is to wear heels. But not all petite women are comfortable in heels. These tips are not heel dependent:

  • Avoid ankle straps – another horizontal line
  • Nude is great for adding height
  • Pointed toes will look better than rounded
  • Boots just below the knee

 6. Prints and Patterns

Vertical lines and stripes will add height.

An open jacket over a top creates a simple vertical line.   Piping on a pair of trousers is another great way to make legs look longer.

Slender petite women will be overwhelmed with big prints and patterns. Curvy petite women can wear larger patterns and prints.

7. Hemlines

The general rules are that hemlines should not finish on the widest part of the thigh or the calf. Again this is because the eye will be drawn to a horizontal line that will reduce height.

Just below or above the knee is the best way to add height.

Minis for slender petite women will give the illusion of longer legs.

 8. Tailored And Structured

petite women tailored jacket

Jeetly – Chelsea Jacket

Tailored clothes will add structure for all petite women.

A crop jacket that ends at waist level will help legs to look longer for slender petite women.  Curvy petite women with a tummy should look for a hip length jacket.

If fitted isn’t your style then at least keep top or bottom half more structured.

9. Trousers

The basic principles for petite women are to wear high-waisted trousers. High waisted trousers will make legs look longer. True but not all shapes can wear them and may find some styles uncomfortable.

Straight or skinny Boot cut shapes again will add length.   Details on jeans and trousers check out my Skinny Jeans Are So Last Year.

 10. Monochrome

Keeping an outfit in one colour will help petite women to add height without the changes in colour creating horizontal lines.

But if you want to break up the colours, try a scarf simply draped round the back of your neck and leave to hang down your front, another great way to create vertical lines.

What Did I Learn On My Hike?

I promised you a summary of where to shop for petite women, some of which I’m sure will be very familiar but other brands and sites may be new to you. Feel fee to add to this list in the comments, as I’m sure other petite women would be really interested in your experiences.

petite women where to shop

Banana Republic – Plays by the rules!

Seriously BR has a great selection of petite clothing, which follows the style guidelines for petite women.  Focusing on smart casual daywear that works for many modern office environments.

Gap – which incidentally owns BR.  Gap has always been a go to place for great casual basics. Slightly less formal than BR but caters well for the petite market.

NYDJ – Designed specifically for women of all shapes and sizes.

Jeetly – semi formal smart stylish clothing. Founded by a former optometrist who got fed up of being told by her patients ‘you don’t look old enough to be doing this job!’

Wallis – offering smart clothes and occasion wear with some more casual styles.

Free People – bohemian styles that are great and go down to size 2-4 but are not specifically styled for petite women.

Asos – has a great range aimed at mainly younger petite women

These general tips are helpful as a framework but there is still an important aspect to consider. You need to define your personal style. Decide what personal values you want the world to see and think about how best to reflect these in your clothes.

If you are petite I would love to learn about your style journey and where you shop for clothes.  Please post your comments below.

 

 

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AbCrack

AbCrack: Healthy Look Or Dangerous Obsession?

After reading the headline article in the Times Magazine on Saturday ‘Have You Seen My AbCrack?’ I felt compelled to comment.

Let me make it clear, just in case you’ve not read my story or previous blogs, I do not advocate extreme dieting or obsessive exercise.

A 20-year battle with anorexia and an obsession with exercise that literally brought me to my knees in the street, means I do have some experience to draw on here!

The article got me thinking with Professor Marika Tiggeman’s comments that ‘digital fitness reinforces yet another ideal that women can fail to live up to.’

I decided to see what else was out there and Googled AbCrack to find a cluster of headlines in July 2016.

‘The AbCrack is a dangerous Instagram trend’ (Good Housekeeping)

‘The Ab Crack is the newest body trend to spark social media outrage’. Oddchatter

‘What is the Abcrack’ asked the Telegraph

But is there a dangerous trend on social media? Not according to my research on hashtags!

Reach Impressions
Abcrack 8.6K 12.4K
Thighgap 774K 966K

So What’s My Point?

The headlines that suggest a lot of people are involved with something dangerous to put it succinctly.

If it were a trend going viral then the headlines would be more current. A week may be a long time in politics but four months is a decade online!

Presumably in July we needed a distraction immediately post-Brexit and the debacles at Westminster. Disappearing down an Abcrack might not have seemed such a daft option!

Headlines Aside What Are The Key Points? I’m not going to be adding a lot that’s not already out there but I am going to give you my view.

What Is An AbCrack?

The term AbCrack is used to describe the vertical line that appears to divide the abdominal muscles. The correct term is the Linea Alba (the white line).  This line and the accompanying six pack are only seen on very toned bodies.

The muscles have to be very developed through exercise and diet.   Diet also plays an important role in making the muscles more visible as many of us carry a layer of body fat over the stomach muscles.

AbCrack

AbCrack – Can Any Woman Have One?

No!   But that’s no different from other body parts. We don’t all have long legs for example!

We are all genetically different and this means that some people will be able to gain an AbCrack more easily than others.

Jessica Ennis Hill is a great example. Like many athletes natural ability, motivation and determination play a huge part, But scientists would also say that genetics have played a part.

So I Can Get An AbCrack With Exercise?

The right exercise will help to develop the abdominal muscles.

The trend for weight training, boot camps and interval training will all help to develop strong core muscles but this will not be all that’s needed.

A fitness plan that focuses on getting as lean as possible is really important.

In the Times Article, Celebrity PT Matt Roberts details a very rigid fitness plan you would need to follow for five days/week to get lean enough. Matt’s plan involves cardio, interval and resistance training.

AbCrack Toned Body

What Else Do I Need To Get An AbCrack?

Obtaining really defined abdominal muscles means following a very strict diet.

It means eating a lot of lean protein (chicken, eggs, white fish), vegetables and slow release carbohydrates.  It also means giving up dairy, sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol.

Some trainers recommend eating good fats in moderation. Other diets recommend cutting fat entirely to maintain a low body fat percentage.

For the muscle to be really toned the body fat percentage must be really low. This can lead to problems.

AbCrack Lean Protein

What Body Fat Percentage Would I Need?

For the muscles to be really ripped (defined) a woman would need to be 16-19% body fat.

There are lots of statistics quoted and misquoted about body fat percentage.

The guidelines published by the World Health Organisation state that a healthy women’s body fat should be 21%-33%. The wide variation takes into account age, fitness levels and genetics.

Generally fit women are between 21-25%. While 16-19% may not sound much lower than this, the implications for health are wide reaching.

What’s Wrong With A Low Body Fat?

If you have a low body fat percentage this can cause a lot of health problems.

A diet low in fat increases the risk of deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). These vitamins are important for healthy sight, skin and bone density apart from anything else.

A low body fat percentage can also increase the risk of heart disease.

It can also depress the immune system and can affect menstruation with consequences for fertility.

Is There Anything Else I Need To Know?

Yes and this is quite scary.

Muscles look at their best in a dehydrated body.   For fitness competitions contestants manipulate their water consumption.

For every day up to a week before the competition contestants drink six or seven litres of water. In the days leading up to the competition water consumption is reduced to the point of only taking sips on the day of the event.

As soon as contestants drink normally again the intense definition is lost, therefore the images are distorted.

exercise the physical benefits

What Else Might Happen To My Body?

A strict diet regime to reduce body fat will also reduce the fatty tissue that makes up the breasts. Female body builders very often lose their boobs.

Megan Prescott interviewed in the Times article, advised that this didn’t matter as she could have implants! This attitude does not appear to be uncommon amongst women bodybuilders.

Their ethos is a toned and honed body, which they want to be ‘perfect’ as they define it.

So Should I Forget About An AbCrack?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be fit and having a toned body.

A lean toned body will give you more confidence. I love the way my body looks now with my deltoid dips and defined back muscles. Add a tan to that and I feel really confident!

But it becomes a problem when it becomes an obsessive habit to try to obtain something that’s largely unattainable and not particularly healthy when taken to an extreme form.

Deltoid Dip

So What Should I Do?

The benefits of healthy eating are well-documented.  Personally I believe in following a balanced diet that does not omit major food groups on a long term basis.

I’m a great fan of Jamie Oliver,  Joe Wicks and Madeline Shaw who all promote healthy eating which is both easy to follow and advocates a balanced diet of sensible ingredients.

While the Times may have used the Byline ‘Goodbye Waif, Hello Weights’ there are major benefits to resistance training.  But again I believe in a balanced approach and seeking advice if you’re not sure what is right for you.

Therefore if have an exercise routine that incorporates resistance training and builds a strong core it will offer protection against disease. With the added benefits of knowing you look good will increase confidence.

So if you’re not sure where to start with resistance training I’d always recommend visiting a gym and seek advice from the staff. I would avoid the DIY approach using fitness apps or some online program. You need to know that your technique is right to get the best from the exercises and avoid injury!

If you are wondering what to wear to the gym that will flatter your body shape, why not download my FREE Guide to Workout In Style

Related posts: 725,000 Are Affected By An Eating Disorder , Workout Clothes Bad For Your Body?

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eating disorders are not about food

725,000 Are Affected By An Eating Disorder

eating disorders are not about food

725,000 people suffer from an eating disorder in the UK according to a recent report by Price Waterhouse Coopers*.

Women are most likely to develop an eating disorder, although the study found 11% of sufferers were men.

Adolescence is often the time that an eating disorder surfaces. But they have been diagnosed in children as young as 6 and adults in their 70s.

There are three main categories of eating disorders Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating.

10% of eating disorders are diagnosed as Anorexia.  Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

You cannot tell if someone is suffering from an eating disorder by looking at them.

So Why Am I Sharing This?

I planned to publish this post during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, but something held me back. I battled with the ‘should I/shouldn’t I’ monster for a few days and before I knew it, I’d missed the window.

But last week I had an inspiring discussion with someone who had overcome eating disorders.  She had both bulimia and anorexia. It was that conversation that led me to kick the ‘shouldn’t I monster’ into oblivion. Awareness week may be over but this doesn’t mean we should forget or ignore eating disorders.

eating disorder monsters

My Eating Disorder

As a child I suffered from continual bouts of tonsillitis, which made eating painful. I was 6 when I had a tonsillectomy and then I discovered food!

My mother, ecstatic that she no longer had a fussy eater, overcompensated! The result – one overweight child!

But at the same time I was receiving mixed messages.

My mother was always on a diet and would live on crisp bread and lo fat cheese long before it became fashionable to do so!

While I do not blame my parents, it’s often said that children who develop an eating disorder have one parent they idolize that pushes them hard. Enter my Dad! He had the best intentions, but put me under enormous pressure.

Telling a family friend that I’d got 98% in a French test, she remarked you must be proud.

Dad’s response was Carol’s disappointed she didn’t get 100% – err no she wasn’t actually! Given that I was 11 at the time and still remember this as if it was yesterday …

eating disorder parent pressure

Leaving school at 16 at college I lost weight, gained shape and self-confidence. I started to feel good about the way I looked.   My confidence suffered a huge setback though when my boyfriend made a negative remark about my figure.

Years later I realized this was the ‘trigger’ that sent my teenage desire to look good into an obsession that spiraled out of control.

For 20 years I was an anorexic/functioning anorexic/recovering anorexic as I battled with my own self-esteem issues and the desire to have control.

At my lowest point I was almost hospitalized a couple of times. As other sufferers can testify, deception becomes an art form. So while the admission forms were being prepared I set about convincing the medical team that hospitalization was not necessary. Once the pressure was off I slid gracefully back into my pattern of self-destruct behaviours.

 

How did my eating disorder affect my life?

Putting aside the physical signs and symptoms, Anorexia is a mental health disorder.  It is much more than an eating disorder.

It’s complex and manifests itself in different ways. Let me share with you how anorexia gave me a the control over my life that I didn’t believe I had.

The scales governed my mood for the day. I would weigh myself every morning.eating disorder scales

If the needle had gone down it would be a good day, stayed the same it would be okay, gone up and disaster!

I would immediately be thinking of ways I could reduce my food intake, purge my body, fit in another exercise class to burn more calories.

I was addicted to routine. The idea of spontaneity filled me with horror.   The suggestion of going out for a meal without enough planning of how I could burn off the inevitable extra calories would bring me out in palpitations.

The closest I got to this was a barbecue with friends – we’d been out for a drink and they invited us back for an impromptu barbecue. I made the excuse that I had to go home and feed the cat.

On arriving home I put on my running gear and headed out for a run, so that I felt I could justify eating. I then showered, fed the cat and headed back to the party.

eating disorder barbecue

The more that people commented on my slender figure, the more this encouraged me. I was being admired, as I’d not been as a chubby teenager.

It certainly affected my career. I lacked self-confidence and didn’t push myself forward. It was easier to stay in jobs that I’d outgrown than to risk my fragile self esteem teetering on the edge of my comfort zone.

 

How Did I Overcome My Eating Disorder?

That’s a really good question!

It certainly wasn’t an epiphany and neither was it the result of therapy, a life event or wakeup call.

It was a step by step process. I came to terms with food and not purging my body whenever I felt I had overeaten, before I cut down to more moderate levels of exercise!

Running, swimming and step aerobics every day (yes, all three!) finally took its toll on my body! I ignored injuries and did not give my body a chance to recover.

At my worst I insisted on going running on icy pavements with my arm in plaster.

On another occasion I ended up in hospital under observation, having gone running while suffering from concussion.

eating disorder exercise addiction

My running shoes were packed and taken on almost every holiday. Although even I couldn’t figure out how to get a decent run in when we went skiing! But that meant I would only go to hotels with a decent sized pool so that I could finish a six-hour skiing day with a mile swim!

Finding out I couldn’t have children sent me on a guilt trip. It was never diagnosed if this was down to AN. However, I saw a positive side, as I’d never have deal with a post pregnancy tummy!

When my marriage ran into the rocks my immediate reaction was that the stress would mean I’d lose weight!   A lifeboat saved my marriage but had little effect on my body image.

But as for recovery? It was a gradual process of coming to terms with my body and starting to realize that I didn’t need to be a size 6 to be happy. Injury meant I had to find new ways to exercise and establish a more balanced lifestyle.

Who To Turn To?

If you have or believe you have an eating disorder, it is important to find someone to talk to. If you do not feel that you can talk to anyone you know then Beat* offers a helpline and lots of advice.

Eating disorders are tough not just on the sufferer but on loved ones too. Sufferers will say that it’s vital for their recovery to have the unconditional love and support of their family and those around them.

My own experience showed this to be the case. Looking back I wasn’t always fun to be around. Despite my behavior, I was lucky that my family was always ready to pick up the pieces.

If you suspect that a loved one, friend or colleague has an eating disorder getting advice on how to approach them is vital. Beat has some great support and information.

Remember that an eating disorder is complex but can be treated, once the sufferer is ready to acknowledge the problem.

Do you have any experiences to share about eating disorders?  If so I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Please share this post on social media, together we can create more awareness and help others.

 

*PwC – The Costs of Eating Disorders – Feb 2015 – commissioned by Beat.

Beat is the UK’s leading charity supporting anyone affected by eating disorders or difficulties with food, weight and shape

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