new mum baby and sunset

The Truth About Your Body Shape Post Partum

body shape post part
Congratulations on your amazing achievement!

For nine months you have nurtured and now given birth to another human being.

But your body is not an elastic band and won’t simply bounce back into the shape it was before you fell pregnant.

It can take up to six weeks alone for your uterus to return to its normal size.

Therefore setting high expectations that your tummy will resume its pre-pregnant state within a few days of giving birth simply isn’t realistic. It can take from 9 months to 2 years for your body to recover after giving birth.

You may be feeling very emotional after giving birth, don’t become disillusioned about your body shape. Focus instead on your beautiful baby and allowing your body time to recover.

While you may be looking at your wardrobe in despair, let me give you a few tips and suggestions about how to be a yummy mummy rather than a slummy mummy!

body shape new mum

1. Don’t Ditch Them!

This applies to your maternity clothes as much as your pre-pregnancy wardrobe.

Treat your maternity wardrobe like a comfort blanket immediately after giving birth! Jersey tops, leggings, elasticated waistlines are your new best friends.

Don’t have a massive pre-pregnancy clothing clear out for at least a year. I know like you have the time and energy at the moment!

You may find that items you were wearing in your last five weeks before giving birth are too big almost immediately.  Either put these away for next time or get rid of them!

2. Fabrics, Colours And Prints

It may be stating the obvious but focus on easy care fabrics. You don’t need the additional work of caring for delicates or hand wash items.

Prints are always a good idea! You can pretend that the unidentifiable splodge of something regurgitated on your top is actually part of the pattern!

Now for colour, it may be tempting to wear black, for its slimming effect on your body.

Sleepless nights will take their toll on your complexion and you may look pale. Black will accentuate your tired look, as it’s very draining.

Alternatives to black are dark grey (charcoal or anthracite) or dark blue as alternative neutrals.  These have softer tones and will not make you so tired and drawn.

body shape prints can help

3. Dress To Take Attention Away From Your Belly

A new mum friend of mine phoned me in floods of tears the other day.

Her mum had offered to babysit so she could join another friend for coffee.

The lady in front of them in the queue turned round, smiled and asked my friend when she was due.  Needless to say she was really upset that a stranger thought she was still pregnant.

Luckily I was able to give her some advice:

  • Wear long line jackets, gilets, knitwear undone to create a vertical line down your body which will make you look taller
  • A printed top will help to take attention away from your belly.
  • Wearing a statement necklace will take attention away from your tummy
  • Wear a jacket open – it creates vertical lines and will make you look taller

4. Taking Shape

The idea of Shapewear may not be enticing when you’ve just given birth and your body is tender and painful.  But modern designs mean you can select different levels of control.

Shapewear can also help to boost your confidence about your body image.

There’s no reason why you can’t wear Shapewear shortly after a C-section but be aware that the area may be a bit tender.

Just be careful if you find yourself sweating as moisture building up round the healing area may encourage bacteria to breed.

There are brands who specialize in post pregnancy Shapewear such as Leonisa and post pregnancy belts by Belly Bandit .

 

5. Flats Are Your Friends!

In my last post about dressing when you’re pregnant I covered the flats v heels debate.

As much as you might be rushing to get back into your heels, your feet and ankles will still be swollen for a couple of weeks.

Being tired may mean you are clumsy. A sprained ankle on top of what your body has gone through probably isn’t a good idea.

It’s advisable to wait until the swelling’s gone down, before you start to wear heels. It may also be a good idea to stick to low or mid-height heels at least for a while!

body shape post partum

6. Bling Bling!

I’m not suggesting that you wear lots of necklaces, earrings and scarves when you are with your baby.

You might get away with it for a while, but equally if you’re breastfeeding you don’t need the distraction!

But come the stage when your baby is attracted to bright shiny objects and loose dangly bits they can stuff in their mouths, jewllery and scarves are not a good plan!

However, if you’re on a night off or having a bit of ‘me time’ accessories are an easy way to lift your look, adding sparkle and glam.

7. Bag It Up

One accessory that will be really useful for you and your baby is a fabulous new big bag!

Mums wave goodbye to small handbags the day they give birth.

A friend of mine wanted to buy his wife a present to celebrate the birth of their first baby.

I suggested that he bought her a big designer day bag. He looked at me as though I was nuts but he did take my advice!

He admitted afterwards that it was the best present he’d ever bought her. His wife was so ecstatic with his gift!

body shape new bag

 

Hopefully this post has given you some ideas about how you can make your wardrobe work for you and the new arrival in your life!

It’s important that you retain your sense of identity and remember that while you have a dependent baby you still need to look after yourself.

I was chatting to a young mum today who had her third baby six months ago.

The other two children are both under five. She has returned to work each time after having children and plans to do the same when her six month old is a year.

She looked incredible and she shared her secret with me.

She and her husband work their lives so that she can get to the gym three times a week. It’s her only bit of ‘me time’.

But it enables her to retain her identity and cope with the stress of having three children in quick succession! It’s also helped her body image.

 

Would you like some help putting together a Post Partum Capsule Wardrobe?  Why not download a copy of my FREE Guide Be Yummy Not Slummy!

 

 

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Image Bri Mansys

#DisabilityFight4FashionRight

Welcome to Part Two of my interview with Gemma Flanagan.

In Part One we looked at Gemma’s story and how from being an active young woman travelling the world for her job, she ended up in hospital completely paralysed.    How she was in hospital for almost a year and has had to come to terms with life in a wheelchair.

In this second part of the interview we explore the work of Models of Diversity (MOD).  Angel and her team are challenging the perceptions of beauty as portrayed by the fashion, beauty and media industries.  They are campaigning for change, inclusion and equality.

In this second part we will explore the campaign #DisabilityFight4FashionRight.

DisabilityFight4FashionRight

DisabilityFight4FashionRight

I will share with you how important the #DisabilityFight4FashionRight campaign is, not simply for people with disabilities who want to make a career of modelling.  This campaign has a much wider impact offering inspiring role models to others.

Beauty is diverse across the full spectrum of Society.  There are many beautiful men and women who would not fit into the conventional and frankly outdated sense of what is defined as beauty by the fashion, beauty and media industries.

CH: MOD is more than simply fighting for acceptance of disability on the catwalk and is having some great wins – would you please share some of these with us?

GF: For a start diversity embraces much more than just disability. It includes ethnicity, age, size, height, non-binary gender.

Yes we are having some fantastic wins and that we have some businesses and brands we’re talking to. Unfortunately there are a lot who are not so enlightened and so it’s slow progress.

We are in discussion with various brands and some are really embracing what we’re doing. Top Shop are meeting with us and discussions are ongoing.   Jack Eyers is part of this Men’s Fashion Week for TopMan.

Male Disabled Models seem to be more readily accepted and I think that’s because of the association of War Veterans.

CH: Is the UK different from other countries in its approach and acceptance of diversity in the fashion industry and if so how?

GF: The UK is certainly behind other countries. Take the US as an example

There is certainly more diversity in New York Fashion week. In February this included our own Jack Eyers who was on the catwalk. The first amputee to feature in New York Fashion Week.

US Brand Nordstrom takes a more inclusive approach using models who would be considered diverse in all of its shows.

The UK does lag behind not just the US but other countries in Europe.   Our culture is much more reserved. We seem to be more awkward about embracing and celebrating diversity.

Image by Chio Photography

Image by Chio Photography

CH: Is there any sense that the fashion industry will use diversity simply to gain public approval, be seen as ‘doing the right thing’, an act of tokenism?

GF: Sadly there are indeed acts of tokenism. With a ‘hey look at us’ approach and the media attention dies and life returns to the way it’s always been.

We want it become just normal practice.

Our message is very clear.  We are passionate about not having special treatment.

We don’t want to be taken on as models because we are disabled, or due to our ethnic origin etc.

We want to be accepted as models because we have the attributes required for a model: Beauty, confidence, we are professional, able to take direction.

What we are campaigning for is not to be treated differently and to have a level playing field.

 

CH: Of course the campaign that MOD is fighting for is so important for anyone who wants to work in the fashion industry, but what are the effects for people outside the industry

GF: With over 80% of people suffering from body confidence issues it’s so important to celebrate beauty in all its forms.

Before my illness I was size 8, toned and tall. GBS has meant that my body shape has gone through many changes.

I know how seeing someone that I could have related in a role that is all about being visible would have helped me to get through an incredibly tough time in my life.

Our campaign is much more than the modeling industry. We want retailers to think more about Diversity.

  1. How many mannequins do you see in wheelchairs?
  2. Disabled changing facilities are often used as storage space?
  3. Which retailers provide a lower counter facility for wheelchair users?
Image by Tim Los Hemmingway

Image by Tim Los Hemmingway

CH: As an Ambassador for MOD and its campaign for Diversity can you tell us a bit about the #DisabilityFight4FashionRight and what you want to achieve?

GF: To put it simply we are 4 disabled women addressing exclusion of disability in Fashion.

We want to see fairness and equality. We do not want to be shamed or excluded.  We wear clothes, so why shouldn’t we be represented in the Marketing and Advertising campaigns that the industry generates?

Our #DisabilityFight4FashionRight Campaign is simply to ask the Government to Enforce & Regulate strict guidelines to the multiple areas of this industry.

On September 18th 2015 we launched our petition at the House of Lords.   We met with Baronness Benjamin and Baronness Hussein-Ece who were happy to add their support to our campaign.

We have until 23rd March to get 100,000 signatures for the Government to consider this for Parliamentary debate.

DisabilityFight4FashionRight

DisabilityFight4FashionRight

 

CH: Are people being supportive? How are you raising awareness of the campaign?

GF: We had a great response when we launched. But we’ve still got a long way to go.

We are starting launching a UK tour on 30th January and we’re hoping that this will generate more publicity.

It’s actually harder to get the disabled community engaged, their concern is that we’re trying to make money out of disability – nothing could be further from the truth!

None of us get paid for what we do!   We are all volunteers. A lot of modeling shoots and fashion shows are done to generate publicity – we don’t earn from them.

However, as our #DisabilityFight4FashionRight campaign is for equality, this will include embracing engaging models on equal terms.

DisabilityFight4FashionRight Tour

CH: How can we support Models of Diversity?

GF: Please, Please sign the petition.  We want as many people as possible to see the #DisabilityFight4FashionRight  campaign and have a chance to support us.

To get this out to as wide an audience as possible we are asking for everyone to SHARE this campaign.

Please put a link on your Facebook Profile, Twitter Feed, Instagram and wherever you hang out online.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who does sign for #DisabilityFight4FashionRight as you are supporting inclusion and fairness.

*Part 1 – read more if you missed how Gemma’s life changed almost overnight – from traveling the world to lying paralysed in hospital.

 

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Image by Paul Cummings Photography

Gemma Flanagan an Inspiring Model

Gemma Flanagan lived a life that many would envy.   Travelling all over the world, partying in some exciting cities and getting paid it!

Gemma was a member of BA’s cabin crew until 2011 when her life changed forever.

Within a week of starting to notice slight tingling, Gemma ended up in hospital completely paralysed, where she stayed for almost a year. Gemma had been struck down by Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)*1, a condition that affects only 1 in 100,000 people.

I met Gemma last year when Angel Sinclair invited me to provide clothes for her Models of Diversity Catwalk Show in Shepherds Bush Market.

In this 2-part interview you can learn about Gemma her amazing courage and positive attitude.  In this part we talk about her illness and recovery.  In part 2 we will discuss the amazing work that Models of Diversity Does and how you can help.

Gemma Flanagan

 CH Hi Gemma can you please introduce yourself and your current role, plus your really exciting news!

GF: Hi I’m Gemma Flanagan I’m the Assistant Director of Disability for Models of Diversity. When I’m not campaigning for Models of Diversity (MOD) I am a fashion model, but this is also an extension of my role for MOD.

I’m so excited that I got engaged at Christmas!! We went to look at our first wedding venue last night and it made me realize just how real it is now!!  We are just celebrating our fourth anniversary.

 

CH: Your life changed forever in 2011 – what happened?

GF: I was on a stopover in Vegas and realized that I wasn’t feeling quite right.

My feet started to feel strange.  I had pins and needles and my legs felt heavy – Sounds daft but I put it down to the 6” heels I’d been partying in!

On the return flight I felt really tired and thought I’d been overdoing things.   I was due to report for my next flight to Nairobi 2 days later.

I made it out of the door and on to the street (in full uniform!) only to collapse in the street. I struggled to get up. The weird thing was that I was in no pain. I just couldn’t walk.

Gemma Flanagan Before & After GBS

 CH: Presumably you didn’t make the flight to Kenya?

GF: Hardly! My flatmate took me to a WalkIn Clinic – not surprisingly they were really unsure what to do with me!  So I ended up in A&E and was admitted to hospital for tests.

It was then that things started to get a bit scary as they mentioned stroke, meningitis and tropical diseases as possible causes for my symptoms.

The doctors confirmed the diagnosis as GBS* after a lumbar puncture.

From that point things deteriorated really quickly – within a week of being admitted to hospital I’d lost my swallowing reflex and was totally paralyzed. I was literally trapped within my own body.

 

 CH: How frightening it must have been to go from being an able bodied person to being completely paralyzed?

GF: The doctors kept telling me that it was a mild case and I was really calm.

However, I did get a bit hysterical when I’d been in hospital for 4 days and a friend who was visiting asked what was wrong with my face.

My face had totally dropped on one side. It sounds so vain but that was the point I got a bit upset!

I was moved to Intensive Care (ICU) for two weeks, when the paralysis kicked in.  This was despite the fact that I still didn’t think I was ill enough to warrant being there!!

After 2 months it stopped deteriorating and I was transferred to Liverpool. In January 2012 I entered rehabilitation.

Image by Matt Jamie

Image by Matt Jamie

 CH: What did the rehabilitation involve?

GF: It was tough with 6 hours per day of therapy.

As the nerves start to recover they become hypersensitive. This involves a burning sensation so intense it’s like an electric shock you can’t move away from.  I was in a lot of pain and trying to cope with this and 6 hours of therapy per day was not easy.

I had to learn to swallow, talk, write and partly walk again.   Not exactly what I’d planned to be doing aged 27!   I was in rehabilitation for 7 months.

I left the amazing Walton Neuro Centre on crutches and was told that it was highly likely I’d make a full recovery.   I missed the bit where they said it would take time!

CH: At what point did you realise that life was never going back to the way it had been and how did that make you feel?

GF: For 18 months after leaving hospital I refused to use a wheelchair. I believed that I would get better if I kept pushing myself.

Unfortunately I was my own worst enemy and have irreparably damaged my spine and skeletal system. It means that I now need to use a wheelchair full time.

Over the last 2 years the doctors have been telling me that I’m not going to get better.   It took me another year to accept the fact, so it’s been a long time.

Last summer I went through a grieving process as I came to terms with the changes in my body.

But I’m one of the lucky ones! Not everyone survives GBS!

Image by Andy Green

CH: You are now diverting your energy into an incredibly worthwhile cause can you tell us a bit about that and how you became involved?

GF: I needed a purpose in life and have been lucky that I’ve found that with Models of Diversity (MOD)

Since meeting Angel Sinclair in 2012 I have been an ambassador for MOD and recently been promoted to Assistant Director of Disability.

I have so much to thank Angel for as she helped me realize I could be glamorous and get back in front of the camera. It had an amazing effect on my self-confidence and self-esteem.

As a model Angel realized that in order for changes to be instigated someone needed to start raising awareness.   Angel founded MOD in 2008 and has been campaigning for change ever since.

In Part 2 of my interview with Gemma we explore  Models of Diversity and their tireless efforts to campaign for change in the fashion, beauty and media industries.  We will look at the Petition they launched at the Houses of Parliament in September and the race to get as many signatures as possible before March 23rd.

 

*1 Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)

GBS is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.  The peripheral nervous system is found in the feet and other extremities of the body.

GBS can affect anybody. It can strike at any age and both sexes are equally prone to the disorder. The syndrome is rare, and only about 1 in 100,000 people are affected.

No one yet knows what causes GBS or sets it in motion. What scientists do know is that the body’s immune system begins to attack the body itself, causing what is known as an autoimmune disease.  It can spread to the body’s organs and that’s when fatalities can occur.

The disorder mutates differently in each case which makes it difficult to diagnose and treat.  Some sufferers make a full recovery, others like Gemma are left managing pain and suffering mobility issues for the rest of their lives.

 

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body confidence party pooper

Body Confidence Party Pooper

75% of women have cancelled a social engagement this Christmas, according to a recent survey. *

body confidence cancelling social engagements

The reason given by the majority of women is because they are ‘having a fat day’.  Christmas can be a challenging time for anyone with body confidence issues.

Women in particular suffer from an overload of stress at this time of year. The additional tasks of present buying, arranging family events, co-ordination of children’s extra activities, expected to attend social events.

Add into that mix a partner who is too busy to help or simply doesn’t ‘get the issue’. Perhaps he’s someone who thinks Christmas begins with shopping on 24th December, as he’s an Amazon Prime member?

As 73% of us suffer from body confidence issues all the time, add the demands of Christmas and it’s pressure cooker time!

Step 1, grab a cup of tea, take a few minutes out for yourselves and read my survival guide or my 5 top tips for improving your body confidence and self-esteem.

body confidence love your shape

1. What bits of your body do you love?

Improve your body confidence several fold by identifying which parts of your body that you love and emphasizing them. Not sure what I mean? Let me give you a few examples.

  1. Cleavage – if you’ve got a great bust then show it off! Look for V Necks, Low necklines with detail, necklaces and pendants that draw attention to your lovely cleavage.
  2. Arms – got a great pair of arms then wear a sleeveless dress or top – you can always add a bolero, shrug or pashmina to keep you warm until the evening heats up!
  3. Legs – there are plenty of maxis with a split or mini skirts that will show your pins to best advantage.
  4. Shoulders – as an athletic body shape rather than downplay my broad shoulders and toned arms I like to show them off!

2. Make time for a Digital De-Tox

We find it very hard not to constantly check our social media feeds.   This in turn gives rise to body confidence issues.

Inevitably we compare ourselves with our friends. We find ourselves lacking – we’re not as pretty, slim or having such a great time as everyone else.

Facebook has a negative impact on our mood and body image. This has been tested by research done by The University of SW Australia and the Centre for Appearance Research at West of England Universities.

Studies were carried out to compare the effects between social media and fashion/celebrity magazines. The negative effect of Facebook was greater.

My own view on this is because we can dismiss celebrity lives as being unattainable or unrealistic. However the lives of our friends are much more genuine and thus have a greater impact.

body confidence and exercise

3. Back on the Treadmill again!

My recent blog post about exercise showed the effect this has on body confidence.

We can improve our body confidence by regular exercise.

Over the holiday period our routines get disrupted. We drink more alcohol, eat richer food, go to bed later and many of us have around 10 days holiday.

These factors contribute to a general feeling of lethargy and it takes a bit of motivation to kick our butts off the sofa and get moving!

But seriously you will feel better if you do something! Even if it’s just getting your boots on and heading out for a walk regardless of the weather, with 2 dogs we don’t have a choice and don’t have a day off walking. But even before we had the hounds I always got out for a run on Christmas morning and how good did that feel!

body confidence good nutrition

4. Body Confidence is linked to good nutrition

If you feel good about the way your clothes fit, you do not feel bloated or lethargic through eating the wrong foods, you will feel better about yourself.

You can eat well and enjoy Christmas. Let’s face it a Turkey Dinner has a lot of plus points from a nutritional perspective – lean white meat and fresh vegetables.

Okay so potatoes cooked in goose fat, stuffing, bread sauce, sausages wrapped in bacon aren’t quite so good! But indulging one day per year isn’t exactly the end of the world.

The mistake that we make at Christmas is eating too much throughout the holiday period, often without consciously realizing it. We snack on salty, high fat snacks and consume too much sugar and cream.   Not to mention the number of calories we pour into our glasses!

If you over-indulge one day that’s fine, just balance this with ‘healthy’ days.

body confidence affected by lack of sleep

5. Body Confidence is affected by lack of sleep

In December office parties and additional stuff associated with getting ready for Christmas, play havoc with our sleep patterns.   Add a few drinks too many into the mix and quality of sleep takes a nosedive!

If we are not rested and replenished from sleep, this affects our well-being in so many ways. We feel sluggish, cannot concentrate, we tend to become irritable and short-tempered, overly emotional.

One of the outcomes is likely to be that we do not feel so good about ourselves. If we are suffering from body confidence issues this will simply magnify the negative perception we have of ourselves.

Contrast this with getting enough good quality sleep. How much better do we feel after a good night’s sleep? We are more focused we enjoy a sense of well being about ourselves.   We are more confident about ourselves.

Christmas is about giving?

How can you give anything unless you have something to give?

It’s the oxygen mask theory – we must ensure that we put on our own mask before helping others.

How can we be the perfect party hostess, darling daughter, ‘mazing mum, wonderful wife unless we feel good, confident and happy? We can’t is the simple answer. We need to take as much if not more care of ourselves than we do of others.

If we take care of ourselves, we’ll feel good about ourselves. We will not be resentful or over-tired we will be more relaxed and happy. It follows that either we will have more body confidence or somehow our body confidence issues will be relegated to a locked box in the attic!

filling ourselves up first

*Huffington Post – Rachel Moss

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Workout Clothes Trainers

Exercise in January is Pointless

exercise makes you happy

How fit are you feeling right now?

Have your gym sessions or exercise routines broken up for the Christmas holidays yet?

Or maybe you don’t have a regular routine? Are you planning to make time to get fit as part of your 2016 goals?

Are you squirming in your chair yet knowing you ‘could do better’ – the phrase we dreaded on our school reports! Or perhaps you’re scrolling through this post as you cool down after a run and feeling virtuous but curious as to what I’m going to say?

I’m  a huge advocate of keeping fit and so I’m keen to share why you should exercise.  The benefits go far beyond burning calories.  So if you are being told by your GP, or simply have this nagging doubt that life would be better if you did, then let me share with you the reasons why you should make exercise a part of your routine.

1, Exercise is Better than Drugs!

During exercise powerful mood and mind boosting chemicals are released into the brain. They are natural and have no side effects (well only positive ones!) and are legal!

Be warned though you may get addicted!

Endorphins

Endorphins are chemicals which are released during exercise.  They help to reduce pain from exercise.   This in turn allows you to exercise longer and more intensely.  Endorphins are also responsible for:

  1. A euphoric post exercise ‘high’
  2. Decreased appetite (must admit haven’t noticed that one!)
  3. Boosting your immune system. Less snuffles and sneezes – yay!

Serotonin

Mood enhancing Serotonin is also released during exercise. There has been a lot of research done on the effect of serotonin levels on the body and while earlier studies claimed that boosting serotonin levels could help depression, this is now being rejected. But serotonin’s mood enhancing effects are accepted.

Glycerol

A faster metabolism means you burn energy faster and more effectively.  Glycerol can be thought of as the courier service that delivers oxygen from the lungs to your muscles during exercise.  This happens regardless of your fitness levels after exercise.  Why is this important?

After only 10 minutes of exercise, this can have a positive impact on your metabolism. Scientists also believe that if you exercise regularly this can stimulate long-term changes in your metabolism, but admit they are at early stages in understanding this  (read more *1

Blood Chemistry

When you exercise the muscles use oxygen transported from your lungs via your blood. A chemical reaction takes place to convert glucose in your bloodstream into energy. As this process takes place chemicals are produced which reduce your blood’s acidity levels.   An over-acidic blood supply can lead to constant fatigue and low energy levels.

exercise the physical benefits2. Exercise the Look Good Factor

Of course there are the outward signs, you will see increased muscle tone. You won’t see this happen overnight but over time you’ll develop more shape. This will of course depend on what you do, how long you do it for and to some extent genetics. Expect to see a difference after 2 months of regular exercise.

Manage Your Weight

Exercise can help you to manage your weight. I’m always reluctant to go as far as to say that exercise will help you to lose weight. This is because we tend to eat more when we exercise.  We are hungrier and over-estimate how much energy we burn.  It’s also a known fact that gym goers are more likely to indulge in chocolate bars!

Keep Going for Longer

Depending what exercise we do we will feel other benefits including increased stamina and flexibility.   Every day tasks become easier as we get stronger and fitter.

Hidden Benefits

There are also the hidden physical benefits of exercise.  We can see some of these with the help of technology, such as the effect on our blood pressure and the fat v muscle ratio.  Others are not so obvious but are long-term health benefits we should not ignore.

Research has also shown that exercise can reduce our risks of succumbing to serious diseases such as heart disease and type 2 Diabetes. Research also shows a correlation between exercise and a reduced risk of some cancers.

By strengthening our bones through exercise we reduce the risks associated with osteoporosis. This was one of my motivators for high intensity cardio aerobic exercise when it was diagnosed that I’d had my menopause in my 20s and I could be at risk of brittle bones later in life.

exercise improves self-esteem3. Exercise Helps Self-Esteem

If you are feeling fitter and becoming more toned it’s very hard not to feel better about yourself.  As a result you become more confident about the way you look and in turn this will make others attracted to you.

I cannot stress this enough for new business owners who get caught up in wanting to put their time and energy into their business.  If you don’t feel attractive to yourself then how will you be attractive to your prospective clients?

Pilates is a great way of improving your posture, which in turn will ensure you stand taller and will look better in your clothes.

Just a word of warning though!  Without wishing to put anyone off exercise it can also create some interesting clothes shopping dilemmas!

I used to do a lot of running and step aerobics.  The result was very over-developed calf muscles!   Finding skinny jeans was always a laugh!

My current routines mean while the skinny jeans issue is no longer a problem, my arm muscles are well developed.  I find some jackets and tops are not an option as they compromise the blood supply to my upper arms!

Exercise can also be relaxing.

Yoga has become a part of many people’s lives over recent years.  It is a great way to learn how to slow down the relentless pace of life.

Working out also helps you to put life back in perspective!

If we feel better about ourselves, are more relaxed and physically tired this helps our sleep patterns. Getting enough sleep is essential to our overall well-being.

Exercise classes are a great way to share a common interest and have fun with others.

Since adding Boxfit to my weekly routine I’ve made new friends, through the camaraderie in the class.    We work in pairs and as a group.  This leads to a lot of peer motivation and encouragement.  There’s a lot of laughter during the class and the banter continues for hours afterwards on social media.

OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) has become huge over the last few years and is not elitist.  You do not have to be a hard core fitness fan to take part.

The events are open to mixed abilities.  It is a another way of meeting people and offers a very supportive environment – so I’m told!

Getting wet and extremely muddy is not my idea of exercise heaven! The exception I make to this is walking my dogs but the amount of water and mud is thankfully less extreme!

exercise is relaxing

January is the worst month to start a fitness routine!

Dedicated gym bunnies are not the ones who started their fitness journey on January 1st.

They are the ones quietly grimacing or smirking from the rowing machine as the sales staff show prospective clients round the facilities.

Grimacing as they know that inevitably people will sign up and gyms become crowded for a few weeks until people give up.

Smirking because the statistics prove that people signing up to gym membership in January are most likely to fall off the wagon.

If you are not used to exercise and have indulged over the Christmas break you are setting yourself up to fail.   Most people joining a gym at the beginning of January find that it’s very difficult to stay motivated.  It’s hard enough to get through the longest, darkest and often coldest month of the year.  Many people are also starting to diet or change their eating habits and this is really making life hard.

I’m not trying to put you off, but why give yourself a mountain to climb, when you could start with a walk in the woods?

December is a much better option to kick-start your fitness routine. If you do decide to join a gym they are relatively quiet and there are some good deals around. You can feel less guilty about Christmas indulgences! Get yourself in the exercise groove in December and you’re much more likely to carry on into the New Year.

I’d love to hear from you about your fitness journey.   Whether you make exercise a part of your life and how it helps you or if you’re just starting out or returning to exercise it would be lovely if you share your thoughts and ideas.

 

*1 Chemical Reactions in the Body after Exercise  

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white shirt

White Shirt My 3 Top Tips

Is a white shirt a wardrobe essential?

Before we answer that perhaps we should define what makes something a wardrobe essential?

To me wardrobe essentials are:

  1. Those ‘go to’ pieces in your wardrobe that you know you will always look good in.
  2. The items you can easily dress up or down to suit the occasion.
  3. Items you can use to create a range of different looks

I recently found a lovely white shirt that has fast ingratiated itself into my collection and become one of my true wardrobe essentials!

Last weekend a friend was asking my opinion on a white shirt that she’d just bought and wasn’t sure about.   Immediately I could see the possibilities for this shirt!  Within a few minutes I was dancing round her bedroom as I matched her shirt with different items of clothing and jewellery.  I created 3 completely different looks!  Result one happy friend and one shirt returned to the wardrobe, labels removed and ready to wear!

Do you have a white shirt lurking in the back of your wardrobe? Maybe it’s got relegated to the back because you’re not sure it suits you or how to style it?

I would like to share my 3 tips for choosing a white shirt and some inspiration for how to wear this key piece.

1. White Shirt – Colour

It’s okay I haven’t lost the plot (well not entirely)!   The simple fact is that not everyone can wear a pure white shirt.   It can be too harsh for some people.

How do you tell? On some people it’s obvious, they look pale and drawn wearing white. For others it’s not clear.

The alternatives to pure white are:

  • Ivory
  • Cream
  • Ghost White (has a tiny amount of black in it)

If you think that you look tired or drawn wearing a pure white shirt, try cream.

Cream contains yellow and may help take away the harshness from the white shirt. If cream is overpowering then the in-between option of ivory may work.

Perhaps cream or ivory make you look a bit sallow? You may need ghost white or white with a hint of black to soften it.

If you are unable to find the perfect white for you, but still want that ‘must have’ white shirt, then partner with a scarf or necklace.

When you’re trying on clothes in a store I recommend coming out of the changing room to see the item in natural light.

Of course this may not be an option, particularly in shopping centres. Check the store has a no quibble returns policy (most do) and take the item home but try on in natural light before you rip off the labels and start wearing.

You probably think I’m being slightly paranoid? If so I recommend you read Amanda Platell’s recent article* which brought the differences in changing rooms into sharp focus.

shades of white

2. White Shirt – What Shape?

The basic rules for shape for a white shirt follow those of any other top garment.

It’s essential that the first step is to understand your body shape. Not sure? Check out my guide

Apple Body Shape

Skim but don’t cling. Show off your bust with a v or plunging neckline. Emphasize this with a statement necklace. Shoulder pads will add balance to your shape.

Pear Shape Body

Add volume to your top half with ruffles or detail around the neckline.   You will look great with puff sleeves to create more volume on your top half.  Shoulder pads and/or pockets over the bust are other good options to create volume.

Hourglass Body

A tailored white shirt with a v or scoop neck. Keep fabrics soft and not too stiff. Show some skin with your neckline if you are wearing a traditional shirt collar do not button up to the neckline.

Athletic Body Shape

Ruffles, cowls and ribbons to create volume.  You will look great with a high-necked white shirt.    Beware of materials being too flouncy, you need some structure to create shape. A white shirt that is slightly waisted will look great.

Inverted Triangle Body Shape

A more structured shape to avoid adding volume to your shoulders. Avoid full sleeves or shoulder pads, as either will add volume to your shoulders and bust area.   Look at ¾ length sleeves or an interesting cuff design, as both will draw attention away from your shoulders.

white shirt shape

  1. White Shirt Necklines

The factors to consider with your neckline are detailed in my post Don’t get hot under the collar.

Looking at the most common necklines for a white shirt:

Traditional High Stand Collar

If you have a more angular face shape a pointed style of collar will look great.  But particularly for inverted triangle body shape do not select a collar that’s too large.

If you have a more curvy face shape and bodyline then look at more rounded styles.

In other words you’re looking to reflect your face shape and bodyline with the size and shape of the collar.

Unless you are an athletic or inverted triangle body shape, leave the top button(s) undone to show some skin.

Pussy Bow Collar

This neckline comes in different shapes and styles.   Some can be worn in different ways.

Some pussy bow collar shirts have quite a high neckline and the bow needs to be tied to finish off the white shirt.

For others that also have a scooped neckline the bow can look great either loosely tied or in a simple half hitch. The simple half hitch allows the ties to just hang and create a vertical line, which will help you look taller

Ruffle neckline

Depending on the fabric and shape of the collar this can add volume to the top half, particularly useful if you have a pear shaped body.

An athletic body shape will also look good with a higher ruffled neckline.

For an hourglass figure where you want to show some skin leave the top buttons undone. Just be sure that the fabric has enough structure that it will not simply flop about if it is not buttoned to the top.

white shirt ruffle collar

Quite a lot to think about for something that sounds so simple!! But a white shirt is so versatile that it’s worth taking the time to get this right.

You will have a real ‘go to’ wardrobe essential.   To test this out I asked some friends how they’d wear a white shirt and these are their ideas:

  1. With a black leather skirt and a jacket for a glamorous night out
  2. Jeans, a jacket and boots for a dress down but smart office look
  3. With a tweed skirt and jacket for a slightly vintage style smart day look
  4. Mini skirt, opaque tights and ankle boots for a fun funky day look
  5. With the ultimate smart suit for a formal meting
  6. With a pencil skirt and stilettos for a glamorous day look
  7. Blanket coat and jeans, with a brimmed hat to get that Latin American look!
  8. Part of a layered look to show off your winter coat

It would be lovely to get your ideas on how to wear a white shirt, please feel free to comment below.

If you would like to find out more about how I can help you make the most of your wardrobe essentials, why not book your free discovery call now?

*Amanda Platell – Mirrors Never Lie

 

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woman carrying mobile phone

Dress for Success at Interview

woman carrying mobile phone

Applying for a job can be a daunting prospect, particularly if it’s been a while since you looked for new role.  Congratulations if your job application has resulted in an invitation to interview!

Once you have finished dancing round the room holding the confirmation wait for it! Along comes the self-doubt monkey who gleefully reasserts himself on your shoulder!

excited woman got an interview

Of course it is only natural that you are nervous. Any interview can be intimidating, especially if it has been some time since you

There are some great tips for dealing with this in Elizabeth Lowman’s article 5 Ways to Look Confident*.  I would recommend reading this and practicing her techniques in advance of your interview date.

If on top of this you are worried about your appearance, you are really adding to your anxiety levels.

Regardless of your skills and experience you are giving yourself a huge mountain to climb at interview.

Let me reassure you that with some preparation and planning you will look fantastic.  Your confidence will undergo a massive boost if you know that you look amazing.

I’d like to share my 5 top tips for being the best ever version of you at interview!

 

Preparation is Everything

By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail – Benjamin Franklin

Ever winged an important meeting or not really thought through how you would handle a certain situation?

You may get a feeling of relief afterwards if it comes off but why add to your existing anxieties.

Preparation has already started in the sense that you applied for a role with a particular organization.

Now it’s time to dig a bit deeper. Find out as much as possible about the company and the culture.   Research online is always good.   If you are using a recruitment agency then talk to the consultant about the company and their style.

Why is this important? It will help to give you some inspiration about the way you should dress for the interview. This probably sounds very obvious but:

  • For an interview at a City Bank you would lose credibility if you were not ‘suited and booted’ in a somber and professional style.
  • However, if you are applying for a job with a creative agency a smart suit may make you feel awkward.   You will stand out a mile for the wrong reasons!

The bottom line is that if you are not sure and cannot find anything out, common sense says you should err on the side of caution. It is better to look over-dressed, as anyone who is conducting the interview will respect the fact that you are formal for the occasion.

Know your Neutrals

If you read my blogs regularly you will know that I am very passionate about colour and the impact colour can have on our appearance.

For an interview it is best to play safe. In each seasonal colour palette there are neutrals that will work for you.

While black is a classic colour and many of us do feel ‘safe’ wearing black, it doesn’t look good on everyone. You need to have a winter colour palette to carry black off.

Therefore for anyone in doubt, stick to the other neutrals: Navy, Grey, Brown or Beige.

If you don’t know your colour palette then you can do the gold/silver test.  Hold something gold or silver up to your chin.  This needs to be quite a yellow gold and not a white or rose gold.

gold or silver test

Do this in daylight and without makeup as both artificial light and make up will give you an inaccurate result.

The right colour will

  • Make your eyes, skin and hair glow
  • Reduce any imperfections eg. dark eye circles,
  • Give you an extra zing! That sounds a bit fluffy but trust me when you see what I mean you will have an aha moment!

So how do gold and silver relate to neutrals?

Gold is a warm colour with a lot of yellow and so you will look best in warm neutrals, such as brown and beige.

Silver is a cool colour and means you are best with neutrals such as blue, grey and black which are all cool coloured neutrals.

Unless you are going for a quite creative or extrovert role then adding  ‘pops of colour’ to your outfit is the safe option.

Style is about Confidence – Diane von Furstenberg

Body Shape

Remember the key point in my blog Women Hate Clothes Shopping ? Dress for your shape and not your size.

You can find out more about body shapes using my how to find your body shape guide. Once you are comfortable about your shape there are hints and tips on my guide about dressing for your body shape.

By understanding your shape this will help you make choices about the styles of clothes to look for.

Scale is Key

I recommend you also look at my recent blog, Women Hate Clothes Shopping as one of my tips covered dressing for your scale.  The basic rule is that if you are a petite person you should choose smaller prints and pattens.   A larger person will look better with larger prints and patterns.  The diagram below illustrates that the circle in the middle either looks larger with the smaller circles surrounding it.  The inner circles are in fact the same colours.

illustration of scale

Optical Illusions

If you would like to make yourself look taller and let’s face it many of us do! Apply the column of colour.

At every colour change in our outfit we create an imaginary horizontal line across our body. This has the effect of reducing our height and making us look wider.

By wearing a more uniform colour or tone of colour we will automatically look taller and slimmer.

 

PicMonkey Collage

There is every possibility that you’ll be on display as soon as you arrive in the car park or outside the entrance.

A friend who is a recruitment consultant told me that one of her clients has his office at the front of the building.

When someone arrives for a meeting or interview he watches the way that they approach the building.

Therefore your coat or jacket is a key part of your interview outfit.

 

The bottom line

Shoes

Last week a friend asked me if she would need to buy a pair of navy shoes as she’d just bought a navy skirt.

The general rule of thumb is that that your shoes should not be lighter than your hemline.

This means that you would be able to wear black shoes with a navy skirt.

Equally a pair of burgundy shoes would look fabulous with navy depending on the other colours you’re wearing.

The style of the shoe and thickness of the heel should reflect and complement your scale. So what do I mean by this? If you are a petite person kitten heels will look great but if you are a larger person kitten heels will have the effect of making you look bigger and you would be better advised to look at a broader heel.

Equally a petite person wearing chunky platforms will look overwhelmed and would be better to wear slender heels.

Follow this principle too with bodyline – if you are a curvy person think about wearing round toe shoes.   An angular person will look fabulous in more pointy styles.

Hosiery

You should always wear tights or stockings if you are wearing a dress or skirt to an interview. This is regardless of the weather.

Select a denier that compliments your outfit. A thicker winter outfit will look better with a denser denier.

What about colour? Wear tights the same or a similar colour to your shoes.

Another tip is to wear nude coloured shoes and tights to create longer leaner legs.

Finally – don’t forget to put a spare pair of tights or stockings in your handbag. It’s the belt and braces approach just in case you snag the pair you’re wearing!

Accessories

A woman makes an outfit her own with accessories – Oscar de la Renta.

I’m sure most of you are nodding as you read this!

I am passionate about handbags that walk into the room before I have a chance to!      I’ll offer you my tips but openly admit to tearing up the manual when it comes to my own look!

Scale applies to handbags as much as clothing.

A petite woman with a very large handbag will be overwhelmed.   A larger scale woman carrying a tiny clutch bag will look larger.

A gorgeous curvy woman will look better with a rounded shaped bag than a style, which is quite angular or square.  Apply this principle to the details on the bag too, buckles and fastenings particularly if these are features.

scale and handbags

Choose the right sized handbag for your scale

Also think about the widest part of your body. Where is it?   Just be careful that any handbag you select does not hang from your shoulder and sit at the widest part of your body.

If you are a pear shape then a bag, which sits quite high when it’s over your shoulder and has a lot of detail, will give you the volume you’re looking to create on your top half.

With regard to colour, I would recommend simply ensuring that your bag goes with your outfit and shoes.

Stating the obvious if you have a larger bag, just ensure that you know where everything is that you might need at the actual interview.

It will do your confidence no favours if you’re scrabbling around in your handbag looking for a pen or because you’ve forgotten to put your mobile on silent.

 

Conclusion

The most important point of all is to prepare. Thorough preparation makes its own luck – Joe Poyer.

This applies both in terms of your outfit and preparing for the interview itself.

If you are prepared this will also help your self-confidence.

Remember at the end of the day, the interview is a two-way process.   When we’re looking for a job it’s all too easy to think that perhaps it’s about people making a judgment about you.

It should also be about you making a decision about the company, the people and the role. Is this going to give you what you are looking for?

If you are still not sure or would like some guidance about your choice of interview outfit, why not book a free 30-minute discovery call?   I’m more than happy to use our call to give you guidance about your style choice for an interview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Elizabeth Lowman’s article 5 Ways to Look Confident

https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-ways-to-look-confident-in-an-interview-even-when-youre-freaking-out

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clothes shopping window

Women hate Clothes Shopping

Let’s debunk the populist myth women actually enjoy clothes shopping!

Research shows that the concept of clothes shopping being therapeutic is an anathema to 44% of women.

shopping mall

 

The good news is that if you hate clothes shopping then you are not alone. So why do so many women dread clothes shopping? Body Confidence issues are the main reason.

A lack of body confidence turns what should be a fun experience into a traumatic and stressful nightmare.

  • 80% claim they would enjoy clothes shopping if they were thinner.
  • 37% say they are uncomfortable in changing rooms
  • 42% say clothes shopping would be different if they looked different.

Some women do not like clothes shopping for reasons such as queuing, unfriendly assistants, but these are secondary factors compared with issues around their own body.

Others are not sure what suits them. These women find it difficult to know if the decisions they are making are the right ones.   Shopping for outfits for special occasions is particularly difficult.

So what can you do to put the fun back into clothes shopping? Check out my top tips of course!

Five Top Tips for Clothes Shopping

 1. Know Thy Colours!

One of the most liberating things about having your colours ‘done’ is how much easier it makes clothes shopping.

Being able to focus on the colours that suit you and not being seduced by those that don’t look great makes the selection process easier.

If you are armed with your colour swatch from your colour analysis you will have a handy reference for the shades to look for. Just remember that these are a guide and not an instruction manual. If you don’t find something in the exact shade that is not an issue.

Some seasons in retail just seem to ignore your colour palette in their selection! So if your favourite stores are not stocking the colours that look great on you, what do you do?   You can simply your wings to look at other retailers you may not have considered before for clothes shopping. Alternatively you have a couple of options:

  • Look online – search for items in the colour you want
  • Remember you are looking for the colours in your palette close to your face – so use scarves, often easier to find in many more shades.

Just remember that you can ‘play’ with colour and if you want to wear colours outside of your palette that’s fine, but consider if you have enough items in your wardrobe to make the item work. My rule of thumb is that you should be able to wear an item three ways.

Colour Analysis

2. Dress for your Shape not your Size

The most important styling tip of all is to dress for your shape.

It is really important to understand your body shape. Once you are armed with this powerful tool you can create balance with the way you dress.  Refer to my full body shape guide for details.

I would just like to give you some examples to illustrate this point:

  • If you have wide hips and slender shoulders, you are probably a pear. By adding volume to your top half with interesting necklines or accessories, you will create balance and the emphasis will be taken away from your bottom half.
  • If you have very wide shoulders and slender hips, you are probably an inverted triangle body shape. This silhouette is often seen on women who love to work out. In terms of how to dress the opposite applies. Wear a full skirt and fitted jacket to create balance.
  • You can also use dressing for your shape to show off your best bits! If you are a curvy hourglass figure then flaunt it! Wear a belt to show off that waist and emphasize your glorious curves.

3. Ignore The Size Label

As I mentioned in my blog Does My Bum Look Big in This? this is something I preach and am still learning to practice.   As someone who suffered from anorexia it was a badge of honour that I only wore the smallest sizes.  I know I’m not alone in this and we ‘feel better’ when we’re wearing smaller sizes. But with me it was very extreme.

bodycon dress

I started to get back to a healthy weight and found that I couldn’t always fit in some brands at the smallest size. I would walk away from the clothes rather than buy a larger size – how crazy does that sound?   I would and did to some extent justify it with some items that they were not made for ‘girls who work out’. I had big and muscly calves in the 1990s with all the running and step aerobics that I did.

It is a much better to wear a figure hugging dress in a size that fits rather than the size you think you ought to be. Lumps and bumps in the wrong places in a bodycon dress are not attractive.

Some brands come up larger or smaller than others.    This is largely down to the individual brand’s fit model.   This is the model used to fit the sample garments.   Although the fashion industry is not going to admit it there is also some vanity sizing in some brands.

4. Dress for your Scale

In styling terms scale looks at your height and bone structure.   It is measured by a combined metric of the following:

  • Your shoe size
  • Your height
  • The circumference of your wrist

Depending on the results you fall into one of three categories: small, medium or large scale.

The importance of these measurements is to determine what size prints, fabric weights and size of accessories you should wear. Textures of fabrics also play a part. Corduroy is probably one of the easiest textures to visualize.

corduroy

Accessories in this context will cover many things.   Apart from the more obvious items such as bags, scarves and jewellery it also covers shoes, glasses, belts and hats.

It’s probably simpler to put this in context:

If you are a petite person, wearing a large bold print pattern in a heavy wool fabric with a monster-sized handbag will just overwhelm you.

If you are a larger person then a small handbag, dainty print and lightweight fabric such as chiffon will simply make you look larger.

5. Do your homework before you go clothes shopping

One of the greatest tools that the Internet has given us is a massive high street from the comfort of our sofas! You can shop 24/7 without the drop!

If you know that you’re after a dress for a special occasion and you want to go out and shop in store, then checking out what is available online is a great place to start.


clothes shopping online

The selection online is likely to be much greater than in store. If you’ve fallen in love with something online, but still want to go into store, then click and collect is offered by many retailers.

Research online allows you to have a sense of what there is available and you can also start to build up a shopping list and hit the stores with a plan of what you’re looking for.

For many women this can be a lot easier than simply arriving in store and being swept up with a bewildering selection of clothes.

If you prefer a more spontaneous approach to clothes shopping that’s fine but I’m guessing you are not likely to be reading this post any way!

clothes shopping window display

Does that help?

Don’t forget that now you are armed with my five top tips for clothes shopping you also need to create the right environment for you to shop. That is not as crazy as it sounds!

While I admit that laying clearing the store of other customers or staffing it with hand picked assistants is beyond most people’s wildest dreams! Except perhaps Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman!

You can choose who to go clothes shopping with (or to fly solo) and where to go.   If possible try to pick a day and time when the shops will be less crowded.

It sounds obvious but do not forget to think about your own outfit to go clothes shopping.

Flat shoes and clothes you can easily take on and off are good. Think too about your own personal security. My shopping habits changed forever after I’d had my handbag stolen in a well-known department store in London.

Still not convinced?

Why not consider help? I offer ideas boards, through to a full day’s shopping experience and a range of services in between. I’m more than happy to discuss what you’re looking for and tailor a package to suit your needs.

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Size 0

Is Size 0 still an issue?

‘I can’t relate to models on the catwalk.  The clothes look great on them as they are very skinny, but they would look awful on me!’

This is most common reaction I get when I’m discussing fashion images in the  media.

catwalk

Let’s stop burying our heads in the sand and admit that the fashion industry still favours tall skinny Caucasian models.

It’s also fair to say that while heroin Chic is not the headline it was 20 years ago, size 0 is still the elephant in the room!

Suna Erdem’s shocking article Extreme Measures* Sunday Times (August 9th) exposed that the size 0 issue has not gone away.   Suna’s article cited stories of models being encouraged to have surgery to ‘shave’ their hipbones.

Some countries have introduced laws to counter the size 0 issue, but Suna’s sources claim these are largely ignored. Others apply self-regulation with limited effectiveness.  Madrid banned models with a BMI of less than 18 on its catwalks. There are reports of models undergoing ‘weigh ins’ and hiding weights in their underwear.

While this is tragic and most of us are appalled by the size 0 issue what’s the relevance to you and I?

Body Confidence Issues

A staggering 97% of us suffer from body confidence issues. Imagery of size 0 models looking chic and sexy in gorgeous clothes simply fuels that fire.

New research published by the Dove Self-Esteem Project showed just how prevalent the ‘Selfie’ culture has become.

selfie

On average girls between 13 and 23 post an average of one Selfie a day online. This doesn’t mean they are snapping one photo and uploading to their social media feeds – far from it, some admit taking up to 100 photos per day!

But it doesn’t end there because they then get upset if they don’t get enough likes and this adds to their issues with self-esteem.

Why is this behavior relevant to the fashion industry? It doesn’t take a mathematician or psychologist to do the sums and work out the theory.

The idealistic imagery we associate with fashion, that to be perfect you need to be tall, skinny and Caucasian doesn’t add fuel to the fire about body confidence issues it pours petrol on the flames.

Fashion Industry is about Selling Clothes

At the end of the day the industry knows that the designs look great on stick thin models and that this results in sales.

To have a sustainable industry it must make a profit and it must market in the way it sees fit. I know this remark may spark some comments but I’m doing my best to look at this from the fashion industry’s perspective.

To illustrate this point, you may have read reports of retailers commissioning designs and manufacture through the night of the Oscars to create lookalike dresses from the outfits worn by celebrities. The brands know that the designs will sell out if they’ve been modeled on a Hollywood actress.

The fashion industry is made up of a number of different factions from large organisations to self-employed freelancers and everything in between.

Therefore finger pointing at the different factions is a lot easier than coming up with a Code of Practise that everyone will follow.

Designers blame agencies for recruiting stereotypical models, agencies blaming designers for only creating sample garments in very small sizes.

Overseas designers and manufacturers are blamed for designing and manufacturing for smaller figures.

But hang on a minute we are not one size fits all! Different cultures and ethnic groups have evolved with different skeletal frames, but the industry must ask itself who are its customers? Are they designing for an Asian subcontinent or the Western market?

A blame culture is not the answer, a cohesive joined up approach is the way forward.

How do we effect change?

Change doesn’t happen overnight in an industry so entrenched in a way of thinking. But nothing will happen if we simply turn our backs, shrug our shoulders and say ‘that’s fashion’. It’s simply condoning the current approach.

Heroic attempts have been made to get the industry to sit up and take notice.

I took my hat off to Laura Berry who challenged Top Shop on Social Media for using unrealistic mannequins in its stores. Her outcry went viral and was picked up by the media. This was the second time that TopShop had been challenged and it responded well agreeing to no longer use overly tall and skinny mannequins that represented an unrealistic body image.

So what is the answer?

Stand up and be counted.   Add your voice to the groundswell that’s building for change within the fashion industry.

The fashion industry is self-regulated in the UK and while it is making some progress it is frustratingly slow.

While some brands are attempting to show more healthy images of women, others ignore it or simply get it wrong. A campaign run by a major high street retailer, claimed to reflect its customer profile in the six models it chose. The campaign used five very slender models and one curvy model to advertise lingerie. The backlash was enormous as this was simply misrepresenting its claims.

There are a number of organisations and campaigns that are fighting for change.  They are actively demonstrating that beauty is much more than Size 0.

Models of Diversity is one such campaign. This amazing body is campaigning for diversity in size, ethnic race, disability and age.

Models of Diversity

Models like Rosie Nelson have decided to take action.  Rosie started a petition  in September after her own experience with one of the UK’s leading agencies.  A healthy size 8-10 she was told that she needed to lose weight. She went on a diet and in four months lost one stone and 2 inches off her hips.

She returned to the agency, their reaction was that she needed to lose more as they wanted Rosie ‘down to the bone’. Rosie had the courage to speak out.

Conclusion

I’m a strong advocate of representing real women in modeling, as the fashion industry should represent Society.  I feel very strongly that we have to address body confidence issues and to educate women that it’s okay to have curves.

We need to educate and inform children that they do not have to be super skinny to be pretty. This needs to be balanced by being a healthy weight that is right for our height and build.

We need change in the fashion industry and not allow the industry to get away with sweeping the size 0 debate under the carpet because they design clothes to look amazing on super skinny girls.

 

* Suna Erdem’s  Extreme Measures Sunday Times (August 9th)

 

 

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embellished jeans

Does My Bum Look Big In This?

Do you struggle to find skinny jeans that fit?

If, like me, it’s difficult to find a pair that don’t compromise the blood supply to your calves, the next challenge is to get them over your thighs.     Get that far and I’m jiggling my booty around the changing room in time to whatever Muzak is playing in the store.

skinny jeans

Time for one last mirror check, whatever was I thinking? My big bum means I can’t wear skinny jeans. What made me think that this was ever an option!

At this point the temptation to indulge in coffee and cake is overwhelming. That’s fine go and enjoy a latte and brownie while you finish reading this post.

latte and brownie

First I am guessing that you might just be worrying about nothing. Rather than having a big bum my bet is that you have a gorgeous butt.     If Mother Nature blessed you with a well rounded derrière then congratulations! Some women pay £000s for surgical re-enhancements to reproduce Beyoncé’s look.

But please don’t assume I am being dismissive of your body confidence issues. The most important thing is to feel confident about your clothes.   Rather than asking your husband or girlfriends for their views, why not follow my hints so that you can answer the question yourself!

Let’s take a look at my 7 tips for how to look fantastic in skinny jeans if you are worried you have a big bum:

Colour

While it may be stating the obvious, lighter colours do have the effect of making anyone appear larger. So while white jeans look amazing, if you want a more slender look then stick to darker shades such as indigo or black.  Tempted by those brightly coloured jeans?  Great if you want to stand out, but they will have a similar effect as white jeans and will enhance your shape, not necessarily in the way you want!

Print

Jeans with bold prints will also draw attention.  If you are self-conscious about whether you can wear skinny jeans I would suggest you stick to plain fabrics, at least until you have proven to yourself that skinny jeans will work for you.

Leopard Print Skinny JeansSize

Some of us get very hung up about what the size label says on clothing.  I admit that this is one area I still find difficult, which is a legacy of being an anorexic for 20 years.   I struggle to admit that I

need a bigger size, even though I understand that this is totally ridiculous as we are being influenced by brands that do not adhere to a universal sizing guide.

What is important is that your jeans fit.   Jeans can be unforgiving the fabric can be stiff before they have been washed a few times.  More brands than ever now add spandex to the fabric.  Who remembers the days of lying on the bedroom carpet with a coat hanger through the zipper to get your jeans fastened?

The simple rule is buy jeans you can comfortably move and sit in,  Buying jeans in a size that creates a muffin top is not a good look!

Waistline

Whether you prefer low rise or high waist jeans depends on both your proportions and comfort. I feel the cold and do not appreciate feeling the sudden draft between my waistband and top in winter.  Back to the technical stuff, to understand what works for you in terms of the waistband you need to compare the length of your torso to the length of your legs.

As a stylist I refer to this as a game of two halves!  From the top of your head to the top of your leg is one half. From the top of your legs to the soles of your feet is the other half.

The basic rule is that longer legs than body choose low-rise. Reverse this if you have longer body than legs.

Balance

One of my favourite truisms of styling is that by understanding your body shape you then apply balance to create the perfect shape.  Look balanced and others will look at you as a whole and will not be focusing on what is out of balance.

If you are not sure what I mean, visualise an hourglass, do you look at the hourglass as a whole or do you look towards the top or the bottom? Most people will look at the hourglass in its entirety.  This time visualise a pear – your eyes will be drawn to the round luscious part of the pear and you will probably ignore the stalk and neck area.

Take that to the next step. If you are worried that you have a big bum and that skinny jeans just don’t work for you, balance this with a top or a jacket that adds volume to your top half. Consider lapels, ruffles and shoulder pads for example.  This is perfect for AW15 trends, as we are still seeing retro 1970s alongside 1980s influences.  Think Glam Rock and New Romantic, or Biba with ruffles!

Lengthen your Legs!

Want longer legs? Join the queue as most of us would secretly love our legs to grow a bit taller!  Abracadabra!  – by wearing ankle boots or shoes the same colour as your jeans you will automatically add a few centimetres!  Wear a contrasting colour and the eye will subconsciously create a horizontal line at the change in colour. By creating a horizontal line you will appear shorter and wider.

lengthen your legs

 

Top Down Approach

The simple rule with regard to the length of your top, ensure the hemline does not finish level with the widest part of your body. Just be careful of this if you are consciously thinking you have a big bum, the temptation is to wear a long top. This is fine but just be careful that the hemline doesn’t sit on the widest part of your hips. This will create another horizontal line. This will trigger the brain to make you look shorter and wider.

Now time to head back to the stores and find that perfect pair of skinny jeans and stop worrying that you have a big bum!

 

Do you have a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear?

 

Book a 30 minute discovery call with me to find out how I can help you to look and feel fantastic every time you get dressed!

 

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