be authentic

Being Authentic Is Easy If You Know How

One of the current buzzwords is authenticity. Being authentic in the way we act, we communicate and do business. Hurrah! – I’m all for it!  I want to do business with people that I believe are genuine, have similar core values and the same kind of integrity that I hold dear.

Equally I want my clients to feel that they are getting the real me. For me being authentic is a whole lot easier than masquerading as a version of me! Afterall it’s so liberating to just be oneself?

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than you – Dr Seuss

Being Authentic Dr Seuss

 

OMG don’t you just love Dr Seuss?

As a child every Saturday we’d visit the local library as a family. On arrival I’d rush to the children’s section, scouring the shelves for Dr Seuss books. It didn’t matter that I’d borrowed every one of them multiple times!

Now back to being authentic. Authenticity is something that we need to feel both internally and externally. So naturally this extends to the way we dress.

If we don’t feel authentic and true to ourselves with our style, we’re likely to feel uncomfortable.   If we’re not comfortable with the way we dress and appear to the outside world this will show up and we will not be confident. This impacts our life in many ways as I explained in my post last week Clothing Choices: How To Have A Great Day.

So how can we ensure that we are being authentic when it comes to our wardrobe?

Stop People Pleasing

Hands up if you remember as teenager being told: ‘You’re not going out dressed like that!’ What was your reaction?

Having spent hours getting ready you were probably pleased with the outcome.  So how did you react to that onslaught? No doubt you were angry or upset? You may have stormed upstairs to change or just rushed out slamming the door behind you. Neither option being a positive outcome!  Our early wardrobe influencers often have a lot to answer for!

stop people pleasing

My father hated green. Result was that neither my mother nor I owned a single green garment between us. Before I had my colours done and appreciated which shades of green really suit me, I’d acquired every type of green in my wardrobe after my father died! I’m still in a bit of a rebellious phase wearing the odd splash of lime green, which is not in my palette!

But seriously it’s about dressing for you and not for others. If you are being authentic in your style you will feel more confident.

Accept Your Ugly Bits

Being authentic is about accepting yourself for who you are. It’s about accepting yourself and loving the good bits about your body.

Stop being so critical and really look at your body. Embrace the positives about your body. Even if seems insignificant use it as a starting point.

Take for example the colour of your eyes. You can really highlight this by wearing colours that make your eyes stand out.

highlight the parts you love

Recently when I was working with a client I asked her to tell me which parts of her body she loved. She told me that she really embraced her curves, how she felt sexy and feminine. She told me how she hated her thighs and wished her legs were thinner. Then she stopped and started to laugh.

An ‘aha moment’ as she realised that if her legs were skinny she’d look out of proportion.

Live Your Truth

As your life changes you may feel that to be authentic your wardrobe needs a makeover.

If you are going through a major life change, it can be a catalyst for seeking help with your style. I refer to this as the Chrysalis stage, as the butterfly starts to emerge and spread its beautiful wings. You want them to shine out and be authentic to you.

being authentic living your truth

Working with one client recently, she proudly showed me her recent purchase, a biker jacket.  This was a statement piece that she wanted to embrace a new phase in her life.   But to be authentic she wanted to embrace her soft feminine style.

We worked with the jacket pairing it with various accessories and in addition to the jeans/boots and soft blouse look, we created outfits with jersey dresses to create a gentle rock chic style.

Listen To Your Body

Sometimes being authentic is simply about listening to the messages your body is giving you.

There are some days when I want to feel nurtured.  All I want are soft natural fibres close to my skin. I want to be in touch with nature and feel its healing powers. I find it difficult to do this if I’m wearing man made fabrics.

listen to your body

Equally to be authentic to the way I’m feeling I want bright bold colours and fabrics that cling to my body in the right places. I want to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes I’m drawn to certain colours and other days where the same colour won’t look the same.

Your subconscious is often more in tune with your wardrobe than you give it credit for! Don’t fight it and let it guide you.

Don’t Always Speak The Truth

You are asked by a friend what you think about her new dress.   Believing it to be awful how do you handle it?

Being Authentic and Speaking the Truth

Do you feel it is better to just state your opinion and would you expect that from your friends in return?

Many of us do feel it’s important to be honest with our friends but equally we don’t want to upset them.

But remember that often when we are asking for someone’s opinion it’s because we don’t trust our own judgment.  We feel that something’s not right or we want our decision to be ratified.

So why not ask your friend what she likes about the dress. Ask her how does it make her feel?   You may draw out of her what she’s uncertain about so that she then makes a decision on the dress.

BTW from a professional point of view I would then expand on what worked with the dress and what doesn’t work.   As I see my role as a style coach and educator.

I want to leave you with one more thought about being authentic

be who you are

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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.

 

 

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!

 

Black Dress

What Fun Can You Have With One Black Dress?

I was inspired to write this after reading a friend’s Facebook post last week where she stated her intention not to buy any new clothes in 2017.  My ears were wiggling and my nose twitching with excitement!! I love nothing more than the challenge of mixing and matching items to create new looks.

woman wearing black dress

Working with a client this week were looking at some lovely dresses in her wardrobe. The dresses were perfect for her in terms of colour and shape. I asked about how often she wore them, she admitted not very often.

We explored this and it transpired she felt she needed an occasion to wear a dress.  Her current lifestyle was more relaxed and so wearing a dress felt uncomfortable.   She felt over-dressed and that’s not going to help any woman feel fabulous!

A career spent in uniform and early parental influence to ‘keep it for best’ had reinforced to her subconscious mind that dresses were for special occasions.

We were now beyond the nose twitching and ears wiggling stage, my pupils were dilating too!

So this week’s post is to show you how you can create a range of casual looks from one black dress.

First Take Your Dress

I am going to keep this one simple and use a black dress as an example. I have picked out a number of classic and simple styles that will suit different body shapes. I’ve also selected soft fabrics opting for jersey or viscose mix.  I’ve chosen black simply because it can feel quite formal, but this is not relevant to the looks and suggestions.

If you’re not sure what dress shape suits you, take a look at my body shape guide.

I’ve selected a ¾ length sleeve, as this the most universally flattering sleeve length. This length adds height and doesn’t end in line with your bust.

If you have a large bust you do not want sleeves to end level with your bust as this makes you look broader.   However, most of the looks I’m describing will also look great with a sleeveless or short-sleeved black dress.

Black Dress

Black Dress Selection From Debenhams

You can make a simple black dress, effectively into the backdrop for outfit by pairing with the right items to create some fabulous looks.

Denim Jacket

You can make a black dress look effortlessly chic and casual by adding a denim jacket. Denim jackets don’t need to be the bulky style of bomber jacket that look great on a handful of women (small bust, slim with a need to create curves).

Denim jackets can be more blazer style or like this example from Olsen a more structured classic look.

Denim jacket with black dress

Olsen Denim Jacket – House of Fraser

 

BTW It’s at this point I wish I hadn’t started researching this as I’ve just found the most amazing jacket from Desigual.

 

Denim Jacket with Black Dress

Denim Jacket From Desigual

 

Sleeveless Coat

The great advantage of gilets (aka furry ones) is that they add warmth. You can create a fun and funky look but when they get too warm, simply shed them!

 

Faux fur gilet with black dress

Joanna Hope Gilet

Or why not add a sleeveless coat (or a long waistcoat or sleeveless jacket). The fashion industry seems uncertain about what to call them!    These can make a dress look really striking.

 

Longline Sleeveless Jacket with Black Dress

Mint Velvet Longline Sleeveless Jacket

 

 

Add a Blouse

Wearing a blouse over a simple black dress is an effective way to change the look. You can either wear the blouse open to create a casual look or knot at the waist.

Your choice of fabric will have a major impact on how dressed up or dressed down the look becomes. A silk shirt styled over a jersey dress can take a look from day to night. Whereas a cotton or linen blouse will look more casual.

Shoes or Boots

Your choice of shoes will make a big difference to whether you have a dress up or dress down look for your jersey dress.

If you carry on the theme of the denim jacket then why not add boots? Take a look at my post on choosing boots for your body shape

winter boots

You could also pair with sneakers but it’s not a look that I’ve ever felt comfortable with personally.

 

In the spring when it’s warm enough to start bearing your toes but you may still want a jacket for cooler moments, look for low sandals or flip flops.

 

Shrug It Off

Shrugs can come in all types of fabrics from sparkly numbers to cardigan style or more formal bolero jackets and everything in between.

 

They may be best suited to sleeveless dresses, simply because the sleeves will hang better. But depending on the shape of the sleeve they can work for dresses with sleeves.

 

But if you have a small bust they are great for adding curves and volume to your top half. Pear shaped women in particular who have a small bust and defined waist will look great in shrugs and boleros.

 

Shrug over a black dress

Havren Bella Shrug

 Hosiery And Leggings

If you wear opaque tights or leggings with a jersey dress this will create a more casual look. Add boots and you’ve got a great dress down winter outfit.

If you are anything like me you have a love/hate relationship with tights and stockings. I hate wearing them and I think it’s because it makes a dress look more formal.

Adding nude or tan tights or stockings to an outfit the style is automatically elevated to a more classic look.   Equally if you wear a low denier (or more sheer) style of hosiery this gives a more elegant finish.

 

Scarves

Anyone who knows me will appreciate that I have a passion for scarves and am rarely found without one, unless it’s just too hot!

Scarves can transform an outfit completely.   If you want to create a less formal look, particularly with a monochrome dress then think about the:

 

  1. Shape
  2. Fabric
  3. Texture
  4. Colour
  5. Pattern

 

I will be doing a post about scarves in the next few weeks. But for the moment think about cotton/wool mix pattern scarves, possibly with tassels as a brilliant way to create a casual look.

So there’s some ideas and inspiration for you to try. If you do find yourself migrating to jeans, trousers or leggings as you struggle to put outfits together based on a dress, give some of these a try and let me know how you get on!
If you have any other ‘go to’ pieces that you like to use to create wearable looks with dresses, then please add to the comments below.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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!

 

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.

 

Black Jersey Maxi Dress3. 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.handbag

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

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)