How To Look Awesome In A Skirt

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

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

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

Coco Chanel quote fashion

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

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

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

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

What To Consider With Skirt Styles

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ruffle Skirt Styles

Ruffle Skirt Top Shop

Ruffle Skirts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tiered Skirts Romantic ‘Boho Chic’

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

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

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

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

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

Pencil Skirt Styles

John Lewis Pencil Skirt

Pencil Skirts A Return To The 1980s?

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

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

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

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

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

Midi Skirts

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

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

But midi skirt styles are not for everyone.

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

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

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

Desigual Mini Skire

Desigual Mini Skirt

Mini Skirts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips To Consider

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

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

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

 

 

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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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Whitney Valverde

Blog for Passion and not for Profit

Welcome to Part 2 of my Interview with Whitney Valverde, author of Whitney’s Wonderland Blog.

Whitney won the Best Fashion Blogger Category of my Women are B.E.S.T awards earlier this year.   One of the prizes for each of the category winners was the opportunity to work with me.

Whitney and I have some great ideas on how we’re going to work together. But to launch our collaboration, I wanted you to meet Whitney and share her story.

In Part 1 of this interview we looked back at what it was like to grow up in the exotic environment of Costa Rica.  In this post we will look at how Whitney arrived in a new country and set up her blog to integrate herself into life in London.

Fashion bloggers love to share their passions with both their readers and their peer group. They ask their peer group for advice, share problems and have fun.  As bloggers hang out online a lot of this takes place via social media.  There are events for bloggers hosted by brands, media or other bloggers.   It was at one of these amazing events where Whitney and I first met at the Paramount Restaurant overlooking London.

For anyone thinking about starting a blog, Whitney is also kindly sharing her five top blogging tips.

Bloggers Festival

1. When you arrived in the UK in April 2013 did you know you were going to settle here?  

My parents worked for a company based in Norwich for many years so I had been to the UK a lot and had friends and contacts in Norwich.

In September 2012, I came and stayed for 3 months solid to see how I really felt about it. I actually started a blog that doesn’t exist anymore.

It was a mess, there was no consistency, and I didn’t know how to code or anything remotely technical.  In 2013, I started Whitney’s Wonderland.

I had no idea about anything, I didn’t know if I was going to stay or not, all I knew is that I loved London, fashion, and I wanted to travel.

All the dots slowly eventually connected but we live in a fluid world and a friend of mine always says “If you want to make God laugh…tell him your plans”.

I believe that you never know what the future holds so I just stay positive and push forward.

 2.  How did you find settling in London?  I really admire anyone moving to a different country as I’ve always lived close to where I was born.

First of all, I must say, I’ve spoken English since I was a baby, so that definitely helps!

However, our cultures are quite different. Costa Rica is very laid back, people are often helpful and friendly. It is most of the times very hot and humid, so this makes people “less productive”. It is also a very small country with only 4 million people and 2 million in the city.

At the beginning I was shocked at London’s uber fast pace and couldn’t understand why it was so hard to talk to people let alone make friends with someone!

I’ve been here for over 3 years now, and although I’m friendly with a lot of people, I have few close friends. I’ve made some good friends thanks to blogging as we all go to so many events and see each other all the time and now I’m fast paced as well, lol!

I adore everything about the UK, especially London. First of all, I love the fact that I can find anything from anywhere… Even Costa Rican food!

The fact that the city is so cosmopolitan and you can meet people from all over the world is such a unique cultural experience not offered by any other big city! I love that there’s not only an acceptance but also a celebration of all kinds of culture and counter cultures… London, to me, is the greatest most cosmopolitan city on Earth! Finally I don’t settle!

Whitney Valverde

Photo: Mr Kaye Photography

 3.  Your blog is so successful that you are able to dedicate yourself to it full time, but for anyone starting a fashion blog what are the five hot tops you would give them?

Blogging is much more than simply sitting down at your laptop and pouring out your thoughts.   High quality photos are needed for each post.  No one wants a product review with a few snaps!

Fashion bloggers model the clothes that they are writing about, so that means taking a lot of time over your appearance every time you need some images.

It doesn’t stop with writing and adding a few images.

As a blogger you need to be on several social media platforms and build a real presence.  This is to both drive traffic to your blog and to encourage brands.

Brands are only interested in working with bloggers who have an extensive reach to the audience they want to attract.  You need to attend a lot of events to be seen and build your credibility.

I want to make it clear it is NOT easy and that you should never start blogging if you are thinking of making money.

You should do it because you really love what you are blogging about and are extremely passionate about sharing your thoughts and ideas with others. Otherwise, don’t bother.

It requires a lot of time, patience and consistency to actually make a blog “successful” in a commercial sense. Unless you’re already blessed by having economic support from parents or whoever, you can’t just start a blog and dedicate yourself to it full-time at the expense of making money.

Whitney’s 5 top tips for starting a blog

  1. Find something you’re passionate about: Your readers will spot insincerity as they really do love the topic (that why they read the blogs!). So if you’re going to write about something “for the rest of your life”, it better be something you truly love and are willing to share with others. There are blogs about everything and anything, but find your own voice in those things you love (from cleaning, to babies and pets… Or quantum physics, there is an audience for everyone!)
  1. Stay true to yourself: If and when your blog starts to become successful and generate some money, A LOT of brands will reach out to you and offer you money and/or gifted products to review. We have all been tempted to say yes to cash and a product we don’t like or believe in. You’re not kidding anyone by accepting a product like this. Only recommend that which you would recommend to your bestie and everything will be fine!
  1. Be consistent: Whether you blog once a month or everyday (this is btw super difficult for one person!!), do it consistently. You’re building an audience who expects to see a post on, for example, every other Monday. So be loyal to them. Even if at the beginning your public is 1 reader.
  1. Motivate yourself: It is a competitive industry and being a freelancer is not easy. Just like anyone else, sometimes I wonder if I’m using my time well, if it’s worth it, etc. But then I remember I love what I do and I’d do it for free (if I didn’t need to pay the bills!), so just remember that! Also, google other known, well respected blogger’s stories and see how hard they had to work to get where they are!
  1. You’re a blogger, not a celebrity or a model. Do remind yourself of this when you go big! I believe blogging got successful, especially in fashion, because people were tired of looking at ultra skinny, tall women who (duh!) looked amazing wearing anything. A blogger was a breath of fresh air, a woman you could relate to and see how clothes looked in real life on real people. Don’t forget to interact with your readers, be friendly, and always say yes to a pic!

Whitney Valverde

So the take away from this post is while you can make money from blogging it’s not the reason you should start a blog.  It’s easy to look at successful bloggers and say ‘I could do that’ but remember they have not become a success overnight.

Many bloggers start when they are at University.  For anyone who is studying journalism they are encouraged to blog as a way of building their credibility and experience.

There are also fashion bloggers who start their blog out of frustration, as Whitney mentions above,  reading blogs is great for the audience fed up with the unrealistic image of women favoured by the fashion industry.  Bloggers too get fed up with this idealistic imagery and want to show the world that real women wear clothes too!

Check out Whitney’s Blog here.

 

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Whitneys Wonderland

Whitney does not do Winter

Let me introduce Whitney Valverde, the winner of the Best Blogger category of my Women are B.E.S.T awards this year.

The awards were set up to celebrate my Narnia year!  Leaving corporate life I found that the world of networking had transformed since the 1990s.  Women’s networking had morphed into a supportive and collaborative environment.

I guess that I wanted to do a sound check and test to see if it was just something that I was feeling or if other women genuinely wanted to celebrate other women’s successes and not be jealous or feel threatened by it.

I set up the Women are B.E.S.T awards and asked for nominees across 6 categories.  Then voting began to determine the winner of each category.  The prize for the winner of each category was to work in collaboration with me on a project that we would agree together.

It took three months for Whitney and I to meet and start to plan our collaboration.  Why?  Whitney loves London but isn’t so keen on our winter weather.

Her career as a full-time blogger allows her to work from anywhere in the world so Whitney returns to her native Costa Rica to escape the wet and chilly days of London in Winter!

Whitney Valverde

I first met Whitney at Scarlett Dixon’s Bloggers Festival last year.  I was struck by her professionalism, passion and exotic beauty.

As we began to talk I really wanted to learn more about her her life and how she’d travelled half way round the world from a country I knew so little about to start a new life.

The success that Whitney enjoys today is down to an incredible amount of hard work which took three years before she was able to give up her ‘day job’.  Most bloggers write on a part-time basis while working or studying.

Our Conversation

Fanfare and drumroll please!  ….

To formally announce the collaboration between Want Her Outfit and Whitney’s Wonderland, I want to say a huge thank you to Whitney for taking time out of her schedule to join me in conversation.

Whitney’s background and her journey are really interesting, along with her tips for blogging and the future of blogging that I’m going to share Whitney’s story in 3 parts.  This post is about Whitney’s amazing childhood in Costa Rica and her journey to the UK.

Whitneys Wonderland1. Whitney, could you please introduce yourself to the readers

Hi everybody! I am Whitney Valverde, Founder & Editor of the fashion and lifestyle blog www.whitneyswonderland.com .

I have been working full-time as a blogger for the past year but my blog is almost 3 years old!

I focus on both luxury & affordable luxury items because that is what has always inspired me to write!

I work with many well-established brands, as well as new up and coming designs and labels  that I seek out and recommend to my readers!

This may sound a bit corny but I developed my passion for fashion when I was a child.  I used to dress my Barbie dolls with the help of my grandmother, a well-respected seamstress in a little town in Costa Rica.

 2. Costa Rica appears to be an amazing place, extremely exotic but what was it like growing up there?  

I can only thank my parents for creating a home filled with love and laughter! My childhood for want of a better word was an absolute wonderland!

My parents are academics working for a large multinational, so untypically we lived in a large private residential area reserved for the people who worked at that company.

The community was more multicultural than the UN, with children from all over the world.  This means I have friends from France, Guyana, several across Africa, Finland, USA, Canada… And of course, Costa Rica!

So I was lucky because we were only 12 kids in my class and we were all good friends. The whole school had less than 80 students, it was an extremely safe environment and very family oriented.

We moved to the city when I was 10.  This was the perfect time to start to mix with a wider social circle!

Costa Rica is a beautiful country to grow up.  Education is one of the areas that Costa Rica punches well above its weight, arguably the best in the whole of Latin America!

Regarding work, there are opportunities in some sectors but unfortunately, not so much in most of the others. Medicine, Graphic Design, and Programming do very well, but then again that’s everywhere right now, isn’t it?!

Fashion is growing and a lot and people are appreciating it much more. However, the economy is not very strong and the average person does not have money to spend on luxury.  This means there is not  a huge market for bloggers.

Blogging is definitely not a full-time job if you live in CR. However, there is a small blogging community that likes sharing love for fashion.

Whitney Valverde

Photo by: Mr Kaye Photography

 3. Whitney, you went to university in Costa Rica – tell us about your studies and your plans after university?

At 17 I went to University to get my first degree which was in English and linguistics, hence (hopefully) you can follow some of my more rambling thought processes!

Once I finished my first degree, after having studied Arts and Literature at an art high school, I felt the need to do something creative. Fashion had always been my passion, so I pursued my second degree in Fashion Design.

The reality was I left Costa Rica because I had finished school and was looking out for inspiration.

I lived in France for a while when I was 18, and developed a strong love for Europe.  I had always been inspired by the romance of the different cultures and of course the fact you guys have seasons!

In Costa Rica we have summer for 5 months and rain for the rest! So after a lot of thought I went for London over Paris as I had met my British gentleman in Costa Rica and had already fallen madly in love with him!

Once I arrived in London, I knew I had made the right decision! London has so much to offer, there’s inspiration around every corner and now I’m madly in love with London as well!

I started my blog then while taking some short fashion course at London College of Fashion.  I wanted to keep writing and immersing myself in the culture and fashion and my blog seemed like a great way to share this excitement and passion with the world!

In the next part of our Conversation we’ll look at how Whitney began her blog and her tips for anyone looking to start blogging.  Sign up to my newsletter to get an update when the other parts to this exclusive interview is published! But for now, take a trip to Whitney’s Wonderland.  If you love her blog then please vote for her.

 

 

 

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