Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dressing for your Figure

We all have something that we don’t like about our figures – the aim is not to avoid the issue, but to embrace your shortcomings and use them to your advantage. Here are some common things that women dislike about their figures, and ways that you can work with them should you find yourself dealing with them too:

Wide hips: Avoid adding any more bulk to your hips – this means no side pockets. Wear dark or neutral colours on the bottom and highlight your top half with accessories, bright colours or patterns.

Small Bust: First things first, get yourself a Wonderbra. This will enhance your breasts and give you some confidence. Then look for tops that add volume to the bust like breast pockets, prints, bows and frills. High-neck vests with cut-away sleeves, sleeveless blouses with detail on the front and chunky polo necks will all give you that little bit extra. Avoid low necks, deep v-necks, corset tops and empire line dresses.

Large Bust: Your goal will be to minimise the size of your bust, which you can do by employing some of the following tactics: wide v-neck shirts, single-breasted jackets with small lapels and wrap tops. Avoid any detail or volume over the bust (no frills or bows), boxy jackets, high-neck items and polo necks.

Big Bum: Go for side-fastening trousers, wide leg trousers, pencil skirts and hipster jeans. Stay away from tight high-waisted pants, tapered trousers, A-line skirts, large prints in a soft fabric (as they tend to cling and then exaggerate size) and shift dresses.

Chunky calves: Stick to flared pants, A-line skirts and dresses to the knee, open-toed chunky-heeled sandals, boots and long skirts. Stay away from cropped pants, calf-length skirts, ankle straps on shoes and kitten heels.

Flabby Tummy: Find tops that skim over your tummy: empire waist shirts and dresses will do the trick, while wrap tops and ruching will also go a long way to hiding flabby bits. Alternatively, go for trousers and skirts with thick waistbands that fasten on the side, low-waisted jeans, or magic knickers that keep it all in check. Avoid skin-clinging shirts and dresses, short t-shirts, tight tops (as they usually rid up to reveal the skin beneath) and pants that are too tight at the waistband.

No Waist: You can create a waist with any of the following items: wrap tops (and dresses), corset tops, deep v-neck shirts and belts around the waist. Stay away from shift dresses, double-breasted jackets and baggy blouses as they hide the waist you are trying to define.

Short: Wearing one colour head to toe will make you look taller instantly – but you run the risk of looking slightly boring. More ingenious ways of elongating your silhouette include: high-heels, wedges, trousers that are no more than an inch above the ground, skirts to just below your knee, and avoiding cargo or ¾ length pants.

Big upper arms: There are a multitude of garment styles out there that will help to hide big upper arms, the most obvious being sleeves: cap sleeves, batwing, kimono, ¾ and full length sleeves will all do the job. Otherwise, if you dead-set on wearing sleeveless or strapless garments, wrap a Pashmina around your shoulders.

Surgery is a rather drastic approach to dealing with your flaws – using clothes in a clever way to hide your shortcomings and enhance your assets will save you both time and money.

Monday, December 22, 2008

If you’re like me and consider Fashion History not only the evolution of style and modern fashion but also a chronicle of human endeavour and creativity, then this article might interest you. Here are some of our favourite wardrobe items, when they were created, who made them famous and how to rock them:

Stilettos: Designer Roger Vivier is credited with creating the first Stiletto in 1958 (making 2008 the 50 year anniversary of the formidable Stiletto). Silver screen sirens like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield popularised the shoe and by the 1990’s, the Stiletto was one of the most popular shoes in the world. What makes the Stiletto so great is its versatility: pair with jeans, trousers, skirts and dresses and you’re good to go.

Ballet Flats: Another shoe that has stood the test of time is the Ballet Flat - popularised by Audrey Hepburn in her earlier movies. In 1944 the first Ballet Pump was made using a minimal amount of material, which made it an affordable way to look stylish during the 2nd World War when many designers were under severe financial restrictions. Like Stilettos, Ballet Flats are incredibly versatile and can be worn with skirts, dresses or trousers.

Trench Coats: The first Trench Coat was worn by soldiers in the 2nd World War: Thomas Burberry designed the first Trench during the war for Soldiers to wear during battle in the trenches. It was double-breasted thus helping to keep the rain off of their boots. It was also characterised by a large belt and epaulettes that was used to hold various items like grenades, cigarettes, guns and hats. Jane Fonda made the Trench a wardrobe staple when she wore it in her movie Klute in 1971. Wear over a dress or trousers for a stylish way to stave off the cold. Lightweight versions are also great for spring or cooler summer evenings.

Wrap Dress: Designer Diane Von Furstenburg launched her fashion empire off of her innovative wrap dress design. She even created a marketing slogan for it: “Feel like a Woman, Wear a dress”. Working girls of the 70’s wore their wrap dresses with Stilettos, which spawned a legion of followers for this funky trend. In 1997, Diane relaunched her wrap dress, which created a whole new buzz in Hollywood. Wear this dress on its own or over trousers to create a stylish look.

LBD: Possibly the most recognizable 3-letter acronym in the fashion world – the Little Black Dress has been a wardrobe staple since the early 1920’s. Coco Chanel coined the phrase in 1926 when she debuted her Little Black Dress – a long-sleeved, knee-length number with a high neckline. At that time, the colour of the dress caused an uproar as black was reserved for the mourning, but its versatility warmed women to it. It provided a stylish solution for most events in a woman’s calendar and could be taken from work to evening drinks without having to stop off at home to change. Betty Boop was the earliest adopter of the LBD, but the most popular dress was worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Every woman should have a couple versions of the LBD in their wardrobe – it is the most stylish and effortlessly cool item to own.

Most items in our wardrobe found their origins in times of immense struggle and strife: world wars and female oppression to name but a few. Movies at the time and other popular entertainment media were cleverly used to market these new items into mainstream fashion. Learning the history of these popular garments helps us to understand how these pieces might evolve in the future: in many cases, designers are taking these garments right back to their roots.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dresses - Feminine Style is back

For a while there, fashion was all about being androgynous or masculine in your approach: waistcoasts, oxfords, trousers and slicked-back hair. Finally, we are back to being more feminine: dresses, skirts and florals are huge at the moment and in 2009, they will continue to enjoy that popularity. Pick yourself up a couple of day-dresses which will keep you cool in the sweltering heat, and can be dressed up for a night on the town.


Fashion styling and Image Consulting is still a very new concept in South Africa: Many rely on their friends and family to be honest when they ask "Does my bum look big in this?". It's a interesting industry to be in though: you become a friend, a psychologist and an agony aunt: you hear about how their husband pissed them off, or how their children keep stepping out of line. Once South Africans cotton on to the idea that a Fashion Stylist is not a judgemental fashion-slave, but someone who is genuinely interested in helping people hone their style, I think this industry will take off. But I'm in this for the long haul - what better job is there than to get paid to shop and talk crap?

How to look slimmer and taller - Instantly

This is a topic that I’m sure has gotten your undivided attention. You’re probably thinking, "but surely gyming and working out is the only way to get slimmer?" Yes, going to gym is important, but there are ways of instantly looking slimmer and taller without even leaving home, and here are just a few of them:

  • Wear dark colours: Darker colours absorb light, and thus are slimming. Going monochrome also has an elongating effect.

  • Invest in great-fitting underwear: Get a bra that lifts your breasts up – this will immediately make your waist look slender. Also look at spending some money on body shapers: they give the illusion of a slimmer and smoother figure. They are indispensable when wearing tight-fitting outfits.

  • Prints are your best friend: Opt for garments with an all-over pattern, as this is a great diversionary tactic: it prevents the eye from stopping on any one area of the body. If you are petite, go for smaller prints. Larger frames can pull off bigger and bolder patterns. As a general rule however, don’t go for prints that are any bigger than your fist.

  • Wedges: Wedges fulfil 2 purposes: they create the illusion of slender calves and ankles, and they also provide more stable height. Stilettos, while sexy and interesting, can over-exaggerate the size of your legs, making them appear thicker and chunkier than they actually are.

  • Be smart with the length of your trousers: Pants that drag on the ground will make you look shorter: raise your hemlines so that when wearing heels or flats they are an inch above the ground.

  • High-waisted pants: Raising your waist will give the illusion of longer legs. This works on women with smaller hips, so resist this temptation if you are pear-shaped.

  • Cinch in your waist: Create some shape in your midsection with a belt. If you don’t want to draw attention to your waist, opt for a belt in the same colour as your outfit. To make more of a statement, go for a belt in a contrasting colour.

  • Adjust your posture: Stand up straight, bring your shoulders back and avoid slouching. Just doing this adds a couple centimetres to your silhouette.

In just a few seconds, you can look slimmer and taller giving you a great confidence boost. Don’t skip the gym though – this is still your best option to looking trim and slim.

Get a summer wardrobe on a budget

Summer is finally here so it’s time to pack away the winter woollies and slip into some fabulous new dresses and sandals. If you’re itching to hit the stores but lack the funds, never fear – here are some simple ways to fill up your wardrobe without racking up debt, and versatility is the key:

  • The best place to start is to clear out your wardrobe: pack away all your winter clothes, and reassess what is left in your closet. Chuck out all of the clothes that don’t fit you, are out of style or need mending. Now you have a great base to work from.

  • Make a list of the items you need for summer that you don’t currently have in your wardrobe – here is a list of the great summer basics:
    o Strappy sandals – These are a girl’s best friend this summer: they can be dressed up for an evening out, or dressed down for a day at the beach. Get a pair in a versatile colour like black or tan.
    o Floral dress – Another great versatile item: dress it up with gold earrings and heels or shift into casual gear with a few gold bracelets and gladiator sandals.
    o Shorts – A fabulous pair of shorts will stand you in good stead: A patterned chiffon blouse or tank top will keep you looking cool and elegant this summer.
    o A-line skirt – This style flatters almost any body shape, so wear it with confidence to a club or lunch with the girls.
    o White Cotton T – A must-have in any fashionista’s cupboard – pair with jeans or a skirt and you’re good to go.
    o White Linen Pants – Cool and comfortable.

  • Now that you know what it is that you need to be looking for this summer, here’s how to ensure you are getting these items at bargain basement prices:
    o Seek out vintage stores – you know that you will be getting a one-of-a-kind item, and for cheap too.
    o Don’t hurry past those bargain stores ­– Trips to stores like Mr. Price, Pep and Jet Stores will almost always uncover some great value finds.
    o Learn to sew – There is nothing as rewarding and economical like making your own outfits. If sewing is not for you, get them made for you by a seamstress – this generally ends up being cheaper than buying from a store.
    o Revive old clothes – Add an interesting brooch, or hike up the hem on an old favourite dress to give those items a new lease on life.
    o Swap clothes with friend – What might not suit you anymore might look great on your friend and vice versa: At least you know that your clothes are going to a good home.
    o Find factory shops in your area – You can always find something great for cheap.

Isn’t great to fill up a wardrobe but with none of the guilt?

Fashion Forecast: 2009

Humans don’t like surprises – we like to know what’s coming down the track: from the weather, to the interest rates and fashion trends. So here it is: your fashion forecast for 2009. Upcoming style trends will be hot with a good chance of early-evening glam, and a strong northerly influence. Temperatures will be in the mid 1980’s, displaying some fantastic fashions in the warmer months, especially over the coastal regions.

Colours: Bright colours were huge in 2008, and this trend is likely to continue into 2009, but with added intensity: think purples, periwinkle, orange and raspberry. Ink black and neutrals are still in though and are a nice balance to the brighter hues.

Trends: 2009 will see some old favourite styles reappearing, while others will be popping up for the first time:

  • Sheer: From dresses to blouses, sheer fabric will be all the rage in 2009. For the more conservative fashionistas who don’t want to bare all however, a tank top or slip underneath will be key.

  • Asymmetrical: The latter part of 2008 saw the re-emergence of this popular style, and it will continue to enjoy this popularity in 2009.

  • Sculptured: 2008 was all about the sculptured shoe whereas 2009 will be all about the sculptured dress.

  • Drape: Another one of the enduring legacies from 2008.

  • All in ones: These have been around since the 1980’s but now they are back with a vengeance. Keep them slightly loose, in a cool, drapey fabric. This look is not for the faint-hearted, so if you’re going to wear it, wear it with confidence.

  • High waisted: Works for shorts, trousers and skirts.

  • Harem pants: Pair with a chunky belt, killer heels and a drapey blouse and you’re good to go.

  • Boho chic: A look endorsed by Sienna Miller and Kate Moss and one that will never go out of style. Invest in some key pieces like wide-legged pants, high-waisted jeans, maxi dresses and boho bags as you’ll be wearing them for seasons to come.

  • Ruffles and bows: These will help to soften any outfit, but beware of where they are located on the garment as they will emphasise the part of the body they are closest to.

  • Sports-inspired: No longer relegated to sweaty gym sessions, gym gear will be key in 2009. They will be so key in fact, that Scarlett Johansson now designs a range of sportswear for Reebok called “Scarlett Hearts Rbk” (Available at Sportscene in Sandton, Gateway and Canal Walk).

  • Street wear: Inspired by punk and skateboarders, this look is all about bright colours, interesting shapes, skinny jeans and Wayfarers.

Fashion Philosophy: The overriding fashion philosophy for 2009 will be about organic and sustainable fabrics – style with a conscience if you will. Organic is all about making use of nature’s resources instead of harmful chemicals. Choose cotton over polyester, reduce what you buy, reuse your outfits where possible and see just how versatile your garments really are, and recycle those items in your wardrobe that you haven’t used for a while.