How to dress for your shape

Instead of fretting about what it says on the label, how about dressing for your shape instead? Here's how to make your shopping trips a lot less stressful, advises Love Is fashion guru Paula Fry

SIZE MATTERS

Instead of fretting about what it says on the label, how about dressing for your shape instead? Here’s how to make your shopping trips a lot less stressful, advises Love Is fashion guru Paula Fry

Whether it be discussions between friends, in the boutique, on Twitter or in fashion magazines, a burning issue for women is what to wear when you’re not a sample size. 

Let’s face it, even if you are a size 10, some of us have small busts, bigger legs or are straight up and down. It’s doesn’t mean if you’re a size 14, that all size 14s are going to look the same. From my experience it’s far from it.

An essential knack to learn is to dress for your shape rather than what dress size you take.  I spoke to Jane Osborn, stylist and ceo of Image Potential about this.  Jane is ‘Colour Me Beautiful trained’ and helps women of all sizes, shapes and demographics to understand how to make the best of what nature gave them.

“Most women think they are pears or apples, when in fact very few are,” says Jane. “There are seven body shapes and you need to dress accordingly. It’s most certainly not about weight! Victoria Beckham and Dawn French would BOTH be classed as a full hour-glass figure.”

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But is it enough that you know whether you’re a full hour-glass or not? Let’s face it, Dawn and Victoria aren’t always going to cut it in the same outfit. 

Jane’s advice suggests that you keep patterns and accessories in proportion to you. Florals, spots, stripes and patterns need to work with your build and that also goes for buttons and buckles, etc. 

If you have a big bust, steer well clear of anything high necked. Wear a V-neck or scoop, or something creating a V to draw the eye down.  Jane also pointed out that we overlook fabrics when choosing clothes.

“Imagine wrapping a football in brown paper. It looks big and bulky. Now wrap it in silk or soft fabrics and you can see its shape.”  This is why the wrap dress, made famous by Diane Von Furstenburg in the 1970s and sparking thousands of imitations since, works so well.

So great advice for our top halves, but what about those tricky skirt lengths? Should it be mini, knee length, midi or maxi?  Ah well that depends on your legs, girls!

Jane wants us to make sure we don’t draw a line across our widest point. In other words, avoid the midi skirt if you can give Fatima Whitbread a run for her money in the calf department.

We find in the boutique, when dressing curvy women, we need to get them to define their body. Most would love to hide themselves in a black sack dress, which is never flattering. 

The 1950’s dress, with a belted waist, is a great style for women who want to cover up but still show their curves. Wrap dresses, as previously mentioned, are another great buy and work on nearly every shape.

Layering thinly with different lengths on top can also works wonders. But never over-layer or wear slouchy tops with a long skirt or wide trousers. It’s about balancing. Tops that drape are wonderful, but team them with leggings or skinny trousers/jeans on your bottom half so you don’t look like a sack of spuds.

In short, whatever shape, size, weight you are – stop hiding!

NEXT MONTH: How to accessorise

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Any questions on fashion, send them to editor@kent-life.co.uk for Paula to answer personally via email.

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