4 things that will make you look better in jeans

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I’m gaining the impression that we hourglasses may need to downplay that tiny waist a bit when wearing jeans in a casual style.  I’m not talking about dressy jeans looks – by all means play up your va-va-voom in those outfits – just the casual chillin’ sort of looks.
I often feel girls with straighter bodies look better in casual jeans. There’s just something more effortless about it.  I’ve observed women in real life, of varying sizes, just generally rock the jeans look if their hip/thigh area is a bit straighter, and you can see the same principle demonstrated on celebrities.  See this picture (or any picture) of Jennifer Aniston in jeans for the idea.  And contrast with this picture of Jennifer Lawrence, more of a curvy frame, in jeans (as an aside, JL has a phenomenal body in my opinion, and would floor the opposition in another type of outfit, but we’re focusing on casual in this blog).  As another aside, there’s been so SO many times in my life where I’ve felt more like JL in casual gear than JA – this photo of Jennifer Lawrence is just exactly what I expect to look like in shorts – does anyone else know what I mean?!
This may be because jeans, or trousers in general, are a more mannish garment, meaning they tend to compliment the more masculine frame better than a womanly frame.
Adding to this is the fact that hourglass frames are the direct opposite of a man’s frame.
Now I know there are many variations of jeans out there that have been adapted for more curvy frames – PZI jeans and NYDJ are a couple of brands that fit curvy thighs and hips perfectly. But the basic concept of jeans is still menswear. As opposed to dresses which are specifically womenswear (ignore togas and kilts, that doesn’t fit with my theory ha!).

So it may follow that the closer to a manly frame the jeans-wearer is, the better they suit this mannish garment.

So returning to the glorious bundle of curves that we call our bodies, there’s a few key areas that scream woman when you pour them into jeans. These areas may be the ones we want to minimize if we want to pull off an effortless casual jeans look.

De-emphasise that tiny waist: The contrast between waist and hips screams woman when wearing jeans. How do we minimize? Try a t-shirt that loosely follows but doesn’t stick to your waist (see the Kim Kardashian Jeans and T-shirt looks in this post). I’m against super loose, straight tops as if you have boobs, you can turn your torso into a block. Maybe smaller chested hourglasses would be able to rock this look better, but even they should be wary of their wider shoulders which can, again, create a chunky looking shape when dressed in a billowy top.

Shrink your hips: How do you minimize hips? Well ultra-low rise jeans may contribute to halving the visual impact of the hips. In contrast, high waist jeans are obviously womanly and emphasise hips (but it’s also my opinion that they look better on moderate or small hips because those straight girls can ham-up their hip area to look more curvy in those jeans, whereas our hips go SUPERNOVA in them).
A short waisted figure (which is usually a component of an hourglass frame – it’s what makes the waist and hips look so dramatic against each other) often is flattered by a lower rise trouser cut too, as you correct the ‘shortness’of your torso against the length of your legs (high waisted clothing pushes your waist visually up so on a short-waisted gal you can look like you have legs up to your armpits and no body).

Don’t go too tight on the thighs: Over the years I’ve often felt that jeans ought to stick to the thigh area and flare/become looser elsewhere.  I’m starting to re-think this because the people I think look good in casual jeans outfits tend to not sport such a tight look around the thighs.  A degree of looseness may add to the casual vibe and may mean your thighs are downplayed a touch, aligning your curvy hourglass frame with a straighter, more mannish frame.  I’m not 100% on this point yet, but will keep thinking about it.  As a note of caution, if your jeans/trousers are cut too wide, you can broaden your lower half and bulk up what is already a fuller area for us.  So try to hit a happy medium.

Go for straight leg in preference to skinny: I’m not entirely sure why this generally looks better on hourglasses than super skinny (except, perhaps for the reasons stated above, to do with minimizing feminine curviness of thighs and calves) but I’ve observed on both myself and several other hourglass-figured friends that the straight look is more flattering than the tighter skinny look.  Not that it stops me trying to wear skinnies at all, but if I’m trying to build the best casual wardrobe I can, the principle of straight leg jeans will come in handy.

I hope those tips are useful for you to consider when investing in a good pair of casually-cut jeans, let me know what you agree or disagree with 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Kim Kardashian casual style hits and misses

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On average, Kim Kardashian will go for a more dressed-up look, even when casual, and heels are an almost ubiquitous feature of her outfits.  I love how her style has evolved over the years, and although I’m not keen on the over-exposed look, I feel she’s done well to transition from attention grabbing outfits to a more sophisticated fashionista style.  It needs to be stated that what Kim achieves in looking good nearly all the time is no mean feat – she’s petite in height, short-waisted and has extreme in-and-out curves.  Often these features can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to clothes, so I actually feel she does an extraordinary job of looking great.

Let’s review a few of my favourite casual outfits, chosen mainly for their real-life wearability.

The Jeans and Blazer look

I absolutely adore this look on Kim K; there’s an effortless class about this outfit that works with an hourglass figure.  The outfit on the left is my favourite – the reasons I love it are the awesome fit of her jacket, the drapey scarf keeps everything…drapey and sophisticated, but for some reason I don’t feel it adds bulk.  The tunic length of her top works well with the thigh-high boots.  This is a good way to see how an hourglass can rock thigh high boots in a more classy, less obvious way – if you had black jeans instead of blue, the look could be even more subtle.  In the middle pic – I’m not keen on her ankle-cut off boots here, but the rest works for me.  And on the left, there’s a cool example of flats (flip-flops) working in this outfit.

The Jeans and Tee look

I think she must realise how good this looks on her as she recycles this combination several times (same idea as my ‘uniform’ concept discussed here).  I accept that she may not look her slimmest in this outfit, but my eye finds it aesthetically pleasing nonetheless.  I think the way she makes this work is to have her t-shirt relatively fitted, not tight but not billowing (the lack of tightness also makes the skinny jeans work better, in the same way less small-waisted women seem to look better in jeans than us) and down to her hip.  She has kept her colour palettes fairly un-contrasting. And obviously she’s invested in the best of jeans which gets you a long way as an hourglass.  Note she’s often also resorted to heels to make herself look a bit slimmer, which works, but I also feel the flip-flops look on the right works too.

Other Jeans pairings

On the left, I love that she manages to make a crisp white shirt work – note how she’s tucked up one side for a casual effect.  Don’t be deceived by the loose look of her shirt, I believe it would’ve been perfectly tailored to skim bust and fit arms, whilst also looking sufficiently loose and boyfriend-y.  The middle look I love because she’s wearing our absolute friend in the jeans world – flared/bootcut jeans – she’s also got her jumper down to the hip, and has avoided looking too broad by pairing the wider-legged jeans with wedges.  The look on the right is an easy one for an hourglass to pull off – take one poncho, and any skinny lower half, and you’ll be fine.

Casual dress looks

Take one straight (not-too-poofy) maxi dress, apply one hourglass figure, and you’re good.  Buy this style of dress in any colour that suits you, add flip-flops and other accessories and you can’t lose.  Wear control underwear if your midriff or booty needs some tightening up 🙂  The middle pic demonstrates a wrap around – again, always a good bet for an hourglass as long as you can keep the cleavage area classy!  And I just adore the floaty chiffon dress on the right – fits the waist, flares over hips, length perfectly just on the knee, and strappy top half keeps her upper body looking delicate.  Love it.

Getting thinner thighs as an hourglass

Body, Casual hourglass, Struggles

The most common complaint I hear from ladies who share an hourglass figure is that we have big thighs, big wobbly sometimes cellulitey thighs. They can be hard to flatter in casual outfits because they don’t fit into skinny jeans (or any jeans) too well, or we don’t want to get our legs out in the summer because they don’t look good enough (guilty).  In fact, I must admit to hating most of summer fashion because the sun and outdoors requires mainly casual outfits from me, and mainly skin-baring outfits of some sort.

Well I’m here today to tell you the good news: I managed to cure my thigh wobbliness by a good 70%* using a handful of very simple techniques, and have a few ideas for improving the skin of my legs so they can become legs I’m proud of.

(*this number may be entirely speculative…)

First up, the thigh wobbliness strategy.  This is what changed in my habits to produce legs that are nearly shorts-worthy (still a work in progress…)

  1. Started walking to work.  For me this means 35-40 minutes of walking, sometimes twice a day (so 80 mins of walking) on at least 3 days a week.  I live outside of Auckland, so have to get a bus into town, but I made the choice to walk the second leg of my journey so I could get fit again and tone my legs.  The walk is a refreshing way to start the day and I don’t get too sweaty so I don’t have to shower when I get to work.  If the walk was more vigorous however, I’d wear workout gear for the journey, and have a back-pack with my work clothes to change into, plus a few shower bits and bobs (the hassle is worth the healthy feeling, and the reward your thighs will give you).  Personally I believe (from own experience and reading online plus a bit of medical knowledge) that walking is excellent exercise for women – it’s great cardio, it lacks the adverse effects of more extreme exercise on your soft curves, it’s accessible to all and I personally have always lost weight when I’ve had a regular walking habit.  Is there some way you could fit in some walking to your daily schedule?  Make it part of your normal comings and goings if possible as you don’t have to go out of your way to achieve it then and it becomes a habit.
  2. Started squatting like nobody’s business.  This and a bit of weight loss I think are the most responsible for the tighter thighs I’m currently sporting.  I’m not a gym-goer currently, and I eschew weights because I am mesomorphic (put on muscle easily) and don’t need any more chunk on these gams.  What I do, in my simplistic way, is chuck on a Beyonce song, and I will pretty much squat repeatedly for about twenty minutes in my room, as well as doing lunges and leg raises (you on all fours, one leg extended straight and lifted up and down), then finish off with some sit ups and…um..back ups (?the back version of sit ups).  It’s cheap and effective and because I’m using only my body weight to squat I’m getting thinner but more powerful thighs and butt.  Oh, I need to say also that squatting is THE thing for cellulite.  So, squat ladies like there’s no tomorrow.
  3. Weight loss.  I have a very simple and probably nutritionally inadequate way around weight loss, but it works for my hourglass frame.  I eat a medium banana instead of breakfast, and drink loads of tea to fill me up.  Lunch, for short periods of 3-5 days, I will just eat an apple and a banana, then I have dinner from My Food Bag which is essentially a nutrient-packed fairly-healthy-but-not-too-extreme and filling evening meal.  I may also take a multivitamin whilst I’m dieting just so I’m not missing any key nutrients but I’m pretty forgetful.  When snacking during the day, I keep a 1kg bag of mixed dried fruit and nuts, and will grab a small handful to conquer any snack attacks (maybe twice a day), plus drinking more huge mugs of tea or coffee which suppress appetite and fill you up.  And aside from this, I try to avoid all other food, especially sweet sugary snacks and drinks.  The result of all this, for me, is gradual weight loss, about 1lb a week, without any noticeable hunger.  You end up with a great body, but yellow teeth due to tea-staining.  So, you know, you can’t have it all.  Another thing I’ve looked into in the past is intermittent fasting – the science is sound and you don’t ruin your metabolism, but I’m quite a hungry gal so I’d rather eat a banana than fast.  Note, I have not looked into the nutritional aspects of this at all and am not trained to do so and will not recommend it as an awesome thing for other people to do, but this is just what is tolerable and effective for me.  But back to the original point, the thighs have improved because I’ve got less flesh on top, and better muscles beneath the flesh.

Lastly, improving skin texture on legs.  I don’t know if it’s a problem with all of us who carry more weight on the legs (due to poor surface circulation perhaps?) but I have got quite bumpy skin on my thighs and calves (keratosis pilaris) and my fake tan will often stick to the bumps = awesome.  My strategy for improving the skin quality (and this may be useful for those who don’t have keratosis pilaris too) involves the following:

  1. Weekly body scrubs – I’m currently using a gorgeous coffee body scrub with those exfoliating gloves you can buy from any pharmacy or dollar store.
  2. Daily intensive moisturizing – Jergen’s Oatmeal and Shea Butter is one of the best body moisturizers I’ve used.
  3. Weekly or fortnightly aspirin peels (salicylic acid, dissolves the upper keratin layers on the skin) – obviously only use if you’re not allergic to aspirin, but its a gentle peel that you don’t need to neutralize other than applying water to rinse, and it leaves your legs incredibly smooth.  Google aspirin peel for recipes, and start low strength if in doubt.  I use this recipe personally.  Used regularly, you should gradually start to improve the bumpy texture of your legs.
  4. My next plan is a weak strength glycolic acid peel – ideally you’d have a professional doing this for you.  I’m probably going to obtain mine through my laser salon, Avana, in Auckland.  Be careful if you buy any online, ensure you only use reputable sources even if it costs more, as you do not want to end up with burns.  If you are doing it at home, always stick to the instructions as glycolic acid is not really to be messed with as far as I understand (I haven’t tried it at home personally)
  5. Obviously if you are not happy with the texture of your skin on your legs, fake tan and instant bronzers will make a world of difference to your confidence.  My typical regime when good legs are needed over summer involves one or two layers of a good fake tan the night before (ModelCo tan in a can is fab), wash this off then moisturise.  Then apply Sally Hansen’s airbrush legs (lotion is what I’m using currently, not the spray although both are fantastic, literally the best in my opinion).  On top, I’ll spray some of my Sephora shimmer body oil and voila – shiny, smooth, perfect looking limbs.  Oh I should’ve said – shaving or waxing is a must before all this 🙂

So I hope this long-winded post has proved useful to you, and might inspire you when it comes to figuring out your own regimes.

Ignore ugly fashion trends

Philosophical rants, Struggles

Is fashion conspiring against hourglass figures?

The world of fashion is an extremely elite community which necessarily based its existence on the concepts of novelty, creativity, exclusivity and sometimes shock factor. The very nature of the profession is to push boundaries, express ideas and concepts through the means of garments, and to always press forward to newer territories. It can be extremely influential in the transmission of cultural values and ideology, too, with it’s messages being passively absorbed by men and women everywhere without people even realizing.

It probably goes without saying that making women look their most attractive is not the sole aim of the fashion industry any more. I mistakenly thought for many years that the only possible aim of fashion could be to dress women well – and I’m not saying that isn’t one of its goals. But the highly professionalized version of the industry that we see today couldn’t stay true to its values of novelty, pushing boundaries and always being at the edge without departing from the main goal of making women look beautiful.

Instead, designers are commonly using the runway as an exhibition of their artistic talents, and even of their humanistic philosophies (e.g, ideology surrounding gender, beauty values, sexuality).

There is actually a proactive move by some (?most) designers to explore deliberately ugly fashion, as explained in a Daily Telegraph article quoting Miuccia Prada in 2013.

“Ugly is attractive, ugly is exciting. Maybe because it is newer. The investigation of ugliness is, to me. More interesting than the bourgeois idea of beauty. And why? Because ugly is human.” – Miuccia Prada

The concept is that conventionally attractive fashion, the sort of thing that flatters normal looking bodies, has been achieved already, is somewhat passé and not challenging for cutting-edge designers. Plus, given the shape of women’s bodies, there are a limited number of clothing shapes and cuts that can flatter that shape.

I enjoyed reading the August 2015 article by Erin on the Elements of Style blog, who reflected my stance on clothing very accurately:

“Like I said, this is just my opinion, and maybe there are some out there who like the “ugly is cool” trend- but I just want to look nice. I don’t need to make some huge statement when I get dressed, I want my clothes to compliment me as a person, not take over.” – Erin Gates

The takeaway message for the normal hourglass girl is this: stick to looking good, rather than cutting edge fashionable.  Your body is already somewhat complex to flatter, as you have curves on every angle you look at!  But leave the odd, deliberately ugly clothing to the six-foot skinny models (who also look dreadful in aforementioned fashion).  Yes, by all means incorporate pieces of cutting edge style if that’s your thing, in fact, hopefully in this blog I’ll be creating outfits which have a healthy nod to trends whilst keeping the silhouette and foundational garment shapes looking beautiful on a curvy figure.
 

 

What a difference a top makes…

Casual hourglass, Outfits, Reviews

Just a quick little post today; I was in Pagani earlier today (an excellent shop for dresses for an hourglass by the way, for NZ readers) and I thought I’d try on a couple of sweaters with two purposes:

  1. to see if a Bardot style too could work with an hourglass figure
  2. to illustrate the difference it makes to your look when you emphasise your waist

The above points will now be illustrated by a series of extremely dodgy iPhone changing room photos – sorry for the poor off-the-cuff quality!

The Bardot top, Pagani ribbed roll neck top, $39.99 (NZD)

bardottop2

I was pretty pleasantly surprised by this jumper – it doesn’t look like much on the hanger, and the fold-over neckline can be a bit fiddly and look a bit rumpled despite your best efforts. But the broad, shoulder-baring style was very flattering contrary to what I expected. It balanced my hips well (in my opinion, see what you think from the photos) and distracted from rather than over-emphasised the bust. The overall look was quite casual and subtle-sexy, and you could wear it quite easily with skinny or flared jeans (as I was sporting today).  I didn’t buy it yet because I’m not sure where I’d wear it except at home (I’m generally pretty covered up most of the time), but another woman would easily chuck it on all the time. The ribbed stretch material is grey marl giving a casual feel, and seems to be pretty good quality.

backofbardottop

Top number two, a soft lavender faux-wrap top (‘cross front knit jumper’, $59.99), looked like my ideal top on the hanger. The colour is girlish and complementary, I adore the softness of wrap tops, especially  on hourglasses, and being a deep V-neck it was bound to flatter the boobs.

wraptop4wraptop3

You’ll see from the photos that the unfitted cut of the knit obliterates my waist entirely, and makes me look like my body is the width of my shoulders and hips. It was even less flattering when the top was pulled down/untucked fully.

The whole look shortens me too, even with my heels on, and is generally not at all flattering on me.  As an aside though, I do love the colour of this jumper, and the wrap effect is actually flattering on an hourglass, but the way this look could be improved would be to have a waist-tie or fitted style like this.

wraptop1

The drape of a wrap top always looks lovely – shame about the no-waist look though

Looking on the Pagani website, they ship internationally for any non-NZ readers who are interested :).

 

Why this blog?

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“Has anyone had any success on working out a classic but edgy and fashionably youthful style that is relaxed and looks fabulous with curvy, hourglass figures?”

The quote above is from a lady on a style forum, and as soon as I read it, I empathized completely.

If you’re like me, you got a curvy, feminine frame; you probably look good in a bikini, and in smart tailored clothes; and you probably look better dressed up than dressed down.

But therein lies the problem – ‘you look better dressed up than down’…You just look a bit ‘blah’ when you dress down.

We hourglasses often love what we can’t have.  We’ve all got that mate who looks fantastic, slim and awesome when in jeans and a tee-shirt with her hair scraped back in a bun.  She effortlessly manages that lithe, thin-thigh look, that casual skinny-jeans-with-loose-top, and whether she’s nipped out to the corner shop for milk, or picking the kids up from school, or walking up a mountain – she still looks great.

Us?  Not so much.  We have two options.  We emulate said straight-figured mate, slide into our skinny jeans and floaty top and accept looking distinctly dumpy and two stone heavier than we actually are, or we stick to what we’re good at and will be found buying milk in five inch heels, a full face of make-up and a pin-up dress Jessica Rabbit would envy.

pinupoutfit

Yep, there’s us…’Just popping out to get crumpets and sweetcorn!’

So what’s the answer?  I want casual outfits, but without the dumpy effect!

I’ve spent a good 15 years of my life searching for good hourglassy-casual looks; I’ve looked online, I look in shops and magazines.  And yes there is a bit of inspiration out there, but there’s not much of what I want, which is examples of outfits that really work on a normal sized girl.

pinterestoutfit

Classic pinterest advice: ‘Just wear this, hourglasses.’ If my thighs were this shape, my friend, we wouldn’t find ourselves in the conundrum we’re in today >:[

I wanted to fill a little bit of a niche where I could provide photos, ideas (evidence of my struggles #thepainisreal) of a normal-sized girl with curves, wearing outfits that suit a curvy frame without looking dumpy, shapeless or too formal.

I don’t know if our bodies are too ‘woman’ in a world where casual clothes are often kinda boyish.  I don’t know if it’s even possible to adapt those cool-edgy looks for our type of figures.  I’m also sure I’ll stray into formal territory way too often because that’s where my strengths lie.

But I’ve started this blog to document my studies and  I’m going to be attempting a variety of casual outfit examples such as:

  • camping, hiking, walking gear
  • gym and running gear
  • casual tourist outfits
  • casual sunny day  outfits
  • slouching round the house on Saturdays gear
  • at Uni or college gear
  • at friends BBQ gear
  • casual winter’s day outfits
  • girl about town gear
  • and much more

I love looking and feeling my best all the time, being the girly-girl that I am, so I hope to emerge from this experience looking perpetually put-together even when dressed down for the day.

 

My Story

Back story, Casual hourglass, Outfits, Struggles

I always loved girly things, all my life.  I was the little girl that would stare, enraptured, at a beautifully dressed woman walking down the street – I thought there was no sight better than a perfectly put-together woman.

We never spent much on clothes in our family, and I was never shown how to put outfits together stylishly, so it has been a long process learning to enjoy being in my own skin.

I made a lot of outfit mistakes as a teenager, and often looked pretty dreadful, and even though people around me tend to like my outfits these days, I still feel a bit like a gawky teenager inside!

The most confusing aspect of style, growing up, was that outfits that look great on the hangers, and great on straight-figured friends would just look dreadful on me.  I was all boobs, bum and thighs, with a tiny waist.  Drapey tops and skinny jeans seemed to add an extra two stone onto my 5’2 frame.

I have often resorted to smarter, fitted outfits over the years as I quickly learned that I looked best when dressed up a bit.  Pencil skirts were my best friend, and anything nipped in at the waist worked perfectly.  Heels were an essential item.  Big dangly earrings, draped scarves, with classic trench coats were the order of the day.

When I had arrived at my late twenties, having finally felt able to put together a smart, fitted outfit, I turned my attention to trying to look half decent whilst hanging around in casual clothing.  Anything that required shorts, joggers, trainers or swimming was a guaranteed style fail for me, and still is by and large.

That’s why I’m writing this blog, to push myself to learn and analyze what works and what doesn’t for an in-and-out frame.  I don’t need to know how to wear a pencil skirt and pussy-bow blouse, or how to rock a 50’s siren look – these things come kinda naturally to me and many girls with a similar body to mine.  What I have no idea about is how to go on a hike and not look like short wrestler next to my husband (I promise there will be photo evidence at some point ha!).  Or play tennis in shorts and trainers without feeling like my legs look like tree trunks!

I’ll be trying to put together outfits that suit the hourglass frame, that are wearable, keep us looking attractive even when dressed down, without showing too much flesh or attracting too much of the wrong attention.

Do you have any casual occasions you struggle to dress for?  Any tips and advice for the rest of us?

 

 

Book review: 1000 Outfits From Just 30 Pieces (Wendy Mak)

Casual hourglass, Reviews, Uncategorized, Wardrobe planning

I’ve always been a bit interested in the capsule wardrobe idea – if you got it just right, you’d probably look good most of the time.  And I like variety, so I like the idea of having a good solid ‘basics’ wardrobe, whilst updating a few key pieces and accessories each season to stay up-to-date but without costing the earth.

I don’t yet know if this concept will work with the type of style I’m trying to achieve.  I’ve always been a bit of a classic girly dresser by habit, just because I achieved that look a bit easier with my figure, and the capsule works well with that look.  But I’ve always wanted to do that edgy-cool-casual type of look (google Ellie Goulding casual or, like, Cara Delevigne casual to get the gist).  So we’ll find out during my exploits whether this capsule wardrobe thing can be adapted for the style we’re aiming for (or does the fashion move too quickly for the capsule to work?).

Buuuut anyway.  Back to the book.

After browsing around for a good book on the above topic, I came across Wendy Mak’s book on Kindle and downloaded it very cheaply.  It was exactly what I wanted – an actual list of fundamental wardrobe items, complete with reasons why I needed them in my wardrobe.  Also she includes a long list of the supposed ‘1000 outfits’ at the end of the book.

The explanations as to why you need each piece in your wardrobe are invaluable because I think this will enable the reader to adapt the capsule from the fairly ‘classic’ and middle-aged style Wendy proposes, to a more youthful or edgy style.  However, Wendy has also cleverly included casual and smart looks within her 30-piece wardrobe, and if you start changing up the pieces, the ability to dress smart and casual may come unstuck a bit.

After reading the book, I followed her instructions and developed the list of 30 pieces (they were either already in my wardrobe or had to be bought in newly).  I actually built this capsule wardrobe right before we emigrated from the UK to New Zealand.  It was brilliant because we moved over with just two suitcases, and my capsule fit in such a small space, and yet provided a multitude of good outfits.

So, did it work?

Well I do feel that since I invested time and a bit of money in developing this capsule of 30 items, I’ve not lacked any key pieces in my wardrobe.  I just feel like I can construct a whole load of outfits from not very many clothes.  I’ve existed off a small wardrobe for the last six months in NZ, and this wardrobe has sorted me out for both work and casual, somehow.  So overall, I’ve been delighted with the results.  Of course, since moving here, I’ve wanted to buy the odd pieces of clothing – like yet another white tee or some accessory or other.  But I’m quite sure it’s saved me a whole bunch of cash on not-very-useful clothing.

Over time, I’m also going to gradually update my capsule pieces to better quality ones, now that I know Wendy Mak’s capsule works for me.  So for example, I came to NZ with a thrifted high-waisted black skirt from ‘Morgan’ and have more recently replaced it with a more expensive, lovely quality skirt from ‘Cue’ in NZ (gorgeous high quality Aussie brand by the way).  So bit-by-bit I’m hopefully going to look a bit better dressed.

What are the cons of the book/capsule idea?

Well the 1000 outfits listed at the end actually included outfits which were identical to each other, save for changing the handbag for example.  So for me, a change in handbag didn’t really constitute a separate outfit although I’m sure it could change the look somewhat.  Similarly, I don’t consider it a new outfit when you change just your silk scarf.  But overall, I didn’t find this detracted too much from the principles of the book.

Also, as mentioned earlier, the capsule pieces Wendy suggests are in a very ‘classic’ style.  It remains to be seen if this works for a different style.

Wendy is quite open with the fact that she designed this capsule with the Australian weather in mind.  It’s proved quite helpful for me now I live in NZ (even though it’s a bit colder here), but it may need some tweaking for colder or more variable climates.  I found myself wondering if you really need a capsule for each season, rather than just one for the whole year.

Lastly, after about 6 months of using this capsule of clothing, I’m just starting to get a bit bored.  But bear in mind, Wendy does suggest you update with 3-6 pieces every season and I’ve not paid much attention to that so that may explain why I’m getting bored with the same clothes.

Anyway, if you like the sound of this book, Amazon should have hard copies or Kindle copies for you for a few bucks.  I got the Kindle version, and the colour pictures and ‘1000 outfit’ charts at the end don’t display as well as in the paperback, but this was ok for me.

Have you tried a capsule before?  Do you reckon we could adapt the idea for a casual hourglass style?

 

Winning formula for hourglass figures

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Ok, this may be number 1 of many ‘winning formula’ posts…Here I attempt to define principles for dressing the hourglass casually.  These are principles which don’t have to be always adhered to in casual dressing, but will probably (I think) make you look better when you do adhere to it.

So here we go with my foolhardy attempt at universal principles J

  • Always have a nipped-in or fitted waist à makes you look a whole lot thinner and avoids a world of pain.
  • Find some shapes or styles of outfits that suit you, and stick to this as a formula/uniform

Ok, now for illustrations.  Are we sitting comfortably?

The WAIST principle

Here is me wearing a casual outfit that ignores the waist;  I’ll often resort to this type of outfit because its comfy and get-away-withable.  But in my opinion, it bulks up my frame more than the nipped-in-waist of the second photo.  The nipped in waist can be applied to a whole bunch of outfits.  And another bit of advice: if you are short-waisted like me, you don’t have a whole load of spare space around your middle, so you will need a thin belt to nip in your waist.  If you are longer in the midriff and tend to suit thicker belts, wear thicker belts to nip in your waist.

How do you find out if you have a short waist?  Well there’s lots of stuff online if you google the term – some sites tell you how to measure your proportions and calculate it etc (I very much like the website ‘The Joy of Clothes’ and here is a link to their ‘Body Proportion’ page: http://www.joyofclothes.com/style-advice/shape-guides/proportion.php).  Another easier way is probably as described above – do you suit thick belts or do they overwhelm your figure/not look quite right?  Do you suit thin belts better?  If the latter is true, you probably have a short waist.  And to my understanding, it means you don’t have a lot of space between your true waist and your bust (so, the upper torso is proportionally shorter), and this can have a knock-on effect on how the proportions of your outfits work, and on what suits you.

The UNIFORM principle

I have come to believe this is actually a principle that many if not most stylish women stick to.  They know what suits their body, and they stick to it.  Instead of introducing outfit variety through different silhouettes, they introduce it through colours/textures/fabrics and accessories.

Now I am a person who LOVES variety in everything – hairstyles, make-up, clothing, food.  I’ve often made the mistake of substituting a silhouette that works well for a less-flattering silhouette that is novel – just for variety.   And there’s nothing wrong with that.  But I’m aiming to look GOOD most of the time rather than just novel or fashionable, so I need to ensure any novelty introduced to my wardrobe is somewhat similar to my most flattering outfits.

Now in my mind, I’m envisioning a selection of ‘uniforms’ or ‘blueprints’ for outfits for us hourglassy types, not just one type of outfit.

For example, when I wear skinny jeans, the top half of my outfit ought to be XYZ; when I wear dresses, they need to conform to a vague set of rules that ensure my waist is nipped in, the length is X or Y…and so on.  If I fancy a shorts and T-shirt outfit, I need to know that the shorts conform to my most flattering shape, whether I buy denim cut-offs or smart city shorts.

Hopefully this is making sense.

So here is some of my personal ‘uniforms’ or ‘blueprints’ which I’ve found work for me with my stats.  I tend to bend the rules a bit for garments I particularly like, but I stick vaguely to these blueprints and it seems to ensure I look good when wearing casual.

  • Short dress blueprint – fitted at waist, either straight skirt or skater, length 3 ins above knee, round neck ideally.  Below are a couple of examples from my closet to illustrate the shape I mean.
  • Maxi dress blueprint – fitted at waist, thick or thin straps or strapless ok, length to the floor, straight not poofy styles. Grey dress, and brown dress
  • Casual Jeans and T shirt blueprint – jeans ought to be 30ins inside leg, ‘straight’ cut better than spray-on skinny, top half must be fitted and length of top must be to hip.  I love the look of these Levi’s® Revel Low-Rise Demi-Curve straight jeans

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    Image courtesy of Levi jeans

  • Workout gear blueprint – cropped lycra leggings to just below knee, fitted tank-top or t-shirt with length to hip. Sweaters must be waist-fitted and down to the hip.

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    Workout top and cropped trousers from Warehouse (NZ)

 

Once you figure out the right shapes of clothes to buy, you can tweak the colours until they suit you perfectly.  Then you can also buy more investment pieces because you know what works and will remain a useful part of your closet for years.