Interestingly someone of a very similar shape can try on the same outfit and look much less like a turnip because they do not see that part of their body as being a problem. It is absolutely no use telling someone that they do not see themselves as others see them. What can you say when someone is twisting round and examining their bottom and exclaiming: ‘does this make my bum look big?’ Well perhaps distorting your body shape in order to examine it at a funny angle might make it look big to you, but the onlooker does not see the same picture. But you cannot dissuade the wearer – it is how they see themselves, not how we see them that is important.
‘Does my bum look big?’ – a butternut squash perhaps!
Something that is difficult to explain to others is the fact that the person trying something on is very used to seeing themselves – more than anyone else in the world and that person is her own worst critic. They immediately focus their attention to the ‘problem’ areas and do not consider that that is not where they should be looking. Instead they should look at their best features – lovely skin deserves exposure – heavy breasts should show a provocative bit of cleavage which in turn can be used as a focus for a pretty jewel. Slim ankles does not mean that you have to wear mini-skirts – thin ankles does not necessarily mean that you have pretty knees – but a sexy glimpse and dainty shoes will show off those pretty ankles.
Another point about how people play with the clothes that they try on – so many times they will pull a jacket or top down in the front so that at the back it is tight into the neck. Now we are built like turtles – our heads come out of the front of our bodies and if we exaggerate the back by yanking the garment forward we can end up looking like a tortoise. And if there is a slight dowager hump beginning to appear as we age – disguise that by having a collar that sits away from the neck giving a straighter line down the back. Optical illusion – who cares – what I tell people is think Geisha – the back of the neck is sexy!
What I find interesting and quite emotional is when someone tries something on that they would not normally consider – then looking at themselves in the mirror they see that they can still look stunning – despite the fact that they are older, fatter, thinner – whatever. Finding the right shape that enhances the best parts is something that should not be done in a hurry, it should be savoured like enjoying good food. So shopping for an outfit, for a very special occasion, should be taken slowly. Experiment with new shapes, new colours – I never wear red – then try it on – sometimes your conviction might be proved right – other times – well we all change and evolve in our style and our taste as well as our colouring.
Mothers of the bride or groom are classic. They often come with the conviction that they should play a certain role. A tailored suit – a hat and a handbag. Now do they really want to look like their mothers at their weddings? Absolutely not – these mothers are still young, sexy and pretty and do not need to be bound up in something that will remain forever at the back of their wardrobes. Feminine, flattering, floaty, comfortable, fun – go for something that you will want to wear over and over again.
Spring – a touch of sunshine and we need to get out there and feel the warmth and look for signs of the end of winter.
Colour for a mother of the bride?
Or perhaps something more dramatic?
And you don’t HAVE to be sixty to wear purple.
I recently watched a period drama where there was a sub-story about the restriction of corsets and how women were controlled physically by that period’s obsession with what was perceived to be the correct way to look and behave. It suddenly struck me how we are still corseted today psychologically. The whole way that society challenges people who are not below average weight and I say ‘below’ advisedly because plus size is now considered to start at a size 14, which is below average size.
Recently during London Fashion Week a designer had the temerity to choose models who were a size larger than the usual size 8. Sadly he chose garments for the larger girls that gave them a sausage look and for the slimmer girls a draped look. Both models did not look their best – the larger girls showed their bulges and the slender girl looked like a waif with the garment hanging on her. Was he making a point or was he just stupid? Interestingly one of my staff looked at the larger girl and said: ‘I would be happy if I looked like that’. Not that she is very large, just average and used to her own bulges, of which you are not aware because she is wiser in the way that she dresses.
This whole obsession with how we should look and what size we should be is ridiculous. Considering the number of people in the world and understanding that each one of us is an individual – why not relax this whole ugly condemnation of people who do not conform – stop corseting them with the whole psychological bombardment of guilt induced publicity and instead celebrate the glorious variety in which we are made.