Lisa's weekly column in the NZ Herald's regional papers responds to reader questions...
Q. I'm not very tall and of average build and would like to look taller... however heels just aren’t my thing. How can I dress to look even a little bit taller?
Remember stretching racks!! Kidding.
The key to help you appear taller is to create a narrow, long silhouette through your styling.
- Wear one colour top and bottom or complimentary tones. Contrasting colours has a visual stop-start effect.
- Wear garments that are more fitted - tops, jackets, trousers, and dresses. I’m not suggesting they have to be figure hugging but more closely follow the contours of your body as opposed to loose-fitting garments; a more stream-lined look.
- Garments with side design panels, in a contrasting colour or pattern from the centre panel, can also help achieve this. These style garments can also give a very slimming look.
- Open front footwear, that is, have as much of your skin/tights showing so it gives the appearance of a longer leg line. Be careful with ankle straps and ankle boots as they can visually cut or interrupt the leg line.
- Even the smallest of heels, say 2-3cms can make a difference to your height appearance and are still very comfortable. Wearing a heel also narrows the calf. Opt for finer heel rather than chunky/platform if you can because visually it’s more slimming.
- Vertical stripes draw the eye up and down, which can lengthen your look
- Keep your styling minimal - garment lines, detailing. For example, a pencil skirt (narrow top to bottom) will give you more length than a full skirt. Same with patterning - opt for small patterns or no patterns at all. Too much going on may dwarf you.
- Hemline - wearing a skirt or shorts at or slightly above the knee, together with an open front shoe, will make your legs look longer.
Here’s to a taller, even more gorgeous you.
Q. I’m 44 and my daughter is 17. I’d really love to wear some of the clothes in her wardrobe but she tells me I’m too old for them, she’s certainly not interested in any of mine! I’m not talking mini’s or anything, they’re tasteful tops and jackets. What do you think?
I can see this from both perspectives. From yours, you’re possibly a little put out that she’s thinking you’re old. As we both know, 44 is not old :). Any parent figure, or someone from your parents generation will seem old, especially to a 17 year old. I guess for your daughter, if you wear her clothes, what does it say about her and her taste and style. I can see her point.
A while back my mother bought exactly the same sunglasses as me. We live in different centres so it’s not a biggie but I was annoyed because I didn’t want ‘my mother’, someone older, wearing my style. It made me question my own style. I suggest that’s what’s happening with your daughter too.
I think you should respect her preference to not wear her clothes, even though you would most probably look fabulous in them. Work your own style, and you never know who might come knocking on your wardrobe door!
Q. I’ve seen a gorgeous turquoise coloured jacket that I’d just love to buy but part of me thinks I’d be better going for the safe black option. What are your thoughts?
There are two schools of thought here:
- Jump for the colour - as long as the colour suits you and that you look absolutely amazing in the jacket, then go for it. You’ll no doubt feel a million bucks whenever you wear it and I can guarantee, as long as you have all your other styling in check, that you’ll get loads of compliments. Although a little more limiting, you’ll be amazed at how many colours turquoise looks great alongside.
- Play it safe with black. As long as you suit black, you won’t go wrong with it, it goes with all other colours and a black blazer is a great foundation piece for any wardrobe. You can inject colour and interest through your tops, skirts/trousers and accessories.
If I were you, and I was really in love with the turquoise jacket, which it sounds as though you are, and style and colour wise you look amazing in it, then I’d go for it. It can be hard to find gems like this so make the most of it.
Q. I'm in the early stages of my first pregnancy and I don't really know many other women who are pregnant to ask for advice! Do you have any suggestions for places to shop for maternity clothes?
My first piece of advice is key. No one knows how their body is going to respond to pregnancy until it actually happens, that is, how big they will get. I’m a size 8-10 and I put on 25kgs for each of my two pregnancies. No one would’ve guessed I would put on that much. In comparison, I had friends that hardly put on anything and had a tiny wee bump. So my advice is not to go crazy buying maternity clothes until you need them, and even then, don’t buy lots because in the scheme of things, you’re pregnant for such a short. Any notion you have of wearing your pregnancy clothes post-birth/nursing is likely to go out the window, most women I know were sick to death of their pregnancy clothes and couldn’t wait to see the back end of them.
Depending on how much you grow, you may not need pregnancy clothes, you may be able to get away with regular clothes, perhaps in a size or two bigger. I’m thinking oversized tops, stretch-knit trousers and skirts (say Ponti) with elasticated waistbands. Just be careful that the garment still fits you properly say on the shoulders and arms.
Just like any wardrobe, get the ‘essentials’ sorted - trousers, skirts, tops - and build up from there. And depending on how you grow, it is worth investing in the likes of maternity trousers with special gussets and expandable waistlines. Remember not to go overboard, though that’s far easier said than done when you’re so excited.
Here are some of New Zealand’s key maternity-wear specialists:
All the best for your pregnancy and the magic time you’ll have when your little treasure arrives.
Q. I’m sick to death of my wardrobe and don’t really have any money to spend giving it a badly needed overhaul. Any suggestions?
I know what you mean. Even if we have tonnes of clothes in our wardrobe we often get sick of them, even though there’s nothing wrong with them and they still look fabulous on.
I do quite a few wardrobe consultations with women in exactly the same rut as you, and I’ve helped re-energise them and their wardrobe. What I find is that the majority of women wear their clothes a certain way, for example, they will always wear that top with that skirt and that jacket. They either don’t think or aren’t adventurous enough to mix and match.
One client, had an amazing vest that she’d only worn once. She liked the vest but she didn’t like the skirt that went with it, a recommendation from a pushy sales assistant. So we tried the vest with about three other bottoms from her wardrobe and voila, she now loves her vest.
You can’t tell if style wise one garment is going to work with another until you try it on and have a good play.
So go on, pull out everything in your wardrobe and drawers, and I mean everything. With an open mind, mix that top with those pants, that skirt, those leggings, etc. Try every garment on in loads of different ways with other garments. I’d suggest you group all your tops, skirts, jackets, trousers, etc in separate piles to make it easy.
Get a friend around to help you and to have some fun while you’re doing it.
Having done that, are there any gaps in your wardrobe. Could you do with another top in a particular colour, or with new accessories, could you create a different look for some of your outfits.
Q. I’m returning to the workforce after five years and desperately need a new wardrobe. I have about $500-700 to start me off. What do you recommend?
How exciting for you, and nerve-wracking too I imagine. The best approach is to get some foundation garments that form the basis of your wardrobe:
- A pair of smart trousers and/or skirt that colour and style-wise will go with most things, and budget permitting,
- A blazer that can go with your trousers/skirt (they don’t have to be a matching set). A blazer really smartens an outfit and also looks fabulous worn with jeans for a more casual look.
- Dress - you could also consider a dress but it’s not quite as versatile as separates.
- Shoes - consider a pair of shoes or boots as part of your capsule wardrobe.
Go for plain, simple styling and colours that won’t date and will mix and match well with other garments. Quality is key: ensure the garments are made well and the fabric is good quality.
And now for the fun part - add colour, pattern, texture and personality through tops and accessories. This is going to give you the variety. You needn’t spend a fortune on either to get a great look. Be sure the colours suit you. By simply changing your tops and accessories (necklaces, bangles, belts, scarves), you give your outfit a whole new look.
If you can, wait for a sale - I know I’m stating the obvious but there are often some amazing sales or promotions around.
As you have more money to spend, add to your capsule wardrobe to expand your options.
Enjoy your return to the workforce.
Q. I’m never quite sure what length to wear my trousers. Can you please advise.
I hope lots of men and women are reading this. It’s a jolly good question and so many people get it wrong.
- Always have shoes on when working out the correct length of trousers.
- From the back, the trouser hem should sit about 1/2 inch (12-15mm) from the ground.
- Whatever you do, don’t try and work out the hem length of trousers yourself. We often lean forward or distort our body to see if the length is right in the mirror, meaning the trousers aren’t sitting right.
- If you’re buying new trousers from a store, it can be advantageous getting the retailer to hem the trousers for you. One, they will pin it to the right length, and two, they will use their tailor to get it done - very easy. It generally costs about $15 for trouser hemming, some stores even offer a complimentary service. This way you’re assured of getting it right.
- Heels vs. flats - obviously there is a difference in shoe height between a heel and a flat and this will impact the trouser length. In some cases, depending on the heel height, you may need two separate pairs of trousers.
- Skinny trousers or leggings work well having a slight ruched/scrunched look at the hem, especially great with ankle boots and flat shoes.
- Ankle length trousers are very popular at the moment - 7/8 trousers and also trousers and jeans with a slight hem roll, about 1/2 inch. A rolled hem does not look good if it’s wide, it just becomes obvious that you’ve rolled up your jeans because they’re too long - it’s not a cool look.
Q. After much soul searching, I’ve recently acknowledged and accepted that I’m gay. What I’d really like to do now is change my style, away from the conservative look of my past to something more fun, lively, quirky and individual. I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
How much fun can a girl have, changing her style personality. I’d love to help.
- Do you have a specific style in mind, perhaps a person/s you admire or have you yet to discover it? The Internet can be a fabulous source for inspiration, especially sites like pinterest.com that has loads of images about anything and everything. You could start to collect a whole bunch of images of styles you like - hair, clothes, accessories, etc. And I’m sure you’ve already started to take more notice of people on the street.
- The words you describe - fun, lively, quirky and individual - lend themselves to:
- Strong, bold colour
- Eclectic styling - mixing patterns, shapes and new clothing & accessories with pre-loved.
- Bold accessories - eyewear, jewellery, handbags, shoes, belts, etc - not all at once.
- A bold hair cut & colour and perhaps bold makeup. Visit a makeup counter and give them your brief, get them to help create your new look. Similarly, go to a hair stylist with an open brief, telling them the overall direction you’re headed in.
- Some people like to adopt a signature/accent for their style, e.g. they always have bold eyewear or the same colour lipstick. This may be something you could consider.
You won’t necessarily crack your new style straight away; I’d suggest it will be something that evolves with you over time. The more confident you become, the bolder you are likely to be.
Enjoy your fab new style.
Q. I’m a woman in my early 60’s and my whole life I’ve enjoyed having long hair. A friend recently suggested that now that I’m a little older, perhaps I should consider a shorter hairstyle. We’re close friends so I wasn’t upset by what she said, but it has got me thinking. I don’t want to cut it, I like it long. What do you think?
My advice is to do what makes you happy, what you like. If you don’t wish to cut your hair short, then don’t. It has nothing to do with age. However, if long hair doesn’t suit you and your face shape, then you may be better with a shorter style. Have you tried tucking your hair up to see what a difference a shorter look does to your face? What does your hair stylist think?
If your friend has now got you thinking about change, could you still retain your long locks but have a different style? And what of the colour, is your hair colour natural or dyed? Does it suit you? What about a colour change?
It’s a personal thing. Don’t worry about what others think and say, do what’s right for you.
Q. My best friend has started to copy my style of dress and it really irritates me. She always asks where I got something and because I don’t want to be rude I end up telling her. I choose an individual style to be different from others and hate the thought that someone else is dressed like me, especially my best friend! Help, what advice can you give.
I’ve had the same thing happen to me a number of times during my life and I know how irritating it is. They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and I guess it is, but it doesn’t really do anything to make you feel better or get around your problem.
The only thing I can suggest is talking to your friend and letting her know how you feel. And do this sooner rather than later, you don’t want the situation getting to boiling point. If she asks where you got something from, tell her “does a fisherman ever give away his magic spot”. I’ve done this before and had satisfactory results.
Perhaps she is uncertain or not confident about her own style, and maybe you could lend her a hand, helping her to achieve her own fabulous look.
If all else fails, change your style to something outrageous that she wouldn’t dare copy.
Keep gorgeous and individual, Lisa x
Q. I have wide wrists and ankles, what sleeves, hemlines and shoes will work for me?
If you’re self-conscious about your wrists and ankles, my styling advice is don’t draw unnecessary attention to them, show off the rest of your fabulous figure instead.
It’s hard for me to comment without actually seeing you, but sometimes what we think is a problem area, isn’t in fact so. Many of my clients focus on particular areas of their body that they’re not happy with, in some cases they become obsessed by it, and yet when I look at them, I don’t see what they’re talking about at all. We need to focus on what’s fabulous about us, of which there are many things.
However, if you would like to down play your wrists and ankles, here are some things to consider:
- Avoid bling on your wrist - bracelets, bangles, etc can draw attention to your wrist.
- Sleeve lengths - you may be better with a short or long sleeve, a ¾ sleeve sits a little too close to the wrist and the eye is often drawn to the hemline.
- A straight sleeve that narrows at the wrist will give a slimming look, as long as it’s not tight. A sleeve with a cuff is also slimming; you just may need to adjust the button placement.
- Avoid shoes with ankle straps - this only accentuates your ankles. Also be very careful choosing ankle boots, more so if you’re wearing them with skirts or dresses, you’re fine with trousers.
- Avoid ankle chains, not that you see many of them nowadays.
- Avoid Capri pants (3/4 pants). Go for shorts that sit on or above the knee or long trousers. The same applies to skirt lengths.
Q. I am 42 years old and a stay at home Mum with a 4 & 5 year old. I am struggling to figure out what body shape I am. I have the "Saddle bags" I think they are called at the top of my thighs with a butt that is fairly rounded. Have a post baby belly shape that sticks out a bit but still curves in at the sides (front on). Generally a size 14 and 170cm tall. I am trying to figure out a style that suits my lifestyle and body shape. Any advice would be appreciated. Does this make me an hourglass or a pear?
From what you have described about yourself, I'd say you're one of our bottom gorgeous girls, or if you like the fruit analogy, a pear.
From a styling perspective, it's about creating visual balance between your top and bottom halves. To do this, you need to play down your bottom half, the areas that are bigger, with plain, simple styling (avoid pleats, gathers, pockets - anything that will add volume and attention), plain colours (be careful of patterns). Basically you're trying to direct attention away from this area and have people focus on your fabulous part, in this case your top half.
So, focusing on the fabulous top half, this is where you can introduce colours, patterns, texture, embellishments, shiny fabrics and design features like ruching, pleats, etc - of course not all at once! It’s about enhancing your assets, your best bits.
You’re a wonderful height and size; use that to your advantage. Tunic tops, long-line slimming tops, are a great place to start, worn with a jacket or cardi that ends at the waist, and straight or slim-line trousers. Ponti pants are a step up from leggings, dress wise, and are oh so comfortable and don’t need ironing. You can wear them mucking around on the floor with the children, or looking smart going out.
Check out a number of Gorgeous Me’s makeovers, if you haven't already. Although some of the women are different shapes to you, the style of clothes they are wearing may still suit you.
Q. I really struggle to find glasses that suit me. I guess it doesn’t help that when I try them on I can’t actually see properly! Do you have any advice for buying glasses?
There are four key things to consider when choosing frames:
1. Face Shape
4. Intended Use
There are four key face shapes. Choosing frames for those shapes is either going for ‘contrast’ or ‘harmony’.
- Round - your face (forehead, cheeks and jaw line) is rounded. Go for contrast and choose frames with square lines (square, rectangle and even cat-eyes), avoid round or oval shaped frames. Choosing frames that are slightly wider than your face will also help to give a slimming look to your face.
- Square - your face has angular lines, especially square-like around the jaw. You’re best to go for contrast from the square lines - choose rounded style frames (round, oval, cat-eyes), avoid square or rectangular.
- Heart - your forehead is wider than your chin, your chin may come to a point. Choose frames that will help balance your face shape, and avoid frames that are top heavy, like semi-rimless (no frame on the bottom) or with a definite heavy pattern or colour on the top of the frame. Balance is the key here.
- Oval - considered the most balanced of the four face shapes, here you don’t want to upset this natural balance. This face shape suits just about all frame styles.
Colour & Style
Make sure the colour and style of the frame actually suit you. I know this sounds obvious, but don’t choose a black frame, for example, if your overall colourings are better suited to warm colours like browns and greens.
Think about your personality, your style personality. If your personality is more expressive, confident and perhaps fashion-forward, choose a bold frame to match this. Glasses make a great fashion accessory.
Iris Apfel, 92, American interior designer and fashion icon - her signature statement are her over-sized glasses
How practical are the glasses for what you need them for? And how long would you like the glasses to last - this may impact the colour and style you choose, ensuring they don’t quickly go out of date.
My advice is to seek assistance from the experts, get them to help you narrow down some options. Ask to take a few pairs home so you can seek others input, have a bit more time assessing each and also trying them on with the different clothes in your wardrobe.
You may be interested in an earlier blog What Style Glasses Suit Me?
Good luck :)
Q. I hear people talking about eyebrow shaping. Is this necessary and what would be your recommended method? I don't have a lot of money and someone suggested threading as it is cheaper than other options. What do you think?
I am definitely a big fan of eyebrows being a key part of your beauty regime - your eyebrows help to ‘frame’ your face.
Women have been amazed at the difference well-shaped eyebrows can make to their appearance, some even looking like they’ve had a facelift!
- Tweezers - DIY or with a professional. I’d suggest getting your brows done by a professional for the first few times, that way you can get the right shape for your face, and then you can ‘maintain’ them yourself at home. You may have to pop back to have them tidied up from time to time. IMPORTANT: Be careful not to pluck above the natural brow line, only the odd stray hair.
- Threading - this is a specialist technique using thread to pluck and shape the brows. My girlfriend and I had this done together - she was fine but my pain threshold isn’t that flash and my eyes were watering and I couldn’t wait for it to be finished. The results are worth it though.
- Waxing - like threading, this gives a flawless finish. Definitely leave this one to the professionals, you don’t want to end up with no eyebrows!
There doesn’t seem to be a cost difference between plucking, threading or waxing. From the ring around I did, prices vary from NZD$20-26.
Finishing Touch to Accentuate Your Eyebrows
Whilst you’re at the beautician or hairstylist getting your eyebrows shaped, you can also get them tinted so you don’t have to maintain them yourself. Or you can use eye shadow or a brow pencil to highlight them.
Check out an earlier blog, ‘How to Get Dazzling Eyebrows’
Q. I have a straight up and down figure, what kind of exercise Gear will give me some shape?
Two things you should consider - colour and design.
- Look for designs that give the appearance of a waist, e.g. angled patterns, panels and/or colour that give an indented look at the waist
- Tops with coloured side panels or bands of colour along the bottom certainly work
- Layer two different coloured tops, with parts of the under colour visible - shoulder straps, sleeves and/or hemline.
- Different coloured tops from bottoms will help to visually separate parts of your body and give it shape
- Fitted, figure-hugging exercise gear - which is certainly in abundance now
- Go for bold colours or prints to create interest and trick the eye into believing you have curves - of course be sure you suit it!
- If you’re slim and toned you’re likely to look great in crop tops and shorts
Some great brands you might like to consider:
- Lululemon is a hot new global favourite of many exercise nuts and has recently landed in New Zealand
- Running Bare (available through Rebel Sport)
- Lorna Jane - selected stores in New Zealand stock this Australian brand, otherwise you can order online
- TS14+, EziBuy, The Warehouse, Supre all have great active wear
Happy exercising :)
Q. I hate to iron. what kind of clothes should I be buying?
You and me both; in fact I think there’s a whole heap of us in this club! Ever since I first started work, mumble mumble years ago, I’ve been buying clothes that don’t need ironing.
- Man-made fibres are ideal for low-maintenance, no need for ironing - though be careful because if you’re prone to perspiring, they can become a little uncomfortable and sticky. For winter months, look for clothing made from Ponti - a stretch knit jersey fabric that is oh so comfortable, styles up really well and doesn’t need an iron near it. You might have heard me rave about Ponti pants before but designers also use it for blazers and dresses.
- I personally cannot look past pure wool - I LOVE it - and yes I’m biased, early on in my career I worked for the NZ Wool Board. Pure wool is a natural product that keeps you warm and toastie in winter and breathes and has a cooling nature in warmer times. Why do you think Icebreaker is so popular. Best of all, you don’t need to iron it, even if it’s crinkled, throw it on and your body’s heat soon gets rid of the creases. I have quite a few merino dresses and just adore them.
- To minimise the need for ironing, take extra care when laundering your garments:
- Peg and hang your garments so you don’t end up with peg or fold/line marks
- Take them straight from the clothesline to the wardrobe, don’t scrunch them up in the laundry basket
And now sit back and relax! Ha, as if there aren’t a million and one other things to do!
Q. A friend of mine recently got told off by her employer for wearing a sheer top to work. She works at a law firm. It was a tasteful top and in fashion. What’s your view on this?
I heard of a similar situation recently and tended to agree with the employer. In this case, the woman wore dark lingerie underneath the sheer top - it didn’t leave anything to the imagination! Not only does it not look professional in customer/client facing roles but it’s also not professional in the work environment either. Yes I know it’s fashionable but there’s a time and a place.
Perhaps your friend could wear a nude-coloured, plain cami underneath the top to prevent show-through. Or use it as a key layering piece over another top or dress. That way she can still wear it but it will be acceptable to the employer.
Whilst your friend may have been upset by what happened, she needs to appreciate that her employer has a lot of responsibility to others to do the right thing.
Q. I’m going for a job interview, having been out of the work force for a while. What would you recommend I wear/buy?
It’s about putting your best foot forward at every given opportunity. As sad as it sounds, you will be sized up by the interviewer within the first few seconds of them meeting you. You need to create the right impression. Of course, your credentials and what you go on to say during the interview will also be critical.
- Dress professional and smart. Consider a dress or skirt/trousers & top with a blazer or smart cardi.
- Use accessories to smarten your look.
- Choose your colour/s well - a colour that really suits you and makes you glow and look healthy.
- Consider the type of job you are going for - dress appropriately. However, never wear super casual clothing or footwear. Someone told me recently how she’d just interviewed a woman who turned up in jandals! It sends the wrong message to your prospective employer, it shows you don’t care, even if that’s not the case.
- Attention to detail is really important - these are the things that people pick up on:
- your hair - clean and tidy
- makeup (if you wear it). If you don’t wear makeup, consider a coloured lipgloss.
- fingernails and toenails (if they’re in view) - manicured, clean and no chipped nail polish
- cleaned, polished shoes
- ironed clothes.
- Be yourself, not someone you think they want you to be. Invariably they’ll see through it.
- Be well prepared - think in advance what they may ask you, have your answers thought through. Rehearse if necessary. And as uncomfortable as it may be, you are ‘selling’ yourself - you’re convincing someone that knows nothing about you, that you’re the best person for the job. Be confident.
Q. I mostly have the clothing department sorted but often lack ideas for jewellery and other accessories. Big, small, bright, gold or silver? Is it okay to wear gold and silver jewellery together?
I adore accessories and believe they can make or break an outfit. I was shopping with a woman on the weekend and showed her what a difference just one long pendant necklace can make to 1) reducing the visual appearance of her big bust, 2) completing the look of an outfit and 3) dressing an outfit up or down.
I love the fact that a piece of
jewellery can make a very basic
piece of clothing look a million bucks.
I’m a firm believer in ‘less is more’ when it comes to accessories - I would far rather wear one statement piece than load myself up and run the risk of looking like a Christmas Tree! So, choose your piece/s well. Having said that, the current trend is very much to wear multiple necklaces and bangles, and mix gold & silver together which answers your question.
You don’t have to spend a fortune buying accessories, there are some great stores around like eQUIP that sell very reasonably priced on-trend costume jewellery. But don’t discount the idea of more expensive jewellery either - think about the cost per wear, which drops the more you wear it.
In terms of the size of your jewellery, you need to think about it in conjunction with your overall body size - if you’ve got a petite frame, large chunky jewellery and handbags may look too big on you, similarly fine jewellery may get lost on someone with a large frame. Your personality also comes into it; if you’re a creative, outgoing, edgy kind of person, then you will be able to get away with interesting, eclectic, chunky, bold pieces but less so if you’re more of a quiet, reserved and/or classic type.
Which colours to go for will very much depend on 1) what you’re wearing it with and 2) what colours you suit. The same goes for gold versus silver, it depends on which suits your skin colouring/tone. For those people with a cool/bluish skin undertone, you may be better with silver and platinum, and those with a more golden undertone generally suit golds.
If you wish to make a statement with your jewellery and less so of your clothing, then go for something bold and contrasting.
Q. Even though higher necks are not good for a bigger bust, is there an exception?
You’re right, low necklines are definitely a better option if you’ve got a bigger bust; they help to reduce the appearance of your bust line. However, high necklines can also look great on women with big busts if they:
- accompany them with a reasonable sized long pendant necklace that sits between the breasts - this looks great; or
- a scarf; or
- an open jacket, vest or cardi - layering using different lines, textures and colours can work really well
What you’re trying to do is break up the visual appearance of the bust line. Whatever you do, don’t add unnecessary bling, embellishments, frills or ruffles to this area because they will only accentuate the bust.
Q. I need some help please finding clothes for a size 14-16 that could be deemed 'modest'. We have to wear skirts below the knee, keep our elbows and collarbones covered. Can you help please? What I am requesting will be common amongst many religions so I think lots of women would appreciate your help. It’s just so difficult finding something nice and modern that’s modest. Many many thanks.”
We agree, it is actually quite difficult finding modern clothing that doesn’t reveal too much of your body - current trends aren’t that supportive!
OUR BIGGEST ADVICE IS TO CREATE YOUR MODERN LOOK THROUGH:
- Layering - use different layers, lengths, textures and patterns to create interest with your outfit. Also use layers to give you length and cover.
- For example, a long flowing tunic top in a shiny fabric with a blazer or cardigan that finishes at the waist, and a long skirt.
- Use under-layers as well - for example, find a thin (but not sheer) long or ¾ sleeve top, in a complementary base colour, that works well under sleeveless tops or dresses.
- Accessories - make accessories your friend - necklaces, belts, bangles, bracelets, scarves, earrings and shoes. Accessories will create interest, complete the look of your outfit and give it a modern look. This is especially important given the need for you to wear more subdued colours. Choose a few key statement pieces.
- For tops or dresses that don’t cover your collarbones, consider a scarf or snood (a continuous scarf, the ends are joined).
- Look for interesting tights - there are some fabulous patterns available - subtle but interesting; they beat plain tights hands down.
- Funky ankle boots - if you don’t already have a pair, these are a must for a modern wardrobe. They’ll look great with your long-line skirts with tights. Consider boots with added interest, e.g. bling, buckles or straps. A boot with a small heel will work well for work and casual wear.
There’s some fabulous shoe styles around. Make a statement with your shoes.
COLOUR DOESN’T SUIT?
You mentioned that you are to wear ‘modest’ colours, more subdued tones like black, blue, green, brown, maroon and grey. Not everyone will suit these colours, so consider using accessories like a necklace or scarf to break-up or soften the look.
Q. I'm a mum and work part-time. Have you got some ideas on outfits and particularly shoes that work in the playground and at work?
In most cases you’ll be able to wear your clothes to work and in the playground but you may need one or two pieces that are reserved specifically for each. And it really depends on the type of work you do - I’ve considered the corporate environment.
Really it’s all about how you dress an outfit up or down depending on the occasion, and the best way to do this is using accessories. For example, the right dress could be worn at the park, at work and carry you through into the evening, simply with the use of different accessories.
- Tops - look for plain, simple, practical styling that can carry you through work and having fun with your children. For example, a top with lots of embellishments might not be that practical for running around in and may look over-dressed. Use accessories, like earrings, necklaces and bangles/bracelets to dress the top up (not worn all together).
- Dresses - the same with dresses. If you opt for plain, simple, practical styling, you could easily wear the same dress to work and the playground. Like the top, use accessories to dress up your look. Comfortable fabrics like stretch knits are ideal, as long as they’re not too clingy.
- Blazer - a blazer is a great piece that can help you achieve that smart work look but can also look equally fabulous with jeans - okay, not for the playground but certainly for a smarter casual look. Or consider a cardi - there are some fabulous styles and coloured cardigans around.
- Dress trousers and/or a skirt - these will help to complete your work set.
- Jeans - buying a tidy (no tears, dyed patches etc), dark pair of jeans can double as your ‘casual Friday’ look (if you have that at your workplace and if you work on a Friday), especially great teamed up with your blazer. And then as we all know, jeans are fabulous for kicking around in casually. Look for jeans with a stretch - they’re more comfortable and forgiving.
- A great pair of leather ankle boots with a slight heel, can be worn with your work trousers, skirts and dresses but also great for a casual look too with jeans. If you get them a little dirty at the playground, give them a clean; polish and/or brush and they’ll be as good as new.
- Flats - a great shoe style that can be worn in both situations.
- Heel - if budget allows, it would be great to have a plain style court shoe that you can wear to work with your trousers, skirts and dresses, and in the evening.
Q. I’m never quite sure how best to match my shoes with my outfit - should you go for the same colour or is that too much?
It’s really down to personal preference, but here are some suggestions:
- Shoe colour matches your outfit - as you suggest. How this looks really does depend on how strong the outfit and the shoes actually are - you don’t want them competing with one another or looking too try-hard. If you’re wearing a different coloured top to bottom, you have the option of choosing shoes to match either; OR
- Shoe colour matches a key accessory - say a necklace or scarf. Don’t go overboard trying to colour co-ordinate all accessories - shoes, bag, jewellery - it can look overdone; OR
- Shoe is played down (neutral, minimal) and the outfit gets all the glory; OR
- Shoes are the ones to get all the attention and the outfit is more understated - this works really well if the shoes are striking, a feature in themselves.
Of course it all depends on your budget and we mostly choose shoes that colour-wise will go with a lot of different things in our wardrobe. I have coloured shoes, including orange & teal, and you’d be amazed at how many different outfits they work with. Have a play.
Q. I’ve been following you for months now, I like your advice. Thank you. I’d love to know what fashion mistakes, if any, you’ve made over time.
None! Ha, if only. Yes I’ve made tonnes of mistakes; it’s helped me get to where I am today.
My biggest mistakes:
- Buying shoes that are too small, too big, too high or too jolly uncomfortable, either because I just had to have them or they were on sale. I’m still learning on this one!!
- Similarly, buying things on sale because I couldn’t look past the bargain. Whatever I bought was never going to be right - size, colour or style wise. What was I thinking!
- Convincing myself that grey really is my colour - it is so not. Come to think of it, neither is black but it does pass as being acceptable.
- For years, buying clothes that were far too big and baggy on me - I’m a small frame and I would’ve been far better wearing more fitted clothes. I tell myself it was fashion at the time!
- Convincing myself that uncomfortable clothes, shoes and jewellery will be super comfortable once I’ve bought them. Really!
- Fashion faux pas - too many to count but in fairness to myself, I wasn’t the only one, and the fashion industry did dangle them in front of us!
Okay, that’s enough of revealing more than the less-than-perfect stylist that I am :)
Q. My husband left me two years ago for a younger woman! I’m 47 and feel old and frumpy. I’m now ready to pick myself up, change my old frumpy ways. What advice can you offer?
That’s great that you’re ready to get going again, well done, it’s certainly not easy.
- My biggest advice is to love yourself, if you don’t already. Start with positive talk, tell yourself you’re great, and you’re this and that. No negative talk or thoughts. Be kind to yourself. Treat and reward yourself. Indulge when you can. Do things that make you happy, and do them often. If you’re happy within yourself, it will shine through and others will see it.
- Smile - this makes you instantly more attractive.
- Get your hair done. Go for a change. Give your hairstylist free reign - if you can. Or at least ask them for their advice and opinion. Consider going to a different hairstylist just for change sake.
- Get your makeup done - at a makeup store/counter. Whilst they’re doing your makeup, ask them to show/tell you ‘how’.
- Buy yourself some new clothes, and if budget doesn’t allow, consider pre-loved clothes - there are some great bargains to be found. Take a friend to make it enjoyable.
- Exercise regularly if you can - the endorphins that are released as a result of exercise are a real pick-me-up.
- Laugh, and laugh lots. Funny movies or books, or time with friends.
I hope this helps. Here’s to the new you :)
Q. I'm quite short and although not really overweight, my thighs are chunky. Can you recommend a style of jeans I should try?
A bootleg style trouser is a good place to start. Bootlegs flare out slightly at the knee, so help to balance up the appearance of your thighs.
I’ve also had a number of women convert from Bootlegs to the Straight style. This gives a slimmer look overall and they look hot.
My advice would be to try a number of different brands in different styles. Take someone along for a second opinion. A good place to go is a jeans specialist like Just Jeans, Jeans West or an independent store. A great brand for women is ‘Not My Daughter’s Jeans’ - designed by real women with lumps, bumps and curves. Their jeans are ultra comfortable and as I say, accommodate real women. Their jeans are expensive but I believe it’s worth investing in a flattering and comfortable pair of jeans that you can thrash and look & feel great in.
Darker coloured jeans will also help to give you a slimmer look - dark blue or black.
Gorgeous Me wrote a blog on ‘jeans for your body shape’ that you may find interesting.
Q. I'm a medical student and solo mother studying to be a doctor. For the last three years we've mostly had lectures which means turning up in jeans or casual wear, but this year we start work in the hospital and I'm at a loss of how to retain my personal style, while also trying to look professional on a budget! Before retraining as a doctor, I worked in Africa for 5 years and so I love colourful, ethnic clothes...I want to retain some of my individuality but also look respectful - if you think you can help please let me know!
First things first. I too believe it's really important that you retain your personal style. Unfortunately not enough people do, they choose instead to conform to a standard/uniform look which is all rather dull. Of course it depends on how confident you are as a person and whether you feel comfortable carrying off your personal style in such a new environment. Bolder personalities can certainly do this.
In terms of your preference for ethnic clothes, again, that's fabulous, especially when you talk about the wonderful colours. Just make sure the colours actually suit your complexion and your overall features. It's one thing to love colour, it's quite another to suit it.
If I were you, I'd play it down a bit just to begin with, whilst you're establishing yourself in the system. Create yourself a base wardrobe of say trousers, skirts, tops, heels and flat shoes and then add personality through the likes of accessories. As you become more comfortable, and as people get to know you, start to add more and more individual pieces that reflect who you are.
Accessories are so under-valued - they don't have to cost a lot and they can immediately and dramatically change the look of an outfit.
In terms of acquiring your new wardrobe on a budget, keep an eye out for bargains on the likes of Trade Me and also at pre-loved clothing stores. It does take patience but there are a lot of gems to be found. And also, buy during sale times.
I hope this of some help.
Q. When I ask my husband what he thinks of what I’m wearing, he always says 'fine'! How can I get more than a ‘fine’ in reply? I now ask my kids instead.
Find yourself a new husband perhaps! Kidding.
I worked in advertising for many years and we considered the word ‘fine’ as a swear word. Fine is ‘just okay’ and ‘could do better’ in our opinion.
I think you need to tell your husband how it makes you feel and that you’re asking him for his opinion because it’s important to you, that you value it, that you want to look good for yourself and for him, and his assurance gives you the confidence you need.
Do you always tend to wear similar styles and colours? This could be why you get the response you do, to him, what you’re wearing is really no different to what you wore the last time you asked. But we know of course it’s not the same thing and that what you’re after is the confidence and a wee bit of flattery. Try branching out a little in your styling, choose a style and colour that is new to you. See what a difference that makes.
Let us know how you get on.
Q: I wear a lot of dresses and I feel my tummy sticks out. Apart from sit ups which I have started, is there specific underwear you can suggest for holding in tummies?
You’re in luck, there are loads of different support briefs that hold you in and give you a flatter, firmer look. The best thing to do is go into a lingerie store and ask for advice. I have even taken my dresses in to try on just to be sure the underwear is giving me the look I’m after.
A few things to note:
- Don’t buy your support briefs too tight. It’s better to go up a size. If they’re firm, your ‘excess’ has to go somewhere so it sits either above the brief or where it ends on the legs; not such a hot look. And besides, you want to be comfortable.
- Look for briefs that have added grip at the waistband & legs to ensure they don’t roll down/slide up when you move about or sit down.
- Support underwear is not something you wear everyday, so from a practical perspective, you might be best choosing a neutral colour that goes well under any garment.
In terms of dress style, avoid dresses that flair out at the waist (gathers, pleats, etc) - they can accentuate your tummy.
It’s good that you’re starting on sit-ups because as we age we don’t have the same muscle control that we used to have. Just be sure you’re doing your sit ups correctly, breathing correctly, to ensure you’re working all layers of the stomach, not just the outer. As you probably also know, alcohol, caffeine, junk and processed foods can also add to your tummy woes.
Q. I really like the patterned pants and skirts that are in the shops at the moment but I haven’t bought any simply because I’m not sure what to wear as a top, I don’t want it to clash. What is your advice?
The great thing is that just about anything goes nowadays, you can’t go too wrong. Here are some suggestions:
- From the patterned pants/skirt, choose a key or secondary colour that you like and suits you. Find a top in this colour; OR
- Again using the key colour from the pattern, select accessories in this colour (necklace, scarf, shoes) and have your top in a neutral or complementary colour to the pants/skirt; OR
- Wear patterns with patterns (very popular at the moment)- say the pants are striped, consider a polka dot print top in complementing or the same colours. Black & white work well for this. This is a busy look so be sure to keep your accessories plain and minimal.
The best thing to do is have a play. Take a number of different tops into the fitting room, even ones you’d not otherwise consider, and see what works. Ask a sales assistant for their input, they know their range and will know what will work.
A further point to note, patterns by nature have a way of attracting the eye because they’re often so fabulous. From a styling perspective, if your bottom half is an area you want to play down, then just be careful and make sure the pattern works for you.
Q. I want my body back! Help. I’m a stay-at-home mum of two young children and ever since having them, my body shape and weight has changed. I want to go back to what I used to be like. It’s affecting my self-esteem and none of my old clothes fit me anymore.
Fact: your body shape and size does change with having children. Some women spring back to their pre-pregnancy body just like that, others have a hard job of it and don’t even come close.
Here are some things you might like to consider:
Ease up on yourself. Your body has gone through massive change, and possibly still is. The first step is to change your mindset. Be kind to yourself. Positive self-talk is the order of the day - say nice things to yourself over and over. Believe in those words. Shun the negative thoughts completely.
Weight loss - look into exercise and healthy eating programmes (choose whole foods over processed foods, limit alcohol) to assist you. Exercise and healthy eating go hand in hand. If there's a friend you can do it with, it makes it so much easier.
Do some small things to help you feel better:
- Exercise - even if it’s just walking, the fresh air and time alone will make you feel good. Exercise is a great pick me up, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time! The right exercise of course will also help with your weight loss.
- Wear a little makeup & do your hair even if you’ve got an ‘at home’ day, it will help to make you feel better, especially when you catch glimpses of yourself in the mirror. Paint your finger and toenails. This too can help you feel more attractive.
- Think about the clothes you’re wearing. Upgrade from the ‘slop around home clothes’ and wear something smarter. Of course appreciating it needs to be practical when you’re spending time with your children. Treat yourself to some new things, even though you’re not yet at your optimum weight/size. You needn’t spend a lot to look great.
- Get your hair cut - perhaps a new style/colour to refresh your look.
- Me time - make sure you get some ‘me time’ - to exercise, read, blob, go out for a coffee by yourself, etc. ‘Me time’ is really important to help us re-connect with ourselves, something we can lose when raising a family. Never feel guilty about it.
- Praise yourself for your achievements - no matter how big or small, do it often. It will make you feel good.
I am a mum myself, so I do know that it can be really hard to find the time for some of these things, but if there’s a will, there’s a way :)
Q. My husband has no sense of style at all. If he had his way, he’d wear short shorts and a singlet top all the time. He’s overweight and basically just doesn’t care. It upsets me because I take pride in my appearance and would love him to, especially when we go out together. What can I do?
I can't imagine you’re alone on this one. Has he always been like this, in which case you may be hard-pressed to change his ways - remember the old adage, “a leopard can’t change its spots”!
However, let’s prove the pessimists wrong. Here are some things you might like to try:
- Talk to him. Tell him how you feel, how important it is to you.
- Buy him some new clothes (make sure you can exchange them or get your money back, just in case he doesn’t like them). Take them home as a surprise. Tell him how handsome he looks. Hopefully he’ll get complements from friends and family.
- Or take him shopping. Work with the store staff to put together some different looks for him. He might listen to them.
- One step at a time - rush in and buy too many things or try to change him all at once and it could have a detrimental effect.
- Book him in for a haircut, if needed.
- In terms of weight loss, if this is an issue, are there things you can do together to help him, e.g. go for walks, cutting down on meal portions and alcohol, setting goals together, etc. It makes it so much easier doing it with someone else.
- Go on a date/s.Make an extra effort to celebrate his change. Acknowledge and thank him.
Remember, he’s the man you married and love. He’s still the same person, irrespective of the clothes he wears. Love him for that.
Q. I’m 44 and my hair is greying rapidly and I end up with regrowth within as little as three weeks. It’s expensive, annoying and inconvenient maintaining it. Sometimes I let it go because I can’t be bothered but then I don’t feel good about myself when I do. Should I let my hair go naturally grey? What would you do?
Grrrr, regrowths. I can relate, though thankfully I have a little more time between touch ups. I have a few suggestions/thoughts for you:
- Letting your hair go grey. You have to be sure it will suit you; it depends on the likes of your skin colouring and other features. Ask your hairstylist. You’re not old, and sometimes allowing yourself to go grey can have an ageing affect. I know a woman who did just that and looked far older than she was and also looked pale and almost sick all the time.
- A further point on going grey, even though you say you have a lot of grey hair, the difference between what you have now and going all grey, can take years. That in-between stage can look unkept. Though having said that, your hairstylist can add highlights to blend your natural hair colours together more, so they look in harmony with one another.
- Perhaps your current dyed hair colour is too dark? Highlights, as mentioned above, can complement and blend better with your natural hair colour, so that the regrowth isn’t so obvious.
- A good hairstylist can also give you a cut/style that can reduce the appearance of regrowth.
- As you get close to your next appointment, you can zigzag (or shift) your part, if you have one. And lift the hair a little from the crown, rather than having it flat. This can help.
- For your hair colour appointments, every second appointment, instead of getting your whole hair coloured, you can just get the ‘t-section’ done - that is, along the parting and front hairline (and around the ears).
Q. I’m 55 and feel old, frumpy, plain and boring and I’m sick of it. Where’s the best place to start with a makeover?
A personal stylist would be a good way to go. They’re worth their weight in gold and can offer you sound advice, support and encouragement. Women have found the experience ‘life changing’.
Alternatively, if you wish to manage the transformation yourself, which is what Gorgeous Me’s all about, then we suggest the following approach:
1. Shift into the right mindset. “I want and I’m ready for change.” Start with some positive self-talk - tell yourself you’re great, fabulous, gorgeous, intelligent, caring, kind, friendly… . This is really important.
2. Be open-minded. Seek the advice from the specialists around you - hair, makeup and clothing. Listen to their advice with an open-mind. Remember, you want big change.
3. Get a fabulous haircut. It’s amazing what a great hairstyle can do for your appearance and confidence; it can even knock years off your perceived age!
4. Refresh your makeup to reflect your new hairstyle. A bolder hairstyle may need bolder makeup. Seek advice from a makeup consultant at any beauty counter.
5. Buy some new clothes/accessories. You don’t need to splash out and get a new wardrobe all at once, just one or two things to start. Ask store staff for assistance in putting together the right look for you. Look at different styles & colours to what you’d normally wear. The clothes needn’t be new either, just new to you.
The biggest thing is to make sure you’re ready for change. So many women start with a hiss and a roar but give up after a while. Maintaining your new personal image will take effort, but it will be worth it. I hope it goes well for you.
Q. I have never worn makeup. I was brought up that makeup wasn’t necessary and reserved for certain women! I’d like to start wearing a little. What do you recommend?
My how times have changed! As you’ve suggested, the best place to start is by wearing a little makeup. The mistake many women make is going along to a beauty consultant and being sold every makeup product under the sun, leaving them daunted and sometimes put off because there are too many products to apply.
Here’s a quick 5-minute makeup routine, using just 3 products (that’s after you’ve cleansed, toned and moisturised your face).
1. BB Cream (Blemish Balm or Blemish Base) - with SPF 30, BB Cream is great because it ticks so many boxes – it moisturises, hydrates, smoothes, conceals, covers and protects – all in one step. It’s fabulous.
2. Mascara - there are a variety of mascaras, a number claiming to lengthen, thicken and curl your lashes. Personally I haven’t found that to be the case but then maybe I’m not using the right ones. Things to consider when buying mascara:
- waterproof or not - I prefer the non-waterproof, much easier to remove later
- colour - black, brown, blue - I prefer black, I find it creates the most impact
- flaking - I’ve had mascaras that have flaked before - as the day wears on, mascara ends up on your cheeks!
- brush - brush type has an impact on how easy the mascara is to apply and how clump-free the mascara is.
3. Coloured Lip Balm - these are a no brainer - a lip moisturiser and lip colour in one. Some are long-lasting, they stay on your lips for ages.
When you’re ready to progress your makeup, the best advice is to make an appointment with a consultant at any makeup counter in a department store or pharmacy. It’s best to make an appointment so they can dedicate time to you, or alternatively visit during off-peak times. They will advise you on your skin type and colour and what products are best to use. Be sure to tell them you’re starting out so that one, they can introduce you to it slowly and two, can show you how to apply the makeup.
Q. I’m size 22 and really struggle to find clothes and know what to wear. I tend to stick to black and the same loose-style top, with trousers and a long cardigan. I’m solid all over, including my legs. Any suggestions for me?
These questions are always a little tricky to answer fully without actually seeing you, but I do have some suggestions.
For starters, there are some great brands catering for size 14 plus clothing - TS14+, EziBuy, Zebrano and City Chic to name a few. What I love about these brands is that most of them specialise in clothing for women with curves, they know what they’re doing and are extremely helpful. This would be a good place to start.
Styling wise, here are some things you might like to consider:
- Layering, e.g. a longer top under a shorter top, in contrast colours, or a long dress under a top. Layering can add length, texture and interest to what you are wearing and help disguise lumps and bumps. Be very careful not to add any extra volume to your look.
- Big bust? Look for low-neck tops (scoop or v-necks are great) as this will help to reduce the appearance of your bust size. Also wearing a solid, long pendant necklace that sits comfortably between the breasts can also help, as can an open vest, jacket or cardigan.
- Big upper arms? Look for tops/dresses with a bit of a sleeve. Kaftan tops are very popular at the moment - light, drapey fabric, often in wonderful patterns and colours. You can wear this over-top of a dress or a long slip with leggings or trousers.
- Watch the hemlines - never finish your hemline at the widest points of your body - hips, thighs, arms, etc. It only accentuates these areas.
- Minimise the appearance of your larger areas by keeping your styling plain - colour, pattern and design wise. In your case, dark-coloured leggings or plain trousers with long tunic tops may look good on you.
- Work out what colours suit you. Yes black is a lovely slimming colour but if it’s not right for you, it may drain you. If you can, add some colour to your wardrobe, you’ll be amazed how it can lift your spirits and appearance.
A word of caution - many women opt for large, shapeless clothing to hide everything. This can actually make you look bigger than you are so be careful of this.
I hope this helps.
Q. I’m going to a ball in February and I don’t know what to wear. I haven’t been to a ball in years. What do people wear nowadays?
Guys still tend to wear black tie, though some wear dark shirts with dark trousers and skip the tie; this tends to be the younger generation.
For women, it seems that anything dressy goes nowadays. The last couple of balls I’ve been to, some of the older women resurrected their ball gowns from the mothballs and dressed up in glamour of past years - quite gorgeous. Younger women tend to wear whatever’s on-trend evening wise, usually sheer, short or long, strapless or shoestring straps, etc. And somewhere in between, you get women wearing long evening dresses, cocktail dresses (shorter) and even evening trousers.
And you can be certain of a sea of black - obviously because of the men, but sadly most women wear black too. I always encourage women to wear some colour if they can, colour is magic and can dramatically enhance one’s appearance.
Whatever style you choose to wear, be mindful that most women make a big effort when it comes to looking glamorous for a ball - hair, makeup, jewellery, etc.
It needn’t be expensive. You could take a very plain dress, e.g. a maxi, and dress it up with jewellery from one of the cheap accessory chain stores. The same with shoes.
Have a great time.
Q. My friends are all into ‘brands’. I can’t really afford what they do and feel uncomfortable fronting up in my cheap clothes. What’s your opinion?
I’m guessing that you’re younger, because as you age and start to become more of an individual and comfortable with what you have, things like this become much less of an issue.
Your friends aren’t necessarily making you uncomfortable about what you wear; it’s yourself and your own confidence and comfort levels.
To me what is far more important is the style you create for yourself. Be your own person with your own look. If you wear your look with confidence, people will come to respect you for who you are, some may even copy you!
I myself wear a huge mix of clothes, including many cheaper, mass-market brands. To me the brand is far less important than the look I’m trying to achieve. It’s what you do with those clothes, how you put them together, that really counts. Look at websites and fashion magazines for inspiration.
Be sure of who you are and enjoy it.
Q. I’ve got four weddings to attend over summer, all with the same group of friends. I don’t have the money to buy four different outfits, certainly what most of the others will do. Help.
I understand your dilemma; we’ll get you sorted.
If I were you, I’d:
- Find a base outfit - whether this is something you already have in your wardrobe or you may need to buy. This is an outfit that colour and style wise works well with other things. It may be a simple, plain dress, something you could buy quite cheaply from a mainstream brand.
- Mix n match - what from your existing wardrobe can you now add to your base outfit to give it a different look? Take a fresh look at everything. Be creative - some things, like tops, can be worn in different ways to get a different look.
- Accessorise. Choose some key accessories that will help to give you a different look for the same outfit. Think necklaces, earrings, scarves, belts and handbag - of course not all at once. Add splashes of colour. You needn’t spend a lot to get a great look. I recently bought a fabulous necklace that everyone raves about - it cost me $16!
- Borrow - do you have friends that could lend you anything, even if it’s just some accessories?
- Pre-loved clothing - there are some amazing treasures to be discovered in pre-loved clothing stores, you just have to be patient and open-minded.
Above all, just have a great time.
Q. I have a big bust and find it hard to get clothes to look good on me. Apart from surgery, do you have any suggestions?
Absolutely. There are a number of things you can do:
- Start with a well-fitting bra
- V-necks, wide or low necklines are great
- Wrap dresses/tops with a v-neck are good for big busted women
- Go for plain styling - cut and fabrics
- Chunky, long pendant necklaces that hang between your breasts help to break up the overall visual appearance of a large bust. Scarves can also achieve this.
- Dark colours on your top half will help you look slimmer - but you need to make sure you can carry the colour off. You can always add a lighter, complementary colour from within your palette to wear alongside it.
- Certain patterns can break up the appearance of a larger chest
- Diagonal or vertical stripes, especially in a wrap top or dress.
Things to avoid:
- High necks - high crew, polo or turtle-necks
- Be careful with tight fitting tops and jackets.
- Avoid wearing a jacket buttoned up. Double-breasted jackets are not great.
- Watch tops that just hang from the bust, they can make the rest of your top half look bigger than it is.
- Watch buttoned shirts/blouses - sometimes they don't sit flat and they make the top look too tight
- Avoid horizontal stripes, ruffles and any detailing at the bust area
- Cropped tops
- Bolero jackets
- Short sleeves that finish at the bust-line - you end up with a visual line across both arms and your bust that can make you look wide.
Q. How do you know what colours you suit?
The best thing to do is experiment, go into shops and try on lots of different colours. The best place is the likes of a t-shirt store where they have a variety of colours. It is important to try colours you would never normally consider. What do the colours do for you?
COLOUR IS RIGHT WHEN...
- Your face lights up, as do your eyes
- Your face, hair, eyes, skin are enhanced by the colour.
COLOUR NOT RIGHT WHEN...
- Shadows appear under your chin and neck
- Wrinkles or marks on your face appear more prominent
- Your face changes colour and not in a way that enhances you e.g. it makes you pale, washed out or reddens you
- The colour overpowers you, you disappear and the colour dominates.
There are three key things when it comes to colour:
Depth of colour
How light or dark a colour is and which you suit. People who are naturally a light colouring (hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, eyes, skin) will suit light colours. And it’s the opposite for people who suit deep colours.
Undertone of colour
Colours are either blue-based, yellow-based or neutral. For example, a red can be blue-based (a cooler red), yellow-based (more orangey) or as a straight primary colour (neutral). Blue undertone is cooler, yellow undertone is warmer.
You will suit cool tones if your complexion is rosy, pinky and sometimes has a slightly blue tinge to it. You’re likely to have ash-blonde, silver, grey or black hair, and blue or grey eyes, occasionally hazel.
Warm tones - you’re likely to have red-toned hair in any shade from strawberry blonde to auburn and with green, brown or blue eyes. Your skin may be light with freckles or dark-toned with a golden (yellowy), olive undertone.
Clarity of colour
Do you suit soft and muted colours or clear, clean and crisp or somewhere in between.
Soft, muted colours - do you have dark blonde, mousey or light brown hair with soft/muted eyes of blue, brown, hazel or green? Tonally, there is no real difference between the colour of your hair, eyes and skin.
Clear, crisp, bold colours - you have definite contrast in colour between your hair, eyes and skin. Your eyes will be your key feature, they'll often dominate. Your skin may either be light or dark. Your eyelashes and eyebrows will generally be dark.
You can be a combination of these colour profiles but one will tend to be dominant. Some of you might sit in the middle of these colour spectrums, more neutral colour palettes. Check our colour chart and more information.
Once you find a colour that suits you, there will be other colours that are tonally similar that will also be great.
Take someone along with you for a second opinion.
It’s important to note, the lighting in some stores can distort the appearance of the true colour. If in doubt, see if the shop will allow you to look at the colour outside the store.
Q. Why do stylists always encourage women to wear makeup? What about natural beauty?
I’m with you on that one. Nature as nature intended it - naturally beautiful.
We’ve become a society where wearing makeup is the norm. For some people, like myself, I feel only half dressed without it; it’s what I’ve become used to.
There is a place for makeup. It can enhance our natural beauty - and that’s the way makeup should be viewed, an enhancer. I think it’s a crying shame when women feel they need to cake the makeup on in order to look good. It can, in fact, have the opposite effect! If you prefer the natural look, there are products and application techniques that can give you that - talk to a makeup consultant at a beauty counter.
Makeup is also wonderful for evening out the appearance of our skin tones, particularly beneficial as we age. It can also help protect us from sun and harsh conditions, and help to moisturise and nurture our skin.
It’s about moderation. It’s about how it makes you feel wearing or not wearing it. It’s a personal choice. If you feel wonderful without wearing makeup, then that’s fantastic. Just remember to wear a moisturiser and sunblock on your face, neck, chest and the tops of your hands in particular.
Q. What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion changes from season to season, year to year. Just as quick as a new style comes in, another replaces it. Fashion keeps the wheels of the multi-billion dollar clothing industry turning over, always having new styles or fads to release each season.
The fashion-follower wouldn’t be caught dead in something from last season. Some wear clothing and accessories just because it’s in fashion, irrespective of whether it actually suits them or not. I’m seeing a lot of this at the moment with young girls wearing short, flared skirts (skater skirts) that often don’t look good on them.
Style on the other hand is something that is more an expression of individuality. You dress a certain way because it reflects who you are as a person. You know what you like and you’re confident about it. Your style may change over the years as you yourself change. You incorporate fashion into your style if it works, but you won’t let fashion dictate. A person driven by style rather than fashion is more likely to buy clothing and accessories that will last for a number of seasons/years; pieces that help make up the foundation of their wardrobe. Done well, style can be your signature.
Q. Are leggings still in fashion?
It depends who you talk to. The true fashion aficionado would tell you no. Certainly leggings are still in the latest fashion ranges. They’re around because they’re popular and there’s still a lot of customer demand for them.
Obviously leggings work well with tunic tops, but I’ve also found them useful with short dresses, of which there are lots in current fashion. I also use leggings to give a more casual look to an outfit, to dress-it-down so to speak.
There are some fab patterned leggings around that can be worn with plain tops/dresses/skirts, or mix patterns with patterns. Most leggings are made of cotton-lycra or polyester-elastane. I like 200-denier footless tights, they give a nice finish and are available in a range of colours.
Whatever you do, be careful how you wear leggings and what you wear them with. They’re not trousers!
Q. I have huge calves and ankles. I would love to wear a skirt to work. Any ideas?
In wearing a skirt, the best thing to do is draw attention away from your calves and ankles and up to your top half, which is no doubt fab. Wear colours, patterns and accessories up top so that when people look at you, that's what they focus on. It is also best to wear a plain skirt - style, pattern and texture wise - again so people focus on your top half.
Ensure that your hemline does not finish at the widest part of your leg. If, for example, you are slim at the knee area, then this is the best place to have your hem, not at your calves. Also, make sure the skirt length is balanced/proportioned well with your top half.
Long-length or maxi skirts/dresses are also an option if you suit them, again just make sure you're well balanced with your top half.
In cooler months, wearing dark or complementary-coloured tights/pantyhose can help too.
Avoid shoes with ankle straps; this only draws attention to your ankles, and cuts off the visual line of your leg.
We hope this helps.
Q. If you have limited wardrobe space, and therefore need to store out-of-season clothing while not in use, do you have any suggestions for suitable storage methods?
I recommend vacuum storage bags. They’re fabulous for several key reasons:
- Triple your storage space!
- A great way to protect your clothing from insects, dust, mould, moisture and odours.
- They pack up very flat so you can slip them under your bed or at the top of your wardrobe.
- They’re reusable, so when you’re done with one season, you can swap clothes around.
- Great also for soft furnishings, soft toys, etc.
The bags come in a range of sizes and are available from most homeware stores.
Just be careful storing ‘tailored, structured garments’ like suits - they may squash out of shape and may need to be re-pressed.
Consider your storage woes over :)
Q. When are you too old to wear certain styles?
You’re as old as you feel and if you feel comfortable wearing younger style clothes and can pull it off, then go for it.
I’m 45 and I still look to younger style clothing simply because I enjoy it and it’s more reflective of my personality. I certainly don’t feel my age.
But you need to be realistic. As we age, our body shape can change, certain areas of our body may thicken up, we lose the elasticity in our skin and our muscles - things start heading south, our skin starts displaying age spots, blah blah... This may preclude you from wearing certain styles. For example, I no longer wear boob tube style tops because of a thickening under and around my upper arms, it looks flabby! I no longer wear mini skirts/dresses, unless on holiday.
And the opposite also applies; don’t dress older before your time. A friend of mine used to follow the styling of her mother, simply because she didn’t have the know-how or confidence to create her own style. Her mother was stylish, but there’s still a generation gap.
Create your own style and be happy with it.
Q. Any suggestions for places to go for altering new items of clothing? Do retail outlets/chains do this or should you go to a specialist alterations place?
A good question. It really depends on what you’re having altered. If, for example, you’ve having the hem of trousers or sleeves taken up or let down, this is a fairly basic job and you’re fine to let the store handle it. A lot of retailers now have access to a tailor/alteration service. The key is to ensure that the retail assistant gets the length right to begin with.
If, however, you’re having more extensive adjustments done, like side seams or shoulders taken in, coat lengths altered, etc, you may be best to liaise direct with a tailor/alteration service yourself. They can take the measurements direct from you and discuss your requirements.
A couple of points to note:
- If the retailer is getting the work done on your behalf and they’ve taken the measurements etc and it comes back wrong, you have some comeback with the retailer. Check for disclaimers that may abdicate the retailer from responsibility.
- The retailer’s reputation is on the line; it’s in their interest to have a credible tailoring service on offer.
Q. Is there a correlation with how much you spend on clothing and how long it should last?
The answer you’d expect would be yes, but unfortunately sometimes that’s not always the case. I’ve bought expensive items in the past that haven’t lasted - the fabric has pilled or faded, or the stitching has come apart.
You obviously pay more for boutique, designer clothes; they’re not mass-produced and you’d expect more care to be taken over the assembly of each item. The designers also tend to choose quality fabrics and accessories that wear better.
Clothing produced on a mass-scale is all about ‘cost per unit’ and keeping it as low as possible. Items are made in the thousands, or hundreds of thousands for the likes of the USA & UK. Every garment style is designed to ensure it is made as cost-effectively as possible - buttons, fabric, manufacturing etc. This type of clothing tends to be ‘seasonal’ - in one season, out another, so durability is not top priority.
Think about the piece you’re buying - will it last you a number of years - style, fabric and colour wise - or is it a fashion piece that may only be around for a season? Spend more on investment pieces, less on fashion pieces.
If you have any problems with the performance of an item, you are covered under the Consumer Guarantees Act.
Q. I have short legs and always struggle to find trousers that are the right length. I’m sick of getting them shortened all the time. Do you know of any brands that cater for short legs?
You’re so in luck at the moment, the trends work in your favour.
- The current trend is slim-line ankle length (7/8 length) trousers. For an average-height woman they end at the ankle, or at a regular length for those with shorter legs. No alterations required!
- Another trend is rolled-up cuffs - a small roll-up of about an inch to reveal a bit of leg, fancy socks/hosiery or ankle boots.
- It’s also popular to have a bit of scrunch at the bottom of trousers now, though these tend to be with the slim, straight-style trouser. Be careful not to have too much gathering otherwise all you are doing is highlighting that you have short legs.
- And as you suggest, some brands offer short-leg styles. Check out Jeans West who has a range catering for short and petite http://www.jeanswest.com.au/backpocket-daily/specialty-denim/short-petite-jeans. You can only buy online, they’re not available in-store.
- Don’t forget a heel - where and when you can, try wearing a heel with your trousers. The hem length needs to be slightly longer when wearing a heel. The heel offers a lovely visual leg-line, giving the appearance of longer legs.
Enjoy your new trousers.
Q. I’m not sure what body shape I am, an apple or a pear?
You’re not alone. So many women struggle with this.
You’re a Pear if your bottom, hips and/or thighs are bigger than your top half. Exactly like the shape of a pear.
You’re an Apple, if your upper body/torso, is bigger than your bottom, hips, thighs. You’re generally rounder in the middle section of your body. Generally apples have great legs.
At Gorgeous Me, we like to keep body shapes simple:
The balanced body shape. Shoulders and hips are similar in measurement and your waist is smaller.
Top half is bigger than your bottom half
Your shoulders are wider than your hips. Apple fits here. You need to balance up the appearance of the shoulders and the hips without making either look too big.
Bottom half is bigger than your top half
Your hips are wider than your shoulders. Pears. You need to balance up your top and bottom halves, without making either look too big.
Your shoulders, waist and hips are all roughly the same measurement, you have no defined waist. You can be a slim straight or a more solid straight. You need to create the illusion of a waist.
The ideal is to visually create a balanced body shape. Check out our ideas here.
Q. My daughter is getting married soon. Is it okay for the mother-of-the-bride to wear trousers?
As you know, just about anything goes these days but I have to say, weddings and the like are very special, one-off occasions that everyone, including guests, should make an effort for. It’s the bride & groom’s big day and you want to do everything you can to make it special for them.
Does your daughter mind if you wear trousers? This is probably one of the first questions. And if she doesn’t mind, then go for it.
Dress trousers and smart trouser suits can look fab.
With dress trousers, consider a fab top to go with them - sheer or luxury fabrics like silk, satin, chiffon or organza, embellishments like beading or jewels, patterns, colour and/or texture. Something special, less run-of-the-mill.
Consider coloured trousers rather than just black. Tie the colour in with the top. Be sure the colour enhances you.
With a trouser suit, think about your accessories and what top you will wear underneath. A top in a complementary or contrasting colour in a satin or silk would look fab.
Heels will be important to give you the dressy look - a nice strappy heel if your feet can handle them.
Do you suit hats? Hats can also look fab for weddings.
I hope this helps. Have a wonderful time.
Q. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on clothes. What do you recommend I buy?
Welcome to the club! It’s about being a smart shopper.
- Wardrobe essentials - ensure you’ve got the essentials covered. Buy quality and styles that will last.
- Review your existing wardrobe - what can you alter or wear differently? Cheap accessories can add a fresh look to your clothes. Or buy one extra piece of clothing to add to an existing outfit/s to change the style and overall look.
- To give you the ‘in-fashion’ look, buy one or two pieces from cheaper stores. They may not last forever but they’ll be fab for the season. I buy a mix of expensive, investment pieces and cheaper fashion ones.
- When buying a piece of clothing or accessories, always consider what else it will go with in your wardrobe. Think about its versatility.
- Consider a ‘clothes swap’ with your friends, or organise a community one. A fab way to update your wardrobe without it costing a cent.
- Pre-loved clothing shops/online stores are everywhere now and there are some real bargains to be had. My sister bought a gorgeous 1960’s wool mohair coat for $4 from a Salvation Army store! And don’t forget the clothing stalls at school galas.
- Shop during sales. Okay, not the advice retailers want me to share but let’s face it, sales are on in the midst of a season. I buy during sales for the following season, buying classic styles that won’t date.
I hope that helps. Lisa :)