Updated: May 24, 2020
People wrongly judge others on appearance. People claim they do not do this, but erroneously it is human nature to judge each other and as self-image is often a misjudgement of our selves I wanted to share the following five really common figure concerns because perfect people do not exist.
One of the questions I ask clients during a personal shopping profile session is, 'do you have a figure concern? 50% of clients who answer 'yes' are not usually larger women (size 18 upwards), in fact, those who answer yes are all shapes and sizes.
Here are five of the most common figure concerns and solutions:
1. Tummy This is the most common complaint I have worked with. With expertise in fashion styling, it is my job to source beautiful clothes which make people feel fabulous and confident. Only last week I gave a client three dress options for her business awards ceremony. All of them looked fabulous on her balanced, hourglass size 16 body shape, with her favourite being the tightest, most figure-hugging dress of the three options. Her lower tummy protruding bothered her and we agreed we could do better so I gave her three realistic options, with the awards being just three days away : a). Wear a less fitting dress which she also liked. This is a less stressful option. b). Go on a three day no carb, no sugar, no alcohol diet and I went onto explain how it works encouraging her to ditch the wine as it is full of hidden sugars, only drink water and lemon and go on a 2 mile (20-30 minute) run or brisk walk every evening until the awards on Friday (a three-day detox). A slow walk does not shift weight, it simply keeps people agile. Basically you need to sweat to lose weight and eat less sugar and fructose to keep your tummy flatter. While fructose is an important carbohydrate it is still a natural sugar found in plants which in many case's can be the cause of tummy concerns. Do what you can to stay healthy (mentally and physically). c). Buy a super high waisted, power Spanx. Spanx work, they pull you in and smooth you out. People often turn up for consultations wearing them. I am told they are are not very comfortable so this is not the best long term solution. A sensible diet, weekly exercise, hiring a personal trainer and reviewing your lifestyle is the best option when you feel overweight and unhappy with your appearance. Instead of spending money drinking gallons of wine, switch priorities, even if it just for a short time and then think about cutting back in general. It is £25-55 for a life-changing hour with a PT versus £40-100 socialising. Mix it up and find a healthy balance. 2. Upper arms Most adults achieve their peak muscle mass during their late 30s to early 40s, at which point sarcopenia kicks in. People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of muscle mass per decade after age 35. I see a combination of complaints from very thin arms, overweight arms and sagging bingo wings (not a phrase I use, to be honest, however, lots of clients do). These conditions are all apparent due to living a sedentary lifestyle or due to age. Tops with sleeves is an obvious piece of advice however avoid tiny capped sleeves if your upper arms are big. No sleeve looks better than bringing attention to big arms with a tiny capped sleeve. Avoid! Fitted sleeves will make you hot during summer months so consider other summer transparent fabrics such as chiffon, lace, mesh, organza, silk and lightweight linen. Look out for tops with movement, but not too much movement or material if you are petite. Feminine layers in heavier material make larger women look bigger so opt for a lightweight material like:
Longline chiffon tops
Beach shirts in lightweight linen, chiffon or silk all fall beautifully
Chiffon tunics (3/4 sleeves)
Waterfall jackets work, although it depends upon your height
Batwing tops which go out from the sleeve to the waist in transparent fabric
Pashminas, shawls, scarfs and wraps
3. Large breasts I style many big-chested women, who complain that their boobs get in the way. A simple, no-frill sturdy support bra avoiding lace and frills is the first step to managing the issue and it will support serious backache. Lots of high-street department stores offer a free bra fitting service so the first thing to do is have a bra fitting. If you have a balanced body, for example, top size 16, bottom size 16, dress size 16 then it is pretty easy to find clothes that work. If your balance is out i.e. large boobs, top size 18, bottom size 12 then it is harder to find nicely fitting clothing. Separates work better so :
Wear V-neck and scoop necks
Wear delicate simple printed fabric, avoiding large printed fabric across the chest
Avoid high crew neck tops
Avoid thick block stripes, stretchy jersey tops which aren't flattering stretching across the area of concern.
In the same breath, I style hundreds of clients who have big busts with a slim figure, so I also encourage clients to appreciate what they have, and while you still have it, flaunt it tastefully! 4. Cellulite People who are obese or who have dramatically lost weight have cellulite. A lot of spring/summer fabrics tend to highlight cellulite through the fabric, particularly around the upper thigh and bottom when wearing trousers. I work around this issue all the time. During the winter wear a slim fitted, tight thermal layer underneath the outfit which will smooth out the cellulite. During the summer it is harder to cover as it's too hot to layer. I have lots of options for people, one of the easiest quick fixes is layering a very thin fabric over the area of concern, i.e. tight fitted trousers (upper thigh and bottom cellulite issue) wear 3/4 transparent tops or dresses which will void the cellulite effect. If you have lost stones in weight and you are struggling to shop, book a stylist. 5. Scars Every scar has a story. Some stories are hilarious and others are emotional. I have met some truly, inspirational people who have been on tough life journeys. People who are lucky to be alive. It is always very rewarding and a great honour to style someone, who brings a tear my eye. The location of a scar obviously dictates the style a client can wear, so having a detailed conversation early on, during the consultation is super important before styling and sourcing garments. A private personal shopping appointment should be confidence-boosting, informative, pragmatic and above-all-else really good fun so if you have never been treated to a personal shopping experience before, treat yourself and follow my blog for more useful shopping tips.