MY FIRST | PLUS SIZE | 9 TO 5 | ENSEMBLE | JUNE 2018
The mantra of personal shopping stylists seems to be “that we all have an innate sense of the look we want to project” whether at work, socialising with friends or family, on holiday or at a black tie event. Researching, visual correction principles for my body type has given me a plan and/or blueprint to achieve that style I have been searching for. Changes in my life means my capsule wardrobe needs to be comfortable but never at the expense of style.
My only distraction in getting this particular blog out to you has been my addictive obsession in researching further all that I learnt at the Afro Hair & Beauty Show about the benefits of adding specific pure oils to my hair products (see below).
So with an inspirational plan/blueprint, pictures of outfits on silhouettes and/or body shapes close to mine and clear visuals in my head I am back again with some further on-line “buying the best quality pieces that I can afford” purchases that fit with my lifestyle and cater to my individual body shape.
By way of an additional reference point I subscribe to a mix of YouTube fashion/styling channels. Thoughtful and informative YouTubers such as Giedre Kavaliunaite, Lauren Messiah and Daria Andronescu have now been added to my holy grail of personal stylist gurus KarenBritChic, BlushwithmeParmita and Naomi Boyer. I especially like the videos where Giedre’s mum poses in outfits the way she would wear them and Giedre comes in, tweaks the look by tucking something in, pulling something out or add accessories to and in the blink of an eye her mum looks slimmer, the outfit elevated, updated and on trend. These ride or die gurus provide exacting guidelines on identifying your body shape and how NOT to camouflage or hide - but how to have fun dressing your silhouette.
Youtuber Chanel Ambrose has her own little niche among my subscription list. Chanel saves me a lot of time and money because (a) her problem areas replicate mine, i.e. tummy, big bum and hips (b) I do not have her budget, patience or confidence to put out clothing haul videos that demonstrate clearly how Boohoo, Fashion Nova and other cheaper stretchy materials will cling to and/or look on my body! As a business woman Chanel also unearths gems that not only fit well but are of superior quality without the high end price tag.
For easy viewing styling videos with only pictures of outfits and music, I turn to Youtube channels like, Tendencias 2018 para Mujeres de 40 AÑOS, 50 AÑOS, Fashion Fashionista, Audrey Coyne and my favourite Anna Sakhno’s Women Over 50 and 60 Fashionable Look’s Collection/Compilation. Even if I cannot afford the high end name brand item I can often find pieces to replicate a look if I haven’t already got them in my wardrobe.
Go for it the personal shoppers/Youtubers say but for this 56 year old that means “baby steps”. Not everyone is bold enough to discard “comfy/dependable” items of clothing and refine or even start anew straightaway. So while age is less meaningful and less limiting then it has ever been before, I am looking for my unique personal style that is not fuddy-duddy and old-fashioned or so trendy that I look like “mutton dressed as lamb”.
I want to create a wardrobe that is in between. Trendy, outfits that gives my body shape; to not
always be wearing black or clothing that is big, baggy and shapeless. I want to wear colourful shapely items that represent my personal style. I want a seasonal wardrobe and wear pastel shades this summer that will highlight my complexion. On those overcast days when I want nothing more than to wear all black and not look boring, learn how to accessorise with a statement necklace or tie a striking scarf close to my face or play with pattern or a “monochrome” look e.g. by investing in a duster that can create a polished, put together look without the need for a cardigan, jacket or coat. Monochrome looks of any colour you choose is a fool proof way to look super stylish in a hurry.
OSSR: What is OSSR? Online Shopping Self-Restraint is a tool that helps me stick to my Capsule Wardrobe Blueprint. I place all my “impulsive buys” in my “saved items” or “wish list” totally ignoring the “Low in Stock” trap and take time out to think about it. I have found that
I ordered size 22 instead of 24 because of the fit. The top arrived Thursday 7 June, and the fit is perfect. and part of my "ASOS DESIGN Curve Smock Top With V Neck In Washed Grey £12.00” I know to downsize e.g. this relaxed fit when the item is referred to as a “ASOS” and look at the way the item flows on the model when she walks in the video. Although I know how I want to dress my silhouette, my psyche, is not yet accustomed to combining all the significant factors I have picked up from the experts including down-sizing and/or up-sizing depending on the fit. e.g. with the fit either because I have something similar already, or it is not refined enough, or does not fit in with the Capsule Wardrobe Blueprint. I always pay attention to details like “delete 90% of my spur-of-the-moment picks when I return to the on-line retailer I tend to dress down Friday" outfit for this week.
SHOES: Pointed toe shoes are a classic and they have never gone out of style and look expensive. Comfort to me is vital so finding a pointed, wide fitting, low to mid heel pointed toe shoe that accommodate my post-DVT right foot, travel from home to the office which includes waiting at the bus stop, walking around the office all day without causing swelling, pinching of corns or rubbing against my heel is extraordinary. My shoes pictured above all fulfil that brief but none more so than these beauties that I collected from Next today (Saturday 09.06.18). I couldn’t
feel them on my feet; the leather is as soft as the first shoe you buy for a baby to take its first steps. Comfort like this will not come again in my lifetime and why I am on-line frantically trying to buy another pair and/or every colour they have in a size 9. Don’t get me wrong there are those mornings, besides “Dress Down Fridays” when I just throw on my black trainers for commuting purposes only and change into my shoes and complete the look when I am in the office.
If you are like me, taking time to properly put on your shoes when you are rushing out of the door can be a real pain! We all know that impatiently wiggling your foot down into a shoe can cause irreversible damage to the counter/rigid heel section even when the shoe is made out of leather. I realised, that in order to preserve my comfortable, priceless shoe collection, I would need a tool I knew about, but never bothered with - a shoe horn. I have trouble reaching all the way down to put on or adjust my shoes. That was until I purchased a canary yellow extra long shoe horn from E-bay. The 24 inch shoe horn, made of durable plastic, takes pride of place near the front door, is within easy reach and has proved an invaluable addition/accessory to my wardrobe. Every day, trainer or shoe, they slip on like a dream.
Researching how to create versatile looks I can confidently grab and look “fly” each morning and go, is all consuming. Discovering how wearing/mixing pattern/prints can play on the eyes creating different illusions takes me to that intoxicating, selfish, special, where has the time gone, place of absorbing knowledge. Historically, varying cuts of either a black or navy pair of trousers is the safe, tried and tested foundation from which I would start planning my outfits. This summer I have included pastel shades to adorn my legs grounded with comfortable, low heeled block or kitten heels.
Illusion & Confusion - JDWilliams White Ruffle Sleeve Blouse (Size 32) £22.00 (above). This embroidered yoke blouse with ruffle sleeves is the perfect item to balance my proportions. The ruffles over the shoulder act like shoulder pads, drawing the eyes upwards away from my stomach problem area and makes my fake waistline look even smaller.
Organising my wardrobe has been the most important time saving device. On a Sunday evening after dinner has been eaten and there is nothing on TV until (MaGyver, Hawaii-Five-O and NCIS Los Angeles) I create a week’s worth of outfits not forgetting “dress down Fridays”. I find it easier to complete each look by hanging any accessories and/or shoes in a plastic bag on the hanger. That way if I am late, stressed or simply just lazy I can still look polished in a hurry.
Comfort to me means a little bit of stretch or elastane in the waistband to not feel like I am being cut in half whenever I am sitting down. To not join those who habitually pull down a dress, top or skirt each time they stand up or walk a few steps. Looking effortless and put together is not only very important for the corporate office environment it’s important to me.
Timeless - JDWilliams White Lace High Neck Top (Size 26) £39.00 Elegance Personified was how I described this gorgeous lace high neck top with a keyhole fastening to the back in my review back in May 2017. “…I am at that stage where whatever I pull out of my wardrobe, must be comfortable and look stunning. Well this top with the white camisole (JDWilliams White Camisole (Size 22) £6.00) I bought underneath brought compliments from colleagues and from strangers when I popped out to lunch..."
On “Dress down Fridays” I aim to reflect a comfortable, polished version of myself. Grasping the concept of how a simple “swap” can elevate cosy, casual and relaxed into something that is more sophisticated; i.e. swapping a cardigan for a blazer will look more polished and stylish. Accessories is a cheap way of adding edge to an outfit. A scarf, cool handbag, amazing shoes or boots takes that outfit from “zero to hero” in an instant. Slipping into one of my wide fitting, comfortable kitten heels would add that extra “Oomph”. Applying a knockout audacious lip colour/stain is guaranteed to make me look like I have put in much more effort than I actually have. A bold lip isn’t merely a pop of colour it is a state of mind!!
NEW TRIPOD: Like Youtuber Rhonda Peterson who also works in a corporate setting I have no option but to take a lot of selfies. I am hoping that my new tripod that arrived today (09.06.18) means that I can take my work outfit selfies out of the ladies toilet and introduce you to other scenery in the new contemporary office building.
TO “DRY” OR “CURE” that is the question: On this muggy overcast Saturday morning I am typing this updated part of my blog with a coat of Rimmel London Super Gel on my nails although with a better understanding of why this product maintains my nail polish following a salon visit for over 20 days!!!.
The top picture shows my “nails” at the salon on 15.05.2018 after an infill, cut down and repaint. The bottom picture displays my nail polish intact as at 08.06.2018 (24 days) after that salon visit and applying the Rimmel London Topcoat.
TO CURE: Normal nail polish “Dries” and gel “Cures”. Initially I couldn’t understand why so many women opted for the higher price tag of Shellac polish whenever I visit my nail salon other than unlike me, they can walk out of the salon the minute the technician is finished! The reason is Shellac is a fusion of gel and traditional polish that cures/hardens in minutes under a UV light, so that you can leave the salon, tackle taking money out of your purse, fumble for keys, mobile phone etc. without getting crease marks or smudging your polish. In short you can continue your busy day knowing your cured/hardened polish will last 10- 14 days without chipping, smudging or wrinkling.
TO DRY: Those of us who opt for traditional nail polish, is familiar with the tradition where the technician carrying your handbag and mobile to avoid any smudging etc. follows you to the seated drying area where you sit with your hands under a nail fan to give your polish time to “dry”. Note this key difference between “Dried” and “Cured”. Dry means I leave the salon when my polish is no longer tacky but is NOT “cured” or “hardened”. That is why I pay, place my keys and mobile at the top of my handbag before my polish is applied. Drying time for me is at least 20 minutes, allowing me to take my hand from under the fan to either tap/scroll through my mobile. What I wasn’t aware of is that my polish will NOT be cured for another 2-3 hours and that additional factors, like the quality of polish, number of coats, and even the weather, can extend the curing time even further.
CONCLUSION: I will continue my budget saving routine reaping the rewards of both the drying and curing process.
AFRO HAIR & BEAUTY LIVE FEEDBACK: Following on from a seminar and my visit to the Afro Hair & Beauty Show, I have been obsessed with everything natural, hair follicles, the use of natural oils, how best to re-grow my edges, to look at the ingredients before I put anything on my hair. To not be influenced by the word “natural”. I used the word “pure” when searching for products rather than “natural” as the word "natural" is subjective and means different things to each manufacturer. I am relentlessly burning the candles at both ends researching the countless benefits of mixing specific pure oils and in what quantities to either a carrier oil, my sulphur free shampoo or sulphur free conditioner with one objective in mind; to promote and stimulate hair growth, especially at the hairline. Some have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, or antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Others improve the circulation of blood to the scalp, or slow down the greying process, treats itchy scalps and dandruff, unclog hair follicles, promote cellular regeneration which in turn allows hair follicles to function properly and so much more. The devil is in the detail. Alma oil is my choice of carrier oil, and the “root” ingredient of my hair moisturiser. Further investigation reveal that to guarantee purity, that I order the Alma oil all from India as the Alma oil from stockists such as Holland and Barrett contain preservatives and mineral oil.
Conclusion: I know it won’t come as a surprise to you that the girls and I are prepping for yet another social event in three weeks. The Dress in Pastel and white Summer Ball has come around again and I cannot think of a better opportunity to be bold and step out in an all-white monochrome outfit. As white reveals every lump and bump I am going to have to be a lot more strategic about how I dress my silhouette, meticulous with my fabric choices and on point with my shapewear. The next time we come together, I will share with you my dupe designer handbag purchases - my fool proof way to elevate a look! Until the next time. X