LOCkDOWN?| YES| MELTDOWN?| Hell No!



WEEK 1 LOCK DOWN


Forced to work from home on my 58th Birthday due to COVID-19 this is the time to go through my wardrobe and pull out those classic pieces and tackle all “I’ll do it one of these days” minor alterations. Sew a button on there, raise a hem here and let’s not forget the time-consuming hand stitching of delicate fabrics.You know those items in your wardrobe that you love to wear, that makes you feel amazing when you wear them that you only remember needs mending when time is against you and you’ve got them on.


Small tweaks in a garment, even moving the buttons on the sleeve of a blouse can make such a difference. In some cases, tailoring your clothes can make them look more expensive than they are. If I buy an item from a high street retailer the fit is usually off, and minor alterations to a versatile piece i.e. a well-fitting jacket, dress or skirt can elevate any outfit and make it look as if it is a couture piece straight off the runway. Clothes that fit properly cannot only breathe new life into it but change the way you see yourself! A properly fitted garment makes all the difference in the world and staple pieces are always worth altering because you will wear them to death and feel fabulous while doing so.


You may have noticed that I look for that word “Elastane” when selecting any key pieces. The added elasticity provides an extra level of comfort and adjusts with any fluctuation in weight. Tailored trousers suits are a favourite of mine. Following DVT and my inability to exercise trousers not only covered my swollen right leg but the crisp lines of a trouser suit, despite my ever-expanding silhouette made feel polished and put together.


In trying to maintain some kind of routine and look respectable for the delivery men, once

out of my pyjamas and showered I pick a cosy outfit from my ever increasing arsenal of loungewear. Tops that are formal enough for conference calls without swapping out for comfort. A duster jacket gives it an elegant vibe but feels like your dressing gown. We all own a pair of black go to, wear all day leggings. These bootleg leggings from Freemans have proved invaluable now I am working from home.

Everyone wants to save the world,

but no one wants to help MUM do the dishes


Inspiration


Most of us think that we can just get up in the morning and create outfits without putting in the groundwork. If like me, you are shopping in your wardrobe, consistently losing inches and your body shape is forever changing then you know something that looked good on you a month ago may not fit you that way today!


The easiest way to get a sense of your own style while shopping in your own wardrobe and creating new outfits is to change your mindset and look at the pieces in your wardrobe through different eyes. Focus on what you already own and NOT on what you would like to include in your wardrobe. Great outfits are more about how you put them together than about the individual pieces. Go online and take a look at some of your favourite retail brands, NOT TO BUY anything but just to see the colour combinations and how they are styling things. If you cannot trust yourself to resist a bargain then go onto YouTube and seek inspiration from the catwalks. Quite often you will find that you own many of the pieces and can pull together combinations that you would not have thought would go together. If like me, you have a wardrobe full of clothes this is a sure way to bring those pieces back into the fold and breathe new life into them.


Maxi Dresses


Straight or voluminous, the long dress is an impressive addition in the feminine wardrobe. Whether you opt for a floor-sweeping maxi dress, pleated playful polka dots, floral and decadent patterns or the ultra-minimal and simplistic, a maxi dress will guarantee glamour. If you’re a little overwhelmed, don’t be! The maxi dress looks good on anybody.


Valentino’s 2020 Spring/Summer collection incites us to lengthen our hemlines and increase volume if we want to achieve maximum style points in this wardrobe staple. Wear with a short jacket or use a thin belt to define your waist.


Long patterns to the ground give a distinct elegance. A maxi dress can be worn in all seasons, yes even in winter if you are prepared to juxtaposed with oversized knits and get creative.


When you need the perfect dress for the day, for work, to go out with your girlfriends, or you have an event, the maxi dress is the way to go.


Sometimes, the versatility of the maxi dress turns into a headache, when figuring out how to wear your maxi dress to fit your style and body. Look to Pinterest, your favourite celebrities whose style you admire or YouTube Videos of the catwalk for inspiration.


Maxi Dresses in Winter


The maxi dress has become one of my favourite all year round pieces and a must-have in my wardrobe. They not only offer better coverage than any other dress but the bright colours in winter are not only unexpected but get you noticed. I love to throw on a breezy maxi dress and layer with a roll neck or thick tights underneath to instantly look cute and put together. This dress described as “dark yellow” is like gold on steroids hanging among the neutrals in my wardrobe. This striking maxi dress is one way to make an entrance—and an exit.

To those who say that this recent purchase is a little bit bold for my mature years, I would say I have spent the last 18 months not only regaining my health but cultivating self-love and acceptance. I discovered that my style is a cocktail of classic, chic, put together, romantic and edgy. Valentino’s 2020 fashion show cries out “go big or go home”. That life isn’t static and your wardrobe shouldn’t be either. A second chance in life has changed my perspective on the world and myself.


I would be the first to admit as a plus-size lady that self-expression can be scary, especially when playing it safe and suppressing my real self has served me well all of my life. Survival instincts warn us that to play it safe and stifle self-expression is easier than to risk judgment, humiliation, and even rejection.


This purchase is so much more than just about me buying an eye-catching dress. This is about me mapping out my true personal style, who I am as a person and embracing that. So, I had a decision to make. Do I return it, shift the focus and go back to dressing safe or do I boldly go where I have never been before? I decided to keep it. In a world where we all want to be seen, heard and make a point, working hard in the gym over the last 18 months only to end up with a basic wardrobe was not an option for ME.


"What's my style is not your style, and I don’t see how you can define it.

It’s something that expresses who you are in your own way.”

Iris Apfel

We’re so used to the way things are, that when a better alternative comes along, we tend to fear it. What if we didn’t? What if we broke the mould? That means wearing florals, bold prints, all white monochrome outfits and stripes without thinking twice about the antiquated notion that these styles are only for standard-sized people. Experimenting with my style and becoming confident has taken trial and error. I follow my mood when getting dressed in the morning, but being confident about creating interchangeable outfits using items I already own took time and patience.


Polka Dot Recreations


Bella Hadid put on a glamorous display while walking ramp Lanvin Menswear Runway Show 2020 in Paris. Bella Hadid wore a Voluminous black Lanvin maxi dress. The voluminous black dress featured a georgette material, asymmetric design, a mandarin neck and ruffled hem. She finished her look with pointy blue leather boots by Lanvin.

Today with women choosing to own their body, their curves, and their style, women of all shapes and sizes are wearing whatever they want without any consideration for what society thinks. While no two looks are the same, ALL are acceptable on plus-size bodies (see below my plus size Andrew GN recreation). Plus size women need not seek permission to wear what they want. In this photo I am unapologetically wearing white, got me the most likes ever on Instagram and requests to keep them coming. ASOS Design Ivory Curve Pop Suit Blazer Size 26 £52.00.

ASOS Design Ivory Curve Pop Slim Suit Trousers Size 26 £32.00.

Conker Croc Stirrup Heeled Loafers Size 9 £18.00 -40% (RRP £30.00).

ASOS Truffle Collection Structured Tan Mock Croc Bucket Bag £26.00 (-38% RRP £42.00) This faux leather, crock-effect finish structured bucket bag is my latest acquisition. I loved the colour, the grab handle and the option to use the detachable strap.


I do not care about repeating outfits or following every trend and I no longer buy clothes solely because of the design that others can see on the outside. I buy clothes because of how they make me feel on the inside. This dress is not only one of my favourite pieces, but I also take off my mask and feel the best version of myself whenever I am wearing it. All this cougar needs now is to throw her faux black leather jacket over her shoulders to bring out the edgy side of her personality.


Fashion says “me too” Style says “ONLY ME”


I am inspired by the versatility and comfort of the maxi dress. Layering with a sweater truly make your outfit options endless. For warmth wear tights, leggings or a thin roll neck underneath. Pair with ankle or knee boots for work, sneakers as a more comfy option or heels for a dressier occasion. The external layering can be a faux leather jacket, chunky cardigan or sweater to turn the maxi dress into a skirt, or faux fur vest.


My Recreation of Andrew GN Long Polka Dot Dress


On the Dot - My recreation is made up of JDWilliams Black Polka Dot Pleat Maxi Dress Size 26 £65.00 – PrettyLittleThing White Rib High Neck Sheer Polka Dot Puff Sleeve Long Top Size 26 £18 underneath and Fifty Plus Polka Dot Sling-back Shoes Size: 9 £29.75 (RRP £35.00) - Pleats and volume were huge on the spring/summer runway of Balmain and Givenchy. A hack I just saw on YouTube is to put on your sports or comfy seamless bra over a maxi dress, put your jumper on top and tuck the hem of your jumper up under the bra to keep it up and in place.

Runway to Everyday

For spring summer 2020 Valentino featured many angelic, voluminous white dresses with ruffles on the top and the bottom. The textured fabric gives weight to the dress so that it hangs and flows properly. ASOS Ivory Textured Smock Dress with Frill Hem Size 24 £28.00. This dress also encapsulates another 2020 trend prevalent on the runway of Zimmerman, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney – the puffy sleeve.


I thought this ASOS Design Gold Statement Necklace with Pastel Pearls and Abstract Pendant £6.50 (-56% RRP £15.00) would enable me to replicate the bold gold necklaces with gothic charms that Valentino paired his runway white dresses with.


The Designers have made the Cut

I thought that the cut-out trend that trickled down to the high street, for all of one season, had lost its cool. The idea of cut-out fashion at my age conjures up images of cheap revealing bodycon dresses and a faux pas just waiting to happen. That is why this ASOS Lime Green Bandage Cut Out Midi Dress, courtesy of my good friend and wedding organiser Valerie, has never left my wardrobe. In their divine wisdom Versace, Saint Laurent, Christopher Kane and Alexander McQueen have rekindled their love affair with the flesh-flashing feature and made it chic again.


Reserved Cut Outs

Brandon Maxwell, Awake Mode and John Rogers catered for the reserved woman with a more refined, millimetre-sized, cut-out collection. On closer inspection and applying the rule “less-is-more” this lime green number with discreet cut-outs at the thigh and waist, might just be ready for its debut.







Tropical Print

The psychedelic print trend is one that I will not be following this year. I did dip into this trend last spring courtesy of ASDA George Nude Palm Print Woven Shirt Size: 24 £12.50 but that’s about as bright or striking as I am prepared to go. You cannot be a wallflower and wear this print, even if you wear it sparingly as I did in this photo it is still incredibly loud. This big bold print is going to draw the eye but it is great for balancing out proportions when paired with solids and dark colours. This top will have longevity as it is grounded in black. It will not only integrate seamlessly into my wardrobe but breathe new life into the neutral items I already own and make them work harder for me.


The Low Waist

Unless I want to draw the eye to my tummy area or create a muffin top the low waist skirt or trouser is another trend that I will not be following.


Bralettes

Bralettes are another big trend on the catwalk that I will not be following. They will provide no support to my 40H bust. Instead, I will utilise lace-trimmed camisoles and decoratively trimmed tops I already own.


Neon

Neon colours are another must on the runway. I will be upcycling any neon pieces I already own but I will not be going out to purchase in anymore. I feel that if you are going to wear a neon colour you have to go completely all in or don’t bother and I am not bothering!

Black Knitted Dress – Keep it chic in this high neck, self-tie, long sleeve, figure-hugging black knitted dress and ankle boots or heels. The long-sleeved ribbed design and midi length provide that extra snug-ness.


This is an outfit I put together using my new "GETAWARDROBE" mobile app, (follow me on there my outfits are open to public viewing). The fitted silhouette accentuates your curves to make this the perfect desk to a night out transition piece. V by Very Black Roll Neck Rib Self Belt Midi Dress Size 24 £16.20 (RRP £35).


Refined or in this case tuck into self-tying belt wear with boots if white jumper put on black and white shoes or a roll neck under a black dress and ankle boots.


Turtle Necks – It’s turtle necks with everything this season. Wearing a turtle neck under your shirt or dress is going to be a strong look for 2020. Worn on its own with jewellery dressed up or dressed down this wardrobe staple is perfect for the transition into spring or warmer months.

Business as usual in Bermuda

If the thought of hot pants makes you want to run, Bermuda shorts are here to save the day. Putting a twist on the classic suit, designers from Bottega Veneta to Chloe to Givenchy embraced the Bermuda short suit for spring. Part nine-to-five, part California cool, meet the next wave of the bike short trend.





My Body Shape

Finally, I have found a photograph that reflects my true apple body shape. I felt instantly reassured to learn that I share my apple silhouette with celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Hudson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Tyra Banks. As my budget doesn’t stretch to a personal stylist I had to research specific fashion and styling tips that can enhance and make the most of my lines and curves. My broad shoulders, full bust and carrying all of my weight in my tummy area are characteristics of the “general apple-shaped woman”. I had to learn to dress strategically to detract notice from my tummy area.


I don’t want to state the obvious, but investing in a good bra is paramount. I learnt the hard way that wearing the wrong size bra, can affect your comfort, the fit of your clothes and surprisingly, your health too. In my previous blog, I explain how the right bra eliminated my neck strain where medication failed to.


Finding the correct bra size, instantly altered the fit of the clothes I wore to my appointment at Bravissimo. My new 40H bra lifted my bust and my confidence. The reflection staring back at me had lost 10 pounds off her tummy area, I had a waist and I could see where my breasts ended and my middle began. Take my word for it, a properly fitting bra makes all the difference in the world and will change the way you see yourself!

Distraction Techniques

Once I understood how to accentuate my best areas and detract attention from more problematic areas, I felt great wearing my body-enhancing creations.


An all over print dress distracts the eye, does not focus the eye on one area and is very flattering. wear trousers or skirts that are interesting, shiny or metallic that distracts from a certain area layering rouging means that you are more drawn to the skirt/trousers than what is going on around the stomach area. From the Versace runway to River Island every day. This deconstructed pencil skirt – River Island Black Tie Wrap Asymmetric Pencil Skirt Size 24 £38 - is so striking that you are focused on the ruffles of the skirt and not on my middle area. The illusion of a shorter skirt elongates the leg giving the delusion of a taller, leaner silhouette.


River Island Black Bardot Top with Asymmetric Button


My Most Flattering Tops -

I have wanted this Bardot Top ever since I started back in the gym 10th September 2018. All good things come to those who wait because I got this on 20 February 2020 for a fraction of the original price. River Island Black Bardot Top with Asymmetric Button Detail Size 28 £15.50 (-55% £35.00)

H&M+ Light Pink Wrapover Top Size XL (22-24) £9.00 (RRP £17.99) - I have researched and continue to learn about any “hacks” that will create balance for my body. Wearing monochromatic outfits, V neck, scoop neck, cowl neck or empire neck tops that sit right under your bust line or belting yourself just underneath your bust brings definition and focus to your waist.



ASOS Lemon Spot Print off the Shoulder Top Size 24 £16 (Purchased 19 May 2018)


The correct neckline will visually draw the eye up and divide the width of your shoulders and chest. A-Line, empire, wrap and shift dresses creates interest and dimension in your body. Exposing your shoulders or drawing attention to your shoulders can trick the eye and give the illusion of a smaller waist.


This ASOS Mint Floaty Blouse Size 28 £21.50 (RRP £36.00) (Purchased 23 July 2017) has to be one of my all-time favourite purchases. The neck line is a little different and if I had a penny for the amount of times someone has offered to buy it from me I would be a wealthy woman.


A classic white button-down shirt with the bottom crossed over at the front, creates interest and gives a flattering effect synched in at the waist where the shirt crosses over.


ONE OF THE MOST WORN PAIR OF TROUSERS I OWN


My Most Flattering Trousers

If you have an apple-shaped body type then you may well struggle to find trousers/pants that fit you well. Skinny jeans look fantastic on apple-shaped legs and we would probably live in them if we could. The most flattering choice for apple-shaped women are high waisted, kick flare/bootcut, tie, elastic or paper bag waist, peg or tapered, floral print, suit or wide-leg cropped trousers. A side fastening or zip eradicates any bulk from your waist. River Island Black Plus Crest Button Peg Trousers - Size 26 £36.00


Mid to High Rise – are fantastic at creating a waist and if you’re carrying a little weight around your middle (which tends to be where apple shapes put weight on) the high waist will help eliminate any chance of muffin top and is comfortable to boot. You know that something is sitting on your natural waist if you do not have love handles or muffin top or anything coming out at the sides.


ASOS Nude Camel Mix & Match High Waist Cigarette Trousers Size 24 £19.50 (RRP £28.00 -30%) Bought 15 July 2019

Tapered trousers that pinch at the waist and balloon at the hip or boot cut trousers give my body shape and balance. Carrot and paper-bag style pants are brilliant at creating curves. The excess fabric at the hips will give you a little more shape around the bottom and will enhance your waist. They are perfect for my shape! ASOS Blue Wash Farleigh High Waisted Slim Mom Jeans with Rips with Raw Hem £17.50 (-50% RRP £35.00)


When carrying all of your weight above your waist try a thin belt when a thick belt does not work. Sometimes a thinner belt looks more chic or elegant.


The All Important Outer Layer


ASOS Curve Sage Grandad Coat £43.00 (-28% £60.00) - I saw this and knew it was going to be an instant classic in my wardrobe. One of those investment pieces I will pat myself on the back for buying whenever I pull out of my wardrobe, year after year.



The notch lapel, single side-button closure, drop shoulders, functional pockets and relaxed fit of this coat, especially from the back, gave me 1950 vibes when women could comfortably wear a suit underneath.

A piece that that combines comfort, practicality and style like nothing else in your wardrobe, is an outfit in itself. This sage coat is impervious to trends, is going to last, look good and work with the other clothes in your wardrobe.


Square toes Mules

Call it the Bottega Effect, but these affordable ASOS dupes of the sleek, square-toed mule trend instantly won me over with the comfort factor. I love the way these mules look on my post DVT right leg. I hope there is enough warm weather left over at the end of this COVID-19 lockdown so that I can wear them. These ASOS Mid-Pink New Look Square Toe Flare Stilettos in mid pink Size 9 £23.99 mules make for a more walking-friendly option while adding a splash of colour to any spring outfit. I for one can't stop, won't stop wearing my new on-trend must-have shoes. Get a pair before they sell out!


Accessories

It is no secret that jewellery adds accents and can take an outfit from zero to hero in an instant. As a plus-size woman, wearing large earrings, long or multi-layered necklaces complete any outfit and make me look more sophisticated.


Time to drag out some of those “stood the test of time” accessories that you haven’t worn in a long time. I have pieces that I have bought over 10 years ago from Next that people still comment on how lovely they are to this day. They are enthusiastic until I tell them how long I have had it. I am happy that I bought it and that I will feel just a little different from everyone else whenever I wear it.


A lesson I have learnt is that if I stash my accessories away in a box where I cannot see them then I won’t wear them. So I bought white plastic hooks from the pound shop, stuck them onto the edge of a shelf so that I can see them and reach for them with ease.


Anti-Chafing Shorts


CHUB RUB - NO MORE!

For many, the onset of hot weather means celebrations but for a large proportion of the female population, it brings two of the most annoying things to come out of a hot summer - chafing thighs and under breast sweating. While nobody in their right mind would complain about warm weather, for some people it gets so bad they relish going to work and avoid leaving the safety of an air-conditioned room at all costs.


So how do we end days of thigh-rubbing, boob-sweating misery? Exercising and inch loss means that I no longer spend my summers sweating it out in trousers or suffer strange looks walking with my legs three feet apart to ensure that the redraw sections of Thigh A do not come into contact with Thigh B. These days’ anti-chafing solutions, shorts, creams, and even underwear are better than ever to help prevent the dreaded chub rub.


I bought the ASOS Curve Black 2 Pack Anti-Chafing Shorts Size £9.50 (RRP £14.00) because I didn’t believe that the Asda Liquid Talc would work.

ASDA Little Angels Liquid Talc £0.87p


This 87p wonder-cream from Asda has blown up on social media as the remedy revolutionise your summer. Liquid Talc, which is a talcum powder in liquid form, is part of Asda's 'Little Angels' baby skincare range. While it was designed to enhance the softness of a new born baby's skin it is said to work wonders in preventing thigh chafing and under breast sweating.


Tried & Tested Review It’s akin to walking around all day with invisible fragrant towels under my breasts and scented chafing shorts on my thighs. It keeps me dry throughout the night even when I suffer a flare-up of the menopause.


CONCLUSION:

My employers have a relaxed policy about what I wear to the office, and yet each morning I would put myself through unnecessary panic. I open my wardrobe, stand there paralysed, unprepared, knowing that I am going to be late and it is “groundhog day”. My “Lastminute dot com” method comes into play as I try on different outfits, without any real direction or plan. I am stressing out, even more, knowing that after a long day at the office I would have to re-hang the items that lay in a heap on my bed.


I have utilised this time to create a beautiful wardrobe space. Not by spending a lot of money but by investing time, which let’s face due to COVID-19 we all have a lot of right now! I like the layout, the colour coded system I have in place and even the hangers that I use. This is now a relaxing, inspiring, creative space where I plan my outfits for you and play dress up. Where trying on and taking off clothes is no longer a maddening rushed experience.


I know how difficult it can be to find clothes that flatter the curves of women who have extra pounds, especially when our weight is are not evenly distributed on our body. It is even harder to find the right size or flattering fit for your body type every time we shop. This should not be an obstacle in seeking out stylish clothes that will not only embrace your body and surely steal the show! Difficult does not mean impossible! Please do not use this as an excuse to revert to type and hide under a tent!


Agonising whether “is this too formal”, “is that too out there” or “is this too short” resulted in me wearing an outfit I would regret the moment I stepped out of the house. I am no longer afraid to choose a pair of close-fitting pants. Experiment with fitted styles, colour and prints. Black is not the only colour that will flatter a plus-size silhouette.

Thin women do not have a monopoly on being fashionable? I have found plus size clothes for a special dinner date or formal function that will surely steal the show! I have a big bust and broad back and am not comfortable wearing strapless or backless gowns. That is why when I find a timeless gown that makes me look and feel attractive I invest in it.


So, whether I reap the seeds of courage or end up licking my wounds in wearing my new wardrobe, I will never regret trying. Yes, it can be scary to expose yourself to the world, and yes, others will likely judge you, but those same people who have nothing better to do, will judge you anyway. Since there is no way to avoid judgment, why not live the life you want to live? Anything less is too big a price to pay. Of all the billions of people who have ever lived or will ever live, there is only one ME, and my only job is to be ME. So I am going back in my wardrobe to pull out all of those waist synching, emphasise my hips and sheer items of clothing I bought, always dreamt of wearing but kept hidden at the back of my wardrobe. My new Bravissimo bras and collection of belts is a simple way to elevate my outfits. Time to work my legs and show them off with my square toe slinky heels.


I was 58 years old on 24th March 2020 and despite the lockdown, my mind was fertile uploading my wardrobe onto my “Getawardrobe” mobile app (screenshot of my Getwardrobe above) and creating different outfits. I have never been this excited about my wardrobe. Uploading my wardrobe was the best way to breathe new life into those classic items that I have owned for many years and truly love. Scarfs and headbands are no longer a maybe they are “must be”. Thank you for continuing to share my no jogging, no negativity, no weighing myself no negativity journey back to health. Stay safe until next time. X

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