NOT TO BE MIST - LET'S GLOW BEHIND THE SCENES

HAPPY NEW YEAR and yes it has been a while since my last blog for which I apologise. I am not ashamed to admit that as a “2020 Bride to Be” I have been unable the last couple of months to juggle everything and keep all balls in the air!


Christmas/New Year 2017 -v- Christmas/New Year 2020


With every New Years’ Eve their old memories and the hope of new beginnings and resolutions to change bad habits i.e. striking a balance which included taking care of my health, nutrition, exercise, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. This time last year I had dispensed with all of my “mother guilt” or "self-chastisement". I had only been back in the gym 3 months and 21 days and praying that on New Years’ Eve 2019, I would not have given up the fight to better health, or suffered another stroke or worse, that DVT had returned to my right leg and most important of all, that I would still be working out in the gym.


I am happy to report this cold Sunday morning that after a lifetime of inaction that contributed to my ill-health, I am still living my inch loss fairy tale. One year and three months on I still look forward to Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings in the gym, and the seductive pull of the sauna that I know is sure to follow, like a child the night before Christmas.


After each gym session on the journey home, I retreat into my little world. Ritualistic emotions, of anxiety, excitement, tiredness and happiness that I completed another session engulf me. I try to assess how much I have improved by scrolling through my I-Phone and looking at photos to see if my stomach muscles have become tighter or my buttocks lifted any higher. I pray that any weight loss will be evident when I post my next compare photo and that my followers, supporters and subscribers can see how hard I have been working. There is such delicious freedom in understanding that by doing it my way, i.e. holding onto the treadmill when walking, not dieting, not jogging, not weighing myself, no negativity and not applying the same thinking I used in the past - I LOST INCHES.


I had to find a way to balance the benefits of getting older with the consequences of how I had lived my earlier years. Later on, in the blog we will look back at my no dieting, no weighing myself, no jogging and no negativity weight loss fairy tale. Getting older is very different from looking older!


With the children grown up and no need for me to go straight home from work every night, I began to feel a restlessness that comes with any new-found freedom. Without warning, I get to decide how I ease my frazzled nerves away at the end of a long day. Although each year another petal would fall away from this ageing rose, I quickly realised that getting older meant I now have options. I now have TIME. Time to check and nurture my appearance. Time to leave the bathroom door open and take long hot baths surrounded by t-candles and the sound of saxophonist Antonio Allen emanating from my I-phone, or simply watching a remake of Magnum PI or Hawaii Five-O and drift off into an early night's sleep.


I was determined to seize this opportunity and make transformative changes in my life. To do whatever activity I found restful, exciting and fulfilling. I am not going to feel guilty about saying this and some may find it a contradiction in terms, but going to the gym is the top of my list whenever I want to REST! Of course, being healthy spills over into so many other areas of my life, but I never knew how much I enjoyed it until a clot (DVT) in my right leg and my inability to walk without pain took that activity away from me.


Many of us, myself included, equate rest with either sleeping or sitting around doing nothing. WRONG!!! Resting is something we do when we are awake and not working. Resting could be doing an activity that we may not necessarily enjoy, but a pastime that stops our minds racing or whirling around, that stops us thinking about our to-do list and all those other things that crowd in daily and overwhelm us. Going to the gym has benefitted me physically, mentally and cognitively. As I pull back the glass doors of Fitness First and walk in, I leave everyday life and anything that is taxing me emotionally, at the door. Walking on the treadmill with my headsets secured in place with a black headscarf enables me to put things into perspective. Going to the gym is my prescription for “rest” and it may surprise you to learn that I am not alone in this!

Loungewear

Yes the days are darker and the weather is colder but never have the chill luxe-loungewear ever been more popular. I have good news for those of us that are fed up wasting our downtime deciding what jeans, top, dress, tights we are going to wear. Your jogging bottoms, hoodies and loungewear just got sumptuous. Everything has an expiration date. Karl Lagerfeld’s quote “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants” would be so out of place today. These lived-in staples are now so opulent that celebrities have given loungewear their fashionable, sophisticated seal of approval. Victoria Beckham closed her recent catwalk by kicking off her trademark heels, wearing a roll neck jumper, cropped trousers and trainers.


As we bring the public into what was once a very private domain, no one wants to compromise how “cute” they look when posting photos on Instagram stretching luxuriously beneath the covers or snuggled up in a duvet sipping a mug of hot chocolate or coffee. As a consequence social media focused on the fact that nostalgic loungewear or comfort wear that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy is no longer the mainstay of the bedroom but the stylish, sophisticated slouchy separates, that can be worn both indoors and out!


Ultra-flattering loungewear fashion, especially for the fuller figure, has come a long way from the grotty grey tracksuits and old sweatshirts of yesteryear. Dedicated fashion lovers testify, that if approached correctly, it is impossible not to feel bijou in today’s slouchy separates and after one wear, you'll never want to take them off. A soft, luxe, slouchy - the comfier the better - outfit, is this seasons ultimate transitional get-up, for anyone that wants to look amazing, whether sitting in front of the fire wearing slipper socks, or paired with sneakers or pumps when popping out for any occasion that might crop up in your diary.


The boohoo Plus range have designed an ultra-flattering collection for UK sizes 16 to 24, combining statement styles with perfectly proportioned fits.



Valentines Day 2020


Each year this hopeless romantic looks forward to Valentine’s Day because it is truly a full day of surprises and indulgence. To guarantee our table at my most favourite restaurant in the world, Fredricks in Islington, my fiancé always makes a reservation in November of the preceding year. Nothing says “Bon appétit” like enjoying a really, delicious meal under the stars in the conservatory. This year, after 17 months back in the gym and steady inch loss I am inspired and excited to go through my wardrobe and layer some sophisticated and classy pieces to combat the cold weather and solidify my Valentine's Day dinner look without spending a fortune. While my brain warns me to be understated my ever-changing body says BE BOLD. For the avoidance of doubt, my age DOES NOT make me immune to the qualities appreciated by men.


Knowing now that it is never too late to experiment with personal style and trends, I am not going to regurgitate historical myths about fashion over 50 - and what not to wear. Instead, I am going to ride the wave of daily likes and growing followers on my Instagram feed — which tells me we are looking to women twice our age as much as we are to 20-something influencers for personal style, body confidence and shopping tips. Looking good rather than looking young is the new mantra, irrespective of age or size. A classic white shirt, bold prints and a chunky necklace is an excellent choice for me aged 57 as it was in my teens. Designers are beginning to recognise the potential influence of mature women and that plus size fashion over 50 is a market they can no longer afford to ignore.


After regaining my health, sharing my blog and updating my style to create outfits that look timeless, ageless and classic was second on my agenda. My age did not stifle my fascination with quintessential sheer pieces. The sheer trend is not something, even at my age, I shy away from. It is such a powerful piece, it's no wonder it's been a trend for a few years now.


How do you actually... wear sheer, I hear you ask. It's not as easy as slipping it on and heading outside — well not unless you're cool with everyone seeing your underwear.



Sheer Genius


I am not going to apologise for being in my PRIME and still passionate about fashion. You would think that aged 57 I would feel intimidated and that the sheer trend would be something I would shy away from. Sometimes you just want to make a statement. Sheer items of clothing will add a little bit of femininity and intrigue to any look. Not to be completely shameless, but nothing brings out the predatory stare of a female or captivates the never wavering gaze of men, in some cases two decades younger than me to lock on and track a woman as she winds her way through a crowd, like a sheer piece of fabric. You know how you play it cool as if you experience this kind of thing every day while doing the math in your head of just how long it has been since you caused this kind of reaction.


Plus Size Pinterest Recreations Video


There’s nothing the fashion world loves more than doling out directions and issuing edicts. Sick and tired of being told “this is in”, “that is out”, “this is on-trend”, “that will look hideous on your body shape”, “that is not age-appropriate” or “this item will be a total fashion disaster” - I stopped struggling to fit into the ONE SIZE FITS ALL BODY SHAPES clothing retailers continue to generate that not only make me feel uncomfortable but do not fit properly.


Designers wake up. One plus-size, petite size, tall size DOES NOT FIT ALL body shapes! Knowing now how to dress my body shape – and which retailers to avoid – was the first step to owning my personal style. I only buy from brands like ASOS, Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo and that take a curvaceous fit into account when sizing their clothing. Going forward, only retailers who promote inclusivity and shapes of all sizes will profit from my hard-earned cash. So the next time you're standing in the fitting room, exasperated, remember that it is NOT YOU that needs to be altered, it is YOUR CLOTHES!


I decided to grab myself a dress to impress no matter what the occasion. The black middle panel attracts the eye first making it the front and centre of the dress, playing down the wow factor of the sheer skirt and reducing it to an interesting detail in the overall look. The black criss-cross heavier rib contrasting panel is a bodycon fit, providing Spanx-like support that helps to control, slim and streamline my tummy area. The black panel is an interesting way of playing with layers and proportions while providing sufficient coverage to balance out a large amount of skin I will be showing. Unlike most trends, at my mature age, this dress did not leave me scratching my head on Valentines Day.


ASOS Curve Black Self-Stripe Panelled Midi Dress -

Size 24 £28.00 (-20%) (RRP £35.00) – A sheer evening dress is one of my statement wardrobe-essentials. This dress is a fun alternative to the usual cover my arms, cover my tummy plain “DON’T NOTICE ME DRESS” I would usually reach for and proved perfect for the romantic mood of Valentine's day. The black criss-cross contrasting panel with the sheer skirt and sleeves legitimised my decision to go elegant but bold. The striped sections are not too sheer or the material too thin which means it does not pull when I move and sits correctly on my body.


At first glance, this dress appears to be quite tricky to wear. One wrong move and I will be showing everyone my panties. But believe me, I am adequately covered as the hem of the black panel hits the top of my thighs, sparing my blushes and allowing me to look classy, elegant and sexy.


The black panel hugs my body to reveal curves I have not possessed for many years. The entire evening I was consumed with an overwhelming feeling of serenity and peace. I walked taller, smiled bigger and carried myself with poise and confidence because the garment felt like it was made for my body.


This dress clings where you want it and forgives where you need it and by teaming it with Chanel look-alike slip-on shoes and eye-catching black tote bag with gold hardware, it truly was all eyes on me in the restaurant. Indeed another diner commented to my fiancé as we made our way to the sofa area to continue our after-dinner drinks and coffee “your wife looks very glamorous”. Never underestimate the power of the unexpected.

ASOS Natural Wide Fit Whisker Sling-Back Mid Heels in Natural Fabric - Size 9 £21.50 (-28%) (RRP £30.00)(-28%) (RRP £30.00) - The Chanel-Esque Slip-on style, contrast trim, slim black toe and block heel a strappy pair of heels is all that is needed to update a dress.




ASOS Black Clean Structured Tote Bag with Gold Plate Detail - £22.00 (-21%) (RRP £28.00) - The classic top handle, structured shape, black colour adorned with gold hardware and studded base will not only work with everything in my wardrobe but last for years and look great. The bag size is important and the flap top, twist-lock clasp means I can get all of my essentials in and out of the bag with ease. I love the shape of this bag I think it looks really smart and sophisticated and perfect for many occasions.


Keeping your silhouette clean and your tailoring sharp is an easy way to look pulled together in an instant. Sometimes a nip here and a tuck there to make more room or create the perfect fit is all that is required. Tailoring trends do not change too much. Flattering fits and cut never go out of style as it is universal and have been for years and years. Oversize jackets are having a moment!! If I have a dress where the lining has “no give” and is hugging a bit, I make room by letting out the darts or side seam. This small alteration gives me breathing space, comfort and a better fit without altering the structure of the garment. In some instances, I simply cut a slit or vent in the lining of a dress. Luckily for me, I used to make clothes and so I am not averse to a little in-home tailoring to nip and tuck a garment so that it follows the silhouette of my body.


A Right Pain in the Neck


During a girly chat, I mentioned to my life-long friend and wedding co-ordinator Valerie, that I had been suffering from relentless neck pain for a couple of months and that during the day I often have to shift my left bra strap from my shoulder to my arm just to get some relief. Valerie was always harping on about making an appointment with Bravissimo to get a bra fitting. Valerie was convinced that the correct bra size would not only improve the fit of my clothes but might alleviate my neck pain.


I was less than happy with my reflection in the mirror. I could not see where my bust ended and my stomach began and to add insult to injury the dreaded “hammock look” of bulging boobs in the front and sides and my bra band sitting high in my back was dominant in my photos. Frankly, it was embarrassing. I could never purchase or ever consider wearing a dress or outfit that required a strapless bra.


As far as my friend Carmen is concerned if you are wearing a good quality bra that fits and by that she means a bra that "lifts and separates" then your clothes will look good on you. As my goal is to increase subscribers and followers to my social media platforms, achieving the perfect bra fit became an obsession. It was no longer a want but a need.


Research for this blog revealed that 80 percent of women wear the wrong size bra. Of those women, 70 percent wear bras that were too small, while the other 10 percent wear bras that were too big. I just found out that the cause of my neck pain had nothing to do with the way I was sleeping but simply that I was one of the 10 percent, despite being regularly fitted by M&S, who was wearing a bra that was too big.


Like so many mothers of that era, M&S was “the place” to go and get your bra “properly fitted”. Sorry mum M&S "flopped" when it came to measuring me for a bra. Like Valerie and Carmen who swear that the correct bra automatically “lifts and separates” I too had been wondering why no matter how hard I worked out in the gym or how many inches I lost, some of my clothing just wouldn’t fit me properly.


It seemed to work for mum as she always looked put together. So each year, I followed that tradition and I would go back into M&S wearing their brand of bra, in the size the last saleswoman told me I should be wearing. After the perfunctory tape measuring fiasco, they would increase the cup or the band size. Looking back I think that like most women the sales staff knew that in my desperation, I was prepared to spend any amount of money to get it right and so limited my “correct size”. Over the years the saleswomen stated my “correct bust size” to range between a 38C to 44E which coincidentally was the standard range of patterns, colours that the Marble Arch Branch carried in “my size”.


Finally, when I could no longer suffer the neck strain I combined some wedding shopping Valerie and I had to do in the West End with an appointment at the Oxford Circus branch of Bravissimo. Little did I know that this visit would change my life forever.


Bravissimo, have a unique fitting method of using their eyes to “size me up”. This unique method changed my life. When I put on the bra, tears pricked my eyes because the neck pain immediately eased. There were so many questions rushing around in my head I didn’t know where to start. Why is the band not riding up at the back? How did she get the neck pain to stop? I was having a moment akin to the emotions I felt when I said: “yes to my wedding dress”. I felt as if after years of knowing something wasn’t quite right, I had been vindicated. My correct bra size is a NON-STANDARD 40H. My next question was – how on earth could M&S have got it so wrong. After shouting I will take it the saleswoman stepped forward to undo it and I screamed: “no don’t take it off”. “Just remove the tag so that the cashier can scan the price tag.


M&S 40H Non-Wired Bra


To complete my research I purchased a 40H non-wired bra and I broke out into a sweat trying to get it on. Once I did have it on my neck strain immediately returned, buy boobs where bunched together at the front, it did not sit flat against my chest and the familiar "HAMMOCK APPEARANCE" reared its ugly head. Contrary to my Bravissimo bra the under band DID NOT sit parallel to the floor or nice and level around the body, it rode up at the back; The centre front DID NOT sit completely flat against the sternum and my bust was squashed together.


Fit Before & After Bravissimo Bra


Remember, the M&S bra had no underwiring it might as well have been made out of steel the way it was cutting into my ribcage; As for cup capacity that is meant to fully encase my breasts, this was none existent and there was over spillage at the top and sides; Comfort was not a criteria as there was no way I would be able to place one finger let alone two fingers under either the straps or the underband at the back. A Bravissimo bra is anything but STANDARD! M&S you have lost a loyal customer. Don’t ignore the tell-tale signs that you’re wearing the wrong bra size.

17 MONTHS BACK IN THE GYM PHOTO GYM COMPARE

Photo 1 Taken 10 September 2018

Photo 2 Taken 10 February 2020


You, my subscribers at www.yolandasworld.com and Instagram followers at Yolanda1sworld have travelled this no dieting, no jogging, no negativity and no weighing myself journey with me since 10 September 2018. We alone must walk that path and together we did. Let’s re-examine my classic weight-loss fairy tale my health was in peril, suffering DVT and two strokes were harrowing forcing me to raise my fitness game and take responsibility for my wellbeing. Let’s look back on my compare photos with fresh eyes, to see just how far we have come.

Weight Loss Compare Collage



EASY TO WEAR & EASY TO PAIR

ASOS Curve Grey Marl Rib Button Through Midi Dress - Size 26 - (£25 purchased 14.11.2018) This oversized knitted dressed is the ultimate in comfort dressing. A pair of heels, knee-high boots or ankle boots all go well with this dress.


ASOS Black Curve Tailored Smart Mix & Match Cigarette Trousers

A smart pair of black trousers that fits well and is really comfortable that can be dressed up or down, is essential in any lady’s wardrobe. They can be worn with loafers or bally pumps giving that Audrey Hepburn vibes for a lovely daytime look. Swap the flats for heels and transform the trousers from daytime to evening. Black trousers are a nice alternative to jeans and look good worn casually, in the evening or for a smarter occasion.


PENCIL SKIRT - A great wardrobe is a mix of classic pieces that look great in any season, is flattering on most body shapes with endless ways to wear it when integrated with current trendy pieces. The pencil skirt just such a piece and has been part of the woman's working wardrobe for decades. The knee-length hemline is very office appropriate and it does create a very polished silhouette. This classic wardrobe staple is so flattering on all body types and will always be in style.


Very River Island Black Plus Tie Wrap Asymmetric Pencil Skirt - Size 24 £38 – I do look to the past for inspiration. This deconstructed pencil skirt is a nice play on a classic that makes it both interesting and very of the moment. The twists and draping is a fun way to change things up a bit in my wardrobe. This is easy to wear as with all the layering etc. the skirt is your embellishment. Team with a plain top and you are good to go.


Very Cream Ribbed Grown On Neck Jumper – Size 24 £15 (RRP £30) – I have been on the hunt for a simple, functional, oversized, knit one pearl one neutral jumper for many years. To bag such a classic in a neutral colour at this price is a steal. The instant I tried it on I felt great and it looked fantastic. This neutral classic consistently comes back every year, is universally flattering and looks great on everyone. This will be ideal if off to Pancake House at Centre Parcs or popping out for a coffee or brunch. Whenever I want that just rolled out of bed, Audrey Hepburn, black trousers, black flats and yet pulled-together look going on I will be reaching for this wardrobe staple.

RIVER ISLAND CLASSIC 2020 PLUS SIZE PIECES


Above are a few new River Island plus size pieces I have my eye on.


UPDATE

  1. As outlined at the beginning of this blog I have now understand the difference between rest and sleep.

  2. I can lift my foot up onto my knee to give my toes and feet the care that has been lacking for a few years which they so richly deserve.

  3. Periodically breaking out into a trot on the treadmill means that my joints need longer to recover so at the moment I am only able to go to the gym twice a week whenever I feel my joints need longer to recover. I learnt the hard way to listen to my body.

  4. On Tuesdays Thursdays and the weekends I take my foot off the accelerator slow things down and enjoy my hobbies.

  5. My hairline is growing back at a rapid rate since using the Fenugreek Oil. So no more weaves or wigs for me that require lots of glue, spritz or spray to keep them in place. A lot more protective styles for natural hair.

  6. Recreating and posting plus size versions of Pinterest outfits is my current favourite pastime. The increase in followers indicates to me that other women out there like it too.

  7. I post inspirational quotes alongside pictures of calories burnt in the gym or compare photos of when I started back in the gym on 10 September 2018 versus where I am at today.


CONCLUSION: Even aged 57, I still want to look sexy, appealing and hot. Every month, every week, something new excites me. There is a close connection between your clothes and how you feel. If I look better I feel better. “Real style is never right or wrong. It’s a matter of being yourself on purpose.” – G. Bruce Boyer. Take time for yourself. Make time for yourself. Be kind to yourself and each other. I promise to not leave it so long next time. XX


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