Your Bra size DIFFERS FROM your strapless bra size! Come let me hook you up

Welcome back. Just before we move onto the FUN stuff, and hoping the lockdown will soon be over I think this is the perfect opportunity to re-affirm the positive message of my blog – that we are ALL BEAUTIFUL IN OUR WAY. We are human imperfect or otherwise. We are personalities and we all have strengths. In each blog, I try to let it all out and promote a positive attitude towards ourselves and others.


Scratching at the scars of the past can inhibit us and become a distraction. It is easy to get in the habit of hiding behind and focusing on things that don’t matter. The focal point should be you. With that in mind, I am asking the real you to come to stand with me on that precipice and using a very thin emotional cord risk jumping off “Difficult Bridge” and take a leap of faith in yourself.


We all have our definition of what is beautiful and that is why we cannot define beauty in only one way i.e. the unrealistic manufactured beauty ideals that have been forced on us by the fashion industry. The need to have long hair, glowing skin, nice boobs, cool ass, no cellulite, no this, no that or only this and where only that is acceptable.


Free yourself of the body-shaming shackles that have held you, prisoner, for so many years. I know it is difficult not to feel insecure, particularly when someone close to you or a family member is the one who said something hurtful about the way you look. Maybe their words have stuck with you and held you back from being and showing who you are. For others, there is the emotional torment or stomach curling knot that resurfaces whenever you are likely to bump into them at a social gathering. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, your aunt, uncle, cousin or friend has probably never given a second thought about how, if, or whether their offensive comment has impacted you.


I am reminded of Al Pacino’s speech as Frank Slade in the movie Scent of a Woman that won him the best actor award in 1992:


“…I have been around you know there was a time I could see boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out their legs ripped off, but there is nothing, nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit there is no prosthetic for that”…

“Now when I have come to the crossroads in my life, I always knew what the right path was, without exception, I knew, but I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard!...”


Now you have come to a crossroad and have to choose a path. Is the path where it’s acceptable not to be perfect, no longer afraid to face what has been holding you back from wearing what you are truly drawn to, the right path for you? Has it become “normal” to suppress our curiosity, our passion to discover, our desire to know ourselves and to express who we are? Sharing my journey with you has rekindled those positive feelings and a sense of excitement that dressing up can give.


Take back your courage to try something new, something different. Dress for yourself. Dress in a way that expresses your personality and who you are as a person. Don’t let others destroy your inner strength. Embrace it. Protect it. Remember this if nothing else, there is a type of dress, jeans, bodysuit, skirt, roll neck, top etc. for EVERY BODY TYPE. Don’t sell yourself out to buy a future and never say never to fashion. Yes, you are going to have to invest a little time in finding the retailer that is the right fit for your silhouette as the material used, brand sizing, stitching, placements of zips etc. all have an impact on how a garment fits you.There is no universal fit plus-size or otherwise for our bodies across the board. You have to try different looks and different brands because you just never know! Case in point see my journey in finding my correct bra size and different strapless bra size below. Lecture over!

Plus-Size Adds a Pop of Colour


During the lockdown, I have experimented with different looks, a pop of colour, lipsticks, lipglosses, sunglasses and wore my first bodysuit. I have made a conscious effort not to pose with my hands in front of my problem area i.e. my stomach because whenever I see a photo of a plus-size woman holding her bag in front of her stomach or obstructing the full silhouette of the outfit, I immediately focus on that area to see what she is hiding. Similarly, when shopping online I stay away from any garment where the model is sitting down, not facing the camera head-on or where there is no video footage. Nine times out of ten the item would be too short or too tight and ultimately I have to send it back.


With the pictures above I hope to demonstrate that we women labelled “plus-size” do not only have to wear black, expansive clothing or compromise being fashionable when carrying a little more weight on our hips.

Taking this picture is as much for any woman who wouldn't dream of showing her stomach as it was for me. You see, I realised that losing weight was never going to make me as happy and free as accepting myself. I am not saying that today I would feel comfortable taking and posting photos of myself in just a bikini, but until that day there is a wide range of stylish swimsuits I can fall back on.


NEON OUTFIT - PrettyLittleThing Orange Tie Dye Round Neck Top - Size: 22 £12.00, ASOS Grey Blue Blazer in Crepe with Slim Lapel – Size: 28 £25.00 (Purchased 27.07.2017), ASOS Grey blue Ankle Grazer Cigarette Trouser in Crepe – Size: 28 £19.50 (Purchased 27.07.2017), ASOS Design Blue Contrast Outer Edge Panel Cross Body Bag - £22.00 (Purchased 24.07.2018)


FORMAL OUTFIT - PrettyLittleThing Charcoal Tie Dye Rib Crop Top - Size: 22 (£11.00), H&M+ Black Double-Breasted Jacket with Pearl Buttons – Size: 2XL £13.50 (- £21.49 RRP £34.99), ASOS Black High Waisted Pencil Skirt – Size: 26 £18.00, River Island Black Crock Embossed Satchel Cross Body Bag - £34.00.

Fortunately, there are so many great plus-size role models on social media for anyone unsure of how to look. If losing weight to correspond to a supposed ideal hasn’t worked for you in the past, maybe it’s time to think carefully about your attitude and consider learning to love yourself.

WHAT SIZE STRAPLESS BRA TO BUY?


I apologise for harping on about the importance of undergarments but for almost all occasions, wearing the correct undergarments are more important than your clothes. Visible crinkles or lines are distracting and will make or break an outfit, even one as effortless as jeans and a t-shirt. Now that I am wearing the correct strapless bra, I am in control. Gone are any reservations about my ample breasts being supported, the bra digging into me, unsightly indentations, bulging or the dreaded back fat or my bra slipping down to nestle in the narrowest part of my waist. Last but not least, unlike my mother before me, my bra is no longer the first thing I want to discard the moment I am behind closed doors as now, I forget that I am wearing one. The correct bra will be invisible under clothing.


Following the onset of the menopause, it didn’t take much for my body to overheat and so adding a layer of restricting shapewear was my excuse to escape the undergarment layering of the bra, girdle, vest and slip that my mother subjected herself to each time she dressed to go out. I can hear her now “no respectable woman goes out without a vest and a slip”!


What size strapless bra do I buy is the most commonly asked strapless bra question. This is because the cup and a band size of your strapless bra are NOT the same as your normal bra. Like so many women I didn’t know that a snug back band is the key to a great fit. The reason for this is that 95% of the support of any bra, whether it’s strapless or a regular bra, comes from the band. The band is what keeps your bust up, while the straps simply help the bra lie flat against your bust.The rule of thumb when buying a strapless bra is that you should size down in the band and size up in the cup. However, don’t try to go too much smaller! A too-tight strapless bra might ultimately slide down, looking for the thinnest part of your frame to call home. Of course, the strapless bra formula will only work if your bra is the correct size (details in my previous blog).


As you know from my earlier blog, my pursuit of the perfect foundation garment mercifully came to an end earlier this year, aged 57 at Bravissimo Oxford Circus, London. No more sagging breasts effect, ill-fitting clothes, neck strain or discomfort. My correct bra size turned out to be a 40H Bravissimo fit. Using the above “rule of thumb” I purchased this Dana Black Strapless Bra - Black 42G £44 from Very and I experienced the same feeling when I found my perfect wedding dress. My Very review below, I think says it all:-


Aged 57 before I found the correct size daily bra and 58 before I found out that the size of YOUR STRAPLESS BRA IS DIFFERENT FROM your daily bra!!! Go figure. Knowing the formula meant that I was ready to buy my first on-line strapless bra. What I was NOT READY FOR was a flattering strapless bra, cups that hug my breasts, with maximum lift, that lengthened my torso and DID NOT FALL DOWN even when I jumped around for joy. Finally, I have resolved a niggling problem that has plagued me all of my life. I posted a photo on social media and the feedback was astounding. I am now confidently shopping on-line aged 58 for off the shoulder dresses or tops that I would never have considered wearing before buying this bra. Apologies for the long review but this bra IS AN INVESTMENT!!


I have received so many compliments on my Instagram posts. The correct bra not only lifts your breasts but gives you a longer torso and makes you look leaner. Call it superficial all you want but to me, feeling pretty makes all the difference.

STATEMENT NECKLACE


ACCESSORIES

During the lockdown, accessories have been an inexpensive and easy way to express my personality, boost my self-confidence and how I feel about myself. I have also widened the parameters of my definition of accessories to include sunglasses, headbands, headscarves, necklaces, belts earrings and a bright lip.


Clip-On Earrings - I am 58 and my ears were pierced at the age of 5. When I turned 50 my left ear piercing would not stay open after the pain of piercing it I decided that Clip-ons were the way to go. For me one particular seller XXLilmisdesignsxx stands out and I have placed 6 orders already.

My relationship with this Seller began on 19 July 2019 when I was searching for earrings to take on holiday to Portugal.


I found these beautiful Ivory Faux Pearl Bead & Diamante Hoop Earrings (6.5cm - 2.5”) £14.99 (£1.00 pp). Seems like a lifetime ago now. Sharon is now my go too supplier. She is based in the UK but Etsy price all of their items in US Dollars.


Below are my most recent clip-on purchases from Sharon:





Etsy Huge Gold Tone Round Disc Clip on Drop Earrings (Length: 9 Centimetres; Drop length: 3.5 Inches) [Photo me wearing them] (US$14.24 Inc. pp)










Etsy Huge Matt Black Rhombus Flat Metal Disc Drop Earrings (US$13.97 Inc. pp)









EARRINGS DUE TO ARRIVE ANY DAY NOW


I am eagerly awaiting receipt of these earrings which are caught up in the COVID-19 delivery delay and hope to cover in my next blog.

The Headband Trend

Whether your vibe is vintage-inspired, street-style or contemporary hair accessories will add the “on-trend” flourish to your outfits to create a cohesive look. Headbands have a chameleon-like quality that makes them easy to style with nearly any ensemble.


Hair clips, slides and headbands in pearls and sparkly gems, like this Gold Leaf & Crystal Embellishment Statement Headband £6.75 (-55% - RRP £15.00) I am wearing from ASOS make a bold statement. Twist in gems and combs will elevate any up-do and ideal for weddings and special occasions. The Leopard Print Twist Block Headscarf also from ASOS £8.00 (-20% RRP £10.00) brings a cool vibe to any ponytail or bun. A headband is a perfect accessory for the office as it not only keeps your hair off your face but adds interest to an otherwise formal business outfit. See ASOS Green Ditsy Floral Print with Knot Front £3.60 (-55% RRP £8.00) or ASOS Black Velvet Padded Headband £6.00.


Thankfully, retailers like ASOS have caught wind of the practical hair accessory's quickly-rising popularity, stocking options that run the breadth from delicate to daring.



Head Scarves Fashion Trend Alert!

Vintage Head Scarves Are Back! Royals have worn this perennial signifier of classic elegance tied around their neck, for years. Now the colourful and versatile silk scarf has reached the runways this is no longer a style we admire from afar.


The modern woman ties a scarf around a ponytail, the handle of her bag, or it can be worn as a bandanna. Right now, headscarves are back and they are perfect worn with sunglasses. Add this to your “must-have accessory” list if you want to rock your outfits through the summer.


Adapting to Exercise Due to Lockdown - I know myself and for me to get back into exercise I had to prep and take everything to my bedroom last evening.


This morning, Sunday 24 May 2020 I fell out of bed into my trainers, front fastening “no drama” bra, jogging bottoms tied securely with a rope I inserted into the waistband (nobody got time to stop and pull up every minute while pounding the streets), oversized T-Shirt and last but not least my long shoe horn to avoid the “I can’t be dealing with manoeuvring my overnight swollen feet into these” syndrome.


Having survived my first session, taken the dogs out, hoovered, mopped the house from top to bottom and run a hot 62-degree bubble bath it is 09:23 before I can snatch a moment to type this part of my blog while my bath is cooling and waiting for me to slip my lactic acid aching muscles into it and soak. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaah”.


Update: It has been 7 days since Sandra and I started jogging, and we managed 5 early morning sessions this week, ambitious I know. Going forward, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings seem to fit into our lifestyle and doable once lockdown is over. Wish us luck!


Hidden Benefits of Doing the Plank

The plank (also called a front hold, hover, or abdominal bridge) is an isometric core strength exercise that involves maintaining a position similar to a push-up for the maximum possible time. However, despite its benefits, experts warn that holding the pose for too long could be harmful. The plank is a powerful exercise because the instability caused by balancing on your toes and elbows means you have to tighten your tummy and back muscles to stop your middle sagging towards the floor.

Update: It has been 5 weeks now since my “each time I go into the kitchen do the plank” challenge began. Surprisingly, my stomach becoming tighter was NOT what my body benefitted from most. The "old age" or "inactive knee” syndrome as I like to call it, have all gone and the flexibility I have gained in my knees is incredible. Previously my knees would become stiff after sleeping or sitting for a long time. The stiffness and pain were most noticeable when I tried to get out of bed in the morning, descend the stairs or get out of a chair after a long period of sitting. Balancing on my elbows has eradicated any tingling I was experiencing in my left arm that travelled from my shoulders to my fingers.


I didn’t realise that getting up and down off the floor would give me flexibility in my knees that I haven’t enjoyed in years!!! Bending down to empty the hoover regularly is no longer seen as a chore. No more sighs of exasperation when I am halfway up the stairs before I realise that I have forgotten something on the ground floor. Less stiffness when getting out of bed. I longer descend the steps first thing in the morning one step at a time, in fact, I no longer hold on.


My swollen right foot (following DVT) no longer stomps up the step. I am 58, and as light on my feet as Ginger Rogers when dancing with Fred Astaire well OK maybe not that light but you get my drift.


All of these little accomplishments are adding up. Be patient with yourself. See my Instagram post above on 18.05.2020 “Rest, Relax & Reflect. Aged 58 sometimes the most productive thing I can do is SIMPLY TO RELAX."


SUMMER DRESSES


ASOS Black Mini Square Neck Sundress - Size: 26 £10.00 (93% Cotton – part of the Better Cotton Initiative to improve cotton farming globally and 7% Elastane). This minimal design, LBD with sweetheart neckline and cami straps went down a storm on social media the minute I posted it. How easy it was to slip it over my head. The cup seams meant there was no need for a bra although everyone thought I was wearing one and that chic, polished tailored fit I am always looking for. This LBD has to be my best buy of the month.

JDWilliams Navy Closet Contrast Hem Dress - Size 26 £58 (Purchased 11.05.2017) - This simple yet elegant dress by Closet, is a great dress for any occasion and the dress sits comfortably at my knee. I am 5ft 7 and as can be seen from my compare inch loss photo the 7% elastane provides a flattering, comfortable fit and flare shape that complements my curves. The candy pink contrast hem adds a pop of colour to the outfit. I paired them with these suede pink kitten heels Size 9 (see my blog Chic, 9-5 Ensemble & Sexy Low Heels for the story behind acquiring this particular pair of shoes) for a polished church christening and evening look. The elastane in the material meant that the dress accommodated my inch loss while maintaining the perfect fit and length.





Very Marigold Crinkle Halter Neck Maxi Dress - Size 24 £16.75 (Purchased 02.07.2019) I needed a couple of breathable and lightweight dresses for my “Slimmed Down Girls Trip Wardrobe” to Portugal. Going through the menopause I had to choose my fabrics wisely and opted for cool, light cotton fabrics. The bright, crinkled fabric of this bohemian-inspired halter neck made this maxi dress the ideal choice for the Portuguese weather. The racy back and thigh-high splits made it the perfect boost I needed to embrace my sexiness, exhibit my legs and stimulate the sensual woman in me - win-win! Very Canvas Beach Bag - £12.00 (Purchased 27.07.2019).

PLEATED SKIRTS

After a year in the limelight, it's safe to say the pleated skirt trend has landed and is not going anywhere. If you have not yet jumped on board this trend and you are thinking about office wear or party wear a pleated skirt can create the perfect outfit for you.


The thing we love so much about pleated skirts is their versatility. Whether it is for the office, or to compliment your rock chic style, or a wedding, or a coffee date, the pleated skirt can be worn to all of them and look appropriate and stylish. Pair with a stunning lace top, pastel clutch bag, statement necklace pretty and heels for a wedding guest outfit. Alternatively, add a slogan t-shirt, a leather jacket, sunglasses and trainers for a comfortable rock chic glam look. Fashion influencers, like Alexa Chung, and Victoria Beckham have been seen rocking a pleated skirt about town and you will certainly see pleated skirt posts popping up on the feeds of other celebs.

THE BODY SUITS YOU

It was a couple of weeks ago that I discovered that bodysuits are the unsung hero of the fashion world. They are especially great for an office or workwear outfit. Bodysuits now come designed to look like silk wrap shirts or fitted blouses. I love the fact that I am not limited to a “thong” fit. The option of the “pants” fit has eliminated any thoughts of discomfort I harboured over my lifetime. The fit is flattering – I up-size to accommodate my tummy area, avoid any issues with the length of my torso or my bodysuit riding up and becoming uncomfortable. ASOS River Island Black Logo Print Body – Size 26: £10.00 (-64% RRP £28.00). ASOS Collusion Green Marble Mesh Body – Size: 24 £15.00


The inconvenience factor is far outweighed the seamless look, no longer worrying about my top becoming untucked, my blouse bunching up or shifting. There's no need for constant adjusting and tucking with a bodysuit.


SQUARE TOE SHOES - I am obsessed with the Bottega Veneta Square Toe Mules but my budget does not stretch to over £900 for a pair. Just like a Bottega original, these SHIEN dupes offer comfort and stability at a much more affordable price point. These quilted open-top mules are perfect for wider feet where you are conscious that there may be an over spillage. They accommodate my swollen right DVT foot following perfectly. Ladies, you know that when you find the priceless combination of style, heel, comfort and price you have to snap them up. I purchased one pair of SHIEN Quilted Open Toe Heeled Mules – Size: Euro 44 (UK 9) £11.47 (RRP 13.49) in Nude (SHIEN list them as Khaki), Brown and Black.

I fell in love with two other pairs of square toe sandals. A pair of Khaki Twist Strap Stilleto Heeled Mules £15.00 in Khaki and a pair of Braided Strap Stiletto Heeled Mules in Nude (SHIEN list them as brown).


When I saw the box I was convinced that they had sent the wrong. But no, the size is perfect. The square sole is designed to extend beyond the foot. They are so comfortable, the heel is not too high but high enough to pull your outfit together and make you feel elevated.


Square toe sandals are not always going to be on-trend but they are always going to be in style.


Speaking of "Dupes" I could not finish up without mentioning my "UGG" Dupe Black Double Strap Fluffy Sandals from E-bay. Forgive me “name brand enthusiasts” but I could not justify paying an additional £70 for the UGG logo on the elasticated strap. E-Bay Black Fluffy Slip On Flat Sandals - Size: 9 £9.29 plus £4.99 p&p.





CONCLUSION

Gone are the days of feeling crap about my size or what others think about what I should or shouldn’t be wearing at my age. Just because it hurts when someone close to us says something negative about our appearance that does not make it true. I set out on this journey to regain my health but between us, I have salvaged so much more.


This forum is my safe place. Here I am not shackled with negative stuff, have no fear of looking bad or not giving the best impression. With you, I can let my guard down, express whatever is on my mind, and trust you with my vulnerabilities. Don’t get me wrong, trust is not a spare of the moment decision, it took time and patience to consistently increase my connection with you, my subscribers, who have been there through good times and bad.


Happiness is not something that happens down the road. Happiness is who you are now. WAITING for the perfect WEIGHT to be happy is not living. Your body is the very essence of what makes a woman. Embrace the shape you have because trust me, nothing looks as good as being comfortable in your skin. Dressing up is like love, you need a little balance. If nothing else I hope that my blogs help to heal historical scars so that you can see past those distractions and no longer deprive those closest to you of the real person hiding behind them!


Until next time, while observing social distancing, enjoy the unprecedented sunny weather and keep safe. X








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