I have always been in awe of those girls (and boys) that are able to magically tell if an outfit or item of clothing will suit them, merely by glancing at it for a couple of moments. These lucky people have been born with a sixth sense in the style stakes and are the ones who always seem to look good – even if only popping out to the shops for a pint of milk.
Whether you are a bride preparing for your big day, or you are going to be a guest at an upcoming wedding and are currently searching for a great outfit, knowing what really suits your shape the best can be invaluable in helping you make the right choices. I recently attended a ‘Style your Shape’ evening, hosted by the ever polished Carolyn Palot-Watts at her dress agency – Carolyn’s Collection, based in Earls Barton near Northampton. The aim of the evening was to share some top tips on how to dress to max your best bits, without having to spend the earth to do so.
Carolyn was assisted by personal style advisor, Lesley Clarke (www.lesley-clarke) who gave some brilliant pointers on how to use colour and pattern to make the most of your assets. I’m pleased to be able to share some of the tips from the evening with you here. The recommendations below are based on the type of body shape you believe you have – the tips should help you when narrowing down your options for choosing a great wedding outfit!
You have an ‘Apple’ shaped body type if you are fuller in the bust and tummy area, and have slimmer hips and legs. You should be showing off your lovely shapely legs and ankles and drawing attention to your slim wrists. By wearing well-tailored jackets, you will bring a look of definition to your body. Your best friends will be wrap dresses and tie over cardigans – these will accentuate your bust line and give added definition to your middle – the side bow will also draw attention away from your tummy – perfect!
Top Apple Do: Draw attention to your best bits –legs, ankles and bust line
Top Apple Don’t: Bulk up your top half by sporting shoulder pads or tapered trousers, either of these will simply make you look bigger where you want to look smaller.
You have a ‘Pear’ shaped body type if you carry your weight more on your hips, bottom and thighs. Your best bits will probably include a nice narrow waist, slim arms and a great bust line – all of which you should show off! Highlight your top half with pretty, patterned or colourful strapless tops or dresses with spaghetti straps. Keep colours on your lower half darker and more muted – this will pull the eye upwards to your top half. If you are wearing a dress, A-lines are a great bet for this body shape. If you are wearing a belt, put it around the slimmest point of your waist to show it off. If you are wearing trousers, go for boot cut - to even out your silhouette.
Top Pear Do: Wear heels to lengthen your legs
Top Pear Don’t: Wear skinny jeans and flats, this will only maximise your rear and make you look shorter.
You have a ‘Rhubarb’ shaped body type if your hips and bust line are slim – you will probably have long legs and torso and you don’t put on weight easily. Go for shorter skirts and dresses that show off your long legs. Halter necks can help create curves on your top half. You’re lucky as you can also go crazy for colour and patterns – whether you wear stripes or bold colour on any part of your outfit, you will be able to pull it off.
Top Rhubarb Do: Ruched dresses and those nipped in at the waist will give the illusion of curves where you do not have them.
Top Rhubarb Don’t: Avoid baggy clothes – they will swamp you.
You have an hourglass figure if you have full hips and bust with a small waist. You have a classic feminine shape so show it off! Ensure you invest in good underwear for maximum support – a good quality uplift bra will ensure you look your best in tops and dresses. V necks are an excellent choice for hour glass shapes, but always make sure that you leave your tops untucked in to your trousers or skirt – you need to elongate your waist as much as possible, so leaving tops untucked helps with this illusion.
Top Hourglass Do: Pencil skirts with puff sleeved blouses and fitted jackets were made for you! This is a classic way to accentuate your hourglass silhouette.
Top Hourglass Don’t: Don’t go too baggy or too clingy: too baggy and you will waste your curves, too clingy is not as flattering as gently draping your figure.
These pointers were all illustrated brilliantly by Carolyn and her team who were on hand to show us some before and after outfits, showcasing how dressing for your shape really is key.
A different way to shop…
The thought of walking into a clothing shop or boutique and being able to put your complete confidence into a professional who knows what will look good on you is a really great feeling. Carolyn has a sparkly and vivacious character, and you can’t help but feel at ease as soon as you enter the store. Walking through the maze of interlinking rooms bursting with colourful dresses, scarves, shoes and jewellery – you could be forgiven for losing several hours of your day exploring what’s on offer. And my favourite thing about the store? Everything you see has been pre-owned. This means that the prices are fantastically reasonable and as a mother of the bride, you could find yourself in a beautiful Jacques Vert outfit for £30. The range of accessories includes shoes from Dune through to handbags from Radley – all at around a third of what you would usually find them for on the high street.
I sat down with Carolyn to find out a bit more about the lady behind the dress agency:
What is your favourite thing about running a Dress Agency?
My customers – I love meeting different people each day and knowing that they will leave the store with an outfit or accessories that truly accentuate their best features.
What gave you the idea for opening this type of boutique?
I have always used dress agencies in the past and I love the way that you can get great quality clothes without having to spend a fortune. Being the kind of person that loves clothes and loves people, it seemed like a natural thing for me to do.
What inspires you in your work?
Seeing someone walking out of the shop absolutely thrilled with their purchase. And then bringing their friends back with them the next time they visit!
What would be your top tip for wedding guests on a budget?
Go to a dress agency before looking elsewhere. There’s no need to trawl all of the high street shops looking for a special outfit, when you can walk into a dress agency and receive personalised advice and assistance in finding something to suit you perfectly and at about a third of the price of high street shops.
What are your favourite items that you like to sell?
I love the accessories that we stock – pashmina’s, earrings and shoes can really make the outfit. As our typical customers can be anyone from young girls in their late teens through to glamorous ladies in their 80’s, our accessories can help reflect your personal style and tastes perfectly.
Any style advice you would like to give to Budget Bride Company readers?
Invest in good quality underwear that is flattering to your shape. Excellent underwear can really make all the difference as to how you look and feel in your dress, whether you are the bride or one of the wedding guests.
You can find Carolyn at her boutique, Carolyn’s Collection:
4B The Square, Earls Barton, Northampton, NN6 0NA. Tel: 01604 810652 or 07584 093039. Or visit the website for more information: www.carolynscollection.co.uk