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Style with Confidence, Embracing your Body Shape

I'd like to talk about body confidence. I know this subject's quite timely, because summer can be a triggering time for a lot of us. I include myself in that as well. We can all can get triggered when you are putting more skin on display, or maybe going on holiday and putting bikinis on, particularly post lockdown. Most of us have had more fluctuations with our weight, and perhaps not been thinking as much about our style and image.

Don't wait on your weight to live the life you want. Cece Olisa

If you’re struggling to feel confident in your own skin and in need of some tips to reignite your style and body confidence, this blog is for you! This is one of the first things that I work on with my clients that come into my program, what is it that really holds you back from body acceptance?

Body Confidence Rule 1: Fit

One of the first things I wanted to talk about was my own experience, having worked and studied in the Fashion Industry for 17 years. I worked as a Buyer for Marks & Spencer for eight years and I worked across all different product categories from knitwear to trousers, to coats and bags. I also worked at George at Asda prior to that, where I was responsible for Women’s Jersey, including areas such as dresses, tops, bottoms, skirts, absolutely everything! In both roles I was responsible for developing, sourcing and curating the product that you shopped in store.

In developing the product, a key part of getting the item right, is the fit. A lot of clients that I work with can get very hung up about the size label. So, I wanted to talk about my experience of fit, and working with garment technologists in the industry. I'm sure you've heard that a lot of fast fashion retailers, because they're trying to get things out as quickly as possible, don't fit on real life bodies. Which is going to cause a lot of issues when it comes to you then going into the changing room and trying things on. Unfortunately, we will always beat ourselves up, rather than thinking that it's the fault of the retailer, for not doing a good enough job in terms of fitting the garments.

Garment factory, how clothes are made

It’s not just real-life bodies that are important, consistently fitting on the same bodies with set measurements is paramount. Talking from my experience at M&S, who do a relatively good job on fit, they fit on size 12 and size 18 models, so that they're also taking into consideration the different body shapes that you have at different sizes. This is what's called a grade, and they grade the sizing according to the fit sessions that they do on those models. Those models will try things on several times in the process, until the Garment Technologist and the Buyer are happy with the aesthetics and the fit of said garment.

You can imagine, even in that process, which is very in depth, that garment's still only been seen on the body, on a few occasions, so things can be open to interpretation. The good thing about M&S is they have a very specific set of measurements that they work to with their fit models, which they all must adhere to, so that they have that consistency in their fit. The likes of Zara, and other fast fashion retailers, will fit on a mannequin for speed, because they're working to much tighter timelines. They're trying to get the product into store as quickly as possible.

Mannequins, fast fashion retailers don't fit on real bodies

The reason I'm sharing this information is to make you think a little bit more next time you go into the fitting room and you're not happy with something on yourself. Rather than taking that internally and beating yourself up about it, (you know, ‘I've put on weight, why doesn't this fit me? I'm a size 14 and these jeans are a size 14 and I can't even pull them up over my legs’ we've all been there in the fitting room before), think of it differently in that this retailer has let me down because they haven't sized this correctly, rather than taking it out on yourself.

That's an important part of body acceptance, understanding that retailers can never possibly account for all the different body shapes that there are, and all the different nuances that come with those body shapes and sizes. So, it's important to be gentle on yourself.

Body Confidence Rule 2: Size Labels

My second point around size labels is that nobody else cares what size you're wearing. Nobody is going to come up to you and say, what size are you wearing in that? Unless they want it as a point of reference if they're going to buy it for themselves, because they think you look amazing in something, which you should take as a compliment. People are much more likely to pay attention if you're trying to squeeze yourself into something that's too small. I would always advocate for going with what is comfortable and what fits you. Don't worry at all about the size. Nobody cares about the size label, and if it really bothers you, cut it out, then it's not even a consideration.

You are more than the size on a clothing tag

Body Confidence Rule 3: Ditch the Diet Inspiration

The third tip I want to share is about diet culture and wanting to fit into a specific size. I see time and time again, doing wardrobe edits in women's houses, that people will buy sizes as ‘diet inspiration’ or buy sizes that are smaller than they currently are, because they're hoping that they'll fit into it ‘one day’ because it's in the sale and they're thinking, “oh, you know, in a couple of months, maybe I'll have lost some weight and I can fit into that then”. Please don't do that. Learn to accept your body shape and size as it is now. If you have put on quite a bit of weight and you know you've got a specific goal in mind, that's great, but don't buy clothes until you get to that goal.

It can be detrimental financially to you in terms of spending money on things that you don't ever wear. But it can also be detrimental to your self-confidence, and your self-esteem, because you've constantly got that reminder, every time you open the wardrobe. If you still don't fit into it every time you see it, you are in essence, beating yourself up with it. It might also not be realistic, it could be that it doesn't suit your body shape, and it's not even about the size.

Wardrobe Edit, Personal Styling

It's all about having a wardrobe that's fit for purpose. Fit for your size and fit for your lifestyle as it stands now, rather than who you think you might be in a few months’ time. Why waste your precious time and your life worrying about things when you can be enjoying your wardrobe? That's my mantra as a Stylist, I really want getting dressed in the morning to be an enjoyable experience for you. That's what I always work towards when I'm working with my clients one to one.

Body Confidence Rule 4: Embrace Your Journey

My final tip is being more mindful in thinking about the changes we experience as women, such as our body shapes changing due to hormonal fluctuations. Or If you're on medication, or if you're doing a new workout routine, all of these different things can impact our body shape and size. I definitely notice that myself, at certain times of the month, things are a much snugger fit than they are at other times.

We've got to take this into consideration and again, not beat ourselves up and think that we have to stay the same size for our whole lives, because it's just not realistic for most women. With all of the changes that you go through, regardless of whether you have children or not, we are all likely to go through the menopause, and we all age. All these things are going to impact how we feel about the way that we look, but also physically they're going to impact our shape and size.

Have a think about the kind of clothing that you might want to wear, for example when on your period. Comfort is an important aspect of body acceptance and style confidence. You need to feel comfortable to feel confident. So really have a think about what fabrics do you want to have against your skin? What makes you feel comfortable?

Plus size models, wearing jeans

The best way to make the most of those times, without having to resort to oversized clothing, is to think about a few different key pieces that you can have in your wardrobe that you can fall back to when you're feeling a little bit bigger, bloated or other typical symptoms that come with hormonal changes. Items I often recommend are, looser style jeans such as boyfriend or straight leg, smarter leather look leggings, elasticated waist pleated skirts, and tapered leg flat front trousers with elastic at the back of the waistband.

Try and refrain from buying the next size up to cover up the bits that you don't like, because it's a lot more flattering if you can tuck in and define your shape. If you feel like you don't have a shape, and you're rectangular, or you're more of an apple shape, there are lots of things that you can do to try and create that definition. Get to know the kind of styles that work for you and the little hints and tips that can really change the way that you feel about your body shape. For example, looking at the leg shape of your jeans by rolling them up so they hit the slimmest part of your leg.

If you’d like more personalised help with regaining your style confidence, whilst identifying what your unique style personality, colouring and body shape is, please book in for a free Style Consultation, using the link here.

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