Autumn Fashion for Men

The cooler weather provides the opportunity for men to adopt a slightly smarter look. The shirt / tie / suit look is OK for formal occasions but not always comfortable or appropriate.

A slightly more casual effect can be achieved, while still maintaining a smarter look by introducing a couple of soft, unstructured jackets to your wardrobe.

Unstructured [uhn-struhk-cherd]; without the padding, stiffening and canvas normally used in tailoring – a softer more flexible garment]

There are many on the market now, fine wool, linen, cotton or hemp. In order to get away from the ‘suit jacket’ look, choose softer colours, grey/blue, tabacco, olive green, taupe etc.

The softer jackets look great with well-cut jeans or casual pants and casual collared shirts or crew neck tees.

A fresh look for the new season – treat yourself.

Heavy Thighs Fashion Alert

In order to feel our best, our clothes should be a reflection of our inner selves. We should aim to dress to express something of our personality. However, being aware of any physical shortcomings (or excesses) we might have, it makes sense to keep them in mind when choosing an outfit.

We previously covered the flattering aspects of wide legged and palazzo pants for those of us with heavy thighs, however….

Fashion is fickle – we are bombarded by images of what is ‘in’ right now. To the concern of those of us with classically feminine thighs (?), the dreaded skinny jeans appear to be ‘de rigueur’ at present.

Don’t panic!

Don’t be tempted to:

a) Throw away your wide legged trousers
or
b) Squeeze yourself into skinny jeans.

(Have you noticed the bargain rails in stores are full of extremely skinny pants they have been unable to sell – the times they are a-changin’!)

So, short of ignoring fashion trends altogether, what is available to us?

Fortunately, there are readily available options…

*viscose-cuffed-trousersLook for a selection of pants which, while a little narrower in the leg, still avoid clinging to your thighs, while skimming them politely. There are a variety available in the shops in viscose, a very co-operative fibre.

vicose-ruched-bottomsTo get the narrower look without the severity of ‘skinny bitch’ jeans, search for pants which are loosely caught in at the ankle, either slightly ruched on each side seam or tapered gently to the ankle. (They are available, don’t be scared of looking in the cheap trendy shops (Newlook in the UK, Ally, SES & Valley Girl in Australia or ASOS online globally) they are often one step ahead. The fashions may look ‘too young’ at times in these shops, but they often stock useful basic lines unavailable elsewhere)

Terrible-baggy-pants-unflattering-to-most-figure-typesBE WARY THOUGH, of baggy summer trousers, elasticated sharply at the ankle – they tend to ride above the ankle bone and thereby give a very unflattering line to most figure types by visually shortening the legs (read more about visually lengthening your legs here)

In order to look elegant in slimmer line trousers we need to put away the shorter tops which look so good with our wide legged pants. Don’t throw them away – they will be back!

soft-unstructured-top-with-narrower-leg-pantsTo complement the perfect pants when you find them – look for equally unstructured tops in similar soft fabrics and select a length most flattering to your figure type – you will know them when you try it on!

loose-unstructured-top-with-narrow-leg-pants

Happy Shopping!

A little help (shapewear)

Celebrities have access to the best and latest in couture. When we see them step out onto the red carpet they are looking as perfect as it is possible to look. Pampered and toned no doubt, but the structure of the dresses they wear contribute to the overall glossy appearance. We never see a bulge, wrinkle or VPL because the gowns are built around their own support structure.

This technology is available to us all, especially when choosing formal, wedding and cocktail / evening dress. They feel great to wear, giving us a little more confidence in our appearance without the need for complicated underwear.

It is a shame we can’t feel like that at other times, without the expense of a special dress.

But now we can!

Almost all of us require a little help to smooth our contours at times. The current popularity of clingy, stretchy fabrics increases this need from time to time.

We females all have that pesky extra layer of body fat to some extent, and there are times when we would like it to be camouflaged.

We are not talking corsets – in fact corsets, with their boning, are not appropriate at all under jersey fabrics, as the bones will show through, giving a bumpy appearance.

We have known for years about Magic Knickers which would smooth and control the hip, thigh and tummy areas – but were heavy and hot and caused a bulge where they end.

Fortunately there is a new generation of fibres and technologies which designers have put to good use producing ingenious garments to combat most problem areas.

There are new versions of contouring knickers with built-in lift, body suits with a range of cup sizes or those which allow you to wear your own bra – there are camisoles and waist cinchers, slips and full slips and an almost endless variety of other little helpers.

Due to the popularity of shapewear at present, the prices tend to be high and the majority of pieces probably too ornate and glamorous for everyday wear.

For everyday, a light body suit will give us a firmness, without constraints and make us feel a little more confident, streamlining our silhouette under any outfit.

So if you feel like you would like a little less jiggle and fewer bulges, consider a trip to the shops to see what is available for your particular area of concern. Beware of getting caught in the trap of thinking ‘If I pay more it will do more for me’, that could lead you to buy fancy products you might hardly ever wear – comfort + confidence is what you want.

N.B. Of course this is not a way to get out of exercising In fact a light bodysuit worn while jogging help control the boob bounce and improves performance!

  • Shapewear Options Shapewear Options Shape wear items - High Waisted thigh slimmer, thigh slimmer, full slip
  • Shapewear Options Shapewear Options Shape wear types - Body, wear your own bra slip, wear your own bra body.
  • Shapewear Options Shapewear Options Shapewear options - V-neck body, waist cincher and pant/cincher
  • Shapewear Options Shapewear Options Shapewear which allows for a full range of cup sizes, strapless slip dresses, and waist slips
     

Which part of you would benefit from a little help?

  • If you are otherwise slim but carry weight on your thighs, consider a thigh slimming garment – but beware of one which ends at the waist unless you carry very little extra fat there – or you will still end up with a muffin top – go instead for a high waisted version.
  • If your bottom is not as perky as you would like, a simple pair of contouring knickers – designed to lift the buttocks, makes a flattering difference under fitted pants and dresses.
  • If you have difficulties finding bras to fit – or have your favourite brand and size, go for a body or slip designed to allow you wear your own bra.
  • Some brands produce bodies with a full range of bra and cup sizes, some underwired.
  • If it is your lack of waist which concerns you, try a waist cincher which just focuses on that area. Waist cinchers also come in pants form if you prefer.

Special Occasion?

Full slips, either v-necked, scoop necked or strapless will smooth out your contours under any fitted dress – choose the one which best suits the dress you buy.

Poor Posture

No matter how much effort is put into the selection of an outfit to suit our figure type, no matter how well groomed we are, no matter how much money we spend on our appearance – it can all be destroyed instantly through poor posture. How many of us check ourselves in the mirror – standing tall, brilliant smile etc. then step through the door and instantly slouch? (Do you think those girls with huge muffin tops actually know they look like that?)

Sometimes a tendency to poor posture is inherited – look at your mother / grandmother. Poor posture can also be caused by lack of muscle tone due to insufficient exercise as we were growing. There can also be psychological causes – unhappy childhood (trying to make yourself invisible, small, not drawing attention to yourself) or as a response to breasts which become too big too quickly or are not dealt with adequately through a supportive bra as they grow.

Whatever the reason, some of us are left with rounded shoulders, a tendency to thrust our head forward and possibly a humpy back to some degree. Nothing is more ageing than this posture.

Imagine a string...

Imagine a string…

 

There are ways we can try to correct our posture:

  • See a reputable physiotherapist for appropriate exercises
  • Have plenty of full length mirrors around your home in order to maintain an awareness of your posture.
  • Develop and awareness of your breathing and link it in your mind with walking tall.
  • The old trick of imagining a cord from the crown of your head pulling you up straight.

In the meantime:

There are some hairstyles which are best avoided and some points to remember when choosing clothes:

Clothing

How to dress to cover for bad posture

How to dress to cover for bad posture

  • Avoid tops which follow your contours too closely at the back – much more flattering to choose a straight drop or just slight shaping at the waist.
  • Shoulder pads go in and out of fashion of course, and the mega shoulders of the 80’s happily only remain as a distant memory for those of us old enough to have worn them! But slight padding on the shoulders can help to visually correct poor posture. (If you make your own clothes a good tip is to set the shoulder pad back about 1cm – 1.5cm from the intended position – this gives the impression that you are carrying your shoulders correctly).
  • If you feel that you carry your head thrust forward – be aware that visually this shortens your neck – so avoid high necklines, go instead for deep v’s or scooped necklines which give the illustion of a longer neck. Avoid collars for the same reason, they clutter the space your neck needs for itself. (see our post on short necks here)
  • Avoid chokers – a pendant on a chain is more flattering.
  • Tailored clothing helps to disguise poor posture, making us appear smarter – but of course tailored clothing is not appropriate for every climate – experiment with light padding in summer jackets and knitwear. When we feel we look smart we are more inclined to walk tall.

Hair Styles

By manipulating the silhouette and profile of your head can also help to disguise poor posture. We cannot change our skull shape literally, but it is possible to change the appearance by being creative with our hair.

Try to create volume at your crown and at the back of your head – through back brushing or experimenting with the numerous gadgets available to create buns, chignons and French Pleats. Even a simple healthy swinging ponytail helps!

How to wear your hair to compensate for poor posture

How to wear your hair to compensate for poor posture

You can liberate your look!

Small Boobs

If you are a small breasted woman I expect there are times when you wish they were more pneumatic. But remember clothes look better on small chests, they hang better, and most were designed with you in mind. Also, although breasts are considered man magnets – they are very undiscerning magnets and as Trinny Woodall says in ‘What to wear – The Rules’ – “Your dainty boobs are actually a filter for all the jerks out there.”

If your breasts are small enough, you might be one of those lucky girls who can go bra-less – a real bonus in the summer months (and girls who are obliged to wear supportive gear will envy you.) Think of Gwyneth Paltrow – elegant, sexy, blithely dressing beautifully for her figure type.

When there are times you would like a bit of a cleavage, you have the greatest selection of bras and chicken fillets ever available – you have choice!

Try to avoid:

  • Scooped necklines exposing too much empty space
  • Empire line tops & dresses unless you can successfully enhance your fullness – we have the technology with clever bras & chicken fillets…
  • Clingy fabrics around your chest.

Look for:

  • Cut away armholes with high necks
  • Halterneck – perfect for you
  • Evening wear with neckline plunging to navel.
  • Chunky sweaters with big roll collars – you are the only girls who look great in them.
  • Double breasted jackets.
  • Frills & detail on the chest area add volume & distract from any shortcomings.

Make the most of your attributes – look around and see how much of todays fashion has been designed with you in mind.

Big Boobs

Although celebrities wear their boobs like trophies, flaunting them in low cut evening gowns on the red carpets of the showbiz world, it is not all plain sailing being the owner of heavy breasts. They can make dressing elegantly difficult, if heavy enough they can cause posture and psychological problems.

It can be great to have these natural assets, but make sure you are in control of them – avoid stretch straps (bounce), skinny straps (slice) and extra padding (unnecessary!) The best way to be in charge of your breasts is to invest in really good bras – expect to pay 2-3 times more than your small-boobed mates. Get a professional fitting in a reputable store – check your back view, side view as well as front.

Underwiring works wonders for full breasts – if you have never tried a bra with wires I suggest you do – they are more comfortable, more secure and more structured. If you get a well fitted one, you will be able to forget about any breast problems! Some manufacturers produce ‘Minimising’ designs which cleverly and subtly mould your breasts into a less ‘thrusting’ shape, which is more appropriate for some styles. These minimising bra are also ideal if you want to avoid drawing attention to your chest generally!

If you are blessed (or cursed, whichever way you look at it) with large breasts, you know from experience you have to take that fact into consideration when choosing clothes. It is very easy to look top heavy or tarty if you are not aware of some useful guidelines.

If you want to keep your overall silhouette in proportion and prevent your chest being the thing which defines you, there are a few things to bear in mind when shopping:

Try to avoid:

  • High necklines
  • Chunky Knit sweaters
  • Halter necks are not a good idea – the triangular shape they create draws attention to the width of your chest
  • Double breasted anything – unless you want to look matronly!
  • Peasant style smocks – go in and out of fashion but maybe one to avoid unless you really love then (I do!) in that case, try a minimiser bra.
  • Short tops generally. They make a boxy square on you, changing the intended look of the garment.
  • Sleeveless garments (unless strapless too!) Even a little suggestion of a sleeve will help balance your look.
  • Bows and frills on the chest area do not disguise they just add volume.
  • High waisted trouser & skirts just visually compress your boobs into a more narrow space – making them look even larger.
  • Skinny jeans will make you look like a lollipop

Look for:

  • Great well fitting bras – be prepared to pay more
  • Wide and deep V necklines to visually elongate your top half
  • Fitted jackets with narrow lapels and single button at waist.
  • Empire line dresses with sleeves
  • Boot cut jeans or bell-bottomed trousers help to balance your silhouette.
  • Tailored clothes generally. Well endowed girls look better in smart versus casual.

Enjoy dressing your body to show it at its best.

Men have proportion problems too!

The Classic – Mad Men and James Dean.

The classic man’s suit has something important in common with its casual equivalent – the Levi jeans and shirt / t-shirt combo. The reason they have been popular for so many decades is that they both camouflage any figure problems men may have*.

* Men don’t have the same issues as women of course, but nevertheless basic body proportions vary, length of torso vs length of legs etc., wide hips, skinny legs / arms (you can see how the twin outfits of men’s suits / classic jeans / shirt perfectly do the job of disguising any problems)

Men, wisely or instinctively have recognised for years that they look better in these classics. However, while still attractive and readily available staples, they can be a tad predictable and men might feel the need for a change now and again too!

The Recent Past – Teddy Boys and drainpipes, flares & flowers.

There have been some forays into various options over the years, sometimes interesting, sometimes disastrous.
There was the ‘Peacock Revolution’ in London in the 1960’s – brightly coloured suits with flared trousers replaced the traditional dark ones. Cravats and slim fitting floral shirts made an appearance, often worn with high waisted flared trousers or jeans and platform soled shoes which enhanced the tall lean look.

These were a welcome change after the post war uniformity of the 40’s & 50’s, which was broken only by the Teddy Boys with their Edwardian style frockcoats, drainpipe trousers and crêpe soled shoes (brothel creepers). The drainpipes regained their popularity when they were adopted by punk culture. But on the whole, very little improvement has been made on the classics in terms of enhancing the male image.

The Future – Men or insects?

There was a vibe at the end of the 90’s when it seemed there might be an exciting change of direction in men’s clothing. It felt as if there might be a shift towards shapes and fabrics inspired by the east. Softer, longer collarless shirts, layering, looser unstructured pants. But 9/11 quickly quashed that particular possibility and sent men’s fashion running for cover.
There has still been a leaning towards eastern influences, unfortunately , very half-hearted, with garments arriving in the shops completely out of context, with no supporting image to aspire to. An example of this is the dropped crotch jeans/trousers which look dreadful worn with traditional western shirts/t-shirts.
The super skinny jeans so popular now are another example of a garment which needs to worn with appropriate tops – not just slotted into an existing wardrobe. There have been some terrible sightings of short legged, wide hipped men wearing really tight figure hugging jeans with short tops, looking like some type of two legged insect.

While we wait for something new…

So if we are looking for a gentle change for you guys – let’s look at some basic guidelines:

  • Be aware that the male models you see advertising a look – they are picked, like the female equivalent because they are almost perfect.
  • If you know you have short legs try to cover the point where your legs join your body – but don’t overdo it – just cover!
  • Unless you are uniformly slender try to avoid the skinny pants look – generally speaking they don’t look good on any other figure type, unless accompanied by a longer, softer style of shirt (you will have to shop around – look online)
  • Make use of the well tested outfits – suits, jackets, classic jeans but look for more interesting fabric, prints, weaves, textures, colours – be adventurous!
  • Unless you are really well proportioned (look in a full length mirror, be honest, as a friend) avoid wearing a strong contrast in colour on your top and bottom halves.
  • Consider your colouring – eyes particularly.
    If you have blue eyes – wearing blue close to your face will enhance your eyes, likewise if you have green or brown eyes choose shades of these colours.

 

The Last Piece of the Puzzle

Dresssense is essentially a guide to dressing for the figure we have right now. Some aspects of our shape + proportion we can do nothing to change – but, looking around, how many of us would clearly benefit from losing a few kilos?

We have all tried various regimes and diets suggested by manufacturers and magazines – some with a little success sometimes.

The truth is – we can all lose weight if we really want to – without paying a cent. We have to fully accept the responsibility ourselves.

So here it is:

The Last Piece of the Puzzle

Okay girls – we all know what we should and shouldn’t eat, we all know we have to exercise – we all know we should drink more water -

SO WHAT IS GOING WRONG?
WHY AREN’T WE LOSING THOSE EXTRA KILOS?

The answer is simple – we have developed bad habits which are sabotaging our efforts – EVERY DAY!

The Ten Deadly Habits

  1. Imaginary “calorie cancellation”
    Be honest with yourself – be aware of everything which passes your lips. There are no free calories – even that chip from someone else’s plate!
  2. Learn to distinguish real hunger from ‘fancying something to eat’. Teach yourself to enjoy the sensation of hunger!
  3. Portion size - we are generally smaller than men and therefore require fewer calories – keep this in mind when dishing up!
  4. Breakfast - sorry, but it is essential.
    It takes three weeks at most to learn to enjoy it. (Women who skip breakfast but on weight more readily – FACT.)
  5. Concentrate - eat only when you can pay full attention to your food - no mindless chewing in front of the TV or cinema screen! 
  6. Eat slowly - give yourself time to enjoy every mouthful and chew well (and give your stomach time to send a message to your brain to tell it when you have had enough!)
  7. Beware of cheese - very high in calories and as we know, very tasty – choose lean protein instead.
  8. Eating out - the more we eat out the less nutritious our diet becomes – FACT.
  9. Soft Drinks - they are all either full of sugar or chemicals, neither of which we need – train your palate to enjoy plain water and green tea or herbal teas, or pure fruit juice diluted with water.
  10. Alcohol - Sorry – this is a habit most of us have come to enjoy – but if we value our health, looks and waistline, one drink a day is the only safe allowance – two for special occasions!
IT MAKES SENSE TO BECOME AWARE OF THESE SLY LITTLE HABITS -

REGAIN CONTROL!

Sculpting with Tone

Remembering the basic principles that dark colours appear to shrink and light colours appear to enlarge, we can manipulate our outfits to create the shape we want.

If you have just one problem area, such as big hips, saddlebags or bust, it is a great technique to always use your dark tones on these areas and highlight your better features with lighter tones.

Those of us who are shorter, chunkier or have shorter legs than we would like would be well advised to avoid wearing strongly contrasting tones on our top and bottom halves. For example, don’t visually cut yourself in half by wearing a dark top and light trousers or light top and dark skirt. Any visual dissection like that will further reduce the length of your body (see illustration below).

By keeping your top and bottom halves tonally close you will give the illusion of a slimmer, taller you. This does not mean that both halves have to be the same colour – just tonally similar – as light or dark as each other.

This season there are cleverly designed dresses available which do the work for us, making use of tonal contrast to flatter any figure. It is a simple trick, not new, but very effective. The idea is that the central panel of the garment is in one colour, or print, while the side panels, framing it, are in a darker tone. If the contrast is too great, for example black and white, this technique can look too obvious, but Mark & Spencers have produced some very successful examples this season.

Play around with these ideas to visually sculpt a new you without the gym.

Average Proportions and Looking Good

Most of us have fairly average proportions. By being aware of how different tones work, we can make our clothes enhance the way we look.

The basic principles of sculpting with tone are:

  • Dark colours absorb light – visually receding (shrinking)
  • Light colours reflect light – visually advancing (enlarging)

Useful if you need to visually widen your shoulders – good for hippy girls too, as it helps to balance shoulders and hips.

Therefore, people with very slim figures can wear all light coloured outfits with no problem – in fact those who feel they are too thin will find that light colours help to give them volume.

The rest of us know how wearing black outfits visibly ‘shrinks’ our outline – great for ‘feeling fat’ days! But some people are convinced that they can’t wear black for various reasons. I  believe everyone can wear black to great effect with a little planning.

Redheads always look great in black – simply because they have enough natural colour above the neckline to carry it off effortlessly – warm hair & skin tone, green or blue eyes, possibly freckles & rosy cheeks. It is often a favourite colour of redheads as it is a perfect foil for their natural palette.

Those of us without the advantage of an interesting natural colour scheme don’t need to be left out:

  • Eyebrows – if you have indeterminate eyebrows get them tinted and shaped
  • Eye Make-up – a little more pronounced than you would normally wear – experiment with eye shadow colours.
  • A little blusher – always flattering to give your face definition.
  • Highlight brow bones & cheekbones.

Using these hints, you can wear black when you choose, looking glamorous and not dowdy (and a size smaller too!)