Kim  Posts authored by: Kim Mansell

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We’ve all been there…gazing at a gorgeous dress, top or maybe a skirt in a magazine or shop window   thinking, “Oh, it’s gorgeous, and how gorgeous I could be wearing you!” You dash into the shop searching frantically for this one item; no other article of clothing in this entire store could match up. Then you spot it, on a rail high above the others, where it belongs, looking down on it’s subordinates, and you dare to touch it…it’s just as beautiful to touch as it is to see, you almost melt inside! But do they have your size? OMG, what if they don’t… begin clawing at the hangers desperately searching through the copious amounts of size 6’s, size 8’s….where’s the 10’s, 12’s and 14’s, don’t they make real sizes anymore?????!!!!!!!

And there it is, right at the back, a little miracle on a plastic hanger, as if it’s been waiting to see you. You clutch it tight to your chest as you make your way to the fitting rooms, your paranoia feels like every other shoppers’ eyes are on you, waiting to snatch it away for themselves, even as the shop assistant hands you a number card and guides you to a booth you eye her up and down as if to warn her to keep her distance; “this dress is MINE, you can’t have it, I found it first, you’re too late!!!”

Five minutes later, you’re close to tears, slumped in a heap on the floor in your underwear after a desperate battle with the fabric in your hand….it didn’t fit, and even if it did, it didn’t look good on you- this dress, top or skirt was made for stick insects….We find ourselves beginning to understand how Bridget Jones must have felt walking into Daniel Cleaver’s bathroom.


Never fear ladies….you ARE beautiful-work those trends that you usually don’t dare to try because you think they wont work for your body shape. Ditch that soul destroying diet and learn to work with what you’ve got! My next post looks at the fifties trends.

Feel free to share fashion advice with us-we’d welcome examples of trends which work for you-pictures welcome!

The fifties saw waistlines shrink and skirts flare out. A-lines and Chanel suits helped less wealthy women look glamorous with high street replicas widely available whilst animal prints and rock’n’roll brought energy and expression to the fashion industry. Today, fifties fashion is revisiting our high street and everybody can get their hands on something inspired by this extraordinary decade. BUT, those small waistlines and tighter fits aren’t just for skinny-minnies, the fifties were made for beautiful, curvaceous women, women who didn’t have gym memberships, had an average of 2.4 children by the time they were 27 and were not yet taunted by images of Twiggy.

However, this story is a case of “seeing in believing.”  I’d always thought my DD’s, broad shoulders and footballers legs were going to stop me looking more Manson than Monroe! To my dismay, one morning, more out of boredom and curiosity than anything, I saw a crimson skater dress, tried it on, and to my utter astonishment it looked A-MA-ZING! (Well I thought so at least.) The classic fifties shape with a high waistline pulls you in at the base of the ribcage and the skater skirt flares out at the same point, skimming across tummy, hips and thighs, anything that we want to hide is transformed into a sleek lines. If you’re heavy on top, try to keep the neckline low, but remember that although the fifties may have challenged boundaries but was still on the conservative side.

Take inspiration from the ladies of the time such as Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor who made conservative necklines and three-quarter length sleeves sexy, and more recently pay close attention to style guru Susannah Constantine, part of the T.V. wonder double-act that is “Trinny and Susannah”. Note how Susannah indulges her curves with tight pencils skirts which rise up as far as her bust, again pulling her in at the smallest part of her torso. It’s no coincidence that Trinny and Susannah became a stylist duo; tall and slender Trinny and curvaceous Susannah represent glamorous women across the body spectrum. Look into their library of books for insights into new looks, particularly “Who do you want to be today?” which shows both body types how to create outfits such as androgeny and diva!

SO get dressing ladies, and even if the first dress you try doesn’t quite suit you, don’t give up hope, keep looking, there’s a perfect frock out there for each one of us…just be sure not to overkill with leather gloves and pillbox hat a-la Jackie Kennedy, there is such as thing as taking it too far!



Lesson 2 – It’s Playtime!!

Yes, playsuits are back big time this spring so do what the name tells you and have some fun!!I am so glad that playsuits are back on fashion radar after their hibernation over autumn/winter. Since I bought my first one five years ago I have been obsessed by these anti muffin-top beauties (no waistband = no overhang!) as an alternative to dresses.

I’ve always felt self-conscious wearing a dress or skirt as a casual or daytime look. Shorts, trousers and leggings offer a safety barrier to help my underwear stay undercover whereas dresses have always made me feel either daringly underdressed or totally overdressed. The playsuit solves my worries in one foul swoop – the crotch is my crutch! And playsuits offer all the positives I look for in a dress; a more girly look with pretty patterns, lovely shapes and the simplicity of an all-in-one item.

SO what’s hot in the coming season?

Miami style has hit the catwalks big this season with those summery, tropical patterns oozing 50s and 60s American glam. Play around with cut outs such as this River Island number with the classic Miami tie-front which will compliment anyone looking to disguise those pesky lovehandles but show off a flat stomach. Priced at just £18 it’s a sure bargain and it also covers another season trend; scarf print.

If a classic, pretty look is what you usually go for and you’re thinking that playsuits aren’t really your style then think again. This puff-sleeve, chiffron number by Rare (available at Topshop) will look fantastic on its own or teamed with a bright blazer and this blue, dainty number from Miss Selfridge has a summery, 40’s country feel that would look fantastic assembled with a straw, wide-brimmed hat and to really top it off perhaps a pair of white lace, ultra French-20’s style gloves. Both boast lower neck-lines for those of us with larger “assets” giving a less frumpy look and the capped sleeves give that extra coverage for anyone a tad self-conscious of their bingo wings.

Now, be serious, when you think of playsuits the image of a toddler being dressed up by its parents in easily managable, themed outfits springs to mind doesn’t it? Well those clever guys at River Island put two and two together and came out with one of THE most amazing playsuits I have seen this season. This sailor-style playsuit has everything; figure skimming, structured shape, a cute peterpan collar, simplicity, elegance, vintage style….tick tick tick tick tick!!!! Just don’t take things too far and get the matching hat with red bobble (you know the one I mean, you have the picture to prove it).

One of the main issues that playsuits cause is the attention that they can draw to the legs. If you’re thigh-shy make sure you keep your heels high to elongate you legs. To flatter those pins even more keep them bronzed and well moisturized with a tinted body lotion; I love Johnsons Holiday Skin as it comes without the biscuity smell of most fake tans, and if you want an instant glow that will wash off before bed then my secret weapon is the bargain “Faking It” instant tan from Primark at just £1.50 a tube!! Match your bronzed legs with an uber-summery outfit, perhaps a looser fitting piece, like this number from Dorothy Perkins.  The draped middle will add to the floaty, laid-back look and will look perfect with a trilby, sandals and plenty of bangles for a beach/ summer festival vibe.

However, with the weather we’ve been having recently you might have to wait a couple of weeks for a glimpse of sunshine…BUT on the upside, this month we have something even mooorrree exciting to look forward to LONDON FASHION WEEK!! Look for next month’s article when we’ll be looking at the new extremes being paraded down the catwalk and see if we can turn them into something totally fantabulous for REAL WOMEN to wear in the coming year. See you soon!


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