Styling me styling you* Part 1

Friday, June 28, 2013 Permalink

Sometimes when a fair or festival comes to town it brings with it lion tamers or strong men. Not so the Mary Poppins Festival which brings with it Annah Stretton stylists!

True story.

As I was browsing through the activities on offer as part of Maryborough’s Mary Poppins Festival I was excited to see two evening ‘styling’ sessions – also providing one-on-one appointments with stylists Belinda and Nina. And, given my weight-issues, I particularly liked the ‘dress for your body shape not your body weight’ focus.

For those not in the know Annah Stretton is a New Zealand designer who – fortunately for me – designs and sells clothes for those up to a size 20(ish).

Naturally on meeting the very lovely Nina and Belinda I felt obliged to confess that I’ve gained 10-15kg since finishing work late last year (when I already needed to lose 20kg) but Nina from NZ and Annah Stretton’s (AS) principal stylist who speaks at Weight Watcher NZ events wouldn’t let me ‘diss’ the body I’m in.

“The sexiest thing you can wear is your confidence,” she reminded me, before telling me that – when it comes to dressing and looking chic, classy and sexy, it’s all about proportions.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 120kg or 60kg, it’s about dressing for your shape.

Screen shot 2014-09-15 at 7.26.38 PMAnd, on that note, rather than the usual ‘fruit-based’ shapes, AS opts for the far-prettier flowers (left, from AS site).

Historically I’ve been pear-shaped… a rosebud in AS-speak (see, far prettier!). At the moment my stomach is (and certainly feels) bigger than it once was but despite this, I apparently have bluebell (hourglass) tendencies. “We need to all be aiming to look like Nigella Lawson,” suggested Nina. (Sans neck-groping hubby obviously!)

Detailed advice about how to dress for your shape can be found on the AS website and I love the empowering language and approach that the brand chooses to use. In essence it’s all about balancing our look. If we’re bottom-heavy, or a rosebud, then we need to minimise the bottom half and draw attention to the top half. Tulips and Lavender-shaped peeps need to give themselves a waistline / some shape and bluebells need to emphasise that perfect hourglass figure.

Later in the session, blonde bluebell Belinda and dark-haired tulip Nina actually switched their outfits about so I could actually see the marked difference that the right clothes can make.


After talking a little about me and my life, we talked about my ‘signature style’ – black, black and more black. Fitting (but stretchy) trousers with loose long shirts, accessorised by lots of funky jewellery so I don’t look like such a nanna.

We agreed that I dressed for ‘comfort’ and to feel ‘safe’. My clothes don’t show my body (lumps, bumps and curves) – particularly the area from my chest to my thighs. I confessed that I’d ‘like’ to change that and be brave enough to wear more ‘shapely’ clothes. (Despite my far-from-perfect body. Because, bizarrely enough, I do realise that some of the shapeless things I wear actually make me look worse!)


So, as well as making the usual apologies for my weight and body I did acknowledge the fact that – while I need to lose weight and get fitter and healthier (etc) – I would also like to better appreciate / value the body I’m in now. I mentioned the recent post I did about the Aussie Curves girls and how I’d love to emulate those at the recent Full Figured Fashion Week in the US.

I’d already told Belinda and Nina I wanted to blog about the styling experience but we were already well into the conversation when I learned that I would be playing dress-ups and donning a range of clothes. (Yes, WTF?!)

“I don’t appear in photos!” I yelped, wondering how on earth I could share this ‘styling’ session without actually sharing before and after pictures. And… in all good conscience, I can’t. I am delaying the inevitable, however, so tomorrow I’ll share some before and after pics from my own styling session. *Deep breaths*

Do you know what body shape you are?
Do you know how to dress for your shape?

* Intended to be sung to tune of Abba’s “Knowing Me Knowing You”
PS. This is not a sponsored post.

  • Jo Tracey
    June 28, 2013

    Love love love the flower analogy…& look forward to the pics!

    • Debbish
      June 28, 2013


  • Kek
    June 28, 2013

    I had a styling session last year and for me, it was full of “aha!” moments about WHY certain clothes made me look/feel frumpy. Or why I had numerous things in my wardrobe that I had never worn – I loved the piece, but it didn’t “feel” right on me. That was all about my personal style and I finally know what that is (classic with a bit of Bohemian thrown in), and what will and won’t work for me.

    It was money well invested, just to learn about which top, skirt and pants lengths flatter my shape and size and which make me look awful – and why.

    But the thing that has stuck with me ever since is the three “rules” of shopping. I always ask these questions before I buy something:

    Does it flatter my body shape?
    Does it suit my style?
    Do I love it?

    If all three don’t get a resounding “yes!”, then back on the rack it goes. I spend a lot less time returning things these days.

    • Debbish
      June 28, 2013

      It was certainly useful. We’d had a mix-up with our tickets and my mother was supposed to come to the session as well but that didn’t happen, but I would have also loved for her to have been styled. I sort of ‘knew’ I was making mistakes when buying clothes but buying them to ‘cover up’.


  • Char
    June 28, 2013

    I find all this sort of thing very confronting. I was the ‘smart’ sister with a couple of very pretty sisters so I didn’t bother much about how I looked – not big into fashion and my makeup generally pre-dates the turn of the century. And then last weekend I had to do the whole glamour thing for a wedding. Seriously out of my comfort zone – especially knowing that I’ll be immortalized forever in my friends’ wedding album. I just tried to go with the flow and let the experts make the styling decisions. Then I tried not to look in any mirrors because I knew I’d be hypercritical. I ended up having a wonderful time and the photos I’ve seen so far aren’t too bad. It’s good to give the experts credit for their skills and just trust them.

    • Debbish
      June 28, 2013

      Fortunately this didn’t involve hair and makeup (though my hair could have used it as it got all messy and sweaty once I started trying stuff on!).

      I really just wish I wasn’t at my biggest (hopefully) when this was done and wish I’d done it yonks ago!


  • Nikki @ Styling You
    June 28, 2013

    Sounds like a perfect session Deb… can’t wait for tomorrow!

    • Debbish
      June 28, 2013

      Hmmm…. I’m not so sure! x

  • Jess
    June 28, 2013

    Love the flower descriptors so much better then fruit! They are so much nicer! What a cool thing to do! I’d love it but I’d feel a bit self conscious doing it! I can’t wait to see the pics but i totally get not enjoying that aspect yourself!

    • Debbish
      June 28, 2013

      Yes, I loved the use of the flowers as well… less negativity attached to them.

  • Lou Lou
    June 28, 2013

    Damn that looked like a whole bunch of fun. I loved the names for body shape too. I’m a Rose Bud and proud!

    • Debbish
      June 29, 2013

      It was fun Lou Lou, I just wasn’t prepared for the ‘having to try stuff on’ bit. I assumed I’d just be sitting talking to the stylists. (Plus I HATE trying stuff on. One of their questions was about the kind of shopper I am. I said I HATE shopping and would buy everything online – including clothes – if that was possible!)

  • Melissa {Suger}
    June 28, 2013

    You, my friend, are way to hard on yourself. I think you’ll find most people who leave full time work put on some weight, it’s like Christmas vacation ALL THE TIME. Haha. Not making excuses for you or anything, you know I’m a big advocate for treating your body well and you’ll know if that’s happening or not.

    And now, with my straight talking bossy boots on can I just say that when I met you I was struck by what beautiful and friendly woman you are. I find it hard to put myself into this conversation where you are apologising for your body to strangers. It’s unnecessary and I hope you’ll stop doing that. It’s like taking a friend along to dinner and introducing them as not very smart but she tries hard or something, you just wouldn’t do it. So stop please.

    • Debbish
      June 29, 2013

      Melissa, I hadn’t thought of it like that. I guess it’s cos I see the weight thing as ‘my fault’ so something I should apologise for. Dumbness, well that’s just bad genes… 😉

      They did chastise me re the comments about my body as I felt obliged to explain to the person getting styled after me that I knew I was big and that I’d recently put on more weight, yadda yadda yadda.


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