Styling me styling you* Part 2

Friday, June 28, 2013 Permalink

I guess I can delay the inevitable no longer. The time has come for me to share a picture (a real picture, rather than one I can photoshop to death) of me. And my body.

In yesterday’s post (complete with its Abba-themed title!) I talked about a ‘styling’ session I attended with NZ Designer Annah Stretton (AS) stylists, Belinda and Nina.

As well as discussing my current style and body shape, principal AS stylist Nina asked me about my assets: a stumper, for me because: 1. I struggle to identify such things; and 2. I hate to appear vain.

Because Nina’s obviously a Nigella Lawson fan, she suggested my ample bosom was a plus (although I’m less wedded to it quite frankly) in addition to the fact I have a waist.

“My height,” I said – cos – although far bigger than I want to be, I am just over 5ft 10inches (178cm). I also (arrogantly) named my smile, and Nina and Belinda added my eyes to the list. (Later Belinda told me that my personality actually needed to be at the top of that list. Which was a nice thing for her to say!)

And then came the moment of truth. The dynamic duo ushered me into the nearby salon where they’d sent up temporary shop (below, which – incidentally looked AMAZING!) to start the styling.



We started by talking colours. You can actually do entire sessions to work out ‘your colours’ but Belinda made it simple.

“If you’re wearing the right colours your eyes pop.”

That’s it. If you’re wearing the right colours you and your face don’t get lost in the fabric. In my case – thank god – black is a good colour. I need ‘real’ colours apparently – nothing wishy-washy.

We’d already agreed my body shape was that of a rosebud (ie. I’m bottom heavy) although I do have a defined waist. I also discovered I am EXTREMELY long-waisted and my legs are balanced (calf to knee and knee to hip, presumably).

I’d already warned Belinda and Nina about my aversion to booby-ness. “Getting the girls out,” one of my friends says when she’s wearing something low-cut. I’m a less-is-more person when it comes to my chest and prefer to look as flat as possible. However… as a bottom-heavy rosebud, I’m supposed to be drawing attention to my upper body. Gah!

You’ll see from the pics though that you haven’t always got to wear something low-cut, rather looping some pearls (etc) to draw the eye to the region, is just as good. Apparently.

Nina and Belinda zipped about the salon finding combinations of clothes while I watched on in amazement. They knew what was where and moved with incredible synchronicity before Brisbane-based Belinda announced she was ready for the styling to begin.

Although I’d said I really only wear trousers, the duo were keen to get me out of my comfort zone and had me try on three or four dresses before returning me to my black trousers to don several tunic tops.

In all honesty I struggled with what I saw in the mirror. Belinda and Nina (and the next victim stylee, J) commented on each of the different outfits but I continued to see my big belly and boobs; fat thighs and face; and scary styleless-because-I’m-growing-it hair. It was marginally better at one point when the mirror was too low for me and my head was cut off as I was able to look at my body more dispassionately – as I would the gals in the Curves (etc) pictures.


This dress (above) was the favourite of both stylists. I liked the look of it but wasn’t sure where I’d wear it at this point in time. (Plus I’m on a budget, but more on that later!)

I tried on quite a few dresses with high waistlines. I know this is somewhat inevitable given that I have a long body, but Belinda advised that you need to draw attention to the SMALLEST part of your waist – which could be your upper waist (just under your boobs). If you’re wearing a belt, you need to wear it high, not low over the larger part of your body – unless you’re needing to draw attention to it (which I most certainly am not!)

In most of the outfits I donned I wore the ‘framer’ – ie the black soft light coat. I don’t like my upper arms so it works to hide those but also frames my body.

I also learned that – if you are trying to give yourself more shape (a waistline) then you should push your sleeves up to 3/4 length so they end at around your waistline (when your arms are by your sides!).

This dress below, is the first I tried on and was the biggest shock for me. I felt very booby and exposed and it wasn’t really ‘me’ but probably looks the most different to the usual ‘me’.

PicMonkey Collage AS

I also tried on a number of other dresses and tunics and as I did so a few things became obvious: round necklines and I do not a marriage make. This had never previously been so obvious (and I suspect the number of things I tried on made it more evident). I know Belinda suggested I can knot pearls or wear a necklace, but I felt my boobs looked very boxy when I wore a round neckline.

Sadly a few of the other photos are quite blurry (though I might add one of the others to my Facebook page… maybe).

Rather ridiculously – despite the fact I’m not currently working or earning an income I chose to buy the most expensive thing I tried on. I didn’t do it deliberately but… rather sensibly.

The Chameleon Florence Wrap dress (pic from AS website below) can be worn a number of ways (including inside and out) and will be great for work, the pub or outings with friends. It’s literally about ten dresses in one.


It will be the first dress or skirt I’ve worn in about 5 years; and I may need a PhD to work out the different ways to wrap it but thankfully the Annah Stretton website has instructions AND a video to help!

I’d love to get styled again when I’m feeling better about myself.

It occurred to me that I needed this after I lost 25kg a couple of years ago – because although I started dressing a bit more confidently, my style didn’t really change. I continued to ‘cover up’.

I now realise that if when I again lose weight, I don’t have to dress any differently (just go down a size or two hopefully). My body shape, my colouring and my ‘assets’ won’t change. I need to continue to downplay the bad less-good and promote those aspects I want others to focus on.

Being styled by people who know what they are doing was extremely beneficial. Our perception can be so tainted. My eyes immediately go to certain places and all I can see are the bulges or chubby bits, whereas other people (particularly those who know what they’re doing) can look dispassionately at your body as a whole and work out what looks best.

Would you consider a personal styling session?
Do you think you’re currently wearing the wrong thing for your body shape?

PS. This is not a sponsored post. You can buy Annah Stretton online or in locations listed on the website.
PPS. In my ‘before’ picture I’m wearing an old faithful outfit: a Nicola Waite (Nic) blouse; TS14+ black trousers; Nine West boots; and jewellery from Thousand Island Dressing (all purchased by moi).
PPPS. Had I known I’d be trying on clothes I would have worn better underwear. #justsayin


  • Kek
    June 29, 2013

    Wow, Deb. The dresses really do look great on you.

    I totally agree that accentuating your “assets” doesn’t have to mean exposing acres of cleavage. Sometimes just a V neckline (not plunging) makes a huge difference.

    Make sure you wear that dress!

    • Debbish
      June 29, 2013

      Yes…. it just feels weird to wear something ‘fitting’.

  • Char
    June 29, 2013

    Both looks are fabulous. You look great. Both of those dresses are winners.

    After seeing what they’ve done for you I’d probably consider having a session – although, like you, where the hell would I wear something fabulous? Certainly not out with my husband – his idea of a great night out is to buy takeaway and watch something science fictiony.

  • Debbish
    June 29, 2013

    Oh thanks Char. I can’t really see past the ‘me’ in the pics. I’d normally think about buying more but as I’m not working my finances are limited. Plus as I’m not working I don’t need work clothes (and hopefully when I do work it’ll only be a couple of days a week). IF I had more spending money I might have considered one of the other outfits (with tulle tutu petticoat) as well – or even instead of the wrap dress.

  • Sharmila
    June 29, 2013

    The dresses look fabulous on you … so very chique! Definitely look for opportunities to wear dresses. And yes, I need a personal styler now! Like you I mostly stick to pants and top so it would be nice to be able to wear other styles more confidently.

    • Debbish
      June 29, 2013

      Thanks Sharmila (though I can’t see it). The wrap dress I’d wear with opaque tights or leggings I think.

      I realised later I forgot to ask how long my blouses / shirts should be if I’m wearing trousers. Guess it’s about drawing attention up… so NOT hip length.

  • Jo Tracey
    June 29, 2013

    Wow…just wow! I’d love a styling session & her clothes with all those wonderful textures look great…I’m off to the website to dream and drool a little.

    • Debbish
      June 29, 2013

      Yes, I really loved her clothes. I’ve mentioned a zillion times what a Nicola Waite fan I am and Annah Stretton is similarly fabulous – great colours and funky style and textures.

      On the styling front: My mum was due to go to the styling session with me and I wish she’d also had a one-on-one as she could have benefited. She doesn’t show off her figure as she should.

    • Debbish
      June 29, 2013

      PS. I’ve liked the Annah Stretton Facebook page and it seems as if they have specials on quite a bit (like HUGE specials – dresses worth $300 for $50 kind of thing). And that’s in NZ dollars!

  • Jess
    June 29, 2013

    I’d never heard the sleeve length/ waist ratio thing before, but it really makes sense. Love those dresses on you! They really are very flattering! And actually I like your hair, lovely colour. The in between phase is hard but it doesn’t look bad at all!

    • Debbish
      June 29, 2013

      Yes, we didn’t have the sleeves pulled up in a couple of the early photos but it does certainly make sense!

  • @Kanga_Rue
    June 29, 2013

    I LOVE you in the outfit in the first shot with the red corsage! The other dress looks great too. I will look forward to seeing you in your new purchase also.

    I’m kicking myself that I didn’t join you – any chance they’ll be coming back this way?

    I’m intrigued by the multi-wear dress too.

    • Debbish
      June 29, 2013

      Hmmm…. I find it hard to look past ‘me’, but I did like the layered dress. As I said, hard to justify the purchase while I’m not working. If money wasn’t a problem I would have bought a couple of other things I suspect. I tend to have only a few clothes but good quality things that I wear for years.

      I think the ‘styling’ is over for this visit, but they may be at the Sunday festival. Not sure who’s doing the vintage styling sessions there.

  • Nikki @ styling you
    June 30, 2013

    Deb, this makes my heart sing. I too love that first photo of you. Often our perceptions of ourselves get in the way of putting our best self forward. I hope you wear that dress a lot!

    • Debbish
      June 30, 2013

      Thanks Nik. It was the wrap dress I bought (the Chameleon). It would have been nice to get a couple, but….


  • Lou Lou
    June 30, 2013

    Thought you looked fabbo! I went onto the AS website and loved it. Great clothes with a bit of colour and uniqueness. I think I am going to order the Chameleon too!! Just getting up the courage as it is a bit €€€ and I’m worried it might not be the right size…

    • Debbish
      July 1, 2013

      The good thing Lou Lou is that the dress straddles a few sizes, so there is some flexibility. I would have been on the large size for mine, so there’s probably some styles we didn’t try but IF I ever lose weight I’ll still be able to wear it.


  • KCLAnderson (Karen)
    July 3, 2013

    Holy WOW…you look fabulous in both dresses!! I have had a couple of personal styling sessions for photo shoot type things and it’s always a revelation to see what someone else thinks I’m going to look good in.

    • Debbish
      July 3, 2013

      Thanks Karen.

  • Liz@LastChanceTraining
    July 3, 2013

    Deb, I think you look amazing in that dress – really, really good – I think it captures who you are perfectly. I’d like to do a styling session one day,but I’m a little bit chicken!

    • Debbish
      July 3, 2013

      Thanks Liz! xx

  • Deanne Kinney
    July 15, 2013

    Today I’m loving this stylish must-have faux wrap dress. This is the Mamie Dress by Grace-ful London , designer of wardrobe essentials for plus size gals. The Mamie is an an easy to wear high quality crepe jersey dress that can take you from day to evening. Couture like styling makes this dress a flattering feminine piece– an essential item in any plus size woman’s wardrobe. The Mamie comes in black or brown–it has slimming arms and a wrap style waist. Grace-ful London has been identified as one of FOUR OF THE BEST PLACES TO LOOK FOR PARTY DRESSES by Fashion Editor Liz Jones of The Daily Mail.

  • ssarahwaynee
    March 6, 2015

    You look gorgeous in this dress! Surely you know how to turn things fab!
    Great Post!


  • Janet Camilleri (@middleagedmama1)
    February 24, 2017

    I wanna see pics of you wearing your chameleon dress at your conference this weekend!!!!

    • Debbish
      February 24, 2017

      I actually decided against wearing it Janet. I tried it on and it didn’t look at all nice… I really should just ditch that dress but it feels wasteful though I doubt I could sell it.

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