Ahhh… summer – surely everybody’s favourite season. This is the season of picnics and parties, barbeques and brunches...
This is the season of sexy sandals, shorts and sundresses, floaty tops and spaghetti straps. There’s nothing that feels quite as good as the warmth of the sun on your back or the tickling of a cooling breeze on limbs long since tired of being covered in tights and woollens. We all just can’t wait to get our gear off and get amongst it, can we?
That’s all well and good if you’re are toned, taut and terrific but there are those among us who dread the onslaught of summer. Even if you are only slightly self conscious about your body, the mere thought of summer styles can strike fear into your heart – how do you show that much flesh and still remain stylish?
The simple answer for some of us is - you don’t. The secret of style is not to slavishly follow the trends and wear what is “IN” at any given point in time.
A truly stylish person is one who knows their body (and its limitations), and dresses to suit their shape rather than buying clothing because that is what the fashion buyers and magazine editors have decreed ‘the look’.
It would be almost impossible to find an image in a magazine, on a billboard or poster that has not been airbrushed into absolute perfection. Where are the dimply thighs (and, yes models in real life do get cellulite), where are the sunspots and moles? We know these images aren’t real yet we expect our legs to look as good as Kate Moss’ in our short shorts - and if they don’t, there’s the dilemma - do I wear them anyway or do I not?
What about the slightly too short skirt or the smidge-too-tight top? Surely, no-one will notice the small pouches of back fat or the sun-damaged, crepey skin on my chest? Bad news; they will. You might as well get a second look but possibly not for the reasons you’d like.
In my column a couple of issues ago I wrote about loving the body you have and celebrating the things it can do for you rather than obsessing about your “bingo arms” or the size of your bum.
No, this isn’t a departure from that ethos; rather it is an addition to it. You see, accepting your body means you learn what works for the shape you are and how to dress that body well rather than living in denial – it may mean going up a size rather than squeezing into something that doesn’t fit.
Perhaps you should leave the short shorts to a younger, slimmer girl. It might mean, that yes – your best look isn’t mini-skirted or skinny strapped, instead you need a decent bra to get the shape you need or that adding a little cardigan will always work better for you. It may mean shorts and skirts that cover your knees are best. If you are on the short side: it definitely means avoiding maxi dresses unless you want to go out looking as if you are wearing your nightdress.
So, here’s the best summer fashion advice I can give you: get real. Know your shape and your body, check the angle of your clothing (both existing in your wardrobe and when trying something new) in all mirrors – from the front, side and rear view, don’t be flattered by dim lighting or even dimmer sales assistants and make sure you are projecting your best you – not a ridiculous image of a woman trying too hard.
FashioNZ’s Style DoctorJackie O’Fee is owner of Signature Style, Auckland’s leading Personal Style consultancy. If you’d like an honest shopping partner who has a vested interest in making sure you look great, give Jackie a call on (09) 630 5115, or check out her website: http://www.signaturestyle.co.nz/