Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Something I threw on...

I'm often asked about what to wear based on a more womanly shape. In some respect retailers are beginning to do something about it and let's be clear I'm not talking about size, I'm talking about shape. For too long the debate has been about size and weight. In truth neither are the issue, it is how you dress to suit you. One of my dearest friends who is renowned sports instructor - I don't like to say fitness as it doesn't cover her superior knowledge - always makes me laugh because if you get all bored with your clothes her answer is to say 'lose weight clothes always look better on then'.

In part this is true, mainly because fashion is all about the sinewy. Yet the supermodels aka Helen Christian, Cindy Crawford etc where all quite Amazonian. Tall with breasts, hips and bums. Sometimes I do get quite shocked when a 16 year old model confides that someone suggested she should lose weight. All because her legs were deemed a bit big around the top of the thigh. Luckily she was just looking for me to agree with her because it was a complete nonsense. She has a good head on her and wants to get her A levels before committing further to modelling.

But mainly it is our decision making in buying clothes that is more problematic than shape. I will agree that sizing of clothes is an issue when it comes to cut and availability. Other than designer clothes (believe me haute couture and sometimes ready to wear will do any size for the right price) high street cuts can be a minefield to negotiate.

You know the scenario, you've had kids, you are juggling home/work/school/activities/social life and the thought of shopping for clothes fills you with dread.

What you need is a dose of Nigella. I make no apologies of my love of Nigella. She is the most beautiful woman I've ever met in real life and I've met a bevvy of beauties. Her beauty is there on the outside but shines from the inside as well. I could gush for hours.

Portrait of Nigella Lawson by Jillian Edelstein. Exhibted in and available in postcard form as above from Roast Restaurant

My other dearest friend and godmother to the petit garcon worked at the BBC and always remarked of Nigella 'she's a big girl'. When I met her I couldn't comprehend why she'd been described in such a way. Compared to my friend, yes Nigella is taller, wider and fuller, but whilst the rest of the TV broadcasters lot often look like lollipops on sticks, she looked all woman.

Nigella wore, what is now deemed the Mad Men-esque look before Matthew Weiner had even written the first word. My only beef with her has been that denim jacket someone made her wear for one of her cooking series. And if I might be so bold, methinks Sophie Dahl has tried to emulate the look in her conversion to cookery.

Put simply the Nigella look is formulaic.

Good dress and nice shoes. If good dress is shift style then add good cardigan. Make sure your hair is wonderfully groomed and well maintained, plus flawless skin with enough make up to enhance. Maybe one piece or two of fine jewellery.

The essential ingredient is hair - as it is with Anna Wintour. For Anna Wintour read Nigella Lawson but on a smaller scale.

This is the classic Nigella look and truly it is timeless. You just have to know it is what suits best, and ignore trends (again ditto Anna). Confidence is 9/10ths of the law in clothes wearing!

Essential item the cardigan in merino wool or cashmere. Have in different colours and slightly differing cuts.

Essential item, the shift dress. Again have in differing cuts, an a-line version is a must. Never any longer than knee length. Black is an easy option but colour and print work wonders too.

Jaeger sleeveless jersey dress £125

Essential item number 3, a good shoe. For evening and occasions wear a good court shoe. For day and weekend substitute with knee length boots or flat pumps/courts. Even at night some sexy suede knee length boots would look fab. Make sure they are tight and well made. Cute not clumpy.


  1. I was watching Nigella on the Beeb this morning, she is so beautiful, isn't she?
    I've always rather liked her ubiquitous denim jacket (she had one on again earlier) and I'm loving the Jaeger dress. xxx

  2. Entirely agree that it is about shape not size. I have friends who are a size 22 and you would have no idea, because they wear clothes that suit. And I know myself that wearing certain styles will make me look chunky and enormous. Investing in staples that look great on you is sterling advice (and I luuurve those shoes and the jaeger dress).

  3. The Jaeger dress is stunning & the shoes remind me of a pair my mums pointy kitten heels from the 50s.
    The shoes & dress would look uber classy together but alas both are way out of my budget.

  4. Hip Hooray, it is so fabulous to meet, or in this case read, a fellow stylista after my own heart. I have long been an advocate of dressing for your shape today and not what you 'think' you should look like tomorrow. I know so many beautiful women who don't realise their potential because they think they don't have the body to pull off style. It is because of this very reason that I jumped, ballet flats and all into the world of the fashion spread the word that style is for everyone with any shape and at any budget. Your blog is fabulous and an inspiration to aspiring style-queens-in-training world wide. Oh yes, and thanks for the tip of the cashmere cardigans...They are high on my list 'to buy' list when I'm visiting the UK next month.

  5. I struggle to find decent clothes as I'm a big girl. My body shape isn't the one I would have chosen but its the one I've got. I resort to buying dresses as its really difficult finding style amongst the options available. There are too few women in the spotlight who have a natural curvy shape, so the curvier woman on the street is just not catered enough for.

  6. I agree with the commenter above - it's hard to dress a curvier figure, regardless of weight. My hips and bust are + 10 inches bigger than my waist, making wearing trousers, skirts or any separates almost impossible, whilst dresses often hide my curves and make me look wide, rather than hourglass. I think more attention should be paid to shape rather than size (i'm thinking of the new levis curve here)

  7. Too true, I would love to be able to look hot in a simple white vest and skinny jeans (too much watching britains next top model) but I simply am not that shape, even when I was seriously skinny. I know what suits me and if I want to flirt with a trend I just have to take the parts of it that will suit me and work with the rest of my wardrobe - which you will soon see thanks to a total Zara binge LOL. Oh and did you see one of the big jeans brands is now doing shape as well as size in their jeans - might be Levi??

  8. Nigella always looks stunning. Perhaps a little more classic a look than I'd aspire to but you have to respect someone who really does know how to dress their shape.

  9. Kate - just to say my parcel arrived today and I'm seriously in love! Expect a blog post very soon, thank you soooo much. xxx

  10. Yay for focusing on shape, not size!

  11. Don't talk to me about Shape - mine is a nightmare! Love Nigella for her beautiful face and clear skin but she really should be bigger for all she eats on her programmes!

  12. I could kiss you ;-)

    Also, Nigella is no stranger to displaying ample bosomage in her evening frocks.

    I must become less self conscious of my boobs and wear them with pride instead of hiding them away under big shapeless....things.

    On Sunday, Nigella featured in YOU mag (Mail on Sunday) and Sonshine said - 'look mum, it's YOU'.

    I held up the picture of the perfectly groomed Ms Lawson next to me with my bed hair (about an inch of grey root showing) and dressing gown (and yes, some of yesterday's mascara that failed to come off).

    He studied the pic and me and said: 'well, she could be YOU'.

    Yes, darling, if she let's herself go to SEED, she could be me.... :-)

    Ali x

  13. I love this post as I love Nigella and I love her style. She always looks great. I too hated the denim jacket!

  14. i love nigella's dresses. Unfortunately my body shape does not look very good in them :( (short and stumpy)

    I need to work on the hair now.

  15. I love Nigella and she always dresses very well. I wish I was a bit curvier in certain places.

    Great choices, I am really loving Jaeger at the moment and LK Bennett shoes are brilliant for narrow feet xx

  16. Nigella is fabulous, I have to agree - so glamourous even in the kitchen!

  17. Great post, beautifully written. You are so right the high street can be a minefield and it can be soul destroying sometime to have to go up a size to get the right fit. But bloody brilliant when you have to drop a size for the same reason. Emotional shopping. Xxxx

  18. I love Nigella's look, but it's a bit too constricted for me. I describe myself as "curvy" but everyone's curvy is different too. It's taken a long time, but I've quit blaming my body when certain styles don't work for me, and have realized that my shape basically stays the same no matter my size. So there are no pleated pants or tucked in white blouses in my future, regardless of whether I can give up carbs.

  19. That sleeveless dress is amazing!
    Visit me:

  20. I hate that denim jacket too! Probably because I could never feel comfortable in one. Well, maybe way back in high school during my Chrissy Hynde phase. Anyway, love this post. Love Nigella for following reasons:

    *she seems very down to earth
    *she can cook (duh)
    *she can speak - her vocab is tops
    *she doesn't apologize for anything

  21. I got here late, but thank-you, thank-you Kate for this post! I am studying, plotting and planning as I type. As god is my witness I will never dress unshapely again *raises fist to sky*.

    Have a great day.

  22. Yeah Baby! Nigella is gorgeous.

    I *know* that dark v-neck tees look best on me....why do I ever veer from this?

  23. I'm heavier than usual and yet it isn't bothering me since i seem to have a rack for two full weeks of the month- without the aid of a waterr bra or other feats of engineering. And in summer time when you want dresses and tee shirts and fine fabric clothes to look good- having a pocket of air up top is not great.
    So yeah, I'm with you on shape.
    I would have the accompanying storage of fluid at the top of my thighs, but since summer is not about Candida Tight Jeans (unless your name is Liz Hurley) that isn't bothering me. My figure hugging dresses stay in the press and my Cath Kidston/Monsoon florals come out.

    Going to try on a formal dress today for an event and looking forward to having something to fill the top half for a change. It's funny being Over 40!



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