Friday, 6 March 2009

April in Belgium

Charlotte, I have a sartorial enquiry which I am hoping you can assist me with, please? I am going to a wedding in Belgium on 4th April. Now, you know I'm an antipodean and prone to chill, so I'm a bit worried about wearing anything too skimpy. On the other hand I am also quite vain and so not wearing a lovely frock is outta the question.

The wedding is not hugely formal, so I'll probably get away with anything I like really.
I'm thinking a frock with a nice wrap to keep me warm. But bearing in mind my arse/hips are a bit out of control at the mo with winter chubbiness, so something which will be kind to my chunky frame. However, I am hoping to go on a health kick before then - if this works, I'll need something that can cope with me being a few kilos lighter if need be, so not uber-tight or strapless, it'll be too cold for that anyways, I assume. I guess I should probably wait until closer to the time in case I trim down but the sales are so good at the moment, I think I should strike fast! I've been loving the 50s frocks lately, but am totally open to suggestions. Whaddya say, lady?? Thx in advance x

Let me first say to my readers that this lady is not 'chunky' by most definitions of the word - but doesn't that just go to show how just about everyone has parts that make them self-conscious. She also has a very particular type of fair colouring that I don't think would suit black near her face - so I'm going to be looking for gorgeous but subtle colours.

My first choice is by Wallis and costs £45. The flared shape is flattering over the bum and thighs, but it's a glamorous, fun length and has a dramatic neckline and some underbust tailoring to accentuate the boobs. The long sleeves make it perfect for spring - you should be able to forgo a warmer layer except when outdoors. If it is chilly, I'd wear it with some opaque tights to match the purple in the pattern, and some long boots. Wearing all that on the bottom should mean you don't feel the cold so much as a whole.

Even more glamorous is this spotty frock by Almost Famous (£29.99 reduced from £122!). Yes it's a little lightweight, but with a substantial shrug I promise you'll be nice and snug. Remember, you won't want to be too hot when you're strutting your stuff on the dancefloor. The profile is the same as the last dress - great for skimming bumpy bits without being shapeless. The colours are fantastic too - so many gorgeous shades to choose from when deciding your accent colour (the colour - or two - for your accessories, shoes, shrug etc). I quite like this pale 'old gold' shade, as regular readers will know (the choos!). It's very flattering to pale complexions, and glam without being OTT.

It's always worth a look on the Oli website for frocks, especially if you're a standard size. These two have very similar shapes, but they create a very different effect. The first is all glamorous sophistication (£65). The beading is gorgeous, and the Grecian neckline is classic and elegant. This kind of bodice works with anything up to average-sized boobs. It will make them look larger, but the beaded band at the empire line provides definition, and stops them looking droopy. The second dress is also probably only good up to a C cup, because it's a halterneck, and really, halterneck bras can be more trouble than they're worth. But never have I wished so hard for smaller boobs, because this dress is beautiful. It's altogether more casual, but then this isn't a particularly formal wedding. It's also a bargain at £35.

For most of these dresses of course, she's going to need something warm and cosy to cover up her arms. I feel really strongly about stoles / wraps / pashminas etc. The desired way of wearing them is covering the upper arm from just below the shoulder to sit in the crook of the elbow. Nice idea, but unless you give them your undivided attention, and don't try to move your arms much, what happens is that they constantly slip down to the elbows, leaving the upper arms chilly and exposed. You can't really dance and hold them in place, which may not matter much if you're wearing it for warmth but is a bit pointless if you're sensitive about your upper arms. Or you end up hooking the top over your shoulders, making the item a de facto shawl. Not a glam look.

Sorry - a bit of a rant.

So what, then? A shrug / bolero or cardigan is the answer, depending on the style of the dress, the formality of the event, and your figure. The names shrug and bolero are used interchangeably for a cropped cardigan or blouse - although a bolero may also be a cropped jacket. If you have a small waist you want to show off, or a dress with empire line tailoring, a bolero/shrug will be most flattering. Cardigans are best if you're wearing seperates, or an untailored / freeform dress. Be warned that a cardigan which finishes at the waist will draw attention to your bum and hips. If you don't want this, choose a longline cardi or a shrug. When fastening any of these items, big boobed girls should be very careful - do not fasten at all, or fasten only beneath the bust. Also, consider the detail of the dress or top you are covering. What shape is the neckline? How high is it? If you have beautiful detail like the Grecian dress above then you really shouldn't interfere with those lines at all - choose a cover up which can comfortably and attractively be left undone.

So, my first suggestion is super-glamorous, and would suit a simple, light dress such as the spotty one above. It's from Topshop (who have some absolutely brilliant coats and jackets at the moment, albeit in predictably limited sizes) - £60. The second is actually a maternity item, but it's a gorgeous colour and design (and it's £25 from Crave maternity - any mums to be). A bolero like this would work well over a very simple, tailored frock with a high neckline, like the Monsoon ones I mentioned here - sharp lines would clash with unstructured knitwear. The third (£36 - Monsoon), though, is the most versatile piece. I've chosen blue to coordinate with the third dress, but our girl may want to choose another colour as an accent (pewter? purple?) to add interest to the outfit. It's essentially just a fine-knit cardi with a shorter length: comfy and warm. If you're slim choose one in mohair or angora. But lightweight knits will enable you to keep the shrug on, even on the dancefloor.

I've been sitting on this mission for a couple of weeks - so apologies.

edit! Good lord, reading this back it had some horrible mistakes and missing links - please let me know about these... oh, the shame....


  1. Hello Miss Charlotte;
    Just wanted to update you on my wedding choice. Thank you so much for your options, which I loved, particularly the blue grecian dress which I fell in love with. Unfortunately, with wedding travel and gift costs, I decided to spend a little less, but go with your grecian theme. As one of the dresses took me to Wallis, I found this purple grecian drape dress which did the trick delightfully. I never would have looked there or thought of the grecian style on me, so even though I didn't get the exact dresses you recommended, your food for thought found me an outfit. You're a star!! xx

  2. This one?



Thanks for commenting - always nice to know I'm not talking to myself...