Monday, May 1, 2017

A New You....Dressing the Petite Plus Size Apple Shape...the finer details...

Dressing the petite plus sized Apple shape is challenging.
The 'fashion' industry do not cater for us. We simply get sizes 2-12, upsized for our body shape, leaving all sorts of inadequacies, from waistlines that do not accommodate little tums, to darts appearing in the wrong places, bodices that are too long or too short, skirts that make us look like a cake topper...the list goes on.
One alternative is to do what I have done for so long, and simply wear flowing shapeless garments, which mind you, do have their charm in the right context, and give up trying to look sleek and lean, at all. Because for many of us (most of us?), 'sleek and lean' is the goal. Not necessarily thin, but just taller and with a lithe silhouette. And guess what? You don't need to be a skinny Minnie to achieve it.
Which brings me to another alternative. You might remember that I've invested some time in educating myself on the topic of how to dress my short, cuddly self. I've not regretted this for a moment, and I've learned so much from Marie-Anne Lecouer and her French Chic Academy, since I joined in December last year. The first thing she taught me through her Apple Shape e-course, was that the details matter. A simple idea like keeping our hemlines at, or just below our knee to lengthen the leg, or the tip that low cut shoes that show a little 'toe cleavage', and shoes in a nude shade, make ones legs appear longer, and thus we appear taller, makes the world of difference.
I've also learned that wearing navy blue as seen above, is softer and more flattering than black (my perennial favourite), and long necklaces like my new strand of Baroque pearls custom made by Laura at JaguarJems on Etsy, also seem to lengthen the torso, drawing the eye to the vertical, a slimming illusion.
Two years ago, I attended my brothers wedding. It was a casual affair, in one of our lovely parks where I live. Aiming for the look on the left, I misguidedly wore my interpretation...a light floral cotton shift (aforementioned shapeless garment to the rescue), and my much loved Lanvin ballet flats.
I was happy enough when I looked in the mirror at home, but in all of the photographs, I look short and!

Here is where I made my mistakes:
The dress was light and comfortable for a steamy hot day, but pink all over, is not flattering on me, and the light colour actually adds bulk to my frame, as do the gathered sleeves and neckline. I'm not usually a fan of prints, but this one seemed appropriate. Now I see that it's just Granny-ish...definitely NOT a look I am trying to cultivate.
The dress on the left, has waistline detail, giving at least the illusion of a waistline, whereas my pink dress did not. The model on the left, wore high heels with low toe cleavage to make her legs look longer and to give her height. I wore ballet flats with top of foot detail, shortening my leg, and making me look even more height challenged than I already am at 5'3" tall. The hemline of the models dress just hits the knee lending length to her leg, mine is below the knee, cutting me off along my shin. She wears her hair up, to lengthen her neck and lend a sense of occasion and again, height. I wore mine down, making me look a bit half-hearted, and short. I wore no jewellery, believing the floral pattern to be 'busy' enough, so at least I was on the mark there.
Since taking some advice from Marie-Anne Lecouer though, my favourite Special Occasion dress is the black wrap dress you see above here on the right. I'd heard how wrap dresses were flattering for the Apple shape, and I had this one. But I couldn't make it work for me. Again, the devil was in the detail. Instead of tying the wrap ties around my waist, I tied them under my bustline. This gives a curvy silhouette, rather than just a rectangular one. Instead of filling the V neckline with a necklace, I added dangling Baroque pearl earrings, adding length to my torso and neck. I stopped trying to wear Ballerina Flats with everything, and found some heels that I could tolerate, and abandoned the idea of ankle straps in all forms, as they just make my legs look shorter. If I wear this dress now, I also usually wear my hair up in a French Chignon, to give the illusion of a long neck and cleavage, and to draw the eye upwards.
Think 'heels, hats, and hair in an up-do, to add height' for we Petite Plus Sized Apple shapes.
I think these strategies make a huge difference. I have to add that I wouldn't wear the pink floral fascinator just anywhere. It was an addition for a Raceday event. I would however, entertain other hair accessories and styles, to continue that illusion of length and height.
As for the crime of covering all ills in flowing fabric, yes, guilty. What about you my Apple shaped compatriot? It seems such an obvious solution really, until you look back and digest how you really looked.
I cultivated a sort of grey, vaguely arty look for quite some time during my Mummy years. The short bob haircut was part of that too. This look below wasn't all bad, but my hair is not at it's most flattering at this length, I see that I badly needed a bra fitting (high chest is a youthful chest!), and that even my bag, wasn't doing me any favours. You see, it isn't just about scale with bags as many fashion advisors would have us believe. It's also about not adding bulk to our silhouette, for we Apple shaped ladies. A slim envelope clutch has remedied this dilemma nowadays. Round hoop earrings add a 'round' illusion to the figure, whereas a long dangling earring add length to the neck, so now I prefer a longer earring, like my baroque pearls, to hoops.
The wrist cuff, similarly does me no favours, cutting the length of my arm, and yelling 'shortie'! too. So much again, for the idea of 'scale'. Bracelets for us, should be statement, yes. But not necessarily cuffs that shorten the arm. Softer chain and link style adornments, that sit down low on the hand when you hang your arm down, is another body lengthening trick of the eye.

As for my hair, well I've found over the years, that length is good for me. Shoulder length or longer is the most flattering and slims my face. Above, I look quite round in the face, and heavy in the body, thanks to the Empire line shroud type garment that I previously believed was flattering, the shorter hair, and the accessories as detailed.
Below, I look more slender, taller, and the navy blue flatters my fair complexion and silver hair, as opposed to the grey clothing and artificially dyed hair, seen above. Pearls are known to add a glow to anyones complexion, and the bootcut jeans, slim fitting shirt, and elbow length cardi, are just right for every day wear.

One last before and after look. I've shown you the photo on the left here before. This was my favourite every day Mummy look just five short months ago. The shirt is silk, and I quite loved my ripped 3/4 jeans, I am ashamed to say. Now my favourite every day Mummy look, is more like the one above, or this one here on the right. Black slim cut, full length pants, a black fitted button down shirt with a bit of stretch, a simple black bolero with a small frill around the edges, and black patent leather ballet flats. The only jewellery here is pearl studs and a pearl bracelet (thankyou A for that gift). No arm shortening cuffs, no necklace here, as the frill adds interest, and an up-do to add a bit of a dressy note.

I feel all grown up these days. Now if I shop for clothes, I have a detailed list, or I don't bother shopping. I've given away all of my 3/4 pants and ripped jeans. Again, this is advice I'd seen before, but not really taken much notice of, until starting my French Chic journey. I've added comfortable heels and wedges to my wardrobe of shoes, and as much as I love scarves with a passion, I've come to accept that wearing them up around my neck, is not flattering either. Long scarves with tails, or Infinity scarves are key for Apple Shapes. Again, remember you're looking for looooong and lean.

So here I am, a third of the way through my New Year, New You learning. I am really proud of how far I've come, and I hope so very much, that I've encouraged you to reassess the way you present yourself. I can tell you that I have found a whole new self-confidence at the age of 57, and I am starting to see that my days of looking my best, are ahead of me, not behind me.

What about you? Tell me everything....

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  1. Dearest Mimi,
    you're truly wonderful, your smile brightens my day !

    Wishing you the best of weeks
    I'm sending blessings to you

    XOXO Dany

    1. Thankyou Dany my lovely. You are always so sweet. Mimi xxx

  2. Hello. I enjoyed this post! I have a question, so it is a GOOD thing for short apples to wear infinity scarves? If so, would you be able to share an example?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Mrs O, and welcome to my humble blog! It is a good thing for short Apples to wear long necklaces, and long scarves, yes. Aim for an Infinity scarf, that comes down to mid chest or lower, or for the tails of your normal scarf to drape down either side of your torso, to create an illusion of a column of colour. This makes you appear taller and slimmer. Mimi xxx

  3. Even though you pointed out the flaws in your 'before' pics, you still had a great sense of style, because I think those photos look pretty good too! I def need to find some navy blue. I picked up a navy and Lavender striped v neck tee at goodwill, and thought nothing of it. I have had so many compliments when I wear it and i can even see the difference with the pretty navy color next to my skin. I am enjoying your lessons. Thank you!

    1. Penpen what a lovely thing to say! And I couldn't agree more. Navy is so much softer than black. It's a good lesson, isn't it! Mimi xxx


  4. Hi Mimi!!
    I just love to see you being yourself!! The blue and the necklace do suit you nicely! Lovely!! Full of personality!
    Rachel Holt

    1. Thankyou Rachel. You are

  5. Mimi, dear,

    Great job! I learned these same great tips from a blogger a few years back who hasn't updated her blog in several years. (Wondering if she had a baby. ;-).
    -- Show those forearms and wrists.
    -- Belt yourself around the ribcage, and by all means, enjoy belts!
    -- I like to wear short on top over long on bottom, and long on top over short on bottom.
    -- I like to wear open-toes with long and closed-toes with short.
    -- My past-my-knees hair is worn up every day.
    -- I love to embellish the neckline to draw the eye upward, too.
    -- I'm 5'8" and pear-shaped, but am slimming down the hips presently with a plant-strong lifestyle.
    -- I buy and wear only colors I love, and never buy something just because it's gorgeous and on sale.
    -- And any time I see a female of any age, I try to compliment something about HER, not only her clothes. "Your eyes look blue enough to swim in in that blue sweater. Gorgeous color, your eyes!"

    Good job, Mimi. The most beautiful thing I see you wearing in this post is your dreamy smile! You're fabulous!


    1. Dearest Kelley, how lovely to see you! Yes, isn't it funny. I've always leaned towards showing off wrists and forearms, just knowing that was a more flattering look for me. Belts are not so good for an Apple shape, I find, but for the Pear shape, perhaps a better idea. I cannot believe your gorgeous hair is past your knees! You always look immaculately groomed. That must be a true labour of love for you. I love your philosophy on only buying what you love. So often I've fallen into that trap of buying something because it's lovely and/or on sale, even if it didn't suit me. That's a great point, and yes, find something to compliment everyone on. We all need a boost! Thankyou for your thoughtful comment dear Kelley...Mimi xxx

  6. I failed over summer to look anything other than dowdy. I initially was all keen and did some research finding my body shape using the calculator you provided and doing a colour analysis. I went and bought some dresses that I thought fit the profile. OMG did I get it wrong. A cousin from South Africa came for a visit. He posted some photos of us and I wanted to hide. Just awful!
    I fell back into wearing my moomoo dresses as these are cool and comfortable and it was such a hot summer. OK excuses over.
    Today I am wearing a cotton dress that does fit the profile. I made this one and spent a little more on the fabric to get what I wanted. I am adjusting the pattern to adapt it more to me and have two more cut out. They are simply nice house dresses, not going out frocks. It looks like I might have to spend a bit more and go back to making everything myself for myself. Gone are the days when making your own clothes was the cheaper option than purchasing in the stores.
    I have seen the shoes that I love. They are well out of my price range so I am trying to find something more affordable and similar. I hate shopping so this may take some time to happen.

    1. Dear Jane, Summer is a real issue in the humidity. Sleeves and floaty fabrics? Lovely but not if they're synthetic. The majority of floaty fashion is polyester chiffon? May as well wear plastic! Jeans look great in Winter, but too hot in Summer. On the body shape calculator issue, for years I believed I was an Hourglass, and I may have been at one time. It was only when I realised that I was actually an Apple, that my head became muddled, because so much of the information for Apples was just WRONG. Belts? No. MOST fashionista information for Apples, says to wear them to create a waist. Marie-Anne Lecouer says NON to belts for Apples buy 'oui' to slim fitting button down shirts, with a trim little cardi over them, to create a slim silhouette, not to try to have a waist when there isn't one. It's the difference between looking fashionable, and looking 'chic'. So not all guidance on Body Shapes is equal either. I feel your pain. I want to look Chic, even in Summer! I'm glad you've found some sewing patterns that fit the bill. I've been down that path too, but found it so very expensive, as you say. In the end, I realised that between what I was spending on fabric and patterns, and what I was buying at the op shop, I could actually be buying quality pieces, even if I have to lay-by them. That idea was a game changer for me, in more ways than one! As for looking chic and well put together in the heat, I'll share my top tips, some of which I've always had, some of which I've collected from my French Chic course. Stick with solid colours. Prints are hard to wear unless you really resonate with 'prints', and really who does? I have accepted that I can love a print on a table napkin, or a scarf, or my bed linen, without having to feel like I have to wear it all over. Anything floral is venturing into MuuMuu territory for me. Polka dots and gingham are perennial, but even then, better as a trim, or accent, rather than all over. Stick to two solid neutrals and an accent colour, so camel, white and red or navy, tan, and white, or navy, white and emerald green, or even cocoa, sand and pink. That's hard at first, but once you realise how that actually gives you MORE flexibility in your wardrobe, NOT LESS, you'll learn to love the idea. Have your florals in a scarf, a bag or clutch, a hair ornament, or a tote. That way, your CLOTHES remain your mainstay and can last you for years. That way you don't mind spending a little more on them (or the fabric to make them!) initially. If you can't stand wearing heels, do aim for a slightly dressier shoe. A lounge slipper or ballerina flat is so much classier and dressier than flip-flops or runners. I know, I know, they're comfy, and I could no more give up my Birkenstock Gizeh sandals than fly to the moon. But I confine my wearing of those to the home, and change my shoes into something a little more Chic when I leave the house. It's amazing what a difference even that little switch makes. Posture correcting inner soles (I bought mine at Coles for about $20 each pair) make a welcome addition for feet that hurt, and I have two pairs that I change into whichever shoe I'm wearing at the time. This makes them SO much more comfortable! As for hating shopping, now that I know what I'm doing, I'm learning to love it moderation! As per Marie-Annes advice, I have purged my wardrobe, and made a list of a very few items that I actually NEED. The list is detailed and includes notes like 'must have interesting sleeve cuff detail', or 'needs to match my A-line skirt, jeans and black pants', or 'must have 3/4 sleeves, be slim fitting without being tight, and have a V or scooped neckline'. That too, is part of the trick of the trade for the French. Gosh, that's nearly a blog post on it's own, Jane. Sorry! Anyway, I hope it's helpful. Plan, plan, and plan some more. THEN it for garments or fabric. It helps. I think you're on the right track. Love, Mimi xxx

    2. Thanks for taking the time Mimi. I used to dress really well when I worked a corporate position. Now semi retired and around 10kg heavier I am struggling. I will think on your advice and see what else I can do and put into place as a plan.

  7. I learned so much!! I love florals and one designers clothes especially and he does mostly floral tops! I get his tops at the used stores but now see what you mean about the solids. Your mentioning I could get my florals many other ways into my life really resonated with me. I love the cottage home look and florals and garden theme is tops there. So florals have their my home. :-) Or maybe a bit of embroidery on a collar or such once in a while? I too am 5'3" and pear shaped. I usually wear small hoop earrings 95% of the time...but now will shop differently. I have never been able to wear black. My skin is so very pale but the pretty navy would sure work for me! I have been working on smartening up my wardrobe for a few years now and now will add this information on to it. Although we no longer wear hats and gloves every time we go out { yes I remember those years. :-) } I still like to feel like a lady. Not going into public in your pjs like some seem to think is ok.. :-(( Thank you again. Sarah

    1. Sarah yes! Who says chic women can't also have welcoming cottage-y, shabby chic homes? It's important to make the distinction between loving something in your home though, and loving something ON you. That was an ah-ha moment for me too! I love my floral bedlinen, my gentle Romantic décor, my Baroque candlesticks and jewellery boxes, and my Turkish inspired rugs. That doesn't mean I swan around wearing flannelette floral shirts and jackets, leopard print fur and gold jewellery at the same time, and harem pants with pixie! I agree that a small touch like some very delicate and subtle embroidery is a feminine addition, and even better if it's on something like buttons or cuffs and collars, and in a colour that tones with your shirt, so that it's a finer detail only really noticeable up close. That is classy and stylish. Imagine a Navy shirt, with tiny Navy or white French Knots embroidered onto self covered buttons, or along the points of the collar and edge of the cuffs. I think something like that would add textural detail and femininity, without looking garish, and the sheer satisfaction of feeling those special details on a store bought garment would be very empowering. I have always had a thing for hoop earrings too. But I do find that the little pearl or 'fake for now' diamond studs, make me feel more dressed up, if that makes sense? Try the Navy blue rather than the black too, Sarah, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. As for the Pj's in Public...well...let's not even go there. We saw a couple of young women come to breakfast in the restaurant on the cruise ship at Christmas, in their Pj's. More power to them. Not for me though. Thanks for your lovely comment Sarah. You go get 'em my lovely. Love, Mimi xxx

  8. What a difference between those two pictures at the end. The longer pant is definitely giving you more height. Your blog is evolving brilliantly Mimi. Congratulations!

    1. Isn't it funny Janie. Like a lot of things, I'd heard and read this piece of advice many, many times. It's only when the whole idea of 'selfies' arose in my blogging life, that I thought to record the differences on ME. And yes. You are right (as were the style gurus), full length pants really do make you look taller and leaner! Thankyou for your lovely compliment on the blog too. I'm enjoying the change in direction. Mimi xxx

  9. Gosh, you have learned so much all the way to the bracelets. Who would have thought but I can see that you are right! I am pear shaped with a pretty significant difference between the top and bottom. I know what styles work best for me but for the last few years, those styles haven't been popular. I like belts and not so flowy clothes. No matter our shapes, we feel prettier in the right clothes. :)

  10. Great set of posts! Thank you, I have read today's post a few times and find it very useful. I am really glad you are explaining what and why you do the changes, it helps me understand the purpose. I too am an Apple shape and have become restless that I still dress like i did 30 years ago in college. Yikes!

  11. I have been mauling over your thoughts on clothes for the apple 5'3" person...which I am. One thing that I do not understand though that you might want to discuss on a post if I might be so bold as to how do you dress for summer? When it is hot and humid. I can't wear sleeveless due to the tops of my arms are not at all pretty. I try to wear longer than a cap sleeve. Also layered looks are out due to the heat. And if solids are best does the top piece of clothing have to be the same tone of color as the bottom? You showed the pretty navy blouse and slacks. That would be too hot for summer. It sure does look beautiful and gives a longer look. I look best in aqua, and gray blue, off white and never white blouses. If I wore that as a top and navy pants that again would cut me in half. I guess I am confused.:-) It sounds like the blouse or top has to be the same shade and color as the bottom skirt or slacks to achieve the desired length to the body. And sorry, but for me dresses and skirts are not working either as my legs have very bad veins. Any ideas? As I said perhaps dressing in summer's heat night be a post to explore..if you haven't already. Sorry this was so long and confusing! :-))) Sarah


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx