Sunday, 6 February 2011

Beauty Fanatics Unfashionable Secret

It may be an odd choice to talk about clothing on a beauty blog but I felt inspired to write a little post about my less than enthusiastic approach to clothing. Oh, who am I kidding, it won't be little post, you may want to go and put the kettle on.

I love all things makeup and beauty related. New cosmetic purchases make me very happy. I may not be completely at home at beauty counters still but I will battle my nerves these days to get my hands on the good stuff. I think fashion and beauty usually go hand in hand but for me that just isn't the case. I dislike clothes shopping. IMMENSLEY. Trying to find an outfit and venturing into changing rooms is probably up there with my least favourite chores. I don't have a body that I enjoying seeing in mirrors from every angle. I buy online too but I that's not usually much better, I still have to try the clothes on which often results in disgust and disappointment.

Damn those 360˚ mirrors

There have been periods in my life when clothes shopping brought more joy. Namely those times when I have been a size 10 - 12 and I knew anything I picked up would fit. I've ALWAYS battled with my weight. I've been on (and off) a diet since my pre-teens. I'm not naturally sporty which doesn't help matters. I envy those for whom a balanced diet and exercise is just part of their normal life. I have been successful at losing weight and keeping it off in the past but since having children I seem to have lots my way.

Having children brings me to my other problem. I spent a lot of the last six years pregnant. Maternity clothes have robbed me of any sense of style that I might have previously had. I don't even have a clear idea of what's in fashion anymore. I remember buying a coat when my eldest was 3 months old. A sensible outdoors jacket from Millets. I still have this coat and it's my bad weather wear. I hate it and it makes me look and feel Mumsy, yet I've failed to find anything that will keep me dry and look stylish at the same time. It spoils the look of anything I wear underneath so it puts me off even trying.

Actual coat not shown. My coat is MUCH worse!

The other day I forced myself to go to the shops and buy myself some new things. I had somewhere to go and didn't want to wear the same thing yet again. It could have been the usual demoralising experience but for a change I found quite a few new things that I wanted to keep. I wore an almost entirely new outfit on my evening out, including a new coat and I actually felt good about it. It wasn't necessarily fashionable or stylish but I felt more myself and less Mumsy which was a great feeling. The following weekend I went through my clothes and took everything out that was past it's best and sent it to the charity shop. I felt a little guilty as the clothes were still 'ok' but they were probably a little faded or bobbled and I can accept that it's not really a good look. The shabby look probably doesn't set my makeup off to best effect either!

I'm hopeful that getting rid of these old clothes will spur me on to invest in more. It would be nice to make an effort again and get a bit of confidence back. I don't think I will suddenly enjoy clothes shopping and it will always be makeup first, but I will remind myself that new clothes can make me feel better about myself. My next job is to bin that old coat!


  1. I am glad you enjoyed your last trip. I don't understand why the mirrors and lighting in changing rooms are so unflattering, clearly I want you to trick me into thinking I'm slim so I'll buy more instead of the pale whale I am.
    I hope you find some good pieces!

  2. I can sooooooo relate to this post!! I actually choose to get wet in the rain rather than wear a mumsy, sensible coat!! I go through phases of feeling OK about my clothes and then feeling horribly frumpy and boring. Being surrounded by much younger students everyday and having a fiance who is achingly cool doesn't help matters! I think I need to follow your example and give my wardrobe a little overhaul beacause I always feel so much more confident when I'm well turned out!


  3. Oh, and have you ever considered a Boden raincoat. I think they're gorgeous, but def a fairly sizeable investment at £95. Having said that, Boden's qulaity is superb and knowing the British weather it would get plenty of wear. Here's a link, I'm loving the duffle design they've done this year.

  4. I HATE clothes shopping!
    I mainly wear the same thing, jeans & hoodies, leggings and jumper dresses or if I'm really pushing the boat out skinny jeans and a fancy top.

    I find most things in fashion look WRONG unless you're a size 8, for example...

    Cropped leather jackets make me look like Arnie gone wrong, lace makes me look like a fat ballerina and those micro city shorts... I don't think I need to explain that one.

    Plus it all changes so quick, and clothes aint exactly cheap these days. Who wants to spend £200 on an outfit that's only going to be 'in' for a few weeks?! Or am I just tight? =0/

  5. I can so relate to this post, I may be thin but at just below 6 foot tall and with hips and an arse nothing seems to fit properly! I end up wearing tea dresses or jumper dresses and leggings as the only jeans that are long enough are Zara and the specific style I like isn't in stock all year round. They seem to be the only brand that realise that tall people can have a small waist and big thighs!

  6. It's nice to know, I not on my own. I do like clothes but the changing rooms and the ever changing sizing in the highstreet is a nightmare. Xx

  7. Amen Jane! Not a single word I do not agree with...
    And although I am not a mum, I can still relate to the "mumsy" element from another angle: that of age and the resultant shift in my self-image.
    I suppose it's not an easy job to reconcile external, objective reality (the changes, biological, psychological, social, or aesthetic we go through with every new cycle of our lives) and the mindset -that may, or may not be in keeping with them.
    I suppose this is a just a convoluted way to say that I lament the fact that I just don't look good in jeans any more :-))))
    Nina x

  8. In total accord with your post and all the other commnents. Why is it so hard. I am a size 18'ish and fat all over so don't have a "good" bit to emphasise, unless I come over all Nigella and crack out the cleavage but frankly you have to be feeling at the top of your game to do that as it attracts attention, which I dislike and am not comfortabel with. And therein lies the rub; I want to hide and I want my clothes to do the hiding so invariably instead of slouchy, comfortable I come off looking like a sack of poo! Hair, nails and make up have to work darn hard to compensate hence the hysteria I have about them! BRILLIANT post Jane. x

  9. I go through phases when I ease up on buying makeup and just concentrate on getting some decent clothes in my wardrobe. Makeup is such a tempting purchase because it's easier (for me) to navigate.
    I've grown to expect more from my clothes. Rather than berating myself because a garment doesn't look right, I simply look for better clothes that *will* make me look good. I'm starting to think that the Diane Von Furstenburgs and Karen Millens of this world are worth the investment for this reason. I actually gasped the first time I tried on a DVF dress - I'd never seen a dress on me cut so well! They give me a body I don't necessarily have. If the clothes don't look any good on me, I need to buy better clothes ;)
    I also don't really follow fashion trends (when will 1984 go away? Seriously) and just stick to classic styles that work for me.
    You are a beautiful woman with a great sense of style Jane, and I look forward to hearing about your wardrobe progress! :)

  10. Looking at the comments, seems like you've struck a chord - you certainly have with me!! I had five children in ten years, and had to give up my regular swimming after child number two, as just didn't have time. I've put on weight too, and no excuse as number five is now seven. I tend to buy cheap(ish) on-line from Cotton Traders etc, and consequently am permanently in ruggers and trousers - stylish NOT. Going back to work helped, but only that I now have a couple of work outfits that I rotate! Now when I go swimming it's with the kids - so not really exercise. Guess I should go when they're at school...

  11. What a great post. Even though I don't have children, I can still relate. Since getting ill not being able to go out has meant a reliance on soft pjs and my university hoodie, hardly chic! When I do have to venture out it is a shock to the system having to wear fitted clothes, uncomfortable shoes, etc, but I'm slowly getting used to it. I have always loved fashion but a lot doesn't suit me, I don't have the legs for most of it, but I do like comfort, and comfort and fashionable rarely come together!

    I've promised myself that if ever I get the job I really want, the first month's salary will go on a personal shopper at Harvey Nics to get me suitably kitted out!

    With your great taste in beauty, I'm sure it won't take you long to be able to navigate the fashion world just as well, it just takes a bit of practice. X

  12. Although I haven't had children and am young, I am a larger size than I used to be so shopping is not as enjoyable as it used to be. I LOVE make-up, hair an accessorizing so I tend to buy plain clothes which I feel comfortable in and I can dress up or down with accessories.
    I was treated to a lovely coat last Christmas. It is grey, classic design from Zara and I wear it alll the time, but with different scarves and shoes.
    I hope you manage to find some clothes which you love yourself in xx

  13. Actually, I'd kill to have a bum like the one in your photo. I've got a flat arse - probably from sitting on it all day typing lol!

    Buying clothes is a minefield - inside my head I'm still 21 and able to wear anything I like. On the outside, I'm 47 and much of the stuff I'd love to buy no longer comes in my size lol!

    Well done on the charity shop donations!!!


  14. I remember the days I used to want to be just under 7st not realising how 'perfect' I was. My thighs always seemed to large as did my bottom, bust and arms.... now I am much heavier after 1 child and again I not really a fan of exercise..must do something about it as its hard to get clothes to fit.. my tiny 4ft 11 height if I am too wide!

  15. Ohhhhh yes! I'm only 5 foot, so loads of stuff dwarfs me. What irritates me is how these shops seem to think that just because you're petite (ie under 5'2") then you also have a figure like Kylie. Wrong! I have this stupid waist to hip ratio going on too (read massive arse) which means that pretty much all trousers/jeans gape at the small of my back. Such a bad look. I'm with you - clothes shopping is a bit of a mission. I do persevere though, and usually find something eventually!! x

  16. Tell me about it, when I add trying to loose my pregnancy weight when my youngest is 15 and then just feeling 20yrs to old for anything. Have to say I am in agreement about a great coat, in UK we have summer sometime end of May/beginning of June so to invest in a great coat is a must because that is what most people will be seeing you in most of the time, unless you are like me and never go out;-) Thanks for this Jane. Jan x

  17. Completely agree! I love having nice clothes, but I hate shopping and I have been known to leave a changing room in tears. Since losing a bit of weight it's better, but still not good. In the past 5 years I've only found 1 pair of work trousers that fit me, and they've now disintegrated. I've got about 10 pairs of work trousers sitting in my cupboard and none of them fit me well at all - I've realised that I've worn a skirt or dress everyday to work for the past 3 months! I really need to find a pair that fit, but I can't face the changing room! xx

  18. Changing room mirrors can be hit and miss - the ones in TK Maxx are awful and I'm rarely happy when I leave. In contrast, the Zara mirrors are the essence of kindness. Really don't know which is worse, to be honeset!

    I forced my Mum to get new clothes last year and she's been wearing them on and off (complains about how uncomfortable there are in comparison to those lived in rags!) so I think it's really great that you've decided to take the initiative and change your wardrobe!

    I would suggest looking at how women like Nigella or Christina Hendricks dress since I'm always impressed by the illusions their clothes choices offer.

  19. Thank you so much for the amazing response to this post. I’ve really enjoyed reading all your comments. Thank you very much for taking the time to share.

    @Kelsey: I totally relate to the white whale in the mirror issue. It can be sole destroying. It made such change to find clothes without tears at my view from behind!

    @loveaudrey: I know what you mean about the students. I used to work at a University and that always made me feel out of touch fashion wise. Getting a few new things and throwing some old ones away (to stop me wearing them) has definitely made an improvement to how I feel. It’s funny you should mention that Boden coat. I’ve had it in my online basket for a while! It’s the first pattern of there’s that has really tempted me. I agree that the Boden clothes wear very well. I really should go ahead and order some of the bits in that basket! Thanks for spurring me on x

    @Karleigh: No, not tight at all. If I want to buy something that’s ‘on trend’ I tend to go to New Look as I don’t want to spend a fortune if it’s a fad. I much prefer to buy things that will last a while and have a more classic cut. Your comment about the shorts made me laugh! I’m definitely not going there. Ever!!

    @Sarah: Your comment is really interesting. It’s good for me to remember that being slim isn’t necessarily a ticket to easy shopping. I think you always look great but I imagine being restricted because of your height and shape is very annoying.

    @behindtheshoes: The variability in sizes between different shops does make things even harder. I had to take several sizes in to the changing rooms as I’m very out of touch with which come up small and which are on the larger side.

  20. @Nina: Thanks for you interesting comment. I’m fascinated by how many people fell similarly awkward about clothing.Yes, I agree that it’s probably not just the having children and being a Mum which changes things. My age and life in general makes me think I should dress in particular way yet my self image is a little at odds with it. I don’t think I really want to be hip and trendy anymore but I’d like to at least be modern and elegant. That’s what I aim for with the my makeup and it would be nice if the rest of me followed suit!

    @Debbie: Great comment Debbie. I can totally identify with not wanting to draw attention to oneself. I know I was very reliant on makeup and accessorise during pregnancies to make me feel less frumpy and never really pulled it back together since. I have known other larger ladies look very stylish with their clothes so I know it’s possible and I need to stop making excuses for myself. I can’t see me ever converting to a mad clothes shopper but feeling better about myself might just put the brakes on weight gain again.

    @dempss: I like your attitude to clothes. It’s sounds much healthier to think that it’s the clothes that are wrong not ones body shape. I tend to think your right about well cut clothes being worth the investment in the long run. I tend to cycle between wearing a fairly limited number of items so I feel like it would be easier to justify expensive in terms cost per wear. I think I may need use your idea of concentrating on clothes for a bit and let the cosmetic buying take a back seat (sob). Thank you for believing I can do it!

    @too busy to stitch: In terms of exercise I think it’s hard to set aside the time. Busy Mum’s need their down time too! I guess it’s relaxing if it’s something that you enjoy though. It was the working at the beginning of this year doing exam invigilation that made me really reflect on my wardrobe. I had some smart things but no appropriate footwear to go with them and most of usual clothes were just too casual. It’s definitely good to share something like this and realise you’re not on your own so thank you for sharing.

  21. @Jennifer: Oooh, a personal shopper in Harvey Nichols would be amazing! I bought a dress from Harvey Nics years ago (wore it as a bridesmaids dress) and the help I got from the assistant was great. The dress has lasted years too! I think when you wear casual all the time and don’t go out much, it’s easy to forget how to look good for occasions. I am going to ditch that coat though. It just depresses me and the only way to force myself to get something else is to get rid!

    @Anon: Your coat sounds wonderful. I think a great coat can really make a difference to an outfit. I have a lot of beautiful scarves for accessorizing but they just don’t look right with my Mummy anorak! I look forward to getting to the point that I have a hand free for a brolly again. A better rain coat is first on my list of things to buy :)

    @Ali: I can sympathise with feeling forever 21. I don’t think I will ever grow up in my head. The wrinkles do make it harder to ignore these days. I honestly don’t believe you’re 47 though. You did look exceptionally stunning at the wedding you went to recently. Maybe we need to make some kind of surgery arrangement, I have plenty of backend going spare if you need more padding ;)

    @Bettina: It’s crushing isn’t it? Looking back on pictures where you look great then realising you were still very critical back then. I often wish I could go back and have words with my younger self sometimes! I’m 5ft 1 and bit so I know what you mean about the height issue too.

  22. @MissisG: It sounds like you have really similar problems to me. Even when I weigh less I still have the height and big bottom issue. I admire you for sticking with it find things. I think that is too often my mistake. I would like to investigate what would be most flattering for my body shape. I’m going to take your tack too and keep persevering.

    @Jan: I think you’re right about needing a good coat in the UK. Unfortunately I can’t avoid going out (much as I’d love to) as all my school runs have to be done on foot. I picked up a bargainous coat from New Look for £12 which makes me feel a lot better but I still need to get a better rain coat. I might just got for it with the Boden coat that loveaudrey mentioned.

    @TBBB: Oh sweetheart, I’ve been there with tears after a trip to the changing rooms. Trousers are always a big problem for me too. It’s really hard to find a flattering shape. I hope your next shopping trip is a good experience for you. And if you find some good trousers, pick up a couple of different colours. That’s my intention anyway :)

  23. @Cassie: Thank you for your comment. It's interesting how certain changing rooms are more 'user friendly' than others. I'm going to have to look up who Christina Hendricks is now as I'm clueless!
    Jane x

  24. Oh. Yes. Hello. I have 2 small people, girls at 4 and 2, and I have not regained my body since I fell pregnant with the oldest. Clothes shopping is utterly demoralising and I end up with a self-'pity cookie- hello self-sabotage! The school run could bring me to tears (if I had time in the morning) - especially as my daughter goes to private school and there are lots of very well- groomed (and generally not overweight) mummies. Having daughters, I am aware if setting a good example and sending a positive message to them about being happy in your own skin. Also, if they are built like 'me they will be curvy (40's and 50's era suits me when I am the 'right' size) and I don't want them to strive to be something they are not! Thanks for such a great post. x

  25. I have to say I don't enjoy clothes shopping much now either as I usually have to take it back when it doesn't fit, I think I must have fat arms as this seems to be a constant problem. I would say that since having my boy I can no longer lose weight like I use to. I see all these girls at my work aged around 20-25 and they look so thin and trendy, I feel like a complete frump. I know I went into All Saints (had to buy the large size) and they stared at me like I shouldn't be allowed to shop there!
    I find the whole thing disheartening and would rather spend the money on cosmetics which will give me pleasure, rather than try and wedge trousers on and then realise I can’t sit down in them! x

  26. i so feel you. beauty buys are an instant pick me up and really clothes shopping is bad (crowds, people that shove you, bad quality etc etc). but getting older, i have found that timeless fashion suits me the most (ie a black shift dress which flatters every body type, a classic a-line skirt which hides the thighs)...i thoroughly recommend you get a personal shopper so that they cna introduce you or show you great brands like hobbs (nw3 is just wonderful) at department stores, like House of Fraser or Debenehams if I am not wrong the service is for free.

  27. I know exactly how you feel, I'm such a slob when it come to clothes because I feel like as soon as I get back to my pre baby weight I find out I'm pregnant again, then after the baby comes theres the constant puke and poop and breastfeeding that well makes you not want to buy any new clothes because they're all going to end up revolting real quick.

    I'm glad that you went shopping and got rid of some of your old stuff :) Get your fashion groove back ;)

  28. @Fragrant Witch: Oh gosh, the school run does sound punishing. One of the other schools we decided against apparently is a bit of a fashion show in the morning, I know I couldn’t keep up with that. I can relate to the pity eating too (I haven’t found any clothes, so I’ll treat myself to some Millie’s cookies….). It is important to pass on good body image to our children, fortunately my boys take no notice but I will have to be more aware as my little girl gets older not to be a bad role model. I love the sound of the 40’s and 50’s style clothing. That sort of look is classically stylish.

    @Replica: I always pick cosmetics first. They’re not sizeist! I have the fat arms issue, I don’t entirely know what my hormones were thinking when they decided to make that a fat reserve in pregnancy! I really like All Saints clothes, well tops, I have no business in their trousers! I tend to look in outlet in Bicester though where the crowds make me feel a little more anonymous.

    @leinti nti: Thank you for your comment. I think a personal shopper might be a good idea for me, especially as I need some help trying to work out what shapes/styles are most flattering. I’m always nervous that they’ll pick out mumsy clothes for me based on how I currently appear! I’ll never know unless I try though.

    @Jadegrrrl: Oh yes, I can totally identify with the ‘cycle’ as it were! It’s normally about this stage when I get pregnant again but I don’t think there will be anymore for me so I need to sort it out style wise. I’m don’t feel like a frump on the inside and it would be nice for the outside to match again!

    Jane x


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