Arrrghh – what am I going to wear for that party?
Party season is fast approaching and it’s a time of year I normally dread. For years I’ve been very overweight (last Christmas I was a size 22) which isn’t great for party frocks, especially when all your mates are in skimpy skirts and fab dresses. Plus size retailers seem to specialise in sacks – generally in black with some sequins if you’re lucky. Although it’s getting better, it’s still harder to get (and feel) glamorous if you’re large, and I should know.
Back in 2007 I was 21 ½ stone, and about a size 30. Health problems meant that I had to lose some weight, so my first real diet was with Boots – using Orlistat (the drug that inhibits fat absorption). Over a year 1 lost 4 stone and was pretty pleased – but then I reached a plateau and just couldn’t move any more. A year with Slimming World saw just ½ stone come off, and I really lost my mojo. 2010 was a terrible year, illness and bereavement left me not really caring what I ate, and the pounds started creeping back on – so in April this year when my “trousers of truth” got too tight, I decided it was time to take action. I found out about a meal replacement and skin therapy program called Alizonne – a friend of my mum’s had just lost 5 stone and looked great – so I signed up and joined in!
7 months later, 6 stone lighter and not much excess skin to speak of, I feel like a new woman. I’m now in the process of “phasing off” – reintroducing foods one group at a time – and will be completely finished for Christmas. I feel healthier than I have done in years, have been eating more salad and veg than you can shake a stick at for the whole of the diet, plus a daily intake of 5 quite tasty foods made up from sachets (and they’re not all shakes or soup, which is nice).
So this year will be my first party season as a “normal” sized woman since I was 18 – I’m slimmer, healthier and embracing my size 12 and 14 dresses!
I will see many friends I haven’t seen since last Christmas, and can’t wait to see their shocked faces. As well as smaller dresses, I’ll also be wearing higher heels – it’s surprising how comfy heels are when you’re not carrying all that weight. I don’t think I’ll be out dancing in my 4 ½ “ Dune platform stilettos yet though, I’m still holding onto the kitchen cupboards when I wear them at home.
But what to wear, that’s the question? After far too many years to remember of shopping in Evans and Ann Harvey, I really don’t know where to start. And what about all those lovely clothes I have from previous years? And could I buy something second hand or borrow something to reduce the costs – this being a busy season financially too?
It was discussing this idea, and my husband’s frequent lament that I shouldn’t buy clothes but just rent them, as I’d been losing size so quickly, that led me to collaborate with the Wardrobe Angel on a style event for larger ladies. I could sell all my lovely clothes (some hardly worn, some still with tags on), she could do styling, and we could get some other people in to do pampering and stuff! If you like the sound of that, you should check out the details of what has become The Big Style Event on Nov 26th https://sites.google.com/site/bigstyleevent/
In the meantime, I’ve been shopping for this year’s party frock – with a hectic social calendar leading up to Christmas I’m sure I’ll get my wear out of the three outfits I’ve bought – and if you want to keep tabs on me, you can check out my blog for pics of the seasonal outfits http://disappearingdawn.blogspot.com/
I’ve tried to go for things that will multi-task. A black velvet pencil skirt from TKMAXX will be my mainstay – it’s elasticated with a wide waistband that can be turned over, so I can effectively change the length from floor skimming to mid calf. It will still fit if I lose a few more pounds, and can be worn with a wide variety of tops and evening jackets – dressed up for Hollywood glamour or dressed down for dinner with friends.
I’ve got quite a variety of evening jackets – and despite being much smaller they still all fit OK – in the main they are untailored, floaty material and have proved to be a good buy. Worn over an evening dress or top and skirt, they add a bit a movement and in some cases drama! The more kimono style ones can be worn belted for a different look too, and are very fashionable at the moment. I stuck with classic colours when I bought mine – black, silver and red – but that’s because I generally wore black underneath!
And then I have a more flirty, slinky wrap dress for livelier parties – it’s very plain, so I’ll be accessorising it with belts or jewellery depending on the party – have already worked out about 3 different looks for that one dress.
Finally, my investment piece for the season is a long red dress from Mango – I usually go to 2 or 3 black tie events a year, and this one will be good for all of them. It’s a very dramatic, Grecian style dress, but with no embellishments – so I can decorate it using jewellery, belts, shrugs, fur wraps etc to give it lots of different looks.
In each case, I’ve picked the bit of me I like most (my waist which is now tiny!) and bought styles that accentuate that bit and play down the rest - covering or hiding bingo wings, disguising pear shaped hips and coping with being only 5 ft 4.
So, my top tips for Christmas style? Play to your strengths, buy things that accentuate your loveliest bit(s), buy things that are classic rather than fashionable, in simple styles that can be dressed in lots of different ways, and make the most of accessories – no matter how much weight you lose, a handbag will always fit!