Full disclosure: Natasha is one of my besties. But we didn’t start that way. We met at one of Alexandra Franzen’s workshops back in the day. We immediately connected on how much we adored Garance Dore’s blog and style, design and travel in general. You know, all the things!
Fast forward: We have travelled together numerous times internationally including on a creative retreat to Marrakech with Garance Dore last November (yes, that’s me, smiling ear to ear at tile making class)! And now we have many wonderful clients in common.
Frankly, I think we are a match made in heaven for entrepreneurs… If you’re working on your brand, Natasha will distil it to maximum potency for your target market specifically regarding creative direction including logo, social graphics, and website design. I can help with the fashion, photo shoots, and branding opportunities involved too. Together we have the skills and the referrals you may need to see your vision through to completion. This is what we call Rising Star. Email me to inquire.
Now, let’s focus on the topic at hand… How To Dress For A Fluctuating Body!
Scarlet and I were discussing something over text recently when I remarked: “I am the poster child for having a wardrobe that works at different sizes.”
My weight has fluctuated since my early 20s, and recently the most dramatically when I gained 25 pounds and then lost 35 over the course of almost two years living in the States.
Scarlet tells me that one thing most of us ladies have in common is weight fluctuation – usually 5 to 8 pounds throughout the year.
When I’ve been smaller I’ve gotten rid of larger clothes, when I’ve been larger, I’ve gotten rid of smaller clothes, on the advice that keeping either isn’t serving me. I’m not sure I agree with that advice anymore, having lived with the regret of missing certain classic pieces, when my weight has fluctuated on either end (RIP perfect high waisted black denim pencil skirt). You may think you’ll never get back into that pair of skinny jeans. And you may think you’ll never need those larger sizes again. But life happens and maybe keeping a range of high-quality classics around is in our best interest.
I’m a designer (with three planets in Virgo). This means I have a lust for minimalism, clarity and order. I love a good cull, an edit, a purge. I love to de-clutter, whether it’s a website, a bookcase, or a wardrobe. Streamlining is sexy! Scarlet agrees with me – “clutter is the enemy”. It keeps us from being focused, from finding peace in our day-to-day.
I enjoy a curated wardrobe that’s composed with intention, and includes nothing I don’t love, don’t wear, or doesn’t fit. But I’m softening on this. During my first Closet Overhaul, Scarlet helped me select classic-to-me pieces that can be styled to work as my weight fluctuates. More than ever I know that choosing classic pieces in forgiving fabrics that give/stretch is the way to go (like my favorite pencil skirt that has served me well through a few sizes).
With that in mind, here are 5 industry secrets from Scarlet on how we can: purge with intention, dress to impress (ourselves), embrace our curves, and feel and look hot at any size!
Contouring vs Clinging Fabrics
Pieces made of high-quality fabrics that contour your figure will be timeless core staples in your wardrobe. Invest in the clothing category that is hardest to find for you. For me, that category is pants. I pay more for pants made with sturdy fabrics that drape – like wool, silk crepe, heavy linen and sustainably sourced cotton – because I know I’ll get good wear out of them whether I’m up or down the 8lbs. For other people, that category is tops. If this is you, consider investing in forgiving fabrics like 4-way stretch silk, high-density cashmere, great tailoring, colors that light you up, and washable wovens that contour your figure instead of clinging on “sausage tight”. You’ll feel so great in these pieces and the cost per wear will ease a budget-conscious mind.
Avoid Straight Lines Across “problem areas”
Notches, slits, asymmetry, scalloping… these are things to look for in hems that hit on or near your widest part. Interrupting a straight line there will make that area appear slimmer. This is why the “French tuck” a.k.a. “quarter tuck” has caught on so strong. Straight lines call attention, so use them strategically.
Clever alterations can make an outdated item current again. Alterations also come in handy if you shop second hand, like me. Know your landmarks and develop an eye for what’s possible when you find a great deal or when you’re shopping your own closet. Avoid regrets by altering for your average size.
A common misconception is that we should highlight our “skinniest part” by wearing super fitted clothing. For instance, a client with a large bust + belly and very slender legs + hips was wearing flowy tunics in light colors + black leggings. To my eye, this combination is out of balance and makes her look top-heavy. I helped her create the look of a balanced figure by choosing silhouettes, textures, and patterns strategically creating an overall effect that focused the eye up towards her face. It’s composition. Think of your body as a canvas, clothing and accessories as your paint.
Frame Your Figure
Relaxed or tailored blazers are our friends. A cool cardigan can go a long way, they’re just hard to find. Kimonos are popular right now. Leather and bomber jackets, as well as trenches, can be timeless go-tos. All of these pieces frame your figure. When selecting framing layers, choose hemlines that end just above or below the widest part of your hip or go for a duster that lands above or below the most muscular part of your calf. There are so many possibilities with these key pieces so definitely have at least a few in your closet to play with.
Most of us have some hangups with our bodies, whether its bumps and lumps, edges or angles, hair loss or too much hair, scars or wrinkles, etc. By nature, humans are self-conscious. We admire stand-out features in others, but when it comes to our own self-talk, we can be brutal! I am all about embracing the body you’re born with and taking good care of it. Treat her like a temple and let your look shine your light. No matter what shape or size, we can feel and look hot. A fabulous outfit, a killer workout, a balanced meal, a beautiful image can help, but it’s inner strength and a loving attitude that uplifts ourselves and, in turn, others. These are guidelines above, meant to be taken with a grain of salt knowing that the key to unlocking signature style means learning the rules, feeling success, and being adventurous! Nudging yourself in this way will help you put your best foot forward (and hands and heart and whole gorgeous self!).
~ Scarlet & Natasha
Scarlet Chamberlin is an award-winning stylist and jewelry designer based in Portland, Oregon. You’ve seen her clients walking on red carpets and stepping on stages at TED conferences. She has dressed bestselling authors like Cheryl Strayed, writers such as Kelly Sue Deconnick, and entrepreneurs like Sadie Lincoln. Her styling work has also been featured in Vanity Fair, Fast Company, People, and Portland Monthly. Hire her for a Closet Overhaul or Sort, Shop & Style at scarletchamberlin.com to maximize your existing wardrobe thoughtfully with confidence!
Natasha Lakos has been called “the go-to creative” for the next generation of thought leaders. She’s upleveled brands for a few of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100s, and a long list of big-hearted entrepreneurs. Through her 1:1 practice as a Creative Director and Graphic Designer, she’s learned that when your personal brand reflects your true identity, the world re-arranges itself to gather at your feet. Hire her for a consultation or website design at natashalakos.com, or find her @NatashaLakos on social.
Image sourced from Pinterest. Polaroid by Christa Meola. Video from Atelier Dore team.