Does Wearing Black Flatter or Diminish You?

Is black your friend? Do you hide behind wearing black? Is black your camouflage for all the parts you prefer to keep covered up? 

I ask this question because working as an image and style advisor, I know many women, regardless of size, often feel they can shrink behind wearing the colour black. While this is true, it's also the case that black can be less than flattering in ways of which we may be unaware. 

For example, if you are cool in colour, ie, if you are a summer season with a soft, muted complexion, blue/grey/light green eyes and blonde or light/mid brown hair colouring, wearing black can sometimes make you appear overly pale or even harsh especially if it's worn too close against the face and neck.  This isn't a good look if there is someone you want to impress or on occasions where you want your warmth to shine through to win people over, in a job interview for example. While wearing black can create a sophisticated, serious and smart outer image, it can also appear sober and unwelcoming resulting in people keeping their distance. 

As we age, our skin becomes thinner and more transparent. Wearing the right colours can make a huge difference to our inner sparkle and how we radiate our vibrancy on the the outside. If you've been ill, are older in years or are naturally pale, black can cast shadows upwards towards the face and eyes making you appear aged, drained and colourless. It can add years onto an otherwise youthful face.  Although black is slimming and always a worthy purchase, (it never goes out of fashion), it can also have negative effects mostly because it doesn't cast any upward light. It only draws light away hence it's diminishing power on your hips and other body parts where you may be carrying extra weight.  This is where the beauty of black can do it's magic in reducing any heaviness around the body. It's perfect for slimming down a pear or oval body shape. Although an illusion, the absence of light in black instantly reduces the size of curves. When worn with carefully chosen, light reflecting accessories, the effects can be dramatic which is why black is so popular for evening wear.  Worn with sequins, glitter, gold, silver or hints of bright coloured relief, the eye comes to rest wherever the trail of light sits being dramatically reflected by accessories while black silently does it's work on diminishing the curves of the body.

As a team for the evening, black and light work together in perfect harmony. 

In the harshness of daylight, black may not always work in our favour. For a softer, warmer look there are other darker, more forgiving colours which can be worn for a slimming effect without the draining effect of black. These are dark grey, navy, plum, chocolate, wine and dark green. Navy and charcoal are especially complimentary for blondes with cool skin tones while plum, wine and chocolate work well for brunettes with a more olive skin tone. The deeper and warmer the colouring of the hair, eyes and skin tone, the deeper and warmer are the colours best to wear. 

One simple rule if you're not sure if black compliments you or leaves you looking drained is to keep the wearing of black to a minimum until you've experimented more fully. Wear it on your lower body and opt for the lighter, more reflective colours towards your face for a softer, friendlier and warmer look. If you are going to wear black close to your face and neck, wear a white, silver or sparkly necklace or a scarf just to break up the look and create a barrier between your face and neckline. 

Remember, the more reflective the colour, the more light it throws up towards our face. The darker the colour, the more it draws light away. The more light that radiates up towards our eyes, the more younger and vibrant we look. Because it's our face and eyes that people see first, we want to give off a friendly glow and aim to look our best.  

Copyright Nina Wornham.



Creating Your Own Style -Finding A Look That Works For You.

By Nina Wornham
First of all, let's not confuse the words fashion and style in the same sentence. Fashions are really just trends that come and go. They have a shelf life and are often very limited in terms of lasting appeal and how much they can structure a particular look on a lasting basis for any woman. Coco Chanel had a saying which I think applies, fashion changes, style endures. Once we know which style works for us, we rarely need to change it.
So style then, is a unique expression of who we are on our innermost level and for the most part, I believe creating a style that suits our own individual personalities isn't just about our looks or shape. Rather it's about displaying and enjoying the freedom of clothing that makes us both look and feel good as well as representing us on a much deeper and personal level. It's worth far more to us in terms of personal satisfaction to find a skirt style or top that we can fall in love with time and time again, while the enjoyment and fun of wearing our favourite kinds of clothing all adds to the definitive art of finding a look that suits us overall.
Originally, clothing had once been very structured fitting closely around our bodies. It was also quite formal and in some cases, stiff and uncomfortable to wear much like a pair of shoes that we couldn't wait to take off after a long day at work once we arrived home in the evenings. But in the last few years, and with the evolving shape of women, the design of clothing has become far less structured, more forgiving and much easier to wear. Because of these changes, a lot more options have emerged and these days, it's much simpler to experiment with a variety of different looks in order to find a style that works for you.
The best way to begin creating your own style is to always start off by thinking about what you need clothes for. Most of us can divide our clothing needs into two categories, formal, (work, career, occasion wear), and non formal, (leisure, casual, every day wear).
Is making the effort to look good about vanity? No, not at all. We have to wear something so we may as well wear clothes that make us appear our presentable best. This isn't just for our benefit, our clothing sends out subtle messages about who we are so in a work situation for example, this is very important especially if we want to connect with others in an approachable manner or be taken seriously in a challenging role. If you're a company director and you turn up for a board meeting casually dressed, it may reflect a casual attitude to a serious and sensitive matter leading others to question if you're the right person for the job. Likewise dressing smartly and respectably suggests a person who thinks in the same smart and careful way. A woman who arrives at her office wearing revealing clothing is going to cause a distraction and may encounter 'unwanted' attention from all her colleagues, not just the men. She will create an unwelcome disruption. So we can see that our clothing sends signals and messages about who we are so therefore what we wear and how we appear does matter.
So having decided what we need clothes for, the next thing to consider is our vertical and horizontal body shape. Really? Yes really. The right choice of clothes will always make us feel happier in ourselves so knowing which body shape we are before we go shopping is a good move. Our horizontal shape defines which clothing styles will work best for us and our vertical shape will tell us which skirt or top length is best in order to keep the look balanced. Knowing which colours suit us is also a bonus especially as colour can either light us up or drain us, wearing black in particular. Learning these few basic tips will also help to save us money.
Once we know our own style, we’re far less likely to make random purchases and hence make purchasing mistakes that we regret later. We learn the skill of only shopping for clothes we love and which compliment and work with us as we appear on our own world stage. It’s also worth remembering that we’re creating a presence by how we dress. Others are both judging and noticing us and so it’s important to dress according to how we want to be seen and the impression we want to make especially in the workplace. For example, if we want to draw people towards us, we want to create a friendly and welcoming presence that reflects our inner warmth and personality. Very strong colours such as bright red and striking patterns will get us seen but will they make your boss feel calm and comfortable when discussing your request for a pay rise? Our clothes have language all of their own so it’s wise to learn and understand the etiquette of clothing.
Lastly, I believe there should be some joie de vivre factor to wearing clothes. Life can't be about drudgery or boring clothes. A good mix of smart, elegant, classy and fun should all be thrown into the mix and for me as a clothing designer, this is always my main consideration when I'm designing new styles.
Below is a link from my web site which will help offer a few tips on how to start creating a look that works for you. Feel free to email me using the contact link if you have any questions.
Copyright Nina Wornham 

How To Look Slimmer This Spring

Written by Nina Wornham.
As we head towards Spring and start removing a few layers of clothing, we all become conscious of our hibernation reflection staring back at us in the mirror. This is as Winter makes it’s departure and we are left with paler skin and possibly a few extra kilos carried over from Christmas and the deepest depths of January when we didn’t stray far from the sofa.
As a designer and stylist, I work with women all the time so I hear this lament often as they realise warmer days are coming and it will soon be time to peel off those layers covering up all our excesses.
The most instant and important tip I can offer, is to get to know both your horizontal and vertical body shape. Once we know which body shape we are, we are then able to look at clothing styles which will compliment us the most and in many cases, when we get it right, they will dramatically make us appear as if we have lost as much as 10 kilos. I see this all the time with the women I work with. Very often, they arrive wearing the wrong style of clothing. When they leave, they have completely transformed how they look just by a few tweaks here and there.
To identify your own body shape, both vertical and horizontal, the link to our web site is below. Basically wherever your widest point is on your body, this defines your horizontal body shape. For example, if your hips are your widest measurement, you are likely to be a triangle shape, more commonly known as pear shape. If your vertical body measurement shows your upper body is shorter than your lower body, you will have a short waisted/long legged vertical body shape.
Once you know your body shape, you can then start looking at which styles are going to compliment you the most. The quickest and best way to look slimmer is to always remember to dress over your widest point. When we do this, we are effectively minimizing these areas of the body by shrinking them down so that they are in balance with other parts of the body. For example, if the bulk of your weight is carried around your hips, rear and thighs, ideally you need a hemline that sits neatly just over the lower hip level, (just past the crotch line). You need styles that give you a waist and flare out slightly so they appear flattering.
Wearing bulky, square cut, over sized styles, in my opinion, doesn’t flatter the wearer and in some cases, they can make you look bigger than you actually are. It’s all about creating the illusion of balance, shape and proportion, which if you get it right, will even out your body shape and make you appear taller and slimmer. It does work, trust me. I work with with women in all shapes and sizes and they are the inspiration for my clothing label. All my designs take into account the shape of women rather than follow any particular fashion trend and it’s why we offer variations in the cut of our own garments and hem lengths.
The next tip, the lighter the colour, the bigger you look. This means it’s usually far more flattering to wear darker colours over your wider angles and save the lighter colours for wearing underneath jackets or in accessories and accents. A white, baggy top worn over a larger inverted triangle body shape will have the effect of making the wearer look much bigger than she actually is, especially if she is broad across the shoulders and has a large bust. A better style is to wear a plain darker colour on top, and balance out the look by wearing the lighter shades on the lower body. You can always add colour and detail in the form or jewellery and accessories. The aim is to draw attention away from the wider points of the body.
Necklines can dramatically change how we look because they are so close to the shoulders. If you are large busted, a V plunge neck line is a far more complementary look because it narrows the shoulders and adds length to the jawline, neck and decolletage. You should avoid big collars, wide lapels and too many ruffles. A top with a vertical frill or vertical line detail takes the eye downwards away from a heavy bustline and will create a much better, more flattering effect.
Lastly, the more flesh we show, the bigger we look so garments with spaghetti straps, sleeveless tops, deep scooped necklines and short hemlines will make you look heavier.
A better look is to go for layer dressing so you can have all the advantages of dressing lightly and in a way that compliments you the most. A sleeveless top in summer is fine to wear with a light cover up such as a shirt or cardigan. A skirt with a knee length or calf hem will still reveal calves and ankles without making you appear heavy.
Strappy sandals and shoes will make your legs appear longer and slimmer and three quarter sleeves will lengthen and slim down your wrists and forearms. Both create the effect of lengthening the limbs. It’s an illusion and trick of the eye but it does work!
Practice makes perfect so before Spring arrives, try experimenting with different looks to work out which style is right for you. 
Copyright 2017 Nina Wornham.

The Difference Between Looks And Appearance.

 By Nina Wornham
Life is not, nor should it ever be about how we look. We should never live our lives obsessed or worried about what nature gave us despite all the pressure by the media. Even the supermodel Cindy Crawford once said that she doesn’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford. She has to create and perfect an appearance for her work and audience. Knowing this tells us straight away that looks and appearance are two completely different matters.
S​o what's the difference? The best way to explain is to think of our looks as being ​a kind of blank canvas with which we're born. Our hair, eyes and skin tone are all primarily the backdrop and then our height and body shape are the frame.
Like it or not, we can't change this, it's our blueprint so it's who we are on the surface.
In the raw, we might not always be content with what we've been given, in fact, working as an image and stylist coach, I haven't met many women who are completely happy with their looks. This isn't surprising given the non stop streaming of body and looks perfect marketing we're all exposed to but this is when we all need to remind ourselves that there is an off button when it all starts to wear a bit thin.
Appearance is what we create with how we want to be seen. This is what Cindy Crawford meant, she doesn't look like her brand first thing in the morning. It takes a team of hairdressers, stylists, wardrobe assistants and make up professionals to create the living legend Cindy was at the peak of her modelling career.
​Most of us won't have a team of experts on hand like Cindy Crawford but with a minor amount of experimenting and learning, we can all transform how we appear so that we carve out an image that makes us visible and most importantly, feel a lot more confident. Women are often their own worst critics because we know we are judged on how we appear. It's not fair by any means but it is how the world operates. A male politician won't raise an eyebrow if he dresses in the wrong suit but if a female politician makes a sartorial faux pas it will be front page headline news the next day. So where do we start on building the right kind of appearance to create a lasting impression? ​Firstly, it's important to accept that how we look is really OK. By doing this, we immediately tell ourselves that we accept our own reflection, that it's no great crime not to be a perfect hourglass shape or have line free skin and that we can work around what nature has given us. Our body is the canvas while our clothing and make up is the paint. Simple.
There's a great deal of psychological liberation and relief in thinking in these terms especially as women have never been under so much pressure to look flawlessly perfect in all ways. Trying to live up to such an impossible standard frequently undermines our best asset, which is our confidence. It also robs us of our self esteem so it’s important to remind ourselves occasionally that such ongoing media pressure is having a negative impact on how we see ourselves. This is the job of the marketing bandwagon, to target women’s vulnerabilities to such and extent that they feel insecure and pressured into buying the product or service. Again, my advice is to turn down the volume, accept yourself as you are and work with with what you've got. If you need to lose a few kilo's or change some lifestyle habits, these are health issues that you can work when you decide it's time for a complete overhaul of your life generally. For now, let's just work on how you want to appear for you when you look in the mirror and see your own reflection. Remember that the hardest person you need to impress is most often you. Your appearance has to meet your criteria before it meets anyone else’s judging eye. My experience generally is that as long as the wearer is happy, others usually are too. Your own approval somehow courts the approval of everyone who notices. So let’s begin there starting with how you want to see yourself and how you want to appear. Clothes have the frustrating ability to look fabulous on the mannequin in the shop window and because of diffused shop lighting and purposely placed skinny mirrors, they can look good on us too while we're in the shop. This is until we get them home and see ourselves in our own daylight. The best way to buy clothing is to always know your body shape. I meet such a lot of women who walk into my studio wearing clothing that makes them appear several sizes larger than they are. Poor styling is usually the reason, wrong cut for the body shape and often the colour is either blending them out or making them appear bigger than their actual size. Weight conscious women will often try and hide under clothing that’s too big for them. Yet with just a little know how, they soon learn they don’t have to do this. Matching complimentary styles of clothing to your body shape is the key to success when buying clothes. Knowing how to create a look that works for you completely transforms your reflection in the mirror.
Another tip to create an appearance that works well for you is to understand how colours compliment your own colouring. Pale colours widen the body and need to be worn carefully, while darker colours are very slenderizing. To learn how to choose colours wisely, you need to work out which season you are. Spring and autumn are the warm, gold based seasons while summer and winter are the cool, blued based seasons. Once you know your season and your bodyshape, putting together a wardrobe of looks that create an appearance that flatters you in every way starts to become an exercise that gets easier with practice.
It isn’t difficult but as with most things, there is a science involved. However once you’ve got it right a few times, you’ll keep on getting it right.
Copyright Nina Wornham