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Celebrities, Special Ranges

Claire Richards for Fashion World


A few weeks ago I was invited by Fashion World to meet the new face of the brand, Steps star Claire Richards. Fashion World, for those who’re unfamiliar with the brand, is a catalogue shopping brand aimed at busy women sized 12 – 32. As a working mum with a busy life, Claire is a great fit for them, and what has begun as a simple collaboration where she chooses her favourites from an existing range should extend to Claire co-designing her own range in the near future.

Claire’s yo-yo dieting and battles with her weight have been highly publicised over the last few years so I was interested to hear what she had to say about body image and acceptance. After years of trying to slim back down to where she was in her Steps days, she seems to have finally accepted that she’s not meant to be that size now.



It can’t be easy being ‘the one who put on weight’ in a pop band. Regardless of how Claire looks now, she will always be held up against her teenage self, strutting about in a bikini top and combat pants with a waist the same circumference as one of my thighs. The press event was held at a cake shop (BB Bakery – yum) and at the photocall the photographers couldn’t have made it more obvious that they wanted snaps of Claire that made her look as gluttonous as possible. “Can you hold the whole cake stand, Claire?” “How about two cakes, one in each hand?” Claire was a consummate professional throughout, but it’s a good thing I wasn’t the one standing up there – those cakes might have ended up smashed onto some very expensive camera lenses!


I got some time to sit down with Claire and a couple of other bloggers towards the end of the event, and despite the fact she’d probably been answering the same questions for hours, Claire was open, honest and more than happy to chat clothes, curves and body image. She’s frank about her body and how she feels about it now – that it’s taken a long time, but she’s realised the only person she has to answer to is herself, and she feels happier now than she ever did starving herself in her Steps days. I asked if there was a lightbulb when she finally realised that your weight does not equal your worth, but she said it was more of a gradual thing, that she slowly learned not to care so much.

When you have battled with your weight (in public) for a decade, you can’t just one day say “I AM HAPPY NOW” and expect that to be it. It’s a long process, changing a lifetime’s worth of negative thoughts. I truly do think she’s found a happy weight, but years of being told she’s fat or that she has to lose weight have obviously affected her.

This was evident in the fact Claire’s fashion advice was straight out of the unspoken ‘how to dress your curves’ guidebook. Choose things that “work for your body”, that are slimming, flattering, cinched at the narrowest point. And don’t forget the shapewear! She loves her shapewear.

There is obviously nothing wrong with this (I love my shapewear too) but I know there is a large portion of the plus size community, particularly online, which hates this approach to dressing. Claire is not part of the ‘f*** flattering’ movement, and I don’t think she ever will be. She’s the ambassador of a mainstream brand that aims to make dressing well easy for busy women who don’t have the time to spend hours shopping, nor any big desire to be ‘trendy’ if it doesn’t work (in traditional terms) for their body shape or age bracket. And she seems to be doing a good job of that so far, whilst gently pushing the boundaries. I liked that in her picks from this season it wasn’t all wrap dresses and illusion panels. There was a jumpsuit, a textured bodycon style dress, and skinny red jeans – all slightly more adventurous styles for those with a fuller figure.

My last question for Claire was, of course, what her favourite Steps song is. It’s the same as mine…

ps. I still know the entire dance routine. And I’m not ashamed.


Red carpet fashion & Oscar night – my less than secret love


About this time of year, for most fashion writers the red carpet rot starts to set in. The Golden Globes are done and dusted, the SAG Awards are ancient history…we’re tired from those late nights (the US-based ceremonies kick off at 2am UK time) but we still have the BAFTAs, Grammy Awards and Oscars to come. Somewhere in there, four big fashion weeks also happen, meaning by the end of February you never want to see another glass of champagne or velvet rope ever again (or at least until September).

I’m a bit different. The fashion weeks I could give up – if designers sent me high res photos and a nice video, I’d probably cope without the queuing, judgemental looks and endless rejection emails. But Awards Season is my fashion crack. I look forward to Oscar night the way most people look forward to Christmas. I don’t care that things have got a bit boring thanks to stylists who play it safe and an endless parade of strapless gowns in pale colours with fishtail hems and old hollywood hair. Every now and then, a seriously memorable moment occurs, and I will sit on the edge of my seat at 2am for as long as it takes to happen.

In the early days, red carpet moments, fashion in film and Hollywood glam was down to a tiny handful of talented costume designers. Actresses often wore costumes from their films to the ceremony itself, which of course wasn’t televised. Most of these looks were down to this woman…


I know what you’re thinking. “No capes!” and Edna Mode was based on Edith Head, at least in looks. And I guess when it comes to success, they share plenty of that too. Edith was the doyenne of costume design, dressing everyone from Veronica Lake to Audrey Hepburn. Check out this incredible pic of her with Gloria Swanson.


You wouldn’t get Rachel Zoe and Jennifer Garner doing this kind of slightly batshit high drama, would you? But the modern day red carpet is a very different place. First of all, it’s more widely seen, and thus critiqued. A bad dress can follow a star around like a bad smell for years. Actresses play it safe, for fear of getting it wrong. So rarely do you get a risky moment – like Halle Berry in Elie Saab, or Cameron Diaz in floral Escada. But when you do, it makes it all the more special.

For red carpet fans like me, the infographic below probably won’t tell you anything you don’t already know. But if you’re new to this shameless star spotting, it sums up some red carpet facts along with a few 2013 trends in a lovely way and I couldn’t resist posting it.

History of the Red Carpet – Rare LondonInforgraphic provided by Rare London. To check out the original post, go to History of the Red Carpet – Memorable Moments and Fashion Trends.

I’ll see you on Sunday 24th Feb over at Catwalk Queen for the epic all-nighter that is the Academy Awards!

Celebrities, In My Wardrobe

Where have I been all your life?

Things have been a bit quiet around here the last few weeks – this is because we’re relaunching all our sites at work in the next two weeks, and it’s all hands on deck to get things sorted out in time for the launch. I’ve been working late almost every night and crashing out once I get home. I’ll hopefully get back on top of things in November, but for now I just wanted to say I hadn’t forgotten this site and I will still be updating when I get the chance. In the meantime, here’s a small edition of ‘in my wardrobe’ for you, a few pics of what I’ve been up to, and a very lame Halloween half-costume…

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Celebrities, Dresses, Tried & Tested

Tried & Tested: Dee.V by Diana Vickers for

Diana Vickers’ husky voice and propensity to yelp may be something of an aquired taste, but her new clothing range for is a bit easier to fall in love with. A capsule range of vintage-inspired florals, fities skirts and 60s-inspired separates, it appealed instantly to me, so when Very got in touch to offer an item from their huge range for review, I knew I had to go with something from Diana’s collection.

I picked the Contrast Collar Printed Dress (£49) which I thought was very cute with its big pink buttons and collar. I’m getting to the point where I’m far too old to pull off anything this twee, so let’s call this my last hurrah. I can’t resist anything a bit childish!

ps. This is another shoeper challenge pic – pink Primark lace-ups are officially saved!

Knowing that Very sizing is pretty generous, especially around the waist, I went for the size 12. It was a good fit around the waist and hips (though the waist sits quite low – I would have liked the band an inch higher). But as you can see from the pictures, it’s tight across the bust. As I often find with modern styles, it’s cut quite straight-up-and-down in the torso. The button placket is actually fake. The dress zips down the side and the buttons are just for show, sat on a pleat of fabric. I found the second button pulled, but I do have DD/E cup boobs so that’s no surprise. The 14 would definitely have fit better up top, but I think the waist would have drowned me. As usual, I suffer as I sit smack bang in between two sizes!

Overall, it’s a lovely dress; well made and very pretty. It’s made from a nice stiff fabric that hangs well, and the print and bubblegum pink trim are very cute. I just think it would work slightly better on someone with smaller boobs! I also found the length quite short on my 5’7 figure. I wore it with flats because it looked a bit too ‘done’ with heels and in the wind I risked flashing everyone.

If you want to see it worn a completely different way, Helen at Clear Your Heart also tried the dress recently and looks fab in it.

The Dee.V range goes up to a size 20, but Very also offer plenty of fashionable plus size clothing in larger sizes too.

Disclosure: The dress was provided free of charge by Very for review purposes. However, all thoughts are my own and I was not paid to publish them.

Celebrities, Clothing, Dresses, Special Ranges, Tried & Tested

From Beth Ditto to Big Girl – trying the Evans range on for size!


At the blogger’s preview of Beth Ditto for Evans I got the chance to see the pieces from the collection up close and there were loads that caught my eye. However, I decided if I was going to give this collection a go, I may as well go for one of the stand-out, ‘famous’ pieces. The body-con domino print dress was the item Beth herself chose to wear to the launch party, and I loved that the super-fitted shape and bold print were so unusual for a plus size range. Beth’s known for sticking two fingers up to convention so I decided to do the same. Keeping away from the pieces that were more ‘me’ (like the strapless stained glass dress) I put in an order for the domino dress. And I must say, it was a novelty to be ordering the smallest size for once!

It takes a brave Big Girl to pull off a fitted dress like this, but I was really impressed to see that Evans have done a lot to help you on your way. The dress is far heavier and of a better quality than I expected, lined throughout with another layer of quite heavy stretch fabric. This saved me whipping out the spanx slip I usually wear under anything fitted, though I did put on my trusty magic knickers – a body hugging style leaves little to the imagination around the tum and bum.

Shape wise I had my usual problem of excess fabric at the waist (I’m resigned to always being a size smaller on the waist than I am on the hips and bust!) which is good news for apple shapes…though this probably isn’t your ideal dress shape. But the whole point of Beth’s collection is about giving larger women the chance to try things that aren’t normally available to them – fitted shapes, bold prints, interesting shapes and sequins galore.

Speaking of those Beth signature elements, the domino print takes a bit of getting used to, and I have to admit I usually tend to stay away from anything with too much white in with my pale, flabby skin. I’d probably throw something over the top and put on a pair of killer heels to help streamline the look a bit.

Overall, I’m surprised to say I think this dress is a success. Obviously, I’m at the smaller end of the sizing scale when it comes to this collection, but I can definitely see this working on brave larger women.

As for me, I’ll probably only wear it on days when I’m feeling brave, and I’ll be ready for a lot of standing up straight and breathing in! I’m afraid I’m just not as confident as Beth in terms of ‘letting it all hang out’ but I’m definitely working on it!

The Beth Ditto at Evans range can be purchased here. The Domino dress is £40.

Celebrities, Clothing, Events & Launches, News, Special Ranges

Beth Ditto at Evans – buy it tomorrow!

Gossip singer Beth Ditto launches her highly anticipated range of clothing for plus size retailer Evans tomorrow. The range will be available online, but we’ve just heard about some exciting extra stuff that’ll be happening at the Marble Arch flagship store if you’re in London. In a move that mimics the hysteria of Beth’s mate Kate Moss’s launch at Topshop, those generous folks at Arcadia will be offering up prizes, gifts with purchase and refreshments for people in the queue at 9am…

According to those in the know, “Evans are offering the first 20 lucky shoppers through the doors of their Marble Arch flagship store in London at 9am, the chance to receive an exclusive lips handbag from the collection. In addition there will be lots more treats in store such as style advice, gift with purchase (while stocks last), limited edition badges, branded water bottles and sweets by hip London confectioners ‘Suck & Chew’.”

I got to preview the collection a few weeks ago, and must confess I was surprised by what’s on offer. Most of the emphasis so far has been on ‘show’ pieces like the purple sequinned tent dress, 80s style jumper and the fitted domino dress. However, for me the real stars are the leggings (with extra-deep double layered waistbands to hold in your tummy) and a great little cropped jacket. There are also some fabulous winkle picker shoes and some great bags (I’ve been carrying the domino-lined studded suede hobo every day since that preview and I adore it).

Rumour has it Kate Moss has already snapped up a kitten print oversize t-shirt dress (one can only assume she’s got a 14 and plans to wear it very loose!) so bear in mind when you’re planning your shopping trip that you’ll probably have to get in there quick. It looks like even slim women want a piece of the action, despite the range being made for Big Girls!

Beth at Evans – What you need to know:

– The collection is launching in the following stores: Marble Arch, White City London, Bluewater Park, Birmingham Pavillions, Glasgow Argyle St, Liverpool, Nottingham Clumber Street, Brighton, Leeds, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Manchester Trafford, Meadowhall, Cardiff, Dublin Henry Street, Plymouth, Belfast Castle Court and Bristol.

– The full collection is also available online at from July 9th 2009

– The clothing range is available from a size 14-32 and footwear from a size 4-10.

– Prices range from £18 – £65


Why I love Christina Hendricks

Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks is a babe. With that gravity-defying bosom and handspan waist, she definitely embodies the kind of curvy girl many of us would love to be. A dress worn by the star to the SAG awards was recently auctioned off. Back then, her measurements were 40-28-40. Those are some curves! With her Marilyn-esque proportions, she’s a poster girl for the curvaceous woman. Let’s face it, nobody pulls off a wiggle dress like Joan Holloway!

To channel Joan’s look in real life, your best bet is obviously vintage. Pieces were cut much smaller in the waist back then – perfect for hourglass women like Ms Hendricks. The US is the best place to go if you have a bigger waist measurement. There’s much more floating around in larger sizes than you’ll find in Europe. Try eBay, of course (don’t underestimate those ‘bulk’ vintage lots, loads crop up on Australian eBay for some reason) and make sure you know your bust, waist and hip measurements. There’s nothing worse than buying something you love only to find it doesn’t fit (you can take stuff in, but you can’t let it out).

If you’d rather not hunt down second hand pieces, there are some great brands making modern reproduction pieces too. Try Bettie Page clothing, a Vegas-based boutique and online store full of wiggle dresses and retro pieces. They go up to a sze 3X, which has a waist somewhere between 34 and 38 inches.

Stop Staring is also a popular brand, worn by Paris Hilton, on Gossip Girl and modelled by Ashley Greene from Twilight. The figure-hugging Mae dress is very Joan, and again sizes go up to a 3X.

Don’t underestimate the power of decent underwear, too. In the 50s and 60s women sculpted and shaped their silhouettes with girdles, we can do the same with a a lot less pain with modern shapewear (though most of it is nowhere near as pretty as the stuff the cast of Mad Men get to wear). See the Big Girls Browse lingerie section for some ideas on what’s out there.

For more tips on buying retro reproduction, check out . As this look is so flattering on the fuller figure, a lot of the brands featured make their dresses in larger sizes.

[images courtesy of AMC]