My Guide to Elegance..Part Three – Dressing Know How

Today I teach you how to dress more elegantly and adopt a classic wardrobe. The main focus is body shape as this is vital to dressing well. Knowing what will suit your body will really transform your style.

Fashion is something that now more than ever is changing and evolving at a rapid pace. Go back one hundred years and it is remarkable to reflect on how far we have come sartorially speaking. Looking back, dressing was relatively easy as there were strict rules in place for both Men and Women which no one dared break. It was not until perhaps the 1920’s that fashion, especially for women, began to evolve. Today however, things are much different and because we have so much choice it is very easy to dress badly. Fashion trends change year by year and it can be difficult to keep up! My advice for the elegant lady is to again think timeless. How can we dress ourselves in a way that will still look sophisticated in years to come? Although the latest trend may look good, how long will it last and will we look back and say ‘what was I thinking?’ It is rather difficult to convey in a book exactly how the elegant lady should dress as women all have different body shapes and certain garments suit certain people.  The elegant lady is not one shape or size, she represents all women and it is important to know that whatever the shape of your body, it is possible to look elegant and sophisticated if you are dressing correctly.  An elegant look is the combination of different factors and once you have the know how to pull all of these factors together, it is going to be easy to maintain an elegant look. 







Determining your body shape

The most important step in dressing well is to flatter the body that you were born with. It is all too easy to read high fashion magazines, see an outfit that looks incredible and go out and purchase the whole ensemble and end up looking dreadful.  Doing this is damaging to your confidence and self esteem so we must learn to avoid such situations. If you can determine your body shape and accept it for all it’s flaws then you are on your way to dressing well forever. Every body shape has it’s beautiful characteristics and it is important to know how to accentuate them by the clothes that you wear. 


The Rectangle

 Rectangle shaped celebrities include: Cameron Diaz, Hillary Swank and Natalie Portman

 Rectangle body traits:  The waist, hip and shoulder widths are similar and are usually on the slim side. Slender rectangles have an athletic look about them.

 Your best assets: Your arms and legs. You don’t have to minimize any body features.

 Your fashion goals: Create curves and tastefully show slender legs and arms.

 How to dress the rectangle

If your body is rectangle-shaped then you want to create curves where they don’t necessarily exist.

  • DO wear scoop neck and sweetheart tops to create curves.
  • DO wear long jackets to create a lean look.
  • DO wear tops with collars, ruffles and details to flatter your chest.
  • DO wear a good bra.
  • DO layer to add more dimensions.
  • DO wear dresses with ruching. Cinches on sides are ideal.
  • DO have fun with colorful pants and skirts…feel free to experiment.


The Apple

 Apple shaped celebrities include: Drew Barrymore, Eva Longoria and Catherine Zeta Jones

 Apple body traits: Most of your weight accumulates above the hips, which are narrow. Your back, ribs and shoulders are broad, and you may feel wider than other body types.

 Your best asset: Your legs

 Your fashion goals: Elongate the torso, tastefully show your legs and use fashion to create the illusion of a waist.

 How to dress the apple

 If you have an apple-shaped body then you want to elongate your midsection and create the illusion of a smaller waist.

  • DO go for monochromatic looks.
  • DO go for v-neck tops to create the illusion of a longer torso.
  • DO wear a bra that offers good lift and support.
  • DO wear belts at the smallest part of your waist.
  • DO conceal tummy bulge by wearing empire tops and dresses.
  • DO wear wide leg pants to create an even line from the shoulders down.
  • DO wear feminine skirts and dresses to show your legs and draw attention away from your midsection.


The Pear – also known as the inverted triangle

 Pear shaped celebrities include: Naomi Campbell, Demi Moore and Renee Zellweger

 Pear body traits: Also known as the inverted triangle, this body shape features a broad chest and wide shoulders which are large in proportion to a narrow waist and hips.

 Your best asset: Your legs

 Your fashion goals: Accentuate your lower body while softening your shoulders and upper body.

 How to dress the pear

 If you have a pear shaped body, then you want to draw attention downward to the narrower parts of your body, such as your waist and hips.

  • DO wear bright colors on bottom.
  • DO wear wide-leg pants.
  • DO wear full skirts.
  • DO wear tops that call attention to your waistline.
  • DO experiment with high-waisted styles.
  • DO look for clothes that create the illusion of a waist.
  • DON’T wear spaghetti strapped tops.
  • DON’T wear boat neckline tops.


The Hourglass

 Hourglass shaped celebrities include: Beyonce, Salma Hayek and Scarlett Johansson

 Hourglass body traits: Your shoulders and hips are similar in proportion and set off by a tiny waist.

 Your best assets: Your curves and small waist

 Your fashion goals: To elegantly show off your curves


How to dress the hourglass

 If your body is hourglass-shaped then you need to focus on tastefully showing off your curves. Not too baggy, not too tight.

  •  DON’T hide your curves with baggy clothing.
  • DO wear a good bra to support your bust.
  • DO wear fitted, sophisticated dresses.
  • DO wear a belt at the waist to enhance your hourglass shape.
  • DO try wrap dresses.
  • DO go for high-waisted skirts to accentuate your hips.
  • DO pick thin, lightweight styles and fabrics.
  • DO wear skinny or straight leg pants.


Now that we have looked at various body shapes and how they can be accentuated, it is time to move on and consider what else contributes to an elegant, timeless look.


Quality and cut of clothing

 The quality and cut of the garments we wear can go a long way to creating an elegant look. I always think that it is best to spend a little extra on key pieces as they will be of higher quality, look more flattering, feel more comfortable and last longer. When shopping for more expensive clothing, you are really going to think about what you are buying. Instead of impulse buying like you would in a cheaper store, you are going to consider whether you will wear the item more than once, if it is really your style and if you really need it. If your budget does not allow you to spend extra on clothing, then it is important that you take extra time when shopping to ensure that you are buying the highest quality available. Whilst it is possible to buy cheaply on the high street, you may end up wasting money as the quality of the garment begins to deteriorate.  Another way to get well made clothes that truly compliment the body is to find a skilled tailor.  The bonus of this is that you can source materials yourself to create clothes that are unique. How many times do we picture the perfect dress in our minds but cannot find it anywhere in stores? A good tailor will be able to work their magic to create beautiful items that fit perfectly for you. If you do not know a skilled tailor then I would highly recommend finding one as you will come to realise they are incredibly useful people to know. When shopping in both high end or high street stores, here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure you are buying good quality clothing.


When buying patterned pieces ensure that all the lines or pattern match at the seams. If they do not then it will instantly make the garment look less refined. You should be able to see a steady pattern all the way through a garment rather than mismatched lines.


Examine the stitching all over to ensure that there are no loose stitches or pieces of string hanging from the seams or the hem. Careless sewing is a key indicator to a poor quality garment.

Check to see if the garment is lined. All high quality items, especially light coloured pieces should have a lining. A good quality garment should be lined in a way that prevents messy draping. Well lined garments also ensure that they don’t reveal more than they are intended to.

Ensure that all zippers and buttons are firmly in place and attached neatly. Zippers should zip up and down with ease and should not be stiff. Also ensure that the colour of the zipper and the buttons match or compliment the rest of the garment, the buttons should be spaced evenly.

The seams and edges should be finished correctly with no bulking or unevenness.

Examine pockets to ensure that they have been sewn securely and are not at risk of coming loose.


How does it fit?

 The fit of ones clothing is another important factor to consider in the art of dressing and it is one of the most simple things to master. An elegant lady will never have ill fitting clothes, in fact it will seem as if she has had all of her clothes custom made by her personal couturier. Clothes that do not fit correctly will add bulk and hide the best parts of your body.  As mentioned previously, knowing a good tailor will really help you with this as they will be able to adjust clothing to fit you perfectly. Please see my tips for the perfect fit.

  •  Avoid items that are too clingy. Not only do clingy items look rather tacky, they will also expose any lumps and bumps in the most unflattering way possible. Your clothing should never be too tight
  •  Long sleeved garments should sit just below the wrist bone and should not be too tight or too loose. Anything below the wrist bone will look too long and ill fitting. Anything above the wrist bone (unless it is designed this way) will look too short.
  •  Shoulders of any Jackets, blouses, sweaters or T-shirts should be at the shoulder where it meets your arm. Anything below the shoulder will look ill fitting.
  •  With your arms by your side, check the armpit area of jackets to ensure that there is no excess fabric. It is quite a common problem when ladies buy jackets that are too big. The extra fabric gathers around the breast area creating a very strange illusion.
  •  A buttoned blouse should never be gaping open or pulling at the breast. If it does then you will need to go a size up. 
  •  Always check the length of a jacket. If you are tall then this tends not to matter as much. If you are petite then a jacket that is too long will only make you look shorter.
  •  Ensure that tailored pants are the correct length. Wide length pants should skim the ground when you walk. Cropped pants should sit at the bottom of your calf muscle where your leg comes into your ankle.
  •  Ankle pants should sit at the ankle and not at the top of the shoe.
  •  Ensure that the pants are not too tight in the hip. Not only will this be uncomfortable, it will also make your overall appearance look messy. On the other hand, pants should not be too baggy.
  •  A pencil skirt should fit without wrinkling at the hip. It should also be comfortable when walking and sitting down. If it is not, it is too small.
  •  The hem of your skirt should be straight around the whole circumference. Unless of course it has been designed to have a longer hemline in the back.
  •  The length of your skirt is very important. For all ages I do not recommend a skirt that is above the knee if you are trying to look elegant.
  •  Invest in a well fitting bra. This will drastically alter the whole of your upper shape by supporting the breasts properly and lifting them to create space.

Join me tomorrow where I shall be discussing how to own an elegant wardrobe and elegant dressing for every occasion!


The Countess x