How to Colour Block in Vintage…Whilst Moving House.

Isn’t moving fun?!!

Moving Day - used with kind permission of Mariel Clayton

I’ve moved the blog with relative ease – did you notice? – but the house move is proving to be much more stressful. So I’m keeping it light today (there’s enough heavy stuff lying around here) with a little peek at one of my new vintage faves – from Fashion Pearls of Wisdom’s Shop Street Style.

This is the perfect antidote to these grey Manchester days – a shocking pink dress. Bored of black and feelin’ bold, I decided that a dress this colourful needed…more colour. So I cinched it in with a purple belt, dug out my favourite turquoise heels (featured in the header), and took it our for a spin with my orange clutch in hand.

Dress and belt - vintage, shoes - Kurt Geiger via charity shop

At one time I wouldnever have worn pink because of my red hair, but it’s now one of my favourite combinations (gender-coding aside, of course!).  Just shows – your hair can be a valuable accessory.

See those boxes behind me? That’s my freshly-packed shoe collection. Not the most glamorous of backdrops, I grant you, but I wanted to give you a little insight into what an organisational geek I can be. At least when it comes to shoes. If only I could say the same about Mr B…

36 hours to go until we move…so wish me luck!

Any last-minute tips for surviving the move?

And are you this nerdy about your shoe collection?!



Dressing for Your Shape #3

Fancy a bit of shameless and infectious inspiration? Well you’ve come to the right place today!

One thing struck me when I read the comments on Dressing for Your Shape #1: everyone was aware of ‘guidelines’, even if they chose not to stick to them. Let’s face it, for every few days when you feel like flaunting your waist, there are others when you torch the rulebook and wear whatever the hell you feel like. It’s as it should be.

Hourglasses don’t have the monopoly on feeling happy!

"So if I squeeze myself into these babies, I'll have untold happiness...?"


The response to that post was amazing – lots of people chipped in, not everyone agreed…but all of them had valid points to make. So for the final part of ‘Dressing for Your Shape’ – and as part of our journey of self-acceptance – I want to introduce you to some of the the lovely folks who had something inspiring to say. Some thought you should “follow the rules”, some said “f*** ’em!”, and for some it’s merely an ongoing flirtation, but they all had one thing in common – these, their  favourite outfits, made them feel fun, free…and sometimes even fabulous.

Whose opinions do you agree with?

What is your go-to ‘feel fabulous’ outfit?


Let me (and them) know in the comments – and click the images to visit their blogs…



Read Dressing for Your Shape #1

Read Dressing for Your Shape #2

Dressing for Your Shape #2

So…do you dress by the rules?

I do – most of the time. I don’t always know I’m doing it, but by god they’ve gotten under my skin.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll put thought into your outfits: whether you’re going for comfort, sex appeal, professionalism or kookiness, you’ll have an idea about heel height, silhouette or accessories. On the other hand, you’ll just be drawn to certain types of items: you simply can’t resist the drape of a pleated skirt or an animal print harem pant – and if you have to stick two fingers up at the rulebook, then so be it.

"Rules?! What rules?!"

I for one thought there was no rhyme or reason to my more daring outfits (and I use ‘daring’ in the loosest possible terms – I ain’t no Agyness Deyn), but was intrigued to learn otherwise. Being a total geek (and a narcissist, apparently) I asked Steph from the Dashing Eccentric to give her opinion on my fave outfits using her outfit analysis checklist, which she tends to use in the following way:

“I analyze a look of mine that I really like, and come up with my ‘rule’ from the results. Then I use this ‘recipe’ to shop my closet for new looks that have a similar underlying structure… looking at my wardrobe in a new way often results in new, great looks which have nothing to do with my ‘recipe’ – this process sparks creativity.”

Riding on the success of my jumpsuit experiment, I emailed her my post on how Marni helped me find my fashion formula. You can read her full post on my outfit here: Mrs Bossa Gets it Done – let her know what you think!

Faux pas #1: rolled-up trousers on a short person: rather than an unflattering decision for my legs, Steph reads it as a way of toying with silhouette:

"Just a little to the side of a 'classic' fit/silhouette, with certain unexpected details in where hems hit... trousers are rolled into cuffs, even though they're being worn with socks."

This would also explain my love of ankle boots with dresses, and of long long gloves with cropped sleeves.

And on the subject of socks: Faux pas #2: socks with sandals: whereas Trinny and Susannah would screech in horror at such a thing, it can actually make a more positive statement:

"The accessories all have a geometric feel...The pointy triangles on the sandals are made emphatic by wearing a contrasting sock underneath."

Yay me! And the sock success – should that be socksess?! – continues with Faux pas #3: knee socks on a 30 year-old:

"Wearing nubby socks instead of hose, leaving a gap between hem and sock - these are the touches that set these looks apart from the ordinary."

Who knew that a flash of shin could tip the balance?!

Faux pas #4: Chunky necklace and high neck on a top-heavy lady: Those two would rip off the jewellery and have me in a v-neck tout de suite. However, Steph thinks it’s quirky…

"Joanna uses another quirky strategy for creating the 'background' in her skirt look, by 'backgrounding' pieces which are generally highlighted in outfits, ie black necklace on black sweater."

My silhouette may be more ‘classic’ or rules aware, but my accessorising has made just that tiny bit of difference.

As I’ve said, my ‘rule-breaking’ is very gentle – there are far wilder dressers out there – but the crucial element to any outfit is comfort. I don’t mean pyjamas win hands down, but I do mean you can only wear what you love and feel good in. Some people’s rule-breaking will involve neon or spray-on leather, but I feel my own little touches – a rolled hem, a pair of knee socks, a carefully-chosen necklace – inject that essential sense of ‘me’ into what I wear.

So what’s my point? My point is: pick and choose your rules. If you’re going to use them, make them work for you.

How do you ‘break’ the rules?

What are the little touches that make a outfit ‘you’?


Look out for part 3 – fabulous outfits from fabulous ladies…and what they think of ‘dressing for your shape’…

Recommended blog posts:

Mrs Bossa Does the Do: Dressing for Your Shape #1 and Dressing for Your Shape #3

The Styling Dutchman: You Can’t Argue with Taste

Arash Mazinani: My Beef with Body Shapes

By Anika: Who Gets to Label Me and my Worth? I Do!

Dressing for Your Shape #1

Check out my latest charity shop bargain. It ain’t silk, but it looks like it, and I love the pattern. Isn’t it lovely?

When I first saw this pretty thing on the rail, I assumed it was vintage. Turns out it is one of the dresses designed by Trinny and Susannah. For those of you who aren’t aware of this bossy pair of stylists, T+S have have produced several books and TV programmes, all with the focus on dressing ‘real women’. Programmes usually began with them making a woman stand in front of a mirror in her underwear, pointing out her flaws but getting her to admit if she has “great tits” or a “good arse”. Brutal, yet popular.  Their key message was to ‘dress for your shape’, highlighting your best features and de-emphasising the less attractive ones. They went on to design a range of dresses:

A selection of their range - it's all about the curves, ladies!

Their most recent book, The Body Shape Bible, categorises women into 12 shapes; going beyond hourglass/pear/apple etc. (though they feature) to include ‘column’, ‘lollipop’, ‘goblet’…and the flatteringly-named ‘brick’. They then tell you how to dress for that shape, with emphasis on creating curves where there aren’t any, or enhancing the ones that are hidden under baggy clothing.

I've yet to decide which shape I am...

Dissecting 'The Brick'...

Dressing 'The Brick'...













Looking at the dress, it was definitely designed to emphasise the waist, widen the hips and display the breasts (when I tried it on my mum rolled her eyes and said, “your boobs…”). I’d love to know which of their shapes it was intended for – I suspect someone a little straighter than me…

Excuse the picture - I couldn't find the tripod...

Hm. I suspect fake tan would play a part in my makeover.

I’m always ambivalent about the idea of  ‘dressing for your shape’ – on the one hand I want to feel good in what I wear, and on the other hand I resent being limited by a neckline or sleeve length. Watching some of their programmes, though – rightly or wrongly – I realise I have absorbed quite a few of their ‘rules’, eg:

1. v-neck/wrap tops minimise big breasts – avoid polonecks and crew necks at all costs!

2. large rings make fingers appear more dainty

3. ankle straps truncate your legs

4. 3/4 length sleeves show off the wrist, the slimmest part of the arm

5. baggy clothes make curvy women look like sacks of potatoes

Contrary to popular belief, none of my oversized rings contain sleeping draught.

Some of us like dressing by the rules more than others, but prescriptive or not, T+S seem to have helped women rediscover a happiness with their bodies. Many of us feel horrified when we look at photographs of ourselves, but their philosophy takes this one step further; you may feel knocked down, but you then have to build yourself up again – and this is a crucial step that many body-conscious types miss out.

What do you think about this?

Should we dress to flatter our shapes?

What rules do you abide by?


Read Dressing for Your Shape #2

Read Dressing for Your Shape #3


Please note: my url is now:
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Holiday Identities: time to experiment!

It’s guest post time on Mrs Bossa Does the Do, as part of the Feminist Fashion Bloggers network. This excellent post is written by Millie of Interrobangs Anonymous – head over there to read my post. And remember to visit the FFB blog to read the posts by my fellow fashionable feministas!

* * * * *

So Mrs. Bossa and I are both writing about holiday identities, using this paper called “It’s like Planet Holiday: Women’s Dressed Self-presentation on Holiday” as a starting point.  There’s a lot of ground covered in the paper, and there’s a lot of directions I could take a discussion of it.  But one of the most persistent sentiments underpinning the interviewed women’s experiences was the erasure or absolution of guilt associated with constructing a holiday identity.

I could definitely go for some beach time right about now.

It’s not surprising to me that the various interviewed women all described constructing a modified, often bolder and less restrained, identity for use while they’re on holiday; I often find myself doing the same thing when I’m, say, in an unusual city where I don’t expect to meet anyone I pass on the street again.  I’m less concerned about how I appear, because I am confident that anyone’s judgment or opinion of me is fleeting and won’t follow me home.  Holidaying offers this same anonymity:  the vacationer will not see the vast majority of the people she (here, all the interviewees were women) again, and so any impression they have for her will not impact her significantly beyond her holiday.  I am surprised at how freeing women found building this identity (and the wardrobe used to communicate it), and how unencumbered they felt doing all the prep work for it.

These women recount putting a lot of effort into their holiday images:  they carefully build a day and night wardrobe by shopping and borrowing, they go tanning, they try to lose weight, they shave or wax, get their hair and sometimes nails done… and throughout the article there’s no indication that they feel resentful about this work.  It’s framed as a luxury or a treat much moreso than it is an obligation, even though many of the women say this work is to a large degree necessary for them to fully enjoy their holiday.  Contrast that with the everyday up-keep work that many women do:  much of that same work that in the context of a holiday is freeing and enjoyable becomes tiresome and irritating in an everyday context.  There’s no guilt attached to any of it either — no guilt about taking time to do this prep work, or spending money on it.  As someone who feels vaguely embarrassed about spending time fiddling with her hair, or applying makeup, or much of any feminine-coded bodily upkeep, having a context to justify my work helps me feel less embarrassed about doing it.

At the same time, though, the emphasis on prep work is foreign to me.  I’ve never gone on a formal beach-y holiday, but I can’t envision myself spending much money on creating a new, temporary identity.  I understand wanting to use the opportunity of being away from your usual social environment to explore and experiment away from judgment or social memory, but things like spending time go tanning in preparation for going to a beach and getting your hair coloured (when it’ll get bleached by the sun and salt) seem like futile endeavours — the end result will be eroded by the fact that you’re out in the sun all day.  Buying clothes for a trip, with no lasting intention to wear them afterwards, seems wasteful;  I’m more likely to work what I’ve got in different ways, or borrow, or maybe buy one or two things cheaply to test the waters.  I understand better the women interviewed who went on holiday in preparation for a revamping of their wardrobes/identities — the holiday served as a testing ground in a very tangible sense, and the constructed identity was extended almost completely into their everyday lives.  Maybe the other women took pieces of their constructed identity back into their everyday lives afterward too, but I didn’t see anything in the paper about that so I can’t say one way or another.

Now why can I never find something along this line in a brick-and-mortar store? Bathing suits are not something you can reliably judge how it'll fit and look on you just by a picture.


I was surprised that the article didn’t talk more about bathing suit shopping, since that’s socially constructed to be a Big Deal.  Bathing suits are a pivotal piece of clothing around which beach attire (and thus identity) is centred, and yet these women mention it in passing but don’t dwell on it or talk about any extra stresses they had finding a bathing suit that fit and made them feel good.  As someone who struggles to find a bathing suit that fits, let along one that makes me feel good, I’m pleasantly surprised at this.  This complete lack of self-deprecating talk and internal body-shame was heartening, because that’s not what we as a society tend to see in either popular culture or our own lives (or at least my life).  We get bombarded with the message that we’re inadequate, that our bodies are insufficiently sexy to be scantily clothed in public, and that we should be ashamed that we don’t live up to this unattainable ideal.  The twenty or so women in this study didn’t buy into that, or if they did, they didn’t talk about it to the researchers, or the researchers didn’t talk about it in the paper.

And that’s really the point I took from this — these women took a potential minefield of body negativity and talked about it in very positive ways.  They saw their holidays as transformative, and the work they put into their holidays as relaxing and fun rather than compulsory (even though they often said that the holiday wasn’t worth having without having done all that work).

So, what’s your take on this?  How do you prepare for a holiday, and do you feel free to play with your wardrobe while you’re there?  If you do, does that translate into your everyday life when you return?

Why Mrs B is Moving.

Well, this is all very exciting.

Not only am I moving geographically, from here:

Edgeley, Stockport – photo by Mr Bossa
to here:

Hebden Bridge

…I am also moving my blog to another site.

I won’t bore you with all the technical reasons – though I have been craving a site that lets me to spend more time blogging and less time faffing about with line-spacing – but I also wanted to make my site easier for readers to use.

Some of you may remember that I carried out a survey recently, and I’ve been dying to act on the comments and suggestions. I’m not going to carry on with a dry analysis of stats, might I add, but I would like to thank those of you who took the time to give me your opinions. There were some fantastic comments, and some great constructive criticism. 

What did the survey tell me?

Aside from the style of writing/voice, I was glad to see such a positive response to the crossover of ‘fashion/social issues‘; I’ve only recently begun to incorporate my feminist views into this blog. As I have discussed in the past, it’s not easy talking about potentially controversial issues on an otherwise light-hearted blog, but I’m enjoying the challenge, and it’s good to see that some of you are with me.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see a positive response to outfit posts. I admitted a while back that posting photos of myself – however sexy the shoes – wasn’t my favourite pastime, and how things have changed. I never would have imagined myself buying orange silk trousers, never mind wearing them on here. Thanks for the words of encouragement, folks! And watch out!

So why move?

One: Quite a few of you said you had trouble with the commenting system.

I can understand this. I chose the current one so I could respond individually to comments, but I’ve since learnt that it can be plain hard work for people. I don’t want that. On my new site I’ll have a simpler system!

Two: Frequency of posts.

Of the 22 people who answered, 18 said they would prefer to see more frequent posts (thank you!) as I average out now to roughly once a week.

Luckily, that’s pretty much in line with what I want, and I think that using a simpler system will mean I can write more and worry less about the technicalities that make posting more time-consuming than it needs to be. Win-win, eh?

So…what next?

I’m building up to the changeover, and the good news is: you shouldn’t have to do anything. I’m aiming to get everything done by Sunday 8th of May…so bear with me til then, and keep your fingers crossed it all goes smoothly.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll keep reading – not least for the next installment from the Feminist Fashion Bloggers on Wednesday 11th May. Thanks again for your comments, support and input – you’re fantastic.

Thanks for reading,

Mrs B x

Outfit Post: the Jumpsuit Edition.

Boosted by your advice and words of confidence, I braved the jumpsuit last night to my mother’s birthday meal. Arm-modesty prevailed; I flung over a loose knit in a pale mango, belted up and donned some gold wedges (that’s as close as I get to bling, I’m afraid). I may have ended up looking a little tamer than some of you might have wished, but I did feel classy – no mean feat when you’re wearing an outfit with a snakeskin print and a drop-crotch.

So, as requested, here is a quick outfit post for your delectation. I also managed to get a shot in of my wine glass, which was almost the size of my head – another impressive achievement.

DP knit, Topshop jumpsuit, New Look belt and wedges

Shoe shots:

On a side note, I have to say, I was impressed with New Look’s wedges selection. My mum’s were quite nice, too:

I have to say – now I’ve bitten the bullet I’m looking forward to trying your more ‘edgy’ suggestions. Ideally I’d like to wear it with a silk orange blazer, a topknot and spike heels, but we’ll see…

The question is…did I get away with it?
And have you stepped out of your comfort zone lately?