Finding the right wedding dress for your body shape

Choosing the right wedding dress is not easy. Most brides will try on dozens of different dresses before finding their dream gown. However, you can avoid a lot of dressing-room frustration by seeking out the right wedding dress for your body shape right from the beginning.

Read on for The Knot’s guide to the most popular styles on the market for women of every shape and size.

The ball gown

What is it? The number one distinguishing trait of a ball gown is its very full (aka huge) skirt. This creates a fairy-tale silhouette when paired with a fitted bodice and a cinched waist.

Best for: Brides with boyish figures. The fullness of the dress will make you look curvier.

Avoid if: You’re a petite bride. You’ll get swallowed up by a dress this voluminous.

The mermaid

What is it? This shape is defined by a slim, tapered, curve-hugging skirt that follows the line of the hips and thighs and flares out below the knee.

Best for: Brides with hourglass figures who want to show off their curves.

Avoid if: You know you don’t want something tight; this style is constricting.

The column dress

What is it? This formfitting style follows the body’s natural line and doesn’t flare out. It’s also referred to as a sheath.

Best for: Petite women, since this slim shape adds length. This silhouette also looks great on brides with sleek figures.

Avoid if: You’re pear-shaped (when you’re small on top but more rounded on the bottom). This silhouette will make you look unbalanced.

The drop waist

What is it? This silhouette is exactly as you would imagine—it drops and flares out slightly below the waistline around your hip area.

Best for: Brides who want to flaunt their trim middles and shape, since it hugs your waist and hips.

Avoid if: You have a boxy figure—it might make you look like you have less curves.

The A-line gown

What is it? As its name implies, this cut is narrow at the top and extends out along the body in the shape of—you guessed it—an “A.”

Best for: All body types. There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular skirt silhouettes—it’s super-flattering on almost everyone.

Avoid if: You’re looking for something really sexy.

The trumpet dress

What is it? A straight-lined skirt subtly flares from the knee toward the hem in a trumpet shape.

Best for: Curvy brides who are looking for a formfitting dress that’s slightly easier to move in.

Avoid if: You’re not comfortable with clearly showing off your shape or if you have an apple or boxy body type.

Finding the right wedding dress for your shape doesn’t have to be difficult. A great tip is to think about the style of your favourite (and most flattering) dress and seek out something similar. You’ll know you’ve found your dream dress when you look in the mirror and see a huge smile staring back at you.

Mastering trans-seasonal dressing

Trans-seasonal dressing is one of the trickiest skills in fashion. While we all know what to expect from our winter wardrobe or our summer wardrobe, dressing for changeable weather is a whole other issue.

That being said, there are a few handy rules and tips that you should know before stepping outside the front door…

Look ahead, not behind

It’s tempting to try to eek out the value from last season’s outfits for a while longer, but this is how you end up getting stuck in a style rut. Instead, you should to the season ahead for fashion inspiration. In the springtime, gradually start introducing summery prints and bare legs. In the autumn, experiment with subtle layering as the weather turns cooler.

Invest in your coats

The right coat is your key to nailing trans-seasonal dressing. You probably already have a heavy winter coat and a lighter summer jacket in your wardrobe, but what about those ‘in between’ days? Invest in a classic trench coat for breezy days, and a smart raincoat to see you through the occasional downpour. Denim jackets and long-line blazers are easily stowed away in a tote bag if the sun comes out.

Learn the art of layering

There’s a lot more to layering than you might think. From a fashion perspective, you want to end up with a sleek silhouette. But practically speaking, you need to be able to add and remove layers easily. As a general rule, choose finer fabrics which won’t bunch up when layered. Natural materials such as cotton, silk and linen will keep you relatively cool when the temperature rises, while wool-based outer layers will help to hold in the heat.

Love your accessories

Specifically, your umbrella and your sunglasses. And thanks to the British weather, there’s a good chance that you’ll need both of these on any trans-seasonal day. Ditch your boring black umbrella and replace it with a stylish (or ‘birdcage’) umbrella, or a rain-repelling print in bright colours. Start putting together a collection of sunglasses so that you have a pair for every mood. After all, good accessories never go out of fashion.

Seven chic plus-size brands you need to know about

If Marilyn Monroe was around today, she’d be horrified. As a woman who was celebrated for her plus-size curves, she would struggle to find flattering, fitted clothes on the High Street. Chic plus-size brands are few and far between, but a few great designers are starting to change this.

If you are sick and tired of tunic tops and leggings, read on for style maven Rachel Zoe’s pick of the most chic plus size brands of the moment…

1. ASOS Curve

One of the biggest challenges for the curvy girl is finding fashionable clothing. ASOS is great at affordable fashion for the average woman, but with ASOS Curve it is finally providing a similar service for plus-size ladies. The company’s designers are always updating the stock, so keep an eye out for your next favourite outfit.

2. Good American

Khloe Kardashian’s new denim line offers cool-girl silhouettes from sizes 00 to 24, sure to hug every curve. Unsurprisingly, these jeans have been specifically designed those of you who have a bit of junk in your trunk, so you can show off your assets like a true Kardashian!

3. Melissa McCarthy Seven7

After struggling to find red-carpet worthy clothing, actress Melissa McCarthy took matters into her own hands! Her collection offers every major staple you need, from dresses to jackets, accented with playful colours and prints. Whether you are heading to the red carpet or just painting the town red, you’ll love her party staples.

4. Carmakoma

The Scandinavian brand’s range is understated yet elevated. If you are a working woman who needs some chic dresses and separates for the office, this line is for you.

5. Elvi

Born and bred in the UK, Elvi specialises in casual separates to evening statement pieces. Furthermore, this chic brand offers everything under the sun marked with a polished, contemporary aesthetic.

6. Coco Cooper Denim

If you are looking for classic cuts from flares to skinnies, Coco Cooper Denim is a dream come true. The denim brand is the master of figure-enhancing shapes that lift and sculpt your curves.

7. Eloquii

Just a few years ago, Eloquii was being threatened with closure. However, thanks to a dedicated group of investors, it survived and thrived. The brand has won a cult following with  designs that are feminine yet fresh. If you love to flaunt your figure, this is the brand for you.

Of course, as well as these seven rising brands, you can’t forget about plus-size stalwarts such as Evans and H&M’s curve-friendly lines. However, if your plus size wardrobe needs an update, you aren’t short of designer options. Soon, you won’t have to look too far to find the sort of sexy, flattering designs would make Marilyn proud.

Stylish hats for any occasion – the ultimate guide

Hats – you either love them or hate them. Stylish hats can be hard to find and even harder to wear, but when the time comes to don your finest headgear, you need to be ready for it. So if you tend to look more like Princess Beatrice at the Royal Wedding, rather than Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, read on for our essential guide to hats for every occasion

1. At the races

For a glimpse of the most stylish hats in the country, just make your way to Royal Ascot. There is no such thing as ‘OTT’ when you are at the races – think big, bright, zany and unique. Just don’t forget to post for the photographers.

2. At a wedding

Not so long ago, hats and weddings were considered to be a perfect match. But the rise of the fascinator and statement hair accessories has seen wedding hats fall out of favour. Of course, at high society dos, there is no substitute for a bespoke designer headpiece, but for everyone else subtlety is the key. Go vintage with a pillbox hat perched atop a chignon, or choose a mini-saucer hat with organza trim for a femme fatale vibe. Keep it small, chic and timeless, and you can’t go far wrong.

3. In the cold

Whether you are on the ski slopes or simply braving the icy winds of rural Britain, a stylish hat can mean the difference between cosy fashion and cold ears. An oversized beanie is versatile enough to wear with any outfit, although (faux) fur-trimmed trapper hats are starting to make a comeback. Go for big, comfy hats in muted colours and you will survive the coldest weather.

4. In the sun

If you’ve ever experienced the pain of sunburn along your hairline, you’ll understand the importance of a good sun hat. Floppy fedoras ooze old school glamour, and will keep the sun well away from your face. Meanwhile, the classic panama hat is a hipster stalwart which looks just as good on men as it does on women. However, the humble baseball cap deserves a look-in here as well. The likes of Gucci and Chanel are selling out of their designer baseball caps, and the classic New Era styles are fast becoming collector’s items.

Your essential guide to hygge fashion

The hygge trend is inescapable, and hygge fashion is set to be the Next Big Thing.

Pronounced ‘hue-ga’, it refers to the Danish concept of obtaining happiness in simple pleasures – a fluffy blanket on a cold day; the flicker of candlelight on a dark night; or the company of loved ones. If it makes you feel good, its hygge.

So how does this cosy, comfort-first ideology work when it comes to the decidedly uncomfortable world of fashion?

Hygge fashion explained

Feel-good fashion can mean different things to different people, depending on your mood, your schedule and your surroundings. Staying in for the night? Your idea of hygge fashion might mean flannel PJs or a fleece-lined onesie. Prepping for a hot date? Hygge fashion could involve your favourite pair of stilettos and a flattering LBD.

However, if you’re really not sure how hygge fashion works, we have three feel-good tips to get you started!

Invest in great knitwear

A big, fluffy jumper can be worn with anything, and will give you that comfy, cuddly feeling all day long. However, when it comes to knitwear, quality is key. Choose natural fibres such as wool and cashmere, and go for a relaxed fit which will allow you

Choose calming colours

Beige, cream and oatmeal are classics of the Scandi-chic movement, as they are warm and calming (and look amazing in candlelight). Marylin Monroe once said that she always wore a cream silk scarf as the soft tones had a luminous effect in photos. Take a leaf out of her book and swathe yourself in romantic hues that make you look and feel good.

Wear finer fabrics

There is nothing hygge about itchy, polyester clothing. To feel truly good inside your clothing, opt for softer fabrics such as silk, cotton and cashmere, which allow your skin to breathe. Yes, they are more expensive than polyester-mix, but its that feeling of pure luxury that gives you that hygge feeling.

Bridal trends for 2017

There is much more to bridal fashion than a big white dress. In recent years, trends have ranged from pastel shades, to applique, and even mini slip dresses! According to the latest fashion shows, bridal trends for 2017 will include full-feather skirts, trouser suits, and the ubiquitous Bardot sleeve. Read on for the highlights of the year’s top bridal trends

The inspiration

New York Bridal Week is always a great indicator of the following year’s bridal trends, inspiring brides and designers across the world. And as the AW17 shows come to a close, new ideas and fresh trends begin to emerge in the wedding dress domain.

This season’s bridal shows found the middle ground, with several designers find a harmonious balance between the old and the new by revamping that classic bridal aesthetic for the modern woman with traditional tendencies.

Trouser suits

Alon Livne showed new take on the trouser suit, with exaggerated ruffles and statement hats in place of a veil. Bridal newcomers Victor & Rolf went characteristically avant-garde with a cropped trousers suit paired with an obi-style belt.

Feathers

Set to be one of the biggest bridal trends of 2017, feathers were everywhere at New York Bridal Week. At Zac Posen, models wore extravagantly laced veil trims and full feathered skirts. Meanwhile, the Monique Lhuillier show was typically aimed at the feminine bride, with feather details updating classic silhouettes.

Bardot sleeves

The week of shows wasn’t without its unorthodox extravagance, as Vera Wang took the Bardot sleeve to new heights – or depths, more accurately – with thick shoulder straps holding up a heavily draped sleeve which ran far beyond the fingertips. Bardot sleeves were also on display at the Marchesa show, where dresses were as frothy as a fairytale.

Of course, traditional bridal shapes will never go out of style. Every designer had a classic A-line, column or mermaid dress in their collections, updated with some applique or a fun accessory. For 2017 brides, there has never been so much choice.

(Photo credit: f_lynx via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND)

Athleisure goes mainstream

Once upon a time, gym clothes were baggy, smelly and sweaty. Not anymore. Workout clothes has gone through a revolution in the past few years – so much so that it is now known by another word. Athleisure. And this is the year that athleisure goes mainstream.

Unlike regular gym clothes, athleisure is designed to be worn anytime, anywhere. It is colourful, flattering, stylish and comfortable – plus, it might just inspire you to exercise!

But before you splash out on fancy tracksuits, read on for the ultimate guide to athleisure…

The pretty sports bra

We all have that elusive sports bra that’s far superior to the rest of your collection. You know, the kind that’s so comfortable and chafe-free, you strategically wear it for, say, a lazy Sunday (and, hey, maybe even to work on Monday, too) before deigning to get it sweaty in a spin class. The key to a great sports bra is wide, soft straps, and a bright colour that you won’t mind peeking out from under a shirt.

The slouchy pants

Kim and Kanye have been working the leather sweatpants look for a while now, and it’s starting to catch on. Wear with heels for a glam take on the look, or statement trainers for a tougher silhouette.

A work-out tank

The best workout tanks come with a surprisingly supportive built-in bra and the magical ability to smooth without suffocating. Choose a tank with crisscrossed back detailing that makes it just as acceptable at a nice dinner out, too.

Leggings

Every woman has that one pair of leggings that go with everything – as Refinery 29 puts it, “leggings chic enough to wear in lieu of pants, once a week”. The trick is to choose a thick fabric (check, check and double check that they aren’t see-through) with some sort of pattern or cut-out detail to add interest.

As athleisure goes mainstream, expect to see plenty of other gym-to-café staples filling the High Street. As ever, quality is key – especially if you plan to work up a sweat in your chosen ensemble. Choose pretty, durable pieces which work with your existing wardrobe and you will be nailing the athleisure look in no time!

The ultimate investment shoes

Great shoes are a woman’s best friend. They lift any outfit, they make you feel taller, and best of all – if they fit you once they’ll fit you for life. The best shoes – designer shoes – can be prohibitively expensive. But choose the right pair and they will more than earn their worth. That’s why we like to call them ‘investment shoes’.

Here are five iconic pairs that you won’t regret investing in.

1. Gucci Jordaan loafers

You’ll likely be familiar with Gucci’s iconic Horsebit loafer. But Alessandro Michele’s arrival at the helm of Gucci in January 2015 signalled a renaissance for the style. Reworked with a slimmer shape to create the Jordaan style (pictured above), the horsebit-adorned loafer is once again a must-have.

Whether you go for the classic loafer or the ever-popular backless version, it’s a buy you will never regret.

From £410.

2. Chanel two-tone slingbacks

First created by Coco Chanel in 1957, there’s more to Chanel’s two-tone slingbacks than meets the eye; the nude upper lengthens the leg, while the black toe shortens the foot. Genius.

If you can’t find a pair for love nor money, Chanel’s two-tone flat ballet pumps are just as iconic and the colour-way has the exact same effect, even without a heel.

From £540.

3. Christian Louboutin Pigalle pumps

With it’s pointed toe and pencil-straight 120mm heel, the shoe is loved for it’s posture-correcting and leg-lengthening abilities. Kate Moss has countless pairs, and you’ll rarely see her on the red carpet wearing any other shoe.

Black patent is the signature fabrication but due to their popularity they are available in a plethora of fabrics and treatments.

From £475.

4. Chloé Susanna boots

These studded ankle boots, featuring three buckles and a subtle floral motif, captured the zeitgeist with their rock and roll vibe. Eight years after their launch, they still sell like proverbial hot cakes, and they are available in a range pf luxurious fabrics such as calf skin and suede.

Approx. £850.

5. Manolo Blahnik Hangisi pumps

When Carrie Bradshaw chose Manolo Blahnik’s jewel blue Hangisi pumps as her ‘something blue’ when she (finally) married Big in the first Sex and The City film, she unwittingly (or perhaps not) bestowed icon status upon the shoe.

Satin-covered with a 105mm heel, the Hangisi was inspired Napoleon I, Josephine and Pauline Bonaparte. The signature Swarovski-embellished buckle on the toe, meanwhile, was inspired by a vintage piece found by Blahnik, a lover of accessories, in Italy.

From £745.

OK, so just one pair of these shoes might be the equivalent of your whole year’s fashion budget, but that’s why you have to treat them as an investment. Investment shoes are shoes that have already proven their fashion kudos, and they are made to last. Spend a few hundred pounds and you will feel like a million dollars every time you wear them. Now that’s just good maths…

Functional fashion for your post-pregnancy body

Maternity style is great. Clothes are roomy, comfortable and stylish, allowing you to show off your bump with pride. But when it comes to finding fashion for your post-pregnancy body, the options narrow. Your maternity clothes are too big, while your pre-pregnancy clothes probably won’t fit for at least another few months. What’s more, your needs will have changed – you may need clothes that won’t irritate caesarean scars (goodbye jeans), or outfits that are compatible with breast feeding, and that’s before you factor in the unavoidable presence of your baby’s bodily fluids on everything you own.

So what can you wear?

The key here is to put functionality first. You need clothes that are easy to get on and off, and easy to wash. That might sound boring, but there are actually plenty of options if you know what you’re looking for. Loose-fitting fabrics such as jersey or cotton are flattering and comfortable, while button-down shirts, blouses and shirt-dresses are easily layered, and breast-feeding friendly.

If you are self-conscious about your post-baby belly, go for slightly longer tops that reach the thigh rather than the hip. You could also try getting back into the habit of wearing modest heels. Even a two inch lift can improve your posture and make you appear slimmer, while the very act of wearing shoes that aren’t slippers will make you feel positively sophisticated!

Draping is also a must-have for fashion-conscious mums. Wrap dresses and Grecian-style ruching will skim over your midriff and highlight your cleavage.

And what can’t you wear?

As a general rule, if it makes you feel frumpy, uncomfortable or anxious, don’t wear it. You have enough on your plate with a new baby to look after, so your clothing needs to complement your busy lifestyle, not add extra stress. Keep it simple and enjoy this precious time with your new baby, without any fashion-related distractions.

Alexa Chung’s style rules

Alexa Chung is one of our favourite fashion icons. Over the years, she has created her own look and stuck to that winning formula, inspiring countless High Street collections and street style looks. Alexa Chung’s style rules range from the grungy (denim hot pants and wellies at Glastonbury) to the glam (an androgynous tux or a vintage gown on the red carpet). But no matter what she wears, you can be sure that millions of women will be following her lead.

So here they are – in her own words – Alexa Chung’s style rules…

On her style crush…

“Nobody ever made high-waisted trousers and a tie look as good as Annie Hall. Her femininity, mixed with tomboyish silhouettes and scruffy thrown-together looks, is something I still reference heavily now.”

On hot pants…

“My relationship with my denim hot pants is incredibly special.”

On her most important possession…

“A navy blue jumper is potentially the most boring item anyone could design and yet it’s my most important possession.”

On androgyny…

“Thank you, Jane Birkin, for providing me with infinite outfit ideas and the confidence to dress like a boy but act like a girl.”

On Wednesday Addams…

“Wednesday Addams was probably the first character I saw to wear the Peter Pan collar. Match that with pigtails and gothy pale skin and she’s pretty much my favourite style icon.”

On her favourite silhouette…

“I think I was interested in ponies and all the relevant paraphernalia because of the fashion as much as the animals. That silhouette of skinny trousers, ankle boots and an oversized sweatshirt is one I never managed to get away from.”

On practicality…

“Practicality is high on my list… I’ll always prefer a girl in an oversized t-shirt as opposed to an undersized boob tube but that’s because I’m a girl, or a tomboy, and not a boy.”

On fashion throwbacks…

“Most of the things I wear today are a throwback to items I owned as a child, minus the multi-coloured harem trousers. You know what you like, so follow your gut.”

Vintage throwbacks, classic silhouettes and boyish ensembles – these are the core style rules that have made Alexa Chung into the icon that she is today. Follow these rules or make your own, and  fashion icon status may one day be yours!