Does my bum look big in this? You’ve asked the question thousands of times. But have you ever really heeded the answer?
BY all means, blame the pigs in blankets for making you look like a Christmas pudding and start your New Year diet regime.
But think on this; your beloved leggings are probably just as much to blame.
Those comfy, stretchy bum and thigh-huggers are letting you get away with murder.
“Leggings are so bad for you,” warns top image consultant Alicia Kite. “They don’t tell tales if a few pounds have gone on.
“One of the first things I teach my clients is how to make their clothes an even better weight management tool than their bathroom scales.”
Your jeans might feel like your enemy when the waistband gets too tight, but actually they are the clothing equivalent of that best friend who always tells it to you straight.
Scores of your beloved outfits and accessories could also be doing you a huge disservice - and making you LOOK much bigger than you actually are.
“The wrong clothes will make you look fatter.
“Follow my rules and it will seem you’ve dropped a dress size without you having to diet at all,” explains Alicia, who has just launched the only online service, Style Me Slim, to help women throughout the UK to avoid ‘fattening’ clothes.
Those in the north will find the name rings a bell, though... her fashion boutique Alicia Kite was once the most popular in the city.
She opened her Ecclesall Road shop in 1983 at the tender age of 25.
Her name was even written on the pavement outside.
For 13 years, women flocked to it and Alicia opened other stores in Doncaster and Nottingham.
Sadly, it all went wrong in 1996 and Alicia lost everything.
But she eventually bounced back to become a fashion sales and stylist expert in London’s Sloane Square and Bond street, building up a small clique of wealthy female clients who still consult her to this day - at a cost of £1,200 a time.
She then set up the Alicia Kite Academy, training personal stylists across the country, and has now worked in the fashion industry for 30 years. She looks back fondly on her Ecclesall Road heyday: “At least once a month people say to me: Alicia Kite’s... I loved that shop!’
“I think what was special about it was me working out what clothes women really wanted and our customer service.
“Small boutiques are few and far between now. The big chains have forced them out, which is a shame. Women are losing out massively. Big retailers don’t give guidance, they sell clothes.
“It’s not easy for women to understand fashion. There is so much choice, and it takes a lot of time and energy to find what suits you. Women get confused and disillusioned.”
All that experience is now being poured into advising women on how to look younger and slimmer simply by dressing well.
“Style Me Slim is an online version of what I did for women in my shop all those years ago,” says Alicia.
“Looking good doesn’t just happen, not even for women who might look like they have the perfect figure. There are certain styles that flatter us and others that don’t.
“I want to teach women the tricks of the trade by showing them how to dress for their shape and age, so they look and feel slimmer.”
Would you like to be styled slimmer?
WE have a personal consultation with Alicia Kite, worth £1,200, plus a three-month free Style Me Slim membership, waiting for one reader.
Send a full length photo of yourself and explain why you need Alicia’s help, plus your contact details, to firstname.lastname@example.org or Jo Davison, The Star, York Street, Sheffield S1 1PU by January 18.
The chosen reader will be featured in a women’s article in The Star after her visit from Alicia in March.
Birthday treat in old outfit
A celebration dinner date at one of the country’s poshest restaurants would throw most women into a wardrobe dilemma - and a frantic shopping spree.
Not Alicia Kite. For her 50th birthday, she reached into one of her two small but perfectly formed closets at her home in Nottingham and pulled out a trouser suit she bought 25 years ago.
The beautifully tailored Alberta Ferretti outfit fitted the bill perfectly.
“I felt chic and stylish in it because it’s a classic - and I knew no-one would be wearing the same suit,” she says. “Two women there were dressed almost identically because they had slavishly followed fashion trends.”
Alicia was thrilled that she can still fit into an outfit she wore when she was 25 - and credits her method of using the fit of her clothes to dictate what she eats. But she was doubly pleased that her outfit had cost her nothing.
Teaching women how to use the clothes they have and avoid costly clothes shopping mistakes is another vital Style Me Slim lesson.
“We don’t want our members to keep buying clothes. By knowing what they already have in their wardrobe and how to reinvent those items they will save money.
Alicia discovered the art of wardrobe reinvention the hard way. When her shops went under, she was declared bankrupt.
“I lost everything. I didn’t have money to by heaps of new clothes,” she says. “But what I discovered was that you don’t need to spend, spend, spend. Women buy the wrong things for the wrong reasons; we buy because we love the colour, or we’re looking for something to cheer us up. It’s all about reinventing what you’ve got and buying wisely.
“As the recession continues, saving money is so important to all of us.”
It’s also better for the environment, she says: Retail giant Marks & Spencer estimates 10,000 items of clothing are thrown away every 5 minutes in the UK, adding 500,000 tonnes to landfill sites.
“When I heard one in every four items of clothing purchased goes to landfill, I was horrified,” comments Alicia.
“Initially, Style Me Slim will generate unwanted items as members realise they have to let go of clothes that don’t suit them, so I ask them to donate their clothes to charity shops.
“But what will then happen is they will buy much less. And the items they do spend on will be the ones they feel really good in and will want to hang on to; just like my 25-year-old suit.”
Alicia’s top tips
Buy a full-length mirror and look at the whole of you. Focus on what you like about yourself instead of being negative
In changing rooms, do a 360-degree check in the mirror. A dress might look great from the front, but awful from the back
A well-fitting bra will make you look a dress size smaller and younger
Choose fabrics that flatter shape and don’t cling to it
A long necklace or a long silky scarf is a great way to hide those muffin tops and elongate your body shape
A mid length top is more flattering then one that is pulled down to hide your bottom
Fitted clothes are more flattering then shapeless clothes
Choose the right length skirt for your leg shape. For most, it’s where your leg goes in just below your knee
Make your clothes become your weight management. If they start to feel tight, think about what you are eating before it becomes too late