About Me

About Me

Thursday, 23 January 2014

*Cover Flatter Flaunt*

Emma of Bella & Bear

Tell me a little about you...

Hi my name is… Emma. I'm a 30 something, mother of two, I'm British and I'm divorced. I've lived on two continents and have had the benefit of enjoying extensive and prolonged travel. Travel really does broaden the mind. I hope as my children grow up I am able to share my love of other cultures with them because it is something to treasure. The variety and complexity of modern-day society is awe inspiring and so are attitudes to style and fashion.

I would say my style is elegant, a little fun and possibly even flirty, but never raunchy. I've always had expensive taste, without knowing I usually pick up the most costly item in the store and then baulk at the price but a love of the finer things in life is not a hinderance to finding affordable fashion, it just makes me more particular about what I choose to purchase. I favour well proportioned, structured and well made clothes to disposable style. I admire stylists who are able to sense what people want and give it to them just as they are beginning to realize it; take Tibi and their covetable midi-skirts… swoon! I rarely flash a lot of skin, I would rather hint at the possibility of what lies beneath the layers.

I believe personal style is just that, personal. It reflects how we feel, what we are doing at a particular time and how we wish to be perceived by others. What we wear and how we choose to wear it speaks to people. There have been studies (please don't ask me to quote my source) into perception and how we judge each other based on first impressions and how we present ourselves. The general outcome of which is that people pay more attention to you if your appearance is appealing. Horribly shallow isn't it? But there you are, millennia of evolution and we still judge each other on appearance. 
With this in mind I take a thoughtful approach to style, it's a fine line between a considered look and one that is overdone. A very great friend once quoted this to me 'after dressing always remove the last accessory you put on, now you are ready.' It's a good guide to the less is more approach.

How would you describe your body shape?

Image from bycelina.com

I've been blessed, genetically speaking, with height and a reasonable metabolism. As a teenager I retained the body of a child, all gangly limbs and no boobs until I was nearly twenty (I did those bust exercises to no avail, sob). I always felt like a boy compared to my more petite, curvaceous friends and I would have described my shape as an oblong. 

At university I didn't exercise, I gorged on pizza and chocolate bars, I went up two dress sizes and wore a UK size 10/12, back then I would have described my shape as hourglass. I still had teeny tiny boobs but my ass had filled out nicely and my shoulders had become slightly broader. 

After two children I had gone up another two sizes and I would have described my shape as a pear. 

When I was going through a divorce I dropped a lot of weight very quickly and everyone called me skinny. Now, with my youngest son at three and a half years old I have rediscovered running and light weight training and I would describe my shape as athletic. I have been many different shapes over the course of my life, all of which are me. I'm not certain which body type I fit into but sometimes I still feel like that tall, gangly woman-child with an outlandish mop of red hair.

What are your problem/least favourite areas?

Having two children leaves a mark. In my case many little marks, stretch marks and a very slight paunch. That joke about preparing to carry a child for nine months where you strap a bean bag to your front and then after nine months remove seven beans was horrifyingly accurate for me. Fortunately, skin is elastic and given time does spring back. The key here is patience, perseverance (hours of crunches at the gym ladies, hours) and acceptance. I have been cursed, genetically speaking, with ham arms… more commonly known as 'bingo wings'.
 Even as a svelte young thing my upper arms would wobble like the proverbial jelly on a plate. 
The same is true for my rear. 
I don't twerk, someone could loose an eye!!!

Cover - How do you cover your problem/lest favourite areas?

The best thing I've done for my stretch marks is bio oil. 

Being very pale helps too, the silvery stripes kind of blend into my translucent pale white/blue skin. I use a light self tanner in spring and summer, the visual benefits of a slight tan are mind boggling to me. 

The bingo wings are a challenge. I avoid tank tops or flimsy slips, some strapless tops are also a no go. The best way to cover or disguise them is with three quarter length sleeves or a short sleeve that sits horizontally on the upper arm. 

Anything that cuts diagonally across the widest part of your arm will have the effect of widening that part. Not good unless you have killer biceps/ triceps. I roll the cuffs of long sleeve tops to just below the elbow, this also helps to disguise a disfiguring scar I have on my left arm resulting from the removal of a malignant melanoma in 2005. 
With sweaters I roll the cuff once then push them up my arm, it looks less contrived.

Flatter - What styles do you wear to flatter your problem/least favourite areas?

To camouflage the slight paunch I steer well clear of any trousers that sit tight on the hips or lower, instead I opt for a more flattering mid to high waist. The same is true for skirts and bikinis. 
Fortunately my stomach is naturally flat and like Megan in Bridemaids 'physically I don't bloat' even so I avoid tight t-shirts in clingy fabrics opting for cotton or linen shirts instead.

Now lets get positive, what are your favourite areas?

As a redhead I've always stood out from the crowd. As a tall redhead I'm impossible to miss in most situations. Umbrella's are unnecessary on group outings with me, just follow the hair! 
Over the years I've had a love-hate relationship with my colouring. Being teased occasionally at school wasn't much fun but my personality is and always has been ebullient enough to drown out the haters. Now I wouldn't be any other colour, I own it, love it and embrace it fully. 

And Emma is in fabulous company in the rocking reds club!

Who can complain about long legs either? My height has meant that when I carried a few (read about 20lbs) pounds of baby weight post pregnancy I carried it well. They also make walking up hills easier. 

Lastly I have a tiny waist. It even surprises me, I can't lie… I love it!

Flaunt - What do you wear to flaunt your best bits?

Redheads kind of get grouped into one big 'red' category which is crazy. There are so many different shades of red from the lightest strawberry blonde, through the coppers, to deepest auburn. Skin tones vary a lot as does eye colour. I am a natural copper/ auburn with the palest skin that will tan, but ever so slowly and blue almost grey eyes. Deep earthy tones of green, red, navy and brown suit my colouring and flatter both my skin tone and my hair.

Most natural redheads have to choose shades of red, yellow, orange and pink very carefully, pastels are easier to wear, particularly mint or pastels in the blue-green spectrum. My eyebrows and eyelashes are so fair they are barely visible without some careful tinting (my dear friends kindly named them my 'pig's bristles' this in spite of their engaging length). Pale eyebrows can be aging even on a relatively young face; so regular eyebrow and eyelash tints have been part of my beauty regime for years. The first time I had it done I felt like two furry caterpillars had taken up residence on my face, it was quite off putting but it makes such a difference to my appearance by framing my eyes and even helps to define my cheekbones by providing a counter point.

Making the best of long legs requires more thought than at first appears. A lot of moisturising goes into keeping my pins in tip top condition, waxing takes longer too! 

Mini-skirts can take on a tarty quality if not tempered with appropriate hosiery. I also have to choose trouser lengths carefully. A normal trouser length on me usually results in ankle swayers, a cropped pair and I'm in pedal pushers… A high waist is a wonderful way to elongate my proportions but can make the top half of my body seem under proportioned. I get around these issues by knowing my brands well, particularly denim brands. When I need to buy a new pair of jeans I will dedicate an entire weekend to finding the perfect pair, in the perfect size in the perfect colour.
My go to denim brand is '7 for all Mankind'. I also love Chloe when the price is right.

I make the most of my waist by belting it when appropriate, wearing shift dresses can look great but depends on the fabric. A light silk or jersey shift is perfect because it grazes my curves highlighting the shape underneath, a heavy jersey or cotton shift just sits like a shapeless sack and with little to no bust to perk up the look it's not a great look for me. Bandage or crossover dresses on the other hand are incredible for accentuating my waist and hips.

What is your go to piece/shape that always words for you?

You'd think it would be one of my many pairs of jeans because I spend a lot of time running around after my kids, but I don't think they are.
 I think the most hard working item in my wardrobe is my off white tulle midi-skirt. I wear it throughout the year irrespective of season, weather or event. It travels well because creases just fall out of the tulle.
 I love dressing it up with a little basque and heels or down with a chambray shirt and flat ankle boots. It's a provocative item of clothing, not always appropriate but it always garners flattering comments. 
It's a keeper!

What is your favourite piece in your wardrobe?

Oh this is not easy. Perhaps I'm too fickle to have a favourite piece; at the moment I am deep into a love affair with jumpsuits. I've only blogged one on Bella & Bear so far. It's a floral monochrome wide legged jumpsuit with an incredibly flattering v-neckline. 
I feel so glamorous when I wear it, like a 1940's film star gone rogue. The best thing is the length, it required no alteration and I can wear it with flats which is a plus for schlepping around on the London Underground.

What is your favourite accessory that you own?

At the moment it's my oversized Michael Kors watch. It's gold and shiny and reminds me of the man's watch my own mum has always worn. Thank heavens masculine tailoring remains current because I'm not ready to give up my manly watch in favour of a more dainty time piece.

What is your Style Mantra?

Oooh, do I have to pick one? I have so many! I guess the one that's always in my mind is the classic and overused 'dress the body you have, not the body you want'. For me though, this isn't just about choosing the right clothes for a particular shape, it's about about embracing and accepting every part of me for what it is as well as the journey my body has been through. 
A little self-love goes a long way and really does effect how you see yourself and when you're confident, it shines through. I also stick to this rule 
'if you don't love it in the shop, you'll hate it when you get home'
 (thank you Sandra Bullock in 'The Blind Side')  
Beware of those impulse buys!

Who is your Style Crush?

I have two style crushes. I love the laid back look that Alexa Chung sports with such ease. She's able to embrace any trend and give it her own twist without diluting the look or straying from her own flawless sense of style. It's no accident that she's the darling of the fashion world. 

Image from fashion.telegraph.co.uk/

The second is the author of Atlantic-Pacific, Blaire Eadie. What that women doesn't know about layering is not worth knowing. She's arguably responsible for the preponderance of 'arm parties' adorning the wrists of fashion bloggers everywhere. Her style encapsulates the demure elegance I strive for in my own outfits.

Image from whowhatwear.com

I hope you've enjoyed my interview for the *Cover Flatter Flaunt* series on Bex and the City. 
I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you'd like to check out my blog Bella & Bear here are the links:


  1. Oh my god! She is beautiful and I ❤ her hair! Oh to be tall! Wonderful post again bex I love it! X

  2. Thanks so much ladies!!!

    x x x