When my favourite person in the world announced she was getting married (my ‘work wife’, my business buddy, my best friend), I was beyond thrilled.
After the giddy excitement of her engagement had sunk in, so did the fear of “oh-my-god, what-am-I-going-to-wear.” You see, we’re stylists, and if fashionistas were ever to be judged like gymnasts, then we are expected to get a perfect 10 every time.
At the hen night, in between belting out karaoke, there was much discussion amongst the hens about what we were going to wear. Obviously it’s all about the bride and what she’s wearing, but we all want to look our best for her (and for ourselves) on the big day. What struck me in these conversations was how we all have our body hang ups despite our differing shapes/sizes/ages. And even though I’m supposed to be the one with all the answers, I’m no exception.
I’ve spent my entire adult life feeling self-conscious about my upper arms. My slightly squidgy, pale, undefined triceps are a far cry from the tanned, toned triceps I covet of my arm crush Jennifer Aniston. My New Year’s resolution is annually consistent: ‘tone upper arms’. Yet despite my hang up, by the time summer makes an appearance all good fitness intentions have fallen along the wayside or into the bottom of a large glass of rosé.
Luckily, given our climate, there are fairly few occasions where I have to expose them. When I do, I’m either on holiday and too hot or tipsy to care or have learnt to position myself in photos with the most arm-flattering angle… Yes, there is such a thing. At a wedding though, all sense of composure is replaced by excited waving, hugging, dancing with your hands in the air, all likely to be captured in unflattering candid photographs.
So how do you dress this issue? I’ve learnt to play up my strengths and reveal the parts I’m happy with, which means covering the tops of my arms but showing off décolletage, lower arms, lower legs… basically showing off my slimmest parts. Off-the-shoulder, cold shoulder and bardot are my go-to shapes for hot days. Kimono style or sheer sleeves are also a fave. A summer trouser suit always looks chic as does a well-cut jumpsuit.
And yes, my 41-year-old self knows that this is a ridiculous and insignificant hang-up, given that I have two perfectly functioning strong, healthy arms, which carry my dead-weight son and the many bags us stylists cart around all day - but there it is, it’s my ‘thing’ and always has been.
What did I end up wearing to the most stylish wedding of the year? A pale pink/black polka dot ‘cold shoulder’ dress from River Island which provided just the right amount of arm coverage. The diaphanous fabric , while the perfect weight for the scorching heat, was a tiny bit too see through/slutty for me so I added a pink waist slip from Victoria’s Secrets. I felt stylish, subtlety sexy and more importantly comfortable. Everything you could ask for in a dress. Now, pass the rosé!
Shop the wedding shop edit
Gemma Shanley, One half of the Mothershoppers