In her new book, The Art of Dressing Curves, celebrity stylist Susan Moses – who has styled Queen Latifah, Brandy and Britney Spears – shares her ultimate styling tips.
In a time when everyone is about expressing themselves, emphasising individuality and looking past ‘rules’, is there still space for a guide on how to dress?
Most definitely, and especially for the reasons you stated. Style has always been about self–expression and individuality. However, many women need guidance in understanding that proper under-dressing is the cornerstone of a polished appearance and a contributor to great style. This includes wearing a well-fitting bra, and shapewear if needed. Individuality is also best expressed when a woman wears the best silhouettes for her body type, and pieces that make her look good and feel great.
What should we look out for when it comes to basic tailoring?
When having clothes tailored all women should pay attention to sleeve, skirt, dress and pant length, not too long or short; and women with fuller curves should have clothing tailored for a great fit in the waist. A garment that fits well silhouettes your body. It is not too tight or too loose, both of which result in a sloppy appearance. Body type plays a significant role in the type of alterations a garment will need.
What one item should we avoid?
Every woman should avoid an ill-fitting bra. A bra that does not fit properly can contribute to a multitude of physical problems: everything from back, neck and shoulder pain to shoulder abrasions and bad posture. A good-quality bra, in the right size, creates clean lines, a polished appearance and makes the difference between woeful and wow!
What is style to you?
Style is personal. It is your statement to the world, through fashion, that says who you are. I love this quote by the legendary Oscar de la Renta: ‘Style is primarily a matter of instinct.’ I agree. It’s the sum of great pieces instinctually and purposefully worn together that totally allows you to be you.
What is the biggest styling mistake women make?
Attempting to wear every seasonal trend is a big style error. And wearing them all at once is the biggest. I encourage women to try different trends, and to remember everything is not for everybody. I strongly suggest making wardrobe additions organically. By this I mean choosing trends that fit into your already established style. For example, if your style is boho chic, then go for the latest boho trends. If the latest doesn’t work for you, continue to wear what you own and love.
What do you hope to achieve with your book?
I wanted to share my love for fashion, my belief in the importance of authenticity and confidence, and to provide styling advice to curvaceous women with full respect. I hope that readers are inspired by my story and the gorgeous images in The Art of Dressing Curves. And most importantly, I hope that every reader is inspired to try new looks they may have thought were out of reach and have fun getting dressed. The simple truth is that style is beyond size, and I hope my book makes every woman a believer.
What would you love to see change in the fashion industry? Or what would you love to see more of?
I would like a more democratised industry. I want to see larger size models on the runways and larger size clothing featured throughout the retail environment. I want the fashion media to let go of fictional beauty ideals and truly embrace diversity by regularly featuring women of all sizes and races in both editorial and advertising.
Do you think there is a shift in the way curvy women are treated not just by the fashion industry, but by society as a whole? Do you see this as a trend or as lasting change? Who/what do you think is driving this?
I do believe there is a shift in the way curvy women are being treated by society and I think it is going to be a forever change not a fleeting trend. I believe that women are accepting and realizing that they are in control of their own destiny. Women want to be respected for who they are and how they look. I believe the positive changes taking place in fashion and beauty are driving this shift, and the conductors of this awakening are the highly charged bloggers and women all over the world who are conversing via social media about the hot button issues.
There is a lot of pressure on celebrities to always look amazing. How do you deal with that pressure? And how do you help your clients deal with it?
I have always been pretty calm and I actually do my best work under pressure. I find the best way to deal with the pressure of expectation is to be prepared and organised. As for helping clients, along with preparation and organisation, there have been times when I’ve had to meditate and pray with them. Bringing my positivity to each situation helps get clients through those mega moments. Helping them identify their body types and teaching them how to dress accordingly also helps relieve some of the pressure of always being red-carpet ready.
If someone wants to hire a stylist or image consultant, what should they look out for?
I strongly suggest meeting with a stylist you are considering to make sure that there is good synergy. You want a stylist who asks questions about you, your likes and dislikes, is a good listener, and who understands your lifestyle and the wardrobe it requires. Styling is very personal so there must be mutual respect and positivity. A good stylist will help clients develop their own style rather than attempt to push their own personal style on to a client.
Who are your favourite designers for curvy women?
I have many. My favourite designers for curvy women are Michael Kors, Marina Rinaldi, Tadashi Shoji, Eileen Fisher, Elena Mirò, Fuzzi, Monif C., and Calvin Klein, to name a few. My favourite signature brands are those created by Lane Bryant, Evans of London, ASOS and SwimSuitsForAll. What is really exciting is that the industry is consistently growing.
What one item would you love to see disappear from women’s wardrobes?
Oversized shapeless T-shirts worn to the knees, with leggings…
What are your top 5 styling tips for curvy women?
- Make sure to always wear a bra that fits properly.
- Invest in shapewear that supports you where you need it most.
- Once you have identified your body type, dress to flatter it. Don’t attempt to camouflage your figure, or focus on looking thin. Celebrate your curves with beautiful clothes that make you feel great.
- Invest in great accessories. They really expand your wardrobe and help you express your style.
- Always remember this: life would be pretty dull without glamour. So when your day calls for a feathered boa, bright red lips or sequins trim to accent your personal style, go for it!