By JASMINE CUNNINGHAM.
OK, so we’ve heard enough about Julia Gillard, our current Prime Minister (cough-cough), and her sizeable list of fashion slip-ups. It seems that her “ugly assassination”-style rise to power, as Mr. Abbott so passionately put it, tossed our brand new P.M out of the ‘commoner’ storage area and straight onto the fashion stage into an enormous spotlight that’s blinded her already!
How could we forget that gorgeous see-through white self-stripe shirt or those mono-tonal crew neck tees that make it impossible to distinguish fabric from flesh. Or her super duper oversized man-style suits, which mostly appear to be way too short in the leg.
With a long list of fashion-savvy world leaders and women of power to compete with, does our Julia have what it takes? Nothing a clothing allowance and a decent stylist wouldn’t fix, hey Julia? Especially when our Governor-General got a one-off ‘additional benefit’ of $28,000 to make herself look spiffy. Julia my advice to you is: beg for your silly benefit darling… please!
So I couldn’t make it to the Australia’s Next Top Stylist For Our Prime Minister auditions… never fear… I really needed to stay here and make sure our local politicians weren’t subject to the same whirlwind of scrutiny re: wardrobe choices. So I enrolled Jennifer Lowe, one of our local councillors in the Quick Guide To Style course (as it was literally VERY quick) which took her out of her regular ‘pollie’ style wardrobe and into a more fashion-forward, but still sophisticated, look.
Ahh… Jennifer with her document and policy folder (or is that my empty petty cash folder?). Must say, still looking fabulous here in a casual but classy coat with a nice slim leg pant, some comfy ballet flats and… what is that I can see? A hint of colour on your tee-shirt? See, politicians can wear colour!
The newest trend that we'll be seeing a lot of in the coming seasons is the ankle grazer slim leg pants and cropped denims. These lengths work well with both flat and heeled shoes and can be worn casually or dressed up, particularly if you opt for dark denim.
Onto the next outfit Jen….
Here we can see Jennifer in a fashion-forward key trend for this season - shoulder pads.
I love shoulder pads in jackets as they really do flatter even the broadest of shoulders, particularly when the jacket is shaped and tapered around the waist. A great look for day or night. Put on a studded or embellished ballet flat for a day look and switch to a higher heel for evening.
We were aiming for more of an evening look when piecing this outfit together and to prove that tall gals still look fabulous in heels....
Jennifer ditched the ballet flats for a ‘leg slimming’ heel... all 12 centimetres of them!
Even though the old ‘wide-leg pant’ (culotte style) is making its way back into designer ranges and forthcoming trends, you simply cannot underestimate what a slim leg pant and tailored jacket can do for your shape. Note to Julia: ditch the oversized jacket with the oversized pant combo. It does nothing for the figure.
Oooh look out - it’s the same jacket but teamed with a dress this time.
Well done Jen! I love the empire line and embellishment on this dress. Some great shapes to work with while flattering your figure.
Loving the ankle boots - another key trend this season. If you are looking to invest in an ankle boot, the heeled variety adds more length whilst giving the illusion of a slimmer leg. And who said David Copperfield was the master of illusion?
Now the same dress can be worn with a few different jackets for a more versatile look.
This style of jacket has been featured many times on Sex & The City and even though faux fur is an essential wardrobe item when living in new York (as it gets to minus 1 billion degrees there!), we don’t have to discount the idea here in Australia. In fact, I think it should be racing for top spot in the essential Warrnambool wardrobe items as the weather has done nothing for our tans of late.
Now, trench coats are a must-have in any wardrobe. They come in various shapes sizes, fabrics and colours and have made their way back into both summer and winter collections for the upcoming seasons. I love the versatility of the humble trench as it can be worn so many different ways. Here we see a basic black trench with a small swing skirt shape.
...and again in full view....
It's worn here as a dress with a basic black opaque stocking and a nice heel. The trench can work for you as a jacket to throw on over an outfit or as a single garment itself, although if you decide to go with the latter I would encourage you to put on a slip!
If it’s a smaller silhouette you are after, then placing a simple belt around your waist can work wonders.
Waisted belts are great for adding shape to your outfit. In the shots above, we have opted for neutrals but don’t be scared to experiment with colour. Bright colours are key features in looks that we are seeing from global fashion week expos, particularly reds, oranges and purples.
Another great way to add colour is to keep the outfit simple and add a bold patterned clutch or handbag.
Alternatively you can go for a dress that speaks volumes in terms of colour. Remember black is a safe and respectable choice but it is not always the best choice. Here's Jennifer showing off a vibrant purple-blue toned asymmetrical dress.
The dress in question does not taper in at the waist nor is it black. What does help is the way the color is blocked into vertical sections which actually chops the body in half.
I get tired of hearing people say they don't want to try on dresses with no shape as they look too ‘maternity’. Again, like buying any good pair of denim jeans, you never know what wonders it might do for your figure, so always try, try, try it on!
We did not leave out the weekend casual look either and although Jen is not a fan of track pants, information that she so eagerly volunteered, I did not want to her to go without a suitable substitute.
Not often a ‘skinny leg’ jean wearer, Jennifer was most impressed with the shape this ensemble gave her. Again - try, try, try it on. Here we can see that the ankle grazer length jean looks terrific especially when worn with a ballet flat for a casual look.
Many quotes from the famous styling duo Trinny and Susannah and Queer Eye’s Carson Kressley are used on me all the time. “Carson said that I have to go for a boot leg jean because it balances out my figure”... well guess what? Carson was so 2005 and Trinny and Susannah are not here to see your figure! I wonder if Julia would consider a skinny jean.
Politicians can exude style, they can have casual days, they can wear skinny jeans and make them work and they are allowed to wear colour, Ms Gillard! There are countless options even for our auburn-haired friends - purples, plums, green hues and even some reds look fabulous on the fairer skin tones.
Now I’m not professing to be the world’s best stylist by any means, nor have I taken Jennifer into an unrealistic style for her position, but simple changes can make such a difference to your wardrobe and appearance and you don’t have to spend a fortune either.
All of the outfits seen on Jennifer were by Australian designers, many of whom showcased their new season looks at fashion week runway shows.
So Ms Gillard, you see, mono-tones, sloppy tees, oversized jackets and nana’s quilted bed-throws do not have to feature in your Prime Ministerial fashion show. Leave those looks in the ‘deputy’ cupboard and go get your wardrobe bonus.
And with a bit of luck your new stylist will impart a little Dress Sense>.
* Jasmine Cunningham is the manager/buyer for Mix It Up and Mixture Boutique in Warrnambool.