At last – I know some of you have been asking me to cover new brands for women with curves for a long time. The thing is that because my year has been so busy with my new job, I haven’t been able to look beyond my own horizons for a while however I have two new brands to talk about today.
Like most women, I’ve collected all kinds of different friends over the years. The fabulously fashionable ones are all still down in London and I rely on them to keep me informed when something new is afoot. So when not one, but two, completely unconnected friends got in touch with me in the same week to say that there was a new brand that I absolutely had to look at, I knew it was something exciting. That brand is Hope, I mentioned it briefly a couple of weeks ago but now that I’ve had my first delivery I’m happy to talk more about it.
Hope has been launched by ‘one of us,’ Nayna McIntosh who is ex M&S and over 40. This is how she explains her reason for launching the brand: “creating Hope was about doing something to put right what many fashion brands and retailers are missing. It was about utilising my years of experience to create a brand for the 40 plus woman that is right for today. I have empathy with this woman because I am this woman, someone looking for garments to help.”
So, like many of us, Nayna is moving into the second half of her life and she has taken the brave move to launch this collection. She has convinced some of the biggest names in retail to back her including Stuart Rose and Steve Sharp who were the people I also worked with when I was at M&S and I know that convincing them is not an easy job.
Let’s look at the theory. The idea is that you define your basic shape using their sculpting foundation wear and then use layers that drape and flatter. I’m going to show you how it works – here I am in the foundation long sleeve top and the narrow stretch trousers – they are not intended to be worn like this, I am just putting this photo up here for your sake!
Foundation long sleeve top; Foundation narrow stretch trousers
The foundation wear is pretty miraculous, it’s a bit like wearing spanx in that it pulls you in and smooths you out. The good thing is that it is much more comfortable than spanx – you don’t get the uncomfortable ridges that cut in to you across your widest parts (or is that just me). It’s hard to describe the quality because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever worn before. It’s ponte but because it’s double knit it feels quite different – it’s obviously firmly elasticated but it’s so silky that the trousers and top slide on – there’s no contortionism involved.
So, once you have your foundation layer, the idea is that you use the next layer to disguise the parts you don’t like. Nayna explains the whole process like this
“As women become older their body shape changes – a biological fact that mainstream designers and retailers choose to ignore. The Hope Collection addresses this in an integrated way, firstly through its Foundation range that smooths, sculpts and shapes the body in a comfortable way. Technology plays a part in achieving this through a range of garments that help to flatter the silhouette yet they provide the flexibility and movement that you need to go about day to day living and working. Supplementing the Foundation range, the Hope collection then works to wrap, drape and flatter the body.”
Now, moving on to the flattering part, I am now obsessed with this image and I think that this jumper over the foundation layer would look amazing.
The collection also includes ponchos and wrap tops which I like. I’m quite fascinated by their theory of thirds, I’m not sure that it’s the definitive answer to all dressing but it does make sense as an approach if you have an area of your body that you don’t feel confident about. This is the theory:
“The Hope Collection has been designed building on the first principles of the Divine Proportion. The Divine Proportion is found in nature, science and art and represents the perfect balance of working in thirds. Hope has taken some of these learnings and applied them to how garments are designed. By dressing to the principle of thirds it can help to elongate the body making the silhouette look taller and slimmer, it’s all about proportion. All Hope garments are designed on a template of thirds to ensure they all work to the principles of the Divine Proportion.”
And here I am with the flattering layer on top of the foundation. It’s the most beautiful quality piece of knitwear, with a dark gold lustre. The whole outfit is incredibly comfortable and I think I’ll be wearing it on Christmas Day.
Hope isn’t a budget brand but bear in mind that 60 -70% of their pieces are made by small producers in the UK so not only are they a British brand but they’re also supporting British manufacturing. The rest of the collection is made in Italy and is sourced there for its quality.
Worn with Whistles Cornell pumps
Next year I’m hoping to work more with women over 40 who are launching their own businesses, I’m really keen to help women like us who are starting afresh in part two of their lives. It’s been great to see the launch of Finery (30% off until tonight), RachelWears and Hope – I really think we need to support these women if we are able to so that they can continue to develop ranges from our perspective. Have a look at Hope – the website is a bit slow and clunky but persevere, it’s going to be an interesting brand to watch over the next few months.
The second brand doesn’t have quite such a nice personal story to tell but it is an interesting proposition. It’s French and has just launched into the UK. It’s called Balsamik – again the website isn’t great to navigate, you need to set your currency to GBP before you start and sometimes the prices switch back into Euros which gets annoying. They focus on ‘morphologik’ – you can navigate via body shape (which they help you to identify) or by body issue such as ‘I am petite,’ ‘I have wide hips’ or ‘I have little belly’ (by which I think they mean ‘I have a little bit of a belly’ – you need to read everything with a French inflection to make it easier)!
As you look through, you will see that they cut the same items differently to flatter the body shape so you can find the same coat for a small bust or a large bust for example – which is exactly what I did. These are photos from soon after I got it – I’ve been planning to write this post for ages.
Balsamik house coat (not sure why they call it a housecoat – my Geordie mother-in-law calls her dressing gown a ‘housecoat’); worn with Autograph coated jeans, Mango tie-neck blouse (30% off until tonight), Clarks boots
The reason I like it is that they have adjusted the amount of fabric in the wrap to accommodate the smaller busted woman – this means that it doesn’t bulk up around my waist as much as most wrap coats do. Unfortunately they seem to have sold out of the larger busted version but petite is still available.
Balsamik coat worn with Boden high rise super skinny jeans; Whistles bistro top; M&S suede ankle boots
I assume that they make the same adjustments for wider hips / larger busts etc. I’m finding the longer midi length really good to wear after so long in above the knee coats, it works with skirts and trousers. The prices are very reasonable and as a result the quality seems to vary but again it is worth looking through the site, there are a few items that are unmistakable French staples.
So, I really hope this has helped introduce a couple of options for flattering the figure. As you know I was going to cover another brand that I went to visit a week ago but their photos still haven’t arrived – apparently they took more than 1,000 (it probably took them that many to get a decent shot of me)! So, I will include them in a post soon.
My week ahead is looking particularly frantic with our office Christmas party at the end of it. The big retailers all have their range selections coming up at the same time so, because I’ve created so many new ranges for Winter 16, my poor team now has over 300 mock up boxes to make by hand and have ready to send out by Friday. I’m doing my best to keep them motivated but chocolate and cake has already stopped working. I’m hoping there won’t be a mutiny – if you don’t hear from me for a while they’ve wrapped me up in double sided sticky tape and left me in the product development room! Roll on Christmas….
Recent posts you may have missed:
The best Christmas jumpers on the high street 2015
Relaxed Christmas party dressing
Christmas party dresses for women over 40
Christmas gifts for women over 40