The virtual self – use an avatar to gain some perspective about your figure

An avatar is a great way to try on clothes without leaving the house.

Building your virtual self is a useful exercise even if – like me – you have no intention of buying any of the clothes featured. You can dress yourself up like a tressy doll and see what sorts of things might suit you without going to the time and trouble of actually trying stuff on and getting hot and sweaty in the process (ye gods, who enjoys this?). It also allows you to gain some objectivity because you see yourself full-on as it were, like you do in a photograph, rather than allowing you to focus on your ‘bad’ bits.

My virtual self is on My Virtual Model, which features clothing from H&M, Sears and Levis among others. You just type in your weight and height, along with another few statistics, upload a full-face picture, and you’re ready to play. My image ended up pretty accurate, as it happens. I’m slightly less broad shouldered than my avatar and I have chubbier knees, but otherwise it’s bang on. As you can see in these pictures, I cocked up the photo cropping, so I have a bit of a square head.

blog imageblog imageblog imageI was thinking about looking for a new dress for summer, but nothing featured looks right on me. This is the problem when you’re 5ft 1 and the clothes are designed for someone eight inches taller. Just look at that disaster in the middle – can’t imagine where I’d put my bra straps. Clothes like this are the reason why I got handy with a needle – patterns are way too large, waistlines hit in the wrong place, cuffs are too long, cropped pants end up at my ankle, jackets come to mid-thigh instead of mid-hip. Also, because I have what is laughingly called an hourglass figure, it’s absolutely crucial that my clothing delineates my waist or I appear like a solid block – tunics, long shirts, smock tops, loose dresses are not for me. And look at these terrible necklines – a woman of my age needs a bit more help than this, s’il vous plait.

As ever, even mucking about virtually, I found that I came back again and again to the kind of clothes I wear every day – simple flared or bootcut trousers and a fitted top with some neck interest. The top and jeans at bottom left are from H&M and I’d buy them if I didn’t already own shedloads of stuff just like this. But just for fun, and to illustrate a point, I dressed myself in some really bad clothes too.

blog imageHere (right) is a look that many middle-aged women wear which is a classic mistake – the full, long, gathered skirt and comfy top. Nothing makes a woman look frumpier. I chucked all my full skirts out a year or two ago in favour of shorter, flirtier options (and the reason back then was a photograph that made me look about two feet tall). As you get older, you MUST wear more body-conscious clothing if you want to look at all sexy. If possible, the top is even worse than the skirt: everything about it is wrong – it’s too voluminous, the sleeves are too short and wide, and it hits the body in the wrong place. Even trying on this clothing in real life would be a recipe for depression – you’d have to pig-out on cheesecake afterwards.

blog imageblog imageblog imagePlaying with your virtual image is also a good way to ‘try on’ different jeans styles. Here you can see here the difference between a flared leg jean, a skinny leg jean and a classic bootcut – the skinny leg jean in the middle doesn’t look bad (though in real life I’d I look like a pig on stilts, as does any woman who has hips or an arse – ie: most of us). But this style of jean accentuates you at your widest point, which is never a good idea. In a bootcut trouser, as seen in the chinos at right, the wider hem balances out your hips and bum – a much more flattering look, but the best option for me by far is the flared jean, from H&M.

I like the bag though. Red goes with everything and I need a new one for summer as my old one fell apart, so I might even treat myself to that…

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