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Part 2. Styling tips from Anne Benshaw

Auckland based personal stylist, Anne Benshaw (Bio linked below) has a passion for helping women look and feel fabulous. EA Inc. and Anne will be partnering for an event in the New Year to bring you a not to be missed personal branding session. In the mean time, to tide you over, Anne has shared some wardrobe and trend tips with us. Read on to find out more....

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Part 2: Trends: What's in fashion this season

So, what’s in fashion for this season??? This is a question I often get asked and it really bothers me. It does not bother me that people might think I have a wee crystal ball in my wardrobe. I actually research overseas trends and the International Fashion Weeks really closely, so it is quite easy to predict trends and have an idea of what we are going to see in our stores for the coming season. Rather, this question bothers me for the simple fact that just because an item is “in fashion” doesn’t mean it suits us or that we should invest our hard earned money in the latest trend!!

I am a big believer in working out your body shape and wearing whatever suits our shape best. Knowing your colour profile and mostly sticking to colours in it. And finally, understanding what your style personality is. So, when I see a client who is a soft spring/warm complexion, classic pear, or triangle shape (a smaller top half and heavier bottom half), wearing an “in fashion” minidress in bright clear colours, I know we have some work to do.

Power to anyone who wears what they like and doesn’t care. However, for most of my clients they want to wear clothes that suit them and most importantly clothes that make them look and feel good. Putting workplace rules or guidelines aside there is something infinitely powerful in knowing you have a wardrobe full of clothes that suit you making it easier to get dressed for anything life throws at you. Most of us have friends who always look well dressed. They just have something that makes you think (or better yet say) “you look amazing”. These are typically the women (and men) who know their best clothing shapes, colours and express a consistent style vibe. I have clients who have bought exactly the same pieces of clothing one of their well-dressed friends owns only to find out it looks terrible on them. It is usually because they have shopped outside their style personality.

Let’s look at each of these sections in a bit more depth:

Body shape.

Apples, pears, triangles, rectangles whatever you call the 5 basic body shapes they are the same thing. Some people have bigger top halves, or bottom halves, some people have no waist while others have fabulous hourglass figures. If you dress to suit your body shape your clothing will flatter the good bits and hide the “other bits”.

source: Pinterest

Above is an image from Pinterest that I pull out all the time. It clearly shows the different body shapes. Just while we are on the subject of Pinterest there are sooooo many great articles about dressing for your body shape which you can research. If you are interested have a look and I’ll see you back here is 4-5 hours!!

Simply put the most visually pleasing body shape is an hourglass. Where you have shoulder and hip measurements that are similar, and you have a waist measurement that is at least 10% smaller than your shoulders or hips. The hourglass figure is the easiest to dress. It is also the shape that we try and achieve, with clothing when you have one of the other body shapes. So, if you are a pear or triangle body shape (small top larger bottom), you are best to wear slimmer and darker items on your bottom half. Add to this lighter colours and shoulder defining pieces on your top half will create balance and the visually pleasing proportions between your shoulders and hips. Take a look at these images:

source: Pinterest

While most of this is about balance we are also starting to touch on proportion (length of your tops, length of your pants and so forth). I already know some of you will be nodding your heads and racing to open a Pinterest page as we speak while others will be wondering what you will be cooking for dinner… too much info, too technical. So, at this point I’d say research if you are interested or book in with a stylist and never risk buying something that doesn’t suit you again!


Oh, it is a colourful world!! Most of you will gravitate to some colours and dislike others. Generally, I’ve found a lot of people love the colours they look good in. And let me assure you; if you get your colour system right it is like walking around with your most flattering filter on your phone. Once again this is a HUGE topic. I’ve been to many, many colour courses and worked with a large number of people and I know how powerful colours can be. There is also an emotional aspect to colour. I’ve had clients who suit a colour, but they reject it because their mother always use to make them wear it or it was their school uniform colour, and they didn’t love school. Suffice to say colour can be powerful and tricky. Mostly people will tell you if something looks great. Generally, comments like I love that top come out because that colour suits you. People also love colour. In New Zealand where there is a national obsession with black wearing colour can be fun and frightening.

While I have been trained in a 12-colour palette system you can essentially think of colours in 3 groups. Warm, cool, and neutral. While there are warm and cool blues, green, yellows and so forth, I’m sure you get the idea of warm and cool tones. When starting to assess a person’s colour category we look at skin tones. Described succinctly by “If the base tone of your skin is yellow or gold, you have warm undertones. Cool: If you see hints of blue, pink, or red, then you have cool undertones. Neutral: If there's a mixture of both warm and cool hues, or your undertone is the same colour as your actual skin colour, then you fall into the neutral category.” While the best way to find out your colour system is to consult a stylist. However, trying on warm and cool clothes to see which you like best in is a great start. If your skin looks healthy, blemishes become recessive, and you look like you have applied a bit of lipstick generally that's the right colour for you. Again, Pinterest is a great source of information but a bit like treating Facebook as a news source be wary!

Find your vibe find your tribe:

I work with 7 style personalities. Classic, Natural, Elegant, Sexy, Romantic, Creative, Dramatic. Most people know which personality describes their style. And of course, we are typically a mixture of 1 two or 3 personalities. Someone who is natural is a bit of a “jeans and t” person, they are not big into accessories and love simple clothing. Our romantic girlfriends love frills, florals and lace, clothing doesn’t have to be revealing but they feel suffocated by a sharp black suit! Our dramatic friends are definitely noticeable in the office, they are in the “more, bigger, bolder, colour clashing is better” team!! The trick is not in defining your predominant style personality is but making sure your clothes are consistent with it. When I am clearing out a wardrobe, I will often find the pieces that are on the “get rid of” pile can be inconsistent with the client’s style vibe. I will usually find they have been gifted the pieces or brought them when shopping with a friend. If you stay with collating that fits within your 2-3 style personalities, you will generally have a consistent wardrobe.

In summary don’t ask what is in fashion, ask what suits me. Try trends by all means but if you aren’t sure about them don’t choose to try a trend on an investment purchase. Buy a seasonal item which doesn’t break the bank. Don’t be led by what everyone else is wearing, work out what suits you and own it! if there is a predominance of clothes or colours in store that don’t work for you (like our recent obsession with lilac or army green) then don’t buy. Use this time to upgrade your basics. No one I’ve met has endless funds or endless hanger space in their wardrobe and some of the biggest wardrobes I’ve seen haven’t been the best organised. Make your wardrobe work for you.

Anne Benshaw Stylist


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