So you want to trim your thighs, flatten your tummy and smooth your bottom?Bustier Cartoon

What you need is a good dose of  “Shapewear” to give you that cinched in waist. The only thing to watch out for is an attack of “muffin top”, as all that flesh has got to go somewhere., and you don’t want rolls of fat where none existed in the first place!

From personal experience with few exceptions shapewear knickers are best avoided for this very reason, so I suggest you go for a “body” instead.

There are now several ranges on the market that will lift and sculpt your profile and tame your tummy. Here are some of the best ( cheaper one’s first) :

  • M&S’s pretty, lacy Secret Slimming Waist Sculpt Waist Cincher is £22.50
  • Maidenform’s Flexees Weightless Comfort Full Slip in black or nude is fabulous at £40.00
  • Wolford’s Velvet Control Shorts High Waist gives a good smooth figure
  • M&S’s Secret Slimming Waist Sculpt Wear Your Own Bra Body at £29.50 works really well if you really need your own bra for a bit of ‘lift and separate’.
  • M&S have a brilliant range called Ultimate Magic Secret Support , which will flatten your stomach, lift your bottom and could slim you down a dress size, from £29.50
  • Maria Grachvogel’s Magic Pants are designed to lift the bum and at £475 are expensive but classic
  • Dmondaine’s Ginger Bodysuit costs £162.00, and their Marilyn full slip costs £170.00 from net-a-porter. Both have built in bra’s.
  • Grace&Wilde’s control slip in pale pink is amazing, but at £350 sadly so is the price.
  • Roland Mouret’s Mini Powermesh Slip Dress is the base of his body sculpting dresses and is a more reasonable £265 for the authentic Mouret look from Net-a-Porter 
  • Not Your Daughter’s Jeans will, whilst not the height of fashion, do a good job of flattening your tummy and lifting your bottom
  • TK Maxx Magic Pants are the bargain “Spanx pants” and they only cost £5.00
  • Wizard Jeans smooth the tummy and lift the bottom, for the “ultimate nip and tuck” and cost around £100 from www.wizardjeans.com

Spring Cleaning Your WardrobeCoat hangers

Most women have a nucleus of 25% of their wardrobe which gets worn 75% of the time, so a clear out means you can access the pieces you wear much more easily and identify the gaps that necessitate a new purchase!

Aim to sort and streamline your wardrobe each spring and autumn as you get the next season’s clothes and shoes out. Be ruthless, and unless they are timeless quality pieces (some clothes do have several lives!) give to charity (or sell on eBay) anything that does not make you feel good, that looks tired, or that you haven’t worn in years. Prime candidates are suits or dresses that you’ve kept because you spent a lot of money on them years ago, and shoes that were a bargain in the sales but you can’t remember when you last wore them.

So ask yourself:

  • do I look good in this?
  • does it flatter my shape?Shoes
  • will I realistically wear it  again?
  • when did I last wear it?
  • does the colour suit me?
  • is it too young for me now?
  • is it a classic?
  • is it completely out of fashion (padded shoulders!)?
  • would altering the hem line give  it fresh life?

A good friend can be really useful for this, and then you  can repay the favour. But beware – retro is very popular & fashion has a  habit of repeating itself.

Paying a professional to go through your clothes is  expensive, but actually good value – they will rejuvenate your wardrobe,  ruthlessly discard what doesn’t suit you, show you how to wear what you have to  maximum effect and identify key items to buy that will complement what you have  already.

For an e boutique site full of storage ideas and useful products to make clothes storage more efficient go to Total Wardrobe Care.

Or you could go “Swishing” It’s a relatively new event for getting ladies together to swap their unwanted  but good quality clothes. What you think of as last season someone else will  regard as having classic style. You have to take at least one item of good  quality clean clothing or an accessory that you would be pleased to wear but  now want to hand on. Your items are graded & exchanged for vouchers and  then you begin to browse.You can set up a group yourself or visit one.

Designer Alterations will alter hemlines, waistlines or even copy a favourite dress.

Bargain Designer LabelsHandbag

Outlet stores

Outlet stores that are great for bargain price samples and end of season sales include:

  • Bicester Village in Oxfordshire between Birmingham and Oxford. Parking is free, but you need to get there early, and it offers a huge array of fashion’s big names – Ralph Lauren, YSL, Marni, Anya Hindmarsh, 7 For All Mankind, Armani, Bally Aquascutum – about 130 luxury brands in all. The Ralph Lauren store in particular has great value men’s clothes. It never feels particularly crowded, and whilst it is a bargain hunt the environment and the service offered by the sales assistants in all the shops make the whole thing a pleasurable experience.
  • If you are staying anywhere near Florence then about 30 minutes drive from the city ( bus and train access from the city centre) are two places for amazing bargains. First is Lo Spaccio ( The Space) the official Prada outlet in Montevarchi. As well as aisles and aisles of Prada you will also find Jil Sander, Helmut Lang, Churches shoes and Miu Miu at up to 70% off. The second outlet is the much larger  “Mall”, Gucci’s official outlet store in Leccio Reggello where apart from half price Gucci you will also find bargain Armani, Stella McCartney, D&G, Salvatore Ferragamo, YSL and Valentino. It is set out in village style,  each designer has their own store, so browsing is relaxing.

Bespoke evening and day wear at reasonable prices

Susie Stone ‘s small boutique workshop lies in the heart of London’s chic Bermondsey. Having opened in late 2010, Susie already has a group of loyal followers who go to for her bespoke, elegant, figure flattering handmade evening and day dresses. Susie stocks an off the hanger range (non-unique pieces), bespoke dresses based around a capsule of designs (you choose material and embellishments) and provides her design service based on your own ideas. The atmosphere in Susie’s store is incredibly friendly and there’s no feeling of intimidation or obligation so feel free to just wander in and take a look. Susie will be the first to welcome you. Whilst you are there, she makes the experience wholly enjoyable and involves you in every part of the design process, matching your wishes and figure with the design and material. Whether it’s a dress for you, your daughter or your mother Susie Stone has something for you which will remain a unique item with your own personal touch. You need to make an appointment if you wish to have a full consultation (all details on her website).

Designer Sales

The Designer Warehouse Sales offer 5 men’s and 5 women’s sales each year. There are also two Nicole Farhi sales (May & December) and one Ghost sale each year. They are held at 5-6 Islington Studios, Thane Works, Thane Villas, London N7 (behind Kings Cross) Tel 020 7697 9888.

Sample Sales is a web site that gives you all the designer forthcoming sample sales which really do offer fantastic bargains. For some you will need tickets , and for others just the ability to focus in on a ruthless pursuit of what you want.

Sign of the Times is a dress agency shop in Elystan Street , London SW3 near South Kensington tube, where you can buy barely worn designer clothes, shoes and bags at a fraction of the original price.

Mulberry usually hold a sample sale each June at their New Bond Street, Westbourne Grove and Brompton Road stores, when prices are heavily discounted by about 50%. You need to apply at one of there stores to go on their mailing list for tickets as they are often by invitation only.

Here are some other useful sites that you might want to register with:

www.theoutnet.com is a sister site to Net-a-Porter and sells well known labels at up to half price

www.asos.com/outlet is the discount site for Asos and sells high street names

www.brownsfashion.com is the store’s discounted site for out of season clothes

www.designersales.co.uk holds regular sales in Brighton and London of established and new brands

www.dwslondon.co.uk offers big reductions on famous designer clothes every two months

www.yoox.com offers huge discounts on designer labels

www.brandalley.com has big discounts on a constantly changing range from end of season well known designer brands plus heavily discounted goods from quality suppliers such as Crabtree & Evelyn and Parks Candles, so it can be a useful source of presents and easy Christmas shopping. Its easy to use as they only offer goods from about 10 suppliers at one time so you don’t have to trawl through pages and pages

www.shopittome.com If you can’t be bothered to do the searching yourself, this site offers a service where you give them your size and preferences, and they will give you a “best selection” from the outlet sites

www.asos.com is the UK’s largest on line-only fashion outlet with over 30,000 branded items on sale

www.my-wardrobe.com offers mid range designer wear and the cheaper lines from the big designers labels