Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ready to Alter – turning fashion frustration into a fashion label!

I am thrilled to have Eula Graham, the Designer and Director of Natasha Rais, guest posting today. Eula is giving some great tips on dressing a curvy body. Next week, we will also have a Natasha Rais giveaway. You won't want to miss it?

The story has always been the same – if a garment fit OK at my waist it was too tight at the hip, or vice versa, or a little bit of both.

I’d already unwittingly adopted the mantra of many stylists and bloggers – ‘don’t buy it unless you love it’ – which is great advice, but for me it reached a point where I didn’t purchase anything for more than 12 months!

I even tried dieting, but ended up with the same problem in a smaller size, and realised I couldn’t change where my bones sat – I was stuck with wider hips than “standard size”.  A relief – I really missed cheese, wine and chocolate during that spell.

Sick of sacrificing fit, style and quality because I couldn’t find clothes with the right fit, and finding shopping always resulted in “Why the #@%# doesn’t anything fit me?!”, I decided I had to do something about it.

First, I took my measurements, and started comparing them to size guides on all the brands I liked, but didn’t fit into properly.  This information wasn’t available in the pre-digital age, and was enlightening.  I extended the research to any brand that published a size guide, both in Australia and internationally, from high-end to low-end and everything in between, until I’d reviewed over 100.

What did I learn? Well, the majority of the brands catered to less curvy body shapes like a column or slightly curvy column. Those of us with more shape – pears, hourglasses, skittles and vases – didn’t get much of a look in, and that means that most of the time we have to sacrifice proper fit at either the waist or the hip – or both.  For us, ‘ready to wear’ is more like ‘ready to alter’.

I then discovered a study by North Carolina State University on body shape that found almost 50 per cent of women are Column shaped… *light bulb moment*.  I realised that most brands are catering to the Column shape because it’s the majority.  The rest of us are left with 1) accepting poor fit, 2) spending time and money on alterations, or 3) being limited to styles that might fit, but might not flatter, and don’t always match our tastes.

So, I created my new label Natasha Rais, to solve the problem for me and others like me.

For now, we are focused on tailoring because I always had the most trouble finding quality pieces, at the right price and with the right fit, that are appropriate for the office.

My tips for dressing a curvy frame in an office-appropriate way are:
  • Clothes should skim your silhouette, not cling; don’t rely on stretch in a fabric for fit.
  • Spend a little more for a quality investment piece - you’ll wear it all the time (cost / times worn = cost per wear; the lower the cost per wear, the higher the value for money).
  • Emphasise your waist – the moment you lose your waist, you may look and feel larger than you are, because of your wider hipline.
  • Balance your top half / bottom half proportions; there are a few ways to do this, but why not try metallic/shiny fabrics (one of this season’s trends) on your top half.  The shine reflects light, causing an optical illusion of appearing larger.  USE WITH CAUTION: shiny + skin tight = not so flattering; look for styles with a little volume, and show off that waist – tuck the top in or wear a belt.
  • On your lower half, don’t add volume - find styles that skim from the waist to the hip line, and if you like A-line, flare from that point.  Boot cut pants do a similar job to A-line skirts in balancing the hip line.

Above all, make sure you feel comfortable – whether your preference is for straight, tapered or A-line silhouettes, wear what you feel good in regardless of “the rules” and the confidence will shine through. 

Having spent years struggling to find ready-to-wear items that fit properly off the rack, Eula Graham set out to understand why she couldn’t find the clothes that best suited her body. With her corporate IT career now well behind her, Eula is the Director and Designer of niche fashion label, Natasha Rais. Visit for more information.

Thank you Eula.


  1. I'm curious, where did the label's name "Natasha Rais" come from?!

  2. Hi Janet, the name is from my family heritage...

  3. Fabulous idea! I'm an hourglass without a waist - I think probably a vase is my best description. I have had great difficulty finding clothes over the years. For a long time, my hips were an 8 and my waist was a 10 but my bust was well up the alphabet but with a 10 back.

    Now that I'm nearly 40, I've got thighs and whilst I'd prefer my 22 year old legs, I can appreciate that I'm much more in proportion now. I'm much more of an hourglass now.

    The research you've done is really interesting and makes a lot of sense. My trouble often is that if something fits around the waist, it's too big in the hips and vice versa. I'm so sick of gape in the back of my tops and dresses. Bigger bustlines don't necessarily mean wider backs either.

    Definitely checking out Natasha Rais!

    1. There are so many body types out there. I would definitely prefer my 20yo one too but I know how to dress this one better :)