Monday, February 28, 2011

Body Frames: A Balancing Act

The inimitable Coco Chanel said “Fashion is architecture: it’s a matter of proportions,” so while my size (and budget) bars Chanel labels from my closet; Chanel wisdom thrives there. Proportion is about understanding your body frame, leading to my concept of Fade and Focus which will help you pick flattering, fashionable items every time you shop.

Your frame is the basic shape of your body, the size of one body part compared to others, regardless of how much you weigh. Did you know that your body frame can be likened to the shape of a diamond? So, why not call yourself, “a round diamond?” I do.

Pear Shape Diamond

Smaller through the arms, shoulders and breasts, however, has wider hips, tush, thighs and calves.

Balance wide hips by inserting a small shoulder pad your top.

Heart Shape Diamond

Broad and full through the arms, shoulders and ribcage, however, narrows through the hips, thighs, and legs.

Use dark, muted colors on top and bold shades or patterns on the bottom.

Marquise Shape Diamond

Thinner arms, shoulders, hips, tush and legs, however, has a full tummy.

Wear tops that are fitted through the arms and shoulders and fall into an A-line - interesting patterns through the tummy can actually distract from puffiness.

Round Shape Diamond

Round and full through the arms, shoulders, back, tummy, hips and thighs, however, has a noticeable waist and shapely legs. If you’re confused about which diamond shape you are – if you’re curvy but proportionate - and have a waist, this is your frame.

Wear dresses and skirts that hit the bottom of your knee to show off shapely legs.

Emerald Shape Diamond

Wide and full from the shoulders and arms through the hips, thighs and legs and has no appreciable indentation at the waist. If you’re confused about your frame – and you’re proportionate but straight up and down, this is your frame.

Wear items that that have gentle curvy lines embedded through cut or pattern.

Stop hiding behind your clothes. Wear sleeker items where you can to promote a shapely, smart silhouette. Not being aware of your shape causes the biggest mistakes and wastes money. Knowing which diamond you are, however, is the beginning of manufacturing the silhouette you seek, consistently.

If you’re still unsure, Ask Babe…”Am I a marquise or a round shape diamond?”

Send in photos of yourself, which I’ll post on the site to help you and others determine your diamond, and I’ll suggest some styles that will complement too!


Monday, February 21, 2011

GIVE-AWAY! What I Look For In An Anchor Piece


I love this pink jacket! This jacket is a great example of an anchor piece, it is also what I call a go-to item, and they often overlap.

I look for three things in an anchor piece:

  1. It has the muscle to be the backbone of many outfits, and can reach across the different facets of my lifestyle: casual, career and special occasion.
  2. It is a go-to item, it flatters every time.
  3. Its coloration and fabrication make it easy to identify the right accessories.

Here’s why the Sparkle Stretch Knit Jacket, which I’m wearing in this video, works for me.

  1. It has the muscle to work with one of my three signature looks: the long, uninterrupted column of black underneath (tank top and skirt or slacks,) giving me casual, career and dressy options. It will also work with a white lace tank top and jeans.
  2. It is cut well and the fabric drapes lean but doesn’t cling: flattering princess seaming, vertical lines of detail (seams and buttons) both of which are emphasized by leaving the jacket partially open.
  3. The fabric is shot with a gold metallic thread so I know that gold jewelry will accessorize well and the pink color flows right into the coordinating print floral scarf, which together, polish the outfit.

An anchor piece doesn’t have to be a jacket, but let’s consider these top pieces for now, each one could be a go-to item:


Ulla Popken is pleased to give away your choice of one of these items to the first ten bloggers to respond to All we ask in return, is you review the product and share your review within 30 days. It's that simple. Reviews should be sent to We'll post the reviews on Talking It U.P.

In the meantime, we'd love to hear from you. Please post what you look for in an anchor piece or any questions you may have regarding this topic.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Strategic Black and Other Comfort Zones

Imagine standing in front of your closet still half asleep and instinctively knowing what to reach for, when you need an outfit that will make you feel pretty and confident in a snap. Reach for strategic black: You know this outfit will work every time – that’s what I call a comfort zone!

Strategic Black requires that you know yourself. What part of your body do you want to accentuate and what part do you want to minimize? Strategic Black, using black (or deep muted) coloration in a flat matte jersey (or similar fabrication) to minimize AND bursts of color or interest (within the garment, outfit or accessories) to focus attention. If it’s all black, it may be spectacular, but it’s not “strategic” - every wardrobe has room for both!

Especially after the holidays, life is just easier when you have identified at least two strategic black outfits for each occasion of your lifestyle – casual, career and special occasion. There should never be a time when you feel frustrated because you have “nothing to wear.” Here are a few easy examples of strategic black:

Strategic Black within the Outfit:

Strategic Black within the Item:

  • Moody Blue Batik Tunic (Choose this tunic to draw attention to the neckline and chest and soften a larger tummy, hips and thighs.)

Strategic Black Questions answered here!!

Using Strategic Black is the beginning of understanding your body frame and how to achieve the illusion of balance and harmony. If you have questions about how to make Strategic Black work for you, all you have to do is ask!


Sunday, February 06, 2011

Muzzle the Scale: Empowerment is Not a Number

The title of this week's blog was inspired by the work of Geneen Roth, author of Women Food and God.

"You're sailing along in life, feeling pretty good about everything, even your body. No, it isn't perfect, but it is yours and it's doing what it's supposed to do - mowing the lawn, ironing your skirt, playing baseball with the kids. Then you get on the scale. You weigh more than you thought you did, and within a nanosecond, the scary voice in your mind begins to rant: 'You're fat, you're a failure, you don't deserve to feel good about anything!' Suddenly everything that was right before you stepped on the scale is wrong."

What's wrong with this picture? The number on the scale says how much you weigh but not who you are, where you stand, what you achieve, how you love - or even, how good you look. Perhaps these are the benchmarks that matter. When you think of phenomenal women, I doubt the scale is a relevant tool of assessment at all. I doubt they are putting their life on hold weighting for the scale to reflect a lower number before living their life to the fullest.

What makes some women phenomenal? How do some women manage to get it all done? Anais Nin said, "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."

Ulla Popken is proud to put the spotlight on inspirational women through our new video blog series called Living It U.P. These phenomenal women are role models who help each of us muzzle the scale!

In our first video, The Sky's the Limit, meet model Julie Henderson and our first Living It U.P. phenomenal woman, Yvonne Baldwin. Very inspiring! Thank you, Yvonne!

If you know a special woman, like Yvonne, who is Living It U.P. , please nominate her, by March 14, 2011. Nominations can be made for someone else or yourself. The next selection will be made in April. We will shoot the video in May and post it on this site in June. In the meantime, please share your personal stories of inspiration with us, right here, at Talking It U.P.


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Rockin' the Red Dress

For the last 50 years, the movie industry has been captivated by a woman in red. For good reason: there's something about a red dress, especially on Valentine's Day, that can really rev up your star power.

My secret to rockin' a red dress is threefold:

1. Choose hosiery and heels (even a kitten heel) in the same coloration to lengthen and narrow your silhouette, black with black, nude with silver or gold. If you are a person of color, choose pewter or bronze. You want your shoes to match your skin tone as closely as possible.

2. Select sexy, feminine accessories like an evening bag or bold jewelry. Choose accessories that are bold and significant enough for women of our stature.

3. Wear a firm, full-length slip underneath. The slip should be fitted through the bust and drape snuggly from a high, empire waist, and that will help create a flattering shape, smooth out bumps for an overall toned quality. Did I mention the color? Black. The texture? Satin. And that will take care of the rest of the evening!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Red Surplice Tieback Stretch Knit Dress
Red Stretch Knit Velvet Surplice Dress
Red Matte Jersey Gathered Maxi Dress
Camel or Black Open Toe Sling-Back
Bronze or Black Sling-Back
Carol for Eva Graham Jet Bead Necklace