gemmacartwright_columnshot.jpgGemma Cartwright writes...

As a woman who has constantly struggled with fluctuating weight, trying all the diets, exercise regimes and quick fixes in the book, I was interested to hear that Debenhams and Weight Watchers were calling upon the talents of TV presenter and stylist Louise Roe to pull together a capsule wardrobe that would work for women losing weight.

This is not a set of specially designed items - instead Louise was let loose with Spring / Summer stock, choosing pieces that are supposed to "specifically meet the needs of women attempting to shed pounds."

By that, they mean they're transitional, easily adaptable as your weight changes, aiming to stop women having to constantly buy 'interim' clothing to fit as they battle towards their target weight. It was also about educating store staff about the kind of clothes that will work with an ever-changing figure, so they can advise without patronising customers or pushing them into tent-like black clothing all the time.

So here is the collection (minus one item, I'll get onto that in a minute...)


Let's tackle the obvious first. When I'm on a weight loss plan, the last thing I'm thinking to myself is "wow, I really need a big cocktail ring that works with my diet" or "if only I had a pair of green wedges to see me through these trying times." But I guess the point of the collection is that it's complete, right down the accessories - you can buy these things, mix and match, and you don't have to think too much about what goes with what (though I still don't quite get the green wedges with all that blue).

Weight Watchers have really gone to town with this, roping in brilliant bloggers like Tor to style up the items to provide inspiration, and while I think Tor has done a brilliant job and I really admire the effort that has been put into the collaboration, I still feel that the actual choices are missing the mark at times.

Firstly, most of the ranges these items come from go up to around a UK 18, which doesn't really give much scope when it comes to sizes. Some items, like the dark blue dress, are exactly the kind of thing I relied on when losing weight - stretch jersey that works a tiny bit tight and a tiny bit loose, to allow for the fluctuations. I also like the mac - while yellow's not my colour, a belted coat like this is brilliant as it'll see you through two or three dress sizes if you're lucky.

But from there is gets a lot worse. What the hell are these?!


Losing weight is tough enough as it is. Doing so when you're advised a pair of pale coloured, shiny, crease-prone palazzo pants with an strange waist and baggy shape is your best sartorial choice is the road to disaster. Palazzo pants are a nightmare to wear at the best of times, make them a strange shade of beige and you've just make it a hundred times harder. Whether you like them or not, they're hardly the easy to wear pieces that are needed when your body is changing at a rapid rate!

Of course, it's all well and good to pick fault, but could I do any better? With years of experience, trying to wear stuff that's either a bit too big or a bit too small as my weight changes, what tricks and tips have I learned?

Well, for me it's all about stretch, draping and classic cuts. I would advise choosing things that have a bit of give and will look ok a bit loose, or with frills or draping that hide the actual fit of the garment a bit. I also think it's important to avoid too much black - a good black blazer is a must for me (one designed to be worn open means it'll never be the 'wrong' size) but I also think people should have fun with a bit of colour! Here's my attempt at a capsule weight loss wardrobe using Debenhams' current stock.

Do you think I did any better than Louise Roe?


Red printed jersey wrap dress £15
Navy colourblock shirt dress £45
Black draped blazer £45
Dark yellow ruffled front shell top £35
Black elasticated lizard belt £9.50
Tan cross vamp wedge sandals £60
Grey, red and yellow sketched flower tulip skirt £38
Beige butterfly detail ballet flats £18
Bright red peplum top £20
Dark wash stretch bootcut jeans £25