Behind the scenes at St Albans Fashion Week

Mary Bates in the cathedral catwalk show at St Albans Fashion Week

Mary Bates in the cathedral catwalk show at St Albans Fashion Week - Credit: Archant

I am very proud to have been asked by St Albans Fashion Week to walk the catwalks for the glamorous wedding show at Hatfield House and the fabulous finale show at St. Albans Cathedral, showcasing clothes from John Lewis in Welwyn, Marc Cain, Glad Rags, LK Bennett, Hobbs and Marks & Spencer’s retailers in St Albans.

This column is being written from St Albans Fashion Week in between make-up, hair and practice runs before the main wedding show this evening. One of the things I have noticed in this fashion show is that all the beautiful stunning models are different heights, sizes, colouring and ages and it’s refreshing to see the contrast in models as in real life. The retailers have completely embraced this as well and understand that their customers like to visualise themselves in the clothes the models are wearing and have dressed all of us accordingly. I’m 47 and 5ft 8ins and one of the bigger older models in the show but I know for my size and my age I am in pretty good shape and it’s the size I have chosen to be and feel confident for it.

I must admit it has been a journey for me to get to this stage to be confident enough to swoosh my toosh down the catwalk!! After having my son eight years ago I ballooned to a size 20 and with a lot of work slowly got down to a size 14. Before having my son and over many years I have always massively wavered between a size 12, 14 and 16. In my 20’s I was really self-conscious of being a bigger size than my size 8-10 friends and I was forever on different ‘fashionable’ and ‘fad’ diets and my weight fluctuated significantly.

Before I trained as a personal trainer and nutritional advisor I used to train for hours doing cardio vascular work (like running, cross trainer etc.) just to stay at a size 14. All the cardiovascular work and fad diets did not give me any shape and I was still not confident with my body although I was actually very cardiovascularly fit.

After my extensive fitness and nutritional training I went on further to do sports therapy and through all that training and experience I tailored specific muscle activation exercises and techniques to give my clients strength, better posture and enhance body shape and give women’s bodies’ oomph no matter what size they choose to be. Since shaping my own body being a size 14 has given me so much more confidence.

Even though I am not your typical very low fat percentage personal trainer I have come to a level of size and shape and weight that I am relaxed with. Although I can still waver as most women do, I do not give myself unrealistic goals or expectations so the goal to keep at a ‘normal’ size as the St Albans retailers described me isn’t my only focus in my life and achievable.

I have become to realise that I like going out to dinner, I like cooking nice meals for myself and my son, I like socialising with my friends and networking and I like my cheese and wine and I’m not happy restricting myself so much just so I can be a size 10 nor do I have the time to spend hours exercising.

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Therefore, I have in my mind and body got to a happy healthy medium for me. Don’t get me wrong I can easily go up in size especially if I don’t watch myself and do not exercise or if I’m upset I tend to eat for comfort so I exercise smart and watch what I’m putting in my mouth but just enough to be able to be a confident shape and fit into my nice dresses and still have a life. As I said I don’t have the time to spend one to two hours down the gym each day, cook separate meals to my son nor do I want to live on meal replacement shakes so I have looked at what is achievable to me in my time frame and lifestyle but still stay in a ‘healthy’ range.

During Fashion Week it has also been lovely to see all the variety of models all confident and gorgeous no matter of size, age or shape just enjoying the amazing clothes picked for them by the retailers.

Being chosen to walk in two of the St Albans Fashion Week events I have had to go to many fittings and try-ons. During these fittings I have been so impressed with the retailers who really know their stuff and their stock. I have been blown away with their expert knowledge and have dressed everybody accordingly to their shape and colouring.

Along with fabulous make-up and hair from Stila and St Albans Hair and Beauty they have made me feel so glamorous. As a recommendation when you need to go shopping next for any outfit instead of just walking around the shops not having a clue or just sticking to the same sort of thing every time talk to the owners and staff at the retailers and tell them what you need the outfit for and let them dress you.

Take full advantage of their expertise and I can guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised. I know one of the models who is a friend and mentioning no names has ordered everything she has tried on with a certain retailer to purchase after the show and I have ordered one of the tops I am wearing for me! With all the local retailers you can book a free of charge a time slot for fittings and some of the retailers you can book a free Personal Shopper experience and for the larger stores I actually now think this is a must as they know all their stock and will save you time and patience and you will come out looking fabulous and feel pampered. No more walking around the shops and not finding anything to buy and no more guess work with on-line shopping and the hassle of having to send it back. Having the right fitting, style, colour and size outfit for you is significant for body confidence.

Hourglass Fitness is based in London Colney,