It’s just as important to feel as good as you look this party season, as Sarah Maxwell explains with her tips for tracking down the ultimate LBD and the exercises you can do to own your look

As we start to head into party season, I’m hearing the same things come up time and time again with women who come to me for the first time. 

 “How can I get my arms in better shape?”, “Why is every dress too tight around the midriff?” and “How do I go about finding the most flattering outfit?”. 

It seems most of us could use some help putting everything together. I can really sympathise with this on a personal level as I spend most of my day in gym gear and although I’m an expert in showing you how to tone up, lose weight, increase your energy and feel great, I can definitely use some help with finding that perfect little black dress. I’ve always held onto the thought that I might one day find it and effortlessly sashay into a room knowing that I’ve finally got it right!

“Although I’m an expert in showing you how to tone up, lose weight, increase your energy and feel great, I can definitely use some help with finding that perfect little black dress” 

So, when it comes to choosing that perfect little black dress, I decided that some professional fashion advice was in order. I popped in to see Gemma Humphries of Odyl boutique in Cranbrook and ask her advice. Gemma is well known for her knack of picking the perfect style to suit every body shape. So I asked for her tips for a flattering look. “The style of dress that’s most flattering on all sizes has an elbow length or ¾ sleeve, clever ruching around the waistline and falls just below the knee. To get that nice smooth line, team this with shape wear. Maidenform are my go to brand.”

 So – there you have it! The right style of dress and the best shapewear to create a flattering look. Now for a couple of my favourite exercises to target your upper body and core. Do these 3 times a week with a rest day in between.

Odyl, Cranbrook

Exercise of the month: 

Press-ups – Great for your upper body and core. 

Half – Start on your hands and knees with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart and bend your arms so your nose goes down to the floor.

Full – To make this harder, take your hands further forward and straighten your back. Engage your core and tighten your bottom as you do the exercise. For the hardcore fitness level, move to full press-ups by taking your whole body off the floor.


This is a great exercise to tone and firm the back of your arms. Start with a dumbbell in one hand (or a tin of beans will work if you are just starting out). I recommend using dumbbells between 2 and 4kg if you want to progress quickly.

Fixing your upper arms to your side with a slight lean forward – you can lean on a chair or bench for better stability – extend your arm, using your tricep to lift the weight until your arm is fully extended. Do this in a controlled way, really concentrating on the muscle you’re working and avoid locking your elbow at the end of the movement.

Depending on the size of weight you’re using – this will determine how many repetitions you can do – aim to start with 2×10 repetitions and build up to 3×12 every other day.

Combine the above with some aerobic exercise, which can be anything that raises your heart rate, and in no time at all you will be confidently walking into that party with your head held high and a spring in your step.

Sarah Maxwell is a multiple award-winning Fitness and Lifestyle coach and mum of two who juggles a lot of balls. Find out more about Sarah and her work at 

Sarah shares her Fitness and Lifestyle tips on Instagram 


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