First Look: Vanessa Williams Launches Clothing Line, Where Everything Is Under $100 and Meant to 'Hide Bra Fat'

03/14/2016 at 09:25 AM ET

Vanessa Williams always wanted to be a designer. The actress and singer worked retail in high school (at a store called Current and Casual), went on to adore intricate pageant gowns as Miss America in 1984 (her winning dress is stored at Syracuse University), and turned into a power dresser on TV (thanks to her characters of Wilhelmina Slater on Ugly Betty and Renee Perry on Desperate Housewives).

Now, at 52, she’s taking a lifetime of fashion fascination to the next level by launching her first line, V. by Vanessa Williams, on the Evine home shopping network and starting March 19.

Vanessa WilliamsCourtesy NYDJ

“This collection is a combination of me as a professional, me as a mother, and me as what I wear for comfort around the house,” she tells PeopleStyle of the line, which she named after her lifelong signature, a single V and a period. “It’s your urban look, it’s your suburban look, it’s your casual look, and it’s your glam look, all in one.” What does that translate to? An 18-piece debut that includes jumpsuits, blousy caftans, stretch skirts, and rouched tops—all for $100 or less. (The dress she models below is the stretch-knit sleeveless knee-length style in cobalt and retails for $50.)

Vanessa WilliamsCourtesy V. by Vanessa Williams

But for Williams, she also wanted her line to act as a problem solver, “particularly for women who are 40 and up,” she says. “My friends and I complain about bra fat and loose arms. We’ve got a couple areas that we want to cover. Gone are the days when you’re 20 and you can just wear a little spaghetti strap thing and everything’s up and perky by itself. I’ve gone through my 30s, 40s, 50s and my body keeps changing with every decade. Yes, I’ve got bra fat and love handles. It’s a constant struggle. So, my view is don’t give up the fight, keep it moving, embrace where your body is going, and then dress accordingly.”

Vanessa Williams fashion lineCourtesy V. by Vanessa Williams

That’s why she made sure every piece is cut so bras fit comfortably underneath and the straps will be covered. Armholes are looser. Sizes go up to 24 and 26. Overall, the pieces are complementary to the areas we are trying to hide,” she explains. “We don’t want to mask them and we don’t want to disappear in loads and loads of fabric and look like were wearing a muumuu. I want women to look the best they can.”

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Her final touch to make this especially Vanessa: Choosing her favorite colors, embellishments, and prints and then “adding a bit of glam,” she says. “I love animal prints, grays, greens, khakis, and blues. I love that I got the chance to have a little color—but nothing that’s multiple leopards on top of each other—or, really, anything too cougar.”

Tell us what you think: Do you like Vanessa Williams’ new line?

—Sharon Clott Kanter

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Showing 28 comments

Smithy on

Vanessa looks different.

Debra on

I love it. Love the blue dress. Look forward to seeing the rest of the line.

Marsha Koopman on

Watched the premiere on Evine. The collection is fabulous!

LilahK on

Vanessa Williams is beautiful, talented and so humble. Wishing her continued success personally and professionally.

katedfw on

Looks like clothing I can actually wear! Love it!

Mrs. B on

The dress she’s wearing is a beautiful shade of blue. Most celebrities who come out with a clothing line have clothes that are too expensive for the average woman. Vanessa’s clothes fit my budget. I’m going to have to check out that site.

Donna M Snyder on

Hi Vanessa,
I bought your Grecian style white dress and black ruched dress, the day you made your debut!
I should get them end of March!
I also have a pant and sweater by
Nancy ODell.
Thank you, it was a joy meeting you.
I shop Evine Live all the time and never go to a mall!
Too unsafe! Particularly, since I live in Florida!

Be safe! Thank you again!
Donna Maher (Kennedy) Snyder, RN

Juli on

Love her!

Kim on

The unfortunate problem with her clothing, (and many others that are sold on TV), is the cheap material. Prone to snagging, and usually a cheap nylon, or poly. So unless you buy it two sizes too big, it’s going to cling. An interesting fact, about 75% of people who buy stuff on TV are not happy with it, and of that 75%, only 15% actually return the items, the rest just live with it, or are too complacent, (lazy) to return the items.

Stacy on

her pieces sound interesting. wouldn’t mind seeing some in person as I haven’t bought clothes that fit me in awhile. I wish her success with her endeavor

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