Let’s pare it back (sartorially speaking).

I gave my lovely friend Louise a cookbook this week for her birthday.  The cookbook was on one-pot dishes – the ultimate food simplicity.   The introduction really caught my eye, as it recounted an experiment posed by the legendary Jack White (of White Stripes, Dead Weather and Raconteurs fame) who is renowned for his anti-technology, pared back approach to music.

Jack’s experiment was this:  take two singer-songwriters.  Put one in a state of the art studio with a full mixing desk, production team and no limit on time.  Put the other in a room with a four track tape recorder and a guitar for two days.  Who will produce the better song ?  The singer-songwriter with the four track.  Jack’s theory is that creativity requires constraints, and that the world is often better when pared back.

The same applies to stylish dressing.  Too many clothes, too many choices and too much clutter often result in a sloppy undefined style and a lot of early morning stress.  Let’s embrace Jack’s theory and pare it back, sartorially speaking.

How ? Here are three of my golden rules to achieving simplicity:

  • wear a maximum of three colours at a time, to keep it simple and uncluttered
  • question those items that go with nothing else in your wardrobe
  • get rid of anything you haven’t worn in the past two years (excluding coats or evening wear)

Want to know more ?  Book a consultation.  You don’t expect me to give away all my secrets, do you ?

Happy birthday Christian Dior !

Today would have been the Christian Dior’s 110th birthday. Given his tremendous impact on twentieth century fashion, I thought it only right to pay homage to him.

Christian Dior was born in Normandy in 1905, one of five children and the son of a wealthy fertiliser manufacturer. When he was five, the family moved to Paris. Although his parents wanted him to become a diplomat, Dior had artistic ambitions. After leaving school, he ran a small art gallery, which was forced to close with the onset of the Depression in 1929 and the collapse of his father’s business.

Dior began working for designer Robert Piguet in 1937.  He later said that Piguet taught him ‘the virtues of simplicity through which true elegance must come.’ (Piguet also trained Givenchy, but more about him in another post….)

Following military service, Dior joined the fashion house of Lucien Lelong (alongside Pierre Balmain) in 1942. In December 1946, Dior founded his eponymous fashion house, backed by a cotton magnate. His first collection, originally called ‘Corolle’ and ‘Huit’, was launched in February 1947 and caused a global sensation. Carmel Snow, editor in chief of Harpers Bazaar in the US, christened it ‘New Look’, and the name stuck.

The ‘New Look’ was revolutionary. The designs were more voluptuous than the boxy shapes of the war (which of course were influenced by rationing of material). The look comprised a calf-length full skirt, a cinched waist and fuller bust than had been seen since the turn of the century. He completed the look with playful accessories including gloves, small hats and parasols. But not everyone loved it. Some criticised the opulence of the designs, others objected to the amount of material used – both were quite shocking after the austerity of the war years.

Ironically, the New Look could be seen as a return to the ‘old’, with its small waists, roll-on girdle and the need to wear padded and strapless bras. It heralded women’s return to traditional roles after the war ended.

The New Look heralded the promise of luxury and appealed to fantasies, and re-established Paris as the fashion capital of the world. Dior was also the first couturier to arrange licensed production of his designs. Sadly he died only 10 years after its launch, but the house would continue under Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano and today, Raf Simons.

Embrace elegance, not trends

Photo Credit: ierdnall cc

Readers of this blog may notice that I don’t tend to focus heavily on specific trends, or what’s ‘fashionable’.  My aim is to help you think about your overall style and elegance – concepts that have much more longevity. I believe we live in a graceless age, and I’d like to inject some grace and elegance back into it. There are some basic principles that anyone, male or female, whatever their budget, can adopt to up their style and elegance stakes. Here are my top three:
1) make ‘simplicity’ your mantra. Keep the number of colours to a minimum, limit your accessories and keep layers fine so as to not add bulk
2) think ‘tonal’. An elegant look involves wearing different tones of one colour: grey, navy, cream, black or camel look particularly polished. Colour can be added with accessories – grey with a pop of yellow, for example, or navy with a touch of fuchsia
3) add height and length wherever you can. I’m only 5’3″ so this is a key one for me, but it’s not just about shoes. This can be achieved by following point 2, making sure things fit properly and paying attention to the overall ‘silhouette’ created by your outfit.
Contact me for further advice on being more stylish and elegant today.

Let’s make some style resolutions instead…

It seems crazy to me that we make resolutions at the start of the new year. Yes, it’s ‘new’, but January is also the darkest, dreariest, I’m-feeling-fat, we’re-all-broke-after-Christmas month. Wouldn’t March be a better time to resolve to be happier, lose weight and reinvent ourselves, as spring is truly a time of rebirth?

So if we have to make resolutions now, why not make some style resolutions. Much easier to stick to! And no guilt if you don’t!

Here are mine for 2015:

  • I will continue to be true to my style in 2015 (yes, I know, this one’s a bit of a cheat as I have discovered a style that works for me…). I will not be diverted by catwalk trends (ok, maybe one or two…)
  • Neither will I be distracted by so-called sale ‘bargains’ that end up as outfit ‘orphans’ in my wardrobe
  • I will detox my basics and revamp my underwear drawer at least once this year (this one is my husband’s favourite)
  • I will buy a new winter coat before the end of November when all the best ones are gone
  • I will wear heels more often. And follow the advice I give to my clients by wearing them with my boyfriend jeans and black Joseph jacket – a great combination

Tweet me with your style resolutions at @alwayschicUK and have a fantastic January.