Ladies, be the best dressed guest

Explaining why she started her wedding gown business, designer Vera Wang said ‘when I decided to get married at 40, I couldn’t find a dress with the modernity or sophistication I wanted.’ Dressing for weddings throws so many guests into a tailspin, and rarely (in my opinion) do they look modern or sophisticated either.

I am not a fan of the traditional wedding look. Women tend to look frumpy or overdone. Many people leave it to the last minute. They end up panic-buying on the high street and the result is an outfit they are unhappy with and uncomfortable wearing. It’s a sartorial minefield.

Here are my tips to help you be the best dressed guest this summer, without, of course, upstaging the bride.

black jumpsuit_PBMLadies, you don’t have to wear a hat. Or a dress, for that matter. There are cooler alternatives out there:

  • Trousers: consider wide leg trousers in vibrant colours (or a small print) with a silk top and heels. Or go ‘matchy-matchy’ in a floral print top and trousers (very 2015)
  • Slim trouser suits: in powder pink, sand or ice blue are a great way to work pastel shades without looking too girlie.
  • Go ‘midi’: a midi length skirt, dress or culottes worn with block heels is a cool modern option
  • The jumpsuit: is fast becoming a classic. A great option for a black tie wedding

Do not wear a hat with a long evening or maxi dress as it will completely unbalance the look. Fascinators can work but keep them small – your best bet is adding sparkle and texture with a hair clip or slide. If your dress (or trousers or jumpsuit) is plain, you can wear more elaborate accessories. Likewise, if you choose a bold print then keep your accessories clean and simple.

Modern weddings vary, so make sure you understand and adhere to the dress code as stated on the invitation. Consider your whole outfit, while paying attention to the details – this will help you retain elements of your individual style and ensure that everything works together. Keep it simple, and you’ll be sure to be the best dressed guest this summer…

This is an edited version of my article in July’s Platinum Business Magazine.

Clearing out the clutter…

This is an edited version of my article in Fine Magazine.  Images courtesy of Charlie Strand Photography.

Clients come to me for a variety of reasons. They may be looking to revamp their professional wardrobe, refine their off duty look, or shop for a specific occasion. Whatever the reason, the process usually involves a ‘wardrobe detox’, where I review a client’s clothes and we discuss what they wear, what they don’t, and why.

wardrobe_beforeThis was the natural starting point for Louise. In her mid-40s, Louise recently joined a lingerie and swimwear company. Her role involves organising photoshoots and trade shows for the brand. She wants to ‘look the part’ in her new role, and felt she had too many clothes.

Louise was keen to clear out the clutter and get fresh ideas on new outfits. She explains, “I had no idea what goes with what, and I tend to stick to the same clothes. I struggle with a smart casual look for informal meetings and lunches. And I want to achieve a fashionable, funky look, as I often accompany models to shoots in far-flung locations.”

Louise’s wardrobe was crammed. There was lots of colour, but no overall palette stood out. “I’m not sure what colours actually work,” she said, “I’ve got too many tops, too many dresses – too many choices !”

No pile 2We started by weeding out the definite ‘no’s’: items that don’t fit, that hadn’t been worn for over a year and those that need repairing. We created piles destined for the charity shop or consignment.

Lou in grey tunicWe then turned to the ‘trouble spots’ – those pieces she wasn’t sure how to wear. Louise has a beautiful black leather jacket with metallic chevron detailing – a real investment piece – but had no idea what to wear it with. We created several outfits, pairing it with jeans as well as a black dress. A long knitted vest came into its own with a camisole and bomber jacket, perfect for gigs or a casual lunch. A grey and black tunic worn with leggings, leather trainers and silver jewellery was another casual option. As we cleared things out and put outfits together, I captured a list of ‘gaps’ – those items that Louise needed to create complete outfits.creating gap list 2

Louise was surprised by the emotional attachment she had to some of her clothes. People often hang onto things in the hope they’ll come back into fashion, or that they’ll ‘diet’ back into them. Louise had been hanging on to things that she could now let go of. Your life changes, so why shouldn’t your wardrobe?

She explains, ‘My life has changed completely in the past year. My kids are older and I’m now working in the fashion industry. My wardrobe needs to take me from the school run to meetings in London with our PR agency to travelling to a trade show in Paris. Sam has helped me achieve that. I can open my wardrobe and know what to wear, and it will be easier to shop as I now know what I’ve got – I won’t be wasting money on things that don’t work for me.’

at work 2


Packing well is an art.

vintage-suitcase-and-girlIt’s holiday season !  This week I had the pleasure of partnering with the lovely Maria Winslow, of Winslow Skincare, to host an event focusing on holiday skin and style.

Over sandwiches and strawberries, Maria talked about some of the ways you can look after your skin in the summer sun.  A CACI representative demonstrated a new hand-held machine you can use for toning your skin at home, which got a lot of interest.

My talk focused on how to pack well, look great when travelling and how to maximise a holiday capsule wardrobe.  All of the women agreed that packing can be a chore, and many of them end up taking too much (or too little).

Packing well is an art.  You want your clothes to arrive at your destination relatively crease-free, and also know that you’ve got everything you need (without taking too much).  Here are some of my secrets…

  • Consider your destination, planned activities, local culture and of course, the weather
  • Plan beforehand and make a list. People think I’m mad but I start writing a list of everything I’m going to wear, for both day and evening, about two weeks before.  It changes as I plan outfits – things get added, and crossed off, but I end up with a final list to guide me as I pack.  I then carry this list in my handbag.  If my luggage goes astray, I have a full list of my things
  • Planning in advance gives you time to get any dry cleaning, shoe reheeling and repairs done
  • Pack a lightweight dressing gown – not all hotels provide one
  • In your carry on, pack a swimsuit, sandals, knickers and shorts – in case the worst happens

We had a great time, and will be planning more events in the next few weeks.

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Are you ready for the sales?

It’s June – my favourite time of year – and the sun is (finally) out.   We still have Wimbledon Fortnight to look forward to. And of course, the summer sales, which seem to be starting earlier each year….

Everyone loves bagging a bargain, but sales shopping is often hot, fraught and stressful. To help ease the pain, here are my five top tips for surviving the onslaught and securing the pieces you covet:

  • Prioritise your sales ‘must-haves’ and make a list. Are there gaps in your wardrobe that need filling? Do you need specific items for your holiday?
  • Stick to this list. Don’t get distracted by ‘too good to be true’ bargains – they usually are. Sometimes shops include past season stock that just hasn’t sold, and for good reason
  • Build relationships with the staff in your chosen shops. Make sure you’re on their mailing list as you’ll get advance notice of the sales (or better yet, invitations to pre-sale events)
  • If you prefer to shop online, it’s worth doing some ‘bricks and mortar’ research first. If you can, go and try on the pieces you want – that way you’ll know the exact size, colour and fit saving you the hassle of returns
  • I know your holidays are precious – but taking a day off and shopping mid-week can pay dividends in time and stress. Do this early in the sale period – after week two there’s not much good stuff left anyway

Happy shopping !

The Suite Vallauris

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Thierry’s uniform. Thierry, if you remember, is one of the fabulous pair who own the beautiful guest house in the provencal hills that we stayed in recently.IMG_1103

Thierry had spent many years as a hairdresser to the great and the good in Paris, and ran a salon whose clients included Yves Saint-Laurent’s mother (she had her ‘brushing’ done daily by Thierry).

IMG_1098And Thierry loves fashion.IMG_1099

Our room – the beautiful Suite Vallauris – paid homage to his obsession. There were beautiful books on haute couture and the women who wear it, from Alexander McQueen and Dior to the late Princess Diana, Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.IMG_1136

There was also a framed vintage black velvet Hermes jacket, and a personal invitation to YSL’s last show. Adorning the window latches and door handles were Chanel, Dior and Cartier bags and ribbons.

It was the perfect room for me. And best of all, it was a complete surprise.