Are you ready for autumn?

September is looming. That ‘new school year feeling’ is in the air.  The weather is already cooler.  It’s time to start thinking seriously about your autumn/winter wardrobe.

Planning your key purchases now (new boots, a coat ?) will stand you in good stead, as will determining what gaps need filling in your existing wardrobe.  You don’t need to go mad – if you’ve got the basics right, a couple of carefully-chosen additional pieces will ensure you make a stylish transition into autumn.

I am particularly excited about:

  • the continuing dominance of the coat: there are some fantastic shapes out there. I am coveting a beautiful Joseph grey double cashmere belted coat at the moment…
  • burgundy/claret is the colour of the season: great for those of you who may be bored of wearing black, brown or navy. Burgundy is soft and forgiving for most skin tones and looks fantastic with grey, camel and black
  • cropped trousers and culottes: these may scare some of you, but I think they look sharp and very modern. The new cropped trousers with a turn up look great worn with a tucked-in blouse and heels for the office, or luxe jersey basics and trainers at the weekend.  (Atterley have a great claret pair – two trends ticked at once…).  Keep your top-half sleek when wearing culottes, and always wear heels if you’re petite. They look great with block heels and a slim biker jacket
  • wide-legged trousers: channel your inner Katharine Hepburn and wear with minimal trainers for a modern twist

I’d be delighted to help you prepare for the new season.  Drop me an email…




What is ‘normcore’?

One of the newest (and ugliest) words making the rounds in fashion circles over the past couple of years is ‘normcore’. What is it? Wikipedia defines it as: ‘a unisex fashion trend characterised by unpretentious, average-looking clothing. “Normcore” is a portmanteau of the words “normal” and “hardcore”.’

IMG_1189It’s come about for a number of reasons: a backlash against constantly changing trends, a rejection of blingy and ubiquitous logos and a desire to look chic and stylish without having to shout about it.

Some think the normcore ‘uniform’ of ‘plain’ (albeit high end) white shirts, cashmere jumpers in neutral tones, dark skinny jeans and leather trainers is boring and the opposite of individual and unique. I disagree – I prefer to see people (especially those of us of a certain age) with a more understated look. It’s then easy to add colour and personality through accessories (and it’s cheaper too). IMG_1182

Luxe-Layers founder Flavia says it best: ‘Most of us with jobs in fashion are indeed very much ‘normcorers’, because better than anyone, we understand the difference between fashion trends and true style.’ Precisely. Check out Flavia’s ‘normcore commandments’ here.

IMG_1209As I frequently say to clients, style is timeless, not trendy. It should be individual (think Iris Apfel), reflect your personality and be appropriate for your age and lifestyle.


Iris says ‘have fun when you dress!’

Life is grey and dull. You may as well have fun when you dress – Iris Apfel

Back in May, I wrote about age being no barrier to style. I can think of no better example of this than fabulous nonagenarian style icon Iris Apfel.

Iris will turn 94 on the 29th of August. From the beginning, Iris was a trailblazer. She chose a career over children, for example, and that career has been long and varied, encompassing fashion, design and the arts. She worked at Women’s Wear Daily before becoming an interior designer (clients included the White House) and running textile company Old World Weavers with her beloved husband Carl. She now consults and lectures about style and fashion.

She is also the subject of a documentary by filmmaker Albert Maysles. The film gives us a fascinating insight into Iris’ world – her 66 year marriage to Carl, the inspiration for her distinctive style and her thoughts on the fashion industry today.

Iris has become something of a ‘geriatric starlet’ (her words) due to her distinctive style and irrepressible energy. Iris has one of the best collections of couture costume jewellery in the world, along with an extensive wardrobe – several rooms in her Park Avenue and Palm Beach apartments are devoted to her clothes. Her look is immediately recognisable: cropped white hair, huge round Cutler and Gross glasses and layers of bangles, bracelets and necklaces, all in vivid colours but somehow creating a startling and coherent ‘look’. Her extensive collection of accessories was brought to the MoMA’s attention and they devoted a show to her, which led to further exhibitions in Florida and Massachusetts.

Along with being incredibly stylish, Iris is also wise and witty. Here are a few of my favourite Iris-isms:

  • On her mother’s influence: ‘my mother worshipped at the altar of the accessory’
  • On building her accessories collection: ‘it’s hard work to collect – it takes effort – everything I have I go out and find’
  • On getting dressed: ‘it has to feel right…I mix and match and do it differently each time. I don’t have rules as I would break them…I love the process’
  • On designers today: ‘they don’t sew, don’t drape – they’re media freaks, with no sense of history’
  • On herself: ‘I have two great gifts: curiosity and a sense of humour’
  • On today’s fashion: ‘individuality is lost these days – everything is homogenised’
  • On continuing to work: ‘I like being in the world and of the world’




Guys – beat the heat

Over the last couple of weeks, the weather has been decidedly Men-Casual-Office-Dresses-2015undecided here in the UK. Can you believe it reached 37 degrees in the south of England on 1st July, yet the morning of 31st July dawned at just above freezing ? Things seem to be on the up, however, and temperatures are rising again.   So what’s the best way to remain looking polished and professional in the heat, while keeping your cool ?

The shirt should be your starting point. I’m hoping you packed away your heavy winter suits, jackets and trousers weeks ago, but it’s surprising how many men wear the same shirts all year round. Branch out a bit. First, consider the fabric – opt for natural fibres such as cotton, linen or a blend of both. Or even seersucker. More commonly worn across the Atlantic, it can look very smart – think Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Although linen is wonderfully light and breathable, it does crease like mad, and a blend keeps those creases at bay. Lighten your colours too – and think beyond white. I freely admit to secretly admiring Michael Portillo in his ice-cream coloured shirt and jacket combinations. His choices of pale yellow, mint green, pink and sky blue exude summer and have a certain Continental je ne sais quoi. If pastel or bright colours aren’t your thing, the same summery effect can be achieved with a gingham check. Gingham looks crisp and is much more interesting than the usual stripe; you’ll find it adds a bit of personality to your look without sacrificing formality.

Turning to jackets, cotton, linen (or best yet, a blend) should be chosen in favour of hot, stuffy wool. Choose neutral shades (navy or beige for example) that will go with a number of your shirts, to give you maximum wearability. Mr Portillo wears his rainbow assortment of shirts with navy, red and even yellow blazers – but I don’t expect you to go crazy…

Smart_Casual_Dress_ExampleFor more informal office days, pair your shirt with chinos and a lightweight blazer and you’re ready to go. Keep short sleeved shirts for casual or smart-casual occasions – they can be a bit too informal for daily business attire. If you’d like to forego a tie, you can button your shirt fully (very modern) or leave the top button undone (depending on the cut of the shirt). You could also opt for a cotton pique polo shirt; just make sure you choose a tailored version with no logos. White, navy and other neutrals are your go-to colours here. A crisp white polo can look really smart under a lightweight suit – try it.

SC_Shoes_0002I’m a huge fan of the suede loafer worn without socks. There’s nothing quite like it for evoking a bit of ‘summer on the Riviera’ attitude. And please – always wear closed toe shoes in hot weather (think suede brogues or chukka boots as alternative options).

Enjoy the summer !