The small things matter

It’s the small things that enhance our everyday lives – Jessica Christie-Miller

As a stylist, I am always telling my clients to pay attention to the small things – their accessories – as they are the things that add individuality and personality to an overall look. Often, accessories, especially jewellery, are attached to particular memories and life events, which make them even more special.

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica Christie-Miller of IMG_3755Lassoo the Moon, who creates unique and striking ways to store and display accessories, particularly jewellery.   She adorns animal skulls with flowers, feathers and beads – a stylish, modern and completely individual way to hang necklaces, scarves or even hats.

Speaking of hats, Jessica also crafts stunning top hats in pastel or vivid jewel tones that would look great worn to Ascot, or for a party or wedding – each one is made to order, adorned with a variety of silk flowers, feathers and fabrics.

IMG_3745In addition, Jessica creates bespoke handmade fabric memo boards that can be used to display not only small accessories such as earrings and beads, but also photos, postcards, buttons, shells and leaves.   The result is an evocative visual ‘storyboard’ of a particular event or memory. Jessica uses plain and patterned linen and cotton fabrics from producers such as British fabric producers Osborne & Little and Sanderson. She also uses vintage and sequinned fabric.  Each memo board is different, and is beautifully decorated with silk and paper flowers, feathers and sequins.

Before creating Lassoo the Moon, Jessica studied Fine Art and went on to train in retail display. She spent many years as a window dresser in London, specialising in the jewellery trade, working with international luxury brands including Cartier, Links of London and Kiki McDonough.

Jessica can be contacted via Lassoo the Moon and she also sells her work through Etsy.

Many thanks to Jessica for giving me the beautiful animal skull below.

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The secret of French chic

IMG_1393Last week I spent a heavenly few days in south west France with my beloved.  We stayed in a small coastal town nowhere near the Cote D’Azure.  It was very low key and casual, with oyster huts, a jetty and beachside cafes that were just perfect for people-watching.

Sam on bike copyBritish women frequently hear about French chic and how we should aspire to it, and I’ve often wondered if there’s any particular secret to their style.  The women of this small town sported a simple yet elegant look: striped breton (mariniere) tops, light knits thrown over shoulders, straw beach hats and baskets, scarves looped around necks, simple shirt dresses worn with flats or sandals.  As we cycled through villages and lazed in cafes, it dawned on me just what their secret is.  It comes down to two words: ‘effort’ and ‘simplicity’.

Whether these women are meeting friends in a café, dining with their husbands, shopping in the market or just strolling along the jetty, they always make an effort.  Every day.  Their clothes are simple (no more than two or three colours) and coordinated.  There is very little bling, no huge logos (other than a few LVs), no sweatpants, leggings or oversized t-shirts. And in fact, as the age bracket went up (50, 60 and beyond) the more elegant the look became.

French chic equals effort and simplicity.  A divine, and achievable, combination.

One bag is never enough…

Now that designer handbag prices have really hit the stratosphere, it’s worth investigating mid-range options if you want to buy more than one or update each season. And let’s face it, one bag cannot possibly cover every aspect of your life: work, family, socialising, travel. Whatever you choose, make sure you always buy real leather or suede – it will look better, last much longer and keep its shape.

I’m a great believer in investing in classic pieces that stand the test of time. If you’re after an elegant and sleek look for the office, for example, choose a bag that reflects this; keep bling and logos to a minimum and choose a smart, structured shape.

Think carefully when choosing your ‘everyday’ bag, and take into account your working lifestyle, commute and the dominant palette in your wardrobe (including your coats). Make sure you also choose something that works with your proportions; huge bags can swamp petite women, for example. And if you commute by bus, train, bike or underground, you will want to consider the weight of your bag and how far you have to walk.

Building your bag wardrobe takes time (hence it’s better to invest in a classic first) but you should aim to include the following:

  • Tote: a roomy option for work, with space for your laptop and other paraphernalia. Choose one both top-handles and a longer shoulder strap, and make sure you check the weight when you buy. If it’s heavy when it’s empty, imagine what it will be like when full!
  • Bucket: fashionable for the past couple of seasons, the bucket shape is more casual (and more fun). This season, fringing adds interesting texture, tapping into the bohemian vibe that is so big at the moment
  • Clutch: if you’re a minimalist, this is the bag for you. The trick (as with the men’s folio) is not to overstuff it. They’re best carried on a night out, when all you need is your card, keys and lipstick
  • Crossbody: very fashionable this autumn/winter, and getting smaller in size. These are fine to carry for work if you’ve got your bulky essentials in another bag.  This year, a chain link strap is essential

IMG_1334It’s always fun to play with colour and texture when choosing your accessories, and handbags are no exception.  Claret, suede and fringing are all huge trends this autumn/winter, and will add a bit of interest to your look.  I am personally coveting this little number from Russell & Bromley (more affordable than its Stella McCartney counterpart…)  Whatever you choose, enjoy !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guys, it’s in the bag

Black HoveWhere women’s fashion leads, men’s eventually follows. Did you know that the sale of men’s bags has increased by more than 25% in the past decade?  And that they are now a firm fixture in every designer’s menswear collection?  In fact, when Mark Carney gave his first speech as Governor of the Bank of England, he carried what most people would call a ‘man bag’.  Not a briefcase, but a soft grey, black-leather trimmed number with long handles.

Are you constantly stuffing keys, wallet, various bits of paper and who knows what else into your pockets ?  Not only does it look messy, it also ruins the line of your clothes.  Or perhaps you are carrying a ‘one-bag-fits all occasions’ number that has seen better days.

Let’s say you are ready to choose the right bag for you. First of all, consider your lifestyle.  Where and how do you spend most of your time – in the office, out with clients, do you need to carry bulky documents, do you travel frequently – take all of these into account when choosing.

SC_Lookbook_AW14_0010Once you’ve considered how and where you’ll use it, invest in one or two that work for your lifestyle.  If you work in a sharp, corporate environment, I’m guessing that you already have an appropriate leather briefcase.  But there are other options too, particularly if your working life is less formal, or you are looking for something to use on casual days.  These include:

  • Folio / Pouch: the sleekest option out there. It can have a zipper or be a simple pouch. Do not overstuff it !
  • Crossbody / Messenger: small zippered styles or roomier messenger bags. Both, as you’d expect, can be worn across the body, but should be carried no lower than the hip
  • Tote: Mark Carney’s bag of choice. A roomier alternative to the briefcase, with space for your laptop, documents and whatever else you need that day. It encompasses a number of shapes, including shoulder, sports and bowling bags
  • Duffel / Holdall: the roomiest option of all. This looks great in leather, but can also be found in tweed and canvas. If it’s no more than 55 x 35 x 20cm it can also serve as carry-on luggage
  • Backpack: self-explanatory, and having a bit of a fashion moment. Best kept for casual wear.

Did you know there were so many options ?  I can help you find the one that works best for you – contact me today.