Let’s reclaim elegance

hilary in stripesMany people (my clients included) tell me that they love dressing up, but rarely have the chance to do so anymore.   We live in an increasingly casual world, where we seem to look the same no matter what we’re doing – going to lunch, the theatre, the opera or Wimbledon.  Comfort seems to have taken first priority and frankly, I think many people look sloppy as a result.  So let’s reclaim elegance. This was the theme of my event this week at beautiful Langshott Manor where I hosted a lunch and fashion show, with clothes modelled by real women.

hanging rail editedI spoke about reclaiming elegance when dressing for occasions, including those where the dress code may be the much-dreaded (and misinterpreted) smart casual.  Sharing my thoughts on what dressing well actually means, I gave an overview of the traditional dress codes, along with hints and tips on how to look chic and elegant no matter where you’re going.

models in smart casual 2 cropped

Five real women modelled beautiful clothes covering dress codes from smart casual through to black tie.  The clothes were provided by JoJo Boutique, and encompassed a mix of British, local and unique premium brands.  Many of the shoes shown were by German brand Paul Green. They are truly beautiful handmade shoes and JoJo is one of the largest suppliers of them in the UK.

Susan in black editedAlong with wearing fabulous clothes, the models were made to feel extra special thanks to the magic touch of Claire Wallace who did their hair and makeup.  And the food?  Simply delicious, especially the chocolatey dessert.

It was a really special day and everyone had a great time. I am planning further events with the Alexander Hotels Group later in the year – sign up to my newsletter to find out more


Wearable heels: height, comfort and style

Wearable heels are big news again this spring.  And I think this is fantastic news. Why should we cripple ourselves in unwearable stilettos, or consign ourselves to flats when we’re desperate for some height?

Red dune block heelsFor me, height is particularly important. Sometimes your look needs some elevation (literally) and flats don’t quite cut it.  I’m only 5’3” and I love wearing culottes – but these demand heels, otherwise I’m in danger of looking short and, heaven forbid, frumpy.  My block heeled sandals and mules give me that added height without sacrificing comfort.  And they’re incredibly versatile.  My very wearable red Dune block heeled sandals get worn with dresses, boyfriend jeans, silky joggers and culottes all spring and summer long.

white block heel mulesWearable heels provide the perfect combination of height, comfort and walkability. They can be block mid heel sandals (like these monochrome beauties from Kurt Geiger), peep toe shoe boots (Russell & Bromley’s are fab) or even mules – there are loads of options to choose from.  The white mules you see here are from Autograph at M&S last year – but thankfully they’re doing them again.

Choosing wearable heels also means I don’t have to carry an extra pair of flats in my bag.  And, because of the heel shape, there’s no danger of sinking into grass or getting caught in pavements, grates or escalators (which I’ve done twice already this week in stilettos!).  Height, comfort and versatility – what’s not to love?










Celebrating a century of style

vogue100I recently had the pleasure of going to see the Vogue100: A Century of Style exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery.  This gorgeous exhibition celebrates the first 10 decades of the magazine’s history and includes photography by such legends as Cecil Beaton, Lee Miller, Helmut Newton, Mario Testino, Nick Knight and of course 1960s bad boy, David Bailey.  Their subjects were no less legendary: everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Tallulah Bankhead, the Beatles to Jean Shrimpton, David Hockney to Naomi Campbell.

vogue100_cecilOne of the most interesting tidbits I discovered was the fact that British Vogue started publishing its ‘Mrs Exeter’ column in 1949 (American Vogue had started it earlier). This column was devoted to style advice for women of ‘a certain age’ (she was ‘in her 50s’) who wanted to stay fashionable but didn’t want to stray into mutton-dressed-as-lamb territory (sound familiar?).  Even more interestingly, Mrs Exeter started off as an illustration, but then was represented by a series of slim and elegant models.  The woman most closely associated with her was Margot Smyly, who died in April 2005 at the age of 93.

It’s a sumptuous exhibition – a real feast for the eyes.  I particularly loved the elegance of the 40s, 50s and 60s.  There were beautiful photos of chic people wearing hats, scarves, suits, gloves.  The exhibition confirmed my view, however, that the 1980s were the most hideous decade of the twentieth century in terms of style.  Brash colour and unflattering silhouettes abounded – and don’t get me started on the hair.  No wonder we went all minimalist in the 90s!

If you love fashion, or you’re a fan of a particular decade, it’s well worth seeking out. But hurry – it’s only on until 22nd May.

vogue highlights cover





Clothes maketh the man…

Kevin Duala edited for blog

I am passionate about clothes (well, obviously).  But I also have a particular appreciation for stylish men, and it’s great to see that Brighton’s Platinum Club (of which I am a member)  certainly has its fair share of them.  They say clothes maketh the man, and that’s certainly true for Kevin Duala, Relations Manager at Overline.

I sat down with Kevin recently, to hear more about his unique style and what inspires him.

Professional with a twist

Kevin takes dressing very seriously – it’s important to him and supports his multifaceted role at Overline, which involves meeting clients, generating business and training staff.  But his passion for looking good started years ago.  He says, ‘My Dad always said you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  He instilled in me that no matter where you go or what you’re doing, make sure you look presentable.’

Kevin likes to look sharp at the office.  He told me that in previous jobs he wore what he wanted, but didn’t feel ‘ready to work’.  So he took his casual look of dark jeans and a jacket, and elevated it.  His style has evolved, and he’s now much sharper – he knows it helps him to be taken more seriously.

But Kevin also likes to add a twist to professional look.  His signature item has become his knitted ties.  The Overline team often tease him, saying ‘Kevin’s got a sock on again today’ but people notice, and they remember him as a result.

You may find it surprising that Kevin often buys from secondhand shops, picking up vintage ties, pocket squares and waistcoats.  His suits are from M&S or Debenhams, but he always gets them altered to fit exactly the way he likes – he never settles for a poor fit.  Jackets must be tapered at the waist, trousers must be slim-fitting and resting on the front of his shoe, and his tailor helps him achieve this.  In doing so, Kevin personalises his look without spending a fortune.

Kevin says, ‘I love being original.  None of my clothes are designer or flashy, but they are unique to me. And I’m good at finding classic pieces.  I recently bought a camel cashmere overcoat from Rokit vintage clothing in Covent Garden.  It was absolutely huge on me, but my tailor altered it to fit perfectly at the fraction of the cost of a brand new coat.’

Kevin’s rules for dressing:

  • don’t settle for ‘that will do’ – get things altered to fit properly
  • be original and express your personality
  • think beyond the high street – look in vintage, charity and secondhand shops (and online) to create your unique look