Lagerfeld: age, experience, excellence

Age and experience are often overlooked in our youth-obsessed world.  This month, legendary fashion titan Karl Lagerfeld will be presented, at the age of 82, with the Outstanding Achievement Award at the British Fashion Awards in recognition of his ‘unrivalled contribution to the fashion industry’.  And it truly is unrivalled.

Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg in 1933 and educated privately and in Paris.  His career began when he was hired to assist Pierre Balmain, after winning a design competition in 1955.  In 1958, he moved to Jean Patou, designing two collections a year for the next five years, and began freelancing at Chloe in 1964.  Since 1983 he has, of course, been creative director at Chanel, although his career has been multifacted.  Lagerfeld has worked as a photographer (V, German Vogue, Harpers Bazaar), theatrical costume designer, publisher and art director.  At the age of 82, he shows no sign of slowing down (why should he) and he still designs for Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous label.  He is a living example of how age and experience can amount to great things.

Natalie Massenet MBE, Chairman of the British Fashion Council, commented on the award by saying, ‘Karl Lagerfeld defines outstanding.  He is the champion of excellence, the master of the exceptional and one of the most iconic figures globally from our industry.’

Previous winners of the Outstanding Achievement Award include: Anna Wintour OBE (2014), Terry and Tricia Jones (2013) and Manolo Blahnik CBE (2012).

 

Time to buy a coat…

One of my new year fashion resolutions for 2015 was this: I will buy a new winter coat before the end of November when all the best ones are gone. Well here we are in November….

It’s tricky, because last year I barely wore a winter coat. Our recent series of mild wet winters have meant that I’ve relied on judicious layering rather than any serious coat investment.

But recent press reports have predicted that we’re due for 100 days of snow this winter – reminiscent of the brutal winters of 1963 and 1947 (not that I was there, you understand).  So it might finally be time to take the plunge.

Thankfully there is a wide variety of interesting options available this autumn/winter, including the cocoon, wool wrap and my personal favourite, the cape.  Here’s the lowdown:

  • The cocoon – with or without a collar, great for striking an androgynous pose with a white shirt, black skinnies and brogues.  Take inspiration from Jigsaw with their beautiful textured boucle coat, or Ted Baker’s ombre version in two colourways
  • The trench – a timeless classic, great for warding off the autumn chill before winter really sets in. Go classic – double breasted in taupe or beige, (or perhaps dark green at Ted Baker) or think soft suede a la Zara.  A Burberry trench is, of course, a failsafe English-made classic and a real investment piece
  • The wool wrap – this year the classic wool coated is belted with no buttons, in soft taupe or caramel tones.  Max Mara’s Goloso is the ultimate version in gorgeous camel hair if your budget allows….  The Fold also do a lovely belted claret version
  • The cape – capes are a great way to play with shape and proportion, and are particularly dramatic worn over evening wear or layered over fine knits and skinny jeans.  This season they are striped or checked, textured or embellished, fur trimmed or jewelled, but I love the simplicity of the ‘Vickiye’ taupe wool cape by Ted Baker and Reiss’ wool blend ‘Cavalier’ in navy.  The length varies too – short and boxy (above the hip) or longer line (similar to a coat or long jacket length)

Make sure you consider your lifestyle, existing wardrobe and your commute before you make a final decision on a coat.  It is, after all, a fairly significant wardrobe investment that you will want to wear for several years to come.

Kitty on the catwalk

Photos courtesy of Malcolm Tam

http://malcolmtam.com

http://malcolmtam.com

Last week was Brighton Fashion Week, which is becoming quite a significant annual event in our fair city.  At the industry networking evening, I had the amazing good fortune of bumping into Valerie Goode, Creative CEO of Kitty Ferreira.  Valerie founded the label in 2013, after working in China and witnessing horrific pollution and environmental degradation there.  She says, ‘I returned to the UK vowing not to contribute to that by sourcing upcycled materials in the UK and, where possible, British-made materials to keep my carbon footprint as low as possible.’

Valerie is a trained commercial designer who produces eminently wearable clothes. She designs timeless and elegant ethical pieces that dispel the ‘hippy’ connotations of sustainable fashion. Her clothes have featured at London Fashion Week and have won several awards.

http://malcolmtam.com

I saw her simple and chic spring/summer 2016 collection at the Sustain Fashion Show on the final evening, held in the imposing All Saint’s Church in Hove. The clothes were definitely elegant and wearable, had sex appeal (without being clingy), and featured some of my favourite elements: long fluid silhouettes, a mainly monochrome/neutral palette and gorgeous silky fabrics. I particularly loved the semi-sheer silk transparent jacket and black trousers.

http://malcolmtam.com

Catwalk shows are usually about art rather than wearability, but I could picture myself meeting a client or attending an event in one of her dresses (or the jacket/trouser outfit). Moving away from the neutral palette, Valerie also showed a vibrant African-inspired print top with peg-shaped trousers.

And the name? Valerie named the label after her grandmother, who lived in the Caribbean and was upcycling long before it became a fashionable term.

Valerie told me, ‘Brighton Fashion Week was excellent and I’m so excited for ethical and sustainable fashion right now.  Being the only UK platform for ethical and sustainable fashion is a huge step towards cleaning up the industry and creating awareness for the end customer.’  Her long-term vision is to rival non-ethical brands on the high street, and I have no doubt she will succeed.

Find out more and follow Kitty Ferreira on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

http://malcolmtam.com

http://malcolmtam.com

 

 

Clothes give you confidence

Getting dressed is the most powerful thing you do in the morning’ – Lorraine Candy, editor-in-chief, ELLE Magazine

ten2Two bannerYes, clothes are powerful. They give you presence and confidence. And ‘confidence’ was the theme of a recent workshop I participated in, run by Emma Cleary and Laurie Smith, directors of Ten2Two here in Sussex.

the roomThe workshop, aimed at women looking to return to work, focused on building confidence for job interviews and meetings from a number of angles.

Hilary Ellis of Talent for Change spoke about ‘what is confidence’ and gave us visioning exercises to work on together.  Jo Ellis of Pure Confidence gave a fascinating talk on coping with nerves and how to make body language work in your favour. There were also speakers on what you should think about in terms of finances, how to define and articulate your skills and attributes and the various childcare options available to women returning to work.

me and EmmaAnd me? I talked about how clothes can boost your confidence and how to approach dressing for interviews and meetings. It’s important to remember that people will measure your professionalism by your appearance – how you dress signifies your status, self-confidence and self-worth. You may be the most qualified person for the job, but if you look scruffy or unkempt that will undermine your skills. Your goals when dressing for an interview should be to look smart and professional and to feel comfortable – which, in turn, will boost your confidence.

Do you have an important meeting or interview coming up ? I can help you harness the power of your clothes…

Thanks to Claire Brewer Photography for the images.

 

How to layer

autumn_journal_leavesChilly mornings, warm afternoons, cool evenings. Blustery wind, sudden downpours, bright sunshine. Whatever autumn holds, you can be sure it often includes four seasons in one day.  Which makes it tricky to know what to wear.

Recent press reports have also confirmed what many of us already knew.  Women do feel colder in offices than men, preferring an average temperature of 25C (rather than 22C favoured by the guys).

So what’s the solution?  Layering.  When done well, effective layering can see you through even the most changeable autumn days and keep you warm in chilly offices.

IMG_1190Here’s how…

  • Invest in the basics. Fine jersey camisoles and vest tops in white or nude make great base layers.  Jigsaw and Intimissimi are my go-to brands
  • Layer hem lengths. Try a sleeveless longline jacket (Whistles has a lovely black crepe version) or cape over a midi skirt, for example.  This looks cool (while keeping you warm)
  • Go maxi. An ankle-grazing skirt worn with a buttoned shirt, neat jumper and heels looks chic – see Net A Porter for some gorgeous options
  • Layer knits too. Wear a chunky sleeveless longline knit over a crisp longline white shirt or tee to add texture and interest as per the White Company
  • Add accessories. A skinny silk scarf around your neck is very ‘now’, and adds a bit of extra warmth (keep jewellery to a minimum with this look). You won’t want to spend a lot on this – Topshop is a good bet

Just remember to keep the total number of layers to three – you don’t want to add bulk.  Most of all, experiment and have fun !

Celebrating Diana.

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The bikini is the most important thing since the atom bomb – Diana Vreeland, 1946

This week marks the late, great Diana Vreeland’s birthday.  Diana was a fashion columnist, editor-in-chief and all-round powerhouse.  Born in Paris to an American socialite mother and British father, Diana and her family moved to the US at the beginning of the First World War.

Her varied career spanned six decades and many social changes – World War II, the advent of the sixties, the space age and feminism.  After marrying banker Thomas Vreeland in 1924, the couple lived in London, where she ran a lingerie business in Mayfair, where her clients included Wallis Simpson.  The Vreelands returned to New York in the mid-30s, where Diana joined Harpers Bazaar, writing the ‘Why Don’t You…?’ column, offering extravagant fashion and lifestyle tips.  She later became fashion editor of the magazine, remaining there for 26 years.

Knowing she wasn’t a classic beauty, Diana emphasised her flaws instead of concealing them.  She cropped her black hair and wore it sharply pulled back to show her severe profile, and emphasised her pale complexion with rouge and scarlet red nails (her favourite shade).

Diana advised Jacqueline Kennedy on dress during the 1960 presidential campaign, and introduced her to Oleg Cassini, who became Jackie’s chief designer.

She became editor-in-chief at Vogue in 1963, and celebrated the decade’s uniqueness, saying ‘If you had a bump on your nose, it made no difference, as long as you had a marvellous body and good carriage.’  While at Vogue, she discovered and photographed ‘youthquaker’ Edie Sedgwick.  After leaving Vogue, she became special consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Diana was added to the International Best Dressed List (now run by Vanity Fair) in 1964.  She died in 1989 at the age of 85.

 

 

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.

IMG_4126

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 !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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’

#irisapfel

 

 

Fashion on the Ration

When Britain went to war in 1939 it seemingly spelt an end for fashion….

IWM_your country needs youBut it didn’t. The constant air raids, threat of invasion and their generation’s indomitable wartime spirit sparked a wave of creativity and ingenuity amongst British women that is worth remembering, and celebrating, today.

‘Fashion on the Ration’ at the Imperial War Museum is an exhibition celebrating that ingenuity. It shows us how World War II changed how people dressed both at work and at home, and how new commercial opportunities presented themselves (siren suits and handbags with gas mask chambers, anyone?). And it is fascinating.IWM_make do and mend

Most well-known, perhaps, is the ‘Make Do and Mend’ campaign, launched in June 1941 by the Ministry of Information, when clothes became subject to rationing. Each adult was allocated 66 clothing coupons per year – which equated to one complete new outfit. Growing children presented a particular challenge, so in August 1941, an extra 50 coupons were given to new mothers for baby clothes.

Rationing and ‘Make Do’ saw individual style flourish – women recycled men’s suits into skirts and jackets, stockings and socks were darned and homemade accessories abounded.   The ‘Treasure Your Clothes’ campaign was a key element – posters were produced extolling the virtues of pressing, hanging and caring for clothes and shoes to prolong their life.

Importantly, clothes had to be both practical and stylish, which also meant it was increasingly acceptable for women to wear trousers. Department store Lillywhites marketed them as ‘practical wear for the home front’.

But it wasn’t just clothing that was expected to be kept up to scratch. IWM_factory fashion notesKeeping up standards in hair and makeup was also expected. As Yardley put it in a 1945 ad, ‘To work for victory is not to say goodbye to charm. For good looks and good morale are the closest of allies’. Or my favourite – ‘Beauty As Duty’ – which became an unofficial motto for women looking to keep up standards.

Although clothes rationing continued until 1949 (and other rationing went on into the 1950s) the launch of Dior’s New Look in 1947 marked the beginning of ‘peace’ in fashion terms…

With made up face and smart hair, a woman could still feel well dressed even if her clothes were last season, stockings darned and accessories homemade.

Fashion on the Ration runs until 31st August. Catch it before it goes !

 

Influence and our clothes

Influence: The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself (OED)

I recently attended a workshop to launch Her Career Garden, a dedicated development space for professional women to explore, experiment and discover how to make the most of their unique talents.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Launch of Her Career Garden

The theme of the launch was ‘Be more influential at work’ and the women in the room shared their thoughts on what they thought it was, why they don’t have it and how they could get more of it…..

This got me thinking. How does what we wear affect our influence on colleagues, friends and family? We mustn’t underestimate the importance of our clothes. Virginia Woolf says it best: ‘Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.’ Quite.

Research published by the University of Hertfordshire last year found that what people wear has a significant effect on self-esteem and confidence. This is particularly relevant to women, who are often still judged on their appearance rather than on their performance. I believe improved self-esteem and confidence translates into greater influence.

What are my top styling tips for greater influence at work?

  • Understand your office culture and dress accordingly. When you get to the top you can change it!
  • If you work in a conservative or corporate environment, invest in a good suit and add ‘mix and match’ pieces
  • If you work in a creative or informal environment and wear jeans, keep them dark and unripped
  • Skirts should be worn no more than one inch above the knee
  • If you wear heels, choose a height that you can walk, sit and move in comfortably
  • Inject your personality into your accessories using colour and texture
  • The non-negotiables: clean hair, nails and teeth. These small details matter and are vital to good first impressions

 

Travel in style

We all want to look effortlessly chic when we travel. But unfortunately, in my view, all the glamour has gone out of travel, particularly by air. Long gone are the days when people dressed to get on a boat, plane or train. Add to that the extensive security, the sheer volume of people and the waiting times – even the most chic and put together woman can look a mess by the time she gets to her destination.

Here are a few tips to help you look your best:

  • First of all, dress well. By this I don’t mean wear something dressy, but do look put together. Taking a ‘tonal’ approach is very elegant, for example dark jeans and a navy jumper, or tones of camel and grey. Team these with contrasting accessories that will work with what you’ve packed
  • Wear shoes you can get out of easily. You’re not always asked to take them off – but it’s best to be prepared. Elegant ballet flats, loafers or simple trainers are best. If you choose heels, keep them at a mid-height – remember you’ll be walking miles of corridors at the airport, and your feet will swell on the plane
  • This next tip is something I swear by. I always carry any jewellery I’m taking (and not actually wearing) in my handbag or carry on – I never ever pack it in my case, for security reasons
  • Don’t wear white or linen while you travel – they get grubby and crease like mad– you’ll look a mess at the other end !
  • Wear items that you will also wear while you’re away – so that they do double duty and you’re not packing even more.

Enjoy your holiday !

packing2

 

 

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.’

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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.

summer banner

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.