Making it easy to travel stylishly

Last summer I wrote about travelling in style and I thought this was a topic well worth revisiting, as so many of us are jetting off for our annual break.  We all aspire to look effortlessly chic when we travel, but it’s not easy now that so much of the glamour has gone out of it (particularly by air).  Long gone are the days when people dressed up 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 my top tips to make it easy:

  • Dress well. By this I don’t mean you have to wear something dressy, but do make an effort to look put together. Dark jeans and a breton top are a foolproof combination – just make sure the jeans have some stretch. If you’re heading somewhere hot, wearing a lightweight knit (or light flowing trench) on your journey means you’ll have something warm to wear when you arrive back in the always-cooler UK
  • 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 flats, loafers, sliders or stylish trainers are best (I love my silver sliders and Ash and Nike Flyknit trainers). 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

easy_silver sliders

  • Carry your jewellery. I always carry my jewellery in my handbag or carry on – I never ever pack it in my case. Carrying it rather than wearing it also means I’m not fussing with necklace and bracelet clasps and having to drop them loose into the plastic trays when getting ready to go through security. Don’t go mad – stick to the pieces you love and will actually wear

easy_jewellery

  • Wear sunglasses for instant chic. There are so many reasons celebrities do this: instant glamour, hiding tiredness, not having to wear makeup, etc

easy_sunglasses

  • Don’t wear white or linen. They get grubby and crease like mad– you’ll look a mess at the other end !
  • Wear items that you will wear on your trip. That way, they do double duty and you’re not packing even more.

Make an effort to buck the prevailing trend of slovenly airport wear and who knows, you may even get upgraded.

Everyone needs a stylist: part 2

I recently wrote that people often think it’s negative to hire a personal stylist. That by doing so, they’re admitting that they don’t know how to dress.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Politicians know that what they wear is vital to their ‘brand’, (Hillary Clinton has a styling budget) and our own PM is starting to pay more careful attention. But that’s another blog post entirely…

There are a number of very positive reasons that people hire me.  I offer honest and objective advice but there are other reasons too.  The fact is, I can save you both time and money, and reduce the stress of shopping or putting outfits together.  How?

  • I do the hard work (so you don’t have to).  I research the items you’re looking for and build relationships with the brands and boutiques that matter.  This results in better service from those retailers – and often a discount too!
  • I save you time.  By doing that research I’ve pinpointed the items that are most likely to work for you.  So you don’t have to try on loads and loads of stuff, or waste valuable time ordering and returning things.
  • I take away the pain of changing rooms, of endless searching, of being afraid to try something new. When you shop with me, I bring clothes to you ready for you to try.  No fighting with armfuls of items you’re not really sure about, getting all flustered.  You can relax in the knowledge that you’ll be getting your own personal ‘edit’.

Don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what some of my clients say:

Steve: I’ve never had the confidence to shop for clothes properly.  The small investment with Sam has paid for itself, preventing me buying the wrong stuff and my new style has already been positively noticed, even by complete strangers.

Katharine: It really is an investment in yourself.  I was hesitant to ask for help – surely by now I should know what suits me and what to wear.  Wow…what a difference Samantha makes.  She makes you feel comfortable with your own style offers ideas, recommendations and suggestions with integrity and honesty.

Susan: This is the first time I’ve ever considered working with a stylist.  After all, I could spend the money on new clothes!  I can say unequivocally that feeling great about my clothes has been invaluable.  I continue to hold Samantha’s advice in my head… it stops me from rash, impulsive shopping.  Money very well spent indeed. 

So what are you waiting for? Contact me today.

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone needs a stylist: part 1

men need stylist tooSome people think it’s somehow negative to hire a personal stylist.  That they’re admitting that they don’t know how to dress or that they don’t look ‘quite right’. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are a number of very positive reasons that people hire me as their personal stylist, and one of the most important is that I offer honesty and objectivity.

working hard as a stylistWe all have far too many clothes (me included), and we often have emotional attachments to them. Sometimes these emotional attachments are valid, but sometimes they are unnecessary (and can hold you back).  With so many clothes, often people can’t see the wood for the trees: it’s difficult to be objective and honest with yourself when your wardrobe is full to overflowing.  This is where a personal stylist like me can help.

And here’s something really interesting that I’ve discovered working with clients and observing people’s behaviour: sometimes our partners/best friends/spouses aren’t completely truthful about what suits us or what we should be buying.  I’ve witnessed more than one example of someone persuading his or her partner/friend not to buy something, even though that item looked great and he or she loved it.

lucy needs a stylistWhen you hire me, you get honesty and objectivity, built on a solid foundation of trust.  With my objective, non-emotional eye, I can help you:

  • make decisions about clothing that you may be having doubts about
  • get a clearer picture of your ‘style identity’, whatever that may be
  • recognise if your existing wardrobe is helping or hindering you in reaching your goals

But don’t just take my word for it.  Here’s what Katharine says:  I was hesitant to ask for help – surely by now I should know what suits me.  After all, I would be admitting to some shortcomings on my part. Wow, what a difference Samantha makes.  She makes you feel comfortable with your own style and guarantees you outfits that you have not thought of before. She offers ideas, recommendations and suggestions with integrity and honesty… I felt stylish, inspired and organised!   At a recent interview, I was easily the best dressed and it gave me more presence than the others.  I got the job…

Contact me today if you’d like to benefit from some honest and objective style advice.

creating gap list 2

I was a lingerie model for a day

‘I studied at Chelsea College and weave romantic stories into silk treasures featuring my hand drawings and embroidery.  Growing up near the South Downs, I have always been inspired by the British countryside and my love for the outdoors and heritage can be found within my brush strokes.’ – StephieAnn Woolven

StephieAnn Woolven is a young textile designer who has recently launched her own lingerie business. Stephie asked me to participate in a photoshoot for her next collection, as she was keen to have a ‘real’ woman as well as a professional model. How could I refuse ?

IMG_2074We spent a sunny May day at a beautiful house in Storrington, on the edge of the Sussex Downs.  Makeup artist Jade Victoria worked her magic on our faces and hair, getting us photo ready.

I got to model Stephie Ann’s beautiful lingerie including silk camisoles, lounge pants and scarves.  It was really fun – and also scary as, let’s face it, I am 49 years old and not a professional !  The other model, gorgeous Amy Neville (find her on Instagram at @amynevfashiondiaries) is half my age and is a professional, and it was great to watch her work.

Sam Pansy Cami Low ResPansy Camisole £85One of the pieces I wore was the ‘Pansy’ camisole (pictured left, and worn with a denim jacket, right) from Stephie’s Hammer Through Daisies collection from S/S16 – it’s a classic style and is currently her best selling product.  The print is on a silver grey background with royal blue flowers created from Stephie’s drawings and photography.  The photos for the pattern were taken with a blurred 3-D effect, so there’s lots of movement in the print.

 

Midnight Jeans2low resI also wore several pieces from her Autumn Winter 2017 collection, which is not yet available on her website, so you’re getting a sneak preview !  The collection is called That Tender Light, from the poem ‘As She Walks in Beauty’ by Lord Byron.  Pictured here is the ‘Midnight’ camisole worn simply with my own jeans.

I couldn’t believe how exhausting the day was !  Even though there was lots of waiting around between shots, it was an incredibly intense process.  It was such a treat to have professional photos taken, and have my hair and makeup done – and it was incredibly flattering to be asked to participate.

More information about Stephie and her collection are available at www.stephieanndesign.com

Hair and makeup by Jade Victoria

Photography by Klicka

Sam eve PJs low res_croppedSam Rose Scarf

 

 

 

Semple dresses: quality, elegance and simplicity

‘Many other women shared my vision of finding the dream dress.  Yet finding well cut dresses, made from exquisite fabrics, that are sized and priced appropriately can often be hard to find’ – Maggie Semple

Images courtesy of Maggie Semple Ltd.

MaggieSemple_permission to use for blogI recently wrote about an evening with Maggie Semple, and last week I had the pleasure of being invited back to her atelier to take a closer look at her dress collection and to find out more about what inspires her.  Maggie’s client is the discerning professional woman, who is looking for quality, elegance and simplicity.

The Semple Collection is a range of beautifully made shift dresses made with the finest Italian natural fabrics including wools, cottons, silks and linens.  The dresses exude elegance, and can be made to measure with your own custom colourful, bespoke touches, or bought ready to wear.

Maggie Dress MTM_1There are two original shift dress styles: 1) the Ophelia, with a round neck and short sleeves, and 2) the Bianca, which is short sleeved with a button detail. However, each dress can be tailored to the individual client in terms of sleeve style and length and neck line.  You are invited to choose from a range of hand picked fabrics in a variety of colours and patterns.  To make the dress extra special, you can also choose a contrasting coloured lining (in 100% cupro – there’s absolutely no polyester) to add another individual touch.

Maggie Dress RTW_2All of the dresses are made on the premises.  It takes twenty hours to go from the initial client consultation through to measurement and the final fitting.  Clients include athlete Tessa Sanderson (who was featured in Hello! Magazine this month wearing her made to measure fuchsia dress) and opera singer Katerina Mina

When choosing a Maggie Semple dress, you’re not just ‘buying a dress’ – it’s a full experience.  And like Maggie herself, the dresses are elegant, vibrant and unique.  Find out more here.

 

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

 

 

 

You can achieve elegant simplicity

Richard Branson once said, ‘Complexity is your enemy.  Any fool can make something complicated.  It is hard to make something simple.’  Now Richard may not have had clothes in mind when he said this, but he’s right – so many of us struggle to achieve elegant and effortless simplicity when it comes to dressing.

Working with my clients, ‘simplicity’ is a theme I find myself returning to again and again.  As you know, most of my clients are over 40, and simplicity is the key to avoiding fussiness and frumpiness as we get older.

Betty Jackson was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’ last week, and she agreed – keep it simple, ladies, no matter your age, shape or size.

me in black Oct 2015 croppedYou can achieve elegant simplicity.  It requires paying attention to three important elements:

  • simplicity in colour: my golden rule is to wear no more than three at a time (excluding prints) to keep things streamlined and polished
  • simplicity in accessories: less is more.  Wear a statement earring or necklace, for example, but never both
  • simplicity in shape: know what cuts and shapes work for you and stick with them

I’m happy to help, of course. Give me a call !

 

 

What is the ultimate capsule wardrobe?

hanging rail editedI recently came across some interesting statistics.  Evidently, the average woman in the US had 36 items of clothing in her wardrobe in 1930 (making just nine outfits, according to Forbes).  Today, the average woman has 120.  Clearly a lot has changed in the past 86 years.

I think we would all agree that 36 items would represent the ultimate ‘capsule wardrobe’ – something which many of my clients ask me to help them create.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the capsule approach, but it is difficult to achieve in a world dominated by cheap and readily available fashion.  It takes some commitment and effort to accomplish its promised ‘effortlessness’.

Of course, people also have different ideas of what ‘capsule’ actually means.  Some bloggers have written and talked about editing it down to only 10 items, or 12 or even 20.  (This usually excludes ‘extras’ such as coats, shoes and eveningwear).

My advice?  Don’t aim for a specific number of items, just plan to reduce your wardrobe down significantly, keeping in mind that most people only wear 20-30% of their clothes.  Examine what you actually wear (and what fits) vs. what you don’t (and doesn’t).

This is difficult to do yourself as we are all too emotionally attached to our clothes. Here’s where my wardrobe detox can help.  You may not get down to 36 items, but we will pare things back significantly and put together combinations you won’t have thought of before.  Contact me and book a session now!

 

Give it the cold shoulder !

IMG_2383I love it when less-obvious areas become a fashion-focal-point.  And this spring, we see the return of the shoulder.

The new cut out shoulders, off the shoulder tops and Bardot necklines are so flattering, particularly if you want to hide your upper arms.  They come in stretch jersey, knit or floaty blouses, and there are a wide range to choose from – but snap one up quickly – they are selling out fast.  There are so many options to choose from, from high street choices such as M&S, H&M and Whistles, through to designers such as Baukjen, Splendid and Rosetta Getty.

I’ve just bought a ribbed knit one from Whistles which can be worn with the ‘V’ at the front or the back.  I wear mine at the front, as it’s more flattering, particularly if you are larger than a c-cup.

Wear yours with minimal jewellery as you don’t want to dilute the dramatic effect of the neckline.   It can be dressed down with jeans and trainers, or up with smarter trousers, skirts or cropped kick-flares (this season’s key silhouette).

So prepare to bare, in a distinctly elegant way.

Films and fashion

It’s Oscar season. Which got me thinking about my favourite fashion films.  Stylist magazine recently published a list of 45 iconic fashion films.  It included the usual suspects such as The Devil Wears Prada and Clueless, but also timeless gems such as A Single Man, A Bout de Souffle, Annie Hall and Belle de Jour.  I would add Iris to the list, although strictly speaking it’s a documentary.  But my very favourite is Priceless (Hors de Prix in its native French).

Made in 2006, Priceless is a lovely little film starring Audrey Tautou as Irene, a young golddigger (a twenty first century Holly Golightly, in the true Truman Capote sense) who mistakes bartender Jean (played by Gad Elmaleh) for a wealthy man.  The setting is the luscious French Riviera.

The film isn’t about fashion, but the clothes are a central element of the story.  Audrey looks, frankly, ravishing as she bleeds poor Jean dry in her pursuit of a wealthy husband, snapping up Chanel, Eres, Gucci, Prada and Helmut Lang in the process.  In one scene she tests Jean’s resolve to the limit, brutally ripping the price tags off her new purchases as the poor man mentally envisages his savings and pension funds deplete to nothing.  She simply drips cool insouciance – which makes her sound awful but you can’t help but love her – particularly when she realises that true love is more important than money and beautiful baubles.  I won’t tell you any more – seek it out and enjoy ! Oh, and have a look at the ‘films’ board on my Pinterest page for some gorgeous images.

How to shop the sales…

lucy and bagsThere’s no getting round it. The sales have started – two weeks before Christmas.  Karen Millen, DvF, All Saints, Whistles and Kurt Geiger are all underway, not to mention my favourite independent boutiques such as Question Air.  So how do you ensure that you get the key pieces you’ve been waiting for, without being distracted by the dross or deals that are ‘too good to be true’ ?

Here are my five top tips for savvy sales shopping:

  • Do your research online and make a list of the items you’re after.  Stick to it!  If you know your size in a particular brand, go ahead and order it.  But remember, sizing varies widely across (and within) designers and brands, so it’s always best to try before you buy
  • Go early.  After the couple of weeks, all the good pieces are gone.  By the time January arrives, there will be nothing left but ‘bargains’ that no one wanted in the first place
  • Don’t get distracted by a ‘fantastic’ item at an amazing price that goes with absolutely nothing else you own – you’ll never wear it (see rule 5 below)
  • Think ‘investment’: the sales are a great time to snap up that fab winter coat, bag or leather skirt that you’ve had your eye on for weeks
  • Avoid costly mistakes by following the 3-7-14 rule.  American Glamour Magazine recently shared this.  Basically, if you buy something and you don’t wear it within 3 days (evening wear excepted) you clearly wearen’t that excited about it in the first place.  If you haven’t worn it in 7 days, you probably won’t.  Return it within 14 days or you will be throwing money away.  How’s that for focusing the mind ?

So elbows at the ready…  And remember, I’m always happy to advise you on building a wardrobe that works for you and your lifestyle, so do get in touch.

birthday shoes

 

Clothes coupons and ‘making do’

Version 2

Saturday 28th November would be my beloved grandmother Mary’s 104th birthday. She came from a solidly middle class background; her father worked in insurance, and she grew up in a modest house in Darlington, County Durham.  She was not underprivileged in any way, but neither was she spoilt or over-indulged.  Looking at what she and her generation owned and the clothes they wore, we would think they were completely deprived.

People didn’t have a lot of clothes back then, and World War II obviously had a major impact. When I was a child in the 1970s, I remember Mary having about 10 day dresses, 5 pairs of shoes, some knitwear (Marks & Spencer’s St Michael label, of course), blouses and two coats. That was it.  Clothes were mended and recycled, darned and remade, and worn and worn again.

My grandfather Egan’s wartime letters to Mary reveal a bit about how people really did ‘make do and mend’ and how precious and exciting it was when they acquired something new.

In April 1945 he writes: ‘I read with great interest of all your activities: sun-bathing in an easy chair, dashing about the house, going out in a scarlet frock and black coat – edge to edge style – and looking a perfect picture. Do I get browned off out here, so far away from my pin-up girl, oh boy, do I get browned off!’  (Don’t you just love the language?)

In September 1945 Egan was about to be demobbed, and was facing a bit of a clothes crisis himself:  ‘The position regarding clothes-coupons is rather precarious now, isn’t it? I shall have to try and get a suit made for myself as soon as possible, for even with the outfit I’ll get on demobbing I shan’t be too well off with suits:  the one I used to wear when on leave is threadbare by now.’

What would they make of our bulging wardrobes, filled with things we hardly ever wear?  Is your wardrobe in need of a ‘detox’?