Friday, 6 September 2013

In search of Effortless Style

A lot of articles have been written on the subject of Effortless Style and the person everyone cites as an example of Effortless Style is, of course, Audrey Hepburn. I agree with them - she certainly always looked elegant, due in part to the fact that she was very slim. Grace Kelly, Jackie Onassis, Princess Diana and now the Duchess of Cambridge also have that very special something that constitutes Effortless Style. So what is it that they have that many women hanker after? And can we all attain to it or is it just for the few?

To me, Effortless Style is having a knowledge of what colours and styles suit you but it goes beyond that knowledge. It is dressing in a way that is individual, not perfect and adding a few quirks that make you different from the crowd. Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Onassis and Grace Kelly also dressed in a way that was simple and uncluttered. Princess Diana did too as she got older. Compare the pictures below:

1980s - huge padded shoulders & not very flattering (nor the hat)

1990s - a much more simple and streamlined look

Quality over quantity is key.  Poor quality items don't look great in the long run. It is better to buy a few clothes and accessories of the best you can afford, than lots of cheap items. It's not easy to do this but for Effortless Style it's important. Fewer items in your wardrobe that go together well make dressing much easier! Simple lines and silhouettes and clothes that fit your body shape  also contribute to the Effortless Style look.

I believe we can all attain to a style that is all our own if we are prepared to make mistakes along the way.  Maybe, then, it is not so 'Effortless' after all!

Monday, 19 August 2013

August and Boden

The month of August, I find, is often a changeable month. Although still summer, the weather is often unsettled, the nights are definitely drawing in and there is an air of Autumn being just around the corner.  As far as clothes shopping goes, August is not a great month for it unless you are a great sales shopper, which I'm not.  There are some Autumn clothes in the shops but not as many as in September, and there are a few dog-ends of summer items left in tiny sizes!

So, looking ahead to Autumn, I recently received the Boden catalogue so I thought I would show you some of the things I like:

Emerald Mohair Cardigan
Tan Leather Pouch Bag

Red Sixties Jumper
Hamptons Tee
Cashmere Crew Neck Jumper
Black Deco Pump

I seem to be favouring green and stripes at the moment! I really love the bag and shoes, and the tops would be useful additions to most wardrobes - in the colours of your choice of course. 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Heaven Scent

When it comes to smells - I'm extremely fussy! My nose can usually sniff out anything that's off (in the fridge), in the wrong place (cat poo) or blocked (the kitchen sink). Indeed, whenever I was pregnant, certain smells would make me feel nauseous - cat food, the smell of my husband's Brut after shave lotion, coffee, tea, you name it. Smells evoke memories from way back. We can all remember certain childhood smells and instantly we are transported back to a house or garden where we grew up.  Our smell 'memory' is certainly very strong.

Recently I have been in search of a new perfume. My current perfume, Rose by Paul Smith has just run out, so I've been looking for something light and summery. I've ruled out certain scents - I can't have Women by Paul Smith as that reminds me of my son's wedding. I can't have Rive Gauche by Yves Saint Laurent as that reminds me of the 1970s. I can't have L'air du Temps by Nina Ricci as that reminds me of my first trip to Paris with my husband. Am I being too sentimental?  Maybe but I want the good memories that those scents give me to stay firmly locked up in those events.  I know some people wear a signature perfume all their lives and it becomes 'them'. Whenever you smell Chanel No 5, for example, you think of Mary or Susan. (Actually, I don't like Chanel No 5!). No, for me it has to be something new every time.

Perfumes I have tested

Of the perfumes I have been testing, my favourites so far are Elie Saab and Stella by Stella McCartney. Those perfumes have an 'up market' smell (and price) and I felt good wearing them. I also like La Vie est Belle by Lancome and Miss Dior. I've just been given a sample of Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.100 and that is a very summery scent which I also like.


Many perfumes out there, especially those by film stars all smell the same to me. After walking out of a department store with about three scents on each arm, I couldn't really distinguish one from another once they had settled down. Then, having vowed to myself that I would save up and get the perfect perfume, a few days ago I was in such 'need' of a new scent that I went into Debenhams where they had a half price sale of perfume and, without even smelling it, I bought Optimistic by Paul Smith! Because I've had two Paul Smith perfumes that I've liked before, I thought I would probably like this one too. Well, it's ok for everyday use but, the moral of the story is, only buy perfume that you truly love, even if it takes months of waiting!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Good foundations

It's a long time since I've blogged but inspiration is rising again so here I am!

Yesterday I went with a friend to Bravissimo in Oxford. It is a shop that sells underwear, nightwear and swimwear for ladies who are D-L cup. They also have a range of clothes under the name Pepperberry that are designed to fit larger busted ladies in all the right places. More on that later.

Although it was a Saturday, both my friend and I were able to get booked in for a bra fitting with only a few minutes' wait.  The lady that was my fitter was extremely knowledgeable on the subject and not a tape measure was in sight! She said I needed to go up a cup size or two (oh no!) and brought me various types of bras to try on. She made sure the bras I tried on were absolutely right for me and gave me the option of returning the ones I decided on within 28 days if I wasn't happy, providing the label was still on and I hadn't washed them.

After having had a professional bra fitting, I am now a convert and would recommend it, whatever size you are. I would definitely be prepared to travel the 50 miles to Oxford again for the experience.

Bravissimo's clothes range, Pepperberry, was located on the ground floor of the shop. The clothes are designed to accommodate larger busts. They had a good range of dresses, tops & shirts in sizes 8-18 and within the size range there is a choice of curvy, really curvy and super curvy sizes too. My friend bought a dress and a blouse as well as bras and the staff in Pepperberry were very helpful, bringing out different sizes when required. It made a change from the ubiquitous department stores with their standard fitting clothes (that never really fit properly!) and we definitely had the shop staff's personal, but not pushy, attention. A successful day's shopping!

Bravissimo's website has useful information about bra fitting, dressing for body shapes and fit of clothes.  

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Breaking out of the uniform trap

It's easy to fall into the trap of wearing a 'uniform' each day.  If I'm not going out or expecting anyone to come to my house, my uniform comprises jeans, a jumper or a top with a cardigan and slippers!  On days when I do housework, I wear old, scruffy jeans and tops. Well, you can't get bleach on your good clothes can you? However, I have noticed that dressing in the same type of clothes every day, particularly if I dress too scruffily, has a fairly negative effect on my mood! So, in order to break free from this cycle of predictable dressing, I suggest the following:
  • To always wear colours that flatter*, even if doing housework, painting or other jobs. If you wear your husband's old tee shirt the chances are that the colour will be wrong for you anyway. Obviously you don't need to wear your best clothes for doing household chores, but some tee shirts, jeans, jumpers etc that are the right colours for you and fit you properly will go a long way to making you feel 'up together'.
  • Wear some make-up - an instant mood lifter. Perfume too!
  • Wear a skirt or dress for a change. 
  • Look good for YOU - don't we deserve to look and feel good every day?
With the above in mind, I'm off to ditch the ratty tee shirts!

*A colour analysis with me will show you the best colours to flatter your skin, hair and eyes.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

In the bleak mid-winter

As I write this blog, snow has been on the ground for a week! It is very beautiful to look at and fun to go out in at first. However, I hate driving in ice and snow so I have been pretty much house-bound for most of the week.

Whilst 'holed up' l have been giving thought to my wardrobe. I have managed to resist buying clothes in the post Christmas sales, except for two layering tee shirts in Gap outlet at £2.99 each! So, I have decided not to buy anything new until spring (March/April). I will make do with what I have to see the winter out, meaning I will have to think of different ways to wear them each day.

In my winter wardrobe, then, I have:

  • 1 pair of denim jeans (bootcut)
  • 1 pair of cord jeans (skinny)
  • 1 pair of black trousers 
  • 1 denim skirt
  • 1 black & beige skirt
  • 4 jumpers
  • 2 cardigans
  • 4 thinner tops (dressier)
  • 4 long sleeved t-shirts
  • Some camisoles & sleeveless t shirts
  • 2 dresses
  • Knee length boots
  • Ankle boots
  • A selection of scarves & jewellery
From the above items (which seems a lot when written down) I am able to put many different combinations together, adding in accessories to complete an outfit. 

Capsule Wardrobe 

One good way of making a few items of clothing work is to create a capsule wardrobe by choosing three colours that suit you, a neutral and two other colours, and aim to buy only clothes in those colours. Everything in your wardrobe should then go together and you won't have any 'orphans' hanging there unworn, costing you money! This works particularly well when you have to pack to go on holiday and can only take a limited amount of clothes in your case.  I will talk more about capsule wardrobes at a later date.