Friday, 30 December 2016

Happy New Year

I hope all the readers of my blog have had a very Happy Christmas.

The week between Christmas and New Year is often a time that a lot of people are not at work and a time when they can meet with family and friends. For some people it's also a chance to relax and, with that in mind, I have been reading a book called 'The Little Book of Hygge' by Miek Wiking. Hygge (pronounced 'hooga') is the Danish way to live well. From lighting candles every day, to cooking comforting food, to spending time with friends, to cosying up by a fire, the Danes are among the happiest people on the planet. Like us here in the UK their winters are long, dark and cold but they make the most of them by creating a beautiful atmosphere in their homes, shutting out the cold and dark. Not only is hygge just for winter, it's for all year round too. The book tells you how you can create it. I love the concept of hygge and, apart from wearing black as the Danes do, I agree with all that the book says about it and intend to create hygge in my life too.

I would like to wish you all a very happy, healthy and hygge 2017! 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

My Boden picks for Autumn/Winter 2016

Recently I haven't bought anything from Boden but I've managed to find some items which I quite like this autumn/winter. It's always best to wait until Boden have a 20 or 25% discount of various categories of clothes before you buy - so keep an eye out.  

Firstly, I do like a cheerful duffle coat in the winter to brighten up dull and cold days. This one is currently £125.30 (usually £170) and comes in navy, rope and red as well as this yellow.

This navy shawl-collared cardigan looks great for really cold days, contains mohair and wool and comes in grey and navy. Currently £69.65 from £99.50.

Velvet is certainly having a moment this winter and these velvet trousers would be great for wearing to a party with a blouse. They only come in navy and look like they're selling out fast. £48.65 current price at 30% off.

I love this sparkly Christmas Breton top. Boden do Bretons in many different styles in this range there are some fun patterns. £24.15 - normally £34.50.

Lastly, I like these Chelsea boots, which come in black, tan and oxblood (above). The heel height looks comfortable to walk in and the quality looks good too. Currently £83.30.

That's all for my Boden picks for now - I might see something else I like from there soon. Do you have any favourite items from Boden?

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Transitioning into Autumn/Winter

Well, it's been a while since I last blogged but here is a post about transitioning our wardrobes from Summer to Autumn. This year we've had a good September with some warm days recently. However, the mornings and evenings are feeling decidedly 'autumnal' now with a definite nip in the air and darker! In fact we are now into October so it really is time to look at your Autumn/Winter wardrobe and pack away (if you can) your really summery clothes. Here are my suggestions for transitioning into Autumn:

1. Unless you are going away on a holiday to a warm climate soon, pack away really obvious summer clothes and accessories such as sleeveless tops, shorts, straw bags, flip flops and light strappy sandals.

2. If you want to continue wearing white jeans into October/November that's fine. However, the UK climate is very wet and mud splashes on white jeans is not a good look, even if you wear boots with the jeans. Personally I feel too summery after mid-September in white trousers so I usually pack mine away then. White tops, blouses and tee shirts are fine to still wear into the Autumn. They can be layered under a cardigan or jumper if the weather is cool.

3. If the weather gets into the 20s at this time of year (which it has been known to) then layers are the order of the day, which can be shed when the day warms up. Also, instead of strappy summer sandals you could wear ballet flats or loafers.

4. Some summer dresses can be worn with black tights or leggings and a cardigan into the Autumn. White or light coloured summer dresses can be packed away.

5. Edit your wardrobe by taking out all of your Autumn/Winter clothes and laying them on the bed. It's a good idea to try them on to make sure you still like them and they fit you properly. Are they the right colour for you? Do you have the right shoes, boots etc to go with them? Do you have tops that match most of your bottoms? Do you still like the item of clothing or accessory? Be ruthless! Those that you no longer want/like can be donated to a charity shop.

6. Make a list of items that you need to fill any gaps in your wardrobe.

7. Go shopping for those items but make sure anything you buy will go with three other things in your wardrobe.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Fit matters more than size does

I guarantee that you can walk into several high street shops, try on a selection of clothes, and be a different size in all of them! I have clothes in my wardrobe ranging from a size 12 to size 16 and they all fit me. However, we are so fixed on buying 'our' size that to size up must mean that we have put on weight overnight surely? Not so, it's just the vagaries of sizing by the clothes manufacturers. They are really only a rough guide. What we are looking for in our clothes is that they fit us perfectly - not tight and restrictive nor baggy and swimming on us.

Many of us buy our clothes on line now and so it's a good rule to buy two sizes if you are unsure of the fit of what you are buying. One can be returned later and it will give you a good idea of the brand's sizing - whether they are on the larger or smaller side.

Here are some pointers for ensuring a good fit with your clothes:

Trousers and Jeans:  Make sure the length of your trousers and jeans is correct. If you are going to wear heels with them, the trousers need to partially cover the foot; if you are going to wear flat shoes they can be a little shorter. They also need to fit at the waist or hips with no bagging. You can, however, always wear a belt to bring them in at the waist or hips, but allow for this in the length. They shouldn't be too tight either to produce the 'camel toe' effect or a 'muffin top' if the jeans or trousers are low rise.

Skirts: Ideally the waistband should be loose enough to fit two fingers between your body and the waistline. Too loose and the skirt will move around; too tight and the waistband will bend over and there may be spillage over the top. Best to get a larger size and cut the label out.

Jackets and Coats: Make sure the fit is good at the shoulders. The shoulder line of the jacket shouldn't extend further than your shoulder, nor should it be narrower, which will also very likely mean that the sleeves will be too short. The sleeve length should end at the break of your wrist and make sure you try on a jacket or coat with the thickest item of clothing that you will be wearing with it, because the sleeves will ride up with a thick jumper for example. You should be able to do the buttons up on a coat or jacket, the exception being a denim jacket.

Shirts and Blouses: The obvious fitting problem is - does it gape between the buttons at the front?  If so, then size up but bear in mind the other points for fit at the shoulders and cuffs. If you have a large bust, it may be better to go for a blouse or shirt that pulls on over your head with a collar and open neckline, giving a shirt effect such as this one from Kettlewell Colours

or this blouse from Boden:

Dresses: In my opinion, you should only wear a body con dress if you are a size 8/10. For the rest of us, a slightly looser fit looks better if the dress is straight cut or a shift dress. Please do bear in mind your body shape when choosing dresses. If you have a small waist and larger hips, your dress should be shaped to follow the curves of your body. If you have a straight body with little or no waist, then you can wear a straight cut dress. The armholes of your dress shouldn't be cut too low and the dress shouldn't pull across the bust.

Shorts: Follow the advice for trouser and jeans above, ensuring that the length of the shorts is flattering for you. Too short is never a good look unless you are young and/or really slim!

Do have your clothes tailored to fit you if they are not quite right, especially in the length. In my experience, you are more likely to wear the item of clothing if it fits you well.

Friday, 10 June 2016

What to wear for a wedding on a budget

If you are a guest at a wedding this summer how can you look great without spending a fortune? It could cost you several hundred pounds to buy a. a dress  b. shoes c. a bag  d. a jacket  e. a hat or fascinator  f. hosiery  g. shape underwear. If there is an evening party you may need flat shoes to dance in as well - phew! Have I missed anything out?

Now obviously, if you have more than one wedding to attend throughout the summer you could wear this same outfit again and maybe even for a few years. But if you have a tight budget here are some suggestions:

1. Look through your wardrobe first. Try on any smart dresses or jackets that you have to see if they would be suitable.

2. If you find, say, an existing dress that would be ok - you could look for an inexpensive jacket or shrug in a colour that would compliment it.

3. If you already have a smart jacket that would be fine to wear to a wedding in your wardrobe, look for a budget priced dress which again would compliment the colour of the jacket.

4. You may be able to find a dress with a 'good' label in a charity shop. The same applies to a hat or bag.

5. If your budget runs to it, slightly more expensive accessories can upgrade a cheaper dress.

6. Dress agencies are often a good source of clothes with designer labels at reasonable prices.

In an ideal world, it is better to have one or two classically cut dresses (preferably in plain colours) such as the one below, which you can wear to almost anything and which will last you a lot longer than one season. You can dress them up for weddings etc and down for more casual occasions. The dress needs to make you look amazing and it eliminates the panic of what to wear, because it will always be a reliable item of clothing. Changing the accessories you wear with the dress will help you to not get bored with it.

If you don't have a classic style personality then this dress, which is more romantic, would be great. It can still be dressed up or down:

It certainly is possible to find a great wedding outfit without going overboard!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Everyday Inspiration

The other day I was doing my 'once a year job' and there I met a lady who immediately struck me as a very stylish person. She was not, of course, a famous film star or well-known personality but she looked put-together and had thought about what she was wearing. During the day we got talking about clothes (one of my favourite subjects!) and I asked her where, as a lady of a certain age, she bought her clothes from. Her answer surprised me - firstly, charity shops. It turns out that she is one of those people who always finds a bargain (or two) at a charity shop and the clothes are often good quality brands such as East, Karen Millen and Laura Ashley. Secondly, she often buys her clothes from vintage shops, where you can pick up unusual designs but you have to search for them. In fact, the owner of such a shop knows her so well that she looks out for items for her. Oh, and this lady I was working with never pays full price for anything.....

This particular lady, who is a dramatic/romantic style personality, got me thinking about where I buy my clothes and maybe taking time to search out unusual places to buy them, rather than just defaulting to the usual high street shops. If charity shops in your area frequently have more upmarket clothes in them, then there is nothing wrong with shopping there. The same with vintage shops - gems are often hiding there! Using accessories to style your bargains is key and one way to make a cheaper item of clothing look less so is to wear a more expensive piece of jewellery with it. 

There are on-line shops to consider too such as Hush, Boden and Poetry. Also dress agencies if you have a good one in your area. Some little towns also have individual, non-chain, boutiques where you can find interesting clothes. 

So thank you inspirational lady I met the other day - I will certainly be thinking more outside of the high street box now.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Between season dressing

At this time of year (Spring), the weather can be warm one day and freezing the next - so what to wear? We need clothes that will transition between winter one day and summer the next! Here are some of my tips:

1. Don't pack away all of your winter jumpers or cardigans. For the days when the temperature drops, like it has today as I write this, you need to layer up to stay warm, so you could wear a top and cardigan or a not-too-bulky jumper with a layer underneath.

2. A trench coat, raincoat or medium weight coat/jacket under which you could wear the above layers is ideal.

3. If it starts out cold in the morning and ends up warm in the afternoon, then again, layers are good so that you can peel off the top layers as you heat up. Make sure the underneath layers are good enough to 'stand alone' and are not old, faded or shapeless tee shirts.

4. Fabrics such as lightweight wool, denim (a year round fabric anyway), jersey and heavier cotton are fine for transitional dressing. Avoid fabrics that are too light and floaty at this time of year.

5. Heavy wool scarves are best stored away now but you can wear lighter weight scarves, which look good with a trench coat or jacket.

6. Consider your footwear. Furry and fleecy lined boots will be too wintery and heavy so wear ankle boots, brogues or another closed in shoe of your choice such as ballet flats,loafers or court shoes.

7. You can continue to wear opaque tights of 60 denier or under if the weather is on the cool side, but avoid really thick, heavy tights. However, if you are wearing for example a polyester or light jersey dress, then tights less than 40 denier would look better.

Between season dressing can be difficult, especially in this country, as the weather is often neither one thing nor another but hopefully we will have many warm days to look forward to as summer approaches.

Friday, 1 April 2016

My Boden Spring/Summer picks

It's Spring and that time of year again when I'm picking out my current favourites from Boden. This doesn't mean of course that I will be buying them all - although I can wish! Currently Boden have an extra 20% off until Sunday so now is a good time to take stock of your wardrobe.

Firstly dresses. I personally prefer my dresses and skirts to be on the knee and Boden dresses are usually above the knee. However, I will try the long length, which may hit at the knee

Casual Jersey Dress

This jersey dress has been around in various patterns and colours for several years and looks to be a versatile dress up or down item..

Blackberry Dress

The above dress would be great for wearing on holiday or for casual summer days.

Secondly trousers:

Richmond Trouser

These trousers come in a variety of colours - why not try red!

Richmond 7/8 Trouser

I like patterned trousers and those above look great with plain tops, although I would wear a brighter top than the one in the picture.

Next up, jackets:

Olivia Jacket

I like denim jackets and the one above is currently at a really good price, currently £38.08.

Hazelbury Blazer

A navy jacket is always a good wardrobe staple. This also comes in black and rose quartz.

On to tops:

Ravello Top

I like the Ravello top - another Boden 'classic' which comes out every year in various colours. Another dress up or down item.

Pleat Front Top

This pleat front top has a dressy feel about it - again it can be dressed up or down.

Denim Shirt

As well as a denim jacket, I like a denim shirt. I personally wouldn't do double denim but would wear this with white, black or coloured jeans.

Lastly shoes:

Dana Trainer

I really like these animal print trainers, which also come in white and silver.

I could go on but that's it for now for my Boden picks. Do you have any particular favourites for this Spring/Summer?

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

How to dress a semi straight body shape

Continuing with my 'how to dress body shapes' series, last but not least is the semi straight body shape. I have this body shape myself. I'm not completely straight with no waist, but neither do I have a really defined waist - I'm just somewhere in between the two. When I'm heavier than I should be I tend to lose my waistline but when I'm at a reasonable weight my waist area seems to indent a bit.

If you have an in-between shape, neither super straight or curvy then here are some tips for you:
  • Medium weight fabrics, neither too floppy and clingy or too stiff, are best. A good test is to drape a garment over your arm and see how much shape it holds.
  • Avoid long boxy, too straight, jackets, which will make you look bigger than you are - look for semi fitted styles which gently hug the body, emphasising your shape without being too tight.
  • Avoid flared or full skirts in clingy materials - choose straight or slightly A line shapes in medium weave materials.
  • If you are slim, you can wear belted coats or dresses if the belt isn't too wide, otherwise just go for semi-fitted coats and dresses.
  • For bags, avoid too stiff and angular styles but go for bags either in a soft material with a structured shape or a stiffer material with a slouchier shape.
  • You need to avoid extremes in anything.
Below are some examples of clothing and accessories suitable for a semi-straight body shape.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Book Review -The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

I haven't done a book review for a while so I thought I would review The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. I have this book on my Kindle and it is one of the most popular books to be published over the last couple of years. It's not a style book but one section of it is about sorting out your wardrobe.

Marie Kondo advocates taking all of your clothes out of your wardrobes, cupboards and drawers, every place in the house where there are clothes, shoes and bags, putting them in the middle of a room and spreading them out on the floor. Then she says to pick up every item of clothing one by one and see if it sparks joy. If it does, then keep it, if not then discard it. There is no in-between - it either sparks joy or it doesn't! She gives a set order for tidying in the house and clothes are first, followed by books then papers, miscellaneous items and lastly sentimental items and keepsakes.  I did start to do this process a few months ago with my clothes but I was not as fully committed to it as I should have been. I intend to start doing it again soon because my goal, as I've talked about on this blog before, is to have fewer items but of better quality.

Marie believes in talking to her clothes and thanking them for what they have done for you before getting rid of them. I don't think somehow I will be doing this however - a bit too Japanese for me. She also has a particular way of folding clothing and storing them. This does appeal to my nature and I try to do this (when I have time!).

The book, of course, goes into much more detail than I have talked about here. If you are looking to clear clutter from your wardrobe, your house and your life then I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

What to wear if you have a straight body shape

There are basically three main bodyshapes: straight, semi-straight and shaped. We've looked at shaped (or pear shaped) so let's look at what to wear if you have a straight body shape.

If you have a straight, or rectangular body shape, you usually have little to no waist definition, flat hips and bottom, sometimes a short waist and very often long, slim legs. Here are a few tips to help:

1. Emphasise your legs - skinny jeans, leggings, straight skirts and coloured trousers are good. 

2. Keep your midsection uncluttered by avoiding details at the waist such as belts.

3. Keep the lines of your clothing straight and choose vertical lines and geometric prints and checks if you like pattern.

4. Crisp and structured fabrics work well, such as cotton but if you have a large bust then wear slightly softer fabrics.

5. Avoid frills, gathers at the waist, fabric that is too floppy, and floral prints. 

The above are some examples (from Boden) of what to wear if you have a straight body shape.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Feel Good January

Happy New Year! I do hope 2016 will be a great year for us all as we aim to look our stylish best.

I find January to be the longest, darkest and coldest month of the year here in the UK. We are often overdrawn at the bank through overspending at Christmas, we are trying to shed the excess pounds we gained over Christmas and sometimes the weather keeps us indoors for days at a time so we feel stir-crazy! It's not all gloom and doom, however. There are things we can do to help ourselves feel good in January.  Here are some suggestions:

1. Get a good night's sleep. It's so important to get adequate sleep, particularly in the winter when our energy levels can be at their lowest. I'm trying to get to bed by 10 p.m. instead of watching the television or being on my computer. Reading a book that's not too exciting helps us relax too.

2. Pay extra attention to skincare. In the winter our skin suffers at the mercy of the cold and wind. As a night time ritual, don't neglect to cleanse, tone and moisturise your skin - I'm talking to myself here too. If your skin is very dry add some facial oil to hydrate it even more. My current favourite is Neal's Yard Orange Facial Oil. In the morning after cleansing, toning and moisturising again, wear foundation, which also helps protect the skin.

3. Get some exercise. If you can, get out everyday for a walk, or run if that's what you like to do. Even if you don't have a dog to walk, pretend you have one and make yourself get up from the computer and go out for 20-30 mins in the fresh air. Easier if you work from home of course. If the weather's awful why not put on an exercise dvd and do a workout to that?

4. Eat healthily. Whenever I eat healthily, and by that I mean no chocolate, sugar, alcohol or rubbish foods in general, I feel so much better and have tons more energy. There are several cook books out now that have healthy recipes, even for cakes and desserts. They don't feel like 'diet' books either and the recipes are worth a try. Have a look at Deliciously Ella, Get the Glow and even Nigella Lawson's new book Simply Nigella.

5. Take stock of your wardrobe. Instead of adding more items to your wardrobe from the sales, why not have a look at what you have and see if you can last the rest of the month without buying anything new. Can you wear what you have in different combinations? What about adding a forgotten piece of jewellery or a scarf in a contrasting colour to complete an outfit? Buying too many clothes doesn't really help us as we usually only wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. Let's make 2016 the year when we buy clothes we love but fewer of them and of better quality.

Here's to a healthy, feel-good January!