Thursday, 17 August 2017

Orphan clothes

Do you have items of clothing in your wardrobe that don't go with anything else there? You know, the ones that sit there month after month (or year after year!). They could be there because they were part of an outfit for a wedding or other occasion or maybe someone bought you something for your birthday or Christmas and it is in a colour or style that isn't quite right for you. Whatever the reason, you look at those items every day and think maybe you should wear them but then dismiss them. 

I've had orphan clothing in my wardrobe on several occasions in the past. I once had a really nice blouse which I wore with a skirt a couple of times. It felt too 'dressy' to wear regularly (as I thought then) so it just got left forlornly in my wardrobe. After a few years I got rid of it because I'd had it for so long that it had lost its appeal! What a waste of money.

Here are some things you can do to ensure you wear your orphan clothes:

1. Make sure you buy clothes in colours that suit you and fit you properly. I can help you with this.

2. Before you buy anything new, think whether it will go with at least 3 other items in your wardrobe.

3. If it is a top or jacket that is 'dressy' why not wear it with jeans? These days anything can go with jeans.

4. If you are finding a coloured item of clothing difficult to match, a top or bottom in the correct neutral colour for you is a good option, or a patterned top or bottom containing one of the colours would go well.

5. Maybe you have coloured shoes that don't go with anything? Try wearing them with neutral colours in your wardrobe or, again, jeans.

6. Finally, only buy clothes that you really love and need. That way you won't be left with clothes that gather dust day on day! Then orphan clothes will be a thing of the past.

However, if you find that you really can't make an item of clothing work, then maybe it is time to donate it or sell it to someone else who could make use of it.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Looking after your clothes

You've sorted and edited your wardrobe and kept only the clothes that make you look and feel good. However, it's all very well having a wardrobe full of beautiful clothes but how well do you take care of them? If you just drop them on the floor at night or leave clothes screwed up in a ball in a corner, they are not going to look great and it could shorten their life!

Here's what works for me when it comes to looking after clothes:

1. When you take your clothes off, hang them on the outside of your wardrobe for a while before putting them away. This enables them to 'breathe' and cool down after being worn all day and also helps any creases to drop out.

2. Try to buy the correct coathangers for your clothes. The thin, flock covered ones are good and take up less space than wooden hangers. I do use wooden hangers, however, for heavy winter coats. Get rid of any wire hangers from the dry cleaners or any plastic store hangers with ridges which can make bumps or marks in your clothes. It's fine to use smooth plastic coathangers.

3. Heavy jumpers and cardigans should be folded rather than hung on hangers because their weight on the hanger will pull them out of shape. The same applies to knitted dresses if they are particularly thick or heavy.

4. Be sure to read the washing labels on your clothes re washing temperature or whether to hand wash or not and check whether your washing machine has the appropriate settings. A few months ago I washed a wool jumper in the washing machine on what I thought was a wool setting but unfortunately it shrunk and the wool matted. When in doubt about wool garments, wash by hand in lukewarm to cold water. This applies to silk and cashmere too.

5. Winter coats and jackets that are dry clean only can be taken to the cleaners at the end of the winter season so that they are ready to wear again when it gets cold.

6. To repel moths - lavender bags, cedar hangers or balls or moth sachets should be put in the wardrobe. To stop spiders taking refuge in your wardrobe put a few conkers in there (Autumn).

7. Shoes. Fairly obvious but regular cleaning with shoe polish that matches the colour of the shoe will help prolong their life. If the heels are worn down take them to a cobbler to get reheeled. Again, leave them outside the wardrobe to air a bit before you put them away.

8. Bags. Clean out your bag once a week and take out all the receipts etc that are in there. Dust or wipe the outside of your bag at the same time!

I hope you find these tips useful. There is also the subject of how to store your clothes and accessories, which I will tackle another time.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Maxi and Midi Skirts

Every summer for the past probably 10 years or more, maxi dresses come out in full force in the shops. That's fine - all ages can wear one and they can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion. When it comes, however, to maxi skirts and now this year's popular skirt length, the midi, there's a risk for those of us over 50 to look frumpy! Here are a few tips on how to wear maxi and midi skirts:

Maxi Skirts

If you have a larger hip to waist ratio, it's best to not have a maxi skirt that is too full with gathers around the waist, which will make you look larger:

 An A line skirt such as this one, which skims the hips, is better:

If you are petite (under 5' 3"), a pattern such as the one above will be too large for you, so if you want a pattern, stick to small scale ones.

With a maxi skirt, it's ok to wear a top outside of the waistband, provided the top is not too long, otherwise tuck it in to the skirt but be careful it doesn't add bulk where you don't need it!

You can wear almost any shoe with a maxi skirt as they are not that obvious under the length of the skirt, so flat sandals, wedges, trainer type shoes or ballet flats are all fine.

Midi Skirts

Midi skirts are a little trickier to wear than maxis because of where the hemline finishes. Try not to end the hemline at the widest part of your leg, which is usually mid-calf, so just below the knee or lower than mid-calf are better. 

Proportionately, tucking your top into the waistband of the skirt with a belt on top if your waist is slim enough is better than wearing it outside, as it looks neater and helps to avoid the frump factor of a long top (or a baggy one!) over a long skirt.

For shoes, trainers or trainer-type shoes (as in the photo above) are popular to wear with midi skirts in the summer but I would avoid them if you have thick ankles. Ditto for ankle strap shoes, which add another horizontal line across your foot/leg, thereby giving the effect of shortening your leg.

In winter you can wear knee length boots or ankle boots with matching tights to the boots. If your midi skirt is on the 'shorter' side then heels look better than flats as they elongate the leg. 

This blogpost by Amber McNaught of Forever Amber is a great mine of information on the subject of how to wear a midi skirt 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Useful Basics - The Breton Striped Top

The Breton Striped Top or tee shirt has become extremely popular in recent years. Many shops and stores sell their version of it and it originated in Brittany, France as a sailor's uniform. It is such a versatile top and can be worn all year round - on it's own in summer and layered with a jacket or cardigan for the other three seasons. I currently have three long sleeved Bretons, one thicker Breton and a short sleeved one. If I see a whole rail of Breton stripes in a shop I'm immediately drawn to them, as they come in so many colours now, not just navy and white. Originally, the Breton stripe was white for 2 cm and blue for 1 cm, such as the one below by Petit Bateau ( 

Now, the stripes can be any width and are still classed as a Breton. The two below are from Boden (

To accessorise a Breton top you could add a scarf or a necklace - a sparkly one or pearls would look good. How about adding some leopard print into the mix or a leather jacket?There are so many ways to dress up a Breton!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

My observations of how the French dress

I recently spent a few days in France, visiting Versailles, the Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, Montmartre & Sacre Coeur to name a few places. I love Paris - I was 23 the last time I was there. In fact, I love France in general and, as I like to people watch, I was interested to see how French women dress and whether it lives up to the hype we've all been lead to believe - that they are chic, understated and tasteful. I observed people on the metro, in the street, in touristy places, in cafes and restaurants and I would say, on the whole, that the women I saw in Paris do dress well. For me though it's often difficult to know who is Parisian and who isn't. They, however, can spot a tourist a mile away - could it be the way we dress?

Here's what I noticed that people wore:
  • Scarves - almost every female I saw was wearing a scarf, patterned or plain.
  • Cross-body bags
  • Knee length coats. It was cold on some of the days we were there so this could have been the reason for the coats.
  • Stylish trainers or flat shoes.
  • Neutral colours - beige, black and navy were very prevalent
  • There were stripes but I didn't see a huge number.

All the above are basics which most of us have in our wardrobes anyway. It seems to be that many French people have an air about them when it comes to the way they look and carry themselves. Even some of the men wore scarves as accessories, not just to keep warm! In Paris less certainly is more.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Colour Analysis Part 1

Having my colours analysed was, for me, one of the most enlightening experiences I've had. But is it just a fad that was popular in the '80s and has no relevance in today's world? Many stylists and fashion bloggers seem to think colour doesn't really matter when choosing clothes but personally I disagree. Just recently, in the press there has been a 'revival' of sorts of colour analysis, with journalists having their colours analysed and writing about their experience. See this article in The Times

Let's look at some of the benefits of colour analysis:

Knowing the colours that suit you means that you won't waste time in the shops looking at colours that are wrong for you.

The correct colours will harmonise with your colouring and make you look younger and more vibrant.

You will get compliments and that will lead to increased confidence.

Wearing the wrong colours means that the opposite is true - you look drab and older than you really are, the wrong colours will not harmonise with your colouring and you may end up hating everything in your wardrobe!

When I do a colour analysis I use the tonal method, which means that everyone falls into one of 6 colour directions - deep, light, cool, warm, bright or muted. Using test drapes I compare deep against light, cool against warm and bright against muted, looking at how the colours harmonise with your hair, skin and eyes. Everyone has a secondary colour characteristic too, so you could be, for example, deep and warm or bright and cool. You will receive a swatch booklet with all the colours that are correct for you so that when you go shopping you can see which clothing colours to buy that blend with the swatch.

Looking at the colour wheel above, everyone can wear any colour but you have to wear the right shade for you. 

Most people have 'wrong' colours in their wardrobe, so rather than throwing everything out, there are ways to wear those colours so the item of clothing isn't wasted. This particularly applies to black, which 70% of the population buy!

Lookout for Part 2 of Colour Analysis - coming soon.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Useful Basics - the cami

Today I'm looking at a very useful, basic item of clothing - the cami or camisole. In my wardrobe at present I have 5 camisoles in black, white, red, coral and lime green. These tops make a great base layer - under jumpers in winter, under a low cut top if you don't want to show too much cleavage, under a shirt with the buttons undone, under a long sleeved top and can even be worn on their own on hot days in summer with shorts,cropped trousers or a skirt. I intend to buy a few more soon as in my opinion you can never have too many camis!

You can buy them cheaply at Matalan for about £3 or Next for about £10 but my favourite place to buy them is from Kettlewell Colours ( as they come in so many lovely colours and 3 styles, they wash very well and don't fade.

The shorter cami, above left, comes in 38 colours and is currently £22.

The long cami, above right, comes in 28 colours and is £25.

The lace cami, above, comes in 24 colours and is £26.

Camisoles really are a great addition to your wardrobe and an ideal staple to wear all year around. 

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Questions to ask before you buy clothes

Before you part with your hard-earned cash and splash it on the latest trends in the shops, ask yourself these questions before you buy:

  • Is it the right colour for me? The best way to know this is to have a colour analysis then you can take your colour swatch wallet to the shops with you, hold it against the item of clothing and if it blends with the swatch then it should be the correct colour for you.

  •  Does the item of clothing suit my bodyshape? Are you straight, shaped or semi-straight? Look for clothes that follow the line of your bodyshape.

  • If there is a pattern on the garment, does it suit my scale? Large scale = large build, small scale = petite build.

  • Do I have at least 3 other items of clothing that this will go with? I'm sure we've all bought clothes that we liked in the shop but when we get home find they go with nothing in our wardrobe and so we end up not wearing them. This is a real waste of money so make sure you have an idea of what it can go with.

  • Can I afford it? If you've budgeted for it then yes.

  • Is it a good quality item and will it last through many washes? Remember the adage 'If you buy cheap you buy twice'. Many clothes fall apart or start to bobble after only a few washes.

  • Do I truly love it? If not, walk away. It's really got to be something you can enthuse about and not just think 'it's ok', which is something I've done in the past many times! 

  • Does it fit my wardrobe or style personality and my lifestyle?

You may think that these are such a lot of questions to ask but they will save you a lot of hassle, not to mention money, in the long run! Sometimes though, we come across an item of clothing that is love at first sight and we simply have to have it! To that I would say just find a way to make it work.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Transitioning into Spring

I know it's only February but there are signs that Spring is around the corner. I have spotted daffodils in bloom and the weather has turned this week from freezing cold to much milder. 

There are clothes in our wardrobes that we can definitely wear when the weather starts to change and here are a few tips: 

If you have a long, fairly chunky cardigan, you can wear it instead of a coat - over jeans, trousers or a dress.  This one is from Boden:

The two cardigans below (also from Boden) are blazer-like in their shape and would also make good stand-alone items without wearing a coat over the top if the weather permits. You could also wear them with a skirt as well as trousers or a dress:

As spring gets nearer and the days get lighter, we can start to wear lighter colours too. So instead of wearing a dark tee shirt under the pink cardigan above, a white or pastel colour would look more spring-like.

You can still continue to wear boots into March and April but your wintery boots with fur can be stored away until next year as can heavy winter coats.

A trench coat is a useful coat for transitioning into spring - you can wear warmer clothes under it if the weather turns chilly and, of course, for the rain! This trench coat is from Hobbs:

I hope these few tips are helpful. Please let me know how you transition your wardrobe into spring.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Why not sort out your make-up?

January is a good time to have a look at what's in your make-up bag, clean your brushes, chuck out old stuff  and buy new items! Of course, it's not just in January that you should do this - the following process can be done several times throughout the year:

Firstly, tip all your make-up out on to a surface or a towel on the bed. Any make-up items that you have hidden in drawers - get those out too, including brushes. 

Next, sort out the brushes and applicators from the rest of the make-up and set aside for now.

Then, look at each item of make-up and decide whether it is worth keeping. Has the mascara dried up and is it more than 3-6 months old? Remember - make-up harbours bacteria, which can cause eye infections!  Have you been using the same eyeshadows for over a year (I had) and they are nearly all gone? Out they go. Lipsticks - if you have been using them for over a year and they are worn right down in the tube, then be ruthless and get rid of them. 

Next, wash those brushes and applicators that you set aside. Cleaning them once a month is a good habit to get into. Sponge applicators an be washed in mild soapy water (shampoo is good) and squeezed out and left to dry naturally. If the sponge applicator is not worth washing just throw it away! With brushes, I find that I have to work the shampoo or mild soap into the bristles to get all the make-up/foundation out. I then hold the bristles under the tap until the water runs clear. Then I pat dry with a towel and place above a radiator (not on it) or in sunlight to dry completely.

Any containers, bags or glass jars in which you store your make-up need to be thoroughly washed too. You may need to buy new make-up storage, so have a look on line to see what would be suitable. I recently purchased a new make-up storage container from Homesense Other places you could try are:,, Argos, Ikea and Amazon. I like clear containers as you can see what you have. If I put all my make-up in a make-up bag (unless I'm travelling) I have to empty all the contents out to find what I'm looking for.

If you need new brushes, you can find them in Boots or Superdrug. Or why not buy a set of brushes from the charity Look Good Feel Better (, which can also be purchased from Boots.

Now that everything is clean - put the make-up you have left back into your containers or bags and make a note of any new cosmetics you may need to buy.

Organising your make-up is a great way to start the year.