Little things that make all the difference

Accessories can make or break a look. They can add sparkle to an otherwise rather boring dress, they can make a plain overcoat look sophisticated, but over indulge, and they can result in the christmas tree effect!

Here are some ideas to add a bit of interest, update an outfit or for a festive gift. I’m talking smaller accessories at a variety of price points.

Scarves

Personally, I love a scarf and my cupboards bear witness to my slight obsession! A scarf is a wonderful way of adding colour to the face. Choose one in your favourite tone and it will brighten the dullest jumper. You’ll find you can even wear black when you’re feeling way below your best and persuade others you feel wonderful.

Scarves work equally well for both males and females but men may want to stick to a more traditional neck-warmer whilst women can work all scarf shapes and fabrics. A scarf as a gift is a wonderful option, ranging in price from as little as this £6.99 example from H&M to a beautiful Hermes silk square at an exorbitant, and indulgent £590. Here are a few ideas.

Mens Hugo Boss scarf

Mens Hugo Boss scarf

Hermes scarf

Hermes scarf

H&M scarf

H&M scarf

 

 

 

Gloves

Whilst indulging in a little browsing yesterday in my local Harvey Nichols store I saw the most amazing pair of Dent gloves which will DEFINITELY appear on my wish-list this Christmas. The softest black leather with beautiful gold, rosebud button detailing. Expensive but gorgeous!

A great gift for all, whatever the age. Mittens for babies, wool and fur for always-cold students, lace and jewels for a glam girlfriend, smart driving styles for the men in your life, a pair in coloured leather for the grandmother who has everything, a pair of gloves answers the gift question.

Mens fingerless gloves from Topman

Mens fingerless gloves from Topman

Marks and Spencer leather gloves

M&S leather gloves

Mens leather gloves from Paul Smith

Mens Paul Smith leather gloves

 

 

 

 

 

Hats

The statistic is that we lose 10% of our body heat from our heads, so, why wouldn’t we always wear a hat in cold, wintery conditions? The excuse of not being able to find a hat that suits you is a cop-out, you just haven’t looked hard enough!

Currently, there are hats in tons of styles, fabrics and colours available on the high street. It’s definitely the time to invest in some head-warming gear. If you already have a number of hats hiding in your cupboards then pull them out and put them on – they add style and individuality whilst being totally practical.

Womens hat from Reiss

Womens hat from Reiss

Mens knitted hat from Zara

Mens knitted hat from Zara

Accessorize hat

Accessorize hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belts

As with bags and shoes this A/W13 season, there’s lots of detailing and embellishment on belts and they are wonderful for adding shape definition, as well as interest, to an outfit. If you need a more somber option for the office then it’s worth investing in a good quality, stitched, leather belt that will see you through many years to come.

Again, a belt is a lovely Christmas gift but PLEASE make sure you’re buying the right size! There’s nothing more embarrassing than seeing someone opening your fab present only to find that they can’t get it done up around their waist.

Mens brown belt from TMLewin

Mens brown belt from TMLewin

My Wardrobe double panel belt

Double panel belt from My Wardrobe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Socks, Tights and Ties

This week has seen the sad announcement of the closure of 44 Tie Rack stores. There is so much competition from specialist menswear departments and websites, where one-stop shirt and tie shopping is easier. Added to which, the gentleman’s tie has crashed in popularity. When asked, most men will say that they only wear a tie to an interview or a wedding. Obviously, there are still professions where a tie is compulsory and, for such a man, a smart tie is a wonderful gift.

I love to buy Paul Smith novelty socks for stocking fillers. They come in great colour combinations and fantastic designs for both men and women, without being too much of a novelty! Look out for other, more sensibly priced versions and add a bit of fun to an otherwise sensible shoe.

Socks by Paul Smith

Socks by Paul Smith

Charles Tyrwhitt tie

Charles Tyrwhitt tie

 

 

 

 

 

 

My lovely mum always used to go out and buy a gorgeous pair of tights to give us girls every Christmas. It was then obligatory to wear your new tights for the rest of the day – one of our festive traditions! This year, tights come with many different treatments – every denier imaginable, jewel encrusted, patterned, coloured, tights which look like stockings, tights without toes, tights without feet… the choice is yours. They make a wonderfully inexpensive gift.

Woolfrod tights

Woolford tights

Womens socks from New Look

Socks from New Look

Accessorize tights

Accessorize tights

 

 

Jewellery

There are far too many jewellery options to cover everything in this blog so I’ve just concentrated on a bit of bling for the ladies! The high street is full of dazzling pieces that add wonderful decadence to a simple outfit. Some are very complicated and need to be worn with care to avoid the Christmas tree effect I mentioned earlier. My rule is; wear a statement necklace or pair of earrings, not both! However, rules are made to be broken!

Statement necklace from Zara

Statement necklace from Zara

Earrings from Asos

Earrings from Asos

Asos double finger ring

Asos double finger ring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rings are big this season and there are lots of stones, crystals and multi-finger rings à la Nicole and Mrs O on X Factor.

And then there are watches – but that’s a whole other story for another time.

Bags of accessories

I’m sure that, like me, you are all being made scarily aware that December 25th is rapidly approaching! Accessories refresh and renew existing outfits for that special Christmas party and should definitely appear on your personal Christmas wish list.

There are so many accessories to choose from so I’m going to break them down into bite-sized groups. This time I’m concentrating on bags and footwear:

Bags for her

Sequin hardcase clutch from Accessorize

Sequin hardcase clutch from Accessorize

Structure and colour are the trends. Ranging from the tiniest little box clutches for evening, to large, geometric tote bags for carrying your tablet and/or laptop around in during the day.

Bigger, rectangular clutch bags in simple styles add an edge to formal workwear. Fantastic colours, gorgeous leathers, embellishments of jewels, feathers, chains and marvellous metalwork, it’s all out there for the woman in your life.

Blue leather tote from & Other Stories

Blue leather tote from & Other Stories

Printed clutch from Zara

Printed clutch from Zara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bags for him

For men the man-bag is now totally accepted as a male accessory so, don’t be shy – put one on your Christmas letter to Santa. Again, don’t be afraid of colour. A sophisticated burgundy or navy leather is a great alternative to the ubiquitous black or brown option. Again, structured styles are the season’s fashion statement and all sizes are available.

There’s no stronger style statement than seeing a man carrying a smart leather holdall – particularly one that’s seen a bit of wear. So, whether you’re carrying a mini iPad or your weekend wardrobe, there’s a bag solution waiting for you on the high street.

Mens briefcase from Reiss

Mens briefcase from Reiss

Leather holdall from Ted Baker

Leather holdall from Ted Baker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Footwear for her

Stud slippers from Dune

Stud slippers from Dune

There are so many options it’s difficult to know where to start! Pointed styles have definitely made a come-back and there are some beautiful high-heeled versions as well as a new pointy flat. Don’t worry if you put comfort above fashion – both are important and there are lots of rounder styles too as well as a plethora of slipper styles and brogue options. Also, keep an eye open for the “one-inch” heel, which is a great solution for those of you who need a heel of a sensible height.

As with bags, embellishment is the strong fashion statement and heels are a focus of attention this season. Ankle straps have reappeared but beware this style if you have anything but the skinniest of ankles!

Glass heel shoe from Asos

Glass heel shoe from Asos

Metallic leather, spots, prints, jewels, cut-out detailing, straps and buckles – the choice is yours! If you shop around you’ll find that the high street has a vast variety of similar styles at a fraction of the designer label prices.

If you’re only going to invest in one new pair of boots this season – and how many of us can afford more than one? – then make it an ankle boot. There are loads of style options and these boots are high up in the wearability stakes, worn with opaques and skirts, trousers, or skinny jeans.

Pointed toe ankle boots from L.K.Bennett

Pointed toe ankle boots from L.K.Bennett

Over the knee boot styling is very on-trend but can be difficult to pull off and they do look their best on a slimmer leg worn with a short skirt and 100 denier opaques or over a tight-fitting pair of stretchy trousers. If you’re a little less daring then a long boot that finishes just below the knee is a safer and easier-to-wear option. Again you can be as understated or as overstated as you like.

A new pair of heels can make all the difference to that party dress you’ve got hiding at the back of your wardrobe. Just add a gorgeous necklace and you’re ready to celebrate!

Footwear for him

Double monk shoe by Boss

Double monk shoe by Boss

The brogue is a footwear staple. A strong shoe that, if you look after it well, will serve you for many years so it’s well worth investing in a good pair. The black leather versions are more formal whereas brown and suede are more creative and casual. The new kid on the block is a “double monk strap” shoe – a double buckled version of a classic, smart shoe.

The Chelsea – boot not team – will look good with the majority of outfits. To add a bit of interest look out for elastication in contrast colours, suede styles and buckle details. Lace-up, heavier boot styles are also very strong this season. Look out for chunkier, rubber soles and walking styles for daywear.

Chelsea boot by Loake

Chelsea boot by Loake

Leather Chukka boot by Timberland

Leather Chukka boot by Timberland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men’s trainer styles are great when a less formal look is required. Worn with a suit they can add a creative feel to the outfit but the styling must be simple and leather is preferable. Contrasting stitching, soles and laces will immediately make a trainer style much more casual and fabric styles have the same effect.

Lace-up, heavier boot styles are very strong this season. Look out for chunkier, rubber soles, and walking styles for weekend wear.

Next time I’m concentrating on smaller accessories – scarves, belts, hats, socks and gloves – great as presents too.

Autumn/Winter 2013

After one of the best summers I can remember, autumn has very definitely arrived this week. I’m the first to admit that I adore the sun’s beneficial rays on my skin but I get even more excited when I can wrap myself up in gorgeous, winter clothes – and we do winter clothing so well in Great Britain.

The shops and online are now full of wonderful new colours, shapes, fabrics and accessories and there’s something out there for everyone. It’s just a matter of deciding what it is you need in order to update your wardrobe.

I’ve already started to get panic requests from clients pleading for help to fill in the gaps that have appeared since they last took a look at their warmer clothes. Stress less – help is at hand and it starts with me giving you the details of the main fashion trends for this season.

I’m going to stick to clothing this week, as there’s lots to tell you, but my blog on Autumn/Winter ‘13 accessories will follow very shortly.

Main trends

Colours

Paul Smith straight leg trouser

Burgundy men’s straight leg trouser from Paul Smith

It’s the season of the berry – all berry colours are available from strong red, through mulberry, burgundy, aubergine and purple with all shades in-between.  Orange has taken on a burnt shading and looks stunning worn with some of the cooler pink and purple tones as a contrast.

Royal blue and black dress from Zara

Royal blue and black dress from Zara

Blue is everywhere and many basics are now available in navy as an option to the proverbial black. Mixing blues is a wonderful way to update your wardrobe. Wear a pastel blue garment with navy, or add bright cobalt blue to grey or black staples. There seems to be an old rule that black and blue shouldn’t be worn together. Ignore it! I think that teaming these two colours creates a smart, sophisticated look.

If you can wear the warmest colour in the spectrum then head for some yellow. It looks very grown up worn with the easier tones of camel and biscuit and certainly livens up black. Green is also being stocked extensively in khaki and pea-green shades and brightens up grey garments amazingly.

Pink wool coat from M&S

Pink wool coat from M&S

And then there’s pink. From the softest baby-pinks to the strongest shocking tones, pink has hit the high street in a big way. Go the whole hog and get your new winter coat in pink wool – however I advise this should not be worn when handling animals and small children!!


Fabrics

Checks are gorgeous this season and come in all shapes, sizes and colours. If you want to be daring then mix contrasting checks for a very modern take on this Autumn/Winter look or team with plain pieces for a more classic interpretation.

Monochrome checked shirt from Next

Men’s monochrome checked shirt from Next

Monochrome black and white prints and checks are very strong and there is a lot of marled fabrication around. Leather is important and the classic biker jacket remains a failsafe favourite and is appearing in fashion colours as well as black. Leather trousers and skirts are of the moment.

Fake fur pieces are snuggling up on collars, cuffs, jackets and even bags, shoes and sunglasses! All this is a bit too extreme for my taste but I love a fur muffler or a furry gilet to combat the cold. Texture in brocade and lace fabrics has carried over from the summer in deeper shades for the winter.

Furry knit from & Other Stories

Furry knit from & Other Stories

Knits will provide an instant update to your wardrobe this season. From sumptuous cashmeres to chunky cables in oversized styling this is a great look and a very practical one too.

Still important are prints with florals having darker backgrounds and spots and animal prints are major themes. There is a lot of camouflage print around but be very careful! If you must wear it, try to find pieces in colours and styles that won’t make you look like you’ve just returned from a war zone.

There have been major advances made over the last few years with innovative technical fabrics – look out for these crease resistant, easy wash, lightweight pieces, a godsend for those who travel.

Looks

Layered look from Hugo Boss

Layered look from Hugo Boss

Shapes are predominantly very simple and sharp with lots of boxy jackets, edge to edge styling and big, oversized coats. Layering is a strong fashion statement with garments of different lengths being worn over each other.

Hobbs A-line skirt

Burnt orange A-line skirt from Hobbs

Autumn/Winter ’13 sees the return of the A-line skirt (hurrah!) and skater skirt styles. In addition to the skinny, straight, narrow legged trousers are the fashion look for both men and women. The more daring amongst us are trying out the tapered trouser shape – baggier on the thigh and skinny at the ankle – but this might take a bit of getting used to!

Double-breasted jacket from Reiss

Navy double-breasted jacket from Reiss

Double-breasted coat and jacket styles are a trend for men’s fashion and are often being worn belted. A kind word of caution here – if you tend to be on the large side – avoid!

There are lots of sporty and preppy looks and the baseball bomber jacket has been styled in a multitude of fabrics. Sweatshirts have taken on a new lease of life and are available in interesting fabrics with lots of different prints and  embellishment.

Take a trip to a shop or website near you for further autumnal inspiration!

Summer brights

I felt my last blog, written by the wonderful Beth all about her range of beautiful hats, was rather directed towards my female audience so, this time, I’m blogging about something that applies to us all – COLOUR!

There is so much of it about, it seems a criminal act not to wear some. Although pattern is still very popular, solid colour is very strong, especially in this lovely, mediterranean weather we’re experiencing currently.

You males tend to stick to the basics of navy, grey and beige as an alternative to the ubiquitous denim jean. However, a pair of cotton chinos in a bright colour look wonderful with a paler shade of T-shirt or patterned, short-sleeved shirt.  Far less boring and they actually make you look like you’re enjoying the summertime.

If you’re a bit nervous, and feel that summer bright trousers are a leg too far, how about a pair of shorts in a fun shade. They don’t have to cost you a fortune and, if you keep the colour relatively mainstream – in a bright purple, royal blue or tomato red –  they’ll coordinate beautifully with both plain and patterned tops making them a flexible addition to your holiday wardrobe.

Hugo Boss shorts

Hugo Boss shorts

Ralph Lauren polo

Ralph Lauren polo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And don’t just stick to white, navy and grey t-shirts – experiment with a few different, brightly coloured tops when you’re dragged to the shops for your annual, last minute, holiday purchases. Accessories in bright colours also add a bit of fun. Remember, colour looks even more wonderful with a suntan!

We women are generally more accepting of colour, although we can still be accused of wearing trousers and skirts in less adventurous shades. My advice is; still buy a very expensive garment in a safer colour that won’t go out of fashion next season, but be a bit more adventurous with less expensive, high-summer pieces.

Dickins and Jones dress

Dickins and Jones dress

Zara sweater

Zara sweater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sales are amazing at the moment and it looks like the fab weather is going to continue. So why not treat yourself to a brightly coloured dress or a cardigan in a summer bright shade to liven up your days and your wardrobe.

Coloured shoes, bags and belts are going to be around for a long time and don’t need to be too matchy, matchy with the rest of your look. Adding another shade via an accessory works really well and looks great.

Havaianas

Havaianas

L.K.Bennett tote bag

L.K. Bennett tote bag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One word of warning – avoid neon colours unless you’re under six years of age, going to an 80’s revival party or going for a run. They really can make you look like you’re trying too hard!

I hope you all have a wonderfully colourful summer and I’ll be back in September to tell you all about the new Autumn/Winter 2013 looks. Exciting!

The perfect hat

Lis Merrick

Lis Merrick wearing By Betty

This month, for the first time, I’ve invited Beth at By Betty Bespoke Headwear to write a guest blog.

I was introduced to the wonderfully talented Beth by Lis Merrick, a client of mine. Beth made Lis a stunning bespoke hat for a wedding. I’m sure you’ll agree, she looks amazing and I wanted to share with you Beth’s advice on choosing the perfect hat. Enjoy!…

Summer is finally here; time for weddings, trips to the races, garden parties and of course HATS!

I believe hats are the most exciting of accessories; they offer an opportunity to express ones personality, complete an outfit and transform the wearer!  As Martha Sliter once said  “Wearing a hat versus not wearing a hat is the difference between looking adequate and looking your best”.

Many people are a bit fearful of hats. I have often heard the phrase “Oh hats just don’t suit me”.  Nonsense! “Saying you don’t look good in a hat is like saying you don’t look good in shoes!” (anon.).  It’s all about finding the right hat, a hat that suits your personality, a hat that makes you stand taller and smile at yourself in the mirror.

Finding your perfect hat

There are various things to consider when choosing your headwear and I’ve outlined below some of the generally accepted ‘rules’ when it comes to choosing headwear to suit your face shape.  However, my advice is always to be open-minded and try as many different hats and fascinators as you can. Quite often people are surprised by what does and doesn’t suit them.

The good news is, having a unique piece of headwear made for you is not as expensive as you might think.  As a bespoke milliner, all my hats are hand-crafted to order with prices ranging from £75 to £200.  From my studio in Ilkley I can create your dream hat in whatever colour, shape or size you like; and you can be sure no-one else will be wearing one the same!

Choosing headwear to suit your face shape

If you have a round face, choose headwear with some height to help lengthen and narrow the face.

Square-shaped faces suit hats with irregular brims and headwear worn at a slant.

Narrow, oblong shaped faces look best in wide brims and should avoid high crowns and narrow brims.

If you have an oval shaped face, you’re lucky, almost any hat shape will suit you!

Style of outfit

It goes without saying your headwear must complement the style of your outfit.

A very tailored outfit would work well with a tailored hat, such as this angle-crowned cloche or this beret.

Swirl and Twirl Cloche

Swirl and Twirl Cloche

Frivolous feathered beret

Frivolous feathered beret

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst a softer, less structured dress would better suit this feminine cloche, a large brimmed hat or for something smaller, and easy to wear, this floral inspired fascinator.

Darling Buds Cloche

Darling Buds Cloche

Picture Perfect hat

Picture Perfect Hat

Two Tone Poppy Fascinator

Two Tone Poppy Fascinator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colour

The colour of your headwear is extremely important; it’s worn next to the face so it must be of a flattering hue.

Headwear no longer has to be the same colour as your outfit; indeed dressing from head to toe in one colour can look over the top and be quite un-flattering.  Consider picking up an accent colour from your outfit, choosing a colour to tone with your outfit, or if you want to make a bolder statement, pick a contrasting colour for your headwear.

Hats vs Fascinators

Fascinators are sometimes considered a ‘poor relation’ to hats, but a fascinator can be more than a few feathers stuck on a headband.  The right fascinator can have just as much impact as a hat, plus there’s the added benefit of no hat hair to worry about!

Carnival fascinator

Carnival fascinator

Calla Disc fascinator

Calla Disc fascinator

Deco fascinator

Deco fascinator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So next time you have a special occasion, think hats and make your summer a summer of fabulous headwear!

…………….

For more information and to see further examples of Beth’s work please visit her website www.bybetty.co.uk or visit her Facebook page.

By Betty

Spring/Summer shoes

Due to a number of reasons – one being the marriage of my wonderful PA, Rona – my blogs have taken a bit of a backseat for the last few weeks. However, I’m well and truly back with lots of inspirational ideas for adding a bit of foot-bling to your outfits.

The shoe story for this Spring/Summer is probably the most exciting it has ever been! There’s absolutely no end to the options – colours, fabrics, texture, perspex, metallic, jewels, buckles, prints, monochrome, and straps everywhere…the list is almost endless.

The guys amongst you may well be switching off at this stage thinking, “Shoes – this doesn’t apply to me”. But, think again, men’s shoes are just as exciting as the women’s, see below.

Women’s shoes

Fendi ankle strap shoes

Fendi ankle strap shoes

From amazing ankle boots in the brightest of suede colours to the strappiest of summer sandals, everything and anything goes. There’s lots of heel detailing, ankle straps, block colouring and a myriad of heel heights.

One of the most comfortable additions this season is the “wedgelette” which is what it says, a baby wedge! Coming in at about three to five centimeters it is comfortable enough to run around town in but, in a court style, looks smart enough to wear to those important meetings.

Pied A Terre low wedge

Pied A Terre low wedge

Toes are on display, so make sure you have a good pedicure in the next couple of weeks before exposing those pale, neglected, winter toes to the world.

Pointy styles are back with a vengeance and add length and elegance to any leg. They look wonderful with all the gorgeous dresses on sale right now and really dress up a pair of capri pants for a sixties look.

Dune metallic leather lace up

Dune metallic leather lace up

Gone are the days of feeling you need to strictly match your shoes to your outfit. Shoes add a fantastic pop of colour or point of interest to the simplest of looks. Metallics and snake prints are a great staple as they can be worn with almost any colours. White is another great multi-outfit option and there are lots of black sandals for a more formal look.

Avoid ankle straps if you have legs which are on the short side or ankles which tend to be chunky. Stick with a sleeker, pointed court or peep toe pump in exciting colours and fabrics to attract attention to you perfect feet.

Next suede strap point shoes

Next suede strap point shoes

Don’t be fooled that the sky-high stiletto has disappeared or the chunkiest of wedges and block heels are nowhere to be seen! They are all there if you look hard enough and have a part to play in this plethora of pedi possibilities.

Flats are present in the revival of the trainer – great for wearing to and from the office – the ubiquitous loafer, the ballet pump and lots of fab, strappy gladiator type sandals.

 

Men’s shoes

Deck shoes in brightly coloured leather, double-buckled, suede brogue styles, tasseled slippers, open-toed sandals and smart, classic work styles are all easy to find on the high street.

Church's Hirst shoes with rubber sole

Church’s Hirst shoes with rubber sole

By far the biggest fashion trend this Spring/Summer in men’s footwear is the smart trainer. They come in every fabric from polished leather – often in more than one colour – through to metallic and on to suede and canvas! They have appeared on all the catwalks and are regularly styled with more formal suits and work wear looks, not just jeans and a t-shirt. They are a perfect option for an environment that calls for a smarter look with a bit of added creativity, great for those business-casual occasions and dress-down Fridays.

Dune tassel loafers

Dune tassel loafers

Another big fashion trend for men is the loafer and moccasin styling. Seen with metal buckle detailing, tassels, suede and dual coloured leather – I even spotted an amazing pair in raffia!! These look great with a pair of shorts or casual chinos for those relaxed, holiday evenings.

Even brogue styles are being made less formal with rubber soles replacing the more traditional, leather ones. Obviously, for a highly professional, corporate look a smart pair of Loakes style brogues in black are still the only solution but a bit of extra interest can be added by wearing a different leather texture or colour. There are a lot of navy and deep brown shades available as an alternative.

Boss suede double buckle shoes

Boss suede double buckle shoes

Burberry strappy leather sandal

Burberry strappy leather sandal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boots are highly polished and in Chelsea Boot and laced, Doc Martin styling whilst sandals are strappy and have a sporty, walking sandal look.

So, there’s no excuse for a boring shoe choice this season. Go on, accessorise your summer wardrobe with an amazing piece of foot candy!

Spring/Summer 2013

It’s nearly Easter again and, although we’re all waiting for some lovely spring weather, the High Street is full of exciting, fresh, colourful merchandise to make us feel sunny!

It really is a wonderful fashion season with lots of amazing new prints, colour and fabric detailing. So, where to start:

Monochrome

That’s black and white to the uninitiated! Stripes, spots, chessboard checks and sometimes all of the above. Clever styling details can create a very flattering and slimming effect so will work wonders for those of us who have been comfort eating in front of the TV on these cold spring nights.

Prints

Ton’s of gorgeous florals – either all-over in dresses and matching separates, or printed on T-shirts and men’s shirts. Rose and daisy prints are very strong. Laser and graphic prints abound and animal prints, especially coloured snake, are still on trend.

M&S monochrome dress

Mens floral shirt from Next

Mens floral shirt from Next

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White on white

Top-to-toe white is a big look for summer. The windows in the Oxford Street Zara store were full of white, and only white, yesterday. Obviously trying to persuade us all that warmer times are ahead! Lace and sheer detailing achieve a softer, more feminine look whereas sharper tailoring in jackets and suits result in a masculine interpretation.

Pastel shades

Soft shades of baby pink, lilac, lemon, mint and blue are a wonderful alternative to the bright and strong colours of last autumn.  Mixing these shades together looks lovely and fresh and contrast can also be introduced by layering different, soft textures of silk, lace and satin.

Sheer

Or “see-through” in layman’s terms! To be worn with caution and a lot of under garments, this trend shouts balmy, summer picnics and warm Mediterranean nights – we wish!! Fabrics are organza, silk and chiffon.

White on white - Zara

White on white – Zara

Paul Smith trousers

Mens trousers – Paul Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Block colour

Especially strong in the sports look which is another big trend this spring. Colours tend to be much brighter  – shocking pink, cobalt blue, bright yellow, orange and vibrant greens all hit the mark.

Blue, blue, blue

Blue of every hue! From the very palest china blues to the deepest royals, blue is THE colour. Available in all garment types and accessories there’s no excuse for not wearing some form of this primary colour – unless you really don’t like it of course!

The Styling details

I have never seen so many pairs of men’s, coloured trousers. There wasn’t a black pair to be seen at the Harvey Nichols fashion show a couple of weeks ago. Add a printed T-shirt or floral shirt and you’ll be bang on-trend for spring/summer 2013.

For women who like a bit of structure, scalloped edges, sculptured ruffles, androgyny and minimalist styling are all very strong and waists are in! For softer styling, layering, wide-legged pyjama trousers in flowing fabrics, satin blouses and lace detailing achieve the desired effect.

So, lots of exciting new looks to invest in for the soon-to-be-upon-us warmer days.  Why not just ignore the snow and invest in a bit of spring madness anyway.

My next blog will be all about the spring/summer 2013 accessories that complete the above looks.

Filling in the Gaps

It’s that time again – a new year, a new you! Time to make resolutions and have a good old clear-out. And where better to start than in your wardrobe?

In a previous blog ‘Less is More‘ I described the best way to sort out your clothes. Well done to those of you who took the advice – what are the rest of you waiting for?!

De-cluttered wardrobeThere’s no better time to de-clutter your wardrobe. You know what still fits you, suits you and your lifestyle and goes with the other clothes you wear regularly. Let’s face it, if you’re honest, you know which clothes and accessories don’t work for you. So, ditch them and move on!

Once you’ve completed a radical wardrobe sort you’ll find that there are a few gaps to fill and this is where the real fun starts. Before you even set foot in a retail establishment make a list of all the pieces you need to buy. These are the items that ensure you can create whole outfits from all the clothes you’ve kept, therefore enabling you to wear them all.

It may be that you need a pair of shoes of a specific heel-height and colour that enables you to wear that pair of trousers you love and have kept, or a new shirt that updates an old favourite jacket. Maybe it’s a top to wear under that amazing jumper you bought last September and has never seen the light of day. Or perhaps a belt in the right width/ colour/ size that completes the outfit you want to wear but can’t because – guess what? – no belt!

Shopping list

Be very specific with your list. Look in magazines and papers to get ideas – they’re full of the new merchandise that is rapidly replacing the Sale tat currently in the shops. Decide what it is that will work for you and your retained clothes and be clear about the colours and styles you need to fill in the gaps.

Fashion magazinesYou can now allow yourself to go shopping! However, if you don’t immediately find the exact garment or accessory, hold on. It’s early in the season and you’ve got lots of time to look for the perfect pieces on your list. Only buy what you really need and don’t opt for second best.

Once you’ve filled in all the gaps then it’s time to add a few new-season looks to your sartorial repertoire. Don’t panic, I’ll be giving you lots of wonderful ideas over the next few months as the Spring/Summer 2013 merchandise appears in a store near you – exciting!

Tone-on-tone

Those of you who know me well will know that I have been obsessed with Roxy Music, and especially Bryan Ferry, since they started crooning a very long time ago!

Bryan Ferry CBE has always been a Sartorial God! Originally dressed by fashion designer Antony Price in the early 70’s, he was looking as cool as ever this Monday morning, on BBC’s Breakfast show, wearing the current trend for “tone-on-tone” tie and shirt combo.

Bryan Ferry on BBC Breakfast

Tone-on-tone is my definition of the look where one base colour is worn but in lots of toning shades.

For men, a great way of achieving the tone-on-tone look is to wear a tie and shirt in the same colour but different tones. Both the shirt and tie need to be plain and the tie should always be a darker shade than the shirt. For me, the closer the shades of tie and shirt, the younger the look, but you can form your own opinion.

Reiss tone on tone shirt and tie

Bryan was wearing a wonderful royal blue tie with a blue shirt a few shades lighter. At 67 he is proof that, it doesn’t matter what your age, you can successfully work this look.

It’s a very smart look and one that translates well both in a formal, business environment as well as in a more casual situation. Again, the bigger the contrast in tie and shirt shade, the more formal the look.

For women the current trend for wearing colour demonstrates the look when clashing prints are worn but the outfit is pulled together by the consistency of a dominant colour. Stripes, prints and plains can all coordinate in tonal shades without it looking like you’ve thrown on the first things you could lay your hands on, in the dark, that morning!

Zara clashing prints

Mango printed scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The addition of a toning, printed scarf can brighten-up an otherwise dull, plain jumper and wearing a winter floral blouse with a pair of coloured trousers in a matching shade looks great. If you feel you’re looking a bit too matchy-matchy then keep shoes, belt and bag in reliable black.

A simple but effective blog message this week and one that I hope you’ll all go and experiment with. Happy toning!

The Significant Coat

There comes a time every year when I decide that it’s out with the light and flimsy and in with the warm and cosy. Of course I’m talking about clothes, as usual, and that time happened this weekend.

Having decided to embrace the dark nights, falling leaves and cold temperatures of Autumn I put all of my summer garments to the back recesses of the wardrobes and pulled forward my winter gear. Although I LOVE the sun there’s nothing I like more than snuggling up in gorgeous, warm, winter clothing and accessories.

The one significant addition to your winter wardrobe is a coat. I was with a girlfriend recently who lives mostly in the Caribbean and Australia (lucky her) and she told me that she doesn’t even own a coat!

This year, as I’ve already blogged, coats are fantastic for both men and women. Beautiful styles in wool and cashmere are everywhere and the colours are amazing too – berry shades, a multitude of blues with the classics of navy, camel, grey and black for more conservative occasions.

Men’s coats are well tailored, wool and cashmere, ¾ length for formal wear with pea-jackets and blousons in tweeds and woolen mixes as a more casual option and quilting for the extreme cold. Look out for leather trim details which can be leather sleeves on a wool jacket or more discrete piping and leather patch pockets.

Another strong look is the gilet – not strictly a coat but definitely adding outerwear warmth when worn over a chunky wool jumper or even a smarter jacket. Layering is a big fashion trend for males at the moment with coats and jackets playing a major part.

Leather blouson jacket from Reiss

Check gilet from Next

Burgandy coat from H and M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For women, coats are in simple but oversized styling. Cocoon shapes, dropped shoulders and kimono sleeves are very on trend and capes are also a great option. The addition of pastel shades in wool and cashmere fabrics speaks glamour and sophistication, whilst leathers in deeper Autumn shades create a more edgy look.

A statement jacket in this year’s beautiful Autumn colours makes a smart addition to jeans and a jumper whilst a military styled, belted coat looks wonderful in khaki shades worn with winter boots. Tailored coats and jackets in brocade fabrics are great for a special evening out and there are lots of metallics around to add a bit of glitz to any outfit.

Tweed coat from Mary Portas at House of Fraser

Pink wool coat from Autograph at M&S

Blazer with faux leather sleeves from Zara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For everyone, coats and jackets in tweed and herringbone fabrics give a definite country handwriting to an outfit and look good in both formal and more casual styling. Faux fur linings and collars add the snuggle factor. So much to choose from and, with the current drop in temperature, so little time to shop!