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!

New season accessories – part two

My last blog gave you part one, now here’s part two with more ideas on accessories to wear this autumn.

Bags

Zara bowling bag

Hugo Boss messenger bag

Women’s bags are predominantly more structured this season. The “doctor’s bag/bowling bag” shape is huge and comes in lots and lots of different colours and details. Clutch bags are BIG and the tote is a fashion necessity – also very practical for carrying the odd laptop or work folder!

Hopefully, by now, all of you have embraced the “man bag”. There are so many fab options to choose from – formal briefcase styles to more casual across-the-body bags, there’s something to cater for all your carrying needs.  So gentlemen, don’t be shy, go and grab yourselves a bag!

Hats

Reiss Trilby hat

Are the big thing – and boy, were they big on the catwalks! We can be a little less exaggerated but a hat of some sort is a fashion must-have for the new season. Whether you’re male or female, start looking now for the perfect piece of headgear for those frosty, winter mornings.

 

 

Scarves

Both men and women can use a scarf to add autumn colours and winter florals and prints to any plain garment. Prices vary greatly. Look out for Zara printed scarves which are great value and so on-trend. Department stores carry lots of different options at lots of different prices.

Gloves

Howick leather and check glove

Also very strong for the new season. Whether it’s a long, soft leather pair for her or a pair in tweed fabric for him, a pair of gloves is a practical addition to your new autumn wardrobe.

Pocket Squares

A pocket square is the solution for adding a bit of zing to any jacket or coat. Men will find some great options at Reiss and Paul Smith.

Jewellery

Kenneth Jay Lane cocktail ring

There are loads of jewellery alternatives to choose from and, this season, it’s all big, bold and beautiful. My biggest tip to all my female readers – go and get a huge, jewel encrusted cocktail ring. They’re available from £10 upwards in the high street and add a great bit of Anna Karenina opulence to any outfit.

I could go on but I think there’s enough here to inspire you to have a bit of accessorising fun over the next few weeks.

New season accessories – part one

At last I’m back with another blog – as promised lots of ideas for accessories to wear this Autumn.  I’ve got so much to tell you about, so this is Part 1 and Part 2  – with details of bags, hats, gloves and jewellery – will follow soon.

Accessories are always a great way to add an update to outfits that are already in your wardrobe and can be an inexpensive way of keeping up with new trends. Here are some ideas for adding a bit of “new season” to your look:

Belts

L.K.Bennett belt

As you all probably know, I love belts and so I’m very excited that there are so many options available.  An inexpensive way to add colour or to change the look of an outfit.

Girls – look out for the really wide belts that can completely change the style of a dress or coat.  If you want to go thinner there are some amazing belts embellished with studs, coloured jewels and metallic detail.

Guys – the detail is in the buckle this Autumn but please don’t get a skull buckle unless you want to look like George Michael singing at the Olympics closing ceremony!

Ties

Tie Bar from Charles Tyrwhitt

Are thinner this season and mostly plain, spotted or in preppy stripes. Thinner ties look great with the increasingly popular, button-down collars and are often seen worn with a tie bar.

Collars

Topshop shirt collar

A great addition to a plain top or dress. There are some beautiful collars being sold as a separate accessory to be worn with different garments. Jewels, lace, leather and metal options are all available on the high street and at great prices.

Shoes

Mens boot from Bally

Are absolutely amazing this season. Men’s two-tone shoes are everywhere and can look very smart or very quirky depending on the colour and style. Look out for chunkier, buckled boots to be worn with jeans. Bally do a great pair.

Shoes from Kurt Geiger

For women there’s something to suit everyone for every occasion. Shoeboots are a must-have and can be worn with both skirts and trousers. The new Ash range is gorgeous. There’s tons of heel detail, masses of colour and patterns and loads of different heel-heights. Long boots are strong again but wear the thigh-length styles with caution!

PS – You definitely don’t need to match your shoe colour to your outfit this season. The style is important and should complement the look but shoes can be used to add a great pop of colour or pattern to your outfit.

Exciting new season ahead

After spending four absolutely inspiring days at the wonderful London 2012 Olympics I am refusing to come down from my exhilarated state as the British press seems to want to persuade me to do! Instead, I’m concentrating on the exciting new Autumn/Winter season ahead.

There really is something for everyone in the shops this autumn. Here are a few trends to look out for:

Geometric pattern shirt from Paul Smith

Leather jacket from Zara

Colours: are exciting with lots of purple, blue and red wine colours.

Embellishment: is the order of the day with studding, jewel, sequin and brocade detailing.

Leather: is huge – there’s a big Goth interpretation but we don’t all have to don a full-length, black, leather coat and take ourselves off to Whitby Abbey. There are lots of wonderful leather jackets already appearing in the high street and leather detailing is very ‘of the moment’.

Acne Mallory crepe dress from My Wardrobe

Geometric shirt from Next

Florals: are still with us for Autumn/Winter. Instead of pale backgrounds they are darker and have a winter-floral feel. Great for men’s casual shirts and women’s shift dresses to liven up a dreary October day.

Prints: are both geometric and kaleidoscopic.  A good way of adding a fashionable element to last year’s jacket in the form of a shift dress or a new shirt or top.

Quilted cross boyfriend coat from TopShop

Outerwear: is huge! And this time I mean big in size terms. Jackets are boxy, coats are simple in style but large in dimension.

Keep the newfound British positivity going and take a trip to the shops to see all the exciting new season fashions for yourself!

My next blog will look at the new seasons accessory trends.

The art of layering


Layering with Next holiday essentials

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have been feeling somewhat chilly over the last few weeks. We are all aware that summer has chosen not to arrive in the UK this year – in fact it hadn’t arrived in France when I was there last week either!

So, the big question is – what on earth to wear? We all want to put on those lovely things we bought back in April in anticipation of a tropical July/August and we don’t want to wear the same winter clothes all year round.

My solution to the dilemma is layering. It is also a key element of successful holiday packing and I’ll guarantee that if you take lots of woolies away with you temperatures will soar. If you don’t pack a cardi then it’s sure to be freezing!

Layering can take many forms and tends to predominantly apply to the top half of the body. A vest top or T-shirt, under a shirt, under a cardigan or jumper is a winning formula. The shirt can be worn with a couple of additional buttons undone without the risk of exposing too much chest hair or cleavage. Summer colours can be added at little extra cost in the t-shirt layer and a thinner, winter woolie can be used as the jumper layer.

Zara printed cardigan

If the sun should come out then all top layers can be removed to enable maximum exposure to the beneficial rays and, if it does rain – AGAIN- then the simple addition of a waterproof fourth layer can be added.

Jackets can replace the jumper layer and, if you’re feeling very brave and positive about the clouds receding, the shirt layer can be ditched completely.

Remember to wear toning colours and not to wear more than three solid colours in total. Clashing prints are the “in thing” this summer but need to be worn with caution and again, in toning shades.

Adding a scarf or pashmina is another great layering option and a good way of adding a print if the mood takes you. They are also a must when travelling by rail or air where temperatures seem to have a mind of their own and can vary incredibly during your journey.

Happy holidays and happy layering!

Hugo Boss trench coat

Mens Gap Cardigan

Successful sale shopping

It doesn’t seem more than two minutes ago that we were all getting really excited about the new pastel colours, bright prints and lots of shades of blue arriving in the shops for spring. Before we know it the Sales have started!!

The poor fashion retailers are having a dreadful time with the arctic weather we’ve been experiencing and have rails-full of stock to shift before the Autumn ranges start to hit the High Street.

So, it’s a great opportunity to pick up a fantastic bargain – or to make a terrible mistake!

How many times have you justified a Sale purchase by saying, “It was originally £99 and I got it for £25”? What we must all learn is, it’s not important how big the reduction – if the item isn’t right you won’t wear it – no matter how much you “saved”.

Here are my Golden Rules for Successful Sale Shopping:

  • Go to the Sales with a list of the things you’re looking for – and stick to the list
  • Try not to be tempted by bargain basement prices of things you don’t need and already have four of
  • Buy good basics – I’m currently looking for a good trench coat to replace the one that I’ve been wearing in the continuous rain for the last five years! Any ideas anyone?
  • Buy quality fabrics. Silk and cashmere are sensible buys if you make sure styles are classic and colours neutral
  • Leather goods from high quality Brands are good investments. If you know a make of shoe that fits you well then a stylish court shoe or a smart brogue is money well spent. Leather jackets can be great buys if you make sure styles are classic and you stick to black and brown shades. The orange suede will NOT be in fashion for long!
  •  Buy garments you really wanted at full price but couldn’t afford. If you still want them when they’re 50% off then you can justify the spend.
  • Good quality underwear and swimwear are worth looking out for, although reductions on swimwear often happen later on in the summer
  • Designer Handbags and Manbags are crazy prices these days but, if you can find reductions, you know the quality is still very good and it’s a good present to be put aside for a special gift
  • There’s nothing wrong with buying a few half-price T-shirts in mad colours and prints but be prepared to donate them to the charity shop next spring when it becomes obvious that they look “so last year”.

Sale shopping can be fun and it’s a great feeling to have bought yourself an amazing bargain. Just make sure it’s a bargain that you need, that fits you properly, suits you and that you promise to wear!

Talking to strangers

How good do you feel if someone comes up to you and tells you they love what you’re wearing? The other morning I was having a coffee with a friend. After a good old catch-up she went off to the loo and I called for the bill. A man walked into the coffee shop and I couldn’t take my eyes off him!

He was a good looking guy but that wasn’t the only reason for my unhealthy interest. I must have been having a real stare because he sat on the table next to me and asked if we knew each other. I apologised and told him that I loved his glasses and thought they totally suited him. He was really chuffed at my comment and proceeded to tell me how long the quest to find the perfect pair of reading glasses had taken him. We ended up having a long conversation about lens shape, frame colour and everything optical – as you do!

Tom Ford vintage soft round acetate glasses with metal 'T' temple decoration

The point of my story is this – talking to strangers can be beneficial and a good all-round positive experience. I now know about a great brand of reading glasses – Tom Ford to be precise – the gorgeous gentleman felt great about his new look and we had a pleasant chat.

A client of mine had recently successfully reached her goal weight at her slimming club and had treated herself to my services as a reward. She went out that night in an outfit we’d bought on our shopping trip and a man came up to her and told her how amazing she looked. It was the first time in ages that someone had told her this and she was so happy. It made all the hard work of losing the extra pounds worth it.

It’s such a positive thing to do and we can all benefit from the experience. I’ve managed to get some fab things by asking strangers, “You look great in that, where did you get it from?”  This also works when I’m looking for something specific for a client and haven’t yet been able to find it in the shops.

We can all talk to strangers, but remember, make it a positive exchange – telling someone they look dreadful in something is a complete no-no. So, be confident and go and tell someone they look good – you’ll make their day and give yourself a comforting glow.

The right shoes – part two

Part two of my blog talks about the “right” pair of shoes for different occasions.

Hunter wellie

I recently spoke to a managing partner of a solicitors firm who told me that if a candidate turned up to an interview in brown shoes he wouldn’t even consider them! This is perhaps an extreme reaction but it does happen, and we all need to be aware of it. The appropriateness of dress definitely applies to footwear as well as clothing.

Hopefully none of us girls would wear a pair of killer heels if we were going for a walk in the country, just as we wouldn’t wear our Hunter wellies if we were going to a ball – ok, a Farmers Ball possibly, but only if Jimmy Choo have designed them! Extreme examples, I know, but you can get my point – shoes matter.

If you want to look smart and professional make sure your shoes are well heeled, polished and clean. Patent is a great option for women’s work shoes as it wipes clean, but leather shouldn’t be a problem for any of us – purchasing a Kiwi shoe sponge costs around £3 and does the trick.

Kiwi shoe shine

And girls, if you need to wear your higher heels at the office – because they definitely look better with your pencil skirt – then do your commuting in a pair of flats and keep your heels behind your desk to change into when you arrive. I’m not saying you have to wear your trainers – personally I ONLY wear trainers to the gym – but a cute pair of flat pumps will be perfect and far less challenging for both gear changes and bus hopping.

 

Black Marcel brogue by Paul Smith

For the men in the audience, the appropriate style of shoe is just as important as colour. I’m sure none of you would wear your favourite, height enhancing cowboy boots – the ones you bought on that trip to the States – to a business appointment unless you’re in a very creative industry. Safer to stick to a great pair of polished, black brogues.

Brown Leather Cross Strap sandal from Next

Tasselled and fringed loafers are definitely more relaxed shoe styles so be careful if you’re stepping into a seriously professional environment in a pair of these. Two tone brogues are back big-time but only wear them with one-colour socks! Men’s shoes in neutral colours are hot property this season but are very much a summer look and probably best worn without socks. Sandals should be kept strictly for the beach and holiday wear and driving shoes should be worn for, well, driving!

The right shoes – part one

There is a “right” pair of shoes for every outfit and it can be so annoying if we don’t happen to have them in our wardrobe! Shoes may predominantly be a female obsession but this applies to both men and women – so you all need to read on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Style, colour and most importantly, height of heel are all factors to be considered. Any of us can put on a great pair of trousers, know they look amazing with the top we’re wearing but then, disaster – we remember we haven’t got the right shoes to wear with them and off they come. Back into the wardrobe until the next time we can’t wear them.

Stop right there! Instead of putting it off, pull out all the trousers, skirts and dresses that can’t be worn because of lack of appropriate footwear. Then, a decision has to be made. Do you need to alter the garment or do you need to purchase new shoes/boots?  If it’s the former then make sure you know which shoes you want to wear with each garment and take them with you to the alteration specialist – I’m assuming here that most of you won’t be doing your own sewing!

If new footwear is the only option, and which girl doesn’t always need a new pair of shoes, make sure you take the troublesome garments with you when you make your investment. Once you’ve got the right shoes in the perfect colour and the ideal heel height you’ll be good to go and those great trousers will never be put to the back of your wardrobe again.

See the Right Shoes – Part Two, which I’ll send to you in my next blog, which looks at choosing the right shoes for each occasion. In the meantime, see below for some shoe styling tips.

Kitten heels in nude tones go with almost everything. Great, as above, with a pair of ankle length, narrow leg trousers. Equally wonderful with skirts and dresses. Becca shoe from L.K. Bennett

An on-trend wedge trainer looks great with skinny/straight jean styles. Also wonderful for getting to the gym. Ash Wedge Trainer

Wedges and chunky platforms look fantastic with the current wide leg pyjama pants. Platform Sandal from Zara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep suede boots and loafers to wear with jeans and chinos. Brig suede ankle boot from Ted Baker

Balance narrow leg trousers with more pointed brogues and loafers.