I’ve been following the conversations following the recent documentary, Stacey Dooley Investigates Fashion’s Dirty Secrets. I wanted time to reflect on what I thought about it all rather than just wade in. Now I have some thoughts of my own that I want to share.
This really stopped me in my tracks,
“One in 10 throw an outfit away after 3 photos wearing it”
I have to confess this is such an alien concept to me that I hadn’t even know it was a “thing”. I am horrified to think that as a personal stylist I would contribute to this awful waste but more importantly to driving the desire and eternal chase to keep up with the very latest because that will somehow make you happy. Here’s a clue, it won’t.
One of the key things I talk to clients about is how it’s not about buying a whole new wardrobe and filling it with all the latest trends. It’s about looking at what you have with new eyes and finding new ways to wear it. The shopping comes in to fill genuine gaps, items you don’t have that would make your other clothes work harder, a key trend (or 2) to update what you already have and the occasional just love it piece.
Chiming with this one of the most positive outcomes I have seen is the way “influencers’ have brought “re-styling” to the fore of what they are talking about. Showing different ways to wear things or alternatives that may already be in your wardrobe that would achieve the same effect. I think us personal stylists have a duty to take our own advice and show how we do this, social media posts about styling items really help towards this.
As with everything it’s all about balance and I am equally concerned about the way that some of the more knee jerk reactions have focussed on declaring shopping an evil pastime that must stop. Let’s not forget we are losing our high street, beloved established brands are diminishing or disappearing and if they are struggling, what hope for the independents? My thoughts on this are rather than embracing the alarmist stop shopping route, think about a more measured considered approach to shopping. Focus rather than on the fast fashion fix of buying 10 OK items (equivalent to that fast food hit that then leaves you with a crashing low) buying one thing you really love, that compliments items you already have, fits and suits you. You will wear and wear these things.
What can help with this is to try buying from actual shops, at least from time to time. Nothing beats seeing how something feels and hangs. Yes I know there is a long way to go in high street fitting rooms to beat your own home but what you very rarely experience online is service. That human connection and the experience of being valued customer receiving tailored advice and help can be a powerful one. Invariably I feel better about in store purchases because I have considered them more. It’s so easy to click “add to basket” often on things we aren’t sure about but think we will try out, often filling baskets to the brim to avoid paying delivery charges (guilty!).
One thing I advocate to clients when they are solo shopping is if they see something they like is to leave it and think about it and if you come back to it at least it 3 times only then purchase. Once things are saved into the virtual basket the act of taking it out of the basket is a lot harder. What about once those deliveries arrive? It feels like such an effort to return, and they are kind of OK or you love them but no idea where or how to wear them but keep them just in case. I’m not saying this doesn’t reflect what happens in shops and changing rooms, haven’t we all purchased something we later regret? I do think the effort it takes to actually go to the shops and lug that stuff into changing room in itself makes purchasing more considered. Plus returning is done for you. How much of the fashion that arrives on our doorsteps that should be returned doesn’t because of the effort involved.
I am not suggesting that there is no place for online shopping either, just again that there is balance. I know online is easy, convenient and often cheaper. I also know for some people it’s a necessity and can help with sizing and stock availability. I’m just saying that once in a while making the effort to go an interact with the items you want to buy rather than a midnight virtual trolley dash on a Thursday evening might be a way to make your shopping more mindful. Bringing it back to the stat at the top though, I think without online shopping this may never have become a thing or certainly the numbers would be lower if people had to squeeze in the time in lunch hours or after work to go and get the throwaway outfit for themselves.
Retaining your individuality and spending time getting an idea of what you like as a base is also helpful. That’s not to say you shouldn’t occasionally shake up your style, it can be liberating. But do so in the knowledge of what makes you tick rather than simply hastening after that latest item. Time and time again I see people in things where they could be wearing something far more flattering but it’s the latest instamust have everyone is wearing so they have gone for it. If they love it then good for them but I do wonder how many aren’t so sure but do it anyway. Remember you are not less if you decide that the latest must have is not for you. Curating your social media feed can really help with this. Look at what accounts you are following, ask yourself are they still bringing you joy, interesting images, information and opinions that align with your values? If not cull them and get some that are.
There is no easy, one size fits all solution (a bit like there isn’t for our wardrobes either). It’s about a more considered multi-layered and balanced approach. So follow the tips out there,
make more of your existing wardrobe,
make yourself look at something at least 3 times before you buy it to make sure you really want it (if it’s gone then it wasn’t meant to be),
don’t shop in a panic,
buy less but better quality,
engage a personal stylist to help you (sorry couldn’t resist the plug),
think about going into actual shops every now and then,
don’t be sucked into the latest instafamous item (unless you love it and it suits you)
After all who wants to be in a world where we all dress the same? Wouldn’t that be boring? (more…)
In the first of a mini series on the blog which will be featuring what I love from the shops right now as we get involved in Autumn. I am talking those few key purchases that will give your wardrobe an updated fresh feel. This week’s faves are from good ol’ M&S who keep bringing their A-game to affordable fashion.
Straight in at the top of the lust haves is this gorgeous grey jumper dress. There is a bit of nostalgia involved due a gorgeous brown (yeah I know) jumper dress I had when I was 18 that made me feel like I was so sophisticated.
However this piece is more than that, it has no seams! This engineering feat along with the side tie detail and the cosy but not chunky merino equals a flattering dress to anchor your Autumn wardrobe. I’m seeing it with prim shoes, trainers but most of all boots, ankle or over the knee preferably in a shade of red or Oxblood. Which leads us on to the next fave……
These red ankle boots with metallic heel detail, look much more expensive than their £79 price tag, and will work beautifully with dresses, jeans (particularly the straight crop style that Autumn is ushering in) and even a faux leather legging which are not going anywhere (but more on those for next week’s Five Faves).
Sticking with shoes, tassels have not deserted us but they have graduated from blouses and earrings to shoes. These heels tick the key colour trend red but also come in black for those who prefer a neutral.
A nod to tweed and the suiting trend these trousers will bring texture and interest to your new season wardrobe and make a great alternative to your navy and black neutrals. Pair with a classic white shirt and some Oxblood courts for a smart look or red boots and a slogan tee for a more casual affair.
Last but not least – THIS jacket it’s a parka yes but it features shearling and camo which bring this staple bang up to date. Pair with pretty much anything but black denim and a statement ankle boot will see you from the school run through to gin o’clock.
What’s caught your eye in the early Autumn drops? If you don’t know where to turn, think about booking a seasonal update session with me. It’s a mini wardrobe edit focused on the key trends for the upcoming season, quote “Five Faves” and get this service for just £70.
Spring’s officially sprung and I feel the need to bring up the “C” word – yes colour.
I have lost track of how many times I hear “Oh I don’t do colour” or “I couldn’t possibly wear ….. Insert relevant colour”. It seems evident from the sea of almost exclusively black and grey that I encounter on my regular commute (in all seasons) that this lack of colour could be an epidemic. With the high street awash with vibrant shades I challenge you to add some colour to your looks, I promise it will instantly update your look (and dare I say mood) for Spring.
Think Pink was the message loud and clear from the catwalks and its not just one hue will do but any type of pink you can imagine goes. From magenta through to the softest blush. You may not imagine yourself as a pink kind of person but it’s a very versatile colour and is much more than its stereo typical fluffy image.
Alternatively bring the sunshine into your wardrobe literally with another of the key colours of the season – yellow. One of the most frightening colours for a lot of people, perhaps because often the wrong shade can be unflattering. With the racks carrying the full spectrum from egg yolk through softest primrose to ice cool pastel it could be time to find the one that suits you.
How to Wear
It’s not what you wear but how you wear it. Injecting colour relies on the right placement for your body shape – it’s a bit like contouring in make up – wise placement of colour can work wonders.
Focussing bright and light colours on your top half with darker shades on your bottom half is a flattering way to use colour on pear shapes especially when combined with another of this season’s hot hits- a statement sleeve.
A block colour or pattern trouser really show off the slim legs of those with strawberry and apple shapes.
All over block colour works well on hourglass shapes, include texture and a v neck to ensure shape is enhanced not lost.
By combining colour and prints, athletic builds and rhubarb shapes can create curves on their frames.
A common question – if I wear colour what can I wear it with? Here are my tips for colour combos.
Blush + Neutral = Pared Back.
My choice at the moment is khaki/olive green, it’s an underused neutral and adds just the right amount of polish to a look.
Bright + Blue = Colour Pop
Bubblegum pink and magenta both play well against navy and gives a classic combo just the right amount of pop.
Colour+Layers = Chic Impact
Layer your pinks, starting with a blush base and adding hot pink accents or vice versa.
Yellow +Navy = New Nautical
I still love the freshness of a nautical vibe for Spring. I think navy and yellow take it up a notch.
Colour + Classic Details = Colour Lite
If colour is outside of your comfort zone, try combining with classic detail. This Cos jumper is the perfect hack with its white shirt detail. Layer over a Breton stripe and wear with a cigarette trouser and trainers.
Pastel+neutral = Luxe
Yellow with grey particularly a pastel yellow is the perfect Spring combo.
Bright + Denim =Instant Update
Yellow begs to be a bright be brave. Throw this pretty Warehouse sweater with back strap detail on with your favourite blue denim. Guaranteed instant Spring.
Colour+Trend = Update Plus
Embrace colour incorporated into another trend to give your wardrobe a super boost.
Try a retro floral print incorporating one of the key colours like this pretty Emily & Finn shirt or Warehouse’s Wisteria print (comes in a blouse and a dress too) or take get 3 in one with this shirt dress (key dress shape of the season, in double on trend yellow stripes.
Go Bold or Go home with this great neon yellow jacket.
Or you could be uber daring and wear pink and yellow together – did I go too far?
If all of that seems a step too far and not really you -try coloured accessories, a great bag or show is a simple way to elevate your look.
So now the train platform will be brimming with colour, Right?
If you would like to embrace some colour or refresh your wardrobe or look – get in touch to book your styling session, I’d be delighted to hear from you.
With the festive season kicking into gear this week, December’s OOTM for Royal Priors is a great look that takes you from desk to drinks.
Built around New Look’s simple but elegant jumpsuit (the jumpsuit is the item for your party wardrobe but more on that in our party pieces blog…coming soon). To take it to the office layer over M&S’ black and white blouse complete with new romance details – ruffle collar and flounce sleeve. The bronze version of Jigsaw’s Milly Court’s are pared back enough to grace the boardroom but their cheeky sparkle comes into their own when you hit the bar.
Accessories remain minimal, to be amped up come cocktail time.
To take you to drinks and beyond, ditch the shirt and add divine details and sparkle with pieces from Swarovski, Lola Rose, and Nikki Lissoni – all available from Fabulous.
Finish it all off with faux fur, the key ingredient this party season. Now you are ready to be stylish and fabulous wherever the night takes you.
See the look at the Royal Priors Shopping Centre now.
Book one of our express shops and let us find you the perfect outfit or finishing touch in your lunch hour. Drop us a line to find out more – firstname.lastname@example.org
See more of our picks for the festive season over on our Party Prep Pinterest Board
ollowing Shape Your Wardrobe's board Party Prep on Pinterest.
Full Look Details
Marks & Spencer, Faux Fur Striped Coat – £99.00; New Look, Strappy Notch Neck Jumpsuit – £22.00 ; Marks & Spencer, Romantic Tie Neck Blouse – £29.50; Jigsaw, Milly Court Shoes – £149.00 ; Gap, Mini Cross Body Bag, Gold – £24.95
Jewellery available from Fabulous
Folli Follie, Classy Champagne Ring – £60.00; Nikki Lissoni, Rose gold stud earring carriers – £25.00 worn with Sky Full of Stars Coins (Drinks) – £35.00; Swarovski Stardust Light Multi Single Bracelet – £49.00; Lola Rose Holiss Necklace Chocolate Montana Agate – £95.00
If you haven’t already checked out the sales and think you have missed the boat, think again. With retailers keen to clear space for new season stock and many offering up to 70% discount, now is the time to pick up fantastic bargains.
For SYW’s pick of the crop head to our All about the Bargains board on Pinterest
Follow Shape Your Wardrobe's board It's all about the bargains on Pinterest.
Does sales shopping leave you disappointed or frustrated? SYW’s guide to sales shopping blog has some handy hints and tips.
If sales shopping (or for that matter any shopping) fills you with dread, you can always let us do it for you. We love nothing more than sourcing that perfect piece/outfit and will bring it directly to your door, no need for you to come with us. Get in touch and book yourself our personal shopping time saver service.
This blog is a re-issue of an earlier blog I thought it a great opportunity to share again in light of Small Business Saturday this weekend.
As someone lucky enough to live in and be part of a town which has a large array of small and independent businesses, I am passionate about supporting it’s high street. So here are SYW’s Leamington favourites, old and new. The key that binds them all together is that personal touch and service you get, one thing is for sure wherever you go in Leamington there is always a warm welcome.
Lilac Rose – 69 Regent Street, L.Spa www.facebook.com/lilacrosesshop
I cannot make a trip into town without stopping in at this gorgeous boutique (in fact if I try my husband asks if I am ill!) Offering individual vintage style clothing, accessories and gifts. Staffed by a lovely, friendly, team who are always prepared to help out, offer opinions and give further information on the ranges stocked, which include Closet, Darling and Emily and Finn. Will appeal to those who like classic with a modern twist. Perfect for sourcing that great little dress that will see you through a variety of events or for that go with everything pretty scarf. – Also has a shop in Cambridge.
Revolve – 88 Warwick Street, L Spa www.revolvefashions.co.uk
High on the glamour factor and great at bringing that feel to everyday outfits, that’s how I would describe this Leamington institution. Their window displays really stand out and I long for the lifestyle they depict, whether it’s a pair of suede ankle boots teamed with jeans and statement jacket or a selection of their evening gowns. Whether you are looking for an everyday outfit with that special touch or something more formal, you are in good hands with the Revolve team to help you look and feel a million dollars.
Karabo – 40 Warwick Street, L Spa www.karaboclothing.co.uk
Independent boutique focusing on brands that aren’t seen everywhere, mostly separates and casual dressing. One of my best purchases ever was a quirky take on the waxed jacket by the brand “Not the Same”, practical but still stylish. Great line in shoes and bags, one client I took shopping here bought the most comfortable pair of shoes she ever had. I have an orange clutch purchased here that people often mistake for designer. They have a fab selection of branded jeans including “Not Your Daughters”. My go to place when I am looking for something that lifts me out of the plain old jeans and jumper rut.
Peter Stephan – 98 Warwick Street, L Spa www.peterstephan.co.uk
For jewellery and watches Colin and Sandy bring the personal touch and make you feel as if your purchase is worth thousands even if you are spending considerably less. Extremely knowledgeable and skilled jewellers, they will always take the time to explain the differences in the pieces on offer. They will also help give ideas or even narrow down your choices when you can’t decide. Offering good value too, I sourced 3 bridesmaids gifts here well within my modest budget. Perfect for special occasions or just that little treat.
If you fancy something quirky or the latest must have in trendy & fashion jewellery, then Fabulous Collections, 20 Lower Mall, Royal Priors Centre, L Spa. www.fabulouscollections.co.uk a recent discovery is also worth a visit, stocking brands such as Nikki Lissoni, Folli Follie, Pandora and Chlobo.
Clements & Church – 23 Park Street, L Spa. www.clementsandchurch.co.uk
The men of Leamington could do with a few more boutique offerings for casual wear but on the smart/formal side they are extremely well served by Clements & Church. Despite the rapid expansion (outposts in Birmingham, Solihull & Oxford), you always receive personal service and recognition along with expert knowledge when you visit this store. Offering formal wear including tuxedos, suits, shirts and blazers from tailors skilled in their trade. Only a limited number of each suit or blazer is produced, meaning you feel as though you have purchased a bespoke piece without the bespoke price tag.
Sarah Horne – 86 Warwick Street, L Spa. www.sarahhorne.net
As a Chelsea Flower Show medallist you might think this would be home to the priciest flowers on the high street, not the case. The flowers are great value and are superior in quality to others I have purchased. The team are welcoming and happy to lend a hand in choosing from their array of, not only bouquets and flowers but innovative gifts such as the arrangements in china tea cups (a favourite of mine) to the outstanding range of own brand organic massage candles which I have gifted to friends and family and all have raved about them.
McIntosh & Paul – 133 Regent Street, L Spa. www.mcintoshandpaul.co.uk
A gift for that someone special who has everything or that hard to buy for relative, stop in at this local boutique and you are sure to be able to find something that fits the bill. As with all my favourites once again it’s the excellent friendly welcome and knowledge of their products that make it a hit with customers.
When you need a rest from all that shopping, you are spoilt for choice for relaxing with refreshments….
Haddie & Trilby, 10 Regent Street, L Spa, www.haddieandtrilby.com
Billed as a Real Bakery and named after the L.Spa elephants, this is a real gem. Freshly baked on the premises in full view with local and in season ingredients the choices of breads and cakes are seemingly endless. The products are simply heavenly from my Saturday treat of fresh foccacia to the creative cakes coupled with the knowledgable and passionate staff, every visit makes you smile. If only all food could be made and bought this way. Highly recommend the Thursday night pizzas.
Vinteas, 16 Park Street, L Spa, www.vinteas.co.uk
has capitalised on the trend for tea, serving from an extensive menu in a retro setting complete with mismatched vintage china. I always feel as though I should dress up 1950’s style with white gloves, a pill box hat and a Grace Kelly style handbag. It offers full afternoon teas or just a pot for two. In my opinion no visit is complete without a slice of their red velvet cake, heaven. If tea isn’t your thing you could get the South American vibe by visiting:-
Havana, 48 Warwick Street, L Spa. www.cafehavana.co.uk. Its Cuban inspired décor and small but perfectly formed outside area, make me feel like I am on holiday. Serving sandwiches, salads and tapas and the best coffee in Leamington, it’s equally perfect for breakfast, lunch or a coffee stop in the daytime or sipping fizz and sangria and dinner in the evening. Wednesday nights it hosts salsa classes.
Restaurant 23 & Morgan’s Bar, 34 Hamilton Terrace, L Spa. www.restaurant23.co.uk for a taste of fine dining or early evening cocktails. A gorgeous setting in the form of a restored regency villa. You can almost pretend the bar complete with table service is your own living room (well I can dream can’t I?).
Who would make the little black book of your town? Share your favourites with us on FB, Twitter or the website. If they are Leamington based use the #LoveLeam.
Make this weekend and beyond about supporting your local businesses.
Thanks to Leamington BID for the reproduction of the stock images used in this blog piece.
I love this time of year, the feeling of everything being new again and the inspiration for the possibility of personal re-invention that comes with it. I was a Spring bride, so it always holds lovely memories and celebrations too. Whilst the global fashion weeks have had us looking forward to Autumn and Winter looks, outdoors we are being teased with the first glimpses of springtime weather coinciding nicely with the S/S 14 drop in the shops. There is something for everybody from the muted pastels, through the florals to the zesty brights, where to start?
Get some inspiration from magazines and shop windows, note what you like and are drawn to. Then look at your wardrobe with Spring in mind. Does it already contain some of the trends or colours that with the addition of one or two pieces or even simply new accessories will put the Spring in your step? If so work on identifying some Spring outfit combinations for both work and play and then shop for the missing elements. Alternatively if you feel that your wardrobe doesn’t contain any suitable items, make a list of the types of events/activities you will be involved in the coming months. Identify two or three key outfits you may need, then work on creating these with mix and match items, working around two Spring inspired garments. Don’t forget whilst the sun may be shining its likely to remain cool for a little while longer so layering is always a good option.
Key trends very much in evidence on the high street right now are:-
Florals but ditch those ideas about this being old lady territory. This season florals are bright, big and bold and feature on shift dresses through to trousers. Some even combine the zesty bright trend, my pick of the bunch (excuse the pun) are:
Darling Clothing’s Layla Dress – bold bright and includes a hint of zesty brights too – also comes in a pencil skirt and trousers
Ted Baker’s Sugar Sweet Sweater Cute & dreamy
Louche’s small floral print trousers – for something a bit on the quieter side
Don’t worry if pattern is not for you Zesty brights are also a winner. Whilst orange and bright blue are featuring heavily I just can’t resist the zesty yellows and greens, they stop just shy of neon and for me reflect the colour of the season (Spring is always yellow for me) but with a twist. They can also easily be added to your Winter wardrobe staples for an instant update.
Karen Millen’s relaxed lace panel knit is great to team with your jeans
Or try a skirt – both J Crew’s flippy number and Wishbone’s Lola pencil skirt will add instant zest
The ultimate in ladylike chic Muted pastels – My absolute favourite of which is dusky pink, viewed as a neutral it’s so versatile and easily can replace or brighten all those blacks and greys you may have been wearing all Winter.
See my Pinterest Board – Spring is in the Air
Follow Shape Your Wardrobe's board Spring is in the Air on Pinterest.for my inspiration and favourites. I’m going to be channelling a ladylike preppy look for Spring. I’ll be combining an H&M dusty pink midi skirt (new purchase, winging its way to me) with my Autumn/Winter grey embroidered sweatshirt (also courtesy of H&M) for those earlier chillier days. Once it warms up I will be replacing with my cream chiffon top with lace front detailing from Louche and a Yellow Spring Cardi. Both looks will go equally well with my tan brogues (I am a recent convert, despite my husband’s reservations, to grown up flats) and my Ash suede ankle boots. Although, I am sorely tempted by a new pair of kitten heels to see me through to sandal season. Voila, my capsule spring wardrobe. Hopefully this has given you some inspiration but if you need a hand revitalising and moving your wardrobe into the new season, Shape your Wardrobe can help. From a seasonal edit to a shopping session or any of my other services just give me a call or take a look at the website. I’m off to buy some daffodils and freesia xx.
Sleeping outside overnight, the queues, the frantic rampages to get the best bargain. Just watching the annual coverage of the Harrods sale, where this year they actually hired performers to entertain the crowds (how civilized), made me want to crawl under the duvet and hide. This, from someone who loves shopping and loves a bargain even more.
If, like me, the traditional sales shopping frenzy is not for you here’s my guide to successful sales shopping, which these days is applicable all year round.
Controversial – but don’t go right at the start of the sales. That way lies the insanity of queuing overnight and planning strategies of how to get to the rails first (mostly involving bodily harm of your fellow shoppers). There is only one exception to this rule, and it applies to both online and in store. If you have had your eye on a particular piece for a while and that is what you have set your heart on and you know it will be a steal. Then I urge you to join in, embrace the glorious madness and do whatever you have to. Otherwise the sales tend to get better as mid January (or mid sale period, if at another time of year) approaches. Further discounts are given, the crowds thin/the website stops crashing just as you want to check out – making it a more pleasant shopping experience.
Review your wardrobe before even thinking about entering a shop (real or virtual). Without doing so it’s all too easy to have your head turned, only to return home with another pair of black trousers to add to the 10 you already have. Make a note of items you love but rarely wear because you can never seem to find anything to go with them. Think about the type of thing that would complement them and focus your shopping on those “missing items”.
Often the independent boutique style shops can be a great bet in the sales. Generally, offering a more personal service and more unique items of stock. It can add a certain additional feel-good factor knowing your purchase is supporting your local high street.
It’s a little dull and sounds like advice your Mum would give you but it’s worth repeating:
Don’t get bargain fever
It’s that sinking feeling, you have yet to make a purchase despite shopping for what feels like hours, everyone else has a bargain and you don’t, the shopping will be an epic fail, this must be avoided at all costs so you reach for that……………….neon vest top, only £10, sure to be a winner on the beach. Never mind it doesn’t fit properly, you hate neon and it will be relinquished in 6 months time to someone in need of 80’s fancy dress, you will have got a BARGAIN. Mission accomplished.
Sound familiar? To avoid this common affliction keep in mind that clothing purchases (sale item or not) barring those boring essentials like socks etc – should make you joyful at the thought of wearing them and that joy must not be solely linked the price tag being lower than it should be. Whilst that can be part of the allure don’t let it be the only reason you buy an item.