Monday, January 13, 2020

January trends and sustainability

I've been having a look at the trend reports and looking at the shops in town to see what's new and exciting, and I mainly saw polka dots, and elegance with a little funk edge.  The things that caught my eye in the trend reports were fluorescent, crochet, retro prints (a nod to the sixties and seventies again), feathers, the shorts suits (not convinced I like them that much, but they did get my attention), white dresses - they do float my boat, trench coats, tropical print, sheer material, and ruffle/puffed sleeves details.

In the shops, pieces have been laid out to create a classic look with a lot of neutral, and a dash of quite traditional pattern and pastel thrown in for a little bit of subtle colour.  This seems to be setting the scene for the hopefully very long lived habit of buying well and making it last, putting classic and neutral pieces under peoples noses to encourage them to be more sustainable.  There is still quite a lot of detail in pieces so it's not altogether minimalist and collections still have some trend oriented features.

My favourites were the puffed sleeves and the ruffled skirts.  Remember that trends come and go, so hold on to something you like; fads are the one week wonders.

To have go to, long lived fashion staples right in front of peoples eyes is the best way to encourage a sustainable mind set; create a capsule wardrobe then let some trends update it, jazz it up when something catches your eye.  It's also a good way to develop your signature style and let your wardrobe reflect you.  There's plenty to give you your identity and not be wearing the 2020 uniform, especially if you do have the idea of wearing things well and making them last - your unique vintage pieces or heirlooms, or great finds.  The collections flow well from season to season, you don't need an overhaul every few months, and so many styles appear every year or so.  There's always been so many great fashion pieces that make this easy enough to do - look at Jennifer Lopez in her Versace dress from 2000 - hot on the tropical print trend and ticking sustainability by being vintage.

Looking at some trends in particular - shirts and trench coats - these are things that will already be in peoples wardrobes so that's the perfect time to so demonstrate sustainability, by bringing these out to enjoy being worn again.  If you want to update something like your trench, give it a different belt - try a variation of the Ports 1961 trench with it's checked side by putting a contrasting belt instead of the orginal one.  A lot of people will already have white dresses, and sheer pieces, so give them life again and make them your own.  Denim was listed as one of the trends, but really when is it not a staple of someone's wardrobe?  And boho was popular as always.

H&M have a big range of polka pieces right at the main door on Buchanan St, carrying on from the geometric pieces and the dogstooth check from a few weeks ago.   Most places still have just about all their rails full of sale items, it's still very early in the new year, I'm much looking forward to seeing new things coming in.

Zara and New Look have ruffles, puffed sleeves and sheer pieces which do look amazing.  Monki has more colour than anyone else at the moment, and TopShop are sale-tastic - the new items they've got are very winter wear.  

I popped through M&S, and did actually like the in-store display near the front of the store, ankle boots funking up the seventies inspired dresses was a nice touch.

So, seeing that the trends are old favourites, and that sustainability is the hottest trend, it makes sense to wear old favourites, jazz them up, or go to good charity shops to find pieces that will give you the current look for a pleasant price.  Customising is always a good trick and can look really good if done well and by using good materials and good condition old clothes.

During fashion month designers covered a large range of ways to make their work more sustainable, from design features in their shows, like tree lined runways to partnering with other designers to hold joint shows in the same venue on the same day.  Obviously anyone who makes and sells clothing for a living doesn't want to lose customers, but it's a great thing to think environmentally and encourage your customers to consider who they buy their clothes from, the quantity they buy and how they were made.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Christmas party clothes

It's December - just a few weeks till Christmas, so here are some outfits to dazzle in during the festivities.

First of all, we went to Zara.  Trinny Woodall is never out of there and I saw some really fab pieces in one of her recent YouTube vids, so having liked what I saw I wanted to hit Zara first and have fun picking out pieces and putting outfits together in there.

There were lots of great pieces, but most of the time I saw they were playing it safe by having so much black and not enough colour - yeah I know you don't want to see a red wine stain on your dress but do we have to have so much black?  Is black still the epitome of sophistication?

Sophie who modelled for me tried on the brilliant top with the very GOT sleeves which had a white lining.  I'd have loved to have put that top with white trousers or a white skirt but there wasn't a single self coloured white bottom in the store.  The pink peplum top had to be teamed with a kidswear skirt (so, size 8s, you can wear Zara kids 13-14 :)  )  There were some lovely bright things like the blue sequin dress, and there was a similar purple version.

I'd have much preferred to have white trousers or a skirt with this top.

The leather effect top is lovely,, and the feather trim trousers are fun and cute.

We loved the black dress with multi colour sparkles throughout, and I love these shoes. 

Next was TopShop - my all time favourite which never lets me down.  I'll probably still be shopping there when I'm eighty, and why the hell not?  We had fun picking things out and trying them on Sophie.

First we went for the jumpsuits for discotastic sparkles - sequins always cheer you up.  And there was the lovely one shoulder one in black which is such a good fit and cut really well.

These were my fave shoes in TopShop.

Next was a dress (which I ended up buying (I'd seen it during the week when I was doing Westender pick ups and loved it), and the purple skirt and black chiffon blouse.  The blouse has got a really lovely sheen to it.

Last was good old Frasers, and up to the third floor for the fab shiny pieces.  The fairy lights outside the store, and the hundreds of lights hanging from each level on the balcony were gorgeous and gave a lovely feeling but it could be so much more.  To be completely honest we felt a bit disappointed, on the second floor the mannequins were in boring non festive looks,  there was no exciting Christmassy enticement and not much cohesion throughout the store; the womenswear departments on the second and third floors were very stand alone.  If it's meant to be Harrods-esque then it's going to have to sing louder than that to get the right attention.

There were plenty of stand alone pieces - I'll have to go back and get a photo of the sequin tiger pattern dress.  I'll let you imagine what it's like in the meantime - but a bit of a challenge to put looks together across brands.

I love the bright pink Ted Baker coat, it's gorgeous, and looked best with the red Little Mistress dress.  My favourite was the Biba marabou jacket which I put with a blouse and skirt from French Connection.  Sophie's choice was the blue dress by Serenity & Grace.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of what you can find in Glasgow city centre for party season - there's lots of choice from the high street stores, and I think these picks are the best.

Thanks to Sophie Neill for modelling, and Lauren McAndrew as able and willing assistant.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Women's Workwear

Focusing on women’s workwear, I want to show how to put across your credentials and character.  There was always the idea that to be taken seriously and to be smart business wear had to be in darker or at least neutral colours.  Even now Pinterest searches give work wear in dark or neutral colours, like colour undermines being serious. If you have the confidence in your ability to deliver competently I believe you don't have to demonstrate a less than bright image to convey business acumen.  A Harvard Business School study found that dressing distinctly could make a woman appear confident and influential, two qualities especially relevant for courtroom lawyers.You're still entitled to have a personality - being professional and having character are not, or shouldn't be, mutually exclusive. Strength of character is what enables you to reach your potential and a vibrant confident image expresses this so I encourage you to show that - let’s look on the bright side.  

I want to add another layer to image consultancy by enabling someone to be able to clearly demonstrate who they are as "style is a way to say who you are without having to speak." I want to go beyond flattering the figure so that the clothing reflects the aspect the person wishes to convey at a particular time.  By discussing with someone how they want to be perceived and helping them choose the right clothing they’ll represent and convey themselves accurately.  Wardrobe is the underlying “base note” pulling together your public persona, and styling is costume design for every day.

First, a summary of women's office wear over the last several decades.

In the 1950s women's workwear was a Chanel signature - slim fitting tweed suits of below the knee skirt and matching cropped jacket.  In the 60s it was an a line shift dress, a simple blouse in monochromatic colours, pillbox hats and kitten heeled shoes. 

Women began entering the white-collar, ascendant-oriented workplace in record numbers back in the 1970s.  The trouser suit was very popular, frequently worn with tie neck blouses and fitted blazers. 


The eighties was the decade of the power suit with women wearing more masculine tailoring - jackets with shoulder pads, boxy blazers with straight conservative skirts and femininity was added with blouses with bows.  

The 90s were more minimalistic, and then dressing down became more widespread. Women were becoming more original and inclined to adapt their wardrobes to their lifestyles which included wearing trousers instead of the traditional skirts with jackets for the office.

Today, political leaders Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel “have chosen to look matronly,” says French-born long-time women’s image consultant and wardrobe stylist Michele Oppenheimer, whose more than 25-year list of career credits began at Galleries Lafayette in Paris and includes working with Giorgio Armani, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. “Clinton and Merkel look like grandmothers, which might help them to not appear threatening.”  In the transition to women achieving power they are being relatable characters along a trajectory to guide us to taking it for granted that women are strong leaders in their own right.

                                       Nancy Pelosi (above)

“Women want to exist beyond reductive influences - using colour is one way of doing this.  Colour has a huge positive psychological impact as it's a shout of individuality.” says Susie Cave, wife of musician Nick, who owns the label The Vampire’s Wife.

Issues of class and gender surround black clothes - black has been linked with money and taste since the 1500s.  But at least fashion experts are no longer urging women to wear black clothing to look thinner or less distracting in the workplace.

Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth, is optimistic. “If women are embracing colour, it suggests that they are confident they can be taken seriously without wearing black,” she says. “If people aren’t choosing clothes primarily to appear smaller, I think that’s really politically important. It says: I’m here and I’m not ashamed:  It’s very non-apologetic.”  I wondered if colour is perceived as childish?  Colour sends messages.  In the 90s, colour analysis meant finding out if you were “cool autumn” or a “warm spring” in order to buy a jumper that would make you look vibrant. Now, colour chat is more about politics, identity and mood.  Bright colours are increasingly used for protest, from pink pussy hats to calls to wear red for International Women’s Day, or green for Grenfell or orange for gun safety.  WGSN’s colour director, Jane Boddy, believes we are all increasingly aware of “how colour connects us, as human beings, and how we use it as a tool to define us.  The Queen, for one, dresses brightly to ensure visibility.

Here's a shoot I styled earlier this year with some gorgeous suits - 

Style Tips For Women Leaders
For the woman whose leadership role is a bit less stellar, but still in the spotlight, here is a short list of style tips that will help ensure your audience discusses your comments rather than your couture:
1. Go for balance between being attractive and powerful. “To achieve a balance has a lot to do with the totality of clothes, grooming and attitude. The hair has to be shiny and vibrant, the makeup flawless and the clothes should be clean, well pressed and fit perfectly,” says Oppenheimer. Power is sexy – remember the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who wore “power” as well as she wore her legendary pearls.
2. Be “fashionable,” but not “trendy.” “Women in a leadership role should be classic and perfectly put together,” advises Oppenheimer. “Clean lines, perfect tailoring and exquisite fabric transcend time and trends.” In short, it’s worth spending a little money on your clothes – a point also made in another quote from Polonius’s advice to his Paris-bound son:
“Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy.”
3. Think color. “All shades of red, preferably a blue-red, and black convey leadership and power,” says Oppenheimer. “Avoid yellow, unless you want to look like a bird.” (Ed note: No, Oppenheimer did not really like First Lady Michelle Obama’s choice of color – mango - for the President’s State of the Union speech January 12, though she does applaud Mrs. Obama for finding simple cuts that flatter her.)
4. Adapt to your environment  including the casual chic of today’s start-ups. “If everybody wears jeans, find a pair of jeans you look good in, and make sure they fit well,” Oppenheimer suggests. “In many of these types of informal settings, jeans, tee-shirt and jacket - all very fashionable of course - can work very well. But white shirts, sweater sets, or a little dress are also sometimes appropriate. You can be casual chic and “in charge” without wearing a suit.
5. Adapt “day-for-night” style. You can indeed go from office to dinner with the right moves. “You start by refreshing your makeup, put on heels instead of flats, and change other accessories such as scarves and jewelry,” says Oppenheimer.
6. It’s about projecting YOU. “It all depends on what fits best and projects an appropriate image that you will look and feel relaxed in,” says Oppenheimer. “The key is to remember that the woman wears the clothes, the clothes don’t wear the woman.”
And as Polonius reminded his Paris-bound son, projecting the right and true image does more than make you look good in the spotlight. It can make you a better leader overall:

January trends and sustainability

I've been having a look at the trend reports and looking at the shops in town to see what's new and exciting, and I mainly saw polka...