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:

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Surviving the battles

My styling work also goes into artistic projects.  This is a personal one which didn't begin that way, I made the feather cape after seeing The Cape Reimagined exhibition and soon got an opportunity to use it on a shoot, and as the shoot evolved, someone came up with the idea of smearing the make up across the model's face, and so the images fitted into my warrior queen concept.

This can be taken out of the concept and illustrates my personal experience:
I've had challenges all my life having been born with complications. I've got passion, determination and a professional mindset to keep my issues to myself and keep going, head held high.
I've started to become more open about what I've faced over the last two years which has been a relief! I'd like to think I can inspire others who don't have a straight trajectory in life to reach their potential
The images are about the serene queen who went into battle and survived.

Photographer: Lee Howell Model: Beth Morley Hair: Jason Hallhair Make Up:Karen B Stylist Jacki Clark

Friday, September 13, 2019

Autumn tones

I'm doing research for the next Westender shoot so in the middle of checking out what the shops have in stock just now.  They're very full of what can most definitely be called autumn shades - basically you're stuffed if you don't like brown.

To be honest (and in my own opinion) it's terrible samey,and uninspiring.  OK, it's not my preferred colour palette but it is too much to walk the length of Braehead shopping centre and see so much brown - it's a bit like walking through a wood full of bare trees - a bit too drab.

Wallis, H&M and M&S rails are too lacking in anything that seems exciting to me

Bonus points for M&S for jazzing it up a bit in their displays

I won spot the bright colour!!

TopShop at least manage to make it look fun with short skirts and jackets in cool materials.

River Island wins the window display round, and their shop floor was by far the brightest and most interesting of every shop in the centre.

Breaking up the brown

Some lovely hot pink to cheer things up, and I love the Showaddywaddy suits!

RI have some fab monochrome edging it's way in 

Oasis and Warehouse -  only if you like brown, and a bit of rustiness!

Next also had a far more inspiring and diverse selection laid out.

So, there we have a huge variety of warm toned clothes which can be brightened up with a dash of pink and red to put some life into the look.  There are brighter and more subdued shades of colours to add to the outfit.  Seek and you shall find.

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 t...