Monday, 18 October 2010

Long live vintage - Horrockses Fashions Exhibition

At the end of September I went to the Horrockses Exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, London. This exhibition of Horrockses Fashions' cotton dresses - ultra-feminine "shirtwaisters", stylish "housecoats" and beachwear in delightful colours and patterns from the 1950's has been so popular that it has been extended until 28 October 2010. If you are a fan of that period and anything stylish, feminine or vintage, then this exhibition is a must.

Julia McAusland, 50, lecturer in fashion and textiles (pictured above) is sporting a genuine Horrockses dress, alongside other vintage pieces that make her whole outfit. She is a devoted vintage collector:

"I have an expanding collection of vintage fashion pieces; my personal shoppers range from Babs and Chas in Oxfam to Marco in Liberty but it is to Penny Phillips that I owe thanks for sourcing this 1950s Horrockses dress and bolero ensemble. Other treasures of mine include a wonderful beaded ankle-length column dress, probably from the late 1960s, and two 1950s ballgowns, one of which has large hand-painted flowers adorning the full, layered skirt that swishes at every movement. However, the ultimate has to be a gold leather Moschino jacket – my justification for having it is that, if I am still wearing it when I am 80, then it will have been worth it!

I love seeking out treasures at every opportunity whether in charity shops or vintage fairs, which to me are like giant dressing-up boxes. It is fascinating to look at construction methods and details of finish, and to wear any of my purchases gives me a thrill and makes me feel special; I am unlikely to find someone wearing the same thing as me and it is great to know that I am giving these things a second life as well as benefiting charities and being kind to the environment. Long live vintage!

When I met Julia at the Pat Albeck's talk at the exhibition, she was wearing her above-mentioned gold leather jacket and she did look fantastic!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Great shop for clothes sizes 18-30 !

I had a great personal shopping day with a client yesterday, trying to find her a mother-of-the-groom wedding outfit. Because my client is a size 18/20, we went to the Watercolours Fashions shop in Beaconsfield, South Bucks (, which specialises in sizes 18-30. If you fall into the larger size clothing category then you MUST check it out!

There is a fantastic choice of colours and styles, so whatever season or personality you are, you are bound to find something that fits AND is interesting. It is so refreshing to see such a lovely choice in the large size clothes, which usually tend to be on the boring side - not unlike bigger size cup underwear, which is my bugbear (see for inspiration). There are 25 different designers to choose from.

The staff are very helpful . There is a price range to fit any budget, but if you are looking for something special, you will have to part with a bit more. It is definitely worth it. The shop also offers funky accessories (jewellery, handbags and belts), which are definitely worth having a look at, too. Have fun!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Spring Clean your Wardrobe!

Spring is always the best time to clean up. With new fresh energy coming in, it is very effective, and very much needed after the sleepy dark winter. Whether you want to spring clean the house, the body, or the mind - why not the wardrobe at the same time? It is a very cathartic, re-energising experience. You can also tick the box of being kind to the environment by recycling your clothes you don't want, be it at the tip or a charity shop, or even make a few pennies by selling your never-to-wear-again good labels in a dress agency. See Brockhurst Boutique as an example of such a place in Chesham, South Bucks, where you can sell your clothes, shoes and accessories, earning yourself 50% of the sale price, or even picking up a few pieces for yourself!
A good dress agency will only sell garments that are in a very good / nearly new condition. I find shopping at Brockhurst a fun experience because you find things that are not in the shops any more - it's great to be different / original, AND you can find some fantastic bargains of great makes for a fraction of the price. That way I manage to own lovely Chanel, Karel Lagerfeld, Armani, DKNY and other makes, which I couldn't afford new. It is not for the label itself that I like buying designer clothes - indeed I prefer if you can't see the label itself. It is for the quality and originality of each piece that I like buying them.
It is fun to declutter with a friend (an honest one!), or even better, with professional help. Of course it helps if you know your colours and style, because that way you know exactly what to keep and what should go. It is easier to do it with somebody else because they are not attached to your clothes the same way you are - very often we keep hold of a garment for emotional reasons, which shouldn't be a reason to clutter the space... It is most likely to be dated and you will never wear it again, so why gather dust and take up space?
Don't forget the lingerie drawer! Nadine Kazerounian, a fellow colour & style consultant, mentions in her last newsletter a fact she heard from a friend who works in a cosmetic surgery clinic, "the worst sights they saw in the clinic were nothing to do with the bodies of their patients, but rather their appalling underwear!" Even if nobody else can see your underwear, you owe it to yourself that "all your layers" look great ! My mother always used to tell me, you never know, you might end up in a hospital having to undress... Check out for fab underwear in bigger cup sizes. It is those that really suffer from a good choice, often coming in only granny styles. I know because, unfortunately, I am a 32E cup, which is impossible to buy for. Clothes don't fit quite well either ... so you, ladies, with smaller cup sizes, be glad because there is such a great choice of underwear for you, AND clothes fit much better, too!
Naturally, accessories can't escape the clean up - they are the icing on the cake and can either make or break an outfit. Update your drawers with some funky belts, bags, rings and bracelets, necklaces and scarves to spice it all up. Let me know if you need help! Happy detoxing.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Back to some time for yourself

Half term holiday is over (already!) and back to the rat race of school runs, homework, kids' clubs and the usual routine of rushing around. It is only when we are removed from the situation we realise how stressful it can be and how quickly time seems to "seep through the fingers".

I visited my family in the Czech Republic. We only see each other twice a year so every moment together is very precious. Half way through our time together, we all fell ill with a cough and runny noses, and generally feeling fluey. I was a little annoyed at the time but in retrostpect, it gave us the time to stay indoors and really BE together. Although slightly devoid of energy, we resorted to simple things like playing 4-in-a-row, my 9-year old daughter learned how to play chess (I still haven't mastered it), and we cooked and baked and occassionally watched DVDs.

It was nice not to have to get dressed if one didn't feel like it and leave the make-up off for a while. However, after about three days I started to feel the need to look a bit better, a little "healthier" with a hint of colour in my face, be it artificial from a foundation and a bit of blusher. Let's face it, at this time of year, with the constant lack of sun, very few people manage to retain any healthy glow naturally.

The state of mind gets fooled by what it sees. Slowly I started to feel better in myself - you will probably say that, obviously, with time, one gets better anyway, but I know that a bit of help from make-up gives one an instant boost in the self-esteem department, which gets the ball rolling...

Despite of feeling under the weather, I even received a compliment (not from the family...) about looking well, to which I answered that it must be because I am very happy with life and it probably shows. The internal feeling good definitely shines through to the outside, so if you are unhappy, even the best make up won't hide what the eyes give away about the state of your soul.

So go on, kids are back at school, give yourself a little more time to spend on what you like doing - be it reading a book, a short meditation, some time in the garden or even a power nap. And although it may seem a little extravagant, 30 minutes a day spent just on you is vital for you to be happy, and for it to show. It goes without saying that, as a side-effect, everybody around you will also benefit from you feeling more composed. A little bit of blusher or a hint of lipstick will, of course, propel you even further on that journey of rocketing self-esteem, even feeling in control! How's that?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

What is Style?

Style is the way you dress, and the way you dress is the way you express yourself. I would always say that you dress for yourself, not for others – to make you feel good about yourself from within. Your style should reflect your personality and lifestyle, as well as flatter your body shape. And although all this sounds like common sense, there are few women who are able to combine all those three categories successfully.

Naturally, we have to dress accordingly for the occasion. You will wear something very different to the office, to a black tie do, around the house or a leisurely walk. However, there will always be certain “rules” that should be followed, i.e. the contours of the clothes, internal/external lines, fabric weight, textures, colours, cut, length of jackets or skirts, etc. They should always be the same for the same person, whether it’s a little black dress or an office suit or a track suit. Not forgetting the colour, of course, that plays a vital role in dressing, and which a lot of stylists dismiss (!!).

Everything we do starts with us, and the way we feel about ourselves on the inside will influence the outcome. If you feel good about yourself with a bit of a spring in your step, the meeting you are having with your boss will go better than if you walk into that meeting with lack of self-esteem and feeling glum. The dreaded phone call will go better if the feel-good factor will give you a smile on your face, because it can be felt on the receivers end …

Feeling good and being positive is contagious! It will affect people around you and you will also attract more positive people to you, resulting in different kind of friendships, even a partner. It’s a self-perpetuating process - good vibes will attract good vibes! Believe or not, learning more about yourself and what looks good on you will give you that feeling. Come and find out, it is for life!!

Curves are back (are they really …?)

Yet another article on curvy ladies being back in fashion in the Sunday Times. I’d say, “Hurray, at last!”, but I have heard it all before. Yet the catwalk is still swarming with stick insect-like wafer thin girls (who never smile…no wonder, they look malnourished and must be devoid of energy). The thing with thin bodies is that almost anything suits them, and most designers’ creations seem to be produced with stick men, or rather women, in mind.

But that is not the real world. I don’t consider people like Victoria Beckham, who might fit into those creations, the real world. Most of us have curves and they should be celebrated. And although it is the news from time to time that curvy models are back, it doesn’t seem to materialise whenever you watch a fashion show.

This Style section article, by Eleanor Mills (on 24 Jan 10), talks a lot about the importance of good well-fitting underwear, especially the bra. Wrongly fitting bra can have big breasts heading towards the tummy, which will make you look two sizes bigger than you actually are. The problem with big bust is that women usually tend to try to “hide” it, either under a big loose jumper or hunching the shoulders over, which, again, can make one look very top heavy. Hiding a waste – what a crime! We all have one, be it different dimension, so show it! I you have got it, flaunt it – be it your bust, a waist or curvy hips. Curvy means feminine and that is what men prefer anyway.

Banish all those hang-ups about your shape. If somebody likes you for who you are (there is an inside of a person, too, rather than just the shape!), they will love everything about you. Nobody is perfect. And what is perfection anyway? It is rather a philosophical question and, thank goodness, we all like different things. It is all in the eye of the beholder, remember! The most important thing is that you are happy with yourself.

I will believe that curves are back in vogue when I see big designer names dressing some more curvy models on the catwalk, and people like Kate Moss will just have to put on a bit more weight to represent the real world…

If you would like any help with finding what type of clothes are right for your shape, get in touch.