Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Yellow Fever

Yellow. It is the colour of the sun. It is apparently the safest car colour to own. It is associated with happiness. It is also one of the scariest colours to wear and most people I meet say "I don't DO yellow, it doesn't suit me".

Guess what. It actually does. However, as with most things in life, there is yellow and there is YELLOW. To put it simply, there are warm yellows and cool yellows. If you are a cool-toned person and you put a warm yellow on, it WILL be ghastly and do yucky things to your skin that make you want to run screaming from the dressing room.

However, this does not mean that you need to cut the whole colour group out. Cross my heart, if that cool-toned person wears a nice, clear yellow, especially during the summer months, they will be bombarded with compliments.

What does it go with I hear you say? Cool yellows are beautiful with grey, white and navy as a safe option. Even better with turquoise as a bolder option. Warm yellows (mustard and gold) are gorgeous with khaki, burnt orange and brown.

If that thought of a lot of yellow fills you with dread, then here is how you need to go about it. Baby steps. How about a scarf with some yellow in the pattern? Floral if you want to stay on trend. How about a simple yellow singlet that you layer with another 'safe' colour over the top so it just shows a square? How about some yellow within a skirt or trouser pattern? Maybe a pair of shoes or a handbag?

My challenge to you is to embrace yellow and let it poke it's nose into your wardrobe. It really is such a happy, summery, trendy colour at the moment. Find the one that is right for your skin tones and you will be away laughing. P.S. Anyone want to take a guess what MY favourite colour is?

Stay colourful!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tummy Troubles?

Sarah Nichol and I have been working with Westfield Queensgate as stylists for their Walk in Wardrobe campaign for 4 years now. So as you can imagine we see a LOT of women of all different shapes, colouring and sizes. I wanted to share a common theme we found at our last session a couple of weeks ago.

I shall begin with a question. How many of you go up an extra size in your clothing because you are highly conscious about your tummy? I reckon I would see a lot of hands in the air on this one. We also found this isn't age dependent. We see every age from teenagers to 60+ and this seemed to be the issue - other than covering their arms, yes another topic for another day - that women were really struggling with.

Our advice to them, and to you is to not go down the road of buying an extra size up to 'hide' your tummy. Categorically what then happens is you just end up look like that extra size ALL OVER. Bigger arms, shoulders, chest and in most cases you loose your most precious feminine asset, your shape.

No matter how small or non-existent your waist is, you still have shape under your bust. If you loose this you will look 1 or 2 sizes bigger. The key is to finding pieces - whether it be via the cut of the clothing or the drape of the fabric - that shows your shape down the side of your body, and falls gently over your tummy in a way that doesn't add fabric, but also doesn't cling.

Impossible I hear you shout! It really isn't. We were able to show many people different cuts and fabrics that do just that. So while it isn't easy, it is worth putting the effort in to make sure your clothing fits you properly on your shoulders, arms and bust. Rouching under the bust or at the side is another tip on keeping they eye distracted so it is unknown as to what is a natural lump or bump and what is the fabric.

This seasons trend for sheer fabrics is also another easy way of showing a bit of shape, as you can see through the fabric, but wearing something a little bit floaty and not clingy over the body. Good luck ladies. Don't let your worry of a certain part of your body stop you from for doing the best with the great assets you have.

Stay colourful!

Friday, November 2, 2012

NZ Style

I have been fortunate enough to spend the last month grabbing the last of the summer rays in Europe. On my travels I visited London, Paris, southern France, Monaco, and Italy from the lake district to Rome via Venice and Tuscany. I kept my 'eye on the style' the whole time.

Europe is of course a season ahead of us so what we are seeing now in NZ such as patterned trousers and sheer blouses, was not very prevalent on the streets of London, Paris and Rome. I was saddened to see that in the shops of Europe for Autumn/Winter 12/13 there was a heck of a lot of black. Sigh. Just what we don't need, especially here in Wellington! Colour jeans and trousers were still a very strong trend, as was lots of sparkly gold.

My observations did highlight that as a nation, we can be very casual dresses. I had to smile when I saw the ladies of France tottering down cobbled streets in their high heels on the way to the local market to buy their daily fruit and Veg. Bless them they looked so well put together in classic, well cut styles. I was particularly impressed with the 50+ age group of ladies. There is no such thing as 'letting yourself go' in France or Italy for that matter. It made for very enjoyable people watching.

The men and women of Europe do seem to have more of a consistency in dressing. It is not often you see anyone looking really scruffy in Europe. Styles vary, but there is an overall culture of dressing in current trends and looking well put together. I was really impressed with how trendy many men were. Scarves were really big and this went across all ages. I saw pre-teen boys plus all the ages up to about 50 wearing scarves. I don't see this becoming a big look for NZ men, certainly not these types of fashion scarves instead of practical woolly ones.

We are a practical, sporty wee nation and this is definitely reflected in how many of us dress. It was a lovely to come home and be greeted with shorts and jandals at Auckland airport. I think we can take inspiration from how Europeans dress but there is also much pleasure, - like a pair of comfy track pants you don't leave the house in (take note!) - in a more relaxed, less manicured but individual way of getting dressed each morning.

Stay colourful!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Oversew Fashion Awards

World of Wearable Arts (WOW) began in Nelson, and trust me when I tell you that this years inaugural Oversew Fashion Awards (TOF) held in Carterton last Saturday night is going to prove just as successful.

The awards focus is on up-cycling and the environment and it was all about taking pre-loved clothing and re-modelling them into new street wear styles. I can't remember the last time I gasped at the creative talent that I witnessed on that stage last weekend.

The reworked garments from 32 finalists from around the country were put into Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter categories. The models - many of them first timers and some absolutely terrified backstage - were all amazing. I saw them enter the stage with shaking legs and was thrilled to see them coming off the catwalk completely buzzing with excitement.

Robyn Cherry-Campbell and Chris Tracey (wife of the Mayor of Carterton) and a huge team of locals put together an absolutely magnificent sell-out show that I was very proud to be a part of.

My part in the evening had started two weeks earlier out at Porirua Savemart, a dedicated pre-loved clothing shop.. My challenge was to find two ladies who I had never met, an outfit each that would flatter their colouring and shape, within a timeframe and with a minimal budget.

In fact I found them 2 outfits each in the end, under time and well within budget. These brave first time models then strutted their stuff on the catwalk on the night while I talked through why I had chosen the colours and styles that best suited their body shape.

I hope to be part of the event in the future and applaud all those involved from behind the scenes, to the amazing designers. This proved once and for all that old clothes can be given new life and what may not suit one person, can be brilliant for another. Lets give three cheers for being good to ourselves, good to our wallets and good to the environment all in one go.

Stay colourful!

Friday, August 24, 2012

PJs in Public

A debate is raging in NZ over whether it is acceptable to wear PJs in public after an article came out in the NZ Herald on Monday. The question being asked in this instance was is this a fashion trend or basically are people just wearing their PJs to the Supermarket?

In this particular instance I do believe this is just people wearing their PJs to the supermarket. And it is happening on a global scale. I have had tweets and Facebook posts from people all round the word, from Australia, London and America to say this is pretty common. I've also heard from people of all ages saying this has been happening on and off for 20+ years.

So the question is - what is acceptable to most people to wear off the property? Well it clearly does depend on the person. As per my previous email I'm all for people leaving the house feeling the best you can. That can mean great jeans and a T, or something dressier, up to you. Therefore it stands to reason I am not a fan of PJs at the supermarket, nor am I very keen on tracksuit pants worn when you are either not exercising or lounging about at home.

I applaud people who have individual styles and tastes when it comes to fashion, because as we know, fashion itself is very subjective. I love to see people working eclectic styles and doing what makes them feel good about themselves by expressing it in their clothing. But I'm afraid you can not convince me that anybody feels good about themselves while wearing their PJs to the supermarket?

People may say, "who cares, it's only the Supermarket?", but I would ask them how often they see people they know? It could be workmates, friends, colleagues or ex-partners. Then I would ask how they would feel coming face to face with these people whilst standing in line having not had a shower and in their onesie?

The reality is, how you dress does reflect your personality. Rightly or wrongly, people will form an impression of you from what you are wearing. If you can't be bothered getting dressed but hope like hell you don't see anyone you know, then that signals to me you should probably not go there. If you don't care if you meet anyone whilst rocking flannelette unicorn PJs, then go for it - after all, everyone needs a fashion tragedy story to be able to tell their kids right?

Stay colourful!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Inspiring Confidence

Do I have the coolest job in the world? I believe so and this quote sums things up pretty nicely, "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful- Albert Schweitzer

Most people are quite intrigued as to what a Colour and Style Consultant actually does? Well firstly let me tell you, we all do things differently. There is no 'set' formula to being a Stylist. I started my business over 7 years ago and decided to use my background in journalism to research and set up an original business based on logical processes that would help men and women understand the fundamentals of dressing for their colours, budget, body shape and lifestyle.

One of the wonderful things about the job is its variety. Over the course of the year I shall be involved with individuals of every age, size and profession. I will work with large and small corporates, present fashion shows and business workshops. There will be involvement with many aspects of the media - TV, radio or print. I'll work with fashion designers as a consultant on their new collections, write fashion blogs and seasonal newsletters for my clients. I will attend events and donate my time and services to numerous worthy causes.

I might be at someone's house in the morning, showing them what colours make them look amazing and shapes that suit their bodies. A good clear out of the wardrobe can be immensely cathartic. Understanding what suits you and what you need to make your wardrobe work gives people a huge sense of relief that it doesn't have to be a struggle every morning.

My afternoon might then be spent in downtown Wellington, Westfield Queensgate or out at Savemart. With a list in hand of all the gaps we discovered at the wardrobe session we are able to try all the colours and styles on. It is less about spending lots on clothing, and more about cementing the knowledge learnt at the wardrobe session.

Skills needed in this job are varied. You must have a total understanding of colours and body shapes. You need to be able to read people well, to be able to put them at ease and make them comfortable. This is a personal experience and many people open the door with a look of terrified excitement on their faces. Plus what the heck to do you wear when meeting a Style Consultant? My favorite story is the women I saw who was so stressed about what to wear, she settled on her PJs! Brilliant.

My work is hugely rewarding. It's never really about the clothes at the end of the day. It is all about confidence. I teach people that they can leave the house feeling as confident as possible. I often get hugs and kisses at the end of a consultation. I see people come out of changing rooms with HUGE smiles on their faces. I get sent photos from weddings and holiday snaps of people in their new clothes. So that is what THIS Style and Colour consultant does and why I love my job.

Stay colourful!

Stay colourful!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympic Fashion Fails

I enjoyed watching the whole Olympics opening ceremony. I was particularly interested in seeing all the teams come out and checking out the uniforms the athletes were made to wear.

I say were made to wear, because lets be honest, some would have never chosen to put some of these scenarios together. I'm going to envisage the fashion brief. "OK, so we want our athletes to stand out. We want people to say WOW, what a colourful, confident country THAT is. We want to show we are fun, but serious. Let's show the world a little bit of what we can do".

I liked some of them, I raised my eyebrows a couple of times but then thought, hmmm ok. I gasped at others and for a special few, I roared with laugher. Sport and fashion - does it ever really mix? And why or why is there such a strong need to wear quite so many pairs of white trousers?

Some of these smaller, poorer countries don't have a lot of cash to flash around on uniforms, so lets not be unkind to them and instead support them in their achievements for making it to the Olympics. Others SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER! My two favourite fashion fails are below.

When my twitter account started talking about shorts and gumboots, I had to sit up and pay attention. The Czech Republic (were they having a laugh at the British climate?) had indeed donned bright shiny blue gumboots with their shorts. They all looked pretty happy about it and why not? If you don't laugh you cry right?

My second burst out laughing moment was when the British team came out. People have likened the look to a mix of Freddie Mercury, 70s disco and space angels. I mean come on NEXT! Massive big gold collars and what looked like gold armpits? I would love the hear where the inspiration come from?

Last question about Olympic fashion is why do the beach vollyball girls wear barely anything (tiny little shorts and a bra) and the boys are in board shorts and a T-shirt? Fair? I think not. Good luck Team NZ!

Stay tuned for next week's Day in the life of a Colour and Style consultant. What do we actually do and do we really have the coolest job? Stay colourful!

Stay colourful!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Understanding Style

Style, what is it? It seems some have it, and some don't. Can this be rectified? Yes it can. Everyone can have their own sense of style and it doesn't mean being a slave to fashion trends, copying others or spending lots on clothes.

The best style is your own individual way of wearing clothes and colours that suit you and having the confidence you look great. Women with style other women want are women who have come some way to accepting their own body shape and are happy enough in their own skin.

Who would I rate a style icon? Well to be honest, you can't really go past Audrey Hepburn. Here was a women who knew what suited her body shape and she stuck with it her whole life. She understood the good and the not so good bits about her body and she emphasised her best asset at all times, her 22 inch waist.

She was brilliant at adapting the current fashion to suit her style. Someone who understands their body shape and colours is able to do this quite easily. I also loved her philosophy on life, which I believe have her that inner glow that helps with the outer confidence she portrayed.

A current style icon for me is Princess Kate. Here is another women who has a lot of money at her disposal and designers clambering to dress her. She often wears clothes from mainstream shops and when I see her in them I admire her for not only showing the world you don't have to spend a fortune to look well dressed, but that she chooses first and foremost what suits her body shape.

For both these women, less is more. Well cut, great shaped clothing and timeless elegance. It doesn't mean we need to copy their style, it means we need to find our own sense of style and feel confidence in our choices.

I shall leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Ms Hepburn “I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and... I believe in miracles.”

Stay colourful!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Does size matter?

In an era where nearly every image you see of women in magazines is 'touched-up' and air-brushed within an inch of their lives, is it any wonder many women have unreasonable expectation of how we are supposed to look/age/dress?

And how much does size really matter in this equation? In my job I have seen women from size 6 to size 30, all of whom have come out looking and feeling fantastic. If anyone has ever seen Gok's "How to look good naked" British TV show, one thing is always clear, it is never about size. It is about enhancing the great and diminishing the not so great. Focus on looking good with the body you have NOW, not the one you will have in 1 year, 10 kgs lighter or the one you had 10 years ago.

The fact is that lifestyles, babies and hormones - to name a few - change women’s bodies. In our lifetime we go through many shapes and sizes and it can be hard to adjust to all these changes. If the size or shape of your body makes you feel down, you need to make the decision to do something about it. That doesn't have to mean weight-loss, it can mean getting on with the job of looking great with what you have.

There are aspects of every single body I see that are truly fantastic. These are the things we highlight and put ‘on show’ so to speak. The areas that give you the greatest discomfort are then accordingly minimized. There are dozens of ways of making a difference to certain areas of your body by knowing the right lengths and dressing for your body shape. Clients' are often pleasantly surprised by how small these adjustments can be and what a difference they make.

Add great colour to these style changes and as the compliments roll in, your confidence will rise. It may sound simple, but it works. However, the first area of change is your mindset. It doesn’t matter if you are a mother at home or a high-powered lawyer. You need to feel as confident as you can and when you look good, you feel good. If you need help, seek it, if you feel you are able to go it alone, trust your instincts and go for it!

Stay colourful!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Street Style - Auckland vs Wellington

A couple of weeks ago I had a corporate presentation in Auckland and on my way from the suburbs to Wellington Airport, then from Auckland Airport to the CBD, I took notes on the street styles I spotted. What an interesting experiment this was. I alternated between sticking my head out the window to give the big thumbs up and slumping down in my seat with images of colour and style tragedies burned upon my brain. Wellintonians, you have a complete and utter love affair with the black puffer jacket. Short and simple. Dozens and dozens of them. You also win the 'sportswear on the street' award. I didn't spot one person on the streets of Auckland exercising or wearing sportswear. That was mainly because they were all in their cars to be honest but I did peer in a few as I waited in my traffic jam. Yay to the ONE women in Wellington in a hot pink wool coat and the lady in the cobalt blue coat that I gave a crazy smile to at the lights. My previous conclusion that I see a whole lot of fairly safe, conservative dressers loving black was pretty obvious - in both cities! But I had to smile at the kooky extremes in Wellington with a guy wearing a real, vintage fur jacket on one side of the street and on the other a man in shorts and a vintage Swandri. Sorry to the man at Wellington Airport who heard an excited squeak as he walked towards me wearing a purple checked business shirt with a hot pink, fitted v-neck jersey over the top. Primo. Both cities are full of people wearing black. Wellington favours adding a splash of red to this and Aucklanders the more monochrome white. No surprises there. I did see a pink puffer in Auckland that I thought would go down well in Welly. So who won the biggest fashion tragedy award? I was starting to panic that it would be Wellington after bumping into a woman wearing black trousers, pink and white coloured socks and a black high heeled Mary Jane shoes - with, wait for it, a fleece. I was saddened to have to give my beloved hometown the award but as I exited my cab in the centre of Auckland CBD I spotted a woman wearing a gold puffer jacket, leopard print skirt and moccasin slippers. Phew. Let's just call that one a tie.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Crazy, colourful legs for Winter 2012

You can not MOVE in a shop this season without seeing colourful trousers, jeans, cords, leggings and tights. Marvellous I say! A multitude of options for people of all ages, stages and sizes. Too young? to faddy? ah, come on, fashion is supposed to be fun and there are heaps of ways to indulge without breaking the bank.

There really is a colour skinny jean for everyone! If you don't feel comfortable wearing a skinny jean by itself (many don't) then how about using them as a thicker type of legging over a tunic dress or top? So don't get caught up worrying about your thighs or calves, instead just think about creating a great A-line shape over them and they will peak out below as that wonderful splash of colour I so enjoy seeing people wearing.

I am also liking this option for all the coloured straight and fitted cords. What a wonderful, fun, warm texture to have in your wardrobe. I have always been a bit fan of cords as an alternative to jeans in the winter months. Stylish, stretchy and textured. Not that big chunky 70s cord either, nowadays it's a finer, sleeker version.

Legging and tights are around in a multitude of colours, patterns and textures. What fun. I am in tights heaven at the moment. As a warm tone I have chalked up berry colours, mustard, teal and chocolate brown of late. I like to add these to make a patterned dress pop or just liven up a plainer block coloured outfit. If these scare you then throw them on with a pair of boots and all you end up seeing is just a little hint below the knee. Not so scary then.

So people of Wellington, who love their black and might not budge on a coloured coat this season (I'll get you next winter!) then lets see some coloured legs on show instead. I'm happy with baby steps into the wonderful world of colour. For those of you who embrace and love wearing colour, start thinking about how you can 'clash' a few of those colours. Enjoy, stay warm and always colourful.

Stay colourful!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Trelise Cooper SW12 Collection

I hate to start yet another blog by saying it was a wet, windy and wild Wellington night when the doors opened at the beautiful old Public Trust building on Lambton Quay that houses Trelise Cooper's lovely pieces, but it was. Those of us who attended Wellington's fabulous Fashion Week recently had seen a snip-it of Trelise Cooper's AW12 collection. Last Wednesday was a chance to view the whole 48 piece collection whilst supping on Rosebud cocktails and partaking in a few nibbles. Very nice thank you very much! I particularly enjoyed listening to Trelise talk about how she finds inspiration for each collection. Her Stevie Nicks story was very amusing and she gave great detail on her passion for trawling the markets in Europe. I think this really does shine through with many of her collections. The incorporation of lace, delicate eclectic prints with birds, florals and fruit in AW12 in particular remind me of those markets.
In her usual style, one inspiration is just not enough, so you mix this with the description on the invitation of "sassy spirited saloon girls bringing Cooper the 1800’s Americano Prairie Couture. Diamond dressed bunnies at the animal tea party spot the swan fluttering its feathers frivolously from afar. Last but not least the little Frolicking Foxes and whacky magical birds are relishing this winter’s vintage bouquet whilst fantasizing over Trelise's fabulous return to colour this winter ". Colours were pretty and blended well with neutrals. As the models sashayed down the runway, it was apparent the cut and quality of the fabric was amazing. The textural mix and styling was eclectic and fun. There were some very beautiful dresses, one being the bronze shift dress with beading that I spotted and drooled over at Wellington Fashion Week. I drooled again. I think there are a lot of pieces for New Zealand women to enjoy in this range and if you do acquire a Trelise Cooper piece, know that you are joining the likes of celebrities such as Liv Tyler, Miley Cyrus, Suri Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Julia Roberts and last but not least, Stevie Nicks.

Stay colourful!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wellington Fashion Week Wows

It has been a super exciting time here in the capital with our first Wellington Fashion Week having just ending. Set against a beautiful venue backdrop, we watched collections from our favourite established Wellington designers mixed with young, new talent. The music was eclectic and good and loud, the goodies bags looked amazing, the crowd was excited and wowed by the professionalism of the event. I have to say being a personal stylist who every day sees the people of New Zealand, in all their glorious shapes and sizes, I find it hard to turn my 'practical' brain off when viewing catwalk fashion. I can appreciate the detail, the 'wow' factor, the sheer brilliance of creativity at it's fashionable best. But still my brain says 'ok, so WHO can wear that? And if that person isn't 6 foot, then how is that length going to work?" Overall colour was not in abundance with the crowd on any night, or with many of the collections. Pops of colour was the most popular way of integrating it, with Wellington's favourite neutrals, black, white and grey. I guess the Wellington crowd would have loved the dark, sombre colours of some of these collections. Being 'the woman who doesn't own any black' - as introduced by someone in the press to another - I am a lover of all things colourful. So needless to say I loved the second Group B Fashion show on Friday kicking off with super colourful Robyn Mathieson. Other highlights included the overtly pretty, feminine pieces by Kelsey Genna, and Starfish's lovely dresses in delicious summery colours. For those liking those darker, edgier looks I was impressed with Moochi's ever cool combinations, Mardle's stylish tailoring and use of navy with pops of colour, Storm also wowed us with their amazing styling and fabulous mixes of sparkles and textured leggings. .

The Young designs did themselves proud and I loved the quirky flavour of their designs. My only disappointment with the show was not seeing the designers come out and follow behind their models. Especially the up and coming designers who were showing collections for the first time. Some bolted past the entrance to the runway so fast, we couldn't see who they were, let along what they were wearing! We wanted to applaud you in person. Ok, so the question is, from this abundance of beautiful clothing, what would I have chosen to take off that catwalk and wear immediately? Taking into account there was very slim pickings in my colours, I would love the Trelise Cooper brown beaded slip dress, the Robyn Mathieson wrap dress and the Julia Lynch cream trouser suit. Well done to the organisers of Wellington Fashion week for a stupendous effort, well done Wellingtonians for coming along to support them. I am already looking forward to next year's shows.

Stay colourful!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spotlight on a Wellington Designer - Robyn Mathieson

When you ask Wellington Fashion designer Robyn Mathieson what is one of the things she loves about living in our beautiful capital city she says 'the weather'. Yup, you read right. She adds "it's always changing, never boring and often quite exiting". She could be describing her fashion collections as she is well-known and loved by many for her beautiful cuts and amazing fabrics in vibrant, happy, mood-lifting colours.

But colour is only part of the design puzzle and those that own a Robyn Mathieson piece already know that the quality of the fabric plays a hugely important role in Robyn's design process. "If we get a sample fabric in that I consider won't wear or perform well, or isn't the right type of fabric for the design, then we don't use it".

I am always intrigued as to how designers come up with the inspiration and names for their collection and it's no surprise Robyn admits this is a really fun part of the process. It initially involves a brainstorming session between herself and her design assistant Pip Stevenson, but it is a team effort and everyone has fun thinking up names to be included.

I asked Robyn if she has a seasonal preference with clothing, either designing or wearing and she replied, "I always prefer designing and wearing winter clothes. Maybe that's why our brand sells so well in Queenstown and Invercargill and of course I'm from down that way so perhaps the slightly colder winters did influence me. However, we do design very Tran seasonal ranges which can be layered up for those times when we have four seasons in a day!"

Robyn Mathieson is one of the designers involved in the very exciting inaugural Wellington Fashion Week from 18 - 22nd April 2012. What are Robyn's hopes for the event? "Obviously I'm hoping it will be a big success and that Wellingtonians will get right behind it in the way they support other events like the Arts Festival and the Film Festival. Personally for us, it is an opportunity to give our loyal customers a sneak peek at our new Summer range. It's always exciting to see our clothes on stage".

I fully agree with her, I am super excited to see her collection and the rest of the designers in what is shaping up to be an amazing event. Come on Wellington women, grab a ticket and lets show our fabulously creative designers we are right behind them.

Stay colourful!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Jean Trap

Many people have the misconception that an image and style consultants main clientele are wealthy women who enjoy shopping at designer boutiques. This is in fact a small minority of the business and one of our main aims is to teach men and women how to get the basics right.

What can there be more basic than a good pair of jeans? I see you roll your eyes and groan with the thought of trying to find the ideal pair of jeans. It doesn't have to be that hard and quite so soul destroying.

Ladies, if you have curves, then it is all about balance. The bootcut and flare style of jean is perfect for your curves. If you do want to wear straight or skinny jeans, then pop a longer style top or tunic over the top of your fitted jeans and that should do the counter-balancing job for you.

The biggest crime I see with jeans is the 'saggy baggy bottom' jeans. Ok, lets make this really clear. ALL jeans stretch. Some 'give' half an inch and others, which have a ton of elastine in them, stretch a half to a full size.

Most people leave the shop with the wrong sized jeans. They figure that if they are comfortable and the muffin-top not too apparent, they are good to go. Wrong. You have just successfully bought a pair of jeans that will fit you well for about 24 hours. They will then stretch, sag around your bottom and knees and you will then need to wear a belt, which will bulk out your tummy under your tops.

If I don't hear groaning and see legs jumping under the changing room, the jeans are too easy to get on and I go and find the next size down. I like shops that do 'half' sizes like Jeans West. So if you are a 14, you can try a 13 and not have to jump that whole full size. Taller women, I like that MAX and Workshop jeans as they are quite long. Shorter women, if you need a bootcut but find once the bottom is cut off you have a 'straight', then always buy a flare and once cut, this will turn into a bootcut.

Once you have struggled into your uncomfortably tight jeans, you need to remember that you have to put the work in to stretch them out. If the jean is rigid, you are not going to get as much stretch. If it feels stretchy (or ask the assistant) this will take approximately 3-7 wears. If you need to just wear them at home after work to get this done. Yes, once you wash them they will shrink in a little, but they will not return to the original size.

Sometimes the best outfit can be the most simple. A great pair of jeans that flatters your body shape and fits like a glove, teamed with a flattering coloured T-shirt with the right neckline, a string of beads and a funky pair of shoes.

Stay colourful!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jacket Must-haves!

Often in the day to day rifling through other people's wardrobes, I have to ask the question 'where are all your jackets?". I mean come on, we live in New Zealand. Especially for us here in Wellington, we really know about the whole four seasons in one day. Can one jacket cover all our current scary seasonal changes?

The answer is no. If I was to be a good girl and did not have an inappropriate excessive amount of everything (it's the job you know!) here is what I would say is my minimum coat requirement.

The belted Mac/Trench coat. So those in the top half of the North Island with all that rain and muggy climate, this lightweight number is a must have. For the rest of us, this type of jacket is good to have for those random weather changes that happen all through the year. Including, lets be honest, summer.

The casual jacket. This could be a fitted denim number, clearly never worn with jeans, but always great for dressing down a pretty summer dress or a summer BBQ skirt and T-shirt combo. My favourite casual jackets always have beautiful textures like corduroy and velvet and teamed with denim jeans can take me through just about any occasion.

The 'this southerly ain't getting through this baby' lined winter wool coat. I like the just above the knee or mid thigh length for this one. All those to-the-ankle wool coats hanging in peoples' wardrobes are just not getting worn. The shorter the more versatile. Wear it to work, wear it with jeans in the weekend. Wear it out in the evening. Well cut, & great colour is a high priority with this.

The really casual, hooded raincoat. This coat is often the one that gets hauled out the most, which is frustrating because it is usually the ugliest. But I totally understand how hard it is to find a stylish version. Almost impossible. Again, colour, cut and fit are paramount, no baggy, fluro ski jackets please. This is the coat you stand on the sidelines of the sports field in. The coat you wear a squillion layers of merino under at the stadium or take snowboarding/skiing. The walk the dog and often the pick the kids up from school in the rain option.

These four jackets to me cover most seasonal, social or weather orientated occasions.
We don't live in a country where one jacket will do. So check out what you have in your coat cupboard and start making these items, that are the first things people see when they see you, a priority.

Stay colourful!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beautiful Bountiful Boots

Ok, so I will hold my hand up and admit to owning 10 pairs of boots. Many of them from Overland. Excessive you might say, but I enjoy and wear each and every single pair. In fact wearing boots is one of the highlights of winter fashion for me, along with colourful coats (another day another blog).

If you don't own a pair of boots and want to buy your first pair, you can't go wrong with a classic style. Irrespective of the latest fashion craze in heel heights, find a pair that you can run around in all day without your feet killing you. If that means flat, stacked, court, wedge or stiletto, so be it. Best to go with a black or brown pair that teamed with the rest of your clothing is easy to wear. I would also recommend a pair of boots that come to just below the knee. This style of boot is so versatile, as you can wear it with skirts, dresses, tunic's and also under your trousers and jeans.

Ankle boots are popular and when worn well are funky, modern and heaps of fun. But be warned that if you are not particularly tall or have legs on the shorter side, then chopping your legs off at the ankle is not a good look! You can still look great in ankle boots as long as you don't create too much of a contrast at the ankle, so flow the colour of your tights/stockings/leggings into your boots. For instance, black legs, black boots. Dark teal leggings, dark brown boots etc. Dark with dark, light with light.

The only length I'm not keen on is the calf height boot. Not only does this draw the eye to the widest part of this section of your leg, it makes even the longest legs look stumpy. Those that struggle to find boots to fit their calves, go for one that has buckles at the side. This allows the gusset of the boot to open up fully and encase any calf.

I adore coloured boots. They are fun and have personality. They say 'I don't need to match, just look at me!". Exactly what's needed during a dreary winters day. If you have that one classic pair of boots and are looking for something a bit different, then go crazy with a coloured pair. People notice shoes and even if your outfit is fairly conservative, throw on a pair of coloured boots and bobs your uncle.

Stay colourful!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Black - Beauty or the beast?

I don't own a stitch of black clothing (I don't count a dodgey Halloween dress-up and my Bikram Yoga gear). Most people find this fact surprising and are also dubious that I am telling the truth. I can assure you there is no little black dress hanging in my wardrobe.

This week I attended a fabulous and interesting 'pop up exhibition' and debate all dedicated to wearing the colour black. Put together as part of the Arts Festival by the Museum of Wellington City & Sea, it had a fabulous panel of fasionistas, including Carolyn Enting, Fashion Editor for the Dominion Post, Robyn Mathieson, Emma Wallace, Duncan McLean and Dr Prudence Stone from Duncan and Prudence.

The psychology behind why we as New Zealanders and more relevantly, we as Wellingtonians are fuelling the 'Lambton Quay Black' association is really interesting and varied. Is black really cool? Do we wear black in the hope that people within certain industries will take us more seriously? Is it as one person suggested a great colour with which to make ourselves a 'blank canvas' so that our inner personality is able to shine through? Or is it because black seems really 'safe' and our confidence levels are not high enough to try colour?

Having worked in the Wellington styling industry for coming up to 7 years now I can tell you a few things about wearing black. If it does not suit you, you will look older and tired. It is not slimming when worn as a bottom (trouser/skirt) with a block of colour on top. This essentially chops you in half and makes you look a little shorter and a little wider. There are other alternatives as a 'base' colour. People rarely compliment you when you wear black and if you do wear colours that suit you, people smile at you on the street.

The panel and many within the audience did agree that colour makes people happy and often more confident. While I try to rid many people who do not suit black of this draining colour, I do agree that when it suits you and you feel GOOD and confident in it, then you should wear it. However, if you are like the huge chunk of people we see each day who want to 'break out' of the black rut, know that you CAN make the move to colour. And I wonder, if you stop buying it, then maybe the shops will stop being flooded with it?

Stay colourful!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dressing with Success

Many of us have spent some of last week ogling frock horrors and hits from the recent Oscars. This year was of particular interest to me as I had the exciting opportunity of helping a lovely Wellington client with her Oscars wardrobe and gown. Thanks to Wellington designer Sophie Voon, she was draped in a delicious silver silk gown and made to feel like a princess amid the acting icons of tinsletown.

The Oscars is a great reminder just how subjective fashion and style really is. Websites with the best and worst dressed polls vary so much it's laughable. Fashion can be a lot like art - you either like it or you don't.

However, dressing well for your colouring, body shape and age doesn't have to be a lottery. I have a internal mantra with which I have built my style consultancy business upon and it is Colour, Shape, Fit. If you think of your wardrobe and all the pieces hanging unworn, I bet you often wonder why you don't wear something when it seemed like such a good idea in the shop?

I guarantee if falls down on either 1 or even 2 of these reasons you won't wear it. Great coloured top but the neckline is a bit high? Great shaped dress but the colour makes you look washed out? You love the colour and shape of that piece, but have to keep pulling it down or out because it doesn't quite fit?

So as I perused the plethora of Oscar gown pictures, I assessed the overall look in a very similar way. So very many of the gowns I saw were not 3 out of 3. Sack that stylist! It upsets me the most when the person who wins the Oscar is not wearing the optimum dress because that picture is staying around for a very long time!

My favourites from the Oscars were Gwyneth Paltrow - love or hate 'the cape' the whole look suited her. Natalie Portman - hardly ever gets it wrong and keeps it simple but stunning and usually colourful. Michelle Williams, another gown that had all the elements for me. Penelope Cruz looked stunning as did Milla Jovovich.

You may not be off to the Oscars some time soon - unless of course your work for or are married to someone working for the fabulously talented Weta Workshop - but it is handy to run this mantra through your head when you are next buying a special dress. Don't accept less than 3 out of 3 and you will hit the dress jackpot.

Stay colourful!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Here comes the Bride

We are now half way through wedding session. For some of us who have pretty frocks hanging in our wardrobe, the thought of being able to dress up and attend a wedding is very exiting. But for a surprisingly large amount of people a wedding invitation can cause a huge stress session about what to wear and where to buy it. What everyone does have in common is the anticipation of seeing what the bride will wear.

Last week I attended the Te Papa Unveiled: 200 years of wedding fashion from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London exhibition and can honestly say spent an hour mesmerised by the beautiful gowns of bygone brides. I choose an evening to see the exhibition and was glad, because while the lighting was subdued to protect the gowns, it, teamed with the music & up-lit pictures, added to the overall effect of being transported to another time and place. It created a feeling of wonder at the lives of those who made these beautiful creations and the brides who wore them.

It was so interesting to see how the different fashions of each era filtered down into bridal wear. But what was clear is that the fabric, cuts and attention to detail on each and every dress was paramount, irrespective of the budge spent on it. Simple, extravagant, frilly, romantic and modern styles were all represented.

Having a rather practical eye, I did wondered what it was really like having a 5 foot train, a zillion petticoats or a dress weighing 10kg! Some lavish embezzlements looked stunning and eye catching, but also rather 'scratchy' on the skin. I loved that the representation of NZ designers - Jane Yeh, WORLD and Lindah Lepou were varied, interesting and beautifully made. The videos charting the process was a great touch and again super interesting.

I loved seeing Gwyn Stefani's Galliano wedding dress, adored the only red wedding dress and see it's simple, yet elegant style sitting well with today's fashion. But for me, and I choose not to look at the designer so as to give myself a surprise, it was the dress by Vera Wang that I would choose for myself. When I saw who it was made by I had, after all not surprised myself and even had to give myself an eye-roll at my own predictability.

Stay colourful!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reviving New Year Resolutions

Oh my giddy aunt I really can't believe it is already late February. All those new year resolutions made so enthusiastically in December for many of us are distant memories. So I'm here to rev them up again and remind you how important looking good is linked to feeling good.

Here are a few of my new year resolutions and I challenge you to think about adopting some of them too. It's not too late people!

1. Compliment more people on looking good. I try to do this, but am determined to do it more often. It sometimes feels a bit weird to stop someone in the street or tell someone at work how nice they look, but think back to times this has happened to you and how chuffed you felt. This feeling often lingers all day and also inspires people to make a bit more of an effort.

2. Exercise. This is the usual resolution, if not for the inches on your Xmas and holiday waistline then do it for your mind. Exercise and mental happiness has been linked in numerous studies. I believe the key is to finding an exercise that fits into your day (walking to work) or even getting off the bus or parking the car a couple of streets away. Or finding something you love. For me, it is Bikram Yoga.

3. Buy less clothing and use what you have more. This will be my biggest challenge. I LOVE clothes and am surrounded by gorgeous pieces every day. But less can be more. Often people can feel overwhelmed by too many clothes in the wardrobe. Have a good clearout, get some clarity, buy less and be adventurous with the pieces you already have.

4. One of my favourite quotes by Ernest Holmes is "where the mind goes, energy flows". I believe this to be very true. I want people to take 30 seconds each day to do something that is very rare, which is to look in the mirror. Make the effort to leave the house feeling good about what you are wearing, and watch the knock-on effect.

5. Smile. The best thing someone can wear each day in front of friends, family or strangers is a genuine, friendly smile.