Tuesday, March 27, 2012
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.
Monday, March 19, 2012
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.
Monday, March 12, 2012
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?
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
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.
Monday, February 27, 2012
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.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
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.