10 Stylish Essentials – No 3

Quality knitwear – either classic or statement

There are many high street outlets that sell cheap wool blends. Perfect for throwing on with your jeans to do the grocery shopping. They have no place in creating your signature look. A signature look needs to stand the test of time. Invest in good quality knit wear and it will last.

SP dk grey long cardigan

For versatility it’s difficult to beat a knitted jacket or cardigan. Forget all about the traditional crew neck cardigan – unless you wear a truly outrageous piece of jewellery with it. If you are over 50 you will look frumpy. A simple navy blue V neck sweater, appropriately accessorized, will provide great value for money.

eric-bompard navy cashburberry yellow print


If you love to wear jeans then a statement sweater or jacket will create a stylish yet relaxed feel. With smart black trousers, white jeans or a skirt perfect for your shape, knitwear can look chic. Although most of us can’t run to the fabulous Armani sweater below there are many designers, such as Sarah Pacini, who can help us to make a real style statement.

armani fine grape jacket


sarah pac mauve wrap

This grape wrap sweater, by Sarah Pacini, is the last word in versatility. Fabulous over a simple long sleeved top, classic white shirt or silk blouse.

light lime waterfall

If you want a splash of colour then this light lime waterfall sweater is ideal. It will flatter most body shapes and can be teamed with jeans or tailored trousers.

Make sure you care for your quality knitwear by following the manufactures instructions.

10 Stylish Essentials – No 2

The Chic Camel Coat

Fashion comes and goes together with this season’s ‘must haves’.  A camel coat has stylish endurance. Most women can wear camel, but if this is not the colour for you go with navy. Like camel, navy says style and the same approach to accessories works too.

Long CoatTop Shop classic

Choose a style that flatters your body shape. The belted coat looks good on tall or slim women whereas the shorter coat (from Top Shop) is very flattering for those of us with more generous proportions. Wear with white jeans for a casual and contemporary look or with well cut trousers or jeans. Camel looks very chic with boots and especially pulled together with a statement handbag. Investing in a good quality camel coat is well worth it. If your budget doesn’t allow this check out stores such as Zara who usually have a camel coat (or two) in their store.

Camel loves pinks, reds and plums. Don’t be afraid to accessorize creatively. The metallic clutch below works brilliantly. A camel coat may be thought of as traditional, there is no need for it to be boring.

statement clutch metallic TAN coat with neutrals

Try a scarf to create different style looks. A woman can never have enough scarves!

white and red spot ralph lauren zen red blk


short coatCamel looks classy and investing in a camel coat is money very well spent. Dress it up or down it is a timeless piece that you can always rely on.

10 Stylish Essentials – No 1

The White Shirt

crisp on hanger

Style rejuvenation is not just about updating your wardrobe. It is much more about understanding what works well for you and what doesn’t. Part of this is working with – rather than against – your body shape.  As any handwriting expert will tell you, your signature is unique to you. Your style signature can also be unique. Style is about how you put your outfits together. You do not need wardrobes full of clothes, most of which you will never wear. A few well chosen garments can transform how you look and feel. 10 items are all you need! Excluding accessories of course. But more of those later.

Lets start with the classic white shirt. With jeans, tailored trousers or skirts. Believe you can’t wear white next to your skin? Easy. Add a scarf or a piece of statement jewellery. A white shirt cut to suit your body shape has endless appeal and versatility.

classic white blouse [#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D3X 2013/07/16 12:08:01.49 Time Zone and Date: UTC, DST:ON RAW (12-bit) Image Size: L (6048 x 4032), FX Lens: 85mm f/1.4D Artist: Copyright: HUGO GLENDINNING Focal Length: 85mm Exposure Mode: Manual Metering: Center-Weighted Shutter Speed: 1/60s Aperture: f/3.5 Exposure Comp.: -0.3EV Exposure Tuning: ISO Sensitivity: ISO 250 Optimize Image: White Balance: Color Temp. (6670K), 0, 0 Focus Mode: AF-S AF-Area Mode: Single AF Fine Tune: ON(-1) VR: Long Exposure NR: OFF High ISO NR: OFF Color Mode: Color Space: sRGB Tone Comp.: Hue Adjustment: Saturation: Sharpening: Active D-Lighting: High Vignette Control: Normal Auto Distortion Control: Picture Control: [SD] STANDARD Base: [SD] STANDARD Quick Adjust: - Sharpening: 6 Contrast: Active D-Lighting Brightness: Active D-Lighting Saturation: -1 Hue: 0 Filter Effects: Toning: Map Datum: Image Authentication: OFF Dust Removal: [#End of Shooting Data Section]


A white shirt does not have to boring. This is where accessories come in.

Long pastels casual good

What could be more simple and yet remain chic? A white shirt with jeans is timeless and ageless.

blk cardigna and pearls white shirt sneakers casual

There are many styles and you don’t have to stick to a classic design. Why not check out the different ways you can wear your white shirt?

older woman

Over-sized and relaxed

[#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D3X 2014/07/29 12:56:30.98 Time Zone and Date: UTC, DST:ON Jpeg Normal (8-bit) Image Size: L (6048 x 4032), FX Lens: 85mm f/1.4D Copyright: HUGO GLENDINNING Focal Length: 85mm Exposure Mode: Manual Metering: Center-Weighted Shutter Speed: 1/160s Aperture: f/5 Exposure Comp.: 0EV Exposure Tuning: ISO Sensitivity: ISO 100 Optimize Image: White Balance: Color Temp. (5000K), 0, 0 Focus Mode: AF-S AF-Area Mode: Dynamic, 51 points AF Fine Tune: ON(-1) VR: Long Exposure NR: OFF High ISO NR: OFF Color Mode: Color Space: sRGB Tone Comp.: Hue Adjustment: Saturation: Sharpening: Active D-Lighting: Low Vignette Control: Normal Auto Distortion Control: Picture Control: [SD] STANDARD Base: [SD] STANDARD Quick Adjust: - Sharpening: 3 Contrast: Active D-Lighting Brightness: Active D-Lighting Saturation: -1 Hue: 0 Filter Effects: Toning: Flash Mode: Optional, TTL Flash Exposure Comp.: 0EV Flash Sync Mode: Front Curtain Bounce Flash Device: SB-900 Flash Mode: i-TTL, 0EV Map Datum: Image Authentication: OFF Dust Removal: [#End of Shooting Data Section]

Tailored and elegant

A white shirt, or two, is a good investment as it will become a wardrobe staple. Plus on a cost per wear basis the white shirt it’s hard to beat.



Let’s start with the inside

It’s that time of year when many women realise that ‘perhaps’ they have enjoyed the festive season a little too much. If you are anything like me the first casualty is my waistline. So, it’s back to the gym and a re-visit to all those fitness DVDs bought over the years!

This year I have decided to start from a different perspective. Eating healthy foods has never been a problem for me as I actually like fruit and vegetables, but it can be a struggle in the winter months when comfort food cries out.

Enter the Magic Bullet, or more precisely Nutri Bullet!

nutri bullet

I have only been using this for a few days so I can’t make any health claims. What I can do is to tell you just how easy this is to use, and even more importantly ( as far as I’m concerned) to clean. It comes with great recipes. My favourite so far combines spinach, banana, berries, pineapple and flax seeds. It tastes great. If you know someone who has difficulty eating their greens and their fruit option seems limited to an apple or orange then the Nutri Bullet is the answer.

For older women even the best skin care products on the market cannot compensate for the glowing healthy skin that comes from a good diet.

cindy joseph 64

Cindy Joseph 64 years old

Let’s glide into 2016 feeling healthy, energetic and – if you wish – just a tad virtuous!

So many clothes yet nothing to wear!

My client always looked good and had a clear insight into what worked for her. So you can imagine I was a little surprised when she asked me to spend some time helping her ‘sift’ through her wardrobe and create some kind of order. I’ve always considered that I had a pretty extensive wardrobe until I spent a couple of days with Geraldine. Phew! We sorted out what she wanted to keep and the rest either went to a charity shop or to be recycled.

What I quickly realised was that she had some great outfits she rarely (if ever) wore. She didn’t need any new clothes. What she needed was a fresh look at the existing pieces.

This is Geraldine’s response, ” With Brenda’s keen eye and style expertise we quickly sorted out the gems to keep and what had to go! Brenda’s infectious enthusiasm, passion and clarity ensured this process was fast and easy with lots of laughter along the way. Then came the magic as Brenda brought the remaining core pieces to life creating different combinations using colour and accessories. All from my existing wardrobe. Happily I now have less clothes cluttering up my wardrobe and enjoy having far more to wear”.

Geraldine, Business Owner, Birmingham UK

Basic Layering

Having a range of layering pieces in your wardrobe is essential if you want to create versatile outfit options. They also keep you warm!

Although layering pieces can include T Shirts. camisoles and sleeveless tops, often referred to as ‘tanks’, they need to share one common factor. They must be fitted (no baggy T shirts please!) to enable them to follow the contours of your body. Not skin tight but close enough so the items you wear on top hang well.

Basic pieces can be long-sleeved, short-sleeved, V necked, crew necked – you get the picture.

wolford blk short sleeved wolford draped body dark pink


If you are prepared to invest then you can’t get better than the Wolford top and body shown above. Or perhaps you’d prefer the sleeveless tank from www.madeleine.co.uk , who sell a great range of top quality clothing – shown below.  Whether it’s demure white lace or more dramatic black both pieces will layer well.

1136746_176_227_0_0_2326_3000 shirt

You may choose to have basic pieces which are hidden from view. This is a mistake in my opinion as there are many really pretty pieces available. From Marks and Spencer to Wolford.

casual slvless top

This works!

Wearing a simple white camisole under a plain top creates some interest. Without the show of white the above outfit would be rather boring.

When your outfit just has to be right!

When your daughter or son gets married you want to ensure it’s a day to enjoy and savour. You don’t want to be worrying if you’ve chosen the right outfit. You want to know you look your best and then be able  forget about it! I was asked by a client to help her with her wedding outfit, which she had been agonizing over for some weeks. Let’s hear what she has to say.

“As a somewhat curvy, plus size Mother of the Bride, I was not keen on going wedding outfit shopping. I decided to have an outfit made. Brenda came with me on several visits to the dressmaker and was invaluable in advising me on colour, style, fabric, hat and accessories. On a day to day basis I like to try and hide away in blacks. My self-esteem related to clothing is low, so I was delighted on the day, thanks to Brenda’s help, to feel totally comfortable in a unique royal blue lace dress. I can honestly say Brenda provides an exceptional service”.

Hilary, Marketing Manager, Northumberland, UK

Shopping – where to start?

It never ceases to amaze me that the important business of choosing your wardrobe and deciding on the best way to present yourself visually should be such a hit and miss affair for many women. Those same women will take time when planning a holiday, organizing a special family event and choosing a new piece of furniture and yet when it comes to shopping they really have lost the plot. My client Emma, would be the first to agree that for her shopping was much more boot camp than retail therapy. I always do my research when working with a client. Such things as lifestyle and particular likes and dislikes. Then the very important business of body shape and proportion. Emma is blessed with a good figure but had lost a lot of confidence in how she looked. Her budget was small but we have on 2 separate occasions achieved a wardrobe re-vamp.

Here is what Emma has to say:

“I never enjoyed clothes shopping. I just didn’t know where to start and even worse was the ordeal of facing myself in the changing room mirrors. So I avoided it, or bought clothes I never wore. Brenda took the time to understand who I am and what I do. She made me feel relaxed and confident and I was excited to see what she would choose for me. It was a really empowering experience and I felt I looked really good for the first time in a long while and, importantly, confident in the way I looked. I couldn’t recommend her enough”.

Emma, Artist & Entrepreneur, Hexham, Northumberland, UK

Love the skin you are in?

Put me in the cosmetics and skin care department of any major department store and I am in heaven. Those beautiful bottles and jars. Gorgeous colours and intriguing descriptions and outrageous promises. Who hasn’t been tempted (even if only for a moment) by the suggestions that using this for only 7 days will shed the years making your skin look youthful etc etc.

Oh well, back to reality. It’s no mystery that clean well moisturized skin looks better than it’s neglected counterpart. Older skin presents some challenges especially during the menopause. Women who have rarely suffered with a spot (and why do they pop up on your nose, chin or the middle of your forehead?) suddenly sprout a crop of teenage eruptions. Then there is the jowl ‘thing’. Lose of tone it’s often called. Or age spots and ‘discolouration’.

I am always trying different skincare  products. It a sort of hobby. Although it can become expensive. Over the coming months I’m going to share my thoughts and opinions on skincare and offer some advice.

Clean skin is healthy skin. So let’s get started.

Some budget products that really work.

simple micellar water

The Simple range are effective, within most people’s budget and usually suit most skin types, although very dry skin may require more cossetting. Micellar water has become very popular and many make-up artists swear by it. Probably because it is quick and easy.

For years I have used rose water as a toner. If you are worried about added chemicals rose water is a good option. It leaves your skin feeling clean and the smell (if you like roses!) is heavenly.

rose water

The benefits of exfoliation are always been talked about in the media. As I have a sensitive skin I always find them too harsh. At last I’ve found one that works without leaving my skin feeling taut. I highly recommend Dr Murad’s Exfoliating Cleanser. I wouldn’t describe this as a budget product but it is affordable and as you only use a small amount it lasts for months.

murad exfol

If you like a bargain and know exactly what you want why nor check out this website www.allbeauty.com for some well known brands in skincare, cosmetics and hair products. Why pay full price when there is no need?

Make taking care of your skin a key priority. This starts with clean healthy skin which is not only about using products that work for you but is also about a healthy diet (yes, I know you know!) and drinking plenty of water. And don’t forget to move and get some fresh air.

happy healthy face

Looking good!

Beware the over-sized top

Although this blog is not about slavishly following trends, if you are interested in looking good the chances are you are aware of the seasons latest ‘must haves’. Over-sized tops seem to be everywhere. From over-sized sweaters to big shirts! I am a fan of over-sized tops but a cautionary note probably won’t go amiss.


flower shirt

This is a Vanilla Extracts flowered shirt.  Although this would work well with slim fitting jeans for a casual look; if you are 5 ft 4 inches or less you will look overwhelmed.

poncho blue lbk

Ponchos seem to be making a come back and can look good if you are tall and/or full sized.

dk blue poncho proportion

Although most of us will not have the thin legs of the women above the proportions work. It really is all about balance.

What ever size you are any bulk on the top needs to be balanced by a slim lower half  unless you want to, at a stroke, add inches to your body width and lose inches from your height.

silver grey poncho

I am a great fan of white and silver. This is a colour combination which looks chic and endures. Over-sized tops can hide a less than perfect waist and provided the balance is right provide a flattering and easy to wear outfit.