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 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.

Is it possible to look stylish and casual?

Dressing casually and looking stylish is as much of a challenge as adopting the ‘no make-up’ look. It requires a little bit of effort!

I’m wondering when the expression ‘slobbing out’ first came into popular use. When does being casual descend into looking downright slobby? One of the style challenges for older women is the ability to retain a sense of style whatever you are wearing. Younger women can step into a pair of jeans and throw on a t-shirt, slip their feet into a pair of ballet flats and off they go! Not so for us. Older women need to give more thought to looking casual or we can quickly descend into looking a mess. Jeans and a t-shirt can still look good but how we combine them needs to work. Well cut jeans and a flattering t-shirt (suitable for your body shape) can look casual and stylish. White jeans are versatile, suit most body shapes, and provided you team them with the right top look polished.

with black jacket

Casual yet chic!


Rebecca Taylor persimmon sleevelessA simple top with blue jeans can also work well to create a relaxed and  minimalist look. Casual should mean you don’t look as if you have tried too hard! To prevent an impression of being too casual a scarf or pashmina is the perfect accessory.

linda wright







Choosing Style Over Fashion

As Yves San Laurent so wisely remarked “Fashion fades: style endures”. Personal Style is unique to us all. If we are over 40 (and certainly over 50 and beyond!) we have undergone one hell of a journey. Not someone else’s journey but our very own adventure. We do not need to slavishly follow trends – apart from the ones we want to of course. We can be ourselves. My blog is about celebrating the ‘older’ women; because we are certainly worth celebrating. Let’s look our best and feel our best. Whether you favour a natural yet chic look or a more tailored approach is more your thing, being stylish is within every women’s means.

elegant italian woman

Italian. Did you need to ask?

Ines wears white jeans

Innes. French to the tips of her manicured nails.

Come on UK ladies. Lets get really stylish and have a rejuvenated 2016. Are you up for the challenge?

There are 4 basic requirements for choosing to be stylish. Yes, that’s right ‘choosing’. It is a choice and you can look stylish.

1. A good hair cut and style that suits you.

2. Well applied make-up in flattering tones.

3. Clothes that fit and suit your body shape

4. Interest in feeling good and looking good.

Here are some women who certainly do and they all have their own individual ‘look’. I particularly love the woman with the wild hair. I couldn’t do this in a million years, but boy or boy, she certainly can!

long hair stunning


lauren bacall wht shirt

Lauren Bacall

When I was 12 years old I saw a film with Lauren Bacall in it. She was then, and still is now, a style icon for me.


Coco Chanel

One of the most influential women in the world of style. She was a true revolutionary. She liberated women from the shackles of the corset and was at all times her own person. The way we dress now is largely down to her determination to change the way women were perceived.

chic outfit and stement jewellery

silver older lady

Who says having grey hair can’t be chic!

Who are your style icons and why? I’d love to know.



The Transformative Power of Clothes

If you want to look good for all occasions, feel good about yourself and radiate confidence, then what better place to start than with the clothes you wear. Learning what works for you is the single most important step you can take.

My blog is about being with you every step of the way to a rejuvenated you. While fashion can be fun style has endurance and power. If you are an older woman then having style is not only an achievable goal it is, in my view, a necessity.

Welcome to style strategies for real women that redefine what it means to dress well and present a stylish and rejuvenated image.

Over the coming months and beyond we’ll work out what it means to be stylish for you. Together we will discover being stylish doesn’t require a hefty bank balance or hours of relentless hard work. Using some tried and tested principles you will quickly be able to radiate a new and chic you. The best investment in the world is in yourself.

blk cardigan and pearls

Casual yet chic. Or relaxed and stylish? A white shirt and jeans can be all things.

wide pleat front

Black and white – endlessly stylish.

pale grey jacket long

Or perhaps understated neutrals are more your style.

What you wear is much more than assembling a few items of clothing and then stepping into them. Clothes are an expression of who we are and have an instant effect on those around us. Whether you mean to or not your clothes are ‘speaking’ to other people. You can speak or you can whisper. The choice is always yours.

coral pash and shades

Femina 2010 - Nukaka

So, what do you want to say? How do you want to start 2016? Older women have more than earned the right to be themselves. Let me know what you think. Here’s to transformation!

Outstanding Orange

Every one can wear orange. Not me, I hear you say! If you have read some of my articles you will know I am a fan of neutrals and monochrome. Why? Because they are without doubt versatile, they can form the core of your capsule wardrobe, there are stylish and they stand the test of time – and trends. So where does orange fit in?

Orange chain handle

ugg orange great with white jeans

An orange handbag can literally transform a neutral outfit and give that splash of colour that looks chic. Worn with white jeans and a casual jacket or piece of knitwear it elevates the outfit and can prevent you from looking too casual.

coral pash and shades

A smart black or navy dress can make a real impact if worn with an orange necklace or bracelet. Orange also looks tremendous with teal blue!

orange chunky necklace

orange bead cuff

Your accessories can transform an outfit. Orange can create impact especially when worn with a block colour.

The Art of Shopping

Skirmish or reconnaissance mission?

So many women have clothes in their wardrobes that they have never worn, many still have the tags on. Many women have items of clothing they have paid a small fortune for and only worn once. Then again there is an army of women who always seem to be taking clothes back to the shop or returning them. Why this indecision?

If you know what you are shopping for and have done your research then shopping should be a reasonably smooth process. So many of my clients tell me they dislike shopping, finding it tiring, frustrating and demoralizing. I have provided some simple steps that will not only ensure your next shopping trip is easier and more enjoyable, but will also save you making expensive mistakes.

Before you take these steps it is beneficial to check what you have in your wardrobe. This takes time but saves time in the long run. I will soon be posting an article about wardrobe management. So keep your eyes peeled!

Step 1

Know what you want. Is it a winter coat, two new tops or a pair of shoes. This is crucial, unless of course you like wandering about store after store in an aimless and exhausting fashion.

Step 2

Do your research. This involves either going online or visiting shops and stores and seeing what it out there before you buy. This can also result in identifying bargains. Part of this research should be to immediately discount any brands you know don’t suit your body shape or lifestyle. I frequently ‘window’ shop for clients as it gives me an excellent picture of what is available and where.

Step 3

Shop alone. Unless you have a friend or relative who is a style professional I would always advise shopping alone. If you have done your research you will probably find you only need to go to a small number of retail outlets. Friends may mean well but often their taste may be at odds with yours, they may baulk at the price you are prepared to pay and – sorry if this offends – but there may be underlying jealousy issues, so it’s not in their best interest to tell you the truth. I would never ask a sales assistant in a large store if I looked alright in something. They are there to make sales. I would ask for advice from those increasingly rare independent fashion retailers. Why? Because the want you to return and they usually know their business inside out. Often they will instinctively know what you will look good it. Have a budget and stick to it. This will make you a much more discerning shopper.

Step 4

Shop in the morning. You will have more energy and your feet will hurt less. Added to this sales assistants are usually fresher and the stores look better too, as the stock hasn’t been messed about by other shoppers.

Step 5

Be prepared. Once on your shopping trip make sure you are wearing something comfortable on your feet, you are wearing clothes you get into and out of fairly easily and you are not over burdened with lots of jewellery, which you will inevitably end up taking off. If for example you are buying something to go with a particular jacket – take the jacket with you. The same applies to any other item of clothing. Some stores will provide you with shoes to try on, which can be helpful. Make sure you are wearing appropriate underwear especially if you are trying on close fitting garments. I always carry a mirror small enough to fit into my handbag but large enough to use in the changing room if I need to check my rear view. I know many outlets do have mirrors but this is a habit I haven’t been able to rid myself of. Never purchase any item of clothing without first having checked what you look like from behind.

Step 6

Expect and demand good service. Never put up with indifferent service. Some sales assistants think that if they greet you and smile that’s all they need to do. They should be able to answer any questions you have about returns policy or if they can source the item you want at another store. Good fashion retailers often offer a free alterations service if the garment you want needs some slight alteration. Because I am not in proportion I often have blouses and dresses altered. Most manufactures make to standard sizes and proportions – not all of us fit neatly into this.

Follow the above six simple steps and you will transform how you view shopping and more importantly the actual experience. Happy shopping!

The Style Edit

When you travel internationally, work at Boardroom level and absolutely love clothes and accessories, you end up with a vast wardrobe. My client had been wanting to hone her very individual style and clear her wardrobe of items that no longer reflected who she was. Using 3 clothes rails (!) we worked our way through her vast and varied wardrobe. Helen tried on items and she relied on me to decide whether we kept or discarded them. What was left was a core of key pieces that all worked well together. Due to the client’s busy schedule this took less than a day (we were working at quite a pace!)

Here’s what she had to say.

“I knew I could trust Brenda to help me edit my wardrobe. She knows my style and she has the necessary focus and eye to make good style choices. In next to no time we had edited down to one clothes rail of items that were perfect for me. Complete style rejuvenation.  The service she offers is excellent value for money and her down to earth approach is refreshing”

Helen, CEO, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

The Style Saboteurs – or why you sometimes need to get out of your own way

Do you know someone who gives herself a hard time about how she looks? You know the kind of thing; “I can’t wear this I’m too old, fat, tall – and so it goes on.

This blog is about celebrating the amazingness (Yes, I know I’ve made the word up) of women. Very accomplished women who have demanding jobs and may also act as carers for their families still tend to put themselves down when it comes to their appearance.

Well, if that is you I would like you to stop right now. Let’s explore some of what I call the style ‘saboteurs’. Those ideas and beliefs we have about how we look that prevent us from rejuvenating our personal style.

Comparing yourself to others

The reality is that you are unique. To compare yourself to someone else is a pointless exercise especially if they are younger, thinner or richer. Unfortunately the media tend to promote ‘ideals’ of beauty that at best are unhelpful and at worst create dissatisfaction. Be the best you can be. Be you at your best. I love this quote from a man who embraced style and was always himself.

“Be yourself. Other people are already take” by Oscar Wilde

Waiting to lose weight before you buy new clothes

We all know it is unhealthy to be overweight and if you are severely overweight then you need to seek professional advice. If you are a woman who has had children, if you are going through, or have gone through the menopause or you simply lead a busy life and have erratic eating patterns then the chances are you weigh more than you did a few years ago. If you are constantly telling yourself you’ll buy that new dress when you have lost 10lbs then, guess what – you won’t. You’ll continue to wear the same old thing which you probably don’t like and may not suit you. Just because you weigh more than you’d like (and many of us do!) does not mean you can’t look good and wear stylish clothes. Style is dressing for the shape you have now.

I can never find anything to fit

Oh please! I do not accept this. Unless you are an extraterrestrial being I’m assuming you look much like the rest of us. Women come in all different sizes and shapes so the starting point is to know what shape you are. I’m also assuming you know what size you are. I will soon be posting an article about body shape, but in the meantime, I can strongly recommend The Body Shape Bible’ by Trinny & Susannah, which explores 12 different body shapes and provides good advice about the best clothes for each type. In my opinion, based on mountains of research, no one has produced a better guide.

I’m too old to change my style

You are never too old. There are no age limits to having style. Style rejuvenation is about looking good at any age. Just look at some of these stunning older women. Now tell me you are too old!

 confident mono chromeup swwep

bobrelaxed fit beige knitwear

My kids/friends/partner/colleagues will laugh at me

Time for some tough love! You owe it to yourself to look good and feel good, for you. If someone you know feels ill at ease or threatened by your desire to look good and update yourself (perhaps it will highlight just how much they have let themselves go) then it really is their problem. Also, if they really care about you they should feel happy to support you. When your children do this it usually is because they see you in a role rather than as an individual. You may need to sit them down and talk to them and  firmly let them know that you are doing this for you.

I just haven’t got the time

If you have a very busy work schedule and/or a large family to look after then of course you will be short of time. In this case you will need to schedule some time each week (or day) to clear out your wardrobe, decide what you need to buy and then go shopping. Always shop with a plan. Click onto the Style Challenges page and read my article ‘The Art of Shopping’ which provides a fool proof guide to successful shopping. Follow the guidelines and it will change how you shop forever, and save you a small fortune! Many large stores provide personal shoppers and provided you are clear about what you want to buy they can be helpful. However, I would offer a note of caution. They can only offer the brands they stock, which you may not like or may not suit your body shape, and the personal shopper may be years younger than you and will either (I’m speaking from feedback from my clients) dress you in clothes that are too ‘this season’, and therefore offer a poor return in investment, or may dress you as they ‘perceive’ an older woman should look.

What’s your particular style saboteur? Why not let me know.