Dare to bear

If you read the fashion and style mags you will be aware that nude lipstick is everywhere. On some women it can look good. The thinking behind this trend is that it looks more natural than brighter coloured lipstick. Not sure I agree. No one’s lips are nude. We all have some pigmentation, hence the fact that a colour that works on a friend may look totally different on you. Allied to the huge amount of nude lipsticks on offer is that other trend. Matt lips.

dark nude lips

Dark Nude Matt

lips nude

Pale Nude Matt

If you want to wear matt lipstick you really need to have fairly full lips. Unlike a gloss lipstick a matt finish has the effect of flattening the lips and making them less prominent. Also, as women age their lips can tend to lose their plumpness and look thinner.

maybelline nude matt

Maybelline Nude Matt

The Maybelline lipstick has a totally matt finish and does wear well. The MAC in ‘Patisserie’ (below) has a very slight shimmer and in my view is more flattering.

MAC patisserie slight shimmer

 My preferred choice, especially if your lips are not full, is to go for the NARS or Chanel lipstick as they subtly highlight your lips and are not totally nude.

NARS niagara slight gloss

NARS in ‘Niagara’

cc 93 intime coco shine

Coco Shine in ’93 Intime’

I always feel that lipstick completes your makeup. It should complement and be in a colour that suits you. In my opinion nude lipstick is the opposite of natural and matt lipstick only works on full well defined lips.

I’m incapable of travelling light

It’s about this time of year when magazine articles and bloggers are busy extolling the virtues of travelling light. I have friends who only ever use a carry on bag. How do they do it? Toiletries aside (not that I ever could put them aside) how on earth do you pack for 7 days – let alone 14 – and only have a carry on bag.

travel toiletries

Airport sizes

Even with the necessary small sizes I still seem to have too many toiletries. I’ve tried decanting but once had shampoo over everything and spent the first two hours on arrival at my room  having an impromptu washing session. If it’s a beach holiday the only thing is to buy sun lotions and after sun products when you get there; but this can be expensive. Also some skincare products (pump dispensers particularly) defy any attempt to decant.

Then there are the articles that say you can take 10 items and create 20 outfits. Really? It has never worked for me and I do think I’m creative when it comes to putting together an outfit. And don’t start me on shoes. I take an average size 6 (39) so it’s not as if my footwear takes up too much room.

carrty on case

Carry on contents

The above image relates to the ideal content for your carry on case! I can only assume the person packing has never traveled with Easy Jet. I am going to make an effort this year and consider taking a linen towel – much less bulky – when I travel somewhere with a beach. I suppose I could restrict my footwear to one pair of beach sandals, evening sandals and loafers for walking about. I still know (because I’ve tried it) that I will not be able to get everything into my airline approved carry on.

organised suitcase

This is what I’m aspiring to!

I certainly will be taking a carry on. It will contain all my ‘extras’!

 

If the thought of heels makes you wince

blush flats with trim

Stylish and very wearable

As an older woman the one thing that annoys me with regard to matters of style (many other things annoy me but this is not the place or time!) is my inability to wear heels any more. On a more positive note there are so many lovely flats around it isn’t the challenge it once was.

patent blk flat 'attitude'

Edgy and full of attitude

If, like me, you really love shoes and are always looking for something above the average then the pair above are ideal. Flat shoes can look very stylish and of course they are ‘usually’ easier to walk in and don’t hurt your feet!

moonstone flats

Very feminine

The above flats would not look out of place with a LBD or a pair of evening trousers. One thing that flats offer – apart for ease – is versatility.

How do the French do it?

Pick up any style book and the chances are there will be some reference to the stylish almost effortless way French women dress. Older women in particular seem to achieve an elegance and femininity often lacking in the UK. Give a British woman and a French woman the same jeans, top, shoes and a scarf, together with a couple of pieces of jewellery and I promise you they will look considerably different.

fashion blog for professional women new york city street style work wear

Classic French Outfit – timeless

CL with scarf

Christine Lagarde

Christine Largarde is always stylish and yet never overdressed. Of course it helps that her ancestry has given her that fabulous tanned complexion. Her jewellery is carefully chosen to complement not to over power.

Paris Fashionweek ss2015 day 2, Garance Doré, nili lotan coat

Garance Dore – modern yet chic

There is a simplicity about the way French women dress. Key pieces, carefully chosen, and put together in a balanced way. You will rarely see a French women wearing loads of ‘bling’ or dressed head to toe in designer labels. Less really is more if you want to look stylish. Trying too hard shows and can shriek of desperation.

What French women do well is to mix their wardrobe with key expensive pieces – such as a jacket or coat – and then wear a top from Zara or a T-Shirt from a department store.  You can invest in an expensive handbag and if you team it with jeans from Gap the whole outfit is transformed.

good detail

It’s all in the detail

Consider the outfit above. On the face of it a simple top worn over a shirt and a pair of jeans. Yet look at the way the sweater sleeves have been pushed up to reveal the cuffs & a small part of the hem left below the sweater. If the top had been put on top of the shirt without these adjustments the outfit would not have been given a second glance.

French women tend not to buy complete outfits. They buy key pieces and mix and match. I believe that’s how they do it!

 

Are dress codes too relaxed?

I can remember the time when going to the theatre or out for supper, by implication, suggested the need to make some kind of effort. A pair of heels and some extra jewellery at the very least. Now, anything seems to go. Personally I find this depressing. I love to see people ‘dressed up’, particularly if they have been creatively stylish. It adds to the atmosphere. I was spending some time recently with a style client and she was bemoaning the fact that she never has the opportunity now to wear some of her evening clothes. She has some really timeless lovely pieces. As her friends tend to wear very casual outfits she feels overdressed.

 

pasmina & pearls

Pashmina & pearls

The above outfit is casual and relaxed but still looks stylish. Good for lunch or shopping. This women has made an effort and it shows.

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Black & white are timeless

The above combination is fairly minimal in style yet looks ‘put together’, as opposed to putting some jeans and a top on and then throwing your coat over the top.

cut offs

Day into evening

The above outfit could be teamed with a statement necklace a colourful clutch bag and it could carry you effortlessly into the evening. A pair of ‘posh’ ballet flats would relax the look.

oufit jumper and trousers

Stylish & versatile

I have always enjoyed the process of ‘getting dressed’ (perhaps I was a 19th century lady in a previous life) and I’m sometimes surprised at how little care is taken when people go out for a meal. Sometime last year I was on my way to our local cinema (we are fortunate in still having one) and I bumped into someone who asked where I was going. When I told her she seemed surprised and made some comment about me being “dressed up to sit in the dark”. I was wearing smart jeans and a knitted jacket and didn’t think I was over dressed. I think she missed the point. I had to get there first! I think dress codes have become so relaxed we are in danger of turning into slobs.

Style faux pas

We all do it. From time to time we wear something that, with hindsight, makes us cringe.  Clothing that has nothing to do with style. Here are some of those items of clothing best put in Room 101! I’m hoping you don’t need to ask why.

green crocs ugh

Crocs

Yes, Crocs make some kind of sense if you are getting out of a small boat in Indonesia and wading through the sea. But not on the high street. Unless you look like Kate Moss you will not look stylish.

slogan t-shirt

The slogan T shirt – under no circumstances!

My real pet hate (and I have seen this being worn outside) is the ‘onesie’. It is a large baby-gro! Nothing more nothing less. I refuse to have an image of it on my blog. Whilst I have nothing against leggings (and they can look very good paired with a tunic top) you must cover your bottom. Even if it is neat and shapely. Without the necessary over garment you will look as if you have forgotten to put your skirt on.

motif sweater

The motif sweater – so tacky

Allied to the above is a particularly horrible garment, which tends to make an appearance at this time of year; cropped baggy cargo pants. The style faux pas items above all share one common link. Do you know what it is? You will see children wearing them. In children they are acceptable – in grown-ups not!

Being the best version of you

Why the obsession with age? How have we arrived at this, quite frankly, rather absurd situation where many women want to look younger. Much younger. Millions are spent on surgical and non-invasive procedures to attempt to arrest the passage of time. Sometimes with bizarre results. Accepting your age now can be the most liberating thing you do this year.

Audrey-Hepburn-Beauty-Quote

I firmly believe that all women can look good. It requires time and some degree of investment. That is a fact of life. For older women simply putting on some lip gloss and making sure you hair is clean won’t cut it. So, what will?

older woman

Chic yet natural

whit red and blk

Stylish – black & white uplifted

A decent hair style that is modern and suits you, together with well applied make-up. That is your starting point. If necessary change your hair dresser. They may be so used to ‘doing’ your hair they have gone onto auto pilot. Get yourself to the counter of a good cosmetics company and ask them to give you a make-over. Make sure you ask enough questions to enable you to replicate the results at home.

Why not re-visit my Tips for Keeping Stylish posted earlier in the year. Essentially they stress the benefits of being organised (style does not happen by chance), well groomed, good skincare and updating your wardrobe. Be the best version of you – not someone else.

Is shopping stressful?

shopping bags

I am unashamedly a lover of clothes shopping. So much so that I do it on behalf of my clients (and friends!). At one time I thought all women loved shopping for new clothes. Yet many women detest shopping. They come home tired, disgruntled and generally fed up with the fact that they cannot ‘find anything to wear’. This is particularly true of older women. Sound familiar? Then read on.

What’s missing? Firstly, it’s usually a lack of a plan. ‘Aimless’ shopping isn’t a good idea. Even with a plan shopping can be a disheartening experience. Why is this? Quite simply it is personal service. If you are spending money on something that will enhance how you look and feel about yourself – and this is often the main reason women go clothes shopping – then the often cursory, disengaged service we receive leaves us wishing we hadn’t bothered. In my view there is frequently an emotional connection to how we look. Sometimes major life changes, at home or work, force us to re-evaluate what we wear. So, off we go to the high street, shopping mall or, if we are very lucky, our local independent fashion retailer, with some expectations. One of our expectations, often held subconsciously, is that the person serving us will be interested in helping us to find that ‘perfect’ piece. Remember the last time you bought something you really loved. What a great feeling! The chances are you received personal service. Someone who understands clothes and knows their own stock inside out. Someone capable of helping you to put together an outfit. Sadly, many staff in larger stores are not given the necessary training and development to be able to do this. Added to which younger staff don’t really ‘connect’ to the style needs of older women.

London's Streets Lay Quiet As Visitors Attentions Turn To The Olympics...In this composite image a comparison has been made between the unusually quiet streets of the West End, London and the busy shopping centre of Westfield next to the Olympic Park. (Top Image) LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: A general view of an unusually quiet Carnaby Street in Soho on July 31, 2012 in London, England. Overall visitor numbers to London have reportedly declined sharply despite the influx of tourists flocking to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Wet weather, concerns of traffic congestion and fears of inflated prices at hotels and visitor attractions are expected to be the cause of the decline. The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has reported a drop in numbers attending London's tourist sites of between 30 and 35 per cent in the last two weeks, compared with last year. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) (Bottom Image) STRATFORD, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Shoppers peruse the outlets in the giant Westfield Stratford shopping mall adjacent to the Olympic Park on July 31, 2012 in London, England. Trading in the huge 1.9 million sq ft mall has been boosted by the footfall of spectators, volunteers and competitors from the Olympic Park; whilst shops and restaurants in London's West End are reporting up to 70% declines in revenue. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Not my idea of fun!

The solution? Find an independent fashion retailer or a clothes brand that recruits the right kind of staff (interested in clothes, style and delivering great customer service) and the take the time to train them well. This reduces the number of outlets you need to visit and increases (not decreases) the chances of finding something you like. I was recently in Birmingham with a client and we went into LK Bennet. Excellent service and a glass of fizz! The staff knew their business and were genuinely interested in my client.

relaxed shopper

No stress

 

 

The ultimate style accessory

Put on a pair of sunglasses and suddenly you are Jackie Onassis or Grace Kelly. Well, perhaps not, but they do confer a sense of glamour on the wearer. Apart from the practical benefits of keeping the sun out of your eyes, which prevents you from squinting, thus causing fine lines, there are also very good at hiding older eyes and a tired face. I’m speaking from experience! Unless you have very small features a pair of large sunglasses can look stylish and, at a stroke, make your outfit more appealing. Yes – really!

As we are now ‘officially’ into Spring we should be having more sunshine. As I live in the North of England this isn’t always the case however I would be lost without my sunglasses. When it comes to sunglasses you really are spoiled for choice. They come in all shades (no pun intended), colours and prices.

older woman

Timeless glamour

Chanel black whit arms

Chanel classics

The Channel brand offers good styling and provided you take care of them (no throwing on the back seat of the car or leaving on the sand in the mid-day sun – holidays obviously!) they will last. They are an investment and should be treated as such. That means when not worn they should be kept in their case.

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Me wearing sunglasses from Mango

You do not have to spend a fortune on sunglasses. The pair I am wearing in the photo above I bought last year for £18.99 at Mango in York. I had forgotten my Chanels (which I have had for 8 years) and can’t bear strong sunlight in my eyes.

black prada classic

Prada Classic Black

The above shape suits most shaped faces and if black is too strong for you try in dark brown.

Classic Ray Ban black

Ray Ban

Ray Bans, I have read, started the demand for sunglasses in the UK. The quality is very good and if you are not comfortable wearing large sunglasses they are just the thing. If the solid colour doesn’t appeal why not consider a lighter frame, as shown below.

ray bans

More Ray Bans!

 vintage shape

Vintage shape – very classic

tom ford

Sunglasses by Tom Ford – variation on the vintage theme

Unless you know exactly what you are looking for you can’t buy sunglasses on-line. You need to try them on. If you live near to TK Maxx they often have a wide variety of styles. You can pick up a designer brand at a reduced cost. Avoid ‘gimmicky’ frames and mirror lenses. They are not stylish and will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons.

How to keep warm in Spring

There’s no doubt that our weather here in the UK is weird to say the least. A few days ago I was in my local town and the temperature was 13 degrees. Oh good I thought, Spring must be around the corner. The next day it was 2 degrees! This unpredictability can make it a nightmare when planning what to wear the next day. Do you stick to the winter coat you are sick of the sight of, or choose a lighter weight jacket?

One way to ensure you keep warm is that fabulous perennial – the scarf. Large, small, silk, cashmere or cotton you can have a scarf for every occasion and every temperature.

blue blanket

Blanket Scarf

A blanket scarf is ideal for keeping you warm on chilly Spring days. Make sure your bottom half is kept slim or you may look too bulky. It can be carried over your arm if the temperature rises.

street style pale blue

Street style

blue liberty

Liberty silk

chanel pink

Chanel silk

Never underestimate the ability of a light silk scarf to keep you warm. If you become too warm then remove it and tie it around the strap of your handbag.

orang and white silk

Fabulous with a white shirt or dark jacket

The simple introduction of colour and a different fabric really can transform what you are wearing. Experiment with tying a scarf in different ways. If you feel your efforts are not producing the right effect there are plenty of infinity scarves around. Just put it over your head et voila!

blue patterned

Infinity scarf

It is possible to look stylish and keep warm this Spring. I must say I can’t live without a scarf. Larger scarves or a pashmina are excellent for travelling. Or is it just me finds railway stations drafty and air travel chilly?