Quite by chance, when staying with a friend, I encountered a fabulous independent fashion retailer. The business, called Nero e Bianco, which is based in Sutton Coldfield, offers the two key ingredients essential for success. Absolutely lovely clothes (sourced in Italy – where else!) and service delivered with passion and professionalism.
Impossible to walk past
The owner, Jill Hartley, spent some time talking time about her business journey and the philosophy behind it. The business was launched in June 2015 when the shop was opened in Sutton Coldfield quickly followed by the opening, in October that same year, of a shop in Bleper, and has had remarkable success. She loves style and one look at the fabulous clothes on the rails confirms her expertise. In her own words she wants to, “Make the everyday woman feel fabulous in clothes and spend time giving a good service”. Jill comes from a nursing background and spent many years working with women who were experiencing a range of challenges, including self esteem issues. It is this background that she ascribes to her ability to build a relationship with her clients and provide a personal touch. Jill recognises that there is an emotional component to how women feel and look and sums it up by saying that shopping is more than simply buying clothes. I couldn’t agree more.
My idea of heaven
The business, which includes 3 shops (and a fourth on the way) offers very chic, stylish casual and occasion wear. You can be sure you won’t find clothes like these on the High Street. Jill is now also stocking Italian menswear. She works with like-minded suppliers and she believes this has given her business a great foundation. Jill is surprisingly calm and modest about her journey into the business world.
If you are in the area pay a visit to Nero e Bianco. It may just change the way you shop! I freely admit that clothes are my passion but so many clothes shopping experiences fall short of the mark.
Having prepared and then applied your tanning products there are some simple steps to help maintain your tan. The first thing to do is the make sure you keep your skin well hydrated by using a good quality body moisturiser, preferable tinted. This will avoid any patchiness and dry areas of skin.
Avoid too hot showers or baths. A fabulous product from Temple Spa called Goldentini, which is a body oil and glaze, provides radiance and sheen and light colour (£25 for 50 ml). This is a remarkable product which is simplicity itself to apply and you only need a small amount.
Goldentini – body oil & glaze
On your face use a tinted bronzer or if you want an instant glow, use Temple Spa’s, Lovely Day ( £25 for 30 ml), which is a tinted bronzing gel. By following these steps not only are you maintaining your tan but you are also caring for your skin.
Lovely Day – immediate response bronzing gel
So – Prepare, Apply and Maintain. Sunshine therapy in 3 easy steps!
Whether you are lucky enough to have had a holiday in the sun or are planning for one the decision as to what to wear on your feet is important. If yours is a beach holiday then there are certainly some lovely flip flops around. Because I have unattractive toes I prefer to keep mine covered, although I’m envious of those who can show off their feet.
Ted Baker rose leather
If you want to go upmarket Katie Spade (available on line) has some very attractive styles. Another high quality brand is Stuart Weitzman. usually available at Russell and Bromley.
Katie Spade black leather
If you find sandals with toe posts uncomfortable (many women do) the above white leather slip on’s are ideal, or the red and brown sandals shown below. If you do ‘uncover’ your toes then your feet need to be in tip top condition and your nails polished. If you have pale skin it is a good idea to wear some self-tan. Invest in a pedicure if your nail painting skills leave a lot to be desired.
I wish my toes looked like this!
Simple leather sandals
I’m currently looking at some of this seasons nail colours so I’ll let you know what takes my fancy.
Delicate yet eye-catching
As you get older, even with exercise and the gym (!) women’s arms can loose their muscle tone. This means you may be reluctant to wear sleeveless tops and dresses. Unfortunately if the weather is hot or you are on holiday somewhere that actually has summer weather, then it is not practical to wear long sleeves all the time.
Isabel Marant cuff
Although the cuff above is expensive there are loads of different style to be found on the high street.
Being realistic you can’t suddenly start using those dumb bells and in 3 weeks be ready to bare. Even if your arms are less than perfect they will look better with some self-tan on them as tanned skin often gives the illusion of being slimmer than it is.
You can draw attention away from your arms by wearing bracelets and cuffs.
Silver & gold bracelet – on my wish list!
A simple T-shirt, pair of jeans and a pashmina can be transformed by jewellery. Notice how the bracelets show off the tanned arms to advantage. Get those arms out girls!
In Step One we looked at the importance of preparation and in today’s post we are looking at application.
Once your skin is fully prepared you are ready to apply your self-tan product. Invest in specifically designed gloves or mitts to avoid staining your hands! You can purchase these from chemists or supermarkets. Thankfully some self-tan products are fairly easy to use and smell considerably better than they once did!
Sol Mate by Temple Spa
Over the years I’ve tried many products (often with pretty poor results) and to date the above self-tan is the best. At only £25 for 150 ml it represents good value too. It is non-sticky, has a lovely smell thanks to the grapefruit essential oils and contains anti-aging ingredients.
Apply in a dry environment not a steamy bath or shower room as this will make you perspire and may lead to a streaky finish. To be avoided at all costs!
Ensure your skin is well moisturised and that the moisturiser has been applied at least one hour before application to ensure even application. Work fairly quickly with light but firm strokes. It is always best to use a tinted product so you can actually see where the product is going.
Tricky areas! The elbows, knees and heels require a slightly different approach as these areas in most people tend to be drier and/or darker in skin tone than the rest of the body. Lightly moisturise and apply the product sparingly. With most products you can build up the tan – if you wish- over the next few days. It is important to keep the skin moisturised.
In Step Three we will look at maintenance.
Whatever your thoughts on sunbathing most people agree that a light natural looking tan on your face and body makes you look healthy and rested. If you are jetting off to the sun then obviously you need to protect your skin and stay out of the strong midday rays. If you haven’t managed to get some rays, or you prefer not to sun bathe, then the convenience and benefits of self-tanning products are for you. As a Temple Spa Lifestyle Consultant I can strongly recommend their all year bronzing solutions. When self-tanning goes wrong, as it often does (orange and streaky!), it’s usually because the skin has not been prepared properly. The time taken to prepare ensures your self-tan looks natural. As in all matters of style you need to invest some time.
For the perfect (well as near as you can get it) self-tan on your body follow the 3-Step PAM process.
Preparation, Application & Maintenance
Let’s start with preparation. If you have never tried dry skin brushing this may seem a little odd. I have been doing this for years and it definitely makes a difference. I do it irrespective of whether or not I am applying self-tan. It’s good for the circulation and gets rid of dead skin cells. Every morning before your shower or bath brush your skin, always in the direction of your heart, in long firm strokes. I have now discovered a skin massager which I use immediately after the brushing. This takes no more than 5 minutes. If you haven’t time in the morning do it in the evening!
Apply a skin scrub. I use Temple Spa Sugar Buff to buttocks and thighs because I do get cellulite. You need to use the scrub wherever you intend putting the self-tan. Then wash off and dry your skin.
You have now prepared your skin and it should feel soft and smooth. There will be no dry patches that the self-tan product can adhere to. You are now ready for Step Two, which will be posted soon.
Chic all in white
Yes it’s that time of year when I fervently hope that summer is not far off. What better time to get out the white jeans? Although I do wear mine all year round. White jeans are possibly the most versatile item in your wardrobe. They can look ultra cool, very casual and smart.
Dress up with glitter flats
Dress down with loafers
Depending on how you accessorize the number of outfits you can create is almost limitless. If you are worried about white over a generous sized bottom then simply make sure your top covers the offending article. And remember, you can put white with virtually any colour and wear white jeans with sandals, brogues, ankle boots – you get the picture!
Great with simple black sweater
Good holiday look
If you don’t possess a pair of white jeans I would suggest you are missing out on a timeless approach to style rejuvenation.
Excellent skincare from an ethical company
The best cleanser I have ever used!
I have written before about the transformative power of clothes. You know that if you get your outfit right not only do you look good but you also feel good. One area of lifestyle I am increasingly asked about is skincare. As we get older our skin can change. It can become dryer, pores may appear larger and if like me, you are a bit of a sun worshipper, you may have some signs of pigmentation. I wanted to be able to offer bespoke skincare as part of the services I provide. With this in mind I set to and did some research. Last year I came across a British owned company called Temple Spa based in West Sussex. I trialed the products and was so impressed I decided to become a consultant. So, what does this mean for you? It means I can offer a bespoke skincare service based on your skin type and take you through the facial you would experience at one of the high quality spas using Temple spa products. Because I am one of their consultants I can offer substantial cost reductions and keep you informed about special offers. As a client you can pay as little as £69 for cleanser, toner, moisturiser and skin mask. Full cost would be £94.
This is skin therapy designed to match the needs of your skin and to reward your skin with outstanding long term benefits. The products are a delight to use and are a fusion of anti-aging ingredients, natural botanicals and essential oils.
I can offer a one-to-one session or if you prefer why not get a few friends or colleagues round and I’ll run a skin therapy class. If you are in the North East I run skin and spa therapy classes in my home which is set in the Northumberland hills. Contact me for details of the next class (May)
I rarely wear heels (I’ve inherited my mother’s challenging feet) although from time to time my outfit ‘needs’ heels. I love them and I think they make your posture better and, if you want to, they show off your legs. I’ve discovered quite the best thing in footwear for years. Ballerinas, made by a fabulously creative company, Butterfly Twists. Fold them up, pop them in your bag and when your heels get the better of you, pop them on.
I’ve recently bought the above style and will wear them next weekend when I attend a wedding. There will be dancing in the evening and I know my heels will not last the evening. The ballerinas are so comfortable and stylish. The sole is designed to be worn outside you need not fear they are too flimsy.
There is a wide range of styles and colours to choose from. Something to suit all occasions. So, whether you need them for a party, a shopping trip or on holiday you’ll find a pair you like. They fold up to about the size of a small purse. Brilliant!
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 Matt
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
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.
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 in ‘Niagara’
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.