2013 December 26

Front_Row_Sewn_Stripe_Rugby_Shirt-2168-511What are your rights if you receive something you don’t want, can’t use, doesn’t fit … not as many as you might imagine. There’s no legal redress for being given a rubbish or inappropriate gift, sadly!

1. However, lots of retailers do offer a goodwill policy that may either be an exchange for goods of similar value, or a refund, providing that you have the receipt. So the first question is – are you willing to let that gifter know you’re going to swap their present for something else?

If not, you might like to try some of these:

2. Make a profit: if the gift didn’t cost you anything, you can always sell it on eBay – bear in mind though, that the same thing applies as point 1 – your gift-giver may spot you flogging off their gift online!

3. Be a good citizen: take the garment to a charity shop and let the worthy cause benefit from it.

4. Re-gifting: put it away until next Christmas, or the point at which somebody gives you an unexpected birthday present … then perhaps your unwanted clothing will become the perfect gift to give to somebody else. Of course, take care you don’t give the orange rugby shirt to anybody who will come into contact with the person who gave it to you in the first place and don’t give a pair of pink leggings to your hyper-masculine uncle Bert, just to get rid of them!

5. Re-purpose: Cut the sleeves off a jacket and it might make a great fleece for running or gardening. The hideous scarf can be turned into a kitsch cushion – just use your imagination, as you’ll lose nothing by getting creative with something you didn’t like anyway!


2013 December 10

sleeveless fleeceBritain is once again experiencing periods of extreme weather followed by unseasonable mild spells. It’s difficult to know how to dress for such conditions, especially if you’re travelling. Christmas adds to the problem, by requiring that we dress reasonably well, whilst imposing journeys in unpredictable and sometimes terrible conditions.

Cycling, walking, spectating

Whether it’s snowballs in the park or Boxing Day rugby, dressing to have fun is vital over the winter. A sleeveless fleece or body warmer offers excellent insulation of the torso, whilst allowing complete freedom of movement. Worn with a scarf, gloves and hat, a sleeveless fleece can be a great investment if you’re expecting to be active. Top it with a high-visibility tabard or vest if cycling so you don’t become a bad weather statistic.

Car journeys

Layering is important. Cars get hot, so people need to take layers off, then you stop for a comfort break and everybody gets cold and needs to pile the clothing on again. Jog pants are ideal for drivers as they give comfort and ease and you can put on your smart clothing when you arrive.

Mass transport

Trains, coaches and planes bring their own problems including the risk of delay at airports and railway stations and the possibility of getting into traffic jams that leave you spending hours on a hot and often a little whiffy form of transport with a lot of other people. Make sure you put a spare top in your hand luggage along with some wet wipes and mouthwash. That way, even if you’re stranded, you’ll be able to make yourself presentable. If you’re hoping for an upgrade at the airport, a cotton shirt is the best thing to wear, with smart trousers or a skirt, but a polo shirt is nearly as acceptable. T-shirts and jeans are great to travel in but won’t get you that coveted business class seat!


2013 November 15

Regatta_Dover_Jacket-532-700Winter clothing is more expensive, at just the time when we have least money to spare – extra heating costs and Christmas on the way can wreak havoc with our budget. Here are a few tips to help you stay on top of the budget in the chilly months.

Work the percentages – financial planners say you should spent between 4-6% of your take home pay, benefits or grant allowance on clothing. Allow for cleaning clothes in that amount, and if you fall in love with an amazing coat that has to be dry-cleaned you have to include in the budget enough to get your coat cleaned as often as necessary.

Start with work – if you have to spend a certain amount on your career clothing, subtract that from the budget because it’s essential. What’s left is what you have as ‘discretionary spend’, the free money you can use as you choose. A job with a uniform obviously gives you much more scope to buy casual clothing!

Check your goals – if you’re saving to buy a motorbike or your own home, that probably takes priority over clothes, but there may be ways that you can combine the expenditure. A bike requires a good set of leathers or protective clothing … when you buy a jacket, why not make sure it’s a classic style and bike-appropriate – that way you won’t have extra expenditure once you get the bike itself.

Shop as a collective – get together with friends to take advantage of offers like free delivery over a certain amount or special offers such as three for the price of two, and split the savings between you.


2013 November 12

Fruit_of_the_Loom_Sleeveless_Fleece_29_320Oldie tattoos!  Led by David Dimbleby, who’s just had his first ink job, aged 75, tattoos and their display are a big theme for winter 2013 and spring 2014. The TV presenter and journalist has opted for a scorpion on his right shoulder, as a result of researching tattoos for his programme ‘Britain and the Sea’ in which he discovered that tattoos were brought to the UK by sailors who’d seen them in the South Seas.

So if you’ve got your tat and want to show it off, how do you dress?

•    Neck and head tattoos are still dodgy – considered de rigueur in some prisons and professions (muay thai and crystal meth dealing for example) they still have the capacity to shock.  For winter wear, a simple scarf and beanie hat can ensure that you reveal your great ink to the cognoscenti but hide it from maiden aunts and prospective employers.
•    Forearm tattoos are totally acceptable – what a path David Beckham charted for us, making the bared arm with big ink into a statement of British bulldog charm. The best way to display your arm ink is to wear a long-sleeved T-shirt or sweatshirt with a gilet or sleeveless fleece over the top. That way you can push up your sleeves and show your art without losing the warmth provided by a body-hugging sleeveless jacket.
•    Leg art – it’s a trickier one in winter. Your best hope is to invest in some great pants and hope that the love of your life will admire your tatts as you swagger from the bathroom in your budgie smugglers!


2013 November 6

Jerzees_Colours_Ladies_Hydraplus_Jkt_29_417Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Cosmo, Vanity Fair … they all have their top tips for winter fashion and we’ve decided that, nice as their versions are, the average woman needs a capsule set of clothing a little less likely to cost more than the monthly mortgage payment!

Sadly, winter clothes are more expensive than summer, it’s down to heavier weight fabric, the need to make clothing wind and waterproof and the fact that summer clothes generally get worn for a few weeks only, while winter clothing has to make it through at least three months of dire temperatures.

So, here are our tips to get your fashion wardrobe at budget prices:

A simple but really well-waterproofed casual jacket adds comfort and style to your wardrobe. Our top tip is to buy a formal jacket in tweed or corduroy that will fit neatly under your big winter waterproof – that way you can dump the top coat when you get to your destination and look as smart as paint whilst feeling totally toasty.

Coloured boots are a big deal this winter – look out for red, burgundy and violet shades, rather than tan or black, as the brighter colours pep up a largely neutral winter wardrobe.

Layered T-shirts work brilliantly. Wear a short sleeved shirt over a long-sleeve T-shirt for a casual but cosy look. Layer a camisole under a scoop neck long-sleeve T-shirt for a strappy sassy look. In really cold weather, two long-sleeved T-shirts layered together give insulation without bulk.

Fur prints are still huge news, especially in metallic finishes. Invest in a big scarf of silver leopard print or bronze tiger stripes and learn fifty ways to tie it!


2013 July 27

Jerzees_Schoolgear_Boys_Blazer_29_126In the USA the earliest ever back-to-school shopping binge has already begun! Yes, just as our schools break up, the USA is shopping for the return to desks and detentions.  What’s interesting about this is that around 60% of shoppers for back-to-school items start their shopping online.

The biggest search trends are for: One Direction stationery, Messenger bags, North Face school backpacks, and personalised school kit and supplies. The One Direction craze is huge, with white T-shirts a la Harry Styles look and blue short sleeves shirts as worn by Louis topping polls, although Zayn’s trademark lumberjack shirt and quiff are the biggest sales leaders.

Messenger bag sales are explicable by the fact that tablets are the most searched item online for high school and college students – and a tablet needs a bag to transport it. Around 39% of consumers in the USA will do some of their school shopping online with 17% saying it’s how they do the majority of their purchasing of school uniform and supplies.

One way that many people prepare for the return to school is by viewing videos uploaded by those who’d already made their purchases, to hear candid reports of the items they bought, from underwear to school shirts to stationery. It’s turning out to be one of the biggest drivers for teenage buyers – and students are planning their shopping around the real time reports of others who are out comparing prices and trying on clothing, so that they can be as efficient as possible and still find stylish bargains.


2013 July 1

Gildan_Childrens_Premium_Tshirt_25_205_300_300It’s the last day of Glasto and yet the festival season feels like it’s only just starting. So what’s hot and what’s not, for this year’s festivalgoers to be wearing?

In:

  • Shorts – high waisted shorts and even skorts (skirt shorts) for women but low slung knee length shorts for guys.  Tanned legs are a big deal this year.
  • African prints – a sudden late arrival, based quite possibly on respect for Mandiba in his last days, tribal prints have become an instant hit on the muddy fields this year.
  • Blazers – it’s a Gatsby thing. Worn over T-shirts with those long shorts by guys, and worn with dresses or polo-shirts and tennis shoes by gals (who are also putting daisies in their hair, natch!)
  • Stripes – some of those blazers are striped, some of the shorts are striped, pretty well everything is striped, especially T-shirts!
  • Plaits – seen more in the USA than here, but plaited hair (with daisies) is a big deal. If you can’t hack that look, try a white or yellow top, worn with a daisy chain hairband (either make it from real daisies or buy cheap silk flowers from a pound shop and staple them to a hairband).

Out:

  • Wings – unless they actually work and can lift you off the ground. Fairy wings are naff. End of.
  • Boots – legs are in evidence, including ankles and they need to be tanned, that means the ugg boot and cowboy boot of previous years are not working with this year’s looks.
  • Leggings – as above – you can’t display tanned pins if they’re wrapped in lycra!
  • Jeans – just not popular this year. Aim for chinos or shorts for guys, women are wearing high waisted shorts with vintage belt and African print long dresses.

 


2013 May 31

New_Performance_T_104_721Start again

Most of what guys learn about fashion they learned really young, from other guys – and that’s all based on dominance and testosterone, not on the basics of appearance, style and fit. So let go of the ideas that your mates gave you about what works, and start again with the basics of fit and function.

Fit

Clothing has to fit, but many men don’t know where it should fit (T-shirts fit shoulders and arms, not bellies, jeans fit waists, or builder’s crack occurs etc) – ask somebody else to confirm the fit of a chosen new garment, as you might not really know what fits you

Function

Garments should have a purpose. This comes as a surprise to a lot of men who just wear what feels easy and comfortable. If you’re dressing for work, your clothing should reflect well on your employer and allow you to do your job, whatever it is.

Buy the basics first

A simple white T-shirt, a good pair of jeans, a smart jacket and a really good shirt will get you through most situations. Invest in those basics first and you’ll find the rest of your wardrobe falls into place around these basics, which are called the staples. Our .99 pence T-shirt deal will help!

Keep it simple

Simplicity is valuable and practical. Treat your wardrobe like a car, give it at least an annual MOT and throw out anything that looks dodgy or too worn.

Plan around activity

The one thing most guys don’t do is choose clothing based on their lives. If you work out five days a week, gym wear should be a big priority. If you hit the clubs four nights in a row, your wardrobe should reflect that – basically you should spend your money so that you could do your chosen activities, whatever they are, for a week, without having to use a washing machine (and that doesn’t mean wearing the same thing over and over until it honks!) because otherwise you become ‘that guy’ who wears the same outfit all the time.

Try something new

When hoodies came out, back in the day, most men though they were a bit weird – like a sweatshirt with a hat, was how one famous footballer described them. And yet, today, there’s hardly a bloke alive who doesn’t have at least one, even your dad! So be prepared to try some new form of clothing and find out if it works for you.


2013 May 23

BC_Ladies_Milano_34_Sleeve_Stretch_Poplin_Shirt_27_704Jenny Bannister, one of Australia’s best established fashion designers, has been pointing out some home truths to her industry. Bannister, like Vivienne Westwood, successfully transcended a ‘70s fashion career to become a couturier of note, and she’s complained about the clothing choices available to larger, older women. Her focus is on the top end of the market, where billionaires and multinational entrepreneurs who just happen to be female, hang out. For them, designer clothing is a natch, but what about the women a little lower down the food chain, who are still powerful and need to be presentable, but don’t have a haute couture budget?

Bannister was direct, ‘You buyers out there, who think the fatter the customer, the less money she has to spend, look at [mining billionaire] Gina Rinehart and [socialite Eileen] Red Bond you lot’ she said and insisted that women over forty want clothing that is:

1.    Natural, quality fabrics in flattering colours
2.    Not based around neutral shades, because they can make large women look larger
3.    Vintage and classic styles, with accessories that are fashion forward
4.    Knee length or longer dresses with sleeves.

Even that set of criteria rarely works for women who have non-desk based careers. If you’re a pilot, a shipping magnate or a journalist, clothing has to be rugged yet smart, adaptable and crease resistant.

We recommend:
1.    Good tailored jackets
2.    Classic trousers with designer belts, teamed with quality shirtsstretch poplin, for example, works well for all shapes of body and has inbuilt ‘snap-back’ smartness
3.    Round-necked, long-sleeved T-shirts with bold scarves.


2013 May 1

BC_Ladies_Patti_Classic_Vest_84_668May Day has arrived and most of us are experiencing some sunshine to go with it, but the changeable weather is by no means over.

So how do we dress for the best of the weather without being caught out by the worst of it?

Lightweight clothing

Many people confuse lightweight and skimpy – new fabrics make lightweight clothing such as polo-shirts much more comfortable without them having to feel insubstantial or overly tight. Tight clothing can make you really uncomfortable in the heat and encourages the appearance of sweat rings whilst in cooler temperatures it can leave you feeling clammy.

Layered clothing

Try to wear three or four layers: a vest, polo shirt and fleece work well for men, while a camisole under a dress topped with a shrug gives women more options to add and remove layers as the weather changes. Remember that until at least mid May, night time temperatures drop rapidly, so having a warm ‘final’ layer for evenings is wise. You might want to carry a lightweight hoody or choose the Rihanna option and wear a shirt that ties around the waist but still shows your summer style T-shirt underneath.

Colour choice

Lighter colours work well, and add a summery vibe to your outfit, so yellow T-shirts or peachy shirts are great, but add a darker colour for evening to bring your outfit in line with the lower temperatures: navy blue works well for spring evenings, so a dark blue jacket works well for men, while a teal or navy sweatshirt brings evening warmth to women’s summer wardrobes.