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 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 October 16

Polar_Fleece_Beanie_Hat_30_332From 25-27 October in EventCity, Manchester or 30 October – 3 November at Earls Court 2, London, the Ski and Snowboard Show is almost here!

Whether your interest is  après ski fashion or ice-skating, alpine food or curling, there will be stalls, displays and activities to please you. This year’s ski-wear fashions are closely following high street trends so pack a really oversized jumper or two with a huge image on the front, or in a block print. Layering under your big woolly is vital, so take several vests in various lengths and sizes so you can wear one, two or three, depending on the weather.

Team your jumper with a plain fleece or zipped hoody. Snow colours are hot this year: white, cream and stone are really zinging when matched with bright leggings in geometric prints or heavyweight tartan tights.

Snug fitting knit caps or beanies are a must too, and allow a swift transition from skiing ‘helmet hair’ to après ski drinking, dining and clubbing just by pulling on a cute hat and intensifying your lippy to give you a Nirvana style winter-grunge look.

This year’s Ski and Snowboard Show has free entry for children under 11 and ski lessons for those aged 4 and over, with snowboarding sessions for those seven and over. There’s also husky petting!

And there’s an amazing competition too, which could win you a ski holiday, just upload your winter holiday snaps to participate!


2013 October 8

Front_Row_Ladies_Original_Rugby_Shirt-2166-355Back in the day, men wore the trousers and women wore skirts and dresses. Unisex was unthinkable. Today unisex clothing is much more common, from T-shirts through to boyfriend jeans, clothing comes in sizes much more than in cuts.

One of the most successful unisex garments is the rugby shirt. Well worn, it makes a comfortable fashion statement and can be either laidback or sexy depending on the styling.  Here are our top five tips to wear this casual garment well:

1.    Layering – for a highly feminine look try a large rugby shirt over a mini-skirt or shorts worn with textured tights. Heeled boots finish this look off perfectly.
2.    Jeans – while rugby shirts and jeans are a classic look, focus on the details that make a real difference: a chunky necklace that sits inside the collar of the shirt will add a feminine vibe and for casual outfits try sandals or flip-flops rather than training shoes and for more formal events, highly polished brown boots look fabulous and add a touch of country-style Middleton glamour to the ensemble.
3.    Focus on colour – the darker the colour the more formal the look, so a solid black or navy rugby shirt will look more formal than a yellow or pink one. Stripes always look casual.
4.    For the perfect boyfriend look, team an oversized rugby shirt with a pair of tiny denim cut-offs, a high pony tail and flip-flops, it looks feminine, casual and captivating!
5.    Don’t forget that the cutest way to wear a rugby shirt is to borrow one from your man and wear that!


2013 October 2

varsity hoodieChoosing a hoodie for yourself is tough enough – zipped or unzipped, loose fit or skin-tight, pouch or no pouch …? Choosing for a group or team is even more difficult.

Here’s our guide to the best way to choose a hoodie.

Before you begin:

1.    Obtain the right information – get those involved to make basic measurements (waist, hip, chest, neck and arm length) and supply them to you, so you can be sure that the hoodie you choose has the right range of sizes.
2.    If you’re buying for a club or society, check the rules – some places have strict limits on what you can and can’t do.
3.    Check the budget – the more colours you have printed or embroidered, the more hoodies will cost.

Now start your choice process:

1.    Make a shortlist of colours – neutral is best unless you’re sure everyone in the group will be happy with pink or banana yellow!
2.    See if you can try on garments from that manufacturer – each company varies and it helps a lot with sizing to know if they run big or small, relaxed or tailored.
3.    Ask your printer for samples if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
Ale-House-T-Shirt-Fail4.    Check, check and double check and then get somebody else to check – think about how your hoodie will look in different situations … it’s so easy to have an epic fail!
5.    Make a shortlist of your final colours and designs – no more than three, preferably just two.
6.    Invite those involved to vote. Go with the majority even if you think they are wrong – it’s more important that people are comfortable and confident than that they have a stunning hoodie … you will probably get your way next time, if they are happy this time.
7.    Place your order. Wait impatiently for it to arrive.
8.    Look great in your new hoodies!


2013 July 24

Gamegear_Team_Short_Sleeve_Shirt_104_142Britain is basking in a heatwave (okay, bits of it are under the mother of all thunderstorms, but the heat is set to return) and our athletes, para and otherwise, are proving that the Olympic results were not a blip – from Mo Farah to Jonnie Peacock they are bringing home the medals and records in 2013. Then there’s Chris Froome – he may be built like a chicken drumstick but he’s won the Tour de France in commanding fashion.

It’s getting us all worked up about working out.  Whether we’re emulating the 71 kilo Froome or matching ourselves against the matchless Farrah, the right clothing makes all the difference.

Froome with a view

A good cycling shirt wicks sweat away from the body, has pockets for mobile phones and other essentials that just have to be to hand, and doesn’t make you look quite as much of a dork as that chap in the rainbow jersey.

Sunglasses are a double essential – they save your sight in sunny conditions and protect you from road debris if you’re cycling to work – accidents caused by poor visibility are very common even for cyclists who don’t have to fight with traffic. Save your sight!

Farah and away the fastest

Mo Farah hasn’t been able to go clothes shopping since the Olympics, because he gets mobbed. To get Farah’s edge, head for the basketball section of the sports shop, or look out for vest style tops! Yes, our favourite runner wears the clothing put together for the basketball team … and it works for him!

Mo’s also got a nice line in sockless running, which doesn’t work for everyone, but if you can do it, it stops the hideous jokes about Brits and socks and apparently allows your feet to develop greater proprioception because the socks cushion your feet and stop them feeling the surface properly – slowing us down.


2013 July 13

Fruit_Of_The_Loom_Slim_Fit_TShirt_25_3312013 may, or may not, be the 100 year anniversary of the T-shirt. Nobody knows exactly when this classic casual garment was ‘invented’ although in 1913 the US Navy ordered ‘light undershirts’ for every sailor to wear under their bell-bottomed uniforms and the T-shirt, as a name, arrived.

However, as is so often the case, it seems the USA may have been importing, and renaming, an older European invention. Many European soldiers, particularly British army recruits stationed in India and Burma, wore ‘undershirts’ when they were off duty, and these undershirts were virtually identical to the plain white T-shirt that is ubiquitous today.

One reason the plain white T-shirt has been back in the news is the effect of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo di Caprio. The film is based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was the first writer to coin the term ‘T shirt’ in his 1920s novel, This Side of Paradise. At the same time, Rene Lacoste, the French tennis player, brought the polo shirt to high prominence with his many wins, and his chosen tennis apparel. Casual was king.

The craze for tanning, the increased casualness in clothing generally, and the arrival of Hollywood stars like James Dean who was the icon of the new cool casual fashions, all brought T-shirts into public prominence.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that printed T-shirts really got off the ground, and then they took the T-shirt world completely. Today it is predicted that every person in the world has at least two T-shirts, and that the average developed world consumer has a dozen.

And the average developed world consumer may be about to buy one more, especially if he is male and a bit chunky – Andrew Dunn of Nottingham University has discovered that a large black T on the front of a white T-shirt gives the impression you are slimmer than you are! The degree of attraction corresponds to the width of the T and whilst a wide T in the classic position can increase a man’s health and physical appeal in a photo by around 12% over the same man wearing a blank shirt, an upside down T of the same size decreases health and physical appeal by … 12%!


2013 June 26

SG_Ladies_PolyCotton_Polo_Shirt_51_336Laura Robson was a shock winner, beating 12th seeded Maria Kirilenko in straight sets – proving that the ‘Olympic effect’ isn’t over yet. Her clothing choice were straight down the line British too, as she’s wearing the Barricade range by Stella McCartney for Adidas. As so often happens with the top seeds, her opponent Kirilenko was also wearing Barricade, so the clothing itself can’t be said to have given Robson her edge.

The fashion highlights at Wimbledon this year will not include one of the centre court’s favourite: Kate Middleton, due to the imminence of her delivery date, but it is rumoured that she may be back with a bang next year – as President of the All England Club.

However, there are still some glamour pusses to watch out for, on and off court. Robson apart, the players to watch are Maria Sharapova, as always, who can’t look bad whatever she wears, and the Williams sisters for the hit and miss nature of their togs – sometimes amazingly well put together outfits and sometimes looking like they ran through the T-shirt section of a pound store with their eyes closed.

Off court, Kim Sears, girlfriend of Andy Murray, is likely to turn heads. She’s an aficionado of some of the more upscale high street brands, and she’s a big fan of Mulberry, so she may have a big influence on the glamour quotient.

Mirka Federer is her husband’s PR consultant and the statuesque brunette wears Federer’s own casual clothing range, as does he, and looks fantastic in it. No surprise as she’s a former player herself and fully understands what it takes to look good on and off court – she’s notable for her strong colour sense matching soft casuals like a drape skirt with a crisp white polo shirt.

Maria Perello is Rafa Nadal’s love interest and as Rafa is out, we won’t be seeing her understated Spanish style, which includes tailored trousers with subtly coloured casual tops – a real loss to the glamour circuit for this year at least.


2013 June 15

Gamegear_Track_Pique_Polo_104_446The 2012 Summer Olympics led to a massive injection of sports clothing culture into everyday life. While recent Olympics have led to groundbreaking developments in technology and athletic performance, the London Games did something else, they changed the way we think about casual clothing.

So, it’s no longer good enough for us to pull on a ratty old white T-shirt – especially one with a beer logo or Homer Simpson on the front – match to a pair of sagging track trousers and head for the weight rack.

Oddly, in the week that Sport England report a drop in athletic activity in the UK, our interest in sports clothing or what is starting to be called ‘sports casual’ has never been stronger.

What still works? Well those track trousers are still a classic garment, although saggy, grey and stained jogging bottoms are out. Solid colours like grey, navy and black are popular, slim fitting is essential and track trousers should be worn with a bright polo or T-shirt, rather than a matching hoodie or sweatshirt – the days of the monochrome sporting look are long gone.

Function is vital – dressing for the actual activity you’re taking part in is key to looking (and feeling) the part and fitting it, it turns out, can improve athletic performance. The state of mind in which you approach the gym is largely determined by how quickly you integrate with the workout, the team or the event, so taking a clue from those more established than you is key to success.

Garments with wicking capacity remove sweat so you can train for longer without discomfort and without chafing. Layering your gym clothing ensures you get a good warm up and cool down. A vest, a T-shirt, and a zip up hoodie work really well to keep your big muscles like abs and pecs warm until you’ve worked them enough to remove a layer.