2013 September 27

AWDis_Girlie_Cool_TShirt_25_156It’s a strange paradox that individuality is one often best defined by uniformity! From the 1950s when teenagers began to rebel by dressing differently to their parents (and identically to each other) individual preferences, feelings, views and allegiances tend to be demonstrated by a uniform, whether it’s khaki and shiny boots or black PVC and safety pins.

Printed, personalised T-shirts have become a feature of daily life because they allow the individual to express their personality or views, whilst demonstrating how they fit into larger groups or societies. Hen and stag parties find the printed T-shirt or baseball cap to be a completely vital element of the celebrations as do fun runners and those undertaking events for charitable causes.

But businesses are seeing the value of the individual/uniform paradox too. While uniforms create a sense of unity and allow customers to identify employees easily, they can also foster a sense of corporate thinking with anonymity being the shield behind which uncaring ‘customer service’ and lacklustre treatment can lurk unchecked. After all, ‘all staff look the same’.

But a uniform which identifies the individual whilst locating them in the group is the ideal solution. Boldly printed T-shirts work for fun and young organisations, whilst elegant embroidered polo shirts or even cotton shirts can make a superb impression whilst still being easy to launder.

Corporate branding helps create a team identity whilst giving a professional focus to your business as a whole. It reinforces the image of your company and makes it more memorable and it shapes the way your staff operate because it determines the way they are seen by others.

Whether you choose printing or embroidery it’s a cost effective way to celebrate your big event or get your business into a good position.


2013 September 4

Front_Row_Ladies_Striped_Sleeve_Rugby_Shirt-2139-451This year’s music wannabees have been modelling this year’s hottest looks for the Daily Mail – but if you don’t have £450 for a skirt or £100 for a tee, we’ve got some tips on getting the look at budget prices.

None of this year’s talents have the wild couture of Lady GaGa or the goth feyness of Florence and the Machine, which might be good news for girls on a budget as keeping up with weird and wonderful fashion trends is tough on the pocket.

So here’s how to get the looks without spending a fortune:

Paper London

It is one of our favourite brands – there’s something both demure and demanding about their knitwear which is utterly want-worthy. And given that celebs snapped in Paper London clothing include Lily Collins, Pippa Midleton and Jayma May (okay, she’s from Glee, in case you don’t recognise the name) Paper London have the star vote too.

Of course at £450 a jumpsuit, their price is out of a lot of people’s range, but we reckon you can pull together a look that works pretty well like this:

Paper London look – team oversized polos and rugby shirts in acid colours with contrast collars with geometric print tights or even buy some bright cotton or bamboo leggings and stonewash/dip dye/bleach out a random pattern on them to get a one-off look.

Accesories should be geometric – look to the new Rimmel London Retromania cosmetics to get the right balance of stylised shapes with stark colours.

Cats Brothers

So while we like Paper London, we are utterly mad about Cats Brothers and their stunning, vibrant beaded knitwear. They call it the ‘Crazy Homies’ look and it works for just about everyone, providing an off-beat charm that most of us can pull off and that brightens the darkest November day.

Pull the look together by wearing cut offs worn over bright tights or leggings, a long knitted scarf and a long-sleeved skinny-fit T-shirt or sweatshirt under an oversized T-shirt with a band print – Beastie Boys, House of Pain and Stylo G are good choices for this look. And go for hot colours: neon pink, mustard, turquoise etc.

Accessories should be bold; a general Mexican theme will pull the look together for you.


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 17

Fruit_of_the_Loom_Hoody_74_572The rapper has recently become a dad with Kim Kardashian, although that doesn’t seem to have influenced his clothing line. His latest collab, with the French brand APC, has been a huge success with a sellout within 24 hours of the nine item garment line going on sale.

Baby North has been a pap star since she arrived, but Dad has his own frenzied following too, especially for the  hoodies that featured in his capsule collection – demand for them was so high that the APC site crashed. Kanye’s clothing sells for between $120 and $300 so if that’s to steep for you, it’s possible to get the look for less.

Our recommendations are:

1.    Jeans – low slung and either mid-light and stone-washed or dark, nothing too light and stay away from the bright blue denim, it’s just not Kanye!

2.    Hoodies – the signature piece is a super loose grey hoodie with mid-length cap cut sleeves – it’s not going to be cheap, at 170 Euros, and you can reproduce it with a stone coloured hoodie in large, as in our image above, and cut the sleeves to just below the elbow and then fold them up to get the contrast effect. West’s other hoodies are navy – one dark, one mid navy, both with long sleeves. Widely available elsewhere and a bargain price, but get the heaviest weight you can, to give depth and bulk to this key garment.

3.    T-shirts – white T-shirts are a big deal for the rapper, and you’re looking for an oversized T-shirt with a good drape and a music focused image on the front. His retail for 80 to 105 Euros but you can get them at a quarter the price, with your own printed image, online.


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 7

Tagless_Premium_TShirt_25_418The French Open is always exciting to watch – the tennis is great but it’s also the Open where the fashion brands really pull out all the stops – unsurprisingly as France is the home of haute couture.

This year has been the usual mix of hits and misses: strong themes for summer fashion emerged – expect to see neon, leggings and colour blocking, and some big transfers from other areas of sport into tennis, which usually means a further transfer into casual clothing fashion: knee socks have been bobbing on the verge of fashion for a couple of years, this could be the one they really make it, and long-sleeved black t-shirts were much in evidence too, made of special wicking fabric that provides muscular support without a sweat build-up.

Leggings

Venus Williams went for herringbone powder pink leggings – much discussion of pink ensued, whether it was an appropriate colour, psychologically, for a winning look – a former champion with as much experience as Venus can surely be trusted to make that judgement for herself. Daniela Hantuchov wore canary yellow ones – they were a distraction from the game, as were Dandra Zahlalova’s hot pink knee-length leggings which she seemed to be sharing with Jelena Jankovic, each wearing a similar pair on different days.

Colour blocking

Both sexes wore the colour block which is a great look when playing on clay. While Guillermo Garcia-Lopez went for an understated design of blocks on a pure white background, Benoit Paire and David Goffin both made strong statements in colour-blocked polo-shirt style tops by Lacoste, Paire’s being strict verticals and Goffin wearing a more Mondrian inspired set of blue, black and white blocks. Agnieszka Radwanska had a more Klimt inspired dress with checks in varying warm shades of pink and crimson.

Neon brights

While Sloane Stephens rocked an electric yellow and turquoise combo from Under Armour, Milos Raonic went for a neon tee with matching wristbands – sort of Ibiza meets eighties rave – worryingly, it worked!


2013 April 25

Uneek_Premium_Reversible_Fleece_29_745There’s three extremes of football fashion – the one that involves Robbie Savage and weird coloured trousers, the one that includes Roy Keane who always seemed to be playing in a get up from a Beano comic and now dresses like his clothes are on loan from Alan Partridge, and the one where David Beckham and Xabi Alonso meet in designer suits and aviator glasses.

Sadly, most British men veer between the Savage and the Keane – the Savage is what gets worn in Ibiza or to a stag weekend in Brighton, while the Keane is what gets dragged up off the floor whenever we sit down to watch a match, especially if we’re at home with the lads. So how do we get to the Beckham/Alonso point of the triangle?

It’s easier to say what not to do. The Cristiano Ronaldo approach is the wrong one – regardless of his nimble footwork, Ronaldo’s bizarre fashion sense, which combines too much hair gel with too little clothing and waaaay too much attitude, is a style attitude that scores many own goals.

Instead, aim for one really classy item around which to build an outfit. One pair of designer jeans, if clean and not too crumpled, will carry with them a tatty T-shirt or really grungy but lucky old hoody. Similarly a fresh polo-shirt, worn crisp and starched, overwhelms the effect of our favourite old trackie bottoms.

Accessories divide and conquer fashion failures, so brand name watches and sunglasses will cause comfy flip flops to vanish from view, and a really good mens jacket has stealth capacity to disguise a rank vest worn underneath.


2013 January 17

SG_Mens_Hoodie_74_384If 83% of teenagers now own a smartphone, it’s natural to assume that they do most of their shopping online. Yes – and then again – no.

While Britain as a whole spends £6.58m every hour online shopping, teenagers are still one of the least likely groups to buy clothes online, for complicated reasons.

1 – teens shop as a herd or pack – it’s important to get to the High Street or mall and be with your mates to chose clothes
2 – teens trade clothes a lot – so often they are buying something that needs to have crowd appeal, and that means getting their friends to try the garment on too
3 – teens like to be different – that means that shopping in any way that’s approved of by their parents is automatically out!

So how does a parent encourage teenagers to the most for their clothing budget?

•    Encourage dual shopping – they can go to the shop to try on clothes and then make their actual purchase online, having used comparison shopping to find the best deal for something they already know suits them.
•    Remind them that click and collect means they can pre-order a T-shirt and try it on in the shop without have to necessarily buy it. Often if a teen goes to town for a specific purchase they come back with more money in their pockets than if they go haphazardly to look for ‘something cool’.
•    Coupons, vouchers, BOGOFs and free delivery all make online shopping enticing to cash-strapped teens because their friends don’t need to know they bought from the bargain basement.
•    Most teens need some kind of part-time job and encouraging them to find one that has a uniform can save a massive amount of wear on their personal clothing, so it lasts longer and has more appeal to them because they haven’t been wearing it to work.


2012 October 8

As workplaces become more ‘equal’ it’s increasingly difficult for women to adopt the traditional work wardrobe of skirt-suit and shirt, and still be dressed for every potential work situation. Gone are the Mad Men days when a beehive and a twinset were appropriate workplace attire. Now women are expected to be adaptable, well-dressed and to express some personal style.

It’s quite a tall order, but here are some tips to help:

1.    Jackets, particularly unstructured ones, look good whatever the circumstances, but stick to simple classic colours and don’t buy short-sleeved jackets if you want to be taken seriously. Navy, grey, black and beige are good colours, but deep greens, rust browns and white can work too, depending on the season and your workplace.  For active days, a simple slimline sleeveless fleece worn over a well-tailored shirt gives the impression of being both businesslike and active.

2.    A formal T-shirt: long-sleeved, round-necked and in a classic colour like white, black or navy, can give a solid appearance of professionalism whilst being casual enough to allow for an active workplace. Make sure it doesn’t gape at the back if you are lifting or bending and that the colour coordinates with the rest of your wardrobe.

3.    Accessories can help add style to your look. Antique brooches or really good vintage scarves give you substance and, where permitted, elegant rings or bracelets can bring a touch of acceptable glamour. In a workplace where no such accessories are possible, a printed T-shirt with a really stylish image can bring your look to life without compromising safety or hygiene.


2012 August 9

It’s been a summer of sport – the ab-fest of the Olympics leads seamlessly to the superhero performances of the Paralympics, and we’re all becoming athletic experts and exponents.

But there’s a downside to the love for sport – and it’s the competitive instinct. It’s not so much about wanting to be the winner of an event, as the way that sporting clothing can present opportunities for dissent and difficult relationships.

While there’s been a debate about whether the women’s beach volleyball should be played in bikinis or not (and the answer, at least as far as the players has been concerned is yes, bikinis) and the swimming suits worn in Beijing have actually been outlawed, the way that the average guy wears sporting casual clothing can lead to lots of stress for their classmates or work colleagues.

The problem is with the natural tendency of a testosterone-producing male to react to a dominance display – if the display is for a cause or club the male doesn’t support, the reaction will be negative, but if it is for a cause or club the male does support, it can still be divisive. An England T-shirt or a pair of Union Jack shorts can lead to less powerful males believing the displaying male is trying to take ownership of the team or cause – and that can lead the subservient male to withdraw cooperation because he feels he’s being pushed out anyway.

It may be subtle, but if you’re experiencing difficult relationships with formerly close mates, or feeling isolated at school, it may be worth looking at the extent to which you show your love for sport in your casual clothing and tone down the loyalty you display so that your friends can feel close to you again.