2013 December 6

onesie, christmas giftIt crept up on us via the slanket and has been derided by just about every TV comic but the onesie is this year’s big clothing success.

World Diabetes day in November was celebrated by inviting people to wear onesies to work, and the twinsie (a two person onesie for those who just can’t get close enough) has just gone on sale in time for Christmas.

But how do you choose the perfect onesie?

A onesie is the ultimate in casual comfortable clothing so it needs to be just the right size. Don’t choose anything too tight as it will be constricting, nor too loose as it will start to feel like a duvet and be difficult to move around in.

Focus on the unisex – because onesies are made for both men and women you can relax about colour and style, just select something that really appeals to your taste or the taste of the lucky recipient.

Weight – some onesies are lightweight and others are made of fleece or more heavy-duty fabric that adds to their heat-retention capacity.

Onesies to avoid, unless you’re very certain they’ll be well received are:

•    Nude suits – even with fig leaves, the apparently naked body onesies have caused consternation in several locations with one university banning them in halls of residence because they cause alarm and offence to other students!

•    Teletubby onesies – whilst cute enough on children, there is something disturbing about seeing a grown man or woman dressed as a teletubby – it was disturbing enough when the teletubbies did it, without having looky-likey teletubbies in the home.

•    Flag onesies – fun for about five minutes, the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes style onesies can look aggressively patriotic and in addition, are very tough on the eye after a party night – more subdued colours will be better accepted.


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 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 September 10

Result_Ski_Hat_30_362Be well fed

With Freshers week and people dropping in for drinks, drinks and more drinks it’s important to ensure you eat well. Buy a cookery book for students and use apps and sites like locare and locavore to get local information. Around many universities there are gleaning and foraging groups that a) seek out local free food and b) give you a chance for a social encounter with food at the end. If you’re inclined for that kind of activity, get involved early and you may end up fitter, with cash to spare.

Be prepared

Small change is essential for everything from photocopying to vending machines, so find a discreet place to store yours and hang on to it. Having a decent sized washbag allows you to be a good user of communal bathrooms – you can carry your stuff in and out without either getting it mixed up with other people’s supplies or unwittingly funding the entire corridor’s deodorant and hair putty habit!

Be clean
Flip flops for the corridors and bleach for the toilet will ensure that you don’t pick up nasty diseases through wandering around barefoot and can use the loo without retching. Your hall mates might not be as conscientious as you – try not take it personally and just be a good example.

Be neat and tidy

Wash your towels and T-shirts regularly. It’s really easy to forget about basic hygiene when you’re under pressure but being neat is part of the deal – it doesn’t just make you more romantically acceptable, it keeps your life manageable and allows you to take advantage of opportunities such as a last minute trip out to the cinema or an art gallery with your new companions.

Be accessorised

For guys, a couple of beanie hats, for gals, some cheap scarves – they allow you to hide greasy unwashed hair or drunk hair decisions like going blonde or cutting your fringe.

Be organised

By a clothes dryer – you can hang all your clothes on it rather than strew them around the room a) it stops other people sitting on your garments and b) it stops them getting creased.


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 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 April 16

SG_Mens_TShirt_53_705The answer is simple, but it’s not always what we do. The first thing is not to do any of these:

1.    Shop online at the end of a day of real life shopping. It’s called ‘desperation shopping’ and while women do it after they’ve failed to find anything in the bricks and mortar shops they want to buy, men tend to do it the night, or a couple of nights, before they need a new top, having left it until the last moment to put in some effort. In either case it leads to a desperate attempt to find ‘something’ that is acceptable, and it nearly always leads to disappointment.
2.    Shop because you’re bored or have been let down. It’s called compensation shopping and women do it most – buying something cute just to cheer themselves up. While the process works at the time, the chosen garment usually disappoints on arrival.
3.    Shop in the dark. Seriously! The tendency to buy garments from a small screen in a darkened room late at night is reckoned to be causing nearly a fifth of all returns to online clothing retailers – it’s partly because our eyes are tired at the end of the day so we don’t see as clearly as we should, and partly because screens are daylight balanced but our body clocks by evening are night balanced by circadian rhythms so our eyes can actually distort the colours on the screen. The only time it’s okay to buy at this time of day is when we’re buying black or white garments.

Instead

1.    Buy in daylight. Or get your computer to balance itself to your circadian rhythms with a programme that adjusts colours according to the sunset time in your region.
2.    Check the small print to find out what the deal is with returns and whether there is a bulk buy discount that could get you free postage or some other good deal.
3.    Sign up for mailings and alerts from your preferred online retailers – such deals often save a lot of money for the consumer and being aware of them in good time can help you plan your spending effectively.
4.    Be sure of your size. Not clothing size, as that varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but your actual body size – and recheck it every six months as even the slimmest of us will change shape in winter as we exercise and eat differently. Get a friend to help you measure your chest, arm length, waist, hips and inside leg – this allows you to assess your real size against the dimensions of the clothing advertised online.


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 September 3

Six tips to make university life more simple, productive and fun!

1.    Keep hold of loose change and store it somewhere discreet – everybody wants it for vending machines, photocopiers and washing machines/dryers – so if you leave yours lying around your room, your mates will help themselves!

2.    Buy a hanging rack for drying your smalls – you can put it in the wardrobe if anybody fit comes to visit your room and even hang it outside your window on nice days when you’re in residence, but don’t leave it there when you go out or it will either blow away or get kidnapped by somebody else and used to tease you.

3.    Keep your mobile number and email off uni sites and social networks – not everybody can be trusted with your details.

4.    Lay out your clothes, toothbrush and other stuff before you go out drinking for the night. That way if you come home wrecked, everything’s ready for the morning and you and your sick head just have to walk through what you got ready before you were bladdered.

5.    Check out the uni website to get some idea what people wear/do/say but don’t trust it – those sites are usually fairly carefully supervised. Keep back some cash for a quick wardrobe upgrade (or downgrade) and a haircut just in case you want to change your style to feel more part of the crowd.

6.    Buy online – everything from paper to books to clothes and food – impulse buying ruins budgets and it’s much better to shop around, from the privacy of your room, for cheap clothing, bargain food and half price stationery than to rush into buying something because your mates are egging you on.


2011 September 8

It’s always worrying for parents when a child dislikes their new school, or dreads the beginning of another school year. It can seem inexplicable: the child may enjoy the subjects they are studying, and have friends they are looking forward to seeing again, but even so, they may feel ‘down’, worried and even become tearful and frightened at the thought of school.

There are several ways to help a nervous or unhappy child get over the first days of the new term:

Memory banks for both sexes – instead of forcing your child to think forward, encourage them to think backwards: creating a scrapbook about the summer which records their best memories of the school break can be a good way of getting them into the groove of school again. The best way to use a scrapbook is to fill it from the front to the back with memories and from the back to the front with plans, so that a child can prepare pages for school trips, for birthday parties in the months ahead and for half-term ideas, all of which balance out the fun of school and the fun of holidays.

Self esteem for girls – sometimes it’s low self-esteem that triggers a bout of fear so taking a daughter for a haircut, or helping her revamp her wardrobe can be enough to remove the feeling of inadequacy. Don’t suggest it as an answer though, just plan a family trip to the hairdressers or suggest that you go through her school clothing with her while you talk over the problem … that way you can suggest a couple of items that would add to her clothing choices. For older girls, try offering a budget and letting them have a friend round to shop online together – this allows them to exercise the power of choice and to work out how to get the most for their money, both attributes that boost self-esteem.

Self-esteem for boys – often boys struggle with their feelings, so getting them involved in an activity where they can express their emotions, such as drama, can be the simplest way to release fears and tensions around school. Sports, unsurprisingly, are also a great safety valve, but rather than football or after-school activities, enrol him in a mixed age sport like a martial art. A class where they will be able to see and hear older people than themselves coping with challenges, making fools of themselves and getting over it, and winning and losing in public gives them the chance to learn the skills they need to feel secure at school. A martial art also teaches boys how to care for their appearance and clothing and to be polite in public: key features of a successful school career.