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 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 July 31

Jerzees_Ladies_LS_Ult_NonIron_Shirt_27_962They used to be called blouses, but today they are simply women’s shirts. They can be a boon to the woman who needs to dress smartly for work but doesn’t have a huge budget as three or four shirts in different colours are much more adaptable than a similar number of less classic tops.

Here’s how to make the look work for you.

Under or over?

Whilst a shirt can be worn over a camisole top or vest to give a semi-structured look, it’s just as versatile worn under a plain pinafore dress or a pretty waistcoat to give a more feminine vibe.

Pick a reason

If you wear a shirt for work, there’s no reason not to make it do double duty for your leisure hours. A plain white shirt worn with trousers in a work environment can look really cute if you tie the top around your waist, rather than buttoning it and roll up the sleeves, it’s a perfect bikini cover up.

Consider your fabric

Pure cotton shirts are the classic style – they are hard-wearing but can be more difficult to launder than the blended cotton versions. Non-iron shirts are also available and take all the hard work out of wash time, although they don’t necessarily offer the same cool comfort in a hot office as 100% cotton does.

Play to your strengths

If you have bingo wings or skinny arms, a long-sleeved shirt will conceal their inadequacies whilst offering a nice tailored appearance that enhances your good features. If you have a traditional apple or pear shape, consider a shirt with a round tail, worn outside your skirt or trousers, and with a skinny slimming belt at the waist. It elongates your body and looks slimming.


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 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 March 4

Jerzees_Ladies_LS_Ult_NonIron_Shirt_27_962A recent survey suggests several Australian companies have ceased to allow, or created strict clothing rules for Dress Down Friday. The firms, which include large companies such as the Lomax Financial Group have dropped casual Friday clothing as the results were counterproductive, ranging from top clients arriving unexpectedly to be greeted by staff whose clothing could have looked disrespectful through to time spent policing ‘casual’ to ensure it was not too casual for business purposes.

What are the new rules?

  • For women it’s trousers or skirts or tailored dresses in appropriate colours, tailored short-sleeved shirts or blouses, knitwear without slogans or pictures and shoes or boots that can be open toed but not flip-flops or clogs, and, where appropriate tights and jackets. Halternecks, shorts, torn or ripped clothing and messy hair are not appropriate.
  • For men, suits, ties, dress shirts, socks and boots or shoes. Shirts may be collared or collarless, and in some industries, polo shirts are acceptable. Sandals, shorts, T-shirts with cartoon characters or slogans are not. Jackets may be considered necessary, depending on the industry.

Jezebel has also been exploring the cost benefit of clothing, determining that the average American woman spends $6,000 and 100 hours a year on buying and returning clothing. A further $25,000 over a lifetime is spent on shoes!

And while that may seem excessive, a survey of Australian employees discovered that 72% of them believe that to get bonuses or promotions, they need to be more smartly dressed than their colleagues.


2013 February 15

Gildan_Long_Sleeve_Polo_Shirt_50_376It takes four seconds for most people to form an impression of a stranger – based mainly on body language and clothing. The psychology of dress allows scientists to pigeonhole people from their clothing and provides reliable information about employment, spending habits and even emotional states.

What you wear can inform passersby of your type of employment, as well as your ambitions, emotions and spending habits.

In the Western world we lack simple systems of identification – we don’t wear uniforms or have a caste system that allows us to comfortably judge other people’s wealth, preferences and mood, but clothing increasingly takes the place of those social structures.

We can use clothing as a weapon against others by wearing designer labels or as a camouflage by dressing exactly as everybody else does.

1.    If you’ve ever seen a group of young men in jeans and polo-shirts, out for a night on the town, it will usually be evident if one of them is not a usual part of the group because his polo shirt won’t harmonise with the others in colour and his jeans may be darker or lighter. It’s an unconscious process but we often tend to choose our clothing to blend with that of people with whom we spend a lot of time.

2.    Clothing also indicates our mental or emotional condition – women who have been told they dress too sexily for every day events may be seeking a kind of attention that allows them to feel powerful – they can adjust this neediness by dressing to achieve a different goal, for example choosing outfits that demonstrate an international perspective or dressing to achieve a job promotion.

3.    People who dress entirely in neutral colours are avoiding any attention and seeking to blend into the background – this fearful behaviour keeps them trapped and they can break out by, for example trying one new thing: a bright T-shirt , a pair of shorts to a barbecue instead of classic jeans, and getting used to it before adding another. This frees them to learn to be comfortable in new situations.


2013 January 29

Fruit_of_the_Loom_Hoody_20_662Travelling for business or interviews can be demanding. How you look is important, but you need to be able to focus on creating a good impression, not on how you look. Increasingly universities and even companies ask candidates to ‘intern’ on a placement or job, by spending a long weekend or even, for popular courses at university, a week, in company with other applicants.  Here’s how to pack a week’s wardrobe that will allow you to deal with whatever the recruiters or selectors throw at you.
•    Formal shirt/Black shirt/White shirt
Three shirts will get you through – one should be bright coloured but long sleeved – it will work for dinners out or an evening dancing. A short sleeved black shirt looks good for a casual event like a quiz or bowling but under a jacket works perfectly for a formal dinner. A white shirt is your interview standby.
•    One T-shirt/one vest/one sweatshirt
You can substitute a hoodie for the sweatshirt, and if you pack one of each you’ve got every base covered, as well as the chance to layer them all if you go somewhere cold. Steer clear of any images or logos – this is not the time to express yourself!
•    One polo shirt
A pastel polo shirt allows you to attend a casual event like a breakfast meeting and know that you’re in the middle of the smart/casual divide. Worn with your formal trousers it is an acceptable look before noon. At lunch change into a shirt though.
•    One pair of jeans
Make them blue, conservative in cut, and not hanging from your hips.
•    One pair formal trousers – black is best
•    One formal jacket – black or grey
•    Formal shoes/Trainers
•    Swimming trunks/a tie/a knit hat.