2013 August 23

BC_Ladies_Blondie_Classic_V_Neck_TShirt_54_324Now that Maria Sharapova has failed in her bid to become Maria Sugarpova to support her burgeoning style empire, there’s a chance to look more seriously at her debut clothing line. Currently selling in New York (her sweetie range is available at Selfridges in the UK) the line includes T-shirts, bags, hats and fashion accessories that feature the brand’s keynote lip logo.

It’s not an unreachably expensive brand, with vest T-shirts starting at £14.00 but if you want to get the look at high street prices it’s a relatively easy style to create.

First, the signature of the line is V-neck T-shirts or vests – choose something bright for summer daywear and black or navy for evening – Masha (as she is known) is very keen on navy which picks out her ombre blonde hair, and for the launch of her current line she wore a navy mini-dress with cutout panels. You can get a similar look with a navy camisole top and a linen skirt.

Second, be relatively casual, except for your shoes – she’s a big Louboutin fan and that means high heels and dressy shoe shapes.

Third, be tanned, and if possible, toned. It’s not the flesh she flashes that makes Masha such a hit, but the way that she manages to combine her athletic prowess with sensual hints, so choose casual clothing but team it with excellent foundation wear so that your outline is as honed as possible.

Fourth and finally – bling matters and it should be sweet (lips and hearts) bright (pinks, reds, pave and diamante if you can’t afford real diamonds) and bold – there are no delicate pastels in the Sugarpova accessory line.


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 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 June 17

Just_Hoods_Girlie_Longline_Hoodie_74_204Kim Kardashian’s ‘healthy female’ baby arrived about a month early. Beyonce tweets pictures of herself with Blue Ivy, her daughter. Celebrity bumps are, or have been, everywhere.

Kim who is 32, said that she had found there were ‘awkward phases and stages’ to being an expectant mother, so how do women dress with a bump? Here are four key tips:

1.    Wear what works for you – our lives are going to change but our basic nature won’t. If you’re a jeans and a T-shirt woman, you’ll still be that after the baby arrives, so adjust rather than altering your clothing – a couple of boyfriend shirts and some elastic sided jeans will take you a long way.

2.    Avoid ultra bright colours – remember that the expanse is rounded and lime green or canary yellow can look surreal on a bump. Clear colours are great so swap the neon for rich shades of blue, burgundy and green and you can still wear camisole tops or even bikinis.

3.    Glam up – there’s no need to sink into the shadows either. You can wear a rhinestone studded dress, a deeply cut top or even strappy sandals if they work for you, just remember that comfort matters too, so don’t wear anything that feels too tight or causes feet or wrists to swell.

4.    Be happy – if you want to spend your entire pregnancy in a hoodie and leggings, that’s your business, nobody has to dress up, down or sideways just because they are pregnant. Pick something stylish, like our illustrated long line hoodie, and go for it!


2013 June 13

Fruit_Of_The_Loom_LadyFit_6535_Polo_51_248Play may have been suspended today through floods and predicted electrical storms, but not all of the electricity has been in the air. There’s been a massive fashion injection into golf, partly as a result of the arrival of new players, which has created a whole new casual clothing look, which is no longer just for dads and granddads.

Golf clothing is also one of the few areas where men outshop women. Ralph Lauren, doyen of upmarket sportswear, is at the forefront of the new wave, pairing navy base colours with neon – of particular note are the Lauren wicking polo shirts which are proving to be more popular as smart casual evening wear than coursewear.

Professional golf has some strict clothing rules to consider. Male professionals aren’t allowed to wear shorts or collarless shirts. Women can wear shorts, but they must be no more than four inches above the knee and they can wear T-shirts without collars as log as they have sleeves.

Getting the look is pretty easy – ice cream coloured polo shirts are a traditional starting point, with chinos or cargo trousers, while for women, a pair of tailored shorts in navy, black or tan can be paired with a striped T-shirt and visor or baseball cap to create a sporty but elegant look. To dress either look up further, wear a good leather belt and loafers, or, for women, this year’s big fashion hit, rope-soled canvas wedges in fruit shades like raspberry or lime.


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 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 15

Henbury_Ladies_Short_Sleeve_Classic_Oxford_Shirt_27_189Many of us, particularly interns and those getting their first job, are becoming stressed and confused by the demands of Friday clothing. Here are some key dos and don’ts to help manage the perplexities of the day before the weekend:

Do

•    Wear black or navy denim if denim is allowed, but don’t succumb to the desire to wear stone-washed, denim cutoffs (Daisy Dukes) or short skirts. Keep it classic with boot cut jeans and a semi-formal top like a short sleeved shirt with a vibrant necklace.
•    Stick to heels or bright flats – red ballerina pumps work, flip-flops don’t. The Friday rule is if you are showing heels (slingbacks) don’t show toes or vice versa.
•    Be bright – large florals or jungle prints look great, as to strong coloured polo-shirts with a pair of simple black trousers and a statement necklace or designer scarf or bracelet.

Don’t

•    Get sultry – it’s casual attire not clubbing attire. When in doubt wear the longer sleeve, the higher neckline or the more formal outfit.
•    Wear shorts, unless they are fully tailored and worn with a blazer and formal shoes. Think Audrey Hepburn.
•    Forget to accessorise your casual clothing – you can fool just about everybody that you’ve perfected the casual Friday style if you wear a good necklace or belt with a plain t-shirt.


2013 May 3

Mantis_World_Ladies_Hoody_36_758It’s the time of year when many women end up questing – new clothes, new summer shoes, the right accessories: the summer clothes we put away with such love and care last autumn look completely inadequate when we take them out again. It’s part celebration and part neurotic excursion into self-loathing, but it doesn’t have to be.

Few of us have the lifestyles to allow us to invest in haute couture, or to wear it all the time if we can afford it, so casual style needs to work for us, and while we want to look unique and have our own style, few of us want to be ‘out there’ in our personal look. Casual clothing has inbuilt versatility, it can be dressed up or down, and that’s invaluable in our changeable climate.

Casual wear has other advantages too: it tends to be kinder to real bodies and real shapes that high fashion and it costs less to maintain. Even so, knowing how to make it work with the year’s fashion trends can be difficult.

One example is the metallic finish leather that was seen on all the catwalks this spring, notably Burberry, Nina Ricci and Diane von Furstenberg – but finding the right balance between high fashion and high street can be difficult. Gunmetal, bronze, silver and gold leather all have their individual appeal, and work well with certain colours: denim, all shades of blue and white, for example. But they can look too much like evening wear if paired with black – so if you’ve got a metallic leather belt, one of this year’s embossed leather bags, or the metal finish leather high-tops that are a fashion rage, pair them with a pure white hoody and a long, draped white cotton skirt, or for a hot day, wrap the belt around a peach or cream coloured vest, worn over oyster leggings or white jog pants, for a summery relaxed feel.

Metallic leather flowers on grips or hairbands are a key feature and easy for most of us to wear, so if you’re updating your wardrobe, it’s good to get rid of things you don’t wear and replace them with a key new piece that is classic in style, and then add some accessories to make it work for this year – new T-shirts teamed with plaited metallic leather bracelets will work for next year too, if you invest in key accessories to bring them up to date.