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.


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:


•    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.


•    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.

2013 March 25

Fruit_of_the_Loom_Short_fit_Ladies_Valueweight_TSh_25_415Many people are let down by their planning rather than their clothes, but cheap clothing and tight budgets can contribute to looking less well put together than you intended. Here are half a dozen hacks to help you make the most of what you’ve got, save money where you can, and get out of scrapes and difficult clothing situations.


•    Colour code your wardrobe from white at one end to black and the other with the shoes that go with each colour underneath. This saves time every morning because you can pick out an outfit that WILL coordinate.

•    Put socks or tights in your shoes when you put them away, so that each pair of shoes has the right thing tucked inside and you don’t have to waste time rummaging through drawers to find what you want.

Money saving

•    Consider where you don’t have to launder garments. Jeans, sweatshirts, hoodies and other heavyweight garments may not need to be washed – if they’ve picked up an odour, maybe beer or hot fat or just the smell of being stored for too long, unfold them and put them in the freezer. An overnight freezer and all day defrosting will remove any odour and allow them to be worn again.

•    If you’ve outgrown your shirt collar, you can get some more wear out of a too small shirt by moving the top button. Usually you can move the button outwards by up to half an inch – that’s a whole shirt size, without changing the hang of the shirt. It’s easy to mark the spot and resew the button, even for those with no sewing training.

Real time problems

•    Stuck zip. If your trouser or skirt zip sticks, find a bar of soap and rub it along the teeth of the zip and then slooooowly work the zip open. You can do this with thick hair conditioner too, if you can’t find a bar of soap.

•    You spill something on your shirt. Keep a plain white short sleeved T-shirt in your desk drawer. For most occasions it will be okay and it’s better than wearing pasta sauce or a coffee stain all day.

2013 February 25

Fruit_of_the_Loom_SetIn_Sweatshirt_17_900_500_500While the triple A rating may not affect most of us, other than to know that Britain has lost hers, we’re all likely to feel the pinch over the next year and one way that many of us will try to economise is on clothing expenditure.

1.    For those who are hoping to save money but still look good, sweatshirts can be a versatile and useful item. Worn alone, a sweatshirt fits into the smart casual category – especially if worn under a blazer or fitted jacket – this look works particularly well for women, if combined with a dramatic costume necklace.

2.    The same sweatshirt can work just as well over a T-shirt on cold days and when worn with jeans or jog pants it’s an excellent clothing choice to wear when at a football or rugby match, to the pub or walking in the country.

3.    Finally, the sweatshirt works well to ring the changes on other clothes – you can adopt the Rihanna look by tying it round your waist to offset your casual shorts or skirt for a modern relaxed look.

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 31

Fruit_of_the_Loom_Lady_Fit_Rib_Polo_Model-549-662For women it’s even more difficult to dress for all occasions, but here’s a capsule wardrobe to get you through a week away.

1.    A formal jacket – try a blazer for maximum adaptability
2.    One long-sleeved shirt – in a pastel colour – wear it buttoned up with a scarf for a formal look and half unbuttoned over a camisole for a more casual style.
3.    One pair formal trousers in navy or black.
4.    One pair of cotton leggings or semi-formal jog pants in a dark colour. Jeans are not your friend as they are heavy to carry and it’s difficult for a woman to wear jeans well for interviews unless she is superbly well-proportioned. A pair of stretchy cotton jogging bottoms or yoga pants is a better bet, they can be dressed up with the long-sleeved T-shirt, scarf, belt and costume jewellery for a formal look, but worn with the polo shirt for a casual vibe.
5.    Two T-shirts in bright colours
6.    Two camisoles, one light, one dark
7.    One long-sleeved T-shirt in classic black or white, navy or cream
8.    A formal scarf – Hermes is ideal, but a good knock-off will get you through
9.    A fashion belt in black patent or similar, with a big chunky buckle
10.    One long skirt – viscose is good and doesn’t crease
11.    One swimsuit
12.    One pair mid-length shorts – too short is tarty, too long makes you look like a Carry On film extra!
13.    Trainers
14.    Ankle boots
15.    Sunglasses
16.    Gloves
17.    A lightweight casual jacket with good pockets – fleece is an ideal fabric as it can be rolled up without creasing
18.    Bed-wear
19.    Underwear.

2013 January 22

Result_Active_Fleece_Tassel_Scarf_36_491The first real snowfall of the year has led to lots of fun for most, but some serious consequences for others: broken or sprained limbs are just one consequence of being outdoors in snow and ice. The risk for those pursuing their fitness goals is even greater: runners aiming for the London Marathon this year are aiming to get their 12 mile run done this week – ice and snow or no ice and snow.  There are some practical tips that can help outdoor lovers to stay safe in winter weather:

1.    Check current and expected weather conditions for the time you will be outside. It may look great now, but if a blizzard or sleet is due in the next couple of hours, you need to make adjustments for temperature drops, poor visibility or the effect of wind-chill on your ability to complete your activity safely.
2.    Dress appropriately. Several layers of lightweight and loose clothing are ideal – and the outermost layer, and preferably the one below that, should be waterproof and wind-resistant. The value of have two waterproof layers is that if the first gets damaged, perhaps in a fall on ice, the sports person isn’t exposed to the elements for the duration of their time outside.
3.    Remember that goggles, gloves, sock, shoes, hats and helmets are vital. Poor vision can cause accidents and the extremities: hands, feet and head are the most likely body parts to be injured.
4.    Don’t go out alone. If you really must run or exercise solo, make sure somebody else knows where you are, what you are doing and when you expect to return. Call them when you get back safely. If they don’t hear from you in a certain period of time after your projected return, they are in a position to alert the authorities. It’s good to carry a mobile phone but don’t rely on a signal in bad weather. Wear highly visible clothing to ensure other people can find you if they need to.
5.    Warm up thoroughly and check your health before leaving home. If you feel at all unwell, don’t exercise in extreme weather conditions. If you feel or experience any signs of hypothermia or extremity frostbite, head for shelter and get medical attention. The things to watch out for numbness and tingling in the hands or feet, lack of feeling (if the face is exposed to the elements, rub your cheek regularly to check that you can feel your fingers on your exposed skin) or poor motion in your fingers or toes.

2013 January 7

Fruit_of_the_Loom_Lady_Fit_Rib_Polo_Model-549-662Here are 12 top tips to help you look good and feel good in your clothing, right through the year:

1.    Measure Yourself – particularly when buying online, it’s important to know your actual measurements, not your clothing size. Manufacturers vary in their sizing and knowing if you’re a medium or a small isn’t just about the label in your current garment. Most online retailers have detailed sizing charts for clothing like polo-shirts so you can order what fits, not just what’s in your size.
2.    Shop Alone – you might do your research with a friend or partner but if you actually do your buying alone you’re less likely to overspend and will save time in the actual shopping process as you won’t be looking for advice or support from somebody else. Apparently we also tend to end up shopping for others when we shop with them, so if you want a winter jacket and your mate wants new trainers, expect to spend at least half your time browsing the Vans store with him!
3.    Get Colour Wise – people with cool skin tones (tending to the blue or pale) will look best in white, black, blue, and grey shades. People with warm skin tones (tending to the olive or pink) look great in yellow, cream, beige and red.
4.    Consider Alterations – if you are an unusual shape: barrel chested, very petite or tall and slim, it may be worth having trousers and jackets altered by a local tailor. They don’t charge that much and they make your clothing look … like it was made for you.
5.    Dump the Rubbish – even men have clothes they are never going to wear. It’s okay to keep one funeral suit, but if you have something you’ve owned for over a year and not worn, either take it to a charity shop or ask a friend for advice on how to style it. Polyvore.com is a great site for finding out how to wear items you’ve never worn.
6.    Love Lycra – for both men and women, body-shaping underwear can give extra confidence in dating or interview situations. Buy a good pair of body-shaping undies and use them when necessary.
7.    Beware Bling – too much shine is very off-putting. If it looks real it’s intimidating and if it’s obviously from Claire’s Accessories you look cheap. One ring, for men, or one necklace, is plenty. Women can go a bit wilder but clashing bracelets and a neck full of gold may turn people off.
8.    Tend To Be Smart – it’s always better to overdress than underdress. While you might feel a little foolish for being the smartest person in the room, it’s nothing compared to feeling the shame of being the least smart. Also, you never know if your next boss or lover might not be present – why not show them the best of yourself?
9.    Comfortable Feet Count – wearing shoes and socks that fit well and allow your feet to spread through the day can really change the rest of your outfit, because when our feet hurt we look grumpy and defensive and the rest of our clothes seem to constrict and annoy. So choose good footwear and everything else will look better too.
10.    Leather Always Works – unless you have ethical objections, leather wallets, handbags, shoes, boots and belts always work well. Taking care of leather is simpler than some artificial fabrics and leather accessories last much longer too.
11.    Workout Wear – people with good fitness clothing tend to exercise more as they are more happy to pull on their running shoes or their sweat pants and head for the gym. If your fitness clothing lets you down, invest in new shorts and T-shirts and you may find your whole body improves as a result.
12.    Be Modest – too much body on show is less than alluring. Men who reveal their backsides in low-slung denim cutoffs, or women whose midriffs and cleavages are on display through boob tubes, are doing themselves a disservice. Apparently we are more entranced by mystery than fact, so a pair of well fitting shorts or a pretty vest are more likely to get attention than having the goods out on full display.

2013 January 3

Uneek_Ladies_Tank_Top_82_418Between the flu and the norovirus, most of us in the UK will have had, or be having, some kind of illness right now. You might even be fighting New Year’s hangoveritis still! But for most of us there’s a requirement to get up and get out, whether to work or study or visit friends. So how can you look good when you feel like death? Here are four tips to help you look fine.

  1. Begin by putting some ice cubes in a plastic bag, wrapping the bag in a teatowel and putting it over your eyes for about ten minutes to reduce the blood vessels in the eyes and make the whites whiter and the reduce the puffiness. This immediately makes you look healthier. Brush your teeth and then use mouthwash – it helps you feel better and reduces the risk of you spreading germs to other people.
  2. Wear natural fabrics and stretch clothing. It’s not a good idea to wear constricting garments when you’re ill, and belts and buckles can get in the way when you’re trying to get to the bathroom in a hurry, for whatever reason. Cotton tops, and lots of layering, will allow you to add and subtract clothing depending on your internal temperature and the weather conditions around you. A cotton T-shirt, hoodie and sleeveless jacket work for men, while women can layer a camisole top, cardigan and scarf, or a long sleeved t-shirt under a short sleeved one topped with a ballerina wrap. Elasticated waists are a really good idea, especially if you have a stomach upset.
  3. If you’re going outdoors, make sure you have a knit cap, beanie or slouch beret to keep your head warm, and choose a brighter colour than navy, black or grey as they can wash out your skin tones: a beige or green hat is more flattering if you’re under the weather.
  4. Wash your hands a lot, or use hand sanitizer to protect others from your illness. Remember to wash gloves too, as they can transmit germs and even reinfect you!


2012 November 19

Winter wardrobes are expensive – it’s difficult to look chic if you’re freezing cold and winter clothes have to be better made and of more substantial fabric to look good – unlike summer clothes where skimpy and flimsy can be highly attractive.  Here are three tips to make winter clothing choices that look expensive but don’t cost the earth.

•    Two jackets will double your wardrobe. A formal jacket in velvet or tweed (try vintage fairs or charity shops) and a sporty jacket in fleece or ski fabric will double your apparent wardrobe for the same money as one winter coat. Both can be worn with jeans or this years maxi skirts and can change their appearance totally.

•    Long-sleeved T-shirts are an ideal choice – worn with a waistcoat, poncho or a chunky scarf they look relaxed and still keep you warm and cosy, while paired with a tabard jacket, a silk scarf or an elegant brooch they give a classic feel to your outfit.

•    Buy or make a range of scarves, gloves and hats. Varying your outerwear accessories makes you look as if you have an unlimited wardrobe, and the same T-shirt and jeans, or boots and skirt, worn underneath, can look totally fresh by ringing the changes on your accessories.

2012 October 23

This is the ideal time of year to be buying clothes for winter sun holidays – particularly online as bargains in the T-shirt and shorts line are readily available. It’s also a great idea to be planning next year’s summer clothing with this year’s end of season sales on hand.

There’s no point trying to predict fashion: this year’s attendees at the Teen Vogue Annual Fashion University were warned about being predictors of fashion too far in advance and given insight into how difficult it is to plan a good wardrobe more than a season ahead, but classic items like cargo shorts can be fitted into any summer clothing plan.

Reliable fashion staples like white cotton T-shirts work brilliantly whether you’re layering them under ski-wear for a quick break off-piste, or packing them for nightwear during a winter cruise, or even planning them as beach cover-ups for a late break in the sun.

For women, and for men who are willing to learn, sites like Polyvore are brilliant for spotting workable trends – find a fashion bargain and then enter it into the search box – dozens, hundreds or thousands of sets will appear, featuring that item and giving many ideas of how to wear it, and what to wear it with.

Above all, it’s important to have a sense of your style, as well as your budget so that you can buy items now, often for less than half the price you’d pay in summer, that will still bring a smile to your face when the sunshine returns next year.

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.