Dressing for extreme cold – practicality or style ?!..

Answers on a postcard please….

I have asked myself this question several times this week but yes, I know the answer. Who really wants to be uncomfortable, shivering and potentially have hypothermia by lunchtime?!

I have trekked across Clapham Common every day, early in the morning and late in the afternoon – bundled up from head to toe and wearing so many layers, my arms won’t bend!

Every possible personal access point for that bitter Siberian wind – neck, ears, ankles, cuffs – has been blocked or wrapped, with quilting, cashmere, wool, or elastic.

My mittens (black leather from COS) have been invaluable and have kept my hands as warm as possible. (Mittens are great. As a friend said to me – once your fingers are isolated from each other, then you’re in trouble….).

And my boots (bought from Burberry many years ago) are partially fur- lined and definitely worth the fifteen minutes it takes me to get them on and/or off!

But I’ve just about had enough of it now. A glamorous red lipstick will only take you so far?

I’d like some ease of movement? I’d like to be able to raise my chin and drop my shoulders? And I’d like to feel that little bit of air between fabric and skin, that makes me feel more feminine than tucking vest into pants, trousers into socks, jumper into trousers and cuffs into gloves!

I’m also dying for some colour. I know there’s a lot of colourful ski wear out there that can keep you super warm and dry, but all my warmest clothes seem to be black or grey? And even the bravest of fashionistas would struggle to pull off sunshine yellow when it’s minus 6, the sky is grey, and there’s a mini snow storm blowing off the top of every roof and wall.

So – I’m hanging in there, as we all are. It feels a few degrees warmer today. Maybe there’ll be a heatwave this summer, as compensation?

Remember, its March already – spring can only be just around the corner?!

The Re-Worked Wardrobe, Month Six

It’s now five months since I pledged not to buy any new clothes for a year. How’s that going, you may well ask?…..

It’s time to catch up, recap, take stock of the Wardrobe and of life in general…

Yes, I know I should possibly have done this in January… but January seemed to pass for me in a blur of cashmere hat and scarf, a thick overcoat, a daily renewed intention to be more Mindful and the odd glass of red wine or two to ease through from Monday to Sunday.

It’s now almost five months since I pledged not to buy any clothes/shoes for a year.


How’s that going, you may ask? Well, it’s harder than I thought. And in a spirit of absolute honesty I have strayed slightly from the path….but not far enough to constitute a whole change of direction?!

Firstly, I bought a little Chanel style jacket from the Ann Taylor outlet store on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, in December. What a fantastic holiday we had, and what a great place Fulton Street is to shop! Outlet stores, discount stores, a great range of products and everything further discounted for Christmas. All with a cool, edgy Brooklyn vibe. It was heaven.





The Ann Taylor brand itself is involved with various charitable causes and is a partner of the St Jude Thanks and Giving Campaign (see Anncares.com). I wore the jacket all over Christmas, with everything from ripped jeans to a black leather and suede knee-length skirt.

Whilst in Brooklyn, I also did a little Duane Reade pharmacy sweep (obligatory for those US cosmetics that come with the same number on the ticket as in the UK, but a little $ sign instead of the usual £)!

That afternoon was rounded off with a fat slice of homemade cheesecake from Juniors – I cannot recommend it highly enough, if you happen to be in downtown Brooklyn anytime soon.


The second purchase was made upon my return, when I succumbed to a beautiful silk jacket in the Zara sale. Black and florals, round neck, bracelet sleeves – it looks just as good with smart black trousers and heels as it does with jeans, a white T-shirt and Stan Smiths. (Yes, I’m seeing a theme here, too, but like the Ann Taylor – I’ve worn it a lot!)


And finally, I spent my ‘Christmas cheque’ (thanks Mum) on a beautiful, mustard yellow saddle bag from Coach – a joy to purchase in the Fifth Avenue Store, (and an excuse to escape from the cold and snow outside, and the hundreds of people queueing for the Rockefeller Centre skating rink)!…The bag looks great with black and grey now, and with my camel leather coat. And will look just as good in the summer with shades of yellow, orange and white.

So – to (sort of) compensate for making a couple of cheeky purchases, I did take two tops, a pair of trousers and a dress to the charity shop in January.

And I gave away a parka (bought for my oldest son and scarcely worn), to a homeless man at the tube station the other night. I literally put it on him so that it wouldn’t get stolen. To say ‘his need was greater than mine’ would be the understatement of the century.

And that’s where I’m at, February 2018. Limited purchasing, and trying to think more about sustainability and maintaining the clothes I have. My long coat is currently at the tailors because the hem has come down; and I’m in the process of shortening a well -worn pair of flared trousers, to wear with flat shoes and boots, (once the mud has dried out on my school run-route across the Common).

However, I’m still very conscious of upcoming trends and I want to keep my look ‘current’. The new collections are starting to drop in the shops on an almost daily basis, and it’s so exciting to see all the new colours and shapes.

As February rushes towards March, and thoughts turn to warmer days – what would I like to buy? Or recommend that you consider, if you want to update your wardrobe?

Colour, definitely. I love yellow (see previous blog post) and have my eye on the beautiful yellow Casting Pants by Kowtow  (available from The Keep Boutique in Brixton). They are made from 100% ethical organic cotton, at an accredited factory in India.

In Theory

I’m also really hankering after orange. Maybe Baum Und Pferdgarten’s flared Nandini trousers or beautiful Agnetha dress. Orange and navy, or orange and royal blue look great together – see the german designer Steffen Schraut for some great colour combinations.

Agnetha dress

The Hilda Trousers in orange bhandani silk from the Ethical Collection London are beautiful and can be dressed up or down.  The Ethical Collection curates sustainable clothes and jewellery from designers around the world.

Cos has some great new pieces in orange and in green. Both colours look great with navy or camel basics.

COS image 7 of Draped cotton cardigan in Green
Draped cotton cardigan, Cos

And if you don’t feel that colourful yet, there’s always denim. In any form and any shade – although I would probably avoid anything really dark, now that the days are getting longer and we’re all desperate for a little bit of ‘spring’ (literally and metaphorically!).  Nudie Jeans has a great range of jeans in 100% organic cotton.

I know it’s still cold out there – but you can slip a pair of sheer tights under your jeans for now (the silkier the better – obvs!). Or I like to wear a pair of knee high thermal socks underneath. That way, the only really chilly bit is between your knee and the bottom of your coat?!

Last weekend, I ditched the black and grey I’ve been swaddled in for some considerable time, and road tested the ‘winter whites’. I have a pair of Current Elliott white jeans that I wear season after season, various white t shirts and a beautiful cream, cashmere, v neck cardigan that I’ve hardly worn. It came from Other Stories and I think the mistake I made was keeping it for ‘best’? (Not wanting to have to dry clean it too often). I was warm, comfortable and felt somewhat uplifted!

Ralph Lauren Fall 2014 Collection Wool Harrison Jodhpur

Try all white with a camel coat or animal print rather than black, (although really anything works). Mango Committed organic white cotton jeans look great and are currently only £29.99 in the sale.

Happy Weekend xx

A Stumble, A Pause …..and a Little Holiday.

This December, I needed a little break….

It turns out I didn’t feel that sparkly during Advent despite my best intentions?! The reality was slightly different to the gloss!

I was unwell in December, and then I had one of those little ‘health scares’ that seem to be a part of mid-life. All fine now, I’m pleased to report. Continue reading “A Stumble, A Pause …..and a Little Holiday.”

Advent Sparkle!

….I am going to wear at least one item of ‘bling’ from my wardrobe every day until Christmas!

Not long now?! Advent starts in two days, and then it’s here – the ‘Christmas Build Up’!  From the 1st December onwards I intend to listen to all my favourite Christmas music (‘Now’ Christmas Album, of course – few things can top singing along to Maria Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas,’ whilst prepping dinner?); eat mince pies at every possible opportunity (I have already had several, but don’t tell anyone); and fill my house with as many fairy lights as is humanly possible!

In addition, this year, I intend to ‘self-sparkle’! Yes, that is a made-up term.  I don’t mean metaphorically, (although it has to be said, I can be quite good company) but I mean quite literally.  I have fished out of my wardrobe everything that is vaguely or fabulously sparkly, sequinned or has a silver sheen and I am going to wear at least one item of ‘bling’ every day until Christmas. A gold skirt, a spangly jumper, glittery socks or a completely over the top necklace.  I’m getting it on, it’s Christmas after all!

Continue reading “Advent Sparkle!”

Do you really need a new dress?!

Buy less, shop wisely and love the clothes you have!

Party Season is officially upon us and the joy of dressing up! Dresses, skirts, trouser suits, jumpsuits, sparkles and heels! Black or brightly colored, shiny, silver, sequined, velvet, animal print. Add make-up, hair, jewellery and a glass of bubbles …and you are transformed into that kick-ass princess who could floor Prince Charming with a glance from twenty paces…

But before you hit the shops, whether in a last minute panic for an event that night or with a more leisurely approach (list and budget pre-agreed) – take a good, hard look in your wardrobe.

What clothes do you already have? Which pieces already in your wardrobe make you feel a million dollars? What do you rarely get the chance to wear but absolutely love?

For a basic Party Edit take out all your ‘best’ clothes. I generally advice clients not to keep clothes for best – everything should be worn and loved – but you know those things that are ‘proper’ Party?!

Now, sort through them. Take out anything you don’t particularly like. This is party dressing, after all, and you want to go out looking and feeling great! Try things on if you have time – vague memories of how you think you look just don’t cut it. Put away anything that doesn’t make you look at your reflection and think ‘yes – I am going out!’

Anything that needs cleaning can be put into a separate pile – (you know, the dress you slipped back into the wardrobe that night when you staggered home from a particularly good event, but can’t really remember hanging up?!). These clothes are still there for you – just not yet.

Also, put to one side clothes that no longer fit. I have on occasion followed the mantra ”Pride must Abide’ – but it’s going to be a long, fabulous night and you have to breathe, eat and dance (at the very least?!). If you still love these clothes and can have them altered to wear now, get to the tailor’s. If it’s you that needs a little alteration rather than the clothes, just put them away for the time being and don’t worry about it.

Then take a really good look at what you have. You may take hold of that perfect sparkly dress and know instinctively that’s what you will wear. Otherwise, think about mixing it up a little.

Try putting a favourite top that you usually only wear with black trousers, with something completely different? Mix together as many different colours as you can? If you have an amazing skirt or beautifully cut evening trousers – try wearing them with a simple, fresh white t-shirt. Add jewellery – silver cuffs on bare arms look beautiful, or buy a totally over the top necklace, or fabulous earrings to lift the outfit to ‘party status’. If, for example, you have a dress you love but that feels a little too short ( I alternate these days between thinking ‘what the hell, I like my legs’ to ‘are you sure Andy, you’re not 25 any more’?!) – try wearing it with skinny black trousers. Coated, black, skinny jeans look great.

It sometimes helps to start with one thing that you really want to wear and build the outfit from there. Enlisting the help of friends or a stylist (that’s what we’re here for) can also help you to see your clothes in a completely new light.

You may need to buy one or two things, (depending on the relative abundance of your social agenda) – but remember, where possible, ‘Buy Less, Shop Wisely and Love the Clothes You Have’.

I can resist everything, except temptation?…

Pre-Christmas discounts and private sales are very hard to resist..!

Has anyone else noticed the number of Sales that are taking place this weekend? Or the amount of attractive discount emails that drop incessantly into your Inbox at this time of year? Zadig and Voltaire; Bimba y Lola; Katherine Hamnett; Finery London to name but a few.

It used to be that the ‘Christmas Sales’ happened in January. Then you could take your Christmas money, and the vouchers that Great Aunt Maud had given to you, jump on the 312 bus into town – and go and buy anything that Santa had ‘forgotten’ to put in your Stocking.

In later years, January was a time to buy that winter coat or longed-for boots, ready for next year.

November, on the other hand, was a time for saving money, making a comprehensive gift list, and deciding which shop you would go into according to what you wanted to buy?!

Fast forward to now, and the Xmas shopping urge, which seems to be encouraged by the retail sector from the minute the Halloween pumpkin candles burn out.

Like many people (I’m sure?!) I now find myself magnetically drawn towards the ‘Private Sales 40% Off’ (or similar) signs, hanging alluringly underneath twinkly lights and festive window decorations, up and down the high street. Continue reading “I can resist everything, except temptation?…”

The Joy of Socks…

Socks, socks socks……and what to do with old ones?!

…there are so many to choose from!  Sports socks, woollen socks, knee-high socks, sheer socks, stripy socks, sparkly socks.  Low rise socks with trainers; woolly socks with boots; ankle socks with brogues; delicate lace socks with sandals?

At school my friends and I used to wear thick, ribbed ‘over the knee’ socks, held up with a small band of white, knotted elastic.  The trick was to get the garter just the right size – too tight and it left a big ring around your upper thigh; too slack and you had to resist the urge to run across the playground for fear your socks would end up around your ankles.

Now, I really hate having cold feet! My favourite socks at present are Falke – dark grey, wool socks with my ankle boots, and Cotton Touch black socks with brogues.  My other ‘go to’ brand for socks is & Other Stories.  Their Leopard nylon socks, in black, go with practically all my shoes.  And if you like the whole ‘socks and evening shoes’ thing, you can’t go wrong with their black, rolled edge nylon sock.

other stories socks
& Other Stories leopard nylon socks


For glamorous socks I would recommend looking at Wolford  – the Lace Up Knee High or the Lurex Net knee high would look great with a mid-calf length skirt and heels.  They also have beautiful sheer ankle socks embellished with Swarovski crystals (the Love Letter).

And for less glamorous footwear, (but equally as important!) – I love Uniqlos heat tech that handily come in packs of 2 (pairs, that is… not socks!)


But here’s the question. What do you do with your old socks? Does anyone darn socks any more? Or do you simply get rid of them when they wear through? Continue reading “The Joy of Socks…”