Monday, September 24, 2012

Colour At The Crackers ...

Ranvir Singh
...of Dawn, that is.  

What do you do if you have to look good but work demands you to be up at the most un-godly of hours - or at the 'crackers' as a director at my partner organisation Colour Me Beautiful calls it.  Crackers - literally, me thinks.  But we've got to do what we've to do so we should do it it style, no?  

Think about early morning televsion presenters and perhaps we could steal some of their style savvy.  Ok, ok; so they are going to be seen by millions while 'we' generally are not but just imagine for a moment you were....hmm...would you do thinkgs differently?  You'll notice that their styles are all quite different but I think their success is mostly down to wearing good colours.   
ITV Daybreak’s (UK & Swiss UPC) Ranvir Singh cleverly uses a shift dress and jacket - or a skirt, top and jacket - combination as her basic uniform, but she wears them in an array of colours (colours that compliment her) throughout the week for variety.  It works perfectly and surely makes getting dressed for TV early in the morning a lot easier.   Interestingly, although she looks like a Deep colouring (black hair, dark skin), the vibrant colours are the most flattering on her, so she could be a Clear, like me.
Susanna Reid in the blue Asos dress
Susanna - dress from ASOS
BBC Breakfast (UK & Swiss UPC) presenter Susanna Reid equally uses colour to her advantage.  Whilst there was a bit of a stir around her choice of clothes last year with comments on her rather low-cut, very tight dresses (not to mention the flash of suspenders) she has fortunately become more groomed, careful and professional bout what she wears. 

Lorraine Kelly
But my personal favourite is fellow Scot Lorraine Kelly, who I think gets it right most mornings, looking fresh, fun, trendy and profesional.  And, as she has a new gig on the brand new  Daybreak Sofa she has to take extra care - that set presents A LOT of colour competition.

It is difficult for most of us to dress well and appropriately for the job on a daily basis, especially when we want to express a bit of our own style personality too.  But putting on some colour first thing in the morning - even if it is just a great lipstick - is the best energy booster.  It will bring life to your complexion, make you look more awake and ready for the day, even when you feel it least.

I love colour but that set is BRIGHT
Get your most flattering colours ready for the dark winter mornings ahead and sparkle, sparkle, sparkle. 

Catriona, aka Lady Mirror Ball x
Thanks to Colour Me Beautiful for the inspiration.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Re-Work Your 9-5 ... Casual Pitfalls

701W12 - product images  of
Dea London - fabulous workwear
for the fuller figure. Loving this outfit!
Smart but casual and on trend.
I am not a casual person, by nature.  When I say that what I mean is that I am the type of gal who has to fight the urge to wear a tulle skirt with leopard  print peep toes and a corsage, most days.  My fashion faux pas is over dressing and as such I struggle with casual even when I need to be casual.

So for me casual in the work place is a complete anathema but I understand that many a different wardrobe maketh the world go around and that for some ladies and gents the prospect of dressing casually at work is actually very attractive indeed, allowing them to breathe a sigh of relief every Monday morning.   Indeed for many this is a working environment to be envied:  Common in entrepreneurial, high tech, software, leisure and many design work environments.

Whether your workplace is ok with casual or whether it has 'casual' days, such as dress down Fridays, the term 'casual' is rarely as casual at it seems.  

Honestly, I actually think that this is one of the hardest work cultures to dress for - it so open to interpretation, to personal taste and to going horribly wrong!

Boden - some great outfits for a smart
casual work wardrobe.  Loving this whole
outfit - jeans at work looking so smart.
Now, I absolutely believe that how you dress reflects a state of mind as well as being a signal to others as to how they should treat you.   Consequently, it's actually been easier for me to give advice on the possible pitfalls of the casual work place.

To compile this list I have used my own experience of over 20 years in various workplaces but I've also asked around, done a bit of research and compiled the top tips for dressing casually for work.  

JEANS & JOGGERS - Personally I think your 'slopping about the house jeans' and work should NEVER EVER MEET irrespective of the work environment.  Likewise joggers, hoodies and trainers in your work enviroment are only ok if you are a PE instructor or something similar. 

My advice here: You should look at any denim item and think to yourself 'does this look polished'  Polished is not freyed, ripped or faded.  Think instead of dark indigo or coloured denim in shapes that are bootcut or wide leg.  Also consider wearing denim as a skirt with opaque tights and boots.  

Team your work denims with a smart top - even a smart T - and smart shoes.  The look above right from Boden is a great casual look for work where the consistency of indigo matched with a little pizazz on the wedge sandals and shoulder detail of the top make the outfit both very polished and current. 

I also advise smart leggings in place of jeans if worn with a smart tunic top and smart pumps, brogues or boots.  This is a low maintenance work look too and can be very practical if you are on the move a lot.  This look, above left, from Next makes for a lovely alternative to jeans for the office and embraces key seasonal trends of pattern, leather and berry colours.

    No!  The joke is mostly on you.
    SLOGANS - I once worked with a woman who wore

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    Re-Work Your 9-5 ...Creative Cultures

    This is & a high price point
    but lots of similar options in the shops
    at Zara, H&M, Top Shop, River Island.
    Maybe you don't work in a corporate environment and maybe your workplace allows for a more creative approach to dressing for work.  Maybe it's even actively encouraged or expected.  This is often the case in creative industries such as marketing & advertising agencies, hairdressing, design etc.  

    In my experience creative people tend to have creative style personalities and as such rarely look for advice on their image. But occasionally I come across the individual who has to either tame down their creative wardrobe or add a bit more va va voom.  The two most common scenarios are:

    "I come from a very corporate background and have a corporate working wardrobe but I've secured a new job with an advertising agency.  Even in the accounts department the finance manager is expected to embrace the creative environment.  Help I want to wear a suit but ...."
    "I am really creative in my style personality.  I love experimenting, love eclectic combinations and mixing second hand with designer, colour clashing and print.  But while I work in a creative environment I also need to communicate that I can be trusted to be excellent at what I do.  I'm creative but I am professional and take my job seriously. I need to tame it down a bit without compromising my personality."

    How To Make Creative & Smart Work At Work 

      1.  Choose traditional workwear silhouettes - such as a suit or dress - BUT pick them in floral fabrics or bold seasonal colours, such as tomato orange or cobalt blue and colour block the jacket/skirt/trousers.
      // I love this look.  I'm going to shamelessly copy it ;-)  City chic with a big dose of dramaticYou could buy three different colour suits in a mix of trousers and skirt and also in three different colours or patterns that you would be happy to co-ordinate.    The acid test here is that you should be happy to put the trousers of one suit next to the skirt of another and the jacket of another and be happy that the 3 items look great together.  At least one suit should be plain.  Then mix them all up to create lots of different work looks. 

      Biba at


      Wednesday, September 19, 2012

      Re-Working Your 9-5

      'Are You A Man or A Mouse?  A Woman or A Wouse?'
      Dolly, Lilly & Jane proving that ladies have a successful style
      through the 9-5. 
      Now that we have a feel for what colours are going to be in the shops this Autumn it got me to thinking about the whole 'going back to work' feeling.  You know that feeling when your summer holiday is over and it's back to work we go.   Is is just me that feels or does this feel like a trip down memory lane to the days when you went back to school?  Yes this is despite ,me being in my forties (early!) .  You remember the new shoes, new uniform and new school bag.

      There's something enduring about that feeling of being ready for something new, feeling smart and ready to go, growing up another year.  I loved it - especially the new shoes and bag part. But then I always loved the dressing up box too.

      So as we pack summer back into the suitcase maybe it's time to RE-WORK our 9-5, our working wardrobes, our work style.   Regardless of what you do for work I think there are primarily two types of women in the workplace.

      Those of us who make dressing for work an art form; something to enjoy, a uniform for the day, a work statement where the clothes make you feel a certain way or where they make others behave a certain way.  Dressing for the job you want rather than the job we have - Dramatics, City Chics love it while Romantics & Creatives may struggle with embracing a more 'corporate' style.

      There are those of us for whom getting dressed for work is an extension of our everyday home selves.  Where our working wardrobe is not much different to our leisure wear wardrobe; ok so maybe it's bit smarter.  Dressing for work is a bit of a chore and perhaps we grudge the money we have to spend on specific work wear, preferring the clothes to do the hard work and for them to be appropriate for lots of occasions. We dress more for comfort and a little less for image.  This may be you if you are a Classic or Natural,  but Romantics can struggle with a more formal look too.
      Personally,  as I have a love of the dressing up box, you might have guessed that I fall into the former.  For me the biggest transition I have had to make now that I work mostly from home is how much I miss the routine of getting dressed for work.  Infact, it's so more than that, it's how much I miss shopping for work clothes, the structure of a day that gets you up at a certain time and the rituals of what to wear for what the day at the office holds.  Indeed my wardrobe used to be 80% work wear and 20% not much else.  How hard it has been swapping that pie around but that's a whole other blog. That's why I love having clients to the studio .... it's time to get dressed up.

      But back to the task at hand.....

      Saturday, September 8, 2012

      Colour Trends For This Autumn & Winter ...

      I know that summer is not quite over;  infact as I write it is a gloriously sunny day here in Rorbas at Mirror Ball Studios and also, I believe, in the UK.  So I'm not suggesting you pack up the summer brights and pastels just yet but a bit of forward planning never hurt.

      Today I'm bringing you the colours that you will be wearing this Autumn & Winter; certainly the colours that are going to be all over the shops.

      These are THE colours that have been BIG news on catwalks and which designers have been in love with since last year when they started showing their collections.

      What to expect?  
      Well, I've compiled the Autumn/Winter 2012 

      Dea London - great A/W
      collection - lace remains big
      & softens spruce

      10.  Navy is big - it's this year's alternative to black.

      9.    Leather is a big fabric this year and has also influenced the shades of brown that we will see.  Expect them to be antiqued and leathery in their colour.  

      8.   Olive is often the most popular shade of green for Autumn/Winter collections but this year you will see it become stronger, darker and more of a spruce green, as trends also go military on us.

      7.   Lovers of brights don't despair as they remain very much on trend - think of them as accents or contrast shades but also the choice for evening wear too - think Cobalt Blue, Emerald and Ruby Red.

      Colour Blocking is a
      trend to stay.  Note
      GOLD is the colour
      of accessories
      6.   The bright yellow trend of summer will stay around (and I predict will remain very fashionable next spring) but it will soften a little for winter to a more dusky yellow.

      Thursday, September 6, 2012

      The Foundation For Fashion ...

      With or without 'FLOATING' - hmmmm
      Sometimes we wonder how we ever lived without a specific 'thing'. Some say the telephone, some say the wheel but I am going to say THE BRA!  

      Blog followers who know me personally will know my Bra and Boob history - suffice to say it's not good.  So big was my bust that a friend used to joke that it took me at least 15 minutes and £15 pounds per cup for a bra purchase, and that was in the 90's. Plagued by a big bosom, and I mean big,  that didn't sit where it should, my bosom dominated my life in my teens and twenties. It impacted my confidence and my fashion choices.  It was so cumbersome that exercise was difficult and I piled on weight too.   

      Things have changed a lot since then; manufacturers have wised up to the growing boom of the bust industry and no longer is a large bosom the prevail of the 'over the shoulder boulder holder', as Bette Middler would say. 

      In addition I have lost some of my bust size and am now as happy as I can be with my 32F. What I have learned however, is that nothing you put on top of a bra will look as good as it can if the bra itself isn't doing it's job.  I LOVE A GOOD FITTING BRA and I LOVE A GOOD BRA FITTER and I LOVE A GOOD BRA WEBSITE.  

      And so it is with great pleasure that I introduce someone who can bring us all 3.  Your very own Bra fairy and my very first guest blogger.  So a huge welcome as I am delighted to introduce:

      Sara O'Regan Founder of Bra Sense who 
      shares with us her expert insight and top tips.

      Most people treat underwear as ‘another fashion item’ or an item that is a basic purchase (no-one sees it but me). But it is not. The bra is the foundation garment. It can literally make or break an outfit as the bra shape and fit decide your proportion and your curves. The wrong shape and size can mean you have to buy a dress size larger or a looser fit to cover up the bra’s mistakes.

      Fashion is designed in proportion around 4 key  points:

      • shoulder
      • bust
      • waist
      • hips. 

      Not only the size of these 4 points but also the distances between them. Your shoulders, waist and hips are bodily fixed. They are fixed points which you cannot change. However, the bust is different. It can bulge, sag, droop, or sit exactly where nature placed it, in proportion and distance to the other three points. 

      A different bra can immediately change the position of the bust and as it does, it dictates  the shape and size of clothing we must wear over it. So this is why the whole bra fit is key. Most people focus on the size of a bra, when the body profile or form, proportion and natural shape are the drivers to bra design, fit and size. So this is why the whole bra fit is key. It is not about underbust and around bust measurement. These are aids to size – not guides to size. Most people focus on the size derived from measurements, when the body profile or form, proportion and natural shape are the drivers to bra design, fit and size.

      Here, you can instantly see the difference between the two photos. In both photos the same size top and bra is being worn but in the one on the right the correct style, design and shape of bra in the right size is being worn. Wearing the correct bra moves the bust back to where the body and therefore every other fashion item  expects the bust to be. So the top fits smoothly as it should. Notice where the neckline sits, the extra length in the body and the posture?

      Top Tips: