Unzipping the Velvet

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This won’t be the most timely blog I’ve posted since one look at the weekend weather suggests we’ll be back outside the pub sipping aperol spritz in our sunnies by Sunday. However, it’s good to be prepared and since you may be clearing through last year’s winter clothes right about now, there is one thing you should be holding onto – and it’ll seem far too heavy in this muggy weather but stay with me – VELVET.

The days of velvet being only for sofas and Christmas day are long gone. By all means sit on a velvet sofa wearing velvet on Christmas day (preferably not in the same colour) but this season you should view velvet as you would cashmere or silk; you can get it for a snip in H&M and M&S and it looks fabulous dressed down with denim on any day of the week therefore it can be taken out of the ‘special occasion only’ drawer. Oh but try not to spill anything down it because like the afore-mentioned cashmere and silk you really don’t want to be washing it too often.

Longline velvet coat with scarf £115 at asos.com

Military style velvet jacket £69.99 at Zara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a wealth of velvet on offer currently and unlike the old days when your choice was limited to a stuffy blazer or a stiff looking pair of black trousers, now the high street has you covered from head to toe. Don’t fancy your back view encased in stretched velvet (thoughts of that sofa again…)? Opt for a pair of gorgeous boots, almost every brand is doing them and they’re ridiculously priced. If a velvet skirt makes you think of school birthday parties in the early ’80s (I insisted my mum made me one in royal blue) then go for a dress with a more daring neckline for a sexier take on velvet – you don’t have to look like Princess Anne, really you don’t.

Teal velvet midi dress £55 at asos.com

Velvet dress £49.99 at Mango

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other thing about this autumn’s version of velvet is the colour. Yes, a bottle green or a midnight blue is lovely for a trouser suit in the evening but consider a mustard velvet (if mustard is a colour that suits you) or a teal because a pair of shoes or a camisole in these shades will be a real scene stealer and will bring a simple suit or dress bang up to date.

Velvet jeans £85 at French Connection

Velvet skinny trousers £39.99 at Zara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no getting away from velvet jackets but if you do invest in one I guarantee you’ll get your money’s worth. Wear it like Romee Strijd (above) dressed down with a t-shirt or nip it in at the waist with an obi belt or embellished sash for a more glam night time look. Such is the luxurious texture of velvet that jewels sit beautifully on it, wrap yourself in a jacket a size too big, secure it with a leather belt and just add something sparkling at the neck or on the lapel – no layer underneath even needed.

Flat velvet shoes £90 at Boden

Velvet ankle boots reduced to £19.60 at Dorothy Perkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately though, a touch of velvet in your outfit is a great way of looking like you’ve made more effort than you in fact have. I walked past the John Rocha jacket in Debenhams this week and all I could think was how much time it would save me when getting ready to go out in the evening – throw over a floaty dress or a pair of jeans and a white shirt and you’re good to go. Velvet shoes and boots will have the same effect. And is it me, or do even the £19.60 Dorothy Perkins boots looks quite expensive?

Velvet jacket £55 by John Rocha at Debenhams

Velvet bag £35.99 at Mango

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So once this mini Indian summer is over, fold your t-shirts and shorts away once and for all and consider velvet. If you’re still not convinced then start with a trainer piece such as a choker or a bag or a pair of flats like the oh so cute Boden flats above. You never know you may love velvet so much that by Christmas you’ll be doing the school run in these over the knee boots…

Velvet over the knee boots £150 at Uterque.com

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All You Need…

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This morning I locked myself out of the house. We were on our way to school on our bikes and the door closed shut behind me with the keys in the lock on the inside. Thankfully I had my mobile phone and purse with me but that was about it. I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet and was dressed for my yoga class so it was a little drafty as I cycled with my son to school. As I awaited the locksmith in my second coffee shop of the day, I realised I had unwittingly become one of those middle class mums who gets dressed in leisure wear as if on their way to or on their way back from some sort of physical activity. I felt self conscious going around like ‘Exercise Barbie’ all day but it did give me the opportunity to try out the must-have autumn trends and work out exactly what will offer the most bang for our buck. And there’s nothing like wasting time in a warm fitting room when you’re feeling a bit chilly around the trainer socked ankles. Actually, it turns out that all you really need is a little help from your friends, your phone and a coffee shop app this autumn but if you’re up for a wardrobe refresher course then here is what you need:

A Checked Coat

Checked coat at Mulberry AW17

Of course you already have a coat, you may even have two or three but this look heralded by Mulberry amongst many others, is very relaxed so you don’t need a big thick expensive style. I’ve got my eye on this neat coat from Debenhams.

Coat £75 at Debenhams

A Pair of White Boots

White boots at Narciso Rodriguez AW17

I bought a pair of off-white boots last winter and although I felt a bit space age in the playground, I can’t stress enough how much wear I got out of them. They go with everything! Hopelessly impractical in the rain but so much more interesting than boring old black. Will you just look at these M&S ones – I’ll race you to them…

Boots £79 at Marks and Spencer

A Long Floral Dress

Floral dress at Roland Mouret AW17

I’m sure I suggested this piece last winter so if you ignored my advice a year ago then more fool you because a long flowery dress will be soo useful. Dress down with a big knit (see below) and lace-up boots or dress up with white boots (see above). And if you’re not convinced  by the length, you can always shorten it at some point. You have nothing to lose. If only you’d listened to me the first time.

Dress £59 at Warehouse

A Big Knit

Big knit at TopShop Unique AW17

Yes, yes, I know this was around last year too but these knits are even bigger this season. Go for brights, go for big sleeves and something clashing in colour or style underneath. The look you want is louche rather than student.

Turtle neck jumper £49.99 Mango

A Trouser Suit

Trouser suit at Daks AW17

Again, this is a slouchy laid back kind of vibe, you don’t need to be Madonna in the Express Yourself video (been there, done that – I’m not joking) although with what’s out on the high street, you can if you want. In the office wear with a Victoriana blouse, out of the office wear with Adidas trainers and a t-shirt.

Suit £123.95 at Massimo Dutti

 

A Pair of Statement Earrings

Statement earrings at Balenciaga AW17

No-one’s saying wear odd earrings as shown here but this is your chance to adorn your head with the chandelier replicas previously only associated with Bet Lynch or Pat Butcher. Now’s the time to do it and be classy. This opportunity might not come around again until your ear lobes have drooped down to your shoulders, so seize the day.

Earrings £19 at Coast

Something, Anything Red

All red at Fendi AW17

It started last winter with the red boots and now it’s worked its way up, via the show stopping red dress in late summer, (see my post: http://wp.me/p3RaVN-1cH ) to pretty much head to toe red this season. Don’t let that put you off (although I think this Zara look is fab I have to say) just pick one eye catching piece and wear it with denim for a look that’s totally now.

Blouse £69.99 at Zara

So there you have it. You may be interested to know that I have finally gained (£100 later) entry back into my home while my son has cycled his bike through dog poo which I am endeavouring to get rid of with boiling water and an old toothbrush. In the nine hours I have been locked out I have consumed more cafe chain food and drink than I dare think about. Have a great weekend and enjoy the new collections!

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The September Edition

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There is something about the return from a lovely summer holiday and the healthy glow you bring back which kick starts a longing for change. Perhaps it is the inevitable blues which you unpack along with all the sandy swimwear, or maybe it is simply the change of season and the one thing which makes the end of summer seem bearable: new autumn clothes.

Wrap Blazer Dress £69 at Top Shop

Check trouser suit at Zara
Trousers £69.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September is clearly a better time for resolutions than the start of the new year so officially labelling  it ‘the new January’ is long overdue. In January we begrudgingly swear off alcohol and try to eat more fruit and take more exercise when in fact what we really crave are calories and sleep (in that order). There is no spare cash for new season clothes and besides who in their right mind is thinking about dressing for spring in January? I’d be in my pyjamas until March if I could. In fact ever since my son informed those gathered in the school playground that “Mummy is dropping me off in her dressing gown” (fyi, a fabulous long knit cardigan by Ralph Lauren but whatevs) I feel I might as well be.

High neck blouse £34 at Top Shop

Star blouse £25 at Debenhams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New fitness regimes, new eating habits, new jobs, new outfits – they all feel right at this time of year so blend yourself a smoothie (and a face masque while you’re at it) fling open your wardrobe doors and let me help you decide what to keep and what to invest in for your winter workwear. Whenever I returned to school after the summer holidays, I wanted to appear somehow changed – either tanned, newly bobbed or shod or well, somehow wiser. I rarely achieved any of this. One year it chucked it down with rain for our entire fortnight in Devon so I had sunbeds (yikes, I know, it was the ’80s) and then applied my mum’s very basic wash-off fake tan to my face on the first day back – I was orange from the jawline up so that was indeed something new.

Checked dress £45 at M&S

Shift dress £149 at Hobbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weather-wise, the start of the autumn term was an extension of the summer so we often went back in summer gear anyway. It’s not so different now – you’ve heard my rant about not even looking at my boots or coats until October. Seriously though, in London you won’t need a full on overcoat for another couple of months and even then the chances are you’ll spend at least 80% of your working day inside or on public transport so a lightweight trench or jacket is adequate. This is brilliantly timely as the blazer is the must-have item for autumn, get one in a Prince of Wales check and you’ll be soo London Fashion Week. Buy the matching trousers too and people may actually faint with the OTM-ness of the new you. With the versatile Top Shop wrap blazer dress above you may not even need an outer layer at all – if you’re worried about being cold on the way to the tube then wear a layer underneath it instead. If you’re off out for drinks after work, add a statement necklace or brightly coloured scarf in the neck. Personally, I love a shirt under a dress or jumpsuit for daytime and it’s the ideal solution to a lack of sleeves on an otherwise perfect piece like the Hobbs one above. As the temperature drops, swap the shirt for a skinny polo neck for a smart yet edgy silhouette. You’ll notice I’m not trying to talk you into buying into jumpsuits anymore – by now, you should all have a jumpsuit in your arsenal, and if you don’t, WHY ON EARTH NOT?

Sleeveless jumpsuit £39.99 at H&M

Trousers £70 at Cos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I put my work clothes out the night before as I would rather spend those precious five minutes doing something other than panicking first thing in the morning – for example, applying more make-up to the shadows under my eyes or repeatedly saying to my son “have you brushed your teeth?”. I also have to allow five minutes each day, usually on the way out the door, to listen to one or more whinges along the lines of “these shoes are too tight/my jeans feel scratchy/can I go as Andy Murray today?”

Tank top £45 by Cos

Shirt £65 by Kitri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shirts on the high street currently are nothing short of fabulous so if you won’t or can’t do a ruffle (which by the way tarts up a trouser suit no end) then do a sleeve. This one by Kitri has an understated cuff detail but still has a classic fit. You can wear it with anything and when it gets colder bung a sleeveless jumper on top; I swore by these during pregnancy when my burgeoning boobs were threatening to pop my shirt buttons across the office. My tank tops stretched with my three bumps right up to six months when it was May and too warm for knitwear.

Jacket £215 by L’oeil

Skirt £59 at Other Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether your job requires sombre attire or you can get away with pretty much anything (I’ve seen boob tubes, slippers, even a competitor’s brazenly branded t-shirt at Thomas Pink HQ), this season’s edit lends itself nicely to a comfortable yet stylish 9-5. Shoes and boots are clumpier and therefore can be endured for far longer than the pointy spindly variety. Fifties in style and readily available in the bright red shade, they will add a feminine pop to a mannish suit or a modern twist to a ladylike skirt. Your post beach pom-pom sandal acclimatised feet will thank you.

Shoes £125 at Cos

 

Shoes £69 at Other Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly but most importantly, the work bag. I’m not as obsessed with bags as some but I do like a bag to be practical as well as attractive because until that day I finally remember to take a spare bag for impromptu purchases, it needs to be roomy. Yes, I’m the person who would rather have a bottle of orange juice wedged in my waist band and a pizza balanced on my head than pay 5p for a plastic bag. As soon as I get close to a Zara I am having this Prince of Wales check shopper, I absolutely love it! Meanwhile Reiss’s smart leather bag has the zip from top to bottom rather than left to right so you can easily find the tampons, lipsticks and chewing gum you always knew were in there but couldn’t ever find before because they gathered in the bottom corner and everything else sat on top of them. I love this one too. Blimey, perhaps I’m becoming a bag person…

Check bag £19.99 at Zara

Zip up bag £275 at Reiss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you’re now excited about the onset of autumn, I’ve even convinced myself I think. Out with the old and in with the new, it’s a great time for a change – just make sure you have the perfect outfit to do it in.

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How To Be Well Red

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Whether you’ve already been away for your holiday or like me you have yet to go, there is still at least a month, probably longer, of summer left. It may not currently feel like it but we are a long way off the nights drawing in and scraping ice off the car, even if Grazia has this week urged us to invest in a winter coat.

As I piled up dresses to take away with me, an eclectic mix of maxis, midis and minis, those with patterns and those without, new styles with ruffles and layers, old styles which I don’t part with because year after year they prove so darned useful,  I couldn’t help but notice how many of them are similar to those pictured on the autumn winter 2017 catwalk. Sure on the catwalks, there was an oversized mannish coat here and a long cosy cardigan there; wonderful woollies thrown casually over the top and bits of gossamer and cashmere delicately layered underneath punctuated with witchy boots and runkled socks, but the mainstay… well the mainstay seems to be the lovely ladylike dress, the likes of which I’ve become rather attached to.

So since it’s still summer (say it enough and you’ll start believing it) and the sales are making way for the new collections, be on the look out for a statement dress, one that you can wear now with a tan and a glass of rose and then later with a few more layers and probably a cold or cough. There’s just one stipulation – it should be red.

The red dress has sneaked up on us through all the floral and tropical prints and I wouldn’t have realised it was a thing had I not last week been approached to source a red dress for an evening do. It didn’t take me long. In fact I found so many in the space of just one episode of Horrible Histories (it’s OK, I’d seen it before) that I’d stockpiled at least ten within hours of the request being made – and that was just the good ones. So here, lovely readers, for your delectation are the best of the red dresses.

The red dress for the ‘rectangle’ shape…

Lucky you, you can fully embrace the ruffle trend which just won’t go away. A bit of frill or ruching on the bust is flattering for you so go for it. Embrace skirts with a bit of flounce or pleat.

Whistles £179

Uterque £115

Other Stories £49

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The red dress for the ‘hourglass’ shape…

You’ve got the curves so make sure your dress hugs them. An open neckline is most flattering and make sure your waist (you have a waist!) is defined. Ruffles only in small doses.

Very.co.uk £58

Other Stories £89

 

Other Stories £69

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The red dress for the ‘triangle’ shape…

Pick a dress with a feature on the top half to show off your slender shoulders or decolletage, you can go for any neckline. Skirts that gently skim the hips are most flattering for you.

French Connection £95

 

Zara £59.99

Zara £29.99

The red dress for the ‘circle’ shape…

This is a great season if you’re a circle body type because there’s plenty of loose fitting gorgeous red dresses on the high street currently. Go for something floaty and light and avoid ruffles. You’ve got fab legs so show them off in something a bit shorter.

Mango £69.99

 

H&M £39.99

 

Zara £29.99

You could do a lot worse than use the dancing lady emoji as your inspiration – she always looks good – and failing that, if you are over the age of 40, then think Kelly Le Brock. Have a magnificent August everyone, I’m off on my holidays so see you in a couple of weeks and don’t forget if you didn’t take my book on holiday last summer, you can buy it here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Shopped-Story-Secret-Shopping-Self-Discovery/1910463302/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501788604&sr=8-1&keywords=emily+stott+shopped

 

 

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Top Twelve Picks for a Tropical Trip

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It’s usually at about this time of year that I post a bossy boots blog pretending I know all the answers to the perfectly packed holiday suitcase. Well, if you would like to read one of those then you should look back over the previous ones because this summer I’m so over excited by the abundance of glorious accessories, I’m sharing those pieces which will instantly update your holiday wardrobe instead – in other words giving you more things to put in your suitcase, rather than fewer.

Shoes reduced to £65 at Whistles

Surprisingly, given the fairly mean spirited mood of just about everything in the world at the moment (even Andy Murray’s hip gave up the ghost last week), the fashion world has gone all out for joyous, primary coloured graphics, and there’s nothing but positive connotations here.

Pineapples, watermelons, flamingos – what’s not to like? They all make you think of sunny climes and they all make you smile. Perhaps it’s because they all tend to hang out on the rim of beach bar cocktails.

Sandals £22 at Top Shop

Meanwhile, if bits of fruit aren’t your thing then you can’t have failed to notice the wealth of pom poms and tassels attached to anything and everything this year. At the start of it all I couldn’t get my head around those trainers which looked as if someone had butchered a rabbit and stuck half its bum on the front. My friend Cesca and I texted each other ever more ridiculous pom pom pics back and forth until suddenly it wasn’t funny anymore and I realised I had to have something with pom poms. That’s how trends work though isn’t it; they creep into your subconscious, you try to ignore them because you think them absurd and not for you and then you realise they just won’t go away. Next thing you know, you simply can’t help yourself. I have to say, it was exactly like that for me with the whole Justin Bieber thing too.

Pineapples

Cover-up £50 at Next

Bag £9.99 at H&M

You’ll find this pineapple bag in the kids’ department at H&M but so what? It’s neat and consequently even cheaper. I deliberately didn’t buy it for my two year old friend Viola’s birthday because I wanted it for myself. Don’t worry, I bought her a strawberry one instead.

Watermelons

T-shirt reduced to £20 at Oasis

Mini basket bag £12 at Sosouk.co.uk

My mum had a fabulous watermelon bikini in the eighties and she wore it to death. And it’s never not funny when you can say “Do you like my mum’s melons?” at every available opportunity. I discovered the gorgeous website sosouk.co.uk on Instagram recently. It’s full of lovely Moroccan pieces so you’ll find plenty of pom poms there too – make sure you check it out.

Flamingos

Beach bag reduced to £20 at Oasis

Swimsuit £45 at Next

There are some very dubiously placed flamingos out there so be wary. That said, embrace this trend wholeheartedly because these lovely bubble gum pink feathery creatures won’t transition into your autumn wardrobe. It’ll be slugs by November. Or something.

Tassels

Pack of Bracelets £9.50 at M&S

Necklace £17.50 at M&S

Tassels were the thing I was least sure about because I’m really not a happy clappy floaty type. However it then occurred to me that you can wrap a tassel scarf or long tassel necklace around your big straw hat and it doesn’t look hippyish at all. I know it’s usually only Victoria Beckham who keeps still enough to wear excessive jewellery on the beach, but this year I am sorely tempted.

Pom Poms

Straw hat £8 at Asda

 

Pack of hair bands £2.99 at H&M

When I said I stopped finding pom poms funny, that’s not strictly true. Pom poms on top of pom poms and pom poms stuck on top of boobs are still utterly bizarre for a grown-up in my opinion but add them to accessories and they’re quintessentially summer 2017.

It’s been an amazing summer in London so far so the plethora of citrus fruits and fluffy appendages are appropriate somehow therefore I won’t be waiting until I hit Spain to put on my pom pom sandals. Besides, if you can’t pluck up the courage to go around looking like a pina colada when you’re in your forties, when can you? Last day of term finally, have a lovely juicy weekend everyone!

 

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All White Now

It’s Day 4. Andy Murray is safely through to the third round and there’s already been at least one ‘who’s got the shiniest bouncy hair in the spectators’ box?’ article in the national press. Welcome to Wimbledon fortnight ladies and gentlemen – thirteen days of bronzed rippling muscles, the world’s most expensive strawberries and Clare Balding’s open air studio-proof hair. So far the elements have been kind and there hasn’t been too much in the way of upset, in fact if anything, with a handful of Brits still standing as we approach the middle weekend, it’s looking unnervingly good.

2016 Serena – her style will be missed this year

Consequently the biggest news story has been the snipping off of several inches of Kate Middleton’s chestnut tresses and her Dolce & Gabbana spotted dress (what, the future queen and patron of the AELTC wearing Italian designers? Outrage!). However before the end of this week I hope to have seen a suited and booted Bradley Cooper in the royal box and at least one first generation Beckham.

Everything else has been done with tennis balls – Debenhams in Wimbledon

I live in South West London where Wimbledon fever starts in mid June. I can’t avoid getting excited as every shop and restaurant within five miles of the All England Lawn Tennis Club dangle balls and strawberries in their windows and claim ownership of Andy Murray. I love it. I’m rubbish at tennis so I just watch it. As regular followers of this blog will know, I’m a big fan of the predominantly white rule at this tournament, its Ralph Lauren style one of the many things that sets it apart as arguably the best dressed tournament on the circuit. You don’t hear the players moaning that white kit shows all the dirt so I’ve decided that secretly they all love it. This year, I’m going a step further and encouraging this same rule.

Controversial I know. but hear me out because the more I see of it the more I believe that for all the ‘I’ve got small children and it’s soo impractical/What if I spill red wine down my front’ arguments against, there are just as many reasons for it and you don’t not wear knitwear because it shrinks easily/gets eaten by moths/goes bobbly on the boob do you? Head to toe white looks really fresh and surprisingly effortless – white goes with everything and a variation of it suits everyone, especially in the summer. I admit winter whites are challenging but summer whites are stylish, simple and classy – it didn’t stop you wearing white Levi’s as a teen did it? No it didn’t, so give it a go.

I’ve picked four lovely street style looks which can be recreated without too much bother with pieces you may even have in your wardrobe already but wouldn’t think (or dare) to put together. All can be worn at work (no sticky fingers there unless you’re a nursery teacher or erm, an ice-cream van man) and all will transition from daytime to evening with some finishing touches such as statement earrings or colour pop shoes (see last blog!)

The pretty white dress should be a staple in any summer arsenal, how you style it is up to you. The pieces above will work with flip flops and a pompom basket bag but also dressed up with delicate necklaces and bracelets and embellished shoes.

Finally, there’s no doubt that Wimbledon without Serena Williams is a rather halfhearted Wimbledon in terms of sartorial interest (she’s still training but at six months gone even she can’t shift around a court as she might like). Hopefully next year she’ll be back, aces a-plenty and baby in kit bag, to wow us with her power and unique accessories styling. In the meantime, I’d like to think that if Serena Williams was a shirt, she’d be this amazing one from River Island…

Ruffle shirt £45 at River Island

Have a great weekend everyone. Go Andy…

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How To Put A Spring In Your Step

 

For once in my overly verbal existence, I’m going to get straight to the point with a little game…

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE!

Anyone? OK, I know the dresses are different styles but apart from that?

What about this one?

Can you see it now?

Shoes. They make all the difference. There’s nothing wrong with the nude shoes on the model on the left in the floral dress but how much more interesting is the very similar look with bright blue sandals added? Kate Middleton rarely puts a foot wrong with her outfits except that she tends to play it extraordinarily safe when accessorising. And yet this is the simplest way to personalise a sensible look or make something run of the mill look that little bit more memorable.

This summer shoes are more fabulous and more varied than ever before in the history of feet. Whether you like a flip flop or a sky scraper heel, canvas or embellishment, there is something out there for you. What’s more it’s probably now reduced in the end of season sales too. Stick to your favoured style if you must (it’s sticky out there, you’ve got to be comfortable, I get it) but inject a splash of colour to the mix. You may get lucky like Kate and find the perfect pair of red shoes to go with your red dress but it’d be far less predictable to go for bright blue or purple instead. The unexpected pop of colour in her white ensemble was probably a way of avoiding the dreaded white stiletto headlines, but in choosing red accessories Kate’s look is fresh and contemporary and so much better than the slippery shoe slope she very nearly disappeared down at the start of her marriage:

Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles (or whatever their names are now)

When something has become the royal staple, it’s time to move on. Besides no-one wants to be wearing the same shoes as their mother-in-law do they? There’s nothing offensive about this look, it’s just so ‘meh’ and if I was marking KM I’d feel obliged to write must try harder alongside this photograph. Unless the aim is to appear as if you don’t actually have feet and that your legs just taper off into a toe-less stump (much like Barbie’s nipple-free boobs) in which case fine; excellent work.

Shoes are far enough away from your face (usually) for you to get away with experimenting with a colour you’d never normally feel comfortable with. For me that would be an orange or bright yellow. Very convenient indeed as there are loads of orange and yellow shoes on the high street just begging to be paired with a boring pair of blue jeans or a sensible grey shift dress.

The colour pop works for all ages and all outfits, from workwear to beachwear (shout out to my very stylish friend Dina who even wore bright red shoes with her ivory wedding gown – and she’s a head teacher so there). Once you’ve popped your first acid bright, black boots and navy shoes will seem sooo dull, you’ll never look back.

Also – and this isn’t really the sort of thing I should say as a personal stylist – but if you’re having a bad hair/face/mum tum day then drawing attention to your eye-catchingly shod feet is an excellent idea all round, in addition to making you smile every time you look down. Just look how chuffed Alison and Reese look!

And if that doesn’t make you smile, then  just take a look at the shoes I’ve ordered myself from the ASOS sale…. I’m not joking I really have…

Embellished shoes reduced to £31.50 at asos.com

Have a fabulous weekend lovely readers!

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Check It Out

Inevitably as winter makes way for spring, patterned fabrics take centre stage. I’m not naturally drawn to prints – I’ve only recently invested in a Breton top – but that’s largely because I fear patterned clothes present more problems than they solve. This season there are many prints to choose from but interestingly the stripes and florals have made way for a print so loaded with connotation it makes the polka dot seem new-fangled.

Gingham.

What does it make you think of? Tablecloths in Italian restaurants? Primary school uniform? Whatever the image in your head, gingham doesn’t tend to be associated with grown up stuff or, you know, being taken seriously. Now I may not be one for patterns but I’m all over a girly garment best saved for toddlers; tutus, ribbons and ballet shoes, I’ll give it a go. I’m a forty something mum but for some reason I struggle to contain the desire for dressing like a fairy – I went to my sister’s wedding looking like Glinda, the Good Witch of the South and I’m on the look out for another occasion to get that pink sequin number out again.

Gingham appeared on the runways back in 2015 but over a year on and it’s coming into its own. It’s not just for teenagers either. I’ll admit I bought my New Look red and white gingham platforms back in March because at £34.99 it wasn’t a total disaster if the trend was over by summer, but now it’s June and  I find myself tempted to go the whole nine yards with a dress or a pair of trousers. You can do gingham too and you should, you really should. Here’s your check list (heehee!) of how to wear this season’s must-have print and still look like an adult:

Workwear

Stick to a smaller check in black and white if you prefer a more conservative look for work. Neat monochrome gingham is timeless and looks really fresh with a crisp white shirt and black accessories.

Tops

This is where you can afford a hint of frivolity and the sleeve is a no-brainer for all ages this season. All these tops will work as beautifully with jeans or white trousers as a pencil or midi skirt.

Evening

In the summer, a more relaxed approach to party wear is fine. While gingham is by definition more of a daytime fabric, dressed up with heels, this season’s neat white jacket and/or statement earrings these dresses will look effortless.

Shoes

If you buy one thing in gingham in 2017 make it shoes. Gorgeously girly and yet not too Doris Day worn with boyfriend jeans or a white trouser suit, they will update your look instantly and for less than the price of a tank of petrol.

It’s been a fairly crazy twenty four hours and I didn’t go to bed until 3am  so I will bid you a lovely weekend. I’m off to meet some friends for lunch in the local Italian, here’s hoping I don’t match the table cloths.

 

My new personal styling website is now live, take a look and let me know what you think!

http://www.emilystott.net

 

 

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How To Get The Most Out of Your Maxi

Maxi dresses have come in for a bit of flack over the last few years. Some of it is justified and for that I blame the empire line cheese cloth look (I’m trying really hard not to use the word ‘hippy’) because for a fleeting moment, for those of us easily sucked in (me), it was soo tempting. All those hazy pictures of flat chested sun kissed girls running barefoot through long grass with daisies in their hair and bits of string artfully tied around their necks. Oh yes, I can do that on a budget I thought, I know how to make that translate in Clapham Junction. No matter that this was the early noughties, I couldn’t possibly do no bra and despite the abundance of commons in South West London, run about barefoot on any of them and you risk all manner of things none of which look good. And when I say run, what I actually did was walk very carefully because as every lady knows, you don’t run when wearing a strapless bra.

However, a few years ago I took a second look at the maxi dress – cleverly re-tagged as the midi dress – because really who knows where the cut-off is, if you’re under 5’4 then a midi is a maxi. I decided to revisit since there’s no getting away from the fact that a long dress in the summer is just so darned useful isn’t it? I made a big announcement on Instagram last week that I was about to fake tan my legs (I know, it was a slow day) and a week on I still haven’t got around to it. Enter the long dress. I happened to have bought a really lovely one in H&M earlier this year and I have big plans for it; it’s got sleeves and a bit of shape so I was off to a good start.

So yes, I do think a long summer dress is a good idea as long as you find one which is right for your shape. It’s not always easy as the empire look is still there to trip you up but unless you are a triangle shape (for which voluminous will work nicely) you will tend to look pregnant. It’s just not a good look, especially if you are not six. The afore-mentioned H&M number I bought has since sold out which is a shame but I talked at least two friends into buying it so sorry about that. There are still a couple of similar styles available there though so all is not lost. Now for the important bit – how to style your maxi/midi. You’re going to look cool in your long floaty dress, I promise you!

  1. Belt Up

A no-brainer, an instant update and stops you looking like a performing arts teacher from the ’80s. Currently, I’d go for a belt on the thin side. Personally I find a worn-in tan leather belt the most versatile.  Belt your cardi for a look that’s oh so summer 2017.

2. Get Shirty

I have been putting fitted shirts under my sleeveless work dresses for decades. For exactly the same reason – you’ll get more wear out of it – I recommend doing the same now. If it’s just not that warm or you fear exposing too much skin then stick a plain white tee or a pretty lightweight blouse underneath and you’re good to go. Not only is it practical it’s very modern (for now).

3. Keep Your Jeans On

I wasn’t sure about this trend the first time around but thanks to Instagram I’m a convert now. Ideal with this season’s long shirt dresses which can be unbuttoned to your heart’s content, it’s also the perfect solution if the fabric of your dress is see-through. This may not be the fashionista’s view, but keep the jeans slimline or you’ll end up looking like one of those toddlers who dress themselves because mummy has lost the will to live.

4. Dress Down

Clearly a long dress can be eveningy and glam, that’s not clever. Dressing it down perhaps takes a little more thought. I love a denim jacket for many reasons (you’ll get so much bang for your buck with this item for one) but in London it’s practically the law. I simply don’t know why you wouldn’t. It transcends size, gender, fads and yes, even age. I wore my dad’s Wrangler denim jacket for years as a teenager. If you haven’t got a denim jacket, why not?

Naturally now I’ve said all that about adding extra layers it’s now freakishly hot in London but you never know when all this might come in useful. Have a great bank holiday weekend lovely readers – for the first time ever in the history of bank holidays it looks like it’s going to be fine so wear those dresses while you can!

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You Wear The Trousers

The question I am asked the most after the one about dresses with sleeves (see last blog) is where can I find the best cut trousers? This is huge and my heart sinks slightly because you really can’t answer helpfully without first checking out the enquirer’s bottom half. It’s a tricky one for three reasons:

a) The cut of trousers depends very much on your shape.

b) Once you’ve taken into consideration the current trends and comfort (or perhaps just how much discomfort you are prepared to tolerate), it may feel like there is very little choice other than leggings.

c) Trousers are not jeans; trousers are for grown ups and in my experience  for formal or workwear and therefore not exciting to shop for. Rarely does one consider trousers when trying to appear one’s most sexy self. Now I feel bad for trousers, maybe trousers need better P.R. Doesn’t ‘trousers’ sound weird when you read it out loud repeatedly?

So back to the point… assuming you don’t want to resort to leggings or chinos, (both have worryingly sneaked back onto the fashion radar this season) how do you identify the perfect trouser for you? Each season there seems to be more choice than ever and that never helps matters. The wide leg has got wider and the difference between trousers and skirts has blurred even more with the term ‘culotte’ rather overused. FYI a culotte is ‘knee or calf length trousers cut with full legs to resemble a skirt’. If you want to look like you’re wearing a skirt then I’m going to presume you would wear a skirt. I have nothing against culottes, in fact I have two pairs but they are not the answer to this particular question. Here are the body shapes, the best cuts for those shapes and the tried and tested (by me) brands I think you should go for.

Triangles (bigger bottom half)

If you want to play down your juicy lower portion, then my advice is to keep it dark in colour and avoid heavy patterns. For summer, go for a lightweight fabric which skims rather than clings and either avoid pockets at the side or sew them up so there is no excess bulk or sticky-outy bits at the hips. A slim leg is best, not too skinny and not overly boot-cut. Banana Republic does excellent trousers, the best of which are made in their ‘Sloan’ fabric, a stretchy fabric that holds you in and is ultra flattering. This style at Cos is one of their staples as it is so popular, it comes in a variety of colours and like the Sloan, it seems to suck you in beautifully.

Rectangles (straight up and down)

Lucky rectangular shapes can be bang on trend this summer as the so-called ‘paper bag’ trousers are the thing. Loose in the leg and bunched in at the waist they create the illusion of a more curvy hip and therefore a waist. You can opt for a heavier fabric and no worries about pockets for you lot! Next do really lovely slouchy but smart trousers in a decent quality fabric. This style comes in petite, regular and tall and goes up to a size 20 – don’t forget you can still be rectangular no matter what size you are. Rectangles can also happily rock a flare or wide leg too. We don’t hate you at all.

Hourglass (ample bust and hips, in at the waist)

Hourglass figures have hips so don’t go adding bulk by plumping for trousers with tucks or bunching at the waist. For a smooth and flattering silhouette without overspill make sure you have a mid rise rather than a low rise and favour a slim or straight cut leg. As an hourglass of whatever size, you are in proportion already so work with what you naturally have. If you’re a tall hourglass then a wide leg in a floaty fabric will work too. Hip online boutique FineryLondon does a great range of trousers the most flattering of which is the Ackland trouser, a steal at £55.

Circles (larger around the middle with slimmer limbs)

If you want to draw attention away from your tummy then choosing the right top is just as important as the type of trousers for circle physiques. The good news is your slim legs can carry off a pattern and/or a lighter colour but keep it muted and plain on top. Try a style with a stripe down the side, there are lots about but Mos Mosh cut their trousers beautifully. Avoid wide legs, a slim cut will be much more flattering. If you are a decent height opt for cropped to showcase your ankles with a fabulous shoe.

Now is a great time to do a trouser edit as we finally transition from winter to spring. Be brutal – you may think those voluminous pull-on white linen trousers that looked so good on holiday in 1998 will tick the pyjama style trend in 2017  but trust me they absolutely won’t. You’ll just look like you’re wearing tired old linen (silly stuff, linen) trousers from 1998. Send them back there.

Have a great weekend lovely readers!

My book ‘Shopped’ has more tips for successful dressing and is available here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=emily+stott+shopped

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