Tagged as: shopping tips

Capsule Wardrobe Tips – Invest in a denim jacket


One item of clothing I recommend to ALL clients when I’m sorting out their wardrobes, giving them capsule wardrobe tips and compiling a shopping list of key items to invest in is a denim jacket. It works for everyone; young or old; skinny or curvy, classic or romantic dresser. It’s an integral part of a summer wardrobe and can be worn year round. If you don’t have one – I highly recommend that you invest in one and here’s why…

  • It goes with everything… .colour, neutrals, patterns, plains, florals, stripes, metallics….denim is the ultimate neutral – just as jeans are. Who wouldn’t want a jacket that will go with absolutely everything in your wardrobe? My tip would be that if you are fair or redhead go for a mid blue colour and if you are brunette or darker go for a dark blue or indigo wash.


  • They are inexpensive. My current denim jacket is from the Gap outlet shop at the Braintree retail outlet. It cost less than £25. I wear it year after year throughout the spring and summer meaning that the cost per wear is down to pennies. This is the mark of a great and useful of clothing within a capsule wardrobe. There is definitely no need to spend any more than £40.


  • They keep you warm. Unfortunately, this is critical during a British summer. An ideal item to take on your holiday abroad too as they are perfect for before and during the flight and can be balled up in a bag once you land in warmer climes and will look as good as new once you shake it out.


  • They work with all styles of clothing; maxi skirts and dresses, knee length (or shorter) dresses and skirts, shorts, trousers, palazzo pants,jeans..whatever you want!  One word of warning…if you do do double denim just check in the mirror before you go out that the double denim is working as there is a fine line between looking good and looking like an aging rocker!


  • A useful item for layering in the spring and summer underneath a sleeveless waistcoat, gillet or leather jacket.


  • A youthful look for all ages without running the risk of looking like mutton.


  • Can get in a variety of colours and washes – there will be something for everyone. The most versatile colours will be a mid or dark blue in a standard wash.. these will stand the test of time and trends. If money is less of an issue then by all means invest in a denim jacket with ruffles or embroidery but prepare for it to be out of fashion within the year.


  • They wash well and will last for years. I find mine wear out and get all faded long before I have tired of them.


  • It’s best to buy a size smaller than you are as the snug fit is the look you are after and it’s unlikely you will be wearing it done up.As long as it fits on the arms it’s definitely best to go down a size. The trend right now is for oversized styles but this is a passing trend so I would always recommend the snug fit than the slightly baggy to oversized…within a few months it will look odd.


Other places to source a classic and inexpensive denim jacket right now would be:

capsule wardrobe tips

Gap Denim Jacket £39







I need a Personal Shopper? – Shopping Skills for the Mid life Woman

i need a personal shopper


A bit of mid life background!! 

In recent years there have been a multitude of articles stating that the high street doesn’t cater for the middle aged woman. As recently as yesterday India Knight (who I love) bemoaned the UK high street in her column in the Sunday Times magazine. After having taken many middle aged women personal shopping  ( I hate that expression middle aged – it seems to imply a frumpy woman who has lost all purpose and style in life –  but for the purposes of this blog I will say that it covers the age range 39-64)  I can categorically state that whilst there isn’t any shop that is expressly targeting the 40+ woman, that within every high street retailer there will be pieces that work for us.

Typically the clients who I shop with , my friends and acquaintances and myself… all in the mid-life bracket (that sounds better than middle aged) have the below body issues…this is certainly not an exhaustive list but some of the key issues that come up time and again…

  1. typically have had children and therefore have the mum tum as a badge of honour often complete with stretch marks. If not a mum tum then certainly a menopausal tum..In any event its a tummy that needs camouflaging.
  2. tops of the arms starting to sag
  3. a morbid fear of getting their legs out – citing their “pasty white flesh” (their words) as unsightly unless masked with fake tan
  4. a belief that there is nothing available for the 40+ woman to purchase
  5. a fear of getting it wrong and looking like mutton
  6. a general lack of awareness of the colours and styles that suit them (unless they have had a session with me)


Why I find personal shopping easy for both myself and for my clients

However, I am a 44 year old woman with a mum tum, heavy thighs and long monkey arms. Yes I’m tall which does give some advantages but if you have met me you might disagree that I have the above issues but isn’t that the point of what I do – to disguise the bad and flatter the good?

Anyway despite the above body challenges I find it easy to shop and find things that I like and that suit me – be it from John Lewis, a pop up preloved sale or a charity shop. Sometimes I wish I didn’t find it so easy..my credit card would thank me!

I find it easy purely because I:

  • know my colouring and understand what colours suit me and why I have to step away from black and bright colours
  • understand my body shape – the good and the bad
  • get my lifestyle and the impact it has on my wardrobe and shopping choices..i.e. there’s no point browsing cute tailored jackets in shops or on line as I don’t have any need to wear them however much I might like them.
  • am aware of my budget and what I will and won’t spend money on – yes to handbags and shoes, no to tops and jeans
  • appreciate my natural style – I like a lot of denim, statement jewellery pieces, heels at times, stripes and clean lines with only a bit of pattern from time to time. I also like wearing current trends when they suit me and are appropriate to my lifestyle

The same applies to my clients. Obviously ones I have worked with prior to going shopping I know well. However, even with clients who I just meet to shop with, I can find out the above information which gives me a good starting point as to what they should be buying and wearing.


A typical shopping trip

I start off in Monsoon, head over to Warehouse, All Saints (if the client can wear cool colours), Dune, Cos, Kurt Geiger, Hobbs, John Lewis, Clarks, Apricot, Zara, Next and M&S. Possibly popping into Dorothy Perkins and H&M if we have time. Online I would peruse Boden, Finery (also available in John Lewis), Me & Em, Baukjen, Uterque and &Other Stories.

My clients have ranged from early 30’s to late 60’s, from 5 feet to 6 feet from size 6-8 to size 18 and every single shopping trip we have found items of clothing in the shops that work for the client’s budget, colouring,bodyshape, lifestyle and style preference

How to apply this to you – do I need a personal shopper?

  • Get a colour and style analysis done – if not with me then another personal stylist or at least self diagnose using online tools.
  • Decide your budget
  • Evaluate your lifestyle; what do you wear for work and for leisure
  • Sort out your wardrobe and then decide what gaps there are and start making a shopping list of items to purchase.
  • If you have any events coming up – do you need to buy something to wear or can you wear an existing item and refresh by buying new accessories
  • Follow my shopping guide as a starting point (this actually follows the layout of Westfield Stratford but could apply to any large city centre)
  • Accessories are an easy starting point to add colour and interest to your wardrobe. If you see an item of jewellery or scarf that you know will work for you then buy it. You can make an outfits with it in due course.
  • A great pair of  shoes adds instant oompf to your outfit – especially coloured or patterned ones
  • Invest in metallic accessories. Silver or pewter if you are cool skinned and yellow gold and copper if you are warmed skinned. Rose gold suits everyone.
  • Keep abreast of trends by either subscribing to a woman’s magazine like Red, Woman & Home or Good Housekeeping or following a  fashion blogger who actually wears outfits that could be worn in the real world of Essex/Suffolk. I like NotDressedAsLamb and The Edited


So to summarise this is not a exhaustive how to clear out your wardrobe and go shopping but more a rebuff to the constant articles that state there is nothing to buy if you are 40+. My empirical evidence of my shopping experiences with clients and shopping for myself lead me to definitely state that the UK high street ,both off and online is a fantastic place to source clothes and we are very lucky to have easy and immediate access to it. If you follow my tips in – how does this apply to you do I need a personal shopper? – you should find finding the right clothing items to purchase much easier and overall shopping should become a pleasurable experience. Obviously I would love to work with you to take you personal shopping but if you follow the above tips you should have more than enough skills to be your own personal shopper and stage your own successful shopping trip.

Don’t believe me or have any comments.. I’d love to hear from you!


Stylish Women’s Trainers for 2017


stylish womens trainers

Am sure you have a pair of ancient converse somewhere in the depths of your wardrobe or cloakroom and possibly even a pair of white Stan Smith-esque trainers.. certainly the trainer of choice of the discerning woman in 2016.  However, what if you want a pair of stylish women’s trainers that aren’t white? White trainers may be the choice of the fashion blogger but they certainly aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I have been toying with the idea of a pair of white trainers for months but white isn’t quite my colour of choice for my footwear especially as I have size 7 feet and think they could make my feet look bigger..Also is a box fresh white pair of trainers really the look I’m looking for? Whilst umming and aahing I have been looking around online and in shops for other cool and stylish women’s  trainer options and have created a quick list of stylish trainers I would most certainly consider if I don’t settle on the Stan Smith or maybe as well as…my podiatrist would certainly be happy if I started wearing trainers most of the time!!

The price point on some of the trainers is quite high but if you wear them several times this spring and summer and the same the following the year the cost per wear will be quite low and therefore probably worth the spend especially if you love them!


stylish womens trainers

Bussey – Air and Grace – £139


The Bussey Trainer from Air and Grace. Retailing at £139 – it comes in 5 different colourways including my personal favourite rose gold shown here.  The two metallic options are out of stock right now but more stock coming in March and you can sign up for an alert when they restock. A metallic shoe or trainer is always a good option as it will go with everything much as black, white or navy footwear would.


stylish womens trainers

Essentiel Antwerp £145

Belgium brand which can be found online at www.essentiel-antwerp.com or on sale at local Colchester boutique Simply Living. The leaf print is really unusual and would work really well for someone with autumn colouring.The platform sole and pull on design make them a really stylish option.


stylish womens trainers

J Lindberg – £145

Found on Atterley.com website. These have the 3 velcro straps similar to Stan Smiths but come in 3 colour ways – blush, bright blue and white and are made in Italian suede..hence the high price.


stylish womens trainers

Rose Rankin – £189


Found on the Collen and Clare website and also available in their shops in Suffolk and Norfolk this pull on chelsea boot trainer is quite unusual and the stars make them really quirky. A very high price but if you wear and wear them for a few years worth the money. As  they are a metallic colour they will go with everything.

Stylish womens trainers

Ash Virgin boot – various prices

A long time favourite of mine. I have the taupe pair which are now so battered I have replaced them with a metallic colour in the sale. Really useful for all eventualities and the Ash sale is always fantastic with discounts as high as 70%. Have a look at their current sale items here. The Virgin Ash boot comes in multiple colours so take your pick. I have recommended this trainer boot as an essential item to several clients and none have been disappointed in terms of comfort, style, use and value for money.


stylish womens trainers

Office – Fluffy Pompom Trainers – £38



This cheap and cheerful option from Office  is really good value for money and come in off white, grey and pink. The pompom is very now but they can be removed once the trend passes.

stylish womens trainers

Vagabond Pink Trainers- £75


Found on Urban Outfitters website and comes in pink and black.


Obviously there are loads of trendy trainersque shoes on the high street and online from places such as Office, Schuh and Dune but this selection is hopefully items that you won’t necessarily find  on the high street..something a little bit different to consider buying.

Follow up

For any questions about this blog or to contact me to find out how I could help you dress well call 07500 443974. If you like this blog please share with your friends and/or comment and to get regular updates on  what to buy and how to wear it please like my facebook business page and subscribe to my regular newsletter on my homepage.

Personal Shopping comes to Town (Colchester Comes Good!)


shopping personal shopper

Fenwicks, Colchester


Having moved to Colchester from greater London six years ago I was underwhelmed by the shopping opportunities here and rarely shopped in the town unless I saw something whilst running errands. I certainly wasn’t taking anyone personal shopping in town – apart from the odd brief trip to Williams & Griffin (as was).

Fast forward to autumn 2016 and I am happy to say that it’s an altogether different shopping experience now. The new and improved Fenwicks has been launched which now has some great new concessions including Mint Velvet, Eileen Fisher and All Saints to name just a few, plus the welcome return of Great Plains which has long been a favourite of mine. In the beauty hall Bobbi Brown, Jo Malone and Charlotte Tilbury now feature. The handbag and scarf sections are new, improved and quite extensive in terms of brands and ranges. Every autumn they hold two 20% off shopping days or evenings plus events and offers throughout the year so it is definitely worth getting on their mailing list if you haven’t already signed up.

The newly opened Fanny and Frank on Crouch Street is a welcome addition to the street and the town. Sister shop of branches in Woodbridge and Saffron Walden it offers contemporary classics; knits, jeans, boots, bags and accessories from a number of Scandinavian,Dutch and Italian brands such as Gestuz. Munthe, Ricke, Day Birger Et Mikklesen, Oska and Ottod’ame to name just a few. Service is always very friendly and they will be holding bi-annual fashion shows at their premises.

Simply Living – the successful clothing offshoot from the interiors shop offers clothing at a slightly higher price point than some of the other boutiques. Also, on Crouch Street it has offerings from labels such as Marlene Birger, Second Female, Velvet and accessories from Coccinelle.

No 27 – my personal favourite of all of Colchester’s boutiques. Located at the bottom end of Crouch Street towards the town centre. Offering a  lovely jewellery selection, accessories and bags and contemporary items from Great Plains, French Connection and Twisted Muse amongst others. New stock is brought in on a weekly basis which keeps their stock very fresh. They also have a great jewellery and accessories selection.

Belle Love on Eld Lane and Frippery on Issacs Walk both sell contemporary knits, tops and dresses alongside super stylish accessories, bags and jewellery and all at very inexpensive price points. Frippery also does a great range of home and giftwares.. I defy you to walk out of there empty handed.. I know I never do. They also sell online.

Tilly’s Boutique on Head Street(just down from the Odeon) offers a great range of day and evening clothing ranging from tops to dresses to trousers and coats. An excellent selection of bags, accessories and jewellery is also available and all at similar price points to Belle Love and Frippery. I bought a bronze metallic top (shown below) which looks great over a long sleeved t-shirt for day or alone for night. I have worn it loads and it was only £24. I will definitely be returning to make more purchases. Tilly’s Boutique also has a good online offering..making their shopping experience even more appealing.


shopping personal shopper

Top – Tilly’s Boutique

Like what you have read? Why not use my quick guide to see what the local boutiques have to offer and you never know you may find that perfect Christmas Day or Christmas party outfit.

Follow up

For any questions about this blog or to contact me to find out how I could help you dress well call 07500 443974. If you like this blog please share with your friends and/or comment and to get regular updates on  what to buy and how to wear it please like my facebook business page and subscribe to my regular newsletter on my homepage.

5 Best Places to shop if you are over 40!

styles for women over 40styles for women over 40styles for women over 40


A quick guide to where best to shop for styles for women over 40.

I know I am constantly saying this but the high street or non-designer shops in the UK is the best in the world for shopping and we are very lucky to be able to access all the shopping centres and shopping areas in the London region, relatively easily and quickly from Essex and Suffolk.

There are great clothes to be found for all shapes, sizes and ages and style preferences in supermarkets, low end cheap and cheerful shops to vintage and second hand and charity shops and all the way up to high end high street shops –  especially when you know what suits you. There are a string of main stream high street shops that I would recommend to all ages beyond 30 including H&M, Zara, Monsoon, Kurt Geiger, Wallis, Primark and Dorothy Perkins. However, what I am often asked  is where the shops are that specifically cater for the 40+ market.  As this is the demographic I myself now belong to and the demographic of my target client, this is definitely a question I should be addressing.

A brief search on line whilst researching this blog reveals a handful of articles about 40+ shopping but nothing particularly recent and nothing really tangible to use to write this article.  I have therefore decided to use solely my own empirical experience from shopping with clients to build this list of where to shop if you are over 40.



Definitely edging away from work wear and now offering a range of clothing for women not necessarily looking for a conventional suit and shirt for work. Hobbs offers a great colour range, modern and more classic cuts, good discounts and excellent customer service. Changing rooms are spacious, cuts are well designed to flatter tummies and arms with skirt and dress lengths just so. Styles do tend to be more structured but looser/draper styles are increasingly available. This is a place I always take my clients (who are virtually all in the 40+ bracket) and we always come away with a purchase (or several). Clients have ranged from 5ft to almost 6ft and from size 8 to size 16 and all these shapes and sizes have been well catered for. Jewellery, scarves, shoes and bags are tasteful elegant but still modern. It often has discounts on and is available at Braintree outlet where discounts are sizeable. An absolute winner! There is currently 30% off many styles now too.


Phase Eight

On many people’s radars but often dismissed as being mumsy or only for weddings. This is most definitely not the case. Excellent colour range particularly for those with muted colouring and excellent jewellery selection. Really strong in jumpsuits and dresses and skirts with ruching and draping on cross or wrap tops which help flatter and sculpt the tummy area. Sleeves on many tops are also designed to flatter and disguise. The selection of dresses online is quite incredible…. I defy you not to find a dress that you like!  Florals appear as do stripes and plains in abundance.  Sizing is on the generous size and Phase Eight can be found as stand alone shops and in department stores. The shop is in constant discount mode which is always appealing and currently has 50% off many items as it’s  summer sale has started. It can also be found at the Braintree outlet with everything massively reduced. The brand is let down by its shoe and bag styles which only seem to come  in outdated “summer wedding” styles but hopefully this will improve over time.


John Lewis

My personal favourite shop. A joy for make-up, home wear and food and of course clothing. I am particularly excited about the opening of John Lewis in Chelmsford later this year. The swimwear and underwear department is always very strong. With the former having a great selection of one pieces and tankinis that work well to disguise tummies. Also, a great selection of cover-ups, beach bags and sun hats. Excellent scarves and jewellery with the handbag and shoe department more than adequate although not a patch on my personal favourite Kurt Geiger. The great thing about John Lewis is the range of concessions it offers all under one roof. Along with Phase Eight and Hobbs – also Jigsaw , Whistles and Mint Velvet which are  strong for the over 40 woman and in house brand KIN which I really like. For event wear, Damsel in a Dress has some great pieces and even Warehouse, Karen Millen and French Connection can sometimes deliver. The reasonable pricing, large changing rooms and helpful service in the changing rooms and regular price matching of other department stores offers makes it a very positive shopping experience. Again, somewhere I take my clients for shopping without fail and it always delivers.



There is always something to be found in M&S  for every demographic. Good pricing, quality and washability and after a rocky few years think they are now making moves in the right direction with regard to their clothing. I would particularly recommend Autograph which mixes up classic tailoring with the latest fashion trends.  Styles can be quite structured and “worky” but despite that there is always something worth buying which has a modern edge but is still appropriate for a woman in her 40’s and upwards. The pallet tends to be neutral but that then makes it easier to mix these items into your existing wardrobe. Thought given to the tummy and upper arms areas. Items can also often be found in Limited and Indigo is good for denim. Even in the Classic of Per Una ranges the odd good item can be found but by and large stick to Autograph and you won’t go far wrong. A trip to M&S is nearly always an integral part of my shopping trips and always delivers too!



A new kid on the block. This recently established brand is the brain child of Nanya McIntosh who previously worked for M&S in the Per Una brand. She has set this company up specifically with the 40+ woman in mind and sells clothing through pop up shops at people’s houses hosted by trained stylists ( similar to the way Stella & Dot is run).  Clothing can also be bought on line through the website.  All clothing is made in the UK or Italy mainly from natural fabrics so whilst not cheap the quality is definitely there. Worth buying less but buying better!  The range offers clothing, underwear, accessories and jewellery and has good on line discounts.  The colour range is wide so there should be something that appeals to everyone. Clothing is specifically cut to drape tummies – nearly always a pain point for women who have had kids and/or coming up to the menopause and also styles are cut to bear arm issues in mind. The majority of styles are plain fabric which makes for ease when dressing up with jewellery or scarves or other accessories. All styles are drapey to softly cocoon the body and show off our asset areas not make us feel that we are having to squeeze into styles that don’t suit or flatter us. Styles are modern but timeless – a difficult act to pull off but I think Hope has achieved that.  My personal favourites from the brand are the cocoon and wrap tops and the leather front stretch trousers.


Follow up

For any questions about this blog or to contact me to find out how I could help you dress well call 07500 443974. If you like this blog please share with your friends and/or comment and to get regular updates on  what to buy and how to wear it please like my facebook business page and subscribe to my monthly newsletter on my homepage.