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What is 'smart / casual' dressing anyway?

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Do you hate the term 'smart / casual'? Do you know how to wear 'smart / casual'?

There are many dates in our diary, days of the week or events in our life where the term 'smart / casual' is applicable. Getting your outfit right for the occasion is something alot of you struggle with as it's normally top of the list for most of my clients. Whether it be for going to work everyday in an office environment, a Christening, a dinner date or meeting, or you just want to change up your style for everyday, 'smart / casual' dressing just got a whole lot easier.

For the past couple of seasons trends have been shifting so that more casual attire has become smarter. The new rules are now the old rules, because creativity rules! Street style watchers will know suiting is firmly back on the fashion agenda for spring, but that doesn’t mean the same old black blazer and fitted pants. Suits have become brighter, checked or pinstripe and matching. That's not to say that the humble blazer doesn't play a part, this piece is an important part of your wardrobe and no doubt I will be buying more than one this season to change up every outfit that I wear. A simple dress and opaque tights just won't cut it anymore, style a spotty midi dress with this season's must-have jacket the trench, belt at the waist and the soft fabric means it's no longer smart and structured but more relaxed and understated. It's no longer about black, white and navy, liven up your work-wear or smarten up your day look with some eye catching colour. Red and pink are current favourites to give your outfit some serious colour clash, but blues and greens can be easier and softer on the eye if you don't want to stand out from the crowd too much. Lastly take the plunge and grab a jumpsuit and take away the worry about what goes with what. I feel it is my job on this earth to persuade any remaining resisters as to the power of the jumpsuit. Jumpsuits are a versatile all-rounder, whilst being the most youth-endowing item of clothing you can wear as you get older. Want to look both stylish and cool for day or evening then a jumpsuit should be your go-to wardrobe staple.

What better way to forget about the cold outside and welcome the in a new week with some new 'smart / casual' pieces for your wardrobe. French connection has an amazing bright pink suit you might be bold enough to try, alternatively if you are looking for a new suit but would rather a check then look at &other stories check suits. For a great choice in blazers then go to &other stories for lots of oversized, longer line grey, check or navy stripe blazers for a fresh new season take on the silhouette. My favourite trench coat I have come by so far is from Kin by John Lewis in navy or khaki, but if you are looking for a stone one then you can't go wrong with this one from Selected Femme. For a great choice of cropped trousers then head over to Zara, they have them in every fabric, cut, colour you can think of and you will be sure to find one that flatters you. Finally if you fancy some floral midi dresses, most high street retailer have an offering, but try Topshop for bright coloured printed dresses and vintage inspired florals that are easy to wear with any jacket styled over the top.

Here is some style and shopping inspiration for everyday of the week and follow my pinterest board - Smart / casual new rules

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The big coat edit

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The clocks have gone back, the nights are darker and it's finally getting chillier! It's not all bad news though as you can now wear your winter coat, scarf and hat and style out the Winter months confidently. The other good news is that there is loads of sales on at the moment so it is the perfect time to buy a new Winter coat for the season.

Coats are a weakness of mine and a good coat can update your style very easily. In the northern hemisphere it also, sadly, happens to be the piece you will end up wearing most from October to March. So with that in mind, it is really important you spend time thinking about what you really need and want out of your coat. Practically speaking, there are two main issues that need to be considered when buying a new coat: one, as this is a big wardrobe purchase (possibly the biggest of the entire year), it has got to be spot on. I’m talking goes with everything, fits like a dream, is warm but not bulky and, importantly, looks a knockout. The second is getting all of that without spending the sort of money that would buy you a small car. Style speaking, think about colour, shape, trend and remember one size does not fit all - you're leopard print fur coat might be someone else's poison!

So to help you here is my AW17 winter coat edit with 5 new season's styles to pick from, including discounts where I could get them! Buy now and you will love wearing it everytime you put it on.

Follow my pinterest board for more coats inspiration - 2017 Coats Style


1. CHECKED COAT

If there is one coat that sums up the season, it’s the double-breasted, checked, tailored style. A smash hit among fashion editors at Paris Fashion Week, this is all about 2017 power dressing. Try Whistles or Zara for crombie check coats or French Connection for smaller checks. This large check coat from Marks and Spencer currently has 20% off if you have a Sparks card.


 

2. RED COAT

Red is the fashionable colour of choice this Autumn and I would suggest that a fabulous coat is one of the easiest ways to wear it. Check out M&S and Jigsaw (its signature wool “Grace” coat is pricey, but something you’d have for ever).  Fantastic for chucking over jeans or a grey jumper, as famous fashion designer Bill Blass once said, “When in doubt, wear red.” This Mango masculine coat is currently in the mid season sale for £39.99 - what a bargin!


 

3. STATEMENT COAT

The beauty of a statement coat is that you can be wearing any old tat underneath it and no one would know. If your coat smiles, the rest of the world smiles along with you. And for this reason, this season’s panache for bold, jazzy coats is great news. If you’re not into the aforementioned red, then have a go at pink (this pink one form Boden has 25% off with code - DW33X4L4), green or colbalt blue. Or there’s my personal favourite, leopard print, always a great statement.


4. TEDDY COAT OR FUR COAT

My vote for comfort coat of the season goes to the bouclé slouch coat, aka “The Teddy”. Knobbly, bobbly and oh so cosy, this has a whiff of the 1960s, but has a very new-season nod to texture. Fur has also made a triumphant season return with this season seeing it being bolder than ever. Fun, colourful and not traditionally classic, faux fur is a great eveningwear alternative that will add a little wow factor to the plainest of looks. Check out Topshop and Zara for their Teddy coat's and Mango for some fun colourful furs. This tabacco number from Warehouse looks very appealing and has currently 30% off it online.

 

5. THE POSH PUFFER

The coat that defined 2016. Although puffer coats might not be quite as significant as this time last year, they are sticking around and for good reason – they are incredibly toasty. If you’re worried about looking like the Michelin Man, then check out Whistles forest green velvet puffer, which is easy on the puff-factor, but still fabulously warm. Currently is on discount on House of Fraser, from £159.00 to £127.20. Or REALLY stand out of a crowd with this metallic gold puffer jacket from &other stories.

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where to find clothes you actually WANT to wear

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Most of what I do as an image consultant is to help clients find their style at a point in their lives where they have grown up, perhaps got married, perhaps had children, perhaps got a good career, perhaps stays at home or perhaps does all of the above but has somehow lost their style way.

Let me introduce you to one of my clients Emma. Emma is 46, smart, funny, opinionated, successful, works hard and earns a decent salary. Emma likes clothes, dislikes her knees in short dresses, has a bit of disposable income to spend on a few luxuries, but isn’t up for blowing her hard-earned cash on "trendy items". Emma thinks spending loads on clothes is borderline madness – she’d rather go on a well-earned two-week holiday with her husband and young kids. 

So where can Emma go shopping to buy that well cut dress for work, jeans and knitwear for the school run, and a few nice tops and accessories for when she goes out with the girls or date night with her husband? Has the high street forgotten about grown-up thirty, forty and fifty somethings?

Like most of us, Emma is far too busy to browse through endless crap online, she isn’t bothered about fashion trends or the latest “must-have” pieces – she just wants to look nice, feel good and not spend loads. Scrolling through thousands of shots of unattractive-looking clothes worn by extremely young models, when there’s homework to monitor, emails to catch up on and family diaries to manage, isn’t exactly a number-one priority. 

We are a nation full of Emma's, we want to look great but don't know where to look to find great clothes for grown-ups. We’ve clearly got a long way to go before the high street sorts itself out but, until that happens, it helps to know where to look for clothes that won’t disappoint.

So to save you time I have done the hard-work for you and I would like to introduce you to my go-to brands that might just make your heart race and I hope to inspire you to indulge on some new clothes that will be right up your style street!


KITRI - https://kitristudio.com/

From a small team of creatives based in London. The brand started from the frustration of not being able to find well-made, distinctive designs without breaking the bank, they set out to create their dream pieces in the hope that other women will love them too. Great use of colour and fabrics, strong eveningwear collection containing timeless stylish pieces that flatter women's figures.


&other stories - https://www.stories.com/gb/

Founded in 2010 by a small group of creatives, & Other Stories grew from the wish to give women the freedom of expression through one brand. A one stop styling destination with collections from Paris, Stockholm and Los Angeles. From classic prints on shirts and dresses to the perfect knitwear for all occasions, this brand is top of its game.

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Uterque - https://www.uterque.com/gb/

Uterque is part of the same group as Zara and was originally set up as an accessories brand in 2008. Since it was created, the company has evolved to include a carefully selected Ready To Wear collection in which quality materials and attention to detail are of the utmost importance. Their aim is to sell garments that are made to stand the test of time and are destined to become must-have items for any woman who values quality above all else.


Ganni - http://www.ganni.com/en

GANNI is a Danish fashion brand with a simple mission; To fill a gap in the advanced contemporary market for effortless, easy-to-wear pieces. From the perfect date-night dress to slouchy-chic Sunday knits, they design to please style-obsessed women everywhere. Their Scandinavian heritage is essential to their inspiration and believe passionately in designing quality fashion that can be worn in different ways to suit individual style.

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Why Marks & Spencer should be your shopping destination this season...

Marks & Spencer stripe embroidered long sleeve blouse - £29.90

Marks & Spencer stripe embroidered long sleeve blouse - £29.90

In the trend-driven industry that we occupy, there are a handful of stores on the high street who dominate the market. ZaraH&MTopshop… These brands are the first to mind when in search of the season’s must-have pieces. And for good reason. These fast fashion stores have saved us a pretty penny throughout the years, offering both trend-led designer-inspired pieces as well as wardrobe basics we couldn’t be without. But maybe it's time an 'old' favourite comes back into the fashion front row...

Enter Marks & Spencer.

While it excels in the food department, its clothing range has previously failed to hit the mark among the masses, even after collaborating with fashionista Alexa Chung, her ranges have failed to help it's declining sales. But this year Marks & Spencer has revamped its under-performing clothing section, starting with a Spring/Summer collection which is led by the current bout of trends and style. Featuring statement sleeves, asymmetric skirts, ruffled shirts, an abundance of florals and high-waisted trousers, the SS17 collection is more trend-driven than ever before but at great affordable prices. 

When shopping instore and online recently I am surprised by the amount of items that I want to buy. The it piece of the summer, peasant blouse with embroidery (as I am wearing), was £29.90 and currently sold out (see white version here). Other items I saw and liked were great summer dresses with sleeve and embroidery detailing, a bold stripe skirt, bright coloured blouses great for work and evening, and also some fabulous shoes. I have tended to focus on the M&S Collection range, as this seems to be the one that has upped its style steaks, so no buying from Per Una! By focusing on classic shapes and incorporating modern aspects, you’ve got something for everyone in one shop again. 

I think you will be surprised at the stylish new pieces on offer at Marks and Spencer currently, here are my picks of the current range online, let me know if you have brought anything from there recently;


1. Looks as good as a designer pair of trainers 


2. Bargain Summer dress


3. Spotty evening blouse


4. Grab a summer cover up bomber


5. Embellished big bag


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