Tuesday 18 December 2012

The Styles of the Season!

This year's top trends for the Festive season.

Every December we are faced with the big decision about what to wear to the office party with some women apparently spending around £210* on a new look for the occasion; and that’s before Christmas Day itself, after which its New Year’s Eve when we’ve got to wear something else to wear that’s special.

Some trends return year after year, but there are always a few variations on the usual themes. This year, the High Street hits are as follows (plus a few tips about how to wear them).

  • For the Ladies 

Sparkle & shine... in sequins and metallics  

-    Sequins reappear in some form most Christmas’ and the metallic trend seems to be a hangover from the Golden Jubilee and Olympics. Both looks are very popular among the stars as well as the High Street!

Tip: Wear what will go with your undertone... for example if you have a warm complexion, gold may work better for you whereas silver will work best if you have a cool complexion.

Red is the colour – from bright to plummy

-    Red is always a hot colour for the cold season as it is associated with warmth, energy and passion. And, there’s a shade for everyone.

Tip: If a sparkly red dress is too much for you, think about adding a colour pop of your best shade where you’d 
like to draw attention to, eg: to your waist with a belt, or your legs with a pair of red tights.

Peplums and ruffles

-    Ruffles are new for the season and refer to necklines and cuffs, but the peplum has been around all of 2012 and is all about drawing attention to your waist.

Tip: Peplums are great if you need to create curves or to exaggerate an hourglass figure!

Short shorts or maxi dresses

-    Short shorts are definitely going to make a statement in themselves so wear them with confidence!, but a maxi dress can be ramped it up in the style stakes if you combine it with another trend like red or shine.

Tip: A carefully chosen maxi dress is versatile so buy the best your budget can get... whereas sparkly short shorts are not likely to make it past one Christmas, so spend the least your ego will allow!


-    Smoky eyes or red lipstick is the make-up for the season, or seeing as it’s Christmas you could get away with both for all out glamour.

Tip: If bold make-up is not your style, why not opt for deep, sparkly or bright nails instead?

 Cover-up in... Faux fur for glamour and warmth

-    It’s a faux-pas to cover up a stunning outfit in a less that stunning cover up. Getting it right can really lift an otherwise safe outfit and help you make an entrance!

Tip: As an alternative, look for a feathery cover-up.

  • Ladies & Gentleman  


-    If you’re not going for colour – in other words, you’re wearing black! - go for texture instead. I’d recommend velvet for boys & lace for girls, though velvet can work for both.

Tip: Wearing lace? Make sure you’re undergarments don’t ruin the look!

 Trouser Suits

-    For boys it’s about colour but for ladies it’s all about white like Rita Ora and Nicole Scherzinger’s X-factor outfit.

Tip: Gents pick a colour that suits you, ladies – white doesn’t flatter everyone especially if worn too close to your face so if it doesn’t work for you wear it on your lower half only... and stay away from red wine!

Picture Jumpers

-    Think Bridget Jones... Christmas images on your front are all the rage at the moment, and are a fun and practical item to wear. I know, fashion is strange at times!

Tip: Wear a print that fits with your proportions... for example, if you are petite a huge jumper with a huge print will swamp you.


-    For ladies it’s about ‘bling’ from statement earrings through to diamante shoe clips livening up your plain black heels, for boys think Bing (Crosby)!... including bow ties, hankies and hats.

Tip: Have fun with it... accessories are a great way to update an old outfit and bring in colour, texture and shine without going all out.

Whatever you decide to wear, wear it with a sparkly smile... the best accessory ever!
Merry Christmas everyone.

For more on December dressing, check out the following Damson Belle blogs:

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Tis’ the season to be jolly... And Stylish!

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat...
...You’ve got a party coming up, what should you wear to that?!”

Whilst most of us will welcome the opportunity to dress up over the festive period to escape the gloom of winter, deciding what to wear can be a challenge for many. As a result lots of people rely on a safe outfit, but Christmas is a great time to ramp it up in the style stakes and go for something a bit more daring, glitzy and glamorous.

This season the drama is full on as we continue our love affair with gold and silver following the Olympics, the shops are full of brocade, and sequins make their usual appearance.

Despite this, many of you will still reach for a black suit or dress. Yes the LBD is a classic, but it might not actually be the best colour on you and everybody is doing it so, why not go for colour?

Red is the colour to go for if you want to stand out in the crowd, but if you’d still like to keep it subtle – classy navy and opulent purple are great alternatives. Whatever colour you go for remember there will be a range, for example blue can go from deep navy to baby, so make sure it’s the right shade for you.

Guess which look I'm not recommending!
Introducing colour applies to you Gents too - easily done with a coloured shirt, tie, waistcoat, handkerchief or cufflinks. This year, even the suit is brighter than 007's! 
However gents, please no Christmas ties! If you are going for fun - a pair of seasonal socks or a festive hankie can be shown off as appropriate.

If you can’t see beyond black, think about going for texture like velvet, lace or sequins.

Better still, why not go for texture and colour! But, if a red sequin dress is too much and a plum velvet dinner jacket and bow tie is too fussy – use your accessories as a way of adding a pop of colour or luxury. They are also a great way to update an existing staple, especially if you need to look stylish on a budget. What about a glittery clutch bag for her or a velvet scarf for him?

When reviving your existing Christmas garments (are they in good repair?) or getting your new outfit, don’t forget to ask yourself if you’ll be comfortable after a turkey dinner and twenty minutes on the dancefloor... Uncomfortable is never a good look!

Over it all is your 'cover-up' - it's likely to be cold outside and unless you can immediately dump your coat on entry to the venue, it's as important as your main outfit. So invest in something nice that gets you to the event and complete your overall look.

Whether you're classic or dramatic, add a bit of 'bling' at Christmas!

And finally, after all that planning to get the right outfit – don’t let your grooming (eg hair and nails) let you down.

Getting your colour and style right at Christmas will set you up for New Year's Eve' and the year ahead!

For more on how to 'Dazzle in December' check out this blog: 

Tuesday 9 October 2012

The beauty of Bordeaux!

Apologies if you've opened this expecting a travel or wine blog because I've never been to the place and prefer white wine. This blog is because I love the colour; and the plummy, yummy colour that is burgundy/bordeaux/claret or whatever you call it, is one of my faves!

Ever since I saw the deep rich reddy purple on catwalk earlier this year and posted it on Pintrest
, I've been hoping that it would make it to the high street. And on a reccie to find some items for a client last week, I am pleased to say I was hit with a sea of it (along with varying berry shades). If anyone was in doubt that it is a hot colour for the season is it worth noting that trend-setter the Duchess of Cambridge was recently seen wearing it.

It's a great colour for me especially in winter, and as an alternative to black. I can wear it top-to-toe but others may need to be a bit more careful, as it could look too harsh (for example, on someone very fair).

If, like me, you can carry off strong colours, my tip is a burgandy dress or alternatively you can team your bordeaux with something else strong - like a deep green, or with a bright colour... I like it with blush pink.

If burgandy isn't your best colour its best worn on your lower half in the form of coloured jeans or a skirt, or accessorise with it. 

There are also lots of other winey shades to chose from such as cassis (a deep reddy pink) and claret, along with the very versatile purple which works for everyone. And it's not just a great colour for clothes - it can look great on lips, nails and as a hair colour too!

As with any colour - whichever shade you go for, it's worth knowing where to where to wear it (eg top to toe, near your face or not) and whether to use it tone-on-tone (eg with another similar colour) or in a contrast/clashing/colour blocking way and.... A colour consultation can help with that!

Monday 17 September 2012

A night of Colour and Celebration!

Last week I was fortunate enough to represent Colour Me Beautiful at the Prima High Street Fashion awards, sponsored by Comfort. My colleagues – Ann, Franca, Beth, Jane and I were offering ladies a mini colour analysis... in the dark (more or less)!

It was all very glamorous, but more importantly the event was in aid of Breakthrough Breast cancer charity – a most worthy cause.

Despite the poor lighting we had ladies queuing to discover their best colours ably kept orderly by the lovely Lisa. As you’d expect from a ‘dressy do’, many women turned up wearing black and so we gave lots of advice (and a free lippy) about their best alternatives. We, as you’d hope, provided the example of how to wear colour donned in several shades of red, a dark and stunning blue, and a lovely light primrose! And at our dinner table, the lovely ladies from Thorntons had all cleverly chosen a shade of ‘teal’ – a colour which suits every colouring (in varying depths).

Beth, Ann, Franca, Lisa, Beth
Although we were there doing colour, and even once we’d finished working - we couldn’t resist checking out the ‘style’ on show too, and gee did we see some styles... some good, some not so (as you’d imagine).

The catwalk show was very entertaining and the perhaps the biggest cheer of the night went to a topless male model on skates! Following that, the awards began and we guessed, agreed and disagreed our way through over 20 categories including Best Jeans, Best Supermarket Brand and Best Customer Service. In fact the only category which was missing was Best Petite range, so I’m campaigning for that to be included next year given my stature!

The presenter of the night was definitely the cheeky Louis Spence who sashayed and joked, and got the biggest ‘oooh’ for some risqué comments.

If the race for a photo was anything to go by Rav Wilding was the man of the night, just pipping Chico and Brendan Cole to the title! (Can you spot them in the collage?!)

A few snaps of the night... I'm in primrose!

The word of the night - used constantly by event host Jeff Banks, every star presenter and TOWIE cast member - was... ‘Amazing’. But, to be fair - given the company, food, entertainment and goodie-bags, it actually was a very fitting word!

Want to know more about the evening, book a colour consultation yourself, or find out who won what (not yet announced on the official website) – you can get in touch with me at: 

To see how you can support 'Breakthrough', go to http://www.breakthrough.org.uk/

Sunday 2 September 2012

I'm a bag lady!

I love handbags!... And it seems like I'm in good company as even the Queen is famed for always carrying her boxy Launer handbag!

Unlike the pure adornment of a pair of earrings, for example, a handbag will (usually) have some practical application; unlike sunglasses they are useful all year 'round; and unlike shoes you have few comfort issues with a bag making it a fantastic accessory. Moreover a handbag can be a valuable commodity - Last year a Margaret Thatcher handbag sold at auction for £25,000 and recently a judge talked about how much a handbag links to a woman's sense of security. 

Unlike the Queen however, I have to admit to changing the style of mine (some might say too often!) to fit the season and occasion. 
So, what do I take in to account? Here are my tips for finding the perfect bag:

  • Right shape eg if you're round a structured square-shaped bag works best
  • Right proportion - if you're petite, like me, don't be swamped with a huge bag (a challenge when you like to carry as much stuff as I do!)
  • Strap length - remember the eye will be drawn to where the bag sits especially if it's not the right bag re colour, shape or size
  • Right colour - bags are a great accessory for adding a bit of colour without wearing it, but do get it right. Also, they're great if you have to wear a uniform and want to feel like 'you' (at least on the way to work!)
  • Right statement - Think about what you want your handbag to say: I'm practical, I'm professional, I'm girly, I'm trendy perhaps.
  • It's budget right: but do remember that if it's going to be used often it may be worth investing in
  • Use & Fit - as any mum will tell you a bag has to fit everything in, but really... the kitchen sink should not be included! Think why you have it: It's meant to be practical so bags with compartments may work better if you've got lots going in.
  • Is it comfortable? - Sorry to be boring but do think about issues like shoulder strain.
  • It's nice: So, ignore the last bits about it being practical! - Some bags just have to be owned because, well, they're nice... that is all. So the question is do you like it? - After all, even if it breaks all the rules, chances are you'll put it down at some point!

Monday 6 August 2012

You're not going out in that!

My friend recently took her daughter clothes shopping for her birthday - I know she wasn't looking forward to it, fearing clashes over style choices and what defines appropriate dress; and that scenario reminded me about this overdue blog! 

Of the “Seven Stages of Style” from a blog I'd done previously, it was the issue of teen style which had generated the most discussion at networking groups and amongst friends.

I've got a while before I face this particular parental challenge, but this issue still resonates for me as my parents continue to (albeit occasionally) question my outfit choices...usually the bright colours and with 'the look' rather than specific comments/demands!

And the generational gap teens face is just part of the issue. For them there's also the often frustrating lack of financial independence and the weight of peer pressure, but the even bigger picture is that those years are confusing (not that the teen themselves will agree because they believe they know it all!) on both a physical and emotional level. If our clothes reflect who we are -and they do - then if we're ‘confused’ in ourselves, then so might our style be. My suggestions for dressing your teen therefore takes this into consideration.

Remember too that nagging will only turn clothing issue in to a(nother) battle and someone will come out a loser. Follow Damson Belle’s Top Tips for dressing your Teen, for a win-win scenario:

  1. If you don’t take care of your own appearance, have no idea about what’s ‘trendy’ or dress inappropriately yourself, how do you expect to influence your teen? Hence, tip one is to Think about your own style (sorry!) and whose style you praise.
  2. Start where your teen is. If your daughter insists on wearing a miniscule mini, perhaps shorts or the addition of tights might be the compromise; if your son insists on jeans and a t-shirt, add a waistcoat for a cool twist.
  3. On a similar note, compliment/reward them when they get it right (or at least near to it) or some other element of their style... do they wear the right colours, do their make-up well or take pride in their clothes for example – Find something, you can do it! Maybe even take a picture and display it proudly, or what about a visit to a fashion show/museum.
  4. Have realistic expectations: Don’t expect a shift from tracksuits to suits in one transition. Think about progress with your real teen, rather than your try to create the perfect style-teen.
  5. Talk to your teen to find the ‘future focus’ – Does your son/daughter want to be a fashion designer or a doctor... ask them to think about how their style choices now will look to their future selves. This might also give you something else to focus on and help you guide them.
  6. On a similar note, get your teen to think about who they’ll attract with the way they dress especially if they have started to take an interest in the opposite sex! After all, their mates may be into grunge, but is the guy/girl next door?!
  7. Take this another stage, and get them creating... Can you work with your teen to customise their jeans and t-shirt?
  8. Who’s their hero - Is it a sports personality, film star or musician? – What positives can you get them to embrace from that person’s style (old or new) or their style evolution? (Does Madonna come to mind for anyone else?!)
  9. Perhaps most importantly, make sure you help your teen embrace their uniqueness and best self. This is really important if your teen is simply dressing to ‘fit in’ or follow a crowd.
  10. Enlist the help of others – can you encourage their school to talk to teens about personal style or get a relative who they listen to help?
  11. Get in a professional... How about a make-up lesson, personal shopping experience or group session for your teens birthday. We'll make it fun as well as informative!
  12. If all else fails, get out old pictures of yourself (or threaten to dress like your teen self again if you’re feeling bold)! - It will show them you were once young, and remind you that you were too!

Now, as only you know your teen, please pick which tips will work best for your circumstances and don’t be afraid to try a few, and then try again.  Don’t get stressed out and accept that in the end, you may just have to wait - and you may be waiting a very long time!

Thursday 14 June 2012

The Seven Stages of Style!

According to Shakespeare in “As you like it”, there are several stages of 'man' – infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloon and second childhood.  That’s not quite how I’d put it, but after talking to a few mums about their shopping experiences with their daughters; and my work in the corporate sector, the idea of this blog was formed.

Here’s my take on how Shakespeare’s stages relate to our fashion lifecycle, from the ‘can’t care’ stage through the ‘should care’ stage, to the ‘who cares’ stage!:
Note: These stages are not about solely about ages!

  • Stage one – Infancy:
From the moment we are born, we are clothed - usually with white to represent our innocence. Colour therefore already plays it's part - if parents are being traditional boys get blue clothes, girls pink (though it wasn’t always like that). Baby clothes used to be plain practical, but not any more... For some parents what baby wears is a status symbol - Just ask Harper Beckham!

  • Stage two – Childhood:
Time for school and if you’re a parent or an indecisive child, you’ll be glad of a uniform. Uniforms are designed to help children conform... and many people never quite break the habit. Despite these early years, kids can often have a strong sense of their own ‘style’ and if my experience is anything to go by, toddlers are definitely into characters and colour; and children can be very opinionated given half the chance!

  • Stage three – Our teenage years:
This can be a really confusing stage but for me, this is where it gets interesting. It’s the stage that often defines the fashion of a time (the 60’s mini, 70’s disco). Many teens may want to conform (but not to what their parents want) – ‘what’s in’ really matters. However, clothes also start to define us and which group we’re part of (eg punk, goth, mods and rockers). But what if the style of our chosen group doesn’t work for us? This, I understand, is a parental nightmare. My advice – remember what you were like... after all, most of us look back and cringe a bit don’t we?!

  • Stage four – The work years: 
This is when we may focus more on quality rather than creativity. We buy the best dark suit we can afford and try to fit in with our colleagues or social circle. According to many of my clients, at this stage, we tend to stick to a limited range of items and a limited range of colours. How sad. Are you here, back in a formal or in a self-imposed uniform?

  • Stage five – Easy time:
In my experience, the chances are we’ve slipped into lazy mode about now – maybe because as partners or parents, we no longer need to/can make the same clothes effort and focus on how others (eg our kids) dress rather than ourselves. We are also now likely to be ‘settled’ and ‘set in our style ways’. Mothers in particular, often tell me that they need to wear practical, comfortable clothes and that they don’t have the time or energy to make as much effort.

  • Stage six – Style Maturity:
This might also be another tough style stage for some as the question becomes ‘is this age appropriate?, along with considering what ‘is it comfortable?’. However, it’s also often around now that we might start to think “I want me back”. We’re more likely to be free of commitments, less likely to be in any kind of uniform, and we might just have the money to invest in ourselves. I don’t think we should wait so long but better late than never!

  • Stage seven – Old age/second childhood:
For some, style and fashion are really of little or no concern again but for others it’s only when we get to this stage, that we’re truly confident enough to say ‘This is me - I know who I am, my style and what I want’... Hopefully, you’re still in a position to actually get to the shops yourselves! You've earned the right to wear what you want, and had the time to work out your style... especially if you’re one of the new breed of OAT's (Old age trendsetters!) - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2155957/Meet-OATs-thats-old-age-trendsetters.html!).

So - does this ring true for you (or someone you know), what stage are you at, and... Are you happy there?

Friday 1 June 2012

A stylish celebration in Red, White & Blue!

I couldn’t let Jubilee weekend go by without talking about Red, White & Blue
It’s such a great colour combination (nature proves it!) – there’s a shade of red and blue for everyone, and so many variations of this complimentary trio. 

Blue is a great alternative to black, it is very versatile and the shades are endless. And red is just so hot, striking and dramatic, what’s not to love! Although pure  white doesn’t flatter everyone, softer shades are great and there’s nothing more classic than a crisp white shirt.

Think about what you'll let dominate though, as colours have meaning:
  • Wear red to signal passion, drive and a will to win (and no, it does not anger bulls)!
  • Wear white to appear pure, spiritual and enlightened, but not with kids!
  • Wear blue to promote calm, loyalty, and authority... great for interviews!

So, how will you be wearing your red, white and blue this weekend? Here are a few of my mix and match items.

My mix: Jeans, dresses, jackets, trousers and tops plus accessories - What combination would  you go for?

Not feeling brave enough to wear all three...go for a 'pop' of red - ladies how about wearing blue and white clothes, but donning red lips (make sure you pick the right shade!) and/nails. And gents, how about red socks and a stylish red hankie? No excuses, there’s a shade and combination for everyone! 

What a fantastic change to seeing black dominate events... let’s embrace it and keep it up!

And finally, some interesting facts about red, white and blue...
  • There was a red, white and blue beer, and it might be revived soon!
  • Red, white and blue is the most popular combination for national flags... wonder why?
  • Red, white and blue” is the title of both a song and a film
  • Red, White and Blue are the names of three fictional soldiers from a DC comics series
  • Friday, 12th October 2012 will see school children celebrating "Red, white and blue' day in support of the families of the Armed Forces (For more or to make a donation, go to http://www.redwhiteblueday.co.uk/)

Friday 25 May 2012

Buying Style on a Budget

It is often the case that people turn to ‘retail therapy’ when they feel  a bit low. But, in the current economic climate this ‘pick-me-up’ can lead to more problems than the ones we’re trying to escape from - on top of the fact that psychologists will tell you that it’s not effective or healthy anyway! As well as a lack of money some people also chose not to spend on fortune on fashion as a point of principle.

But if, like me, you still like to treat yourself every now and again; or you need to update your look or get an outfit for special occasion, you might be looking for ways to do it sensibly and without blowing your budget. As an image consultant I deal with clients with a range of budgets, and here are the tips I share with more conservative or thrifty shoppers (in addition to the obvious one to shop in the sales, charity shops or budget stores such as Primark which might not be your preference).

Don’t buy it just because it’s on sale or in fashion as it’s a false economy. How many of us have items stuck at the back of the wardrobe because they seemed like a good buy at the time? It is actually more cost effective to buy something a little more expensive that you will wear often – to ‘justify’ the initial spend, divide the cost of an item by the number of times you’ll wear it. If you can’t think of at least two separate events it might be suitable for (halving the cost) be careful.

Shop about on-line as you may just find similar items at reduced cost from places such as ebay. This is also a great way to save time, if you can be quite specific about what you want. On-line shopping from high street stores, rather than doing the shopping trip, may also help reduce impulse buying. Either way, on-line shopping can save you travel costs, time and energy, and the dreaded changing room experience!

Consider swapping clothes – either informally or at an official ‘swishing’ event, which is a cost effective way of getting new (or nearly new) clothes at the same time as getting rid of unwanted/unworn items. It’s becoming so popular it’s even been done at the House of Lords! Croydon-based Lauren Wisdom hosts regular swishing events – for more details, visit www.backtothefuschia.org/

If you need an outfit for a special, one-off event - why not borrow something special... just as many a groom does!  As with ‘swishing’, you can do this via friends or more formally – check out one provider www.girlmeetsdress.com which lends special occasion and designer-wear for a fraction of the cost of a purchase.

Another option if you like unique pieces, but can’t afford designer, is to look at vintage outlets which do day, evening, special occasion and even wedding garments. This can be time consuming but worth it... Go to a vintage event with www.vintagefashionfairlondon.co.uk  or look at vintage fashion at  www.etsy.com (vintage).

A personal favourite and one I practice is to ‘shop your wardrobe’ which is recommended by Colour Me Beautiful. Be sure that you don’t have some hidden gems lurking that could be updated or repaired. Link this to my final tip, which is to accessorise, accessorise, accessorise for a new look outfit which can be done at the fraction of the cost of a whole new outfit! For example take a simple shift dress in a staple colour and give it a fresh look with seasonal pieces such as a new pair of shoes, scarves, jewellery... and voila!

Monday 30 April 2012

From Aztec to Zebra!

See in Spring with a Print.

When the sun appears we often look for ways to update our wardrobes for the coming season. As well as injecting colour, a quick and easy way to introduce a touch of new season style is to invest in a bit of print.

Every season there’s a focus on at least one print, with some - like floral and leopard print - seemingly never out of fashion. As soon as we strip ourselves of our winter safety blankets and wet weather-wear (a bulky coat, and warm comfortable clothes in deep colours), pastels and prints begin to appear in the shops. 

Every Spring/Summer, inspired by nature, prints make a comeback and this year is no different.  What is different this year though, is how we will be wearing it. Instead of a focus on one print, the trend off the catwalk, for women, is to wear bold clashing prints; and for men print is being modelled top-to-toe. Personally I love florals, butterflies and paisley, but I won't be wearing them altogether!

With neither look being for the feint-hearted (me included!), here are my top tips on how to wear print:
  • Be careful with the size (and placement) of print you wear – an oversized print on someone petite will overwhelm, whereas a tiny print on a larger frame may seem to disappear.
  • Make sure you wear prints in colours that flatter you (especially those nearest your face).
  • If wearing bold prints are not your thing, accessorise instead – a handbag or hankie will work against blocked colours, ladies - paint your nails, and for total subtlety go for printed lining!
  • Use print to draw attention to an area you want to show off (and away from areas you want to hide) – for example printed trousers will draw attention to your legs.
  • Try teaming prints with neutrals or pastels, in fabrics such as linen, cotton and silk.
  • If you do brave this seasons head-to-toe, clashing prints - pick at least one colour that features throughout.

So, that’s how to wear print but which ones are ‘on-trend’ this season?

For ladies – Another key trend this season is a look of the sea so go for watery prints in blues and greens, and shells; birds are the animal print to go for; vegetables replace fruits; and bold, arty graphics are also ‘in’.

For gentsThis season, pattern is not for your ties only! The theme from the catwalk is 'be bold'. Wear the exotic (such as birds), camouflage (eg leaves) and paisley.

The great thing with prints is that there is one for everyone - from Aztec, birds and butterflies through to Zebra.  Whatever print you wear, and however you wear it – wear it with confidence and a smile.

What’s your signature print and how will you wear it?