Thursday 26 December 2013

Sale shop - Shop smart

Here are a few tips on sale shopping for clothes... smartly!

It's Boxing Day - traditionally the first day of the post-Christmas sales. Some sales are so anticipated, people queue outside in the cold for hours to nab the top bargains.

However, when I'm doing wardrobe audits to weed them or find gaps (, I often find that the very items left sitting in them are sale purchases that weren't well thought through.  If this sounds familiar to you, here is my five-point plan to manage this scenario for both on-line and real-time shopping:

  1. Know your best colours and styles - you can grab quicker and more accurately then! (The things you regularly wear/get complimented on may give you a clue if you've not seen a professional)
  2. Do a wardrobe audit (and remind yourself how much you didn't wear (m)any of your previous sale purchases!) - step 1 will help you with this too.
  3. List what you might need to make outfits out of items
  4. Set a budget and stick to it
  5. Shop smart by asking questions like 'how often will I wear this?' every time you pick up an item

Essentially, it's about having a plan, so don't leave home without one or you'll be fooled into buying more that will sit in the back of your wardrobe with tags on! 

Happy Shopping.

Until next time!

Denise x

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Tuesday 24 December 2013

My Image Advent

From a Peacock to a Lamb*!

"Unique and different is the new generation of beautiful. You don't have to be like everyone else. In fact I don't think you should" 
- Taylor Swift, born 13th December. (Day 13)

Over the past 24 days I've been posting an image-fashion-style related note for advent on my various **social media platforms.

Some days came easily, others were more of a challenge but the whole activity was fun and allowed me to learn whilst being creative.

On reflection the whole experience reminds me of how I see dressing: Some days your outfit choice is obvious, other times you have to think about it a bit more (maybe you're meeting a new client, got a big meeting, doing a presentation or going for a date) but I always enjoy opening my wardrobe and creating a new look for each day...
...Do you?

If not, perhaps it's time to do something about it and call me (07887 643807)!

Check out the full advent list here: - Enjoy x

*This will make sense when you see Day 2 and Day 23 via the link above.


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Wednesday 16 October 2013

Take the challenge, Break the rules, Have some fun!

are meant to be broken, right?!

If you've read blogs one and two of the series on the rules you'll know that after we've learnt our personal rules based on our colouring and body shape etc, we need to think about how we can break a few on the journey to discovering our personal style. So why then do many of us, not only stick to the widely held rules, but create additional ones of our own?

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is habit, which is why we get stuck in a style rut. If you're completely happy with your personal style, then that's fabulous but if not, as I like to remind us all... "If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies". 
So ladies and gents are you ready to take the challenge, break the rules and have some fun? - Yes, then here's a few ideas for you to try (in no particular order):

1. Starting with the most ridiculous: Pick your outfit, eyes closed! Go on, I dare you to wear it :-)

2. If you're a matchy matchy kind of person, wear one piece that doesn't fit in! It doesn't have to be prominent, it just has to be done. Be brave and make it obvious enough to be seen.

3. Wear underwear completely clashing with your outfit such as a animal print bra under your formal suit... it's a bit of a cheat but its likely to make you feel more adventurous even if others can't see it *wink wink*

4. Split up an outfit that came together - sounds obvious but many don't do it.

5. Ask a friend with completely different taste to compose an outfit for you or to suggest two opposite looks that you have to incorporate into one outfit... It might scare you but it'll be fun for them!

6. Get your colours done and wear one or more you wouldn't normally wear or an unusual combination. A printed scarf is an easy way to do this.

7. List your personal style rules then break at least one... Break out of your self-imposed uniform. You may even find you like the changes.

8. Pick one item then look at/list/storyboard everything else in your wardrobe that will work with it as chances are you always put the same things together.

9. Just once, steal someone else's look - try the Internet, magazines, Pinterest for ideas

10. If you save lots of clothes for best - forget that! Wear something that doesn't get worn often, even if you have to dress it down. Take your inspiration from the 4-year old girl in the supermarket who wears her princess dress with her trainers!

By doing just one or two of these, you'll put yourself on the road to being a more interesting, daring and creative dresser (if of course, that's what YOU want)!

Do share with me how you get on, and don't forget - if you need a little help or inspiration, call me on 07887 643807 and I'll help you have fun on the journey to your personal style.

Coming soon: In the final installment, I'll share with you my experience of breaking my rules!

Until next time!

Denise x

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Thursday 10 October 2013

The talent show!

Meeting Masato part two...
...and Introducing Lilac and Lily!

If you've read my blog - Meeting Masato (, you'll know that I was planning on wearing one of this designers dresses to my cousin Jackie's wedding.

Fortunately I already had most of the accessories to wear with it (one of the reasons it was such a good purchase) and thought it was - as I'm sure you'll agree - stunning on its own without the need for much else.

web: - twitter: @masatostudio - facebook: masato jones

However my associate Charlotte Ralph introduced me to Dacia Halford - a bespoke fascinator maker - and I decided that I'd be interested in wearing something that complimented the dress, so long as it didn't compete with it. After seeing the dress, a couple of discussions about my personality and the occasion etc, and a few initial designs Dacia came up with the stunning fascinator you see below. 

facebook: lilacandlily - twitter: @LilacLily

It was comforting wearing an outfit knowing that I wasn't going to be seeing anyone else in it (many women's worst nightmare!), but the really great thing about it was that I got to showcase some really talented people's work. 

I hope I did the items justice... I think I did, based on the number of comments people made about them (not me, the items)!

The real reason for sharing this though, isn't about my indulgence - it's about showcasing Masato and Dacia's work (neither of whom have commissioned this blog in any way).

It doesn't have to be designer, but buying local and/ bespoke is really important for the small businesses in the fashion industry and I hope my outfit encourages more people to seek out such talented individuals and wear their stuff.

Monday 30 September 2013

Style - You've had the keys, now here are 'The rules'!

In my last blog, I said that the first step to style is knowledge, and knowing the rules. Here, in part two, you'll discover what the main rules are.

Most people who book a consultation with Damson Belle want to be told their rules, and knowing them is the foundation for building a signature look as there is a difference between knowingly breaking the rules and simply not having a clue!

WARNING: These rules are not meant to render you powerless. You have a choice, and "it's not medicine"! 


Got that? OK, now read on...

... Here are some of the key ones I usually refer to in a consultation:

1. Learn YOUR rules, they are not the same for everyone! This is about understanding what works for you including - your personality, your lifestyle, and your ambitions.

2. Wear your best colours near your face. To find out what these are #getyourcoloursdone! to make shopping, wardrobe audits and dressing much quicker and more effective. 

3. Dress for your shapes (bodyshape and face shape) - and think about your whole body - rarely does anyone fit snugly into the 'pear' 'apple' 'hourglass' 'column' tags, often favoured by magazines (though they are a great starting point). Shape is more important than size - you can always de-tag and anyway, sizes vary between retailers! A style consultation will help you with this.

4. Don't have anything, eg sleeves, skirts, trousers/shorts, stop at your widest point - most women/cultures prefer a look slender, shapely and fit look (note: this is not the same as skinny)

5. Don't wear it if it makes you feel, look or act uncomfortable - this relates to you personally but also about how you'll look and/feel in a particular environment. Examples include heels you can't walk in, a jacket you can't move in , a dress you can't eat in or a skirt you can't bend/reach up in!

6. DO Wear it if it makes you feel fabulous - if it doesn't quite work...fix it or accessorise it. In other words: Go to no 7!

No 7 should be actioned with due care and consideration, and if you're clued up about rules 1-6 I promise you'll get away with this next one:

 7. Ignore rule one, and bend the rules, if it (a) fits with your style personality, and you're a 'creative' or (b) its just time to let loose! - that's what style is about... 
... but, my advice: Don't break all your rules at once!

So, if rule 7 resonates with you look out for the next blog in  the series which is about becoming truly stylish by consciously breaking the rules or letting your sub-conscious take over! Because: Breaking the rules should be an instinctive, personality choice or a conscious decision, not sheer laziness.

Would love to hear your views...Are these rules useful, do you already follow them, do you have your own?

Sign up, to make sure you get the next blog in the series on how to take on the rules and show them who's boss!

Until next time!

Denise x

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Friday 20 September 2013

Style - In the beginning...

...There are some principles!

And some weeks ago I summed up the keys to style in the following 140 characters:

"@DenDamBelle: It takes 3 things to be #stylish imo: Knowledge (of your colouring & shape) Creativity (with what you own) & Confidence (in who you are)"

Then, just before attending the latest CMB conference, I tweeted about how I was breaking the* rules, an idea that was reinforced by style guru Sue Donnelly at the meeting.

And just this week I watched the fab Channel 4 programme "Fabulous Fashionistas"  which again talked about finding your style and, challenging stereotypes and rules.

With all that talk of breaking rules, it seemed to me an obvious blog topic. So here we are...This is the first blog in a series about rules and how to break them.
*Note: There are the rules, and there are your rules!

Part one:

Knowledge is important because styling is about rules and knowing what fashions are out there that will work FOR YOU, but more importantly its about knowing the rules enough so you can break them well. It's often the rule breaks that allow you to be creative... 

...And being creative is critical to personal style and brand. People often ask what the difference is between fashion and style, and for me its that fashion is largely about conforming and following (trends) whereas as Gore Vidal stated "style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn" - hardly the words of a conformist and definitely an invite to be creative.

Not everyone is an out-there 'creative' dresser like Helena Bonham-Carter, Zandra Rhodes and the "Fabulous Fashionistas" but everyone can be creative with what they own and by adding their personal touches to an outfit. It comes with being more conscious, doing a little more thinking and planning (eg not just wearing the same combinations) and a willingness to play a little. And that's where confidence comes in - the confidence NOT to blindly follow the trend, replicate the catwalk/highstreet or stick with what we've always done.

Carrying this off is probably the hardest part, but throwing in some rules breaks with confidence - et voila... You have YOUR signature.

So stand tall, look like you own it and work it!

What's next:

Establishing some rules will be the subject of the blog that follows this one. The one after that will be how to break the rules. And then I'll share with you about the day I put my 'money where my mouth is' and challenged myself to step out of my comfort-zone in confidence!

Until next time!

Denise x

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Tuesday 27 August 2013

Becoming Billie

Normally I encourage people to be themselves and find their own style but last Saturday evening I found myself totally absorbed by someone being someone else, as I watched Nina Kristofferson sing and and essentially become Billie Holiday.

A must see show!

If you must be someone else, best to become someone with bags of style and Lady Day definitely had a signature sound and look. Musically Billie was said to fight any attempt to change her songs or how she sang them; and style-wise Ms Holiday had an iconic look too.  Billie wore the fashion of her day but her personal style was defined by a flower in her hair - her chosen iconic look. One story tells us she once performed with blood running down her face as she pinned one to her head. 

Talented and tragic, the Beautiful Billie

As well as taking on Billie's songs and mannerisms, by adding a flower to her hair for her show Nina really channelled Billie but as she lets her hair down and moves from a sparkly electric blue dress to a trendy Masato tee she becomes Nina again.

It's amazing how wearing the clothes of an era or the signature of a person transforms you, and therefore don't ever forget how much your personal style defines you.  

What's your signature style?

Denise x

The lovely, talented Nina - Go see her show!
Buy the tee here:

Wednesday 31 July 2013

Meeting Masato

Having seen the lovely Sarah Jane Honeywell in a Masato dress that she was to later auction for charity, I decided to follow the designer on Twitter (@masatostudio)

Though I like to look, I'm not normally one for designer wear - but I decided to check out their designs on the web as you do! Typically however, a dress (several actually!) did catch my eye - with it's deep rich purple tones, softening circles and feminine cut - and I posted it on Pintrest: with the phrase "If only... So Classy"

So there I was, checking my tweets last week when I see that Masato is doing a sale and you guessed it, I went the site again. Next thing you know I'm making enquiries which lead to me visiting the studio, justifying it with the sentence: "well, I'm just looking as I do have a wedding to go to soon"!

Luckily (- it was a budget-blower!) the one I saw on Pintrest didn't quite work for me (darn you small bust!) but another one fitted as if designed just for me (Oops..) and the damage was done!

It's definitely worth it though. And, whilst in the studio I also got to see sketches of what Masato was working on, try on 'test' dress and suggest the colour it should be produced in!

Here's the lovely, talented man himself:

Read about Masato here: Buy Masato here:

PS - I have not been sponsored by Masato to do this blog! I'm just chuffed with my lovely new dress and impressed with the service - from Mike picking me up at the station to my personal hand-drawn picture.

PPS - You will see the dress in it's glory in another blog... I need to accessorise!

Monday 22 July 2013

A sunshine dress!

Hari's story

  • The challenge:

I was contacted by Hari's mum as they were struggling to find something special for petite (as it turned out more petite than even she realised!) Hari to wear to an important event. They also had limited time to shop together as Hari didn't live at home in London, and only weeks until the big night.

  • The solution:

We decided the best option was for me to go virtual shopping for them.

  • The steps:

Hari completed a detailed questionnaire about her measurements, her preferences and her budget; and sent me a picture of herself. 

I then set about finding some options for Hari searching on-line and in the shops. Rather than the high street, I focused on boutiques and vintage outlets (as vintage close often come up small) and was able to come up with a number of options - most in line with Hari's preferences, but I also a few ideas of my own.

I emailed the choices to Hari who picked some favourites. I then arranged for Hari to try them on.

Hari in another lovely dress, but not quite the 'wow' factor!

  • From the search to the choice:

Hari came to see me one weekend to try on a few dresses I'd ordered and picked up for her. One of the dresses was sticking out of its box and Hari looked so horrified by it that I shut the box and got her to try on her preferred styles.

Finally I asked Hari to try on the 'wildcard' dress that I thought would work but wasn't what she'd suggested.

We went from the horrified look at first glance to Hari not wanting to take it off for her bowling trip with friends!

But, it didn't stop there as the dress needed adjusting as it was still too big.

Seven layers of sunshine!

  • What happened next?:

I arranged for a seamstress to alter the dress which was much needed as it was still a little too big and a whole lot too long!

I also helped Hari with her accessories.

  • The end result:

Hari loved her dress, looked amazing, and bagged the award for Business continuity Student of the Year.

Simply stunning.

And here's what another client said about Damson Belle's virtual service (a lovely surprise, and completely unsolicited I promise you) -

If you have a special occasion, if no-one else can help you too, it's time to...
Call me on 07887 643807

Saturday 29 June 2013

Catwoman in Pyjama's!

#Justforfun I recently asked the people on my Twitter feed...
If you could get away with it, what mad outfit would you wear to work/school run/a posh restaurant?” 
Whilst the question was intended to be fun, the answer may give us a more serious insight into a range of things such as how we are feeling at the time of the question and our real style personality.
For example at the time I originally asked the question, my response would have been a Halle Berry-esque Catwoman catsuit (read into that what you will!) but right now, the answer would be my pyjama’s because I’m feeling tired and want to curl up in a huge comfy sofa. Interestingly though, those two responses also reflect my style personality as a Dramatic Natural, whereas the idea of wearing a fairy costume or going naked would never be options!
And that leads me to ask, why not? Eg is the idea of going naked (even when no-one would see us) a sign that we don’t want to feel exposed for example? And is the idea of dressing up like a superhero or baddie about wanting to feel powerful or dangerous? (Answers on a postcard please as they say!)
In other words what we wear (I believe) tells us a lot, and can be used to express something going on inside, hide, or shout out a non-verbal message.
With that in mind, what would your answer be to the question at this moment, and why?

Saturday 22 June 2013

Fashion takes us back!

I recently held the honour of being #bizoftheweek on Twitter on the #BeckBromFL. Each day I tweeted around questions, tips and thoughts about image, style and fashion.
Whilst the tips and thoughts were often retweeted, the real interaction came as a result of the cheeky questions entitled #Justforfun.  A few of them will form the basis of my next few blogs, starting with the question:
- Which fashion item would you erase from your photo album? -
The responses did make me laugh, and I'm sure those who shared did too. Mentioned was a kaftan and curly perm, hot pants, headband and ra-ra skirt, a leopard skin coat, MC Hammer trousers and shell suits.
Though funny now, each outfit would (most likely) have made the wearer feel right on trend at the time, and I'll bet just reading that list has taken you on a trip down memory lane... It's funny how a picture (even one that remains in our head!) of us in an old outfit can transport us back years and remind us of a range of things - from what we were up to and with whom, to what we were listening to. 
In chapter 7 (The Traveller in Time) of the book 'The Thoughtful Dresser' we are told that...
..."We can date old photographs by what people wore, how they styled their hair" and that "how people are dressed is the most reliable indicator of different periods in history".
An item/ style/ period may return - hot pants from the 70's to Kylie "Spinning around", the 60's and the 20's as currently in favour; but always with a twist. And whilst an item might return, even then it will have us talking about how it was 'the first time around'.
Given that nobody wanted to erase anything 'current', it does make me wonder - what will we think of what we're wearing now in a few years time, what current styles will be recycled from the noughties, and what memories will they trigger?
So to my final thought on the subject: If the picture actually made you smile or brought back a good memory from a period in your history, it's not really that bad and really shouldn't be erased. Rather it should be smiled at and celebrated.
[Note: Sadly, in my case, my 90's graduation outfit - which was the wrong colour and style for me - simply makes me cringe but it still makes my parents smile so I'm stuck with it!]
Denise x
Please click on the link below and Enjoy (the full video is at the end)!:
Which decade would you erase your pic' from?!

Wednesday 29 May 2013

So this year, So Now!

You probably know that emerald green is the colour of the year, but more than that - it really is a colour for the moment.

In the last few weeks I've met jewellery expert @KellyLCasey whose favourite stone is emerald, Caro Emerald has released a new album and Bette Midler was in the Metro yesterday* talking about (amongst other things) colour and fashion, and wearing - yes, you guessed it... emerald green!

As Spring continues to elude us, emerald green is a colour deep enough to not look out of place in the 'autumnal' weather whilst at the same time nodding us towards an appreciation of the growth of flowers and plants springing up around us.

Although it is a clear step away from black, worn in the right place with the right complimentary colours - emerald can act as an alternative neutral, eg with a pale green top if you have light colouring or contrasting tangerine if you have a warm undertone. 

And if that all isn't proof enough that emerald green is THE colour of the moment, did you know the gemstone for the month of May is emerald?

If you’d like to know how to incorporate this stunning shade into your wardrobe (and yes, it can work for everyone), then email me at for your FREE guide on how to feel energised in emerald!

Denise x

Frame includes - Earrings: Stella & Dot, Claudia Galanti at Cannes 2013

"Who first beholds the light of day

In spring's sweet flowery month of May
And wears an emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and happy wife"