Saturday 27 December 2014

Say No to 'New Year, New You'

You are not a pair of shoes!

I'm not quite sure how to explain this but my uncertainty about this concept seemed to resonate (verbally) at a networking meeting recently, so I thought I'd share my thoughts anyway.  
I asked my fellow attendees how they felt about the 'New year, new you' idea, and most seemed to feel a little uneasy about it.

It's not so much my thinking from an an isolated stylist perspective (where new year, new clothes kinda works!) - my unease at the idea is in relation to my more holistic approach to image and confidence, which encompasses and embraces my 'hats' as a trainer/HR professional/mentor/body confidence coach.

So, here's a few of my thoughts as to why this, seemingly, annual launch might not be the best thing for us:
  • If 'all new' is your key aim, you may lose the best bits of the old you in the process of creating the 'new you' 
  • Chances are, there's actually little or nothing wrong about the current you and having a view that you need to be a 'new you' may be too negative a start-point
  • If things are wrong, it's too general to say it's 'you' - it's probably about your circumstances, resources etc too
  • The old (young/er) you may actually hold the key - maybe the young(er) you is where you were happiest and/best, eg were you a creative child who suppressed it and turned into formal adult? Maybe new year, old you is where it's at!
  • Maybe the 'new' will you lack authenticity - will others recognise you? More importantly, will you recognise yourself?
  • You cannot (even if you wanted to) simply put out the old and get a brand new, unconnected, forget all about the past 'you'... You are not a pair of shoes! 

Maybe not perfect, but be real about what you need to and can change!

Of course, it's not bad to want to improve - just be careful of trying to create a whole new, not necessarily true, you. And let's face it, that's not a very well defined personal target. So...

Even if things need to change, why link it to the New year and if you must, think about it as 'New year, better best you' or 'New year, improved you' which just seems a more positive perspective to me (even though it's not such a snazzy strapline!)

I hope that make sense... What are your thoughts on this? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Happy New Year!

Denise x

PS - If you'd like some help setting personal goals or working through becoming your best you, let me know. 

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Thursday 4 December 2014

Coming back!

It's been a while...

I can't believe it's been so long since I last blogged. It's not as if I've had nothing to say!

There's been so much going on, but I've never lost my colourful core or stopped being a stylist as I get/do a commentary every day in my office with some fellow followers of fashion. It is even became a talking point when I presented back to colleagues on our staff survey!

Along with my regular jobs and styling clients, one of the focus points of recent months has been 'body confidence'. We're reaching our climax when it comes to the 'Body Confidence calendar with the new year looming. (Find out more about this at:, on Twitter: @_BodyConfidence or on Facebook: Body Confidence Calendar 2015). 

It's been a time of 'living out my brand' - whether I've been doing role one (being mum!), my day job, trustee role, being an ambassador for the Calendar Girls or an image consultant. I know I've done it without compromising my co-ordinated dramatic signature style, love of shoes and colour; and with a smile.

Co-ordinated dress and earrings, colourful nails and a smile!

And I'll be bringing all that and more to my blog soon, so watch this space.

It's good to be back!

Denise x

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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Petite Pals: Look cool, stay warm.

Staying warm, staying stylish, staying seen!

It can be tougher dressing a petite frame in cooler seasons as fabrics get heavier and clothing gets bigger - that thick winter jumper that the models are wearing looks great on girls with a 'grande' scale but that sort of thing can just swamp us petites.

I personally find it challenging not to disappear under my heavy winter coat and behind my umbrella so I've put together this guide of what works for me.

My tips for petite dressing as the temperature drops (in no particular order)...

1. Wedge boots - we still need some height but stiletto heels in snow... Just no!

2. Cashmere & Merino - in your wardrobe there should be (thin yet warm) cashmere or similar, be it a jumper, cardi, dress or twin set if you're a classic style personality.

3. Coloured tights matched with a bright ankle boot allows us to stay in shorts and mini's and create the look of longer legs like nude shoes do for us in the summer.

4. Thermal undies - yes, I'm serious. A thin thermal is a way to keep warm without the bulk.

5. A cropped wooly jumper, ideally with 3/4 length sleeves - you may need to balance a heavy top with chunkier boots. However, it's best to avoid more big chunky, eg jewellery, on your top half.

6. A waistcoat (not with your wooly jumper I'd suggest) - it's another layer, shaping and stylish. For work layer with a thermal vest, shirt, waistcoat and jacket... Snug!

7. Don't forget to wear colour*, and as tempting as it is don't wear too many deep colours if they're not in your palette (and especially not as a roll neck jumper!) - not specific to petites but worth a mention all the same. Remember, top to toe colour will lengthen you.

8. Use/tie your winter scarves in a way that fits with your petite proportions, and as your scarf is near your face make sure you're wearing a flattering colour. 
(Not sure what yours are: #getyourcoloursdone!)

9. Also think about your proportions when it comes to hats - whilst a heavy wide-brimmed hat may make a striking fashion statement, it may also overshadow the petite person wearing it!

10. Personally, I love dresses and skirts but when it cools down you'' often see me in... Trousers - patterned and plain, they are a cool season essential in my book, but the frustration can be getting the length right (especially if they need to be squeezed into your boots). M&S, Topshop, Next are my high street recommendations. Need them made? Go to The clothes lady or Suit yourself suits.

Obviously we're more than our height, so your bodyshape may affect which of these items work best for you, however as a general guide and in summary: 
  • Thinner materials layered up are best. 
  • Don't go for anything too bulky or big. 
  • Follow the usual dressing petite dressing rules, but...
...Don't abandon your inner-style rules - because worse than losing your body under a big jumper, is losing your style personality under a bundle of 'rules'!

Do you agree?
Which tips were most useful?
Are there any you'd add?

Happy Shopping!

Denise x

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Friday 22 August 2014

Why Autumn is awesome...

...By a Summer Lover!

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a summer lover with a need for heat*, so the move into autumn always unsettles me a little. Don't get me wrong, I like autumn. It's the fact it means we're getting closer to winter that's more the problem for me!

I like autumn because *I can wear layers without questions, I can wear more accessories (hats, scarves etc), and because I can indulge in comfort food, hot chocolate and chai lattes.

Colour-wise I move into deep greens, rich reds and plums and chocolate - all of which I love.

But more importantly, the change from summer to autumn means I start to slow down after the speed (and stress!) of the summer holidays.

Autumn is my time to chill out, as I watch nature gloriously do the same.

It's a great time to reflect (how was summer for you, what memories did you make?) renew, and refresh. Just watch how the leaves transition from green to golden brown for inspiration.

And finally... There's still time to squeeze in achieving your last New Year’s resolutions before the end of the year! 

Reflect, renew, refresh my lovelies,
Denise x

For more:
My "Mirabelle" in Autumn, by Chris Estcourt

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Wednesday 13 August 2014

On the Front Row...

... Mind your language

I was fortunate enough to be invited to sit on the Models of Diversity 'Front Row' with an awesome panel for a debate on body confidence. 

The debate was brilliantly hosted by Barbra of MoD who presented a number of statistics to trigger discussions - one of the points that most cases of bullying is based on 'image' and this was validated several times firstly by panel member Abi (Phillips) and then by a number of others.

Thankfully there was a serious amount of expertise and experience on the panel* for the floor to tap into so this wasn't just something that was talked about without support and suggestions.

For more of these pictures of the event by George Chiesa, go to:

After the bullying discussions concluded, some amazing points and discussions revolved around the role of the media, social media, schools, parents, designers, retailers and the modelling industry in the apparent rise in body confidence issues. We agreed that the issue of body confidence is a complex one, with environments and triggers being different for anyone who experiences a lack of body confidence at one end of the scale to the more serious issues of body dysmorphia and eating disorders.

Those in the room itself reflected this - it was packed with a diverse and passionate audience, each with a story to tell and some who shared their inspirational stories about overcoming bullying and other challenges on their journey to body confidence. One notable contribution was from vibrant Khandie Kisses who got the crowd laughing and crying with her story.

From the front row, some of the key points from each of the panel members were these (in seating order):

  • Abi - 1. you can beat the bullies, be strong; 2. it's not all about looks, it's about talent
  • Sam - of Men Get Eating Disorders Too said: 1. it's exactly as it says (and who am I to add more!), 2. there's increasing pressure on boys but not necessarily around 'fashion'
  • Lauren - 1. the impact and complexity of body image and the mental health/illness perspective; 2. there's progress/action being taken - even at government level
  • Nicola - 1. keep it real with humour, and praise others; 2. everyone was "beautiful" *wink*
  • Lorena - 1. body confidence starts at home; 2. we have responsibility to redirect troubled individuals when issues are serious if an issue and out of our remit 
  • Beth - 1. let's not focus on beauty (especially with girls) and/size, let's focus on healthy; 2. find your happy and skills

As for me, my observation was how much language and words matter. Bullies and the media can use language that belittles and hurts, but as (if not more) importantly we ourselves, and role models like parents and schools have a responsibility to 'mind our language',

The words we use to describe ourselves and label others is powerful and heard by the younger generation, so... We can either use our words to belittle others value or to build them up.

Thank you Robin Williams for saying it better than I, and for the laughs - RIP

Given their power, we can and should also use our 'voices' to lobby the fashion industry, media and any other influencers so that they mind their language too. After all, (for example) there shouldn't be "plus-sized models, there should just be models"- Beth.

Let's use our words to change things (and others) for the better!

I met some super people that night and the experience was a really special one. Personally, I am just proud and humbled that I was invited to be part of something that was so positive and inspiring.

Lift each other up people.....

Denise x

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*Follow/Contact the panel by clicking on the links at the bottom this page: and for MoD, click here:

Thursday 24 July 2014

Before the Front Row!

Would you share your story?

I was approached to take part in the Models of Diversity Front Row event following my #30daysofbodypraise blog at which set out to promote the Body Confidence calendar (

With the event taking place in the next few weeks the excitement and nerves are beginning to kick in, so this blog is about where I'm coming from and where I'm at!

I'm nervous because Body Confidence isn't an easy subject and we can't be sure we'll connect with every member of the audience. However it's a great opportunity to explore the issue, connect with others for whom it's important and because if we can make a difference to how just one person perceives themselves it'll be worth it.

I'm very passionate about the issue, and the impression I have (based on loads of discussion with clients, having worked with models, and in writing the blog) is that most people, if not everyone, struggles with body confidence at least sometimes.

I also believe everyone has a body confidence timeline - times when we've been confident, maybe because we've been given positive messages; and times when that's not been the case.

Timing is also key and it is often the messages we've heard in our teen years that have the most impact as it is then that we're most likely to be trying to get the balance between rebellion and conformity right. However, if you're a parent don't think that the early years messages have no impact at all - they do.

For example, I'm currently experiencing hair loss and having heard "a woman's hair is her beauty" since childhood, this experience is a particular challenge and is becoming another part of my story. However it's not what's happening that defines my body confidence - the difference comes from 'parking' that old and unhelpful belief, being honest about the issue, seeking help and ultimately recognising (saying and believing) that my hair doesn't define me! It's a process and not always an easy one, but we can overcome our body confidence issues and talking about them is a good place to start.

And that's the spirit I hope I'm able to get across on Monday night.

If we can track and understand our journey we're on the right path, and it's a path personal to each one of us. And PS: as the media doesn't know us all, we shouldn't let us influence us too much.

When it comes to influence, I'm going with listening to the others on the panel. See why here:

I hope you'll join us to ask your questions, share your stories and views and hear more from this passionate and experienced group of 'experts'

To book your ticket, go to:

Damson Belle's Style Blog

Hope to see you at the event.....
Denise x

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Monday 30 June 2014

All together now

My body is One-derful

I can't believe it's been 30 days already!

I've praised so many body parts (not in any great depth) and yet 30 days isn't enough to do them all. I've not 'done' my wrists, nose, jaw, back (not spine), muscles, blood, nerves and so much more.

It's been quite a journey, during which I've gown in body confidence and truly recognised how amazing my body is. I'm not going to lie, there are parts of my body it was a challenge to be positive about and these probably remain areas I'm never going to be glowing about. However, I am grateful. Grateful for the body I've got, and amazed at its almost effortless efficiency. Even whilst I sleep my body is keeping me alive - with no conscious effort on my part - each bit performing its own unique function. And let's face it - when one bit hurts it affects many, if not every other part.

If you have a lack of body confidence I really encourage you to set yourself a similar challenge. 

As I've said before, the ABCD of body confidence starts with A for acknowledging how amazing each part is (classically 'pretty' or not). The B is for being grateful and thereafter you can get to the C for celebrating it. Celebrate the bits you love and D-itch the focus on the bits you like less. 

Jessica Hische

If you do decide to take on the challenge you don't have to share it with anyone, though I'd be happy to support you through it. I'm not claiming to be an expert and I'll probably have the odd down day myself, but when that happens my mantra will be this...

I believe my body is wonderful, not just one bit, all of it - together and harmonious.

And yours is too. And your mates. And your colleagues. And on, and on.
Spread the word!

That's all folks (Hope you've enjoyed sharing my journey!)
Denise x

PS: Find out more about the project that's behind #30daysofbodypraise at: and please support us however you can.

Sunday 29 June 2014

Love it loving

At the centre of it all

There are several vital organs in the body including our brains (day 8) and yesterday's liver,  but it is the heart that lies at our core as emotional human beings - the middle chakra.

It is our heart where we will feel love, the love we should have for our bodies and all it's wonderful individual and interconnected parts. Surely it's deserve of some love itself!

My heart is the reason I'm here because when the body confidence calendar idea came up, my head said 'you'd be mad' and my body said 'you're not going to show us off are you?', but my heart said 'do this, it's not about sense or indeed about you and, it feels right'. And so here I am. Smart heart - it was right!

On a practical level - our heart feeds the rest of our body by pumping blood and oxygen around, but here's the amazing bit...

... If any of our vital organs fail, there's a chance we'll pass away, but it is said that you can die of a broken heart - even if it's otherwise healthy. I don't think that can be said of any other body part. When it swells (like it did when we hit our target yesterday) - it's a good thing, and... It's also the only body part we can give away that grows as a result of it being given.
Simply awesome.

Love your heart, because your heart does the loving.

Feeling a bit emosh! (Just one more blog to go)
Denise x

PS: Find out more about the project that's behind #30daysofbodypraise at: and please support us however you can.

Saturday 28 June 2014

Be a liver lover!

It's Saturday night...

...The night most commonly associated with having a drink or three.

This evening the Calendar Girls will be popping open the bubbly to celebrate reaching our crowdfunder target. (As will either Brazil or Chile football fans!)

These are NOT the calendar girls!

In praise and thanks to my liver, I will be having just the one (even though it might be a big one!)

If you're joining us in celebrating, go easy and spare a thought for your liver that works overtime when you have a good time. Don't have too much and make it poorly, instead: pace yourself, drink water too and if you do go a little crazy give your liver 2-3 days off after tonight...

... And tomorrow, your head and stomach might just thank you!

As for tonight, WE THANK YOU!
Denise x

PS: Find out more about the project that's behind #30daysofbodypraise at: and please support us however you can.

Friday 27 June 2014

The windows to your soul

They see, they say!

As I started this blog, I'll admit to thinking it would be about how beautiful eyes can be - but they deserve to be praised for so much more than how long our lashes are, how almond shaped and spaced our eyes are and which colour is best.

Yes, that's all lovely and I will soon be doing an advanced makeup session focussing on making the most of mine, but this series is more about praising and appreciating our bodies so the focus has changed from their relative beauty to their fabulous functionality!

You see, the primary function of our eyes is obviously to help us see (yes, I know what I did there!). Our eyes are how we view and judge the world around us - one of our five senses. Our eyes connect many of our other senses - before we eat, we judge if something looks appetising; before we smell a flower, we may look to see if a bee is present and so on.

Of course many people have to rely more heavily on their other senses, but those of us who are blessed with vision should really appreciate that (a) they protect us from others and the world around us ("I could see it coming, so I swerved/ducked/moved/ran etc"), and (b) they are a huge source of joy as they allow us to see the images that our mind translates.

But as well as seeing... Our eyes say so much - they shine when we're happy and shed tears when we're sad. They are so expressive that they can tell someone how we're feeling without us having to say a word.

And it is this latter function that has us believe our eyes are the windows to our soul.

How amazing is that!

(But if you really want to see beautiful eyes, here's a few to 'look' at:

Have a fab weekend everyone!
Denise x

PS: Find out more about the project that's behind #30daysofbodypraise at: and please support us however you can.

Thursday 26 June 2014

Something to smile about

I'm talking teeth

Given the bad press they've had this week (thanks to a certain footballing incident by he who doesn't deserve to be named), I've decide to do a blog in praise of our (my) teeth.

Of course, like many other body parts, they can be used negatively. Sure, they can give us problems (toothache anyone?). But, in the main, I'm glad I've got mine and you should be glad for yours (real ones especially!). We probably take our teeth for granted and in some cases are wilfully negligent in taking care of them.

And yet, imagine trying to enjoy (and digest) a meal without them? Would you smile so widely without them? And did you know that good dental hygiene 'protects' us from issues such as heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes?

Teeth over Hair and Eyes

So, be your own tooth fairy... Treat them well by brushing, flossing and avoiding sugary/acidic food; use them only for the purposes intended, eg eating (no, not opening packets and separating Lego) and never, ever, ever use them for biting someone!

PS -Sept 20th is love your teeth day in China. I might just join in from now on!

Keep smiling, Keep shining!
Denise x

PS: Find out more about the project that's behind #30daysofbodypraise at: and please support us however you can.

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Treat your Hair like its your Heart

Hair - our crowning glory...

...That’s what they call it, and quite literally I believe it to be true.  

Audrey Ball
Audrey of Esteem Wigs
The hair on our head becomes an integral part of our being - but you will never know how true this is until you no longer have it. It needs tending to and maintaining - how hair looks, how it makes us feel has an intravenous line directly hooked into who we are and how we feel about ourselves.

Styling, making it ready is a daily chore for some - right next to the ironing and putting the washing out, but we take a lot of time, pleasure and pride in showing it off to its best. For other’s it’s a natural asset, all beauty and no effort and for some it’s a short back and sides to keep it just how they want to it with minimum effort.

Young or old, male or female it seems mostly that we have love and hate relationship with our hair, but boy is it wonderful when you get it right. It’s beautiful to look at if cared for, it’s sensual and comforting to touch, it frames our faces and finishes the human body perfectly, and more practically, it keeps us warm. So given this, it does surprise me that we tend not to treat it like the “golden fleece”, providing only natures goodness from the inside out.  I mean it’s not like ears, attached by skin, the hair growth and attachment is through a small cell on the underneath of you scalp, and once damaged can cause weakness.

If you speak to any trichologist they can show you how poor diet, and health and chemicals can have a detrimental affect on your hair overtime. 

So like most things in life, everything should be balanced and in moderation, moderation, and moderation. Don’t junk it with gunk, eat well, exercise and don’t wash, iron, curl, treat it too often.

I know this more than most, as I was 18 years old when I lost all the hair on my scalp and body due to Alopecia Universalis a condition, which causes complete hair loss including brows and lashes. So with me, hair loss was a disease opposed to any type of mistreatment, although, I did let a friend perm some of it once making me look like a poodle, but the end results of any form of loss tends to be the same.

So don’t all run out and ditch your lovely and expensive hair lotions and potions, instead take it as some positive advice and messaging about keeping your hair and scalp strong because the effects of hair loss are fairly devastating emotionally and physically and it can take a long time to come to terms with it.

Our stores are bulging to the brim with hair products and we are mesmerised by the way we look – coiffed or au naturel – all I ask is that you treat your hair like your heart, keep it in tip top condition, get it checked now and then and look after it with care. Great hair is our crowning glory there is no denying it.

Guest blog, courtesy of Audrey Ball, Esteem Hair Loss Consultancy (June 2014) 020 3397 6634

Thanks to Audrey for today's blog, tomorrow...
I'll be back!
Denise x

PS: Find out more about the project that's behind #30daysofbodypraise at: and please support us however you can.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Wonderful canvases...

...Wonderful clue?

My husband recently brought me a lovely top and he got the colours just right. How did he know I'd like the combination? My nails that's how, as they'd recently been painted in the same colours!

Same colours - different aims: 1) Add colour, 2) Compliment

Personally I love that our nails can act as mini-canvases. I often come across clients who allow themselves to be brave with their nail colour to compensate from a 'fear' of colourful clothes. How you do/would love to paint your nails (or not) may also a key to your hidden style personality - are you a natural nails girl, do you like pretty patterns or are you a classic french polish kind of girl?

More importantly, did you know our nails are also a key indicator of our overall health? Like all our body, our nails play an important role but in this instance, my praise is somewhat 'shallow' - Simply, my painted nails cheer me up and I know I'm not alone. My colleague said this a few days ago...

Happiness is ... Red fingernails and...

What's your favourite nail colour and why? I like orange as it cheers me up but looks better on my nails than near my face, and if I have to go plain - I'll always add some sparkle. No drama there then!

Thats all for now! 
Denise x

PS: Find out more about the project that's behind #30daysofbodypraise at: and please support us however you can.

Monday 23 June 2014

How much would you insure yours for?

Legs 11. Worth so much more.

Tina Turner's legs were insured for over $3million! But yours are worth a packet too...

Your legs are precious and priceless too x

Legs - mine and yours and his and hers next door... So wonderful, they even have their own bingo call!

Yet, talk to many people about them and you get a heap of judgements like they’re not long enough, thin enough, or shapely enough, and don’t get me started on the current media crap about thigh gaps. (Thighs may get their own blog in time!). Some men want to bulk theirs up, some woman want to thin theirs down – Geez people...

For most of us, our legs are how we get around – does it really matter what they look like. And think too about those, who through illness and accident, would love fully functional legs. What more do we need to think about when it comes to praising them.

Mine are certainly worthy - they've carried me through buzzing Barcelona for the last few days, in shorts on occasion too (in keeping with the locals).

If you’re able to... stand up and give your legs a round of applause!

Bye for now! 
Denise x

PS: Find out more about the project that's behind #30daysofbodypraise at: and please support us however you can.