Thursday 31 December 2015

Goodbye Ms December - A special year...

...Goodbye Calendar Girls, Happy New Year

For the last 12 months I've been a bone fide calendar girl, but come midnight I'll be a has been!

My colleagues and I have graced the walls of many homes bringing our brightness, body confidence messages and a monthly reminder to check ya tits! In doing so we raised over £12k for charity* - not bad, considering it all started as a flippant Facebook comment.

On a personal level, it was an incredible experience... so much so that rather that losing something because I'm no longer a calendar girl, I've gained lots - a sense of achievement, a fresh perspective on the power of image consulting, more, and most importantly fabulous new friends.

Thank you to everyone who supported us - from sponsoring printing, reading and sharing my #30daysofbodypraise blogs, and putting us on your walls.

The calendar may be gone but we'll always be calendar girls and why we did it is still an issue, so I ask that you continue to support Breast Cancer Now* and follow us on Twitter at @_BodyConfidence.

Wishing you all a fabulous 2016.
Denise x

Sunday 29 November 2015

Social media - The tool that's helping me step up my style

Developing my image via Insta!

It's been a while since my last blog - I've been busy at work of late and away a bit, but I have to confess I've also been a little distracted by a new social media platform in the last month.

I recently joined Instagram (, and it's been a surprise to me that rather than paying attention to the fashion, I've been focussing on make-up and manicures.

I suspect that because I'm comfortable with my style, I've been drawn to what I can develop to boost my image overall. So inspired have I been that my recent image purchases haven't been clothes, shoes or handbags as usual, but a full set of make-up brushes (...not that I know how to use them all!)

It's not that I've been unable to do makeup or manicures (, it's just that I'm not trained in all things image (not to mention that some things are harder to apply some things to yourself!)

Social media, along with the internet and blogs, is great for helping you step up your style game - Pinterest and Instagram are especially good as they are so visual. What platforms, if any do you use, and...

If your image needs a refresh, what would you have to focus on?

Whether clothes, make-up, accessories or beauty, social media can provide some great ideas and inspire your style development, but remember as this Judy Garland quote suggests don't be a copy. Style is about authenticity...

Image result for who said Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.

Good luck developing your original!
Denise x

Wednesday 21 October 2015

My top 10 tips on loving your clothes purchase(s) at home

How to buy clothes you'll still love when you look at them in your mirror at home.

Last week I did a corporate style event in LK Bennett's Covent Garden store, and found myself dispensing advice to lots of lovely ladies with one common theme - how they got from loving something on the mannequin to actually wearing it once they'd left the shop with it.

I heard then, and hear often, from women (and men) who have numerous unworn items in their wardrobe(s). If that's you, I dare you to calculate that cost! And then, read on for my top tips on avoiding adding more regrets to it.

My ten top tips (in no particular order!)

Try things on and do the 360!
1. Don't go shopping blindly
...know what you already own that will work with what you're about to buy - from accessories to underwear. 

2. Put on the right footwear to try stuff on with
...Why? Because, for example, heel height will change the length something appears and it will alter your posture affecting the overall impact. Trying to tip toe to the right height rarely works as we concentrate on not toppling over!

3. Be conscious of the impact of store lighting on the colour of your chosen item
...Try and get near natural light if possible or imagine yourself under dinner lighting. Don't be shy about leaving the changing room! Walking about will also help you know if something feels comfortable as well as if it looks right.

4. Know your shopping horror history
...If all your previous shopping horrors have been when you've shopped alone: go shopping with a trusted (honest yet diplomatic!) friend or better still a stylist especially if your purchase is expensive and/important. If all your mistakes have been after a few lunchtime drinks with Belle from the office - don't do that again!

“If all your mistakes have been after a few lunchtime drinks with Belle from the office - don't do that again!

5. Step away from the mirror and do the 360
...It may look great on, face on and close up but does it look the same at a distance and from a different perspective?

6. Play with it!
...For example, as a petite I know that I might have to have something altered so I'll try and create that scenario in-store. If you think something needs adjusting ask the store if they can tape the change (eg hem, sleeve length) for you. Changing something can alter the overall look. LK Bennett, for example, will do alterations.

7. If you can, get someone to take a photo of you in the outfit
...Again, it's about seeing things from a different perspective.
Important: This is not an opportunity to criticise yourself but to critique an outfit.

8. Go knowing you
...Get to know your best colours, understand your body shape and think about your style personality - you may love the idea of something more than you'll love it on you

9. Have a place/event in mind that you know you'll wear the item or outfit to.
...We've all brought something fab and had it languish in our wardrobe for an age before having a suitable place to wear it to. That's ok with a classic piece but not a high fashion piece which may not be in fashion next year!

I know it sounds obvious, but...
10 ...actually Try stuff on! I've worked with people who hate shopping so they rush in and buy something, those who buy because they like the look of something in an ad' or on the hanger and others who don't like the hassle of changing rooms.

As with all my 'advice', the final thing is... If you really (really) love it and feel wow in it, forget all of the above and go for it!

What are your top tips?

Happy shopping!
Denise x

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Wednesday 23 September 2015

My first 'Hello Fashion Monthly' magazine

Thoughts in 5-4-3-2-1

Yesterday I saw the new Hello Fashion Magazine on sale for a pound, and was straight in there! It's been around for a year now but it's the first time I've brought it as I'm usually reading work material on train rides or soaking up fashion news via blogs and social media.

  • What I liked about it (5)
It's glossy, focuses on what it says on the tin (fashion), gets a good balance between content and pictures, has items across the price range, and has a familiar format with the inclusion of beauty and lifestylewhich was comforting.
  • What I loved about it (4)
A section for bridal (not sure if it's permanent the but I hope it's at least a feature periodically), so much colour, reading about designers rather than a sole focus on their output, the presentation of 1 buy 4 ways
  • What I want from it! (3)
My top picks: A buy now, a buy maybe and a buy...if I win the lottery!
  • Who/what I discovered in it (2)
Susie Bubble and her brightness; her blog is now in my favourites. And, I'd not heard of 'Three floor' before but having checked out their website I think I'm in lust! (three*
  • What I wasn't so hot on? (1)
Sorry, but it just didn't 'look' diverse - I see the same type of  models and advertising yet again. Why? There are dark skinned models, plus-size, petite and models with disabilities (though anyone featured may of course have a hidden disability) who could give a mag' an edge imho.

Would I get it again? That'd be a yes!

If it's a glossy you've read what are your thoughts and how does it compare to your other faves?
Denise x
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* my blog is in no way sponsored, so any brand references are personal and independent.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

#Fashfest - More than fashion... "Meet the Stylists"

  • The expectation:

Last night I attended Cosmopolitan's "Meet the Stylists" event. According to the write up in the mag we were to expect a 'chance to learn the trade secrets of celebrity style from our panel of fashion and beauty experts'

On that panel were Justine Jenkins, Michelle Humphrey, Lilah Parsons and Gemma Sheppard. Experts indeed. And they were interviewed by Farrah Storr, the editor of Cosmo herself.

  • My reality:

However, I didn't come away with trade secrets. I came away with much more!

I had expected to be told about the latest trends, but instead we were treated to stories about the personal journeys of everyone on stage in an open and engaging manner.

If I'm honest I had expected them to a fair bit of ego and some posturing (sorry ladies), but instead we saw 'real' women who were humble, passionate and hardworking.

I had expected it all to be a little TV with the audience kept at a distance from these celebs of style, but each one of them answered questions graciously and waited at the end to speak to their eager audience.

I didn't come away with tricks of the trade - I came away believing that what they had was possible with a willingness to 'learn the trade' (Lilah), use social media and contacts (Michelle), do a little for free and then know/charge your worth (Justine) and to take your chances and be confident (Gemma); and lots more tips!

Unlike some of the (generally younger) audience I wasn't looking for the tricks of the trade or an in, I was looking for some tips. And I got them, but not tips on fashion, nails and beauty...
... I came away inspired, with tips (reminders) on how to get on in life.

  • So, what am I going to do with all that?

I'm starting here, and will boldly share this blog with them!

I'm going to take a makeup class.

And, I can't wait to put this to the young people I speak to in schools who might well be told that fashion is shallow and not a real career.

Thank you ladies!*

More life than fashion, no spring chicken and proud!
Denise x

*Sorry, the photos aren't that sassy and there's no Instagram!

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Thursday 6 August 2015


...A musical with a message.

I recently saw the musical "Beautiful" based on the story of Carol King, and I loved it! But despite a fab performance by award winning Katie Brayben, and cast, that's not why I'm writing this blog.

I'm writing it because I felt there was a body confidence message in it.
(I know, never quite 'off-duty'!)...

In an early scene 'Carol' talks about not being good enough in the looks department to get noticed by 'Gerry'. Later there's a brief exchange between 'Carol' and 'Cynthia' when 'Janelle's' looks are mentioned. And then there's the suggestion by 'Carol' herself she doesn't think she fits the image of a female lead vocalists when it's suggested she performs her own songs.

The super talented singer, songwriter, legend Carol King herself has endorsed the show and so I take it that such image issues/perceptions of beauty are ones she at least recognises.

Don't let the celeb status fool you - hang-ups about the way we look affects many of us irrespective of our talents, looks or role at least some of the time. 

We all know that in the end Carol's talent is what shines through, but the point is how often we let how we feel about ourselves in the looks department hold us back. As the show portrays, we have to decide to push past our insecurities, grab some body confidence (or at least embrace what makes us special), and hang onto it if we want people hear our true voice and see the "Natural woman" (sorry gents, had to get this reference in!)

How often do YOU let the way you look (or your perception about the way you look) affect what you go for in a relationship or your career, for example?

But, as it's easier said than done, if you're struggling I'm sure "You've got a friend" who can help you with that. We're usually way more harsh on ourselves than others, so enlist some support*

And (not really a spoiler!), let me tell you how the show closes: Yes, it closes with the number "Beautiful" which 'reflects themes present throughout the "Tapestry" album, such as the importance of self-esteem and positive outlook' -


 Go on, listen to Carol!
Denise x

PS - *Professional help is available eg from organisations such as The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation ( - don't hesitate to contact me if you need redirecting.

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Saturday 27 June 2015

Back to black... Clothes, that is!

I lasted more than a month!

In my last blog ( I talked about the challenge I'd set myself to #wearnoblack. And I did it. Even at a professionals 'black tie' event. For over a month. Both at play and (often more of a challenges) at work.

This week, I went back to wearing black - deliberately and consciously. And it had to be, because I realised that I'd created a new habit*. The habit of NOT wearing back.

It felt odd. I wore black trousers, a white top, royal blue shoes and a black, white, blue patterned jacket. An outfit that I'd often worn on auto-pilot before. It fit the workwear formula: wear a black dress, skirt or trousers and work around that.

Denise Sanderson-Estcourt, FCIPD
The jacket - worn with a white top and black trews!

So I went to work and for the first time in a month not one person mentioned my outfit. Not one! I didn't miss the comments through vanity but honestly... Work genuinely seemed quieter, and the weather was a bit miserable! I'd spent the whole month wearing colour, enjoyed the challenge, and felt bright. The bonus was that it triggered so many conversations starting with comments like:
  • You really know how to put colours together
  • You always look (insert something flattering!) in colour
  • Your colour combinations always cheer me up
  • What colours should I wear to make me look so vibrant?

All the comments/questions reinforced that colour can really create a positive mood, and done in an appropriate way (eg for your personal colouring and environment), colour can be the starter of a great conversation - because we don't always see too much colour in corporate environments.

The following day to complete the experiment, I wore two bright but complimentary colours and no black again. My boss queried what was up that I'd worn black the day before, a colleague said she'd didn't think I'd smiled as much as 'normal' and our College librarian said - you looked like a CEO-in-waiting yesterday (and whilst diplomatic she didn't seem to mean it in a good way, no offence to CEO's!)

Now, I get that for some people that's what they're going for. The blend-in look or the I'm corporate look. And that's fine. But, consider this...

In colour I still looked professional. (There was still a formula eg jacket, heels, appropriate length attire). And, here's the real thing - I also brought a little life to my look and managed to cheer people up at a time when happiness/wellbeing at work is high on the agenda.

Madeleine Albright rose in colour!

Going forward, I will wear black. And colour. But I will be really conscious of when. And mindful of why.

So, I ask you again - how long could you go without wearing black?
And I challenge you - If black is an auto-pilot staple for you, try going without wearing it for a while and let me know how you get on!

Have a bright weekend!
Denise x

PS - *They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit.

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Wednesday 3 June 2015

A ban on black! Clothes, that is...

How many of you could wear NO black for a week?

The lovely Angie Greaves is on a mission with her #wearlessblack hashtag, but I've managed to inadvertently set myself the challenge of wearing no black to set a colourful example at work. I'm not sure that I'll keep going much longer but it's been a while since I last wore any black at all. For some people I know that'd be near on impossible as they revolve their whole wardrobe around black trousers! On the other hand, I recently met a lady who said she felt 'liberated' the day an image consultant 'suggested' that it didn't flatter her.

My colour combinations are all based on my colour palette and importantly, an understanding of how to combine them to suit my colouring, personality and lifestyle & work.

Here are some of the combinations I've gone for (so far)...









Do you have a fave colour combo from my selection of outfits, and what colour combinations could you go for from your existing wardrobe that doesn't include any black?

Hope you're enjoying the sunshine!
Denise x

PS - I've also had a navy & white PJ day, and my bag is taupe!

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Wednesday 13 May 2015

New bag, old shoes...

One new bag, lots of old coloured shoes!

I can honestly say I make few rash purchases since becoming 'my-style' concious. I am fully aware of what's in my closet, so when I shop it's usually for something I 'need' or at least I can justify (eg it's something that will compliment lots of other things or is a likely long-term staple).

I do, however, have a bit of a thing for accessories like scarves, handbags and shoes.  So, imagine how happy I was to find a handbag that complimented sooooo much of what I already have - an item that will up-style a pair of jeans and a tee and not look out of place at a swanky wedding or garden party.

And here it is, my new handbag...

Cruther handbag from Aldo, with some of my shoes and Stella & Dot jewellery!

...Just had to share this bright Spring day.

Hope you love it, like I do!

Hope you're enjoying the sunshine!
Denise x

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Friday 20 March 2015

New season resolutions

A Happy Hello to Spring!

Woo hoo... It's officially Spring, and spring is often a time when we look to get tidy, hence the idea of 'spring cleaning'. It can also be a great time to reflect on how we've done in the first quarter of the year, and move forward with new aims as the sun begins to shine.

In terms of reflecting, looking at where you are in relation to the new years resolutions you set yourself (doesn't it seem a long time ago already!) you may be asking...
...Am I still progressing with my new years resolutions, which if any have I already abandoned (and why?), am I tiring of them, can I celebrate completing any of them or how do I sustain the effort I've already made?

Alternatively, if you're ready to set some new objectives, well done - setting or refreshing targets each season can actually help by taking the pressure off new year or making us set shorter-term, more attainable, more sustainable goals. (Just holler if you want me to don my 'HR hat', and give you some tips on setting SMART targets)

Whether you wish to restart or if you've set fresh aims for the rest of this year, one of my image services might help to get you started, get back on or keep you on track. Here are a few suggestions:

Ideas to get you started:
  • You feel it's time to declutter - Start with your wardrobe, and let me help you with a wardrobe audit!
  • You're ready for a new job - Let's see if an image consultation helps you get past the initial stages
  • You want to look after your skin - Let me help you discover some new season make-up and make-up tips
  • You want to feel more confident - How about a body confidence coaching session?
  • You're coming out of hibernation and in need of some indoor (it's still a bit chilly!) girly time - Book a style personality party!
Ideas to keep you going:
  • You need to keep saving for a holiday but are itching to go shopping - Stop, let's go through your individual items and put them together in a new way to create some new outfits
  • You're losing sight of why you're losing weight - Book a colour consultation to give you a boost
  • Keeping up a new fitness regime - Let's shop for some new season, new fitness gear (or anything else you deserve for your efforts)!
  • Your wedding is coming and you need a boost for the last stages of planning - now's the time to look at my wedding services.

These are just a few examples. Whatever your New Year or New Season resolutions, a look at your image could help you get what you set out to get by giving you the incentive to keep going.

How might a Damson Belle image service help you?

Happy International Day of Happiness! (and thanks for reading)

Denise x

Images from

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Sunday 1 March 2015

Shoes aren't shallow...

...Shoes have Power!

I recently got a flurry of retweets when I posted this image by Janelle Jordon and it reminded me of this post that I'd not actually shared.

The blog!

This week at work I stopped in my tracks on the way to a meeting. Literally!


Shoes, that's why! And these shoes had apparently had a similar effect on others.

My colleague was wearing, not a boring black pair of boots like most others but these eye catching, different and 'clearly not from the high street' pair of cute, funky shoes (sorry about the pic' quality)

What a conversation starter they were!

Check out 'Poetic Licence' or 'Irregular choice' for similar styles!

They convinced me that I'm right to be a great believer in the positive power of shoes. What we wear on our feet can give us comfort (think slippers), confidence (think of a red pair), gravitas (a pair of classy black courts) or just be plain damn fun conversation starters!

Other reasons I love shoes include:
  • Shoes allow us to break the rules - one of the great things about shoes is that the colour matters less (being away from our face).
  • And shoes don't discriminate: take those classy black courts I've referred to... there's a pair to suit everyone irrespective of foot size, weight, body shape, race, gender and so on (and yes, I know that some people struggle, but it's possible right?!*)
  • They can also really tell a story, and I think everyone's got at least one pair with a tale to tell!...
...A story accompanied the 'stop me in my tracks' shoes (they were a gift), and stories accompany many of the shoes I own - from the pair I got married in, to the pair of leopard print pumps that were one of my first ever flats, and back to heels again with the blingy ones I wore as a calendar girl! (

A pair of my storytellers!

So, the question is...!
...What stories could your shoes tell?

*And, if you're one of my readers with big or small feet, slim or wide, and those who can't wear heels you may think that that I'm being over simplistic, so just holler if you need some advice - you can ask me the questions!

Goodbye boots, Hello Springtime & shoes!

Denise x

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Wednesday 18 February 2015

In preparation for the big day

A part of Angela & Dan's story

Whilst I've done a number of hen parties and helped a number of brides with either their makeup or dresses, Angela was a special bridal client because she was the first with whom I did a broader bridal service. We met several times and did a very holistic, bespoke series of wedding 'meetings' both in person and virtually.

A smiling Angela after a successful meeting

Our journey together:

  • I met Angela whilst working at a corporate retail event after which she came to see me to get her colours done.
  • We discussed that one of her upcoming style considerations was her wedding the following year.
  • Having enjoyed our session she asked if I would help her with the image for her wedding, especially as her bridesmaids were travelling etc and her mother lived abroad 
  • We agreed that I'd meet, with her groom-to-be Dan, to make sure their preferred individual looks complimented each other and because they couldn't agree on some elements of the wedding such as how to implement traditional themes from Angela's culture into their modern preferences
  • After our initial 'styling' meeting, she then booked me to go wedding dress shopping with her, as we'd built up a relationship through the earlier consultations. Before we went shopping I researched the dresses that Angela thought she'd like from looking at magazines, but also what I thought might suit her that she'd not considered. (Our fairytale dress isn't always our best dress)
  • Before our meeting at the agreed shop, I did a reccie in advance and spoke to the shop about my upcoming visit with Angela
  • Also, based on photos and emails, I helped her and the bridesmaids think about and plan their overall look including hair, make-up and dresses.
  • I put together image boards to help them see how their different ideas could be styled to compliment each other.
  • And we continued to exchange emails and ideas until AH was ready to 'go it alone'!

Ready for blog
An example of a wedding colour scheme 'mood board'

Angela's feedback, at various intervals, included:

"Thanks for the lovely session on Saturday. Once D and I have a think about the colour scheme, the rest of the wedding planning will fall into place easier" - after joint session

"I've some updates for you about the wedding. D and I are considering one of the colour schemes you suggested. We've used the colour swatches and paired purple and lime together and we loved it. These colours fit in with our personality/character and would look lovely with the venue in summer" - on reflection, after mood boards

(And my personal fave!)"I've found a dress..." - after personal shopping

Do you know someone getting married? Are you? I can help with a host of wedding image services from help with your colour scheme, through to your hen party, and final look on the day. See here for more: 
Interested, please contact me - and I'll help you. Be confident, don't panic and...

You'll get this book as a gift with an 'Ultimate Bridal Package'

'Til next time!

Denise x

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Saturday 24 January 2015

Take your basics...

...Dress them up!

As I've mentioned in a previous blog, I have many roles. As a result of my many roles, I have little time. Despite little time, I like to love my look and live my brand. Sometimes I even need to be different (or at least look like different) people in one day!
Question: Does that sound familiar?

Believe me, it's not all about an extensive wardrobe either (though that would be nice!).  As an image consultant one of the things I love doing is helping people make what they already own work better/ harder/smarter.

Take this staple base of a plain black top and trousers.

In a super speedy ten minute headshot photoshoot* with the fabulous and talented Kate Darkins of I managed to get these different looks, all relevant and true to me with just: 3 scarves (each used differently), 1 jacket, 1 necklace and 1 hat!

What does each 'look' say to you,and where might they be appropriate?

I wanted to create a different impression with each of the 'looks', but at the same time be true to me and professional, relevant, happy (comfortable) and accessoried!

Knowing how to accessorise your basics is a great way to:

  • Maintain and maximise a capsule wardrobe
  • Go from daytime to evening events
  • Have productive and considered shopping trips
  • Save money on buying 'whole new outfits'
  • Pack a light case for travelling
  • Get the maximum out of a photoshoot! (*Yes, I'm serious, we made the changes and took the shots in just 10 minutes - so imagine what we could do with longer.)

So, how would you accessorise your best basic outfit?

If you'd like to know how to make the most of your wardrobe, how to accessorise, your best colours or have any style related challenges, I'd love to help!

'Til next time!

Denise x

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Wednesday 14 January 2015

The clue's in your eyes!

A tip on... How to find a shade that works for you.

The GG's is probably my fave awards event as it gives a hint of what's to come at every other awards event and the fashion season that follows. This season for example, look to white and metallic fabrics along with the usual black and red numbers for dressing-up.

Every year I promise myself I won't drool over the dresses (it's all about the talent surely!), and every year I find myself doing just that. However, I have tried to challenge myself to blog about more than my hits and misses from the event and instead look at what we can learn from the red carpet. (

This year, one point was literally steering me in the face...
That the shade of a colour that matches, and makes your eyes sparkle, is going to be an amazing colour on you.

There wasn't much green, violet or brown on the red carpet but here are a couple of 'blue', examples:

Julia Goldani Telles suits clear deep blues that match her eyes, wow

Amy Adams looks beautiful in this soft light blue that matches her eyes

Try it, and see if it works for you. Then share it with me!

Thanks for reading!

Denise x

PS - If you want to know all of my hits and misses from this year, and/ how to be a hit yourself contact me via my contact details below:

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