Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Sweet Sale Shopping

I've pounded those pavements and believe me - the Christmas rush is more like a Christmas trickle. The streets are quiet and purses are shut which means retailers' tills are empty. So the sales have hit the highstreet early this festive season. To make the gift of the sales even more sweet, here are my top tips for successful sale shopping:

  1. TRY BEFORE YOU BUY. It's quiet out there so take your time.
  2. Sale items are NON-REFUNDABLE. If you want to bring your items back you will be offered an exchange or a gift card. You won't actually get your physical cash back. This policy should be explained to you at the till point and it may be printed on the reverse of the receipt.
  3. Get a GIFT RECEIPT. This will extend the period in which you can bring your item back (it will probably be up to the 4th Jan) and give you more time to think about your purchase.
  4. You may notice in larger stores that the music is louder in the sale section. This is to get your adrenalin pumping. Try and ignore the music and shop as you normally would.
  5. Pretty much anything on promotion will soon go into sale so if you can bear to wait for that purchase you may get some more pounds off it.

Let me know how you get on!
Happy shopping
Love The Wardrobe Angel x

Friday, 9 December 2011

How to complain...and get a result

We all love a good moan about bad service we have received. When that person behind the cash desk just won't go that extra mile and you leave the shop feeling mightily pissed off ALL your friends, family, colleagues suddenly get to hear about it. It's well documented that when we receive bad service we readily tell 8 people but if we have good service we keep quiet about it.

After 7 years of working on the shop floor and being a shopper these are some tips I use to complain and get a result:

1. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS write to Head Office if you are displeased. If you ask to speak to a manager on the shop floor they will deal with you there and then. You'll get an 'I'm very sorry' but if you are really genuinely upset about service in the shop the apology just won't wash.
2. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS write to Head Office if you are displeased. Now I have written this twice (and in CAPITALS no less) you will see its importance. I said WRITE. Not email. I always write. A letter shows you have taken the time to put pen to paper, to think about you want to say and write it in a logical and well thought out argument. An email can be dashed off in a hurry, a letter is a demonstration of your commitment to the complaint.
3. So what do you write? I always start by praising the company. You must love the shop a little bit to have been shopping in there in the first place. Tell them WHY you love them - the quality of clothes, the depth of product, the music they play. Everyone LOVES a compliment and retailers are no different.
4. After you've laid down the love, list the complaints - the member of staff was rude, your item on hold was sold to someone else, you can never find what you are looking for, how you were made to feel. Be as specific as possible but don't go overboard. Get your point across and tell the truth.
5. In the letter tell the retailer which shop you were in, which location, and the time. Service provided by retailers can vary widely depending on the time of day and how busy the shop is. Plus, if Head Office follow up your complaint with the store the manager will be able to pinpoint which staff were giving poor service. This is why you must tell the truth; if the member of staff you name and shame says you were rude to them, and you fail to mention this is your letter, the egg is on your face my friend.
6. Wish the retailer well - think of the letter as a complaint sandwich: love/complaint/love. Always include your address and phone number.

Let me know how you get on. Til next time ...x

Monday, 5 December 2011

Christmas Shopping...easy as 1,2,3

Tis the season...the tree is up, the advent calendar is a wreck of cardboard and empty shells where chocolate once lurked and you are ready to hit the shops armed with your Xmas shopping list. So how to successfully shop at Christmas....and this starts with the staff in the shops:

1. Pictures Speak Louder than Words. Seen the perfect gift on the Internet/in a magazine? Heading to the shops to buy it? Take a picture of it with you. This will save the awkward descriptions ("It's black with a purple trim." Really? Turns out it's pink.), the annoyance when you are greeted with a blank look by the staff member and the sense that that precious commodity,time, is slipping away. Thousands upon thousands of units of stock pass through large stores everyday and a picture of the item you are looking for will help you one step further on your quest of finding it that bit quicker.
2. Shop staff work a variety of shifts. 7-11, 9.30-5.30, 1-10pm, overnight...the list goes on. The upshot of this is that all staff don't work on the shopfloor at the same time so when you are asking for a specific item and the member of staff says 'I don't know', they actually might not know: they may work on delivery, back-of-house, payroll, and not even see the shopfloor that often. They should, however, find another staff member who can help you.
3. If they can't, look for staff members wearing ear pieces, radios, holding rotas or wearing suits. Say hello to the management team. They will help you immediately by dealing with the query themselves or finding the best possible person to help you, saving you time.

And last but not least - yes shopping during the festive season can be stressful, yes the queues can be long, yes they can sell out of the perfect gift for your Auntie Joy - but don't take it out on the person behind the till. They have feelings too.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Sexy Waste

That got your attention. Except it’s not sexy, is it? All those coffee cups from your morning latte, the plastic packaging holding two slices of bread and limp lettuce leaf, the water bottle you use at the gym…I could go on. Think back to yesterday and all the waste you generated. All those by-products of modern life, where did they go? The bin. And where does that go? The bin lorry. And where does that end up? My bin lorry turns left out of my street but after that I have no clue.

There’s a real disconnect between what we throw away and knowing what happens to it. The UK produces around 280million tons of waste a year: 40% is recycled or composted, 48% of household waste ends up in landfill. And landfills are not a bottomless pit.

If we all re-used a bit more we would cut down on waste. What a fab by-product: less waste. And less waste equals less landfill.

Want to learn more? Recycle for Greater Manchester is hosting a week of events targeting waste reduction. Handily entitled ‘Watch your Waste’ week (and not to be confused with dieters watching their waists), you can go along to sewing and cooking classes for FREE to learn new skills which will help reduce the amount of waste you generate. Just sign up in advance to guarantee your free place. And lord knows we all love a freebie.

Friday, 18 November 2011

War on Waste

Waste not, Want not, Keep Calm and Carry On, Dig for Victory.

All recession friendly phrases from eras past.  And with Christmas slap bang in the middle of this period of financial uncertainty you can literally hear the sound of the end of year pay packets being stretched the accommodate yet another festive season: food, drink, party clothes, travel, presents, parties. So how can we really make our money go further?

You’ve heard the experts – cut down on non-essential items, switch your credit cards to 0% interest. Even David Cameron has been urging the Great British Public to pay off their credit cards. I don’t know if Visa accepts carrots but that seems to be all I have after my dig for victory.

But are we thinking about this the wrong way round? Is it about making what little cash may be floating around work harder? Or do we really need to spend any cash at all?

During the Second World War there was the phrase ‘make do and mend’. This call to action urged people to re-use their clothes by mending them. Socks were darned countless times over, trousers turned into shorts, curtains made into clothes. In a time when a) Hitler was rampaging across Europe and b) landfill was not an option, inhabitants of our fair island celebrated what they had and got the most wear out of their clothes as possible re-using and re-working as the Blitz raged.

Re-using passed out of our culture with man-made fabrics flooding the market from the 1970’s and the fast fashion culture which sprung up in the 1990’s. But if you have ever bought anything second hand or a vintage item then you have re-used without giving it much thought. If you have ever borrowed anything from your mate/ Mum / colleague then you are re-using. In most cases it’s easier than buying new. And it’s cheaper to boot!

Recycle for Greater Manchester is showcasing a wealth of events promoting re-using which will feed your brain and get you salivating over skills you never thought you could learn: sewing, cooking, furniture reclamation.  I got kicked out of sewing class for breaking the needle on the sewing machine when I was at school so I will be beating down the door of the sewing workshop to finish mastering the skills the sewing teacher (Mrs Turner) so wrongfully refused to teach me. And then there is the Fashion Show!! Saturday 26th November. Get your glad rags on, surgically adhere your biggest ‘I’m famous’ sunglasses to your face  and elbow your way to the Front Row.

All events are FREE. Yes, FREE. You will only need your bus money to get there and maybe you can car share on the way home. Just sign up in advance to be guaranteed a place. See you for some sewing.

For more info click here! Recycle for Greater Manchester

Monday, 7 November 2011

Fashion comes in all shapes and sizes

The average size of the British woman is a size 14. But who wants to be average?

I am really excited to be involved with this  Plus Sized Event on 26th November. Offering styling, alterations, life coaching and pampering to women size 16 and over the event is also going to be a great place to buy plus sized clothes at a fraction of the high street price.

With dieting comes weight loss, with weight loss comes dress size downsizing. This can be an expensive undertaking - buying new clothes at every dress size reached on the way down to your target weight! So don't shell out loads of cash on things you may only wear once before you drop another dress size - come to the event and snap up some preloved bargains which will make you look, and feel, great without breaking the bank!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Dress Agencies Darling

My Mum used to take things to dress agencies when I was little. My cousin Charlotte got married and my Mum bought these pink shoes. As soon as the wedding was over she bundled them back into the box and whisked them off.

Dress agencies are having a revival in the current economic climate. Cinderella's Dress Agency in Stockport was heaving last week, with clothes and stock. With labels such as Whistles and Hobbs at tantalising prices it's no wonder you couldn't move in there for happy punters gleaning the racks for bargains.

And bargains they are - depending on the type of dress agency and the stock they sell. Cinderellas sells dresses for around under £20 and tops for under £15. These are recent items - I spotted a Whistles dress from last season for £18 - in good nick and only slightly second hand/gently worn...whatever you want to call it.

Don't get excited though, filling bin liners full of your clothes thinking you are going to make yourself a wad of cash. Dress Agencies operate on a 50/50 commission basis. They sell your dress for £20, you get £10 and the agency takes £10. Why? They have staff to pay, rates and rent. They are running a business and your clothes are the cogs in a well oiled machine. The reason so many dress agencies have stood the test of time is because they know what their regular punters like: what they will wear and what they won't. Fill the shop with rubbish and they can kiss that season's trade goodbye. They are like successful local boutiques who know their customer inside out, are confidant in their stock and give great customer service.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


I sell things for clients on eBay. My tips for successful selling? Feast your bargain hungry eyes:
  • Do your research. How much are similar items selling for? Branded goods sell better than non branded goods.
  • Great photo. This means good lighting, clean floor or carpet and a backdrop clear of clutter. You can add up to 12 photos but just make sure each photo adds something new and shows a potential customer the real detail of the garment.
  • Competitive pricing. With the economy the way it is every penny counts so starting with a high bidding fee may put customers off. Your customers also have to pay postage and packaging, so bear this is mind when listing your items. But don't under sell because after taxes and listing fees you won't be left with a lot.
  • Descriptions which actually describe. This is your chance to really sell your item: fit, cut, quality, washing instructions. If you were on a market stall shouting your wares what would you say? Your customers can't feel or touch the item so your words have to do it for them. I give customers tips on how to style and wear the item they are bidding on.
  • Packaging. I used to just pop items in the post but now I hand wrap each one, add a business card and thank the customer for shopping with me. I want my customers to feel like it's Christmas when my package arrives through the door. A Wardrobe Angel Christmas!
Let me know how you get on. Til next time ...x

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Shop staff - the font of all knowledge

Shop Assistants

I always keep my eyes peeled when out shopping, especially where staff are concerned. They convey so much info about the brand they work for. So…what can you learn from shop assistants?

1.       Shop assistants generally get a uniform allowance or a certain percentage off clothes to wear as uniform. This allowance isn’t a bottomless pit so staff have to make their clothes last. Look at the wear and tear on the clothes they are wearing: bobbling, piling, holes, tears, shrinkage, loose threads. The staff have worn and washed, worn and washed. What better way to see the quality you are about to invest in?

2.       Same applies if you are visiting a footwear retailer look for the feet of the staff: scuffs, cracked leather, and gaping soles. Each staff member has probably spent the best part of 8 hours a day on their feet so the shoes will be a kiss and tell testament to their quality.

3.       If you are a regular shopper and visit the same shops you will get to know the staff. See how the staff style their clothes: do they dress up or down? What footwear and accessories do they use? How do they style their hair? This is all inspiration for you and it’s FREE.

4.       If the staff members aren’t wearing the clothes from the retailer they are working for you have to ask yourself - why not? Some companies have uniforms (M&S, supermarkets) but high street fashion retailers will more often than not ask their staff to dress in line with their mission statement. If the clothes aren’t being displayed for free (i.e. on the bodies of the staff) this could boil down to a number of reasons – quality, fit, expense, value for money. Think carefully about putting your hand in your pocket and paying for them.
If you like what you read you get can get me in your inbox. Just sign up on the top right hand side of the page.
Til next time...x

Sunday, 9 October 2011

One Black Dress

music courtesy of danosongs.com

Shelling out cash for Cashmere

Cashmere. Fabric of the rich? Twinset and pearls? A luxury? Or just another item made accessible by and for the highstreet?

About 7 years ago a cashmere sweater was £100 at M&S and this grand old year of 2011 they are £45 (or £39 in the sale if you get your skates on and make a trip to the mid-seasons). When M&S started producing cashmere jumpers they had a clear plastic sleeve over them and retailed on a special hanger to further perpetuate that sense of luxury and sheer fabulousness. I only remember these details because I was working for M&S at the time and fell over myself to get my Mum one of the first highstreet cashmere jumpers for her Christmas present (with my staff discount. Gotta love retail for the staff discount). Now they are are on normal hangers, less than 50quid and in the sale.

The price of 'lux' fabrics can be perceived as a barrier to entry for consumers. £50 for a jumper? But you can go to Primark and get 3 jumpers for that price! They might just not last as long as you had hoped. Queue bobbling and pilling like the acrylic the jumpers are made from is going out of fashion.
And the care of  'lux' fabrics can also be a right royal pain in the bum. Dry cleaning can end up costing as much as the jumper itself after a few trips to the cleaners. So the expensive luxury item becomes a really expensive luxury item.

But the highstreet has cottoned on to this. Whistles is striving to make its silk offerings handwash instead of dry clean. The M&S cashmere jumpers in question can be machine washed instantly making them more accessible to the masses.

Not so luxury now.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Winter Sun (me? jealous? ...yes...sigh)

We may be in the middle of an Indian Summer this week but for some this is the last sunshine we will see for a while. Not so for those booking their winter sun breaks and smiling smugly as their bikini nestles in their underwear draw (instead of being packed away for another year), destined to be dipped in turquoise oceans and dusted in a fine white sand come Christmas.

But heading off for winter sun whilst Britain claws it's way out of another deep freeze can have it's pitfalls. How do you get hold of that all important second perfect bikini in darkest December when you have so many layers on the though of stripping off in a changing room is enough to make you want to cry?

The simple fast is Winter Sun holiday makers have to stock up now. Topshop online and some larger stores do stock a small range of swimwear all year round but if you really want to save yourself time, money and effort before your holiday then hit the mid season sales. They will be launching this week (Debenhams launched theirs today - just watch other high street retailers jump on that money pony) or next week so keep your fashion eyes peeled.

So what should Winter Sun Seekers be snapping up in the Sales?
  • Swimwear, jersey, skirts and dresses - all suitable for a summer wardrobe in winter.
  • Silk - always adds a touch of class and luxury. It may be handwash but it is worth the pain.
  • Dual purpose garments - buy a cashmere jumper now, wear now, then get even more wear when you use it as the base for your plane outfit. Hey presto! First Class is calling.
  • Christmas Party Dress - Your party dress will not only look great on a holiday night out when accessorised with your winter tan, but buy now and by-pass that hideous moment at the staff xmas party when not 2 but 3 of you are wearing the same dress because they all left it too late to buy anything different. Look for 20% off full price stock (hint hint - Whistles in conjunction with Grazia) or raid those sales racks with all your might.
  • Fierce jewellery - a catch your eye cuff or a noteworthy necklace will really set you apart from fellow holiday makers.
  • Suitcase/handluggage and carry-on bags.
  • Suntan Creme - it's BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) in Boots right now.
Happy Holidays! Til next time ...x

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Sometimes it pays to be cheap.

Wanting is different from needing. With the shops full to bursting with gorgeous autumn offerings you may want loads of things but whether you need them is another matter, especially if your bank balance is running on empty or you've already spent your student loan. So here are my top tips for buying cheap clothes:

1. Hit the charity shops in a wealthy area – labels are invariable top end high street and better quality in the long run. I got a wool, camel coat from Barnardos (Manchester) on Saturday for £14.99 which was an immense find.

2. Wait for the mid-season sales – hitting shops end of Sept/beginning of October. Depending on how desperate retailers are they will slash prices a lot and bring out old sale as well.

3. Hit the outlets – give yourself a day and trawl the shops at an outlet mall. The majority of the clothes will be questionable, however for basics they are actually ok. If you can find a French Connection you are on to a winner as they discount well and the stock doesn't date.

4. Register online for secret sample sales.

5. Register for Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) in your area, post a wanted add for clothes and see what you get in return.

6. Car boots – time, patience and early mornings generally required but well worth it. Avoid trying on trousers (takes too long and no fitting rooms) but try on coats, jackets, tops, bags and accessories.

Most importantly – WRITE A SHOPPING LIST BEFORE YOU GO OF THE EXACT THINGS YOU NEED. Otherwise you will spend money on things you don’t need.
Happy wardrobe, happy you. Til next time.. x

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Soup Kitchen

I love Lakeland (http://www.lakeland.co.uk/Homepage.action) - it is porn for kitchens. Gadgets coming out of its ears, if you look at the catalogue for too long you can convince yourself you really need a banana bag (page 8 if you are interested) and life really will be better with a 3-in-1 pineapple corer (page 11) in it.

There is a soup maker for sale in the autumn edition of the Lakeland catalogue on page 5. It looks something you would make a smoothie in but it makes soup; it boils, simmers then blends. Now I L-O-V-E to make soup but do I love soup enough to part with the best part of £100 for a gadget that does it for me? No way. And do you know why? Because the soup making gadget produces what pretty much the same result as if you were to use your own pans and cooker.
Can you see where I am headed with this soup themed analogy...? The end result is the same whether you use new stuff or use what you already own. Same with your clothes. Instead of buying new all the time by using some of what you already own you will save money and still end up with a great result.

I am really excited to show you exactly what I mean when I keep advocating re-use and re-work for your clothes. My show and tell will be in video format and will be available to view really soon here on my blog. Thanks for reading and see me soon (literally!)

Monday, 5 September 2011

Be your own Knight in Shining Armour

As if Mondays aren't horrifying enough, here are some scary facts for you:

47% of women who aren't retired don't have a pension of their own.
1 in 4 women expect the rely on their partners pension benefits *


As far as I was aware the Job Centre isn't doing a roaring trade in filling their vacancies for Knights In Shining Armour so who do these women think is going to look after them when they hit retirement age? With the average woman earning an average of £1,600 per month she should be contributing an average of 10% of that salary per month into her pension pot. Sorry - there are lots of averages in here today - but you get my drift.

To add to this fairytale gone awry, women spend an average of £1000 per year on clothes but only wear 20% or their wardrobes which effectively meams £800 of the money spent on clothes is wasted.

So...before you hit the shops armed with your September wage packet just think ...can you really afford that £20 you will only wear once? That £20 could sit quite nicely in your pension pot growing and maturing until you are ready to retire. Where will that £20 top be by the time you retire? Lets be honest - it will probably be earning its keep in a landfill dump somewhere. So which would you rather?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Doctor will see you now

Local businesses and getting more bang for your fashion buck: these are a few of my favourite things.
I walk past the Denim Doctor in Manchester pretty much twice a week thinking 'I should go in there' but never managed it. I even took a photo of the sign on my phone last week to remind me to get my arse in gear but to no avail.

Until the stud popped off my black skinnies this morning.

Climbing the magnificently tiled staircase (you should visit just for the decor alone) I was greeted by a master tailor and his son, The Denim Doctor. Handing over my jeans we got to talking about the business of business in a recession and the knock-on effect on trade. Turns out The Doctor is doing pretty well - people are renewing and re-working like never before and in turn saving themselves money. His customers are saving themselves cash by using his service. Why buy more when you can better what you already own?

The Denim Doctor can turn your bootcuts into skinnies, repair zips and studs and even piece your jeans back together when they have split at the crotch (or crutch as I learnt). The crutch is the most commonplace part of your jeans to rip because this areas has the most tension, not because you have gained a few lbs. I'm going to steer clear of naming brand names and joining the denim brand debate for the moment - suffice to say that it doesn't seem to matter which end of the high street the denim has been bought from - all brands have walked through the surgery doors to The Denim Doctor at some point.

Here's the website www.thedenimdoctor.co.uk and as usual - Feast your fashion eyes!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Playsuits you, Sir

Playsuits. Summer staple. But as the rain pours down outside my window, it looks suspiciously as though summer has done a runner. So let's talk playsuit cost per wear: you may have got your monies worth taking your playsuit to the beach/glasto/Ibiza but we live in frugal times. Re-work and re-wear is the way forward. Your playsuit doesn't have to be consigned to the summer charity shop clear-out just yet, there is plenty more life in that playsuit yet. Here are some ideas of how to get that summer playsuit ready for winter:

1. Combine tights, a fierce belt, dark lippy and nails and top if off with a faux fur coat or jacket for a slightly Gothic look.
2. Sling a cable knit jumper over the top so you are left with a cute pair of shorts. Add tights and boots.
3. Wear with a maxi skirt so just the top half of your playsuit is on show. Add a faux fur waistcoat and a belt to create a curvy silhouette so you don't get lost beneath the swathes of fabric covering your legs. Add some cute socks and sandals.
4. Wrap a long cardi over it and belt. Add tights. Playing around with textures in this outfit - the cardi could be cashmere, cable knit, mohair - will add an extra dimension and make you touchable.
5. Add a tailored suit jacket, a fascinator and some sky high heel and you have a perfect winter smart/casual event outfit.

Can you spot a common theme here? Tights. I LOVE tights. Black 70 denier tights (Denier is the linear mass density of fibres so the higher the denier, the thicker the tights.) Get some good quality ones (it won't hurt you going into M&S where at this time of year they will probably have tights at the till so you won't have to search far for them) and they will last you the season giving you even more bang for your buck.

To Playsuits...and beyond....

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Leather Report

Leather. It pops up every A/W season and remains a lust worthy fashion 'staple'. But with many pieces retailing at over £150 it can sometimes be a shade out of the average price range. However, due to the nature of the fashion beast you can bet your bottom dollar that come the main winter sales (not the mid-season affairs that rock around in Sept/October no, no, no but the BIG sales that routinely kick off just before Xmas or on Boxing Day) many of the key leather pieces will be discounted. Why? Because leather doesn't suit everybody: it clings, it makes you hot, it can stick in uncomfortable places. Plus with its fetish overtones, leather just ain't appealing for some.

A leather piece, say a pencil skirt, will last you more than just one season;it's a true investment piece and one that I genuinely advocate purchasing. In black or brown it will invariably team up with lots of pieces already hanging in your wardrobe. You can wear it for work, for a night in a pub (just sit near the door to catch the draft otherwise the leather will turn you into a wilting version of your former self) and they look immense as your Christmas Day outfit with a bit of awesome knitwear (see www.joules.com for some lush animal printed specimens!)

Reduced leather pieces will usually go down to more than half price when January rocks around so if you have your heart set on a leather 'must-have' this season I would just bide your time...
wait...wait a bit more...and enjoy the money you will have saved.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Fashion maths Friday!

What is cost per wear and how do you really use it? Get ready for a fashion maths lesson Wardrobe Angels! (engage your imagination - today the percentage sign is a divided sign!)

Cost per wear = cost of the garment %  number of times you will wear it

Easy in theory but you can never be sure how many times you will wear a garment until you actually start to use it. You just need to use your head. What do you wear a day-to-day? What is always hanging in your wardrobe but never worn? What do you find yourself taking to the charity shop on a regular basis? If a dress cost you £100 and you only wore it once then your cost per wear is £100...and a waste of money! If you paid for it on your credit card and you haven't paid it off yet then your £100 cost per wear is higher because you may be paying interest on it!

Think of your wardrobe as a business and your clothes as employees - you want them to work hard for you so you get your monies worth!

Happy Friday Wardrobe Angels!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Celebrate good clothes, come on!

(You can sing Kool and the gang's A-mayzin choon whilst you read my latest post... happy Monday Wardrobe Angels!)

I believe you should really celebrate what you already own - you spent good money on your clothes and shoes so get the most out of them. There will always come a time when something is so bobbled it needs replacing, or your shoes are so scuffed that another layer of shoe polish simply won't cover it but in the meantime enjoy what is currently in your wardrobe. Think of your clothes as an investment. If you put money into a savings account you expect a little money back as interest. Same goes for your wardrobe; get the right clothes in there and you can expect lots of good things back: positive comments about what you are wearing, thinking 'wow. I have loads of options' instead of 'I have nothing to wear', and hopefully, the clothes will still have a re-sale value when you are ready to part with them. Check out my website for more information...


Saturday, 13 August 2011

Micro Trend Fashion Maths

What's a micro trend?

Think of it as the short spin on your washing machine - blink and you'll miss it. They are usually around for 6-8 weeks (but can last longer) and have worked their way down to the high street via fashion magazines whose fashion editors have picked them up whilst watching the most recent fashion shows with very beady eyes. They can also act like boomerangs - they just keep coming back. Like wearing socks with sandals. The "socks and sandals" micro trend has been around for two years but came into its own over S/S 11 when it crossed over from micro trend to an established summer trend. I immediately thought of Brits abroad - not the drunken, sun burnt masses we know and love (hint of sarcasm? I think so) -  but namely the older gents preserving their foot dignity by wearing socks with their Jesus sandals. How wrong was I? Alexa Chung had this trend down pat.

But the thing with micro trends is that by slavishly following them you are ultimately spending money on things you don't need, won't wear and will regret buying. Plus you will never fully establish your own 'look'. Say you spent £10 on those black rimmed geek glasses, another £5 on some crackling nail varnish and then £10 on a boho tassel trimmed waistcoat (even though your style is sleek and modern) that's £25 which would have been put to better use in an ISA or a pension. It's a waste of money - YOUR MONEY. So before you part with your hard earned cash just give it another moments thought. And do your fashion maths.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Something gorgeous to brighten your day


Hi Wardrobe Angels

No, the 'gorgeous' isn't the sight of those anti-social looter criminals in prison (although with the Greater Manchester Police in charge we should take it as a given that will happen) it is some beautiful prints which have been designed by Modern Love. Think Ossie Clarke for our modern era. Feast your fashion eyes.

Stay Safe x

Monday, 8 August 2011


Trends come and go. It's how fashion works. With  New York, London, Milan , and Paris in the fashion spin cycle all those designers needs something new to showcase. But are the trends really new? If you look closely,very closely, year on year there are certain trends that keep popping up. So to stop this fast fashion consume consume mentality just a few items in your wardrobe can keep you up to date without you having to spend a penny:

1. Nautical - Usually reserved for Spring the red, white and blue trend has been seeping into Summer of late. As soon as you've finished singing Auld Langs Syne when the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve you just dig out that blue/white or blue/cream striped top and pair it with skinny jeans. If you happen to have a pair of ballet pumps then sling them on as well. Unless it's knee deep snow outside and you are very brave.

2. Winter - Velvet. Every winter the shops are awash with velvet - dresses, coats, jackets, skirts, tops. Sometimes in deep red, green (steer clear) and burgundy (I'm pulling a face whilst writing this) but mostly in black (phew. Black. Stick to black.) Velvet is a Christmas staple. So either wait for the pre-Christmas sales or get cosy with some velvet when it hits the shops - usually around October. Bingo.
The same goes for sequins.

3. Winter - Rock. At some point in the fashion calendar there will be a rock trend and Kate Moss is usually the poster girl for it. So here the key pieces are: skinny jeans, black leather (or pleather) biker jacket and a logo t-shirt. It may come around as festival season hits or you may find it splashed over the pages of fashion mags in the September issue of fashion mags. Whenever it arrives, believe me: it will arrive.

4. Androgyny - Tailored black suit jacket? Check. White shirt? Check. Manly brogues? Check. And we are done with androgyny.

Before you hit the shops desperate for the "new" trends go shopping...in your own wardrobe! You'll be surprised what you already own that will do you proud and save you some cash.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Making short shrift out of palazzo pants

Hands up who bought a pair of palazzo pants this summer? The high street and everyone on it has indulged in the floaty fabric of the must-have wide-leg of the season. But as I like to talk about getting more bang from your buck I began to think how you can get another season out of your trusty trousers...shorten them! If your palazzo pants are patterned, floral or plain Jane's they will all work with your winter wardrobe because shorts look great in winter: thick black tights, shuboots and a jumper all wrapped up with a cable knit scarf. Throw a leather biker jacket over the top and you are winter ready. I asked my friend Laura (www.justsewperfect.co.uk) how easy it would be to turn your summer staples into your winter warmers,

"A pair of trousers can easily be turned into shorts but a turn-up only works with certain fabrics. For example a soft, floaty pair of palazzo pants would be better shortened with a normal hem, whereas a heavier fabric will hold the shape of a turn-up to give a much neater finish."

Bingo. It's a great way of getting more wear out of your wardrobe rather than just forgetting about your trousers after the sun has set, or worse, throwing them away. And the cost*?

  "I charge £9 to shorten trousers with a normal finish and £11 with a turn-up and it makes no difference if I am taking them up 1 inch or 20 inches!"

*Prices are Manchester specific

Saturday, 30 July 2011

My Mission

So I've been blogging on here a while now and its about time I told you what I'm all about:

Increasing your wardrobe wearability

You spent good money on your clothes so instead of chucking them all away lets get some more use out of them! By re-using and re-working items you already own we can make more economic sense out of your clothes.  I utilise dress agencies, seamstresses and eBay to help you get more out of the clothes hanging in your wardrobe: more money, more ways, more wear.

Why buy more when you can buy better?

Shopping is fun and there are always times when you think 'I really want something new to wear' but what's the point of spending £10 or £20 on a top you are only going to wear once? If you know what staple items are missing in your wardrobe then you can shop specifically for them instead of chucking money away on things you don't need.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Great British Summer Wardrobe

Hi Wardrobe Angels

I am currently holidaying in the Isle of Wight; a slice of the Great British Summer Holiday at its best! If you are holidaying in GB this summer then your biggest adversary is the great (or otherwise) British weather. Yesterday I was sweltering in highs of 25, today it is drizzling, grey and chilly. Pub anyone?. So you have 1 holiday, 1 suitcase and a whole arsenal of changeable weather conditions to contend with. Welcome to the perfect Great British summer wardrobe:

  • Blue and white stripes. In any size. On any style top. The magic of packing some nautical style clothes is that they go with pretty much anything, they can be dressed up or down and can be layered really easily.
  • Tan accessories - belts/bags/shoes. Again - go with pretty much anything.
  • Jeans - skinny, flared or cropped. Flared don't work as well as their cropped companions whilst ferreting around in rock pools but they look great at night with a simple vest and flats or wedges.
  • Jacket - I saw a couple of Barbour jackets yesterday slung nonchalantly over shoulders. They were the wax jacket variety and looked great. I have settled for a beige mac. Classy!
  • Layering pieces - lambswool jumpers for warmth, hoodies for colour and casual, cardigans for evening.
  • Scarves - I LOVE a scarf. I wrapped a cotton H&M scarf round my chilly neck for some beach walks on Sunday (whilst sporting a hoodie and denim shorts) for that extra shot of ...glamour? Pattern? Interest? Well, yes, to all of the above. But most of all for warmth!
  • Maxi Dress - ticks all the boxes for evening. And works well with that cardie you packed. Just watch if you are taking that romantic walk at the sea edge - a soggy dress can't half kill the mood.
  • Use three main colours (e.g. black, blue, white) then add a couple of accent colours (e.g. red and turquoise). It makes packing a whole load easier and then all your separates work with pretty much anything else.
Bingo! Your Great British Summer Wardrobe simplified. Hae fun out there Angels!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Weekly Shop

Shopping can be a stress release, a bit of 'me'time and an absolute joy. Conversely it can also be a stressful, tiring and maddening experience. Depending which side of the fence you are on or if you are perched on the fence with a leg in each camp, here are 3 golden nuggets of retailing info you can use next time you are heading out to the Great British high street:
  • Shop as early as you can in the week, as early as you can in the day. Why? On their quietest day, Monday, shops spend the majority of the day recovering from their busiest trading period - the weekend. The rest of the week is dedicated to launching campaigns and window changes. As the week goes by and the shops get busier there will be more staff on the shopfloor but also more customers. Pick your day and time with care.
  • Staff will probably be less stressed at 9am in the morning because there are no customers and no queues at the till. They will probably be more inclined to help you at 9am rather than 5pm when they are knee deep in queues at the tills and fitting rooms.
  • New product hits the shopfloor before lunchtime. If you shop before 12pm you will find size ordered stock. Shopping After 12pm? Hello jumble sale.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Talking of Autumn/Winter...

Before I hit the sales I always check what is up and coming in the fashion calendar. Weird right? Its like looking back to go forward. But some crafty retailers drive out old sale stock from previous seasons to make us think it's new. That's why you see winter coats kicking around on the sale racks in June. If you have the time it really is worth a good rummage- especially when you have identified key colours from the new trends.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah_ZzkMdqSs

Summer Sale Season

Hello Wardrobe Fans, long time no see!

So in the UK the mid-season sales are crawling like a rash up and down a high street near you. What better time to spend some hard earned cash? With government spending cuts, job losses and the wash-out British weather the power really is in the hand of the consumer - retailers are desperate to clear through their slow moving summer lines in readiness for Autumn/Winter stock. So here are my top sale buying tips:

1. Make a list of what you need before you go. Going in blind will undoubtedly whip you into panic buying mode.
2. Think about wearability - WHEN & WHY will you wear your sale items? It's great if you got a North Face fleece for £20 but how often do you actually go walking (except to the bus stop).
3. Avoid high fashion items - I call them One Season Wonders. Look at the racks of sale items really carefully. If the rack is full of 1 type of item do not buy it! No-one wanted it at full price so don't be seduced by the price tag. Move along!
4. Always look at shoes and accessories. Some retailers (including New Look) launch their footwear and accessory sales before their clothing sales. I LOVE finding unique shoes in the sales - if you have an event coming up the sales are a great place to look.
5. Make sure you understand the refund policy. Most retailers are EXCHANGE ONLY on sale items so try before you buy.

Happy Shopping Wardrobe Fans!!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Teenage Dream

How many clothes did you own growing up? When I was a teenager my Mum bought the majority of my clothes and I occasionally borrowed clothes from my sister. All my teenage clothes fitted into one wardrobe and the door actually closed. Not owning that many clothes meant I had to be creative with what I had.

Friday, 27 May 2011

The Power of One - the LBD does summer

The Power of One

With all this talk of deficits, cuts and job losses times seem pretty troublesome. Your money may have been spent before it hit your bank account but you still want some new clothes. New clothes are a form of therapy, a social event and a guilty pleasure all rolled into one. People notice when you have new clothes. Colleagues eye you up as a stroll into the office and corner you by the photocopier, touching the sleeves of your new silk shirt or the belt of your stylish trench coat. You feel different in new clothes. A bit more confidant, a bit less ordinary.

So all in all we'd rather not give up our new clothes, ta very much Mr. Chancellor man George Osborne. But if your bank balance really won't stretch to that new H&M maxi which would be perfect for summer, where can you get some new clothes from instead?

Your very own wardrobe.

You'd be surprised what you can achieve with limited resources.

Just take your LBD: Trusty. Safe. Stylish. Usually reserved for a night out paired with heels and a jacket your Little Black Dress is a great place to start to create new outfits:

  1. Style it for spring / summer (denim shirt, tan belt, gladiator flats)
  2. Swap it for a skirt (style it with a top, belt and heels)
  3. Slouch (throw a cardigan over the top for a weekend comfy classic)
  4. Tuck it in to trousers (but watch out for the VDL – Visible Dress Line)