Sunday, 22 December 2013

New Year, new you?

The New Year is a wonderful time. Fresh hope and new beginnings linger like the smell of freshly baked bread. We are positively drunk with the promise of new possibilities, buoyant against the tide of all that awaits us in the year ahead.  But, we are hardly going to change overnight and that’s why that resolution to give up smoking/lose 1 stone/stop biting your finger nails (delete as appropriate) is best never made. I loathe lazy January magazine filler stories with the headlines “New Year, new you!” Ok, ok I may be a bit premature with this, jumping the gun that is Christmas and heading straight for the finish line that is New Year’s Eve but I wanted to stop you before you decided on a list of (unrealistic) New Year’s resolutions resolving to …well, resolve nothing.

For two years I have been following a New Year plan trademarked by my friend Posh Jen (named as such because she is the poshest person I know). One year Jen was bemoaning the fact she didn’t have anyone to go to Madrid with when her sister, sick to the back teeth of hearing the broken record again, just said “why don’t you go on your own? Why are you waiting for someone else? You always go on about all these things you want to do and you NEVER DO THEM!”

And that was that – Jen got to thinking about all the other things which she said she wanted to do but never actually did: put a new kitchen in, take sign language classes, organise a singles dinner. She took the bull by the horns and did one thing a month for the whole of 2011. Result? 12 experiences that she was in total control of, instead of a clutch of resolutions that were subject to the whims of the world.
In 2012 I snatched up the gauntlet: I read Pride & Prejudice, cooked mussels, made hummus and baba ghanoush from scratch, went to the theatre 3 times. Instead of that emotional and mental flogging you give yourself when you break a New Year’s resolution I had a year’s worth of fat ticks when I had completed my list.

So instead of thinking ‘I’d like to eat there’ when you pass that Indian restaurant on the bus you actually go and eat there. Tick! It might be finally asking for that pay rise (but before you do bear this in mind: 76% of HR Directors believe that an employee’s style of dress at work influences their chance of promotion). So bearing that in mind it might be sorting out your work wardrobe once and for all. It might not be anything as drastic as Cheryl’s back tattoo but small things can have big consequences which are probably more fun than stopping biting your finger nails will ever be. 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Christmas Baubles Part deux!

So we've had caring for pearls, now we have caring for sterling silver! 

Open air/oxygen and humidity encourages Sterling Silver to tarnish, therefore, avoid just leaving your jewellery lying around when you’re not wearing them.  To slow down the tarnishing process and reduce the risk of scratching against other jewellery, always put the pieces into their own jewellery bag and store in an air-tight cool dry place. 

Extra tip – for the best results, pop into a little plastic bag too for extra O2 protection! 

Sterling Silver, stored properly, can be worn often and with minimal cleaning required making it very easy to care for.  Silver polishing cloths are impregnated with jewellery cleaner and are an excellent choice for cleaning your Sterling Silver jewellery.  If you wear the items daily, Dee and Gee Designs highly recommends that you just ‘buff’ clean them every day to keep them sparkling!  These polishing cloths are inexpensive, widely available and very easy to use and it‘s a good idea to have one cleaning cloth for gold and one for silver!

Avoid Silver/Gold Plated Jewellery

One of the reasons Dee and Gee Designs only uses precious metals e.g. Sterling Silver, is that whilst plated metals maybe cheaper, there is a huge difference in quality between real sterling silver and silver/gold plated jewellery/components.  For example, silver plated merely has a very thin layer of silver bonded to a base metal, such as brass or copper, which is less durable. Even with little wear or use, the layer wears off quite quickly revealing the unsightly base metal.  Sterling Silver, however, has a more attractive colour and shine as well as the ability to last a lifetime.   When purchasing Sterling Silver jewellery, look out for a hallmark i.e. it should be stamped 'sterling silver' or '925'.

A little care invested in your jewellery pays off in the long run!!

Dee and Gee Designs is an exciting luxury brand focused on bridging the gap between designer and high street.  Their collections, all named after family members, are classical with a contemporary twist and distinctive look and style. Check out their website by clicking here!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Art of Re-gifting

In almost every wardrobe I have the pleasure of decluttering and restyling, I find them. Sometimes in a shoe box, sometimes in a carrier bag, sometimes in its original wrapping paper but nonetheless a hangover from the Christmas before the Christmas before: the unwanted gifts that never had the chance to give. It’s always hard when Christmas rocks around and you have to perfect your “I love it” face when 69% of us will be the lucky recipients of gifts we don’t like. Even those who operate a strict Stick to The List policy get the occasional maverick relative who goes off-list gift when all you really wanted was Zara vouchers. In 2012 M&S discovered that during the festive period over one in four of us – a staggering 15 million – admits to putting unwanted gifts straight in to the bin. So what are your alternatives?

·         Take it back - Most shops won’t take Christmas returns during the Christmas sale period so check the receipt before heading to the high street.
·         Sell it – eBay, Vestiaire, Buy My Wardrobe are good go-to sites for clothes, shoes and accessories.
·         Recycle it – Gumtree and Freecycle are two sites that will find a match for your unwanted gift. You can still specify a price on Gumtree but things tend to be free on Freecycle (funny that…)
·         Give it to charity – if you didn't buy a poppy this year then think of your charitable donation as your slice of karma pie to take you in to 2014.
·         Re-gift it - you keep the gift and give it to someone else.

Re-gifting will save you money, save you time and keep things out of landfill. It really is as easy as 1, 2, 3 but you must follow these rules:

1. The gift has to be unsuitable for you but totally perfect for someone else in your life; another friend, relative, colleague (hereby known as the gift-receiver). The gift MUST suit the gift-receivers taste and style as if you had gone to the shops and purchased it for them.
2. You should never tell the gift-giver what happened to their gift – this will make you appear ungrateful
3. The gift-giver and gift-receiver MUST be in separate social circles preferably in another part of the country. This works great if you have friends and family in different cities.

The art of re-gifting is seeing all the possibilities in a gift and thinking beyond it as a gift that you don’t want- who would it bring joy to in your life? The beauty of re-gifting means that you are suitably prepared for the year ahead. All you need to do is wrap the gift and write the card. And you've done your bit by keeping something out of landfill. Now go and polish your halo.

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Recycle for Greater Manchester Fashion Show

Pure talent swept across the stage at MOSI last Wednesday night. Dresses made from newspaper, paper clips and train tickets rubbed shoulders with fantastic upcycled and re-cycled from the likes of Zolibeau

Much like when I spoke to Wayne Hemmingway (CLANG...massive name drop) before the Festival of Thrift, he said that no-one likes to have stuff rammed down their throat or be made to feel that what they do isn't good enough when it comes to recycling and upcycling. And it's a message that the guys at Recycle for Greater Manchester have picked up and run with. 

Commenting on the show, Sheridan Hilton, Waste Prevention Manager at Recycle for Greater Manchester said: “This is the third year of the upcycled fashion show and we are partnering with a range of fantastic and diverse organisations to inspire and encourage residents in Greater Manchester to upcycle and make the most of their clothes."

Yet there is work to be done: Manchester alone buys 90,000 tonnes of clothing each year but throws away over half of that - 59,000 tonnes - to make room for new purchases. The point of the evening for me was to show people that there is life in the old clothes yet and that chucking them in the bin should never be an option. 

Here are some fantastically fashion pictures taken on the night:

Adnan Bayatt dress 'Attachment' crafted from 40,000 paper clips. 

Wedding dress made entirely of newspaper closed the show.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Fill your cup

Staffed by writers, musicians, graphic designers, Teacup has been rocking the Northern Quarter with its home brewed creative juice for the past 7 years. I meet clients there to chat wardrobes, have munched on poached eggs surrounded by  friends, and even treated a  family member to some cake and I have been known to hang out there Hans Solo and read a magazine whilst enjoying the tasty tea shaped treats.

Cake. CAKE!!!!

Scrolling back through my twitter feed, I tweet about tea a lot, especially where Teacup is concerned. What I love is their rock solid branding; their online identity matches your experience inside. Tweet them up and you get back such response as “Holla!” and “bloggy blog blog blog” – the marketing and SM lady Bex has distilled the Teacup atmosphere with her online wordsmithery and tweets it out loud and proud. In a quarter of the city where every street contains at least 2 tea/coffee drinking establishments, Teacup has carved out its niche, put down roots and turned on the oven,

“In this area everyone has something to offer but we try do what we do consistently well. We are polite and welcoming.”

Never a truer word spoken, Zoe, General Manager. Not to mention the CAKE. And the roots are spreading – with pop-up shops springing up in the Market Restaurant there are lots of plans afoot. Is Teacup expanding I hear you cry? Whisper it – yes. But where? Couldn't tell ya but at least you know what you are going to get when Teacup opens its doors in other locations around Manchester: tea, cake and awesomeness. They use the best quality ingredients, Fairtrade and locally sourced where possible and all the food is prepared in house. So high is the demand to wear the brown t-shirt of Teacup that people drop in homemade cakes instead of a written CV. 

When the Pussy Riot ladies were arrested in Russia, Teacup was the location for a fundraiser for them, “it was a fantastic night, really interesting,” with debating and a live band. This kind of behaviour typifies the brand, reflecting the times. And I couldn’t complete the blog post without a ‘holla!’ to the inventive 50 Shades of Earl grey menu that Teacup got going on!

Teacup, I salute you. 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Christmas Baubles

Fed up with tarnished and scratched jewellery? Well, you’re not alone. A question the Wardrobe 
Angel gets asked regularly is‘how are you supposed to look after your jewellery?’ So, I decided to find out and get some advice and tips from GillianTinney who owns 
Yorkshire based Dee and Gee Designs selling luxurious yet affordable jewellery made from
precious metals, stones and pearls sourced from all around the world. 

“When we get ready to go out, there’s tendency to spray on our perfume and put the finishing touches to our hair at the end,”says Gillian. “The trouble is direct contact with liquids and 
aerosols, including perfume, insect repellent, creams, makeup and hairspray, can really affect the 
quality and condition of pearls, precious metals etc, so really need to be avoided. We realised a lot of people don't know how to care for their jewellery so we included a little 'Care and Cleaning' card as standard with each item purchased as well as having a page on our website (click here to be transported!) dedicated to jewellery cleaning. "The simplest advice I can give anyone, " Gillian explains, "is jewellery should be the last on and first off as it makes an amazing difference. Also there are slight differences in how to care for you pearls and precious metal jewellery."

Gillian's top tips for Caring for Pearls:

Before putting on your pearls make sure your body cream, perfume, hairspray have all 'dried' first. To remove natural body oils prior to putting your pearls away, just gently wipe them using a soft lint-free cloth. If dirty, use a lightly dampened lint-free cloth. Always make sure they are air dried before storing though. 

NEVER clean your pearls:

  • Using an ultrasonic cleaning machine
  • In solutions that contain ammonia or harsh detergents
  • Using an abrasive cleaner or by rubbing them with an abrasive cloth. 
You have been warned!! One of the reasons Dee and Gee Designs places all of their pieces in their very own jewellery bag is that jewellery, particularly pearls, should be stored separately as they can get scratched. Store your pearls in their own slot in your jewellery box. If you don't have a jewellery box then store them in a small drawer. 

If you are thinking about Christmas presents then I can highly recommend Dee and Gee Designs: they bridge the gap between high street and designer jewellery so effortlessly and are classical with a contemporary twist. 

Next up: looking after Sterling Silver!!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

In praise of sensible clothing...

Late last month I trekked over to Holland to see my mate Clare and take part in a half marathon on the island of Terschelling. This winter season I have been rocking my grey Cos wool with it's hint of androgyny but Holland ain't like here - the dress is a lot more casual and they bike EVERYWHERE. I also knew that Terschelling would be, in the kind words of Clare "freezing" so I didn't think said Cos coat would cut the freezing cold mustard plus I didn't want to tempt fate by getting greasy bike oil all over it either.

Now I have a very dramatic style and it has taken years for me to settle on a wardrobe which works for me and the upshot is that I don't really do 'dressed down'. Each year when my family pile into Centre Parcs I am probably the least equipped and therefore the most cold. I love an oversized camel coat but at Centre Parcs it won't really keep you toasty when you are hanging
out with your nephew at the outdoor play area with the wind whipping around you. I was determined to be warm for my Holland trip, Being cold is downright miserable and I wanted to enjoy the whole experience of cycling EVERYWHERE and not be thinking "how long is this going to last? I want to go home and have a brew."

So casting off my stylish sensibilities I went in search of a down jacket...

My Cos coat shot at dusk

The criteria were clear: black, belted and won't make me look like the Michelin man. With that in mind I took my search to eBay, found a jacket and promptly ordered it. I don't think I have ever had such a warm coat. It was hands-down IMMENSE. Black, belted and with faux fur around the hood all the way from Zara - it served me so well during my 4 day away - it was like living in a sleeping bag. Only my nose was cold. 

Hi Selfie! You can just see a peek of a vintage scarf creeping out, 

Vintage boots and bag completed my sensible "look".

 The weekend was lived out of a carry-on suitcase so all of my clothing was tonal (except my high vis vest which I had ready to rock on the morning of the half marathon) - black Jamie High Waisted jeans and black cashmere were the wardrobes of the day with some navy cashmere thrown in for good measure and a couple of vintage scarves to add some pattern and a shot of colour.

Ah sensible clothing! I can remember trotting out in the snow through the mean streets of Halifax on many a winters night our when I was a teenager in nowt but a dress - that's right - WITH NO COAT. Maybe its because I turned 33 this month but sensible clothing, I salute you. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Kudos to those working in their community, by their community, for their community

Kudos this month goes to Chris Sands – the brains behind Totally Locally.

Not heard of Totally Locally? Shame on you. It is the concept of shopping locally, supporting your local businesses and creating a sense of place in your community. Now it seems like a simple idea and therein lies the beauty – it really is a simple idea with BIG THINKING behind it. Devoid of Mary Portas and white papers from David Cameron this grass roots movement germinated in Yorkshire in 2009 and, as with all great ideas, sprouted legs and over the years has reached into far flung corners of the earth including California, Australia and Greece.

There is a Totally Locally toolkit available online to download. Now, tread carefully – Councils are banned from downloading the kit. Why? Totally Locally has to start with the shop owners, the traders, the retailers themselves. Get their investment and the rest will follow. Top down ideas from the Council and the idea falters – people are alienated if they are not involved, it’s the Council thinking they know best.

2 towns download the kit each day. They are simple marketing tools which are a guide to help towns figure out how they want to launch and maintain Totally Locally. One success story (and there are far too many to include here) is Brighouse. They launched a street market, closing off the main street to cars and filling it with stalls laden to the brim with local wares. That Saturday was the busiest Saturday the market had ever seen. The knock-on effect? The following Saturday was the busiest Saturday the shops in Brighouse had ever seen: shoppers wanted to come back, the retailers had made it worth their while. Brighouse have since gone on to hold a 1940’s weekend which is/was a huge success.

Chris Sands has worked on Totally Locally without getting paid – pro bono at its best.

Click here for the Totally Locally website

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Bags of awesomeness from Bagable

Last year I tried downsizing to a Whistles clutch. Great for a night out and a day out but not so great for a client facing day when I have all my bells, whistles and the kitchen sink of wardrobes to carry around. The Zara bag I was using couldn't handle the pressure and the bag straps are somewhere between useless and broken so I was in desperate need of a new season bag when the awesome peeps at Bagable sent me the Fiorelli Chelsea Tote Bag

Delivery was quick and painless (I know some of you are still hesitant about ordering online) and so you know exactly what you are getting the Bagable peeps give you the dimensions of the bag on the website so you can double/triple check your requirements AND you get a return label in case in need to send it back. It comes double wrapped so no danger of any damage, the handles are also protected in transit plus there is even a handy 10% off leaflet for your next order. 



Here's why I love the Fiorelli Chelsea Tote Bag: it is the size perfect for my wallet, phone, Ipad, pen, notebook (I am still in the old school of actually writing things down), diary (see previous parenthesis) plus my trusty lippy, keys, chewing life is literally in my bag. I've cracked it out already to rave reviews and I love the fact it has two handle options: to crook arm or not to crook arm, that is the question. 

You can order online at and tweet the bagsters on @BagableLtd. Here's how I styled it all ready for winter: 

You'll find in this blog post for whatever reason, I decided not to look at the camera much. 


Outfit: Silk Shirt from River Island, Necklace from H&M, Coat from Cos, Trousers from Preen, Shoes from ASOS. 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A client's partner has a few kind words to say...

2 years ago my most gorgeous girlfriend (Ali) made the move to being self-employed. Although we had spent a great deal of time looking at the pros and cons of starting our own business we never really gave much thought how our personal image would be effected. From an early age society tells us what we should wear, whether that be in school or walking down the high street. We enter the world of work and although we have choices the expectation is clear, to look professional you must follow the corporate code. Suits, dresses, black, white & grey and although we all add our own little embellishments here and there no individual breaks the rules.So what happens when you take that away, no dress code… no one telling you what you can and can’t wear? Well, that is when you start thinking about your brand and what your clothes say about you.

Ali works in the learning & development industry and in in front of people on a daily basis, attending meetings and delivering presentations. In each of these circumstances your appearance is key. In meetings you must look business like and professional whilst in presentations you must also look approachable and relaxed. Having spent the last 15 years in a corporate environment makes it hard to get your head around your look and the impact that it has. Especially when someone takes away the rule book.

Enter the Wardrobe Angel!!

When Stephanie arrived Ali was not in a great place, business was slow ( as most new businesses are) and she was struggling to find her identity. The pencil dresses and suits just did not feel right anymore, we had tried shopping for new outfits but nothing seemed to work. Stephanie arrived at around 9am and spent the day with Ali going through her entire wardrobe, putting outfits together and advising her on what cut’s etc. best suit her figure. By the end of the day, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

It is all about colours and cuts. Wear the cuts/neckline’s that compliment your figure and the colours that compliment your skin tones and you are away. Within hours Ali had three or four outfits that were perfect for work, she looked amazing. Colourful, smart, professional and best of all created an impact that matched her values and beliefs.

A few days later and Stephanie had sent us a picture board of styles, colours and suggested outfits along with were to buy them. This made shopping so much easier, being able to understand that certain prints don’t work and that some designers actually specialise in making clothes to compliment your body shape. Seeing Ali looking through the Pepperberry website was like seeing a 6 year old on Christmas morning, a revelation!!

6 months later, I am stood waiting for the 5pm train from London to arrive at Wakefield train station. The train pulls in and I start to scan the platform looking for Ali. Through the hordes of grey and black corporate conformists I spy a splash of unexpected colour.  My jaw drops… walking down the platform in a blue Pepperberry dress that perfectly shows off her hourglass figure wearing a smile that would stop traffic was Ali. 

I cannot recommend the wardrobe angel experience enough. If you are struggling with your style and need help or just want to refresh your wardrobe, Stephanie is the one to call.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Swish Leeds

SWISH, Swap, Wear, Love

Team Swish with the staff of Armani Exchange at the Corn Exchange, Leeds.

They came, they saw, they swished! 

On Thursday 19th September The Corn Exchange in Leeds was transformed into the first of its kind swishing event - over 75 women came, swished, networked, ate, drank and had FUN. With volunteers from Batley School of Fashion, food from the very lovely Masterchef finalist Tom Rennolds (@TomRennolds) and fashion from Manor Drive Dress Agency, Phase 8 and Topshop the night was awesome. 

The next SWISH LEEDS March 27th 2014 so get the date in your diary!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Kudos to those thinking BIG when the means are small...

Ellie Good editor of Egg Mag

Hello to Ellie from Egg Mag who I think is doing a splendiferous job in making green and sustainable issues accessible, fun and relevant. Using all her work experience from doing Art & Design Direction for women’s glossy magazines she wanted to buck the trend for ‘must-have items’ and mass consumption and Egg Mag was born. She started Egg Mag in March 2009 as a print magazine then realised online was where it’s at as of July 2011 Egg Mag has been doing its thang on the world wide web ever since.

The criteria for production? A magazine that Ellie and her friends would want to read, with a non-preachy, chatty tone. With over 3,000 unique hits per month Egg Mag is a mash-up of green events, green and ethical fashion and cool products which don’t harm the environment.

So I’m sure the questions on everybody’s lips is - Why call it Egg Mag?

“The name came from when I was setting up the printed mag and I was thinking of names of trees and other natural things, but they all sounded very ‘worthy’ and hippy. I wanted it to sound catchy, quirky and interesting. An egg is a natural thing and is the start of a new life, so it fit the bill well. Mag, obviously because it is a magazine (online now of course). My initials are EG too, so it was kind of a combination of these things that made me choose it.”

What’s next for Egg Mag then? Ellie has hit on a wonderful idea of creating an Egg Mag agency called Egg Makers – a collective of ethical and sustainable businesses which can help other companies who want to become more ethical in their practices. Then there is her on-going Packaging Protest and whispers of an Egg Mag shop as well.

Hoorah! No more sweeping the green issues of the day under the carpet – get your Egg Mag out and get ready to change your world. Kudos for thinking green BIG when the means are small. 

You can read the wonder of Egg Mag: click here 
And tweet Ellie from Egg Mag: click here

Friday, 20 September 2013

Purer than the driven....cashmere (think it's too early for snow, don't you?)

Pure Collection

You may have seen Pure Collection catalogues dropping out of the woodwork when you ripped open your Sunday papers. You may have seen their banner ads online. You may have even heard their name mentioned around York as the latest place to shop. But if you haven't let me fill you in on who and what they are. Pure Collection is one of the biggest online and catalogue retailers of cashmere in the UK. Started 11 years ago as a catalogue brand they have since upped their ante by expanding into the world wide web and are now bucking the retail trend by actually opening some stores instead of closing them down.

Now I think cashmere is a little bit wonderful, a true wardrobe hero. You can style it up, dress it down and it goes with almost anything. The sheer beauty of cashmere is that it is the one of the most luxurious fabrics on the planet and Pure Collection have transported that luxury into your wardrobe. How very kind of them. Last week I was honoured to go and see the new Autumn/Winter Collection in the York store and do some styling for some of their customers at a preview evening.

SELFIE ALERT!!! Wearing a washed Silk Blouse and
Cashmere Roundneck Sweater

Some things I found out whilst I was there:

  • The cashmere crop can only be harvested once a year.
  • Said crop originates from goats in Mongolia.
  • It is too warm in the UK for said goats to survive that's why they thrive in Mongolia  where it is mountainous and cold. Brrrrrr....
  • It takes 4-6 goats to make 1 jumper.
Ever wondered why the price of cashmere differs so widely on our Great British High Street? Pure Collection uses the longest fibres of cashmere to weave their jumpers which cost the most. Brands like M&S use the shorter ones which cost less but will start to pill more when you wear them. There are also different weights of cashmere: 1-20. 20 being the thickest (called Gassato), 1 being the finest (called Featherweight.) 

So what of Pure Collection AW13? Just heaven. I love a roundneck and some jewels so the jumper from their Core Collection suited me down to the ground and what a revelation in the washed Silk Blouse: modern asymmetric hem, set in sleeves AND IT FITS OVER THE GIRLS!!!!! I struggle BIG TIME with shirts as they usually 'pop' open over the bust which not only ruins the line of an outfit but also exposes your bra. Classy. But the washed silk blouse runs true to size and the buttons stayed closed, the fabric sat flat to my breastbone and all was well in my world. 

Other beauties which caught my eye were the Soft Wool Coat (the almond colour now with a 9 week waiting list after recently being featured in the Telegraph fashion pages), the wonderful Portland bag in buttery soft leather and the Pashmina Shawl in modern camel which is perfect on a long haul flight or for just looking awesome in. 

Do you want to know what else is great? The scarves also come in 3 lengths and they make an excellent Christmas gift for that person who you really should know better....but don't. The brand is also ethical and sustainable - TRUE FACT. The factories where the cashmere is spun adheres to western working hours and conditions and the Pure Collection goats are a well looked bunch so much so that Pure Collection has received a 100% sustainable accreditation. 

So leave your pre-conceptions about cashmere at the door and head over to Pure Collection for the ultimate winter wardrobe. But check out how fit the shop-fit is first:

Pure Collection do their own cashmere care liquid.

The shop fit screams quirky luxury 

The story of the Mongolian goats - check out the mini jumper!!

The wallpaper in the fitting room - yes please.


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Swish Leeds

I love a good clothes swap. And here's why (in numbered format no less):

  1. It keeps clothes out of landfill: We all get bored of our clothes. But the clothes that may (and it pains me to say this, it really does, but it happens 10,000 times every 5 minutes) end up in the bin out of sheer boredom or "can't be arsed" to take to the charity shop can be given a new lease of life when given to somebody else.
  2. Free clothes: The only money you'll spend is the ticket price to get in or buying the cup of tea when you are there. 
  3. Free clothes: Such a good point I made it twice. When it's the end of the month and you are a bit squeezed on the financials front but you really, really, really want some new clothes then these are essentially free! You just need to donate some of the clothes you are bored with/can't fit in to to get the ball rolling.
  4. Takes you outside your comfort zone: You know that zone you get in - it may be jeans, ballet flats and a cardigan. It may be leggings, ballet flats and a long cardigan. That zone is full of little patterns that you repeat...and repeat... and repeat. But throw off the shackles of cardigan-dom! Kick the ballet flats to the curb! Use those lovely, free clothes we talked about (twice) and EXPERIMENT!! Try a jacket, get some high heeled boots! If you don't like them you can swap them again. That's the sheer beauty of clothes swaps!
  5. Networking: Why yes. As a business woman I am always looking for ways to extend my networks. Clothes swaps are a great place to meet other women and bond over a common love/hatred of clothes. You never know who you might meet there.
This month there is cracking clothes swap for you to test the water in: 

SWISH LEEDS on the 19th September in the Corn Exchange in Leeds. 

Accompanied by a DJ and whilst stuffing your face with tasty (free) treats you can swish the night away at this high end event which only costs £20 to attend. 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Behold the 2013 M&S AW13 campaign shot by Annie Leibovitz. They brought out the big guns didn't they? So who have we got here: Helen Mirren, Ellie Goulding, Katie Piper, Grace Coddingon (the flame haired beauty), Tracy Emin, Karen Elson, Nicola Adams. It's like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy except Actress, Singer, Artist, Boxer - and a gold medallist to boot.

Well, what can I say? I love it.

I frequent M&S to buy my pants (not my bras - Bravissimo all the way) but rarely do I venture there for clothes. I pass through the racks and routinely feel....uninspired. The worry that comes with the "best stuff" on offer is that everyone will be wearing it because the "best stuff" is so few and far between. But glancing my eyes over the shots for the latest campaign, not only have M&S nailed the new season looks (leather, pink, tartan) they have showcased them on women of all ages making them instantly accessible and wearable.

What will left to be seen is if M&S have got their supply chain right and bought enough of the "best stuff" in the first place or whether just the larger stores will be serviced with the gems leaving the dregs for the smaller stores thus pissing women off who have been fashion-penalised due to their geographical location. But then again, there's always online (click here for M&S website)

With a supplement in the September issue of Vogue, M&S have upped their fashion credentials and with the canny mid August press sweep they are leaps and bounds ahead of other retailers in the AW13 new season rush to secure consumer spending power.

Job well done M&S, job well done. Now Karen Elson - hand me those leather leggings.

You've guessed it...more tea...

My love for tea is well documented. Now a teetotaller tea has risen to the top of my drinks cabinet. It has been known that I order a tea on a night out from time to time. A couple of months ago I was working on my Wardrobe Angel Social Media Strategy (read: losing time in the Twitter vortex) I entered a competition to win some tea and I WON!!! I was the lucky recipient of some very awesome tea from Melissa the owner of Choi Teas.  

When my Chinese tea arrived - heaven. Beautifully packaged with instructions on how to brew I couldn't wait to get the kettle on. In my box I received: wild green tea, chrysanthemum flowers and giant flowering tea bulbs (personal fave). First up - the tea bulbs. Disregarding the mugs in my kitchen cupboard, I cracked out some china (an Xmas present that had been waiting for an occasion to rise to) and set to...

Visually arresting non? They literally bloom before your eyes! In the bumph Melissa sent one of the quotes is "few teas have the glamour of Choi Time's range," and it's true. Such an awesome idea for a dinner table decoration - china, water and flowers - simple yet abundantly decadent. Or simply if you need a bit of low-key drama in an otherwise average day - sling one of these in a cup and away you go!

Then there's the health benefits as well: caffeine free, aids digestion and can purify the skin. These sets would make a great xmas gift/stocking filler so get yourself over to the Choi Time website and fill your cart; December will be here before you know it. 

Business Growth? Yes please!

Kudos to those working in their community, for their community, to further their community

 Jocy Hunter of Business Growth Calderdale

When I was thinking about starting The Wardrobe Angel (TWA) I bought "Starting a Business for Dummies" but no amount of reading can prepare you for the leap of faith you have to summon when you strike out for yourself. When people ask me how it felt to give up my "proper" job and start out on my own I always say it's like toppling over a cliff, hanging onto a cliff edge with your fingernails and I stay or do I go? You don't know what's beneath you, or what's going to catch you but you can't stay on the cliff edge forever so you just have to let go and trust in yourself that you will survive. 

One organisation that has helped me beyond belief has been Business Growth Calderdale (BGC). I happened upon them last October when TWA was 15months old - still a start-up and still finding my feet. It was just one of those random afternoon surfing the Grand Old World Wide Web and boom! Suddenly I had a meeting arranged with Jocy (Head Honcho at BCG) about getting a business mentor. For me the vital tool has been the mentoring scheme. I sit down once a month with my business mentor, Dawn, and without a shadow of a doubt she has focused my mind, aligned my business thinking with my career and personal goals and helped me strategize my business, month on month, quarter on quarter. I often joke that Jocy should start a dating website because she was responsible for 'matching' Dawn and I! 

So....we have the who, now the wherewhat and why. The What - BGC is a scheme which helps businesses overcome obstacles to their continue success, it's all about identifying the barriers, knocking them down and letting business thrive, in turn increasing profit, in turn creating jobs . 

The Where is in Calderdale - the scheme is a pilot which is now being copied by Leeds City Region. Lucky Yorkshire folk, aren't we?! The Why happens to be because of EU funding (I know! And you thought they did nowt!). Started in April 2011, BGC kicked in like a defibrillator sending a shock to an ailing heart and started seeing results in October 2011. The project runs until March 2014 and council worker bees are gathering evidence to show how and why the scheme has worked in order to secure more funding. Jobs is one of the measuring tools used: with advice and mentoring from BGC 1 firm safeguarded all their employees jobs. Other companies have stopped doing low profit work and have started driving higher profit as a result of BGC intervention. 

All in all a bloomin grand scheme doing excellent work (and providing work!) in my manor! Maybe you should take note, George Osbourne - the solution to fixing the economy may be closer to home than you think. 

For the BGC website click here and for BGC Twitter click here

Monday, 26 August 2013

Man Style

My first post about Man Style! Introducing Robbie Press! Graphic designer by trade and all round stylish husband of Natalie Willingham my go-to make-up artist (click here for her website). Robbie first got into 'fashion' in his early 20's buying up Gaultier and other expensive designer wear by the bucket load. Running with an older crowd he was, by his own admission, "fashionable"....then he discovered music: rock, alternative, soul, punk, disco, the roots of hip hop, "music is a BIG key in my life."

Setting down the armloads of designer labels, Robbie gravitated towards thrashmetal from the mid 1990's punk scene and started buying jeans and denim jackets that would "wear in with me." He grew his hair and became none other than a punk band vocalist wearing nowt but loose shorts, no shoes and a pair of workmans gloves. Then disaster struck - male patterned baldness took a hold and Robbie's locks starte falling away at the tender age of 20. By 25 he was completely bald - not a hugely conformist look in a scene where "everyone who is in metal has long hair." Around this time he had an epiphany "you don't have to look a certain way to be part of the scene."

His style has evolved from buying up rare skateboarding clothes from America, to purchasing his first Oswald Boateng suit in his 30's alongside a purple shirt and a light blue tie, "fabrics and colours have always been important to me - there is a strong influence of colour in everything I see." From that first suit Robbie's interests spread into English tailoring and a sharper way of dressing via putting together pattern clashes and sourcing denim from Japan.

As a graphic designer Robbie is intensely passionate about understanding the heritage of the brands he designs for and it is the same with his clothing. During our chat he never once speaks of 'shopping'. No. He "sources" his clothes: charity shops, gents outfitters, eBay, TKMaxx all get a look in, "I know exactly what I need before I need it. Then I find it." He knows the brands he sources from inside out. New brands lead him on a tale of discovery. Simply put the traceability of his garments underpins his uniqueness of style.

And it is style. Robbie was well aware of his fashionability in his teens which then transcended genres into style in his 30's and 40's. In his own words he is "obsessive" and his sheer dedication to his wardrobe is staggering. He is even growing his winter beard in summer.

Robbie's style has long interested me so I got him to show me his three favourite looks.

Drink. It. In.

Vintage Look: 

Christys bowler
RRL Beach Vest
RRL collarless shirt
Trickers Malton boots
Edwin ED-39 Jeans
Vintage Marlboro belt buckle
Mexican leather biker wallet 

Winter Look:

Vintage Sheepskin coat by Kinch & Lack
Cowichan Scarf by RRL
Vintage Woolrich hunting pants
Yuketen Main Guide boots 

Tweed Look: 

Borsalino Hat from New York
Round collar shirt by RRL
Waistcoat by Ralph Lauren Rugby
Pendleton tie
1920s Albert watch chain
Edwin Jeans
Trickers x My Wardrobe boots
Horse Hair belt by Ralph Lauren

He also has this beauty - The Big Lebowski cardigan. Made for the film but never used, bought on eBay from a museum in middle America. You don't get more dedicated than that.