Thursday, 18 December 2014

Wardrobe Angel Christmas Giftcards

Don't you just love the internet? This year the grand old world wide web brought me Betty Etiquette - Stationary for Storytellers. After a quick email exchange and a few design ideas tossed back and forth I excitedly ordered my new Wardrobe Angel Gift Cards.

A few days later I received these beauties:

Loving hand-created and wrapped in a vivid green ribbon which mirrors my brand colours, each gift-card comes in a thick black envelope which scream elegance and sophistication!

Buy now for the person and wardrobe you love this Christmas! Just drop me an email or contact me via my website by clicking here to order yours. I send the gift-cards first class signed for so no chance of your gift-card getting lost in the Christmas rush.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Flowers at 180

What I've found since starting The Wardrobe Angel is that business moves pretty fast and relationships come and go. You will have an intense friendship with someone, collaborate, meld your businesses together, chat on the phone, email and text then you don't hear from each other for years. It's the relationships that come back around again that I've learned to take note of and Cate Wood is one. 

Many moons ago I wrote about Cate Wood and her awesome jewellery making skills after randomly going to see her house when she was thinking of selling it. Cate dropped me an email a few weeks casually mentioning she'd opened a flower shop. True to Cate the shop is a treasure to behold. Nestled on Mirfield High Street it is a work of Cate's passion for interiors, design, floristry, and above all style

I visited Flowers at 180 on the day of the end of Cate's first order pad. Like getting a hug when you walk through the door, Cate is vibrant, knowledgeable and personable. Even the wording she uses reflects her brand down to a tee - instead of funerals she says 'farewells'. Check out her Facebook page for daily inspiration: the beautiful bouquets she creates and the wonderful curated selection of ornaments and vases she sells. 

She's got Christmas sewn up!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

How to Buy on eBay

Last Christmas 1 in 4 purchases were made online and I predict that figure will rise this year. Hammering through my Christmas present shopping list, the majority of items have been purchased via the internet. It's been a joy to hear the sound of the thud on the welcome mat in my hall to know the postie has delivered all the Christmas cheer I need to spread around my family and friends.

I always find December to be a busy month on eBay and last year sales on Christmas Day and Boxing Day went through the roof - people were busy splashing their Christmas cash. I've done a couple of posts about selling on eBay but this one is about buying on eBay - what to do, what not to do and what to expect:

1. Do you really want the item or only the price.  If you are after a navy blue dress but you are bidding on a sky blue dress just because it is cheap then hold your horses; eBay isn't the only online shop! Sites like ShopStyle are a great way to compare and contrast clothing before you commit to a purchase.

2. Set your spending limit. The eBay auction system encourages panic buying by making you feel time is limited and will run out. As the clock counts down to the end of the auction your heart rate will quicken alarmingly. Panic sets in; you make bid after bid after bid and before you know it you've gone over your budget by £40 not to mention postage and packaging. Before you place your starting bid write down what you are willing to pay for the item on a post-it note and stick it to your computer screen. This will keep you focused when the bidding gets out of hand. Another option is to bid once with your final bid and then stay away from the computer screen - if your price is right then you'll win the auction without really having to participate.

3. Be prepared to walk away. You'd be surprised how often things come back around again on eBay. If the bidding goes crazy stick to your budget then set up an email alert for the item you want. Give it a few weeks and your item will pop up again from another seller and probably at a cheaper price. I was after a leopard H&M Coat and it has popped up 4 times from 4 different sellers this year alone.

4. Read, read, read. Some eBay sellers (mostly using the mobile app) keep their descriptions brief. I like a lengthy text detailing size measurements, when and where to wear the item in question. Read all the information that the seller gives at least twice before you bid or ask questions. Check their postage and packaging charges meet your expectations, check the sizing, the colour and enlarge any photos which show defects. If what you want to know isn't there then contact the seller, don't jump the gun.

5. Pay straight away. You've won the bid! It's yours! Congratulations! You can't walk out of a shop without paying for something so don't irritate your seller by withholding payment. Set up the automatic payment option on your account and settle your debts immediately. The sooner you pay, the sooner you receive your item.

And on a final note, shop wisely and safely: keep your transactions inside eBay. At this time of year there is a bigger risk of your parcel getting lost due to the high volumes being posted. If you have agreed to a transaction outside of eBay you will have no re-course if you don't receive your item. You have been warned!

Shop happy!

Til next time...x

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The UK's Only Authentic Dating Coach

A few weeks ago one of my clients gave me a call to tell me about his new and very awesome business. He is an excellent business coach but had decided to laser focus his skills and become UK's only Authentic Dating Coach. Now, this made my Wardrobe Angel ears prick up - I could have done with Jamie 2 years ago when I started dating again after a 4 year absence from the dating 'scene'.

I remember the fear of getting ready for that first date, the annoyance when what I had planned in my head didn't work out in my reflection, the scrambling for the ironing board as I had to hurriedly iron another t-shirt to wear watching the clock seep time as I watched the minutes slip away until it was time to set off. Man, I am in a cold sweat just replaying those moments in my mind....luckily that first date lead to good things and Rich and I are now engaged.

Dating can be a minefield but after 5 minutes of chatting to Jamie I realised that it needn't be. How many of us go into a date with a:

  • Purpose
  • Outcome
  • Vision

I certainly never did. But going on a date is like heading into any meeting - when you meet a friend you already know the things you want to talk about, even if it is as loosely determined as a "catch-up", when you head into a business you have an agenda, a vision of what a good end to the meeting will be, and an idea of what a bad ending will be. So what has this got to do with Style?


Your style is your visual signature, your way of telling the world who you are without speaking, Your clothes are the most powerful tool to tell your UNIQUE story. I have always been, and will always be, a dramatic dresser. On my first date with Rich I wanted to be 'me' but I instinctively knew that my bold red lip and black rimmed specs had the potential to intimidate so I left them at home. I wore pink high waisted trousers, however, teamed with a navy t-shirt writ large with white writing, sky high wedges and a gold clutch bag. My drama didn't go anywhere but I let a more natural 'me' shine through by wearing less make-up: I wanted Rich to see me (Stephanie), not The Wardrobe Angel (my business).

I told Jamie this story and he agreed - if your dating purpose is to meet your soulmate then you have to be 'you' - you can't hide behind props or wear things that aren't 'you' otherwise you aren't telling your story.

With Christmas fast approaching no doubt you have a slew of parties, work events and meals out to attend. Maybe you are looking for someone to snog under the mistletoe, maybe you are looking for a 1 night stand, maybe you want this season to bring you your soulmate. Whatever you want, be clear about it, define it, and go after it wearing clothes that tell people who you are.

For more info on Jamie's fabulous coaching business please click here for his website. Also check out his blog (please click here) where he gives good counsel and inspiring advice in equal measure. And keep your eagle eyes peeled for our series of Vlogs coming very soon - that's right! The Wardrobe Angel and The UK's Only Authentic Dating Coach will be puttin down all our wisdom on dating and clothing for you all to see. 

Lucky you. 

Friday, 28 November 2014

Black Friday - catch yourself on, petal

Last time I checked we folk in the Great British Isles (you too Scotland) were British. Yet as the Black Friday hype enveloped Social Media this week and more and more retailers promised Black Friday discounts, it appears we have gone all American. Black Friday is a day of sales following the Thanksgiving holiday in America. Yet like proms and Twizzlers (Twizzlers are ace, though) Black Friday has found its way to our shores and we have jumped on it like a bouncy castle and bounced until we have our monies worth.

But are we getting our Black Friday monies worth? Two other Conscious Style Pioneers whom I mightily respect think not and I agree. A Thrifty Mrs dispenses wonderful advice today:

Catch yourself on, petal

Meaning just because something has a name which authenticates it, doesn't mean you have to join in with it. And over on Antiform's website they are saying NO THANKS to Black Friday and have closed their online shop for the day, boycotting the mindless consumption that Black Friday brings.

I'm all for a bargain, I love finding the perfect item at a reduced price BUT Black Friday is akin to one HUGE sale to me, and I know how many people go to pieces in a sale:

"It was only a fiver"

"I'll get loads of wear out of it."

"It looked great on the hanger."

The average British woman has £71 worth of unused SALE ITEMS in her wardrobes.

Before you make a clothing purchase this Black Friday step away from the mindless confusion of the sale shopfloor today. Breathe. Is the garment you are holding:

A) Worth the price tag - seriously, even at 30% off is it worth it?Will you wear it?
B) Something you need and have been looking for for a long time?
C) Are you buying the price or the garment? Get the two confused and you'll end up with a wardrobe full of reduced price tags that you can't wear.

Finally, is the garment YOU - is the garment YOU? Does it truthfully and authentically represent YOU, your style, your visual signature? Nope? Catch yourself on, petal. Better leave the shop.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Allium B Get Dressed (again)

The second Allium B dress I styled was Flora. This was really testing my mettle - I don't 'do' florals - but as a stylist and Image Consultant I see a lot of clients who do. And I can't go shoving my dramatic style into all the wardrobes I see - we are all individual after all!

Flora got the same treatment as Sophia last week and got a makeover for Going Out, Casual and Wedding Guest:


Running Left - Right we have....

Wedding Guest - I wanted to give the guests behind me in the congregation something to look at so I used a Silence and Noise jacket with a cut away back. Then blocked all sights and sounds with a massive satellite hat and 80's patent clutch. Heels from Office. 

Casual - I paired Flora with my Safari jacket, Harry Hall riding boots and a massive scarf from Gap. Leaves supplied by the trees. 

Going Out - Faux Fur for all! ASOS came up with the goods and the necklace is from Topshop. Leopard boots are Kurt Geiger's finest. 

If you love the look of Allium B but love 20% off even more please use the exclusive code 


to receive 20% off your chosen Allium B dress. Click here for the website. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Allium B Get Dressed

I've lost count of the number of Wardrobe Angel clients who ask for dresses which are "long enough" (ie they won't flash your pants when you are scooping a child out of a sandpit), have sleeves and pockets. It was a tall order which often proved fruitless. Until Allium B

With the strapline "Grown Up British Design for Women" I was entranced by the small but perfectly formed, timeless collection of dresses...with sleeves and pockets. An email exchange and a phone call later and 2 of their wonderful dresses, Flora and Sophia, were winging their way to lucky old moi. 

You know I bang this drum often but no matter how much a dress costs me I want to be able to wear it to a few different functions, styled a few different ways. The Allium B dresses hover around the £100 mark so for that I wanted to show each dress dressed up and down. I decided to style each dress 3 ways: Going Out, Casual and Wedding Guest. This week feast your eyes on Sophia:


Running Left - Right we have....

Casual - I paired Sophia with my vintage leopard print scarf, IL2L leather biker, Mulberry Effie Tote and Topshop ankle boots. 
(I thought that was an alright picture but it looks like I've wet myself !!)

Wedding Guest - So as not to upstage the bride I wore Zara snakeprint heels, a faux fur wrap, vintage purse and a Laura Aspit Livens hat worn as a broach

Going Out - Gold was the order of the day. Vintage sequinned jacekt, vintage gold box clutch (my mum's no less), Topshop necklace layered over vintage 3 strand pearl necklace and D&G heels. 

If you love the look of Allium B but love 20% off even more please use the exclusive code 


to receive 20% off your chosen Allium B dress. Click here for the website. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Tis the season to be sequinned

Christmas always means extra magic and sparkle to me - magic and sparkle in the sequin sense. One of my wardrobe staples, I err on the side of sequins on a regular basis but ramp up the sparkle come Yuletide. Most of my vintage sequinned pieces have come from….wait for it….charity shops! The quality of the vintage sequinned garments far surpasses anything I've found on the high street. With some high street sequinned garments the sequins shed – this is because they are sewn on in a sheet. Vintage sequins normally would have been individually hand-stitched so you won’t leave a trail of sequins behind you on the dance floor!

I found a cracker of a sequinned top in a charity shop in Holmfirth last Saturday, made even more special due to the fact that it is a bit of a designer steal! Oleg Cassini no less! Not heard of him? He worked for Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox and dressed Jackie Kennedy no less:

I think I've got a faint whiff of Debby Harry here!

Not getting swayed by the designer label I've found most charity shop vintage sequinned numbers, including Oleg’s offering, come with a few downsides....

Massive issues with massive shoulder pads

1.    The shoulder pads – you can see from my face the shoulder pads have scared the bejesus out of me. If you are small of frame, don’t fancy looking like a transformer and don’t want to be mistaken for an extra in an 80’s film then it may be worth removing said pads of horror and inserting smaller ones. I turned the top back-to-front and found that the deep V took the attention away from the pads and gave the top a softer line.
2.    The weight – man are they heavy! These designers and dress makers certainly didn’t skimp back in the day! Get ready to heft around your glitter ball outfit!
3.    They can look old fashioned – and they can look very square. You have to put your own modern twist on them. I wear one of my sequinned tops with a denim shirt underneath. I paired the top I bought on Saturday with bright lime heels, to add a pop of colour, and wore my Jamie High Waisted jeans from Topshop. You could try wearing leather leggings, culottes or layering over dresses.

And like a nice brew, turning the top back-to-front has made everything better!

The great thing about having vintage sequins is that they make your party wardrobe truly unique – no one will look like you; you won’t have the style death moment when you enter a party and see someone wearing the exact same high street dress as you. Party on!

Monday, 10 November 2014

How to Shop at TK Maxx

I have a  TK Maxx horror story I'd like to share with you. Picture the scene....

It's 2007 and my wardrobes, much like my life, are in a constant state of free falling chaos. It's the day before one of my best friend's weddings and I am in the Hammersmith TK Maxx in London town frantically searching for a dress. I return to the fitting rooms again and again with arm loads of dresses that don't fit, require adjusting, look hideous.  And all because I wanted to look 'different', I don't end up with a dress, instead I end up with a scarlet red hat that wouldn't have looked out of place on Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. 

Fastforward 7 years and I'm still reticent to set inside the doors of TK Maxx due the cold sweat which breaks out every time I go near the place. I've managed to bag a Lucas Jack ring from the one in Leeds but believe me TK Maxx is a place of bad fashion memories as far as I'm concerned. Once bitten twice shy -  the last time I was in the TK Maxx at Crown Point in Leeds I nearly had a panic attack because I couldn't find the exit! 

It seems all taste goes out of the window when I'm in there - I can't seem to differentiate between what's awesome and what's s*%t. Lucky for you, one of my clients can. Everytime I send her a bespoke shopping list of bits and pieces she can buy to make her wardrobe work even harder after a Wardrobe Update she responds with - "thanks! I've found most of it in TK Maxx!" Whaaaaaat? 

Take it away Moyra:

" Why do I love shopping at TK Maxx? Because it really, really is worth it. The things in my wardrobe that I love most and wear often are usually from… TK Maxx. And it didn’t cost me a fortune. You can bag yourself a bargain – and I don’t mean a “at this price, it’s a bargain” kind of item. I mean something that is good quality, something that is special, something you really like.

At this point, you may be thinking - “ I can’t be bothered  – I haven’t got the time” or “It’s too confusing – it’s like a jumble sale in there.” So .. here are my top tips if you are short of time:    

  • You don’t need to browse through the whole shop. If you are really in a hurry, look at the clothes in the aisle displays, or the ends of the racks. These are the “best in shop” items.
  •  Or, you can just go and look for one particular thing – a cashmere jumper, or a branded leather handbag  – and ignore the rest
  • The best sections are – day dresses, party dresses, tops, knitwear, coats, accessories, handbags.
  • Definitely try things on – American and European brands may size up differently to your usual UK size.
  • If you like the look of an item, but isn’t in your size, then quick! check on the website. Free and easy returns to the shop.

However, if you have time to spare, and enjoy the thrill of the chase, here are some more tips:

  • Allow yourself plenty of time to browse, preferably not on a Saturday afternoon
  • Don’t be afraid to look at labels and styles you wouldn’t otherwise consider –maybe you’ll find something unexpected that really suits you.
  • So, be prepared to try lots of things on, and reject most of them.

And also, some advice on how to get the best value from those famous low prices…it is easy to get carried away in this permanent “super sale”!

  • Don’t be pulled into “sale mentality” – “at that price, I would be crazy not to buy it” – do you really like it/need it?
  • Don’t be swayed by the price differential between the “original” price and the TK Maxx price. Is it worth the price on the ticket– full stop.
  • There are some “labels” that are really TK Maxx own brands so beware. Again, do you like it? Is it worth it?

A wool Paul Costello coat that Moyra picked up from TK Maxx in Manchester for £70. BARGAIN!!

Happy shopping and I hope you will become a TK Maxx convert like me."


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Weighty Issues

I know, I know - my blogging has been terribly remiss of late. A house move coincided with my busiest and most productive month as The Wardrobe Angel to date which left me surrounded by boxes, dreaming of clothes and clinging to time drifting like a blizzard through my fingers. Apparently, buying a house and moving is one of the most stressful experiences you will ever  have in your life - I can confirm this is true. Half a stone lighter I feel less of myself but parts of me are more visible: my hip bones are jutting at an angle I'm not accustomed to; my jaw, sharper and more defined rests on wrist bones that are mountainously knobbly - no better word for it. 

A slighter example of who I used to be, I hosted my first networking event at Hobbs in Leeds last week.  "You look very thin" a colleague approached me and said. I replied, "I've just moved, it's been really stressful." When I get stressed my body takes it upon itself to chow down on my resources. It has always been that way. The most annoying thing it that this leaves you with clothes that don't really fit and a dilemma for your body to answer - do you buy more clothes in a smaller size to see you through or wait until the weight returns?  

I've done both. I've turned to fiercely belting dresses I already own (pictures to follow), wearing a leather A-line skirt with thick jumpers tucked in to fill the gap at the waist and celebrating my elastane filled pencil skirts which love me whatever my shape. I've ditched the boyfriend jeans (they drown my legs and frankly, don't stay up at the waist any longer) and donned my skinnies. I've taken to wafting around my new pad in a ballgown skirt I picked up in a charity shop when I lived in London - I love the heaviness of the material, it seems to fill me in where the weight has left me wanting. Buying a pair of GAP ultra skinny trousers in the sale proved a wise choice. They are wonderfully skinny, slightly cropped at the ankle and at £7.99 didn't break that bank. When my half a stone returns I can re-gift them or sell them on. 

I had a client last Sunday who had the same weighty issue - she had lost weight due to healthy eating and exercise and was asking "when do I buy new jeans?" I'd give it a month for your body to find its ideal resting weight - we all have one - the weight that our body recalibrates itself to after a while. Give me a month and hopefully I'll be back to mine. 

Friday, 31 October 2014

Blankety Blanket Burberry Coat

We saw. We lusted. We...started saving up?  The wonderous blanket coat from Burberry has turned many a head, and probably busted many a bank, already this season. A "must have" piece my friend so politely calls "the personalised car rug lookalike" is an easy one to replicate. 

Image from The Telegraph

A few years ago I was visiting a friend in Barnard Castle and I had overwhelmingly under-packed, Being far far north of the Watford Gap, I was FREEZING. The only shop that was open was an Edinburgh Woollen Mill where, in my eyes, style came to rest its weary legs and fashion came knocking oh so rarely. Comfort, ease and gillets were the order of the day. As I poked around the rails for something that I would actually wear, I spied a rack of what looked like blankets. My spidey sense told me I was on to a winner and lo! a navy and green checked blanket crossed my back. 

Good things DO happen over time - just wait 'til you see the next picture...

Such an inexpensive item is a great piece to have fun with this and get involved with this seasons blankety blanket coat trend. I've popped my Gap denim shirt underneath, rolled an Hermes scarf tight looping it around the collar and secured everything with a leather belt. You can see the length of the drape on the front of the blanket wrap hits the knee so this would be great with coated skinnies and ankle boots. 

oooof that's tasty

And here we have the magic filters of Instagram at work!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Short Sleeve Style Spotting

I was never a cheerleader of fast fashion in my 20’s but I admit… I had a few Primark pieces. The shame. But now I am knocking on the door of 34, my aim has become a halo inducing wardrobe filled with ethical, sustainable, quality clothing that I can actually wear. This may seem like an odd concept, of course you wear clothes, but trying to get dressed every day using a hotch potch of trend lead garments in my 20’s made my wardrobes (yes, note the plural) a nightmare.

Enter my 30’s and I’m after easy combinations, lots of versatility and garments which are wholeheartedly ‘me’. I’m a big fan of Lisa Armstrong: her no nonsense Investment Dresser column in the Sunday Telegraph Stella magazine has been a guideline for many of my post 30 purchases. When I read her recent column on short sleeved jumpers I lapped it up – when your wardrobe is stocked with basics it can err into boring – so the short sleeve jumper called to me. I guess it’s all about the nuances, and luck, as I picked up a short sleeve Whistles jumper for the princely sum of £5.99 in the Barnados charity shop in Chorlton, Manchester about a week after reading Lisa Armstrong's column.

In winter I like natural fibres as opposed to man-made fabrics (here’s looking at you, acrylic) which aren’t half as warm as wool and will last your half as long. The material mix on my Whistles beauty is good – mainly wool with a bit of Alpaca thrown in for warmth. It’s a rich, dark, textured green fabric which also gives the eye lots to look at. Add a bit of leopard and you are on to a winner.

I styled it with my Alice & Olivia blouse from The Outnet, H&M Trend midi pencil skirt and my Kurt Geiger leopard boots. Oh, and my glasses. A short sleeve can sometimes look a little masculine if it finishes at your nipple line so I pulled out the blouse sleeves and rolled them back for an extra bit of textural difference. Et Voila!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Pure Collection Cashmere me up

It's been well documented on this here blog that I LOVE cashmere and it is one of my ultimate wardrobe staples along with seam free pants and a silk blouse. I am the very proud owner of not 1 cashmere jumper but 4 (black, navy, camel and lime) and each time I wear them I get a compliment. Case in point - I met my friend Amy a while ago and the first words that tripped out of her mouth when I exited the wardrobe mobile were

"You look so expensive."

Not bad, eh? I was wearing my Pure Collection navy crew neck jumper with phat jewelz, grey suede Zara court shoes and a Preen lace skirt. Cashmere is versatile and stylish and warm - now that winter has firmly set its sights upon us we need to wardrobe-up and bring out the big guns! Acrylic may be half as expensive but it'll only keep you half as warm and last half as long as a proper cashmere investment piece.

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 but means they pill (bobble) the least. Brands like M&S use the shorter ones which cost less but pill more when you wear them. 

This week I am styling at the Pure Collection shop in York showcasing their new Autumn Winter stock. Pure Collection is the largest online and catalogue retailer of cashmere in the UK and it is always a joy and a pleasure to work alongside them, inspiring their customers at seasonal events. Here's the info in case you'd like to pop along:

Pure Collection exclusive Winter Styling Event at the York store, on Wednesday 8th October 4pm - 7pm including 15% off our full price collection. The perfect opportunity to build your winter wardrobe!

The event is FREE TO ATTEND, including a glass of Prosecco and a goodie bag. Awesome!

To reserve your place at this exciting event, please call the York store on 01904 466477 or email 

I've been drooling over the Pure Collection website all week and these are my top picks:

For those cosy winter nights in with a DVD and a mug of tea the Gassato Cashmere Cowl Neck in heather grey worn with the Cashmere Lounge pant are beyond perfect. How decadent!!!

Duster coats and mannish tailoring are BIG again this winter and the Pure Collection Revere coat has not only nailed this trend but it's a coat you'll be wearing for seasons to come. Not for the faint hearted - the colour is so striking and impactful:

And then this skirt - my oh my how perfect is this sequinned skirt for me  the Christmas party season. Hell, I'd wear this with a white tee tucked in in summer. BIG YUM:
See you on Wednesday night!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

THE Dress

THE Dress is the dress which you can pull out and it will do for most occasions: weddings, parties christenings. My DVF dress always stood up pretty well in the afore mentioned categories but then Zara came along and trumped DVF. I know - whodda thunk it? - but DVF is a bit short. So tights and boots it is for DVF. And all hail the all-rounder from Zara!

I've become more and more body confidant since starting The Wardrobe Angel and this Zara dress really highlights how far I've come. It's a gorgeous deep navy which doesn't really 'do' anything until you hit my mid thigh. Then along come the frills. I wore it to an engagement party a few weeks ago and styled it with a faux fur wrap, snakeskin clutch and black pointed stilettos. 

Love the movement in the frills!

Monday, 22 September 2014

London Fashion Week - The British Red Cross Take Over

We all pour over fashion magazines thinking about what to buy next, grieving over what's missing from our wardrobe, wishing we had a spare pile of dosh lying around to splurge on the look of the season. But the clothes on the catwalk are unachievable for many which is where fast fashion comes in with its catwalk replicas made by exploiting workers and the environment. Not so win win. 

But. Something AMAZING happened on Saturday in the British Red Cross shop on Buckingham Palace Road. Something that deserves a mighty, huge fanfare and deafening applause: the case for shopping second hand, vintage and charity shop clothing just got a hell of a lot stronger. Emma Slade, a personal style favourite of mine, took catwalk looks direct from the shows at London Fashion Week and recreated them using clothes from the rails in the charity shop - no mean feat when a fashion show lasts less than 5 minutes and looks disappear in the blink of an eye. 

With the intention to

"prove that you don’t need a big budget to be on trend, that fashion is for everyone, and that shopping sustainably by buying charity shop and second hand clothing is cooler than you ever imagined"

Emma Slade created and styled a series of phenomenal looks which in my eyes are WIN-WIN for all. Not only does it show you that style doesn't come from splashing loads of cash but that charity shops can have the latest trends even quicker than the High Street, you've just got to have a bit of imagination to put the looks together. 

You can even purchase the items on eBay with all proceeds going to The British Red Cross: 

Emma, I salute you. Now where can I get one of those IMMENSE black head bows???

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Pushing my fashion boundaries with Boho

Boho? Bo NO!

I was in a charity shop the other day browsing through the dresses when my hand struck upon a full length Boho inspired maxi dress. Clearly lovingly handmade, the pattern matched at the seams (a sign of proper fit) and the zips were concealed. I turned to my mate, clutching said dress, and said

"I don't know why but all I want to do is waft around in full length maxi dress and wedges."

Ok, a warning bell should've started ringing LOUD then and there. Here's why:

1. I HATE maxi dresses. At a statuesque 5'3" they swamp me. In fact, I SOLD my 2 remaining maxi dresses on eBay earlier this summer.
2. My style has changed rapidly since I started The Wardrobe Angel. I used to conceal my textbook hourglass figure in all manner of oversized shenanigans but now I can't deal with a lot of excess material encasing me, it makes me feel cluttered. I'm all 

"Pencil skirt? Form fitting dress? Why yes! get in my wardrobe."

3. MY LEGS ARE MY BEST FEATURE. Why the chuff would I want to cover them up in a maxi dress that, quite frankly, was a bit wench (empire line, balloon sleeves - you get the picture). 

Image courtesy of The Tudor Shoppe - oh yeah, its real. 

After bidding my puzzled friend adieu, I headed home, put the kettle on and headed into my office. Something wasn't right with my earlier statement to do with the wafting. And shock horror there was the answer lying face up on my desk: I'd been the victim of brainwashing via The Observer magazine. Cripes. 

I did Boho the first time: I distinctly remember my white tiered maxi skirt and hipster belt. Sienna Miller was my early 00's icon and I've still got the cowboy boots to prove it but now my style has shaped into something more dramatic, more fitted and distinctly more vintage. I love the power dressing influences of the 1980's: sharp shoulders, bodycon and strong statement jewellery and it has taken years of hard slog for my style to settle here. To be thrown off kilter by one maxi dress was a pure shock but it just shows how easily you can be influenced by what other people are wearing and what's 'in fashion' when you don't know your own style. This can then lead to a wardrobe full of nothing to wear, a whose who chronology of dead fashion trends that don't represent the true authenticity of you. 

Fashion is wonderful when it pushes your boundaries but when you have a distinct sense of style that stops you buying s**t, you know which boundaries you want pushing and which you don't.

And just an aside - on looking closer at those boots with bits missing - My first thought? 

"Wouldn't your feet get cold wearing them?"

I rest my Boho? Bo No! case.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

How I get my locks to look like glass (thanks John Frieda)

I had finished presenting a WI (Women's Institute) talk when a hand shot up and the owner of the hand asked

"How do you get your hair to look like glass?"

My response was

"Erm....(uncomfortable pause) I don't drink, I don't smoke, I eat prettily healthily (another pause and I began to wring my hands)....erm...and Moroccan Oil."

It really threw me to be honest. I know when I do talks about my business I am the centre of attention but the fact the lady had been eyeing up my hair made me feel a bit off kilter. I'm not a beauty expert, a beauty blogger, a hair fanatic, I just use what I use and have luckily found the products which work for me.

Before I start this blog post in earnest, I would like point out that over the years my hair has been all shades of colour under the sun: orange, blonde, a brief flirtation with black, light brown, dark brown and red. Growing up I was never satisfied with my hair. With eyes skewed by the ideal set by the beauty industry, rather than what I saw with my own eyes in the mirror everyday,  I fell for all kinds of 'promises' from the marketing of such products such as SUN-IN only to have my heart, and hair, broken. You 90's teenagers will remember that ghastly spray (which I pretty sure was just bleach in a bottle) that promised sun kissed locks. I wanted sun-kissed locks and since I didn't live in California where all the models in the adverts seemed to reside, I bought the Sun-In and sat on the back doorstep of my mum and dad's house using the pale rays of Yorkshire sunlight to enhance my dark brown hair. You know what you get when you mix dark brown hair with SUN-IN? Orange hair. Bright. Orange. Hair.

Me, Blonde, You, shocked.
At Uni I went all Sonic The Hedgehog and had red highlights which eventually lead me to blonde highlights and a short urchin haircut that made me look like a boy. So much so, my friend marched me off to get my ears pierced. For a while I was happy with brown hair, I grew it out and started fashioning it into an almighty quiff. Then I got restless. A hairdresser caught me at a weak moment and I started the slippery slope into full blown blondeness.  Hard to maintain, even harder to find the money for the upkeep every 6 weeks and the hardest thing? Coming back from an epic holiday in Ibiza, we headed out to a club in Manchester where I was thinking "I look awesome. I woke up like this" when a woman in said club approached me and asked "are you ok? You look really ill." Bye Bye blonde. That was the last time I dyed it.

Now it is in its natural state - a deep chocolate brown - which I don't dye and love heartily, I have finally made peace with my hair. I use Brilliant Brunette Shampoo & Conditioner in the shower, Moroccan Oil on the very tips of my hair (otherwise we have an oil slick situation on our hands) after I have towel dried my barnet, then I blow dry and straighten the fringe and front section with GHDs.

I'm glad I wasted days of my life in the colourist's chair because not only has the first 30 years of my life provided me with loads of photos which are hair-tastically hilarious, but I worked out what suits me, what I like and what I don't.

I guess sometimes you have to make many shaped hair wrongs to make a right.

Til next time...x

PS - any hair nightmares you want to share? Pop 'em in the comments section below...

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Wrong Knickers

I love Bryony Gordon. I know this is all terribly 'fan girl' of me but blame my Mum; ever since she pointed out that Bryony and I were of a similar and age and lead seemingly chaotic lives I felt I had a kindred spirit. 

Reading about her London life in The Wrong Knickers brought back memories of my 20's, chaos being the prevalent undercurrent: moving 10 times in 6 years, crashing headlong into dead end relationships, the all night raves, food poisoning, getting my drink spiked in Ibiza, watching friend after friend waltz down the aisle whilst I was the token class clown. Yet all the while I held down a pretty stressful job and built my career. 

There was a lot of magic in my 20's as well: a houseshare in Manchester which brought me lifelong friends, cooking my first roast dinner, awesome holidays in South Africa, Ibiza and America, completing a Fashion Journalism course. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change any of it. I'm just thankful that in Bryony Gordon writing about it I don't feel so bad about it. 

I admit I skim read some of the chapters, so close to the bone was the writing, that the words took my breath away. My carousel of lurching crisis came to a head after a move to Dubai and back after which I knuckled down, bagged my dream job, saved up and eventually started The Wardrobe Angel. If you've read Bryony Gordon's column in The Telegraph called How The Other Half Lives she used to be the pissed up lass roaring around London, the bones of which are brought to life in The Wrong Knickers. She now resides on the other side of the fence - married with a baby. 

A couple of years ago when friends were popping kids out all over the place I felt my future on this front was bleak: I was working on my business, a relationship was the last thing on my mind. But reading Bryony's story from single to shacked up gave me...hope. I knew the rest would come, and it did. 

Thanks Bryony. You utter legend.