Monday, 31 March 2014

Dog Walking Bingo!

Last week I had the immense pleasure of being a surprise birthday present for a client. The client was a carer who looked after her husband 24/7 and the last thing on her priority list was herself: she ended up wearing the same things all the time because she simply had no time for her. The order of the day was de-clutter, re-style and make her wardrobes more manageable.

Once the client was up out of bed she rarely had time to get changed once the dog had been walked - the day just ran away with itself. A refrain popped up again and again during the day "I'm only popping out to the shops", "I'm only walking the dog", "I'm only pottering around the house." All these activities were being completed in her husband's jumpers (far too oversized) and an old pair of jeans - items which swamped her petite frame and added pounds in excess material. What I wanted to impress upon her were the following:

A) She had great clothes which weren't getting worn. What a waste!!
B) Just because she was "only walking the dog" didn't mean that she had to dress scruffily.
C) Even though her lifestyle had changed and her clothes needed to be more casual, she could still look great: she was still her: her taste, her style, her own person.

With this in mind I selected a colour palette of clothes which she could mix and match at 5am when the dog needed walking and still wear the clothes for the rest of the day. I called it Dog Walking Bingo:

Dog Walking Bingo!

All she needed to do was pick a pair of trousers, a Nike top and a fleece or two (depending on the great British weather!) and head out. To make her outfit more errand-running friendly she just needed to change her shoes and add a scarf or a smarter jacket. Bingo!

Sunday, 23 March 2014


A few weeks ago I was contacted by Amanda from Figgahugga asking if I would like to try one of their dresses. I usually wheel out the shape wear in January (ask me about the shape wear/Urbis lift story when you next see me) and the rest of the time just wing it with a mix of no VPL pants so the offer really interested me especially as the Figgahugga range is designed to be worn as part of your wardrobe, not just underneath in the manner of Bridget Jones's Big Pants (if you don't know what I'm on about watch the film clip here). In received my dress and a lovely note from Amanda who has the most beautiful handwriting, FYI.

On Saturday one of my closest friends got married and I chowed down on the buffet: ham, potato wedges, bread (and I don't usually eat bread due to a wheat intolerance but this was a special occasion) salad, numerous pieces of double that and add a few more pieces of cake. And chutney. And coleslaw. And third helpings of ham. By the time I exited the do my food baby looked like it was 6 months old. This, I decided, was the perfect time to try the Figgahugga and this was the result...

Not a food baby in sight. 

So - they aren't the easiest thing to get on. There was a moment when the dress was mid thigh when I thought "it's too small." Then a rather panicked moment further up around my hips when I thought,

"I can't get it on! But I can't get it off!"

But I'd committed so inch by inch I pulled the dress on as instructed in the video on the Figgahugga website and my panic subsided.

Then I looked in the mirror. I was speechless:


I am 33, I work out, don't smoke, don't drink so I am in pretty good nick but that tiny blue dress had worked its magic and there wasn't a food baby in sight (although there is a hideous carpet, for which I apologise). Plus the blue colour I had chosen looked immense with my red nail/lip combo.

Now the thing is - am I going to wear it? I always said that when I started The Wardrobe Angel I wouldn't recommend anything to clients I wouldn't use myself and I can hand-on-heart say that I will wear this again.

I set about styling the dress with the contents on my suitcase (I was staying in a hotel in Manchester post-wedding). Styling the dress with a top and shoes from Zara and a Luca Jack ring, turned said dress into a skirt. I'm not into the whole bodycon look so I love a bit of volume to balance out the silhouette and keep some of the goodies under wraps. My legs - I love my legs - come on summer so I can get them out! Plus the Figgahugga has silicone around the bottom hem to keep it in place so no flashing the cash incidents, and they are a British product.


Click here for the Figgahugga website.

Follow the action on Twitter

Swing by their Facebook page and turn your thumbs skyward

And proof that you can walk in said Figgahugga....The Wardrobe Angel cocks her leg... (it was 1am - there was no way I was going outside to walk around the hotel car park!)

Monday, 17 March 2014


Whilst trawling though my twitter feed on Sunday a ray of happiness and nostalgic joy erupted - I stumbled upon #30sbloggers. It only started a few weeks ago with the aim of bringing together bloggers in their 30s for nostalgic chats and good banter. What was on offer this week: Sweet Valley High, The Real World, life before the internet, talking on the landline for hours at a time, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, the launch of Channel 5 (I know! The dizzy heights of 5 channels!!), bath pearls, and your first mobile phone (BT Cellnet if you're asking). Oh, and don't forget the Sun-In.

It was just heart warming to share memories and realise that there are people out there on this wonderful world wide web that are kinda in the same boat: no longer in your 20's, existing in this hinterland on the edge of 'youth' and 'young'.

So hoorah and thank you for the 30+ blogger who set this up. Come join in:

Time: 9-10pm on Sunday night
Where: Twitter
Hashtag: #30sbloggers

Thursday, 13 March 2014

My thoughts on the Ofsted report slamming scruffy teachers

This morning I was invited to go on BBC Radio Humberside to talk about the Ofsted report criticising scruffy teachers at the Acland Burghley School in Camden, London. They had callers on debating whether what you wore was important or not in the place of work. The caller before me said that a more informal style of dress worn by a teacher would make the teacher more accessible and promote greater learning. Wrong. Ofsted had drawn a direct correlation between the state of the teachers' clothing, the presentation of the building and the poor standard of work - the overall lack of pride in the school - to the schools poor level of achievement. The head is stepping down in August.

So what was my opinion? That guidance on what to wear in any business has to come from the top down but in the article in the Evening Standard it says, "Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, said that too many trainees are sent into schools without proper guidance on professional dress." If that is the case did the teachers even stand a chance against Ofsted? So what proper guidance do you give? 

A DRESS CODE which is the level of expectation you convey to your staff about their appearance: simply put it is what to wear and what not to wear.   

I talked to Burnsy on air about the importance of a Dress Code and the work I had done with Raynes Architecture. When the firm expanded, Lisa, the Director, contacted me to help shape their company image and write their Dress Code so that when a new member or staff that was taken on they would be in no doubt about what was acceptable dress in the Raynes work place. I mentioned a great quote on air from the E-myth revisited which talks about why some companies excel and others don't:

“Is it any wonder that McDonalds, Federal Express, Disney …and many more extraordinary companies spend so much time and money on determining how they look? It pays!” (E Myth Revisited)

Enough said! Even if you aren't running a multi-million pound business (and let's face it, how many of us are?!), or are running a not-for-profit business like a school, what your staff wear is a direct result of the management and leadership at the top and a direct reflection of how they feel about the job they are in.  After I bid Burnsy good day I remembered a Julie Walters programme called Ahead of the Class that was based on the failing school in London outside which the Head Teacher Phillip Lawrence was fatally stabbed in 1995. Do you know what the first thing she said  to her staff as the new "super head" brought it to ring the changes ? She  didn't ask them about the curriculum, the behaviour of the students, or what colour they wanted the staff room painting. No, she asked the teachers to dress smarter. 

(If you haven't read about what all the hoo-ha is about then check out the article in the Evening Standard by clicking here.)

Monday, 10 March 2014

Tea, Mabel? Don’t mind if I do…

It’s been well documented on this here blog that I love a tea. And what’s more I love people that are doing cool and interesting stuff with tea. Like Yorkshire Tea’s ad campaign where they took off the grand ol USA and delivered proper tea to the tea-starved Brits over there. That got the thumbs up from me.

What could possibly follow my ode to Manchester’s bright tea light Teacup?  Mabel and Mary’s I do declare. It was recently their 1 year anniversary and man have they had a cracking year! I first spotted them at The Festival of Thrift in their mobile tea shop feeding the hungry hoards that had flocked to the upcycled and recycled festival. 

Look at the choice of Tea! 
Carol, the owner, says “we offer good quality and a choice of tea other than earl grey or peppermint as an unusual tea.” The tea choice Richter scale peaks between do 12 – 14 types (so no surprise there was a huge queue which I heartily joined the back of) and they use local suppliers wherever possible. With a laser like focus on what they are selling, they do oven baked fresh scones (also another personal fave which I scoffed on the day) and really good homemade cake.

Born out of a redundancy package, the original idea was to start a tearoom but with crippling highstreet rates and rents the idea got itself an ice-cream like serving hatch on the side of a unique and memorable van. Starting out at markets and fĂȘtes Mabel and Mary’s presence has snowballed into Christmas light switch-on, outdoor shows and events and being the ‘local’ tearoom on festival camp-sites. They have been invited back to each venue they rocked-up to this year which proves what a unique yet accessible brand they have: quirky, quality products with national appeal.  

Swing by the give them the thumbs up on Facebook

Or tweet them up: @MabelandMarys

Kudos to the upcyclers for seeing what others cannot

This month I'm giving Kudos to Michelle Luker the owner and creator behind Interference Design. Michelle takes everyday objects and upcycles them: from bike handlebars to those old Bunsen burners we used in Chemistry many moons ago. 

The pathway to her own business went from a 3D Design course in Manchester, to a 1 year creative business course, to being supported by the now defunct Design Initiative which helped to showcase her work at numerous exhibitions.

Her upcycling career started at uni when she started using discarded objects from skips and things picked up in charity shops for her uni projects. She then moved into working with original materials and the rest is history.

Going since 2004, her products are helpful, quirky and full of wit. She is interested in things that do things – take her Candlebar for instance – the only time I’ve ever seen a candle on a bike part. Oddly enough, looking at it reminds me of Lumiere from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast…

Anyway, visit Michelle’s Etsy shop for her range of upcycled products by clicking here and Click here for the Facebook Page – swing by and give Michelle and her upcycled products the thumbs up.