Friday, 29 August 2014

Busting through Wardrobe Myths with Captain Birdseye

I've lost count of the number of clients that come at me with 

"I always thought you couldn't do that." 

There are loads of wardrobe myths out there that are passed down from generation to generation sometimes without question or reason. Some of the most spectacular styling comes when these wardrobe myths are busted wide open: not matching your shoes and your bag and pairing navy and black together being two examples.  

I LOVE wearing navy and black together. I fell in love with this combo back in 2012 when I saw the flame haired actress Jessica Chastain rocking catwalk Carven. This picture went out to loads of clients "LOOK!!!! YOU CAN WEAR NAVY AND BLACK TOGETHER!!!"

(Just FYI - you don't need a Hollywood actress to give you permission to wear something. Dress for yourself. Simple as.)

A short while afterwards I purchased a vintage navy jacket from The Bramhope Dress Agency which was, as my mate Emily pointed out to me, slightly reminiscent of Captain Birdseye. Fish fingers aside, the jacket got A LOT of wear with my black jeans and a grey t-shirt underneath to break it up. Then this happened:

I used this picture on Instagram and fine tuned it to the max with all kinds of filter magic

I woke up one morning with this outfit in my head. The black based leopard print with the navy shawl collar jacket and stone wash jeans somehow just worksI've had the jacket 2 years, the blouse since February but never thought to put them together. And this is what's great about having a wardrobe unique to you - you don't see all the possibilities straight away. 

And here's a pic of Captain Birdseye for the memories....

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Celebrating small achievements

This week has seen three seemingly small but hugely significant changes in my life as The Wardrobe Angel and I celebrated BIG TIME thanks to the wonderful Gala Darlings's magnificent blog post on Redefining Success (click here for a read). I read Gala's post slack jawed with realisation that I don't down tools and celebrate enough, I normally make another brew and plough on. Reading Gala's wise words was eye opening because those even seemingly small successes are something that I created, worked for and deserve:

Learning to celebrate your small successes is a essential part of entrepreneurship.

First up my seller rating on eBay went from STANDARD to ABOVE STANDARD. I have been watching and waiting for this to happen for a long time; I even had the date marked in my diary! It not only means I am doing my job properly and that my customers are happy, but that I comfortable and deserving of the tag "eBay Expert". I spend at least 1 day a week doing eBay - wrapping, posting, uploading, answering questions - and to be rewarded for all my hard work felt AWESOME. (Plus it extends the life cycle of clothing, keeping it out of landfill so double awesome.)

Second up was something I have been working away on since June: my blog. Hand on heart, my blog was almost an afterthought to my online presence. Then something clicked: my blog came together and worked. Confidence, cause and clothing have made my blog fun to be around these past few months and I plucked up the courage to apply for the Oxfam Fashion Blogger Network. I got an email this week telling me I have been officially accepted:

Thank you very much for your application to be an Oxfam Fashion Blogger. I am pleased to inform you that you have been successful and I warmly welcome you to the Oxfam Fashion blogger network.

We really liked your blog post and you showed a lot of creativity with your photos. We are also impressed by your blog and your commitment to sustainability in fashion, something we are very passionate about. We are sure you could bring a lot to the Oxfam Fashion blog and it’s great to have you on board. 

The third thing worthy of celebration is a little more personal. Recently I bought a house where I grew up. Returning to my old stomping ground to put down new roots, I am in love with this feeling of permanency after years of what seems like a nomadic existence which has taken me to: Manchester, Liverpool, London, Dubai, Halifax and back to Manchester.

We were taught as kids that blowing your own trumpet plays a very bitter tune, that it wasn't the 'done thing' to talk about what we achieved, that bragging was unattractive: I say SOD IT. So back to Gala Darling - how did I celebrate? I jumped up and down on the sofa. Good, proper childlike bouncing with glee etched on my face and my hair flying in the wind. Roll on success!

Til next time....!x

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Nail Style

When I started The Wardrobe Angel I knew I wanted to stand out in the sea of black and grey that engulfs you at most networking events so red lips and red nails it was, plus a healthy dose of vintage clothing, phat jewelz and leopard print. The only thing that put paid to my cunning plan was that I've never had the patience for nail maintenance; bit of clipping and filing here and there and the odd coat of colour before a 'special event'. Wardrobe styling sessions certainly took their toll on my hand painted nails. Chips Ahoy! I spent hours painting and re-painting my red nails before and after each appointment.

Then I discovered Shellac. Oh heaven! Oh joy! Chip free awesomeness. Recently, I discovered Rag Doll Nails in Leeds where you can have all manner of stuff glued on - foils, glitter - to achieve the heady status of Rock Star nails. Me? I just stick to plain ole red but it does the job and that's why I like it.

I'm in Wales this week seeing clients and this ever so arty shot was taken on a massive rock on the beach in Rhos-on-Sea. 

On weeks where I am office based I like to give my nails a rest, however, and the Shellac comes off. I down tools - pairing back my make-up and my nails. On my hands I opt for the Nails Inc Basil Street which is the most wonderful nude, easy to apply, nice and thick and 1 coat does the trick. My toes get a slosh of Rimmel Pro which dries to the touch straight away. I also use a matt top coat when the mood takes me.

Til next time....x

Friday, 15 August 2014

Self-employed Self-Care

I recently celebrated my 3rd business anniversary. Happy Birthday The Wardrobe Angel! Go moi! After 3 years in business here's a few things I've learned about being self-employed and taking ownership of your own self-care:

1. It's ok to take time off
In fact, it's not just 'ok' to take time off , it should be mandatory to TAKE TIME OFF. There comes a point when you are simply not productive. You sit and twist in your office chair, check your phone, refresh your Twitter feed, fire off a few emails. But that ain't productivity, that's procrastination. Unlike teachers, who know each year when their weeks off start and end, us self-employed folk have work lives that are remarkably fluid: each business has a unique work flow. Time off is something that I still struggle with. I am always making notes about blog posts, articles and tweets. Whenever I sit down I pull out a fashion magazine or a business book. I'm constantly thinking of my next Instagram shot and trying out new styling ideas on the mannequin in Wardrobe Towers. But when you offer a 1-2-1 service and give so much of yourself (energy, knowledge, time, personality, skills and experience plus love and joy in what you are delivering) you have to dose yourself up with self-care before you get in a state where you need taking care of .....which brings me onto point number 2.

2. Listen to your body
Old habits die hard: for the first 2 years of running The Wardrobe Angel I didn't have a holiday, I scaled my social life down to zero and took a part time job at Whistles to keep the cash coming in. Nose to the grind stone, or in my case, the wardrobes, I had zero time off. I'll never forget a networking event I attended where a woman said to me "I'm not talking to you, you look too good" walked off and avoided me for the rest of the night. In a haze of tiredness I ran to my car, called my friend Clare and promptly burst into tears. In recent times when that has happened (and boy does it happen) I have realised that that kind of behaviour isn't about me - it is about that woman's insecurity, jealousy, lacking sense of identity. In short - it's all her 'stuff' not mine. But tiredness took it's toll. I should've listened to my body and gone to bed that night, not driven to a networking event where I essentially paid for someone to hurt my feelings.

3. Book time with yourself, for yourself
Now, here's where it gets interesting. This is about taking time to do what you really love. This for me means binge watching Sex And The City DVDs, idly browsing round charity shops in small market towns, sleeping, lots of sleeping, and spending time with my clothes (this point may have you rather confused - when I want a bit of 'me time' I don't head for the tub to bob around in a bubble bath, I head to my bedroom and literally spend time with my clothes: I put new outfits together, make a list of things that need altering, re-arrange my wardrobe. My Uni friends always thought this was hilarious but I always thought how could you not spend time with your clothes?) I try not to do anything that I would do during a normal working week because self-care, to me, means replenishing your sense of self and only you know what makes you tick.

4. Be selfish
You can become so reliant on technology that you become accessible all the time: email, Facebook. Instagram, Twitter. When I'm having time off I'm really honest - I'll put my Out of Office on. I'll turn my phone off during the day. This helps me to just STOP. The joy of doing this is that when you come back to the 'real world' you are so much more invigorated and engaged.

5. Have a goal
I have one strategic business goal to achieve during my week off and I find that by focusing just on me I can usually achieve it. I had last week off and I made it my mission to get 100 new Instagram followers. Job done: I achieved it by going on  my phone for as little as 30minutes a day. Without getting bogged down in the day-to-day routines and requirements of my business I had a fun goal attained through a creative outlet : my idea of business heaven.

Til next time....x

Monday, 11 August 2014

Autumn Winter Wardrobes

I can never get through summer without thinking 'what's next for Autumn/Winter?' Hell, it already feels like winter up here in't north - I'm sitting here watching the rain bounce down and I'm wearing a JUMPER. A JUMPER I tell you! It's AUGUST!!!! Weather rant aside it's the way my mind has always worked - I start preparing my wardrobe for winter right about now. Plus I've never been great at 'doing summer', I'm more comfortable wrapped up in scarves, coats and knits rather than wafting around in barely there cotton smocks. 

Houndstooth check is always a 'go-to' pattern for the winter season; you'll see it on coats, blouses, skirts, trousers, bags and even jewellery. I picked this blouse up in a charity shop for the princely sum of £3! Yay for charity shops! Here I've styled it with a faux fur cape from Per Una Duo (the now defunct part of Per Una which was for teenagers! Ye Gods M&S what were you thinking???) which was bought as a gift over 10 years ago and still going strong. So now it's vintage, yeah?! Bottom half I'm going to style it with:
  • Black jeans. 
  • Black midi pencil skirt
  • Cream wide legged trousers (which are in desperate need for a few inches being sawn off them as I am midget sized apparently and the trousers were clearly meant for Kate Moss-esque beings.)
  • Various fierce heels. I've got a cracking forest green pair of courts from Office that'll go mightily finely. 
I'm also going to try throwing it over a few dresses to turn them into skirts. Then add massive thick black tights. Heaven! As well as starting to stock up on all items Autumn/Winter I do a few other bits and pieces with my wardrobe now so when the cold chills come I am ready:

  • Get my winter coat dry cleaned. I also need to get mine re-lined as it took a fair battering last winter. It is gorgeous and camel coloured and lovely and reminiscent of the 80's which is just me down to a tee.
  • Hand wash my cashmere to freshen it up post summer (not worn) for winter (wear it a lot)
  • Check tights for holes. Purchase more. Feel smug.

Til next time...!x

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Face Style

The clue is in the title - it's what I put on my face to stop unwelcome comparisons to swamp donkeys. And to cover acne scars.

First up we have Ever Matte foundation from Clarins. Ever since an allergic reaction to Clinique a few years ago I have been a Clarins convert. This foundation soaks up grease (of which my skin has tonnes) and lasts for AGES - I've had this bottle since February.

Benefit Pore Professional - sent from the gods. I have crater sized pores, they map them from space, and this covers them up giving me awesome skin. On an office day I'll just pop a bit of this on my face and be done with the rest of the make-up routine/rigmarole.

GOSH eyebrow kit from Superdrug. The wonderful make-up artist Natalie Willingham got me on to filling in my eyebrows about a year ago. It makes such a difference!

MAC Strobe Cream or Sleep In A Bottle as I call it. Awesome for early mornings, late nights and when I require a dose of radiance.

I spent my teens and early 20's hacking at my eyebrows. Who knows, maybe if I'd left well alone I'd be rivalling Cara right now in the eyebrow stakes. For plucking the pesky hairs I have found no better tweezers than Tweezerman.

My red lips used to be achieved through a mixture of Lipcoat and Revlon and then I found Maybelline 24 hour Super Stay. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Won't come off when you eat or drink. Just awesome. And mostly always on 3 for 2 in Boots. Go wild.

And last but not least Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde mascara. I used to forgo mascara in preference for the lipstick but then I felt the fringe was dominating the top half of my face and the eyes weren't getting a look in. After an allergic reaction to the Benefit They're Real mascara (it is so chemically thick - like an oil slick - and nigh on impossible to take off) and a clumpy, flaky experience with Maybelline Rocket Volume Express I turned to Boujois Volume 1 Seconde mascara. Easy to apply, easy to take off and it works!!! One coat and your eyes instantly 'pop'. You can see why it won a Grazia beauty award.