Wednesday, 25 February 2015

#WeddingWednesday - My wedding day hair which I am so excited about!

Wedmin this weekend: we went to order Rich's suit from the tailor and we had a meeting with our wedding planner Emma who works at the reception venue. Favourite thing I found out this weekend in wedding land? Emma decorates the reception room for us. I had visions of me and various friends up at the crack of the wedding day hanging bunting and sorting out the table centres but Lo! Emma does it for us. I'm calling her St. Emma from now on. Other wedmin tasks related to my bonce.

I've felt my image changing ever so slightly in the past 6 months: I'm ditching the red lipstick and trying a new pink shade come Spring, I've loved my red nails but want a colour change there too. And I want my crowning glory back:

I want to be able to sweep my hair up into a bun and forget about it. 

Since starting The Wardrobe Angel my hair has been cut into a severe bob followed by an even more severe bob. It's got shorter and shorter, the fringe more and more blunt. This has taken so much upkeep - bi-weekly fringe trims, monthly cuts, straightening nearly every day. I loved how the cut has become synonymous with my image. People have stopped me in the street to tell me they love my hair. I've been offered free haircuts; I have a 'box bob' which is a great haircut for training purposes (apparently). But last September as I sat in the hairdressers chair and she said, "Am I just taking off the regular amount?" I replied without thinking, "no, I'm growing it. Please can you just trim it?" And that was that.

So 6 months of growing have passed and it is neither up nor down, as the nursery rhyme goes.  The real volume has started to show; without straightening it looks like a mushroom from Super Mario Bros but fingers crossed by THE BIG DAY it will be a shoulder length bob of epically healthy proportions.

This is what I'm aiming for, mushroom hair allowing. 

I read that on your wedding day you should be the most beautiful version of yourself - well for nearly 4 years I have been a red lipstick wearing, short-cut severe bob owning Wardrobe Angel so now I feel all these awesome hair shaped possibilities are ahead: curls, waves, an up-do, a head shroud (?) I've been all over Pinterest like a well-meaning rash this week looking at all my options; you can tell I am thoroughly excited about this! I found a great post on Bridal Musings called 30 ways to style short hair for your wedding which these following pics are from:

Photo by Tyler Branch Photo via Green Wedding Shoes

Look at that VOLUME!! Mushroom head over here can definitely achieve this!  Photo via Sephora

Head Shroud. Erm.....Photo by  This Modern Romance via Green Wedding Shoes

Let's see what the next few months hold, hair-wise. Another Saint who has been an absolute gem in wedding land is Natalie Willingham - the lady who gets to make-up my face on the day. She's opened her contact book and recommended people and businesses left, right and centre so the wedding day can go as smoothly as possible. One such recommendation is  Louise Puchalka  - a bit of a wedding headpiece angel based in the Corn Exchange in Leeds. I am genuinely excited to see what she can come up with to stick in my long lustrous locks come wedding day.

Onwards....only 7 months to!!!!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

#WeddingWednesday - what do I wear in my hair?

We spent last weekend doing 'wedmin' - choosing our invites, finalising which baker gets to bake us a wheat free, dairy free cake, and sorting out our Gift Registry (thank John Lewis!) All the other elements of the wedding are coming together bit by bit so it has made me get 'the fear eyes' around the other elements of my outfits. I was greeted by a stress dream a few nights ago of what to put/wear in my hair on the BIG DAY. This lead to a freak out on Sunday afternoon followed by a frantic Pinterest session looking for inspiration and hoping for an answer, whilst Rich calmly and wisely exited stage left to make a lasagne.

What I'm finding very difficult is seeing how things fit together; I usually build an outfit from scratch by throwing laying items on my bed and adding and subtracting until the outfit feels 'done'. My wedding dress is currently being made, I don't have it to hand and so visualising what else to put with it has me in a panic ridden tailspin. To veil or not to veil, that is the question. Or is the question a tiny veil and a hat? Or no veil and a tiara? Or just a tiara? Or no tiara and a dead bird ala Carrie Bradshaw in her wedding outfit?

"I made the effort, I put a bird on my head."
I thought I was pretty set on having a veil after I tried one on when I went wedding dress shopping with my sister-in-law for her wedding dress a couple of years ago. In truth I was obsessed with the veil, I wanted to buy it and wear it then and there, parading around Reading in all my veiled glory. But when I was stood in my own gown (and the tears had subsided and the snotty tissues had been thrown away) they attached a veil to my head and

it looked a whole world of wrong. 

I didn't feel like me anymore; I felt swamped. like I was pretending to be something I wasn't.

So I need suggestions, help, advice, friendly comments about what my wedding head-gear should consist of. What did you wear? What didn't you wear and why? THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

PS - 'the fear eyes' is a phenomenon my friend Emily noticed about me - when I don't like something or something scares me my eyes dilate uncontrollably, literally widening with fear. Hence, I get the fear eyes.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Jennifer Hamley - Ethically designed handbags in a designer handbag world

On my travels as The Wardrobe Angel I chart the seas of Twitter, climb the hills of Instagram and walk the deserts of Facebook. Late last year I came across one of the most positive, honest, courageous and awesome entrepreneurs I had met in a long time: Jennifer HamleyHer designer bag range is launching in April THIS YEAR – excitement abound! Who sets up their own designer bag label? No-one I’ve ever heard of until Jen came on the scene. It’s something she has always wanted to do, even when she had another business making headpieces for brides, her heart always belonged to the bags. So she made the leap. 

Her bags are specifically targeted at business women, entrepreneurs, the work hard and play harders who have a little bit of fashion sense in all they do. They also have busy lives, carry that life around in their bag and need their bag to be able to cope without breaking a sweat (or a handle). Case in point: Jen has thoughtfully designed a removable clutch component in some of her bags and the clutch can be used for an I-pad as well. Many a time I’ve suggested to client to keep a clutch inside their tote bag in case of post-work shenanigans (I do it and swear by it) and it’s a key feature for some Jennifer Hamley bags –get in! Finally, bags which respond to the needs of the owner, not the other way round. There’s also detachable key chains (no more rooting around in the dark depths of your bag in the pouring rain) and A4 document pockets. PERFECT. 

Things don’t always go smoothly in the land of the entrepreneur. But admitting something is wrong and asking for help? You won’t find many entrepreneurs doing that for fear of their reputation shattering like glass. Jennifer’s website disappeared before Christmas and she took to Facebook and Twitter to ask for help. This is what makes her brand so utterly authentic and awesome – when you interact with her online you feel you really know her. And that extends to the design, craftsmanship and manufacture of her bags - all done in the UK. She hasn't sold out and had her bags made in China to reduce costs. 

I cannot wait for her bag launch and I’ll be blogging about it in April. In the meantime ...

"She's giving away a handbag at the launch to one lucky winner, so SIGN UP FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN!"

The winner of the bag can choose their prize from the catwalk on the launch night!  

Click here for the sign up page or click here to sign up on her normal site now. And remember to keep up to date on her exciting, handbag shaped journey on social media (she's very social!)...

Thanks for being an inspiration, Jen!

Friday, 13 February 2015

How to feel #sexy on Valentines Day

With Clintons proclaiming love through cards, florists through roses and M&S hammering their £20 meal deal, you can't ignore Valentines Day sitting on our doorsteps waiting to be invited in for a glass of bubbly and a fistful of chocolates.

How do I feel sexy? I always take a bit more time moisturising after a bath and really enjoy putting on my make-up. I get all my clothes out in advance, thinking about how I want to feel in my clothes, thinking about how they are going to fit over my body. I won't rush out and buy a new outfit just for the occasion but I will have kept something in reserve, something Rich hasn't seen me in before, whether it is a new necklace, a dress or a jacket from a previous shopping trip, so he sees me in a new light that night.

And when he compliments me, I really take it in. 

Compliments are a gift, they have the power to brighten your day. I used to squirm in the face of a compliment. Now I say "thank you."

Staying in on Valentines? I always look to fabrics to see me through. I love the feeling of a silk dressing gown - thoroughly elegant in a way that a towelling one will never be. I love the feeling of freshly ironed, crisp white bed linen as well;a bit of a farce but I love ironing so I win either way!.If we aren't going out for dinner, we'll stay in and cook something super tasty. We exchange cards but we don't really do gifts; I'd much rather Rich make me a brew! That to me is romance!

For me Valentines Day isn't about grand gestures, it is about amplifying what is already there, taking a little extra time to get ready and relishing the experience of being with Rich, even if we are just sitting on the sofa with a brew!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

No Longer Shopping for my Wedding Dress

And now the end is here! And so I face the final curtain! Pop open that champers and charge your glasses because, by jove, I've done it!! OH MY DAYS who knew buying a wedding dress was such an emotional experience???

After 4 false starts lucky number 5 is the winner!! When I walked out of the fitting room I wasn't looking at myself in the mirror. I was looking down at the dress thinking - "a bit too long? I'm not sure about this..." My feet were lost in the train of material and to be honest, I wasn't really concentrating on the dress, more concentrating on keeping upright and not being dragged down by the swirls of fabric wrapping round my legs.

Then BOOM. I looked up. Time paused, a moment so slight passed that everything seemed suspended. In that moment a ground swell of emotion started deep in my stomach and rose up until I felt choked with the most incredibly happy feeling. I burst into tears. A thought popped into my head:

"This is the dress I'm going to marry Rich in."

And that was it - my Mum in floods, scrabbling for tissues, me sobbing whilst encased in white. I've never had such a raw emotional reaction to a piece of clothing: I've felt desire when looking at designer pieces that are out of my price range, I've felt a possessive urge for clothing when I'm grabbing something off a sale rack, knowing that it belongs to me and will be going to my wardrobe and not going home with the other sale shoppers around me. But I've never cried over a piece of clothing, not like this.

I'm not going to describe my dress or post pictures until after the big day. After a few messages showing my sister and sister-in-law I've had to delete all photos of it from my phone in case Rich walks in and sees me gazing in marvel at the dress shaped spectacle on the screen. I used to think about our wedding day; see all the guests in the congregation, imagine the food on the plates at the reception, hear the speeches and the laughter but I never imagined my dress. There was the huge gaping chasm in my imagination and for a while that really scared me,

So now a huge sigh of relief has been been sighed. Phew - that's that dealt with!! Now the shoes.....

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

How to Sort and Sell your Clothes

Our wardrobes are jam packed – the average wardrobe holds 100 items, 22 of which are never worn. The average British woman has over £1000 worth of underused (only worn once) or unworn clothing items (tags still on) sitting in her wardrobe. Whether you want to move a few items on to make room for the new season purchases or you want to go on holiday this year but your bank balance is telling you ‘NO WAY’, then look inside your wardrobe: that’s money sitting right there!

Before you start there are 3 things to consider. Firstly, you have to be clear what you want to achieve – how much money do you need to make? This will keep you focused, and if necessary, ruthless when tackling your wardrobe. Secondly, the selling won’t happen overnight: expect a 2 month turnaround. Thirdly, only sell what you can see yourself without; selling then regretting is a horrible experience.

Ready to sort and sell? Let’s go:

1.      Focus on one section of your wardrobe at a time. Trying to tackle the whole wardrobe at once can be stressful so initially focus on 1 area: summer/winter, work/play, bags/clothes.

2.      Give yourself enough time. I clear out 1 section of a clients’ wardrobe in 3 hours but this includes re-styling the clothes as well. Set a stop watch for 30 minute intervals and see how many items you sort in the time allotted.

3.      Be prepared: lay out clothing bags on the bed and label them ALTERATIONS, SELLING, EBAY. You may come across a designer gem of a dress but the hem has dropped: put this in the alterations pile. A small outlay to get the hem fixed is worth it in the long run to get your dress sold.

4.      What are your sticking points? Those items we don’t wear any more but can’t bear to part with. My business The Wardrobe Angel, specialises in decluttering wardrobes and I know how hard it can be to let clothing items go but think of your goal: car, holiday, house deposit, wedding. You can’t wear memories so if you are keeping hold of dress because you had a particularly good night out wearing it, find photos of that night out instead and sell the dress.

5.      Be honest with yourself. How much you have used and worn your bags and clothes? If an item still has the tag on, this shows you didn’t love it enough to cut the tag off and wear it. Items with tags on sell really well; on eBay they are described as BNWT (Brand New With Tags) which gives you license to price them higher than a second hand item (no tags and which you have worn).

6.      Keep in tune with the seasons when you clear out. Coats and knits sell great on eBay from November through to February. Summer listings start to creep in around March. Don’t forget festival season as well – head bands, jean shorts, crop tops – all essential festival wear.

7.      What labels do you own? Mid to top-end high street labels like Zara, Whistles, Reiss sell really well on eBay, as does suiting and plus sized clothes. During the 3 years I have been running The Wardrobe Angel I have found that jeans don’t sell well, however blouses, tops, jumpers and coats do. Any vintage clothing should be taken to a specialist vintage dealer.

8.      Designer labels less than 2 years old sell really well. Sites such as Vestiaire Collective and Buy My Wardrobe offer a haven for second hand designer clothes. That said, classics will always sell: Channel bags and jackets and Louise Vuitton bags for instance.  Ring local dress agencies to ask what labels they stock and what their turnover of stock is like. You want to move your clothes on as quickly as possible so you need to make some decisions – sell on a designer clothing website (may sell immediately or not at all), sell at a dress agency (could sell in 6 weeks) or put on eBay (could sell in a week)? All have pros and cons.

9.      Always check an equivalent item on eBay before you list your item. This will give you an idea of how much you can expect in return. Don’t forget the charges! eBay and PayPal both charge you for using their sites as do dress agencies and online dress agencies. As a rule of thumb, whatever your items sell for you will get 50% of the sale price.

10.  All clothes should be clean and in a saleable condition: no holes, stains or alterations, ironed, crease free and on a hanger. Designer bags sell better with their dust bag so dig that out and iron it. Place the clothes for the vintage dealer and the designer clothes for the dress agency on wooden hangers and package them in a garment bag. Present your clothes like presents.


The Wardrobe Angel eBay page – I’m an Above Average Seller. Check out the descriptions, photos and terms & conditions I use to successfully sell.