Thursday, 26 November 2015

How to Shop on Black Friday

I'm not sure whose image this it - please let me know if this is your image and I'll attribute it!

We all love a craze, a band wagon to jump on - snap bands and Swatch watches in the 80's, grunge and Nirvana in the 90's and Trinny & Susanna telling us What Not To Wear in the noughties. Over the past few years us Brits have opened up our arms and embraced Halloween with a fervour that frankly didn't exist when I was a kid (I distinctly remember a couple of teenage lads trying their luck at "trick or treating" with just their hoods pulled up for a costume and my Dad telling them where to go in no uncertain terms.) And I think Black Friday is just that - a trend, a craze, an awkward phase in our shopping history. Black Friday has been a 'thing' in the UK for about 5 years but this year some retailers have gallantly bowed out of the Black Friday retail race including Asda, John Lewis, Oasis and Mothercare.

I was in the Trafford Centre doing a Personal Shop on Monday and there was already plenty of 'Black Friday' merchandising tickets on clothes. Many retailers manufacture items especially for Black Friday - think of these items as the less well designed, less well made, cheaper cousins of what's already on the shop floor. All I'm saying is:

don't be swayed by what deal you THINK you are getting ...

If you are shopping this Black Friday plan ahead and do your research: better deals may be available online verses what's instore. And ask yourself this:

  1. Do you really need it? Or do you just want it? 
  2. If it wasn't on offer would you still desire it as much? Are you panic buying?
  3. Can you afford it? 
  4. Is it essential?

Take care out there this Black Friday - shopping can bring out the worst in people!

Til next time...x

The Wardrobe Angel

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Hello Fashion Magazine

In our family there's a tradition that when you rock up at the house of a family member to stay with them for a couple of days they will put a stash of treats in your room to make your stay more enjoyable. These usually include chocolate and a magazine. Recently I stayed with my Aunt in St. Albans and she left the most recent copy of Hello Fashion Magazine (HFM) on my bed. Now, I read A LOT of fashion magazines: Elle, Vogue, RED plus all the weekend newspaper magazine supplements (Guardian, Times, Telegraph) but I had never heard of HFM. I devoured it in the space of an hour and when I got back to my office I subscribed to the magazine for a year.

I am loving, Hello Fashion Magazine. Here's why:

 Interviews with not your typical Hollywood A-listers

Recently they've had DJ and pop-stress Whinnie Williams and Charlotte Watts (her off of the Rolling Stones Charlie Watts lineage.)

1 buy 4 ways

This is awesome - it's my MO to get more wear out of your wardrobe and this page really inspires me to look at things differently.

HFM is cheap

You can buy Vogue for £3.99 - (like buying a book) or if pennys are tight try HFM. It's a quid. A whole English Pound. £1. Whereas the equivalent, LOOK magazine features bargain basement High Street, HFM features labels which teeter at top end high street and designer but there's a something for everyone: fashion, lifestyle, beauty, interviews.

Which magazines do you enjoy reading and why?

Til next time...x

The Wardrobe Angel

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Body Positive - how do you measure up?

There's been one story I've been drawn to this past week: Essena O'Neil, an Instagram "star" with around half a million followers, quitting social media due to the current status of social media, namely building your self-worth against the number of likes you receive for pictures. She edited some of her Instagram photos to highlight the truth behind each shot adding captions such as:

"This candid bikini shot? Totally staged. I just want younger girls to know this isn't candid. It's contrived perfection."

You can watch the Buzzfeed video of Essena explaining her decision to come clean about the images she portrayed on Instagram below:

As The Wardrobe Angel I have seen many bodies and let me tell you - they are all individually unique and awesome. Where clients think they are 'fat' they usually aren't, where they think that dropping that magic 7lbs will make them happy it probably won't and when they compare themselves to another woman in their life and feel they don't measure up - let me tell you, they do. So much of our lives is lived in comparison which made the YouTube video (above) even harder to watch - if Essen's  images were a sanitised and starved version of her self yet she built an empire on them and got paid for them - then cripes, isn't that sad?

I had the pleasure of working with a client a few weeks ago who wrote me the most awesome piece of body positive feedback I have ever had. It is LONG but keep reading - there is so much in it that we can relate to including how our body image and our relationship to our body is formed in our family unit.

There is an F-bomb and an S-bomb in here so be warned. Here we go...

Dear Stephanie

I would just like to give you a big THANK YOU for the profound impact that you not only had on my wardrobe, but also on my life.  I always feel it is important to share these things with people, because they need to know what impact they have on people’s lives and how important their work is.

The shells have come off of my eyes and every day, little by little, I love the way I look and dressing is now a pleasure.  I now KNOW what looks good and what looks shit.  I have come to love and appreciate parts of my body that before I hated and wanted to hide.  I now wear things I never thought I could and best of all, I feel good in it.  And because I feel good, I strut my stuff and I know that makes me look even better! 

The world of dresses and midi skirts have opened up for me, and what a beautiful world it is!  I feel like The Little Mermaid as she finally set foot on solid soil.  I feel feminine and like a lady and through the way I dress, my true personality now finally shines through.  I grew up with a father who always resented effort put into your appearance and 'girly' things and I always had it in my head that in a man's world, you should repress that femininity because there is no place for it.  Now...fuck that!  I am feminine, I like sexy and I like looking well put together with minimal effort and how much simpler could you do that than with a dress.  You also introduced me to petticoats and I recently found the hottest lacy (and racy) number I think Marks and Spencer has ever done – now I wish a gusts of gale force winds would swoop through London to lift my skirts daily!

When you came to my house it was like talking to an old friend and at no moment did I feel uncomfortable with you.  You rummaged into a place that, for a woman, is sometimes a bit of a sanctuary and private place, yet it felt like it was the most natural thing you could do.  You immediately told me my body shape and exactly what I could do to enhance it.  Not once did you make me feel ashamed for having larger hips and rounded shoulders, nor did you tell me I could do with losing a few pounds (yes, that has happened to me before); in fact, you made my body sound incredibly sexy and like it was coveted by many!  Your skill and knowledge of fabric is fascinating.  Your experience with fashion and know-how of different stores are priceless.  You are certainly fulfilling your calling!

It is amazing how somebody’s life could change by knowing how to dress to look good.  Before I hired you, I thought I’d get a very detailed list of what I should wear and would have to go on a massive shopping spree to find those items.  But my wardrobe is actually much smaller now and much simpler.  When I shop now, I only focus on certain silhouettes and styles, and only buy what I know works for me and what I love.  Having that knowledge takes the guess work away and saves me a lot of time and money!  I am now finally one of those people who buy ‘investment’ pieces. 

You are, therefore, worth every penny and I can’t recommend you enough. Feeling good because I know I look good gives me an immense boost in my confidence, so much so that I feel I can now do anything.  I used to look in the mirror and see one big, ugly blob but now I can go for that job I want, I can go into that store I love, I can go on the dates I long for and I can have the life I want.  You changed the way I dress, but because of that, I changed the way I see myself.  And that is something I will always be grateful for!  

Thank you, Stephanie!
Before you head off check out this wonderful piece on Body Positivity featured on The Olive Fox earlier this month, written by my sister-in-law Janet from the blog, Words The Can Only be Your Own

 "The human body is an incredible thing and it seems almost insulting to waste time focusing on your flabby arms when those arms sew or bake or draw beautifully."

Til next time...x

The Wardrobe Angel

Friday, 6 November 2015

Face Style Part 2

Many moons ago in August 2014 I did a post about what went on my face to help me greet the world of a morning (click here for the original post). Eczema, acne, sensitivity - I've had the pleasure of it all so to say I'm careful with what I put on my face is an understatement. I was all about the Clarins foundation, waxing lyrical about it's oil absorbing qualities and how it saved me after a horrific allergic reaction to Clinique foundation. Then Natalie Willingham rocked my world by recommending Illamasqua Skin Base foundation for my wedding day.  Bless Natalie when her suggestion squared up to a big wall of make-up shaped resistance on my part...

" I'm really scared of a new foundation...sooooo....can't we just use what I've used for the past billion years and be done with it? Who said change was a good thing?

She, all business, dispenses a little tub of wedding foundation for me to try and off I pootled home. The next day it's fair to say my face-life changed. The foundation Natalie had given me was IMMENSE - no hardcore blending necessary, glided on and covered all my scarring. I actually took a photo of my FACE and sent it to her I was that pleased.

As well as committing to Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation I have also entered a monogamous relationship with Dermalogica - namely the Special Cleansing Gel and the Daily Microfoliant. I tried to commit to Liz Earle - I was seduced by her Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser - but it aggravated my skin. My right cheek looked rank - like I'd binged on dairy and it was coming back to say 'hello' in the form of massive spots. About 6 months before my wedding I re-purchased a Dermalogica set from my beautician and within a week my skin was back to normal.

As ever my lipstick remains the same - Maybelline 24hr Super Stay in 501. Now for a disturbing shot of me wearing said lipstick. You're welcome.

Til next time... x

The Wardrobe Angel

Monday, 2 November 2015

Things I'm looking forward to #November

November is hands down my favourite month of the year for these reasons:

1. Bonfire night. Fireworks, baked potatoes, wrapping up warm in a massive coat and scarf. Win. My birthday is on the 7th November so all birthday memories are tied to Guy Fawkes' legacy to be honest.

2. My birthday. I'm manoeuvring out of my early 30's and planting myself firmly into mid-thirtydom this month. I'll be 35. Gotta say my 30's have been the most tremendous decade for me. A successful and growing business, buying my first home and getting wed to my wonderful husband Rich...

3. Gearing up for Christmas. This year I started buying Christmas presents in October (on my mini-moon no less!) which makes me feel like I've nailed it. Pull those party poppers Christmas is in the bag! But alas, still said presents to wrap, cards to write and food to buy to stock "The Christmas Cupboard."*

4. Girls night out. I've made some cracking friends since starting my business 4 years ago and I'm really looking forward to catching up with them pre-Christmas. Check out their businesses here: Purple Pebble People and Marketing Doctor.

5. Cooking grown up winter meals. We cooked belly pork the other week, with crackling and everything! I love a good stew in November so this month it's pig cheeks.

"The Christmas Cupboard" is a Roper tradition borne of my mother, Catherine, who used to buy a few Christmas food items each week in the run up to the Big Day to spread to cost. Canny, non? My sister adopted the tradition and one year filled her Christmas Cupboard with beer, only for her and her partner to drink it all a few weeks later. It was September after all. Last year I implemented The Christmas Cupboard and filled it with posh crisps. Delicious.