24 February 2017 – DRESS POLICY: DREXIT v BREXIT
The British Parliament just published this lengthy report into organisational policies on appropriate dress codes, including height of heels and nail varnish colour.
One might wonder why the Parliament was spending more time looking at the consequences of Drexit than of Brexit. Of course good policy makes good common sense, and advances the cause of women’s rights. Just as good dress sense supports female business careers. But the UK report, whilst well-meaning – is rather too long and fussy when it should be more crisp and clear. Again – just as a good business outfit should be elegant and classical, not messy and distracting.
My boss trusts me. As a PA at a fashion house, I am stylish but never outlandish. I would never wear rival brands nor florescent colours. Nor would I vote to leave the EU Single Market. I might wear purple glossy nail varnish, lip gloss and 11 cm heels, but I hope we never have at the company a Director of Dress Decorum waiting at my office with a colour chart and tape measure! Unless of course this meant a promotion for me as having this power appeals. As well as a bigger salary.
So Brexit may sadly be inevitable for the UK. But British-style Drexit will never be palatable or acceptable anywhere!!
23 January 2017 – WEEKDAY BIRTHDAY ANGST
What to wear on your birthday? Not a ‘birthday suit’ of course! Being naked at this time of year would be lunacy…..
The perfect outfit – when your birthday is not at a weekend – needs to be ‘chameleon-like’: elegant and serious enough for the office; a touch of girlishness and frivolity as its a special day; and sufficiently sexy for the local cocktail bar you are whisked of to after work. This also means wearing higher heels than normal – something that can be easily achieved in arctic days where regular shoes show nothing but their profile.
A couple of suggestions will follow shortly. Try to be more Coco Chanel than Coco the Clown. More Marilyn Monroe than Marilyn Manson. More Melania Trump than Donald Trump.
Have fun. Happy birthday!
And of course, key to all this is: (a) not wearing the same outfit as the birthday girl; and (b) not getting the date wrong! I was once mortified to be wearing the same outfit as my boss on her birthday – until she reminded me it was the next day. Luckily the red lip gloss matched my red blushing cheeks’!
8 December 2016 – ECONOMY IN FASHION AND IN CONVERSATION
There seems to be a trend around economising cleverly on your office outfits: see 5 suggestions as recently published here. This is not clever in my view. It is a false economy. These are my alternative five proposals to ensure you remain stylish:
1. Eat less. It saves money! And may take you down a size.
2. Walk to work (in high heels). It saves money! And may take you down another size.
3. Trawl the charity and second hand shops. I have found lovely outfits for a few Euros.
4. Embrace your inner girlishness. Mix your great items with cheaper ones so you keep people guessing. My office colleagues never know whether I am in Chanel or in Primark. Except when my natural clumsiness means the labels are showing!!
5. Focus attention on your standout items. If you have a dull outfit, wear your pair of spikey Louboutin boots, or your Jaeger patent leather pencil skirt. I promise your colleagues will laser their eyes on those items.
But does this all really matter? Most people are so taken up with their own affairs at work they would not notice if I was dressed as Cinderella or as Wonder Woman! We look at our computers and smartphones. We rarely converse nor truly engage face to face. Why not? Is the virtual world more fun than the real world? My embarrassment at mistakenly wearing black boots with a brown suede skirt recently would have been total last week – had anyone noticed me at all!
15 June 2016 – PRE-LOVED FASHION?
I have spent the last few months trying to support my boss in building a ‘pre-loved fashion’ business. I am not in love – or even pre-love – with the idea but I have to get on with it of course. A new trend allegedly…..the fashion I mean, not complying with instructions!
The hardest part was knowing what she meant!! It seems to mean not new but not old nor vintage. So – in an age analogy – not a middle-aged woman, but also not a young woman. This concept hurt my brain a bit. A sort of very proximate half-way house. So very nearly designer season skirts and dresses and shoes and accessories – ‘overall look’ – but not quite. I was frankly against this as I prefer to me current or a la mode. That is my ‘old love’ or ‘post-love’.
But our business is still very nascent. For fashion-conscious women, great label clothes only a few months or even weeks off the very contemporary are available for a fraction of the price. It’s potentially a ‘win-win’ all round though with lots of start-ups, and the concept seems to have derived from the UK, Canada and Australia.
Of course, I remain firmly against this trend – via quiet guerrilla tactics. I will only wear the latest clothes but I may scuff them up or distress them a bi. I love the Duchess of Cambridge’s stylish but classic styles so these tactics are not easy.
Call me old-fashioned about new fashion if you must. But please never call me pre-loved!
P.S.: Here is a picture of me at work today.
17 November 2015 – Vintage
It seems that vintage clothes are always on trend. In fashion, like in wine, ‘vintage’ denotes something from the past of high quality. Quality is always in demand so this perennial trend is perhaps not a surprise.
But what constitutes vintage can depend on your age! For my grandmother it would be something from the 40s or 50s and for me from the 70s or 80s. On the other hand, my niece thinks my office outfits are already vintage.
But is a ‘modern vintage’ look really vintage? Do the clothes have to be genuinely worn out and smelling of moth-balls to be on trend? Or do you need to buy museum pieces? Either way, do you need to spray them with vintage perfume (such as Balmain’s Jolie Madame) to avoid being denied access to restaurants or transport? Probably!
In the end, everything is relative. Tempus fugit!! Try that vintage wine instead….
23 June 2015 – E-Fashion
What does it mean when your fashionable Burberry smartphone cover is more stylish and expensive and pretty than your outfits??!! The only answer is to get a new outfit and dress and handbag to match and complement the e-accessory! Your make up should do likewise. This is not a case of the ‘tail wagging the dog’ but of a new e-fashion paradigm.
I would wear this with the pale blue Burberry smartphone cover:
Will clothing soon be sold in mobile phone shops?!
14 June 2015 – Bubble Skirts
On March 8th I talked about scuba skirts and Emma mentioned ‘bubble’ skirts in her related comment. These are indeed on trend. But they are very much like the English breakfast spread called Marmite – according to their advertising, you either ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’. I hate Marmite and I am not a fan of bubble skirts. They accentuate the bottom too much for my taste and can look a little silly. But each to her own… Try sitting down in a bubble skirt. The cushion effect is pleasant enough but the skirt rides up a lot. Remaining elegant is hard. Stopping yourself from giggling is even harder! Two examples here may help you decide whether to love or hate them!
8 March 2015 – Scuba Skirts
I think I have spotted something of a new trend. Scuba skirts.
These are made of neoprene, which is used for scuba-diving. The skirts are normally flared and – allegedly – are very warm to wear and keep their shape very well indeed, whether mini or midi lengths. (See Links). They come in a rainbow of colours. I suppose they can be worn quite happily too in heavy rain.
Will we next have scuba suits for men or women who want to swim or dive without changing after a day at the office? I may resist the temptation. Scuba skirts look hot and heavy. And I have enough to do in my busy PA life without extra fashion victim angst!
What would a ‘deep dive’ on a work issue be like when wearing a scuba skirt? Would it be deeper than normal? Is a scuba skirt perfect for clumsy women who spill coffee or water regularly? Is it the perfect outfit for a fish lunch? Who knows!
23 February 2015 – Fringes
Why is suede so sexy as a material for skirts or boots or jackets? Why are clothes with wholly superfluous dangling fringes so sexy? Why are well made gloves so sexy? Why is black often the most sexy colour for clothes?
There must be something in the human psyche about this and it might not be wise to analyse this too closely. And indeed when you put suede and gloves and fringes and black all together as here, you have created the most exciting and kinky of items of clothing.
But its hard to understand why that should be true! Fashion – like human nature – is often like truth. And, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction!!
Well I thought I would try this unusual garment in my office. The immediate reaction was laughter at the oddness of the gloves. The next reaction was jealousy as our office is often freezing cold and my hands were very warm. The final reaction was laughter as I got the fringes stuck in my keyboard when typing and then managed to dangle them in my bosses coffee. She may now either sack me or demand her own pair! Or most likely add fringed gloves to her list of items for her PA not to wear!!
I for one tend to see things “the Wilde way”: ‘One should either be a work of art or wear a work of art.’ – Oscar Wilde
8 February 2015 – Green
Green is fresh. Green is the lucky colour of Ireland. Green is the future of politics and of the planet! It is my prediction as the colour trend of 2015. From a pretty flared short coat to a long elegant dress with embroidered flowers, it is the colour for all occasions and all seasons! It works too in the office.
Green can also match any of your moods, good and bad. If you are “feeling blue”, wear green! When you “see red”, wear green! When you see others in a pretty green outfit, do not succumb to being ‘green with envy’. And try to be empirical and objective in your thinking about all matters green – whether about fashion or about the environment.
Indeed – is this blog itself an example of ‘greenwash’??!!
Nothing of course in life is completely “black or white”.
21 January 2015 – Spring Trends
P.A. Charlotte’s thought of the day: Spring trends? Always a worry. How to be fashionable without looking ridiculous. Should one follow the Moschino ‘Barbie’ look which is very brightly coloured and well-tailored with short skirts but requires the best of figures?
Or should one follow the much more austere darker and baggier and flowing block styles of the dresses of Calvin Klein which works for any figure?
They could not be different as trends for the same season! And it seems biker chic and leather is also in vogue It’s not fair!! I am confused. Wear anything this year….
Alternatively, invest in a dressing adviser This is what Nina McLemore does for Hillary Clinton for example. Most women will eventually look like Hillary at some point in their life or Angela Merkel. Make the most of it. It seems that the secret is selecting many jackets or outfits of the same style but in different colours. This takes the pain out of getting on trend. It also offers someone to blame when it all goes terribly wrong!! But don’t blame Nina – anyone who selects this particular jacket is my friend for life!
3 December 2014 – Modern Muse Chic
P.A. Charlotte’s thought of the day: Estee Lauder has just launched Modern Muse Chic. The Muse theme resonates well with this website but does the associated marketing blurb about who uses the perfume? It gushes: ‘She’s the rare woman who defines style on her own terms. Her mantra is never be ordinary. Bold, original, extroverted and creative. Her love of fashion and the way she uses accessories to express her innate sense of style inspires everyone she meets.’
What on earth does this mean? Assuming the smell is very lovely, can you only use it if you are extremely odd? Never ordinary? But not so extraordinary presumably, because she inspires everyone she meets? A Broken (Modern) Muse perhaps might do the trick? I therefore recommend that, after you spray yourself liberally with Modern Muse Chic, you wear a black & white check Chanel jacket with a long flared pink skirt and bright yellow Laboutin high heels, with a black Burberry handbag as an accessory. Oh, and don’t forget a crimson beret!
23 July 2014 – Bags
P.A. Charlotte’s thought of the day: Tote bags. Hand bags. Shoulder bags. Evening bags. Man bags. Is it possible to have too many of them to match your mood or outfit? Probably not – but they are very expensive and can ruin your finances! So when some thing beautiful and simple and elegant and timeless comes along, grab it immediately! See this Burberry bag (link) for instance. It has a lovely shape and texture, and an exquisite rounded design. It’s not at all heavy so works for the most feminine arm. And the simple colours available – black with red lining is my choice, though honey has its attractions – will leave anyone gasping. It is very sleek. Oddly it reminds me of a modern Japanese designer teapot, marrying traditional lines with a contemporary feel. Buy one today. And use it at work, at leisure and for formal evening occasions. Your friends will be most jealous. And be careful of your male office colleagues – the bag is so versatile and stylish they may use it as a ‘man bag’.
27 June 2014 – Dress Down Friday
What do you think about ‘dress down Friday’? It is very difficult for those of us interested in fashion because we love to ‘dress up’! On the other hand we need to show in the office that we are collegiate and good team-members. My advice is to ‘dress down’ but not very much. If you are very elegantly dressed indeed from Monday to Thursday (see link). Then people will not notice that – whilst you have toned things down a couple of notches by wearing more comfortable clothes with softer lines and various layers of fabrics – you remain still well dressed (see link). This should could keep everyone happy. Good luck!