All posts by Valerie

5 Tips for Layering Your Clothes Through Autumn and Winter

‘Layering’ is one of those trends that never goes out of fashion and really comes into its own as the temperature drops and we look to ways of dressing that will enable us to strip of an item of clothing or two when moving from the cold outdoors into a warm centrally heated environment and putting those items back on when we have to head back out.

Being on the curvy side, I am always mindful when it comes to layering of not wanting to end up looking bigger than I am.   I also don’t want to end up wearing so many layers that I feel restricted in movement (especially since, my own personal style preference is for loose fitting clothing).  So…..I’d like to share with you a few things I’ve learnt over the years and……also introduce you to some contemporary designs from the-Bias-Cut.com’s new A/W 17 collection which are perfect for layering up or down!

Carmel knitted lurex blouse; Brambles cotton poplin shirt; Nolene boucle trousers

  • Start with thin layers first (such as a camisole top, tee shirt or collared shirt) and then move onto thicker or looser clothing such as a jumper, more densely woven shirt or jacket on top.  This looks flattering and streamlined, leaving room for a coat, wrap or cape to be worn on top if needed, without you feeling and looking bulky.

Elise circus star blouse; Bobby denim jacket

Ivy lurex cardigan; Joanne burgundy heart embroidered t-shirt

  • Experiment with different complimentary or contrasting colours for your layers rather than stick to just one colour which can look bland I feel, unless the fabrics are of very different textures.  But, do ignore what I’ve just said here, if clashing colours is your thing.

    Bowie sweater red; Elise circus star blouse

  • Wearing a combination of clothing of different textures and patterning can really look great, but it does take some experimenting to achieve an effortless and stylish look (unless you deliberately want to give the impression you grabbed the nearest items of clothing to hand and got dressed in the dark).

Jacket bright leopard; Blue jay feather cotton poplin shirt

  • Having a selection of scarves in varying textiles, colours and patterns can enhance your layering.  I’ve been wearing scarves for years to not only add a splash of colour to a plain outfit, but to keep my neck warm when it’s chilly.

Lorena jersey dress-forest green; Amsterdam city scarf

  • I love wearing trousers, but the past couple of years or so, I’ve got back into wearing dresses now and again and in the colder months will wear them with a camisole underneath and instead of going bare legged, I’ll wear different coloured and/or textured tights (or leggings with short socks) and ankle boots.

How do you layer up for autumn and winter?  Do share!

Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post. Photos shared with permission from https://the-bias-cut.com/

Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone – 5 Small Baby Steps You Can Take

“Comfort zone:  simply means the routine of one’s daily life – it is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure”.  ~ Roy T Bennett

We humans are creatures of habit.  It is so easy to stick with the known – after all, it is safe, reassuring and comforting.  Whereas, to venture into the unknown and try something new can be uncomfortable or downright scary (plus you might be fearful of failing, making yourself look silly or being disapproved of).

But, if we always stick with what we know and are familiar with, do things the way we have always done them (and perhaps the way our parents did), we can become oh so ‘fuddy duddy’ boringly stuck in a rut.   I’m a woman of colour (of Jamaican parentage) and as a child growing up in the 60’s in the UK, I saw very few interracial couples, whereas today it is far, far more commonplace.  After my divorce and getting back onto the dating scene, for years, I felt I couldn’t date someone of a different race.  I stuck with what I knew and thought I felt comfortable with.  But the reality was I was not meeting the person I truly wanted to be with.  As I approached 40 and following deep reflection, I then intuitively felt that I needed to broaden my horizon and if I wanted to find true love, perhaps it was less about skin colour and more about other attributes.  To cut a long story short…..I and my partner (who is caucasian) have now been together just over 11 years.  I’ve not shown him fully in the photo below (taken 3 years ago) out of respect, as he’s not into social media.

Step outside of your comfort zone - www.visualiseandbloom.com

By staying as we are and have always been, by sticking to the routines we have always followed, by not venturing to try new things, we don’t grow and evolve as individuals.

Now, sometimes life throws up the unexpected, and we are forced to make big adjustments to our way of thinking and being and heck, we are really thrown outside of our comfort zone, but that is not what this blog post is about.  This is really aimed at those of you who feel deep down inside that life has become a bit predictable and boring and you’d like to shake things up a bit, in a good (and hopefully fun) way.

Remember that everyone’s level of comfort is different. This is about you, not anyone else.  If stepping outside of your comfort zone and making big changes feels really scary, guess what……you can always start small.  Open yourself to a new experience and do something that you wouldn’t ordinarily do.

Step outside of your comfort zone - www.visualiseandbloom.comHere are 5 suggestions:-

* Wear something in a colour that you would not normally wear (a shocking pink scarf, or different colour lipstick perhaps).  After years and years of always wearing brown, purple, pink or red based lipsticks, I've just treated myself to blue and green ones!

* Instead of plonking yourself on the sofa every evening watching the soaps, sign up for a weekly zumba, knitting, art or wine making class (persuade a friend to go with you, if you don't want to go on your own)

* If you normally drive or take the train, try a different mode of travelling (if its feasible), such as the bus or walk

* If you are seeking a significant other - consider a date with someone of a different race or culture

* Pretend you are a tourist and spend an afternoon sight seeing around the city in which you live or a nearby town.  Explore the side streets (if it is safe to do so), visit a museum, art gallery,historical building, street market or local park

Step outside of your comfort zone - www.visualiseandbloom.com

 “Small steps can lead to big changes” ~ Mike Jaffe

When was the last time you stepped outside of your comfort zone?

Ageless Attitude

“Age transfigures or petrifies”. ~ Marie Dubusky

Are you fearful of getting older?

In 2014 a survey of 1,000 over 50’s, commissioned by online social care marketplace provider CloudBy revealed that 8 in 10 over 50’s worry about ageing, with loneliness, being a burden to others, having little money to fund ones social care, featuring among the top ten fears.  Health issues, serious illness and failing minds, were also of concern.

Ageless attitude

BUT, according to an article on US website Forbes Custom, by writer Susan Burnell, “Americans 50 and over are setting their own trends.  Eager to plan a new course for themselves, they are focussing less on ageing and more on living.  This ageless attitude includes maintaining health and financial security,  connecting with friends and family, giving back and actively enjoying life”.

 I’d love to know what steps you have taken, if any, to cultivate your own ageless attitude.  Do share your thoughts below.

“Never use the passing years as an excuse for old age”. ~ Robert Broult

Style or Fashion?

“Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose”. ~ Lauren Hutton

I don’t consider myself a ‘fashionista’ and whilst I have some awareness of current trends, I am not an avid follower of fashion.  I’ve always felt that style is more important – taking into consideration factors such as your lifestyle, who you are on the inside and how you see yourself, your shape, skin and hair colouring, as well as how you wish (or don’t) wish to be perceived by others.

My first ‘fashion/style bible’ which I’ve had since 1985 (Dress For Your Lifestyle; author Kathryn Samuel) states “The secret of successful dressing is to keep fashion in perspective and to use it as a basis for your own personal style”.  Sound advice which is still very much relevant in 2017 and generally influences my clothes and accessories purchasing decisions.

I had the pleasure of being one of 6 women aged 40-plus invited to model the-Bias.Cut.com’s spring/summer 2017 collection.

As you can see, we are a diverse group of women in terms of our skin colouring, height, build/body shape.

ME – Marguerite flounce cuff blouse (blue plant print).  Parrots Crepe De Chine Blouse, Azur Sandal.

The new collection works so well with each of our own clothing – in this instance –  a pair of jeans.  Notice how different our jeans are – reflecting, our individual preferences/ personal style.

MICHELLE – Ivy Chunky Knit and Golden Rose of Banaras Velvet Ankle Boots. NICOLE- Marguerite Tiny Mosaic Blouse.

PREETA – Olive V Navy with Neon Accents Cashmere Sweater. Golden Star of Banaras Flat Loafers.

HILARY – Jacket Stripes Blue. Lilian of Banaras Flat Shoes. SUNETA – Brenna Fitted Jacquard Blazer. Louise Blue Glitter Pumps.

Which is more important to you? Style or fashion?

Photos taken by: Kate Frost

Makeup Artist: Nikola Valastekova

Spring/Summer 2017 Collection: the-Bias.Cut.com

Hope Fashion for Women Aged 40 Plus – SS17 with Real Models

London Fashion Week (LFW) kicked of this week, and a couple of days ago outside Store Studio, the Strand (home to LFW), a group of 5 professional models over the age of 40, carried placards campaigning for representation on the catwalk.  One placard read ‘Stop Ageism at London Fashion Week’, whilst another challenged LFW to ‘grow up’.  The campaign was organised by online UK fashion retailer JD Williams who led last year’s groundbreaking SS16 fashion shoot where everyone (from professional model to camera crew) was not only female but over the age of 50.  It really is admirable that JD Williams is trying to break the mould, along with the professional models, in advocating for fashion to be made accessible to those of us in our 40s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond.

Real models

But, we don’t all look like professional models such as Daphne Self, Yasmin Le Bon, Jilly Johnson or Yazzmeenah Rossi (to be fair, JD’s Brand Ambassador is the lovely TV presenter, Lorraine Kelly, who is not a professional model).   Standing at 5ft tall, and of curvy build, with grey peppered short natural hair, black skin tone and wearer of variofocal spectacles, I certainly don’t.

In a previous post I talked about the-Bias-Cut.com and their use of ‘real models’ –   women, just like you or I, who have no previous experience of modelling. Now, this to me is groundbreaking – the opportunity to visualise how a jacket, shirt, dress or pair of trousers might look like on us, from a more realistic representation of someone whose body shape, height or colouring might be closer to our own.  Hope Fashion which launched in 2015 (available online and via social selling/pop up boutiques) is also a staunch believer of using real women to model their collections.

Hope Fashion

The clothes are aimed at women aged 40 upwards.  Founder, Nanya McIntosh is inspirational in that she and her design team do not adhere to traditional sizing and instead design clothing to work on any body shape!  They say “our clothes are designed to enhance and to work with your height and proportions to create your best ever silhouette”.   The majority of their dresses and tops are in the following sizes:-

– Freesize: to fit sizes 8-20
– Dual Slim: to fit sizes 8-14
– Dual Curvy: to fit sizes 16-20

I love their philosophy and the items I have purchased to date, personally work for me, bar one dress which unfortunately (I felt) didn’t suit me (for my height and large bust), so is being passed onto one of my sisters who is taller than me.

I consider their items to be a lovely blend of timeless fashion/style comprised of quality fabrics.  Also, almost 55% of their clothing is manufactured in the UK, and the rest in Italy.

Most of the clothes are neutral in colour.  You can add your own unique splashes of colour (i.e scarves, jewellery and shoes) to compliment or contrast.

The basis of Hope Fashion is their foundation range, which creates a smooth, shaping/sculpting silhouette from which you can then layer and build your outfit.  Here, Debs, models foundation wear in grey with SS17 bonded sweat top in grey marl on top.

New to the collection is this navy blue foundation scoop dress featuring 3/4 sleeves – as modelled by Helen.

I had the opportunity to be one of the Hope models for the spring and summer 2017 collection featured in this post, and here I am, wearing their foundation vest in white, with chalk coloured ankle grazers (comfy stretch cotton trousers) and – sheer navy blue chiffon cocoon top – which I really love and feel gives you some reassurance if you are feeling a bit conscious of exposing wobbly upper arms or post menopause tummy whilst wearing sleeveless or close fitting items underneath.

Trudy, models a silk pop on top with its gorgeous Jamaican sunset print over foundation wear.  You could also wear this over a vest top and jeans/trousers or shorts, or wear as a swimsuit/bikini cover up.

And finally, for this post, I wanted to show you the cashmere and cotton blend poncho (modelled by Angela).  The aqua colour is absolutely gorgeous isn’t it!

What do you feel about the concept of using ‘real model’s, are you for or against it?  And, what item of clothing from Hope’s collection would you wear and why (visit their website to see the full range)?  Would love to hear your views 🙂

Please note, this is not a collaborative post.  All opinions are my own.

Images – courtesy of Hope Fashion.

Bloom in 2017 – Giveaway

I came across an old Chinese proverb recently…..”It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than make a great leap forward only to stumble backward”.  It struck a chord and reminded me of times, thankfully long past, when like many others I would start the new year optimistically with a list of resolutions.  And, like many people, by say, February or March, I’d be beating myself up or feeling overwhelmed, because my expectations were unrealistic, the resolutions (goals) not well thought through and I was trying to make too many changes at the same time quickly.  Does this sound familiar?

If you started this year with good intentions and a list of resolutions/goals and genuinely are unsure about how to get clear on whether those are the right goals for you, and that they are realistic and achievable, I would like to offer you the opportunity to participate in my giveaway which comprises of the following:

2 x life coaching/advisory sessions (conducted face to face, if you live in London (UK), or via Skype if you live elsewhere).
AND
1 x Bloom in 2017 journal
1 x distance reiki healing session

NOTE: This giveaway is only open to readers of my newsletter – Blooming Women, which is aimed primarily at women midlife and beyond, so if you want to enter, sign up to it.

To enter:-
Let me know in the comments section, how you feel you would benefit from personal coaching.  A winner will be chosen using an online random name picker.  The winner will be notified via email within 72 hours of the giveaway ending.  There will then be 7 days to respond to the notification.  If no acknowledgement received or the winner declines the offer, another winner will be chosen.

Good luck!

Ageism Is Never In Style – the-Bias-Cut.com

In my short e-guide ‘Embrace Your Older Body Image’, I mention that as we women get older, hormonal changes may present us with excess weight and perhaps a changed body shape.  Other transformations occur such as wrinkly skin, less pert body parts, greying hair and so forth.

BUT, does this mean that due to physical evidence of the ageing process, we have to dress ‘age appropriate’?  I personally think not and I know others do too.  In her book ‘A Guide to Looking and Feeling Fabulous Over Forty’ (publ: 2008), model and style icon Twiggy says “ageing doesn’t mean waving goodbye to style and individuality”.

No woman is invisible

Millennial, Jacynth Bassett, who has always had a passion for fashion, was saddened by her mother’s frustration, whilst shopping, at her ever-lasting love for style constantly being squashed by the range of dowdy, frumpy and unflattering designs now typically targeting her.  She claims it was a constant struggle to find beautiful, quality garments her mother would really love to wear and increasingly felt frustrated that women of a certain age were being made to feel invisible and irrelevant.

Jacynth became determined to do something about it!

Her mission is ‘Ageism is Never in Style’ which dictates the blog and movement Jacynth has founded under the umbrella of her company – the-Bias-Cut-com, which is “for women who know age shouldn’t limit style – offering style tips, inspiration, interviews with dynamic women, and discussion on age-prejudice within the Fashion Industry”.

In addition to the above, the-Bias-Cut.com curates limited collections featuring unique, styles but timeless, well cut, quality designs by talented UK contemporary labels and designers – online and through corporate events and ‘pop up’ parties, where those attending can relax, mingle and explore ideas about fashion and style over a glass of bubbly and delicious canapés.  At each party, Jacynth offers her expertise and inspiration on broadening ones style horizons.

I recently attended their Christmas Extravaganza and was able to admire the winter collection close up, feel the gorgeous fabrics and even bought myself a dress!  Professional Makeup Artist – Nikola Valestekova was also there giving mini makeovers.

Real women

Recently we have started to see some of the big names in the fashion industry feature well known older celebrities as models int their campaigns, which is really, really great, but what I like about the-Bias-Cut.com is that, on browsing through the designs on their website, you will see (as above), that the clothing is modelled by women over 40, who are just like you or I, of different shapes, sizes and ethnicity.

These women have little or no prior experience of modelling (including Jacynth’s mother Marilyn, below – who is the inspiration for the business), which surely provides a more realistic interpretation of how a piece of clothing might look on us!

We women want to look good at 40, 50, 60, 70 and beyond don’t we?  We want to discover or refresh our own authentic personal sense of style which reflects who we are at the age we are (most of us don’t want to look like mutton dressed as lamb, nor do we want to look frumpy and dowdy).  We want to embrace and be proud of our age!

Need support or inspiration on your journey?  Visit the-Bias-Cut.com (links below) and join the community.

Facebook

Instagram: @the_bias_cutcom

Pinterest

YouTube

Forum page

Forum group

Hashtag:  #NoWomanIsInvisible

Disclaimer:  This post is not sponsored.

New Beginnings – 2017

It is the start of a new year….a time of new beginnings.

Early morning, especially this week, is a good time to reflect on…what has been…what may lie ahead…as well as to give thought to what you personally want to achieve for yourself in 2017.  Perfect time too to christen/start using your new diary/planner and journal!

#2017TwelveLessonsJournal