Wednesday, 15 June 2011


Now I'm not urging you to go Christmas shopping yet - even though some shops (yes, even Selfridges) are already opening their Christmas boutiques. But I do suggest that this is the perfect time to start assembling your winter wardrobe. There's a lot to choose from and no matter what your shape or your age, you can find a chic new look.

Take my friend Mary. She is 72, natural grey hair colour, a good size 12 and 5 feet 3 inches tall - and she has great legs. She and I have been shopping together before and it proved so successful that her husband encouraged her to come to me again. We started at Banana Republic, where we found some dark charcoal coloured slim cut trousers in a stretch double knit that we teamed with a single buttoned little herringbone tweed jacket. It was fitted with a bit of ruching and so gave her a longer leg look, particularly when we added a little black suede ankle boot from Carvella. We whipped over to Fenwick's where we found a pair of black gabardine leggings by Joseph perfect for a more sophisticated silhouette as you are creating a leg - and a 80’s inspired top in a graphite shade of grey. As a pair of dwas also requested, we opted for a slim legged velvet style from brand for a modern twist.

Next stop was House of Fraser. Phase 8 had a nice little cross-over dress at £85.00 and it is washable, in a marbled print of greys, fuchsia pink and off-white. It was a little long, which made her look dowdy, so this is being adjusted to a more appropriate knee length. We topped off our spree with a few pieces from Whistles including a green and grey top which looks terrific with grey leggings by Day Birger ET Mikkelson.

There were several of the latest trends reflected in our choice. I have noted a definite influence of the 80’s, though not as oversized or with the wide shoulders of 25 years ago. Instead I'm seeing that volume is being created without the appearance of weight, with finer gauged fabrics or chiffon. This is perfect for ageless women. This allows you to show body shape through the fabric. That's sexy. And go for necklines that are wider and deeper. A crew neck, particularly if you have a good frontage, can make you look bulky. Opt for a boat neck or a slash neckline instead. Underneath you can go for a clean line camisole with discreet detail or ribbed tank top.

Pencil shirts, to the knee, partner well with the 80’s style tops. There are also both maxi and mini shirts around. These look good with last year's boots - either a biker boot or a close fitting book with some interesting detail. Add a shortish jacket or one of the latest military styles, both major trends this winter.

As regards colour, while not advocating a black hole or death by beige, I do believe that as women mature they should opt for a capsule colour palette, selecting key pieces in a discreet shade, depending on your hair and skin tones, perhaps grey or black for the city, brown or burnt orange in country areas. I also favour the new butterscotch shade, a soft but fresh camel colour that is springing up in every price range. It teams well with black or even green or brown. Choosing a muted basic shade allows you more flexibility. For example if you go for grey, you can add silver or touches of a stronger colour for your nails, lipsticks, shoes and bags.

On a personal front, my Champney’s 'Town and City' spa events have proved very interesting. It appears that one of the biggest dilemmas seems to be figuring out what body shape you are. The ideal is an hourglass silhouette (think of Christina Hendricks of MadMan). (insert Christina Hendricks photo here) However your main objective should be to create balance between your shoulders hip or thigh (whichever is your widest point) and use elasticated or woven belts with a great buckle or ruching to create the illusion of a waist. Well, that’s all for now, so until next time…

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