Fashion Must-Haves For Summer 2015

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Every new fashion season introduces around half a dozen key garments (for both men and women) which will instantly update your look. By incorporating these Must-Haves into your current wardrobe and mix-n-matching them with existing pieces, you will immediately make all your outfits look new and fresh. Don’t forget to invest in the latest accessories too – the most effortless way to make essential wardrobe classics look bang-on-trend for the season!


  1. Trouser Suit

The staple of every woman’s wardrobe in the ‘90’s was the trouser suit. This summer sees its return but in much softer shapes and bolder colours. Wear it with a T-shirt and flats for a casual look or jazz it up for evening with a silk bouse or camisole and killer heels. In warmer weather, a culotte suit is cooler but still smart enough for the office.

  1. Embellished Top

Negate the need to wear a statement necklace by investing in a fabulous top with a bejewelled necline. Sparkling gems, sequins or an abundance of pearls are to be found on the necklines of these sleeveless blouses at very affordable prices. Don’t just save this look for evening, team one with your jeans for a glam daytime look.


This season's Trouser Suit is soft in shape

This season’s Trouser Suit is soft in shape and bold in colour. Team it with an embellished top


  1. Loose White Shirt

Every woman’s wardrobe needs this essential item as its versatility knows no bounds! Wear it with skinny trousers and heels for evening; with jeans and flats for daytime; over a dress as a lightweight jacket; and over a swimsuit as a cool poolside cover-up. Opt for an oyster-white if you are a pale, freckly red-head.

  1. Patterned Trousers

One of the hottest trends of the season is the patterned trouser. To be on the safe side, always wear these with a plain top as combining patterns can be tricky. As a general rule, narrow leg trousers and a drapey top are best for petite women; taller women can look good in wider leg trousers with a more closely-fitting top.


Patterned trousers teamed with a loose white shirt will carry you through a number of occasions

Patterned trousers teamed with a loose white shirt will carry you through a number of occasions

  1. Belted Dress

A 50’s style belted dress will take you to lots of occasions this season from casual picnics and garden parties to lovely summer weddings – just change your accessories to suit. However, a belt will always direct attention to your middle; so, if your waistline has disappeared, opt instead for a straighter style.

Culottes make a cooler alternative to a Trouser Suit

Culottes make a cooler alternative to a Trouser Suit

  1. Shift Dress

A 60’s style shift dress will always be flattering to a Straight Up figure shape. Combine it with a boxy, Chanel-style jacket for a smart look or dress it down with a short, cropped cardigan in a neutral or contrasting colour. A boxy, hand-held bag would complete the angular theme of this fashionable look.

Shift Dresses are incredibly flattering to a straight figure

Shift Dresses are incredibly flattering to a straight figure


Accessory Must Haves:

70’s straw hat; suede mules; ankle-strap sandals; boxy handbag; large bangles



  1. Chambray Blazer

A definite Must Have for the male wardrobe this summer is the lightweight blazer. Opt for a pastel shade to be bravely on-trend instead of the usual neutral colours – pale blue is the easiest shade for most men to wear. Team your blazer with a T-shirt and shorts for a casual look or chinos and a shirt for a smart look.

  1. Tailored Shorts

Tailored shorts worn with jackets and tan brogues were all the rage on the catwalks this season. You really need slim, tanned calves to carry-off this look and, for comfort, you need to wear ‘invisible’ trainer socks. If you think this look is not for you, simply substitute navy deck shoes (with no socks) for the brogues.

A lightweight blazer teamed with tailored shorts & brogues is bang on trend this season

A lightweight blazer teamed with tailored shorts & brogues is bang on trend this season

  1. Blouson Jacket

An alternative to the blazer is the zip-up blouson jacket to add style to your wardrobe this season. In a subtle check or a plain fabric with patterned lining, team your blouson with a cotton-knit sweater or a T-shirt worn outside your trousers for a relaxed smart-casual look . Don’t forget the shades for extra points!

  1. Putty Chinos

The greatest American import into the English male wardrobe has to be the chino trouser; and the best shade to buy for summer has to be what the Americans call ‘putty’ which is slightly richer than beige. This colour, although warm, teams wonderfully with navy and white for a classic summer look.


Putty Chinos and and a Blouson Jacket make the perfect smart-casual look

Putty coloured Chinos and and a Blouson Jacket make the perfect smart-casual look this summer


  1. Lightweight Suit

So many men continue to wear their heavy winter suits into the hotter months instead of investing in a lighter style – in terms of colour as well as weight. A pale grey, single-breasted, lightweight-wool suit (with perhaps a very subtle check) is a real Must Have for both work and social occasions as temperature start to rise.

  1. Floral Shirt

Floral shirts have been going strong now for several seasons and continue to be popular this summer. Teaming one with a plain jacket is child’s play but do be careful when combining one with a check jacket ; make sure the colours are very similar as seen here with a pale grey floral shirt and pale grey check suit.


A suite of a lighter colour and fabric is preferable during the summer months

A suite of a lighter colour and fabric is preferable during the summer months


Accessory Must Haves:

Classic Ray-Bans; Satchel bag; Tan Brogues; Trainer socks; Navy deck shoes;







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Scented Manners

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Most of us have experienced the overwhelming heady feeling when standing next to someone who is wearing a very strong or far too much perfume (always called scent by the upper classes).

It overpowers every sense, can cause headaches and sickness, and generally has a negative affect on the virtual recipient. If one is to wear scent, before it is applied, think about the occasion and what that calls for, and remember that less is more.


Perfume too strong

Follow rules of business; some companies do not allow it to be worn at all, and if there is food or wine involved, then very often fragrance is barred due to dulling of the senses. Some colleagues may be allergic or asthmatic, so beware when applying it for a business meeting or event.

Never overdo it. Apply lightly once when dressing and do not refresh during the day. The perfume will develop as the application warms on the skin and is very different a couple of hours later to the first application. To overlay is not good, but the best application is to overlay perhaps with perfume, and body lotion or powder for a light but intense burst.

In the evening you can wear a little more but during the day usually err on wearing none at all or very little.

Over time, every fragrance gets stale, and open bottles last only about six months, even when very expensive. Be ruthless and discard, don’t be tempted to wear an old one; it can cause irritation on the skin or allergic reactions and can also smell acidic.

Don’t apply in public.

Don’t spritz on your clothes, it can stain and damage delicate fabrics.

Seek specifics to suit the season, a heavier fragrance is more appropriate in the winter months and a light floral in summer.

Apply sparingly, at the pulse points; behind the ears, on the wrist and behind your knees.

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How to Lead your Tribe in the Workplace

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

When I hear the word Glastonbury I think of the mud, wellies and stinky loos! However there are better positive pictures that I could bring to mind, like the colourful landscape of canvas tents, the diversity of arts that are available and the passion of the people attending. So love it or loathe it, being at this unique tribal gathering for 5 colourful days in the Somerset countryside is always interesting!

This festival of contemporary performing arts, inspired by the Hippie subculture and youth movement, has become the largest Greenfield festival in the world. When Michael Eavis hosted the first festival on the 19th September 1970, I am sure he had no idea he would be creating a tribe of approximately 175,000 people!

The colourful array of Tents at Glastonbury

The colourful array of Tents at Glastonbury

The Oxford Dictionary defines a tribe as “A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.”

The largest tribe in the world is the Pashtun tribe in Afghanistan, with a population of 45 million people. Glastonbury has its own diverse tribes, as do many businesses, some might even say that Glastonbury is a business!

The research carried out by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright suggest that to create a thriving corporate culture you need strong tribes and an effective tribal leader. Richard Branson is considered an effective tribal leader so too was Steve Jobs. Their tribal culture supports the corporate culture and the results are greater strategic success, effective workplaces, less stress and more fun, a la Google!

In the book Tribal Leadership which can be purchased here it details the five stages of how to improve your tribes.

The five stages include:

• Stage One: The stage most professionals skip which we address is tribes, whose members are despairingly hostile—they may create scandals, steal from the company, or even threaten violence.

• Stage Two: changing the dominant culture for 25 percent of workplace tribes whose members who are passively antagonistic, sarcastic, and resistant to new management initiatives.

• Stage Three: Addressing the 49 percent of workplace tribes marked by knowledge hoarders who want to outwork and outthink their competitors on an individual basis. They are lone warriors who not only want to win, but need to be the best and brightest.

• Stage Four: The transition from “I’m great” to “we’re great” comes in this stage where the tribe members are excited to work together for the benefit of the entire company.

• Stage Five: Empowering the 2 percent of workplace tribal culture is in this stage, when members who have made substantial innovations seek to use their potential to make a global impact.

The true identity of a Tribe can be found in its core values; their guiding principles that dictate behaviour and actions. Here are some core values that you or your tribe may have:

  • Dependable
  • Reliable
  • Loyal
  • Committed
  • Open-minded
  • Consistent
  • Honest
  • Efficient
  • Innovative
  • Creative
  • Humorous
  • Fun-loving
  • Adventurous
  • Motivated
  • Positive
  • Optimistic
  • Inspiring
  • Passionate
  • Respectful
  • Athletic
  • Fit
  • Courageous
  • Educated
  • Respected
  • Loving
  • Nurturing
Tribel Leadership details 5 Stages how to improve your tribe

Tribel Leadership details 5 Stages how to improve your tribe

I think those attending Glastonbury 2015, on the whole, have many of the core values listed above. The 14th Dalai Lama, who is an inspirational tribal leader in his own right, took to the stage in the King’s Meadow. He wanted to share his message of “love and tolerance and fairness” He was alluding to the other kinds of tribes that use, religion, politics, hatred and weapons as their core values. That maybe another blog!

Whichever tribe you belong to, enjoy it. I am off  to get my tennis shoes on, collect my Wimbledon ticket and join my tennis tribe for a fun filled fortnight.

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Write on! Write away! Write now!

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

These plays on words were inspired by a recent posting on one of the luxury retail stationery websites. I always admire articles or blogs that agree with or confirm my own beliefs.

If you are reading this in the UK, I am preaching to the choir when I extol the virtues of the written (preferably hand-written) word over e-mails, texts and tweets. Industry sources tell me that the UK ranks well ahead of its Mediterranean neighbours in letter writing and leaves its South American counterparts in the dust.

Perhaps this has something to do with the long-established and readily available postal system (Penny Post was introduced in England in 1680). However, numbers of letters being carried by Royal Mail have been declining since 2006, unsurprising given our increasing reliance on internet-based communications.

The Traditional British Post Box was first seen in Britain in 1809

The Traditional British Post Box was first seen in Britain in 1809

But there are occasions in life that require a hand-written letter. If you doubt this, consider what your own reaction would be to receiving an e-mailed condolence message, congratulations on career success in a text, or a thank you message posted on social media along with pictures of you and your other guests.

exting important news and congratulating good news just isn't the same

Text messaging important news and offering our congratulations is unfortunately becoming more common

When you really mean something and sincerely want to convey it,  (“Congratulations,” “Thank-you,” “I am so sorry”), write it down – on paper; sign it – in ink; put a stamp on it – not the postage meter; and put it in the mail.

Hand written Thank You Notes are still the most personal way of expressing our gratitude

Hand written Thank You Notes are still the most personal way of expressing our gratitude

The benefits are powerful and far-reaching but for anyone looking for the “What’s in it for me,” it will simply confirm and reinforce what everyone already knows about you – that you are a knowledgeable, socially aware, confident and considerate friend and colleague.

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The all important Dress Codes for Royal Ascot

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Royal Ascot Races is one of the most popular events of the sporting and social calendar, with an annual attendance of nearly 300,000 people.

Both the Grandstand Enclosure and the Royal Enclosure have their benefits. If you are looking for a young, fun and often raucous afternoon then consider the former perfect. With big crowds, big drinkers and even bigger heels it will not disappoint. This is the area in which I frequented for the first few years of attending and I didn’t even manage to see any races; there was far too much entertainment around the bandstand, and, coupled with the 30 minute queue for the loos the afternoon passed by before I could say ‘on the nose please’.

The Grandstand Enclosure at Royal Ascot

The Grandstand Enclosure at Royal Ascot


Fast forward a few years and I was invited to The Royal Enclosure, the moment I had been hoping for had come! And the icing on the cake is that as long as you ‘behave yourself’ you will automatically gain membership into this enclosure from the next year onwards.

The Royal Enclosure is what you would imagine an elegant day at the races to be. Beautiful pavilions in which to sip Pimms, perfectly mown lawns to parade with your partner and pre-bookable restaurants. As it happens I did manage to behave myself and so have been enjoying this area ever since, although I do often wonder which enclosure is having the most fun….


The Champagne Lawn within the Royal Enclosure

The Champagne Lawn within the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot

Both enclosures have strict Dress Codes which must be adhered to as, in theory, you can be refused entrance.

Ladies, an invaluable piece of advice is to keep your heels sensible whatever enclosure you are in. This is for three reasons:

  • You will do an awful amount of walking – Ascot Racecourse is vast
  • There are many grass areas and therefore high stiletto heels will sink in making it really difficult to walk elegantly
  • Seeing an otherwise beautifully dressed lady staggering along carrying her shoes is not a good sight


Grandstand Enclosure Dress Code

Ladies within the main Grandstand Admission area are encouraged to dress in a manner as befits a formal occasion:

  • A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.
  • Strapless or sheer strap dresses and tops are not permitted.
  • Trousers must be full length and worn with a top that adheres to the guidelines above.
  • Midriffs must be covered.
  • Shorts are not permitted.

Men are required to wear a suit with a shirt and tie (often men will wear Morning Dress in this enclosure which looks lovely).


A lady perfectly dressed for a day at Royal Ascot

A lady perfectly dressed for a day at Royal Ascot

Royal Enclosure Dress Code

  • Ladies’ dresses and skirts should be of modest length. This is defined as just falling above the knee or longer
  • Ladies’ trouser suits are acceptable and they should be of full length and of matching material and colour
  • Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater.
  • Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code
  • Hats should be worn; however a headpiece which has a base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat. Ladies are kindly asked to note the following:
  • Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck and spaghetti straps are not permitted.
  • Midriffs must be covered.
  • Fascinators are not permitted; neither are headpieces which do not have a base covering a sufficient area of the head (4 inches/10cm).
  • Gentlemen are required to wear either black or grey morning dress (grey is deemed as de rigueur) which must include:
  • A waistcoat and tie (no cravats)
  • A black or grey top hat
  • Black shoes A gentleman may remove his top hat within a restaurant, a private box, a private club or that facility’s terrace, balcony or garden. Hats may also be removed within any enclosed external seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden. The customisation of top hats (with, for example, coloured ribbons or bands) is not permitted in the Royal Enclosure.
A gentleman in Morning Dress

A gentleman in Morning Dress

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