Saturday, 13 November 2010

It's show time

This week has been spent styling some of the models in preparation for my next style event on Friday 26th November. So far we have hit LK Bennett, Hobbs, Jigsaw, GAP, Monsoon, Fenn Wright Manson, M&S, Oasis and New Look (whose party range I have to say, I think, is great.)  Next week it is the turn of the remaining models and the rest of the shops that Birmingham has to offer -which is a lot. I want to make sure that not only do I have a range of models of differing ages, heights, shapes and sizes but that I also cover the spectrum of shops - from the more expensive to the less expensive. We have just had a new Forever 21 open here - the US version of TopShop - and I am dying to take a peek.  Hopefully there will be some amazing finds for the styling event. 

My new rails have also arrived - six pink clothes rails, so that each model can have her own rail of clothes.  The experience that I gained from doing the event at Harvey Nichols was invaluable in terms of finding out the best way to organise the clothes for each model.  Hopefully I can take some of that away with me and put it to good use.

I am dying to show you the pictures of the best finds that I have come across whilst out in the shops but I don't want to spoil it for those who come along to the event.  I will report back afterwards though to tell you about the most popular items, as there are always some things that go down better than others. 

I find that whether people like something or not can depend on how often they are exposed to it.  Obviously some pieces speak for themselves but in some cases, the more that the audience sees a piece, the more familiar it becomes to them and the more they like it. The psychology behind the way that individuals approach clothes can be so complicated that it is hard to predict who will like what and who won't.  The same is true for how they perceive their shape.  You would be amazed how many women have hang ups as a result of comments made to them, most commonly by an ex-boyfriend or their father - and how many of those hang ups are completely without foundation. I have also realised that we are all creatures of habit and that habits can be hard to break, especially when we don't realise that we have them or if we do, how to go about breaking them.  We can have very strong associations with things, particularly colours, which put people off - the classic being that a particular colour reminds them of their school uniform.   It can be the same with trends which re-appear further down the line.  I used to feel that if we did a trend the first time around we shouldn't do it again - and that is true of some things but not others.  A lot can depend on whether the trend is age appropriate - cropped tops for example, or whether it now suits a person's particular size.  In essence I think that the key is to remain open minded and more often than not, it is more about how an item is styled.  Anyway, with the help of my lovely models,  I will do my best to show people how to put different outfits together, how to style the different body shapes and show them what is on trend for the season. Hopefully there will be plenty of fun along the way and some satisfied, more confident, ladies at the end of it.  I will let you know how it all goes.

I blame Jeremy Clarkson

"It started out so well...." To quote the opening line of the Queen song "Save Me" (actually that's not strictly how the lyrics go, but they aren't far off.)  I am talking about yesterday, the day that I was meant to sit down and get together the figures for my tax return, which instead turned into the day that I .....went shopping.  Oh la la, now there's a surprise. 

Between 8am and 9am I was hugely productive.  I sat on the bed, surrounded by paperwork, whilst half listening to Daybreak - research purposes naturally, just to see if it is as bad as they say.  All that I can really remember is Adrian's pull-over, as my Grandma called them, and boy what a pull-over it was.  I reckon that someone had pulled something over his eyes when he made that choice of outfit for the day. Bless. If that is all that I can remember about the programme I'm not really sure what that says about it and whether, in fact, it says more about me but anyway, there we have it. 

So that hour was productive, despite the fact that it took me at least half an hour to realise that I was doing the figures for the wrong tax year but by then I was flying, so it didn't take long to catch up.  That first hour was followed by a run for an hour with friends so, in its own way that too was productive, despite the fact that at one point it felt as though my head was about to fall off.  When the going gets tough, one of my good running friends has this nasty habit of a) running faster and b) talking more.  She reckons that there is logic to this in that it gets it over with much quicker and it also acts as a distraction.  I just don't buy it personally but she's lovely so I'll let her off - and she does make me laugh. 

So, on arriving home at 10am, that gave me two hours to do the tax figures before picking up child number 3 and that's where it all started to go so very, very wrong.  Frankly there was only one person to blame.  Yes, you've got it - Jeremy Clarkson.  You see, my husband was going out yesterday to the Top Gear motor show at the NEC and for obvious reasons he didn't want to drive.  Rather, he wanted a lift to New Street station.  Well, for those of you who don't know Birmingham, let me tell you, if you are at New Street, you practically have one foot in the Bull Ring and I decided that it would be rude to be so close and not to pop in, just for a while at least.  I make it sound like a fluke that I was there but actually it was a finally orchestrated shopping expedition with several missions to be accomplished in a very short space of time and you know what, I completed nearly all of them.  The black boots that I was after, sorted.  The grey tweed peg trousers from Oasis, definitely not sorted - they looked like jodphurs on me.  The red Zara cropped jeans - sorted. The black GAP tux jacket sorted and with 30% off it was a top bargain too - and I was still there in time to pick up child number three on time.  It's amazing what you can achieve in 40 minutes.  Ah yes, but aren't I missing the point?  That wasn't what I was meant to achieve yesterday now was it?  No doubt my conscience will  remind me of that the day before the dastardly deadline for the tax return to be filed actually arrives. Pah, what conscience?  It was nothing to do with me.  It was all Jeremy Clarkson's  fault.  Honest.

Just as an aside, I have written a blog post entitled "how to style an apple shape" for the new online Boden community page. Further posts will follow on how to style the other body shapes too.  You can find the post at

Sunday, 7 November 2010

One year on ....

So then, where to start?  I'm really not that sure. Could it be to do with the glass and a half of fizz that I have just had (lightweight - and two days after our wedding anniversary!) which means that I can't get my thoughts together, or is it just the fact that there is a lot going on? 

Well, I have to start somewhere, so here goes.  Helen at Fashion Felines has been lovely enough to pass on an award to me - the award of "Versatile Blogger".  Being new to the blogging game I am not quite sure how this award stands in the blogging community but I accept it graciously and with many thanks, on the basis that it is nice that someone out there likes my blog enough to read it and to give me an award.  On the other hand I am hoping that Helen is reading this so that she can get in touch and tell me what the flip to do next. There are certain rules that attach to the award, such as nominating other blogs etc and I don't want to offend blogging etiquette by getting it wrong and being ostricised before I even really get started. I can't work out for the life of me how to contact her through her blog so Helen, please get in touch and tell me what to do next!

I am pleased to report that the Harvey Nichols event was a real success - well I think it was - the Chief Executive and the Chairwoman of the Children's Hospital were very positive and no-one booed me, other than when I referred to one models as having shapely hips, but she had actually referred to herself as having a "big bum" beforehand so I was actually being sensitive.  The models were lovely and had their friends there to cheer them on, so the atmosphere was great.  They also played up to the crowds brilliantly so there was much hilarity. Although we had to do some outfit substitutions, on the whole most of the outfits that we had chosen were available and ironically it was the last minute subsitutions that were, in some cases, the biggest hits.  The only thing that I needed to select on the night were some further bags.  Being told by the Events Manager to "go and help yourself to whatever you like off the shelves" was lovely. I have to say that I love the "Loopy Leopard" Mulberry bags - if only for the name.  I am hoping that we will have raised lots of money for the Birmingham Children's Hospital. 

It is almost a year since I gave up my job reviewing miscarriages of justice and stepped into the murky world of styling.  I have to say that whilst at times it has been challenging and lonely - starting out on my own without anyone else doing the same thing as me locally - I wouldn't have missed it for the world.  So, what's next?  Well, I have lots of individual clients to style between now and my next event on November 26th so life is going to get even busier.  Will that mean an even larger pile of odd socks that need to be paired?  Almost certainly but hey, life's short and there's plenty of time for socks to be paired when I haven't got anything else to do with my time - that's what I figure anyway.  There's also the time that it takes to market the event and style the models. I am also looking to the future and to the first few months of 2011 and considering just how I am going to grow the business when no-one has any money and the thought of spring is just too far away to even contemplate.  Hmm, tricky but I have a few tricks up my sleeve.  Oh crikey - and then there's Christmas to sort out. Do you think that we could just delay that for six weeks or so?  Please?

The children continue to amuse me (and baffle me - how is it that an eleven year old can be so mature.  Aren't I meant to be the adult?!)  Our two year old proudly informed me today that she can now do a "toilet roll" (forward roll) so in her world at least, life is pretty exciting.  I like that, viewing the world upside down and with a slightly different way of expressing things - I must try it some time.

Monday, 1 November 2010

It's only rock and roll...

As lots of you will know, I run Style Events.  They are really busy in the lead up and I am left with little time to sort out my own clothes/hair/make-up etc.  What with also not sleeping too well (will people like the outfits or won't they, have I catered for all tastes, budgets and bodyshapes etc) and losing my appetite, I am generally a bit of a shambles. Whilst most of the models also have children, so are therefore rushing out of the house with little time to spare, at least their outfits have been thought about and they get their make-up done professionally. 

My Mum often comes to look after the children when I am doing those events and I swear that she thinks that I can only cook one meal.  "Oh," I say "don't worry about the children's meal.  I have cooked a macaroni cheese (again)."  The good thing about it is that I can prepare it weeks in advance and stick it in the freezer.  True, two have it with peas and one doesn't, one has it with vinegar and two don't, two like it crispy on top and one doesn't but you know, on the whole, it works pretty well.  At that stage in the game I am usually rummaging through my dodgy make-up bag searching for my one and only vaguely decent eye shadow which sort of falls down my face after a while but hey, it's silver and could almost pass for a highlighter - albeit in slightly the wrong place.  I am usually wearing an old dressing gown over my outfit at that stage just in case I am waved off with macaroni cheese fingers (or tears in the case of one, sometimes combined with yucky nose contents) and I have been known to open the front door and fling it back in, having left wearing it in error. Generally things come together on the night but sometimes I feel that it is all a bit precarious.  I wouldn't be surprised if I had one of those back of the dress in the knicker moments in front of lots of people but then I figure that, having had three children, I am devoid of any dignity in any event so I don't mind too much.  (I won't go into the story about how our last child was delivered by the Dad of one of the pupils at our children's school - I still can't look him in the eye.)

I am wondering whether tomorrow might just turn into one of those "it's not quite happening" sort of days.  I am back in to Harvey Nichols to get together the clothes for the models to wear on Thursday night.  The only problem is that when I selected the clothes over a week ago, HN couldn't guarantee that they would have everything in stock when I needed it.  Now, there are only so many items that you can take away from an outfit before the outfit is no longer an outfit but just a pair of shoes - and then that kind of event really isn't one that should be a fundraising event for a Children's Hospital now is it?  So, I wait with anticipation to see what tomorrow brings.  Depending on what stock HN has, Thursday could be a huge success or it could be an unmitigated disaster.  If I feel disaster looming I might just have to head to the cocktail bar, do my make-up like Alice Cooper then tuck the back of my dress in to my knickers to create a much needed distraction.   Personally I think it sounds quite rock and roll! I will let you know how I get on.