Saturday, 1 January 2011

Fashion Forward 2011

Whilst I might be taking a styling back seat to concentrate on writing, this doesn't preclude me from feeling free to dispense fashion wisdom for 2011. Last year I entered a challenge of not buying anything until after Easter. This saved me untold monies. Now I'm not suggesting you should embark on any denial but 2011 should be a 'think think black' year. The black is the colour of you bank balance and credit card bill. Red happens to be my favourite colour, but it sure is given bad press due to its fiscal association. In fact the colour red has all manner of cultural connotations, I know I wrote 18,000 words on the subject of the red dress and made a short film on it. So, I'm afraid red is out for 2011, we must try to ignore red and its spirit of temptation. Luckily orange is a cheerful Spring Summer alternative, nice and bright and is a great colour for nails.

I do think it is time for us to move on from austerity measures as I'm afraid it has been adopted as cultural capital to deny people good government and pleasure. In fashion editorial terms it translates to investment pieces - again rather preaching don't ya think! Nothing wrong with buying for longevity nor looking after the pennies but where is the pleasure. Be your own arbitrator of taste and style, ignore the rest - it is time to get style savvy with my top ten tips for 2011.

1. Fashion is out, Style is in - the beauty of becoming a selfish style snob is one can sneer and remark 'is that the fashion these days'. Can you tell I've been watching Doyton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs etc! Personal style is more selective and enduring than following fashion trends which after all is a marketing dream come true. Fashion in the 21st century has become anything goes. As a fledgling century it is struggling to find an identity. So best to forge your own with things you like and try to ignore the fashion gauntlet thrown down by the magazines and style sections of newspapers. So what if Celine is the latest greatest, I rather enjoy the sensous voluptous Dolce & Gabanna story at the moment - it is for you to choose.

2. Work your wardrobe harder - I can't stress this enough. I think the first aspect of this is to be content with what you have got. Keep rearranging what you have to make new outfits and also wear things out. Don't save anything for best and be prepared to wear something you consider evening in the day. Do think anything is possible and banish thoughts of rules. Make sure you have a basic wardrobe to build upon. I often find people don't have a baseline to mix and match things.

A coat
A dress
A pair of trousers/jeans
A skirt
A jumper
A shirt
A tee shirt
Pair of shoes
Pair of boots
Cocktail ring

That is all you need as a starter kit for your wardrobe and you are good to go! I'm not going to prescribe colour or style that is your choice.

3. Less is more - I'm not suggesting you don't buy anything or you can't keep clothes but you shouldn't be overwhelmed by your wardrobe. Too much stuff results in repeat buys. I like to wear my wardrobe but as I buy less high street and more designer then I realise I'm going to have to have a working wardrobe and a storage one for dresses and pieces I could never bare to part with. I bought a olive green v neck jumper from Toast over 4 years ago and I still wear it and I haven't bought a new one until yesterday when I found a Pringle one in TK Maxx. My new one is for the spring and summer whilst my Toast one is all year round. It is fine merino wool. One day it will wear out and then I will buy a new one. My point is why have 12 or 20 jumpers in all colours or 5 in black when one will do. This year I've been wearing the v neck jumper back to front with my Scorpio horoscope Paul Smith necklace. It cheered me up to use it differently, it gave it a new lease of life.

4. Budget - set yourself a budget for the whole year based on your earnings and stick to it. You can blow it all on a handbag if you want there are no rules how and when to spend it but don't blow the budget and then regret it. Be reasonable and resourceful if necessary but if there is only one thing you do and take away from this post - then make it a budget that is stuck to! Remember think think black.

5. Only buy things you love - When you try something on you should feel the love. You should wear the garment. Immediately you will prance and pout. You might even push your hair up and stand on your tip toes and have a whirl all in front of the store or your mirror. If you stand there bereft of feeling then please put the item back. Don't try and make it work because you loved the look of it, but it doesn't quite look right and somehow you can change yourself to fix it! Please the item doesn't suit - next!

6. Try on random items -Once in a while you should go out to only try clothes on. Try on anything and everything. Get a sense of you in different stores and in different types of clothes to what you normally wear. Try to recapture the feeling of when you first had your own money and you could buy anything. Don't buy anything just have fun, experiment and liberate yourself from any no nos in your head. If someone told you couldn't wear pink - go and put it on!

7. Go solo - It is best to shop alone. Meet friends for a post coffee or cocktail drink after you've been shopping. Ignore shop assistants. Smile and say thank you when they offer their opinion but don't listen to them. See point 5.

8. Make a list - Dull, I know but I'm all about lists. See point 6 for randomness, but when you are on a shop have a list! Know what you need, specify your budget and stick to it.

9. Create a style file - I was given a Smythson book years ago in which I could detail outfits for occasions and times of day. I loved it. I still do and it the very thing that makes me keep items. My favourite entry is so from when I was dressing to impress Mr MDS and the to be in-laws circa 2000, we were only dating then! Sunday lunch look: - white shirt, Ralph Lauren black round neck jumper, Abercrombie & Fitch jeans, Tod loafers, pearl necklace. I still have every item and although I can't fit into the jeans without creating a rather unforgiving muffin top look (luckily I have some white skinnies or a French Connection pair as subs now) I can still pull off the perfect golf club Sunday lunch look without a crisis. All you have to do is think of a scenario and what you want to project and create the look. Cut out pictures and write down the items you need. (Psst I still loathe golf club lunches but at least I look good, you see that's what love does to you!)

10. Attitude! - Possession is 9 tenths of the law and when it comes to clothes the same is true. Project, own the look and believe. When I work with models who are young and inexperienced I tell them how to feel, to imagine a scenario. They have to learn to act to create a belief in the setting whether it is the studio, an interior or exterior shoot. I saw an editorial piece the other day where the model had failed. Dead eyes was my first thought and no belief in what she was wearing was my second. It might have been the photographers fault or the stylist or no one spotted the missing factor. Sometimes you are too close to something to see the fault, hence the need to act out or imagine what you are creating. A change of attitude is all it needs. So when it comes to wearing an outfit believe you look and are fabulous. Think Marilyn she knew how to wear a sweater!

Most of all have a wonderful, prosperous, fun filled Happy Stylish New Year!


  1. Great advice x

  2. I love the advice, especially about jumpers. I only have a couple, takes a while to find one I really like so at least now I know I don't need a lot. I'm aiming to reduce my spending this year so will be looking to your blog for inspiration! I'm off to create my lookbook now. Here's to a great 2011. xx

  3. Fabulous post, Kate, and great advice. Cultural capital - get you!! :) Great point about not saving items - I loved the post you did earlier in the year, when you challenged us all to grab a 'dressy dress' and sling on a cardi and a belt - ever since then I've been making my 'best' clothes work a lot harder. It'd be great if you'd set us another challenge on those lines, just to keep us from getting too staid...

    A happy new year to you - looks like you managed to endure last night. Be interesting to see what your Smythson notebook had to say about that outfit... xx

  4. Have always found your advice very timely and useful- today on the 1st of January even more so. My resolution is definitely to buy more quality pieces that fir my style staement and less overall.

  5. Definately agree, especially on the 'for best' items, what nonsence to buy something and have it stuck in the closet - yeah I do get funny looks wearing Louboutin's in Tesco but whatever ;-)
    I like your idea of a style diary, I do something similar, when I have time I play around with stuff and take a photo of outfits I create then I can take a look through them when I'm feeling stuck!
    Happy New Year too x

  6. These are all great points! I've done too much "fear-based" buying in recent years (e.g. "I don't love it but I'll never find another ____ that fits me so I'd better buy three of them.")

  7. This is terrific advice, thanks so much. I do enjoy reading your fashion wisdom very much.
    Happy New Year to you and your family! xo

  8. Hi there-what a fabulous post, some really helpful and useful tips which I will definitely take on board-such as wearing my pieces anytime rather than a special occasion and I also like the idea of a style file too. Very informative and a great stylish start to 2011 xxx

  9. Great advice Kate. I will work my inner marilyn as often as I can. Wishing you a happy, healthy and wealthy (in the black) 2011. Xxxx

  10. As everyone has said, this advice is stellar. The only one I don't do is keeping the style file. Although I do read all the blogs and take my ideas from there...

    PS: I LOVE that photo of Marilyn - the pointy boob is my fave.

  11. yes I'd agree too, your advice is spot on. If only one could stick to it all year.....

    Happy New Year & here's to a fab 2011 for everyone

  12. Happy New Year, Kate! Fab post and spot on advice, as always. I'm a firm believer in style over fashion and not saving things for best. xxx

  13. This is such a great post full of great advice. I am guilty of over buying but am with you totally this coming year I intend to enjoy my wardrobe... I have been getting a lot better and selective over the past year .. now I feel I am done... for the moment anyhow :)

  14. Tee hee I thought it was just me on point 7 - I love to try on stuff in stores - sales assistant hate me for not ringing up a sale. Happy New year

  15. Dear Kate, brilliant advice as ever. I credit your wardrobe post months ago with finally inspiring me to sort mine out. I love that I've discovered lots of things I'd forgotten about and tons I just didn't wear because I couldn't find them! Thanks for all your great blogs over the past year xx

  16. This list sis amaizng, especially number 2! Thanks for this :)

    just discovered your blog, love it! I'm now a follower!!

  17. Oh Kate this is such an inspirational post! I am brimming with ideas now - expect to see yourself credited on my blog very shortly!

    I adore that photo of Marilyn. She was just so sexily comfortable with herself wasn't she?

  18. This is a great list. I love the focus on style rather than fashion. I'm in my 40s and feel ridiculous trying to follow yearly trends.

    I've always been curious about budget. What percentage of annual take-home pay do other women spend on clothing/accessories? Mine is roughly 5%. Is that low or high compared to other readers here?

  19. I will add: write down every item you spend, its full price and purchase price, if they differ. At the end of a year, analyze for what returned good value and what did not.

    I find the austere/pleasurable polarity misleads us. A beautifully cut black cashmere sweater is both, at once.


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