Royal Ascot

With the outfits finally sorted for Royal Ascot week (just about – I’m still awaiting a delayed delivery on Monday… )  I thought I’d do a post on some of the more boring but equally essential wardrobe preparations for Royal Ascot. Some of you have been messaging on Instagram stressing about umbrellas, and I’m a bit stressed about it too! It’s not an accessory I wanted to incorporate into my Ascot outfits. But with a couple of days to go and showers in the forecast I think it’s best to take one – rain and millinery are not good friends. I featured some transparent birdcage umbrellas in my Insta stories yesterday by Fulton – the brand used by HM The Queen who matches the trim of her brolly to her outfit. Not only does the birdcage style enable the public to see her clearly – it also enables her to have a good view of them and the horses of course! They’re so identifiable to HM, so I would be reluctant to carry one myself! The high birdcage style would be good for shielding showstopper hats though.

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I’m opting for a classic walking umbrella by Fulton – this one has a rose lining which will add a bit of cheer to the sombre weather.

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If you want to be a really fancy Nancy you could get one of these umbrellas from James Smith & Sons. I love that this kind of shop has survived – founded in 1830 and still housed in the original Victorian building. It’s worth a visit to marvel at a little slice of  history.

fulton umbrella

The other main concern is a soggy ground threatening your expensive suede shoes. Make sure you use a suede or leather protector spray on your footwear to protect it from the elements. Liquiproof was recommended to me by an Instagram follower who swears by it.

Liquiproof.png

The weather is warming up and I know many people prefer to go tightless these days, but I will be wearing hosiery – If you’re wearing high heels all day the chances of your feet rubbing and causing blisters are much higher without them – and if you’re attending Ascot more than one day you’ll want to preserve your tootsies! These are my favourite summer tights – 5 denier cooling tights from M&S – they’re the lowest denier so barely there and have a natural sun tanned look to them. If you’re prone to your foot slipping out of your shoe you could get tights with a grip on the sole like these ones.

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Rachel Hawkins of The Cotswold Hat Club is a regular at the races and she recommends ibuprofen spray to protect your feet from swelling in your high heeled shoes – the things we do to look stylish ladies!

Gel insoles placed inside the shoe will also offer some comfort by cushioning your foot – The Duchess of Cambridge reportedly uses these ones from Alice Bow. I sometimes use Party Feet – small invisible gel inserts that protect the ball of your foot and are particularly good if you’re wearing sandals.

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One of my clutch bags is teeny tiny so I’m taking an equally teeny tiny portable charger for my phone – no cable is needed and it’s about the size of a lipstick.

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Some followers have planned summery outfits and are worried about being cold – adding a jacket to floaty dresses will spoil the outline of the dress so I would recommend wearing a vest underneath if you feel cold and brave the bare arms!

I think that’s all the Ascot accessories prep I can think of – I’m off to steam my dresses for next week and pray for sunshine!

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The Chelsea Flower Show

The Chelsea Flower Show gets underway this week – marking the start of the summer season and the perfect place to wear a floral dress. Here are 15 of my favourite floral frocks available now:

 

L-R: Maje; Hobbs; Marks & Spencer.

 

L-R: Boden; Warehouse; Hobbs.

 

L-R: Mango; Wiggy Kit; Zara.

 

L-R: Zimmerman; Zara; Suzannah.

 

L-R: Beulah; Bombshell; Borgo De Nor.

 

 

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Designer Clothing Charity Re-sale

I am holding another designer clothing re-sale on behalf of a lady who is having a wardrobe clear-out this spring. Buying pre-owned designer clothing is a great way of adding a unique, quality garment to your wardrobe without having to spend a fortune.  All pieces listed below are less than five years old and either unworn (some still with tags) or barely worn, so in excellent condition. Sizes range from XS to L. If you see anything you like, click on the icon and you’ll be taken to my Vestiare page where the pieces are available to purchase. So, if you fancy sharpening up your look with a bit of designer flair whilst doing your bit for sustainability, why not shop someone else’s wardrobe!  All of the owner’s proceeds from this sale will be donated to charity.

 

Dior dress.pngValentino knitted dress.pngHermes cardigan .png

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SOLD
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SOLD

Miu Miu shoes .pngGucci top .pngElie Saab coatMissoni dress.pngPhillip Lim shorts .pngTheory cashmere dress.pngACNE jumper.pngLanvin navy blouse.pngLanvin lace top.pngLanvin beige blouse.pngBurberry navy jumper .pngRoberto Cavalli bag.pngBalenciaga trousers.pngBurberry green jumper.pngBurberry grey jumper.pngGucci cardigan .pnggreen shoes .png

 

Missoni cardigan .pngTory Burch jumper.png

Loro Piana blue jumperLoro Piana green jumper .png

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 12.31.43Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 12.31.01Dior shorts

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SOLD

 

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Moschino red dress.pngMoschino white dressMiu Miu skirt

 

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New Year Wardrobe Detox

morris

Many readers of my book Wardrobe Wisdom have commented on how the second section – Wardrobe Organisation – has really motivated them to have a proper wardrobe detox and declutter their clothing collection. This is a process that seems daunting initially but once completed is really transformative – to your wardrobe and to your mind. I’m not a neat freak and am not keen on rooms that are overly minimal – but I know which image below makes me feel calm and which gives me anxiety!

If your wardrobe is chaotic then it will make the process of dressing much more difficult each day – sometimes the feeling of not having anything to wear is because you can’t easily locate what you have. Clearing out clothing clutter will also help you to identify what gaps you may have in your wardrobe – garments that you may need to purchase to get the full potential out of the clothes you currently have, enabling you to create outfits with ease and take the stress out of dressing.

A survey in 2017 by Weight Watchers estimated that the figure of wasted expenditure on clothing was £10 billion, with only 55% of the clothes women own actually being worn. Whilst some people may be hanging on to things for posterity, or “just in case” they may need it/fit in to it one day, there is undoubtedly a hoarding of unworn or unnecessary clothing going on. And if you don’t have the luxury of wall-to-wall walk-in wardrobes to store mountains of clothing, then a periodic clothing cull is a necessity for most people.

So, if you have had a post-Christmas sales splurge and need to free up space for your new winter additions, why not release your inner “Marie Kondo”, ditch the New Year diet and detox your wardrobe instead!

Cleanse your Closet

When you go through your wardrobe, be realistic about the clothes that you wear day to day; hanging on to garments that you no longer wear takes up space unnecessarily, so try to adopt a ruthless sorting process. Divide into the following groups:

  1. Keep, wear regularly
  2. Keep, but need to supplement with new purchases in order to wear
  3. eBay/re-sell
  4. Charity
  5. Storage (out of season)
  6. Discard/recycle

If garments no longer fit or you haven’t worn them in a while, try selling them on eBay first or donate to a charity shop. Popular designer and high-street labels and occasion outfits/dresses tend to sell better than casual clothes on eBay, so consider sending casual clothes straight to the charity shop, if they are in good condition, or to a clothing recycling bank. I had a clothing clear-out just before Christmas and donated to The British Heart Foundation – they will collect the bags of clothing from your door (see the BHF website for details). You could also support charities like Smart Works, who accept quality second-hand workwear donations, which they then offer to women seeking employment.

High-end designer labels will also sell well on designer second-hand clothing websites, such as Vestiare Collective. Head over to my Recycle blog post where I have listed some other places where you can recycle your clothing.

Keeping Organised

To keep your clothing collection at a manageable level with a wardrobe that is accessible and wearable, try to resist purchasing any unnecessary items; focus instead on filling the gaps in your wardrobe that were revealed after the clear-out. Group 2 (things that you are keeping but need to supplement with new purchases in order to wear) is likely to be full of separates which only work if they have something to work with. Make a list of things you think your existing wardrobe would benefit from and focus on acquiring these items the next time you go clothes shopping. Your goal is for a versatile and manageable wardrobe to fit in with your space and lifestyle. Resist the temptation to purchase new one-off garments unless you think they will complement what you already own.

Once the detox is complete, your remaining wardrobe needs to be efficiently organised so that you can easily locate specific garments. It will be much easier to avoid clutter creeping back in if everything is suitable stored. Check out Wardrobe Wisdom for more tips on effective wardrobe organisation.

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Christmas Gift Guide

If you’re still looking for Christmas gift ideas for stylish ladies, here are some of my top picks to help with your Christmas shopping this week. The only “person” I’ve bought for so far is my dog, so I need a little inspiration myself! (And if any of my family are reading this, this is pretty much my wish list, hint hint 😉).

Stocking Fillers

No lady’s maid would be without a fully stocked sewing kit – This Liberty print sewing scissors and holder would be a stylish addition to it for a budding seamstress.

liberty

My favourite chocolates at Christmas time from Hotel Chocolat; best to only buy the pocket selection or I won’t stop eating them 😋

hotel chocolat

Please don’t think me weird for including a stapler in my wish list, but there’s something about Ted Baker’s “let’s get together” rose gold stapler that I love! Perhaps one for those who are hard to buy for, have a sense of humour and like a tidy desk.

 

I love Christmas scented candles – these are two of my favourites from Marks & Spencer – Frankincense and Myrrh and Mandarin and clove.  Really good value and they smell amazing.

A Royal Christmas – a great Christmas book, published by the Royal Collection Trust, exploring the Christmas traditions of royalty, past and present.

royal christmas

Luxury Gifts

I know you shouldn’t be swayed by packaging, but when it’s a Fortnum’s hamper I don’t really care what’s in it – just save the basket for me 🙂

fortnums

This world class tech case is a really good buy for jet-setting ladies who travel a lot – keeping all your gadgets organised in style on the move. Available in different colour combinations, but this is my favourite.

 

 

I love Smythson notebooks and diaries. I especially like this Soho diary as it has a “To Do” page for notes each week as well. The cobalt blue is super stylish.

Aspinal currency wallet – I have a similar wallet to this one that I bought from Heathrow Airport several years ago when I was travelling a lot and didn’t want to carry different wallets for multiple currencies – really useful.

aspinal

Wilbur & Gussie make the most stylish clutches. It’s impossible to pick a favourite, but this gold glitter clutch is a wardrobe classic.

wilbur and gussie

For hat-loving ladies with a busy social calendar in 2019 – an unlimited hat hire voucher for a year from The Cotswold Hat Club. Wear a different one each weekend if you want! Great value if you have a lot of formal day dress events to plan for.

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You can’t go wrong with a cashmere scarf as a gift. These ones from John Lewis are great value for cashmere, and available in a large range of colours, I like this coral red to brighten up wintery days.

scarf

Add a glamorous touch to your winter coats with a brooch from Susan Caplan. I like this wreath of pearls and turquoise – it would look great on a winter white coat. (20% off with the code LADYSMAID20).

susan caplan

I couldn’t not mention my book! If you’re bored of the family on Christmas afternoon, then dip into a copy of Wardrobe Wisdom and start planning your New Year Wardrobe for 2019.

cover

 

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Little Red Dresses

Little Red Dresses

Every lady has a trusty LBD – a little black dress that you can always count on when facing a what-to-wear dilemma. But during the festive season it’s all about the little red dress – red is the most Christmassy colour, so always a popular choice for Christmas functions. I’ve rounded up some of my favourites available now for every budget. In terms of accessories for red dresses, I would say gold is the best choice, or a matching red for evening looks. Some red tones also match well with burgundy accessories. I think black accessories can look a bit harsh for evening looks with sleeveless red dresses, but if the dress is sleeved and you wear black opaque tights, it does look more balanced.

Budget

Starting with budget LRDs, one of my favourites is this new red dress from M&S. I love the subtle animal jacquard print and the ruched shoulders – I sense this one will be popular for office Christmas parties.

marks

 

 

I really like this simple tunic dress from HM – I love the pretty lacy sleeve detail.

hm

A slinky little number from Zara. You might need a faux fur, or extra egg nog, to keep warm if you wear this out in December! Love the rich jewel red and fringed belt.

zara

Pussy bows are one of my favourite style features in tops and dresses – it’s the Lady Di/Maggie Thatcher in me! Tall ladies can get away with working this pussy bow maxi – a stylish, longer little red dress from Warehouse.

warehouse

Mid-range

A new number from Cefinn just in time for the festive season and a great choice as a wearable desk-to-dinner festive frock for mid-week Christmas parties.

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I’ve been all over burgundy velvet on my Insta page, so this poinsettia velvet dress from Boden will make you stand out from the crowd more than my usual mellow merlot options 🙂

boden

A pretty lacy floral embellished dress from Needle and Thread.

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I like throw-on tunic styles – great to hide any over-indulging on canapes! This maroon red tunic dress from Ted Baker has pretty embellishment at the wrists.

ted baker

Another great classic day-to-eve little red dress from Jaeger.

jaeger

Designer

If you have a bit of extra cash to flash for your Christmas frock, this is one of my favourite LRDs from Nanushka. The “Ezra” wrap dress is made of a gorgeous claret red silky satin.

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I really love this Grecian style pleated metallic silk dress from Maria Lucia Hohan – like a stylish Christmas sweet wrapper! One-shoulder dresses are always a winner with me too, so this would be my top pick for a special Christmas party dress.

 

Aquila

I love the sharp shoulders and ruffled sleeves on this mini from Alexander McQueen.

Alexander McQueen

If there’s one red dress on my lust list, it’s this one from Antonio Beradi – I love the clean lines and contrasting textures of wool-crepe, cady and satin – classic and glamorous. What more do you want from a little red dress?!

Antonio Beradi 

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Christmas Jumpers

Christmas Jumpers

You may think that Christmas jumpers have no place on a page about style, but you’d be wrong! I used to think they were incredibly naff – my main image of them being from American 80s/90s Christmas movies. These days there are much more subtle and stylish festive sweaters out there, so you don’t need to worry about looking like your Grandma dressed you on Christmas Jumper Day. In my wardrobe, this silver sequinned angel jumper, bought from Top Shop in 2015, is a favourite. The plus side of only wearing it a few days a year is that it’s still in excellent condition!  (There are a few on ebay if you like it.)

Christmas Jumper Day is on Friday 14 December this year. People in schools and offices across the UK wear their best novelty knit in aid of Save the Children. I’ve trawled through the festive knitwear on offer to bring you some of my favourites – from novelty knits to stylish sequins, via festive Fair Isle: there’s a Christmas jumper out there for everyone!

Novelty Knits

M&S leads the way with some stylish and wearable Christmas jumpers this year. These are three of my favourites:

Embellished Mistletoe jumper, M&S

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Robin embroidered jumper, M&S

Robin M&S.jpeg

Embellished stars jumper, M&S

Stars M&S.jpeg

All other high street stores now have a Christmas knitwear offering too – there are some good ones in H&M, Next and Dorothy Perkins. Tu at Sainsburys and George at Asda also have some great ones:

Sequin stag sweater, Dorothy Perkins

 DP Stag

Red reindeer studded jumper, New LookNew Look.png

Are you noticing a pattern? I quite like reindeers 🙂 Gold sequin reindeer jumper, Monsoon

Next

One for dog lovers – puppy in antlers from Tu at Sainsburys

Tu puppy.png

 A subtle offering from Top Shop – a mini candy cane crested black jumper

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There are quite a few Fair Isle/novelty hybrids if you want something that doesn’t scream Christmas:

Jacquard knit reindeer Fair Isle, H&M

Reindeer HM 

Robin Fair Isle, Asda

Asda Robin Fairisle

Slogan knitwear merges with festive fun in this “baby it’s cold outside” sweater from Bella Freud

 

Bella Freud

Make it easy for people to guess your drinks order with this Navy sequinned champagne Christmas jumper from Asda

Champagne

JOY red sweatshirt – Save the Children x Selfish Mother. 50% of the retail price is donated to Save the Children.

Joy

Everything sounds better en francais – “joyeux Noël” from Top shop

joyeux noel

Festive Fair Isle

If you don’t want to spend money on a jumper that you only wear one or two days a year, then Fair Isle is a great alternative to the novelty knits – still Christmassy but much more stylish and wearable throughout the winter months, not just December. Fair Isle knits are named after the place where they originate from – the tiny island of Fair Isle, one of the Scottish Shetland islands (where you’ll be in need of a cosy knit to keep warm at Christmas). The style became popular in the 1920s when the then Prince of Wales was photographed wearing a Fair Isle jumper whilst playing golf. Since then they’ve become a winter wardrobe classic, especially during the festive season.

Ivory Agnes Fair Isle, Boden

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Georgina sweater, Hobbs

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Mohair Icelandic jumper, Brora

Brora

Fair Isle sweater, Ralph Lauren

Asos

 

Islay print, Fat Face

Fat Face

 

Somersby Fair Isle, Jack Wills

Jack Wills

Stylish Sequins

Another more wearable option to the classic Christmas jumper is sequinned and jewelled knitwear – a great cocktail casual option for Christmas parties. I particularly like the grey ones as the dull colour carries sequins and jewels really well.

This grey jumper with bow motif from HM is my top pick

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I also love this pretty blush snowflake number from Next – this would look great with a pleated satin skirt and sparkly silver heels

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Jewel embellished jumper, Warehouse

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Grey sparkle jumper, Oasis

Oasis

Arqyle sweater with sequins, Zara

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These Christmas jumpers all get the seal of style approval from The Lady’s Maid – which one will you pick for Christmas Jumper Day?!

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