Style Secrets

Christmas Party Dresses 

As Christmas falls in the midst of bleak midwinter, you may find the prospect of wearing short party dresses a little uninviting. Sparkly sandals may look pretty, but they only really look good on bare legs – tight-seamed toes are a fashion no-no – so if you are wearing a short dress, The Lady’s Maid advises going for dressy court shoes so that you don’t freeze as you tip-toe around the party circuit this festive season. As a dress code, cocktail dresses are traditionally short in length (mini to knee length). Christmas is a great time to go for rich jewel shades – think sapphire blue, emerald green and burgundy red – or metallic silver/gold sequinned numbers. Here are the Lady’s Maid’s top picks for party dresses on the high street:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Style Secrets

⭐️🎄Christmas Jumpers🎄⭐️

Christmas jumpers are a fun novelty addition to the wardrobe during the festive season – you may not want to “dress up” when at home on Christmas Day so donning a Christmas jumper can be a comfy and casual way of entering into the festive spirit. They can be stylish too – The Lady’s Maid suggests selecting Fairisle or star patterns ⭐️ so that you can wear them a little longer than the 12 days of Christmas!🎄 Here are her top picks for festive knitwear and how to wear them:

Star Embellished Novelty Jumper, £29.50, Marks and Spencer

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A light-weight knit that can easily be tucked into skirts or worn casually with jeans. Shown here dressed down with jeans from Mint Velvet and Grey suede boots from Ted Baker. Or dress it up with a silver pleated skirt, block heel sandals from Whistles and matching clutch from Dune.

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Berry Red Snowflake Jumper, £26, Dorothy Perkins

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Features pretty diamanté snowflake embellishents. Shown here with a maroon pleated skirt from Ted Baker and Burgundy velvet heels from Boden.

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Star Black Cashmere Sweater, Chinti and Parker £350

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Luxurious and playful – this starry “forever sweater” is shown here with cashmere star wristwarmers and hat from Brora, black scrunch suede ankle boots from Carvela Kurt Geiger and a winter white coat from Ted Baker.

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Jewelled Fairisle Cashmere Jumper, N Peal, £399

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Farisle is a stylish alternative to the novelty jumper and looks trendy as well as traditional. Perfect for cosy Christmas weekend walks. Seen here with tan leather Dune boots a tan Jaeger wrap wool coat and cream cable beanie hat.

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Fliss Fairisle Jumper, Monsoon, £55

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This cosy cream/grey fair isle jumper from Monsoon features pretty sparkling beads across the pattern. Shown here with a long wool skirt from Joseph, grey suede ankle boots from Mint Velvet, a faux fur jacket from Reiss and star earrings from Estella Bartlett.

 

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Clothing Care, Style Secrets

Christmas Stocking Fillers

With the arrival of Advent, The Lady’s Maid’s mind has turned to the small matter of Christmas shopping. This post looks at her favourite ideas for Christmas stocking fillers with a Lady’s Maid’s leaning.

Liberty Print Sewing Roll Kit, John Lewis, £15.95

 

 

No Lady’s Maid would be without a sewing kit. This useful sewing kit from Liberty has everything you’ll need to make basic sewing alterations on the go. Features a classic ‘The Strawberry Thief’ Liberty print.

Katie Loxton Travel Jewellery Case, “Sparkle Everyday”, John Lewis, £19.99

 

 

This pretty gold leather heart jewellery case, lined with grey suede, is the perfect travel accessory to keep your jewels safe on the go so you can sparkle every day everywhere!

Cashmere Pilling Comb, M&S, £5

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If Father Christmas has brought you a luxury cashmere jumper this year, you will need to give it plenty of TLC to keep it in top condition. Knitwear is prone to pilling (little bobbles) after wear, so a pilling comb is essential for all those who covet cashmere. (See Caring for Cashmere for more tips on the care of woollen knitwear).

Golden Lily Lavender Eye Mask, Morris & Co., £16  

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If the festive season gets a little too much, you can relax in style with this Golden Lily Lavender Eye Mask from Morris & Co., featuring a classic William Morris print.

Vintage & Co. Fabrics & Flowers Scented Drawer Liners, Heathcote & Ivory, £7

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Scented drawer liners will help keep your clothing fresh as well as repelling bugs such as moths. These vintage fabric and flowers patterned liners from Heathcote & Ivory will also add a touch of colour to your drawers and shelves. (Fragrance Notes: Orange Blossom, Sweet Birch, Gardenia, Jasmine, Rose, Lilac, Coconut, Peach, Amber and Vanilla). See The Scourge of the Moth for more tips on how to repel this pesky pest.

Mini Initial Lavender Pillow, Museum Selection, £9

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Delicate, hand-embroidered cotton pillows filled with lavender inspired by Victorian embroidery. Lavender is particularly hated by moths, so place these in your knitwear drawers to help keep moths at bay.

“Star of Wonder” Myrrh & Opium Flower Scented Candle, M&S, £7.50

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Christmas candles create a cosy ambience on winter nights at home – this Myrrh and Opium candle from M&S is subtle and exotic without being overpowering.

L’Occitane Refreshing Verbena Bauble, M&S, £12

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The Lady’s Maid’s dainty hands suffer in wintertime, especially when she is hand-washing delicates! This festive bauble will add a little luxury to your hand-care. Inside the gold bauble there are three L’Occitane verbena surprises: verbena soap gently cleanses, and the hand cream and body lotion protect and moisturise hands and skin, leaving behind an invigorating scent.

Twelve Poems for Christmas, Seren, £5

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A sparkling anthology of Christmas-themed poems to peruse over the festive season.

Charbonnel et Walker Milk Chocolate Handbag & Heels, John Lewis, £7

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Stylish and tasty – the perfect gift for every shoe-loving lady!

How to Dress for Success, V&A Shop, £9.99

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Edith Head, Hollywood designer to the stars, offers no-nonsense fashion advice straight from the 1960s. There is still much to learn today from Head’s witty style tips and delightful drawings. Bound in real cloth with ribbon page marker and foil embossing.

Happy Advent!

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Top Tips

Lighten the Load – Travel Toiletries

Lighten the Load – Travel Toiletries and Make-up

Travelling light is not easy even for the most seasoned of travellers. Even the Lady’s Maid herself has been caught out at the airport with an extra charge for a heavy suitcase. One area where you can lighten the load of your belongings to avoid this happening is with your travel toiletries and make-up. These can really add to the weight of your suitcase, so if you want to free up space for that extra pair of shoes you might wear on holiday, take note of the Lady’s Maids top tips for toiletry packing.

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  • Pack miniatures not full-size bottles. Besides sun protection, the Lady’s Maid would recommend packing only miniatures of your essential daily toiletries. Full-size bottles of anything will seriously add to the weight of your suitcase. Boots and Superdrug have a much larger range of mini toiletries these days.  Department stores such as John Lewis also sell a good range of miniatures.
  • Many brands also do ready-made travel sets complete with zipped transparent bags, which are great as they are permitted in hand luggage. Only buy these if you’re actually going to use all of the products though, or remove the ones you won’t use – there’s no point in adding unnecessary weight to your bag.

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  • If you are loyal to a particular brand and can’t do without it, then decant a small amount into empty miniature bottles – you can purchase these in most chemists. Muji also sell a wide range of empty mini pumpable, squeezable and sprayable bottles.
  • Stream-line your skincare routine. Pack only the products you actually use on a daily basis. Most hotels will have a decent shower gel, if not more, so you could forgo your usual shower gel.
  • Pack full-size sun protection for face, body and hair and mosquito repellant. These are the only products that you’re likely to want to use a lot, so you won’t want to run out.

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  • Pack your toiletries in a transparent bag so that you can easily see what you have and if any items  are missing. These ones from M&S are great value.

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  • Be selective with make-up. If you are holidaying in a hot climate, you are probably not going to want to wear your usual make-up, especially in the day-time when your skin is exposed to the sun. The Lady’s Maid has only six items in her holiday make-up bag:
  • Bourjois CC cream
  • Lanolips tinted lip cream with SPF
  • Maybelline mascara
  • Chanel cream blush stick
  • MAC bright moisturising lipstick
  • Guerlain bronzer

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  • Use a make-up bag that makes it easy to locate items. The Lady’s Maid travels with a frame make-up bag from Cath Kidston. The sturdy metal frame keeps it open so that the contents are easy to find.

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Happy Holidays!

 

 

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Clothing Care, Style Secrets

White Wear

Inspired by the ‘all white wear’ rule that tennis players are obliged to adhere to at Wimbledon this week, The Lady’s Maid has picked out her favourite white pieces for summer. White is a very versatile colour to have in your wardrobe in summer and winter – from crisp white collared shirts to broderie anglaise summer tops. Like black, it’s a colour that never goes out of fashion and can be paired with almost any other colour. The only downside being that white shows up marks and stains more easily so The Lady’s Maid also recommends some products to care for your precious whites.

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Scalloped dress, £1,950, Valentino; White cotton cami, £29, Warehouse; white jade Cabochon Drop Hook Earrings, £99, Dyrberg/Kern at John Lewis; slingback loafers, £475, Tabitha Simmons; lace bomber jacket, £107, Ted Baker; lace dress, £140, Reiss; sunglasses, £16, Top Shop; cropped trousers, £145, Reiss; across body bag, £250, Coach; cutwork broiderie shorts, £26, Top Shop; white lace espadrille flats, £115, L K Bennett.

Top Tips for Washing Whites

  • Treat stained areas properly prior to washing – rinse stain in cold water first and then treat with an appropriate stain removal product eg. Vanish or Stain Devils.
  • Wash as hot as the garment label allows using a powder detergent rather than a gel or liquid (powder detergents contain brightening agents)
  • Keep your washing machine clean – run the machine on the hottest wash with a cup of white vinegar once a month.
  • White tops will suffer more than colours from perspiration stains – so wash more frequently than colours to prevent permanent yellowing.
  • Add a whitening powder to the wash for even brighter whites e.g. Vanish Gold Oxi-action for whites powder.

 

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Style Secrets

What to Wear…Wimbledon

Wimbledon – that most English of sporting occasions – is upon us again. In sporting terms, Wimbledon is one of the four “grand slams” – the most important tennis tournaments for professional players. But most players will admit that Wimbledon is the top tournament and the one which they dream of winning as a child. This has something to do with tradition, history, and style. Respecting these principles makes the English carry off their seasonal events so well – not changing for change sake, and upholding certain traditions that are important to the attraction of the event (although the Lady’s Maid did weep a little when the players’ pre-/post-match bow to the Royal Box ended. Admittedly, it did start to become more likely to see David Beckham in the Royal box than a minor royal, so it saves the embarrassment of tennis players mistakenly bowing to footballers). But other stylish traditions are still alive and well – white sportswear is still the only colour allowed to be worn by players, for example. So strict is the “all-white wear” rule that officials at the All England Club even enforce it for undergarments – heaven forbid that a coloured knicker ruffle should be flashed.

For on-lookers the dress code is thankfully more relaxed. For general ticket-holders there are no specific rules. It is advisable to wear loose-fitted clothes that are comfortable for sitting down all day – five-set matches can go on late into the evening. And a jacket or some form of cover-up if you are staying all day.

In the debentures area the dress code has been relaxed in recent years to allow denim, although ripped jeans and trainers are still banned.

In the members area the dress code for men is lounge suit or tailored jacket, shirt, trousers and dress shoes, so ladies would be expected to match this; e.g. smart day dresses, or smart two-piece outfits.

Here are some of the Lady’s Maid’s suggestions for Wimbledon Wear – let’s hope the sun is shining on Centre Court.

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Jumpsuit, £110, Whistles; red bag, £87, L K Bennett; shoes, £117, L K Bennett; Jacket, £185, Reiss

 

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Dress, £245, Whistles; shoes, £79, Mint Velvet; bag, £225, Michael Kors; jacket, £147, L K Bennett.

 

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Top, £145, L K Bennett; Trousers, £145, Reiss; shoes, £35, Top Shop; bag, £250, Coach.

 

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Style Secrets

Royal Ascot

The Lady’s Maid offers her advice on how to dress like a Royal at Royal Ascot this year.

In a fashion age where anything goes, the Lady’s Maid is relieved that there are still some occasions where one has to follow certain rules before getting dressed. Thankfully, Royal Ascot still adheres to strict dress codes for racegoers, at least within the Royal Enclosure. But from frequenting this most sartorial of race meetings herself, the Lady’s Maid has noticed how many young women do not know how to “dress up” for a day event. Often the dresses on display would be more suitable for a nightclub than broad daylight. There is a time and a place for body-con satin and open-toe stilettos, and it isn’t amongst horses.

On consulting the Royal Ascot website you will see the dress code that should be followed:

The dress code for the Royal Enclosure is basically “formal daywear”, which is defined as:

  • Skirt/dress to be knee-length or longer
  • Straps on dresses should be at least one inch
  • Trouser suits are allowed, but they should be of matching colour and material
  • Hats should be worn. Head pieces are acceptable as long as the base is 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter

What NOT to wear:

  • Dresses of the strapless, spaghetti strap, halterneck, or off-the-shoulder variety
  • Fascinators

The strictest code is for the Royal Enclosure, which is relaxed a little for the other enclosures; e.g. strappy dresses and fascinators are permitted elsewhere.

So, with this dress code in mind, the Lady’s Maid offers some tips and looks on what to wear for Ascot this year.

Top Tips for formal daywear dressing.

  • Stick to two colours – one for the outfit and hat and one for accessories.
  • Neutral accessories are great for formal dressing – nude/tan/black will go with many colour choices.
  • Avoid bright colours unless you accessorise neutrally – there is a reason the Royals are mainly seen in all shades of neutral – it may seem boring, but it is hard not to look elegant in oyster or champagne.
  • Avoid flimsy fascinators – The Lady’s Maid would rather see a hatless head than a few feathers stuck on to an Alice band – they add nothing to the style of an outfit.
  • If you have chosen a statement/flamboyant hat let the hat speak for itself and stick to a simple/unfussy dress and accessories.

 

 

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Hat, Rosie Oliver Millinery; Dress, L K Bennett; Shoes, L K Bennett, Bag, Dune.

 

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Hat, Peter Whiteley; Dress, L K Bennett, Bag, Dune; Shoes, Dune

 

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Hat, Rachel Trevor Morgan; Dress, Reiss; Bag, L K Bennett; Shoes, L K Bennett.

 

 

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