Define you before you start shopping..and winter coat inspiration
I have thought long and hard about what to base this first private membership blog subject on (feels like you have all come to my party and I am ‘the entertainment’….. “Go on – say something funny / interesting / ground-breaking”!! Oh the pressure!) So in the interests of being authentic and able to sustain content that I can actually produce (!) I’m going to write from the heart on what I feel, in my professional experience and opinion, is what I am asked about and what I know helps my clients, the most.
So- at the beginning of the new season and before I start you off on some shopping pointers, I am going to do a “sensible but logical” pre-amble rather then dive straight into “jazz hands inspiration”. I don’t see my role as a constant source of “new”…its not what I do when I work with my clients so I’m not about to produce blog after blog solely based on buying inspiration now. What I do has a different angle; it’s about making you stop, reflect on who you are, think about what you want to be, clarify where you are going, make decisions and plan accordingly. If you have a wardrobe stuffed full of clothes I would hope my advice will give you just as much inspiration to know what to do with those items as it does to help you with new purchases.
Responsible fashion and sustainability are big buzz words at the moment…but I have been advising in this way for the past 15 years. In my opinion and experience, dressing well is not all about having the latest dress or the most eye catching bag. It’s about knowing what suits you and dressing to convey the qualities you want to be known for. And that’s where I am going to start today.
1. Define your brand values.
Whether you work or not- we all have an opinion on how we would like the world to view us. A company defines its brand values so that every decision it makes from its literature, to the logo, to the customer experience, to the social media content – is aligned so that their “message” will be clear and consistent to their target audience. It also makes it easier to make directional decisions as they can ask themselves “is this in line with our values?”
It is the same with your personal brand values; decide three words which describe how you would like someone else to describe you. For example: creative, elegant yet individual or timeless, classic with Scandinavian elements. Once you know these- every buying decision you make will be quicker and easier as you “check in” with yourself to make sure that the item you want to buy is actually in line with what you want to look like. It will stop you buying things that you love in the shop but then are slightly less confident of once you get home…as you realise you just don’t feel right in it.
2. Define what you would like to be wearing.
Do your due diligence before you start shopping and get onto Pinterest to start pinning all the styling ideas you like the look of. Then go to on to the websites of brands you know work for you and pin all the items you like the look of. Make sure you are only pinning things you KNOW work for you- no point lusting after things that won’t love you back!
Once you have done this, check in your wardrobe (and try things on) for items that will allow you to make up part or all of the styling ideas you like and start to compile a list of what you might need to buy in. Add items that need replacing too as well as items that will make lots of other things in your wardrobe work better. For example, you might have a pair of trousers or a skirt or a dress that you rarely wear as you don’t have the right shoes. But you then realise that if you got a pair of long brown boots you could wear them with each of those items and therefore get more wear out of what you already have.
3. Define your budget
Think about the items on your list and put a star next to the ones you are going to “invest” in as you know you are going to get so much wear out of them and can wear them to lots of occasions within your lifestyle, and put a dot next to the items which you could define as “budget” which you might wear once or twice. The “invest” items will be pieces like your winter coat or a pair of boots or a cashmere jumper so decide how much you can afford to spend on those and try to find the budget items second hand or at a sample sale.
4. Define a time to focus on this
It is much easier to get a successful outcome on filling your wardrobe gaps if you define a time to do it and just get your head down and do it! Work out what you can get easily online (white shirt is easier to find then “party dress”) and what you might need to go and look at live. Then set aside 3 to 4 hours, dress in comfortable clothes and stop regularly for breaks and stay focussed on the list. Once that’s fulfilled- then, budget allowing, you can go “off piste”!! Think of it like the weekly supermarket shop- once you have got all the ingredients you need you can be distracted by the bog-offs and offers of things you don’t need, but might be useful anyway.
Now that I have helped you put the breaks on – I thought it might be helpful to give you a few direction pointers on one of the “big ticket” items for the season -your winter coat purchases:
WINTER COAT INSPIRATION
Boden: Mitford Coat– Always a great place to find a good quality coat- either classic or statement in style. I like this cut as it would work for every shape (depending on how full your bust is). I like the colour details at the waist because even if you don’ have a defined waist- this colour change will give the impression of one. If you worry about the pockets on the top of the hips- just tuck them in on themselves so they are less obvious. Make sure the buttons on the front do up so the fabric lies flat!
Reiss: Lara Monochrome– Amazing tailoring and quality and in a key trend for this season- check. The simple single breasted style works for everyone no matter what your shape. If you have a fuller bust go for a fabric with more flex to it. If you like Reiss tailoring, I always advise clients to go to their outlet stores before you buy full price as their styles don’t change that much year on year; so if you don’t mind wearing last year’s stock- you will save yourself a lot of money.
Baukjen: Everyday biker: If you have followed me for a while you will have seen/heard me go on about the quality of these jackets. They are amazing. Lightweight, butter-soft leather which isn’t too bulky so great if you are slightly more top heavy. Great for autumn/spring/summer and with a thicker jumper or hoodie underneath for winter. Use my code: Kate20aw to get 20% off any full priced styles which really gets you a good discount if you want to buy any of their investment pieces.
All Saints: Estella– if you want a thicker, chunkier leather jacket the best ones I have found are at All Saints. However- like Reiss – they don’t change their styles much year on year- so best to try to get one in an outlet store as they are just as good as currant stock. I got mine from All Saints in Bicester Village and I LOVE it …a bargain at £150. Size down as they do stretch and always make sure you can do it up properly – even if you don’t wear it done up- this will ensure it will sit right on you.
Hobbs: Saskia Trench– nothing ground breaking but SO useful. Hobbs make good quality ones and they are great for work as the cut of them allows room for a suit underneath. If you don’t have a defined waist tie the belt at the back rather then the front so it gives the impression of a bit of shape instead. Careful of the size of the lapels- if you are small in scale you don’t want these to swamp you!
If you have a full bust and you want to wear a trench, my advice would be to get one where the buttons are the same colour as the coat as then they will blend more and be less obvious. This one is from Gap (Puff Sleeve Trench) and I love the puff at the shoulders- great for if you are bottom heavy to give you some width here.
If you are very curvy you will want to try a slightly more flexible type of trench…so it doesn’t feel too boxy on you. H&M do a great “duster style” version this season in a light beige, khaki green and a soft purple- so covering all colour bases!
I hope that gives you some good pointers to get you started…and keep those personal brand values in mind when making your decision- they will really help to steer you in the direction you want to go in!
The rest of the content included in your membership is in the October Newsletter- so look out for that.
If you want any further help and advice from me- you might find one of my webinars useful. They cover all the main challenges people face when choosing clothes (such as full bust / being top heavy or bottom heavy / being petite etc), and I give so much advice, help and direction in these presentations. Your membership includes a discount on three of them- so do take a look and you can read what other people who have watched them have said about them.
If you have any questions about my services- do get in touch.