Coffee with a top personal Stylist:
Coffee with a top personal Stylist:
I sat down with the lovely Niki over coffee in the cafe Same Same But Different in Bath to talk Vintage, The importance of good undies and Black Tie Events.
1. I’m sure you constantly hear the age old saying of “I have nothing to wear!”. What’s your advice on getting the most out of your wardrobe?
This is such a good question! There are loads of stats floating around stating that most women only wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time and the average women spends £13000 on unworn items of clothing in her lifetime and I’m sorry to say, this is so true! Most women have plenty of clothes but for a variety of reasons they claim that they have nothing to wear. I know for a fact that there will be a whole host of outfits in their wardrobe that work but they’ve never been considered before. We’re creatures of habit and this applies to shopping and styling too. How often do you get drawn to the same style of clothing when you’re shopping, or pull the same outfit from the wardrobe again and again?
To get the most out of your wardrobe you need to put some time aside to honestly asses what’s in there. Remove the items that no longer fit you so that you’re left only with items that do. Be creative and try pulling together some outfits you’ve never worn before. As you do this, you’ll be able to see what you’ve got, and what’s missing. Gradually add the missing key items to your wardrobe and you’ll start to develop a hard working capsule wardrobe that mixes and matches effortlessly for all occasions. You’ll be spoilt for choice and will never again utter the words ‘I’ve got nothing to wear’.
2. I’m sure plenty of women out there are receiving invitations to “Black Tie” events this summer. What’s your advice on doing “Black Tie” in a wearable and modern way?
Black tie events are a surprisingly difficult event to dress for. Often the invites are quite vague about the dress code which leaves many women breaking out in a sweat just at the thought of finding something to wear. My advice is to play it safe and don’t be tempted to try something too far out of your comfort zone. I don’t mean it needs to be boring; I simply mean to go for a fabulously fitting, classic little black dress that suits your shape and style. I know it’s called black tie, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with black, colours work too and with block colour being a huge trend at the moment, this is the season to go for it. Once
you’ve got the dress sorted you can style it up and update it with some clever accessorising. This season a statement necklace and oversized clutch will bring out the fashionista in you.
For those of you who like to be a bit different, a jumpsuit’s a great choice. There is a huge selection of shapes and styles to choose from at the moment – there’s something for everyone! Wear with a pair of oversized earrings and a belt to emphasise your waist. Add a pair of chunky heels and heads will turn.
3. When doing weddings, time and time again I see panic stricken MOB’s (mother of the bride) terrified about what to wear and sometimes panic can end in disastrous results. What advice can you give Mothers to avoid this mistake?
You’re right; I don’t think I’ve ever come across a MOB who’s been calm about finding that all important outfit. Mothers put so much pressure on themselves to get it right, that what should be an exciting time invariably becomes incredibly stressful. There are a few things that can be put in place to ease this. Firstly, communicate. Talk to the bride to be and find out if there’s a theme; you really don’t want to clash with the rest of the bridal party. If it’s the other extreme, and your daughter is insistent that you wear a particular colour that does nothing for you, then sit down with her and try and come to a compromise. Suggest that a more neutral shade accessorised in the desired colour will be just as effective.
Next it’s a good idea to find out what the MOG (mother of the groom) is planning to wear. It would be disastrous if you both turned up in the same outfit. I’ve actually had to help a very distressed MOB who’d bought her perfect outfit, only to be told by her daughter that her fiancés mum was wearing something very similar. It was unnecessary stress that could easily have been avoided.
Choose something you’ll feel comfortable in. If you don’t normally wear dresses then don’t spend hundreds of pounds on an outfit that you’re probably never going to wear again. Consider separates instead. These can easily be split up after the big day and slotted into your wardrobe to mix and match with your other items.
Above all, embrace your curves and be true to yourself. Make sure you choose an outfit that suits your shape and personality and style. If you don’t normally do ‘matchy matchy’ then this is not the time to start. Going for something that’s really different from what you normally wear, will only make you look and feel uncomfortable.
4. I dread buying Jeans; can you recommend some brands that have nailed the denim market for different shapes and leg lengths?
Jeans are the one thing that everyone struggles to get right. The choice is immense which probably only makes things harder – where do you start? The only way you’ll begin to understand what shapes work and why, is if you invest the time in trying on a selection of different styles. It will probably take a while and will definitely require some patience, but investing this time now, will save you time in the future.
There are certain brands that I recommend trying; one’s that I go back to again and again with my clients. For high-street brands I recommend Topshop and Oasis. Topshop have a great selection of styles for both petite and tall ladies and they do a fab selection of coloured denim. Oasis’s denim range is great too. Their ‘Scarlet’ style is literally magic! They tend to relax a lot, so buy the smallest size you can get into, and if you require a particular leg length, Oasis jeans come in short, regular and long.
House of Fraser stock a brand called Salsa, which it’s just fantastic and definitely worth trying if you’ve got gorgeous curves.
While the high-street offers a good selection, if jeans are something you wear day in, day out then I think its well worth investing a little more in your jeans. You really do get what you pay for and will not only find a pair that wear well, but that make you look and feel amazing. Luxury denim boutique Mimi Noor in Bath kitted me out in my absolute favourite pair of jeans, a pair of cigarette leg jeans by J Brand, I don’t know where I’d be without them! The fit is second to none, and they don’t lose their shape which is a common problem with jeans.
Not Your Daughters Jeans are a good choice for someone who struggles to find jeans to fit their curves. They’re available in John Lewis and Mimi Noor. They have a lot of stretch in them and, as they claim, they really do make you look like you’ve dropped a dress size. Some of the paler shades can look a little ‘old’, but if you go for one of the darker shades they look far more contemporary.
5. Buying on a budget. Obviously we would all love to have a wardrobe laden with Labels, but when it’s not possible to splurge what’s your advice on looking like you have without the price tag?
It’s really important to realise that looking good doesn’t need to cost a fortune. In fact, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at something, if it fit’s badly, it’ll look cheap! Buying items that fit you well will make you look like you’ve splurged when you haven’t. My other advice is to look after your clothes, no matter how cheap. Washing them carefully and hanging them correctly will help them to last longer and in some small way, gives them value. To make sure you get the most out of your money and wardrobe, set yourself a reasonable budget and make a list of the items you think you need. It’s worth putting a large part of your budget towards the staple pieces on the list, the items you’re going to wear most of the time. Gradually build up a collection of key items each season and you’ll find you end up with a hard working wardrobe that can easily be updated every season with less expensive, on-trend items.
6. Vintage. I personally love vintage shops and go in with the best intentions but generally come out with nothing. Is there a certain shape suited to vintage or can anyone do it? If so, what’s your advice?
I love rummaging in vintage shops too! The possibility that I might find something fabulous and unique is too much to pass up. There probably are certain shapes that suit vintage clothing better than others but it all depends on what era the clothing is from. For example 50’s clothing suits a curvy shape better than a boyish frame - 20’s styles will probably suit these better. My advice would be don’t go in looking for a particular item as you’ll probably walk away empty handed. Instead, go with an open mind and a little imagination. Have a real rummage and don’t expect the fit to be perfect, women’s figures have changed over the decades. If something doesn’t fit quite right it doesn’t matter, it can probably be altered to fit with very little effort. It might only be a question of shortening the length, or lifting the straps for the perfect fit. If you want to dabble in a bit of vintage style but aren’t sure where to begin, then accessories are a good place to start. A quirky vintage necklace is a great way to create your own style.
7. Who’s celebrity style do you really admire and why?
This is a hard question as there’s not really any one person that inspires me. I have my favourites...a mix of past and present. Marilyn Monroe celebrated her fabulous curves and always looked gorgeous. Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn, knew exactly what to wear to suit their shape and always looked effortlessly stylish, elegant and graceful, which is not easy to do! I admire Courtney Love’s punk rock attitude, it’s is awesome, she exudes everything rock and roll and Mischa Barton - a fellow pear shape - always incorporates rock chic edginess into own quirky style. I also admire the Olsen Twins who always push the boundaries, they ooze fashion and style in the most casual-chic way and I really admire a style that’s not a slave to fashion and has personality.
9. With make-up I always tell my clients you should wear what suites you and not necessarily follow trends that will result in looking updated and modern anyway. How does it work with styling?
This is exactly the same with my styling. I always stress that the most important thing is to wear what suits you and not to get caught up in following the trends - I do think that it’s important to stay contemporary but as Christian Dior put it, ‘fashion fades, style is eternal’., so be aware of the trends and consider using accessories to update your style. It’s far more interesting to develop your own style than it is to be a slave to fashion. Besides, it’s an expensive hobby!
10. Describe your personal style and why it works for you…
I like to think of my wardrobe as my dressing up cupboard. I dress to suit my mood and enjoy having a real mixture in my wardrobe to play around with. Accessories are the most important part of my wardrobe as they enable me to change the look of an outfit effortlessly.
I’m not too bothered about being in fashion and would rather be considered stylish than fashionable. My style swings between girly-grunge and rock chick sass. My love of rock music has a big influence on my style, and my job as a Personal Stylist means I’m constantly styling other people and always have a stack of fashion mags on the go, so this also obviously influences my own style.
My style is quite eclectic it swings between girly-grunge and rock chick sass and I can’t get enough leopard print! I love rummaging around in vintage shops and local boutiques, collecting unique pieces to add to my wardrobe.
11. I love underwear but I do notice that no matter how pretty the wrong underwear can really work against you. What key pieces should women have in their delicates drawer to maximise their outfits?
If you’d have asked me this about a month ago I’d have probably said they’re best avoided, but I was asked but Folio magazine to write a column on how to wear jumpsuits so I took up the challenge and went in search for one to suit me. To be honest, I’ve always fancied giving them a go, but I never really thought they’d suit my pear shape or that I’d be able to pull the look off. The choice out there is immense; I’d say there is pretty much a style to suit everyone. They’re comfortable to wear and versatile. I team mine with gladiator flats and a head scarf and dress it up for evening with chunky heels and statement earrings.