A fashion and style blog for the over 40s covering body shapes, colour palettes, how to wear neutrals, style personality and capsule wardrobes. Come on in!

10.30.2013

Desert Island Demands

What are your 5 most treasured items that you couldn't live without? I'm talking about items you would scream and spit out your dummy if they were lost or broken.
If you had to, what would you take to a desert island (family,friends, pets excluded)?

Here are mine in no particular order (they're all equally important) and looking surprisingly much smarter than in real life - believe me, they are very well-worn items.


1. Babyliss Big Hair Styler

I've had this for years - it was a recommendation from the mother-in-law who was sporting a very sleek blow dry and I knew I had to buy one. I keep expecting it to conk out but it's still going strong.

This one appears to be the latest version (it seems to have slightly different bristles natural boar/nylon mix as oppose to mine which I believe is all nylon). I had a quick look on the web and the original is surprisingly still available at several outlets at the same price, £45 as the one below. I'd be tempted to buy the latest one as there may have been improvements made to the mechanism which we're not aware of.

Babyliss Big Hair Styler


It took a little getting use to at first and I had a few tangle-scares - if you're not careful you end up with a mini dreadlock but boy the results are brilliant. A quick blast with the hair dryer until my hair is virtually dry and then no more than 5 minutes with the Big Hair Styler and that's it. Smooth and bouncy. Eat your heart out GHDs.

2. Bravura Dermaflannel

I'm still not sure how this works. Basically it's a waffle face cloth that you can use on your face and body. It feels as if it's doing sod all but your skin is lovely and smooth afterwards. It's far kinder than a lotion exfoliator. I prefer to use mine in the morning (about 3 times a week). You do need to make sure you moisturise well afterwards but boy does foundation glide on smoothly. I'd use it every day but I'm scared of rubbing my face away.

Bravura Dermaflannel


At £11.99, I would say it's damn good value. Mine is about 3 months old now and is ready for changing (nb. it has been washed in the washing machine many times - I'm not a complete skank). I would spend much more than that on an exfoliator!


3. Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay In Place Foundation

I have pretty crappy skin - well I think so anyway so I ALWAYS wear foundation. To be honest I can't say I've found the 'one' yet but this foundation is the closest to utopia. The coverage is brilliant - excellent for covering pimples and 'filling in' crevices. And it does what it says on the tin, it's still there 12 hours later so that can't be all bad can it! And at £28.50 (plus all the free samples I can bag from the E.L. counter) I think that's pretty good.

I also have a great colour match - I tend to go ever so slightly lighter than my skin tone and then use bronzer for colour. Well it works for me and looks less caked on. I'm not sure why I wouldn't give it 10/10 maybe 9 1/2. I doubt my ideal foundation exists and believe me I've tried them all. Any suggestions welcome though.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay In Place Foundation



4. Tangle Teezer

Are these like Monopoly boards or what? One in every household? Oh how I wish I was Mr Tangle Teezer, he must have made a fortune. How did we cope pre T-T? T'would have saved a lot of tears in t'olden days. Again, I don't actually know how it works, nor do most people on the web it seems but I love mine - it's brilliant. I'm a bit miffed that I seem to be sharing it with the 12 year old son who gunks his hair to the nth degree with American Crew Paste (urgh). Might be time to invest in a new one and at prices ranging from £8 upwards well there's no reason to delay.

So to match all my leopard print purchases this season, I'm thinking this one and it comes with a cover...

Leopard Print Tangle Teezer


But then this very city chic looking one appeals to me too...

Tangle Teezer Beloved


Oh for godsake woman it's just a Tangle Teezer, but these things matter!

5. Colour Me Beautiful Teal Eyeliner

I need something on my eyes whether it be mascara or liner. I figure that liner has more impact as it 'fills in' the eye line. I wear teal (bluey-green) and no I haven't lost the plot nor am I a throw back from the 80s - well I don't think I am. I fall into the soft palette and find black is too strong. It kind of takes over my face instead of complementing it. I do wear charcoal grey sometimes but the teal really does go well with my eyes and from a distance you don't even see the colour.The CMB eyeliners at £7.50 are actually very good. Lovely and soft and they do have great staying power. That said, I was looking at Beauty & The Biryani blog earlier and am really interested in trying the Daniel Sandler eyeliner in the grey velvet. So the CMB one may well be turfed out of my top 5 - watch this space.

Colour Me Beautiful Teal Eyeliner



So that's it, my top 5 can't do withouts. Totally impractical for a desert island but hey they make me happy. What would you take with you?

Finally, I'm not a good blogger! I keep forgetting to take photos. Actually I hate having my photo taken. So, on a windy afternoon earlier, I remembered in all my dog walking finery and got Mr Sludge to take a couple of snaps. I promise to try harder in future.


p.s our chocolate Labrador, Bo is a soft palette just like me. He's not as dark as normal chocs and goes even lighter in the summer

p.p.s. those wellies are not mine - they are my daughter's. Just a little too Paddington Bear like for me but I'm having wellie-woes at the moment as mine are leaking. That's another story.

Until next time

Donna x

10.26.2013

I am a sloth


There I've said it! Actually that's not strictly true. Every day I get up, shower, dress, put on full slap, do my hair and put together what I consider a half decent outfit. But come 7pm, well that's a different matter. It all comes off to be replaced by a bare face, hair scraped back, mismatching pjs and my well worn trusty old M&S dressing gown - it owes me nothing but has definitely seen better days. It's not a good look I can assure you. God forbid anyone knocking on the door.

In my head, I want to be Cameron Diaz in The Holiday wrapped up in the most delectably soft cashmere. In reality I look more like Vicky Pollard.

I have a very glamorous auntie who lived in Florida for many years and use to wear the most beautiful silk lounging pyjamas. This appeals to me but the look will be completely lost - I need warmth and I don't think a towelling dressing gown really works.

But enough! I am determined to sort this out once and for all. I'm in the market for some stylish but cosy night time wear. Here are my top picks....

Starting with Next, not strictly pyjama wear but I'm not sure that I'm actually looking for pjs. I love this slouchy look. The joggers appeal as although elasticated at the waist, there isn't too much bulky material. The shape is also a bit of a nod to the harem which I'm loving at the moment. The mock chiffon under top is a nice touch, again the slouch appeals to my inner sloth. Shame nearly all the heather ones have sold out. Next say purple, I say heather! Seems to be a good supply of charcoal still left.

Next Top & Bottoms

Staying with Next, this little combo really does appeal. I like the idea of whipping off the jacket and you have something that looks pretty comfortable to sleep in.

Next cami, bottoms and jacket


This cardigown (great name) from Hush does what it says on the tin. Snuggly for watching tv but no one would drop dead if you popped to the local shop for a pint of milk. Shame it only comes in one colour though.



Another cardigown, this time from Figleaves. This has Cameron Diaz written all over it. Think I'm in love


Figleaves cardigown

I would size up in this Figleaves top to give a slouchier feel and would pair with a darker bottoms to look less like pyjamas

Figleaves top

Again all Figleaves. How gorgeous is this. Love it all. It's part of the Seven Easy Pieces collection by DKNY and actually a reasonable price

DKNY at Figleaves

This pj set seems an excellent price at £12 for both from Tu at Sainsburys. Definitely more the sleepwear category than loungewear but add a 'cardigown' and I think it would work. I'd be interested to know how long the bottoms are - there's nothing worse than loose fit trousers flapping around the ankles

Sainsburys pyjamas

And we come to the queen of all that's loungewear, The White Company. I adore this little cashmere number but at £275 it ain't happening just for watching t.v. in. But, how utterly gorgeous it is. I could actually spit my dummy out and stamp my feet to get it

The White Company cashmere waterfall cardigan

And this top at a more reasonable £45

The White Company cuff sleeve top

And bottoms to go with the top, again a good price at £45 that will last ages

The White Company loungewear trousers

So there we have it, not a onesie in sight (perish the thought). What do you think? Is loungewear the way to go or should I stick with my worn out pjs?

10.24.2013

Kapow, Colour is Magic!

You know when something hits you, KAPOW straight between the eyes, well....

Walking passed Karen Millen about 10 years ago, I saw the most utterly gorgeous black buttery leather jacket which I just had to have - like now! So, I dragged the reluctant other half in to try it on - he has a wallet so was needed. Sod's law, they didn't have my size but the kind sales assistant said that their delivery had just arrived and she would pop downstairs to have a look. Excellent, and in the meantime, I tried on the tan coloured one. It was delicious! The cut was exquisite, the leather beautiful and the colour very uplifting. Oh I couldn't wait to get my hands on that black one. Five minutes later, it was mine. But oh the disappointment! After trying on the tan, the black didn't do anything for me. In fact it seemed to cast shadows on my face and let's not even talk about the bags under the eyes. Wow! There's something in this colour malarke.y I remember thinking.

Indeed there is! Did you know that colour is magic? Get it right and it's your best friend, your complexion looks clearer and more vibrant. Get it wrong and well, you really don't want to know.

Let's get a bit scientific....

Alfred Munsell, an artist, devised a colour system over 100 years ago which goes someway to understanding colour.

In a nutshell, he identified that every colour adopts 3 properties:

1. An undertone - how warm or cool the colour is (remember, warm colours have lots of yellow in them, cool colours are more blue based)

2. Depth - how deep or light a colour is (eg. Black is deep, white is light)

3. Clarity - how clear and vibrant or soft and muted a colour is (a shiny scarlet is very clear, a sludgy brown wool (urgh) is soft and muted)

We are all made up of colour! Kylie Minogue is a colour, Oprah Winfrey is a colour, the Queen is a colour. All very different but each will adopt adopt a characteristic from each of the categories 1, 2 and 3 above. So we'll all have an undertone, a depth and clarity.  But one category will be the most dominant one. For example the Queen has a strong vibrant look with her grey hair so is a Cool but she will also take on characteristics from 2 and 3.

NO NO QUEEN, THIS IS ALL WRONG, WE'VE LOST THOSE STRIKING STRONG LOOKS, IF IT WASN'T FOR THE MAKE-UP WELL.....



NOW, THAT'S MORE LIKE IT, A MUCH STRONGER LOOK IN COOL COLOURS




Gosh we're getting heavy.

I am not even going to attempt to diagnose each and every reader suffice to say that Christmas is coming and Colour Consultants such as Colour Me Beautiful do excellent gift vouchers.

I do however believe that we should understand our own undertone. Wearing warm colours when you have a cool skin tone is cack to say the least. Look at this girl, gorgeous dress, gorgeous hair but gee I want to wrap an orange scarf around her neck. She looks so flat.



I love the dress, just not on her. It's from Great Plains (this season).

But oh, how different does she look here. Her hair seems more vibrant and the strength and warmth of the oranges balances her own rich look and compliments her skintone. Again, from Great Plains (love the blouse)



If you've identified yourself as a warm or cool from my previous post you can be exempt from the next bit. However if you fall into the deep, light, clear or soft palettes, a reminder here, then let's try to work out your undertone - it really does make a difference.

Ok, have you ever bought paint from one of the Dulux mixing stations? Have you seen some of the colours that go in to the base colour. These make the resultant colour either warm or cool (or maybe neutral). Take a pastel pink. Lots of white, a glug of red and a smidgen of blue. Ha-ah a cool colour as they've added blue - correct. Put pastel pink on someone with a warm skin tone and it just doesn't work.

So, how can you work out your skin undertone. Drag a mirror to a window - you need to do this in natural light if you can. Choose a selection of colours from your wardrobe (actually anyone's wardrobe will do, husband, son, daughter - we're not interested in what it looks like on, we're interested in what the colour does to your face). Hold the garments up in front of you and concentrate on your face. What's happening? Is it draining you? Is it casting horrible shadows? It might be making you look a little blue? Chuck that in the not great pile. Now do it again with a different item. What do you see? Does it seem to be uplifting? Does your skin seem to be fresher. That's for the good pile. When you've done this several times, have a look at your pile. Are they warm based colours or cool based? And there lies your answer.

Want to know a secret....

Some colours are very neutral neither warm nor cool so everyone can wear them.

Charcoal grey and navy for example. So if I lost you midway, just buy a navy dress this season!! You can't go wrong.

Until next time.

Donna
10.20.2013

Michael Kors and Matalan



Michael Kors and Matalan....bet you didn't think you would hear that in the same sentence!

I'm thinking a lighter post is definitely needed before we launch into the science of colour master class (coming next week). Say hello to the strappy leopard print sandal.


I happen to chance upon these little beauties whilst surfing the web the other day. I was actually looking for a cheaper version of the Michael Kors Asbury Leopard Print ankle boots which I saw last week in the flesh and couldn't shake off the feeling that I really need them in my life, and these appeared!

As I missed out on the neon Zara sandals in the summer (I've kicked myself every day since) I had them in my shopping bag and checked out before you could say say biscuit to a Labrador.

An absolute steal at £15.00 from Matalan. I am so over spending huge amounts of money on shoes (a caveat: this statement does not apply to boots) when this happens.....


Breaks my heart it does. Yes I'm talking to you Mr Louboutin although a kindly assistant in Selfridges informs me that they can send them away to be painted (shock horror) or resoled with a thicker 'red' one (not sure which is the lesser of the two evils).

I digress.

In my hurry to bag a bargain, I hadn't even read the blurb about the sandals so imagine my delight when they arrived and I discovered the front strap is actually pony skin, well faux pony skin but hey what do you want for £15.

The heel is higher than I thought from the photo. Yes it does say 4 inch in the blurb, I see that now. Not having the built in platform that we have been use to over the last couple of years, 4 inch actually means a full 4 inch tilt of the foot. I'm not planning any hill walking so I think I can cope. The ankle strap is soft and delicate looking and the high heel back gives it an expensive look. I'm really rather pleased.


I can see me getting lots of wear out of them. I'm thinking black skinnies, cigarette pants, leather-look jeans (if I can ever find any to fit) and in the summer, my yellow chinos rolled up.


(Veiny feet optional)

A style tip for ladies who may be vertically challenged or short legged; ankle straps break up the line of the leg so they can appear shorter. Try an open fronted court shoe instead. That said if you plan on wearing them with trousers, throw caution to the wind and get the sandals - I mean you're not really going to see the straps are you and they really are rather elegant at the front.

And the Michael Kors Asburys? I'm thinking yes it has to be these. An imitation just won't do. The pony skin is gorgeous, very strokeable. The pattern is more understated than in the photo and the heel a very respectable 3 inches. Well done Mr Kors, a perfect ankle boot.


My dilemma now is do I buy this month and try to sneak them under the super sleuth of a nose of my husband or wait until next month when I can legitimately have them for my birthday? Note to husband, size 6 Daniel Footwear, Alderley Edge (he has an annual date with the girls there).

Until next time

Donna x



10.16.2013

Colour Rules - Break or Follow, You Decide!

(Warning....this is a long post)!

So last time I talked about the different palettes of colour and how you can identify your own.

A recap:


Do you know how difficult it is to find celebrities that haven’t ‘moved’ themselves into another palette by changing their hair colour, wearing coloured contacts etc. etc.!! I’d really like to have a good look at them all without an iota of make-up, in natural daylight for a proper assessments but that’s not going to happen is it! So you’re going to have to trust me on this one.

Ok so, we need to talk rules (oh err not my strong point)...

First of all, I’ll let you into a little secret. It’s all about tricking the eye of the beholder. Your best look is when you are balanced and harmonised (oh dear we're getting all spiritual again). Actually no, what I mean is whatever you’ve got going on up top (hair, skin tone, eye colour), you need to replicate below the neckline. That said, I don’t give a monkey’s what you wear waist down, feel free to go wild!

Lights

Your look is light and delicate therefore to balance this, you need to wear light shades. Darker shades such as aubergine will overwhelm you and cast shadows underneath the chin (not a good look believe me).


Try a light grey, cocoa, mint, pastel pink

You can wear 2 light colours together, a light and a deep colour together but never 2 deep colours (blah). Unfortunately, Lights can suffer in winter as of course shops only sell black don’t they! So make sure you splurge in the summer.


Deeps

Your look is much more dramatic and strong with your dark hair and eyes. So it goes without saying that your best look is dark and dramatic also. Wearing a light apricot will wash you out and work colleagues will send you home thinking you’re ill. Come to think of it, yes buy a light apricot top - you just never know when you might fancy a sick day (joke).


Try black (of course), damson, scarlet, emerald green.

You can wear 2 deep colours together, a deep and a light colour together but never 2 light colours together.


Warms

Your look is warm and golden and so to balance this, all the colours you wear should have a yellowy undertone. This means that the colours you choose should have yellow in them. Neutral colours such as grey or blue will look pretty flat without an injection of warmth (flat is not a good look).


Try olive, terracotta, aqua, lime. That olive hasn't come out very well on the photo has it but I think you can get the gist.

So, warm based colours of medium strength (not too light and not too dark) are you best looks.


Cools

Your look is cool and strong. To balance this, you need to wear cool and blue-based colours which are strong also. Colours with lots of blue in them work so well. Pinky colours too. Stay away from warm colours, they won’t do anything for you at all.


Try hot pink (oooh I say), sapphire, bluey-green, charcoal. Yes, yes I know you have to add yellow to blue to make green but if you look closely it's very blue toned (unlike say sage green that has lots of yellow in). It's complicated, I know.

Your best look is when you wear your cool colours in contrast (black and white is the biggest contrast) as oppose to layering up a tonal look


Clears

Your look is strong and clear so you need to wear colours that reflect this and make your eyes ‘pop’. You have lots of contrast between your hair and eye colour. Strong, bright colours are perfect for you. Sludgy colours will look, well, like sludge on you!


Try scarlet, bright white, emerald green, bright blue. Two things to note here: firstly the second colour is bright white in real life - Autumn light is not the greatest for taking photos and secondly I really didn't set out to make you look like a flag - it's just the way I've lined the colours up.

Strong colours worn in contrast (eg. black with bright blue or white with scarlet) is your perfect look and not to be saved for best!


Softs

And so we come to the softs, ahh yes good old softs. Your look is very blended right? Eyes, skin tone and hair colour - none stands out as a dominant feature. So to balance this, you need to wear colours that aren’t too strong. We’re talking muted and soft. If you wear a bright scarlet top, we see your top coming before we register it’s you - the top takes over if you get what I mean.


Try charcoal blue, taupe, jade, claret.

Your best look is when you wear soft, muted colours layered up so there is little contrast (stone and nude for instance)


Well ladies, hope you’re not too exhausted after all that. Remember this is just one belief (to which I subscribe). I sometimes look at celebrities and can’t work out why they look ravishing when it goes against all the rules. I put it down to them being beautiful and having good make-up artists and stylists (I have none of these).

If I’ve wetted your appetite for colour and you would like to learn more, there are some good books around. Colour Me Beautiful has produced some nice books over the years. Unfortunately fashion changes so quickly that some of the imagery is a bit dated but they are excellent for illustrating the palette colours.

N.b. I don’t work for Colour Me Beautiful but I did train with them so if I recommend their products it’s because I’m familiar with them.


And if you're wondering what I'm like, this is me.....in my full soft regalia. No rules broken today. And yes I know my roots need doing.


Until next time (a bit of colour science I'm thinking)

Donna x
10.12.2013

Oh No Not Another Fashion Blog


Having followed far too many excellent fashion blogs for more time than I care to mention (and enjoyed every single stolen minute of my guilty pleasure) I've noticed that very few savvy style bloggers talk about colour and the effect it has on you. No I'm not getting all spiritual and deep, I'm talking about how colour can actually be ageing if you get it wrong or indeed if you get it right, make you look younger. Yes I said younger! Now that's got your attention......


I trained as a colour and image consultant some years ago and followed 'the rules' to the nth degree. As if my life depended on it. No room for negotiation, nope. And for 3 years I was as bloody miserable as sin. Ha, bet you didn't see that coming did you. Don't get me wrong, I do believe that wearing the right colours can actually make you look fresh and more vibrant but denying yourself the colours that you love, well, it's like never, ever eating your favourite cake again. A travesty indeed.

I remember looking at the different colour palettes (there are 6) and hoping I wasn't the 'soft'. Surprise, surprise I was! Soft, muted, sludgy colours. Stone, sage, spruce to name but a few. I mean who the hell wears sage? I nearly walked out of the course there and then. It was only the considerable investment that I had made that kept my bum firmly on my seat.


And so I trained, I qualified and I consulted all the while feeling a fraud because I hated my colour palette. Phony I hear you cry. I was! And then one day I threw caution to the wind and bought a bright yellow top (yep I sure know how to live on the wild side). And actually it looked ok. No one died. Alright I do have a warm skin tone (more about this in a future blog) and I did have a lovely tan at the time (always helps) but it started me thinking. Maybe I could bend the rules just a little, sometimes rather a lot. 

That's exactly what I did. I'm still glad I trained in colour. It's given me an understanding of why something works really well and why, when I bend the rules so much they nearly break in half and I look like poo. 

I hope to share with you what I learnt along the way and how I adapt naughty colours to make them work for me!

So just to whet your appetite....a colour that is seeing a bit of a revival....

Navy - ok not the most exciting colour but it's definitely around this season. We're seeing it in tartan, checks even boots and bags (I drool, I want). 

So, a plain navy blazer from Next (and just £60). How can this be made to work for everyone...

Lights & Softs

I'll keep it simple, blondes most definitely need to wear a light colour with navy. Mousey haired (me) likewise - for both we're still seeing oodles of nude tops around which would work really well. In fact treat navy as your new wardrobe staple - black is slimming yes but so is navy and it's far less forgiving on you - trust me on this!
How to wear navy if you're a light or a soft
Warms

If you have warm tones in your hair or skin tone then that good old navy needs an injection of warmth too - I thought I'd be helpful and offer a scarf visual that would pull the look together but epic fail! I was thinking navy with a corally (is that a word) orange leopard print. Oh yes it does exist - I have one from Marbella market that I wear regularly but that doesn't help you does it. So, the one below will suffice - it has warm camel tones which pulls the outfit together



How to wear navy if you are a warm!

Cools

For you ladies who choose to go au natural with fab grey/silver hair give that jacket an injection of colour....bright pink would look stunning. My mum always looks gorgeous... I can't wait to turn a shade of silver. 



How to wear navy if you are a cool


Deeps

Dark haired, dark eyed ladies are Deeps. As you can imagine, they have a strong look so can wear strong colours. In fact two deep colours together look stunning (I'm thinking navy and black combo for starters)



How to wear navy if you're a deep

Clears
And finally we have the ladies with dark hair and bright eyes - you know the ones, where you see their eyes before anything else and you're almost drawn into them (not jealous at all). These are Clears. Bright jewel colours, emerald, sapphire, ruby will all look devastatingly gorgeous.
How to wear navy if you are a clear

And there we have it, some very, very basic rules to get you started.


Thanks for reading, hope I've engaged you enough to stay with me. Back soon


Donna x

p.s. sorry for the crappy visuals - just getting use to this blogger milarkey. You can see them better on my Polyvore account (iwon'twearsludgebrown)