‘Don’t look like me, look like you!’- Fashion vs Style

Flicking through the Guardian Weekend Magazine which my colleague had left on my desk, I came across an Amazon Fashion Advert with the caption: ‘Don’t look like me, look like you’ and it made me wonder, are we constantly trying to look like someone else?

Fashion magazines bombard us with how we should look. We are convinced that we could look just like those manicured models in magazines or catwalks if we dress like them and sadly, most of us tend to go this route when it comes to clothes! Imagine if we all look and dress the same? Well, I think that definitely would be a dull world. That’s why developing your own style makes the fashion world interesting!

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Style and fashion are different in some way. You express your individuality and uniqueness through your dress style and it’s your signature – it is the REAL you. Fashion, on the other hand, is about the look that is trending and popular at a given time and then it’s gone, that’s why we have weekly or monthly fashion magazines.

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Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe are still the style icons of all time. Why? They set themselves apart from the rest. Marilyn Monroe had the curves and personality to create that feminine, sexy image which she was known for.

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Audrey Hepburn’s style showed grace, class, sophistication and elegance. Her style suited her trimmed, slim and sporty body and her philosophy comes down to understanding what makes her feel comfortable in her own skin. I think acquiring your own sense of personal style gives you a sense of ownership and confidence while making you feel good about yourself!

imageDo not be swayed by the models in glossy magazines and fashion trends especially when you already have your personal style. Of course, fashion magazines are tools to complement your looks not to change who you are.

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A famous Greek Philosopher once said “Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.” – Epictetus

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Grace yourself with lace!

For most homes the classic white lace curtain window covering creates an enjoyable design experience. It evokes that feeling of relaxation in summer and in spring time. For a long time I used to associate lace with curtains. Then I started seeing some really amazing outfits and gowns and I never looked at lace the same way again.image“I have stolen your granny’s net curtains, and I won’t give them back!” – quote from this dancer at the Moulin Rouge in Paris in 1926

Lace is one of the most beautiful and feminine fabrics in the world. But just how long has lace been in fashion? Lace is known to have been first developed in Venice during the sixteenth century. It was always an expensive luxury item because of its painstaking, time-consuming production. Lace veils and lace bridal gowns became an enduring favourite for brides in the Victorian era and has been popular ever since with royals, brides, catwalks and even the high street.

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Lace masterpiece – American actress Grace Kelly’s elegant wedding gown in 1956

imageKate Middleton is ever elegant and stunning in lace dresses

Lace continues to enjoy a place in fashionable dress today. White crochet lace rules in summer, in winter a black or red lace party dresses get us into the Christmas spirit.

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If the lace look is too full-on for your personal taste, mix it up with contrasting textures. Don’t be afraid to experiment with lace. Whether it is a staple part of your wardrobe or for special occasions only, lace is an elegant and on-trend choice of fabric.

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Fifty shades of Green!

Across many cultures green is commonly associated with nature, growth, regeneration and fertility. In pagan times, the “Green Man” was a symbol of fertility . It was known as the colour of the heavens in the Ming Dynasty. In Ireland, it is a colour of luck and is popularly on St. Patrick’s Day or during international soccer or rugby games. It is believed that wearing green on any other day would be considered unlucky by the Irish ( I wonder about that one though!)
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Content with nature in H&M emerald green skirt

Green is everywhere around us but it is also associated with unflattering phrases such as “green with envy” or “the green-eyed monster” both in reference to people harbouring more than a little bit of jealousy. It’s no surprise then that green is not a common colour in the world of fashion.

Wearing green is not for everyone as it can be seen as loud and dominant. Green is also a rare choice at red carpets or other gala events considering the proximity to the red carpet and some celebrities can’t risk looking like a Christmas tree! However, some people can pull the colour very well as seen in these emerald green choices by Angelina Jolie Pitt, Mila Kunis, Elizabeth Moss and Catherine Zeta-Jones.imageLast year the autumn/winter collections were full of different shades of green from lush olive, emerald green, grass green, pea green, moss green to sage green making it an interesting colour to buy. I wore this lace dress to a friend’s wedding last year and it was a perfect outfit for the day as it blended very well with the lush surroundings. I wore it again this year to a different occasion with different shoes, bag and a different hairstyle and it looked new again.imageThis outfit is great colour for the autumnal look. The cocktail of green, white, pink and red colours give it a colourful autumn effect and it’s an outfit that can be dressed up or down.

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Forget about the green connotations! A woman in green isn’t the jealous type, rather she knows she causes envy in others. If you dare, get ready to spread the envy!!

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Military Style? ‘Blend out’ with camouflage!

I’m seeing camouflage or ‘camos’ everywhere these days. Just like animal print which I wrote about in my last blog posting here, camo is timeless. Military camouflage patterns have been popular in fashion and art from as early as 1920s. A lot of major designers have exploited camouflage’s style and symbolism as street wear ever since.imageSource

A few weeks ago Versace was showcasing a spring/summer 2016 collection at Milan Fashion Week. The catwalk highlight was belted dark green and military jackets and tops which Versace dubbed “the urban jungle” (check it out). Also modelled were bright coloured animal prints in the camouflage collection. Now, that’s an interesting combination as I like animal print. I have to say though for the classy street look, limit yourself to one camo piece at a time if you don’t want to look like you are going hunting in the woods.imageCamo is not just for daytime. You can transform a simple jeans and T-shirt look to evening wear with a camo clutch and some bling accessories or add a gold belt to a camo pencil skirt and a low-cut top for an even cooler evening look. Singer Rihanna is camouflage chic and she surely knows how to rock them.imageSource

If you think dressing up is not really for you and you are a more casual person, then why not try this simple, casual and very street look!? Here I’m wearing camouflage espadrilles from the Martinez-Made in Argentina collection and a H&M oversize outerwear jacket.imagePerhaps you are thinking that camouflage fashion trend is not for you at all and you can never wear that sort of clothing, then how about ‘pimping’ your ride instead?

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Forget about ‘blending in’, camouflage styles are now all about standing out in the crowd!

‘Spotted’ on the Rocks!

Styles comes and goes but leopard print is a timeless fashion trend. Throughout history kings and other high-ranking people have worn animal skin as a sign of status and power. Christian Dior introduced the first leopard print dress in 1947 and the trend became big with high ranking people in the 50s from Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor to Jackie Kennedy.imageMitzah Bricard and a silk chiffon Christian Dior dress from the 1947 New Look Collection

Every season leopard print is popular with fashion designers, stars and celebrities and also us, the ordinary people. High street shops are going wild with animal print at the moment. From dresses to coats, bags to shoes, scarfs and accessories, the leopard print can elevate anything you’re wearing. So, if you don’t already own a leopard print, now is the time to invest in at least one piece and add a little bit of edge to your wardrobe this autumn and winter. I think a great way to wear animal print is in small doses because ‘less can be more’. You should mix and match prints with neutral colours. I’m a big fan of the animal prints as you might have noticed in my previous posts and have adorned in zebra, cheetah or leopard print on some occasions. I personally find leopard print especially eye-catching.

imageWhile I was in the UK last weekend, I wore my little spotted dress for a day out shopping with my friends. While on the way, my friends decided to bring me to the magnificent High Rocks in Tunbridge Wells. I wasn’t sure about the practicality of my outfit but after rocking it up those ancient rocks and saw the tranquil woodland setting around me and how it blended with my outfit, I knew my leopard print was never been more appropriate. Talking of looking at the wild side!imageThey say that “leopard don’t change its spots” and I agree because leopard print has never gone out of style and will probably be in style for decades to come so get your leopard frocks on!!

Irish Summer….Fashion Fever!

One thing I love about travelling on public transport is how you can have a lot of quality time observing different people. Sometimes you overhear interesting conversations. I was on the bus from the city centre this weekend and I couldn’t help hearing two ladies discussing how exciting it was that winter is close. I have to agree, there is something so cosy about winter. The evenings filled with Netflix bingeing, blanket cuddling in front of the fire and drinking hot chocolate with a lot of marshmallows yet I still love summer.  I was born in a hot climate and I find everything smiles during summer. People are much happier and relaxed when the sun shines. Most of all, I personally find choosing summer clothes to wear so easy and so much fun.

This summer’s collection was very interesting with a lot bold colours from royal blues, greens, yellows to reds and pinks combination. I was anticipating on seeing burst of colours in the city of Dublin but whatever the Irish people did wrong to the weather gods, I can count the ‘hot’ days we had the whole summer on one hand! When everywhere else people were basking in sunshine, we were looking up the skies every second for just a glimpse of sun and some warmth. The summer wardrobe collection I was looking forward to wearing was just hanging on the other side of the closet feeling neglected. Fortunately, there were few warm days which I timed very well so that I could at least wear one or two outfits from my summer collection.

unknownAs summer comes to an end in two weeks’ time, I would advise you not to  give away your 2015 summer collection just yet, who knows the ‘weather gods’ may be in good form next year. One great things about not wearing something all the time is it feels new whenever you put it on.
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So, while other people are walking around looking the same with the 2016 summer collection, we will be still rocking our last year colours. Different is beautiful and we will be saving a lot of money too!

Meet the Bride and Maid

I was recently discussing with a friend how wedding ceremonies have changed in the last few years to what we remember when we were kids. As a little girl, most weddings I attended had an entourage of bridesmaids, all dressed in very colourful dresses which were sometimes hideous. This is of course still the tradition but at least the outfits are beautiful in most cases. Historically, it is said that bridesmaids’ role was to form some sort of a bridal troop to protect the bride from evil spirits. In the Roman times, the law allowed ten or more witnesses at a wedding and also it was a belief that bridesmaids should wear similar dresses to the bride in order to outsmart any ill-wishers or vile spirits – I wonder if this is what Pippa Middleton had in mind when she wore that bridesmaid’s dress for Kate’s wedding and did it work?(….well Kate and William do seem to be happy!).

The roles of bridesmaids is different now, instead of serving as ‘protective shields, they now have little exciting tasks in the wedding planning. In Zimbabwe, where I’m from, we love dancing at weddings, in fact whenever music plays, we dance. So bridesmaids and groomsmen are mostly responsible for doing choreographed dances to entertain the guests. I have seen that this is becoming a trend in Europe and US as well so bridesmaids are still not only about pretty faces and cute dresses!image

Last year when I was on holidays in Africa my Irish sister called me to tell me she was engaged and asked me to be her only bridesmaid/maid of honour. I was ecstatic, my head was buzzing with dozens of outfit ideas. Anyone who has watched The Bridesmaid movie will understand that having just one maid makes shopping for an outfit a lot simpler! We agreed that I could wear any dress but I couldn’t be any taller than her, so we spent more time on shoes than the dress. I tried many outfits, all very beautiful but I settled for this black and turquoise one shoulder dress. imageThe black-turquoise was a unique combination for a bridesmaid dress but the cut was right, it was different and if one has to spend a lot of money on an outfit, it might as well worth a few wears to get value for money. Besides the practicality of the dress, it really suited the day as it was a glamorous and elegant wedding. I will be wearing my dress again to a cocktail party next week.

If you are ever invited to be a bridesmaid, just remember , ‘A happy bridesmaid makes a happy bride’ so just KEEP SMILING! I wish all the August brides and grooms a very happy anniversary.

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Photo: Ashley Walsh Photography

Wild and Dazzling

I recently read an article on why zebras have stripes! Many theories have been developed ever since Charles Darwin era. Some researchers hypothesised that the black and white (or is it white and black) stripes work as a camouflage from predators and that they also help zebras to stay cool in hot weather. Surprisingly, even after hundreds of years of study, the mystery is still far from being solved as there remains disagreements. From a fashion perspective, I find zebra print doing the opposite, instead of camouflaging, it makes you stand out in the crowd. The black and white gives both that warm and cool effect and the best thing is, it never goes out of fashion. In fact, every season and every year, zebra print is on trend.

Symmetrical stripe are known for their slimming effect so if you want to look slimmer, try the symmetrical zebra print outfit! I like the design on this Ossie Clark dress. It is elegantly cut and gives an illusion of body fullness to slim people. Great dress for a glamorous outdoor summer party or for a cheery day in the office!

imageDress from: Ossie Clark London – Debenhams Collection

I think the best way of wearing zebra print without looking tacky is to mix it with plain colour. Choose only one large part of your outfit that is wild. For instance, if your skirt or shorts are a zebra print, let the top/shoes be neutral. If it’s your dress that has the print, then let your shoes be plain black, red or cream/nude. I know not everybody has the audacity to wear fiery colours, but a new way of wearing zebra print is mixing it with bright colours and it’s worth a try. I find red goes well with zebra prints! Zebra print dress with red belt, red shoes or red handbag will give you that polished look.imageShorts from: Zara ; Belt and top from Primark

If you want to have fun with fashion and be attractive and wild at the same time, go ahead and get yourself a zebra-print piece. Just as Zebras are the beauties of the wild, you can also be a dazzling and daring Queen of the Jungle!

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Lady in Red

During the week, I was walking home from work when I passed by a grocery shop where they were playing the Chris de Burgh classic Lady in red. As most people would do, I absently started humming away because I know the lyrics very well……right!! The song had me earwormed all the way home and I started seeing red everywhere. I spotted a little girl of about 4 wearing a stunning little white dress with red cherries and cute red shoes;  another lady had a gorgeous pair of red shoes on and bright red lipstick and I wondered, to myself, about the colour red.  We hear of Red Devils in sports; we have red roses in the garden and even have charities such as the Red Cross. So, what makes red have more personal ‘associations’ than any other colour?

As I was rooting through the Internet looking for answers, I came across an interesting piece on colour psychology. According to colour psychology, Red is the colour of extremes. It’s the colour of passionate love, seduction and adventure. It is energising, it excites the emotions and motivates us. It is also strong-willed and can give confidence to those who are shy or lacking in will power.  However,  they warn that being surrounded by too much of the colour red can cause us to become irritated, agitated and ultimately angry.

Interested as I was, I thought of putting this to the test. I have few shades of red colour clothing in my wardrobe. So, here is what I felt after wearing each outfit. The crimson and white combination was fun, simple but strikingly colourful. It certainly energised me and is great summer wear.

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Jeggings: Born Clothing; T-shirt and scarf from Primark; Shoes from Paul Byron Shoes

From the street look to catwalk! I absolutely love this midi skirt. It is fashionable, classy and stylish! The skirt is adorned in floral red embroidered on gold to give it a vintage appeal. I wanted to be adventurous in bringing out the colourfulness of the skirt, so I wore a crotchet candy top and red shoes. Very comfortable as day or evening wear, this outfit made me feel trendy and modest at the same time!

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Skirt from Born Clothing; Top from H&M; Shoes from Dunness Stores

Don’t be scared to paint your wardrobe with different colours. Paint is not permanent and you can always change it.

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Explosion of colours……tie and dye moments.

Have you ever spilt something on your brand new or favourite dress, shirt, top, trousers or jeans and left a permanent stain? You start to think of the amount of money you spent on it, how it was the only one left in the shop in your size and if you are a bargain hunter like me, you start calculating how much you will pay for the same outfit on full price and all these thoughts makes you want to coil in a ball and just cry.

It happened to me once, I had royal blue top and which I liked very much. The colour was rich, the fabric was nice on the skin and it was just well fitted and comfortable. One bad morning, I decided to buy a black coffee which is a rare occurrence and when I was about to leave the shop someone bumped into me and I had coffee all over my top. I went home and decided to clean the mess myself. I reached for the bleach….and poured it straight on to the stain and throw it into the washing machine. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I took it out, the coffee stain was gone but my lovely top was no longer royal blue. It had turned into different shades of blue with a hint of white. I could only blame myself for that. I thought of throwing it away or giving it away because I couldn’t bear the sight of it, then I thought about the fabric and the comfort and decided to keep it and wear as a casual top. Then something happened, a neighbour complimented me about it and a lady in the local shop wanted to know where I bought my tie and dye top! That moment, it hit me. I had made my own tie and dye top accidentally, how cool was that? I wore that top until it got worn out so I have no evidence of it….sorry!!

I hadn’t owned another tie and dye until two years ago when I found these tie and dye Maxim jeans in TKMaxx. They are colourful and funky and I love wearing them during summer times. The same year a friend gave me a present of this maxi kimono green dress which she bought on line. It’s great for those sunny days or the beach.

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The stripe DVF (Diane von Furstenberg) wrap dress is one of my best dresses. It is lively, has a mixture of colour, elegance and simplicity. The dress can be worn day or night, for special occasions or the office.The great thing about tie and dyes clothing is that it can be worn by anyone throughout the year.

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So as you can see, my tie and dye journey started quite by accident but it opened up a new world of style choices for me!

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