Monday, 17 February 2014

Packing for British weather

The weather in Jumilla (where we live in Spain) has been changeable over the last couple of weeks, with some lovely sunny days followed by occasional rain and chilly, overcast days.  I suspect that the weather we will face during our forthcoming trip to the UK won't be any better - and no doubt it will be a lot colder.

We are flying to Edinburgh on Sunday then spending a few days in Scotland, so my husband John can revisit his childhood haunts. After that we will be travelling by train to London, where John will be celebrating his 70th birthday on 1st March with friends and family.

I am currently working out what clothes to pack. As you can see below, my winter coat, several of my thicker tops and a couple of cardigans to layer will definitely be on my packing list.

My travelling outfit - if it's cold when we leave I may wear a different top
I try to look smart when I'm travelling, but for me comfort is even more important. Of course it's essential to wear comfortable footwear, as it's amazing how far you have to walk in some airports!

Warm tops and a skirt for the evening
Hopefully I will be able to wear this skirt when we go out for dinner, but if it's too cold for that and I have to wear trousers instead, it doesn't take up too much space. We have decided to pay for cases in the hold, which is a bit of a luxury, so I don't have to limit the amount of clothes I take on this trip anyway.  We need to leave room though for any birthday presents that John may receive!

My new dress for John's birthday party, plus a colourful knitted jacket to brighten up
any dreary winter days
I am packing this cosy dress with a statement necklace and will wear it with a pair of heels for John's party. The shoes shown are very comfortable for walking in, so will be a good alternative to my boots. The light scarf can be rolled up and packed in one of my shoes, though space won't be an issue on this holiday.

Grey wool trousers, navy jeans and a navy down jacket
My jacket is lightweight but very warm, so ideal for when we go out walking during the day-time. I will alternate the grey trousers and navy jeans.

Four more tops, with a common theme
I haven't made a final decision on what top to wear for travelling, as it depends on the weather. I am hoping to wear the pink top in the first picture as it is fairly light (which means it can be hand-washed) with a navy cardigan over it,  the pair of grey trousers and some grey boots. If it's not cold in Spain, I will carry my coat. As we won't be landing in Edinburgh until  nearly 7pm, I suspect that I will need to keep it handy for putting on as soon as we leave the airport!

I nearly forgot! The most essential item for any trip to the UK, which will be kept tucked away in my handbag, is my trusty umbrella.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

DIY Personal Style Analysis

Not everyone can afford the luxury of a personal style analysis and not everyone lives near enough to a personal stylist anyway, even if they can afford one.  If you´re interested in defining your personal style, there are lots of resources on the internet to help you or, even better, why don't you do it with a friend? Promise each other to be honest, but also to be tactful: I'd hate to ruin a beautiful friendship with this idea!

The House of Colour Style Analysis looks at your Yang/Yin personality and their checklist contains questions about whether you are dark or fair, tall or small, angular or curvy, formal or informal etc. No prizes for guessing which traits are yin and which are yang! A dramatic or classic style personality is more yang whilst an ingénue or romantic style personality, not surprisingly, is more yin. The other two options are natural and gamine, which fall in the middle, and I am of course a natural gamine.

Here is one on-line quiz, which is job related, however it gives you an idea of the differences between yin and yang: are you a dragon (yin) or a tiger (yang)?. I have tried a couple of quizzes with differing results, though in all cases I was somewhere in the middle and either slightly yin or slightly yang, which ties up with the results of my style analysis.

Another way of identifying your personal style is to go through your wardrobe and pick out your favourite clothes and accessories. The clothes that you feel good in when you wear them and that make you look good too, not necessarily your latest purchases. This is where your friend can be helpful in saying "You always look great in that!" Or maybe, tactfully, "That's not your most flattering look."

Is there a theme? Are your favourite clothes tailored, feminine, sporty or dramatic?  Don't worry if there is no common theme as you don't have to rush this process.  Go through some magazines, cutting out pictures of outfits that you love and the celebrities that are your style icons. You can also do this on-line by clipping pictures to Polvore or creating a Pinterest board. Here's a Pinterest board that I've just started, to give you some ideas: Natural Gamine style.

Who wouldn't want to look like Audrey?
The photo below, taken in Paris (where else?!), shows me in an outfit that reflects my style personality. Neat fitting, boyish with (I like to think) a touch of French chic: this is my gamine look. Examples of well-known personalities who have the gamine look are Audrey Hepburn (my no. 1 style icon!), Dannii Minogue and Zoe Wanamaker.

As I'm only 5' and a bit, it would be difficult for me to have a dramatic personal style without being overwhelmed by my clothes. Bold patterns and colours would dominate me, and I don't have the height to carry off the striking clothes that a dramatic would wear. Think Joan Collins, Iris Apfel, Jennifer Lopez - not exactly shrinking violets - all glamorous, flamboyant women: these are the true dramatics. Does this sound like you?

If you have a classic personal style, you probably buy simple, elegant clothes that don't date. Classics go for neutrals rather than bright colours and are willing to spend money on good quality clothes. You will admire the style of Michelle Obama, Gwyneth Paltrow or Kate Middleton. You always look well-groomed and probably don't like casual styles or anything OTT.

The natural style personality is very casual and sporty and many naturals aren't really interested in fashion. Naturals don't feel comfortable in formal clothes and will always choose comfort over style. If naturals have a style icon it is likely to be Cameron Diaz, Keira Knightley or Jennifer Aniston.  They are all stylish in their own way, but they don't look as if they've tried too hard: they clearly have more important things in their lives than fashion. Could you be a natural?

I've seen ingénue described as a gamine, as both styles tend to look best on smaller women, but whereas a gamine is boyish, an ingénue will be more delicate and feminine.  Goldie Hawn and Charlene Tilton are good examples of ingénue style personalities. You like small and delicate jewellery, light fabrics and will tend to avoid clothes that are too sexy.

Finally, the most yin of all the style personalities is the romantic woman. She is sexy, curvy and very feminine: if I mention Liz Taylor, Sophia Loren and Catherine Zeta Jones you will know exactly what I mean. Do you love to wear glamorous dresses that show off your curves? Do you like sensuous fabrics such as silk, cashmere and suede? If you love bows and ruffles on your clothes, if you enjoy dressing up to go out and if you feel undressed without make-up - well maybe you are a romantic too.

Most of us are a mix of style personalities.  I am a natural gamine, for example. It's a good choice for someone who is as short as I am and who has a rectangular body: bows and ruffles don't look good on me, bold patterns wear me rather than the other way round however I am interested in fashion and looking stylish, unlike most naturals.

Your personal style should work well for your body shape as well as being a reflection of your personality. I have always been a bit of a tomboy, I'm told that I still look youthful at the advanced age of 66, I tend to wear fairly structured, neat-fitting clothes but I also like to have fun with my clothes and I try to create a chic look. Voilá! I'm definitely a gamine!

I'd love to know whether you have found this helpful and to hear what your style personality is.