Embracing Your Natural Hair Colour

We add colour to our hair in all sorts of ways. We can go lighter, darker, or richer than our natural colour. We can change the colour completely, cover the grey, or throw in a rainbow look just for fun. It is a personal decision. We simply have to weigh up the pros against the cons of the time, effort, and expense involved, and decide what suits us best.

For many of us, one consequence of the pandemic is that we can’t have our hair coloured as often as we did before. As a result, our natural hair colour has been coming through. Pre-COVID, I had a partial foil of platinum highlights added to my hair every six weeks. When the pandemic struck I went without for four and half months. My hair is naturally blonde without any grey, so the grow-out was reasonably subtle.

As soon as I felt comfortable having my hair re-highlighted, I did just that. I’m still not having it coloured as often as I used to, but I’m adding the platinum blonde bits when I can because, to my eye, it’s more flattering with my complexion. It’s dyed to the colour it used to be naturally when I lived in a sunny Mediterranean climate and my hair was bleached naturally by the sun. Since living in grey Seattle, my hair has gotten darker and I don’t like it as much.

Personally, I’m not embracing the natural colour of my hair just yet, but plan to do so when I go grey. I fancy the idea of a natural silver pixie at some point, and am looking forward to it. On the other hand, some of my friends and clients have taken the opportunity during the pandemic to stop colouring their hair alltogether. Many have opted to let the grey come through, hang in there with the grow-out, and embrace their natural colour. This means saying goodbye to the time and expense of root touch-ups every three weeks, which I imagine to be quite liberating.

Over to you. I’m curious to know whether the pandemic has made you feel like embracing the natural colour of your hair more permanently, or at least for a while.

Outstanding Outfit Bloggers

Fun Toppers and Quintessential Florals

Today we’re checking back in with Buckinghamshire-based Hayley Hall, who was first featured on YLF in September 2019. Modern Classic dresser Hayley continues to love midi skirts and dresses, floral prints and vibrant colours, but is also having fun experimenting with neutrals and different silhouettes. Her wavy red locks and striking blue eyes remain part of her signature style.

Hayley Hall - 1

Hayley believes strongly that wearing bright colours in even the most dismal of weather can lift your mood, so she wears them year round. Here she is sporting a wool coat in cheerful dark pink over a floral midi dress. The scoop-neck dress features small pink and white flowers on a black background. The lighter pink floral coordinates beautifully with our blogger’s coat, and the all-over small pattern stops the black from becoming too heavy. The relaxed-fit coat is tailored on the shoulders, which brings in structure. So do the straight lines of our blogger’s blush chevron-patterned bag. On-trend white sneaks echo the floral print and casualize the outfit. Sparkly statement earrings and a brownish pink lip highlight Hayley’s face and make her stunning blue eyes pop even more.

Hayley Hall - 2

Hayley is a dress and skirt gal at heart, but rocks jeans equally well. For this casual Fall look in grey, black, and white she has paired grey skinny jeans with a rugby stripe tunic sweater. The soft cowl neck, great drape and bold stripe create fun visual interest. Pairing the tunic with skinnies tempers the volume of the top. Her white sneaks add casual crispness. Hayley’s gorgeous red locks peeking out from under the grey beanie adds colour around her face. And the playful pink pom-pom just makes me smile.

Hayley Hall - 3

Camel and coral make for a striking and unusual colour combo. Hayley is wearing a coral mock-neck knit top with a navy pleated floral print skirt that hits just below the knee. The coral isn’t repeated in the floral pattern but works marvelously with the navy and camel. Scrunching the top’s banded hem to sit a little higher lengthens the leg line from the hips up. Opting for a Modern Classic faux leather biker jacket in a colour other than black creates soft edge. Hayley’s white sneakers echo the white in the skirt and add a Sporty touch. Her soft waves and red lipstick add glam.

Hayley Hall - 4

Here we can see how a black leather jacket and black accessories create a different mood compared to the outfit above. They toughen up Hayley’s happy blue midi dress with gorgeous large-scale floral pattern in a snap. The V-neck wrap-over style accentuates our blogger’s waist, while the pleated skirt part creates extra visual interest and movement. The black biker jacket is fitted in all the right places and adds tons of definition and structure. Pairing the hard-edged stompy ankle boots with black opaque tights avoids creating a horizontal line with the footwear, and thus lengthens the leg line. A small black bag fits the mood of the outfit perfectly. Coral lippy and two dainty necklaces soften the look.

Hayley Hall - 5

This Sporty Luxe look is irregular outfit juxtapositon at its best. The midi sweater dress and classic white sneaks with the three black stripes are the sporty casual components of the look. The black leather biker jacket is the Modern Classic that once again shows its tremendous versatility. The black faux fur scarf and beret in soft wool bring the dressy into the look. Colours like camel and oatmeal — like Hayley’s dress here — combined with black also help to create that Luxe vibe. The playful side split and straight silhouette of the dress create vertical integrity, while the fitted shape of the jacket emphasizes our blogger’s waist and creates structure. Throwing a cosy faux fur scarf over the leather jacket adds fab textural interest and brings in the Glam. So does Hayley’s red lipstick, and red hair peeking out from under the beret “Old Hollywood style”.

Hayley Hall - 6

A signature “Hayley outfit” consisting of a great midi dress with interesting pattern and versatile jacket as a topper. Our blogger is sporting a fit-and-flare dress in a vertical, lace-like, black and white pattern that draws the eye up and down, thus creating a lengthening effect. The fitted waist and collar create structure, as does the cropped mid-blue denim jacket with its fitted silhouette. Turning up the sleeves and showing some forearm amplifies that effect. Our blogger’s on-trend espadrille flatforms bookend the colours of her dress, and — together with the eye-catching circular straw bag and oversized black sunnies — add that breezy casual high Summer vibe. Hayley’s very handsome pooch makes this pretty Summer picture even more perfect.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of this new batch of fabulous looks. Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out Hayley’s blog and Instagram for even more sartorial inspiration.

Wardrobe Essentials for 2021

Time for the annual wardrobe essentials post. Boring perhaps, but oh so essential because you can’t build a functional wardrobe without them. Some people have a style rich in essentials, while others prefer a closet full of statement pieces. Either way, if you’re battling to transform items into outfits, chances are high you’re missing a good assortment of wardrobe essentials.

To recap, wardrobe essentials are simple indispensable staples that help you create a completed outfit. They are like “the glue” that helps you piece the look together. Some call them wardrobe basics, which is NOT the same thing and it greatly confuses the issue. Wardrobe basics are items like panties, bras, camisoles, socks, sleepwear, loungewear, hosiery, thermals, and workout wear.

Here are some characteristics of wardrobe essentials

  • They can be clothing items, footwear, and accessories.
  • They are versatile, current and very simple in design.
  • They can form part of your signature style.
  • They are specific items within a wardrobe category, and not the entire wardrobe category. For example, in your boot capsule, the simple heeled black booties might be the wardrobe essentials, rather than the bright red or animal print ones that make a strong visual statement.
  • They are not statement pieces, but often create a pulled together look by complementing a statement piece.
  • They are personal. What is essential to one person is not to another. For example, a black dress, pencil skirt, blazer, and pair of boots might be essential to you, but none of those items are essential to me.
  • They can be wardrobe workhorses.
  • They are fabulous items to duplicate in the same or different neutrals.
  • They are not usually the interesting part of the outfit, despite being an important ingredient.
  • They make the rest of your wardrobe more wearable.
  • They evolve over time to accommodate your changing sartorial preferences and lifestyle.

This time round I’m curious to hear whether your list of personal wardrobe essentials has changed due to the realities of the global pandemic, or another big lifestyle change. Maybe essentials like Athleisure bottoms and cardigans have taken the place of jeans and blazers. Or you’re purchasing fewer essential tops because you prefer making a statement with colour and pattern in digital meetings. Or it’s goodbye pumps, and hello sneakers.

I’ve changed my essentials list a lot over the last twenty years. Simple blazers, moto jackets, black trousers, trench coats, white button-down shirts, and riding boots were slam-dunk essentials in the past, but only one of these items makes my list for 2020. These days my blouses and shirts tend to make a statement in a pattern or bright colour. I wear a large assortment of coats and jackets, but not just the classics. I don’t like wearing black footwear, and I’m down to one moto jacket in a statement shade of seafoam. Most of my handbags are statement pieces too.

Here’s my current list across all FOUR seasons with the exact items from my wardrobe represented in collections. My style is more colourful, bright, maximal, and pattern-rich than ever, which means that it’s heavier in statement pieces than essentials on this leg of my style journey. I live in downtown Seattle which means that I commute on foot most of the time and in all sorts of grotty weather. This has made me even fussier about comfortable footwear, so I wear fashion sneakers and hi-tops very frequently. Most items are workhorses, so much so that I sometimes have duplicates of exactly the same neutral in rotation.

Dark Blue Knitwear and Tops

It’s taken years of careful curation and editing, but the solid black tops are finally gone from my wardrobe. I am now 100% solid dark blue, but wear black in patterns. I like wearing turtlenecks because they keep me warm, and create flattering proportions by enclosing my long neck. I like wearing fluid crew necks and shirts because they work well with my pearl necklaces and shorten my long neck. They layer well under jackets and coats. They also look great with skirts, jeans and trousers. I feel set in this area.

White Knitwear and Tops

I wear cream in the colder months, and white in warmer months (although I’m less strict about that than I used to be). I wear these tops with all sorts of bottoms and as layers under toppers. I passed on three white warm-weather wardrobe essentials last year, and will be looking to replace them. I hope to throw some Summer wovens into the mix.

Blue Striped Knitwear and Tops

Striped pullovers across a range of weights in shades of dark blue and white have become year-round essentials. I passed on two old striped pullovers and a knitted top last year due to stretched out fits. I plan to replace them. I enjoy their graphic classic vibe and their ability to add punch to a simple outfit. I like their versatile pattern-mixing and layering ability under toppers too.

Trendy Blue and White Jeans

I’m wearing jeans less frequently as I reach for dressy trousers and casual pants instead. In warm weather I frequently wear dresses and skirts. That said, blue and white jeans continue to form a large and trendy part of my style and I would miss them if I didn’t have a good assortment. Some of them are statement jeans, and others I view as essentials. The silhouette of my essential jeans changes with the trends. For this leg of my style journey, my essential jeans are high in the waist, mostly cropped, relaxed and straight in silhouette, or wide on the hems. Some of them have broad cuffs. I have full-length wide legs and flares too. The thigh fits are tailored or roomy. I need one more pair of essential white wide crops.

I don’t wear skinnies anymore, and my straights are relaxed. I don’t want to purchase more essential blue jeans because statement jeans with bells and whistles is my focus. My jeans style is happiest when I sport trendy and fashion-forward silhouettes, and I must keep on remembering that.

Denim Jackets

I have five denim jackets across a variety of lengths, washes, fits and silhouettes. Light, dark, fluid, tailored, short, long, blue and white. I wear them a lot in Spring and Summer with dresses, casual and dressy pants, skirts, and enjoy sporting the denim-on-denim trend too. I’ve had one of them for eleven years, and it’s still going strong. I am open to adding another denim jacket if I see a different and super cute style.

Modern Classic Dark Blue Outerwear

I reach for dark blue coats and jackets across a range of thicknesses extremely often, just like you might reach for black or grey outerwear. These are versatile classics across casual and dressy silhouettes that work with most of my cold-weather outfits. The long navy military coat is one of the most worn coats in my large outerwear capsule, and is in its eleventh year. It’s showing a bit of wear and needs to be replaced at some point. But I will continue wearing it for now. The new faux fur shearling from Boden became an instant workhorse, and took the place of my long navy puffer. The Burberry navy peacoat is the least worn of the lot because I’m off the length. I’d have preferred it to be shorter or longer, but I do wear it from time to time. The new little Zara puffer made of recycled polyester is almost in the “gear” category and reserved for very casual settings. I feel set in this area.

White and Blush Sneakers and Boots

I love wearing flat and very low-heeled footwear in shades of white because it bookends my platinum blonde hair and adds a crisp, graphic, interesting, and modern element to my outfits. I throw in the blush because it’s light, unique, and pretty, and works almost as well as the white.

These days, I’m in fashion sneakers almost exclusively and it’s becoming a permanent change to my style. I wear hi-tops in colder weather and low-tops in mild, warm, and hot weather. I reach for white and blush fashion sneakers very frequently, although my statement sneakers come out to play a lot too. Essential fashion sneakers have taken the place of white and blush essential loafers and sandals. White booties on the other hand, continue to be an essential, although they haven’t seen much pandemic action. I passed on a pair last year, and replaced them. I hope to find the right blush hi-tops this year. Unless my needs change, I feel set in this area.

Light Neutral Beanies and Straw Hats

In wet, cool and windy Seattle, I wear hats a lot more frequently than I used to, so they’ve become essentials too. I like to keep them light and low contrast to my head and hair to keep them versatile, and a good match to my essential white footwear. A classic and packable straw hat in white and tan for the Summer to shade from the sun. Cream beanies and a beret for the colder months because my ears get sore when they aren’t insulated against the cold. I’m open to more hats because my small head is hard to fit, so finding a great fitting hat is like finding treasure.

White Pearls and White Apple Watch

I am a jewellery minimalist. I have custom-made real pearl necklaces, bracelets, and wedding rings and that is all I wear in the jewellery department. I wear all three items at once, or I choose between the necklace and the bracelets. I am adorned with white pearls daily, although I’m leaving off my rings until we are post-COVID. Sometimes I wear a monogrammed “A” gold necklace with my pearls, but do not consider it an essential.

I managed to make the sporty white Apple watch work with my white pearls and dressy style, and haven’t looked back. I wear it every single day. I love what it can do, and got used to the way it looked in five minutes. I am set in the watch department.

You can successfully build a statement-rich style as long as you have the right essentials in place to make them wearable and versatile. That said, a wardrobe full of essentials can lack excitement, sass and verve unless there are statement pieces to add interest, drama and personality. Find the balance that works for you, and make sure you update and adapt your curated essentials list as your style evolves over time.

Have a go at compiling your own wardrobe essentials list, and feel free to ask for help on our forum.

Roundups

Quiet Items

A range of items for Team Quiet Wardrobe Items.

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Items for Cooler Weather

A few top picks for Fall as we head into cooler weather.

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Hints of Fall

A list of top-pick sneakers, knitwear and toppers.

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Summer Sale Items

Here are some top pick sale items for hot days at home, working from home, or socially distancing out and about.

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Assorted Sale Items

An assortment of accessories and bottoms.

Read More

Summery Items

This week’s top picks are Summery, versatile and fun.

Read More

How to Combine Two Distinct Fashion Personas

Some of us have very uniform sartorial preferences, drawing our looks from a single fashion persona. Others have a wide range of preferences covering many different personas. And a third group draw from two very distinct personas. 

For example, a number of my clients draw from these two, somewhat opposing, personas:

  1. Neutral, hard-edged rock ’n’ roll look with tough elements and lots of black components.
  2. Colourful, soft, and more romantic vibe that is playful, a little bohemian at times, and not as serious.

This is not uncommon, and if you find yourself in this third category there is room for you to navigate and satisfy both personas. You can either alternate between them, or combine elements of both into the same outfit. 

1. Rock One Persona at a Time

Pander to your mood by wearing neutral and tough looks one day, and softer and more colourful and playful looks on other days. Some of my clients like to keep their work wardrobes on the serious and hard-edged side, but go colourful, romantic and pretty over the weekend or on vacation.

2. Rock Each One Seasonally

A hard-edged look lends itself well to cooler weather because of items like denim, jackets, leather, boots, layers, and wearing lots of black. Conversely, soft, colourful and romantic dressing lends itself well to warmer weather because of flimsy fabrics, flowing silhouettes, a lot more white, and brighter colours. Some of my clients like to wear neutral and tough looks during the Autumn and Winter, but switch out to a more bohemian, colour-rich and pretty style in the Spring and Summer.

3. Combine Both in One Outfit

This is a little harder to achieve, but it gets the creative juices flowing. It is very satisfying once you’ve got the hang of it. The result can be a colourful, bohemian and romantic style with tough and hard-edged components. Or a rock ’n’ roll style with a good dose of playful patterns and pretty jewellery.

Here are some examples inspired by my clients:

  1. Neutral, tough looks with bright red or coral nail polish and lipstick, colourful bags, beachy bohemian wavy long locks, and large playful hoop earrings.
  2. Pretty floral dresses with stompy black boots or chunky black sandals, black studded cuffs, and skull rings. 
  3. A pretty pair of white jeans with an asymmetrical and avant-garde black blouse, black sandals, blush bag, black and blush patterned scarf, and lots of chunky silver jewellery.
  4. Fuchsia ruffles with black leather, pair of dainty and refined footwear with a black moto jacket.
  5. A pile of pearls with a Pearl Jam T-shirt.

Of course, you can move between these strategies if that tickles your fancy. The point is that you don’t need to feel boxed into one fashion persona when you’re drawn to multiple of them. With a little forethought, organization, and creativity, you can have it all.

Over to you. Are you drawn to more than one, different fashion persona? If so, how do you integrate them into your style?

Outfit Formula: Column Simplicity

Here are three outfits that might be of interest to you if you enjoy a very simple, un-accessorized, slightly architectural, and very comfortable style. The wearer makes a statement with their hair, polish, and the excellent quality of fluid clothing with fab fits. Note that you can add accessories and toppers if that’s your preference, and throw in some denim. In order to maintain the column of colour, keep the toppers the same colour, tonal, or at least very low contrast to the rest of the outfit.

1. Neutrally Sporty

Combine a pair of roomy knitted or woven black pants with a boxier pullover in black, or another neutral that is low contrast to the bottoms. Pair any two dark neutrals for the top and bottom, as long as the result looks like a column of dark neutrals. A pair of black joggers could work too. The volume that is tempered with just enough structure here is what gives it an interesting and modern vibe. It’s all in the cut and fabric of the garment and how it drapes along the contours of your body, so watch for those details. Scrunching sleeves adds a nice bit of structure. I like the way the white sneakers pick up the silver in the model’s hair, but you could finish things off with black or snakeskin footwear. You could also add black sneakers with white soles.

Eileen Fisher Merino Funnel Neck Box Top in Regenerative Wool

2. Earthy Drape

Combine a pair of earthy, roomy pants that are tapered at the hems with a swingy asymmetrical tunic in the same or similar colour. Feel free to sub the pants for a tube skirt if that’s more your thing, or a pair of bootcuts that are fitted on the thighs, but flare out on the lower leg. The shorter sleeves of the tunic add structure to the outfit by showcasing some skin. Black mules bookend the model’s hair, but an earthy shoe or leopard print could work equally well.

Eileen Fisher Cozy Brushed Terry Funnel Neck Tunic

3. Non-Neutral Boxy Structure

This is my favourite of the three because I adore the lines of the silhouettes and the colour. This is a good example of what I call “tailored fluidity,” which is practical, comfortable, and just flattering enough. Combine a non-neutral roomy pullover with a tapered or loosely tapered welt in a weightier knit with a pair of lantern pants in the same non-neutral. Make sure the pullover isn’t too long or you will lose the line of the outfit. The black boots effectively pick up the black elements in the model’s hair. I’ll take the whole outfit but will finish things off with white boots, a blush bag, blush scarf, red coat, and chunky white pearls.

Eileen Fisher Soft Wool Flannel Lantern Pant

Over to you. Are you itching to pop accessories on these outfits like a carefully chosen fun scarf that works with the palette? Or statement earrings, hat, necklace, cuff or eyewear? Or will you wear them just like this.