5 Jumper dresses to buy now

5 Jumper dresses to buy now

I’m a dress girl, through and through. Come May you won’t see me out of one. But how do I satiate my appetite for dresses when the weather is below 0 degrees? Welcome the jumper (or sweater) dress - it marries my two favourite things dresses and knitwear (if I’m not buying a dress, I’m buying knitwear. I have 55 jumpers and counting!). And the best bit about them is that they are comfy and warm. Wear now with snow boots and a chunky coat and come spring with trainers or a slip on mule. Here are my top 5…

  1. Jigsaw (and on sale!) Actually I am wearing this as I write.

  2. Massimo Dutti - You can always rely on MD for beautiful iterations. The tie detail is good for highlighting your waist. This is a good option for work.

  3. Vince - Good for petites and I love the lighter colour.

  4. Raey - This is on my wishlist. I love the slouchiness and I LOVE pockets. I’d layer it with a burgundy polo and a belt.

  5. Arket - my go-to place for knitwear on the high street.

Penny is an award winning Personal Stylist working in London and the U.K. who can help you develop a strong personal style and functional wardrobe you love.

Define Your personal style for 2019

Define Your personal style for 2019

I feel that fashion is finally waking up. That designers are starting to consider the modern lifestyle and design clothes that fit in with our lives and worked out that the modern woman needs options. As Maria Grazia Chiuri, the artistic director of Dior said, “In the real world you need different looks. There are moments when you might feel more romantic, more rock ’n’ roll, more male, more sensual. Women change, even in the same day.” I love this quote because it totally aligns with my style values - authenticity and evolution. In our modern world our lives are multifaceted so will our style be. You will have a style for the office, for meeting clients, for work trips, and a style for hanging with friends and family on the weekend to ski holidays to sun holidays. 

With so much choice available and varied demands on our time how do you define your personal style to make a good impression, build a consistent brand and feel like the best you? 

I spend a lot of time understanding my client’s lifestyles, their likes and dislikes and what makes their heart sing. I use this same process no matter who the client is.

Step 1. Have a good understanding of what your lifestyle is like and the clothes that are appropriate now. Whether you are a young professional with a busy social life, a new Mum on maternity leave or a professional Mum with young kids who travels a lot, what are the clothes you need to fill all those aspects of your life.

Step 2. Now start collecting inspiration to discover what naturally appeals to you. I ask my clients to produce a Pinterest board of images they love so I can see what resonates with them.

Step 3. Then look at it analytically - are there lots of dresses, is there a limited colour palette, are the silhouettes structured or relaxed, are there masculine influences or is it overtly feminine? Focus on types of items, colours, silhouettes, materials and styling. Pick 3-5 key things that you consistently see for each of these categories.

Step 4. What is the overall theme? If you look at my Pinterest board pbennett1234 ‘Fashions’ my key words or phrases would be feminine, romantic, languid, soft, muted tones. Even saying those words makes me happy! You will find key words and phrases that resonate with you that may be the very antithesis of this. You will be your most confident when you look like YOU! 

Step 5. Now look in your own wardrobe. The take a photo of yourself in your favourite outfits - even if you only have one.

Step 6. Now analyse it. Does it involve denim, or is there a masculine influence or is there an element of tailoring? What are the key items?

Step 7. Now write down how you feel in the outfit. Does it make you feel feminine, cool, polished, comfortable, sexy. How can you do more of this - the looks you love and less of the ones you don’t. What are the key pieces you need that fit with your overall theme and how you like to wear clothes.

Step 8. It needs to be fit for function. Remember you may have a different look for work than weekend as long as there are nuances of you (go back to the lists you made in Step 3.). Whether that is great colour combinations that make you feel vibrant, nice accessories to make you feel feminine or working with texture to make you feel romantic. 

You now have key words and phrases that represent your style and you have thought about key looks and silhouettes that make you feel good. Keep your list and refer back to it. Remember it’s an evolutionary process - keep checking in with yourself to tweak it and refine it. This will keep your wardrobe tailored to your evolving sense of style.

If you would like help defining or evolving your style I would love to go on this journey with you. Please get in touch.

Penny is an award winning Personal Stylist and Wardrobe Consultant working in London and the U.K. who can help you develop a strong personal style and functional wardrobe you love.

Photo Credit; Harpers Bazaar.

8 ways to build a sustainable wardrobe

8 ways to build a sustainable wardrobe

I encourage my clients to shop. In fact a lot of the time I’m shopping for a whole wardrobe in one day and my clients will be 30 items. In the world we are living where clothes are being worn an average of 3 times before being thrown away and an estimated £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year, the idea that a person buys 30 items in one day might seem excessive. But let’s put this is perspective. What I do with my clients is help them to buy less and buy better. My client will shop with me and then not have to think about shopping again until the change of season or the following year. Every item in their wardrobe has been thought about - the style, the colour, its purpose and how it fits in with the wardrobe. So even if you have not found an eco brand that meets your budget requirements or your style preference, their are lots of ways you can reduce the amount your buy and build a sustainable wardrobe to not only help the planet and the animals that live on it but to save you money too.


1. Wear what you have

Take Olivia Firth’s 30 wear challenge. Every time you go to buy something, think “will I wear this 30 times?” I like to think about whether I will love it next season (i.e. is just a trend piece or a forever piece?). Hang swing tags over the coat hangers of every item in your wardrobe and mark it every time you wear it. You will quickly see the items you rely on helping you to understand how you like to wear clothes and what you should be investing in. This also helps with editing your wardrobe - what to keep and what to sell/donate/recycle. 

2. Buy less and better. 

Invest some time in yourself and find out what colours and styles work best for you and what you love to wear. Only buy items that you know will work for you and that fit in with your existing wardrobe. Can you wear it three ways? Invest in good quality clothes that not only look better but last longer.


3. Buy sustainable fabrics

Different fabrics have differing amounts of environmental damage in their production process.

SUSTAINABLE FABRICS - linen, silk, hemp, tencel, recycled fabrics, some vegan leather.

FABRICS TO AVOID - Cotton, cashmere, viscose rayon, modal, polyester, nylon, acrylic, leather, animal or faux fur.

4. Regularly review your wardrobe and recycle unwanted items

Editing your wardrobe every season not only helps to hone your style but will stop you buying similar items that you will never wear. Donate, sell or recycle your unwanted items. Most supermarkets have clothing recycle bins so you can drop your clothes off before you shop. If you have a designer piece in good condition that you never wear, consider renting it. A sustainable way to put money in your pocket.

5. Get it fixed 

Getting something altered can make a piece feel like it was made for you. Also think about details, changing buttons for example can really make a piece feel more contemporary.


6. Take care of your clothes.

Use eco cycles on your machine, use eco powder and try to reduce the amount of times you wash your clothes.  Storing your clothes correctly on the right hangers and protecting them from moths will ensure their longevity.

7. Do your research

There are some great brands that have designs and finishes that rival their non-sustainable counterparts. But do you research and decide what your priorities are. You may not be able to find a brand that ticks all your ethical, sustainable and social criteria. For example just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it is ethical or sustainable. There are still problems with transparency in supply chains which means we don’t always get a clear picture of sustainability. The image above is from one of my favourite sustainable brands Eileen Fisher.

8. Shop Vintage

There is nothing like buying a vintage item that is totally unique. And don’t be afraid to get it altered for a personalised fit.

I would love to help you build a sustainable wardrobe you wear and love so get in touch.

Penny is an award winning Personal Stylist and Wardrobe Consultant working in London and the U.K. who can help you develop a strong personal style and functional wardrobe you love.

Style yourself successful - Listen on the podcast now!

Style yourself successful - Listen on the podcast now!

What you wear not only affects how you feel about yourself and your confidence levels but it also affects how others think, feel and behave around you. Your clothing acts as a signal denoting how competent, professional and successful you are.  So when you are an entrepreneur and you are the face of your business, whether that is digitally or in person, what you wear is a significant communicator to your potential clients of your personal brand and what you stand for. It influences whether they want to buy from you or not.

 I love working with business owners to help them to leverage their personal style and to help them build a personal brand that gives them confidence and resonates with their clients taking their business on a new trajectory.  But as a small business owner I know how budgets can be stretched and how time poor you are. Listen to my interview with business coach, Nadia Finer on her podcast Little Voice, Big Business for my top tips on how to style yourself successful.

 Nadia is a brilliant business coach who supports female entrepreneurs and helps them to build their confidence, amplify their authority and make a big profit! 

Penny is an award winning Personal Stylist working in London and the U.K. who can help you develop a strong personal brand and help you reach your financial goals.

5 new ways to wear the cardigan

5 new ways to wear the cardigan

Cardigans. They are one of those items I have a love hate relationship with, much like winter itself (love Christmas, hate February!). I understand and appreciate their practicality; the Cardigan is perfectly engineered in purpose but it can leave an outfit feeling a bit lacklustre or at their worst, dowdy. I mean even the word is dowdy… it’s not like Blazer for instance.

 But with the layering season upon us, can I rekindle my personal relationship with the humble cardigan? Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a cardigan person, this is definitely the season for a reappraisal. Gone are the days of having one black cardigan in your wardrobe that goes over everything (N.B. it doesn’t go with everything!) There are so many great options available now that the cardigan has become the statement itself. Sezane had a 30, 000 person waiting list for their perfectly cut Barry cardigan.

 But, like most things, it is all about how you wear it. Here are my top 5 tips;

1.Tuck it in

Wear it like you would a sweater, instead of as a layer. Keep it buttoned up and tuck it in to the front of your jeans. It is your new ‘jeans and a nice top’ look.

Try Arket and Jigsaw

2 . Belt it

I do have a soft spot for a long line cardigan, which suits my undefined waist. But if you have a curvy body and go in at the waist then cinch it with a belt. Try this with a tailored trouser for an after-work look.

Try Vince

3.  Mix the textures

Think about opposing textures in your outfits to add interest especially in the winter months when it is all about layers. A wool cardigan looks perfect against the smooth texture of leather. Pair yours with a leather trouser for a cosy but cool look.

4. Wear it like a coat

If you are tall, play with proportion in a calf length cardigan. Comfortable like a dressing gown and more interesting than a standard coat. Wear it with denim and a heeled ankle boot. 

Try Zara, Theory or Acne

5. Crop it

Cardigans can look dowdy when they give your body a shapeless, undefined look especially if you are wearing them over something more tailored for work. Try a cropped cardigan that ends exactly where your waist is. That way your figure will be highlighted and will give you an overall more polished and pulled together look.

Try J Crew, Hobbs, Massimo Dutti and Jigsaw. Or splash out on Miu Miu.

The idea for this blog came from humorous conversations with my gorgeous client, Lisa about the pros and cons of cardigans. I dedicate this to you!

Dressing in 2018: What's Appropriate Now

Dressing in 2018: What's Appropriate Now

I was interviewed by FT.com’s Ignite Europe recently about the changing dress codes at work and how to navigate a world where the suit no longer reins supreme as dress codes become more relaxed. You can read it here. For my male clients, this idea of ‘smart casual’ dressing brings newfound challenges but for my female clients this is nothing new. Women have always had a tougher time at cracking work dress codes – with no ‘uniform’ to fall back on and inherently more choice there has often been an element of trial and error to find what fits best personally and professionally.

 And the same applies for dressing outside of work. When once you would receive an invitation with a dress code clearly printed at the bottom, now, it’s more likely to be an email, text or Whatsapp message for an event where anything goes. Even formal events, like attending the ballet, where a full length dress would once have been appropriate, now looks out of place.

Relaxing dress codes and letting the mood take you sounds good in theory – but how do we know what is suitable and what is unsuitable? 

Here are my top 7 tips to de-coding what is appropriate now…

 1. Start with some strategic research - the who, what and where. This will give you an idea of the ‘mood’ of the event and how formal or casual it will be.

 2. And when you have done that, embrace YOUR personal style and what is authentic to you and your personality. Do you like to dress up or dress down, are you romantic or prefer masculine styles? There is nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in what you are wearing; it will show in your body language and the way you interact with people. You need to stand out for the right reasons!

 3. What makes you feel the most confident? Are you a dress, trouser or jean person? For men, do you like a tailored or more relaxed look?

 4. Colour is a game changer.  A simple silhouette is elevated by a knock-out colour.

 5. Embrace the high-low. When I’m not sure how to pitch it, I choose one dressier piece and make it feel more casual and nonchalant. Forget the stereotypes and put your spin on it. A sequin skirt looks brilliant in the day with a sweater or a floor length dress looks casual and cool with trainers.

 6. Build a wardrobe of ‘flexible’ items that can take you from a breakfast meeting to a friends Christmas gathering at their home. When I am shopping for clients there is a real demand for special pieces that, could be casual in nature, but feel special and can function in different ways - A dress that you can switch up with a belt and different heel heights or a great pair of black trousers with a blouse or a statement sweater.

 7. For work, there may be some compromise. Maintain a sense of who you are and your authentic style by dressing with nuances of you are whilst still showing that you respect the company dress code and culture.

 Dressing for work and social occasions can be a minefield but I can help you de-code the dress code and take the guesswork out of shopping. Get in touch to see how I can help. 

Photo credit: W magazine

5 shoe shapes for the new season

5 shoe shapes for the new season

After I have pulled out last years items from storage, the first thing I look to update is footwear. There is nothing like a new shoe shape to refresh last years printed dresses or to bring interest to my weekend uniform of jeans and knitwear. It is all about boots for me and ones with a wearable heel are always at the top of my wish list. Here are my top 5 shoe shapes to instantly modernise your wardrobe.

the sock boot…fitted on the ankle, they feel sophisticated and work well for evening. Look to & Other Stories for a High Street version.

the knee high…perfect for dresses and skirts, I’m thinking about this snake skin option.

the kitten heel… a great workwear style. I love this red that I will wear with denim.

the cowboy boot…The fashion girls favourite. I love these refined pair from Massimo Dutti

the trainer… because if I am not in boots I am in trainers! They make my silk skirts look easy and casual.

5 Animal Print pieces to buy now

5 Animal Print pieces to buy now

Leopards, Snakes and Zebras, Oh my! The shops are full of animal print in every iteration - my favourite is the sophisticated python print and I'm looking at boots, dresses and skirts to wear with my neutrals of white and navy.
A leopard print coat is a timeless way to add interest to your winter wardrobe but if you are looking for a subtle take on the trend then buying into accessories is a great way to re-style your wardrobe staples for the new season. 
Here are my 5 favourite Highstreet buys to bring out the animal in you!

Snake print dress from Mango - cinch it with this belt

Leopard print coat from J Crew - on sale!

Leopard print skirt from Whistles - day to night

Leopard Print dress from Warehouse - workwear option

Snake print flat mules from J Crew - in my clients wardrobes

Penny Bennett is an award winning Personal Stylist helping men and women in London and the UK create an image they are proud of and gets them noticed for the right reasons.

Last Minute Sale Edit

Last Minute Sale Edit

Before we take a break for the summer I wanted to share what I have been buying in the sales to update my holiday wardrobe and to start preparing for the new season. I use the sales as an opportunity to buy into designers but there is great satisfaction in the odd Highstreet bargain too!

Holiday Heroes

The dress with sleeves... perfect for scenic sightseeing and in the city

The printed dress...cocktail hour

the travel trouser...I'll wear these on the plane

the fun bag...as a clutch in the evening or on the shoulder by day

the simple sandal...that goes with everything

The one-piece...something sporty I can wear with the kids 

the elevated beach cover-up... I'll wear this to the beach, to bed and beyond. 

New Season

I know how much you love to plan ahead and now is the perfect time to buy into new season updates at discounted prices. Here is a list of next seasons trends and smart buys to future proof your wardrobe. 

Animal print - The laziness in me loves a backless loafer. These look as good with wide trousers as they do with skinny jeans. 

Leather - This seasons focus is on the leather dress but for those looking for something more versatile a leather jacket update is always a good investment. I love this version from Joseph in burgundy brown with a longer cut that will look amazing with my go-to winter palette of navy, red, grey and burgundy. 

Silver - The magpies among us rejoice, this is your time to shine (in must-have silver). Dance the night away in Prada's comfortable retro kitten heels or for a more subtle take, IRO's classic Shavani jacket. 

Tweed - I love a classic fabric like tweed in a contemporary shape like this Alexa Chung skirt. Mix tweed and silver á la Calvin Klein for extra style points.  

Rust/Chestnut/Brown - The 70s colour palette is strong for Autumn/Winter and this suede midi skirt is luxurious and easy to wear with a shirt or your favourite knitwear. I love Vince for its elevated basics. 

Pleats - The pleated skirt is not going anywhere! This one from By Malene Birger is a future perennial favourite. Wear now with a white T shirt and sandals and knee high boots come winter. Perfect for the office too with a white shirt. Or try a box pleat if you suit skirts with less volume. 

If you are overwhelmed by what your wardrobe needs for the next season and want to buy smarter, you can book a consultation with me here

5 of the best Spring coats and layering tricks

5 of the best Spring coats and layering tricks

Spring brings the promise of new beginnings but if you are anything like me at the moment your wardrobe feels more expired than inspired. Many of my clients struggle at this time of year but transitioning your wardrobe doesn't have to be a headache. So how can we put those fresh spring items into rotation whilst being appropriately covered up and comfortable when it still feels like winter outside? Invest in stylish and light weight outerwear that can be layered and will work for wintery days and into the warmer months ahead. 

What makes a coat a Spring coat? Look for lighter fabrics for example cotton/wool mix or 100% cotton or something shorter in length that lightens the look. I’m thinking beyond the leather and denim jacket here - both perennial staples you should invest in and great for layering but I want to offer you something different as there are so many great outerwear options available. I also love to bring a bit of colour into the mix at this time of year - nothing says spring like a bit of colour. 

TRENCH COAT

This is a life long investment so worth researching to find the holy grail for your body shape and colouring. I feel like this needs a whole blog in itself (coming soon!) but here are some quick pointers on colouring… If you have cool colouring look for the taupes and greyed beiges. Burberry calls this colour ‘Stone’. If you have warm colouring you will have a wider variety of colours that will work, anything from beige, tan, camel, or olive. 

Best brands - J Crew, & Other Stories, APC, Burberry. 

How to wear - layer over your denim jacket or blazer now and with a silk dress in the warmer months. 

COTTON COAT

If the trench styling doesn’t appeal to you then a minimal cotton coat will be your go-to. 

Best brands - COS, Zara, APC, Bassike, 

How to wear - Layer over a cardigan or layer under a wool coat (just make sure it is shorter than the wool coat or the proportions won’t be right). 

COLOURFUL COAT 

This is my favourite Spring buy as I can still wear my dependable grey but as soon as I put the coat over the top I feel instantly uplifted. The trick is to choose a colour that you love to wear and works with your existing colour palette in your wardrobe. My favourite options are red, cornflower blue, sunflower yellow, raspberry and emerald green. 

Best Brands - Harris Wharf, Zara, Sandro, & Other Stories, Isabel Marant

How to wear - looks great over a denim jacket and with neutral knitwear now and your favourite printed blouse in the spring. 

RAINCOAT

I’m always on the look out for a stylish raincoat to wear over blazers or denim jackets. I like mine to be long and have this on my wishlist but work with your proportions for a length to suit your frame. 

Brands - Stutterheim, Barbour, RAINS, Zara, J Crew, Arket for great rain-proof nylon bags. 

How to wear - over everything when it rains 

UTILITY JACKET

Something for the weekend? A utility jacket is a great alternative to the denim jacket and works with jeans or adds an edge to a summer dress. And the best bit is you can find great versions on the hight street. 

Brands - Whistles, Mango, Zara, H&M

How to wear - layer under your coat now (I just bought this and will layer under this) and over cardigan and jeans as it gets warmer. 

What to wear to an interview

What to wear to an interview

If you are re-evaluating your work situation then you will want to keep reading. Image is important in any interview or business meeting and enhances your ability to project as a leader, expert or influencer. First impressions matter and in the time it takes you to walk into the room and sit down in your chair, the person you are meeting has already formulated a positive or negative opinion of you based on your appearance alone. 

The two things you need to consider when choosing an interview outfit are;

1. What makes you feel confident and communicates your potential. 

2. What is appropriate and will meet the expectations of who is interviewing/meeting you. 

This second point is so important. I have worked with a few clients who came to me because they had a succession of unsuccessful interviews. They didn’t consider the appropriateness of their outfit choice and although they looked professional and put together, it wasn't appropriate for the industry or culture they were moving into. This becomes a delicate balancing act - you may need to reconcile what feels authentic to you and what will please your employers. Dressing appropriately shows you understand what is expected of you and that you acknowledge and respect the culture of the company. It helps the person you are meeting imagine you seamlessly stepping into the new role and that you are compatible with the team. 

Follow my advice to make sure you choose a winning outfit, no matter what the industry. 

  • Dress appropriately: consider the industry, the culture of the organisation, the dress code, your role and objectives.
  • Dress authentically: for people to trust you, your image should be a true reflection of who you are and communicate what you are capable of. Dress in styles that suit your body shape and colouring and above all make you feel good and give you confidence. 
  • Be consistent: your image should be consistent otherwise you may be seen as unreliable. And consider your grooming, you will undermine all the effort and overall effect of your outfit if your grooming is unkept. 
  • Choose Quality: always buy the best quality you can afford. It helps to work with a professional who can help you to identity quality in fabrics and finishes and make the most your budget. Cheap, ill fitting clothes will never communicate professionalism or give you gravitas.
  • Choose appropriate colours: colours should flatter your complexion and communicate your intentions. For approachability and credibility go for deeper colours that blend easily to the eye like navy, white, grey, burgundy, deep green. 
  • Look current: if you look up to date on the outside you will be seen as having the finger on the pulse of your customers and industry. Successful people embrace change and are forward thinking.

If you feel like your work wardrobe is letting you down, then please get in touch

 

Do you own your Ambition?

Do you own your Ambition?

Spring brings the promise for new beginnings and in that vain, I would like to introduce you to my new consultancy, Own It. I started this new consultancy with my associate, Jan Carrington who has 16 years experience as an Executive Presence and Branding Expert. We wanted to combine our expertise to deliver a more holistic approach to personal branding that focused on developing and communicating presence and gravitas but had a strong emphasis on image. We deliver sessions to help our corporate clients learn invaluable strategies on how to bring their image in line with their career aspirations and to present themselves in a way that communicates and maximises their potential. If you work for a forward thinking corporate companies in business and finance industries and think this is something that you or your team could benefit from then please get in contact

I wrote this blog below about what it means to be ambitious for the Own It website but felt it really resonated with my one-to-one personal styling clients who all have their own ambitions, but would define it in their own unique way. 

Do You Own Your Ambition? 

Growing up I had a very narrow view of what it was to be ambitious. Ambition belonged in the city skyscrapers reserved for men and women executives with high-powered corporate jobs.  I had a strong desire to run a successful business but as my pursuits were always creative, ‘ambitious’ had never been a word that resonated with me - it seemed too aggressive. But what my career journey has taught me is that ambition is not two dimensional - it is aspirational, purposeful, enthusiastic, committed and motivated. Do I own my ambition now? Yes! 

I am not the only one who has a complicated relationship with the word. Tory Burch is a very successful businesswoman who has built a global fashion and lifestyle company but has not always owned her ambition. In fact she flat out denied her own ambition when confronted by a male journalist early on in her career. She let her socially influenced bias of what it meant to be a women and be ambitious influence her association with the word. And for women this stigma is still real. A Harvard University study found that female politicians seeking power came across as uncaring, but their male counterparts did not. This type of social stereotyping exists in all industries and is supported be many work cultures. 

To help realign what it means to be a women and be ambitious the Tory Burch foundation launched a global #EmbraceAmbition initiative to empower females to own their ambition and what it means to them.  This year the #EmbraceAmbition campaign focuses on both women and men celebrating the people who inspire them to embrace ambition. The initiative has reached millions of people and demonstrated the transformative power of questioning stereotypes.

At Own It, Jan and I work with ambitious women and men who might have a different end goal but who are equally motivated and committed. We provide the practical tools they need to effectively communicate their ambition in a way that feels both relevant and authentic.

For all one-to-one personal styling appointments, please continue to contact me through Penny Bennett Style Consultancy. For group session on developing Presence and Gravitas through image then please contact me via the Own It website