5 Spring Essentials - what I am buying for my clients this month.

5 Spring Essentials - what I am buying for my clients this month.

Dressing for Spring days is like stepping into the unknown - have I or haven’t I got it right temperature wise? Today I sat in the garden eating my lunch in the sunshine and this afternoon I am reaching for a jumper. So what are those in-between items that will see you through to the summer and beyond. Here’s what I am buying for my clients this month:

  1. Summer knitwear - the Aussie in me sees this as an oxymoron but I am quickly brought to reality by my London existence. Lightweight knitwear is a Spring must have as it keeps you warm but feels light to wear. Look for cotton, linen or finely woven merino wool or cashmere.

    Brands: ME+EM, Max Mara Studio, Joseph, COS, Uniglo

  2. Long sleeve dresses - The Jewel of the Nile… well that’s how I see it! Infinitely versatile, they work with blazers, denim jackets, cardigans, trench coats and makes you look like you have made more effort than you have.

    Brands: Equipment, Ulla Johnson, Ganni, & Other Stories, Arket,

  3. Summer coats - Choose your style from the classic trench, the functional parka or the light weight wool. Think about your lifestyle and what would work for you - a trench over workwear, a parka on the weekend and a double faced wool for evening.

    Brands: Harris Wharf, Rains, Sandro, Joseph, Whistles, Arket

  4. Jackets - I’m buying mostly blazers and leather for clients at the moment but I also love safari jackets, army jackets and denim jackets.

    Brands: Blaze Milano, Anine Bing, Zadig and Voltaire, Mango, Whistles, Massimo Dutti

  5. Casual trousers - You’ve spent your winter in denim and you are not quite ready for skirts so in steps the casual trouser. Dress it up with shirting and a blazer for work and with a knit and leather for the weekend.

    Brands: Isabel Marant, Masscob, BA&SH, J crew, ME + EM, Hush, & Other Stories, Zara

What I know about Style now I'm 40

What I know about Style now I'm 40

No matter what my client’s age, I want them to enjoy clothes. Their style should be a true reflection of who they are, their authenticity, and what they love visually, all within the realms of what is appropriate for their lifestyle. It’s never a question of age as a number but as a feeling. How do they feel in their skin, what do they love, what do they want to show off and what do they want to disguise. I work with 60 year olds who wear leather leggings, I work with 50 year olds who wear mini skirts and I’m sitting here writing this as a 40 year old women wearing puffed sleeves. How you wear something and the confidence it gives you are everything.

I know what I love and I’m confident in my style. I’m a romantic at heart and am happiest in an ankle skimming dress and flat shoe. I’m a sucker for a beautiful print and and a fabric that drapes just so. I love when something feels like ‘me’, my authentic self and I want to have that feeling everyday. But every day is different and I don’t know how I will feel in 6 months time but below is a checklist to keep my style on track and my wardrobe full of things I want to wear.

  • If I’m not sure if something is ‘me’ I buy the high street version first and and invest later if I love and wear it

  • Never buy 100% acrylic. It doesn’t wash well will look worn after only a few wears.

  • Just because you love something visually or on a stylish friend, it doesn’t mean it will work for you. Appreciate it and move on.

  • Something I loved a year ago may not bring me that same joy now. Your style will always evolve. Donate or sell it and feel good about that.

  • Buy more vintage. My romantic side gets inspiration from the past and looks for pieces that are reworked for the modern day. I should give my Net-A-Porter app a rest and visit my local vintage stores. It’s good for the environment too.

  • It has to be fit for purpose? Yes, a Molly Goddard tulle confection is perfection but where would I wear it? I’m still thinking about this….

  • If one day you want to dress like an off duty ballerina and the next day a minimalist, that is ok as long as I feel like you.

  • Can I wear it 3 ways? If I can’t think of 3 ways to wear something with existing pieces in my wardrobe or wear it for multiple occasions, I hesitate about buying it. But I also give myself permission to buy things that are special and that I will only wear a few times and then enjoy just looking at it in my wardrobe… a feathered jumper, a 50s bodice and a heart shaped bag.

  • My days of wearing spaghetti straps are numbered. Sleeves please.

  • Very high-waisted styles are not (really) my friend but I know how to make them work for my straight waist.

  • Don’t buy the inexpensive high street bits for the sake of it. Always wait and invest in something you love.

  • Keep investing in what you love. For me dresses, knitwear and boots.

  • Keep searching for the perfect coat and realise that perfection is unattainable. Same goes for denim!

If you have reached an age milestone and feel that your wardrobe no longer reflects who you are and you want to bring the fun back into getting dressed, I would love to hear from you. Get in touch here

Photo credit Renia Jazz (50+ fashion blogger)

5 of my favourite Aussie Brands

5 of my favourite Aussie Brands

I’m back from a trip to my native Australia and I want to share with you my favourite Aussie brands that are my go-to for not only beach appropriate pieces but effortless styles I love to wear all year round. Like having sunshine in your pocket!

  1. Lee Matthews - Probably my favourite Aussie brand at the moment. I salivated over the slouchy knitwear, tobacco coats and effortless dresses when I was in-store in Sydney. But for now I will be wearing this dress on repeat for the British summer.

  2. Lucy Folk - A piece of her jewellery was on every stylish friend of mine in Sydney. The beaded bracelets will be my new summer favourite and I regret not taking home a pair of the sunglasses. Her cool store in Bondi is a must-visit.

  3. The Avenue - A stylish hat is an essential in Sydney and I am obsessed with the bucket hats and straw boaters from The Avenue.

  4. Bianca Spender - For tailored pieces with fashion led details that will add interest to your work wear wardrobe. She also has a beautiful selection of evening dresses.

  5. POSSE - Using natural fabrics like linen, I love the billowy skirts and relaxed trousers for hot London days or holidays by the beach.

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