Monday, 30 January 2012

So you want to be Self-Employed?! Hints & Tips part #1

With only 1 day left to fill in your tax return if you're self employed like I am, I thought I'd share with you some of the joys and the ways of self-employment.
 Starting up your own business can be a scary thing, but it's certainly not impossible. In the words of Duncan Bannatyne, "There is a myth that starting a business costs a lot of money".* Starting a new business, in my experience, is more about acquiring new skills, learning where there's a market niche and personal development than it is about making a million (at least in the first few years!!!) It's about hard work, staying one step ahead and learning from your mistakes.
I was fortunate when I founded Redressing that there was a Government backed Agency in place specifically to help women start their own business. Due to funding cuts, this support has now gone yet the skills I have learnt thus far have not only helped my business to grow, but have proven useful to others wanting to start their own businesses.
 I have been  approached over the last year by several ladies who have wanted to make a business out of their various skills or hobbies. I am not an expert but I do possess some knowledge about what is required to set up in business. First and foremost, for me, successful business is about valuing your client.  It's no good having a great concept, great merchandise or great insight if you don't value the person receiving it!
Sometimes big businesses have forgotten the need to bond with 'the little people', and build out of relationship. This isn't as easy in every business as it is in mine, but as a value and a principle it has been key to the success of Redressing.
My dad was also self-employed and as a child I watched his business ebb and flow in the economic tides yet he always placed a value on the client and was ever aware of the bigger picture and built these relationships so they were incredibly strong. If you don't stand on anyone on the way up the ladder of success, they won't stand on you on the way down!
So that's tip #1: value people- they will make or break your business. Probably a good principle for all areas of life..... Oh, and happy tax return day for tomorrow!!!!

*Duncan Bannatyne 'Wake up and change your life' 2008, Bannatyne Media Ltd.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Call The Midwife!

I'm sure you've all been watching' Call The Midwife', the Sunday evening BBC1 adaptation of the novel by Jenny Worth. I've loved the first 2 episodes and it is quite close to the book. The flavour of the era is definitely brought out (although a little overdone at times), it's quite amazing to think how times have changed.
I was amazed by some of the stats Jenny shares in the book, in the 1950s the group of Nuns and midwives had 80-100 deliveries a month on their books and by 1963 that number had dropped to 4 or 5, to quote the book itself,  "now that is some social change"! Can you imagine the level of overcrowding that many new births per month would create? There's even the story of one women who has had 24 children! I can find 3 a bit overwhelming let alone 24!!!)

The story is quite amazing, all the more so because it's a true account of life in London's East End in the 1950s. That's my parents generation; post war baby boom children who grew up in a very different social and cultural environment. Many of the homes these babies are delivered into have no hot running water, no central heating and often no inside toilet, I'm certainly not nostalgic about that side of 'vintage' life!

If you haven't been watching, catch up on iplayer and watch this Sunday. If you haven't read the book, do- it's a real eye opener as to why we should appreciate what we have today and the fact that our days aren't such an uphill struggle of manual labour, multiple childbirth and darn hard work. It's also an excellent social commentary on attitudes towards childbirth itself and the swing away from home births to hospital deliveries and the beginnings of a swing back again. Another testimony to the power of womanhood, both that of the women who lived in that place in that time whom Worth refers to as "Heroines", and that of the Nuns and Midwives who used their very lives in support and encouragement of others.
It's also full of some great acting by the likes of Pam Ferris, Miranda Hart and Jenny Agutter.
Have you been watching? What do you think?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Put the big rocks in the jar first

I was putting my youngest daughters Play-Doh away the other day and she has several different pots of different sizes. As I was in a rush I threw all the pots somewhat haphazardly into the obligatory plastic bucket we store them in and then found I couldn't get the lid back on! I realised the only way to get all the pots to fit was to put the largest ones in first and then fill the gaps with the smaller ones. Not rocket science I know, but it made me think about my life in general. Sometimes I feel like I have too many plates to spin and just too much to do. I can lurch from trying to be superwoman, super wife and super Mum to giving up and moaning.
 Then I realised the solution was really quite simple- I had to reassess my world and discover what the Big Rocks (or large Play-Doh pots!) are for me, make sure these got put in first and then fit the smaller things in around them. If you imagine the big rocks are principles and values and not necessarily 'stuff' then this gets easier. Quite simply, was I being kind? I may have been ticking off my 'to do' list but was I a grump while I did it? Did the rest of the family sense my irritations and frustrations? If these core characteristics like kindness, peace, self control and smiling a lot go in first, then the other things will fit in much better.
It also becomes easier to un-blur the line between how much I work, how much I play and how much time I invest in my marriage and my kids.
If you imagine there are also smaller rocks and sand to fit into the jar then the need for priorities and honest assessment becomes vital otherwise I really can't fit the rest in! So that's what I'll be working on this New Year (with vintage style glamour and grace too of course!)

Amazing what a few pots of Play-Doh can lead to!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Vintage Inspiration: 40s/50s from the High Street!

Friday's post left me thinking about capsule wardrobes and how the knowledge and possession of a few key pieces can turn an ordinary high street wardrobe into a Vintage chic one. This months Vintage Life Magazine ran an article on a 50s capsule wardrobe and many fellow bloggers have been posting away on this very theme!
If you're new to the Vintage world or simply want style guidelines to keep your wardrobe representing days gone by then this information is key. I've found a great blog post from Tuppence Ha'penny vintage which details a capsule vintage wardrobe beautifully (and saved me all that hard work, thanks Charlotte!) check it out here.
1949 capsule wardrobe
It's easier than you might think to have create a vintage look from the High Street and your existing wardrobe. I have found that it's good to mix and match some reproduction vintage in with your own kit as these clothes are often cut from original patterns yet are made in contemporary fabrics and will fit well and wash and wear.
My Vintage Glove collection
 It's often attention to detail which also creates a vintage look. Whether it's hair, make-up or gloves and shoes, little details make a big difference. This is where some knowledge about differing decades is important as styles changed quickly just like they do today. Some decades lean into one another such as the New Wave of late 40s early 50s, yet others are more distinct. A 60s mod mini-dress was considered out of fashion by the mid 70s when the maxi was making it's appearance.
Sometimes a vintage inspired wardrobe can be created with pattern as much as authentic cut. I love the Cath Kidston nod to the 40s take on florals. Her dresses are quite contemporary yet when teamed with vintage style accessories turn modern clothes into echoes of yesteryear. See?...
1940s style in a Cath Kidston dress, thrifted cardi, New Look beret, Vintage brooch

I've even managed a predominantly Primark 1950s style outfit (although I did go for more vintage styled shoes!
1950s style in a Primark shirt (thrifted) Primark pencil skirt, New Look shoes

And of course not forgetting my fabulous Heyday 40s trousers. I teamed them here with a Peacocks cardi as it has the (faux) fur and puffed shoulders that are evocative of that era.
1940s style trousers from Heyday Vintage Style
 Remember we are stewarding well this year so don't be tempted to chuck out the entire contents of your wardrobe- you may well be able to make them work for you. If you use the ancient method of listing the contents of your wardrobe into categories and colours then it's easy to see where you have gaps. Save up, sell on or recycle and fill your gaps with authentic or repro vintage. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day!
Have fun experimenting- if you'd like to send me any pics of your capsule wardrobe or fav vintage looks, I'd love to see them.

(B&W Image used with kind permission from Tuppence Ha'Penny Vintage)

Friday, 20 January 2012

Dressing to Impress- the A-Z of fab frocks and gorgeous gowns...Q is for Quality

It's definitely Quality not Quantity here at Redressing Towers this year!  Since founding Redressing 18months ago, I personally have half the amount of clothing I used to have. (And no, I don't 'borrow' fab frocks and gorgeous gowns from my stock!) I think I have gotten better at the art of buying and this had led me to move, albeit gradually, from a 'need it and need it now' mentality to a 'do I really need it and if so, what can go?' In true vintage make-do and mend style, I don't need a wardrobe full of things I don't really wear so I have started off this year by buying 1 in and moving 1 out.
This is a long post today guys, but it's important we buy right!

As a huge fan of reproduction vintage dresses, I like things which are of a high quality and this usually makes them rather expensive. Selling/giving/donating or upcycling an older item of clothing has helped to fund new purchases and has also helped me to see my wardrobe as one singular thing as opposed to several unrelated items that share space together. I like clothing to flow so that you can easily mix and match and utilise everything you own. I'm not sure I could manage Gok's capsule wardrobe alone, but I no longer buy anything which sits at odds with what's already in the wardrobe.
 As a colour-consultant I obviously know what colours suit me and what goes with what across the colour wheel so this helps that initial declutter. Incidentally, January is a great month to declutter. I only charge £5 for this service and it is essential if you are stuck on the 'what suits me?' rung of the Dressing to Impress ladder. Stage 2 of the declutter is to find and hold onto your own personal style. For me, that's most definitely the 1940s and 1950s but it doesn't really matter, it's whatever floats your boat.
 If you have started by culling the colour-drainers, it's easy to then think along some style lines. Once you've chosen a style, there will be a 'capsule wardrobe' associated with it (ie: Tea dress, victory rolls and Mary- Janes for the 1940s) and knowing what's in this capsule wardrobe could prove helpful in your initial stages of declutter.
Tea Dress £15
 Next comes the quality of what you put back in. I found that I appeared to have more than 1 red dress in my wardrobe and yet what I really wanted was the gorgeous Chilli Pepper Mary Dress from Heyday! So, the answer became obvious. Scrutinise the cut, colour and quality of the other 2 red dresses I owned and decide if one Mary dress fitted my good-colours and was the right fit for my shape instead. (If you've read my Vintage Norwich post you'll see that it did!) Fortunately I was able to sell one of my dresses on the good old eBay for part of the cost of the fantabulous Mary. Because she is of excellent quality and was expensive, I also know that she is a keeper.

Often we actually spend a fair old whack on several items which live in the dark recesses of the wardrobe which could have been spent on one spectacular number in which you feel fab. Just think about it...add up your last 5 clothing purchases, then add up the number of times you've worn them...see?!
Good quality is also really all about good stewardship. We live in a throwaway world so buy well, invest in quality garments (this can include good quality second hand too!) and hold onto your own personal look with style and grace. Refresh the way you dress. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

All in a lather- 1950s style!

I have been amazed of late at just how much fabulous vintage style bath and shower accessories are available in the stores and online. I was fortunate enough to receive some of these retro goodies for Christmas so I thought I'd share them with you.

What's really lovely is that just in this range of goodies there is something for all pockets. The retro packaged soaps are by Ella and Rose and were purchased at Asda. They come in at around £5 for a cute box of 4 and look great sitting on any bath side. (I must admit, I probably won't actually open them as I love the packaging so much!)
Aren't they cute!

The other cool set of fifties inspired bath bits are by the glorious Soap & Glory. Definitely at the top end of the price market, their products are simply gorgeous and smell divine. I was the happy recipient of this luscious shea-butter body cream

 available at Boots for around £10. I loved it so much I then bought myself the body scrub, decidedly more affordable at around £2.30. I do like an exfoliating scrub which actually feels like it's rubbing all that old skin away. This one has plenty of little scrubbing beads and smells so pretty too. The nice thing about the S&G products is that they are available all year round and not just in the run up to Christmas.
But my absolute favourite of the retro inspired bathing accessories I got, has got to be these super tubes of loveliness from good old Marks & Spencer!

The product range is called 'Busy but Beautiful' and if you have been following this blog for long you will know that that sums me up perfectly! As a wife, Mum of 3 gorgeous girls, small business owner, Women's mentor and serial blogger, you will know that I am most certainly busy but I am also a very firm believer in all women being beautiful both inside and out.
Beauty is definitely not just skin deep, it's all about character, values, integrity and above all, balance. As women in today's world there is a tendency to compare ourselves and our immediate world with that of other women. We are assaulted with images of Celebs at size 0, fad diets and 'tricks' to defy ageing. As women of today's world we have to know that we are unique, our circumstances are our own and it's futile to compare our lives against other ladies we know or we read about. Celebrate being you, there is always beauty within! (And seeing as how you have to wash, bathe and scrub anyway, why not add a bit of vintage style glamour and class with accessories like these?!)

Here's to a beautiful clean new you!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Fab Frock Friday- Redressing website updates!

Having spent much of this week updating the website I thought I'd show you a few of my favourites from each of the 3 collections...
Let's start with Everyday Glam: dresses designed to re-inforce your presence rather than clamour for attention....
Fat Face size 12 £25
This Fat Face wrap dress dress is a great example of everyday glam. Wear to work, the school run, over jeans or leggings or layer  up with a roll neck and cropped cardigan. This dress would work perfectly with boots, heels, flats or even a funky pair of Converse!

If it's retro glam you're after, try this from our Vintage Chic range....
Size 10 polka dot vintage inspired dress £15
With it's nod to the 40s and 50s, this vintage inspired polka dot dress is ideal for bringing some retro glamour to your wardrobe no matter where you may be! This dress can look just as vintage kitsch in the office or classroom as it does in the tea rooms or on the rock 'n' roll dance floor! Wear with cropped skinny jeans for a 1950s edge, or over woollen tights and brogues if the 1940s is more your bag. This dress has ties to the back so creates a wonderful nipped in waist and the V neck is perfect for curvy-girls.

Or maybe you need a Posh Frock? Got a wedding, birthday bash, works do or Christening? Look no further!
Size 12 Coast dress £25
This beautiful Coast silk blend dress is perfect for many a winter social engagement. With it's heavier weight fabric and longer length, this dress would work beautifully worn with a faux fur stole or bolero, cropped lambswool cardigan or shrug. Some nude Mary-Jane's and skin tone tights and you're party-ready no matter what the weather. With timeless elegance and classic style comes plenty of wear-ability and this dress would carry you into Spring and early summer just by changing your accessories and heel height! Divine-Dahrling.

There are plenty more dresses in all 3 collections on the website this week so mosey on over and have a see for yourself. P&P is only £3 and we ship worldwide. If there's a special event you'd like a dress sourcing for then just send us an email- always ready to help you refresh the way you dress with Redressing!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

January Temptation

What's your take on the financial temptress that is the January sales? Are you swayed by the psychobabble that suggests you just can't live without that item? How will you cope for the rest of your life if you haven't got that dress, those shoes or that bag?! Or are you like me, unmoved by the shopping psychology but happy to have paid less than the Recommended Retail Price?!

 Sales shopping should be about good stewardship, not about getting something for nothing. If you know you're going to need a new coat, new boots or a new handbag then waiting for the sales, saving some of your hard earned cash and paying less is a sensible move. If, however, you are still in debt from Christmas, don't actually need said items just yet (yes, I know that need rarely enters a shoppers thoughts when want it the name of the game!) is it really a wise move to incur further debt and mismanage your monies just to have the latest 'thing'? Probably not.

Being wise with money, stewarding it well and using it for more than just your own needs is one of the many reasons why I love pre-loved. Without having to wear rainbow striped dungarees and garish home knits, I can still appreciate the ethics of recycling and upcycling. So, the next time you find yourself gazing longingly at another item of clothing, pair of killer heels or shoulder bag you don't need, try resisting first and if you really can't resist, then try to find it elsewhere at a fraction of the price or preferably second-hand.
Size 10 Dress £15 from Redressing
To make pre-loved dress buying all the easier, I started my own business, Redressing,  to provide an alternative to overpriced, frenetic high street shopping and the sheer ugliness of fad fashion. It's especially beneficial if you love bygone styles but can't afford, find or fit into authentic vintage dresses as we also sell a vintage inspired range. By buying pre-loved you will save money, have recycled and more importantly, placed value on something our modern society perceives as throwaway. Doesn't that make you want to refresh the way you dress?

Monday, 9 January 2012

1940s fix

A family friend went to the Imperial war Museum over the Christmas period and knowing my love of all things 40s brought me back this little lot!
 There was just so much to look at I had to separate them out into sections in order to take better photos!
I'm always fascinated by the 1940's; the clothes and the hairstyles obviously, but also the time in which they lived required such a different attitude and response to commodities and even life itself than we have today  in our 'throwaway' society where life is cheap.
How would our modern day 'IT' girls cope with rationing I wonder?!

The value placed upon work itself I find admirable- the opportunities suddenly available to women. That sense of unity, community and actually contributing to something greater than just yourself and your immediate world has got lost in the 21st century.

Thank goodness for these women! I'm certainly no feminist but I am grateful for the opportunities afforded to women then and the continuation of these for us as women today. As part of my appreciation of the values, principles of the women of this era I choose to wear some items which reflect the times such as these, my fab 1940s trousers from Heyday! Aren't they gorgeous? Even in the midst of rationing, scarcity and instability the 1940s woman took care of her appearance and always looked as glam as her time, purse and circumstances allowed- I love that! I've teamed my 1940s trousers with a gorgeous faux fur collared cardigan I picked up in the sales. I love the nod to the forties detailing in the high shoulders and the softness of the faux fur. I think it's got some everyday glam.
 Here's to you land girls of yesteryear- thank you! (And thanks to Pauline for the Imperial War Museum selection!)

Friday, 6 January 2012

Fab Frock Friday! Fitted or Flared?

Hmmmm!.... always a dilemma- fitted wiggle or flared circle?!

Both vintage inspired styles are great fun and both cater for differing body shapes and differing retro looks.

Let's start with fitted (think Marilyn, Joan Holloway and Rita Hayworth.) Hugging the bottom and ending just below the knee, the fitted dress creates that much coveted hourglass shape. Designed to flatter all your curves the fitted dress or pencil skirt is definitely a vintage classic. Literally called 'wiggle' because the measurement at the hem is less than the measurement at the waist causing you legs to be closer together creating a 'wiggle' when you walk!

Here are a few starlets of yesteryear epitomising the wiggle dress in all its glory!
Jayne Mansfield

Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway

Marilyn Monroe

The only problem with the fitted dress is that it can be rather too fitted! Correct underwear is a MUST when wearing this vintage look. Big knickers are most definitely required to avoid any unsightly VPL and a good support for the bust too or you can end up losing the waist area you want to be defining. An underskirt or slip is also a good investment if you choose this style; often fabrics designed to stretch and cling to your curves will also cling to your tights so make sure you avoid the static.

Perhaps more often associated with the late 1940s and early 1950s this style is a classic and will particularly suit you if you already own an hourglass-ish shape or are smaller on the hips than you are on top. If you are more of a pear shape (larger on the hips than the bust), then fear not, help is at hand!

The second classic vintage look is perfect for pears and anyone else who loves a dress you can actually dance in! -The Flare or Circle dress (think Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly or Judy Garland).

The flare dress is often more associated with the 1950s when fabric rationing had eased, it evokes a more feminine edge which wasn't seen quite so often during the era of austere wartime suits and house dresses. Perfect for accentuating the waist, the variety of necklines available on a dress like this means you can easily find one to accentuate your bust too, no matter how large or small. Try a square or high round neck dress if you have a smaller bust, or a V neck or wrap top if your bust is larger.

The hips are hidden beautifully behind the circle shape and all flared dresses benefit from a real layered petticoat to puff them out even further. Good waist defining shape wear and the right sized bra for your bust will also create the perfect vintage look in a flared dress. See what I mean?
Liz Taylor

Audrey Hepburn

Grace Kelly
There are lots of good repro vintage sellers out there both online and in the flesh so once you have found your classic vintage look, wear it with grace and style!

(Out of interest.... fitted or flared? Which do you prefer?!)

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
I can't believe it's 2012 already- remember the fears over the 'millenium bug'?! How time flies!

I trust you all had a fab festive season and are ready to hit the new year with a bang?! Resolutions? Diets? 'Must do' list for 2012? How about a return to good old fashioned principles, morals, good values and ethics instead this year? New Years Resolutions are usually just good intentions, good upright character however will last you a lifetime.

One of my very best friends bought me a fabulous book for Christmas entitled 'How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton world- the art of living with style, class and grace.' It's utterly fab and I will be quoting from it in many I future blog I've no doubt.
It totally captures my desire as a vintage loving yet most definitely 21st century woman to truly live with style, class, grace and a return to so called 'old fashioned' values, ethics and morality. Jordan Christy is clearly a woman after my own heart and I'm looking forward to sharing some of this book with you this year!

Happy New Year and remember; this is your year to shine, find your true self and refresh the way you dress yourself inside & out with vintage inspired values and style!