SOMETHING I JUST DISCOVERED

I love writing about fashion and style because I get to share my passion, learnings, mistakes, tips and tricks with you. This also includes sharing discoveries that make our lives so much easier! At home, I’m a neat freak living with three males (1 husband, 2 boys). This means I’m forever cleaning, muttering, wiping, and let’s be honest, raising my voice (often). So, with that, and work, and family, and exercise, etc, I’m time poor and sometimes frazzled.

Now, my neatness does not extend to ironing. I’ll avoid it at all costs. I find it boring and it takes up too much time. But my mum (bless her and sorry ladies, I won’t share her!), can’t stand the thought of us all wearing creased and crumpled clothes. So, once a week she comes over to iron a few baskets of clothes: she says she finds it relaxing! But in a typical week, I go through way more clothes than mum can iron and then you’ll catch me wearing something crushed and creased…and trying to avoid running into mum.

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DRESSING ON A BUDGET

One of my favourite moments is when someone comments on my outfit - not because I like to hear flattering things about myself, but because I like tricking people with style. The moment goes something like this, “omg I adore that Balenciaga trench on you, you always wear the best clothes”. My first thought is, do I correct them and say I’m actually wearing a H&M trench, or do I just smile and say ‘thank you”? Well, there is something I find very satisfying about revealing my outfit only cost $70 rather than $7,000, and although I love designer labels, I think it’s very important and practical to mix it up with all price points when dressing.

You inspire most of my articles and recent requests are “how to shop and have style on a budget”. A few months ago I wrote an article about ‘The Style Myth’, which was because I was the subject of very negative Facebook banter amongst a group of women, that I was a ‘sell out’ for wearing cheap labels. And I always talk about having ‘style’ isn’t defined buy the price tag of a garment (you can read more about this HERE if you missed it). But what are the rules to remember when you have a limited budget, but still want to look good? When you can’t justify buying anything ‘designer’, but still wish you could. Or if you want to mix your price points up, but too afraid to buy cheaper products.

So, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. This year I have reduced my spending (on designer goods) by about 80% vs last year. And the main reason is because I just realised it wasn’t the best way to spend my very hard earned cash.

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DRESSING FOR LIFE

When I uploaded my last article about the ‘ultimate work wear wardrobe’ with just 26 items of clothing, I didn't anticipate the overwhelming response. I was very impressed that so many of you were going to immediately put my tips into practice. My advice comes from real examples I have gained from working with clients or from personal experience...none of it was Googled or made up, which is why I think it resonates with so many of you. But along with the praise came some feedback...nothing negative, just constructive comments. Some of you requested the same formula, but instead of work wear dressing, you wanted a solution to 'dressing for life'. 

So I wondered, what about 'dressing for life' is so difficult? I guess it comes down to having too many choices. With work wear you have boundaries set by office norms, but outside the office you have total, scary freedom. Women struggle to dress when there aren't any rules, as it is easier when there is a dress code to consider. So when you think you don't have anything to wear day to day, going shopping and sifting through racks and racks of clothing is confusing because you don't actually know what you are looking for.  When dressing for life, what you need is 'constructive narrowness' to focus the mind.

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NINE TO FIVE - 26 ITEMS INTO 80 OUTFITS

When I was in high school, I went to an all girls school and was forced to adhere to a strict dress code of cream stockings (so unpractical!), plaid knee length kilt, white pleated shirt and navy blazer. Oh and to top it off a very unflattering bowler style hat, which was compulsory to wear when not on the school grounds. Lovely yes, to see all the girls tottering about in this uniform, but each day I begrudgingly wore it counting down to when I could be free from uniformity.

So although I hated wearing a uniform or essentially a suit to school, I always looked up to stylish corporate women and aspired to be a 'working girl' one day. I measured wearing a suit with being grown up, successful and powerful! However working in the fashion industry meant suiting up was unfashionable but experimenting with clothes was what you did to stand out. Fast forward to now, and I find myself embracing the corporate style not only as 'fashion', but due to my work I am spending more time in corporate environments with clients - and wearing ripped jeans doesn't fly. To be honest, being surrounded by this new type of power dressing meant I really needed to step it up to be taken seriously. I couldn't be a 'fashion girl' in a corporate world, as I just felt silly - not to mention I really stood out! I needed to fast track my style to suit my new environment and had to teach myself the tricks, while still having elements of 'Tash' in my daily looks. And there is something to be said about ‘dressing the part’ as it has given me much more confidence, inspired by my ‘Donna crush’ (this is a reference to the badass character Donna Paulsen in the TV show Suits who really knows how to rock a suit).

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BUILDING A SUMMER WARDROBE

When it comes to ageless style and effortless day-to-day dressing, I’m here to share there really is only a few things to remember when building a wardrobe. To celebrate diversity and easy-to-style dressing, I have partnered with Sportscraft, one of Australia's most trusted fashion and lifestyle brands renowned for outstanding quality and consistent fit, to explain Summer outfitting, the styles you need and a few tips alone the way.

SUMMER STYLING

Summer is just around the corner and I really want to share with you some of my favourite pieces from the October Sportscraft collection! 

Firstly, I want to start off with one of my go-to tips for building a great Summer wardrobe, which can really be applied to any and every season – that is, creating a foundation of separates. There are so many people who think you need a different outfit for every event or occasion in life but the truth is, you just need the right things. I have found that with clever shopping and thoughtful styling, you can achieve so many unique and amazing looks with a wardrobe of classic pieces - especially with a good foundation of well-fitted separates.

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IS IT POSSIBLE TO ONLY PACK 10 ITEMS FOR A HOLIDAY?

On our last family trip to Italy, apart from the beautiful memories of our family swimming and eating (and me shopping) our way around the country, there was the additional, ever present, ominous issue of how much luggage I had packed. Sure, when there’s no pressure, it’s a bit of a running joke and my husband always makes a point of taking photos of me at train stations and airports surrounded by my pile of luggage. However, the joke ends abruptly when he has to lug yet another suitcases off an extremely crowded train, in the intense heat, under the impatient, unsympathetic glare of passengers wanting to get off, while simultaneously worrying about someone running off with a bag. Poor thing gets so stressed. After each frantic dash, without fail, he always asks (this is the clean version), "what on Earth have you packed in these bags?".

The honest answer is that I have a packing problem. It’s like there’s this little ‘fashion fairy’ hovering over my left shoulder saying, "what if you need it?”. Well, I’m proud to announce that I’m changing. I’ve learnt my lesson and I’m motivated (not to get a divorce..haha) to travel lighter so I can enjoy the freedom to explore places without the restrictions of excess luggage, and let’s face it, the hassle. One thing that really helped was the recent dicovery of only taking cabin luggage. It’s a real game changer! I recently road tested this new concept which I think you’ll love too. It all starts with only packing an overnight bag for a week away. Do you think it’s possible?

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MUMMY TO BE

Just recently I had a huge wardrobe clean out. I do these on a regular basis as I find it important to remind myself what I own, what I don't wear and what I forget to wear. This one was a bit different because I went deep into my “I’ll save these for later” boxes I have stored in the garage. When deciding what to turf, donate or sell, I realised I’d saved all the clothes I wore back when I was pregnant. This was rather alarming as I’m really not sure why I kept them to be honest! I think there was a little voice in my head telling me I needed them...just in case we decide to have another baby, or as a reminder of being pregnant with my precious little boys.

To be honest, the memory of both of my pregnancies is something I want to block out! I was not one of those soon-to-be mothers who enjoyed the nine months of pregnancy...difficult as it is to admit, but it’s the truth. I suffered from debilitating back pain, which years later I found out was because of an issue with my hips, and probably shouldn't have gone to full term. In addition, I wanted to be a 'super women' and so I kept working, as normal, at a very full-on, stressful job, constantly travelling and lying to myself that I was enjoying it all. However, because I was working in the fashion industry, I needed to remain fashionable and stylish, which somehow made me feel sane. And yes, while I swelled in places I never knew could swell, I did manage to come up with stylish maternity outfits without having to buy anything from the maternity section. It was almost like if I didn't buy maternity clothes, which meant that in my head, I wasn't putting on weight (haha...the things we tell ourselves!).

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DOES FASHION MAKE US HAPPY OR SAD?

Some mornings getting motivated each day to dress for work can be a challenge, especially today. I am sick with a terrible chest infection, my head is pounding and would like to curl up in a bed with the covers over me. But my current state coincides with school holidays, which means there is no time for sickness, I have two very energetic boys to entertain whist juggling work. 

I did contemplate heading to a work meeting in my ugg boots, track pants (not my cool ones, but the 'home only' ones), top knot and husbands hoodie - thinking I could make this my fashion take on comfort dressing. Then I realised my comfort clothes means my head is also in the comfort zone and not in work zone. I changed into leather pants, a Yeezy hoodie (you know Kim Kardashians husbands brand of very overpriced sweats) and Gucci trainers. While remaining semi comfortable it automatically lifted my spirits and got me into the zone of work and looking more the part of someone who can talk fashion with a client. 

As I was driving to the meeting, I couldn't help but feel better. I asked myself ”was my sickness in my head?”,“was having fresh air the antidote to my days of depression over feeling so sick?” , “or was the fact I got up, dressed and got out the door the solution?” (which I have spoken about in the past....read here if you missed it.) Is there something in the notion that fashion could make you feel healthy? 

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FASHION OR FITNESS?

Sitting here contemplating what to write about this week, I realise that if you saw me now, you’d think I had no authority to write about fashion and style. However, to some, my current outfit has become the 'must own' 2018 uniform. For me, it always has been a big no, no, but alas, here I sit breaking all my own fashion rules and I’m happy about it. I’m sure you can guess what my outfit is? Yes, you got it…activewear!

In a previous life, being a head buyer at one of Australia’s largest retailers, a key part of my job was researching new global trends. So every quarter I’d travel overseas (yes I know, dream job!) to basically people watch, shop and view fashion collections. Then I’d come back and work with my team on a presentation to show the very best edit of new season trends. Back then, the cycle of 'fast' fashion got a little out of control and it became more like weekly trends. However, something I have noticed more recently is that the 'trend' cycle has slowed down a lot. If you think about it, denim trends would change every few months, but nowdays we’re still wearing the same jeans we have worn for the past few years. Basics and core items are now a key part of our dressing and the only buzz I get from fashion changing is from footwear and handbags. And sometimes the new fads become fashion faux pas months later. 

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WITH JUST ONE ITEM

There is one item of clothing that I cannot live without. For me, it is an essential feature of my wardrobe, as necessary as a pair of jeans. I have one on now, wore one yesterday and the day before, wore one to bed last night, then another to the gym this morning. I have a section of my wardrobe designated to this piece. I can spend as little as $8 on one or be able to justify spending $250 on another.  But what blows my mind is when I spend time with my clients, is it the one thing that is missing from their wardrobes. So to my dismay, it is one of the first things I suggest as is vital to be able to bring an outfit together. 

The humble white t-shirt. And it sounds simple - but why does everyone struggle with the reality of how perfect it can be? To be honest, it is a tricky business finding the perfect one, but once you work it out, it will be a life changing fashion moment for you.

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TIME FOR ME ... AND MY SKIN.

W I N - Jurlique x Where Did Your Style Go is giving you the chance to WIN an indulgent facial treatment package, just like I had.  Valued at over $1,000

Growing up and having a European background, I always struggled with congested skin. My Mediterranean heritage, as much as I’m proud of it, means my complexion is lovely and olive in colour, yet oily in texture… which means clogged! However, as I get older, I can now appreciate what my mother use to always tell me, “You will appreciate having oily skin, because when you’re an adult you’ll have less wrinkles than if you had dry skin”. Although I’m not sure this is scientificicaly correct, if I look like my mum at her age, I will be thrilled! 

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STYLISH YOU AT ANY AGE

Yes, I am one of those annoying people that take lots of photos and home videos. To the frustration of my family (mainly my children) as I endeavour to capture every moment of their lives to savour each flash of their childhood. And although I have over 30,000 images saved on my iPhone, I do struggle getting that perfect family "everyone is smiling" shot. But recently my phone is sending me; these incredible mini montages of my 'photo memories', edited together like a video clip or short film. Genius I thought, that my phone automatically does this for me - but as my husband explained it's just a new feature offering an edited, movie-montage version of my smartphone-snapped life. Today, I was sent a new "memory" that kind of shocked me. Who could have imagined my phone could do such a thing as identify all the images of my fashion moments over the past six years and group them together under the heading “Fashionable Friends”. I watched fascinated at the evolution of my fashion sense and it also made me realise just how fast time is going by.


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OVEREDUCATED BUT UNDERDRESSED

When I meet a new client, the first thing we talk about is confidentiality. This isn't to protect me so much, but more to ensure that they know they’re safe and can openly discuss their deepest feelings. I need them to open up so I can work out how best to help them. It can be very painful to dredge stuff up, but it is necessary to move forward. To illustrate the point. I recently started working with a new client and she has a very interesting story. I can’t mention names, but she will recognise herself and has given me permission to talk in generalities.

So, Susan (not her real name), is living what most of you would call a dream life. But for her it’s a bit of a nightmare. We met on social media. Her account was private, so I had no way of seeing her face, where she lived, or even if she was a cat lover. I later learnt that she’d followed me for years and that I was a trusted voice who she felt comfortable asking for help. She booking a private session, but wouldn’t tell me anything about her situation in an email (I usually like to know something about each client before meeting then.)

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7 MINUTE BEAUTY REGIME

If you know anything about me, like most of you, I have very limited time to get ready and out the door each morning. After the alarm goes off, and getting my two boys ready for school, I am left with a window of no more than approx 7 minutes and 30 seconds to shower, get dressed and pull together some sort of beauty 'look' for the day. But somehow after all these years, I have managed to simplify the process. I recently had the opportunity to road test a large selection of products from the David Jones beauty department.....I realise this was a very enjoyable (and fun) process! So wanted to share this with you...also creating a video makes it much easier for me to explain the process. 

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TRAVELLING IN STYLE

When I look at photos of my grandparents from the early 1900's, something that strikes me, even though they weren't wealthy, is how beautifully they dressed. In particular, the photos of them arriving from a third-class, three month boat voyage from Europe, just after the first world war. Here to start a new life, knowing nothing about this country, and instead of looking dishevelled from the journey, they looked completely delightful in their neat suits, hats and gloves. Why did they bother? Fast forward to this week and I went on a quick trip overseas for a little work and a little play. Hanging around at busy airports, I’m always mesmorised watching people from all walks of life, herded together to get to their destinations...it’s fascinating really! So, thinking ahead about this story, I took note of what I saw and, I have to say, I think most people take less pride in what they wear to the airport than in any other time of their life. It’s a bit depressing, but I’d say that only 10% of people made any effort to dress appropriately. What is “appropriate” I hear you ask? And what is the dress code for travelling?

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GETTING OFF THE COUCH & OUT THE DOOR

Ever since I was a little kid, I always felt that the family couch would take me to a magical place that provided me with the ultimate “cocooning” experience. Back then it was a cream leather lounge, that looked like it had come off the set of Dynasty, plucked from Alexis Carrington’s (Joan Collins) palatial home. Being on the couch would insulate me from the real world, spread horizontally, snuggled up for no other reason than possibly not wanting to face the reality of having to deal with breaking up with a boyfriend, credit card debt, or the realisation that I may need to move out of home soon. Now-days, thanks to always-on, wireless internet, and bigger, better TVs that give you access to everything in the world, in real-time, cocooning (or being a couch potato maybe?) is entering a whole new evolutionary stage. We are staying home more, watching movie and TV shows delivered via the Internet, (Uber) eating in and transforming our apartments and houses into a shelter from daily social contacts. We’ve become 'digital zombies' due to the isolating elements of pervasive mobile technology. We can socialise from behind a mobile screen, in our sweat pants and very dirty hair. And I'm not going to lie, I kind of like it.

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WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

During the 90's I use to love the hit TV show, The Nanny. You remember, Fran Fine, the cosmetic sales women with a sharp sense of humour and ‘Queens logic’, appears on the doorstep of wealthy widower, Maxwell Sheffield, and inexplicably gets a job as the nanny to his three children. Six thirty each night, my sisters and I were glued to the TV, and I’m pretty sure mum watched over her shoulder whist cooking dinner. Apart from Fran's incredible Moschino outfits, which she wore regularilly, a particular thing I remember from this show was her plastic covered, mustard coloured, velvet lounge chair and the ghastly noise it made when she sat on it (almost as bad a nails down a blackboard). I recall asking mum, “why on Earth is the lounge covered in plastic”? I was rather confused by the concept. A trend of the time, it was because the clear plastic allowed you to see the lounge through it, but the plastic protected it from 'spills'. It was only temporary and would be removed when someone special came over. Totally logic!?!

I never have been one of those people who save things for good. In our home, having two young boys, I really have had to learn to let them 'respectfully be' in their surroundings, because me screaming at them none stop about dropping a crumb is exhausting. Although everything is spotless (I have a slight dose of OCD) they are allowed to sit, spread out or eat on any surface. As pretty much everything can be put in the washing machine and sterilised. And when it comes to my wardrobe, I have the same rules. I do not 'save' my clothes, shoes or handbags for 'good' or a 'special occasion', unless it is a ball gown.

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A JEAN JOURNEY

As I scroll throughsocial media and flick throughmy favourite fashion magazines (I do love magazines and I still regularly buy them each month), I am beginning to think fashion can be a fickle thing! Who agrees? Depending on where you look for inspiration, fashion move fast, especially in regards to one's loyalties or affections. With constant access to new influences, trends, information and ideas, our attention span is getting shorter, and we’re flitting from one style to the next faster than ever before.

As much as I love it, and do enjoy adding new trends here and there to update my core wardrobe, on the odd occasion, fashion trends can confuse the hell out of me. Sometimes it’s good to reflect on some of our favourite fads and learn from their mistakes. I never did understand 'daisy dukes' shorts or 'hot pants'. Do you remember those shorts from the early 90's that were the size of underpants? Yet because they were made from canvas or denim, they were acceptably worn in public? Another highlight for me was the extreme shoulder pads in the 80's that made women look like a Gridiron players in taffeta. I still remember my mum embracing this trend - big hair and big shoulders, very fabulous, but so, so wrong. And more recently I am seeing ‘skin’ as a trend as there seems to be more nudity on show as clothes become sheerer, underwear becomes apparel and pants become optional…we are yet to deem this a fad…as yet. 

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CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM?

I was doing an interview today for a large media organisation and after chatting for 30 minutes, the journalist asked me her final question, "Why is it you love fashion and shopping so much?". Although a simple, yet very relevant question, it did throw me. For a second I wondered, is she being condescending? I'm sure she wasn't, but after our great discussion about some of my career highlights and up-and-coming charity work I'm doing, I felt embarrassed by the question. I simply didn't know how to answer it. And for me to not be able to answer is not normal! I literally can talk under water.

After she left, the question got me thinking. I could have answered in an honest, yet emotional way about the proud and buzzing feeling I get when I walk out of a store swinging the paper bag (with the delightful bow), internally smiling that I just secured the new Gucci loafers I had been lusting over, which had sold out globally. But for the first time, the subject of 'fashion and shopping' actually left me feeling guilty.

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THE HANDBAG COMMODITY

I wanted to talk about one of my favourite topics... handbags! There is a story behind where my love and appreciation came from, and how bags have played a significant role in my career and are a hugepart of defining how I dress. 

It was a rainy day in the school holidays back in 1988 and to get us out of the house my mum sent my sisters and I to see a movie. We bought tickets, but had no real idea what 'Working Girl' was all about. To this day I will never forget what that movie did to me. 

"Savvy New York City receptionist Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) gives her conniving boss, Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), an excellent business tip, but Katharine simply steals the idea without giving due credit to her secretary." 

I watched in awe and from that moment dreamt about being a corporate woman, wearing a power suit, living in New York strutting up 5th Ave to my high rise office. The movie showed the world that a woman could be just as successful and smart as any man in business. Today that seems like a given, but in 1988 it seems like it was still pretty revolutionary. But interestingly, maybe in my imagination, "Tess" always carried a handbag that defined her place in society. When she was a low income earning, unnoticeable secretary - she had a huge worn out, unstylish vinyl bag, filled with essentially her life in it. Then when she was pretending to be the 'successful' corporate women, she carried elegantly a classic Chanel 5.0 with nothing but a credit card and a red lipstick inside. When Tess's world came undone, she pulled out the vinyl bag, almost like it was a comforting reminder of where she had come from.

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