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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I'M NO BEAUTY BLOGGER BUT......

From the moment the alarm goes off, it’s mayhem. Mac my youngest son ever hopefully asks ‘Is it the weekend yet?’ and never likes my response. My eldest son Jay is at that age where he refuses to get up at all… sounding familiar? Before I drive my children to school and make sure the house is clean (I have a rule that the house must be a certain level of live-able before we leave), I am left with a window of no more than 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. Because let’s face it, our time is precious.

I realise this goes against the booming beauty industry. Driven by the selfie-culture and constant photo opportunities, we need to look our best at all times. Doesn’t it feel like someone is launching a new ‘latest and greatest lifechanging product’ daily? Don’t get me wrong, my bathroom cabinet is full of amazing cult products. Like everyone, I get sucked in buying products I know I will never use, with pretty packaging promising me younger and flawless skin. Realistically, I don’t have the time in my morning routine to spend an hour using these products. Some of my friends and colleagues spend 20 minutes just on their foundation base or 10 minutes on their eyebrows.

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DO YOU KNOW YOUR OWN STYLE?

One of the main reasons I started this website is because when I meet with clients my first question to them is 'Where did your style go?'. Without exception they all tell me they don't know what happened to their style, and some didn't think they even had a style to begin with. 

The word style to some is a very 'fancy' grown up term. But I see it as the relationship you have with yourself and how you express it. It's the external  style that comes from within, it’s how your radiate your personality and that your sense of fashion, which is purely external,  shapes your sense  of style.

How is your personal style defined in the first place? Why do we loose it? Where does it go?

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THE STYLE MYTH

Waking up and checking Facebook is my morning routine, today I noticed I was the topic of conversation amongst a group of women who have never met me, and clearly have little understanding of how I derive my sense of style. In a public forum they were discussing what a ‘sell out’ I was because I was photographed wearing a brand that wasn't a 'high end designer label'. Apparently, as they knew me so well, they believe I only ever wear expensive designer clothes, and in their opinion, that's why I have style.

So I wanted to share my philosophy behind what having real STYLE is. Contrary to popular belief, looking good or stylish really doesn’t depend on your ability to exclusively wear high end fashion lables. Ignore the snobbery and wear non-designer brands that look good with pride.

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TRAVEL - LA MY WAY

I get asked frequently from my followers about tips on traveling to my favourite destinations locally and abroad. And mainly asked about shopping advice! I get it... sometimes it's difficult to know where to go in a city you aren't familiar with. 

So my first guide is about Los Angles. As LA is like my ‘home away from home’. Here are my personal tips on the top spots to eat, sleep, shop, and people watch.

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DOES YOUR WARDROBE NEED A DIET?

We all have experienced wardrobe envy at some point - have you ever seen a Kardashians wardrobe or maybe just google Mariah Carey's for a big dose of OMG. Even though it has always been my dream to have one of those celeb wardrobe moments, when I find myself wearing the same favourite things most of the time, I think I have realised I can be happier with alot less. 

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DRESSING FREAK OUT RECOVERY

There are a few principles I live by, but one in particular I want to share with you. This principle is so important to know because it is inverse to popular belief.

Dressing isn't about the clothes, it's actually about you and how you feel within yourself when you wear them. 

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WHY DO SOME PEOPLE LOVE SHOPPING & OTHERS DON'T?

During my long career in fashion I’ve had countless interviews where I’ve been asked what my favourite pass time is.  I know I should have a meaningful response such as... ‘Reading a great book whilst saving native animals.’ but my answer is some people’s greatest fear. I love shopping. Yes, shopping is my favourite thing to do.

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WARDROBE TIPS 101

Getting dressed everyday can be stressful. So, like your desk at work, email folders or the kitchen bench - you need to have your space organised to be able to think straight. There are a few key wardrobe principles which will really change the way you think about the stress of getting dressed. 

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