As summer finally arrives – with a vengeance – you’ll be relieved to hear that we’ve just launched our pure cotton collection of classic shifts.
In a choice of colourful prints including dragonflies, lovebirds and roses, our Audrey shifts are beautifully tailored to flatter. The neckline sits just below the collar bone and is set wide to minimize the waist, the armholes are not too cut away and the hem sits typically on the knee of an average height lady. At the back there is a fully enclosed double box pleat, and the dresses are fully lined in fine 100% cotton lawn for maximum comfort.
Now it’s easy to look chic and keep your cool!
We were delighted to see Lorraine Kelly looking fabulous in our Lily dress this morning
– loving her matching pink shoes too X
It was a chilly windy day at Ascot when Jane attended this year, but she was warm and elegant in a bespoke Rita dress and Lauren jacket in light wool puppy tooth check, with ‘windproof’ hat by Liz Felix X
A selection of our designs are now available to purchase from Liz Felix Millinery Henley http://www.lizfelixhats.com/.
In addition to our dresses and Liz’s lovely hats you’ll also find beautiful jewellery and accessories to complete your look.
So now you can find everything you need for your special event all in one place.
In addition to stock pieces we can offer a bespoke service from Liz’s studio, and the lovely Liz can create a hat to match. All your occasion wear problems are now officially over!
A huge thank you to the gorgeous Pippa, Suzanne, Mel and Natalie for modelling at the show, and an equally huge thank you to the lovely Gemma from Beauty Call who did their stunning make up and hair. Beauty Call is a nationwide network of hair and make up artists (there’ll always be someone near you) have a look at beautycall.co.uk.
We’ve had something of a celebrity fest chez Jane & Marilyn recently. Firstly, a Jane & Marilyn dress made an appearance on Loose Women (the second time a Jane & Marilyn design has appeared on the show), when Andrea McLean chose Katherine in banana for a recent appearance.
Next up was Lorraine Kelly who chose to wear our Lily dress for the Women of the Year Awards, where she was a judge.
You can see more pictures of Lorraine at the Awards here: http://www.itv.com/lorraine/hottopics/lorraine-goes-to-women-of-the-year/
Wonderful to see these gorgeous ladies looking so glamorous in Jane & Marilyn!
It’s always wonderful to see our customers in all their finery, so we were delighted to receive these pictures of ladies at Royal Ascot.
This lady has added some black and white feathers to our black cartwheel hat to co-ordinate with her black and white dress. This is such a versatile hat, it looks striking and elegant on its own but is also a perfect foil for a strategically placed feather or flower.
This customer chose a special colour for her Rita dress; a beautiful rich pink which positively glowed. She looked radiant with her matching picture hat and pale pink shoes.
The Rita was also Jane’s choice for her day at Ascot. In a midnight blue, with matching Lauren jacket it was accessorised with a dramatic dark blue mesh hat trimmed with peacock feathers and iridescent beetle wing hat pin. Jade green shoes and bag and beetle wing brooches completed the look.
Marilyn looked so elegant in her choice of the Katherine dress in a soft beige with taupe patent bag and shoes. She added silk flowers to match her accessories on both her hat and in the draped front of her dress.
With Ascot out of the way it’s all about Henley Regatta; it’s likely that Rita will be making an appearance and probably Veronica too!
It’s been a hectic first few months of the year with February seeing the launch of our new bridal service. We’d been approached by a number of ‘grown up’ brides looking for something different for their ceremonies, and most specific that they didn’t want ‘the full gown’. Our dresses work beautifully as sophisticated bridal wear in soft ivories or pearl greys. We can even add extra bling with crystal or pearl buckles, buttons and embellishments. And the added bonus is that a Jane & Marilyn bride can easily wear her dress again afterwards, so it’s excellent value too!
We attended an exclusive wedding fair in Kingston upon Thames at the beginning of March. Warren House, a stunning 19th century Victoria Mansion nestled close to Richmond Park. A beautiful backdrop for weddings and civil partnership ceremonies, Warren House is set within four acres of landscaped grounds and boasts a lavish ballroom for wedding ceremonies.
As well as showing our Premiere and Silk collections (perfect for mothers of the bride and wedding guests), we also showcased our bridal service.
With the Season’s events drawing closer and ladies looking for dress code friendly pieces, we held a series of ‘open house ateliers’. Ladies were welcome to drop in without an appointment, have a glass of something bubbly and view our collections and hats. Samples were available to try and we were on hand to discuss modifications to the designs and run through colour swatches.
We are currently helping a number of ladies achieve their perfect Ascot look, in addition to working with mothers of the bride who want to look glamorous, but appropriate for their special occasion.
Stay glamorous X
So it’s the party season so we thought we’d share some tips for grown up, glamorous festive faces.
Foundation is essential to even out imperfections. Choose a light diffusing one with a satin finish. Too matt is ageing and shows every wrinkle, too shiny and it just won’t look ‘finished’. We like Bobbi Brown’s illuminating foundation.
We thoroughly recommend using a foundation brush, but trial and error has taught us that the best way to apply it is firstly with the fingers. Press a little foundation into the skin all over the face but focussing more on the central panel where uneven colouring and pores are more likely to be a problem. Using fingers warms up the foundation so it glides on smoothly and you’ll use less than you would if you apply with a brush. Once you have completed the application, take your foundation brush and brush all over your face to even it out, ensuring there are no heavy patches, and creating a soft, cashmere finish.
Blusher (we prefer a cream one) should be applied to apples of cheeks, on the temples, the tip of the nose and chin and thoroughly blended. This will give a more contoured effect and you’ll look healthy too!
Depending on your skin type you may like to add a little powder, it creates a wonderful finish but you have to be careful as too much powder can be ageing and settle into wrinkles. Pressed powder applied with a pad can set too matt but loose powder can look flour-y. We have a tendency to shine on the T zone so we always use powder and have found the best approach to use a pressed powder (we like MAC) but to apply it with a large powder brush.
Use a highlighting eye shadow (MAC does an excellent one called ‘Nylon’) and just dab your ring finger into it and touch it onto the centre of your eyelid and the inside corner of your eyes so it lights both the top and bottom part of the inner corner. Using fingers rather than a brush or sponge applicator keeps it subtle – you want to see the effect (which is spectacular) not the eye shadow.
Elongate eyes and create a feline look with false eyelashes attached to the outer half of the eyelid. Use individual lashes to build volume, or cut a regular pair in half (the added bonus is that you get two pairs of eyelashes for the price of one)!
A nice pair of groomed and coloured brows frames the face and also adds vintage Hollywood allure. Threading is our eyebrow grooming technique of choice, and having them tinted also means less work is required with your eyebrow pencil.
Lipstick is of course essential. Marilyn Monroe would use multiple lipsticks to create that famous full lipped look. You can achieve it too with some cunning tricks. Firstly, use a nude lip pencil to line your lips, taking it just outside your natural lip line and correcting any imbalances as you go. Use a subtle highlighter such as Touche Éclat and apply along your upper lip just above your new lip line and under your nose. This will create a more ‘pouty’ upper lip. Apply one coat of your favourite red lipstick, blot thoroughly and apply again, this will give it staying power. Finally apply a dab of lipstick in a pale pearly colour in the middle of your bottom lip to create a fuller looking lip. Note – don’t be tempted to add lip gloss – a satin finish is the most you should aim for, with a strong red lip colour gloss just looks too much like jam!
Now you’ll rival any screen goddess, so go forth and be glamorous!
Merry Christmas X
Our gorgeous tailored dress in banana, from the Silk Collection, has been selected by the event’s organisers as one of the designs to feature in their promotional activity next year. Teamed with an amazing Piers Atkinson feather hat it is the perfect outfit for the Royal Enclosure.
Our dresses have been designed with events of the season in mind, adhering to the dress codes. Royal Ascot is one of the biggest events in the British social calendar and we’re delighted our Katherine dress has been chosen to represent such a glamorous occasion.
Stay glamorous X
We were delighted to see the gorgeous Anna Friel spotted in our Grace dress (http://shop.janeandmarilyn.co.uk/grace-432-p.asp) on the set of her latest film, “Pavement Psychiatrist.”
Endlessly versatile, the Grace dress, available in soft pearl grey or black, offers classic lines with its boat neckline, bracelet length sleeves and niped-in waist. From the back, the dress gives plenty of va va voom with its heavily panelled, fluted skirt. Made from 100% soft, lightweight wool, it’s fully lined in pure silk in our signature lipstick red.
And it’s clear that Anna is a fan of the dress too – ‘I feel like I’ve just come off the set of La Dolce Vita,’ she commented.
Stay glamorous like Anna X
We recently ran two fashion events to introduce our new Silk ollection and showcase pieces from our Premiere collection prior to the summer season.
Our first event was held near Henley on Thames and the guest list included many local women looking for something special to wear for Royal Ascot and Henley regatta.
We put out a call for lovely local ladies to model for us, and were spoilt for choice. We selected four gorgeous women with a variety of ages, and our makeup artist Jane Butler and hair styling team from Dorata in Henley ( www.dorata.co.uk) worked their magic transforming our models into 1950s glamourpusses!
We accessorised our designs with hats from our new millinery collection andjewellery by Stella & Dot. Popular purchases at the event were the cartwheel fishnet straw hat, Rita and Katherine dresses and the Lauren jacket.
Our second event was held at the prestigious Naval & Military Club (now popularly known as the In & Out Club) in London’s St James’ Square. ‘Tea with Jane & Marilyn’ was held in their stunning King Harold V room, an elegant, pale salon with glittering crystal chandeliers and grand paintings of European royalty on the walls; the perfect setting for our collections.
Guests were treated to a sumptuous afternoon tea while our beautiful (size 12) models walked leisurely between the tables, stopping so guests could get a closer look and talking to them about what they were wearing.
After the show, guests were able to try the dresses and accessories and popular purchases included the Gina and Veronica dresses and the leather corset belt. We also had a number of requests for the dresses in special colours.
Coincidentally, while writing this, evidence presented to the All Party Parliamentary Group on body image has emerged suggesting that more than half of the public has a negative body image, and of most concern, girls as young as five now worry about how they look. Media images of unrealistic bodies were said to be largely to blame.
But we are committed to our policy of using realistic imagery – including women of all ages and sizes – to promote our label. Naturally we want our images to be beautiful and aspirational, but we believe they must also be relevant and something our customers can identify with.
Stay Glamorous X
Flying to Italy for a short holiday recently Jane was glad of her faithful Pashmina – why do planes always have the air-conditioning turned up so high? It doesn’t matter where you’re going or what time of year, it always seems to be freezing in the cabin – particularly challenging if you’re going on a summer holiday in August and dressed for high temperatures.
We got to thinking about just how versatile the Pashmina is. We bought our first ones years ago when they first became the cover up of choice, and they’re still going strong, but we’ve collected a few more over the years.
We’ve used our Pashminas in so many ways and we thought we’d share some of them. For flying taking one in your hand luggage is essential. The warm, soft Pash is lightweight, doesn’t take up much space but boy are you glad of it when they turn on that aircon! If you’re taking a night flight and find the blankets aren’t plentiful, or warm enough the Pash makes for great supplementary bedding.
Whether flying or not we always travel with at least one trusty Pashmina, usually a black one – the most versatile. Jane remembers staying in a very draughty hotel in Scotland; freezing in the night due to lack of heating, insufficient bedding and probably her own Sassenach softiness , she remembered her Pash she spread it on the bed – it made a perfect t bedspread and kept her cosy all night.
We have also used Pashminas as makeshift nighties to preserve our modesty and as a sarong over swimwear for trips to the bar.
But a word of caution here your versatile Pash is only versatile if it’s the real thing. Beware of imitations. There are lots of shawls and scarves out there that look like the genuine article, they may even be called Pashminas but they’re not.
Firstly it has to be the real Pashmina wool – a very fine Cashmere that comes from a special breed of goat called the Changthangi or Pashmina goat. This is what gives the Pashmina its exceptional softness and warmth. Then it should be full size 90cm x 200 cm if you want true versatility – and if you’re going to use it as a nightie or sarong and still retain your modesty. The real Pashmina isn’t cheap (which is another way to check for the genuine article), but it will pay dividends in terms of cost per wear.
One feature Jane was delighted to discover was that whilst not waterproof the Pash is surprisingly shower resistant; at Royal Ascot last year she was caught in a positive monsoon while wearing the blue Peacock, pure silk dress. She wrapped her pashmina around the dress cloak style to protect it from the worst of the weather, and protect it it did. We have also used Pashminas as oversized headscarves and snoods to protect head and hair from the cold and rain.
But we do wear Pashes more conventionally too. They are the perfect summer companion to cover bare shoulders on cooler nights. For added dash we’ve started wearing two Pashminas at once to contrast or co-ordinate with our outfits, it not only keeps you extra warm but looks really stylish too. Just layer one on top of the other and fold in half lengthwise so the one colour can be glimpsed from beneath the other. We must be on to something here because a number of our friends have started doing the same thing!
Whatever the occasion we are never far from our Pashes, a wrap in summer, draped over a jacket or as an oversized scarf under a coat in winter we are as inseparable from our Pashminas as we are from each other!
If you share our passion for Pashminas and have found any other novel uses for them let us know, we’d love to hear about it. X
So it’s that time of year again and we all want to look our most glamorous, festive best for our Christmas events. It’s tempting to pile on the glitz but while we love some sparkle ourselves competing with the Christmas tree is not a good look.
Choose one traffic stopping dress an amazing pair of statement heels or perhaps a substantial piece of jewellery and build your look around that – be dramatic by all means but do it with style.
Dresses are the ultimate in easy dressing and, if you’re going straight from work to event, choose a simple design and dress it up for evening with some party shoes and accessories – you’ll look chic and sophisticated especially if everyone else is in lurex and lame!
Colour is a big story this season and it’s fun to be festive in a red, green or purple dress. And all these colours look amazing teamed with gold shoes and accessories.
If you’re going for black – and why not it’s still the most popular choice for evening wear by a mile – it’s the perfect backdrop for host of looks. Animal prints are very on trend right now and a pair of leopard print heels will dress up a little black dress a treat, beware of leopard overload though; shoes and perhaps a fur tippet or handbag will look dramatic but go furthest and you’ll veer dangerously into barmaid territory! Team with a chunky matt gold cuff or collar for an exotic effect. Black always looks amazing with diamonds, crystals or any kind of sparkle. Vintage dress clips can turn asimple but dramatic dinner dress into something very festive.
Choosing a more covered up style of dress – sleeves and a longer hem for example – is not only practical for this time of year but it’s dramatic and sophisticated when the world around you may be in strapless micro minis.
And if you’re going to be doing a lot of dancing, choose some shoes that you can actually dance gracefully in, no point in ruining a fine pair of shoes (and your dignity)struggling in the wrong shoes however pretty they are.
Another tip for instant glamour is to add a pair of long leather gloves; black tunes in to the current ‘fetish’ trend but a rich jewel colour can look incredibly stylish teamed with a black or navy dress.
Of course it’s vital that your carefully constructed outfit doesn’t overshadow the star of the show – you. Clothes should never wear you; rather, they should be the setting, as with a fine piece of jewellery, to showcase you as the jewel.
Hair and make up play a big part in completing your look and emphasising your features. But when time is short one of the quickest and most effective ways to achieve a glamorous evening face is to apply some false eyelashes. For a slant eyed but subtle effect we like to cut our strip lashes in two (added bonus – 2 pairs for the price of one) and apply to the outer half of our lids. Team with some red lipstick and even in the simplest black shift, you’ll look dressed up, grown up and fabulous.
Have a glamorous Christmas X
We’re so excited to be working on some glamorous new designs to add to our existing collection.
For our new silk collection we’ve found the most beautiful natural silk with a linen type weave which is available in an array of luscious colours, in particular rich blues, corals and yellows – key trends for S/S 2012. Perfect for day dresses and jackets this cloth hangs beautifully and is wonderful to wear.
In addition, we have sourced some beautiful patterned silks from a mill right here in England. They can produce cloth to our own design and colour specifications, so look out for some spectacular cocktail dresses and even an evening dress or two!
Customers have also been asking us for a jacket to wear with our sleeveless designs and we’re going to be introducing a neat little cropped one which we can produce in a variety of colours and cloths.
Our first patterns have been made and we will be fitting them on our models next week – so watch this space. X
We visited Sicily over the summer – it was so hot we could hardly bare to expose our skin to the sun and cowered under big hats and umbrellas most of the day. We were glad to have Marilyn, Lana and Joan along for easy but elegant, cool dressing for the evenings.
We just love the way Italians promenade – all ages stroll up and down the ‘Via’ every evening until late, all in their best clothes. It’s so charming – just like being in a giant fashion show, watching and being watched.
Just one tip should you decide to visit the island, Mt Etna is active pretty much all the time and sometimes spews black smoke into the air – not very helpful if you happen to bewearing a white (Lana) dress!
We’ve recently been revisiting the joys of afternoon tea – it’s such a glamorous business, all those delicious ‘boudoir’ sandwiches and naughty cakes. Perfect after a morning’s browsing the shops, and, we think, much more elegant and original than lunch.
At the top of our list of favourite tea venues, The Berkeley’s Prêt-à-Portea reigns supreme http://www.the-berkeley.co.uk/fashionista_tea.aspx.
If you haven’t been yet you really should. Take some girlfriends and delight in the cakes and biscuits inspired by themes and colours of particular designers all served up on stunning Paul Smith china. This year Victoria Beckham, Miu Miu and Tom Ford debuted on the tea stands. It’s a stylish venue and a great location in Knightsbridge too.
A recent discovery for afternoon tea is The Bingham in Richmond Upon Thames http://www.thebingham.co.uk.
Joan is the perfect afternoon tea dress and if you’ve been reading all the media coverage of the A/W collections you’ll know that vintage inspired floral gowns are de rigueur this season …
With the summer holidays getting underway we were reminded of an interview we once heard with one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting and she described her technique for packing beautiful clothes with minimum creasing and stress: you lay each item flat one by one in the case with sleeves and trouser legs left hanging outside. (She also put a layer of tissue paper between each item which is great if you have the time and inclination but a little too much work for us!) When you’ve finished put soft bags containing underwear and any other light articles you want to go in the case on top and fold all sleeves and legs over the top. We’ve been doing it this way ever since and it works really well in terms of minimising creasing – and it’s efficient too so you can get as much as much as possible in your case!
On the subject of how much to take, like us, you’ll have read endless articles about ‘capsule’ holiday wardrobes and how to get 100 outfits out of a scarf, a swimsuit and a pair of shorts, but it doesn’t really work does it?
We say there’s nothing worse than being on holiday knowing that you left the perfect piece at home so if you (or a willing partner) can carry it, take it!
Of course is does make sense to plan your holiday wardrobe so you have plenty of options. We always start by making a pile of ‘must takes’ and ‘nice to takes’. We pack the must takes and then see how much room we have left for extras from the nice to take pile. We also try and take multipurpose clothes – a dress that can work day to night (and for special occassions) by changing accessories – the Lana and Marilyn dresses are the perfect, flexible, travelling companions for example. And it’s a bonus that nude is so on trend right now as it goes with almost every colour, so a pair of heels and matching bag will provide a simple solution to accessory challenges. Similarly for evening gold or silver sandals are an easy way to dress up day wear and go with pretty much everything too.
We’ve learned the hard way that it’s worth making sure you have something for unforeseen situations – in particular unseasonal weather. It’s dreadful freezing or getting soaked in the height of summer in the Med – but it can happen so take a few extra layers or a good woolly, and yes, an umbrella too, that way you can still enjoy being on holiday and won’t be imprisoned in your hotel room.
Bonnes vacances x
It was off to Henley Regatta earlier this month and thank heavens it was warm and dry. It’s a delightful event when the weather is kind but if it’s cold and wet it’s hopeless as there aren’t many paces to shelter and wellingtons take precedence over stilettoes!
It’s a really colourful occasion and one where the ladies have some serious competition in the colour stakes from the men in their striped blazers and ties (albeit with sometimes dubious colour combinations).
On the Friday Jane reprised her Royal Ascot ensemble of blue Peacock dress, peacock feather hat, blue shoes and emerald green bag decorated with more peacock feathers. We met up with Jane & Marilyn model, customer and dear friend Suzanne who was looking gorgeous in her white Marilyn dress teamed with a charming pair of black and white spot sling back stilettoes, Louis Vuitton bag and large caramel coloured straw hat.
The stewards in the Stewards’ enclosure are absolute sticklers for the dress code – skirts must cover the knee – and it was a pleasure this year not to have the stress of worrying about our skirts being long enough and potentially bring turned away (which must be soooo embarrassing). We just sailed through the gates, supremely confident!
It was definitely a vintage Regatta in more ways than one!
So, what to wear?
The pure cotton Lana dress is the perfect match for wardrobe dilemmas of the tennis watching kind. Choose it in white (naturally) and you’ll look as cool and crisp as the players on Centre Court. With large lapels, a double breasted front fastening and full circle skirt it oozes tailored glamour and its pure silk lining means it’s not only gorgeous to look at but it’s gorgeous to wear too.
If the weather’s really fine team it with a natural straw sunhat, or if it’s cooler, wear a cardigan over the top – wear the dress lapels and belt over the cardigan, or drape it loosely around your shoulders and add a headscarf for Audrey Hepburn chic.
A dress to love indeed!
We were delighted to see yesterday’s BAFTA feature in the Observer Magazine with Maxine Peake wearing our Ava dress …
Jane went to Paris recently for a short break in a much loved city.
Audrey (in black) and Sophia went too. Audrey behaved impeccably for dinner in a chic little seafood bistro. Teamed with black patent heels multi strand pearls and simple pearl stud earrings – très Parisien
The next day featured a little retail therapy including a pilgrimage to our favourite Parisien lingerie shop (and that’s some competition) Chantal Thomass – www.chantalthomass.fr – on the impossibly glamorous rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The shop has the most exquisite lingerie, corsets and swimwear, but most particularly an amazing range of seductive seamed stockings. Our favourites are the ‘lace up’ ones, in light natural with a black seam and lace up tops with a satin bow.
Also on the same street is the beautiful chocolate shop Michel Cluizel – www.chocolatmichelcluizel.com – with lots of unusual and delicious goodies on display, including the cutest little chocolate handbags filled with chocolate lipsticks. The good news is they’ll do mail order anywhere in the world!
Further down the road is a shop with the unpromising name of Jet Set, stocking some truly beautiful colourful shoes that cleverly achieve the compromise between height (high enough to be glamorous), and comfort – you can actually walk in them.
That night Sophia vamped her way to dinner at the Eiffel Tower, teamed with leopard print high heeled pumps to lift the black and minimal jewellery so as not to compete with the amazing view of the City of Lights!
Next day it was off to Gallerie Lafayette with its stunning glass atrium. Jane spotted a shoe brand called Noë – a new one on us but perfect for the Jane & Marilyn look; exactly the right shape and height of heel, almond shaped toe and seemingly available in every colour you can think of. Try as we might we can’t track them down in the UK, if anyone does please let us know!
Note: On the subject of shoes, check out Upper Street if you haven’t already. Such a brilliant idea. You design your own shoes online and they make them up and deliver them to you. They have a range of designs and a huge choice of exquisite colours and finishes. They’re excellent quality too www.upperstreet.com.
A great place for a classic afternoon tea (and people watching) is Hotel Le Bristol. A ‘grande dame’ hotel in the very traditional style (it was a favourite of Winston Churchill) it has some of the nicest staff anywhere, lovely sandwiches and of course cakes too!
The trip was all too short but very sweet and one can never tire of Paris, there is always something new to discover – Paris nous vous aimons!
We once heard someone describe dressing for Royal Ascot as ‘dressing as if you are attending a smart wedding – but not as if you are the bride’. We think that’s sound advice and not just for Ascot but for any important, formal event really. This is not the time to experiment with the latest cutting edge trend or showcase your new ‘directional’ pieces. The key to dressing for special occasions is to keep it elegant and chic – but that doesn’t have to mean boring or, heaven forbid, frumpy! It’s still possible to turn heads it’s just a question of adapting the basic principles and adding a dash of glamour! Take your cue from those gorgeous but ladylike styles of the 50s for example, when women looked sophisticated and groomed but also very feminine. Hemlines may have been well below the knee, very little flesh was on display, hats were always worn and gloves usually too, but there was still plenty of va va voom and those curves were very visible.
To understand the rules of formal dressing look to the Queen, she is quite literally the queen of dressing for events. Most big formal occasions are linked to ‘society’ events so in effect it’s the Queen’s party and she knows better than any how to work it. Of course we’re not suggesting we all emulate her style but simply the key principles. Clearly her outfits are always planned to the finest detail and probably quite some time in advance too, but that’s no bad thing.
Trying too hard is not the same as trying and there’s nothing wrong with planning an outfit meticulously and preferably well ahead. It relieves stress and knowing you look pulled together and fabulous gives you confidence – who doesn’t want that? Also if you’re having something special made, a hat perhaps, you will need to allow several weeks, we would suggest 3 months to be safe, a good milliner will always be busy, particularly around the spring/summer seasons.
And we don’t see anything wrong with choosing a colour palette and sticking to it, ‘matchy matchy’ may be frowned on by some, but it worked for Grace Kelly (and of course the Queen) so we rest our case. On the subject of colour if you are attending a wedding pastels are best avoided (too bride like, see above) and while head to toe black is undoubtedly chic, it’s generally considered inappropriate and even impolite particularly for weddings – and anything with a royal association in fact. It is after all a mourning colour; the only time the Queen appears all in black is for sombre occasions, so give the fashionista’s favourite look a break. Black as an accent colour however, with white or cream for example is always very elegant.
Dressing glamorously for events doesn’t mean wearing everything including the kitchen sink; it’s about making a statement but in a way that says you know enough to know when to stop. So a full on dress is fine, with subtle accessories. A statement hat or jewellery contrasted with a simple dress is utterly sophisticated. Wearing a hat with a cocktail or party dress does not turn the dress into formal day wear. This also applies to – as we saw once at Royal Ascot – a full length beaded evening gown! The dress code for the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot actually provides some good guidance for most formal occasions, daytime ones at least: No mini skirts, no straps narrower than 1” and at least a ‘substantial fascinator’ or proper hat. Similarly, the Steward’s Enclosure at Henley Regatta stipulates that knees must be covered (and they have a point – very short skirts with hats just don’t look right).
Real glamour is not about showing it all, it’s more about what you don’t show. There is nothing wrong with showing your shape, but not acres of flesh. A little cleavage is fine, but not combined with a micro mini. If you must reveal, focus on one feature and keep it tasteful. Wearing a dress or jacket with a bit of a sleeve not only looks elegant, it’s more practical too given the vagaries of the British climate!
We love a pair of shiny lightly tanned pins in the right circumstances but formal daytime events aren’t the right circumstances. You won’t catch the Queen in a hat with bare legs and whilst we can all remember Princess Diana and other young royals (including these days Kate soon-to-be Windsor) doing the bare legs with hat combo, the fact is that if you’re wearing a hat for a special occasion it constitutes formal wear and bare legs don’t. Also unless you have perfect pins gleaming, flawless and smooth they will always look better with some cover. In any case if you’re going to be on your feet all day, you’re likely to get blisters if you have bare feet and hobbling around with your face contorted in pain because your feet hurt is not a good look! If you don’t like the feel of tights try hold ups, or one of our favourites – fishnets. Not only are they glamorous they also feel amazing and almost as if you’re not wearing anything on your legs at all and they’re really cool for summer wear. Or for real retro edge consider seamed stockings.
Hats. Yes please! We adore hats. Give us any excuse and we’ll be wearing one. For a formal event a hat is a must. More and more people are wearing them and that’s a trend we’re totally behind. Large or small depends on both what you’re wearing and the size of your head. A calf length full skirt can look wonderful with a big brimmed hat but it can also shorten you, so unless you are tall and slim, wear this kind of dress with a smaller, taller hat or a large saucer shape worn at a fierce angle on one side of the head to give you extra height. Slim tailored clothes give you more flexibility and can be worn with any size of hat.
Be careful of black or very dark hats with a wide brim as they can shade your face in a really unflattering way particularly if you are mature or have the odd wrinkle. If you must wear a black hat keep it small, or choose one of the saucer shapes worn on the side of the head or a very loose weave or net brim that the light can shine through. If your head is small don’t bury it in a large hat, if it’s large a small hat can look silly so try to balance the proportions of hat and head. Fascinators are passé now unless as the Royal Enclosure specifies, it’s a substantial one. Small hats and headpieces will give the 50s feel, are more comfortable to wear for long periods, easier for all the mwah, mwah-ing you may have to do and are more English weather friendly – less likely to be blown off and easier to work with an umbrella. All that said, we still love a simple dress combined with a huge statement hat. Eye veils are increasingly popular again and very glamorous, good for softening the odd wrinkle too! Never wear a hat straight on top pf your head or worse pushed to the back. Always angle your hat forward and to one side for dash. When wearing a hat, hold your head up high! Make sure your hair and hat work together. Northing is worse than a hat which looks like an afterthought plonked on as you’re leaving the house. If your hair is short it’s easier to style it around the hat. If it’s long at very least tuck it behind your ears or tie it back, or preferably wear in a chignon or French pleat. Long hair flowing around your face with a hat on top is not a good look – Kate soon-to-be-Windsor not withstanding, she can get away with anything as she’s young and beautiful and if you are too, lucky you; if you’re more mature tie it up, back, whatever, but do something. Catherine Zeta-Jones pulled off this looked beautifully when she went to the palace to collect her CBE in a wide brimmed hat with her hair in a low chignon pulled to one side. She looked the epitome of sophisticated glamour.
Shoes should be court or sling back, not strappy sandals and not clumpy platforms or wedges. Think elegant. Shoes should also be as comfortable as heels ever can be – you’re probably going to be wearing them for a long time. And avoid fabric shoes if your going anywhere near grass they’ll stain or pick up water marks.
The longer the skirt, the higher the heels! We all love a fabulous pair of ‘killers’ but they look so much more sophisticated with a longer skirt, if you keep your hemline low, your heels can go as high as you dare (or as high as you can walk in). If you are going to wear high heels and/or platforms make sure you can walk properly in them. No point looking fabulous in front of your mirror if as soon as you move you end up crouched and hobbling. Far better to wear a heel you can walk in gracefully (even if it is lower) with your head up and shoulders back, looking relaxed and confident, it’s far more attractive.
Jewellery should be kept to a minimum if you’re wearing a hat, just a pair of small earrings, nothing dangly. Necklaces usually look too much with a hat, as do bracelets and bangles. If your outfit is simple you may be able to get away with a broach or perhaps a cocktail ring if it’s not too large.
Your bag completes your look so while it’s tempting to take your favourite suitcase sized carry all, leave it at home and opt for something daintier and altogether more ladylike. We particularly like handbags that resemble small pieces of luggage – structured with proper feet and clasps and a handle rather than a shoulder strap. The Kelly bag style works really well for special occasions; even in a petite size it’s boxy enough to carry all your essentials.. A good structured clutch bag also works beautifully. Just a point on sunglasses, particularly if you’re wearing a hat steer away from the very large and/or very blingy.
Real glamour is not just about clothes, hair and make up; it’s also about how you carry yourself. A woman can wear a simple outfit, little or no makeup and still look amazing if she has poise and carries herself well. It’s about walking tall, looking confident and relaxed – and above all happy. A smile is your best accessory!