One For The Men!

Men, you don’t have to go around wearing the same old safe, blue, and black. Ok, so you probably can’t go to work wearing red jeans unless you have an open minded boss, work from home or (more likely) an advertising company. Then of course you will need them for your creative play zones. On weekends however, you can wear whatever takes your fancy!

PAmens2Let your personality shine using colour and accessories. If you are not confident with colour, then start from the bottom up. I love these desert boots with blue rims between the soles. Or throw a colourful scarf against a dark jacket. The devil as they say, is in the detail!

Hats are another way to show some style and will give an illusion of height. Kaufhof department store in Munich has a fantastic selection of mens hats and accessories.

Start experimenting or book me for a personal shopping workout to show you how!

Dye-ing For A Change!

For months now, I have had a bag of tired and dull clothing in my wardrobe. I still wanted to wear them but not in their current form.PAbluedye1 My aim was eventually to get round to dyeing them. Fabric dye is a brilliant (and cheap) way of bringing life back to clothing that has lost its colour or appeal. It is also a great way of getting rid of any yellowing (under arm) patches too! I chose a lovely cobalt blue (that happens to be on trend this summer!) but there are dozens of colours to choose from depending on what you want.

The simplicol dye here was around 5,50 Euro. I dyed quite a few pieces, so bought a large box. I also needed an extra 500 gram of salt to fix the colour. After 40 minutes in the washing machine and a quick re-wash, I transformed my clothes and can now mix them with other pieces and accessorize as I wish.

My clothes were 100% cotton and absorbed the colour perfectly. Anything that is not a natural fibre such as nylon stitching or lining etc will not take the dye but can still add interest and contrast to your pieces.


Feeling Blue

I was in the beautiful Bavarian countryside on the weekend and took a photo of the Enzian flower (trumpet gentian) which inspired me (as nature does) to put a blue look together for you! These flowers sprung out of the ground with gusto and provided a colourful force against the still bleached and weathered grass of winter.

The roots of the enzian plant provide bitters for a digestive called Enzian! I’m not a fan of it myself, but I am a fan of this deep violet blue! PAblue

Life Is Rosy!

There are some colours that just make you smile. Fuchsia is one of them. The red pink combination is vibrant but elegant. feminine yet intense. Fuchsia or magenta, is made by combining equal and intense amounts of red and blue light together. The blue gives it a coolness, which is especially great for warmer skin tones. Depending on hue and tone this colour will suit almost every skin tone, so experiment with the colour against your face to see what looks best.PicsArtfuscia If you dont want to give over to fuchsia in a dress or coat, then pick it out in details like bags, shoes and scarves.  Combine this colour beautifully with green and other tones of purple and play the colour off with strong prints such as black and white for a more quirky look!

Hats Off!

Sadly C & A no longer exist in the UK but are huge in Germany and across the globe.

In case you have ever wondered, the initials C and A derive from brothers, Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer who traded in linen and textiles across Europe and founded the company in 1841 in Sneek, Friesland on the Northwest coast of Germany.

Accessories are a cheap and cheerful way of adding to an outfit without costing the earth. The hats here start around 9 Euro and there is always a great range in summer.

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Make Me Up Mr Ford!

I have wanted a Tom Ford makeover for a while now. I was after a glamorous ’50’s postcard look based on a lipstick I already had my eye on. I asked Nafsika, my lovely Italian consultant to do a makeup befitting the said lipstick, Wild Ginger. The colour is reminiscent of 1950’s Hawaii and I wanted to wear it, even if I couldn’t be there!

Tomfordcollage

Lipsticks have an instant transforming effect to the face. If you don’t want to go heavy on the eyes, then go for a punchy lipstick with a striking colour. You can look instantly made up with a lipstick. After the eyes, the lips are the second most expressive part of the face and people will concentrate on one or the other when talking, so make them count!

Nafsika applied everything to my face with brushes including facecream, highlighter and foundation. You can of course use sponges and fingers to apply these products. She probably couldn’t opt out from using the exquisite brushes made of horse hair, since the cost of a complete set could fly you to Hawaii and back and still give you change for dinoir!

There is no obligation to buy, but of course, you will be seduced by any number of the products used or on display. Since I already wanted to purchase the lipstick, there was no contest. So there!

Verdict: The makeup photographs well and that is what the brand is all about. Strong. confident. sexy. glamorous. It is not however a makeup where you could pick a pint of milk up without getting a few looks, but I loved how it made me feel.

Walking home, I am sure I could hear the sound of palm trees rustling in the breeze…

Products used: Foundation- Traceless foundation stick ’03 Fawn’ -Illuminating highlighter pen in ‘Dusk Bisque’ -Powder ‘Ivory Fawn’ -Eye shadow from an eye quad ‘Golden Mink‘ and ‘Cocoa Mirage‘ Eye -Defining pencil ‘06 Midnight‘ -Mascara Extreme Mascara -Bronzing powder, ‘Gold Dust‘ -Blush ‘Ravish‘ and Lipstick ‘Wild Ginger‘

Colour Is Always In Fashion

collagepinkDepending on mood, I can dress in shades of one colour palette, or mix and match colours together for more of an impact. Wearing certain colours can act as a natural ‘pick me up’ and make you feel more energised.

Colour can draw and provoke emotion and memories for different reasons. From childhood, education or simply memories of buying something from a first wage packet!

I draw inspiration from the great outdoors and love to watch how the colours of nature blend and clash without ever looking out of place If you love colour but aren’t sure what goes with what. rather than play it safe, experiment until you are happy with the mix you have got and use your instinct. If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. Start again and play around until something clicks!

If you don’t want an overload of colour then choose a base of colour such as navy or black and accent it with accessories like a red belt, necklace, loafers and a handbag!

This is an elegant way to play off and highlight your favourite colours without going over the top.

Better still, take a colour analysis with me to find out which colours impact your business and social life and those that make you feel and look ten years younger!

In Pursuit of Happiness

It seems that you can’t mention the word beauty these days, without protest and outrage. Women it seems are fed up with being told what to look like. Especially on being beautiful.
Below is the recent Dove campaign: Patches. You will carve out your own opinion for sure. On the whole though, it seems to have drawn more annoyance than praise.

‘‘I want Dove to stop capitalizing on the insecurities of women and using it as a marketing tactic’’ and ‘‘Stop telling me that I need to feel beautiful because I do not’’ read some comments including those who dislike the trickster way in which the film was made.

Without exception, the Women who have inspired me over the years have all had one important thing in common. They are all comfortable in their own skin. Regardless of shape age or size, they have an innner confidence and self-acceptance that cannot be ignored (or acted out) and one which positively effects not only themselves, but those of the lives around them.

One of these Women inspired me to create a presentation called ”Bringing out the Goddess in you” which follows my journey as a model in London to setting up my style consultancy business in 2006. I met my Goddess while working at an event in London. A tall lady with a full rubenesque figure  wearing a deep magenta bustier and long fishtail skirt. She stood out like a Valkyrie in a Wagner opera. I took a moment to step ahead of her to tell her just how fantastic she looked.

She thanked me with a beaming smile, looked me straight in the eye and with one hand over mine, said quietly and confidently. ”I KNOW”

In accepting my compliment, she acknowledged this and I havent forgotten her for it.

As the women said in Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches. ‘We spend alot of time as women analysing and trying to fix the things that aren’t quite right, when we should spend time appreciating the things that we do like’

Beauty and whatever you perceive it to be, is not only in the eye of the beholder, it is in the eye of the holder.

Take a look around and see if you can spot a Goddess in the crowd. They will not be rushing out to buy the latest beauty product in pursuit of happiness.

They have already found it. Inside themselves.


The Sixties

This is a sixties post with a musical flavour, so press play on the video for maximum effect!

Style In the fifties, sixties and seventies was clearly defined by tailoring, shape, colour, hair, makeup and of course music. Today fashion feels more like a mash-up of everything together. We see the same styles repeated season after season on a variation of themes with continual throwbacks to these eras.

I was born toward the end of the sixties and although I didn’t get a chance to do the twist, I bought into the era with music. My first Lp was Twist and Shout by the Beatles. The famous four in their narrow fitting suits, beatle boots, mop-tops, skinny ties and lots of attitude! This live recording from London’s Prince of Wales theatre in 1964 conjures up so much about the spirit of the time.

Before school, I squeezed in time to watch Mum getting ready. Fascinated as she painted black liner on her upper lids and ‘false’ eyelashes onto the lower with a cake eyeliner. Her mass of hair piled high on top and secured with velvet ribbon. Eyes and hair were all that mattered in the sixties.That and alot of leg! I didn’t think much of it at the time, but looking back at photos I realized there were quite some cheeky numbers in my Mums closet which my sister and I were more than happy to recycle in the years to follow!

Despite living in the sleepy hollow of rural Devon in England, Mum would head to London once a year and stock up on a few pieces. Many of which she still has. It was the era of Biba, Mary Quant, Ozzie Clark and Celia Birtwell. It was an incredible time for design and fashion and the influence continues today.

Primary school sports day was always quite memorable.On one occasion, Mum wore suede side-laced hot pants, a matching midriff tassled top and white patent knee high boots. Dad was in a purple shirt,pants and a brown tie embroidered with bees and butterflies. They accessorized all their outfits with my Dad’s love of American cars.

Whether the judges were distracted, or we were just really good. My sister and I collected our red rosettes as we won the egg-and-spoon race and the two legged race year after year!mumMum in one of her more sober outfits!

mumtwinsWigs were also big accessories in the sixties and seventies. Our dresses were from Kids in Gear, Carnaby Street, London.

Personal Stylist, Sir?

Having recently added a page for Men on my website I saw this timely article in The Guardian written by blogger David Evans otherwise known as Greyfox.

”Many men, whether they are interested in fashion or not, have at some time wondered if they could be better dressed” says David who created his blog for men in 2011 after becoming aware that the majority of fashion is aimed at the under forty’s with little choice (or direction) beyond.

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He puts two different personal styling services through their paces to see what is on offer. The first is a one-to-one service and an initial consultation finishing with a shopping trip. The second is based on a telephone consultation with a selection of outfits compiled and sent in the post. Both have positive results even though they are vastly different.

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Having offered personal styling for men since 2006 I believe face to face service is unequivocal in terms of matching the right colours, style and tailoring to the individual. After all, It is not only the personal colouring (hair eyes and skin) and the physical frame that is important, but getting to know some of the personality, character and lifestyle of a person that can help create a truly individual service with a lasting outcome.

mensocks Why bother with personal styling?

Shopping with a stylist means you can avoid the problems of the emotional tangles often associated when shopping with someone you know more intimately. Rather choosing things they would like to see on you, or letting you drift into the unknown and ending up with bags of clothes that are worn once and put to the back of the wardrobe. Frustrating and expensive to say the least!

menhat

A stylist eliminates all of that. Whether you want a new look personally or professionally, a profile is created based on your body type, natural colouring, personal likes and dislikes, lifestyle and budget. Research is carried out to find items of clothing that match your profile and a shopping day is arranged.

The best part for me is when a customer gets their ”A-ha” moment and realizes what works and what doesn’t. How the right clothes and colour can be youthful without trying too hard and surprisingly how they can’t wait to go shopping on their own!

The chances that the well dressed man you just passed went to a stylist? That’s for them to know and you to find out!

FIND OUT MORE AND BOOK A STYLE CONSULTATION WITH ME TODAY!

 

It’s Raining Men!

The following two posts are dedicated to Men (I spoil you!) and are taken from my new page Men Only! 

Men don’t get much air-time when it comes to fashion. Yes, there are the fashion shows, magazine shoots, expensive watches and blogs on man bags and chunky knitwear. But when it comes down to dressing they still only have to get the basics right and are good to go: A suit, shirt and tie. Jacket, shirt, jeans, pullover,shoes, bag and out the door!

Dressing well is more than the sum of its parts; If you feel good about yourself, regardless of age, shape, sex or size, you are likely to take more care over your image. Any Compliments you receive will reinforce that you are on the right track and will continue to boost your self-esteem.

The key to good dressing is not to follow trends or try to copy an image that isn’t you, but knowing your body shape and maximizing on your best features and natural colouring.

‘‘Be yourself always, there’s no one better”

Being comfortable in the clothes you wear will help you stay confident. This allows you to get on with the business of the day so your style and colour can do the talking for you!

For a wardrobe foundation, take a look at my Top Ten items in the post below or book an appointment with me TODAY for an image that boosts your confidence and reflects the best of who you are in your business and social life.

doubletakeman

 Ingolstadt Shopping Village – I recently visited one of the collection of Chic Outlet Shopping villages (Bicester Village in London is the first) The Munich village is superb and has one of the best collections of menswear I have seen in a long time. You can create a comprehensive wardrobe here for a fraction of the cost and without the crowds of the hight street- I will be holding shopping trips in the Spring, so watch this space!

 

Donald’s Menswear– I’m giving my home town of Okehampton in South West England a plug with this long established menswear shop. Donald Rooke and his wife Carol have been running Donald’s since 1984. With over forty years experience, they offer a personal service that is second to none. Amongst others, they stock Barbour, Bruhl, Daniel Grahame, Franco Ponti, Jockey, Mish Mash, Morley, Peter England and Pod.

 

Primer– I have subscribed to Primer for a few years now. They have contributing writers and editors keeping it fresh and stuff that you want to know if you are a man about town or country. It is also very good for business and post graduates. Enjoy

Top Ten must-haves for Men!

 casualman

For a wardrobe foundation, take a look at the items below or book an appointment with me TODAY for an image that boosts your confidence and reflects the best of who you are in your business and social life.

1.JACKET-Invest in a well tailored jacket. Don’t confuse this with wearing your suit jacket. A jacket or blazer is an individual item that can be worn with jeans and dressed up or down. Pick a jacket in a decent cloth and choose navy or dark brown. Either plain or herringhone. The jacket will form an important basis of your smart casual wardrobe.

2.FITTED SHIRT– Either plain or check. You can also do block colours for contrast. Make sure the shirt fits your body and you are not swimming in material. This will ensure that anything you layer over the top will sit well and won’t clump under your sweater.

3.V-NECK SWEATER– Fine knitwear looks great over a fitted shirt and gives a sophisticated, modern look.Go for dark brown, blue, black, or maroon and contrast these with your fitted shirts for maximum impact!

4.JEANS- Preferably In a dark indigo wash and should be well fitted and clean cut. Jeans should not be frayed at the edges and should drop neatly over the shoe or boot. If there is a problem with length take them to a tailor.Jeans that are either too short or too long, will make you look smaller or bigger than you really are!

5.CHINOS or CORDS in grey, khaki or a pale colour- Work these with jackets of the same hue or add a contrasting colour in a jacket, shirt, pullover or cardigan.

6.SHOES- A classic pair of oxfords or brogues are a staple in any mans wardrobe but for a more casual look, go for a pair of suede desert boots. Choose brown blue or black.

7.TIE-If you have to wear a tie, make it count. Ties are best in silk and a chance for you to show some personality and flair. Pick either solid colours or subtle patterns. Large stripes and cartoons are 80′s and ageing. Choose a knitted tie if you want to be a little edgy but casual. Note: Today a Black Tie event can also mean ‘no tie’ so check with company protocol!

8.HANDKERCHIEF-A handkerchief adds extra flair in a top pocket and can pick out the colours in your shirt or overall colour.Handkerchiefs are not just the reserve of weddings!

9.COAT- A wool overcoat is a must in any mans wardrobe.The style is up to you. Pick from a trench, zip up or pea coat, double breasted or single button. Invest in a decent coat and it will last a lifetime and always look good.

10. MEDIUM SIZED BAG-A messenger or duffle bag will look good anywhere. Leather is best but you can also go for cotton or canvas. Pick a solid colour or subtle print.

If you have looked at this list, and your eyes glaze over because you hate shopping- I can help! Take a look at my testimonials from men who faced their fear and did it anyway!

Sock it to me!

Giving socks at Christmas is something we are told, to avoid for fear of being predictable; boring or simply lacking in imagination. A few years ago I may have agreed with this, but not any more. How can you not smile unwrapping these beauties? Given to me by Mum (see her in the post below!) the socks are a first for me from the long established family run business in the village of Avoca, County Wicklow, Ireland.

Avoca mill was bought by solicitor and philanthropist Donald Pratt and his wife Hilary in 1974 who rescued it from being turned into a holiday complex. Having survived as a mill since 1723 the family reinstated it to full working order. With a mission to ‘create joy and have fun’ It is clear the company have a love for colour as well as being individual and quirky which no doubt, contribute to their continuing success.

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Having been managed by the Pratt family for the past two generations, Avoca is still the oldest surviving business in Ireland. They employ 600 people across the country and wholesale to nine stores worldwide. When visiting the village, you can also take a comprehensive tour of the working mill and watch the handweavers creating the famous and colourful blankets in front of you. These are all good reasons to love these socks, if nothing else!

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Blazing Trails of Colour!

Having just got back from a short visit to see my Mum in Devon, England I took the opportunity to take some snaps of her very own hand-painted silk scarves and of her!

silk7Mum in her inimitable style-Why wear one skirt, when you can wear two!

For more than twenty years my Mum has been painting on silk; She took a course in London in the 80’s and has been painting ever since. Having taken some time out, I am happy to say She returned to it this year with gusto and has produced a harvest of colour, pattern and gorgeous motives. Since each scarf is hand-made and not repeated, it gives them a unique, almost living quality and of course they are exquisite to feel and wear.

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As with every artist, her inspiration comes from many places; Landscape, people, places, colour, objects, poetry, animals, fashion, sculpture and most importantly, from her.

silk2Creating a silk scarf involves several hours work from stretching the silk onto a frame to hand-painting (using various techniques) to steaming and hand-washing for the finished product.

Below: Rolling the scarves onto cloth to steam for two hours. A scarf is not finished until it has been steamed; This not only fixes the colour (to stop it running) but strengthens it too.
silk8Joy Silks supplies a small collection of scarves to art galleries in the UK and Scotland- Please contact me if you have questions or enquiries.

Happy Birthday To You!

I already blogged about this in May this year, but since these fabulous ladies continue to make it into the press, I have saved you from scrolling down to find it again!

Not only did my ever so stylish Mum turn 70 this year, but today marks the 70th Birthday of German fashion designer Jil Sander, so what better way to celebrate!……….

Elegant; exquisite, glorious, resplendent, statuesque, flawless, radiant, ravishing and stunning are just some of the adjectives to describe beauty.

Who pops into your mind when you see these words? An actor, supermodel,TV star or someone you work with or are related to?

For a while now, my head has been turning for a second look, to a group of Women not usually associated with the words flawless or ravishing, but are holding the torch fierce and bright, leaving many of the younger generation in the shade.

I’m referring to folk in their 60’s, 70’s 80’s and beyond who are gracing our Cities and sidewalks with style and confidence; No longer rushing out to buy the latest must have item or hung up on what’s in or out but accepting of themselves to express their individual character and personality in what they wear, and how they wear it and not giving a monkeys who likes it or not!

A  bright shawl over a jacket, angular hair cuts, ruby red lips or wearing a hat that has seen sixty summers, these women not only own their look, they rock it!

New York based photographer Ari Seth Cohen took his love for the older generation a leap further and in 2008 created his blog Advanced Style

With 10 million hits; films, a new book and counting, he is bringing his silver stylistas, to the forefront rather than keeping them out of sight, in a youth obsessed fashion culture that says we should all but disappear when we reach 60!

Listening to characters like Iris Apfel 91, Lynn Dell 79 and Ilona Royce Smithkin 93, It is easy to see why these Women have become role models not only for their generation but for generations to come. Reading the comments on his blog are a joy and emphasise the very important message of looking forward not backwards. I know I am!

It is time to stop letting the fashion industry intimidate us into feeling out of date; old or no longer visible but use it to empower and express who we are from the inside out, whatever our shape and whatever our age!

These Women, this photographer and his film go a long way to do just that.

For more, check out BBC 4 Woman’s hour (Play at 18 minutes 56 seconds for the Advanced Style story) and the BBC News Magazine

Read my newsletter and subsrcribe today! why age doesn’t matter, but dressing for it does!

 

Milk-Made Fashion!

Fancy a dress made of cows milk? Then take a look at this video and meet the fashion designer from Hannover, Anke Domaske who sells her milk fibre fashion all over the world.

Using no pesticides, no chemicals and a short production process, this is eco-friendly fashion at its best. The organic fibre has a silky feel without the cost of real silk and washes normally says Anke.

Go check out her website Madamoiselle Chi Chi which has great colour and cool designs!


Style Workshop!

I recently held the first of my four workshops in Munich called ‘Finding Your Style’ with a wonderful group of six Women.

I will be doing the following WORKSHOPS in the coming months: Dressing for your Body Shape & Colour Analysis, Wardrobe Planning and Accessories and Make-up, Skincare and Body Language. Please contact me if you are interested in taking part in one, or more of these.

‘Finding your style’ is not about a quick-fix makeover that is forgotten after a month. For my workshops I offer exercises and methods that go alot deeper and are longer lasting.

They tap into our sub-concious and are about clearing out the clutter and noise of life to focus and reflect on personal choices; desires, thoughts, feelings and even fears.

CarnabytwinsblogEven Twins are unique- Sarah (L) Rachel (R)

 

In the workshop there were three sets of twins (of which I am one). Twins especially keep asking themselves ‘are we unique’? It may take longer to work out the answer, as inevitable comparisons are made both by ourselves and others. I can certainly say, that not only are we unique, but vastly different people that can be enjoyed and admired.

 

The workshop was confirmation, that we can all benefit from our uniqueness and individuality, and find courage to develop and trust our instincts regardless of what others, Society (or even ourselves) dictate and have the confidence to follow it through no matter how small the steps.

‘Finding your style’ is more than about choosing the right colour (more on that later!) It is about matching those feelings and desires on the inside, and reflecting them on the outside so that they resonate with the personality, character and lifestyle creating a harmony and symmetry.

Each day is a chance of expressing and owning your own good judgement and not giving others the power over your unique-ness.

I think the workshop went a good way to show this.

Thank you all for coming!

 

Haute Couture

Fashion week maybe long gone, but it is never out of season to show a making-of film and In this particular case, Haute Couture for Chanel Fall/Winter 2013/14

British born Charles Frederick Worth is widely considered the Father of Haute Couture when he moved to Paris from Bourne, Lincolnshire in 1846 to work for a Parisian draper. Indeed, many of his clients later perused the atelier rooms of Chanel and ordered from her.

After opening a dress making business, rather than let the customer dictate a look, Worth created a portfolio of designs for each season shown by models for the customers to pick and choose from fabric, colour and trimmings, followed by a duplicate garment (Toile) for a series of fittings.

The term Haute Couture is protected by law in France and defined by the Paris Chamber of Commerce. To earn the right to call itself a couture house and use the term in advertising and in any other way, these rules must apply:

  • Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings
  • Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
  • Each season present a collection to the Paris press, comprising of at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for daytime and evening wear.

While seeing the close-up work of hands and fingers manipulating cloth into painstaking shapes and detail, I would still like to see a film of the people behind the scenes (including faces) who create these works of art and so far have had little success. If you have a film of this, then please share with us!

chanelrecommendLastly, I would like to recommend this book on Chanel which is beautifully written and translated. Even if you haven’t the slightest interest in fashion, you will be without a doubt drawn into the fascinating life of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel.

In Praise of the Dirndl

Oktoberfest 2014 is descending upon us, so get your ‘Tracht’ out of the closet, dust it down and get ready to party!

 

If you don’t have a tracht (traditional costume) then it is high time you got one, after all millions of other non-natives don the costume every year and it is a great way of feeling part of the festival and getting acquainted with beer and pretzel in traditional dress!

This is a dedication to the Dirndl, a dress with a legacy going back 140 years. Having stood the test of time, it is still worn today by hundreds of women across Bavaria, Austria, the Alps and beyond.

If the dirndl could get herself a plaque on the Hollywood hall of fame and press her bodice into the clay, then I would take her there and do it!

Dirndl, a term for “young girl,” and the name given to the dress, originated as a simplified form of a servant’s or maid’s dress and was made of plain colors or simple check, denoting regional and social background. Back then, the dirndl was colored using vegetable dyes, giving it a much softer look than the colors we see today, which are richer and brighter. The dirndl was adopted by the upper echelons of society in the late 1800s, when it was fashionable to emulate the simple life of the peasants, and they were made in expensive, embroidered fabrics of velvet, silk, satin and fine cottons.

The two basic styles of the dress are Trachtendirndl, which consists of a blouse, tailored bodice, a full skirt and an apron and the Landhausmode (country house style), which is a dirndl-like dress and skirt that is more informal. You can still see women wearing this “softer” version, the landhausmode, on a daily basis.

The dirndl is still worn by many women for traditional and cultural events and at weddings, to show their regional pride. And lets face it, when you have an outfit that is so flattering, there won’t be many cries of, “I’ve got nothing to wear!?” The dirndl has a pride and pertinence to it lacking in the expensive and “samey” fashion labels on the market.

The Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the best places to see every region of Bavaria’s trachten, displayed throughout the festivities in spectacular style. There are many variations and styles of these exquisitely embroidered dresses, bodices and aprons—often accessorized with hats, feathers, bust adorning roses, brightly colored silk shawls, handcrafted jewelry, medallions and beads for the neck and waist. The exquisite attention to detail in the costumes discloses regional, social and historic status. Farmers would often show their wealth by displaying it on their wives’ dirndl, and it was common for a woman to show her dowry in the same way.

 

But what makes the dirndl SO fine for our Frauleins? The secret, my friends, lies in the BODICE. And since the upper part of the body is the main focal point of a person, the dirndl creates a natural platform for adornment and enhancement of this area. So get this right and the rest will follow!

The dirndl is also in my hall of fame because it fits all shapes, sizes, heights and statures, ticking all the boxes for fit and flattery. It is the ultimate “IT” dress! If you are not blessed with a bosom, the dirndl will give you some va va voom, and if you are blessed, then be prepared for rubber necking from admirers who just can’t help themselves.

Underneath the bodice is a cotton blouse, cut just under the bust to avoid any excess material, cleverly veiling any excess flesh, perfect for older ladies who want to cover their upper arms (the loathed under arm flesh). The blouses come in plain cotton for a few euros or several hundred for exotic versions in organza, linen, lace and crystal embroidery. The hochziet or wedding tracht are really something else!

Below are some tips for buying a dirndl. Even though some may seem obvious, you want to be happy with your choice. Despite the myths out there—Newsflash! —there are some women who don’t  like shopping! It can be a minefield with many choices and little help, not always as enjoyable as it should be. This should eliminate the complexity a bit, making it easier and more fun.

 

Tips on buying a dirndl

#1 Make sure the bodice fits you. Look for the same size as a fitted top you already own when trying it on. The bodice is the only part that needs to fit you well.

#2 When trying on your dirndl, always try on the blouse that goes underneath, even if it is not the one you want to get, and lace the bodice up. This will give you a true fit. It should be snug but not tight; you need room for dancing and saying, “Prost!”

#3 If you are a teenager, you can get away with wearing the mini-length dirndl. If you are older, wear the mid-length or the traditional length. Trust me, no one will be looking at your legs!

#4 There are many good second hand shops around, and with a bit of time, you can really make a dirndl your own by choosing from a huge selection of dresses, blouses and aprons for around 100 euros for the complete outfit. Scores of Oktoberfest revelers turn in their dirndls after the party is over, before heading back to their Motherlands, so there are plenty of bargains to be had.

#5 Here is a color guide to help you get the most out of your dirndl. It will help bring out the best in your natural coloring and features. Then just wait to collect the “oohs and ahhs” from friends and colleagues!

• If you are a redhead – Look for bronze and golden shades, burnt orange and reds.

• If you are blonde – Look for yellows, rose and brown, blues and golden shades.

• If you are brunette – Look for purples, reds, dark green, black and plum shades.

• If you have black hair – Look for black, purple, charcoal and royal blue.

• If you have grey hair – Look for cool (blue based) colors, preferably with some contrast, also grey, dark navy, teal and spruce, and keep makeup light and subtle.

#6 How you tie the apron bow on the dirndl indicates your marital status:

• If you are engaged or married – tie it on the right side.

• If you are young, free and single – tie it on the left side.

• If you are widowed – tie it at the back.

Have fun and enjoy wearing your dirndl. If you are one of those with the apron bow tied to the left, then get ready to take on your suitors!

See you at the Oktoberfest and Auf Wiedersehen!

 

Farmhouse Style

Driving back to Munich from my husbands hometown of Beratzhausen in the beautiful Oberpfalz, We took a detour to a place I have wanted to go for some time.

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The Schleyerbach family story starts back in 1972 when the family wanted curtains in a traditional style they could no longer find; the ‘Bauern’ (farmhouse) style.

Having looked without success in Munich and Nuremberg, they realized the only way to get them, was to make them up themselves. It wasn’t long before word got around and friends and neighbours came knocking. Demand for these originals took them to the Frankfurt Messe with the name ‘Katharieder Bauernhanddruck’ (farmer hand press) and the business was born.

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We bought these gorgeous hand printed table mats (above) made from linen and hemp

 

Using the screen print method (Siebdruck) the company produce not only curtains, tablecloths, runners and cushions but also offer a made to measure service. Themes are varied, from traditional farmhouse prints to flowers, birds, animals and festive creations in linen, cotton, hemp or a mixture.

Everything is laid out in an incredible display using the entire length of the old farmhouse.

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If you out and about and heading towards Regensburg or Nuremberg, turn off at the Beratzhausen/Oberpfraundorf exit and take time to look around this beautiful place.

This old farmhouse had a special atmosphere, charm and timeless quality that I have rarely encountered and I challenge anyone to walk away empty handed!