Shopping In London!

London is undoubtedly one of the best shopping capitals in the world. But with such a huge and varied choice on offer, it can be a jungle. So where do you begin?

At best, shopping can be overwhelming and even intimidating.How do you shop for things that echo your personal style, and leave you feeling confident and energised, not frustrated and exhausted?

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Coming Soon….!

I am creating a series of guided shopping trips for small groups of like minded people around London and will be your style coach, tour guide and personal shopper rolled into one!   rachel@rachel-moss.com or more information:


How Do I Look?

Remember that old cliche where women are supposed to love shopping while the men folk are dragged along only to drop into the nearest chair, uttering ‘Yes dear, it looks fine dear’ ‘But, don’t you have one like that already..dear?’ are thankfully (mostly) confined to the archives of 70’s sitcoms.

Despite the myth that Women are supposed to love shopping I know for a fact many don’t like it at all. Some I speak to even hate it!

Surveys in the UK suggest that up to 44% of women don’t like clothes shopping one bit. Apart from the usual issues such as finding the right size, not wanting to try on clothes, bad lighting and poorly placed mirrors. (all true) There can be an issue of too much choice (or lack thereof)

 

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Having too much of a choice doesn’t sound like much of a problem considering world events, but having the confidence to know what looks right, and step out of the house feeling good about yourself can be an uphill struggle for those battling with issues in low self-esteem and confidence.

If you look good, you feel good. This has a positive effect on yourself as well as those around you and can affect for the better, every aspect of your life.

Shopping for men it has to be said, is far easier. By definition, their choice is narrower. For the corporate environment at least, they can choose between suit, pants, shirt, tie, jacket, sweater, shoes, man-bag and coat. Business dress for men is more relaxed than ever though, and lines can still get blurred. Successful dressing for men is down to the right tailoring, style, colour and cloth.

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Shopping for women on the other hand, is a whole new ball game.

Although many of us can remember the carefree days of dressing up and experimenting with shopping in our youth.Having the responsibility of a young family, work, stress or illness can leave many women on the back foot regarding confidence, energy and the feel-good factor they once had.

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With the continual care of others’, many mums tell me they are lucky to get even a brush through their hair before heading out the door on the school run. Let alone choose an outfit for the day!

One of the reasons shopping can be such a minefield for women today, is they can wear absolutely everything! From skirts, to shirts, dungarees to dinner jackets, catsuits to cufflinks. As well as every concievable colour, material and style in between.

We can cross borders without a fashion visa from feminine to masculine quicker than you can say The Devil Wears Prada.

With more choice comes more problems. Can I wear this length? Is this colour right for me? Does this make me look too young? What else will it go with? Am I trying too hard? All the hurdles, hoops and mental checks we go through before we buy something (and then to take it back) can be exhausting until we start the process of on-line shopping and find it just as fruitless.

Then there is the hair, makeup, nails, and general maintenance departments to keep the whole look rolling on.

IMG_7600After being lost in the ‘I’ve got nothing to wear’ maize for too long, and trying to put things right with well meaning relatives and friends, a style coach is often the only way out and onto a new path and direction.

As well as coming from a neutral and non-judgemental stand point, the role of a personal shopper is about matching an image to a personality and elevating a profile (whatever role in life) This allows you to get on with the job efficiently and successfully without thinking a second longer about the image you just worked at.

And the best part?  Everyone will think it came from you.

To find out more about how a style coach can get you out of your maize, speak to Rachel for an initial consultation: +44 79890 77603 or email rachel@rachel-moss.com

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Pigs And Flamingos

Have you ever had one of those nightmares where you find yourself naked at a dinner party? Or wearing a clown outfit at a funeral? Self-consciousness, insecurity and embarrassment are such strong psychological forces that they regularly haunt our dreams.

But you can turn them around. Here’s my story.

Early on last year, I was booked to walk in a fashion show for a department store outside Munich. It was my first job for a new agency and also my first catwalk show in years.

As far as my runway CV went, mine was fairly thin. My experience – and comfort zone – lay more in fashion showrooms for wholesale fashion buyers, photographic work and modelling for TV shopping channels. Rather chillaxed, really, compared to hot footing it down the catwalk trying to keep cool and collected when really you’re sweating like a builder!

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My catwalk debut was moons ago, circa 1985. The Top Shop store show in Plymouth was a culmination of a six week modeling and deportment course, oh yes. I walked out heavily buttoned and shoulder padded to a thumping version of ‘Mack the knife’, my hair was sprayed to high heaven and I was shaking from head to toe with nerves.

Then came wedding shows in freezing marquees amongst prize winning cows and bulls, Laura Ashley events in (far too many) brushed cotton floral dresses, and a couple of Liz Claiborne shows that had more twists and turns than the aforementioned clown with his pants on fire.

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So, on that fatal winter’s day last year, I pulled on my grey wool dress, extreme thermal tights and five inch red sheepskin wedges to meet a couple of models I was going to be working with, at the local train station.

I spotted the girls immediately (and not only because they were the only ones up at 6am on a Saturday morning). They were tall. Really tall. Standing in their ballet flats, they came to the same height as me in my super wedges.

Something felt immediately wrong, but I let it pass in my early morning stupor. On arrival at the store, I met the remaining models (including two friendly and exuberant males). They greeted each other in high fives and air kisses, and politely said hello to me. It was clear that they had previously worked together and were furiously catching up.

Brilliant, all of them were the same towering height. Almost a head taller than me, way over six foot (1.90 metres). And insult to injury, the girls were one or two dress sizes smaller than me. Taller and smaller! Just my day.

I felt I had been set up (like Channel 4’s ‘Faking It’ series) where they take a wrestler and train them up to be a ballet dancer to compete in a final showdown. Judges get to decide who the fake is. Sometimes they guess, but often they don’t. But there’s no faking height and size in a live show. All I had was my ability to walk, smile and show the clothing to the best effect.

Looking up at the high domed ceiling of the department store, I willed anyone to hoist me up and out of the building. To that effect, I even rung my husband but he was busy. So I was stuck with five fashion shows and model colleagues twenty years younger.
One of the girls I travelled with, became my partner. We practiced to be in sync with one another (as much as I could with her longer stride) and created a series of routines, turns and walks that we could remember.

It was then that the woman in charge caught my eye, and saw the discrepancy of choice in her new model. I felt like a pink pig trying to learn synchronized swimming in a sea of long limbed flamingos.

 

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Rather than pretend NOT to see what was happening, I walked straight up to the boss.
‘Well, its obvious isn’t it?’ she said, crossly pointing at me up and down with her finger. ‘You are clearly not the height you said you were. You’re going to knock my whole show out. Everyone looks the same, EXCEPT YOU’, she bitched.

I went on to explain that, perhaps, there must have been some kind of mix up in the measurement conversions, even though she had already seen me in person. Smiling hard, I promised her that she wouldn’t be disappointed, which she already was, obviously.

We got ready in our first outfits, but to make things more challenging, we didn’t walk out onto a level catwalk, common in most shows but immediately down two steep flights of stairs onto the department floor. My calf muscles were like steel by the time we finished!

I kept in time with the music, twirling to our memorized routine. I also kept telling myself: keep smiling, keep walking, don’t look down and please, please don’t fall on your pink pig arse! Fortunately, I completed the shows without a hitch.

In the last show, I was calm enough to take a look at the largely female audience. How on earth would these women in the audience wear the clothes and styles on models with a dress size eight and the height of Olympic athletes?

It was an abruptly absurd and exhilaratingly comical vision. The models were definitely Haute Couture, the clientele, of course, were just your average women, somewhere between a height of 5 feet 4 (1.65 metres) and a dress size 14 (42). Don’t get me wrong, that’s exactly as it should be!

My main job as a style coach is to help create and refresh a personal image of an individual person, who, in all likelihood, is not a supermodel. To do this with lasting results, things must be done in an authentic way. A successful image transformation not only has to fit to the personality, character (and comfort zone) of the person but should highlight the best of their body shape and unique features regardless of age, shape or size.

image008I couldn’t see how a catwalk show like this could carry this important message across. It looked manipulative to say the least.

I thought of the customers trying on the clothes after the shows, and wondered if they thought they could look like the models once they bought the clothes. I also wondered, how many were disappointed with their reflection and walked away empty handed and dejected.

As I made my way back to Munich I thought of my sometimes conflicting jobs as style coach and model. One creates and improves an image of reality, of what we do look like. The other participates in creating an illusion of what people think they should look like.

By now, I know which aspect I prefer. I hope you do too.

If you would like to know how a style session can help you, please get in touch!

Boo hoo!

I have to be honest. I am not usually a fan of on-line shopping. With the exception of my most favourite on-line store Top Vintage I don’t surf for clothes!

There are reasons for this. I can’t feel the fabric, I can’t get to grips with the colour, I can’t see the cut and shape, and I can’t have it straight away! Alongside that if you dont like it or it doesn’t fit then you’ve got to trek to the post office, wait in line and send it back. b o r i n g!

At least if you buy it from a shop with people in it, you can return it and at the same time have a perusal for a replacement (which invariably, has new stock since you were last there) It’s a win win, I say!

I think the peplum is a bit vintage and a bit 80’s.They are good for shapes like mine. hour glass and curvy. They offer a nice distraction around the hips while giving the illusion of a smaller waist.

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So, I thought why not check the internet. I put ‘peplum’ into the search box and up popped a company called boohoo from Manchester in the UK. They had many items with peplum. all I had to do was start looking. From skinny night club tops, to tiny features on the back of jackets. I wanted the full peplum treatment. No excuses.

The dress I landed on had 5 stars alongside it and the reviews were quite impressive.(and very useful) Women from very small to larger sizes were wearing this dress and feeling great in it.They were getting compliments too which was nice to read.

The dress definitely fit the description in terms of fit and colour and the fabric was supportive.So supportive, it was like putting on a wetsuit (do your hair first!) Once on though, it did the trick and made me feel quite fabulous!

I really like Boohoo for their no nonsense prices.Trouble shooting enough customer issues out the window have made it almost impossible not to buy something (or return it) and the garments are manufactured in the UK which is a plus.

This is when on-line shopping gets clever. It offers things you won’t see on the high street and is always better value for money. (cutting out the middle man also means they don’t have to pay extortionate shop rates) Getting a few compliments along the way for something that cost the price of a bunch of flowers is not bad either.

Thanks to the bunch at boohoo!

Out Of The Blue!

It is usually my job to pick out clothing for others’ on personal shopping trips around Munich. It’s nice for a change when the tables are turned. This usually happens when I go shopping with my Mum. We were walking around the beautiful seaside town of Sidmouth in Devon, England when we decided to take a look inside M&Co.

M&Co (formely Mackays) was established in Scotland fifty years ago and has grown to become one of the largest privately owned fashion clothing retailers in the UK and has over 300 stores including franchises in Dubai, Bulgaria and Malta.

When you walk into the store, it is easy to understand the success of this family fashion empire.The layout is generous and you can actually move clothing to look at it, rather than it being jammed in so tight, you feel like a wrestler (trying not to wrestle) Lighting is ambient but you can still see the colours for what they really are. The music is neither too loud or  piped elevator music (as my Dad liked to call it) and the staff are great. BUT the best thing about M&Co is their pricing. It’s brilliantly budget or (in a French accent) budget!

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Take this dress. It already has (as they say in the business) hanger appeal, which makes it easier to imagine how it might look on and a quick turnaround for the retailer. Scouting around shops before personal shopping trips, It was clear to see how the store mixed good basics with embellished pieces perfectly.The website is really good for this too.

Mum took one look at the dress and said ‘It’s Christian Dior’s New Look dress of the 1950’s. It’s charming Rache’ With that, I had to try it on!

The dress feels light on and does have a designer feel about it. I thought It might feel a bit too girly with all the lace, but it doesn’t due to the midnight blue and the elegant cut. There is just enough netting underneath the dress to push it out without making me feel like a music box dancer. The hint of lilac lining beneath the bodice gives it something extra and even the grosgrain belt (which I normally discard) adds to the look. The price of the dress was 59 (GBP) but was reduced further to 40. Of course, I had to get it!

Fashion doesn’t need to be expensive to be beautiful!

 

Take a look at M&Co here.


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!

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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.