5 Trends Not to Copy

5 Trends Not to Copy

It’s tempting when we see our fave influencers and celebs wearing the latest looks fresh from the runway to want to jump on board. Beware! Here are 5 “It Girl” trends that shouldn’t be followed blindly. Why? Read on…

1) The Tent Dress

Making frequent appearances at fashion weeks around the globe, the tent dress is not for everyone! In fact, it’s best left to those who are 6 foot 5 and stick thin, or those who are size 18 plus with an oval body shape. Those of us who sit anywhere in between – my advice is to steer well clear of the tent.

If you have a triangle, inverted triangle, rectangle or hourglass shape (check out That Style Chick App to find out your shape for free) it is a big faux pas to swamp your frame and hide your waist under a glorified sack, no matter how on trend it might be. You will look your best in dress styles that complement your waistline. Putting it bluntly, wearing a shapeless tent style will make you look the size of a tent! Not sure about you, but for me that’s a big “no thank you”!!

2) Square Toe Shoes

90’s fashion is definitely having a come back and square toes are back with a vengeance. As tempting as it is to jump on board (there are some beautiful square toe strappy sandals and boots around), I ask you this… Do you wish your legs looked longer or shorter? If you’re pining for pins that go on forever, the square toe is not necessarily the best option for you. Point toes are usually more slimming and elongating.

It’s also important to understand your proportions when deciding on the best shoes. If your top half (crown to hips) is longer than your bottom half (hips to floor) a square toe is probably not going to be your friend. If your torso is on the short side, a square toe could work in your favour as it may help create more balance between top and bottom halves.

3) The Dad Sneaker

Much to my dislike, it seems the Dad sneaker is sticking around. You can find them everywhere, from the high end to the high street.

As with the square toe, the Dad sneaker does not always do legs favours. The chunky nature of many styles can make legs look wider and shorter than they are. I’m not sure about you, but the short chunky leg is not a look I aspire for. If you’re blessed with long, slender legs, by all means invest in a chunky kick as you are more likely to pull it off. Everyone else, proceed with caution. At the very least, opt for a less chunky variety.

4) The Hoodie

We live in an era where it is socially acceptable to call hoodies “fashion”. Does this mean we should all rush out and buy one? Not necessarily! Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should!

Firstly, most of us, particularly us Mums, are doing our damnedest to get ourselves out of activewear more often. Let’s not slide backwards and buy more of it under the guise of fashion. Let me be clear, I am not bagging activewear as the choice of daily attire. Motherhood is an extreme sport and sometimes we need to dress for it accordingly. If wearing activewear day-to-day helps reduce stress and make life easier and more joyful,  then by all means embrace it. Invest in more hoodies if you so desire.

If you are in the group who finds themselves in activewear more often than they would like and who secretly wishes they could look more pulled together for the school run, you don’t need more hoodies!!

My main reason for not advocating hoodies as fashion – most hoodies are over-sized and shapeless. Like the tent dress, they can make us look bigger than we actually are. …even if worn with a fab leopard mini skirt and cute little ankle boot. Whilst Marissa of @twiceblessed_ can definitely pull it off and make a hoodie look chic, in my stylist opinion, hoodies are generally best kept as active wear. That us unless they are somewhat streamlined and give some level of waist definition. Or unless you cleverly tuck and style them, as Marissa has.


5) The Unstructured Blazer

There are lots of great blazers around at the moment; some beautiful checked fabrics and also a selection of block colours. There is also a trend toward oversized and unstructured tailoring.

By now you’re probably getting the idea that for many body shapes, swamping the figure with oversized styles is a no no. Once again, I’m not saying don’t go for an unstructured blazer. I’m just saying be smart about it. Maybe you’re better off choosing a style that has more waist definition. There are also some options for styling an unstructured blazer, which can help flatter rather than swamp a waistline.

For example, you could define your waist underneath the blazer, by choosing a more fitted top, and/or by tucking it into your pants or skirt. If you’ve got the abs for it, wear a bralette under your oversized blazer.

A belt worn underneath a blazer is also a great waist-defining accessory. Belts need not be limited to underneath your blazer. You could also wear a belt over the top, to cinch in your blazer at the waist (or even try a belt bag if you’re feeling fashion forward).

In Conclusion

So there you have it! I’m not saying don’t embrace these trends. What I’m saying is that’s important to understand your body shape and your own style preferences and stay true to that. Make choices that flatter, not make you look frumpy. As they say, fashions come and go, style is forever. It’s also so important to choose pieces and outfits that you love; that make you feel fabulous. If you feel a million dollars in a piece that breaks your body shape style rules, go ahead and wear it. Love trumps rules – always.

Side note: If you’re unsure of your body shape or signature style, you can find out for free by taking your free Style Consult in That Style Chick App.

Give Short Legs the Boot

Give Short Legs the Boot

Almost every woman, no matter how long her legs, wishes they were a tad (or a lot) longer. I am all for loving your body the way it is and I also love using the power of style to help you feel great about yourself as you are, with out the need for dieting or plastic surgery. So, if you want to make your legs look longer and slimmer, read on!

The leg-to-body ratio (LBR) has been the subject of research on people’s physical attractiveness. It was found that there were differences in perception between people from different cultures,[1] but for those of us with Western ideas of beauty, according to the research long legs are one of the things that is considered beautiful.


Make the World Your Runway

First step – straighten up, push your shoulders back and walk with confidence (or as they say in yoga, allow your heart to open). This will make you visually taller and with time, that confidence will become unwavering. I find that practices like yoga and Pilates can serve a double purpose – you get to tune into yourself and find some calm, while improving your posture, flexibility and overall health.

Step number two – use some tricks in putting your looks together and specifically, pay attention to your footwear and waistline. I’m going to share some style tips with you for making your legs longer and slimmer and no jokes, you can look like you’re inches taller. Here we go…

Point Toes Are Your Friend

Image: Lady Gaga at the SAG Awards

Point toe shoes will make your legs look longer and more slender than round or square toes. Shoes that are open at the top and give a bit of ‘toe cleavage’ are even better. Interestingly enough, “how much toe cleavage is too much?” has been the subject of some debate. I say just go with Manolo Blahnik on this. He says, “You must only show the first two cracks”!

You will frequently see celebrities rock point-toe pumps with their red-carpet looks. Now you know why!!

Heels are better than flats for adding length (obvs!!) but a point toe ballet flat can still be a great companion for making legs look longer. I always choose point toe flats over square or round and encourage my clients to do the same.

Set the Tone

Create a single line by tonally matching all the elements in your outfit. This can make your legs look a lot longer. Match the shoe colour to your skin tone, your tights or your pants.

Try a nude point toe heel with bare legs under a skirt/dress, or a black point toe heel with long black pants or black opaque tights. If you are wearing bare legs with shoes that don’t match your skin tone, be aware that the exposed skin will break up the line into segments and potentially make your legs look shorter. This is particularly so if there is only a small segment of exposed skin (for example with a crop pant or a midi length dress/skirt).

Did you know that in 2013 Christian Louboutin introduced pumps and ballet flats in a range of ‘nude’ shades (now 7), because “sometimes, a shoe should completely disappear in favour of the woman”?

Get High Waisted


Opt for longer line pants or jeans with a high waist. This will create the illusion of more length than a lower rise cropped pair. Similarly, go for a higher waisted skirt. With regard to skirt/dress length, both short (above the knee), or long (maxi-style) will do the best job of adding length to legs. If you choose a pencil skirt or a midi length skirt/dress (big right now), be sure to keep the tonal dressing tip in mind and definitely opt for a point-toe shoe. Choose dresses that have a higher waistline.


Go Vertical

Add length by playing with vertical lines. They could be inserts in your trousers, or a dress or skirt with vertical colour blocking or vertical stripes. Have you ever noticed how tights with a line along the back lengthen your legs?

Remember this style rule – vertical lines can elongate and create continuity, horizontal lines can widen and create a visual break. In this case, a horizontal line could be the top of a boot, or the hem and/or waist of your pants/skirt/dress. The goal is to reduce the horizontal lines on your legs completely (eg through tonal dressing), or to maximise the distance between horizontal lines to create the illusion of more length.

Image: MDS Stripes via Net-a-Porter

The Ideal Boot Length

Image: Fendi via Net-a-Porter

Tall boots that lace or zip all the way up have an elongating effect! Thigh-high boots will most likely make your legs look longer than boots that finish at the ankle or below the knee. Get a pair of above-the-knee boots with heels and point toes and your legs will definitely be the centre of the show! If you’re not up for thigh high boots, knee high boots that fit close to your leg are also great. Make sure that they don’t gape too much at the top, as this can make your leg look wider. Once again, a point toe is ideal.

Ankle boots have been a true footwear staple for years now, however I urge you to proceed with caution. Ankle boots, if not done right, can visually breakup the leg (see point about horizontal lines above!).

How to Rock an Ankle Boot Without Looking Stumpy


  • Remember my point about tonal dressing – to optimise leg length, black ankle boots work best with black or dark coloured jeans or pants. Light coloured boots work best with light coloured jeans or pants. A nude colour can work well with bare legs or neutrals.
  • Black ankle boots also work well with black tights under a skirt or dress.
  • The best skirt/dress length to wear with an ankle boot is a maxi, or a shorter style that finishes mid-thigh. Ankle boots paired with a midi style risk making legs look frumpy.
  • Alternatively, wear ankle boots under wider or boot cut pants/jeans so the hem of the pants extends down over the top of the boot. This also allows you to hide the heel under your pants, covering any disproportion between your heel height and leg. This option works particularly well with a point toe boot.
  • If you do pair darker boots with lighter jeans/pants or bare legs, look for ankle boot styles that have a vertical zip going up the front (see images below). Styles with a v-front also work well, such as these crush-worthy Jimmy Choo beauties (we can dream!). The v-front creates a vertical line which has an elongating effect and the heel adds even more length.

Image: Jimmy Choo

Image: David Jones

Speaking of Heels

Even a low heel will add height and length to your legs. I am not advocating we all switch to stilettos. After all, this is not the most sensible footwear for running errands or chasing your kiddos and dogs in the park.

There is a special formula for finding out the optimal heel height for you. Jon Frank breaks it down here. It all comes down to the Golden Ratio, which underlies many of the beautiful pieces of architecture around the world, is seen time and time again in nature and also influences our perceptions of what is beautiful (it underlies many of the styling principals I work with).

Consultant podiatrist Emma Supple has her own shoe maths – the Perfect Heel Height (PHH) that considers the flexibility of your talus. While we’ve all heard how frequently we get our bra sizing wrong, turns out most of get our heel height wrong too!

Another thing to consider is your calves. If they are on the fuller side, don’t contrast them with a skinny heel. Opt for a block heel or one that is wider to create a uniform look. A great option for elongating legs is platform wedges.

As much as I can geek out over formulas and maths, I say experiment and find the height and width of heels that works for your everyday wear and invest in a pair of higher ones for special occasions. I personally love kitten heels, which can easily go from day to night with minimal discomfort.

A Few Don’ts

Ankle straps that create a horizontal line are not really your friend, particularly if they have a wide strap (ultra thin straps are a bit more forgiving). If you have a pair that you just can’t give up, try wearing them with tapered jeans that hide the strap. You’re better to go for a strappy sandal or shoe with a strap that makes a diagonal line, or a criss-cross style.

Whist square toes are big right now, keep in mind that they might be better left for the catwalk models with legs that go on forever. Or try styling them with high waisted, longer line pants, or a mini.

Image: Tabitha Simmons via Net-a-Porter

Be careful with styles that have heavy embellishments: buckles, sequins, embroidery. They might make a statement but may not do any favours for your leg length.

Cuffing your jeans can create a horizontal line and make you look shorter, especially when paired with the chunky white ‘Dad sneakers’ that are big right now. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m just saying be aware that there may be better options if you want your legs to look lengthy!

While tonally matching shoes to your skin or clothing elongates legs, footwear that contrasts can have a shortening effect. Keep that in mind when buying your next pair of shoes.

Are you planning to rock some fabulous boots this autumn? Keep these tips in mind but remember that they’re just tips. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you do what feels best for you. 


[1]Frederick, D, Hadji-Michael, M, Furnham, A & Swami, V, 2009, ‘The influence of leg-to-body ratio (LBR) on judgments of female physical attractiveness: Assessments of computer-generated images varying in LBR’, Body Image, No 7, pp. 51-55.

Jeans, Jeans Everywhere – Eeeeek Help!

Jeans, Jeans Everywhere – Eeeeek Help!

If I received a dollar every time a client begged for help with finding the right pair of jeans I would be a wealthy woman. Finding the right pair of jeans is a bit like being stuck at sea and dying of thirst! There are jeans everywhere but sometimes it feels near impossible to find a pair that work. If this is you, read on…

You can find denim anywhere in the world. A study suggests that soon more than half of the world will be wearing this textile[1] and the average American woman owns 8.3 items of denim[2]. I’m sure Aussie women are not far off that.

I’m like every other woman: a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear. So I wear jeans.

Cameron Diaz

Jeans are the perfect “go to” for off duty dressing, a night out and even for work (see my recent post on business casual outfits). They’re so versatile that you can wear them with practically anything. Style them up, style them down. The question is, “How can I find the right style of jeans?”

The answer depends largely on your body shape, your signature style and of course, your budget. Jean fashion trends come and go. What’s in style right now SHOULD NOT be the primary driver when choosing the right pair of jeans. The “mom jean” is big right now. A fit that is synonymous with 90’s style, the mom jean has a more relaxed and slightly tapered leg, with a high mid-rise and rigid denim construction. Mom jeans are not right for everybody though. Are they right for you? Read on…

Mom jeans image: Shopbop.com

Pick the Right Size

You want to not just be able to fit into a pair of jeans, but also find one that does the right things for your body shape and make you look fabulous. My advice is to try jeans on before buying them, or buy from an online retailer that allows full refunds if the fit is not right. Size charts vary significantly between brands, and unless you’ve purchased the same brand and style before, you can’t be sure it will fit you properly. Sizing can even vary between different styles from the same brand! If the jeans fit right everywhere but the waist (you can fit several fingers between the waist line and your back), you should look for a different option. You cannot fix this with a belt (something I rarely say!).

Denim tends to stretch with wear, so if a pair feels a bit tight when you first try them on, they might be the right size for you. An easy test to determine if a pair is the right fit is simply squatting or sitting down on a chair – you should not feel discomfort around your knees and the jeans shouldn’t ‘squish’ your bum. Skinny fit jeans usually have a higher degree of elasticity, so you can skip this test when trying those on. Just make sure the stretchy fabric doesn’t give you unwanted lumps and bumps. You’ll also want to see whether they ride too low (no one wants a builder’s crack or a t-bar!).

You’re never too old to play. You’re only too old for low-rise jeans.

Ellen DeGeneres

Pick the Right Rise

When choosing jeans it helps to know your body shape. If you’re unsure of your body shape or want to validate your thinking, take the free in-app Style Consult in That Style Chick mobile app to find out your real body shape.

Most women should take the lead from Ellen and opt for mid or high rise jeans. There are exceptions though. It’s all about proportions. If you’re triangle (pear), inverted triangle (carrot) or hourglass, it’s likely that your waist is narrower than your hips and shoulders. As such, you want to look for a pair of jeans that sit as close to the narrowest part of your waist as possible. This is usually a high mid-rise or a high-rise.

Beware – if you have a bit of a tummy and you pick a cut too high, and/or you pick a thinner denim, it could accentuate your bulge. The catch is to find a rise that’s high enough to highlight your waist, yet smooths out a tummy rather than accentuating it. Sometimes a thicker denim is all it takes, other times you need to drop from a high-rise to a high mid-rise (or both).

For ovals (apples), you can follow this advice too. Opt for a high mid-rise that sits comfortably across your belly button area, without squeezing your stomach too much (no one wants a muffin top!)

Images: Shopbop.com

If you have a rectangle (banana) shape, you could possibly benefit from a lower rise. Having jeans that sit closer to your hips than your waist can visually widen your hips and give you some feminine curves. You could also go for a mid-rise.

Regardless of your body shape, if your lower half is significantly longer than your upper half (hello those of your with super-model long legs), you might benefit from a low-rise. The lower rise will help balance out your upper and lower proportions. If you have a tummy however, it’s best to avoid a low-rise as you run the risk of a significant muffin top!

Pick the Right Style

Images: Shopbop.com

Skinny, straight, slim, bootleg, wide, mom, boyfriend, carrot, flared… how do you know which style is right for you? What looks fab on your favourite Insta influencers might not be best for you. Skinny was the go-to for a long time and for the last year or two more relaxed styles have become a fashion staple. So here’s the deal – when it comes to jeans, choose fit over fashion trends.

As a rule, if you’re wider through the shoulders than you are through the hips you’re best to add more volume to the bottom half. This means that if you’re an inverted triangle (carrot), more relaxed styles like mom, boyfriend, wide leg and flares are great for you. If you wear skinny jeans, you may run the risk of looking a bit top-heavy.

If you’re wider through the hips than the shoulders (pear/triangle), you want a straight style rather than clinging or tapering fits to accentuate your hips. As such, you’re best to avoid skinny, carrot fit or tapered jeans as they could make your hips look wider. The best style for you is a straight leg.

Ovals/apples can go for skinny or slim straight jeans which look great with a longer-line top or jacket. Rectangles (bananas) and hourglass body types have a bit more flexibility. Slim straight is the ideal option for you, although any of the above styles can work. It really comes down to personal preference and the cut of the individual brand/style.

If your signature style is classic, elegant or feminine, you might gravitate to a skinny, slim or straight style. If you’re boho you might prefer flares, wide, boyfriend or mom style; something with a bit more movement. If you’re alluring you might prefer skinny.

Pick the Right Length

The ideal length depends on the proportions of your upper and lower body. If you’re longer through the legs (hips to heels) than you are through your torso (top of head to hips), then you can pull off a crop style. If you’re longer through your upper body, you’re better to opt for a longer leg, which finishes right on the foot. This will help balance you. The footwear you plan on wearing with your jeans can also play a role when choosing the right length. More about this in a moment.


What About Pockets?

Unless you’re a rectangle, avoid styles with pockets that sit too low – it won’t do good things for your bum. Ideally the bottom edge of the pocket should be exactly where the glute muscle ends.

Extra large or tab pockets, or a lower yoke makes things look larger, so if that’s the effect you’re looking for go for this style. If it’s not, go for clean and simple pockets on the back and a higher yoke (yoke is the V-shape stitching on the back of jeans above the pockets).

If you’re a triangle/pear you are best to avoid tab pockets on the front. Inverted triangles/carrots, you can have more detail on your front pockets.

Dark, Light, DistresseD?

The wash you choose depends on a few things. Firstly, darker denims such as black or dark indigo are more forgiving to larger thighs and butts (hello triangles). Lighter washes can be great for those with flat bottoms and slimmer thighs (hello inverted triangles).

Secondly, darker shades are dressier than lighter or distressed washes. Black or indigo are more work-appropriate than distressed or faded denim, which I would reserve for off-duty dressing.

If you’re a triangle/pear, you also need to take into account the placement of the distressing. You want to avoid the ‘whisker effect’ across the front of the hips as this can make your hips appear wider.

Slight Distressing


Images: Shopbop.com

The wash you prefer will also be influenced by your signature style. If your style is classic, feminine or elegant you may prefer darker washes and less distressing or rips. If you’re boho, you might like your jeans looking a bit more earthy and roughed up. Alluring types might like to show some skin through rips.


What Shoes to Wear with Jeans?

As a professional personal stylist I get this question a lot. The answer to this question depends on your vertical proportions – are your legs longer or shorter than your torso? If your legs are longer, you can wear round or square toe shoes more easily. If your legs are shorter, you’re best to go for a point toe or a platform shoe/sneaker/wedge, all of which can give you more length.

Of course jeans can be dressed up or down and the shoes you wear will depend on the occasion. Here are some ideas:

  • Cropped jeans are best worn with point toe heels/flats or a platform sneaker/wedge (unless you’re super tall – then you’ve got more flexibility). They can also work well with an ankle boot.
  • Tapered or straight leg jeans are very versatile. They can be worn with stiletto heels or rounded-toe shoes with a chunky heel. They can also be worn with flats or sneakers.
  • Boyfriend jeans look great with pointed-toe pumps, strappy sandals or a point-toe brogue.
  • Skinny or slim jeans are best for tucking into long boots and also work with ankle boots.
  • Bootcut jeans work well with yes, boots (worn underneath), and footwear with thick, heavy soles (eg a platform sneaker).

Jeans for Every Budget

For timeless jeans that can be worn year after year and won’t break the bank, my top pick is Levi’s. You can pick up a pair of Levi’s for $150 or less. If you prefer not to spend that much, Just Jeans have some great options for under $100. Kmart has many different styles starting at less than $10. Asos caters for every budget and offers full refunds on returns.

Agolde and Nobody are great mid-range options, available from The Iconic (who also offers full refunds on returns). Bardot and Country Road also offer a lot of variety and come in under the $150 mark.

If you’re prepared to invest a bit more AG is my top pick and Re/Done, M.I.HRag & Bone, Frame and J Brand are also great options. David Jones has a large selection of designer jeans, including many of these brands. Shopbop also stocks a good range of premium brands including the above, ships super-quickly from the US (a couple of days) and offers a full refund for returns.

My Top Pick

In my experience working as a stylist, there is one pair of jeans that works for the greatest number of people – the Levi’s 314 Shaping Straight jean. If you’re stumped as to where to find jeans that suit you, start by trying this pair. It comes in 5 different washes and works for most body shapes. Its cousins the 311 Shaping Skinny and 312 Shaping Slim are also pretty fab. You can thank me later 😉

Images: Levis.com.au


[1]Miller, D. and Woodward, S. (2007), Manifesto for a study of denim*. Social Anthropology, 15: 335-351. doi:10.1111/j.0964-0282.2007.00024.x

[2]Cotton Incorporated. 2005. ‘Return of the dragon: post quota cotton textile trade’, Textile Consumer 36: Summer.

Business Casual – What the @#$&?

Business Casual – What the @#$&?

“Ambiguously defined” is what Wikipedia states about business casual, stating that, “it’s ‘more casual wear than informal wear but less casual than smart casual”.  Well that makes things about as clear as… mud!!! 

Gimme some tips, gimme some rules –  ‘ambiguously defined’ is the last thing I want to hear when I need to understand something fast and I’m sure you’re the same. Read on for business casual outfit ideas a plenty.

Do Not Despair

Thankfully Wikipedia is not the only source of business fashion information! As a personal stylist with a few years of corporate experience under my belt, I am going to do my best to demystify the beast that is business casual dressing (a.k.a ‘biz cas’ pronounced ‘biz cazh’).


One Size Does Not Fit All

When it comes to business casual (or any style in general), the most important thing is that you find the clothing styles that feels right on you – not strictly following what I tell you just because I am a qualified personal stylist. I’m here to help, but you’re the one who has to feel authentic in what you wear.

Secondly, what is deemed appropriate depends on your industry, your company culture and your position. For example, if you’re a leader in your organisation you’ll likely place greater emphasis on a professional personal brand when choosing your outfits and may not feel comfortable wearing denim to work, even for occasions deemed ‘business casual’. However, you may be happy for your junior staff members to wear denim. If your company is progressive and innovative there is likely to be greater acceptance of more fashion-forward outfits. A more conservative organisation may call for a more traditional style of work dressing. A rule of thumb – in the first week in a new job be sure to cover up your shoulders, opt for formal trousers or knee length skirts and observe. You will get an idea of how relaxed or strict the dress code is and you can adjust your outfits accordingly.

In addition to industry, think about what is on for the day. While power dressing today is no longer about emulating your male colleagues’ looks, women still feel that different types of outfits get different results.

A friend of mine Steph, a senior specialist in the HR department of a major telecom company says, “If I’m in technical meetings, I tend to wear pants because I feel I get taken more seriously when I dress less girly. If I have meetings with executives I’ll try and emulate their style a bit because I’m usually meeting them to convince them on something, and the more they like me, the easier it is”.


Business Casual Defined – Denim Included

The business casual dress code typically means you can be more relaxed than traditional corporate suiting, but you still need to look smart and work-appropriate. For men this is relatively simple – jeans or pants with an open-neck shirt or polo and an optional blazer or sports-jacket. For women, business casual outfits is more of a grey area, so let me try to help.

Unless your company policy clearly states otherwise, business casual for women usually includes denim – with skirts, jeans, jackets given the green light. As a general rule, your denim should be free of rips, tears and significant distressing. Darker denim washes are best – either indigo or black denim are ideal.

Of course, you don’t need to opt for denim. Pants, dresses, skirts and tops are all great business casual options. Footwear can be flat or heeled, depending on your preference.


Business Casual No No’s

The main consideration is whether your outfit is ‘work appropriate’. Typically this means:

  • Not too short or sexy – no micro-minis, hot pants, crop tops, deep plunging necklines, bodycon lycra dresses or thigh high splits!!
  • Not too ripped, distressed or worn
  • Not too ‘undone’ – you need to look neat, tidy and pulled together – not sloppy – so take care to tuck yourself in and pick up an iron if need be (or if you’re like me and hate ironing, opt for crinkle-free fabrics!)
  • Not active wear – tracksuits included (unless cleverly styled with blazer & heels but even then you might be entering the grey zone)
  • No sneakers unless they’re a super-stylish leather pair (or unless your workplace has a super cas. vibe).

IDEAS FROM A PERSONAL STYLIST for Business Casual Dressing

For us gals, some business casual outfit combos might include:

  • A blazer, a t-shirt or cami tucked in to dark denim jeans or a denim skirt (not too short) with a block heel pump or point-toe ballet flat.
  • A flowy dress worn under a leather or denim jacket, paired with ballet flats or a heeled pump or sandal.
  • Wide-legged pants, a t-shirt, blouse or button-down tucked in and a point-toe heel or flat.

Of course, you need to ensure whatever business casual outfit you choose works for your body shape. If you’re unsure of your shape That Style Chick style app can help you work it out.

Image: fashionssories.com

Build a Capsule Business Casual Wardrobe

Chances are you already have pieces in your wardrobe that work well for business casual dressing – blazers, dark wash denim jeans, classic jumpers and cardigans, a button-down shirt or blouse with short or long sleeves, a pair of solid coloured slacks… chances are you only need to get an additional piece or two to complete your business casual capsule wardrobe. It’s really about creating a repertoire of ‘go-to’ outfits that you can build with these pieces, to make your life easier.

I suggest starting a business casual capsule wardrobe with the following:

6 Tops (4 in solid colours and 2 with a print)

You can wear formal or casual shirts, polos and sweaters. Avoid sheer fabrics and busy details.

You can select from a variety of colours and even go for a print. Be mindful of what your office is like – in some an animal print would be acceptable, while in others it wouldn’t match the environment.

Images: Net-a-Porter

4 Bottoms

Choose trousers and skirts that are not too form-fitting. Opt for knee-length skirts. Avoid any super-loud prints, like extra-bright florals which can be polarising. If your office allows jeans, select a pair in a darker wash, with no rips or distressing.

Images: Net-a-Porter

2 Dresses

I’m a big fan of dresses because it makes choosing an outfit so much easier! Midi length dresses with sleeves are best. My top pick is a wrap dress. Sundresses, or spaghetti-strap dresses are not as appropriate for the workplace.

Images: Net-a-Porter

2 BLAZERS/Jackets

While you should stick to classic and formal design, the fabric itself can be informal and you can play with interesting colours. My main tip here is to stay away from fashion fads – cropped, bomber, or kimono jackets are best left for other occasions, unless you work in a very progressive company. A great blazer (see My All-time Style Hero post) and a quality leather jacket are my recommendations.

Images: Net-a-Porter

2 Pairs of Shoes

Find a good pair of pointed-toe kitten heels or block heels and a pair of ballet flats in neutral tones that work with all your work outfits.

Images: Net-a-Porter

A Structured Bag

A structured bag will give the impression of someone who is pulled together and organised. It’s also great for transporting your laptop. Choose neutral or deep colours that work well with the palette of your wardrobe.

Images: Net-a-Porter

Casual Fridays

A lot of offices have the tradition of casual Fridays. It might be tempting to get really creative and fun with your outfits after a week of strict rules, but think of this day as a slightly dressed down business casual. Denim is acceptable, but don’t pair it with crop tops or t shirts with controversial slogans. While we are on the subject, why not build an outfit around a denim skirt? You can use any of the tops you have selected for your capsule wardrobe, or pair the skirt with a plain solid coloured tee and a jacket.

Images: Net-a-Porter

While there are some general rules about business casual dressing, you also have to consider your body shape and your colouring. Need some help tailoring the rules to yourself?  Download That Style Chick app and get a free style consult!

Authenticity is the New Feminism

Authenticity is the New Feminism

My mother was a feminist. I am not. Before judging hear me out… My mother fought for women to have equal rights and the same opportunities as men. In many ways she and others of her generation and those before her made tremendous headway. In Australia women can now have a seat at the leadership table, pursue careers in whichever field they choose and have equal voting rights.

But all is not equal, far from it.

There are still way fewer women in executive leadership roles; many industries, including the IT industry in which I spent a large portion of my corporate career, are very male dominated. There is still disparity in the salaries of men and women in many companies and industries.

What’s more, is that in order to be taken seriously by their male counterparts and leaders in a masculine world, women have either had to adopt a masculine way of operating and/or be subjected to sexual harassment (or face lost opportunities if they chose not to partake in such conduct). I have personally experienced all of this. Not to mention the cultures and religions that significantly marginalise women.

For a while, I was angry with my mother’s generation. I felt that they hadn’t done enough. Here I was, a woman in the workforce 40 years later, still being harassed, bullied and forced into acting like someone I am not (a man) in order to be successful. What BS!!!

Where are we now?

Then I realised that the women’s libbers of the sixties, seventies and eighties did make a difference. They got Australian women a seat at the leadership table. They got us a voice. I was taking that for granted. It’s now up to my generation and those behind me, to use that voice to drive further change.

I love that there continues to be a unification of women and many men across the globe on this issue. I love that women of celebrity and influence are coming together to shine a light on the gender disparity and unacceptable behaviours of males in positions of authority. I am passionate that this conversation must continue until people of all positions, countries, religions and races are equal in their rights.

I am also passionate that the step beyond truly equal rights and opportunities for all genders is recognising that whilst men and women are equal in our power, we are not equal in our biological or physiological make up. Women are different to men.

I believe the time is now for women in positions of leadership to lead from their feminine energy if this is who they truly are. This masculine world of ours is crying out for feminine qualities such as compassion, community, kindness, empathy, care, tolerance, sensitivity.

What does my work as a stylist have to do with that?

As a fashion stylist I am passionate about supporting women at all levels of leadership, to bring their authentic selves to their work and life. This can be as simple as helping women understand their style identity and their own sense of style and making it as easy as possible to be true to this when dressing every day. I have a saying, “When she loves her outfit, she feels like anything is possible. …and it is!” Personal styling is tremendously empowering. Similarly, not consciously investing in our personal brand can hold us back from putting our best foot forward.

My mother is struggling to reconcile the fact that I work in fashion styling. She fought so hard to break women out of the Stepford mould. She fought for women to not have to preen, groom and polish themselves to their husbands’ specifications and here her daughter is helping women preen, groom and polish themselves.

Embrace who you truly are in style & life

But there is a HUGE difference…. Unlike in the 60’s, today more western women can be who they want to be, in style and life (albeit still with some challenges, as outlined above). If we want to polish our nails, curl our hair and wear dresses and heels we can. If we want to power dress like a man, we can. The choice is ours, with some exceptions of course.

There are those whose religion or culture precludes them from expressing themselves in the most authentic way. Or those whose financial circumstances make fighting for food, safety and shelter their focus over self-expression. I don’t want to downplay the inequality and repression that still exists in these marginalised and disadvantaged parts of society.

Celebrate the changes

I want to celebrate the fact that the shift in perception is happening. I don’t feel like I need to be ‘a feminist’ in the traditional sense, but rather, thanks to all those strong women who came before me, I am simply able to be a female living and expressing myself authentically. For me this means being able to be feminine without being perceived as provocative or weak. It means being able to wear, do and be what I love. We are not there yet but we are making progress.

Authenticity requires complete freedom of choice. Australian women increasingly have more choice and now we must ask ourselves, who am I truly? How can I reflect who I truly am to the world? What do I truly love? How can I bring my unique feminine qualities to my work and life?

Express our authenticity & femininity through what we wear

Of course this goes way beyond physical presentation but the way we dress is part of who we are; it’s the part of ourselves the world sees first. I am passionate about working with women to help them express their authenticity through what they wear; to dress to flatter their feminine form, not exploit or hide it (unless of course they genuinely love to do this); to adopt a signature style that is uniquely theirs. When there is congruence between who we truly are and what we wear, we naturally empower ourselves to put our best foot forward.

The more people, men and women, operating from a place of truth and authenticity both inwardly and outwardly, the better the world will be. Particularly, for women who have been repressed for so long. We have so much good we can bring to the world to create balance to the prevailing masculine energy of the western world.

So what does it mean to be authentic in style? That is a whole other discussion, one that I will most certainly have, just not right now.

Main image credit: @ifoundlucy

5 Essential Power Dressing Pieces

5 Essential Power Dressing Pieces

With these essential wardrobe pieces you’ll feel pumped to conquer your day no matter what it throws at you!

So what is empowered dressing? The 70s brought with it many bold and bright fashion items. Flares, corduroy, and paisley prints were in, while tie-dye and other remnants of 60s fashion were slowly fading as flower power met its natural demise.

With the more savvy, worldly and confident 70s youth also came a heightened focus on women’s rights. And the women of this bold decade were embracing this new wave of empowerment, using fashion to express their intention.

What followed was shoulder pads, boxy tailoring and women’s suits, which represented women’s determination to reclaim their power and take their rightful place in equality with men.

Modern Day Feminism

With all the strides that have been made towards equality; women can now wear pieces that empower them in a more feminine way, rather than needing to demonstrate that they are one of the boys.

I asked a few of my girlfriends which items make them feel empowered.  The answer I got was unexpected: ‘shoulder pads’.

I was initially surprised by this answer as shoulder pads have definitely had some rocky moments over the years. Fashion historian Oleg Mindiak gives a great overview of the history of shoulder pads in an article on his blog, starting from 1930’s and Elsa Schiaparelli’s designs to the feature’s strong presence in current collections. Bustle and CR Fashion Book highlight the shoulder pad as a symbol of the feminist movement that reappears during significant moments in women’s history.

Go-To Empowerment Pieces

While shoulder pads might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I believe everyone has that piece that makes them feel strong and powerful. A couple of recurring favourites from my girlfriends in a Facebook poll on the topic of empowering wardrobe pieces included:

  • A well-tailored blazer
  • Killer heels
  • Luxury fabrics such as cashmere or silk.

My Favourites for Feeling Fierce

For me, I feel empowered wearing pieces that make me feel confident yet comfortable. Things that allow me to navigate a busy day without pinching or restriction, while still looking effortlessly classy.

Here are a few that work for me:

1. A leather jacket.

Find one that works for your body type (it doesn’t have to be black, there are so many options!) and it will last you for years. With time your jacket will gain more character. This is an item that can add a bit of toughness to a feminine frock (I love the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine!) or be worn with jeans and a t-shirt when you’re running about town.

2. A white button-down or a white t-shirt:

I always feel crisp, pulled together and ready to take on the day whenever I wear one. One of my favourites is this clean-cut classic from Uniqlo. At $39.95 it’s a steal but it works so hard in my closet.

3. Colourful accessories

It’s a great idea to build a wardrobe that sticks to a palette of a few neutrals, but I suggest always adding some colour options that work with your neutrals. If I’m having an average day or feeling under the weather, a pop of colour – be it a lick of lipstick, a scarf, or a top – can instantly energize and lift me up. For me, a red lip is super empowering and my go-to colour is MAC So Chaud (this orange-red is great for warm skin tones, opt for a blue-based or burgundy red if you’re cooler).

4. A great pair of flats:

As much as I adore heels, it’s unrealistic for my lifestyle to wear them all the time. A pair of elegant, pointed-toe flats can dress up a pair of jeans, complete a look for a business meeting and see me doing a kinder pick-up. They’re great for when I need to spend a full day on my feet and help ensure I don’t suffer the all-consuming fatigue that can accompany aching feet.

I love these Valentino’s (you can get some great Valentino bargains on Ozsale!), but if you’re not up for spending that much you’re not alone. You can find similar styles at a more accessible price, such as this pair from Shein.

5. A fabulous handbag:

A good handbag is an investment. Today there are so many brands for every budget that offer practical yet elegant options.  One of my main criteria – it should be comfortable on my shoulder and provide easy access to all the things I might need.

Truth be told, the bag option that makes me feel most empowered right now is the belt bag. Love it or hate it, the belt bag is having a fashion moment. For me it feels so empowering as it frees my hands and arms up completely (important when chasing after the kids!). Added bonus – it can help define the waistline. Many designers, from high-end international luxury labels to local Australian designers, feature belt bags in their current ranges. I love the TDE one in particular as it looks great, is a reasonable price and has the option for monogramming.

It’s important to work out what makes YOU feel confident. Some of my girlfriends feel at their best in fabulous heels or a full-length goddess dress, some love a red dress and excellent tailoring. There were mentions of high-quality pyjamas, because it means self-care time. We are all different, so taking the time to register how different clothes make you feel is important when working on your own style. If you find an outfit that makes you feel great and like you’re ready to smash some glass ceilings, remember it and build more outfits like it.

What makes you feel your best? Let me know below!

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