Friday, 30 October 2009

STYLISA Shopping Tips - Part Two

Fashion Stylist, Lisa Maynard-Atem of STYLISA Ltd, continues to gives us the low down on what to do when hitting the shops…

When shopping for shoes, always ensure you take your own pop socks. Although shops do provide them, I think it is best to take your own along with you…and some foot spray (the shop assistant might be a cute guy that you’ve had your eye and I am sure you don’t want to put him off with any unsavoury odours)!!!

When trying on garments, try a number of sizes in the same garment. Sizes vary from store to store, so a size 8 in one shop may fit perfectly, but may be too small in another. If you have to go up a size, do not take this as an indication that you have put on weight. You are not going to fit the same size in every shop. Ensure that when you are trying garments on, there are mirrors that enable to see the outfit from all angles. If needs be, asked for another mirror.

Always check the garment before you take it into the changing rooms. If it is damaged in any way, ensure you tell the shop assistant before trying it on. If you try the garment and decide you want to buy it damaged (as it may be easily repairable), be sure to ask for a discount. However, this will mean that the garment is non-returnable. I would recommend asking for another one that is in perfect condition rather buying something already damaged.

I cannot stress enough...BUY CLOTHES THAT FIT YOUR SHAPE CORRECTLY. If you are between sizes, buy the next size up. Buying clothes with the intention of dieting into them is a big mistake. 47% of the population are a size 16 or over. By for the shape you are, not the shape you want to be.

Buy clothes for the lifestyle you lead. If you are a working mum, who doesn’t get to go out much, then you don’t want to be filling your wardrobe with glamorous evening dresses. However, I am not giving you the green light to go and buy tracksuits. They are for athletes and not for walking down the street in!

Try not to be a fashion victim. Just because polka dots are the latest thing, doesn’t mean that they are going to suit everyone. The trick is to take from the latest collections and trends, what is best suited to you and your wardrobe. There is no point in spending money on something just because you saw it on a catwalk or in a magazine. And remember that it is not always necessary to buy a new wardrobe at the beginning of the season. Accessories are a great way to update any wardrobe and are less expensive, so your bank manager will be pleased!

There high street is becoming more and more competitive in terms of price. However, try to buy the best quality that your budget will allow as this will save you money in the long run, especially if you want to build a capsule wardrobe. Not only will your clothes last longer, but they will fit better. If you have to scrimp, then do so with darker colours as the workmanship will be less noticeable.

Tune in next week for the final part of STYLISA's shopping tips!

Lisa Maynard-Atem
Fashion Styling Consultancy

You Tube:

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Lisa Maynard-Atem of STYLISA has been invited to join the board of CIDA International (Creative Industries Development Agency). Please take a look at their website

You can also follow their blog:

Sunday, 25 October 2009

STYLISA Shopping Tips – Part One

Fashion Stylist, Lisa Maynard-Atem of STYLISA, gives us the low down on what to do when hitting the shops….

Ask yourself the question – do I really need it? If not, then don’t buy it. Yes I know what it’s like when you see something and you convince yourself that you’ve just got to have it but how many times have bought something on impulse, worn it once and then never worn it again or never worn it all for that matter??? Unless you’re a stylist and can use your clothes for your work, then it really isn’t worth it. It’s more than likely that you will have something in your wardrobe that will suffice.

Decide on what you want to spend and stick to it. One minute you are going into town to buy a new top and the next, you’re coming away having seriously assaulted your credit card. I know that it’s hard girlies but resist the temptation. Think about it this way…it takes seconds to stick it on the credit card but it could take you years to pay it off!

Shopping can be very stressful, so if possible, try and go shopping early in the morning (or early in the week). The shops are less crowded and you will get an opportunity to see what new stock has just being delivered rather than leaving it later in the day and missing out on that must-have item that you’ve had your eye on. Take your time when shopping. If you feel yourself getting stressed, go for a coffee and chill out for half an hour. Don’t rush because you may end up going home with something you didn’t want.

Try to familiarise yourself with what the stores offers. Some stores, like Harvey Nichols, offer excellent customer services. Other stores, like H&M, have great return policies. Return policies are very important, so if you are unsure of what the stores policies are, then make sure you ask before you buy.

Always dress comfortably when hitting the shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothing that is easy to slip in and out of (for when you are trying stuff on).

The right underwear is fundamental to any outfit. Depending on what you are buying, always make sure you either have the right underwear on or take it with you in your handbag. I know this may sound a little extreme but believe, IT HELPS. If you don’t know your size, head to M&S and get yourself measured immediately. You would be amazed at the amount of women still wearing the wrong size bra!

No matter what you are buying, think about the versatility of the item. It is better to buy complete outfits (budget permitting) – a suit jacket with matching trousers and skirt for example. I always ask my clients (if they are not buying complete outfits), to think of three things in their existing wardrobe that their potential new purchase would go with. If they can’t think of three things, then don’t purchase.

If you are looking for an item to match something else that you already have, then take the item with you to ensure what you buy matches perfectly. If you’re embarrassed to do that, then take a picture of the item (ah yes, the joy that is the camera phone) with a note of the items colour and any detailing.

Look out for part two next week...

Friday, 16 October 2009

Fashion’s Bad Fatitude

Although fashion has become more accessible thanks to the high street being able to recreate catwalk looks within a short time frame, the same cannot be said when it comes to sizing. Remember the ridiculous furore a few weeks ago when fashion designer, Mark Fast sent size 12-14 models down the catwalk? The reaction was outrageous. Firstly, the models looked fantastic and secondly, do these people not have more important things to be agonising over? Clearly not!

However, both designers and the high street still have a long way to go when it comes to offering more choice for the plus-size woman. I recently went shopping with a client who was a size 24. Previously, this client had told me that they had great difficulty finding clothes in their size and when they did find something, it often resembled a tent rather than something that was flattering and made them feel good about themselves. I immediately thought that I would be able to find suitable clothing without a problem. To my surprise, this was not to be the case.

The majority of stores we visited did not go above a size 18 and in some cases did not offer anything over a 14. Even the shops that did offer larger sizes, were not consistent as they went to size 18 in some brands, size 20 in others, and size 22 in a few, with the occasional size 24 thrown in. And I found that in a lot cases, the clothing that was available in bigger sizes looked like it had been designed as an after-thought which I found disturbing. All women want to look attractive, whether they are a size 8 or 18. Many plus-size women find the whole shopping experience daunting and at times painful because they are made to feel like fashion is not for them. Instead of coming away from a shopping trip feeling exhilarated, they feel deflated and upset, which is unacceptable.

Fortunately, there now appears to be a backlash against the unforgiveable size zero, and a move towards celebrating ‘real’ women. Personally, I have always found this sizing issue disturbing, especially when one considers the kind of message it sends out to young girls and impressionable women, who may have serious self-image issues.

The plus size fashion market has a long way to go, despite some recent improvement. Many British women are still turning to the US and ordering their clothes via the internet as there seems to be much more choice.

Thankfully, there are stores out there that appear to be addressing the problem. One of the best stores around is Evans. Their sizes range from 16-32 and they even sell wide-fitting shoes which shows that they are really thinking about their customers. Elvi is another brand that offers sizes up to 26. Also Tesco’s Florence and Fred range go up to size 26 and are very reasonably priced. There are luxury brands such as Marina Rinaldi, but you have the budget for brands such as this one. Another brand is that offers some great plus-size fashion choices is Simply Be.

On a personal note, I am very fortunate as sizing has never been an issue fro me. I can always go into shops and find something to fit me. Seeing how difficult it is for some women to find clothing that makes them look good and feel attractive has made me appreciate how lucky I am but it has also showed me that the fashion industry has a long way to go before fashion becomes fair for all and looses it bad fatitiude.

By Lisa Maynard-Atem

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Growing Old Stylishly…

You may be surprised to hear that at 31, I am already starting to feel old. However, this is mainly due to the fact that my younger sister is constantly reminding me that I am eight years ahead of her. The fact that she is still borrowing my clothes, tells me that I must be doing something right.

Getting older has always been a much bigger deal for women than for men. When men get grey hair, they are considered distinguished but when we get them, we flock to the nearest hairdressers to get them covered up. To make matters worse, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements telling us about the latest age-defying cream or gel, which are usually fronted by a gorgeous model, film star or singer. Then there is the interesting world of plastic surgery which I will not get into as that is a whole article in itself.

In terms of fashion, there are no hard and fast rules to growing old stylishly but there are things that you should embrace and avoid equally. The first rule is acceptance. Ageing is a fact of life and until someone discovers the fountain of eternal youth, we will continue to age…gravity can only be held back for so long. How many times have you seen a mature lady wearing something that would be more suited to an 18-year-old? There is no harm in trying to looking younger but those denim Miss Sixty mini skirts really don’t suit anyone over the age of 15.

What you should be aiming for is the capsule wardrobe. These are key pieces such as the little black dress, black tailored trousers, and a white shirt but to name a few. They are timeless and interchangeable. If you can get this right, then you can add in other pieces that can be worn with your capsule wardrobe or on their own. Whatever you do, do not be tempted to rush out and buy the latest ‘must-have’ item unless you know for a fact they will suit you and you have other items (minimum three) in your wardrobe that they can be worn with.

Another rule is learning to be comfortable in your own skin. As I get older, I become more confident in the choices I make, especially when it comes to my wardrobe. As a result of this, I now have a much greater sense of my own style compared to 10 years ago. Okay, so I am a fashion stylist but that does not mean that I have not made mistakes in the past. Over the years I have trained myself to be able to look at something in a shop and know instantly whether it will suit me before I even take it off the hanger to inspect the stitching (no I am not weird, I just like to know what I am getting for my money). The saying that some of us are born with style is not based in fact. There are those of us who have a better sense of it than others, but the basic knowledge of being stylish can be learnt provided you are willing to invest the time…remember Rome was not built in a day and neither is the perfect wardrobe!!!

Another factor is money. Your capacity to earn greater amounts increases as you get older which means you will have more disposable income. You can afford to buy better quality clothing, although this should not stop you from entering the realms of Primark and Peacocks.

Avoid shops like Morgan and Kookai. They are great shops but they really are not suited to anyone who isn’t in their teens or very early 20s. Aim for shops like Debenhams, which houses many different designers under one roof and has something for every age group. Other stores like Wallis, Dorothy Perkins and Marks & Spencer. If you want to spend that bit more, then Emma Somerset is especially great for evening-wear, House of Fraser have some excellent lines and Aquascutum is perfect for the quintessential English look (which is making somewhat of a comeback for Autumn/Winter 06 in the form of tweeds, tailoring and lady-like elegance). Also have a look in Principles, Hobbs and LK Bennett.

Getting older does not have to be doom and gloom and nowhere is this more visible than in the fashion world. So forget about the greys and get your glad rags on!

Lisa Maynard-Atem