Thursday, 28 July 2011

Finding the perfect swimwear

I know it’s getting a little late in the season to talk swimwear, but I’ve been asked about it so much in the last week and the truth is that we all leave shopping for swimwear until last minute anyway.  It’s one of those things we put off doing until we absolutely have to!

I recently recently came back from my holiday; it was fantastic, super hot and so relaxing.  I must admit though, that before I went it took me a stupidly long time to hunt down the perfect swimwear.  Like most of you I’m sure, I have my body hang up’s and the thought of bearing all on the beach fills me with dread.  I don’t enjoy looking for swimwear at the best of times, changing room lighting is never flattering and if you search online, you’re faced with beautiful bodies modelling gorgeous bikini’s that just won’t look the same on’s enough to make me give up before I’ve started!   Eventually I plumped for a fifties style ensemble, I think it worked.

While on the beach I noticed how it wasn’t just me that felt a little un-comfortable lying there.  Most of the other women around me seemed to feel the same - sitting down before exposing their swimwear in an effort to go un-noticed, or gradually peeling off the layers to show a little skin at a time.  This prompted me to write a post about choosing flattering swimwear in the hope that it might help those of you who also find bikini shopping a little stressful.  Read on for my top tips...
  • Book yourself in for a really good spray tan a couple of days before your holiday to give you a boost of confidence when you first step into your bikini.  If this scares you a little, there are some really good moisturisers that give you a little tint everyday, this way you can build up a tan to the colour that you want.
  • Think about your shape; what points do you think are your best? I know it’s easy to sit there and list the things you don’t like about your body, but instead, think about what your best features are it’s far more rewarding.   Understanding this will help you to choose a bikini or swimsuit that flatters you and makes the most of your fabulous curves.  Now think about what you need the swimwear to do?  If you’re big busted then you’ll want something that offers good support and lift.  If your pear shaped then you’ll want to emphasise your top half, broaden your shoulders and draw the attention away from your hips. 
  • Choose a set that gives you the support you need. The range of swimwear that comes in cup sizes has really improved and will make all the difference when you’re going in and out of the pool.  Freya and Fanatasie have some lovely sets.
  • If you’re a different size on the top and bottom (as a lot of us are) then go for bikini separates that can be bought in different sizes, rather than a swimsuit.  Not only will it ensure the perfect fit, but it also means you’ll have different styles to choose from too so will be able to pull together the most flattering bikini set.  If you’re not up for showing your midriff, then tankini’s make a great choice.
Ditsy floral ruffle bottoms, Florance and Fred by Tesco

Bikini shorts, £4, from Florance and Fred by Tesco

Tankini £10 from Florance and Fred by Tesco

  • Have fun, don’t’ go for plain black, there are some really pretty prints around at the moment, from flirty florals to animal prints with attitude.
Swimsuit, £10 from Primark

Red or Dead Dora Tankini £75 and briefs, £25

Bikini set £10 Oasis

  • Don’t lose your style.  With the huge choice of swimwear out there you’ll be able to find a style that reflects your own look.  Whether you like something a little edgy, or something more classic there’s something out there for you.
Swimsuit from Limited Collection at Marks and Spencer, £29.50

Tassle bikini,, £25

Bikini set from Next, £22

  • Enhance your shape.  I know you wouldn’t normally think of swimwear when you want to enhance your figure, but there’s some fabulous swimwear out there that can cinch you in and give you the most fabulous waist – some even make you look like you’ve dropped a dress size. Although a bit more pricy, it's well worth the investment.
Miraclesuit from, £144

  •  If you don’t feel that you fill the cups as you’d like to, then consider purchasing some bikini pads to insert in the cups.  They’ll give you the little boost you’re after.
  • Think about your cover-up.  This is as much of an important part of your sunbathing days as the actual swimsuit.  How many times have you walked to the pool bar and wished that you had something to wrap up in?  Sarongs are the obvious choice, but if you want to try something different then why not opt for a sheer maxi dress, a play suit or even just an oversized shirt.
  • Top your poolside-look off with a hat or head scarf, some stylish sunglasses –aviators are my favourite and add a sweep of shimmering bronzer for the finishing touches.  I know this all may sound a little much but if it means you’re going to feel confident by the pool then it’s got to be worth it!
Paul & Joe Limited Edition ASOS Exclsuive Bronzer - Siren £21

All Images courtesy of

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Where to invest in those all important wardrobe staples.

I spend a lot of time sorting out client’s wardrobes and helping them to build a hard working collection of clothes that they can develop each season.  I’m often faced with wardrobes bulging with less-expensive items that are tired and ill fitting and, in my opinion, not money well spent.  The key to getting the most for your money and creating the perfect wardrobe, is to have less items, that mix and match cleverly and to invest in the staple pieces - the items that are going to be worn again and again. 

Each season make a list of the items you need to purchase and set yourself a sensible budget.  It’s worth putting a large proportion of your budget towards the staple pieces on the list, the items you’re going to wear most of the time.  Purchasing good quality, higher end products that will last for years will enable you to gradually build up a collection of key items each season and  to pull together a hard working wardrobe that can be easily updated with a few less expensive, on-trend items. 
Harvey Nichols, Bristol
Bristol is the ideal city from which to build this perfect wardrobe.  It’s always had a great selection of high street shops and independent boutiques, but until about three years ago there wasn’t much in the way of designer shops.  However, with the opening of Cabot Circus came Harvey Nichols, and with that came a strong following of other boutiques selling higher end designers,

The moment I step inside Harvey Nichols I feel the stress and hassle of the high-street disappear and am transported into a magical world of beautiful things.  You’ll find small collections from most of the designers you’d expect, a great choice of premium denim (a definite wardrobe staple) and an absolutely fabulous selection of beautiful shoes and handbags. If you’re into make-up then you won’t be disappointed either.   And it’s not just us women who will enjoy the experience; they have a whole floor dedicated to you guys to. 
True Religion flared jeans available at Harvey Nichols
Just up from Harvey Nichols is John Anthony, two floors of men’s clothing, for the guy who likes to be noticed.  Paul Smith is sold here, along with other quirkier names like Vivienne Westwood.  If you’re looking to add something a little more quirky to your wardrobe, then The Garment Quarter is the place to go.  It opened last year and stocks both womenswear and menswear.  It’s is a great boutique, offering edgier designers such as Twenty8Twelve by S.Miller and Comme Des Garcons PLAY.

Bristol really does have it all now!  Adding top end designers to the already eclectic selection of vintage, high-street and independent boutiques has put Bristol firmly on the map as a shopping destination and makes it the perfect place to invest in the perfect capsule wardrobe. 

Article recently writen for Guide2Bristol
Images thanks to Lisa Piddington