Thursday, 30 April 2009

Dream Style: Why It’s More Than What You Wear

Image thanks to Daneli

This post is part of The Dream Style Series.

This may seem a strange article choice to tag on the end of a series that’s been all about shopping, clothes, wardrobe maintenance, hair and makeup but I think, after getting so caught up in the excitement of the material things, we need to step back and look at the way we are styling our lives.

“Dare to grow: dare to dream.”
Pam Brown

Looking great is important, of course. It makes you feel great. But equally, if you feel great you will look great, and this will be a far deeper, more solid and sustainable source of that great feeling. If all of these dream style articles have gone way over you head and sound like particularly too much work, a better place to start is with how you feel.

Yesterday, did you have a dream day? How about a dream week? Dream month? If not, instead of focusing on the bad bits, think what about it was magnificent – how can you enhance and extend that experience to flood your whole life with the joy of it? A dream styled life doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of any negativity or bad situations, because we know they can crop up without our control; it is how you deal with these situations, how you strut past them with your head held high, that makes life a dream.

Your style should be a product of a life you love; blue hair and ra-ra skirts will never be appropriate to a dull office, so perhaps a dull office is not appropriate to you. I’ve already written articles on Crafting the Life You Want and Making Your Dreams Come True so I hope you can find some little spark in there that you can nurture into a big glittering firework in your life.

Slogging away day in day out at a life that’s less than perfect is ludicrous – each day is a treasure, so act that way. Find the joy in the littlest things, enjoy the weather, enjoy your friends, enjoy your work, enjoy yourself. There are absolutely no excuses for continual unhappiness and you are the only one who misses out if you make them.

Image thanks to evil erin

Dream style fashion is fantastic, but the philosophy behind it is so much more than just clothes; it’s the truest and purest confidence; it’s accepting yourself and your beliefs beyond any question; its positive energy and feeling alive, feeling worthy and feeling precious. To live with ultimate dream style is to:

“Wake up each day with a smile and go after life…
Live it, enjoy it, taste it, smell it, feel it.”

Joe Knapp

Take care of your body; nurture your mind; learn; love; regularly practice the activities that make you smile the widest; be honest; soak up all the beauty in the world, capturing it in yourself and channelling it into everything you do, then you will find that dream style is already yours for the taking.

And that’s all for the series folks! Let us review: what, if anything, have you learnt this month? Have you already implemented any positive changes? Was there something I missed? Any valuable points you want to share with the other readers and partakers? Where will you take the dream style ideas now? Please do share; these articles are made so much richer with the addition of your points of view.

Phew-ee, I hope you have enjoyed the dream style series! I just managed to churn out these last three titles even though I’ve got a tonne of uni work on. I know I’ve gained several new readers as a result of the subject matter though, which makes it all worth it - hello to you! And thanks to all who linked to the series.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Dream Style: Hair and Makeup

Images thanks to the tony santos and sidewalk flying

This post is part of The Dream Style Series.

So, you’ve got the inspiration, got the clothes, got the fully functioning wardrobe, but something about your look still isn’t quite right; it’s not being pulled together somehow. This, my friends, is where dream style reaches its pinnacle. Let’s face it, some days your clothes just aren’t going to do it for you, or you’ll have to (heaven forbid) wear a uniform – what about your dream style then? Is it just going to evaporate into thin air? I can tell you it’s all too liable never to return if it does.

The way I see it, there are three things you will always be showing off each day – your body shape, your face, and your hair; so surely this is where the most of our dream style energies should go? Body shape is another article for another day; today we're all about hair and makeup. This is where our main style signatures are to be found and you’ll be pleased to hear it only takes a few simple steps to make a whole lotta’ difference.

Hallelujah Hairstyles

Whether you’re low maintenance or a regular 1940’s diva, you need a haircut that will suit your needs. There’s no point kidding yourself into a spectacularly coiffed, layered do, if you never find the time to blow dry it again after the first week and it hangs about your face like a tired old mop. That said, you should really start to make the effort with your hairstyling tendencies; a great cut and an extra ten minutes each morning can have you looking so pulled-together perfect that clothing will seem a breeze. Once you get the perfect hairdo, I swear to you, it will genuinely be a hallelujah moment in your dream style journey.

A lot of girls I know have had a succession of bad haircuts and as a result have just ‘made-do’ with their do; these are the same women who refuse to pay anything above the base charge at their local community hairdressers because they’re afraid they’ll end up paying for something they don’t like. News flash: you’re already doing that. You should really only need two haircuts a year if it’s done right and you haven’t got particularly damaged hair, so bite the bullet and pay more at a classier salon. Be honest to yourself about your face-shape and what you know will suit you and have a good, confident chat with your stylist before hand. You won't be disappointed.

Image thanks to digital sophia

Unarranged tresses are, I think, one of the main downfalls of us girls today when it comes to dream style. Somewhere along the line a Kate Moss type made it Ok, fashionable even, to have our hair all swinging loose, and of course we all jumped on board before you could say ‘bye, bye hairspray.’ There’s nothing so wrong with that, more power to you if it’s part of your look, but on the whole, I think it’s stopped being any kind of statement and is now mostly just a bit lazy… I’ll admit I’m terrible for it! And really, with the introduction of a few good habits, there’s no excuse when you see what you can achieve.

Quick Tips:

♥ Signature, statement hair accessories like hats, headbands, bows, pins and clips can make styling your hair simpler whilst becoming staple factors in your dream style day-to-day existence.

♥ Aside from that, you could conjure a signature, or collection of signature dos: plaits, plain ponytails, pigtails, a vintage beehive, angular fringe, or side-shaved ala Alice Dellal.

♥ There are tonnes of how-to hair tutorial videos online like these to get you inspired and provide a starting point. Once you feel comfortable with a few simple styles, you’ll find yourself far more comfortable experimenting.

♥ Finding that perfect style might be one thing, but getting it to stay is a whole different matter. Whilst hair is damp after washing, comb through a generous amount of styling mousse and blow-dry, this will make hair feel thicker and more manageable. Cheap bobby pins won’t last, so try sourcing a brand or asking your hairdresser – they’ll make all the difference with tricky styles. And finally, don’t fear the hairspray! If you hold the can at a sufficient distance whilst spraying it will set your do without that ‘crispy’ effect.

♥ If you’re undertaking a whole lot of extra styling then make sure to deep condition regularly and invest in a great hairbrush, I like Mason Pearson (pricey but bliss to use on even the worst tangles and it will last years.)

Magic Makeup

Most girls are a little bit afraid of makeup, I know I can be. Not really sure what to do to achieve certain looks, nervous of experimenting, stuck in a routine; it’s all bad news. I think a lot of us fail to see makeup beyond a cover-up, which can account for these nerves and why the act of wearing makeup can often be so harshly judged, particularly if you’re thought to be wearing ‘too much.’

Image thanks to notsogoodphotography

Let’s get this straight: makeup is not a cover up, it’s an enhancement. No one would judge you for wearing a skirt that was nipped at the waist, would they? Well, makeup is just the same; it takes your best features – coincidentally found on your face! And enhances them to their full potential. You don’t have to be an artistic whiz kid or a well-practiced specialist so stop telling yourself you’ll get good one day when you've got the money for a fancy-shmancy makeup course. Start now, learn as you go and just have fun.

Quick Tips:

♥ Got an overstuffed, out of date, grubby, vast collection of make up? That’s akin to a cluttered wardrobe and will only hinder your dream style mission. Take the time to clear out and clear up.

♥ It only takes the effort to learn a few simple tricks to make a huge difference. Focus on one thing at a time; perfect foundation, perfect eyeliner, perfect lipstick etc. Again, youtube is a goldmine.

♥ Bold signatures can be anything from perfectly defined lashes ala Keiko Lynn, a little glitter, or a certain shade of lipstick. Work with your colour palette.

♥ Above all, you don’t have to be extravagant with your makeup as I showed with my 20 Cheap Tips for Your Makeup Bag. It’s about trial and error, a little risk, and a lot of fun.

Do you already have any hair or makeup signatures? How important do you think they are to dream style?

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Dream Style: Getting Organized

Image thanks to i.anton

This post is part of The Dream Style Series.

Fashion and personal style are fluid; our continual shopping and hoarding habits mean our wardrobes see a constant influx of new clothing and accessories and, if we’re not careful, the weight of this influx can cause our closets to become stagnant and cluttered. However much space we have, we need to put into action a few simple devices to keep our wardrobes working for us. Think about it; is your wardrobe really functioning for you in its current state?

Fact: The better organized your wardrobe; the better organized your style.

Ultimately, your wardrobe is going to be as different as you are, and just like I can't tell you how to dress to achieve your dream style, I can't tell you how to organize your closet explicitly. Hopefully though, I can encourage you to get organized, in your own special way, once and for all.

The Major Plus-Points of an Organized Closet
With a fully functioning wardrobe, getting dressed in the morning becomes utterly seamless and totally blissful. Nobody wants to spend forty minutes every morning hunting through all their clothes for that one perfect item and, equally, nobody wants to spend half an hour at the end of the day trying to squeeze said item back in. Having everything in view and easily accessible is pure luxury and it’s one of the main factors in supporting lasting dream style.

What your wardrobe looks like is, after all, what you look like; the colors, the styles, the patterns, the level of neatness or disarray. If something about your wardrobe doesn't look like you – you should take it out. This is an incredibly simple yet highly effective way to achieve dream style because, unlike your own mirror appearance, your wardrobe can be judged subjectively. Look at Nubby Twiglet’s wardrobe; it’s 100% her.

Now, when it comes to serious wardrobe organization, space is desirable, but with a few simple tips and tricks, it needn't be essential. (If you have half your wardrobe packed at any one time like I have already suggested then this kind of extreme organization is made much easier.)

Image thanks to nikkinoguer

Flawless Folding, Cubby Control and Heavenly Hanging

♥ For me, folding is a bazillion times less efficient than hanging, but I know adequate hanging space is not always available. Drawers and cubbies work best for your basics and extras; easy to stack t-shirts, sweaters and jeans that don’t quite hold the grandeur of your hangables, alongside storable shoes and bags.

♥ If you're storing in a reach-in drawer then keep your folded items to one layer, otherwise Mess. Will. Ensue. There is no doubt about it. I speak from personal experience. Two layers MAX if this is completely impractical for you.

♥ If it's a cubby you're utilizing then instead have all stacks in view, otherwise, guess what? Mess will ensue. It's pure common sense to have all your clothes in view.

♥ There's always the option of rolling if folding is not your thing and that way you can see more items at once, just always make sure to arrange everything as neatly as possible in the first instance then it’s much more likely to stay that way.

♥ When it comes to hanging, not only do your clothes need breathing room but, again, you want to be able to see them! Hang as much as you can without overcrowding and start collecting wooden hangers as, although they can be more expensive, they are far better for maintaining your clothes than plastic or wire hangers.

Space Savers or What to Do if There is No Space to Save

If you absolutely do not have a positive space-to-possession ratio, and all these tips are making you fume with rage at my ignorance, here are some alternative ideas to help you deal with an overstuffed wardrobe:

♥ Photograph yourself in different outfit combinations and arrange on the inside doors of your closet. Or, take inventory; if you’re not able to see a key item, at least remind yourself that it's there with a written list.

♥ Then… color code! That way you can start with one key item and you won't even need to touch certain areas of your wardrobe, let alone make a mess of them, because you'll know where to look for matching items. Alternatively, arrange like with like - skirts with skirts, shirts with shirts, again making finding what you need that little bit easier.

♥ Segment your wardrobe wherever possible. Buy some hanging cubbies, insert makeshift drawer dividers and box up your shoes; it’s the only answer to a curelessly cluttered wardrobe.

Opt for the method that suits your clothing collection best or give both a go!

There’s so much more to wardrobe organization than I could possibly cover in this post, so if you are after a little more then I’d suggest Shop Your Closet as a more in-depth guide to wardrobe organization which you can buy in my Amazon affiliate store and which I might just review in the near future.

So, Charadettes, how organized is your wardrobe? How organized would you like it to be?

Monday, 27 April 2009

Word to Live By #36

Image thanks to fishello

"My philosophy is a belief in magic, good luck, self-confidence and pride."

Grace Jones

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Saturday Salute 25.04.09

Image thanks to foundphotoslj

Good day to you! It's link time.

I got interviewed by Fabulously Broke, how very flattering indeed.

Secretista is Life. College. Fashion.

Belle and Boo (above) are just the most wonderful illustrations ever.

WorkLoveLife 'explores topics that range from career development and entrepreneurship to relationships, from personal finances to spirituality.'

In the UK? Get a free £10 Bourjois 3d lip gloss, when you pay £1.99 postage.

I LOVE Steve Pavlina and have been an avid reader for a while now, but I only just discovered his 10 Tips for College Students. Genius.

In a spot of bother? Want to help others? Wish Upon a Hero is one of those things that comes along and restores your faith in humanity.

Have you come across a humdinger of a link of late? Posted something ACE on your blog? Then don't be a meany, share!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Dream Style: Doing Designer

Image thanks to styleserver

This post is part of The Dream Style Series

Buying designer clothes on a student budget sounds like lunacy, and on the most part it probably is, but the ideas surrounding it, for me, provide invaluable life-long lessons for building a sustainable dream wardrobe. I’ve already written about How to Build a Designer Wardrobe on a Student Budget at length over on Painfully Hip, so I won’t rehash that article, but I will say that dabbling in designer should not be something you instantly dismiss because, if you’re savvy, you can start building your dream designer wardrobe right now.

Do…recognise every designer buy as an investment. When spending a large amount on anything, always consider classic style, potential resale value and life-long personal value.

Don’t…do it for the kudos. Not only will this mean you’ll probably end up with too-trendy items rather than classic styles, it will also mean you’re buying designer for all the wrong reasons. Find the designers that you love and that push your buttons; the ones that you know produce unerring quality, and stick with those.

Do…save your pretty pennies. If you’re serious about owning designer garb in the near future, then why not set up an online savings account (incredibly easy to do if you already bank online) and every time you feel yourself compelled towards buying a £40 dress, transfer that amount into your savings instead? You’ll soon see it growing into a nice little fashion fund.

Don’t…buy the same thing twice. I’ve been getting away with this for years on the high street; multiple clones of exactly the same thing have formed the basis of my wardrobe for as long as I can remember. Once you start buying designer though, that next purchase can’t just be a black dress, it has to be the black dress.

Do…opt for long living fabrics. We’re talking cashmere, real leather, pure silk etc. Pay for the quality and not just the label to make your investment worth it.

Don’t…feel unworthy. If the thought of walking into your swankiest department store and demanding that the sales people bring you four different styles of shoe in three different sizes apiece sends you into a cold sweat, it’s likely that you don’t feel worthy of designer clothes. You have to dump that idea right here, right now. If you can’t even buy with confidence, how do you expect to wear it with confidence? If you’ve got the money to pay for it, you deserve to make all the demands you like!

Do…calculate a cost-per-wear. If a cashmere cardigan is going to set you back £190, but you know you’ll be wearing it at least once a week for the next five years (about 73p a wear) then it’s got to be worth it.

Don’t…take a gamble. You may be able to take a few risks on ebay, thrifting, and at the high street stores, but there is no room for risk in buying designer. Make sure you see the item, try it on, go away and think about it, write down the pros and cons, go back and try it on again, get an honest friends opinion, calculate your cost-per-wear and try it on again before you think about parting with your cash.

So, do you buy designer? Would you? Or would you rather suffocate yourself with your thrifted crochet handbag? I want to know about it people!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Dream Style: Walking the Walk on the High Street

Image thanks to Muhammad

This post is part of The Dream Style Series.

I have mixed feelings about shopping on the high street. On the one hand, I think it’s a perilous activity, but on the other hand, it is an easy, affordable, tactile and instantly satisfying way to shop. Therefore, as a lowly student, I shouldn’t condemn it too hard, although (for the reasons I’ve given) it is a medium where you have to be stricter on yourself than any other, because over-spending is easy.

…see how undecided I am?

Like any other means of shopping, I think it’s about striking a balance; shopping solely on the high street won’t yield you a dream wardrobe, but it can act as an excellent supplement, particularly for those living cheaply.

And, like with all our dream style shopping habits, there are a few rules to follow:

Do…assess each spend individually. When I shop on the high street, I rarely feel guilty if I have made sure to answer these key questions:
1. If I do not buy this item, will I still be thinking about it in two weeks time?
2. Will it be an asset to me? Does it deserve to be in my wardrobe?
3. Does the quality reflect the price?
You might have other questions you want to ask also, like ‘can I afford it?’ Just be sure to avoid impulse buying, even if the items are returnable.

Don’t…take friends. High street shopping in packs has become a regular ritual for many, and whilst this can be a giggle every now and again, it is definitely not conducive to dream style. One honest and patient pal is Ok, but a group of ‘Oh, you have to buy that!’ buddies, who aren’t willing to wait around whilst you try on your eighth pair of skinny jeans, are not. Personally, I love shopping alone; it gives me time to really think about each individual spend, try on everything, and walk in and out of the same shops three or four times whilst I make up my mind (which I do a lot.)

Do…be aware when enough is enough. I find the rarer my high street excursions, the more I enjoy, appreciate and find them a valuable asset to my dream style. Shop on the high street too often and you’ll find yourself without the funds to undertake alternative shops, and laden with low quality, ‘of the moment’ goods that will not sustain a dream wardrobe.

Don’t…pay through the nose. You will rarely find great quality on the high street, so be sure not to pay for something you’re not getting; the first rule in buying anything! £30 on a t-shirt is too much if five or six wears will see it destined for rag status.

Do…have a plan. Even if it’s just a few rough notes, a theme, a key colour, or a magazine clipping; have an idea of what you want to walk away with or your indecisiveness will make you victim to a million and one marketing scams.

Don’t…spend what you don’t have. For some reason, shopping on the high street seems to suggest itself to many as an opportunity to buy completely beyond their means. Credit cards, store cards; bits of plastic that allow the mind to completely ignore the spend. At the start of your shopping excursion, take out the amount you are prepared to spend in cash, and leave the cards at home.

Do…go at the best times. Your favourite cheap as chips high street outlets will have certain days / times of day when they put out the best stock. Ask the staff for these times and then shop at 9am on a Wednesday rather than lunchtime on a Saturday to score the best bargains.

Don’t…feel pressured into wearing high street clothes. Just because they are the norm, doesn’t mean they are you. Be true to your own style at all costs.

Are you regularly found wandering the high street? How do you stop yourself going overboard? Tell all!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

My Day, a.k.a. Blossoms, Blue Skies and Bargains in Bristol

No energy for a big post today I'm afraid Charadettes! But can I get a pat on the head for my cracking alliteration skills?? (Even if I do say so myself...)

I picked up this super sweet, super easy to wear dress at quirky Bristol store 'Bs8' on Park Street and am uber-pleased with it, you like? I'm also LOVING the sunshine we are having in Britain's west country right now, I just hope it stays this way.

The Dream Style Series
continues tomorrow, so don't be a stranger!

Kisses, hugs, and tea in mugs.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Words to Live By #35

Image thanks to Hans Vink

"Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so."
Belva Davis

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Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Saturday Salute 18.04.09

This Salute has a soundtrack, something I'm tempted to include regularly from now on... So hit play and click away!

I have a new musical crush on Ana Laan, check out her Myspace page.

I was seriously AMAZED by this.

Check out the beautiful Ashton Morris.

And for some slightly more useful links... You can get free office software or the Ultimate Steal from Microsoft. Also, follow these 10 Fashion Tips to Beat the Credit Crunch.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, 16 April 2009

Dream Style: The Art of Thrift

Image thanks to jeffk

This post is part of The Dream Style Series.

Thrifting is a real shindig, but it’s also hazardous and, if misused, can be a big threat to dream style. How so? Thrift clothing is cheap, and therefore ignites the closet-degenerating attitude that is both my own downfall and that of so many others: ‘I can afford it, so I should have it, and if it’s that cheap, I should have more of it, right?’


Thrifting is an art; it takes discretion and care in order for it to work in your favour. The archenemy of your dream style is a wardrobe stuffed with garment after garment that you don’t really wear all that much, don’t really like all that much, and don’t really place that much value on, i.e. the job lot you picked up at your local thrift store just because, well, you could afford it.

Thrifting is about dedication; it’s about finding the diamonds in the rough. Any serious thrifter will tell you it takes more than a five minute grab and run in your local charity shop to source the vintage leather jackets and pristine 1930’s tea dresses of this world. It takes time, research, repeat visits and a constant wallet barrier of self-restraint; I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve purchased items in charity shops that were in good condition and going for pittance but were just not me.

But, before you think I’ve taken all the fun out of it, thrifting is worth the effort; it's a great way to celebrate your individuality, go against current fashion trends, experiment, explore, and generally enjoy clothes for what they are – tangible, colourful, wacky self-decoration, not just a designer label or a hot ‘it’ item. You can also often pick up great quality at thrift stores; clothing that will stand the test of time, unlike similarly priced high street garb.

Top Tips for Fashion Thrifting

Do…stick to the golden rule of quality over quantity. Thrifting shouldn’t be anymore an opportunity to load up on cheap tat than your regular shopping practices.

Don’t…kid yourself. It’s easy to fall under the thrift illusion – that you can justify buying an item because of the low price tag. Generally, I like to think that if I wouldn’t pay the equivalent high street price for an item, I shouldn’t pay the thrift price. It won’t be worth anything to you in the long term if you do.

Do…bring a friend. Outsider perspective is often essential in a quality thrift session, more so than in other shopping medium because it’s all too easy to get over excited and walk out with a neon tennis visor and crimson velour cat suit you’re convinced you have an occasion for.

Don’t…abandon your inspiration. It all comes down to price again, but if an item’s not for you it’s not for you and a $2 tag won’t change that.

Do…find a local haunt. Zone in on your nearest and dearest thrift or charity store and get to know it a little better; make friends with the staff and pop in as often as possible; ask about stock replenishment days; mention a specific item you’re on the look out for, or even volunteer there one afternoon a week. All these strategies will set you on the path to a very fruitful thrifting experience.

Don’t…lose faith. You shouldn’t assume that every time you wander into a thrift store you’ll be met by barrow loads of exquisite vintage relics – you won’t, but this shouldn’t dishearten you, it’ll make the real finds all the sweeter if you hang on in there.

Do…thrift thriftily. A dedicated thrift store that’s popped up under the current trend on Hipster Street will charge you a premium for their finds. A local church jumble sale will practically give it away. Think about it.

Do you have any top thrifting tips? Do you think thrifting will work with your dream style? Say your piece!

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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Dream Style: The Wonders of Ebay

Image thanks to ClickFlashPhotos

This post is part of The Dream Style Series.

Ebay, in fashion terms, is a veritable goldmine. I myself have had a mutually beneficial relationship with the auctioning site for years, both buying and selling, but where does ebay fit into the Dream Style concept?

In the pursuit of dream style, we want ebay to do two things for us: 1. Find us specifically the items that will define and support our style mission without us having to trawl the distracting pages of an online fashion store or trek a busy high street, and 2. Help us rid ourselves of our style setbacks for (hopefully) a pretty penny.

Top Tips for Buying Fashion Items on Ebay:

Do…think of potential resale value. If you’re buying a used item at a fair price, is there potential to reap the full value back, or even increase it? If you keep an item in good condition and provide a superior description, this shouldn't be difficult, opening the door to all kinds of wonderful fashion experimentation without declaring war on your wallet.

Don’t… be afraid to ‘snipe.’ In other words, bid at the last minute to avoid a costly war that will up the price, thereby securing the item as cheaply as possible. Find out more here.

Do… be specific. Ebay is the place to shop for one-of-a-kind, eccentric items not to be found by any other medium; to capture the exact item you’ve conjured in your minds eye. Vague window shopping on ebay is a dangerous activity, only to be undertaken by the particularly strong of will! The bargains may be tempting, but don't let them cloud your dream style.

Don’t… get duped. There is a whole heap of fraud that goes on via ebay; don’t fall victim to it. Read these tips to avoid fraud.

Do… check items for sale from other countries. You’ll often find what you’re looking for if you do, but always check the shipping costs first and consider customs charges.

Top Tips for Selling Fashion Items on Ebay:

Do…include as many pictures as possible. If you’re not willing to pay the fees for extra snaps then clearly state that you are willing to email additional images and have them ready to send upon request.

Don’t…lie. The negative feedback is just not worth it. Instead, explain any fault and include a picture – your honesty will let the buyer know they’re in good hands and encourage them to bid if they love the item regardless.

Do…tap into key trends. Include a picture of a celebrity idol such as Kate Moss or an Olsen twin wearing something similar to get your potential purchaser excited about bidding.

Don’t… delay replying to potential buyers' questions. A prompt reply will signal that you are a serious seller and encourage earlier bidding.

Do… your research. Look up items similar to yours; see how they’re described, the shipping costs, the condition, what they’re selling for etc. to give you an idea of your competition.

If you’re an ebay virgin, there's no need to be afraid! With a little dedication ebay can be a wonderful tool, and is surprisingly simple once you get the hang of it. Get more information on setting yourself up on ebay here.

What are your top tips for ebay-ing? Let’s help each other out!

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Monday, 13 April 2009

Words to Live By #34

Images thanks to lanuiop and i.anton

"Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint on it you can."
Danny Kaye

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Sunday, 12 April 2009

Eggs, daffs & Rocky Road

How did you spend your Easter weekend?

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Saturday, 11 April 2009

The Saturday Salute 11.04.09

Image thanks to Scarleth White

Not much to offer this week, I'm at my parents house in lovely, sunny Wales so internet is not currently top priority, but I'll try to get some cute Easter snaps up tomorrow.

Lisa of Lisa Place gets her masquerade on, what Charade spirit!

This is strangely addictive, sweet, heart-breaking reading.

Also pretty enamoured by The English Muse.

In keeping with the Dream Style theme, have a go at Mastering the Art of the French Five-Piece Wardrobe from On Simplicity.

Whatever you're doing for Easter, remember to keep it fabulous!

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Thursday, 9 April 2009

Dream Style: Getting the Inspiration

Image thanks to DerrickT

This post is part of The Dream Style Series.

If you’re anything like me, you feel completely overwhelmed by the appeals of fashion. One day you’re all bubble hem skirts and cowboy boots, next you’re tea dresses and Mary Jane’s, and then, out of nowhere, you’re all about the skinny jeans and gladiator sandals. You aim for consistency but are always being distracted; too many styles appeal to you, leaving you and your poor wardrobe a mish-mash of goth rock boots and prim lace cardies.

Why is this? Well, put simply, we are the instant messenger, microwave meal, sky plus generation, we want EVERYTHING and we want it right NOW. We scour fashion blogs, idolise celebs, paw our style bibles and magically it all seems to appeal, we love it all. Do you see the issue here? We are talking about personal style and yet our main three inspiration wells are external; they’re focused on a world of style quite far removed from our everyday situation; we are imitators. And why does it nearly all appeal? Because it is all marketed to us. Think about it, it is someone’s, no, several people’s full time job to market even a single product to you, to make you think you want it. Are these people are paid for nothing? No. What they do works. To most young females, fashion is an all you can eat buffet and we want a taste of every dish.

Now, it’s taken me quite a while to figure out that this actuality doesn’t matter, navigating your way through this abyss is all part and parcel of sussing out your dream style. Of course, blogs, celebrity style and fashion magazines are all legitimate ways to get inspired, but it is how you sift, process and mould these external sources into a style that is true to you that’s the key to the dream aesthetic. I may like every new style that passes beneath my nose, but can I wear it? Will it suit me? Will it suit my lifestyle?

The fact is, you will never feel completely satisfied with the way you look unless, on some level, you feel it is a true representation of you. When cultivating personal style we have to work from the inside out; the origin of our exterior aesthetic must always be our interior ideals, and not just our likes and dislikes when it comes to abstract trends but the very root of our beings, the things that really make us tick.

Grab the notebook you used when laying your foundations and ask yourself some questions. What is your idea of the perfect life? Where would you live, in a city penthouse or country estate? Who would you spend the majority of your time with? What would you fill your days doing? Dancing? Reading? Baking? Picture yourself living this life. Now, what are you wearing?

Hopefully, the images you have in your head are a realistic starting point for your dream style, but there is probably still a bit of work to do to clear your head of the fashion ideals implanted by the media marketers. Let’s imagine, in this perfect existence, that you were going to be completely self contained for two weeks. That’s right, no outside contact, no stints to the shops. Let’s say that maybe you wouldn’t be exposed to any media either; no magazines, no internet. No one is going to see you in these two weeks, no one is going to judge you, but you still have to get up and put an outfit on everyday (no all day PJ fests!) What would you wear now? Something fun? Something outrageous? An outfit that, when you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror, makes you grin, giggle, or leap for joy? What would you wear if you were dressing for yourself and yourself only?

I’m sure more than one of you is thinking that many of the items you may enjoy wearing and that would be a little more true to yourself would be impractical, perhaps because of your job or just because you simply aren’t prepared to be stared at! And that’s fine; you can take the whole concept of dream style to any level that suits you, but I think it is important that you at least have an idea of how you would love dress so that, even in the subtlest of ways, it can influence your everyday attire.

Once you really start to think about and begin to get a picture of your true style, as opposed to what you think you should be wearing, what next? What do you do with this information?

I think it's imperative to dream style that you keep a style journal, a scrapbook, make a mood board, or simply get your Polyvore on like the examples I’ve put together. You must get these ideas into some kind of physical form otherwise they’re all too susceptible to being nudged out of your head by the big ideas imposed upon you from exterior sources.

These collections don’t have to be set in stone and of course they will adapt over time, but the more evidence you show yourself of your dream style journey, the better equipped you’ll be for the future.

You want to get to a position where you will rarely shop without a clear picture of what you’re hoping to achieve, even if that be merely and idea or an impression you want to create as opposed to specific items.

Next in the series will get down to the nitty-gritty of the pitfalls and plus points of various shopping habits.

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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Dream Style: Laying the Foundations

Images thanks to saptarshi biswas and The MacLarty's

This post is part of The Dream Style Series, read part one here.

This is probably the most important stage of achieving dream style as, depending on the current state of your closet, it’s likely that a little groundwork needs to be laid before you can skip merrily into aesthetic nirvana. This is the turning point from dowdy to delicious, give it all you’ve got now and the rest will be a piece of pie.

The fact is that you’ve probably already tried in some indirect way to achieve dream style, with remnants of it scattered throughout your wardrobe, though chances are this attempt was a little half-hearted and you quickly found yourself back at the proverbial square marked ‘one’. However, this should not cause a mournful cry at the soon-to-be massacre of said wardrobe; every item you own, on some level, is a representation of you, even if it was some minor, freak moment of you, and because of this we have much to learn from your fashion history. Chucking out everything you own in place of a barrowful of new gear would disregard all your past fashion choices, and that’s not what dream style is about. We’re not reinventing here, we’re in-sourcing; we’re looking at your past and present and threading them together with your ideals to form a future.

Pick Your Sweethearts. Set aside a morning or afternoon (ideally a whole day) to reintroduce yourself to your wardrobe. Bonus points if you can enlist a buddy to help you (then you can help them back.) Clear off your bed because this will act as your sorting ground, and try to limit the likelihood of interruption.

1. Pick the ten to twenty items that you love and that you think say the most about you; even if they are not items you wear everyday. This should ideally include a variety of items like a dress, t-shirt, skirt, bag, pair of shoes, scarf, belt etc. Try to stop yourself picking out your newest or most fashionable items as, whilst you may be crazy about them now, they may not have much longevity as your sweethearts.

2. Next pick ten supporting items; items that you probably find yourself radiating to on your not-so-creative days, the no-nonsense basics. This might include a white shirt, jeans, a plain sweater etc.

And that, my friends, is the very bare bones of your dream wardrobe. Close up the closet, and look at what you have; what is it telling you? (This is where having a buddy comes in handy because they can give you an outsider perspective.) Is this the aesthetic you desire, or is it missing something? Is it a true representation of you?

Image thanks to spud

Get yourself a stylish jotter and make as many notes as you can on what’s missing from your collection. Work out how many different outfits you could put together with what you have; what items are missing that would be most versatile? Is your collection simply not fun/retro/elegant enough for you? Are the colours all wrong? Do you desire more stripes? More pink? More glitter? Would you like to make more of a certain theme in your wardrobe? More checked shirts to wear with your gorgeous cowboy boots, for example. The more notes you make the more ammo you have for gaining inspiration and making super successful spends in the future.

Ditch the Dowdy. Place your new mini-wardrobe to one side and get to grips with the excess. Create two piles or grab two boxes; one for the salvageable and saleable, and one for the scrap.

1. Firstly, focus on the items that you never wear, or wear extremely rarely, but that are still in good condition; the ones you bought on a whim then never wore, we all have them. If you don’t wear an item, you clearly don’t feel comfortable wearing it and it’s doubtful you ever will, so why not yield a little spare cash to put towards items you’ll cherish? More on that to come later in the series when we talk about selling clothes on ebay.

2. Now, focus on the items that you never wear due to a fault; a stain, a loose seam etc. If it can’t be fixed, why on earth do you still have it? It’s got to go. If it can be fixed, your challenge is to get it fixed within a week or it’s also got to go. Dream style is as much about practicality as it is about fancy; where’s the practicality in holding on to damaged, drab attire? If you’re having a hard time being tough on yourself, then work with this rule: if you can’t pair it well with a sweetheart, its toast.

Image thanks to coco Rina

A Present and a Past Packed. It’s possible that you already have a section of your clothing packed away at any one time, whether it’s summer or winter clothes, a few fabulous gowns from various special occasions, or even skiing gear. I propose you act more discerningly on this concept as I see two simple truths in having all your clothes openly available to you at all times.

1. You can get bored of seeing the same garments day in day out; give them back a little of their magic and mystique by packing them away.

2. Fashion comes and goes in phases, not necessarily with the seasons, but with your own moods and preferences. You won’t want to wear all your clothes all the time, so why have them hanging around confusing you?

Split your wardrobe roughly 50/50 depending on size. If you haven’t worn an item in the last six months then it should be packed. Splash out on a vintage suitcase, make like a squirrel and store! Store it above your wardrobe, under your bed or send it home to your mother if you must, just as long as it disappears until its contents are once again required, which leads me nicely onto:

Editing - the habitual act of tidying, taming, and trimming the fat from your closet. Really, this should be done every six months to keep your wardrobe in tip-top working order and suit changing weather conditions. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours each time if kept up, and I’d recommend following these three steps:

1. Edit out any damaged and unwanted but saleable items and perform the necessary actions with each.

2. Reassess your present and packed wardrobes and undertake any necessary swaps between the items in your present you’ve tired of and items in your packed that are once again exciting. Try to keep the split at an even 50/50.

3. Jot down an honest list of five to ten items you feel you’ve been buying too much of (cheap shoes, plain camisoles, jeans etc.) and five to ten items you are in need of (a tailored blazer, versatile evening bag, summer sandals etc.) This will help to inform your shopping choices over the next six months and make your next edit easier.

Mark your six month dates in your diary so you never forget, and be sure to have fun! Think of it like a haircut; you probably wouldn’t go six months without getting a trim, so why let your wardrobe grow wild?

In the next part of the series we’ll look at getting the inspiration to move forward and make far more appropriate fashion choices, and in the next few weeks we’ll touch back on the old wardrobe maintenance and see how we can get more organised.

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