The Psychology of Dressing Well

The competitive edge

The power of clothing to change our emotions is … well … powerful! It impacts how we think and feel, the way we perform and act, and what other people think of us

Clothes are an expression of who we are and how we project our character to the people we meet. Few people understand its importance, use this powerful resource, and dress to impress.

We all make an extra effort and take time to look nice for special occasions, and then the thought, energy and trouble often drops off in everyday life.

Scientific studies suggest that how we dress has a powerful impact on how we’re perceived and may give us the competitive edge needed to succeed in our professional and personal lives.

Enclothed cognition

We’re always hearing, “dress for the job you want; not the job you have” and “look good, feel good”, but most people underestimate the power of dress. Studies confirm that the clothes we wear affect our behaviour, attitudes, personality, mood, confidence, and the way we connect with others. This is called ‘Enclothed Cognition’.

Enclothed Cognition is used to describe the effect what we wear has on psychological processes such as emotions, self evaluation, attitude, and interaction with others. Also, as a society, we place symbolic meaning on clothing and we assess people based on how they present. Through years of social conditioning our unconscious decision making process goes into autopilot.

The subconscious connection

The clothes you wear and the way you present will change the way other people hear what you say. It will subconsciously tell them if you’re like them or different. It will determine the way they see you, whether they’ll listen to you, and whether they trust you.

When President Barack Obama spoke to an audience of working class people, he ditched the suit and wore his shirt sleeves rolled up. This sent a powerful message that he was hard working, relatable, trustworthy, understanding – and above all else, one of them.

We judge people during first contact based on what they wear according to the occasion, and we judge ourselves on how we present because of the way it makes us feel.

Looking good results in results

In 1998, research of a well known psychologist who surveyed over 500 firms showed that habitually informal dress codes ultimately resulted in relaxed manners, relaxed morals, and lower productivity, and this is still true today.

We all have days when we feel uninspired, flat, directionless and missing that spring in our step. Put on something dowdy, dirty and dishevelled and you’ll feel the part. However, if you wear your favourite outfit, the results will be amazing. You have more energy, inspiration, and the day looks more positive.

It’s simple. How you dress affects the way you feel and how you perform. Gym clothes put you in the mood to exercise. High heels make you feel glamorous, and confident. A suit puts you in business mode, and you’ll think smarter, faster, and command more respect.

Dress for the job you want

Extensive studies confirm clothing that is associated with certain roles encourage us to act accordingly. Dress like a judge, you’ll have authority, wisdom, power; dress like a fireman or policeman, you’ll be more heroic and run towards danger to save people.

Your appearance matters to others too. Being in the workplace often involves interacting with new people, co workers, and communicating with managers. Your reputation is a priceless commodity and visual presentation accounts for more than 60% of the impression we make on others – both initially and ongoing.

Research has established a link to suggest people unconsciously behave in a way that is matched to their dress. Ipso facto, dress for the role, have the role!

Clarke Kent mild mannered reporter, invisible and insipid. Changes into his cape and suddenly he’s a superhero. Cinderella, a housemaid who wears rags, puts on a ball gown and suddenly she’s a Princess! Same guy, same girl, just different clothes.

Think it into existence, speak it into existence, dress it into existence – and it will exist!

For more information, or an initial consultation, please email me directly at

Sneakers: The Ultimate Guide for Obsessives

A CLEANER SNEAKER? From left: Veja and Allbirds sneakers, whic hproject a more sustainable design ethos, are keeping the big brands on their toes. Veja V-10, $150,; Allbirds Tree Runners, $95, PHOTO: BRYAN GARDNER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY ANNE CARDENAS

Article by Wall Street Journal

As athletic shoes morph and multiply—emerging as a pivotal business for both men’s and women’s fashion—we offer an extensive primer, including the threats to Nike’s dominance and 5 game-changing technological innovations

By Jacob Gallagher

Updated Sept. 6, 2019 4:25 pm ET

What’s the last pair of shoes you bought? Let me guess: sneakers. Maybe a pair of collectible, cartoonishly colored Nike s? Leather Common Projects lace-ups in minimalist, office-friendly white? Or some humbly ho-hum navy-blue wool Allbirds? You weren’t alone. The sneaker business hit $44 billion in sales last year in the U.S., up 9% from the year before, according to market-research firm the NPD Group. 

Although the modern sneaker era arguably began with Nike’s first running shoes—the basic Cortez—around 50 years ago, today that type of functionally athletic sneaker is not driving the growing market. Matt Powell, the senior industry adviser for sports at the NPD Group, noted that sales of performance-sport sneakers (for running, basketball, tennis, etc.) are tapering off. “For the last four years we’ve been in this period where we do not have a single performance [shoe] trending positively,” he said. Why pay for state-of-the-art, air-bubbled high-tops if you’re not Steph Curry lining up to take a three? 

Simpler sneakers are on the upswing. “Retro definitely has a bit more of the momentum,” said Erik Fagerlind, the co-owner of Sneakersnstuff, a global chain of sneaker boutiques. Tasteful throwbacks, like the reissued Nike Tailwind, Adidas Superstar (see “Os” above) and upscale traditional sneakers like Spalwart’s Marathon Trail Runner and Brunello Cucinelli ’s luxe suede low-tops appeal to a clientele who came of age in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. For Frankie Walker Jr., the co-owner of Unknwn, a Miami sneaker retailer, and a child of the ’80s, the sneakers of one’s youth hold nostalgic charm. A plus? These clean styles won’t look out of place at the office. 

Another sneaker that blends well with business-casual garb is the understated, sustainable kick as epitomized by the knitted-upper runner from direct-to-consumer startup Allbirds (“Ds” above) or the subtle shoes from French label Veja (“Ss” above). At a time of staggering clothing waste, these shoes attempt to tread more lightly on the environment. 

At the opposite end of the style spectrum, aggressively trendy sneakers are rife in the Instagram age. Statement shoes like Balenciaga’s colossally chunky Triple-S or Nike’s collaboration with Japan’s Sacai (with its double soles and double tongues) leap out on social media, where brash sneaker fans of all ages battle for bragging rights. The thirst for boast-worthy shoes has supercharged sneaker collecting. On resale platforms like Stadium Goods, StockX and Flight Club, obsessives amass and unload limited pairs, sometimes at hammer prices well into the five figures. In July an entrepreneur paid $850,000 for a set of 99 rare sneakers during a Sotheby’s sale. 

Of course, most of us are just looking for one everyday pair. For many, it’s a low-key minimalist sneaker, but even if you’d never wear Technicolor Nikes (“Ni” above), they can be fun to look at.

TIES NOT OPTIONAL Off Duty’s deputy fashion director wears hertrusty New Balances with a directional Céline dress. PHOTO: RYAN MESINA/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Can sneakers be stylish?

Fashion editor Rebecca Malinsky willed them to be following a debilitating foot injury.

AT A CLOSE FRIEND’Swedding in the Portuguese countryside a while back, I danced until the wee hours in a predictably picturesque setting. The next day, however, my right foot was aching. After the seven-hour flight home and a long walk through customs I knew something was not right. Three podiatrists, two MRIs and one renowned foot and ankle surgeon later, I discovered that I had boogied my way to a rather serious ankle injury that would simply require time and supportive (read: ugly) shoes to heal. Time? Sure. But trading ballerina flats for the same sneakers as my dad? 

The accident humbled me into accepting the fragility of the human body—in the painfully conspicuous form of orthopedic shoes. I spent about 18 months solely wearing running shoes, minus the three hours I devoted to getting married in 1-inch Valentino heels lined with Dr. Scholl’s pads (fighting back tears from the pain and the emotion of it all).

Physically, just getting from point A to B has been exhausting; mentally, trying to remain confident as a fashion authority in sensible sneakers has been taxing. In the time I’ve spent in my go-to pairs of shoes—a gray New Balance 990 and a black Asics GT-1000—I’ve had to get creative to make them feel like they are truly a part of my personal style. But along the way, I developed the following guidelines on how to style sneakers fashionably:

  • Don’t dress down. Sneakers look more considered and intentional when paired with trendy clothing vs. basics. Try a slouchy linen pant or floral dress instead of jeans.
  • Consider the classics. Many designer sneakers are inspired by traditional tennis, or running, shoe brands. Scout out the original: It looks more authentic and saves you hundreds of dollars.
  • Venture manward. Why are women’s sneakers always fuchsia and teal? Learn your sizes in men’s sneakers to get the more-interesting lime green/black or red/white/tan combinations.
  • Socks matter. They should match your outfit, not your shoe. Invest in no-show peds for summer, and some gray, textured wool tall socks for the cooler months.

Jeans Glossary … get the perfect fit for your figure

Voluptuos Curves – classic or relaxed fits are best.They’ll give you ease and flattery in the bottom area without being big all over. Get a pair that sits on your hips rather than your waist. Concentrate on getting the waist and leg proportion just right. The waistband should sit just below your waist’s natural curve and the leg should skim your natural shape. A very tight waist with full legs is the worst proportion. Avoid too tight legs and small or widely spaced back pockets.

Curvy with Small Waist – stretch jeans will be great for you. Straight, tight cuts are perfect. Low-riders are the most flattering. A gentle flare will balance your hip curve. High-waisted jeans will make your bottom look disproportionately large.

Slim Bottom – stretch jeans but not too tight are best. *Slim leg, to follow same line as small bottom. Back pockets, decorative, even with flaps are great. Avoid stiff denim, baggy or boy cuts.

Short Waist – You need to make your torso longer so hipsters are perfect. They will give extra space to your top half and proportion. Absolutely no high-waisted jeans. Perhaps wedges or heels to give you more length.

Heavy Thighs – An easy fit on the hips and avoid tapered legs and anything oversize. Boot legs will balance your thighs where you are heavier Don’t tuck in tops but keep them close to the body without being skin tight. Avoid baggy tops. High, tight-waisted are very very wrong!

Small with Short Legs – Lengthen your legs and add curve. Wear heals and make sure the length is long enough but does not fold over shoe. Slightly higher than hip waistline and straight leg cut. Low cut jeans with wide legs will shorten you – avoid.

Long Waist – Lengthen legs and shorten torso. You can wear jeans a little higher than hipsters to disguise torso and snug fitting legs. Add more height with long hem and high heels. Avoid ankle cropped length.

Boyish Figure – For slim hips and straight waist, try to add curves to your figure. Experiment between high-waisted and low-rise straight leg jeans. The boy cut is great for you. Success is getting a waist line to optimise your curves.

For All Shapes – jeans look best in a medium to heavy weight denim. Thinner fabric will highlight, not hide bulges.

Male Dress Code – body shapes for men

Thick neck  

What to wear … deep collars; v-neck jumpers; polo shirts

What not to wear … small collars; high round necks; buttoned up shirts

Big tummy

What to wear … vertical stripes; loose tshirts; structured jackets; single breasted suits; knits with horizontal panel across the chest and contrasting darker colour around the tummy

What not to wear … short tops with high waisted pants! Tops that are too long; strong contrasting colours; big belts; skinny leg jeans/pants

Short legs

What to wear … all one colour; vertical stripes; plain shoes; match shoe colour to pants; monochrome colours; slim fit clothing; pointy toe shoe; the key is to streamline/visually lengthen your frame through colour and fit

What not to wear … contrasting colours; baggy clothes; ill fitting clothes; bold prints and patterns; don’t layer longer pieces underneath shorter pieces – this will break the continuity

Man breasts

What to wear … printed shirts; vertical stripes; shirts with pockets; dark colours

What not to wear … see through shirts; fine knit tops

Top heavy

What to wear … boot leg pant; fitted blazer; small pattern shirt; v-neck knits over white t-shirt

What not to wear … short sleeved shirts; tapered pants; double breasted jacket


What to wear … straight leg, light coloured denim jean;Layering allows you to build size; add kilos to your frame by selecting a denser, wool suit; chunkier, heavy jumpers such as cable knits and roll necks add size; white t-shirts, beige chinos, and pastel colours are best to add bulk

What not to wear … nothing second-skin thin for the skinny guy – this includes shirts labelled super-fit or ultra-slim and shirts that are stretchy or clingy; shirts that are too big; fat ties

Shopping – The rules



Accept the things you cannot change, and love yourself. Confidence and knowing what suits you are what matters when it comes to style. Think Marilyn Monroe and the beauty spot, George Clooney and is silver hair, Kim Kardashian and her curves… 

Try on clothes that make you feel really good. Work out what it is about your body that makes those clothes work so well. 

Everyone has attractive points. Look for your best bits and accentuate them. So, first things first – know what is great for you. 

What are you always complimented on? Beautiful neck and shoulders, good legs, toned arms, perfect bottom, beautiful eyes, skin, hair??? These are the things you should accentuate. Learn to play up your strengths. 

Good legs – wear skirts. Small waist – wear belts. Striking eyes – find out what colours bring out the colour of your eyes or flatter your hair, and wear them. 

Compile a list of colours, shapes, lengths that flatter you and keep it on hand when you’re shopping. Lists focus every shopping trip. Write down what you need and keep it with you at all times so that you’re prepared, when the unexpected opportunity presents itself. 

When trying on clothes, make sure shirts and jackets don’t pull across the back of your arms and shoulders. Hug yourself and make sure there is not too much strain on the garment. Be careful not to go too loose. Clothes that are too big are just as bad as clothes that are too tight. If you are small you will be overwhelmed. If you are not small, oversized clothing will make you look bigger than you are. Clothing should skim the body, not squeeze it. 

What you need to know before you spend

Your lifestyle – work, social, university, school. Do you walk or drive there? 

What image are you looking to project?

If shopping for an occasion, who do you want to impress – your boss, your boyfriend, your family?

What do you need your clothes to say – spot light; dignified; sophisticated; intelligent; studious? 

How often will you wear these clothes? Determine its use and longevity and then spend accordingly. 

Your body shape – are you pear, hour glass, petite, tall? 

Which clothes make you happy when you wear them – favourite colour favourite jean shape, shoes/boots/heels?

Prioritise – Have a list of most essential to least so when you run out of money you have covered the most important pieces. 

You don’t have to be rich to look good. The time and thought you put into establishing your personal style will help you make smarter choices about how and where to grow your wardrobe. An unlimited budget is not necessarily a blessing when it comes to getting dressed. Money can often remove creativity. 

Some people think they look great just because they paid a lot for what they’re wearing – and they’re often wrong. At the same time, sometimes you just have to find room in a small budget for an expensive item that you’ll use a lot – something that will make a huge impact on your look, rather than buying lots of inexpensive things that fall apart or is a seasonal look.

So, the rules of shopping…

1. Shop alone – too many opinions only confuse you

2. Browse – spend time looking, don’t impulse buy

3. Budget – set one

4. Essentials – buy them on sale and in bulk – basic t-shirts, shirts, singlets don’t date or change

5. Trends – Fads and trends come and go. Use fashion to develop and enhance your style, not as an excuse to abandon it completely. Be confident. If red is your colour and not the flavour of the month, wear it regardless

6. If you really love something and you know it works for you, buy two in alternate colours

7. Last minute – shopping right before an event leads to overspending on something you don’t like

8. Patience – accept that it takes time to be a good shopper

9. Question – constantly ask yourself: Does it fit? Does it go with what I already have? Does it work for me? 

10. Splurge – The key to success is to know when

11. Sales – be wary of getting carried away. Don’t buy something on sale you wouldn’t pay full price for. You can go wrong with something that costs $20

12. If you are in doubt, leave it

13. Don’t buy anything you need to lose weight to fit into

14. If you can’t see yourself in more than five completely different situations in an item, don’t buy it

15. Fashion is fun, not a religion. Use a trend to add style, not become a victim! 

Wardrobe Essentials

Underwear is the foundation of every outfit. The wrong underwear will ruin a look. No matter what size you are, perfectly fitting underwear will enhance your body shape. Be professionally fitted for bra size and style. Keep colour simple – black white and neutral. Avoid seeing your underpants – through clothes, above clothes and below clothes – shorts that are shorter than your underpants are probably not a good idea… at any age. 

You need something to wear to a casual lunch; a job interview; business meeting; a date; a formal…

Keep in mind ‘less is more’.. buy fewer pieces, that are better quality and be discerning. 

Jeans– Take the time to find a great pair that suit your body shape. Spend more on jeans because you live in them. 

Jackets… A jacket is the starting point for so many great looks. Worn with pants, jeans, a skirt or shorts… You can make it casual or formal, depending on your style and destination. Go for a simple cut in fabric and colour and start to build. A denim jacket for summer nights over dresses; and a leather jacket. 

A white shirt, and several white t-shirts. Always make sure they are clean, no stains with careful attention to shirt collars… Whites may have to be replaced seasonally and always keep napi san handy to soak them. 

A selection of simple t-shirts and tops in basic colours – black, grey, navy, khaki. 2 or 3 plain V-neck jumpers in your favourite colours. Keep these pieces fresh. Buy cheaply and replace as soon as they look less than perfect. This includes hosiery (stockings, tights)

A little black dress and another great dress. 

Three pairs of shoes: boots, flats and going out. 

Personalise your basic wardrobe depending on your lifestyle… student, part time work, stay at home parent, work life … You will need hanging around at home clothes also. Be disciplined in buying these items, and remember that less is more. A lot of money is spent on impulse unnecessary pieces that clog your wardrobe. 

Trends are fashion items that come and go so it’s best to buy inexpensive versions of these fleeting styles. Remember this – fashion fans who follow every catwalk trend have an identity problem. Sooner hopefully rather than later, you will realise that dressing from top to toe in the latest look does not work. We aren’t turned on by groups of girls wearing all the same clothes. We admire individuality, imagination and leaders not followers. 

Classics, however, are at the heart of your style. These are investment pieces and where money is well spent. Subtle adjustments will make the difference between bringing your classics up to date and looking dated. This is where ‘trends’ can freshen up your look and help it evolve. The key is striking a balance between the look of the moment and your personal style. Every season, someone reinvents the perfect dress, blazer and shirt. So, when you are thinking about how to make trends work for you, look to the latest versions of the garments you love. Personalising a trend could mean wearing it in your favourite colour, choosing a hem length that works for you, or finding the shape that flatters you. After all, when you look good, you feel good. Blending confidence with personal style is the game aim!

When putting a wardrobe together, if your budget is limited, the most important thing is having the discipline to invest in one or two beautiful key pieces and mixing these with classic pieces like jeans, white shirts, cashmere knits …

In summary, plan your long term wardrobe: only buy pieces you can’t live without, and don’t be controlled by trends. 

Wardrobe Cleanse

Wardrobes are generally full of unworn clothes. The more you buy, the less it seems you have to wear. You spend money on clothes you already have but can’t find, and hours trying to get dressed. What is the point of having lovely clothes that suit your body shape if you don’t have time to put them together or can’t find them. 

Wardrobes need to be uncluttered, well organised and routinely maintained. You need to know what you have in your wardrobe and how it works together. 

Start by emptying your wardrobe completely. Then, sort. Try everything on. If it no longer fits (your look, your shape, your taste) get rid of it. Make five separate piles of clothes – dry cleaning; the tailor for alterations and mending; charity; bin; and keepsakes. Do not keep anything that is too big or too small and makes you look dumpy, frumpy or ordinary. The clothes you are left with should make you look good, be able to throw on in minutes, and feel great and confident wearing them. 

They also need to be comfortable. You’ll find this hard to believe but the sooner you are able to draw the line at being a fashion victim and never again be too cold, in pain, asphyxiated by the tightness of your jeans or walking in shoes that draw blood.. the better off you will be and the better you will look. That is not to say that I don’t have a few scars from doing all of the above!!! All mothers try to get their daughters to wear singlets in the winter… my mother is still trying!! I used to visit my grandmother every day and she would say ‘those high shoes are so uncomfortable’, and I would always answer her ‘are there any other kind?’… and we would laugh. Seriously though, high shoes that you can’t walk in make you look ridiculous and damage your feet. 

Your new order….

All clothing should be rehung on matching covered or wooden hangers. Arrange your wardrobe in a way that you can see everything clearly – the easier it is to see the entire contents of your wardrobe, the easier it is to choose an outfit. Layout your wardrobe in shop form – merchandise into categories: tops and shirts; pants, jeans and skirts; dresses in casual and evening sections; jackets and coats, and then sort by colour. 

Keep accessories together – scarves, belts, jewellery, hats. 

Arrange shoes by season, occasion and colour. Clean and maintain heels on all shoes before storing them in the wardrobe. Dirty or scuffed shoes are unacceptable at any time. This includes joggers. Regularly soak and wash. 

Remember – clutter is the enemy. You can’t have a vision if you can’t see the stuff that will inspire you. Re-merchandise every three months or change of season.

Wardrobe Maintenance

At the end of each season, and before clothing and footwear are stored, check for stains and repairs. Wash, hand wash or dry clean any necessary items. With regard to dry cleaning, dry cleaning chemicals are harsh on fabrics, so don’t send garments to be cleaned unnecessarily. Also, dry cleaning suit pieces separately will ruin them. Polish shoes and have heels repaired. Clothes need to be maintained if you want them to last. As well as costing money, you may not be able to buy the pieces you have grown to love. 

When washing clothes, check labels for washing instructions. Clothing with stains, missing buttons, holes and hems down look dowdy, sloppy and lazy. 

Remember to ask yourself – what is the look that I want; what reputation am I cultivating; what do I want to be remembered for. Do I want average or excellence? 

Happy building! 

4 ways to take the stress out of getting dressed in the morning

First published at Vogue

Every woman in the world can sympathise with the ongoing drama of ‘What am I going to wear today?!’

No matter what type of style you have, here are a few ways you can take the stress out of getting ready in the morning.

  1. The basics Having a well-rounded wardrobe that covers all occasions makes getting ready in the morning much less stressful. Take the time to invest in the wardrobe essentials that will empower you to create an array of go-to outfits with ease. Personally I’m a huge lover of black skinny jeans and a white T-shirt paired with white sneakers and a longline blazer. Below are my wardrobe essentials:

The classics: a black boyfriend blazer, pencil skirt, a striped T-shirt and cigarette pants. Whites: invest in a good linen or cotton white T-shirt and shirt. A little black dress: every girl needs at least one little black dress. Denim for days: a wardrobe essential, jeans are one of my go-tos! I love a good black skinny jean, vintage blue denim and ripped white jeans. The footwear four: these four staples can finish off a look perfectly. It’s all about the sneaker, black leather boots, a classic pump and slides. Statement: invest in a designer piece that adds a little wow factor to your wardrobe, from a Georgia Alice top to an Ellery dress. Leather: toughen up your look with a leather jacket.

  1. Order Creating order in your wardrobe is one of the easiest ways to make getting ready in the morning stress free. Personally I order my wardrobe in categories, for example: blazers, jackets, jumpsuits, pants, skirts, dresses, tops etc. This simple step literally makes your clothing much more accessible and organised, rather than wasting time hunting high and low for that Bassike T-shirt you know is hiding away in your wardrobe somewhere. The key is keeping your wardrobe this way. Make the effort to give your wardrobe a refresh once a week on a Sunday evening, ready to power through the week ahead in style and ease.
  2. Prep Preparation is the quickest way to avoid feeling stressed in the morning. Set aside five minutes each night before you go to bed to check the weather and your diary before selecting your outfit the following day. Thoroughly check your outfit to see if anything needs ironing and once it’s good to go, hang the outfit at the front of your wardrobe with your accompanying accessories. This little bit of prep also allows you more time in the morning to make a fresh smoothie or indulge in a coffee on your way to work.
  3. Accessories Accessories can bring the perfect finishing touch to your look. Make sure your favourite pieces of jewellery, eyewear, shoes and belts are accessible to you when you are getting ready in the morning. I love to keep my jewellery displayed neatly on my bedside table and I keep all my shoes and belts ordered in my wardrobe where I can see them. It may sound simple, but when you’re stressing that your outfit isn’t complete, a simple shoe or new necklace can finish off your look perfectly.

Note to self: 8 eight tips on navigating your career and being an entrepreneur

Natalie Massenet’s 8 tips on navigating your career and being an entrepreneur

First published at Vogue

Written by Zara Wong

The e-commerce entrepreneur’s resume is long – model, receptionist, fashion editor and writer – and now one of the most influential people in the fashion industry. Here, she speaks to Vogue about some important things to remember.

Have an idea of where you want to go

A favourite book of Natalie Massenet’s is Creative Visualisation. “You can’t get to where you want to be without knowing where that is,” says Massenet – even if she didn’t envision e-commerce exactly, she had an idea of what she wanted her career to be like. Before reading the book, she describes herself as “unemployed, confused and soul-searching.” After reading the book: “it changed everything and I really feel it helped me get to this place. It was a very powerful tool, and you imagine something and then you believe it’s already happened with every cell in your being and the universe conspires with you, and as long as you start doing the work, it seems to happen.”

Know when to trust yourself

Before starting Net-A-Porter, Massenet came up with other business ideas including a line of luxury candles and gourmet coffee shops – ideas that her friends advised against. “My friends talked me out of it and I was like, ‘Yeah, maybe you’re right. What do I know?’ The fact that those ideas became important over the next 10 years, I had a bit more confidence in my ideas.”

Have some confidence in yourself, too

“My father always said, ‘Never be afraid of what’s on the other side of the mountain,’” says Massenet warmly. “He filled me with this amazing confidence and used to say that you should never show fear to children and always show them optimism.”

Make your decision – and move on

“I know what I want. I walk into a showroom and go ‘This, this, this and this.’ I meet people and know what I think. I’m always the first person to order at the restaurant. I’m not someone who dwells on things if I make a mistake. I don’t dwell on decisions too much.” And when making a mistake in one’s career, be sure not to dwell on them either. “It’s how you learn.”

Always put in the hard work – whatever your position

After graduating from UCLA she worked as a receptionist for the film director and producer John Hughes. She admits that she didn’t take the job as seriously as she could have, and learnt her lesson by putting in the hard yards later on in her career. “Now I have so much respect for receptionists because my attitude as a receptionist was really poor. At best, I would doodle. At my worst, as soon as everyone came back from lunch, I would clear my desk and sleep,” she remembers (see, even Massenet had her career failings). “My boss at the time gave my first review and said I wasn’t motivated and I couldn’t believe that he said that! Of course now, I realise that I could have made that much more of an opportunity than I did. That’s my advice – just because you are making the coffee in the backroom, doesn’t mean you can’t get noticed. You need to have the right attitude.”

If you’re good at coming up with lots of ideas, learn how to focus do one thing really well

“I’m an ideas person, and it’s dangerous, I need to just park them!” she admits, though she divulges that these personality traits are what a lot of entrepreneurs have. “One of the drawbacks is you start a lot of things, get a lot of balls in the air and you just have to stop and re-focus.” When asked about whether Net-A-Porter will expand beyond fashion to say, lifestyle, she’s adamant that they will remain in the fashion category. “Focusing on fashion, just doing one thing really well is my goal.”

Continue to push yourself

While Net-A-Porter is the international success story of e-commerce, Massenet strives to innovate and evolve, with the launch of the app, The Net Set, just this year. “I don’t want to look back and say, ‘Oh, that was a really fun ride, Net-A-Porter has a really good place in the history books. I want Net-A-Porter to help write the history books. I think the team here really shares the view that we built something that was pretty disruptive in 1999 but we need to remember that the customer is moving on at the speed of light and multiplying and dividing like gremlins, and we could be disrupted.”


Tagged: 8 tips to be an entrepreneurNatalie MassenetVogue

Fifty and beyond: the rules to make them as stylish as your youth

First published at The Australian

If 30 is the new 20, what does that make 50? And, more important, what does it look like?

Any woman wondering whether her date of birth dictates the way she dresses would do well to take tips from former fashion editor Alyson Walsh. (She’s 51, should that matter.)

“Fifty isn’t that old,” she says. “But the fashion industry sort of ignores you. It’s changing now, but largely the photos are of young, thin people.”

Walsh created the blog That’s Not My Age in her early 40s. Now she’s releasing a book aimed squarely at those who are only as old as they feel. Consider it a sartorial manifesto for what she calls generation FAB (Fifty And Beyond).

Wear what you feel good in. You know whether you’re comfortable or not. “By the time you reach this age, you have more confidence and you’re aware of your body shape, so you know what suits,” Walsh says

Don’t chase trends — you can buy anything and wear what you like. It’s about looking modern, timeless and ageless. J Crew’s Jenna Lyons and Robin Wright (both shy of 50) do it effortlessly.

Comfy shoes are a good thing. “Your body changes and so do your feet. I suggest really good brogues or loafers. A pair of kitten heels from LK Bennett is fine too.”

Don’t buy cheap clothes. It doesn’t have to be Balenciaga or Saint Laurent, but don’t buy fast fashion that’s going to fall apart. Save up, buy less and buy better.

Spend money on a decent, tailored jacket — the structure of it conceals any dreaded middle-aged spread and it goes with everything. If you’re curvy or have big boobs, try semi-fitted styles; if you’re petite, a cropped, collarless number works. And choose a longer one if you want to cover your seat. On the high street, Zara has a good selection.

Balance and proportion are key: loose tops look better with slimline trousers and skirts; wide-legs and A-lines need something more fitted.

Occasion wear is dead. Walsh is adamant about this: “I was going past Buckingham Palace one day after a garden party and I stopped in my tracks. Frills, ruffles and pastels make you look old. It’s about simplifying things rather than piling everything on.” Look for sharper feminine pieces, and never match your bag to your shoes.

But accessories are your friends. A sparkly necklace reflects light on to the face for a bit of Photoshop on the go, statement earrings work for day as well as night, and a bright scarf is a quick way to liven things up.

Don’t be afraid of colour. “It’s important to perk things up a bit because your complexion changes and your hair loses colour,” Walsh says. “I live in navy and khaki, but sometimes I’ll add a bright orange T-shirt or something.” Try Cos for a cool and minimalist approach to introducing brighter shades.

Be careful with black. It may be the fashion editor’s favourite, but black can look severe when you’re over 50 — especially if it’s next to your face. Try grey or blue instead.

You can do sexy. “But sexy isn’t really about looking sexy,” Walsh clarifies, citing former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld as a FAB femme fatale. “It’s not overt, it’s subtle and strong. Not caring what men think is something that comes with age.”

Buy a silk shirt. “It’s a ‘go anywhere’ style — through the day and into the evening. I like Equipment and Winser London.”

You’re never too old for vintage or boho — see Tilda Swinton for inspiration. But keep things simple, look for clean lines and make one garment your statement piece.

Spend more time and money on an effective beauty regime rather than buying every potion on offer. Walsh recommends Decleor’s Aroma Cleanse, Aromatherapy Associates facial oils and Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturiser with SPF.

For those of the “natural look” make-up school, you’ll need more of it than you used to. “When oestrogen leaves the house, the resulting slump in collagen production means that pores slacken too,” says beauty writer Vicci Bentley. “Primer keeps make-up fresher for longer, and light-reflecting powders give skin a healthy glow.” She recommends Dr Brandt for the former and Chanel for the ­latter.

Treat yourself. Buy French lingerie, and take shirts to the dry cleaners rather than ironing them.

Get your underpinnings right: buy bras that offer support and won’t show up through your clothes — and learn to replace them every six months. Your breast tissue changes as you get older too, so look for soft-cup alternatives to underwires, and get yourself measured twice a year.

Keep your hair in check. Going grey is fine, but only if you’re in charge of it when it happens. Applying Color Wow’s Root Cover Up powder to roots will hide any stragglers until your next appointment.

Buy new things. Aim for classics rather than being stuck in a rut. “You should never stop experimenting,” Walsh says.

Sunglasses can replace eye make-up on short shopping trips. Come to think of it, if they’re big enough, your sunglasses can hide almost anything. Try some Anna Wintour bug-eyes on for size.

Tagged: Louise BernardiImage consultantstyle guidestyle for over 501 Likes

Men’s Fashion: How to Keep Cool in the Summer

First published at Wall Street Journal

Even in summer’s sweltering months, there are times when men can’t avoid a tailored shirt. The trick is, how to wear one and be comfortable?

Paul Trible, co-founder and chief executive of Ledbury, a luxury shirtmaker based in Richmond, Va., says there are simple strategies that can help.

For starters, Mr. Trible advises men to take a close look at the fabric of the shirt. “Lightweight yarns with a loose open weave—those are the two things that keep air flowing, particularly on hot days,” Mr. Trible says. He notes that he generally likes a yarn count of 120 in a summery tailored shirt; most dress shirts have yarn counts between 60 and 100. A yarn count of 120 “is incredibly soft and comfortable and lightweight but it’s not too, too sheer. You don’t see light coming through.” Yarn counts of 140 or 180 are definitely too sheer, he adds.

Cotton-linen blends are another one of Mr. Trible’s go-to’s. “People have been wearing linen for thousands of years for the sole purpose of beating the heat,” he says. Linen alone wrinkles too much, though. “Linen blended with cotton gives you the best of both worlds. It manages the heat and absorbs moisture, but the cotton is a great thing because it prevents a shirt from wrinkling up and looks more polished.” A shirt that’s perhaps 60% or 70% cotton, with linen, is ideal, he says.

Airtex, a fabric that has been popular in Europe and has been used in British military uniforms, is appearing in dress shirts now, too. “It’s 100% cotton and has a gauze-like open weave—tight little holes—that allows air to go in and out of it,” Mr. Trible says. “It’s one of the more breathable shirts for the summer and it works really well.”

Royal twills are a big no, as they tend to trap heat. “I wore one to a summer wedding and almost passed out,” he says. “And I would stay away from anything synthetic. Polyesters and rayons will get you in trouble in the summertime,” he says. “They just don’t breathe so you’re going to sweat and your body’s going to heat up, and it all has nowhere to go.”

Chemically treated shirts, such as those advertised as wrinkle-free, are another mistake, Mr. Trible says. “The chemicals make the shirt less breathable,” he says.

If you pick the right fabric, it won’t matter if the shirt is cut close to the body, Mr. Trible says. In fact, he cautions against what some men do in an effort to stay cool in summer—wear baggy, loose shirts. “If it’s too big and you’re not wearing a breathable fabric, it’s going to be very, very warm,” Mr. Trible says. The more fabric, the more heat trapped in. Similarly, he advises against wearing an undershirt. “Another layer is going to make you hotter,” he says.

The cut of the collar can help you in the heat. “Go for a button-down collar or a small spread collar,” Mr. Trible says. “A bigger spread collar is going to be more weight and more fabric around your neck and go higher up on your neckline.” Similarly, for summer he prefers button cuffs, as opposed to French cuffs, so he can easily roll up his sleeves if he needs to.

Most people don’t think about it, but button placement down the front is important as well, Mr. Trible says. “It’s a small detail, but if you’re not wearing a tie, having your second button placed just a little bit lower lets your neck and chest breathe a little bit more,” he says.

If you have a tendency to perspire profusely, Mr. Trible suggests picking light-colored shirts with patterns. “Small checks can hide perspiration at times,” he says. “Larger patterns are great, too, but they’re more of a weekend thing.”

Finally, Mr. Trible sometimes employs this trick to keep himself feeling fresh—especially if he has been wearing a shirt all day that has become soaked, but he needs to wear it at night, too. “Vodka is a good deodorizer,” he says. “Just put some vodka in a spray bottle and spray it on the shirt,” he says. “That will dry it out in half an hour and it kills the odors. It’s a cheap way to do your own dry cleaning.”

Tagged: Louise BernardiImage ConsultantStyleStyle for menDressing for summerSuits in summer

Basic Rules

‘Learn the rules like a pro so that you can break them like an artist’

Pablo Picasso

  • Dress your shape not your size.
  • A well organised wardrobe is essential.
  • First impressions count.
  • Accentuate the good bits.
  • In an interview dress for the job you want.
  • Straighten up. Walking tall is exceptionally appealing.
  • A reliable tailor should be every womans key contact.
  • Well fitting underwear will make you look better in clothes.
  • Bare shoulders are one of fashion’s most effective decoys. They will offset a straight waist and wide hips and they are one of the last parts of a woman to age.
  • Where cleavage is concerned, a little is much better than a lot!
  • White adds weight, black reduces.
  • Big prints are fattening.
  • Shopping right before an event leads to overspending on something you don’t like.
  • Successful shoppers think of each new purchase as an extension of what they already have.
  • Keep clippings from magazines of looks you love. A clear picture will emerge of what you like.
  • Never wear chipped nail polish or scuffed heels.
  • Obvious displays of designer logos are not good!
  • Nothing is more luxurious than comfort and no one looks stylish in pain.
  • Every woman needs something to wear to a casual lunch; a job interview; a date; a black tie function.
  • There are exceptions to every rule!