Interview with BBC – What to Wear to the Office?

140px-BBC_Radio_logoIt appears that in recent years, most companies are starting to take seriously, the subject of relaxing their dress codes. Even banks like JP Morgan, who made a global announcement in the summer that they would be more tolerant of how employees turn up to the office and scrapped the new to men to wear ties with shirts.

Click the link to hear my interview on office dress codes, with Elliott Webb on his BBC Radio breakfast show

However, there are still some companies who insist on maintaining a strict dress code, so much so, that it resulted in a recent court case, regarding the receptionist who took the company to court, because they had insisted that she had to wear heels, which they stated was company policy, and when she refused, they sent her home.

I’ve had many clients over the years who have all struggled with balancing the need to look professional and yet, appear stylish. It’s a bug-bear, and can be tricky, particularly for women working in make male-dominated environments, of walking the tight rope of wanting to be seen as feminine, yet, powerful, strong and confident. I’ve featured some of my previous clients and looks that I’ve pulled together, to demonstrate that being stylish, and smart enough for a corporate environment, is achievable:






Wearable Cling Film – whatever next?!

Talking revolutionary fashion, with the lovely Malcolm Boyden on his mid-morning BBC radio show:on-airMy recent radio interview on regional BBC station Hereford and Worcester, talking about a new fabric that has been created by a bunch of lovely scientists, which is basically cling film for the body. Intrigued? Have a listen below.

Recent interview on BBC regional radio, talking about how we could soon be wearing cling film, as clothing!


To ‘IT’ bag, or Not…


For those of you familiar with the first Sex and The City movie (God, I LOVE that film), you will remember Carrie’s savvy Personal Assistant, who, when asked how she could afford a designer handbag by Louis Vuitton, divulges her secret, and explains how she’s ‘renting’ it off a website, and proclaims to ‘stick with her, and she’ll hook her up’.

I was delighted to be invited to speak with my lovely (on-air) friend Malcolm Boyden during  his morning radio show on BBC Hereford and Worcester, to give my thoughts. Here’s the interview:



Louise, Carrie’s PA in Sex and the City Movie, who introduced the world to the concept of ‘renting’ your designer bag

Victoria Beckham’s Hermes bag collection

In recent years, I’ve seen more of these types of sharing/renting/borrowing (whatever you want to call it!) websites of designer items popping up, as people (mainly women, I’m guessing) are seeing the advantages of saving thousands by simply, ‘renting’ and not buying designer pieces. I guess it’s a smart move, when you consider that a well-known ‘it’ bag (are we still calling them that? Are we?) can be a small deposit on a house. If the rumours are true, then Victoria Beckham could probably buy part of Park Lane – and could give Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection a run for its money in the process – with her collection of Hermes ‘Kelly’ bags (although these days she’s more likely to be seen with one of her own pieces of arm candy from her eponymous fashion brand), but for mere mortals, then, might this just be the jack pot?!


Victoria Beckham with one of her and handbags from her    extensive collection of Hermes bags


What’s In It For Me…?

Well, aside from earning yourself around £60 -100 per month (every bit helps), depending on the type of designer bag you wish to rent out, you could be putting that money towards owning another high-end accessory, and then rent that one out, and voila- a booming little bag rental business takes flight…you can give up that day job after all!

If the thought of strangers with their paws on your favourite Prada give you the heebie-jeebies, then maybe this isn’t right for you, or perhaps rent only to your friends, who you trust with your life and who you know will return your cherished bag in the manner to which it was given. 🙂

However, if you’re a serious dedicated fashionista, and you have a bit of cash to throw around, then this might be a great way to keep your look up-to-date – you can choose from an array of designer bags, depending on your mood, and outfit. Also a great idea if you have big events coming up, where the right bag is going to make or break the outfit; wedding, christening, interview, date…you get the picture.

I’m always harping on about the fact that it’s the details that make all the difference when it comes to dressing really well; shoes; watches; jewellery; handbags..and so the smart woman knows that the right bag, can make or break an outfit. Focusing on little things like accessories can make all the difference from turning an outfit from WOAH!! to WOW!


My Favourite Arm Candy

Having perused some of these sites, I can’t say I’m that impressed at how user-friendly they are. The sites look a little dated, and dare I say it, all seems a bit..passé…..I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. There’s clearly a gap in the market for a cool & slick looking site that actually works (when I tried to click the dates on one of the sites, literally nothing happens).

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Leather Bucket Bag by design duo, Mansur Gavriel

Having the latest designer bag on our arm is a very quick and smart way to elevate an outfit, yes, I get that, but if you really want to look modern and contemporary, and less “designery” then please have a look at the beautifully crafted and stunning understated pieces of Mansur Gavriel. The beauty of their designs is in the simplicity of shapes and high quality materials. Certainly nothing like an ‘it’ bag as we have known before, but in my opinion, oh-so-desirable. I can’t see any of these across the designer bag rental websites, so you’ll need to go out and buy one. Prices start at £400, so certainly not inexpensive, but in MHO, a real modern classic, worth the investment, and that will stand the test of time.





Is Fast Fashion Good or Bad for Us?


Zoe talking with Caroline Martin on BBC Radio WM on the subject of



Caroline Martin very kindly invited me onto her radio on BBC WM, to allow me the opportunity to give my view on this worrying modern day trend, which inspired my little blog post.

(radio interview here – Zoe talking recently on BBC Radio about the effects of disposable fashion in today’s society:


We live in an age now where we are obsessed with shopping. When everything is so readily available at the click of a button, how could it be any other way? The advent of ‘fast fashion’ has only made us more hungry for the next high fashion items at low cost prices – and with social media on our every trail – what is a girl to do, but keep buying and buying, to ensure that, (shock-horror), we are never photographed more than once in the same outfit!


I just cant see the sense in this. Not only does it mean we are playing into the hands of social media, but it’s incredibly wasteful, and not just a little vain too..




Far better to invest in quality, which stands the test of time, and be able to enjoy our purchases over and over again.

I mentioned to Caroline that I have a dear Aunt – pictured below – who is in her 90’s and still wears the stylish items she bought when she was in her 50’s. 40 years later, they still look great. She really is proof that you can be stylish at any age, and that quality really does prevail.





Shell Suits are BACK (apparently…)



With the advent of ‘athleisure’ or ‘sport luxe’ (however you like to refer to this new style movement), Elliott Webb invited me onto his breakfast radio show, on BBC Hereford and Worcester, to discuss the comeback of that 80’s favourite, The Shell Suit, which, apparently, is having its own ‘fashion moment’…


The Interview

Are you really going to buy one?

If you’re desiring of a shell suit to relive your 80’s all over again – or perhaps you hadn’t even been born when it was in fashion the first time around and want to know what the fuss is all about – then I’d highly advise on giving this some serious thought. Firstly from a simple matter of, ‘taste’, but secondly, and rather more importantly, from a safety perspective. After a short spell of moderate exercise, you’ll feel like you’re wearing a boil-in-the-bag, and unless the fabric has advanced with the technological age, it is highly flammable! You’ve been warned.

Here’s a much better option

Far better to invest in something a little more understated. I’ve found a nice stylish & sporty number from good old M&S, which will earn you some serious style points, and you’ll be working the athleisure/sportluxe look too. It’s a mere snip at £19.99.

Open back top from M&S is your little take on the sport luxe trend ;-)

Open back top from M&S is your little take on the sport luxe trend ;-)

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My latest interview with BBC Radio


zoe-hawkins-profile picMalcolm Boyden

Here’s a recent radio interview, talking with my pal Malcolm Boyden on his breakfast show on BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester, about how our approach to dressing has changed over the years to become far more casual than ever before. Malcolm asks if being smart is a thing of the the link to hear my take.

I have to give a massive shout out of thanks to the wonderful Ian Edwards, who has kindly taken the time to help me with uploading this mp3 file, which, for some reason, was causing me a whole heap of problems to upload. Ian – you are a superstar – thank you!


Fashion crimes by men (over 40) & Confidence Boosters for all – Plus my interview with BBC radio



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Do you ever wonder why some people just know how to dress, and others seem to get it so wrong?

I’ve seen some fashion faux-pas in my time, and have certainly contributed to the cause myself; remember ski-pants with the equestrian style stirrup that made big news in the 1980’s? Enough said! HomeKit perms? Guilty. Belts the width of your torso – I had one. You get the drift. I’ve had to learn the hard way from my clothing mistakes. I’m sure I’ll look back in a few years and question the things I’m wearing now, but hey..that’s fashion.

Fashion crimes don’t have to be outlandish and avant-garde monstrosities of bad taste. Often, it’s the little things that can make all the difference when turning an outfit into ‘bad taste’ territory. Choose a comedy tie to complete your suited and booted look and you’ll achieve something quite different from the desired result.

As a personal stylist, I’ve arrived at the realisation that style is such an innate thing that it’s often a case of ‘how’ you wear it as opposed to ‘what’ you are wearing. In the way that some can carry off a full ‘geeky’ ensemble and look ‘good’. It’s to do with how we present ourselves – I have a feeling that George Clooney could wear pretty much anything and still look stylish, cool and sophisticated. Some people just have ‘IT’!

So, what is ‘IT’? Money, body shape, good looks? They help, but I do believe that there is a secret to being able to look good, whatever age or sex you are, and that is:

c – o – n – f – i – d – e – n – c – e

Yep, that all-important trait that some of us have in bags full, and others, not so much. However, it is that potent ingredient that can determine the outcome of nearly every area of our lives and yet, it can be so illusive at times.  I’m sure nearly every person reading this post has had a crisis of confidence at some point in their lives, which can certainly feel irritating at best and debilitating at worst.  There’s a whole blog post I could dedicate to the subject, but for purposes of this post, which is essentially a light hearted take on how a little bit of fashion know-how and self belief can go a long way, I won’t. (You may, however, be interested to read one of my previous posts on the subject of body confidence and women’s body shapes).

Anyhow, have a listen to the interview I gave with Elliott Webb on his BBC Radio breakfast show recently, and see if you, or anyone you know, can be accused of the fashion crimes we discuss:


I’ve compiled my own list of the biggest fashion crimes for men, and some (hopefully) helpful solutions to combat these sartorial crimes:

  • Problem – Three-quarter length trousers
    Solution: Shorts that hit just above the knee or full length trousers – no in-betweens
  • Problem – Crocs (even worse when teamed with 3/4 length trousers)
    Solution: Flip-flops, although I have an issue even with these as well, better still, converse pumps or penny loafers
  • Problem – Double denim
    Solution: Wear if you’re going to a Status Quo fancy dress party, but if you’re not, check and tartan patterns can give a similarly relaxed and off-duty feel to a pair of jeans
  • Problem – Clumpy, thick-soled shoes
    Solution: a pair of nice, elegant, tan brogues will always look good
  • Problem – Mirrored glasses
    Solutions: Raybans have that timeless quality and look good, whatever age the wearer
  • Problem – Crap socks, comedy socks & ties or anything ‘comedy’ for that matter
    Solution: Controversial, I know, but it’s better to go without socks. Ideally, a nice, subtle, muted black, grey or navy tone is perfect, or a subtle argyle pattern is very nice too
  • Problem – Football shirts worn outside of a football ground
    Solution: Opt for a Fred Perry polo shirt if you favour the understated mod style, or a Ralph Lauren polo shirt if you prefer a more classic look.

    I believe that what we wear is an expression of who we are. This why there is such an emphasis on the ‘personal’ aspect of Personal Styling. I even created a range of accessories with the slogan, ‘True Style is Within’ to prove the point – feel-good-shoppers to use and carry with pride 🙂


Canvas Shopper – illustrated and designed by Zoe Hawkins. £9.99. Order through the website

 What this boils down to, is that it’s all to do with feeling comfortable in your own skin, and that is what confidence is all about. True style is about knowing yourself and it’s the surest way to developing your unique sense of style. When you feel good on the inside, it can’t help but be reflected on the outside. A personal stylist will help create the best version of you, but ultimately, your style is down to you.

My top 5 tips for confidence boosters

1. Write a list of 3 qualities that you like about yourself and save it so you can see it on your phone screen setting, computer screensaver or somewhere you will see it every day.
2. Every time you tell yourself you can’t do something or you’re struggling with self belief, then try and work out what makes you so different from all those people who have achieved and are succeeding – do they deserve it more than you do??
3. Exercise – whatever you like to do – just do it! I run on the spot for 30 seconds like a mad woman and repeat it about 20 times – it’s insane, but I don’t have time to go to the gym and it makes me feel amazing afterwards! Throw on some great tunes to aid motivation.
4. Listen to some positive life leaders. I love Louise L Hay and her swathes of life affirming work which you can find all over the internet. I particularly love this one – 40 mins everyday to change your life.
 5. Write a gratitude list. It can be the hardest thing to do when you seem down on your luck, but something as simple as being grateful for the food in your home, friends in your life or your health, and it can start the cycle which can develop into the snow-ball effect over time, and the more you find to be grateful about, the more you will have to be grateful for.