Kerry O'Brine Womens Wear

Behind the seams


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Networking – Ladies, do you do it?

Networking events – If you aren’t at them then you are missing out.

Sure, I’ve been to a few duds. But more often than not, I have met some very interesting people and formed some good connections. They are opportunities to help one another forward our lives, business and career. This could be in the form of joint ventures, creating opportunities for talking at events or recommending a mentor for you.

  • Don’t think of it in direct correlation of networking = sales if you are in business.
  • Do offer something you can do for the other person when you make a connection. We all have something to offer – it is a two way connection.

A Selection of Women’s Networking Groups:

The Athena Network

Every Woman

Prowess

National Womens Network

We Are The City

Leading Women UK

WIBN SSW

Lady Val

Women in the City

City Women

The Room Upstairs

GWN

Girl Geek Dinners

City Mothers

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are a lot of groups out there who do different meetups, networking and workshops. Hopefully this list will get you started.

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One Task A Day

2015 began at full speed for me in the studio. I’ve already begun to get annoyed at myself for not achieving enough. Learning my lesson from 2014 (another story for another time that involves a painful wound on my leg!) I am going to quickly nip this in the bud. So I am now breaking down my list of objectives, goals and ‘to dos’ into one daily task and so far it is working!

One achievable task a day keeps the stress away!!

The one job a days builds towards the one job target for the week and this in turn builds towards an achievable monthly goal.

For instance it could be like this;

Month Goal: Have a new location page on the website

A Week Goal: Have the pictures for the new location page

Day One Day Goal: Get inspiration and make a decision about what kind of pictures I want

Day Two Goal: Decide how and where these pictures are coming from. Do I need to arrange a photoshoot? Can I buy some from a photographer that will work well? Do I have appropriate ones already I can re-use?

Day Three Goal: Start actioning from day two’s decisions. I.e. Book in a photoshoot. Find the pictures already have and or find some pictures online I want to buy.

Day Four Goal: Take the pictures or make sure the pictures are edited and ready to go.

Have one goal a day

Have one goal a day

You may do lots of other things too. There is always something else to do as well (especially when you run your own business)! BUT if you achieve one thing that you can tick off and know that it helps to hit the target goal, it gives a warm sense of satisfaction.

Although I am now using this in my business/professional world, it is a technique I have been using in my personal life too. I.e. Today I need to book a haircut – that is the one thing I need to achieve today. An easy and manageable task in the grand scheme of a busy schedule.

Do you have a technique that you use to help achieve goals?


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Getting in the spirit of Christmas – what to wear to work!

I’m always looking around to see what is in the shops. All in the name of market research of course! So I thought it’s high time I started sharing this research with everyone else.
As everyone else is getting into Christmas mode I thought I’d better join in!!
(I recently met a man who’d done all his Christmas shopping!!! I mean, what is the world coming to!?)
What do you wear to work when you want to feel a little cheerful and festive without being too obvious with a Christmas jumper stuffed on under your blazer!?
I think red dresses are one answer. Pick a well fitting red dress in an appropriate length and good neck line and you can make a striking smart entrance to the office.
5 Red Designer Dresses for work
In the above picture I have selected 5 red designer brand dresses by Armani Collezioni, Landress, Anglomania, Diane Von Furstenberg and Joseph that I think are very work appropriate.
Below you can see my suggested complimentary colour and styling ideas. I have selected a couple of lovely non-Christmasy scarves. Choosing a scarf with a other colours in it is a great way of introducing a second or third colour into an outfit.
How to style a red dress
These pieces are all available online as I write this so you can get shopping right away!!
laptop, handbag, women


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Ladies stylish, professional and practical 15.5″ and 15″ laptop handbags

If you want a stylish, practical handbag that fits your laptop and personal effects in then I’ve done the leg work and found a range of bags for you. Each blog entry in this mini series about laptop bags is about a different size of laptop.

15″ and 15.5″ Women’s Laptop bags

If you like a big screen laptop like me then there is less choice of stylish laptop bags that will fit your lovely laptop in. The following are the details and a breakdown of my top picks for handbags that hold 15″ and 15.5″ laptops. I have sectioned it by brand.

laptop, handbag, women

Milli Millu

I personally love all the Milli Millu bags. The Founder, Mireia Llusia-Lindh, has managed a very careful balance of attractive designs and practicality. My one criticism of the website would be the lack of filter to narrow down the bags by laptop size – this would have saved my disappointment of going through each bag and finding I only had one choice for a 15.5″, The Zurich.

For a 15″ laptop from Milli Millu you have the option of The Rio or The Zurich.

The Rio bag, Milli Millu

The Rio, from Milli Millu £395

The Zurich, Milli Millu

The Zurich from Milli Millu £495

Two very different options, The Zurich is very structured and The Rio has a much softer laid back luxe look. Both bags have a great shoulder strap length which makes them both perfect for wearing over the shoulder.
The Rio Handle drop: 23cm and The Zurich Handle drop: 20cm.
The Zurich is a perfect handbag for a busy professional with its five separate compartments for laptop/tablet, papers, pens, smartphone and a zipped pocket for personal items. It’s always good to think about the security of your items when commuting so the zip at the top that closes the Zurich completes this bag.

Knomo

Knomo is another great brand that has really focused on providing a more attractive bag combined with the practicalities we all require! For the 15″ laptop you will find a larger range of options.

Let’s start with the Great Portland and Portland Place – two very similar looking bags. The main difference is in the size of laptop you can fit in. The Portland Place can hold a laptop up to 17″ but only comes in black whereas the Great Portland can hold a laptop up to 15″ and comes in 4 colour options.

They are both made from lightweight and soft nylon. With EVA foam and a double stitched diamond quilting. Are you wondering what EVA foam is and why it is worth mentioning?!! Yes so did I …..

Benefits of Eva foam:

  • Impact and vibration absorption
  • Weather and chemical resistance including splash resistance to oils and fuels
  • Acoustic and thermal insulation properties
  • Buoyancy with low water absorption
  • Suitability for thermo-forming and thermo-moulding
womens blacg laptop bag

Portland Place from Knomo (black) £129

aubergine Great Portland laptop bag Knomo

Great Portland from Knomo £119

They both

  • Zip across the top to close
  • Have an internal quilted and padded compartment to protect the laptop
  • To fit in extra items – both sides of the bags unzip and expand
  • Soft padded shoulder straps
  • Internal pouches and zip pockets for all your extra bits

Hanna and Picton

These are probably my favorite bags from Knomo for combining style and function. Two stylish leather handbags that will both fit over the shoulder and easily carry your 15″ laptop and other belongings. Both bags have a quilted and padded compartment to hold and protect your 15″ laptop. The leather for both bags is quite different. Hannah is made from a soft pebbled leather and Picton is made from a hard durable Saffiano leather.

Picton, Knomo

Picton (in black) from Knomo £249

Hanna, Knomo

Hanna from Knomo £245

 

 

Picton

Inside the Picton there is a panel in which you can store items like pens, memory sticks or business cards. A front pocket on the exterior is great for items like your Oyster card that you want to grab quickly. There is also an additional interior zip compartment – maybe you can keep some personal items in here.  A nice long shoulder drop of 25 cm means Picton will easily sit on your shoulder.

Hanna (available in red, black or grey)
The sides of Hanna unzip for easy and maximum access to the main compartment. The handle drop is 24cm and will be very comfortable on the shoulder as they are made from padded soft pebbled leather. The top zip fastening adds that extra bit of security.

Aspinal of London

The Marylebone Tech

Navy, leather, bag, laptop, professional, women

The Marlyebone Tech, Navy £895

 Aspinal of London have obviously put a lot of thought into this bag design. With its mobile phone pocket and padded ipod compartment both designed with a cable path. The bag is designed to carry a battery charger for both mobiles and ipads, so you can charge on the go! But I wasn’t so impressed that this charger had to be purchased separately (£100).

The bag is made of navy pebble textured Italian calf leather. The handle drop is quite short at 5.5″/13.5cm. So to me this is more of a grab tote or crook of the arm bag than an over the shoulder handbag.

In addition to the padded ipad compartment and phone pocket there is a large main compartment and two external hidden pockets. The large main compartment means you should be able to get a laptop in too and potentially fit up to 17.3″ laptop in there – but I would check with Aspinal of London first. For added security the bag closes with a full length zip.

Also available in deer (beige shade), black or black and cream. Or the option is there Marlyebone Tote which is the same size but doesn’t have the option to carry the charger or have the cable paths. It comes in brown or black.

Bobelle

Another brand I am totally loving at the moment is Bobelle. Although the designer has not done a many work bag/laptop bags the styles and designs are gorgeous.

Handbag, leather, London, laptop

The Rivington, Bobelle £315

 The Rivington
Spacious enough for a tablet or small laptop (up to about a 15″ laptop), wallet and other accessories.
The lovely suede lining is quite different to all the other grosgrain linings other handbags are wearing!
The bag has a lockable external pocket, an internal zip pocket, an internal mobile phone pocket, pen holder and spare holder. The handle drop of 21cm is perfect for wearing over the shoulder.
Kate Spade
This is a smart looking laptop bag from Kate Spade. This is a padded nylon bag so it’s light and it has some smart patent leather trims. I really like the fact you have the two strap options – the long (23″/58.5cm) adjustable strap for across body or shoulder wear and the handheld handles (5.25”/13cm). The bag fits a 15″ laptop and you have room for more items in there too with an interior double slide pocket and middle divider.
The bag style is more your traditional laptop case than all the others but it is smart and has a more subtle stylishness!
black, nylon, bag, laptop

Kate Spade, black Nylon

Other brands for colour and patterns!
You could go for a bright colour or nice pattern to jazz up your commute. Try Marc by Marc Jacobs or Orla Kiely. Some practical bags with some nice bright and interesting covers.

Orla Kiely, handbag, laptop bag

Orla Kiely: 15″

Marc Jacobs, work laptop bag

Marc by Marc Jacobs: Gamma Ray 15″

Marc Jacobs, work bag, laptop

Marc by Marc Jacobs: Red Bag 15″

 

So to sum it up, my laptop is 15.5″ laptop (screen size): is 27cm height and 38cm length. Really there aren’t many options at all for a stylish handbag for a 15.5″ laptop… it’s the Zurich from Milli Millu or the Marlybone Tech/tote from Aspinal of London. Hopefully your laptop is a 15″ or less! All my favorite Milli Millu bags come in smaller sizes! Please Milli Millu do one of your bags bigger because my laptop is a 15.5″ but won’t fit into your Zurich bag!

15.5" and 15" ladies laptop bags


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Styling a Navy Dress

Styling a Navy Dress

Navy is a great alternative to black. If want to add colour to your wardrobe, navy pretty much goes with any colour. Styling a navy wrap dress for work and professional environments and situations is easy to do. In the picture above I have added a small selection of accessories and colours to give you some ideas. But there are really endless choices opportunities to personalise and style your working professional wardrobe.

Navy itself is very flattering on most skin tones. For more mature skin tones you will find navy a perfect alternative to black. The depth of colour won’t wash you out.

Colour choices:

1. I have chosen a burgundy red. Using this deeper darker red takes the colour pallet into more Autumn winter. Brighter lighter reds work equally well with navy.

In this style selection I have added gold as my metal of choice. This golden tone works nicely against navy and burgundy red.

2. Navy and grey are a lovely combination. As I would class them both as neutral colours, having them both in an outfit will give you a very smart, corporate and calm look. Make sure you go for the grey that works for you. Some people suit a pale grey and others a darker shade. There are so many greys out there and some tend to be bluer and others greener. Wearing silver jewellery works well with a navy and grey combination. The reflective nature of silver lifts and lightens an outfit.

3. Cream or white with navy are a classic, sophisticated and summery combination. Here I have picked a pearl necklace as my jewellery of choice – always professional and sophisticated. If white is too harsh against your skin tone try other colours like ivory, cream or blush. Keep it business like by avoiding any sailor references!

4. Yellow might not be your cup of tea but it can look really nice next to navy. If a whole yellow dress is too much, picking out and highlighting with yellow in an outfit can be a more subtle and professional way to go about it. In the picture I have selected a lemon yellow shade but yellow in any shade works very well next to navy. If you prefer a mustard, go with mustard.

For more help on understanding colour and colour matching

Accessory style and shape choices:

Jackets and cardigans

When you are dressing for work you can either go for a jacket or a cardigan. Depending on what your dress code is at work or what your position is you will pick one or the other.

Both cardigans and jackets can work over a wrap dress like the one in the picture. To choose a coverup you need to first think about the lines and shapes of the dress. The navy wrap dress in the picture has a high waist line. In my selection 1 I have chosen a short burgundy cardigan which picks up on the line of the dress. Again in selection 4 I have selected a short lemon jacket which will sit just above the waistline.

The longer jackets in selection 2 and 3 I have chosen because their necklines do not conflict with the neckline of the dress. The dress has a v-shape neckline due to its wrap over style and the grey jacket reflects the v-shape neckline. The cream jacket on the other hand is a high round neck that will completely cover the neckline of the dress.

All of the jackets I have selected have long sleeves in common. The dress has mid-length sleeves and so your cover-up piece (cardigan or jacket) will need to have longer sleeves. This will mean your outfit continues to look smart and professional yet keep any air-conditioning chill off!

Jewellery

The jewellery I have selected all keep in mind the v-shape neckline of the dress. They all hang vertically down the chest area, creating the illusion of more body length/height (this tip works well for shorter stockier ladies).

The biggest necklace I chose was a pearl v-shaped collar type. Although bigger it is not too showy. Although jewellery is a great area to add personality to an outfit we need to be careful not to step outside the professional/work guidelines or unspoken dress codes!

A general guideline for necklaces is: the bigger and bolder the necklace is, the simpler and understated the outfit should be.

If your not sure whether you have too much jewellery on: just stick to one thing in one area i.e.

Go for earrings or a necklace. Wear bracelets or a bold ring.

And as Chanel said “when accessorising always take off the last thing you put on”

 Featured clothing:

Weekend Max Mara red top
matchesfashion.com

Miss Selfridge jacket
missselfridge.com

Altuzarra grey blazer
$1,475 – harveynichols.com

Isabel Marant wool jacket
matchesfashion.com

Jimmy Choo yellow pumps
$845 – profilefashion.com

L.K.Bennett suede pumps
$360 – lkbennett.com

Gianvito Rossi pumps
matchesfashion.com

Rosantica chain necklace
matchesfashion.com

Sterling silver necklace
daysjewelers.com

Chloé pendant jewelry
$740 – selfridges.com

Great Portland
$205 – knomobags.com


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Buying and Wearing Shoes in Summer

What to keep in mind when buying or choosing work footwear for the hotter days:

  • Natural materials are the best for letting your feet breath (Even when you have to wear closed footwear). Select leather, suede, cotton canvas and raffia.
  • Choose shoes with as many gaps as possible! This could be strappy, openwork leather, laser cut holes, sling back, open/peep toe, Broderie Anglaise or lace.
  • Avoid patent leather as the top layer has a coating that prevents the natural breathable quality of leather.
  • Don’t wear shoes that are tight to start with – the heat can make feet swell up and then your shoes will be very tight!
  • Always try on summer shoes in the middle of  the afternoon – your feet will be at their hottest and when you make the purchase you can be sure they will fit your feet when they are at there hottest.
  • If you can bare it then a small pop sock or pair of tights could help with feet becoming too sweaty and slipping in the shoes.

How to make sure your feet are sandal and summer shoe ready:

  • Use a pumice stone around your heels to get rid of dry and hard skin
  • Moisturise your feet and pop on some cotton socks before bed
  • Give your feet a nice soak – this will soften the skin and sooth them after a long day. Pop in a couple of drops of some tea tree oil and this will get rid of any potential infection on your feet – sweaty feet are a breeding ground for infections
  • Trim your toe-nails and polish them in a lovely summer colour
    Cobalt blue Dior polish Summer 2014

    Cobalt blue Dior polish Summer 2014

    Chanel Pink Summer 2014 polish


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Shopping for Summer Work Shoes

Summer is here in Britain, possibly, well, sometimes!

So you’re stuck in an office, at your desk or spending your day on your feet. What do you wear on your feet when its hot and you need to look smart?

I’ve worked in a wide variety of offices, all of which had their own rules and thoughts on summer office attire.

There are various scenarios regarding office shoe regulations! Two of the key ones often are no open toe or no sling backs.

Here are some options for either scenario.

No Sling backs:

Foot wear for Summer in the Office

 No Open Toe

Wear a sling back if you can