Warm hand knitted woolen socks on a fur background. First person view.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I hope you had a truly relaxing Christmas break. Ours was wonderful – I feel rested and fired-up about being back at work. I have LOTS of plans for 2017 – look out for new stuff from HR Towers, very soon!

In the meantime, I want to talk about the January clothes rut.

Wow – that was an energy-sapping sentence wasn’t it!?

The problem with this month is how we humans have evolved to cope with it. Our approach to dealing with dim, dank weather and the absence of all things festive, Christmassy and bedecked with twinkly lights is to ‘just get through it’.

There is NO delight. There is NO jubilation. There is NO joy. It’s simply a very British ‘trudge’ to the end of the month.

We are waiting for January to be over. So, we shut-off our social life. We hunker down around the fire. We eat restorative broths, stews and soups. And… we wear the same damn clothes EVERY DAY! (If not the actual same clothes – I’m sure washing is being done – the same type.)

I am talking about: jeans and a jumper, every SINGLE day.

While your jeans and jumper outfit may be working on one level, i.e. warm and practical for activities such as building said fire and making soup, but comfortable enough for hunkering down purposes, it all feels very dowdy.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you wander around your house in a sateen slip dress and velvet smoking jacket. That would be ridiculous. I do, however, have recommendations for glamourising that jeans and jumper ensemble and thereby reducing the frump factor.

Top-heavy Folk

Avoid chunky knitwear.

Texture means bulk and when you are already bulky up top, adding more will make you look bigger and potentially dowdy. Especially if you have very slim hips and legs – you will appear completely out of proportion.

The key for you is layering. Buy very fine, long-sleeved t-shirts. I love the HEATTECH range by UNIQLO. They come in regular warm, extra warm and ultra-warm, and in a great range of colours, so there is something for everyone. I like to see a layered sleeve (when the colours go well together) so a longer sleeve than your jumper is always a good thing. At just £12.90, these are great value and are often discounted further.

A top from the Uniqlo HEATTECH range

A top from the Uniqlo HEATTECH range

Then add a fine knit.

We all love the luxurious feeling of cashmere, but if your budget won’t stretch that far or if you are fed up of the inevitable pilling, go for a wool mix. Try Cos, they have a great range of fine knits.

If you are going with a loose fit, choose a slightly longer length than usual to ensure you avoid having the hemline sitting on your tummy.

Contrast lined A-line jumper £59

Contrast lined A-line jumper £59

And finally, add either a statement necklace or a fabulous scarf. H&M, for example, offer a superb, cheap and cheerful range of costume jewellery to liven-up your outfits.

H&M necklace with pendants £7.99

H&M necklace with pendants £7.99

I have to hold myself back every time I pass through a railway station that has an Oliver Bonas shop. Their range of scarves is always tempting. Choose one in a colour that is flattering to your skin tone and feels lovely on your skin. Otherwise you’ll never wear it.

Oliver Bonas Zebra print scarf: £26

Oliver Bonas Zebra print scarf: £26

Bottom-heavy Folk

If you have a smaller top-half and don’t need to worry about bulking up, you can wear a chunkier style jumper but the key to avoid dowdiness (unless you are Fearne Cotton, who does this look very well) is making sure that the rest of your outfit isn’t a nod to ‘grandma chic.’

So, by all means, wear one of the very cool chunky knits such as this high-neck beauty by Dorothy Perkins (£28.00) but instead of wearing it with your ‘mum’ jeans and flat shoes, wear it with heavy, chunky or statement boots, a maxi skirt (and boots) or over a dress.

Dorothy Perkins Ivory Chevron High Neck Jumper £28

Dorothy Perkins Ivory Chevron High Neck Jumper £28

Or, opt for a more open-necked version and wear it over a lovely shirt or blouse with the collar showing.  Add a thermal vest if you need more warmth.

Oasis Check Cable Shirt Tails Jumper Top, Navy £45

Oasis Check Cable Shirt Tails Jumper Top, Navy £45

Try adding an A-line skirt and trusty opaque tights, or a pair of wide-legged trousers in a plain dark colour to keep all the attention on your lovely neat top half. If you can find them, go for flat fronted waistbands with a side zip, as they are very flattering on the tummy.

Oasis Suedette And Faux Leather Midi Skirt £45

Oasis Suedette And Faux Leather Midi Skirt £45

 

Coast Megan Wide Leg Trousers, Black, £89

Coast Megan Wide Leg Trousers, Black, £89

Big All Over

When you feel big all over it can be very tricky to feel stylish and keep warm. My best tip is to dress in one tone from top to toe. You don’t have to be in one colour, but a similarly dark or light tone makes one shape so you will appear taller and slimmer.

If you have trouble getting this straight in your head, imagine your outfit as a black and white photograph, and try to get all the clothes looking the same shade of grey in the photo.

A long, open cardigan over a column of colour also works brilliantly.

Box2 Agnes Coat - Taupe/Black £95

Box2 Agnes Coat – Taupe/Black £95

Hopefully these recommendations will help you to feel a bit more elegant while the nation is in post-Christmas recovery mode. I hope you’ll be an oasis of elegance in a style desert.

If you want more advice, check out this blog post which is also on the subject of winter dressing, particularly useful if you’ve been indulging as much as I have!

Until next time,

Helen xxx

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