I recently styled and guest edited a blog post for the exciting new brand Dai. Inspired by founder Joanna Dai's eight year career in investment banking, the combination of 12-14 hour days of continuous hustle, constrictive waistbands and arm movement, and lack of functionality were a few of Joanna’s frustrations. She saw the athleisure and smart textiles market readily accessible for leisure wear, and asked herself how she could create a solution for working women – one that is technical yet tailored. She believes comfort is confidence, and confidence is key to optimizing performance and presence.
Her debut capsule collection, which launched in July 2017, is modern, elegantly tailored, versatile, and made with smart technical fabrics for added comfort, breathability and performance. I've had the privilege to be part of Joanna's journey along the way as I fully believe in the products she produces, her values and actions towards fashion and sustainability and the first hand knowledge of what women in work really need from their clothes. So I proposed we create a shoot where I showcase just how versatile her garments are. And here it is.
1 Dress, 4 ways
The key to leading a busy life with ease is to build simplicity into the everyday. This does not mean stripping away every detail and nuance, making a bland recipe for life, rather it means making smart decisions that make life easier. When it comes to fashion and clothing it means choosing items with character and beautiful details, even if they are basics, as it will always keep things interesting.
As a stylist for busy women, I build wardrobes that are versatile, dynamic and functional while ensuring I maintain my clients’ unique personal style. To do this, it is crucial to purchase clothing that is multi-functional, well-tailored, of interesting design and high-quality materials to prevail in any scenario. The common issue I find when people take this approach is that they choose items that are simple, basic and often lacking interesting design. This is not what the sentiment intends. The lesson is rather to choose pieces that can transcend multiple situations, seasons and styling. To do this, you need to visualise or plan how you would wear each garment in as many different scenarios and looks as possible. When the piece works in at least three very different ways, has an interesting design and is good quality, you know you have a winner.
For example, one great tailored dress, knee-length, can be worn with heels or flats, casually or formally and in pretty much any aesthetic you would like. One great dress with interesting design details and in a fantastic cut is worth 5 dresses. It not only makes dressing a dream and helps manage your investment in clothing/closet space, it also takes a huge amount of stress out of daily dressing and packing for trips!
To illustrate just how dynamic one item can be, I worked with one of London’s finance professional using her own DAI dress and pushed the boundaries of how far we could take this one dress in her own life. Meet Annika, in her Step To It Dress.
The beautiful thing about navy is its versatility. You can wear navy with pretty much any other colour and it will work. Many women don’t think about wearing navy with khaki or brown shades, which is such a great palette for summer, especially in England when it can often be a little cool and with chances of rain.
With Annika’s smart trench and slouchy timeless bag in muted khaki tones this look is chic and interesting yet incredibly easy to carry off
Coupled with block heeled sandals this look is perfect for the office, but also those end of day drinks whether water-side or in the heart of the city. Take off the trench, with a quick flick of the cuff and a slick of glossy lipstick you are ready for anything.
To take a day dress and make it evening, takes something a little unexpected with the styling. I like to keep things darker and a little moody and love the unexpected ankle boot. It adds the weight a shorter dress needs for evening and in black is the perfect combination to make the navy luscious and luxurious.
By playing with textures in the two colours, the look is elevated and timeless. The boots and coat are tactile and soft in suede and boucle while the bags stitch pattern and the chevron weave of the coat play off each other. The interest is from the contrasts of textures and patterns in these classic and versatile pieces.
A darker lipstick and a low chignon nestled at the nape of the neck makes the look sensual, perfect for the evening.
Smart, Sharp and Elegant
A normal day at the office is where you want to wear a dress as comfortable as your yoga kit, that breathes and moves with your body, and oh yah, has pockets.
This dress is your blank canvas, with just enough design details to make it interesting, but so flexible and versatile.
For Annika, she likes to dress more classically elegant for the office. We paired a simple thin belt to accentuate her waist and break up the line of the dress adding a bit of texture. With a delicate short necklace, the attention stays on her face, perfect for those big pitches and negotiation meetings. A timeless watch acts as a piece of jewellery without being fussy or fiddly. Clean, chic, timeless and incredibly comfortable.
For those times when you don’t know where the day will take you, I like to plan for all eventualities. It is the spontaneous nature of these weekends that I love.
By layering the dress under a casual jumper and with sneakers, Annika can have a relaxed brunch with her friends canal side, take a cycling adventure through the city in the afternoon and end up at a cool restaurant for dinner and drinks. All without needing to go home to change.
Pop a pair of fun heels and a cropped jacket in the second bright bag, while carrying all of your essentials in the backpack. Just before you arrive to dinner do a quick switch over by letting your hair down, slip off the jumper and into the jacket and toss on your heels. Check your second bag with the day attire when you arrive and be the super cool girl who was out all day yet looks ultra cool and ready for a great night out.
And the best part? After a long night out when it’s time to head home you have a pair of sneakers in the coat check. Now who’s the clever one?
If you have a workwear conundrum, or would like help building your work wardrobe, get in touch! For all new potential clients I offer a 30 min consultation for free. Send me an email, I'd love to hear from you.