Arctic aircon vs sunny afternoons – summer layering sorted

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you will no doubt have noticed that I have a bit of a vendetta against over-enthusiastic air conditioning, especially in the summer, in Britain. With the best will in the world, it’s not often that it’s so scorchingly hot outside that stepping into an office, store, train or plane cooled to the approximate temperature of an industrial fridge is a huge relief.

However, I gather that my one woman campaign to get the air conditioning turned down to ‘warmer than the actual arctic’ isn’t going terribly well (although I’m pleased to report that Kettlewell HQ has always maintained a perfectly normal temperature), so meanwhile we all need to plan our outfits to manage that endless summer dichotomy of beautiful warm sunshine and chilly air conditioned environment.

Top tips for managing changeable summer temperatures:

  1. Layers are your friend; a sleeveless top  with a cardigan or blazer layered over the top maintains a professional appearance with the ability to cool down when necessary.
  2. Don’t neglect your neck; a luxurious lightweight Cashmere Gauze Stole or a slimline Florence or Willow scarf will easily slip into your bag when you don’t need it, but is an essential defence against that nasty draft down the back of the neck.
  3. When in doubt, go for a dress; pretty, functional, stylish and with no gap between top and bottom when you sit down, a dress with an a-line skirt like the Arabella dress will be flippy enough to keep you cool when you’re out and about in the (possibly) sunshine, but layered up with a camisole and a cardigan will keep you comfortable in the artificially chilled air.
  4. Closed toe shoes; leather or suede will breathe when you go outside, but prevent you getting chilly feet while you’re sat back at your desk, when blood to the extremities can slow down somewhat from lack of exertion.

Start with a Print Arabella Cap Sleeve dress shown here in Cassis/Pink Violet, wear with an Ice Pink Camisole underneath, a Cassis Mid Cascade on top and finish off with an Ice Pink Willow Scarf.

Start with a Soft Square Vest in Blue Moon worn with a Bright Navy Jersey Pencil Skirt. Add a Milan Knit Cardigan in True Blue Marl and a Florence Infinity Scarf in Heliotrope.

Start with a Daphne Blouse in Iced Aqua worn with a pair of Marie Trousers in Silver. Add a Cotton Blazer in Blue Teal and carry a Cashmere Gauze Stole in Soft Aqua.

Tropical colour combinations – for every palette

Whether you’re off to a sun soaked beach to sip pina coladas or simply making the most of the great British weather (we can live in hope), nothing says ‘hurrah, it’s summer!’ like bright, bold and beautiful colours. Like most countries that endure a somewhat soggy and cold winter, most of us forget that colourful clothing even exists from about October to June each year, but we get a glimpse of the sun and suddenly we’re reminded that we too can embrace tropical brights.

However, embracing the tropics can bring up all kinds of clothing anxiety; ‘I don’t think I can wear yellow,’ ‘will everyone laugh at me for sporting aqua?’ ‘is orange really the new black, or is that a TV series?’ Knowing which colours work for you and make you look amazing will give you the confidence to embrace your tropical side, so if you’ve had a colour analysis already, just click on the links below to see the best tropical colour combinations for your season. If you haven’t yet had an analysis, why not make a start with Kettlewell’s quiz, or read on for some combinations for you to experiment with.

 

 

 

 

If you haven’t yet had an analysis, try a few different combinations and see which one makes you feel your best. If you’re going bright, you need to have the confidence to carry it off, so pick a combination that you feel good in and that makes you want to show off your bold bright colours!Kettlewell items shown:

Image 1: Fine Cotton Tee in Mint Aqua, Short Ruched Skirt in Savannah, Cashmere Gauze Stole in Bright Aqua, Suede Tassel Clutch in Chocolate

Image 2: Tasha Top in Seaspray, Willow Scarf in Periwinkle, 3/4 Length Leggings in Navy

Image 3: Long Camisole in Emerald, Tasha Top in Neon Yellow, 3/4 Length Leggings in Black

Image 4: Slub Charli Top in Saffron, Short Cascade in Hot Coral, Short Ruched Skirt in Savannah

Nautical but nice – the 100 year history of the breton

Bretons are a mainstay of many a wardrobe. Smartened up with a blazer and skirt or thrown on with denim shorts, they are the ultimate dress-up-dress-down style staple. But have you ever wondered where this wardrobe cornerstone originated?

Bretons have been a fashion classic since Coco Chanel introduced them a full century ago in her 1917 nautical collection, but did you know that their heritage runs even further back? In 1858 they were introduced by decree as part of the French naval uniform, and Chanel was inspired by the smart look sported by the sailors on a trip to the French coast.

The original naval breton stripe was a strictly regimented affair – the breton was intended to be long enough to cover the lower back of the sailor, fitted enough not to get caught on rigging, and the stripes were a strict 2cm of white to 1cm of blue (and if the use of centimetres in the 19th Century seems strange, consider that the French actually started using the metric system in the 1790s, and it was adopted by the country as a whole in 1837. Ahead of the game in more than just style staples).

The breton has been sported by everyone from Chanel herself to Audrey Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. In more modern times it was revolutionised by Jean Paul Gaultier, and has been popularised by fashion icons such as Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo, and the Duchess of Cambridge frequently turns to a classic breton and jeans outfit for less formal engagements. We’ve collected images of famous breton wearers over on our ‘Nautical but nice’ Pinterest board, click image to view.

Of course, the breton in 2017 is every bit the style solution is was in 1917. A few twists and tweaks, and it still has all the fresh nautical appeal of the original, with added wearability. Kettlewell’s version has a slight change on the stripe width, and comes in four flattering colours, so if navy and white isn’t your best look, there’s still an option that looks amazing on you. And if you love the breton stripes but feel the need to wear something other than a striped tee occasionally (I suppose it’s possible that this might theoretically happen to some of you) then look no further than the maxi dress,  which carries the same classic-but-insoucient look of the original breton, brought right up to date.

Stripe Boat Neck in True Red, Cotton Blazer in Iris, Suede Tassel Clutch in Lobelia and Ballerina Pumps in Light Gold – all from Kettlewell

 

Stripe Maxi Dress in Red, Short Cascade Wrap in Azure, Tassel Necklace in Neon and Cream, Suede Tassel Clutch in Cobalt Blue – all from Kettlewell

Cosy Cotton Stripe Top in Deep Sea Green/Grey Marl, Florence Infinity Scarf in Soft Teal, Jersey Trousers in Marine Blue

If you haven’t adopted the breton stripe as a wardrobe staple yet, you probably should.

 

Saluting the sunshine hues by Melissa

Did you spot Kettlewell in The Times this week? T2 had dedicated the front page and a double-page spread to our favourite topic, colour, and specifically how to wear it this summer. Fashion Director Anna Murphy was telling us all to move beyond blacks and neutrals and embrace the season’s sunshine hues, and for those overwhelmed by all the colour choice on the high street right now, Kettlewell was the place to go to find the colours that work best for you. It’s always great to get a mention in the national press and to take part in any conversation about colour, so we were thrilled to be included.

Talking of summer colour choices, we’ve been poring over Pantone charts and mood boards in the studio this week, choosing colours and prints for our Spring/Summer 2018 collection.

With Pure Zen, Living Garden, Drawn Botanicals, Mystical Tribes and Neon Tropics among the predicted style trends for 2018, it was a case of assessing a range of potential prints to identify ones that would best work for our styles and fabrics, as well as, of course, our customers. Then it was down to the serious business of choosing new colours, with each of the four seasons, Spring (me), Summer (Sarah), Autumn (Claire) and Winter (Anna) selecting the shades for their respective palettes from literally thousands in the Pantone charts. It’s rather like a group of people in a restaurant intently viewing the world’s longest menu, imploring the next person to go first before making their own choice.

The key is to leaf through the Pantone charts, colour by colour, and hone in on the shades that you are instinctively drawn to, with an eye on the style it would suit. With 150 shades already in the range, it’s no easy task to find ‘new’ colours.  Winter is the hardest season to work with, as the colours have to be spot-on:  intense and vibrant or icy and sharp, with no shades in between, but the three others have plenty of variation either side. After hours of intense colour scrutiny, we had whittled it down to our favourites.

Heliotrope, blue jewel, shell pink, dove grey, azure and pink geranium have been our bestselling colours this summer, with the apple butterfly print and red and white Breton stripe among our most popular prints. It’ll be interesting to see which of the shades we’ve just picked out will be topping the charts this time next year.

From work to evening out – styling the Daphne top from day to night

It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Going straight from office to an evening out is a perennial dilemma, and one which often seems to result in a morning clothing crisis and a dozen discarded garments, before giving up and toting an entire additional outfit to work.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if a genuine day to night outfit existed? One where you really could just change an accessory or two before heading out for the evening? Well, funnily enough, I’ve found the solution (because it would have been a little cruel to lead you on this far and then tell you you’re on your own, wouldn’t it?).

Step forward, the Daphne blouse. Silky, lightweight, super-flattering and available in a selection of vibrant colours and delectable prints. Of course, it takes more than just a blouse to make an outfit, but with our simple style rules, transitioning from day to night will not longer mean half an hour spend hopping round the ladies loos trying to squeeze into an entirely new outfit.

Kettlewell items shown: Cotton Blazer in Oatmeal Melange, Print Daphne Blouse in Pastel & Aqua, Jersey Pencil Skirt in Bright Navy,  Cashmere Gauze Stole in Soft Aqua, Multi Wrap Bracelet in Pastel Aqua, Metallic Leather Clutch in Silver.

Kettlewell items shown: Mid Cascade Wrap in Flamingo Pink, Daphne Blouse in Pastel Rose, Short Ruched Skirt in Pebble Grey, Ballerina Pumps in Light Gold, Cashmere Gauze Stole in Peach Blossom, Zig Zag Scarf in Multi Brights, Metallic Leather Clutch in Platino.

Four simple rules to make your Daphne blouse your day-to-night hero:

  1. Pair it with a pencil skirt – the fitted style will look super sleek with the silky Daphne blouse, and will suit either a work or a party environment.
  2. Layer up with an easy blazer and simple flats for office chic. Adding an extra layer is a great way to add authority and impact for work, as well as protecting against the inevitable arctic office aircon.
  3. Come 6pm, remove the blazer, grab your clutch out of your laptop bag (which is staying locked in the office for the evening – you can manage one night without checking your emails at home, right?), add some heels and off you go. A cashmere gauze stole is another ideal extra if you’re worried about an evening chill later on.
  4. Enjoy your newfound mastery of day to night style.

Colour conversations with Fiona Douglas from Bluebell Gray

At Kettlewell, we are always excited to discover people who share our passion for colour. In the first of a new series of Colour Conversations with colour champions we admire, Fiona Douglas, founder of the Scottish design studio Bluebell Gray, famous for its exquisite watercolour florals, tells Melissa about her adventures in colour – and why the future has never been brighter…

Your watercolour florals are beautiful. How did you start designing them for the home? 
I’ve always loved home things. As a teenager I begged my mum and dad to let me paint my room bright lime green and orange, and I covered the walls in all sorts of things and pictures I had made – flowers featured everywhere. Our home growing up was colourful and full of interesting things, so I think interiors have always been something that has been around me. My prints are usually quite large scale so they lend themselves well to interiors. When I was starting out, cushions seemed like the best, and simplest, way for me to transfer my designs on to textiles.

Where did the name Bluebellgray come from?
Bluebells are my favourite flowers. I love seeing them carpet a beautiful wood in springtime, and they always make my heart happy. The word ‘gray’ refers to the fact that I print on to a lot of linen cloth that has a grey tone to it.

How does colour make you feel? 
It really uplifts me, and it definitely affects my mood. I love using it in a positive way. Wearing something colourful reflects me and what I do; it’s an important part of who I am. So much of my identity is wrapped up in colour – it’s a big part of my life.

Where do you find your design inspiration?  
I find inspiration everywhere. I love just soaking up experiences and the world around me. It could be something as simple as looking at the leaves in the light on trees that line my street, the colour of the ocean when I’m on holiday, or the colours that are left over on my palette when I paint that feeds my creative mind. I do plan specific inspiration trips as well, though. I usually go somewhere twice a year with my creative team to spark some new ideas and feel inspired.

Describe your design studio.
It’s in a beautiful old townhouse in the West End of Glasgow, with huge ceilings, lots of period detailing and big double-aspect windows that let in lots of light. The space I work in is really important to me and how I work. I need light and space and walls to hang images. I love having inspirational things around me; it all feeds in creatively. The floors are whitewashed wood and the walls are painted in various colours that change quite frequently depending on what I’m working on. We often do our photo shoots in the studio as it’s such a beautiful space, so we always need to freshen the colours. Right now I have a deep dusty rose-pink wall and an amazing deep, almost cobalt blue, on the walls.

Do you have a favourite Bluebellgray product? 
The ‘Abstract’ design always has a special place in my heart. It was so new at the time when I launched it; there was nothing else like it around and it’s become the design people really associate with the brand, which is lovely. The punchy colours and fun nature of the design really sum up my design style.

Abstract design

How much has colour made its way into your wardrobe?
My wardrobe is absolutely filled with colour! I adore clothes. I wear colourful things every day. I actually had my colours done a few years ago and I’m a Summer, which fits me so well as I love pinks, blues and turquoises. I wear a lot of blue jeans and then colourful tops and jackets. I usually add a colourful bag and earrings too – that’s my go-to look. I have a jumper I got given as a gift recently which is an amazing aqua blue – it looks hand-knitted and has big belled-shaped sleeves. It’s a really special piece that a love wearing.

Colour is everywhere right now, from homeware to fashion. Do you feel beige has had its day? 
I think the amazing thing about this point in time is that there are so many options for people! When I was in my late teens/early twenties it was right in the middle of the trend for minimalism and everything being black. I really struggled finding my clothing identity as I just couldn’t find what I wanted to wear; it just didn’t exist. The thing I love so much about now and the trend for colour is that it’s given people options and choices, there is no one overriding trend, so people can choose from an amazing variety of colours and designs that are on the market.

I’m just so happy that there is so much colour out there to choose from in homeware and fashion. It really lets people choose things that make them happy. I don’t think people will ever want to go back to times of less choice and colour. I think it’s here to stay.

 

Last great colourful buy?
I bought a beautiful Anya Hindmarch tote bag. It was an investment but I use it almost every day and the colour works with everything in my wardrobe.

And finally, do you have a favourite colour? 
I find it so hard to choose just one! I love pink, blue and turquoise all equally and in all their shades.

Cover up or dare to bare? Your essential summer skirt lengths

Effortless summer style is all about mastering the art of the skirt. Find your perfect length and everything falls into place for a breezy summer look.

short – ruched skirt

A great summer length for a huge range of body shapes from apple (you’ll have great legs if you fall into this camp, I guarantee), the more petite among us and, conversely, the longer of limb, as well as curvier types who want something that follows their body shape without highlighting every lump and bump (the ruched fabric disguises a multitude of sins). The ruched skirt looks amazing paired with a relaxed top like the cara v neck or tasha top.

Items shown: Slub Charli Top, Short Ruched Skirt, Tassel Necklace and a Suede Tassel Clutch

knee – jersey pencil skirt or long ruched skirt

Workwear, sorted. The safe skirt length for all of us when it comes to smarter dressing, you can’t go wrong with a gently fitted knee length skirt. Far easier to style than its a-line counterpart, don’t be put off by feeling that this skirt will cling or highlight your flaws – rather the opposite, in that the neat tailoring will elongate and slim your silhouette. For a more formal look, opt for the jersey pencil skirt with a light coloured jersey shirt or daphne blouse, or go slightly more casual in the long ruched skirt with a faux wrap crossover.

Items shown: Daphne Blouse, Shawl Collar Wrap, Jersey Pencil Skirt, Single Wrap Bracelet, Ballerina Pumps

midi – weekend skirt

The length of the moment, the midi skirt can feel old fashioned and tricky to style, but bring it up to date with a crisp breton top and playful sneakers and you’re good to go. If you’re petite, opt for a slim fitting top to avoid looking drowned in fabric, but for everyone else, the gentle a-line shape of the weekend skirt can be worn in a variety of ways to dress it up or down.

 

Items shown: Stripe Boat Neck, Weekend Skirt, Tassel Necklace, Suede Tassel Clutch

maxi – jersey maxi skirt

Wear with care if you’re petite, but a jersey maxi skirt can be a great breezy option for pretty much every body shape. Ideal if you don’t want to bare your legs (because it’s just faintly possible that, like me, some of you aren’t in possession of a pair of legs that feel 100% summer ready yet), a maxi skirt gives that laid back and boho-chic feel with the simple addition of a short sleeved t-shirt and a sunhat.

Items shown: Pippa Top, Jersey Maxi Skirt, Short Cascade Wrap, Single Wrap Bracelet

And to get your legs summer ready, why not check out these Legology products developed by award winning beauty journalist Kate Shapland –  Exfo-Lite sea salt scrub is the perfect prep for summer legs. After a good scrub and soak, finish them off with the genius Sun-Lite, which adds a healthy glow without the hassle or scary orange hue of fake tan. And if you suffer from heavy legs while flying or in the heat, you definitely need to add Air-Lite to your hand luggage. The amazing scent, innovative massage application and powerful active ingredients will put a spring in your step every time you use it.

And don’t forget to enter our competition to win a wonderful holiday essentials package including a complete set of Legology products:

  • A Kettlewell Cashmere Gauze Stole in your choice of Bright Aqua or Green Teal
  • A Kettlewell Stripe Boat Neck Tee in True Red
  • A set of Legology Contouring Leg Care – Exfo-Lite, Air-Lite and Sun-Lite
  • Two signed copies of A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson
  • Two copies of the CD daydreams by Alice Martineau

Competition closes at midnight on 29th May 2017.