Business: Email Overwhelm

I21-Ways-to-Manage-Time-cover-lowresn our modern world of being available 24/7 by email, it sometimes feels like there is no escape.  Email alerts ping in my pocket, my handbag, on my desk, they are everywhere!  Sometimes if they don’t synchronise properly between PC and phone email can be lost or actions are not followed through.  Quite honestly I was sick and tired of being a slave to email.

I booked Grace Marshall of www.gracemarshall.com, productivity ninja and coach to help me to find a system that worked for me.  The day with Grace was great, we worked through all my email (and there was lots and lots!)  I now have a system of prioritising emails for action, those that are waiting for someone to come back to me and those that are just to read.  I also did lots of unsubscribing from newsletters that I never read to reduce the number of email coming in.

To stop the issue of email not synching correctly, I now only read my email on my iPhone and don’t use it to respond or flag email, unless it is really urgent.  Now that my inbox is down to zero – yes ZERO – I only have one day’s worth of email to sort out and respond to, so much easier to handle.  It means that I no longer miss email, or miss flagging email for action.  It does, of course, require human intervention, so I am sure there might be the odd one that gets filed in the wrong place with the slip of a finger.  I now feel much more in control of my email and am pleased to have taken the time to sort it out.

When I am working at my desk all day I also switch off email and only check it a couple of times a day.  Grace says that ‘one minute of distraction takes c. 15 minutes to recover from’, so four email interruptions could loose you an hour!

I have also turned off all notifications for Twitter, Facebook and Linked in to avoid those disruptions too.

Grace’s approach was fantastic, she really listed to my needs and adapted her style to suit.  I am hoping for a more productive week!  For more top tips from Grace, she has a book out ’21 ways to manager the stuff that sucks up your time’.   And her latest book is just out ‘How to be really productive’.How to be really productive


Race for Life

You might know that I am Director of Regional Support for the Federation of Image Professionals International (FIPI).  We decided that we would all make a collective effort to do something for charity within our regional groups.  Our FIPI Midland Group, headed up by Judith Mercer decided to join in with the Worcester Race for Life. As it was a Sunday many of our group couldn’t make it as they already had commitments, so we ended up being just the three of us, Judith from the Worcestershire/Gloucestershire border, Nicky from Moseley and me from Warwick. Both consultants trained by First Impressions.  My mum and daughter joined us too.

We decided to wear our best shade of pink in true image professional style! So I’m in cool and bright, and Nicky and Judith in warm pink. We had decided to do 10k – we just walked and chatted – far more civilized that running!

IMG_2102We had great fun and did the walk in 2hrs 20mins. Here we are all wearing our medals to show that we completed it.

As we were doing the walk for FIPI, it seemed only fitting that I should do the walk in honour of Elaine Fraser. She was a fantastic trainer for First Impressions and she trained me in colour and cosmetics in 2004. Just as I took over the running of the businesses in 2010, Elaine became ill and after a very short illness we lost her to bowel cancer. She absolutely loved colour and was a real inspiration to me.


If anyone feels able to sponsor us, the page is still open at https://www.justgiving.com/lynbromley

I will look forward to seeing all the other regions charity ideas. #FIPIGives


Leadership: How to Bounce Back

resilienceI feel compelled to write about this subject because it is a topic that is coming up time and again with clients I coach, mentees, friends and business associates.  According to the dictionary, the definition of bouncing back, or resilience is ‘the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.’  Of course issues and problems come along all the time, it’s not about stopping them from happening, but it is about helping ourselves to recover without disappearing into a pit of despair.  So when the brown stuff hits the fan, it is worth having some strategies in place to help us to bounce back.

Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. I was with a group of friends yesterday and we talked about our own strategies. Remember that it is OK to ask for help too, you don’t have to do this alone.  There is also no shame in feeling fear.  It’s natural and we all feel it. There are no prizes for being tough or macho.  Here are our thoughts and we would love to hear yours too.

1. Move – one of the quickest ways to change our state is to move our bodies, so do what works best for you.  It could be simply going for a walk, running, a vigorous gym session, swimming or dancing.  I’d recommend getting out of your usual environment and being in nature.  Our problems can seem less significant when you have some open space, rather than being stifled in the confines of an office environment.  I personally love walking my dog in the countryside, especially when the sun is shining!

2. Music – listen to something you find compelling – turn it up loud and sing along (maybe not in the middle of the office though!!)

3. Breathe – sometimes when we are gripped by fear we find it difficult to breathe normally.  Our heart rate increases and our breathing becomes faster.  By focusing on our breathing and taking some deep breaths, it can really help us to calm down and regulate our heart rate.

4. Mindfulness – practicing mindfulness is proven to reduce stress and worry.  There are lots of apps available.  The one I would recommend is  from  Headspace.  I tend to do mine just before bedtime as it helps me to have a really good nights sleep too!

5. Nurturing – take some time out just for you.  Our time tends to be taken up with work, family and friends.  There are so many demands upon our time.  Sometimes, just taking some time out and doing what pleases you is just what is needed.

6. Unplugging – these days technology is at our fingertips at all hours of the day.  It can be switched off!  Email can often add to the feeling of overwhelm.  The world will not end if it is not checked for a day.  Just set your out of office message and unplug.  You’ll be in a much better place after time away to deal with everything upon your return.

7. People – spending time with people who’s company you enjoy and having some fun.

8. Giving back – doing something for someone else helps you to focus on them instead of your own problems for a while.  It can often help your problems to seem less significant when you are helping someone else.

9. Gratitude – focus on the things you are grateful for.  If you are gripped by fear and wondering how to tackle a problem that has occurred, this may be tricky to do, but give it a try.  By looking at the good things you have going for you, it IMG_1588can make your problem seem less of an issue.

10. Journaling – writing down what is happening can help you to make sense of it.  Sometimes out problems can seem bigger than they are when they are just rattling around our mind.  Getting your thoughts down on paper helps you to sift through your thoughts and feelings gaining valuable self-knowledge. We are all different and what works for one person will not work for another.

11. Take action – what can you do right now to move you closer towards your goals?  Taking action always helps me to feel better.  A recommendation from one of our group is to do some things off your to do list that you like doing.  She calls them ‘fluffy tasks’ – much nicer that doing the ones you don’t like!

12. This too will pass – you have probably been here before and you know that you got through it last time – you will get through it again, just trust and try some of the ideas above.

I’m interested to hear your strategies – what do you do to bounce back?

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions  Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Director of Regional Events at FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women. Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching.  First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map. Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038 Email: enquiries@firstimpressions.uk.com Website: www.firstimpressions.uk.com


A really interesting blog by Kate Davies. I know many of our First Imoressions consultants will like to read this. We love seeing behind the scenes.

Fit and Flare

This is my friend Yuka who works for a well known high street boutique.

Yuka Yuka

We met for lunch, but before that she treated me to a look around the works. The company was sensitive to the issue of design copyright, so I won’t mention their name or show the design process. I will focus on the pattern cutting and sample making.

Here is Denise, working from a sketch, making a blouse pattern on the company software. She usually starts with the block, but sometimes designs from scratch or by modelling on the stand. Once the pattern is finished she checks it by making a half toile in a cotton. When it is finally right this file gets zipped up and sent to the manufacturer who can be in China, India or elsewhere.

The other patten cutter was Anne, who does some flat patten cutting on paper and most of the draping…

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Commercial pattern cutting – an insight into the trade


Member’s Monday – London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2015 Day 3 – by Emma Russell

Finally, the third part of Emma’s blog – a recount of Sunday at LFW.   This is my personal favourite day!

I knew that Day three of London Fashion Week AW15 was going to be a difficult one, SO much to choose from! SO many of my favourite designers! Who do I feature? How do I narrow down my choices? Decisions decisions! Luckily for me the early evening shows still haven’t uploaded their images, so I’m forced to split the blog in two, meaning I don’t have to miss anyone out! Yippee! So far my words of the day are Volume, Detail, Seventies, asymmetric and Intricate. The volumous shapes are a continuing theme throughout LFW as are the seventies influences, bringing the trend through both Spring Summer and Autumn Winter. This trend is seen through the fringing and the volumous maxi skirts and dresses . Alice Temperley & Preen reliably featured detailed, intricate, delicate fabrics and embroidery again hinting at the 1970’s. Asymmetric hems with and without ruffle detailing are also an emerging trend. Preen by Thornton Bregazzi featured bright prints and 3D florals, the intricate detailing of the pieces I’ve included here would normally be more indicative of Spring Summer rather than Autumn Winter, I guess Thornton Bregazzi wanted us to have a little sunshine in the darker months.

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Matthew Williamson is a reliable stalwart of the red carpet, the first two looks I’ve included could easily be seen on tonight’s Oscars Red Carpet. I love the oriental influences to the colours and patterns, the seventies fringing is hinted at through the footwear but the era is truly delivered through the fur collared frock, the volumous maxi dresses and even the intricate silk and chiffon prints.

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Temperley London hinted at the seventies with this velvet blazer reminiscent of one my mum had, teamed with the intricately embroidered mesh dress and scarf is a beautiful use of monochrome colouring.
More volume through the width of the trousers and the length of the tunic tops and coats, the camel and grey tone on tone looks will give height and elongate despite the volumous proportions just be careful wearing this look if you’re under 5ft 5in as it may well swamp you.
Alice also brings her red carpet worthy looks with my final two choices, I could see Angelina Jolie and Kate Hudson in these.

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Amanda Wakeley had a more tailored approach to her collection, compared to the whimsical feminine looks featured by Temperley and Matthew Williamson. Again the coats and jackets are big and bold, boyfriend style even. The fringed dresses are more pert and sexy than the previous looks, slightly more rock chick than seventies.

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Mary featured what can only be described as flippy flamenco style skirts crossed with a bit of Star Trek.. A bizarre description I know but see if yourself, it’s the waistband which prompts the description but there is something I really like about this piece.
I think it’s fun and different, the obvious applies that this will appeal to those with a more dramatic taste when it comes to their clothes as this really is a head turner.


But when you see the same skirt teamed with a jumper, albeit a canary yellow one the look isn’t quite as dramatic. I think it’s an interesting take on the skirt shape, let’s face it we’ve had every variation when it comes to skirt styles so it’s quite nice to have something different but have to admit I’m pleased we’re not going back to the ’80’s RaRa style.


Another lovely yellow piece is this drop waist dress, I love how Mary has taken Brocade a fabric you tend to see in really dark colours making the piece look really heavy, and used two different patterns in the same hue and used the brightest colour she could find to lift this normally gothic fabric.


Finally it wouldn’t be a Mary Katrantzou show without some prints, again Mary has taken another traditional piece like these Duffel coats and given them a fun twist with these beautiful prints. I particularly love this pink/purple one!

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I was thrilled to see a move away from the mainly Seventies vibe I’ve been feeling so far through this week, when I saw the Jonathan Saunders show.
If Tom Ford channelled a boyhood love of Barberella in his SS15 show, Jonathan has gone for 1960’s Mods & Quadrophenia with his AW15 collection. I love these very simple shift style dresses and coats, each featuring a little shape at the waist and hips meaning you don’t have to be a stick insect to where them (unlike the models). I especially like the mixing of the checks and the stripes, just always be conscious of horizontal stripes on your bottom half as they will give the appearance of shorter legs and of course will widen your bum.

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I can totally see these looks transferring down onto the High Street, in many outlets, or if all else fails check out your mum’s wardrobe see if there are any ’60’s beauties lurking at the back.

So what’s been your favourite show or look so far during London Fashion Week? Have you seen any trends that you think you could wear? Any that you think are totally mad and you wouldn’t possible wear it! Comment on my Facebook link or tweet me @stylissimouk

Last but by no means least, the wonderfully bonkers Vivienne Westwood Red Label Collection. While the majority was the afore mentioned mad and slightly bonkers collection, these two pieces are amazing. Probably because they hint at what made Vivienne so well known, the structured shoulders, amazing tailoring and corsetry. In my eyes Miss Westwood you will always be a living legend no matter how bizarre your rants are on social media.

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Member’s Monday – London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2015 Day 2 – by Emma Russell

Here is day two – of our Member’s Monday blog by Emma Russell – there was so much good stuff, we couldn’t resist sharing!

Day two of London Fashion Week featured all ends of the spectrum from the calm muted pastel tones of Emilia Wickstead to the down right bonkers Sibling and Henry Holland. If either of the later designers have anything to say Autumn Winter this year will be eye popping psychedelic colours in lurex with fur trims. Henry may have the celeb entourage but I’m not quite sure it will have mass cut through on the High Street if I’m perfectly honest.
Jasper Conran was one designer today who on the other hand I can see drawing through and influencing the likes of Boden and Zara.
His deep autumnal tones, tone on tone pallete, simple striking patterns and his simple unfussy shapes are great for those of us with little shape to our hips. These are classic looks you could wear year after year without them dating.

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Finally Lucas Nascimento pushed my boundaries some what, at first I wasn’t sure about his collection but it grew on me. I like the way the colours in each outfit blend and compliment each other, the layered coat look with the pattern sneaking out garnering your approval and interest. Hidden just enough not to over power, but prominent enough to make a bold statement. This look would be over powering on someone of my height (5ft 2in) which is possibly why I didn’t immediately warm to it, but if you have the height I’m certain this is a great look elongating you making you look even taller.

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Tomorrow proves to be a busy one for LFW so many of my favourite designers feature tomorrow I fear it may be a long blog or I may be forced to be super selective picking only my favourite pieces from each of them. Hhhhmmm decisions decisions..
Oh and the small matter of the biggest Red Carpet event of the year, The 2015 Oscars! Who will deliver and who will bomb? I’ll feature my best & worst right here.
Source with thanks to http://www.londonfashionweek.co.uk and http://www.catwalking.com


Not my most flattering pics, but really happy to share as it is such a great distinction between the shift and the sheath. We had a wonderful time experimenting with fit and I am a convert to bespoke! Great blog Kate.

Fit and Flare

What is the difference between a shift dress and a sheath dress? Both are one piece dresses, made in woven rather than stretch fabrics, often knee length or shorter, often sleeveless, and are often confused. Both styles are classics and have been in and out of fashion during the 20th and 21st centuries.

The shift was a phenomenon in the 1960s and is essentially a short, A line dress. In is semi-fitted or loose fitted.  A sheath dress is fitted much more closely to the body. The bottom half of the dress resembles a straight pencil skirt rather than the A line of the shift. In essence the shift is better on straight body shapes, and the sheath flatters more curved figures.

woman in black sheath dress sheath dress

A sheath dress is

  • a one piece dress with no waist line join
  • closely fitted through the body so that it follows its curves
  • it skims…

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The sheath dress – what it is and how to fit it