Tag Archive for 'tailoring'

Italian style may just be re-finding its heritage and soul

I have bitched and moaned for several years about how the Italian style scene, increasingly dominated by big brand names, had moved away from its heritage, chasing fashion and bling, and increasingly manufacturing outside Italy.

It has made it hard for us to find the kind of clothes that we know our customers want; and it led to us launching the Sfera collection to – very successfully – fill the void.

However, I’m very happy to see that there is a real sign that some of the names that didn’t sell out to the big brands are increasingly allowing their soul to start to show through again.


Italy seems to be returning to what it was always known for – fine fabrics, fine tailoring, with that special edginess in the cut; and this season a lot of research and time has been put into the fabrics, the trimmings and the general design of the garment.

There is also a really optimistic feel to their collections for next season (which I’ve been buying over the past weeks) because they were returning to what they knew best. 

Most reassuringly, they tell me that the change is driven by demand.  Women are, they say, fed up with cheap and cheaply made clothes – they know they don’t look good in them; and now – above all – they want to feel good and look fabulous. 


Even the magazines are being educated that it’s not just about clothes for 20 year olds any more. There have been a number of articles recently suggesting that big brands are passé – that women don’t want disposable branded clothes anymore – that they are increasingly buying just one or two really good pieces each season.

So what can you expect for the coming season?

The look is simple and minimal but the cut isn’t – the experience of the designers that we stock have really used all their expertise in putting together clothes that are quite special – an extra dart here – an extra seam there that makes the garment fit superbly.


There are lots of lovely luxury fabrics and an interesting colour palette which focuses a lot around greys, browns and grape colours, all of which, unless they are in good fabrics, can look hard against skin; but once you put them in the more luxurious fabrics they become really glamourous.  I’ve honestly never heard so many ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s as from Stylists at Wardrobe as they’ve opened boxes as stock has come in over the past few weeks.

What’s also interesting is that the styles span the generations – we’re finding that 30 year old and 50 year olds can wear same things, just differently accessorised. I see this as a sign of true luxury in the clothes.

I really hope the trend continues so we’re not the only people doing it.


What has happened to Italian fashion and why I started Sfera – part 3

This is the third in a three part post on why I started Sfera. 
Read part 1 here
Read part 2 here

The pictures in this final part are from the Sfera Spring-Summer collection; and you can see a wider selection in the Sfera section of the new season Wardrobe website which went live yesterday.

Why has Sfera been successful? 

Sfera is the product of all the experience I’ve gained over 36 years of what women in our market want.  In my experience, women want to look as sexy as possible, but in a stylish way – not in an ostentatious way.

They want to stand out and look successful, but they want to do it elegantly.


That’s what our “edgily classic” approach tries to do.  We create many new jacket and dress shapes each season – all made by craftspeople with the highest quality fabrics, beautiful lining and top-quality buttons in what I believe to be one of Italy’s best factories.

It’s only available at Wardrobe, it’s designed with our customers in mind, and we only make a few pieces of each garment, so they’re properly exclusive.  As there is no publicity cost, all of the money spent on them is in the clothes.


An equally good question is why, if there’s such a big gap in the supply side of the market, has Sfera not been more successful and not sold elsewhere.  Possibly it will be in the future – if we can figure out a distribution model that allows us to keep our important values in place.

At times it feels like we’re rowing against the industry tide; but our boat is increasingly full of people who want to go in our direction.  So for the moment Douglas and I are happy focusing on developing a collection which delivers what Wardrobe customers tell me and my stylists they want.



Previewing winter in Milan

Hot-footing around Milan looking at what we’re going to be wearing for next summer, it’s always crucial to see what is on show for this coming winter.  So I’ve decided to interrupt the capsule wardrobe series with this little preview.

One thing stands out: fabrics for Autumn/Winter are denser because in general the styling is more tailored and structured – it needs the weight of the fabric to make it work.

Structured, tailored styling needs the heavier fabrics used this season

Although the look can sometimes be chunkier, the actual composition of the fabrics and the way they’re used will still be very comfortable and a well put-together look will be stunning. 

However, this season more than ever, the proportions need to be carefully thought-out because otherwise you may find yourself with purchases which are not particularly versatile. There were some heavier fabrics around last winter (at Wardrobe, for example, we anticipated this year’s fashions to ensure continuity for customers using the capsule wardrobe approach). But if you’re not used to planning your wardrobe, be sure to pay particular attention to what’s in there now (and seek advice from shop stylists).

The really good news is that this is a season for everybody. Styles have become much more sophisticated, more elegant, more modernly classic, so women of all ages, shapes and sizes will be able to look up-to-date and fashionable.

Typical fabrics next season are stretch flannel jersey, tweeds and textured wools, such as black and white dog-tooth checks.  Look out for interesting detailing like seaming and beautiful buttons.

                    Stretch jersey is a popular fabric this season    Interesting seaming

                    Dogtooth pattern jacket    Beautiful buttons

There are lots of dresses and skirt suits – and, of course, the jacket is the most important item if you’re not wearing a dress.

        There are some really stylish dresses available this season    Skirt suits are going to be very popular this season

Boots are very important this winter and the ones in stretch leather and stretch suede, although expensive, are really worth the outlay particularly if you have less than thin calves.  Many have some interesting detailing, a thicker sole, and a spat design including buckles.

Shoes have a heavier feel to them and are not dainty this season. With clothes fabrics being heavier, soles need to be thicker to balance the look. Consequently the heel of the shoe is important as a very thin heel is going to look out of place except for evening wear.

         boot    shoe

To accessorise, look for good belts with good buckles (I know they’re hard to find, but we’ve found them); a small clutch bag to carry with a bigger work bag.  Important jewellery is ear rings, gold or silver bangle, important rings and a larger sized watch (but not too big or it will look cheap).  Large necklaces, for example, could be a bit overpowering with the shoulder and collar detailing on this season’s clothes; however with a skirt suit with a plain white shirt underneath a chunky necklace can still look good.

The best advice for this season is to seek out a professional who is knowledgeable.  Get it right and the look will be unbelievably beautiful; get it wrong and…


(ps: the photos above (apart from the footwear) are all from Wardrobe’s new website which will be live with the Autumn/Winter collection very soon at www.wardrobe.co.uk)


Style dilemma: no need for a pregnant pause in your working wardrobe

A question was posted on the Fashion Forum page this week about finding clothes to wear during pregnancy that are suitable for wearing in the boardroom.  The writer says…


“I currently alternate wearing Mothercare maternity (fine for the beach, not the boardroom) or pre-pregnancy clothes (can’t breathe).”


… and she was interested in companies or styles for pregnancy.


This is something of which I have direct recent experience as Wardrobe has been a bit of a baby factory over the past couple of years, with three of our stylists and our tailor’s wife all having had babies.


None of the stylists bought maternity clothes.  Instead our tailor modified regular clothes from the shop.  Typically, they needed to go up one or two sizes; but by inserting elastic into trousers in strategic places and tapering skirts, the parts of their bodies that hadn’t enlarged still looked trim. 


With jackets we were able to adjust the shoulder area of the larger sizes and leave the bottom half of the jacket to absorb the bump.  And often loose tops that aren’t made for pregnant women can work well and you may not need to go up a size.


We also recently put a pregnant customer into a lovely double-breasted dress which we altered to become single-breasted during the pregnancy.  When she’d had the baby and was about to return to work, it was re-altered into the original double-breasted version.


Some fabrics work better than others during pregnancy.  For example linen and cotton are cool in the hotter summer months; and in winter wools with stretch content are better than fabrics that don’t stretch.


But other than that, with a little effort you shouldn’t need to change your style too much.


In my opinion, the most important thing to do is to find a shop with a really good tailor who can adapt normal clothes.  Like everything else, those growing bumps come in different shapes and sizes, so with the same individual attention you can maintain your style confidently – and comfortably – through your pregnancy.


If anyone has other thoughts or tips on this, please do comment below or, even better, on the Fashion Forum page.



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