Monday, 25 March 2019

Interview With Jacynth Bassett Owner Of Fashion Boutique the-Bias-Cut

Today on the blog I am interviewing Jacynth Bassett, the owner of the-Bias-Cut - an online fashion boutique that celebrates style at every age. 

Could you tell me about why you started your business and your ethos of why ageism is never in style?

I first had the idea for the-Bias-Cut when I was 19, whilst studying Law at Cambridge. Having realised I didn’t want to become a lawyer, I decided I wanted to start my own business, ideally in Fashion as it had always been one of my main passions.

Whilst I had a lot of respect for the Fashion Industry, I knew it was by no means perfect, and I wanted to make a difference. It was 2am one night and, unable to sleep, I started thinking about my mum. Like me, she loved fashion and style, but since her late 40s had started to feel irrelevant in the eyes of the Fashion Industry, largely due to her age. She was fed up with youth-focused imagery and struggled to find beautiful, quality clothes that were both flattering and stylish. This both saddened and frustrated me. 

Thorough research proved that many of her peers felt the same way. So it became my mission to cut through ageism in the Fashion Industry once and for all. There are so many stereotypes and ageist attitudes regarding older women and fashion, which are both insulting and nonsensical – why would a love for style and wanting to look good just disappear with age? 

So, as soon as I graduated, I started working on creating a contemporary shopping platform and community that truly celebrates and empowers women of all ages. It’s about being inclusive rather than exclusive – from our use of ‘real women’ models of different ages, shapes, heights and sizes, to our ‘shop by body’ filters, to our unique curation process. 

Our “Ageism Is Never In Style” ethos and movement is an extension of this. It brings together women and men globally, to raise awareness and encourage discussion on the topic. Whilst we are seeing more inclusivity in the industry, there is still a very long way to go before ageism is no longer entrenched in it. So it keeps the conversation going.  

What’s particularly important is that we welcome women of all ages to engage – after all ageism is the only ‘ism’ that inevitably affects all of us. 

What do you look for when you source new labels?

I have a very particularly specific set of criteria: 

  • Quality - The label must value quality and gorgeous fabrics so that they will last and be loved for years.
  • Flattering cuts – Women’s bodies change over time, so I only work with labels that appreciate that and create pieces that will flatter different figures.
  • Ethical - The label has to believe in ethical and fair manufacturing standards, and the price has to be fair and reflective of the work and craftsmanship that has gone into them. A lot of our pieces are handcrafted, and showcase local artisan techniques
  • Attitude – I select labels that have a unique, often playful, point of view. Style should be fun and a reflection of who you are on the inside. So the labels are unique without being eccentric, and won’t be found easily elsewhere
  • Modern and stylish, without being trend driven –The label has to be contemporary without being a slave to trends. Their pieces have to stand the test of time.
  • If I won’t wear it, we won’t sell it – I work on the principle that, if I at 26 wouldn’t feel stylish wearing it, then why should someone older? She might style the item differently, but she shouldn’t only have ‘second-best’ clothing available to her. 

Of course, they must also support our ethos. I still meet plenty of designers who are inherently ageist even if they’d like to say otherwise. In one case, a representative for a label told me that their main customer is over 40, but the designer wouldn’t want to acknowledge it. And another designer admitted to me he refused to dress an A-lister for the BAFTAs because of her age.  

Not only do I apply the strict criteria when finding labels, but also when curating our collections. I spend hours going through each label’s collection, filtering it down so we only feature the very best pieces. It’s why our return rate is ¼ of the online average. Occasionally we’ve had customers ask why we don’t sell a particular piece by a designer and have bought it elsewhere, but then they’ve come back to us to say they had to return it, so understand why we didn’t stock it!  

What's your best selling item (or brand) and why do you think it sells well?

Cashmere sells very well – it’s why I’ve started with it for my eponymous label. There are lots of options out there, so we only sell fun, unusual designs which our customers love. They can also feel confident shopping for it online, knowing what they will get. Shopping online for clothes can be difficult, especially when you don’t know cuts or quality, and photography can make anything look good. So cashmere – and knitwear generally - is a safe option; a good first purchase. 
That said, our jackets and dresses sell really well too, and it’s lovely seeing how our customers’ confidence grows to try new pieces. They might have started with cashmere, but they progress to other labels and styles. POM Amsterdam and Fabienne Chapot are particularly popular – they offer fun, unique prints and vibrant styles that are still very flattering and versatile 

What’s your about opinion about fast fashion?

As someone who loves style and shopping, I understand the craving for new clothes. And, of course, some people cannot afford more expensive items. But I feel fast fashion is very damaging, both to the industry and society.

My feelings can be perfectly summarized by this quote from Trend forecaster Li Edelkoort in 2016:

“How can a product that needs to be sown, grown, harvested, combed, spun, knitted, cut and stitched, finished, printed, labelled, packaged and transported cost a couple of Euros? On the hunt for cheaper deals, volume companies, but also some luxury brands, have trusted the making of their wages to underpaid workers living in dire condition. What’s more, these prices imply the clothes are to be thrown away, discarded like a condom before being loved and savoured, teaching young consumers that fashion has no value. We should make legislation to have minimum prices”Fast fashion encourages undervaluing clothes and the industry as a whole and often results in people believing more expensive clothes are just overpriced. It may be the case with big known designers where you’re often paying for the name, but not with smaller independent brands. Which makes it harder for them.

But we shouldn’t attack or shame those who do buy into fast fashion. Instead, it’s about having a conversation and educating society on ways to shop differently.

Who inspires you in the fashion world? 

Caryn Franklin MBE. She’s the definition of a trailblazer. Aside from her endless list of accomplishments, she is a dedicated fashion activist, calling herself a “Disruptive Fashion Lover” – someone who critiques and changes the fashion industry she supports. She challenges the fashion norms and encourages brands and companies to embrace diversity and authenticity.

Whenever I hear her speak, I’m inspired. She is so passionate, eloquent, insightful and measured. I’ve met her a couple of times, and whilst I don’t know her well, she has been very supportive of my activities and introduced journalists to me.

Moreover, when faced with big obstacles, I remind myself of her tireless commitment to changing the Fashion Industry. For example, for years she was one of the only people to speak out against photographer and “fashion predator” Terry Richardson (allegations started in 2001), with few willing to listen. Journalists weren’t interested, and she said she ended up virtually knocking on doors asking why brands were still happy to work with him. But she relentlessly carried on and, finally, due to the Weinstein expose, the industry paid attention. It proves that, whilst it may take time, you really can make a difference.

What are your plans for the future?

For , my current plan is to grow our overall presence. We’re still very small, so I want to get our message out there, both in the UK and internationally.

We’re also going to be introducing some fantastic new labels, and I’m developing my eponymous label. And we’ll be hosting more pop up parties around the UK – with our next one on 11th and 12th April in Mayfair.

I also recently founded a 50+ Industry Activists group, comprised of leading individuals who are challenging ageism in their respective fields, and we have lots of ideas in the works on how we can move the anti-ageism narrative forwards. 

Let me know what do you think of the-Bias-Cut's ethos of why ageism is never in style? Do you think the fashion industry is ageist? 

*Collaborative post

Friday, 22 March 2019

The Bristol Marriott Royal Review- A Stylish Historic Hotel

In Bristol, on College Green, a short walk from the Bristol Hippodrome is the historic Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel. The city's oldest hotel it has pride of place moment's away from Clifton and in the centre of everything in Bristol. Mr W and I were invited recently on a complimentary basis to see the effects of the recent refurbishment, check out the rooms and attend an influencer event. All words and opinions are my own, we were not paid for this review.

The beautiful building has been here since 1868 and has offered a warm and friendly welcome to a number of famous people during it's time including Queen Victoria, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Winston Churchill to name a few.

A recent refurbishment has brought this grand dame up-to-date but still in line with its Victorian heritage with a navy, grey and chic metallic colour scheme.  The hotel has an air of grandeur and class about it but is definitely not stuffy. 

Check in was super efficient by friendly staff, a few details were taken like our car registration number (for the parking underneath the hotel) and our room card was issued in less than two minutes. I was impressed!

I liked the welcome drink of water flavoured with fresh fruit in the foyer. So nice when you've been travelling a while.

We were staying in the Royal Junior Suite. Located in the Royal Wing the Royal Junior Suite features a luxury king bed, ensuite bathroom and lounge area with sofa bed. Adjoining the room is a Royal King superior guest room which can be used to create a two bedroom suite.  Perfect for families or friends that want to be close together.

The room oozed understated luxury. 

From the quality of the bed linen to the flat-screen TV, the roomy king size bed to the Nespresso coffee machine, everything was impeccable. The only thing missing was delectable George Clooney, but I guess Mr W will have to do!

It was nice to have a tea and coffee tray as well as a Nespresso machine and complimentary water too. 

The room had a sofa bed and two chairs so you could sit and relax and a small table. Blackout curtains added that extra touch and are always a good thing especially when you are in a city centre as it helps eliminate noise. 

A welcome gift of cheese and biscuits was a lovely and tasty touch which was well appreciated. 

The bathroom had marble effect counters and a stylish white and dark grey/green paint. The rainfall shower had an eco setting which I've never seen before, which is a great idea.

Toiletries were provided by Acca Kappa, an Italian luxury range and were excellent quality. I do feel though that hotels should be considering a more eco-friendly way of displaying the toiletries, instead of in individual small plastic bottles. 

You could access your bill with the TV set as well as check out the hotel services, use Internet TV, connect your device and check the weather forecast.

The room was p
articularly well thought out, with USB chargers built into the table lights and wall plugs by the mirror - a simple design feature and especially useful to dry your hair but you would be amazed how often this doesn't happen in a hotel room. The room also contained an iron and ironing board, trouser press, small fridge, robe and slippers and in-room safe. Air conditioning was efficient. Everything you could need for a leisure or business trip.

Room service menu was from the Miller & Carter steakhouse based in the hotel and included steaks, curry, lasagne and more as well as snacks such as sandwiches.

There is a spa with a range of treatments available including manicures/pedicures and messages and a swimming pool with some lovely frescos on the wall, adding to a Roman feel.  Aveda eco-friendly toiletries are available. There is also a fitness centre.

The hotel is home to a branch of Miller & Carter steakhouse. We didn't have a chance to try the evening menu but with the emphasis on prime steaks aged for 30 days and choices even for those that don't like steak (some interesting vegan options too such as the oven stuffed roasted aubergine with orzo pasta), we would definitely try the restaurant when visiting Bristol again. They advertise a 'buttermilk chicken experience' which sounds intriguing, how you can experience buttermilk chicken I don't know, but the description on the website makes me want to try it! 

Prices were in line with what you expect from a steakhouse and they also have a well-priced fixed lunch menu at £11.50 for two courses.

The bar next to the steakhouse was a great place to sit, have a drink and people watch.

One of the features of the hotel I enjoyed were the numerous works of art on every wall. 

The Palm Court area, a Victorian room with an impressive high stained glass ceiling, had a feeling of grandeur and can be hired out for civil ceremonies. To sit here and listen to a band or even a classical quartet when having your wedding celebrations must be a wonderful experience.

We had a big lunch that day so skipped dinner as we knew we would be going to an influencer party that night with canapes.

The party that night was a fun event!

A mixologist showed us how to make excellent cocktails and the canapes were an interesting mix from the Miller & Carter team, although I must admit Mr W's highlight was the doughnut (donut) wall! 

We were shown around the rooms in the Royal Wing, and I can confirm they are all of the same chic high standard as the suite we stayed in. There is also a four poster suite and an apartment with a kitchen area.  The rooms have been brought bang up-to-date and the Royal Wing is a cool area to be hired out by small groups of people perhaps for a wedding, family event or business opportunity. 

So after too many delicious cocktails, we headed to bed. 

The next morning after an excellent nights sleep due to the blackout curtains and extremely comfy mattress, we headed down to breakfast. 

Breakfast was held in the Miller & Carter Steakhouse and was a buffet breakfast.

A range of pastries, cheese, yoghurt and cereals as well as a full cooked buffet breakfast was available.

Some good points were the fact that there was an allergy sheet available which directed the reader to up-to-date online allergy information, and there were coconut yoghurt and soya milk readily available. Some not so good points were the fact that the juice wasn't fresh and they had run out of fruit salad and didn't bring any more when asked saying simply they had run out.

The breakfast wasn't the most extensive I've ever had in a luxury hotel but certainly a decent start to the day. A little more choice of fruit and making fresh juice available would take the breakfast up a notch I felt.

In conclusion, the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel is a historic, beautifully restored hotel in the centre of Bristol close to the waterfront area and the Bristol Hippodrome. Check out our video below from the dedicated travel blog and YouTube channel I created with my husband Fly Drive Explore.

Recent updates mean that rooms in the Royal Wing are chic and effortlessly glamorous without trying too hard. Facilities including a spa, pool, gym and its own parking make it an excellent luxury choice when in the city. The Miller and Carter Steakhouse is a welcome addition to this hotel. Staff were welcoming, efficient and well trained. We would return for sure. Recommended.

Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel
College Green 
+44 117 925 5100

* We were given a complimentary stay in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

7 Easy Ways To Improve Your Photography in 2019

We live in a very visual age, and many of us love recording our memories. With the advent of digital cameras, smartphones and social media, it is now easier than ever before to take photos and also share them with our friends at a click of a button. These photos, however, can still be out of focus or badly framed, so here are 7 easy ways to improve your photography in 2019.

1. Equipment

Technology has come on so far that even the most basic smartphone and simple compact cameras can take decent photos. However, if you are looking to buy a more advanced camera I would always say by the best you can afford.  

If you do want to buy a camera look at the newest (professional) full frame mirrorless cameras. Getting rid of the mirrors traditionally placed inside high-end cameras get the lens closer to the sensor and pave the way to several innovations, making the camera lighter, and more compact. Another alternative is a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses. There are many options so do your research and check out non-biased reviews on a consumer site such as Which. 

2. Practice

Whether you have a state of the art camera or your smartphone the important thing is to practice. Take your smartphone or camera everywhere and practice. Only practice will help you improve your photography skills.

Practice in different lighting conditions, at different times of days with different subjects. Once you have got the basics, take your camera off the auto setting and try out all the different settings. Check out natural lighting for day time photography and look into how to take photos indoors and in low lighting conditions. Some of the best light is at dawn or dusk when the light is softer and less harsh - often called the 'golden hour'.

3. Subject

Take photos of interesting subjects, perhaps a person with an interesting or strange look, a subject that looks out of place in their surroundings, a building that is unique or quirky. Candid photos of people unposed look more natural, perhaps deep in conversation, be discreet when taking photos yet don't forget to ask permission.

A subject that will pique the interest of your viewer will make your photos much more interesting. 

4. Composition

The 'rule of thirds' is one of the most basic skills a photographer can learn. If you think of a photo divided up into a grid and then place your subject at an intersection it can add interest to your photo as a person's eye goes naturally to one of the thirds in an image. I like this photo that I took in Doha above as your eye is drawn to the top right third of the photo. 

Try a different angle as most photos come from the same head on an angle so try a different perspective or a different angle. Get on the floor if you can taking a photo of a young child for example, or get up on a chair and look down on your subject. Different angles will add interest.

Look at shape, form, texture, pattern and colour to make the photo stand out. Maybe your subject is reflected in a river or water, or the pattern on a building design is unique. Exclude clutter and be sure the observer knows what the subject is.

5. Stability

No one wants shaky photos that will be blurred so be sure to have a steady hand when taking that perfect shot. A tripod is a great addition to your camera kit, and you can even get a tripod for a phone. This will help you in low lighting conditions to produce a sharp photo. Tripods don't have to be huge either, many are lightweight, and they will all fold up so you can carry them.

You can always steady your arm on a table if a tripod isn't available. 

6. Edit

If all else fails you can always improve your photo with a good editing package. I use Picmonkey online which I pay a small amount for every month. Adobe Photoshop is an excellent software package when you want a bigger array of editing tools. There are also a number of apps available to edit photos such as Snapseed. 

7. Support

If you find that you are not improving and everything isn't working, don't forget that YouTube is your friend. There are many online photo tutorials out there but seeing how exactly to take a great photo in a YouTube tutorial is a brilliant way of leaning.

Another excellent way of learning is to join a photography club or course. These can be online or in real life and they can offer support and camaraderie as well as be a great way of improving your skills.

So here are 7 easy ways to improve your photography in 2019. Do you have any tips on how to improve your photos, have any of these tips helped you?

* AD


Tuesday, 19 March 2019

The Power Of A Great Pair Of Earrings

Fashion is fabulous! If you’re a fashionista, when it comes to getting dressed you might focus solely on your outfit. If you’re a true trendsetter, you’ll know that no matter how iconic your outfit might look, it’s never truly complete without the right accessories. It could range from your necklace to your bracelet, but today, we’re talking about earrings. 

You might find it hard to believe, but a pair of earrings can both enhance your look and give you a completely different look. While pearls and studs are great, they exude a simplicity we’re just not going for at the moment. We’re trying to add some edginess with a touch of chic! Here’s how a pair of earrings can make you stand out.

Statement Pieces

Put your hair up and let your earrings hang! One popular trend among earrings is the statement piece. If you’re looking for your earrings to speak for you, these are the style to go for. In order for them to add spice to your look and bring it to life, go for an up-do or keep your hair away from your face. This will allow them to do the talking for you and nothing says more than Indian inspired earrings. Statement pieces like the ones featured on Red Dot Jewels are just the type to get you noticed. While tassel earrings are definitely trending, even their studs have a touch of spice you won’t get from a regular pair.

Classic Hoops

Another style of earrings that can both add spice and transform your look is hoops. If you’re someone who frequents studs, even a small pair of hoops can make you look like a completely different person, but we say - the bigger the better! Street style has always played a big role in fashion and for the perfect look, a pair of hoops will definitely help you achieve it. In addition to the spice, it’ll give you a hip and trendy vibe.

Multiple Earrings/Piercings

You might hear the phrase “less is more” often, but when you’re dealing with earrings, more can be more! One of fashion’s favourite trends right now is multiple earrings on one ear. If you listen to someone talking about their piercings, you might hear types like industrial, helix, conch, tragus, and more. Currently, you’ll find that the more piercings the better! A ton of extra piercings and earrings is one sure-fire way to add spice and edge to your look.

Accessories are a fun way to change up your look and while a necklace and bracelet might be fun accent pieces, they won’t enhance your look as much as a pair of earrings would. The right pair of earrings can easily transform an outfit. While you might choose a pair of studs for simplicity and elegance, if you’re hoping to spice up your look, you now have what the knowledge to get it!

*Collaborative post

Monday, 18 March 2019

Festival Packing Tips For A First Timer

We are quickly heading into the festival season and there will be many people considering heading to one of the many festivals on this summer who have never been to one before. But what can you expect if you are a festival first timer?

Here are some top tips to make your first festival experience amazing.

Pack What You Need

It can be tempting to pack far too much or far too little. What you really need to do is ensure you have got enough clothes to last you the amount of time that you are there and also a spare change of clothes. The weather can change at any moment and festivals can get rather muddy - you definitely want a change of clothes ready if you end up going face first into a load of brown mud! It's also a good idea to pack wet wipes and hand sanitizer as festivals campsites aren't the cleanest places, oh and don't forget suncream, waterproofs, wellies and an umbrella if you are going to a festival in the UK to cope with all weather eventualities. 

You Can Enjoy Some Luxury

Whilst a lot of people love the festival experience of chilling out in a tent, getting muddy, getting drunk and enjoying some good music, others do still like a bit of luxury in their life. If that is you, fear not, there are festivals out there that have a luxurious edge, such as Coachella.

There are often pop-ups and installations at festivals - luxury brands have tapped into the idea that they can attract young people to their brands by attending festivals and meeting them on their home turf. Depending on the festival too, there may be tents with different things offered like hair, massages etc. There is even a Bollinger stand at The Hay Festival. You can certainly still get a sense of luxury if you want it.  To have the luxury on a budget you could even make a hamper of treats to take with you with your favourite snacks, drinks and home comforts.

Where Shall I Stay?

This is the big question of all. Some people bring along their own tents - big or small. Large tents are great as there is often plenty of space. There’s also the option of booking accommodation at the festival itself so you don’t have to worry about bringing along a tent. There are companies that not only offer accommodation in huts, tents or yurts but also provide an extra special experience too - offering transport to and from the camp, a fabulous bar and even delicious breakfasts in the morning. It is totally up to you what you decide to do - it is your experience after all.

Be Prepared

We’ve talked about what you need to pack clothes wise but it is always important to make sure you are prepared when it comes to other items too. Taking a phone, a phone charger, money and cards may seem obvious but it is amazing how many people run out of money or forget their chargers and can’t charge their phones over the course of a festival. You should also ensure you’ve got any medication you may need, numbers for your emergency contact available and an alternative money option should you run out of money or lose the money you do have. You don’t want to be in a position where you are stuck at a festival with no money and no way to contact anyone - being prepared is key.

With so many festivals coming up, I hope these tips have helped you. Have you got any festival in particular that you would like to attend this year?

*Collaborative post
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