Category: Clothes

Sewing Kit Essentials

Sewing kit, photo by PH Morton

Sewing kit, photo by PH Morton

Sewing kit, photo by PH Morton

Sewing kit, photo by PH Morton

We have forgotten the art of mending through sewing.  If it is ripped, we throw.  If the seams had unravelled, we go to a professional tailor.  But why?  Sewing is the easiest to do.

Many shops providing mending and alterations are springing up left right and centre; they have cornered the market, knowing people have no desire to mend their own clothes if it can be helped. Aware of this, tailorshops sometimes charge a small fortune for their services.

Surely basic sewing was part of Home Economics (HE) lessons at school?  I used to be rather indifferent to the lessons but I found out now how relevant it is to go about your everyday life, no matter what your station in life. 🙂

It is therefore convenient and money efficient to have a sewing kit at hand, so that you can make a favourite dress, skirt or trousers last that much longer.  Darn minor wear and tear.  You could also start a new sewing project.  It could be a start of small cottage industry 😉

What should be in the sewing kit?

Sewing Kit Essentials:

Set of needles in various sizes, i.e. thickness

A pair of sharp scissors

Threads of various colours, especially white, black, beige and brown

A needle threader, even if the eyes are still sharp, a needle threader is still very useful.

A thimble – some materials are thick and hard to sew.  They can be a pain to your digits.  This is when a  thimble come into their own.

Dressmaker’s pin.  They are so useful, especially when you need to shorten a skirt, dress or a pair of jeans or trousers.

A tape measure.

Button collections


The Monochrome


@ Fenwicks, Brent Cross Photo by JMorton

The Monochrome

It is almost the party season, girls and … boys.   Still time to plan the outfits that would razzle and dazzle your way into fun, fun, fun party mood.

Choosing monochrome is always a winner.  A simple black and white dress is fun as well as elegant change from the LBD (little black dress), which is de rigueur to all occasions.

The monochrome will suit all, provided you choose a pattern that would suit your body best.  Though there are only two colours to a monochrome, it still can get to look rather ‘busy’ if the design is too bold.

Choose wisely and you will be the belle of the ball.

Iconic Dresses & Costume

There have been plenty of instances in movies and life in Hollywood when the dresses and costumes of the stars are as famous as they are.

Below are just a few of these iconic dresses that have stood the test of time and changes in taste.

Mind you not all the clothes are really that good-looking but they represent something that can’t be easily forgotten but has become indelible in our memories.  From the Versace safety pin dress worn by Liz Hurley, to Bjork’s weird dead swan dress to Elvis the pelvis’s white jumpsuit.

If you have anything to add to our choices, please feel free to advise us and we will be glad to add them here. Also we would appreciate your comments.

Iconic Dresses & Costume

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Truly Universal Fashion – The Spacesuit

When we think of space and space age, we always assume that clothing will be of the tin-foil variety with bizarre geometrical patterns.

Well to start with our own Earth Spacemen did wear the galaxy ball look but over the years it changed to its more comfortable and less bulky look.

The space suits, also known as EMUs or Extra-vehicular Mobility Units, protect astronauts when they go outside their spacecraft.

Anatomy of the space suit:

* The outer layers protect against radiation from the Sun and other space particles and dust

* The inner side of the space suit is blown up like a balloon to press against the body  which in effect  acts as a space bubble wrap.  The function of this is to ensure that the blood would not boil. 🙁 eck

* The inner lining of the space suit encapsulates tubings which contain water, that will cool down or warm up the body during space walk.

* The suit also includes mini apparatus which provide drinks or to collect urine.

* The helmet protect against radiation as well as micrometeoroids (meteor dusts); inside the helmet, oxygen is circulated to prevent the helmet’s clear visor from misting.

* The gloves have silicone-rubber fingertips which allow for a sense of touch.

* The backpack contains up to 7 hours of pure oxygen for the astronaut to breathe.  It also functions as a machine to get rid of the carbon dioxide that the astronaut exhale.

As of year 2000, a space suit would cost about $11 million.

Behind the Fashion: What Astronauts Wore in Space

evolution-of-space-suits-2013-bean_70249_600x450Bean’s Space Suit
Photograph by Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

When astronaut Alan Bean went to space on the 1973 Skylab 3 mission, he wore the suit pictured here. It was designed with a spiral zipper, to allow astronauts to sit in the lunar rover without having their suits balloon out.

“The previous edition had a zipper which provided no mobility in the hips,” said Lewis. “To circumvent, engineers designed this suit with a spiral zipper, which starts at the right corner of the neck ring and goes around the side to build in the localization of air pressure in the hip.”

You may be wondering why the suit—like most space suits—is bright white. There’s a reason for that too. The color was designed with its reflectivity in mind—to help astronauts deflect solar radiation, swings in temperature, and even tiny particulates.

“It was designed to dissipate energy laterally,” said Lewis. “There are actually many layers which deflect particles and slow them down before they can puncture the pressure layer.”

All of the astronauts in the Apollo program were provided with repair kits in case of a tear, but all of them say the repair kits were never used, said Lewis. The astronauts wore the suits both outside the spacecraft and during entry and re-entry—which created a tricky balancing act for engineers trying to make safe and comfortable gear.

“On the Apollo missions, you had to fit the suits inside the spacecraft but still make them vigorous enough to work outside on the lunar surfaces,” said Lewis. “The Apollo spacecraft looks relatively small when you have to protect shoulders and give mobility so that three healthy-sized men can sit in it abreast.”


evolution-of-space-suits-2013-ex-1a_70250_600x450 No Zippers for Launch
Photograph by Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

Perhaps the most interesting part of the experimental EXI-A space suit is its lack of zippers. The earliest space suits had zippers, but now joints are made of hard seals.

“Zippers are unreliable,” said Lewis. “Even the best ones are only okay for several pressurizations.”

Suits today are designed to last much longer, she said. And every return from space means a deep cleaning and inspection, with new seals and O-rings applied.

The result is a suit that is air-tight, for the protection of the astronaut. That also means the suit can get kind of hot.

“It’s like being in a plastic bag,” said Lewis. “Of course, there are comfort layers—usually long johns—and the astronauts are also given diapers.”

This wasn’t always the case. When Alan Shepard became the first American in space during the Mercury mission, he wasn’t given a diaper because the entire mission was supposed to last 15 minutes.

That was before a problem with the launch pad required Shepard to sit in his shuttle for six hours before launch. And sure enough, nature called. There were two options, he was told. Abort the launch or … urinate in his suit.

As Lewis puts it: “They didn’t have any amenities for Alan Shepard, but they learned quickly.”


evolution-of-space-suits-2013-mark-v_70251_600x450Suited for Space
Photograph by Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

Above, a photograph of the prototype Mark V space suit, which was designed in the early 1960s to help astronauts achieve a fuller range of motion while performing delicate tasks in the vacuum of space.

This photograph, one of several on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., helps paint a fuller portrait of what astronauts wore to survive entry and spacewalks.

The photographs are part of a larger exhibit called “Suited for Space,” which traces the evolution of space suits over the past 60 years through photos, x-rays, and artifacts. (Related: “Photos: Space Suit Evolution Since First NASA Flight.”)

Cathleen Lewis, a historian and curator of international space programs at the museum, explained that the asymmetrical shoulders on the Mark V space suit were designed as a test.

“The right arm is the traditional shoulder design,” she said. “But on the left arm, you can see bellows, which would allow the astronauts to localize air displacement and restrain the pressurization of outer space.”

In other words, if an astronaut lifted his or her arm in space without these specialized joints, the arm of the suit would balloon up—making it impossible to do work.

The traveling exhibit will remain in Washington, D.C., through December 1, when it will continue to stops in Tampa, Philadelphia, and Seattle.


evolution-of-space-suits-2013-mercury-7_70252_600x450Alan Shepard’s Space Suit
Photograph by Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

Looking at astronaut Alan Shepard’s suit—which he wore in space—it’s clear just how complex a space suit really is.

“There were communication wires and wires throughout the chest that would send measurements like an astronaut’s heart rate back down to Earth,” said Lewis. “You can see the constraints in the hips and the knees.” (Related: “What’s Inside a Space Suit? X-Rays Reveal All.”)

Pointing lower, she said, “The boots are thick and heavy, to absorb radiation on the bottom of the soles.”

A suit like Shepard’s weighed about 56 pounds (25 kilograms), sans life-support gear and helmet. Add those components and the weight almost triples, to 182 pounds (82 kilograms).

On Earth, the astronauts had technicians to help them into the suits. But during the later Apollo missions, the astronauts had to help each other.

“After landing on the moon during Apollo 11, the astronauts prepped for three hours,” said Lewis. “They were dressing and then double- and triple-checking along their checklists, to make sure everything was in place.”

Published August 9, 2013

—Melody Kramer


55,000 Dresses – Marriage Longevity Secret


Husband Collects 55,000 Dresses for His Wife Over 56 Years

 thumbs_photo-3-2 thumbs_img_4044 thumbs_photo-1 thumbs_photo-2thumbs_photo-5-1 thumbs_img_4061
September 9, 2013 2:44 PM
Paul and Margot Brockmann from Los Angeles have been ballroom dancing for more than 50 years. Paul wanted his wife to look special each time throughout the years. He said he and Margot “went ballroom dancing every week, and I wanted her to have a different dress for every dance.”After all the years of racking up the gowns, the Brockmanns now have a collection of more than 55,000 dresses! Paul purchased dresses at estate sales, department stores, and antique shows before, after, and even sometimes during work, which might be why many of the dresses have never been worn — there were just too many! Well, after 56 years of marriage, Paul, now 78, and Margot, now 76, decided it was time to start selling the dresses, mostly because it costs thousands of dollars each month to store the collection. Paul set up a website,, where the Brockmanns’ prized dresses can be purchased. But not all of them are for sale; some of Paul’s favorites are going into a vault.


What a lovely, romantic story.  One thing though, does Margot have any say about selling the dresses?  Once she’s worn one of the dresses, can she wear it again as an everyday  favourite?  Does she have to ask her husband if she can wear the dresses?

It really sounded like the clothes are her husband’s collection.  I am sure I am wrong as Paul and Margot are still married after 56 years! 😉  Hope they are still ballroom dancing!

How Not to Commit Fashion Faux Pas

Peter has drawn my attention to an interesting BBC article regarding no-nos for clothes. Yes folks, the hubby is now a bona fide metrosexual. He looks after his appearance more. He is Hugo Boss, he is DKNY man, he is Armani, he is Paul Smith, he is D&G, he is Versace, he is so designer lately. He was telling me that he will not be seen dead with white socks with an open toed sandals.

Peter has changed, he is now more aware of what he wears, which is really a pleasure for me.

Anyway, as per Peter, the BBC article is really fine reading, very informative. The advice are sound. I do want to know whether it is allowed to wear a green blouse with a blue pair of trousers. Does vertical stripe more slimming than a horizontal stripe? Well I shall leave you to read the article below and find out for yourselves.



How Not to Commit Fashion Faux Pas

Are there really ‘rules’ to what to wear?

By Denise WintermanBBC News Magazine

Details from clothing: a man's tie, vertical stripes, denim, clashing patterns, green and blue clothing

Blue and green should never be seen, or should they? Do the traditional rules of dressing still apply?

The world of high fashion always claims to be about breaking rules. Take a look at the catwalks at London Fashion Week, which starts today.

But when it comes to our everyday choice of clothes there’s always someone piping up about some longstanding rule. The rules have such longevity because most people like having guidance about how to dress, says Andrew Groves, who heads the University of Westminster’s fashion department. “We all like to think we’re individuals but rules give people a certain security when it comes to fashion.”

So are they arbitrary and outdated or do they still apply?

1. Don’t do denim with denim

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake
Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake in 2001

It’s a look that “contravenes all known laws of human decency” says the Guardian’s fashion commentator Hadley Freeman.

She’s not alone in her disgust but despite all the haters double denim has made a comeback on the catwalks this year, even appearing on the cover of Vogue.

That’s exactly where it should stay, says Groves. “Only a young, beautiful, 6ft model can make double denim look vaguely OK. That’s because it’s just not right.”

If you insist on giving it a go, mix things up, say the pundits.

“Wear different washes rather than denims that are too matchy, matchy,” says Poppy Dinsey, founder of outfit sharing site What I Wore Today (WIWT).

But remember, when double denim goes wrong it goes really wrong. See image to the right. Enough said.

2. Men shouldn’t wear white socks

If there is one rule all men should still follow, this is it, say some in the fashion industry. The only outfit white socks don’t ruin is a sports kit, they add.

“Unless you’re exercising there is absolutely no appropriate moment to wear white socks,” says Alex Bilmes, editor of Esquire magazine. “These types of rules exist to make sure fashion innocents don’t make such a bad mistake.” Certain people in the Netherlands seem to think so.

As well as attracting attention because of the colour, white socks are usually made of bulkier material and ribbed because they are mainly for sport. They look cheap and nasty with normal clothes, say fashion experts.

“Don’t even try to wear them ironically, they’re horrific,” says Groves. “Coloured and patterned socks are the big trend.”

3. Legs or cleavage – never both

Julia Roberts at the Toronto Film Festival
Julia Roberts obeys the legs/cleavage rule at the Toronto Film Festival

If there is one rule all women should follow, this is it, say the same fashion experts. “It’s the absolute golden rule,” says celebrity stylist Martine Alexander.

“One or the other, never, ever both. It looks cheap, simple as that. No-one with any sense of style likes to see it all at once,” she says.

The rule is about having one focal point, says Groves. “You don’t want different parts of your outfit competing for attention.”

It’s even emerging as a rule for men, says Alexander. The deep V-neck T-shirt, modelled by the likes of Russell Brand, is becoming increasingly popular and a way for males to show off their chest muscle. “Please don’t wear one with shorts, it’s too much flesh,” she says.

4. Vertical stripes are slimming

Vertical stripes at London Fashion week in 2007

The scientific world, as well as the fashion one, have been trying to work this out for years.

In the 19th Century, Prussian physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz studied the effect of stripes on our visual perception.

Historic rule breakers – US college girls

US college students
  • Went from rule breakers to changing global fashion
  • Made jeans, trousers and shorts acceptable for women

He recommended women wear horizontal stripes to look taller.

A study by perception expert Dr Peter Thompson in 2008 supported this, saying horizontal stripes which go across the body are more slimming.

But this was challenged in 2012 by an amateur scientist taking part in Radio 4’s “So You Want to Be a Scientist?”. Val Watham, whose mentor for the programme was Thompson, did a study that supported the theory vertical stripes are slimming.

The results, documented on her Facebook research diary, suggested vertical stripes make people look taller, while horizontal hoops make them look wide.

“My advice is to wear black,” says Thompson.

Fashion experts say any stripe that is stretched across curves, be it big bosoms or big hips, will make you look fatter.

“The clean lines are pulled out of shape,” says Alexander. “My advice is to approach stripes with caution.”

5. The tip of a tie should always cover the last button of a shirt but never go below your belt

The sartorial rules when it comes to ties, shirts, jackets and buttons are a minefield, say those in men’s fashion.

They’re also set in stone and for good reason – men often need a lot of guidance, says Bilmes. “The rules when it comes to menswear are arcane but they work.”

The tip of a tie covering the last button of a shirt but never going below your belt still absolutely applies to those in the industry.

“Any longer and any shorter and it just looks like a mistake,” says Bilmes.

The primary purpose of buttoning things a certain way is show off good tailoring and lines. But they also serve another purpose.

“The rules are all about sending out a subtle message,” says Groves. “Leaving strategic buttons undone shows the button holes on your suit or shirt are functional and what you’re wearing is good quality.

“With cheaper clothes often buttons are sewn on but don’t actually work.”

6. Never mix patterns

Clashing patterns at London Fashion week in previous years
Clashing patterns at London Fashion week in previous years

Clashing prints might make Coco Chanel spin in her grave but it is one of the hottest looks of the moment, says Dinsey. See Peter Pilotto, Mary Katrantzou, Jonathan Saunders and Givenchy. Mixing fabrics is also big news.

“It’s edgy,” says Alexander. “Matching everything makes you look like you’ve tried too hard. Style should look effortless.”

Again, a bit of caution needs to be applied or you might make people’s eyes go funny.

“While we may remember our mothers or grandmothers espousing these socio-stylistic tenets of fashionable rule keeping, these days, often they are no more meaningful than any other personal preference when it comes to dressing,” says fashion historian Rebecca C Tuite.

7. Straight men should only pierce their left ear

Diego Maradona with an earring in his right ear
Former footballer Diego Maradona

The ear a man pierced was once thought to suggest his sexual orientation, the left meaning he was straight and the right meaning he was gay, say piercers.

Male rule breakers – the Macaronis

A Macaroni
  • Took flamboyant continental styles of the French and Italians to the very extreme
  • Wore towering, elaborate wigs, garishly patterned waistcoats and brightly coloured stockings

It was an urban myth, they add, but it doesn’t matter anyway as men now get every part of both their ears pierced, from the concha to the tragus.

“Ear piercing has gone past being symbolic of anything in this country,” says Brendan Mellor, manager of Holier Than Thou piercing and body modification studio in Manchester.

The favourite part of the ear for men to get pierced is currently the helix, he says. That’s the rim at the top of the ear.

What’s now debated is the age a man should stop wearing an earring, say those in fashion. “Anyone over 50 looks ridiculous, it’s a mid-life crisis earring,” says Bilmes. “Harrison Ford had his ear pierced in his 50s and even he couldn’t make it look good.”

8. Shoes and bags/shoes and belts should always match

They should match, but only if you want to look like a time traveller from a bygone decade, say experts. “This look really smacks of the 1950s when a sleek, matchy-matchy look was all the rage,” says fashion historian and trend forecaster Amber Jane Butchart.

“The Baby boomer, counter-culture generation really rebelled against it and it’s never really made a full recovery, except for some brief occasions in power dressing during the 80s.”

The look is too contrived for 2013, says Groves. “Nowadays being fashionable is all about being individual, quirky and eccentric – the Alexa Chung look.”

Anyway, women’s bags come in all sorts of crazy colours, fabrics and sizes now, you’d be hard pressed to get complementing shoes, he adds.

9. Blue and green should never be seen

L to R: Naeve Campbell, Claire Danes, Ivanka Trump
In blue and green: Neve Campbell, Claire Danes and Ivanka Trump

It’s not the only colour combination traditionally frowned upon, brown and black, navy and black and pink and red are also a no-no if the old rules are to be believed.

Historic rule breaker – Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette
  • Scandalise 18th Century France by ditching the glitz and adopting a more simple style
  • They were so simple the nation thought she was wearing underwear
  • By the 1790s French and British women had adopted the style

Then there is red and green which “should only be seen upon an Irish queen” and “never be seen without a colour in between”, according to traditional sayings.

“Often these rules come from how similar in tone and hue the colours are supposed to be,” says Butchart.

“People generally think there are clashing combinations, like pink and red. I don’t think anyone adheres to them now, blue and green can look great together.”

Navy and black is fast becoming a fashion red-carpet favourite, says Alexander.

“Black and a midnight blue look so opulent together. It’s what I suggest for a lot of my clients when they are picking out a dress for a big event.”

10. Never mix gold and silver jewellery

The fashion jury is out. It offends some. “Dreadful,” says Groves.

Others are more open to it. “It’s down to personal choice,” says Alexander. “I think it can work in a statement necklace but when it comes to fine jewellery I’d stick to one metal.”

Definitely match the metals of earrings and a necklace, says Dinsey.