Style Me Smart From Work To Play

Good morning What Now readers and welcome back to the blog.

I thought this Thursday I would give you the lowdown on some style and fashion tips that I was lucky enough to learn and experience recently plus share some autumn and winter styling and layering ideas that will keep you smart and warm as well as take you seamlessly from office to evening in no time. All with very little effort yet remaining incredibly chic!

Recently I was extremely lucky to be invited along to the Zadig & Voltaire concept store on Marylebone High Street in London to take at look at their current collection, try out some outfit ideas and gain inspiration and further understanding of the Zadig brand.

The label Zadig & Voltaire was created in 1997 by designer Thierry Giller, the son of Lacoste founders André Gillier and René Lacoste. Primarily concentrating on cashmere clothing at first the brand has now developed to be one of the foremost go to styles when looking to effortlessly create that 'casual chic' look that so many of us try to emulate.

Originating in France the label has successfully branched worldwide with an impressive 200 stores, 17 of which can be found in London alone. I visited the Marylebone store and was very lucky to have a fantastic afternoon trying out their beautiful clothes and accessories with their incredibly knowledgeable and passionate Store Manager and one of the brands Stylists, working our way through a multitude of styles and chic cuts and fabrics.

Now I'm going to admit that upon entering the store, although very warmly greeted by a wonderfully friendly team, I was a little nervous about whether this brand would work for me. Being a committed high street shopper this was perhaps the kind of store that I'd normally like to look at but might not actually ever enter. Beautifully organised racks holding delightful looking clothes that I wasn't entirely sure I would be able to make work for me personally. Yet upon entering the changing room I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed learning the intricacies of layering items I would probably never dream of layering and getting up close and personal with some of the softest and loveliest feeling clothes imaginable!

The brand plays with the unusual mix of smart and chic style and beautiful textures alongside a kind of edgier 'rock n roll' twist. It's this unusual mix that makes you stand out when putting the pieces together and creating a look. Pair a smart blazer with a sequin dress, edgy zipped up boots and throw a cashmere poncho style sweater over the top to act as both a jacket, a scarf, a piece to keep you warm and ultimately a statement in dressing with confidence. Not something I would ever dream of putting together but a lesson in experimenting with your style because you know what, it works!

 

Being in that changing room and putting together clothes that I might not normally pick up on a standard days shopping reminded me of my time studying theatre many years ago. At the time our drama teacher very wisely prompted us to go out that weekend and push ourselves to pick up and try on clothes that we would never normally dream of trying. For example if you were someone who always wore black go mad on the colour. If you would never be caught dead in a skirt then grab all of the skirts, dresses in all sorts of styles and lengths that you could find. Of course you could take this from the simple to the extreme but it was all about experimenting and mixing things up. Finding that different clothes and styles could make you move, act and feel like a different person - obviously very valuable for those studying character in a classroom - but also an immensely interesting task for everyone as far as I'm concerned.

That weekend my flatmate and I went out and did just that. Purposefully picking out items that we would never ever normally try. Going in to shops we would never usually go into. Matching pieces that we just wouldn't expect to go together. Doing so really gave us a new found confidence in ourselves and our personal style. Love 'em or hate 'em clothing can really define how you feel. Of course I'm not saying that the purely external is what finding yourself is all about. Yet a lesson in pushing out of your comfort zone is always an extremely useful one and starting with something simple such as the clothes you wear can really have a huge effect.

This experience kind of put me in mind of how I felt all those years ago at college. I would never go into a store and pick out a sequin dress, a cashmere sweater, a silk scarf with skulls on it and a pair of green zipped up boots and try and fashion any sort of wearable outfit for myself but I'm really glad that the lovely team at Zadig made me do so. It reminded me just how much you can express yourself through what you wear and just how great unexpected combinations can be.

The clothing and accessories are incredibly beautiful, made from the kinds of fabrics that you just can't stop stroking because they are so soft. Plus all the while being made for comfort. Clothes that you can wear to the office, out for dinner or to relax in at home. Interchangeable and useful, smart but with edgy little details such as their signature skull emblem or the burning butterfly motif. Under the lapel of a simple grey coat you may just find a little hint of unexpected leather or animal print. Something that just pushes the style that little bit further and makes it all the more exciting.

Everything is designed with function and comfort in mind. The bags were one of my favourite accessories, looking stylish but with plenty of room for all of your essentials. With a long strap for the day that can be removed for the evening and with button on pouches that can be separated giving you both a bag and a clutch in one. Perfect!

Talking of functionality, readers from the UK will know the terrors associated with a British winter where you want to look stylish and need to be smart for work but need to be warm and dry without having to bulk up like the Michelin Man. We all know that feeling, bundling up for the cold outside only to get on the tube and sweat ourselves silly. The over air conditioned office vs the one where they've turned up the heating far too high expecting it to be a much colder day than it turns out to be. Well this is where the super functional layering comes in handy, not only that but each layer is as chic and presentable as the next so it's not like you have to keep your jumper on and suffer because you've got an unsightly top underneath that's not suitable for the boardroom. Effortless usability!

Now of course as with all designer brands with unique and luxury items the products of course come with a matching price tag. Yet if I was going to invest in some pieces that would truly last me a lifetime both in quality and style then a brand like Zadig & Voltaire would certainly be a great option. The calibre of the fabrics and the way they have been cut and put together, the extremely wearable aspect and I do believe timeless designs would certainly make this a brand worth committing to.

I was very lucky to be gifted a beautiful candle from the collection by the Zadig team on my visit. If your pocket won't currently stretch quite as far as the beautiful clothing but you'd love to get a beginners taste of the brand and are a true candle lover, or if perhaps you're looking for a unique gift for a loved one this Christmas, then I recommend trying these out. I chose the beautiful Bleu Canard* candle which is not currently on the website from what I can see, but if you're near a store pop in and take a look. It smells truly divine, I don't think I've previously come across a scented candle with such a lovely and lasting scent as this. It's currently on my desk making me feel all lovely and happy as I write everyday. Take a look at the selection they currently have online here. Oh and the packaging is pretty special too!

So I hope that this insight into a brand that perhaps you may not have come across, I know I hadn't before now, comes in useful. If you're looking to treat yourself to some new items for the office and are after a look that just has that little extra something then Zadig & Voltaire might very well be the style for you. Take a peek and see what strikes your fancy.

Have a wonderful day all , stay warm, comfortable and stylish! See you again very soon.