Bring your home to life with flowers

I have always thought of flowers as natures ornaments. They decorate any space in a way like no other, often overshadowing even the most expensive Ming Vase or Oil Painting. I have had fresh flowers in my home all of my life as my Mother insisted that they always be present no matter the cost;Flowers to both of us are absolutely non negotiable! Fresh flowers can be rather expensive, however you can also buy cheaply and as long as you display them correctly they will still have the desired impact. My Mother always said that fresh flowers bring angels and I think she is right. Flowers bring such harmony and peace to a home that I do believe they have some sort of magical power! Now that Spring is finally upon us there is no better time to introduce floral displays into your home. With the days getting longer your home will be filled with daylight and Sunshine, which always adds to the beauty of a floral display. If you haven’t already, get out and buy some flowers to brighten your home, whether you do so on a budget from the local garage or expensively from a high end Florist, your home is about to bloom!

flower 1

flower 2

flower 3

flower 4

Yours,

The Countess x

The Countess..A day in the life of..reprised

As I have received a few emails asking about my life, I have decided to reprise the article I wrote last month..enjoy!

6:00 A.M. I have always been an early riser and actually enjoy waking early to make the most of the day. As a child I went to Boarding School so I am more than used to waking early! By 6:15 I am up and ready, as is the Earl. We both eat a banana and play tennis for an hour. We have been doing this for the last two years at his suggestion and I have to admit it is the perfect way to wake up and prepare for the day ahead. 

7:00 A.M. After Tennis, we head back to the house and I take a quick shower. Whilst my hair is still wet I dress and begin my beauty regime. (To learn more click here)

7:30 A.M. As ridiculous as this may seem, at 7:30 every morning except Sunday, I have my hair stylist come and Blow Dry my hair. Many people find it excessive but to me it is a necessity as my hair is thick and I would only get hot and bothered trying to do my own hair. My style is very simple, I keep my hair naturally brunette and normally wear it down with lots of volume. I normally wear pearl earrings so tuck my hair behind my ears and my parting down the middle. 

8:00 A.M. Now that I am ready for the day I join the Earl in the Morning Room where we have a light breakfast and read the newspapers. I normally have Muesli with a slice of brown toast, green tea and fresh juice. I like to keep myself informed on current affairs and it is also a good way for me to later engage in conversation and discussion when attending Dinners and formal events.

8:30 A.M. After Breakfast it is time to walk the public areas of the house with the house managers. We do this every Morning to ensure that the house is at it’s full potential for public viewing. For special occasions such as Christmas, we discuss how we are going to decorate and arrange the house. We also rearrange the house regularly to keep the experience exciting for our visitors. 

9:30 A.M. Now that we have walked the house, the house managers and I hold a short meeting in the boardroom to discuss our ideas and concerns with the Earl. The House and Gardens open to the public at 10:00 A.M so the team prepare for the day ahead. 

10:15 A.M. Today is Monday and on this day every week, we have a team of Florists who refresh the flowers in the house. I have always adored flowers and think they really make a wonderful difference to the harmony of a home. I prefer white flowers and in particular, roses. The Florists use flowers that have grown on the Estate and from other suppliers. For special occasions such as Valentines day they will produce special displays in the main house.  On Thursday we are holding a private dinner so they will return to refresh the display in the Dining Room, Drawing Rooms and Lavatories.

11:30 A.M. Today the Earl and I are being interviewed for a lifestyle magazine who want to discuss the house including the collection and how it is managed. This does not happen very often and I am rather nervous! It is a very pleasant and informal interview and they will be returning at a later stage where they will conduct a photo shoot. 

1:00 P.M. After a busy Morning, we sit down and enjoy Lunch. I normally have a light lunch so that I still have an appetite for supper, however my Parents and Sister are visiting today so we are going to have afternoon tea. They stay for most of the afternoon and we have a delightful time in their company!

4:00 P.M At this time the Earl and I walk our dogs. We have three West Highland Terriers whom I adore, they are my children for now. We walk them around the Estate as this is a good opportunity to talk to visitors and enjoy the countryside. Although I do enjoy the City, I have to say we are so lucky to have such wonderful Countryside in Britain; The views are exceptionally stunning.

7:00 P.M. The Earl and I usually have supper at this time, however as we have indulged in a hefty Afternoon Tea, we are not going to eat much today. After supper we retire to our Sitting room where we relax by reading, surfing the internet or watching television. I enjoy reading Vogue magazine which usually results in me shopping online! This is also the time that I have now began to blog for Countess Undercover.

9:00 P.M. I like to take a bath every evening around this time as I am usually exhausted by now. I ensure that my en-suite is a heavenly environment by lighting candles. My favourite are Jo Malone and in particular I adore her Nectarine Blossom & Honey Candle and bath oil. The aroma is exceptionally exquisite and it is the time of the day where I am most indulgent. I usually spend an hour bathing until I am totally relaxed. 

10:30 P.M. The Earl and I retire to our bedroom suite, where we continue to relax. When designing this room I wanted to create a separate lounge area with luxuriant furnishings so that we could relax before sleeping in private. I also use this time to choose ensembles for the next day. I find that if you do this, you are going to dress with more care rather rushing in the morning. 

11:45 P.M. I normally sleep between 11 and 12 so that I can get a good rest. After a long day I cannot wait to get into bed and enjoy total comfort and relaxation. We have a four poster bed and there is nothing more cosy or comforting than drawing the curtains around the bed and falling into a beautiful deep sleep!

Yours,

The Countess x

 

The Countess in Dubai…Part Three

As I look outside, the splendiferous view of the English Countryside greets me with a familiar view. Sadly my trip to Dubai has ended and I am back home in England once again. Dubai is an incredible City and a place that will always be in my heart, so to be able to come home and still feel happy is a good sign and one that I am truly grateful for.

The last part of my trip was focused on attending the Wedding of a dear friend. Whilst many people loathe Weddings, I have to admit that I love them and cannot see why anyone would not. This is a day that two people are committing their lives to one another in the name of Love. It is a day full of celebration and happiness and a time where everyone in attendance can be thankful for their loved ones. I know when I attend a Wedding I always feel a sense of gratitude for being able to share my life and love with my husband, the Earl.

This Wedding was one of the most fabulous Weddings I have ever had the pleasure of attending. The success of a Wedding is largely down to impeccable organisation and this Wedding ran exceptionally smoothly. It is important that throughout the day all guests are kept entertained and never left to stand around. I have been to many Weddings where there have been long delays between each stage. For example, I have attended Weddings where guests have been left to entertain themselves whilst the Bride and Groom spend hours having photographs taken. When planning my own Wedding, this was something I made very clear was not to happen. I wanted to ensure that guests were entertained from the very first moment of arriving to my reception. I did hire a reputable event planner to assist me with this and I would highly recommend any future bride to do so also. On your Wedding Day you will be far too busy to worry about logistics, instead you should be allowed to enjoy your day and pay someone else to do this professionally.

The Bride of this Wedding had obviously considered the importance of keeping guests entertained as there was not a time throughout the day that we had the opportunity to be bored. Whilst the Bride and Groom were having photographs taken, guests were seated in a magnificent room where a small ballet production was shown. This was a fantastic way to entertain guests rather than leaving them to stand around without a seat. Once the ballet had ended we were immediately seated for Dinner. As I mentioned earlier, organisation is key and this is why this Wedding was so successful.

The Wedding was the perfect end to my Dubai trip, although I have to admit I am now left feeling somewhat exhausted! Dubai is not a place to visit if you want to relax. Yes the weather is perfect but there is so much to do and experience, one would waste time worshipping the Sun all day. For me, I am now glad to be back to normality and cannot wait for tomorrow when I shall walk my Dogs amongst England’s green and pleasant land.

Yours,

The Countess x

The Countess in Dubai…Part One

As I speak to you now, I am sitting aboard the deck of a pristine white yacht eating breakfast whilst the Sun brightly shines creating a sparkling flicker on the surrounding Sea. I am once again in Dubai, perhaps one of my favourite destinations, especially at this time of year when the British weather leaves little to be desired; Unfortunately, I am only visiting for four days, after which I shall be returning to good old Blighty. I am here, with the Earl, to attend a Wedding of a close friend, which is taking place on Monday. Said friend has been extremely hospitable and is the reason why we are residing on a Yacht instead of the usual, Royal Mirage Hotel, which is by no means roughing it!

We arrived in the City early this morning after a long albeit pleasant flight. I must admit that I am not the biggest fan of air travel, I have flown many times, in fact last year the Earl and I flew forty eight times but still, every time we experienced even slight turbulence I was convinced we were going to die! I do manage to relax slightly after cruising for four hours or so, but I cannot tell you the relief one feels when the aircraft has safely landed and my Jimmy Choo’s are treading concrete once again.

For this short trip it is ridiculous how much luggage one has had to bring, however everything I have brought is completely necessary. We are attending many dinners and meetings during the trip not to mention the outfits required for the Wedding day. As we are staying on a Yacht I have also had to bring a rather large entourage including hair stylist, cook, house maid(s), cleaners, dressing assistant, and a driver. It may seem excessive to most but without these important people, trips like this would not be so smooth.

After breakfast the Earl is to play golf with the groom party whilst I shall be attending an Afternoon Tea at the Brides private residence in Emirates Hills. Emirates Hills is Dubai’s version of Beverly Hills, except perhaps not as fabulous. This is because Emirates Hills is still relatively new and needs time for the surrounding foliage and landscape to bloom. However it is still an incredibly serene, exclusive location and the Villas are rather spectacular. It is not a place I would like to live as the villas are quite close together; In Dubai though, this is all you can expect. Only his Highness the Sheikh has a residency with no neighbours.

This evening the Earl and I will have dinner together. This is the only time during the entire trip that we will have the opportunity to dine alone. We were considering eating at the atmosphere restaurant in the Burj Khalifa but eventually decided that we would eat on the yacht which will be more private and intimate. I truly believe in the importance of making the effort of spending quality time with your significant other. It is a time where you can talk about any issues you may have or just to enjoy each other one on one. Communication is after all the key to any successful relationship.

Join me again tomorrow where I will be sharing with you part two of our trip.

Dubai Marina where we are residing

Dubai Marina where we are residing, picture taken with my iPhone

Yours,

The Countess x

My Guide to Elegance..Part Four – Dressing for every Occasion

One of the biggest sartorial faux pas is not dressing correctly for the occasion. Overdressing will make you stand out for all the wrong reasons and underdressing will make you seem as if you have not bothered to make the effort at all; It will also make you feel inferior. Dressing just correctly will show that you have bothered to really think about your outfit choice (something a lady will always do) and are enthusiastic about whatever you may be doing. There is a fine line between knowing what looks good and knowing when it is appropriate. For example, you may have the know how to buy a stunning white dress but wearing it to a  wedding would be extremely bad taste. 

 

For Business

 When dressing for business, sophistication and professionalism is key. You do not want to be showing too much flesh, however it is important to still look feminine. Finding classic, tailored pieces is a good step in the right direction. Shift dresses, smart jackets, pencil skirts and trouser suits are all key items that will make you look professional and sophisticated. 

 Your business and position is also a thing to consider. I once knew the General Manager of a luxury hotel in Dubai who had suits in bright colours tailored for her. Because of her high position, this really worked well as she was noticeable to all and it showed the hierarchical difference between her and the rest of the team. 

 Try to keep hemlines on or below the knee and if you go higher, I would suggest wearing tights.  Always dress in smart clothing for the office or business; I have seen many people dressed casually in their office environment and I think this is very bad etiquette. You are not going to send the right messages dressed in jeans, flip flops and a lumpy sweater. 

 Lastly I would always try to wear heals if possible. The height is of importance, heels that are too high will look unprofessional.

busi 

For Weddings

 It is surprising how many people do not know the unspoken etiquette of Wedding dressing. As a guest at a Wedding you should look formal and elegant, it is not a time to wear those new designer jeans you splashed out on. On the other hand, it is also not the time to be centre of attention dressed to the nines. The day should be all about the Bride and it is common courtesy to keep this in mind when planning your ensemble.   

 As religion plays a part in most Wedding days it is necessary to think about whether your outfit will be suitable for a religious building. Hemlines should be on or below the knee and showing too much cleavage is of extreme bad taste. Even if you are not attending a religious Wedding, it would not be ladylike to bare too much flesh.

 Colour is another important aspect when deciding what you will wear. As a Wedding is a happy occasion, you should choose an outfit that is colourful but not shocking. I would advise sticking to pastels such as pinks, greens, yellows and blues which will add colour in the best possible way. Black should really be avoided but if you insist on wearing it then you will need to ensure that you accessorize well so that you do not look like you are attending a Funeral.  A black outfit with embellishment is also acceptable. White should be avoided at all costs.  

 It is now largely the view that wearing a hat to a Wedding is not compulsory, but I have to disagree. In 2011, Samantha Cameron (spouse of the Prime Minister, David) was the only guest to attend the Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton who did not wear a hat. I can’t imagine how much she regretted this mistake! The truth is, hats and Weddings go hand in hand (or hat on head) and a lady should always wear one. Take advantage of the rare occasion and invest in a beautiful hat. It will add a wonderful glamour to your outfit and make you look sophisticated and well mannered.  It may be a good idea to buy your hat before your outfit as you will then be able to shop to coordinate the two.

wedding

For Funerals

 Funerals are sad occasions and a time when one should show complete respect. There is not much to say about this occasion except always wear black, dress conservatively and always wear a hat.  Also be sure to take a handkerchief and umbrella.

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For Dinner

 A dinner party is usually an intimate occasion between friends or close family. For this reason it is your chance to be more experimental with what you are going to wear. As an elegant lady, it is your style mantra to never look fussy or overdone, but for a dinner party you can experiment a little more. As with everyday life however, you should still hold the image of someone who has put some consideration into their ensemble. 

 The invitation to a dinner party should always hold clues about what one should wear. Buffets, barbecues and al fresco dining always suggest less formal attire whereas a seated dinner will require you to dress more formally.  Another good tip is to take hints from the dress code required of the gentlemen. If they are required to wear jacket and tie, it suggests women will need to wear cocktail attire.

 The location of the dinner is also an important factor; Obviously you should dress more formally for dinner in the exclusive a la carte restaurant than you would for an evening at a friends garden party.

 A useful hint is to always wear a dress to a dinner party. With a dress you will always look just right and make the correct impression. For summer months and day time dinners choose elegant floral and colourful prints. For more formal dinners choose well cut dresses in luxury fabrics such as linen-silk blends, chiffon and lace. 

 Finally, accessorize. For summer and less formal occasions, choose bold statement necklaces, earrings and bracelets. For more formal occasions diamonds and pearls will always be the subject of admiration and conversation.

dinner party

 

For horse racing / Polo

 Equine events are always a great opportunity to show off your elegant and sophisticated style. The Royal Ascot is just one of many horse racing events, however it is a good template of how one should dress when attending the races. In recent years, the organizers of the Royal Ascot have changed the rules of their dress code and I believe they are a good standard for all Women to follow. 

 

  • Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer.
  • Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater.
  • Jackets and pashminas may be worn, but the dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code.
  • Trouser suits are welcome. They should be full length and of matching material and colour.
  • Hats should be worn; a headpiece which has a base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.
  • Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck and spaghetti straps are not permitted.
  • Midriffs must be covered.
  • Fascinators are no longer permitted; neither are headpieces which do not have a base covering a sufficient area of the head (4 inches / 10cm).

I believe that these rules are perfect as it is now almost impossible not to dress elegantly. All that is left to add is to ensure that you choose a good fit, cut, material and colour.  Choosing a well made, structured outfit will always compliment the figure. The ensemble should be made of a more luxurious material such as cotton-silk blend or organza. You can be experimental with colour as the event is supposed to be fun, just make sure your hat matches the outfit. Lastly consider the weather, the last thing you want is to be too hot or cold. 

horse racing

For travel

When traveling it is easy for many to choose comfort over style and abandon all dressing etiquette. For me, I believe that traveling is an occasion when one should always look ones best. The Airport is a busy place occupied with people from all over the World, therefore it is important to consider how you want to represent yourself and your country in such an environment. It is possible to be comfortable whilst maintaining an elegant look, the key is to wear fabrics that are durable and not too tight as you may be sitting for hours at a time. I would also suggest wearing pants or long skirts and dresses as you may want to sleep and the last thing you need is to be worrying about accidentally exposing yourself! Carrying a medium sized tote is a good idea as it will be able to hold all documents and essentials. You may want to freshen up before your arrival so ensure you have cosmetics with you onboard. Try to wear heels, after all you will not be walking too far and the airport is your runway. 

travel

For the beach

When the Sun makes an appearance it is again a time when standards of dressing goes completely out the window. It is seen as an opportunity to wear little as possible; Women wear hot pant style shorts with their midriffs on show to all, some men even walk the streets topless! Just because the sun is shining and the weather is warm, it does not mean that style principles should be abandoned. You would not walk around town in your underwear so there is no reason why you should parade in minuscule clothing on a hot day. On the way to the pool or beach, ensure that you are wearing a sundress or kaftan and don’t remove it until you are ready to sunbathe or take a dip. When you have decided that you are ready to leave, put the sundress/Kaftan back on; You should never walk through a hotel in a bikini. To avoid aging, it may be wise to avoid the beach altogether.

beach

Yours,
The Countess x 

My Guide to Elegance..Part Three – Dressing Know How

Today I teach you how to dress more elegantly and adopt a classic wardrobe. The main focus is body shape as this is vital to dressing well. Knowing what will suit your body will really transform your style.

Fashion is something that now more than ever is changing and evolving at a rapid pace. Go back one hundred years and it is remarkable to reflect on how far we have come sartorially speaking. Looking back, dressing was relatively easy as there were strict rules in place for both Men and Women which no one dared break. It was not until perhaps the 1920’s that fashion, especially for women, began to evolve. Today however, things are much different and because we have so much choice it is very easy to dress badly. Fashion trends change year by year and it can be difficult to keep up! My advice for the elegant lady is to again think timeless. How can we dress ourselves in a way that will still look sophisticated in years to come? Although the latest trend may look good, how long will it last and will we look back and say ‘what was I thinking?’ It is rather difficult to convey in a book exactly how the elegant lady should dress as women all have different body shapes and certain garments suit certain people.  The elegant lady is not one shape or size, she represents all women and it is important to know that whatever the shape of your body, it is possible to look elegant and sophisticated if you are dressing correctly.  An elegant look is the combination of different factors and once you have the know how to pull all of these factors together, it is going to be easy to maintain an elegant look. 

 

 

 

body-shapes-weight-loss-tips

 

 

Determining your body shape

The most important step in dressing well is to flatter the body that you were born with. It is all too easy to read high fashion magazines, see an outfit that looks incredible and go out and purchase the whole ensemble and end up looking dreadful.  Doing this is damaging to your confidence and self esteem so we must learn to avoid such situations. If you can determine your body shape and accept it for all it’s flaws then you are on your way to dressing well forever. Every body shape has it’s beautiful characteristics and it is important to know how to accentuate them by the clothes that you wear. 

 

The Rectangle

 Rectangle shaped celebrities include: Cameron Diaz, Hillary Swank and Natalie Portman

 Rectangle body traits:  The waist, hip and shoulder widths are similar and are usually on the slim side. Slender rectangles have an athletic look about them.

 Your best assets: Your arms and legs. You don’t have to minimize any body features.

 Your fashion goals: Create curves and tastefully show slender legs and arms.

 How to dress the rectangle

If your body is rectangle-shaped then you want to create curves where they don’t necessarily exist.

  • DO wear scoop neck and sweetheart tops to create curves.
  • DO wear long jackets to create a lean look.
  • DO wear tops with collars, ruffles and details to flatter your chest.
  • DO wear a good bra.
  • DO layer to add more dimensions.
  • DO wear dresses with ruching. Cinches on sides are ideal.
  • DO have fun with colorful pants and skirts…feel free to experiment.

 

The Apple

 Apple shaped celebrities include: Drew Barrymore, Eva Longoria and Catherine Zeta Jones

 Apple body traits: Most of your weight accumulates above the hips, which are narrow. Your back, ribs and shoulders are broad, and you may feel wider than other body types.

 Your best asset: Your legs

 Your fashion goals: Elongate the torso, tastefully show your legs and use fashion to create the illusion of a waist.

 How to dress the apple

 If you have an apple-shaped body then you want to elongate your midsection and create the illusion of a smaller waist.

  • DO go for monochromatic looks.
  • DO go for v-neck tops to create the illusion of a longer torso.
  • DO wear a bra that offers good lift and support.
  • DO wear belts at the smallest part of your waist.
  • DO conceal tummy bulge by wearing empire tops and dresses.
  • DO wear wide leg pants to create an even line from the shoulders down.
  • DO wear feminine skirts and dresses to show your legs and draw attention away from your midsection.

 

The Pear – also known as the inverted triangle

 Pear shaped celebrities include: Naomi Campbell, Demi Moore and Renee Zellweger

 Pear body traits: Also known as the inverted triangle, this body shape features a broad chest and wide shoulders which are large in proportion to a narrow waist and hips.

 Your best asset: Your legs

 Your fashion goals: Accentuate your lower body while softening your shoulders and upper body.

 How to dress the pear

 If you have a pear shaped body, then you want to draw attention downward to the narrower parts of your body, such as your waist and hips.

  • DO wear bright colors on bottom.
  • DO wear wide-leg pants.
  • DO wear full skirts.
  • DO wear tops that call attention to your waistline.
  • DO experiment with high-waisted styles.
  • DO look for clothes that create the illusion of a waist.
  • DON’T wear spaghetti strapped tops.
  • DON’T wear boat neckline tops.

 

The Hourglass

 Hourglass shaped celebrities include: Beyonce, Salma Hayek and Scarlett Johansson

 Hourglass body traits: Your shoulders and hips are similar in proportion and set off by a tiny waist.

 Your best assets: Your curves and small waist

 Your fashion goals: To elegantly show off your curves

 

How to dress the hourglass

 If your body is hourglass-shaped then you need to focus on tastefully showing off your curves. Not too baggy, not too tight.

  •  DON’T hide your curves with baggy clothing.
  • DO wear a good bra to support your bust.
  • DO wear fitted, sophisticated dresses.
  • DO wear a belt at the waist to enhance your hourglass shape.
  • DO try wrap dresses.
  • DO go for high-waisted skirts to accentuate your hips.
  • DO pick thin, lightweight styles and fabrics.
  • DO wear skinny or straight leg pants.

 

Now that we have looked at various body shapes and how they can be accentuated, it is time to move on and consider what else contributes to an elegant, timeless look.

 

Quality and cut of clothing

 The quality and cut of the garments we wear can go a long way to creating an elegant look. I always think that it is best to spend a little extra on key pieces as they will be of higher quality, look more flattering, feel more comfortable and last longer. When shopping for more expensive clothing, you are really going to think about what you are buying. Instead of impulse buying like you would in a cheaper store, you are going to consider whether you will wear the item more than once, if it is really your style and if you really need it. If your budget does not allow you to spend extra on clothing, then it is important that you take extra time when shopping to ensure that you are buying the highest quality available. Whilst it is possible to buy cheaply on the high street, you may end up wasting money as the quality of the garment begins to deteriorate.  Another way to get well made clothes that truly compliment the body is to find a skilled tailor.  The bonus of this is that you can source materials yourself to create clothes that are unique. How many times do we picture the perfect dress in our minds but cannot find it anywhere in stores? A good tailor will be able to work their magic to create beautiful items that fit perfectly for you. If you do not know a skilled tailor then I would highly recommend finding one as you will come to realise they are incredibly useful people to know. When shopping in both high end or high street stores, here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure you are buying good quality clothing.

 

When buying patterned pieces ensure that all the lines or pattern match at the seams. If they do not then it will instantly make the garment look less refined. You should be able to see a steady pattern all the way through a garment rather than mismatched lines.

 

Examine the stitching all over to ensure that there are no loose stitches or pieces of string hanging from the seams or the hem. Careless sewing is a key indicator to a poor quality garment.

Check to see if the garment is lined. All high quality items, especially light coloured pieces should have a lining. A good quality garment should be lined in a way that prevents messy draping. Well lined garments also ensure that they don’t reveal more than they are intended to.

Ensure that all zippers and buttons are firmly in place and attached neatly. Zippers should zip up and down with ease and should not be stiff. Also ensure that the colour of the zipper and the buttons match or compliment the rest of the garment, the buttons should be spaced evenly.

The seams and edges should be finished correctly with no bulking or unevenness.

Examine pockets to ensure that they have been sewn securely and are not at risk of coming loose.

 

How does it fit?

 The fit of ones clothing is another important factor to consider in the art of dressing and it is one of the most simple things to master. An elegant lady will never have ill fitting clothes, in fact it will seem as if she has had all of her clothes custom made by her personal couturier. Clothes that do not fit correctly will add bulk and hide the best parts of your body.  As mentioned previously, knowing a good tailor will really help you with this as they will be able to adjust clothing to fit you perfectly. Please see my tips for the perfect fit.

  •  Avoid items that are too clingy. Not only do clingy items look rather tacky, they will also expose any lumps and bumps in the most unflattering way possible. Your clothing should never be too tight
  •  Long sleeved garments should sit just below the wrist bone and should not be too tight or too loose. Anything below the wrist bone will look too long and ill fitting. Anything above the wrist bone (unless it is designed this way) will look too short.
  •  Shoulders of any Jackets, blouses, sweaters or T-shirts should be at the shoulder where it meets your arm. Anything below the shoulder will look ill fitting.
  •  With your arms by your side, check the armpit area of jackets to ensure that there is no excess fabric. It is quite a common problem when ladies buy jackets that are too big. The extra fabric gathers around the breast area creating a very strange illusion.
  •  A buttoned blouse should never be gaping open or pulling at the breast. If it does then you will need to go a size up. 
  •  Always check the length of a jacket. If you are tall then this tends not to matter as much. If you are petite then a jacket that is too long will only make you look shorter.
  •  Ensure that tailored pants are the correct length. Wide length pants should skim the ground when you walk. Cropped pants should sit at the bottom of your calf muscle where your leg comes into your ankle.
  •  Ankle pants should sit at the ankle and not at the top of the shoe.
  •  Ensure that the pants are not too tight in the hip. Not only will this be uncomfortable, it will also make your overall appearance look messy. On the other hand, pants should not be too baggy.
  •  A pencil skirt should fit without wrinkling at the hip. It should also be comfortable when walking and sitting down. If it is not, it is too small.
  •  The hem of your skirt should be straight around the whole circumference. Unless of course it has been designed to have a longer hemline in the back.
  •  The length of your skirt is very important. For all ages I do not recommend a skirt that is above the knee if you are trying to look elegant.
  •  Invest in a well fitting bra. This will drastically alter the whole of your upper shape by supporting the breasts properly and lifting them to create space.

Join me tomorrow where I shall be discussing how to own an elegant wardrobe and elegant dressing for every occasion!

Yours,

The Countess x

 

 

Favourite Country House of The Week..Harewood House

This week I present to you Harewood House. The House, located in Harewood near Leeds, West Yorkshire, England was designed by the architects John Carr and Robert Adam andwas built from 1759 to 1771 for wealthy trader Edwin Lascelles, 1st Baron Harewood.

Still home to the Lascelles family, Harewood House is a member of Treasure Houses of England, a marketing consortium for nine of the foremost historic homes in England. The house itself is a Grade I listed building, there are a number of features in the grounds and courtyard that have been listed as Grade I, II and II*.

The estate has been transferred into a trust ownership structure, and as a result is managed by Harewood House Trust and is open to the public most of the year. Harewood won a Large Visitor Attraction of the Year award in the 2003 national Excellence in England awards and remains a popular Yorkshire tourist attraction. As well as tours of the house and grounds, visitors can enjoy the Himalayan Garden and its stupa, an educational bird garden, an extensive adventure playground and catering facilities, including fine dining. From May 2007 to October 2008 the grounds also contained Yorkshire’s first planetarium, the Yorkshire Planetarium.

Yours,

The Countess x

My Guide to Elegance..Part One – Hair

Over the years, I have gained a plethora of experience and understanding of how to achieve an elegant image. Join me every day as I share with you my knowledge, hints and tips on how to be more elegant. Today I am going to focus on how to exude elegance with your hairstyle. Elegance is not an attribute that can be conveyed to the World simply by the way that one looks, but it is certainly a good place to start. Most people do not realise how much our appearance contributes to the way we are viewed in society.  How many of us use appearance as a decision making tool in our day to day lives? Whom do we hire, whom do we date, who do we aspire to, and what is more important, who do we trust?  We like to think that we are judging people on their merits and not the way that they look; But are we? It is for this reason exactly why I have decided to talk about appearance first. We can alter our appearance quickly and effectively in a very short amount of time and if one chooses, without breaking the bank. Thanks to High Street retailers, it is now possible for everyone to dress well and maintain an elegant image. I also chose to start with appearance as I believe that if one appears elegant then one will feel elegant and people will begin to alter the way in which they view you. Regarding appearance I believe that elegance is achieving a look that is timeless. In other words, although having the latest trendy hair cut may look good today, how will it look tomorrow? Even now we can look at pictures of Grace Kelly for example, and be inspired by her image and style and adopt aspects of it into our lives. If you can achieve a timeless image like this, then you are going to look fabulous forever!

Hair 

 In days gone by, a lady would wear her hair in an elegant up style and it would only be worn down to retire to the bedroom. However, over time this rule has changed and up styles are normally reserved for more formal occasions and it is the norm to have elegant, flowing locks. My recommendation for the modern lady would be to keep it simple when it comes to hair. In fact, simplicity is a key ingredient to elegance as has been proven by time. Hairstyles of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s were all wildly experimental and can now only be looked back on as periods of embarrassing taste (we all remember the perm, do we not?)

 I would advise you stick to your natural colour. This is the colour you were born with and Mother Nature knows what she is doing! Many people feel the need for change but truly, your natural colour was made for you. The only exception to this rule however, is to the lighten the hair as you get older. Blonde is much more effective at covering grey hair and makes the face appear younger. Altering the colour to a different shade of your natural hair is also acceptable and can make the hair look more vibrant. If you insist on changing the colour completely, then please consider the eyebrows (there is nothing more ghastly than a blonde with dark brows). Speaking of brows you should ensure that yours are kept neat and tidy but not plucked away to nothingness! The brow should not be be too thick or thin and shaped to compliment the brow bone. An eyebrow pencil can be used to fill in gaps and achieve a neater look. I would keep in mind ‘less is more’ when using this trick, however.

 “I think that the most important thing a woman can have – next to talent, of course – is her hairdresser”

     Joan Crawford

 The above quote is absolutely true! When you find that hairdresser who makes you feel amazing, there is no better feeling. A good hairdresser will be able to suggest what looks will suit your face shape, what colours will compliment your skin tone and will always be able to create a beautiful, bouncy blow-dry. This is a style that is fantastic as it is so versatile. It will look smart and elegant for business, chic and sophisticated for everyday, and glamorous yet elegant for the evening. With the blow dry you cannot go wrong.

  •  Unless you have a large bank balance and copious amounts of free time, it is quite absurd to expect to be able to visit the salon everyday. Here is an elegant style that can be adopted for everyday life. It is best to do this in the evening before you sleep.
  •  First, thoroughly cleanse and condition your hair. Use the flats of your fingers not your fingertips or nails to massage in the product and encourage increased circulation to the scalp.
  •  Rinse your hair thoroughly for at least two minutes to remove any residue. The hair will shine if it rinsed really well. Lightly towel dry
  •  Now apply styling products. Use some blow dry oil or serum. A small amount is needed and will give the hair a brilliant shine. Work the serum down the mid length of the hair to the ends avoiding the roots. Spritz a root boosting spray onto the roots which will help lift the roots and add volume.
  •  For a shinier finish, hair should not be dripping wet but should be about 80% wet. The hair will have a smoother finish if it has more moisture whilst blow drying.
  •  Divide the hair into sections starting at the back. With a concentrator nozzle attached, blow dry a section of the hair with the nozzle pointing down. A brush will aid control but is not essential as we are not aiming for perfection. 
  •  Once one section is dry and whilst the hair is still hot, apply sleep-in rollers and secure with pins, Continue with the rest of your hair until you are finished.
  •  When you wake the next day, remove the rollers and brush the hair through with a large paddle brush. Finish with hold spray and your hair should look shiny, bouncy and full.

 

For evenings and other special occasions, it can be elegant to wear the hair in a sophisticated up style. Your hairdresser should be able to create a style for this purpose. I think it is important to keep it simple and chic with an up-style. Corkscrew tight curls are to be avoided at all costs and ideally all clips and pins should be hidden discreetly unless they are designed to be shown. 

hair-grow

Join me tomorrow where I will be advising how to achieve elegance by having a glowing complexion and flawless makeup.

Yours,

The Countess x

The Chanel Little Black Jacket Exhibition..Dubai

 Little Black Jacket is an iconic jacket designed by the late Coco Chanel in the early 50’s that has been re-imagined by Karl Lagerfeld since he took control of the CHANEL fashion empire.With this exhibition, the public get a chance to witness the originality, timelessness and versatility of the Little Black Jacket through Lagerfeld’s original photographs with styling by Carine Roitfeld

Due to commitments, I was unable to attend this exhibition in London or Paris, so I have decided I will be attending in Dubai. The Exhibition will be running in Dubai from April 27 – May 11 at  Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown DubaiI adore the Chanel Jacket so I could not miss out on this, plus it is another excuse to visit one of my favourite cities.

Alongside the exhibition, CHANEL will present its latest spring and summer collection of jackets in its boutiques at the Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and Burjuman Centre.

 

 

 

 

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Yours,

The Countess x

The Countess..A day in the life of.

In the last few days I have received a number of emails asking what my life involves and if I have a career. As most of my posts have been about Fashion and Lifestyle I thought it might be a good idea to give you a taste of my life in 24 hours so that those of you who are interested can gain a better understanding. At University I studied Art History and my dream was to work for a renowned Gallery and eventually hold an executive position. Life has a funny way of surprising you and altering your plans rather radically. At University I met the Earl and as a result I have now dedicated my life to supporting our Estate and continuing the family legacy. I am very fortunate that in doing so I am able to live out my dreams and aspirations; Running a historic estate which houses an enormous collection of Art is beyond my career aspirations and has fulfilled me immensely. Here is a run down of 24 hours in my life..Enjoy!

6:00 A.M. I have always been an early riser and actually enjoy waking early to make the most of the day. As a child I went to Boarding School so I am more than used to waking early! By 6:15 I am up and ready, as is the Earl. We both eat a banana and play tennis for an hour. We have been doing this for the last two years at his suggestion and I have to admit it is the perfect way to wake up and prepare for the day ahead. 

7:00 A.M. After Tennis, we head back to the house and I take a quick shower. Whilst my hair is still wet I dress and begin my beauty regime. (To learn more click here)

7:30 A.M. As ridiculous as this may seem, at 7:30 every morning except Sunday, I have my hair stylist come and Blow Dry my hair. Many people find it excessive but to me it is a necessity as my hair is thick and I would only get hot and bothered trying to do my own hair. My style is very simple, I keep my hair naturally brunette and normally wear it down with lots of volume. I normally wear pearl earrings so tuck my hair behind my ears and my parting down the middle. 

8:00 A.M. Now that I am ready for the day I join the Earl in the Morning Room where we have a light breakfast and read the newspapers. I normally have Muesli with a slice of brown toast, green tea and fresh juice. I like to keep myself informed on current affairs and it is also a good way for me to later engage in conversation and discussion when attending Dinners and formal events.

8:30 A.M. After Breakfast it is time to walk the public areas of the house with the house managers. We do this every Morning to ensure that the house is at it’s full potential for public viewing. For special occasions such as Christmas, we discuss how we are going to decorate and arrange the house. We also rearrange the house regularly to keep the experience exciting for our visitors. 

9:30 A.M. Now that we have walked the house, the house managers and I hold a short meeting in the boardroom to discuss our ideas and concerns with the Earl. The House and Gardens open to the public at 10:00 A.M so the team prepare for the day ahead. 

10:15 A.M. Today is Monday and on this day every week, we have a team of Florists who refresh the flowers in the house. I have always adored flowers and think they really make a wonderful difference to the harmony of a home. I prefer white flowers and in particular, roses. The Florists use flowers that have grown on the Estate and from other suppliers. For special occasions such as Valentines day they will produce special displays in the main house.  On Thursday we are holding a private dinner so they will return to refresh the display in the Dining Room, Drawing Rooms and Lavatories.

11:30 A.M. Today the Earl and I are being interviewed for a lifestyle magazine who want to discuss the house including the collection and how it is managed. This does not happen very often and I am rather nervous! It is a very pleasant and informal interview and they will be returning at a later stage where they will conduct a photo shoot. 

1:00 P.M. After a busy Morning, we sit down and enjoy Lunch. I normally have a light lunch so that I still have an appetite for supper, however my Parents and Sister are visiting today so we are going to have afternoon tea. They stay for most of the afternoon and we have a delightful time in their company!

4:00 P.M At this time the Earl and I walk our dogs. We have three West Highland Terriers whom I adore, they are my children for now. We walk them around the Estate as this is a good opportunity to talk to visitors and enjoy the countryside. Although I do enjoy the City, I have to say we are so lucky to have such wonderful Countryside in Britain; The views are exceptionally stunning.

7:00 P.M. The Earl and I usually have supper at this time, however as we have indulged in a hefty Afternoon Tea, we are not going to eat much today. After supper we retire to our Sitting room where we relax by reading, surfing the internet or watching television. I enjoy reading Vogue magazine which usually results in me shopping online! This is also the time that I have now began to blog for Countess Undercover.

9:00 P.M. I like to take a bath every evening around this time as I am usually exhausted by now. I ensure that my en-suite is a heavenly environment by lighting candles. My favourite are Jo Malone and in particular I adore her Nectarine Blossom & Honey Candle and bath oil. The aroma is exceptionally exquisite and it is the time of the day where I am most indulgent. I usually spend an hour bathing until I am totally relaxed. 

10:30 P.M. The Earl and I retire to our bedroom suite, where we continue to relax. When designing this room I wanted to create a separate lounge area with luxuriant furnishings so that we could relax before sleeping in private. I also use this time to choose ensembles for the next day. I find that if you do this, you are going to dress with more care rather rushing in the morning. 

11:45 P.M. I normally sleep between 11 and 12 so that I can get a good rest. After a long day I cannot wait to get into bed and enjoy total comfort and relaxation. We have a four poster bed and there is nothing more cosy or comforting than drawing the curtains around the bed and falling into a beautiful deep sleep!

Yours,

The Countess x