Carol Alayne

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Archive for the ‘Looking good’ Category

Power Dressing, but does it empower

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Joan CollinsThe Sunday Times (UK) Style section devoted a number of column inches to the do’s and don’ts for women who find themselves at the front of the political stage either as leader or consort.  It seems that once again the dilemma for high-profile women has surfaced; about giving the right sense of gravitas without appearing domineering, or warm and genuine as against frivolous and ‘fashiony’.  From some of the books I have collected about the psychology of clothing its background is long and complex.   This rarely seems to be a problem that confronts men.  What I question however is the term power dressing.  Is it not a dated term in itself?  Also, let’s not confuse the fact that the needs of the political band wagon are rather different from those of a shareholder meeting.

For me power dressing immediately conjures up a dated picture of big shoulders, tight waists and sculptured hair-dos that look not dissimilar from the City Hall building here in London, and with as much immobility!

It smacks of theatre with only a veneer of seriousness, and as I visit my clients in the City you can see that these financially challenging times require a degree of authenticity that suggests a ‘safe pair of hands’..

One of my clients articulated her dilemma well when she talked about walking into a room of 100 venture capitalists, all male apart from a handful of women, and all with the same, almost regular-issue pinstripe uniform.  Custom and practice has not given us the opportunity to develop a similar sort of iconic look, and in this the fashion industry has been no help.

“Real power dressing is about being smart and true to yourself, and the balance between the two is what makes it new. Work out what suits you, and don’t deviate” says the Times.  But what does this mean in practical terms, and where are the places a busy executive can go to build an appropriated wardrobe without spending vast amounts of time doing it.

So I would suggest that the journalist in the Times should perhaps look a little closer at the trading floors and boardrooms and consider the realities of the executive life-style, and whether or not the concept of power dressing may in reality be rather disempowering

Strike up the brand!

Friday, November 25th, 2016

I recently had some interesting exchanges with a friend on what is meant by ‘personal branding’. We agreed about how branding works with consumer goods, hotel chains, etc., but we both found it difficult to imagine how it might work for an individual woman with a demanding professional career. Many of my clients at TfW fall into this category, but they often have little time (or energy, I suspect) to embrace the concept, let alone explore the possibilities. Here is a good way to think of branding. (more…)

Sensational Butterflies

Monday, June 27th, 2016

‘The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity’, supposedly said the comedian George Carlin.

I guess this is true in most cases.   The finished product is far more attractive to look at than the work in process.  But then, both can be equally amazing.  I am talking about the brilliant mosaic mess you can find on my cutting room floor after a job is done!

So let’s not discount the whole metamorphosis thing; what we think is an unremarkable worm is anything but.  It is part of a process that continues to be at the forefront of scientific research.  Aesthetic appeal and diverse opportunities in the sciences have kept butterflies at the centre of evolutionary and behavioural research.  And the more we learn about the way butterflies communicate, the better understanding we have of our own sensory world.

Butterflies have become synonymous with freedom.  Charles Dickens, Elton John and I all agree on this.  I set another garment free the other day.  A beautifully delicate tea dress made from 3 layers of fine silk.  The design was based around the middle layer – a bold jacquard print by Hanae Mori, the most honoured female designer from Japan and an icon to the liberated woman (she has also released a perfume called ‘Butterfly’).  You can all have one guess as to the theme in the print.

The challenge was how to place the pattern pieces on the fabric to capture the great swirls in the design while featuring the image of a sensational butterfly in full flight.  Like the mighty Monarch flying south for the winter!

To make the decision, I made the pattern pieces first out of translucent tissue and invited my client to come around to help with the placement.  I know that she was fascinated to be a part of the process of designing her own bespoke garment.  And she was thrilled to spot the opportunity to reserve a strip of cloth to make an optional neck scarf to add to the look. The result is bold but delicate, featherweight and free for almost any occasion.

‘Fly away, high away, bye bye….’

The Red Dress

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Red dress 04Last week I put the finishing touches to this glorious red dress and sent it on its way to New York for a client who will attend the Tony Awards on Broadway in a few days’ time. She will not feature on any of the artiste lists at the ceremony as her involvement in theatre is as an investor. An unsung but essential (more…)

That thing called Swing

Monday, May 30th, 2016

From time to time I wonder what happens to the finished garments that leave my studio, often with my exit advice to “wear them in”. It is common to ask this of newly tailored clothes – that they are worn a few times and allowed to settle over one’s figure. The process of tailoring of course, involves layers of cooperating fabrics that mould and shape to the body over time. And I expect that the garments styled and tailored for the purpose of business will serve and cope perfectly in the workplace for decades, or long after.

But at TfW we are sometimes asked to design garments that are far afield from the 9-5 business wardrobe, and I was reminded of this just the other day as I mingled with the Bank Holiday crowd in Spitalfields Market.

I was drawn to the brass tunes of the swing band,  Jive Aces, livening up the forecourt, and as I turned the corner – a riot of colour burst forth and swirled about in pairs of exuberant ‘jivers’. This high-energy dance is extremely impressive to watch, and wonderfully unpredictable as the couples improvise their repertoire of spins and footwork in freestyle.

As I took in this unexpected treat, however, I could not take my eyes off the twirling skirts that leapt about in all shapes and colours. Some were constructed in flared panels, some cut in one full circular piece of fabric, some had additional netting underskirts and there were even a few figure hugging simplicities. No two were alike – but each one had a quality that was so uniquely alluring. It had something to do with the way each garment was allowed to move. In the counterpoint of spins around the dance floor, the anticipation of waiting for the next garment to ‘take flight’ made for the most wonderful theatre.

And it made me think what an amazing thing it is to watch a piece of clothing contribute so completely to this kind of spectacle, and somehow, to be just as much the physical performer as the wearer is.

And then I couldn’t help but hope – how many of us have a version of a dancing dress at the ready – with a plan to wear it, somewhere out there, away from the office….?

The power of good service

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Bluegold MacawWe all understand the term ‘power dressing,’ referring to how the style and cut of garments can enhance an air of power and authority. Of course we might not always want say ‘I am the boss’, or ‘I am the richest’. We might want to say ‘I am the most popular’ or ‘I am the coolest’. But most people, at some time in their lives, choose their clothes to say ‘like me/love me’ or ‘obey me/listen to me’ or just ‘notice me – I am unique’. And of course once these basic games have been learned, the mind-games clothes can play start to become more interesting. (more…)

Funga Safari!

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

TfW Safari DressFunga Safari… was just what someone needed to tell me last week. Summer was beginning to sink in at last, not just in terms of the weather, but also the shift in colours and textures you can see in clothes shops everywhere as safari collections sprout into view. So after a particularly busy week, I was looking forward to funga safari – literally, ‘halting the march’. In Swahili.

Of course I needed to do a little bit of research to discover that, not being a fluent Swahili speaker. And not surprisingly it was sparked off by my own personal safari (literally, journey) with a commission for a cotton drill dress – with a hint of allure.

TfW Safari dress collarSo naturally, the world of safari clothing sprang to mind. Khaki colours, bush jackets, belted shirts, pith helmets and slouch hats.

But I was aiming for something which would capture the mood of the safari look without losing its urban elegance; something earthy, sunny and breezy. TfW Safari dress profileWearing it should make you feel light and summery.

It has a two-way zip closure – fingertip temperature control – and the sleeves can be rolled up to reveal the contrast in the facing fabric. TfW Safari dress zipI chose leather detail for highlights to mark the centre back yoke and the zipper pulls on the front and pockets. Just a hint of earthiness there. It’s a bespoke garment of course, but now I’ve finished it, I feel sure the concept will appeal to many others.

TfW Safari dress To round off my modest foray into safari research, I discovered that the Regimental March of the King’s African Rifles was ‘Funga Safari’, presumably a welcome sound after a long day marching through the bush. So I’ll stop here and let you admire the pictures.TfW Safari dress sleeve

Out on a limb

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

kiltSunnier days and warmer weather are here in London. We are all looking forward to being able to wear less. For women, trousers will give way to the more comfortable skirt. Perhaps for men also – though at the moment that’s confined to the more adventurous fashion icons such as David Beckham and Axl Rose. In fact, skirts, sarongs, kilts – call them what you will – have an important place in the evolution of male clothing. (more…)

The TfW exclusive Gilet

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

TfW GiletWe believe your hand-crafted TfW Limited Edition Gilet will not only prove the most convenient all-weather garment you have ever bought, but will ensure you stand out from the crowd on all occasions, indoor or outdoor. Here are some of its features:

Hand-crafted from boiled wool to retain its posture whatever the circumstances – A classic William Morris print lining for a touch of elegance – Sleeveless, comfortable, light – multi-use, all-weather, indoors and out – Can be worn over a business suit or under a topcoat – Suitable for walking, driving, cycling, travelling – Fully lined pockets for coins, mobile phone, travel documents, spectacles, including two secure internal zip pockets.


Gilet sketch002The TfW Limited Edition Gilet costs £420 (including VAT and postage to anywhere in the UK). For orders elsewhere in the world, please contact us first – email address below. Payment should be in £ sterling (GBP).Your garment will be specially personalised with a hand sewn name tag. Be sure you indicate the name you wish to use as identifier on the order form.

Send your details:by email to:
(If contacting us by email, we will advise of alternative payment methods.)
or by post to: Tailoring for Women Ltd, 61 The Exchange Building, 132 Commercial Street, London E1 6NQ, United Kingdom. Telephone: +44 (0)7950 401881

If contacting us by letter, please enclose a sterling cheque made out to: Tailoring for Women Ltd.

You will receive the hand-crafted TfW Limited Edition Gilet approximately 2 weeks after payment is received.

Please give us the following information:

  1. Name
  2. Full postal address
  3. Telephone number(s)
  4. Email address (if available)
  5. The name as it should be sewn into the name tag
  6. Measurements (see below for advice):-
  • Height (inches or cms – please state which!)
  • Bust (inches or cms)
  • Waist (inches or cms)
  • Hip (inches or cms)

For measurement advice, click on the image to enlarge:

Gilet measure

How many garments do you require? If ordering for more than one person, please be sure to include measurements and name tag details for each recipient. Let us know also if you require the garment(s) to be sent directly to other recipients – names and addresses.

Bespoke solutions

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Tailoring for Women specialises in creating a premium quality wardrobe for women in high profile professional positions – in finance, commerce, law, the arts, media and sports. With over twenty years of Savile Row expertise to call on, Carol Alayne has created a unique bespoke service dedicated exclusively to the special demands of women.

Tailoring for Women offers practical, responsive and personalised advice on all matters of dress and appearance, finely tuned to constantly evolving contemporary professional and media environments, but never losing sight of the person inside the garment.

Dress sharply and they notice the dress.
Dress impeccably and they notice the woman.

– Coco Chanel

Tailoring for Women can provide you with a complete bespoke experience to create unique, personalised garments for professional, sports, cultural or leisure requirements. Our service begins with an initial consultation and clients can be fully involved at every stage of the process if they wish, from design and cutting to tailoring, fitting and altering. Naturally, Tailoring for Women offers a full after-care service and advice on storing, cleaning and transporting the garments.

For clients not yet ready to embark on a complete bespoke commission, Tailoring for Women is happy to offer consultancy and advice, either in person or by email/telephone.

Tailoring for Women can recommend trusted partners for specialist items such as shoes, hats and accessories. It also offers an exclusive limited range of semi-bespoke garments – made to order from an existing template.

Click here to see the TfW Limited Edition Gilet.

Click here to contact us, or keep in touch by signing up for our feed and newsletter.


Recognised as a pioneer of bespoke tailoring for women, Carol Alayne has over 25 years experience of creating striking garments for arts, sports and media personalities and business wear for professionals and executives.



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