You could have knocked us over with a feather when the phone call came in saying that www.colmershill.com had won Best UK Online Boutique category of The Boutique Awards, hosted by The Boutique Hub. Surprised, shocked, proud, happy – yes, all of those.
The team (especially Penny because she does most of the work) hasn’t stopped smiling ever since. When Penny set up the business two years ago, she only had £5,000 to invest. All the money went on stock and she had to do everything herself – even really horrible things like SEO. She built the current website and worked hard to find low cost ways to get Colmers Hill on the map.
What makes this a special achievement is also the economic climate. Apparently, according to the experts, we’re in the midst of a ‘Retail Apocalypse’, which sounds really nasty. And it is, if you’re a big high street brand. On the up-side, it’s the small businesses like ours which are bucking the trend. You – our lovely customers are making this happen by buying local and choosing independent boutiques. Thank you so much! Please can you carry on?
You can be reassured that this fame hasn’t gone to our heads. We almost forgot to write a blog about it because we’ve been unpacking, pricing and uploading gorgeous new Autumn stock from our faves Myrine, Luella and Out of Xile but also new labels Cotton Brothers, Soaked in Luxury and Ralston.
If you haven’t shopped online with us before, you’ll find the same friendly personal service and attention to detail that you’d get if you were shopping with us in person.
Next up, our Autumn round-up of what’s hot this month!
Colmers Hill Fashion www.colmershill.comis proud to announce that they are finalists in the 2017 UK Boutique Awards. The business, based in Symondsbury Manor Yard near Bridport, Dorset has been nominated in two categories: BEST UK BOUTIQUE and BEST ONLINE BOUTIQUE.
The boutique is one of five finalists in each category, selected from over 4,000 nominations internationally. The winner will be the business which achieves the greatest number of votes. So far, the Boutique Awards have received over 157,000 votes internationally.
“We are thrilled to be finalists and so grateful for our customers’ support,” says owner Penny Callaghan. I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has voted for us so far,”
It would be another feather in Dorset’s “golden cap” to win this award, especially as we’re up against some very well-established national names!”
This is the first year of the UK Boutique Awards. Colmers Hill is up against businesses including boutiques based in Brighton, St Albans and Berkhamsted.
Colmers Hill set up at Symondsbury Manor Yard two years ago in August 2015. The shop and website www.colmershill.comspecialises in introducing quality fashion brands from the UK and Europe to their customers. The ranges are chosen for their unique and individual style, from casual to smart-casual wear. Customers like it for its relaxed, homely atmosphere and honest advice if wanted.
This blog is all about how to create the perfect wardrobe. How you choose clothes that are useful and also inspire you. How to experiment with fashion and be more individual in your fashion style. How to avoid overdoing it, without playing it too safe?
Designer Michael Kors said: “70% of the clothes you own should be meat and potatoes. 30% should be icing and fluff—that’s color, pattern, shine, accessories. Too many women get the proportions the other way round, then can’t figure out why they can’t get dressed.”
Erm ok, so let’s take a look at the meat, potatoes icing and fluff. Or maybe a more appealing metaphor is a cupcake: a perfect vanilla sponge topped with your choice of icing and decoration.
Best fashion basics
Two thirds of our wardrobe should be hard-working basics. These will be well-fitting, stylish and versatile. For us at Colmers Hill, this would be our deck super slimming capris or full length trousers. Alternatively, Myrine Emil trousers. Your colour palette will certainly include neutrals in both dark and light shades such as navy, petrol blue, black, charcoal, sand, silver, ivory, or white. Choose shades that are the most useful for you.
Skirt basics include simple cuts and colours with enough detail to keep you interested and give you shape. A pencil skirt from Eucalyptus or a midi skirt from A Postcard from Brighton are also great staples.
Adding colour, pattern and shine
This is the icing and decoration on your cupcake. Detail on clothing is a very personal thing and everyone has their favourites as well as their absolute no-no’s. Some of us love stripes and hate florals, others love florals but hate sparkle, another wince at a frill but love a pintuck – you get the gist. When it comes to sparkle and shine, some of us are happier with a muted metallic whilst others want the full bling – with extra bling.
When an item of clothing or an accessory appeals to us, it’s an emotional reaction. We don’t think too much about it. Enough to say, it gives us a lift. It’s great to express ourselves with the fun aspects of fashion. We don’t need to take it too seriously but if you’re worried about overdoing it, stick to either sparkle or pattern but not both on the same garment. Many of us get stuck in a rut, thinking we can never wear florals or geometrics or diamante but keep an open mind and give things a try. We change as we get older and our fashion style needs to keep up!
Since we discovered Michael Kors’s quote, we’ve all been taking a good, hard look into our wardrobes at home and working out how close we are to the 70% rule. Suffice to say, there’s work to be done but at least we’re heading in the right direction!
The next blog will be about Wardrobe Malfunctions. Yup – we’ve all been there.
What to wear on the plane, on the beach, in the evening?? How to fit it all in the suitcase? How to mix and match? It’s all here with our Colmers Hill Fashion holiday edit!
Be inspired by gorgeous, colourful outfits to make you feel like a million dollars without spending it. Dream of relaxing on sun-drenched terraces in head-turning outfits that will make you look and feel great. And coming down to earth for a minute, imagine actually being able to close your suitcase and stay within the boring baggage allowance.
Which holiday clothes are winners
Planning what you’re going to take on holiday is time very well spent. Frequent travellers and fashionistas make a two week, mix and match wardrobe look like an art form. The difficult part is deciding what to take and being ruthless about the rest. The clothes you’ll wear are usually lightweight and don’t crease. They need to work hard for their place in your bag, so they must look great, be useful, mix with other things and be appropriate for the location!
The golden rule of holiday packing: however much I love it, I won’t take it unless I really think I’ll wear it.
For ease, let’s assume we’re all going somewhere sunny and beachy with opportunities for a bit of glamour in the evening.
Our Colmers Hill hot picks are a) fashionable b) individual, c) comfortable and d) versatile
What to wear on the plane
Go for comfort all the way. If you are delayed (which is NOT going to happen) you need to be able to relax. And that goes for the flight too. You may have forgotten how small an economy seat is. Our best travel companions are layers and stretch. Think trousers, leggings or maxi skirts. Avoid wearing white, unless you love doing laundry on the first day of your holiday. Layering allows you to can strip off when you hit the heat at your destination and vice versa when you return to Old Blighty.
Deck’s new linen dresses are proving really popular – be quick and snap one up while you can. Choose from navy, silver or hot pink in various designs. These are great for day or evening wear.
What to wear in the evening
This is when we get to indulge ourselves and make the most of all those lovely print dresses and separates. If you’ve got a tan, you can really go for it with stronger colours and a bit more bling. If you like black, take some as you will always feel great in it.
If you are going to any of the big society events such as Glyndebourne, Wimbledon, Ascot, Henley etc and you need help, do not worry. Desist from stress. We have rifled the Colmers Hill Fashion rails so you don’t have to. You can look fashionable, whatever the occasion, whatever the weather. There’s no need to sacrifice your comfort by freezing, boiling or being uncomfortable all day.
In short, whatever the ‘appropriate attire’ or dress code, ladies, we can work it to our advantage!
And she’s off! Outfit ideas for Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot is a fashion event. Forget about the horses. The enclosure you go to dictates how much you should dress up. Warning: this is not dressing up in a humorous way. The website clearly states ‘fancy dress and replica sports shirts are not permitted’. Oh right, we’re not going then …
Smart, fashionable trousers are ideal for the turf. Steer clear of linens that turn you into a crumpled paper bag by lunchtime. Our deck trousers can be worn capri style with pretty flats or full length with a heel, depending on your height. The stretch keeps you comfortable and holds its shape all day. The cut is very flattering madam. Choose from lovely summery colours – aqua, hot pink or dusky pink or play it cool with black. Wear with a Darling top, for example the Dion pearl trimmed top or Dottie jacket with its beautiful embellished buttons.
If you need to wear a hat, a dress and jacket are a good team. Our Eucalyptus tea dresses such as the Rosa navy floral are gorgeous prints in styles that flatter all ages. Team with heels or flats, with a pretty Out of Xile vintage tulle edge cardi. They are great for any formal occasion and happily dress down with a denim jacket on another day. Our favourite milliner Fiona Baker makes headpieces to order which will slip into a small bag if the weather turns iffy.
It’s your advantage: what to wear at Wimbledon
Wimbledon is more smart casual but it’s a challenge for spectators, not just the players. When you’re seated for long stretches, swivelling your head from side to side, you need to be comfortable. And if you plan to be on the Centre Court, or TV, you need to look good.
Spectators are sitting ducks if it gets really hot or cold, so a longer skirt or a print culotte such as our Darling Hilda culottes are practical. Wear with flat ballerinas or a heeled sandal. Layer your top half to give you options if the weather changes: the simple ivory Darling Quinn top and a cute Friday on My Mind honeycombe cardi will be perfect. Take a big statement tote to keep your day’s clobber in. Alternatively, check out Myrine’s Anna floral tunic or Amele maxi dress – super comfortable and sooo pretty!
Fortissimo belissimo: look gorgeous at Glyndebourne
If you’re going to the festival at Glyndebourne, full evening dress is The Thing. Enter stage right Out of Xile. Their lovely dress and coat combinations will really make you look and feel the part.
Out of Xile’s outfits are superbly cut and the fabrics have a beautiful evening-y subtle sheen. A dress and coat in their uniquely dyed fabrics are the most versatile combination and will keep you warm. There’s no need to spoil the whole effect with a massive puffa – take a Luella cashmere wrap/poncho instead. Great jewellery and an Owen Barry metallic clutch will finish off the outfit perfectly.
Va va voom: glorious Goodwood style
Go faster with our range of retro dresses which are perfect for Goodwood. Polka dots, florals, geometric designs: take your pick. Our new Collectif dresses in black or red spot or red cherries are real show-stoppers. The Eucalyptus Gillian dress is a beautiful modern vintage design in a subtle shade of blue or make a statement with the stunning Lily May dress in red and white floral. Alternatively, if you want to channel your inner Avenger, Desigual’s Hello dress is the bomb.
To keep your look authentic, make sure to choose retro style accessories such as a pretty Josephine hat in natural and blue linen with silk roses.
If you are going to any society events, we hope you have a great time. If we can be of any more help do email us, find us on Facebook or call 01308 426517.
One to one service and styling advice come as standard, for all our customers at Colmers Hill 🙂
Polka dots, ditsy florals and dungarees are all featured in the special May issue of Dorset magazine celebrating the 75th anniversary of The Famous Five by Enid Blyton.
All the clothes used in the six page fashion spread are from the Spring Summer 2017 collection available at Colmers Hill Fashion.
Penny Callaghan, owner of Colmers Hill Fashion was asked to style the shoots using clothing from the boutique’s current collection. She worked alongside Simon Emmett Photography who shot all the images. “We did three shoots in total and had a lot of fun planning it. All the clothing is 1940s/50s inspired so we looked for suitable locations and props to add to the theme. We borrowed a vintage army jeep, used the Dutch bicycle and sourced a bone china picnic set amongst other things. “We had an amazing team of people working with us including The Shed Hair & Beauty Boutique which did the hair and makeup and Jody Wallington who helped with the make-up on the shoot at The Station Kitchen in Westbay.”
You can pick up your copy of Dorset Magazine from WH Smiths and other newsagents or order it online.
For the mother of the bride, seeing a son or daughter getting married is one of life’s most emotional moments. There’s a whole mix of feelings and memories – it only seemed yesterday when you were struggling to change their nappy! Now, you’re the watching them create a new life and family of their own.
30 years of gorgeousness
Big moments require something special to make you feel your best. Out of Xile has risen to the occasion for over 30 years with its unique style, proudly made in England, combining beautiful fabrics, bespoke colour dyeing and fabulous, flattering cuts.
Of course, you don’t have to be mother of the bride to wear their designs. Maybe you ARE the bride? Congratulations! Maybe you’re off on a cruise, going to a graduation ceremony, attending a memorial service. There are many special occasions that require Just The Right Thing.
Out of Xile Metallic Crepe and Tulle skirt, top and cape
Out of Xile Metallic Rose Dress and Coat
Out of Xile Metallic Bubble Skirt and Rosebud Jacket
Out of Xile Linen Bubble Hem Dress and Stole
Out of Xile Reversible Linen and Dobby Dress & Stole
Out of Xile Boucle Dress and Coat
Out of Xile is one of our favourites for just the right thing. There’s just nothing that this family firm of designers doesn’t know about fabric, colour, cut and the female form. They don’t follow fashion, they set their own trend, based on us, their customer. For example, we like a dress with shape but we don’t want it sticking to our bodies. We like a bit of weight and swing in the skirt, which needs to be a good length. We like the fabrics to look gorgeous and yet feel comfortable with a bit of stretch. We’re often not keen on our knees and upper arms, so a bit of coverage there is required. We like a bit of quirkiness and individuality. It’s nice to know that there’s a limited production run, so when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Mario, his brother Mark and his partner Lara are the design team, having taken over from the founder Cathy Hewlett. Between them they have a wealth of talent and they’re staying faithful to her vision and production methods.
Diary of a dress
It all starts in Deal, Kent where the design and pattern work is done. Out of Xile take note of colour trends but always have neutrals on their palette, which are a perennial favourite. They might start with 15 colours and whittle those down to 7, which is a manageable number. At Colmers Hill, we’re stocking the marine blue, ocean green, seashell pink, deep sea blue this season.
Made in England: Skilled Machinists Working on the new Out of Xile collection
The garments are made up by skilled machinists in London and Nottingham. Then they make their way to Harlow, Essex for the all-important colour dyeing. Every fabric is tested by the square metre, to see what happens when it’s dyed. Out of Xile buy fabric from Europe and they prefer to dye it themselves, which requires a lot of number-crunching and expertise. All fabrics take dye slightly differently and the machines have to be carefully balanced with the same quantity of garments and fabric types, to make sure the dye takes evenly. It’s all highly technical but when you see the finished garment, it’s impressive. The colours look rich, unusual and are harmonious with different skin tones and hair colours, including those with a hint of grey
Different fabrics ready to be cut and machined before they are dyed to make new Out of Xile collection
Next comes the finishing stage. Who knew that garment pressing is done by men? Yes, men! They kept that quiet. To be fair, it’s a very hot, demanding job and they iron, iron, iron from 8am to 5pm every day. Respect from those of us with an ironing basket, which grows every day, looking like a terrible art installation ….
Pressing the Out of Xile garments
Back to the garments. At this point, your beautiful jacket will have its final touches, such as buttons, silk flowers which are the features which make it extra special. Then everything gets wrapped and sent to the warehouse, awaiting delivery. Out of Xile has been picking up new customers in Europe, where small boutiques have always thrived. They’re also starting to supply the States, an exciting opportunity for a British label. It’s always an exciting moment at Colmers Hill, when the box arrives and we see the new range.
Garments organised for delivery to fashion boutiques like Colmers Hill Fashion at Symondsbury Manor Yard
Out of Xile are proud of what they do and they’re not interested in following the fashion herd. They like working with small boutiques like us at Colmers Hill Fashion, which we like and so do you, our customers. If you haven’t already seen our Out of Xile Spring/Summer range, check it out here. Also, ask us about Autumn/Winter if you’re planning ahead for a special occasion. Do we hear wedding bells?!