Tanya Prendergast is a receptionist at Net-A-Porter by day and a London fashion blogger by night. Her chic personal style blog Fashion Knows No Limits is for women and men and her weekly outfit shoots feature the hottest new trends from the high street.
Contented Youths frequently hit the high street and are more likely than the other tribes to go shopping in their spare time. In the early years of their career, they expect satisfaction from a role in which money might not be the primary motivation. Socialising and self-improvement are important in their lives and they enjoy travelling for the experience, not the extravagance.
Over the upcoming weeks, Contented Youth Tanya will demonstrate how you can dress confidently for all occasions and entertain at home without the big price tags.
After seven weeks of blogging, I finally had the chance to catch up with a few of you Stylist fans at the Invisalign & Stylist reader event, held at the beautiful Covent Garden Hotel. The venue couldn’t have been more perfect, set in the heart of central London with the quirky event rooms creating a quintessentially British backdrop to the occasion.
Whilst sipping on champagne and nibbling on delicious prawn tempura (my fave!), we attended a confidence workshop (including some amazing networking tips), hosted by Invisalign ambassador and body language expert, Judi James. Some of my favourites from the night include:
1. Always enter the room with a smile on your face (no matter how much of a nightmare you had finding the place); people will make up their mind about you within the first few seconds of arrival, even when they don’t appear to be looking. Invisalign’s consumer research found that when meeting someone for the first time, 40% of women and 31% of men say they remember a person’s smile more than any other facial feature*, so it is clear that a smile is part of a toolkit of charismatic behaviour, that can win people over in any social situation.
2. When you’re mingling try to approach groups of three or more. Head for the largest gap and start to mirror the group’s dynamic in terms of body language to help you to integrate without interrupting anyone who is speaking.
3. Holding your drink too low could make you look miserable, however if you hold it too high, it will look like a barrier. The correct position is about rib-height, which will show you’re sociable, confident and friendly.
After Judi’s workshop, I caught up with her to find out how she got to where she is today. She couldn’t have been a sweeter, more interesting and nicer person, with so much knowledge and wisdom on body confidence. The workshop has definitely helped me with my own issues. It showed me that having a low self-esteem can often influence other people’s perception of you, which can in turn make you feel even less confident. So always stay strong and proud of who you are and keep your head held high with a smile on your face. It’s true - if you smile, the whole world will smile with you!
The event was also a great opportunity to meet and chat to some of my blog followers. It was great to learn what interests them and share my own story of how I started my blog, alongside having a full time job. It really makes you appreciate how lucky you are, when you’re in a room full of people who read your work and admire what you do. I can’t thank the readers enough, who travelled from all over the UK to attend the event, taking the time to talk to us about what they love.
Thanks to Invisalign, Stylist, Judi James, my fellow tribe bloggers and to all of the fantastic readers who made this night truly special!
*Survey conducted by Align Technology in the UK, 23rd – 29th April 2013 with 2,000 respondents (OnePoll research)
There’s no denying that a trench is an absolute wardrobe classic and most of us will have at least one hanging in our cupboards. However, despite trenches being such simple items in the sartorial world, I find they are always the most difficult to wear with grace. If you’re going to buy one, you want to make it count, especially if your bank balance only stretches as far as the high-street, like mine!
A trench is one of the few items that can instantly make me feel confident when I put it on; once you know how to wear one properly, it instils a sense of power. Pull your shoulders back, lift your chin off your chest and walk with your body open (no crossed arms!) like you’re on top of the world - it truly makes a difference to the way you look and feel.
Wearing your favourite trench means nothing without a fresh face to accompany it. Smiling is one of the best ways to evoke confidence and makes everyone around us, including ourselves, feel good. Did you know that by smiling, you send positive signals to your brain, which in turn makes you feel like you’re automatically in a better mood? So… Say cheese!
Make-up also has a huge part to play in the way we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us. With all of your body covered up by your statement trench, make a lasting impact with a pop of bright red lipstick. This is the best accessory to a beaming smile as it draws attention to your mouth and makes your pearly whites really stand out; especially on a dull, winter’s day!
With most of my friend’s purchasing their first home in the last year, my boyfriend and I are constantly out for dinner parties on Saturday nights. Until we purchase a home of our own next year, playing the perfect ‘guest’ is a huge part of our social lives. This brings up the age old question of guest etiquette? Do you take a dessert, or do you simply provide a good bottle of wine? Are flowers really necessary, or will they simply wreak havoc on people’s allergies? Here are a few suggestions from a certified dinner-guest pro!
As an avid baker, desserts are my speciality, so I always like to take a delicious treat along to a dinner party. This is especially the case if it’s the first time I’m visiting their new home. A nice dessert demonstrates thoughtfulness and shows you’ve made more of an effort than just stopping off at your local Sainsbury’s and grabbing the first bottle of Pinot Noir you see. Sugar makes people happy, so bringing a dessert is a sure way to put an instant smile on your host’s face.
When your host opens the door, show your appreciation by giving them a warm and genuine greeting; this will help set the tone for the rest of the evening. If there are people at the dinner party who you’ve yet to meet, introduce yourself with a smile and take up the position of ‘assistant host’ by serving the drinks and making your way around the room. This means you’ll have spoken to everyone within 30 minutes and can get a feel for the group.
Finally, leave the lasting impression of a good guest with a beautiful bunch of flowers, but avoid lilies as they may stain your clothes in transit!
I live by my favourite cookbooks, which have fantastic recipes, especially for dinner parties, and are really easy to follow. I fancy myself as a bit of a cook and cannot wait to host a dinner party of my own! When that time finally comes, you will find me frolicking in the kitchen with the likes of the hairy bikers and Lorraine Pascal, making me smile with their wonderful treats! Bon appétit!
• Prep as much as you can the day before - guests will notice if you're stressed out and it could affect the general mood that evening.
• Focus on your greeting rituals! When you're running around folding napkins and coping with food disasters, it’s easy to forget to give a genuinely warm greeting, but this will set the tone of the entire evening. Take a moment before you open the door to relax your facial expression and do a genuine smile that starts with the eyes and works down to the mouth.
• It might help in an emergency to have one of the classic conversation openers ready just in case. They can be a bit of a cliché but asking everyone's worst movie/TV programme ever etc. can really revive a dying conversation!
We all have that ‘go-to’ outfit which is like our safety blanket. It’s Friday night and you have nothing to wear, but there’s always that one ensemble which never fails to make you smile and boost your confidence. But who said it had to just be one outfit that makes you feel good? I have three go-to outfits for three different occasions; each style never fails in making me feel fashionable, chic and happy.
Out shopping: I’m never quite sure what to wear when my friends invite me out for an afternoon of shopping, followed by a quick drink down the pub. However, this outfit is always a winner and will have your friends pestering you about where you bought it all from. By mixing up your plain red dress with a shirt underneath, you’re instantly showing people you care about making a fashion statement. Add leggings and ankle boots to keep it casual, as nobody wants to look like they’re on a night out in the shopping mall!
On a date: So I’ll admit that an all white outfit can probably only be worn when you have a tan, but nevertheless it’s a statement look during the summer and works well with a beaming smile. The mix of textures with the silk top and scuba skirt really makes an impact, while a pink lip adds a touch of colour to the ensemble. This is my go-to outfit for dinner dates with my boyfriend. It has the right amount of style with a dash of sexy, and I know it always puts a smile on his face too!
To a party: It’s always difficult finding the right party dress to give you that wow factor. This short black lace party dress, with the addition of a red belt, truly makes me feel like I stand out from the crowd. As finishing touches, I add a gold necklace to complement the detailing on the belt and team with a pair of chunky black heels to make my legs look longer. This outfit leaves me feeling confident smile with its delicate, feminine style making it an eye catching ensemble.
Forget about buying the latest Jimmy Choo’s, books are becoming increasingly fashionable and nobody wants to be seen without the latest must-read. As a self-confessed bookworm, I am constantly on the lookout for the next big read which will grip me and never let me go. My favourite reads will haunt you, stay with you and make you smile whenever you think of them
The Moment by Douglas Kennedy
I am a huge history buff, so a love story between an American writer and a refugee from the police state of East Germany, set in the midst of the Cold War, sold it for me. It’s a ‘will they, won’t they’ kind of story; the twists and deception within the controlled state, where two people clearly love each other, is extremely riveting. The book empowered me, as I think it will a lot of women, showing them to follow their dreams as well as their hearts. The Moment gives you confidence and hope even when all the odds are against you.
Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson
Imagine if you lost your memory every time you went to sleep? And the man you woke up next to every morning claiming to be your husband, isn’t who he says he is? A memory is something which defines us all and allows us to carry on living day by day, so how could you live not remembering your name or your past? Before I go to Sleep is a truly terrifying story that gives you great sympathy for the millions of people living with memory-altering conditions every day.
Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie
I actually once hated fiction and would only read autobiographical novels; but then there are books like this one, that show how great fiction can be. You find yourself questioning if this could really happen and what if it did! Close My Eyes has more twists and turns than Gone Girl and you literally won’t believe the ending. Gen lost her baby daughter eight years ago, but when a stranger shows up at her door claiming her baby is alive, what has she got to lose but find out the truth? The blurb doesn’t do this book justice as it’s a real biting your nails, chewing your fingers kind of thriller.
1. ‘The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young person’s take their choice.’ – Vanity Fair
2. ‘One gets a bad habit of being unhappy’ – Mill On The Floss
3. ‘Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage’ – Anais Nin’s diary
4. ‘Next to trying and winning the best thing is trying and failing’ – Anne of Green Gables
5. ‘Don’t mind anything anyone tells you about anyone else, judge everyone and everything for yourself’ – Portrait of a Lady
With the population working longer hours and under more stress than ever before, I think it’s safe to say that we all indulge in a few post-work cocktails now and again. It helps to clear our mind (or not, depending on how many Cosmos you have) and makes for a great excuse to get all your friends together to unload about your hard day in the office. A fresh, well-made cocktail where attention to detail has clearly been thought out really puts a smile on my face. I’ve been on the lookout for the best cocktail bars in town and I have narrowed it down to these two which won’t disappoint on both price and taste.
Be @ One – Old Street
If you’re based in the City or around the Shoreditch area and looking for the perfect cocktail bar, you need look no further than Be @ One on Old Street. It has the most extensive cocktail menu I have ever seen, and I fancy myself as a bit of a cocktail connoisseur. Their menu quite frankly couldn’t be simpler and is sorted by the base of your cocktail, whether it’s vodka, gin, rum or even ice cream. They run happy hour until 7pm every day and the staff are the smiliest in town and really know their Cosmos from their Daiquiris. I opted for my all-time favourite Piña Colada and it didn’t disappoint, but if you’re up for something stronger, albeit slightly bitter, try their mango or passion fruit Caipiroska - it will quite literally blow your mind.
Adventure Bar – Covent Garden
If you’re in the mood for something a bit more quirky and more centrally located then Adventure Bar is right up your street. Nestled just off the Piazza in Covent Garden, it is a hidden treasure and a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of the West End. Once inside, its cavernous decor and dim candlelight give off a romantic feel, enough to make you want to send the cute bartender a flirty smile. But it was their Porn Star Martini which really had me. Believe me; it tastes as scandalous as its name!
Barrio Central – Soho
If you fancy a little drink followed by a little dance, Barrio Central is the perfect venue for you. Based in the heart of Soho, the Amigo Hour Specials are available Monday to Saturday, with mean Mojitos and caçhaca filled Caipirinhas that will keep you dancing until the sun comes up. As you enter the bar, the first floor may seem a little quiet, but if you head straight downstairs you will be in for a treat with a tropical themed dance floor for you to show off your best moves on!
• Stand against the bar and lean your body forwards slightly to bring attention to yourself.
• Never stand by any glasses at the bar, even if they are empty. Bar tenders are very busy and they might think you already have your drinks.
• Make sure to use eye contact with the barman at all times and don’t look away to chat to your friends. This will maximise the chances of catching each other’s eye.
• Make sure to smile! They will notice a smile more in their peripheral vision, and more likely to want to turn to you over anyone else.
• People also remember a smile more than any other facial feature, so if you’re at the bar later on in the evening, the bar tender will be more likely to remember you.
Nothing makes me smile more than when I find a high-street bargain which looks fresh from the catwalk at a fraction of the designer cost. Here are a couple of my recent picks of high-street must haves to look out for.
It seems the whole sartorial universe is talking about Zara’s new AW13 collection and we all surely see why. The tailoring, the colouring and textures are completely on trend for winter. Not wanting to dwell on the encroaching winter but floral prints and light fabrics are perfect for autumn which is almost round the corner. I’d usually pair this dress with some black ankle boots and a leather biker jacket for ultimate impact. You’ll look like you stepped right out of Sienna Miller’s birthday party.
The light and bright shades this season make a real impact compared to the usual winter colours of browns and blacks and really help make you smile and brighten your mood. These neutral shades can easily be co-ordinated with your existing wardrobe- be confident to pair them with splashes of colour!
I'm more of a dresses and trousers kind of girl but I just love how these AllSaints silk shorts fit perfect for most body types. The coloured flowers really stand out against the otherwise dull grey and they are light in material so wear them with confidence on these (last few) warm summer nights.
Read below my tips on how to wear high street with confidence.
It’s true that models can look good in almost any outfit so try a few tricks to make cheap high street chic look designer:
• Work the runway walk - pull up to full height, push your shoulders back and down, push your pelvis in and under and take a slightly smaller stride than usual to make the most of your new outfit
• Keep your styling simple rather than fussy. Pick a larger size, slouchy items are usually better and look expensive. The point is to bring attention to you and your face
• The best accessory to any outfit is to wear your most confident facial expression, which will always be a smile. Signals of anxiety via a frown will suggest you don’t like the way you look and automatically give your outfit a undesirable appeal
I have always felt at home in the kitchen, whether it be baking cookies, making muffins or icing cakes - I just can’t tear myself away. I have been baking for around 10 years and often dream about my own cute vintage tea and cake shop in London’s Notting Hill.
There is no better way to impress your friends and put a smile on their faces than freshly baked goodies. Though baking can be extremely rewarding when it turns out right, it can also be rather stressful when things don’t really go to plan. So I’m here to show you how can achieve confidence in the kitchen!
My inspirations in cooking have to be Mary Berry and how she has accomplished so much despite trouble in her early childhood, along with Lorraine Pascal who is a model turned chef with an unbelievable talent for easy-baking.
Here are a few of my tried and tested, fool-proof recipes which have yet to fail me, my rich Chocolate + Hazelnut Cookies and classic Victorian Sponge.
Chocolate + Hazelnut Cookies
250g (9oz) plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
170g (6oz) unsalted butter, melted
200g (7oz) brown soft sugar
100g (3.5oz) caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
250g (9oz) chocolate of your choice, chopped into small chunks
100g (3.5oz) hazelnuts, chopped
1. Preheat your oven to 170°C / 340°F In a big, dry bowl, sift your flour, bicarb & salt together. Set to one side.
2. In a separate bowl mix together your sugars & butter. Next, beat in your eggs & vanilla extract.
3. Pour it into your dry mix.
4. Stir until your arm falls off...
5. You might want to use a food processor, if not you're going to need some muscles and a wooden spoon!
6. Throw in your roughly chopped chocolate and nuts & knead it all together with your hands, making sure it's evenly distributed.
7. Line a baking tray with parchment/grease proof paper.
8. Grab a small handful of cookie dough and mould into a ball. Place it on your tray and flatten a little. (You might have to cook them in batches.)
9. Pop your cookies into the oven for about 10-12mins. When they're done, they should be just starting to bronze on the edges.
• 200g unsalted butter, softened and extra for greasing
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 200g caster sugar
• 4 medium eggs
• 200g self-raising flour
• 250ml double cream
• 6tbsp raspberry jam
• Icing sugar for dusting
• Strawberry for decoration (optional)
1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Grease and flour 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl and beat well to a creamy consistency. Slowly beat in the eggs, one by one, then fold in the flour and mix well.
2. Divide the mix between the cake tins, place into the oven and bake for about 20 mins until risen and golden brown. The cakes should spring back when gently pushed in the middle. When ready, remove from the oven and allow cooling for 5 mins in the tin, before turning out onto a wire rack and cooling completely.
3. Spread the jam onto one cake and top with the cream. Sandwich the cakes together and place a large biscuit cutter over the cake and cut to get the uneven edge. Place a large strawberry on top for decoration and sprinkle with icing sugar.
And finally, remember to share! Check back next week where I will be sharing my latest high-street must haves and which pieces to look out for.