The Collective

Autumn Wardrobe Digest

autumn-wardrobe-carolyn-asome

I know, I know, it’s not very 2017 to be buying head to toe anything and really, unless you’re a Russian oligarch’s moll, few of us spend tens of thousands updating a winter wardrobe. Still, that “back to school/ university/ job /life without school children clawing at your knees all day” feeling- the last one a particularly  delicious one – signals the moment to reassess the change in seasons and much more importantly, your wardrobe.

Since late July, the magazines have been full of thigh-high boot chat but I like to think that most of us prefer to buy autumn clobber when there is genuinely a chill in the air and when we’re not trying to dredge up the dregs of a summer sun tan. So here is a round-up of items that that will instantly update and add vim to what you already own. Heck, they’re pretty classic (and thankfully practical) items so they may already be lurking in your wardrobe if you’ve been canny enough to hold on to past goodies. In any case the following should see you right through to April. In Gill’s words, let’s do it. Read More…

Why We Need To Stop Worrying!

seize the day

‘The things we worry about are mostly the things that never happen”

Who doesn’t like a life maxim? Admittedly the myriad ways exhorting us to Carpe Diem on Instagram can get a little nauseating . You won’t catch me adding ‘ #blessed’ to a post any time soon, but generally , my guilty pleasure is  positive nuggets and the wisdom they impart. It was however, the above choice words from the the writer Lucia Van der Post which really made me sit up and think. They are the words which have had the most profound impact on how I live my life on a day to day basis.

I’d never really thought of the pointlessness of my worrying before. I ran through all the things I spent my life worrying about, the various different outcomes to the many “problems” I felt I had (NB, I use the word “problems” loosely here).  Even when there was nothing to worry about, I would be worrying about not worrying. I KNOW!! Read More…

Emotional Intelligence

natural growth

Who doesn’t love a list? For most of us, it’s the proverbial endless to-do-one, but recently I’ve been compiling a mental checklist of things I wish they’d taught us at school. How many times in the past twenty years have you used your simultaneous equations? My point exactly. Instead, how handy would it have been to learn – and in no particular order – how not to get gazumped, the truth about childbirth, how to avoid the divorce courts when you have two under-fives or the best way to navigate the work place which, let’s face it, is where most of us will be spending a very long time.

Oh how I wished I had known a bit more about emotional intelligence when I started out twenty something years ago. There should be compulsory A-levels on this topic. It’s the single most useful skill that will help you thrive in life and the work place. And way more important than any career service at school or university will impress on you. It’s that ability to work out how you fit into a situation and be sensitive as to how you are perceived. Certainly it will help you manipulate a meeting to your best advantage if you are able to ‘read’ the emotions of others and learn to say the right thing to obtain the right result. Your double first from Oxbridge will resonate far less if you are arrogant and unable to see beyond the end of your nose.

In his 1995 book, Emotional intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ, psychologist Daniel Goleman described EQ as knowing how to handle feelings without being swamped, being able to motivate oneself to get jobs done, being creative and performing to one’s peak and sensing what other people are feeling.

While we are pretty much stuck with our IQ level, emotional intelligence can be developed until well into our 40s regardless apparently of whether someone is a born leader or not with most people bolstering their work performance by improving their EQ.

How to improve your EQ?

  • At the core of trying to achieve this is learning to become a better listener.

Hard I know in today’s selfie/ selfish/ self-promoting society where we are all encouraged to wade or ‘lean’ in. The more you listen however, the more intuitive you become and more in tune with your gut although that’s a whole other topic. A lot of the time it pays to hang back, listen, don’t be a bull in a china shop.

  • Be more self-aware

Another step on the path to improving your EQ is knowing yourself ie becoming more self-aware and understanding –or being honest and admitting – your strengths and your weaknesses. This is easier said than done because few of us like a long, hard stare in the mirror.

Feedback from bosses and colleagues can be enlightening and provide meaningful insight into any behaviour we need to develop or change. Try to be open-minded and not too sensitive or defensive.

It’s also worth asking what you might have done differently. Again, easier said than done. Obviously it’s not possible to be entirely immune to other people’s opinions. Something a former boss once said to me still rings in my ears and still irks. But she was right and I am a much happier and more positive person for addressing her observation.

Some people find it useful to have a mentor or a business coach to help them (really, a truthful, no-nonsense friend would work equally as well if the above doesn’t feel appropriate). Look on the feedback as the opportunity for growth, and the chance to improve. This exercise is not a popularity contest so you might have to get used to sucking up a few harsh truths.

  • Developing greater empathy is essential.

A good way to do this is to put yourself in other people’s shoes and try and avoid being judgemental. Remember, not everyone is like you. A person who has empathy, has compassion and an understanding of human nature that allows him/her to connect with other people on an emotional level.

Remember: you don’t know everyone’s background story day to day. Do you really know why your usually easy going colleague has just snapped at you? Take the time to find out; there’s nearly always a reason, and sometimes, with a bit of prodding from you, they might be quite pleased to discuss it.

A knee jerk reaction often is to go on the defence. But often that judgement or criticism is not directed at you. Sometimes it’s not about you at all , but rather what someone else is thinking and their own perceptions projected onto you. In fact, it’s almost always about them, their issues, their needs and their wishes to control or manipulate a situation.

It’s also worth paying attention to when you feel negative emotions. They are usually a sign. If you are frustrated, ask yourself why. If you have explained the same thing three times and people still don’t understand what you mean, take responsibility.

  • Have the courage to admit you are wrong. Often!

Admitting mistakes and learning from them shows character, integrity and that you’re not a robot. No one likes a smug person. We instinctively warm to people who are only too happy to show their shortcomings (again back to empathy).

Emotionally intelligent people are self-motivated. They’re also not motivated simply by money or a job title. They are usually resilient and optimistic when they encounter disappointment and driven by an inner ambition.

People who are emotionally intelligent are able to build up trust quickly with others on their teams. They avoid – and er, don’t waste time in needless power struggles, bitching and backstabbing. They usually enjoy other people and have the respect of others around them. Little wonder that they soar in life and in the work place.

How To Do Jet Set

holding brown luggage

I’m going to ‘fess up here. Such is my obsession with holiday clothing that I don’t think I could go on long enough a holiday to justify the amount of kaftans, pretty wisps of broderie anglaise, baskets, hats – oh God how many straw hats?? – stripe linen beach towels (at least 10 of differing stripe widths) and a myriad colours.

Some women love jewellery, heels and designer handbags, I was born wired to collect raffia.

My mother has no idea why anyone would want to get dressed up for a holiday. For her, a holiday is the chance to totally slob out and to hell with what anyone else thinks. Read More…

Don’t Underestimate The Classics

Clothes rail

A funny thing is happening in fashion right now. Clothes – wardrobe must-haves such as the trench, a great stripe shirt, the right pair of boyfit jeans, a pair of monk-strap brogues- items that would once upon a time have been written off as boring classics are having a moment. Of course, they’re hardly ever referred to as such because if you see how many of these items are merchandised on designer websites, they are described variously as spliced trench coats, asymmetric/ deconstructed shirting – and all the handiwork of some of the hottest talent in fashion right now. Read More…

The Great Wedding Guest Conundrum

RSVP

Few social occasions are more likely to throw you into a sartorial tailspin than dressing for a wedding. Is knee-length your safest bet? Or should you throw caution to the wind in a midi-calf dress? Will the photographer mistake you for the bride if you turn up in white or cream? And why are MOTBs (mothers-of-the-bride) nearly always swayed by scarlet, or worse still saccharine pastels?

What role you have as a guest will be a major deciding factor in what you wear. Deciphering the invitation is also crucial to making an informed style choice — if the bride is saying her vows barefoot in a field, then clearly no one is going to bat an eyelid when you turn up hatless in a maxi dress. If the nuptials are at St. Paul’s, then hippy dippy is not the way to go. Read More…