Q I read with interest your recent feature on bikinis and beach wear. Let's face it, Darren, us older ladies are beyond our bikini days! I'm heading for France and will swim daily. I'm wondering what swimwear you might suggest?
Mary (55+), North East
A Mary, I hear you loud and clear! One-piece swimsuits are the way to go as they provide the perfect balance of functionality and sophistication. Trend-wise, take inspiration from the pin-ups of the 1950s for some poolside retro glamour. Tesco's red one-shoulder swimsuit with frill detail hits the mark and for €14.50 you can't go far wrong. Polka dots are always an elegant choice. This one by Seaspray, which specialises in creating designs to flatter women from sizes 10-20, has been given a modern twist (€85 from Arnotts).
For a look that screams 'Jackie O in the sun', look no further than French label Princess Tam Tam's glamorous striped halter neck costume (€105, Arnotts). Australian swimwear brand Sunseeker has embraced a much more tribal vibe to produce a classical yet contemporary selection of prints.
If your ultimate goal is extra support, Spanx has a range of swimsuits that will do just that. Be prepared to pay as they don't come cheap. For instance, the Sapphire woven strap one is €214 (Brown Thomas). If you end up looking as good as she does, it will be worth every cent.
Bon courage et bon voyage!
Q: I see colour and colour blocking is a major trend this season but I'm really not a colour person, never have been. I'm not shy in any way, I just don't particularly like wearing garish colours. What would you suggest as an alternative for those of us who are colour-shy this summer?
Debbie (33), Cork.
A: Parisians are renowned for being sleek, chic and confident dressers. Sandro is an über cool French label that embodies this much soughtafter feminine style. Its collection includes graphic Tees, urban shirt-dresses and crop denim jackets that have fashion darlings like Alexa Chung swooning. Any girl worth her fashion-salt will be tucking in. Personally, I think they've got it so right with the ‘Piccolo' black jumpsuit (€165, Brown Thomas). Similarly, the current collections by Mexx allow you to add a pop of colour if desired while sticking to what they do best — clothes that are smart, casual and style orientated. Their featherprint dress (€69.95) in blue and grey epitomises this. It allows for an injection of colour through accessoriesor looks chic on its own.
Q: I just got a job, thank God, and I start work in one month. It's in an international, professional firm. In my apprenticeship, everything was very relaxed and I could wear jeans. My offer letter says I should wear ‘smart attire' but when I attended the interview I noticed 90pc of the people I saw were wearing suits and quite formal clothes. Obviously, I want to make a good impression and look sharp. Could you recommend any good business wear shops, Darren?
Sonia (26), Dublin.
A: It's more important now than ever to look the part in our professional lives and especially in the early stages of a new job you want to hit the right note. I would advise quality investment pieces, rather than high-fashion, at least until you settle in and know what is acceptable. Elizabeth & Claire is an Irish boutique that specialises in business wear for women.
The current line comprises a capsule collection of sharp, demure pieces. Team the ‘Louise' polka dot shirt (€150) with a black skirt or fitted trousers for a modern silhouette. In terms of skirts, go for knee-length styles and shapes that can be worn as separates or as suits.
If you'd prefer some colour, the range also includes some bright pieces such as the peach ‘Elodie' dress (€295). A blazer is a must. Your first port of call on the highstreet should be Zara which stocks well cut jackets. Black or grey are great trans-seasonal pieces while cream is nice for summer.