Is Creative Dress in the Workplace a Good Thing?

In the workplace it is necessary to give the requirements of your employer precedence over your own need for creative expression, at least until you have earned respect and credibility of sufficient magnitude to be able to express your true self as freely as you may like.

At work you are representing the business for which you work, and those who have the right to set the terms under which you work. It is best to initially dress to appear credible and trustworthy because until your employer knows you better, they may make judgments based on appearance alone.

If you work in a creative field such as fashion or design more flair may be appropriate. In more conservative fields you may need to tone down your fashion flair – at least while at work.

To get ahead, package yourself well for the role you have been employed for. Use the dress standards of those in the position above yours as a guide – as long as they dress well.

Be aware of any ‘Dress Codes’ that may apply, and adhere to them. It is better to start off a little on the conservative side and gradually add your creativity once you have firmly established yourself as a valuable member of your work team.

Work dress need not be boring or colourless. With considered choices you can look great, be yourself, and be noticed for all the RIGHT reasons!



Bases and Outerwear

Age-appropriate choices

Today I want to share about the use of Base outfits  and Outerwear.

In my Stress Free Dressing book one of the Mix and Match techniques discussed involves the use of Base outfits. A Base outfit is a top garment and a bottom garment that are similar enough in colour that they look the same from a distance. (Actually black is not a colour, but that is for another Blog!)

Outerwear is a garment you add over the top of a Base garment.

At an event where I was speaking I noticed the outfits of the two ladies pictured. Basically, they are using the same Mix and Match technique but each woman has adapted it to their age and comfort level.

On the right my daughter Erin is wearing a Base outfit of a pair of black shorts and a black singlet. She has dressed up a very simple combination and made the outfit interesting by adding Outerwear in the form of a colourful hip length vest. Although the picture does not show it, the vest has texture with a crocheted panel near the neck.

The other lady was a guest at the event. I asked her if she would help me by coming forward and allowing me to compare her outfit to Erin’s. Her choice was a black long sleeve tee-shirt top with black pants, to which she had added a cream long-line vest and a colourful and coordinating necklace.

The two ladies looked great and each felt comfortable in their outfit. The use of outerwear is a simple technique to dress up what could be quite ordinary clothing without the addition of the outerwear or other accessories.

If you enjoyed reading about this simple mix and match technique you will enjoy reading the many more easy tips explained in Stress Free Dressing which can be ordered from my website. In Australia it can also be ordered from your local bookstore however you may have a few weeks wait while they obtain it from the distributer in Melbourne.

Have a colourful day!


Stress Free Dressing Repairs – Keeping your favourite clothes working!

Hi Everyone!

I have been doing some traveling, which I love to do. Our travels had us house-sitting in Queensland on the east coast of Australia, rather than at home on the west coast.

Waikiki Beach from Diamond Head Lookout

Waikiki Beach from Diamond Head Lookout

We also recently returned from a two week holiday in Hawaii, a place that has been on our  bucket list for a long time. We stayed on the island of Oahu, where Honolulu is the city and Waikiki Beach is the tourist destination. Hawaii – from our experience – is an awesome place to holiday, but that is for another Blog another day!

Ok. So what happens when your favourite clothes start to fall apart at the seams, or other similar problems? Do we have to say goodbye to our favourites or might we be able to bring them back to life?

It depends on how difficult the repair is and your skill level, or what it will cost to have someone else do the repair for you. Weigh this all up against the value of the garment to you, or the cost and possibility of finding a replacement. I have documented repairs on a few things over the years and am going to show you one recent repair here.

Oldie but a goodie!

Oldie but a goodie!

My daughter Erin has had the pictured strapless dress for a number of years and it had served her well. It was not an expensive dress and she had worn it a lot, including to her graduation dinner when new, and it travelled with her too. It suited her well, was colourful and always looked pretty on her. The picture of Erin and her (now) husband was taken in Las Vegas several years ago.

The problem? The outside fabric was fine but the skirt lining had split quite significantly along one seam. Erin was prepared to let the dress go but I knew it would not be difficult to repair when I found what I needed.

Neaten the seam edges.

Neaten the seam edges.

My first step was to trim the frayed edges and overlock the two edges of the lining seam fabric to give it a fresh start. While this would further narrow the skirt fabric I knew it would be ok with what I had in mind.

The next step was to find something which I could use to stabilize the fabric, and to add a little width to the lining rather than taking it away with a conventional seam. I found some nice wide black lace and laid it over the split seam, carefully placing it to allow maximum width. (See photos at bottom of page.)

The last step was to carefully stitch the lace in place. The top end of the lace was turned under a little and the bottom end of the lace was turned up against itself and the lining. I machine stitched the lace in place, but as this was a lining it would be possible to hand sew it if necessary.

The good news is my daughter still has her dress, and the repair was not difficult. It just required the right materials to help me out, and a little time and patience to make the repair. It is satisfying to make a repair and keep on enjoying clothing that still works for you.

Until next time, Live Life to the Full!


Add the extra width required with pretty lace

Add the extra width required with pretty lace

Detail of lace pinned in place

Detail of lace pinned in place

Carefully stitch the lace to the lining fabric.

Carefully stitch the lace to the lining fabric.

Stress Free Dressing and Holiday Shopping

It is always beneficial to shop in readiness for a holiday or while you are on holidays.

Hi! I am Deb Sawyer, author of Stress Free Dressing How to Mix & Match with Confidence. This book helps women understand what they really want and need from their clothing, how to mix & match what they have, how to find and shop for what they are missing, and the mentality behind why it seems so difficult!

Why? Well many of us like to shop, but the benefit of buying clothes, accessories, or your favourite perfume to take on holidays or while you are away in a special place, is that wearing/seeing those clothes or accessories or perfume always transports me back to the place I purchased them, and the special memories that go with it!

 New 3/4 pants and shorts

New 3/4 pants and shorts

Of course it is better to know and buy what you need, rather than just buying random things for the sake of it. Although that often happens too! For my last holiday to Hawaii I knew I needed to replace 3/4 white pants, buy some new white shorts and I also wanted some shorts to go over my bathers. These were on my list purchases made before I left Australia, which I focused on and thus bought well. My other purchases were random! One was a pair of colourful, lightweight, print pants which are very much the trend at this time. The ones I found had plenty of colours in them to coordinate with tops I already have. The other find was a Pashmina – a nice warm shawl – which matched my travel handbag and would come in handy on the plane, and should I encounter cooler evenings in Hawaii (which I rarely did!)

Colourful pants, Pashmina and board shorts.

Colourful pants, Pashmina and board shorts.

Shopping in Hawaii was another matter altogether. Entirely random! Whether you like to shop upmarket, budget, or anywhere in-between, it is all available where we were staying on Oahu. My area of interest (led by my son who has holidayed in Hawaii several times before) was the discount stores. My grandbaby did very nicely from my shopping trips, and I found myself new sport footwear and sandals, and two lightweight cardigans which were replacements for well worn favourites. My luggage allowance was looking severely in danger, although my budget was looking great.

I can now have Hawaii moments every time I wear my holiday purchases. Keep this thought in mind when you are planning your next getaway.

My new tee shirt in use in Hawaii.

My new tee shirt in use in Hawaii.

Live Life to the Full!


Lifestyle and Clothing Choices

Are you adaptable in your dress? Can you switch from one lifestyle requirement to another and still feel & look your best?

Hi! I am Deb Sawyer, author of Stress Free Dressing How to Mix & Match with Confidence. This book helps women understand what they really want and need from their clothing, how to mix & match what they have, how to find and shop for what they are missing, and the mentality behind why it seems so difficult!

The Great Australian Bight

The Great Australian Bight

2015 has been a year of travel adventures for my husband and myself. We live in Perth, on the west coast of Australia, and have spent most of this year towing our caravan and exploring all along the south coast and up the east coast as far as Brisbane, Qld. We have ticked off a few ‘Bucket List’ items such as the Great Australian Bight (WA-SA) and the Great Ocean Road (VIC).

Warm and Colourful

Warm and Colourful

We have also worked on farms,stayed in cities,and been in many climates. These situations all require suitable clothing, which can be tricky at any time, but especially when you are traveling!

Sometimes you find you don’t quite have what you need, as things wear out of don’t quite fit right. I am frequently looking in Charity Shops for what I am missing. I found a great bright pink cotton cardigan in one for a few dollars, and two pair of perfectly fitting (no belt required!) brand new jeans in another for $1 each. I have worn and worn them! The same principles apply for Stress Free dressing no matter where you shop or what your price range is.

For a start:

  • You must NEED the clothing.
  • It must FIT well.
  • It must be in a colour which makes you LOOK GOOD. 
  • The care required must suit your available time and lifestyle. Ironing is not going to happen in a caravan.
Getting my hands dirty, but still wearing what suits me!

Getting my hands dirty, but still wearing what suits me!

We packed our ‘Farm Clothes’ too as we enjoy helping out in the country, as opposed to just looking at scenery. Mine are clothing I loved which have seen better days, but are still functional. So I feel good in them still, which is important.

We were very blessed to be able to explore our own beautiful country over many months. The last thing you want to do is fuss over what you are going to wear each day. My $1 jeans got a real workout as that is what suited much of the time. I carried a range of my best basics in jewellery, and I ALWAYS wear make-up. Even the bare minimum on the farm! It is what makes me feel (and look) the best I can!

Wearing my pink cotton cardigan on the Sea Cliff Bridge, near Wollongong, NSW.

Wearing my pink cotton cardigan on the Sea Cliff Bridge, near Wollongong, NSW.

Make the effort friends to get out and enjoy your life wherever you are. Dress the best you can and you will feel so much better for it!

If you wish to enquire about a Stress Free Dressing talk, or you would like to know about arranging a Wardrobe Workout to get your wardrobe sorted, please contact me via the website.

Live Life to the Full!

Theme Dressing is not Stress Free! But it is FUN!

Are you someone who cringes when you get an invitation with a requirement to dress to a theme?

Vintage dressing at its best

Vintage dressing at its best

Hi! I am Deb Sawyer, author of Stress Free Dressing How to Mix & Match with Confidence. This book helps women understand what they really want and need from their clothing, how to mix & match what they have, how to find and shop for what they are missing, and the mentality behind why it seems so difficult!

Some of us like to dress up, and some don’t. Personally I am on the DO side, although it is not always easy! I think if someone is going to the trouble of arranging a party or occasion and I am invited, and there is a theme, the least I can do is play along. Life is not for sitting on the sidelines and watching. It’s for joining in and having a go, and giving it your best shot. If that means dressing up, I’m in!

Recently I was invited to a friend’s Hen’s Night/Bachelorette Party. The dress requirement was “red, black and vampish”; interesting! Fortunately I have a daughter who is also into playing along with a theme (she IS my daughter, after all!), and although we are different heights and shapes, we are sufficiently similar in size to share some clothing. Thus I raided her dress-ups! img_311861791019319

The result was a fun night! The theme was carried through beautifully with the food, the décor and the photo set-up all tying in thoroughly. It is not difficult and it need not be expensive to pull off many themes. Enlist the help of friends, check out charity shops, buy a few inexpensive accessories and join in the fun. Play full out, and let your friends see you have truly made an effort for them!

Live Life to the Full!

Stress Free Dressing is available from

See Me – Wear Me!

The Stress Free Dressing way to add colour easily.


If you want to add colour and interest to your everyday dress or style you must be able to see your pieces with minimal effort.

At talks and while doing my Wardrobe Workouts with ladies I am often asked how I store my scarves, jewellery and other pieces of clothing.

I have made a point of hanging as much as is possible, because that way I can see it easily. That said, I have had the luxury of a large wardrobe space which just happened to come with our house. It has been re-fitted over the last couple of years and is now ‘perfect’. (Typically – just in time for us to move house! I have some serious culling to do to fit into smaller wardrobe space in future).

I will share some ways I store various items. Get your jewelry out from under your bed and put it on display! It is pretty as well as functional, and an easy way to dress yourself up without huge effort or expense.

I would love to see how you display your pretty accessories so we can all learn and enjoy.







For Erin on her 26th Birthday

Erin's childhood treasures

Recently I had a lovely time creating some memories for my daughter who is now a delightful young woman. As Mums do, I had kept some of her baby treasures until she was old enough to appreciate them. They include clothing, books and soft toys.

I am going to share them with you. In part, today’s post relates to looking after things so that they are in good enough condition to hand down the generations.

You will see a lot of Erin’s teddy-cat, who was called Puffy. In the picture here you will see what Puffy started out like, and what she ended up like after being ‘loved to death’! We purchased the new one (named Tasha) in case she lost the first one she was totally attached to, but she didn’t want to know about poor Tasha! Puffy has been re-stitched, re-dressed, re-stuffed and re-paired…but is now skinny and threadbare and pretty much beyond help!

Erin at 6 months with Grandma tickling her

Erin at 11 months

Erin's Tartan dress

On the right, Erin is exploring her back yard in a dress from her Scottish aunty; and with me (Deb), back when I sewed most of my clothes, and before I realized that I should never wear white!

Sitting comfortably on the kitchen bench

Here she is, sitting in the corner of my kitchen bench, with a slightly grubbier Puffy already in a new dress. (Note the trendy late 1970’s tiles!)

Almost 2 yrs and with her 2 big brothers’ Smurfs.

Erin at 2 and a bit

Matching flouro outfits

When your Mum sews, you and your Cabbage Patch doll get trendy matching fluro outfits! Erin dressed for a friend’s birthday party.

A jumper to match Erin's favourite book

I was always into craft pursuits and used fabric paint, leaf prints and stitching to transform a grubby, hand-me-down jumper into an artwork based on one of Erin’s favourite books.

I hope you have enjoyed my little journey back in time, and that you have some treasures to share with your loved ones. Maybe my ideas will help you do so. Have a colourful day!



Reduce the chance of Colour Runs

My colour washing drying in the shade

Let’s look at new and old ways to reduce the chance of colour runs in our laundry.

Today was the day for some hand washing which had been accumulating after a few special occasion wears. I don’t like to spoil any clothes with colours running, but I really don’t want it to happen with more expensive and/or special clothing pieces.

Eucalyptus scented wool wash

I use a wool wash containing Eucalyptus for my hand washing as it smells nice, and you don’t especially need to rinse it out. That works for me. Where I thought colour run was possible I added both of the products below. Overkill – but I couldn’t ignore the old method I usually rely on.

New (to me anyway!):

I was recently made aware of a product called Colour Catcher & Fabric Softener by a company called Punch, which they claim prevents colour runs  Freshens your clothing (*Read precautions before use).

The precautions include following the clothing label instructions, and washing dark and light washes separately.

2-in-1 Colour Catcher

Colour Catcher made by Punch


The thing I have always used to help stop colour runs is straight from the pantry – SALT! I guess it’s what our mothers and grandmothers used. I have certainly found it helpful in the past, and so easily available. I tend to keep a large container in the laundry.

I forgot to use it recently when I decided to re-wash some ‘treasures’ I had kept. They were some of my (now adult) daughter’s baby clothes and her favourite teddy-cat’s clothes. I ended up with some runs, which, while annoying, will not ruin the clothing after all this time. The teddy-clothes need replacing anyway.

My old-fashioned helper - Salt

Colour-run happened when I forgot the salt!

I will re-wash the red dress (which should have white – not pink – smocking) with Colour Catcher and see if it helps after the event. Don’t know why I forgot the salt, but these things happen!

We have to do these jobs but we can make them as simple as we can. Have fun!

 PS: I have re-washed the little red dress. I have to say I was absolutely stunned and delighted with the result. I put the dress in a bucket with the Colour Catcher sachet and forgot about it for a few hours. Risky really! When I noticed it again, the sachet was an orange red, but the little (previously pink) hearts on the dress were white again! I was amazed. It is one thing to stop colour running but quite another to remove the excess after the damage was done.

Even the old teddy-cat dress came out considerably better. The brown stains were removed, and the dye-runs lessened.

Before Colour Catcher

After Colour Catcher

Stunning results!

Old towels washed with colour catcher

What home remedy do you use in the laundry to keep your clothes looking fresh and new? Share your tips by commenting on this post.

Stepping out with Avon

Comfy strappy sandals from Avon

I recently ‘stepped out’, so to speak, for the first time and purchased a pair of ‘Strappy Wedge Sandals’ from AVON.

I have to say I am delighted with them! I am basically a size 8 (although as I often wear orthotics, I sometimes need a larger size) and ordered away. The sandals fits perfectly, and have a stud fastening which allows a reasonable adjustment.

They are amazingly light and cushioned, as they have a rubber wedge.

The reasons I took the chance on the purchase – apart from loving red – were:

* To get a shoe with height that was still quite ‘flat’ under my foot.

* The straps cross-over fairly low on your foot which visually lengthens your leg. While I have long legs I prefer to avoid a visually shortening ankle strap.

* I don’t like the feel of toe thongs so the open sandal look appealed to me.

* I have been looking to replace a couple of red pair of sandals with a really nice – but comfortable – pair.

* They cost $39.95 which is pretty reasonable.

Looking good in red

I have received many positive comments when I have worn the sandals, so I know they are definitely winners. Avon has many other shoe and boot styles, and a great returns policy, so it is likely more shoe purchases will follow!