Deciphering Dress Codes – Made Easy

Have you ever been invited to a function and been unsure of the correct style of outfit to wear? Most of us have – whether it’s a beach wedding, a business awards night or a fundraiser,  dressing for an occasion that is not a usual part of our daily life can be confusing and leave you feeling less confident that you would like to be feeling!

Your first step is to check the invitation for the dress code. Hopefully the expectations of the host in regard to guest attire will be clear, and this is usually the case with weddings. You might see the words ‘Formal’, ‘Smart Casual’ or ‘Cocktail’, for example.

If you’re attending an event such as a ball, fundraiser or business awards, the dress code may not be so clear, although clues are often in the title of the event – a black tie ball or a cocktail party fundraiser etc. If it’s an annual event, perhaps you can have a look at websites and/or social media pages for photos from previous years for guidance.

Smart Casual

Probably the trickiest of all dress codes, and you really have to consider what type of function you’re going to – what might be considered smart casual for one event might be too casual or dressy for another. Generally though pants, above the knee dresses and flat shoes are all acceptable.



A knee length dress (above, on or below the knee – whichever suits you best), an evening pantsuit, dress pants and evening top are all appropriate. If you’re a clever dresser, you can go straight from work to play by wearing a simple but well fitted dress, and then changing your shoes, accessories and lipstick.

It’s really best to avoid wearing a full length dress to a cocktail event – especially if it’s a wedding.


Anthea Crawford dress

Black Tie

Black tie events generally start after 6 pm, and are pretty fancy! Men will be tuxedos (yummo!). Floor length gowns are traditionally worn to black tie events, but in this day and age, a cocktail dress in rich colour or fabric will suffice – just make sure your accessories, hair and make-up are immaculate so you don’t look too casual.

White Tie

The most formal of the formal. Dress in a floor length gown, adding gloves and wearing your hair up.

white tie.jpg

Photo from Vogue

Can you wear white to a wedding?

Although it’s becoming more common, I’d check with the bride. The safe bet, though, is not to, as even if the bride doesn’t mind, you can bet someone will take offence at your ‘attempt to steal the bride’s thunder’!


Remember you will feel more comfortable if your outfit matches your style personality so try and stay as true as you can!


I am available for Personal Style workshops, public speaking, wardrobe and colour consultations and personal shopping styling sessions, based in Perth, Western Australia.






Three Wardrobe basics to buy during Winter Sales.


Winter sales are about to start in most clothing stores and although I’m not an advocate of waiting for it to go on sale before buying a garment, here are three items that you need in your winter wardrobe and can be bought on sale.

  1. Coat.


Metalicus Austin Textured Coat $199 (was $299.95)

A good quality coat in a timeless style will last much longer than just one winter.  A beige trench coat or a classically styled wool coat can be almost an investment, so buy the best quality you can afford. Which is even better if the coat is on sale. Make sure the colour and style will mix and match with your current wardrobe – you will want to be able to wear your new coat with everything. Look for a flattering fit and length.

2. Jeans

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Jeanswest Tummy Trimmer Slim Straight $23.99, reduced from $69.99

Sale time is the perfect time to buy a high quality pair of jeans. When trying on jeans, remember that they will give almost a full size, so make sure the fit is super snug. Generally speaking, if you want a dressier pair of jeans, choose dark or black denim, but for a casual look, go for a lighter or faded denim. And yes, no matter what your age is, you can wear ripped jeans, while they remain on trend. For solving problems often encountered with buying jeans, read my blog here.

3. Leather boots.


Sandler Lennox Black Glove boots at Myer $174.96, reduced from $249.95

Not only will you be stepping out in style with a brand new pair of stylish leather boots, you’ll also have a spring in your step if you managed to get them at discounted price!

One of the most important thing about choosing boots, besides comfort, is the correct length. A flattering boot will lengthen and slim your legs, while the wrong boot will do the reverse. Choose a style that fits with the clothing you already own – if you have a wardrobe full of classic clothing, a pair of cowboy boots are not going to get much wear!


I am available for Personal Style workshops, public speaking, wardrobe and colour consultations and personal shopping styling sessions, based in Perth, Western Australia.

Using a Personal Stylist – Why it’s the New Norm

In the early 1990’s, I was a young mother of two working part time as an aerobics instructor at various local Tasmanian fitness centres. One day, I came home and told my husband that I had an idea for a business, but that I would need to travel to mainland Australia to do the training for it. I discussed my idea with a few close friends, most of whom told me to forget it. I was living in a small Tasmanian city, and they could not see how my business vision would ever work.

No-one in their right minds would ever pay $20 an hour to have someone physically train them – personal trainers were only for the very wealthy and famous. I persisted and became one of Tasmania’s first female personal trainers.


Me! Circa 1995 – Photo by  Karleen Minney

More than twenty years later, Personal Trainers are used commonly by the general population. Everyone I know has used one at some stage, for a variety of reason.

A few years ago, as owner and manager of a fashion boutique, I did a Graduate Certificate of Business at University of Tasmania, and completed an assignment predicting that, in the same way people now use personal trainers to maximise their fitness goals, there would be a rapid growth in the use of Personal Stylists.

Why use a Personal Stylist?

We live busier lives these days, with different priorities. The rise of social media has made us become very much aware of the importance of our image. More and more women and men are choosing to use a stylist to help with their wardrobe, either on a one off basis, or two to three times a year.  You may think it’s expensive (around $100 per hour is an average fee) but go and add up how many items you have in your wardrobe that you’ve only worn once or twice, or, even worse, never. And how many hours and hours have you wasted trying to find the right outfit!

Instead of thinking “Can I afford to use a stylist?” ask yourself if you can afford not too?


Who uses Paterson Personal Styling?

Most of my clients are not rich and famous – most of them are everyday women living in normal circumstances who are feeling frustrated  and lost with their clothing and that their clothing doesn’t really reflect who they are and is not flattering to their body shape and colouring.

And I can fix that!

The benefits of using me as your Personal Stylist

My clients come to me because it saves them a lot of time and stress, and also quite a bit of money. Together we create a wardrobe that mixes and matches, is flattering shape wise and colour wise, and is in line with their lifestyle, personality and, importantly, budget.

before after 2

And you know what I love about personal styling particularly  in comparison to personal training?

The results are IMMEDIATE! I can make you look younger, slimmer and taller in about two hours!

Without you even breaking a sweat!


I am available for Personal Style workshops, public speaking, wardrobe and colour consultations and personal shopping styling sessions, based in Perth, Western Australia.


Building Your Brand Using Your Wardrobe

In a recent blog post I explained the importance of making a good impression – in a nutshell, you have three seconds. So you can see that most first impressions will be based on body language and appearance.

Although most of us aware that it’s not nice to judge someone based on the way they look, we are doing it subconsciously all the time, and similarly, others are also making assumptions about us.

For the business person, using your wardrobe as part of your personal branding is a great strategy.cropped-robyn-paterson-19.jpg

Dress to reflect not only your personality, but also your business. And not just your business, but the most successful vision of your business. In other words- as Roxette once sang about – get dressed for success.

Today, I am talking specifically to owner/operators about how you can  enhance not only your own personal style, but also use your wardrobe to create an awesome personal brand for your business.

There’s a lot of stuff on the web about this, but I noticed that it’s quite generic. And yet, as small business owners, we are not generic! And the clothes we wear when conducting our business should not be generic either- we should radiate the essence of our business and reflect its personality.

But how do you give your business a style personality?

If you were to put your ‘why’, mission statement, point of difference, unique selling point AND you into a blender, what words would come out?

Professional, ethical and honest? Trustworthy? These are obvious words and most articles on wardrobes and branding are based on creating the image that you are all of the above.

But go further than just that. Look for the words that are less generic, more individual and unique. These words help you define the personality of your business.

For example, is your business creative or artistic?  Remember, you have only three seconds to impress upon your potential client that you are not only professional, ethical, honest – you are also creative and artistic, so your clothes should have an element of creativity or even drama about them.

Style a wardrobe to reflectyour business personality, in it’s most successful form.

You will be very comfortable wearing your ne
w work wardrobe, as it’s based  both, on you personally, as well as the fundamentals of your business. Think of your wardrobe as a logo for your business.jpg

I am available for Personal Style workshops, public speaking, wardrobe and colour consultations and personal shopping styling sessions, based in Perth, Western Australia.









Three ways to instantly looking slimmer!

What if I told you I can make you look like you’ve lost up to 10 kilos, without you even breaking a sweat?

While working as a stylist, I’ve learned many little tips and tricks (at least 25) that help to visually slim a body, and depending on your size, combining some of these will visually take up to ten kilos off you! Before I go any further, I personally believe that being slim is not the be all and end all of anything, but, while working as a stylist, I’ve learned that many women  do desire to look slimmer and it’s often part of the brief when hiring my services.

So here are three of my favourite and easiest tips:


  1. Push your sleeves up to just below your elbow to expose your wrists. Wrists are always proportionally slim and an attractive body part, so show them off. Highlight wrists with bangles, watches, bracelets etc to draw the eye towards them.

nude shoes

2. Match your hosiery to your shoes. This creates a longer, leaner looking leg. In summer, this means nude shoes.

v neck

3. Wear a deep V neckline (within reason!) . A deep V creates up/down eye movement, which is slimming. Balance wider hips with a wider neckline.

Each of these tips will visually take one to two kilos off – and I have over twenty more of them! If you would like to learn more, why not book into one of upcoming workshops, either in Devonport, Tasmania, or Rockingham, Perth, WA?

Returns: Repair, Replace or Refund?

A few days ago I bought an item at a store. It’s not an owner/operator store, but a nationwide chain store.

At the checkout, the sales assistant said to me “If there any problems, you can bring [the item] back for a store credit or replacement. We don’t give refunds.”

It’s actually illegal to say this. Because, by law, if an item is faulty the store MAY have to give a refund. But not always – it depends on the fault.

An example of a good store policy sign

  An example of a good store policy sign

This sign gives the impression that the store will not give refunds or exchanges, under any circumstances.

This sign gives the impression that the store will not give refunds or exchanges, under any circumstances.

If it’s a major fault, the customer can choose a refund, replacement or repair. On an item of clothing, a major fault would be something like the fabric tearing or fraying at the seam (on the first wear, and providing the garment is the correct size), or the colour running even though washing instructions were adhered to.

With a minor fault, the store gets to choose whether to repair, replace or refund. Buttons coming off, for example, is a minor fault.

If you simply change your mind, no matter what the reason is, then it’s entirely up to the store as to whether they refund, give store credit or do nothing at all.

To avoid any problems, always keep your receipts until the refund/return time has lapsed. The time frame will depend on the garment and it’s intended use. You can’t expect to return a garment that you’ve worn dozens of times before the problem arose.

Always wash in accordance with the instructions on the garment.

Lastly, deal with it as soon as you possibly can. Even if it’s a genuine fault, you’ll have your work cut out if you leave it for a few months before attempting to get a refund.

For more information, click here.

8 Steps to Developing your Clothing Style Personality

When we are young girls most of us prefer to conform when it comes to fashion. It’s very common to see groups of teens out all wearing a ‘uniform’ – same style jeans, same style top etc. etc.                              teenage-girls-008 I’m sure we can all remember the stares, whispers and giggles aimed at the teenager who dared to be different in her dress style. As we mature, we realise what that girl actually had done – she had found her personal sense of style and owned it.  The best dressed women (and men) completely own their individual clothing personality. Celebrities employ stylists to create and maintain their style personality. They become famous for their dress style. Think of Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Princess Diana, Miranda Kerr and Olivia Palermo. It’s so much more than just buying the latest fashion. 

Olivia Palermo

Olivia Palermo

Do you find you feel more comfortable in certain items in your wardrobe but others, for no apparent reason, make you feel like your wearing someone else’s clothes? Everyone naturally veers towards a couple of personal dress styles – it could be classic, bohemian, elegant or one of the many others. When you wear something outside of your natural leaning, you’ll feel uncomfortable, no matter how good you look. To find and then develop your clothing style personality, here’s a few steps:

1. Know yourself. The way you dress should reflect who you are – your likes, your interests, where you’ve come from and where you want to go. First impressions count, so show people who you are.

2. Get some inspiration. When you are watching movies, TV or surfing the net take note if you see an outfit that really appeals and ‘jumps out’ at you. Julie Bishop, Kate Middleton and Jennifer Aniston are names I regularly hear from my clients.                                    .CHOGM-Julie-Bishop Create a “My Style” board on Pinterest and follow pinners and boards that have similar tastes to you.

3. Know your proportions. Knowing your body shape both vertically and horizontally, and the accompanying ‘rules’ of what to wear and what to avoid is an imperative part of being well dressed. I recommend that you use a Personal Stylist to help you – from my own experience, most women have the wrong idea of their body shape.

4. Find out which colours suit you best. Not just those that physically suit you, but those that also suit your personality.

5. Don’t let your friends influence you. How they dress is their own style. You need to make independent selections based on who you are and how you want others to see you.

6. Clear out the clothes cluttering your style. So you bought a hideously expensive tan suede jacket with tassels. On a whim. Never worn it. It doesn’t match any of your other mostly classic and elegant clothes. Get rid of it. Get. Rid. Of. It.

7. Practice. Remember when you were a little girl and played dress ups? Spend an afternoon having fun with your clothes. Put together new outfits and take apart ‘worn to death’ outfits. Mixing, matching and accessorising will lead you to exciting new combinations without spending a cent.  8a359c57584c6cd0eba9931e16ddc25a

8. Have a signature piece. Jackie Onassis and large sunglasses. Queen Elizabeth and pearls. Alannah Hill and red lipstick. Need I say more?

As Rachel Zoe says “Style is a way of saying who you are, without having to speak”.