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Dress up to cheer up!


Dress up to cheer up!

Written by Fiona Ingham

The latest from our House of Colour blogger Fiona Ingham

The first lockdown led to dress down. Comfort became paramount. A casual dress code replaced smart casual, to the dismay of some and delight of others. Tee shirts, hoodies and leggings were WFH wear.

Now’s a good time to review the wardrobe, so in this second lockdown and through to the Christmas season, when restrictions may be eased, what do we actually need?

Where to begin?

Back in summertime the living was easy. We could socialise outdoors in comfort. Winter will bring a different tale. I choose to embrace the maxim ‘there’s no bad weather only bad clothes’ and am preparing accordingly.

We might want to meet in a park with a socially distanced takeaway coffee or maybe by Christmas enjoy a winter picnic with a chosen few.

With that in mind a heat tech vest is my closest friend. Large, cosy, colourful Scandi sweaters fit the bill. Heat tech or cashmere leggings work well under my boot cut jeans. I bought a long, hooded duvet coat, graded DWR (durable water repellent) in a size up to accommodate layers.

My fleece lined Peruvian hat with earflaps will be invaluable as the temperature plunges as will fingerless gloves. On trend fake fur gilets and slim puffer body warmers layer well as do the current waistcoats, tank tops and even the cardigans with a strange resemblance to one I chose as my Dad’s Christmas present circa 1971!


Having happy feet...

I’ve splashed out on delicious chocolate Ugg boots for dry cold and have some old red wellies for rain and mud. They will complete my effortlessly chic look aka Michelin Man meets gnome. But if I’m cosy who cares!

My mask, glasses, credit cards, keys, hand sanitiser, shopping bag and of course my rust lipstick go in one of my Healthy Back Bags, Dark Olive or Terracotta, depending on my mood. Practical and perfect to jazz up my look, and I’m ready to go!

Its not all outdoors

Indoors we will want comfort, consequently stylish luxury pyjamas are on offer claiming bed to dinner appropriateness! Shackets and coatigans are the latest relaxed hybrids.

At some point there might be opportunities to dress up. A sparkly top for a virtual office party or if we’re socialising IRL (in real life) a relaxed midi dress, plain or patterned, to which a fine roll neck or the aforementioned fake fur gilet can be added, will put ‘festive’ into the ‘Festive Season’. Probably worn with trainers, boots or flats or maybe the excitement of getting out those heels!

Microfibre Nile Blue S

From a distance...

A Zoom Boom in cosmetic procedures has been reported because women, even in the first flush of youth, don’t like their look on screen. Why not first try out the difference a great lipstick and a blusher can make?

‘Waist up’ ‘Above the keyboard’ dressing calls for colourful tops and interesting necklines or a statement necklace to make impact amidst the grey squares of video conferencing. A jacket can confer authority and aid confidence in the WFH setting. Its formality separates work from home which can be helpful if the two have become blurred. No need to buy if there’s a suitable one or three lurking in the wardrobe.

The power of clothing is immense. Let’s harness our wardrobes to bring some comfort and Joy at this time.

stripey dress and blusher copy

Fiona Ingham

Consistent holder of the House of Colour Star Consultant award each year since 1991 plus the new Double and Triple Star Consultant award for 2020. Winner of the Business Development Award and Team Productivity Award and also a 2017 Livewire Innovation and Excellence Award.

Colour Analysis can be a private, Individual session or Duo session where two friends attend together in the Primrose Hill studio.

Personal Style can be an Individual session or a Duo session for two friends in the studio OR an Individual session on Zoom for clients who live further away.

Please email or call for full information.

[email protected]
07791 507534

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7 things we grew this summer

things we grew

7 things we grew this summer

Written by Clare Elson 

I think we’ve all had some free time recently, and we have all tried to keep our sanity in check in various different ways. Our team took to their inner gardeners to grow some wonderfully diverse produce, straight from their own homes!

1. Anthurium Clarinervium

We weren’t entirely sure what Darcy, our Digital Marketing Manager, meant when he mentioned he’d been growing this over the summer but his plant is a bit of a show stopper. Also known as ‘Flamingo Flower’ it has striking heart-shaped leaves and a velvety texture. The plant originates from Mexico but clearly is quite happy at home with Darcy and his housemates in East London

2. Tomatoes

Who doesn’t love home grown tomatoes? Easy to grow in a sunny corner or on a windowsill, they have been brightening up summer salads in Clare’s house. The green ones can be made into green tomato chutney and stored for the autumn when a little summer burst of flavour is needed.


3. Avocado plants

The most extraordinary things to grow. You’d imagine only the hottest climates would produce Avocados but apparently not. Just take a regular avocado stone, suspend one end in water and just wait for it to sprout roots and start growing. You can buy special avocado vases to do this or just improvise with a jam jar and a few cocktail sticks and enjoy watching as the plant springs to life. Then just plant it in soil and watch it grow and grow.


4. Lemon Verbina

Priscilla has a rather impressive herb garden and aside from the more well known Rosemary, Sage and Mint, she grows Lemon Verbena. Easy to grow in the garden, a plant pot or a sunny window box it’s a perfect for flavouring all kinds of dishes, it can also be used as a herbal tea. An excellent way to detox after a summer of lockdown snacking!

5. Potatoes

Helene is known for her green fingers and spends most weekends at her allotment. She also grows potatoes in sacks in her back garden. Easy to grow, you simply fill an old bin, a grow bag or an old sack half full with compost and plant a couple of whole potatoes inside. Once you start to see the green shoots emerge above the soil, cover with a bit more compost, wait until they emerge again and then repeat. Easy!

6. Strawberries

Karen’s been growing strawberries in hanging baskets. A perfect addition to breakfast cereal, porridge or in a cocktail, her top tip is to make sure they don’t get too waterlogged. And they look so pretty too!

7. Celery

Beate’s growing tip this summer is celery. Amazingly easy to grow – you just put the root of an existing head of celery once you’ve eaten it in shallow water (use cocktail sticks to suspend it like the avocado plant) and after about a week a new head will emerge. Plant it in a pot of soil and within a few weeks you’ll have your very own celery!

Not everyone has green fingers…

This was going to be a list of 8 different things we’ve grown, but then we asked Jack. It turns out that although he may be a digital wizard, plants wilt at his mere presence! It just goes to show that not everyone is suited to the good life.


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11 Excellent Alternative Exercise Ideas




You know this, but it can be hard to motivate yourself. Even with the knowledge that it’ll make you happier and it improves you brain function. It’s been a long day in the office and all you want to do is relax, enjoy a nice dinner and watch the newest show on Netflix. Going to the gym is boring, there isn’t much way round that and it can be hard to feel like you’re achieving anything so you gradually phase out that part of your life.

We understand, so we’ve come up with these 11 Alternative exercise options to help you find your exercise passion.


More commonly associated with strippers in American blockbusters this is one of the best exercise classes out there. It requires a huge amount of fitness, strength and core muscles to do those moves.

Paddle Board Yoga


Yoga is about balance, what better way to advance your balancing skills than by decreasing the stability of the surface you are on? This is a seasonal class that you can even find out on the river Thames. Buoyancy aids and wetsuits are available. It would certainly give you plenty of motivation to improve your form.


Unless you’re scared of heights this sounds like great fun. Soar through the air, flip and twist. It requires good upper body strength and will quickly develop your stamina.


Take your childhood passion and turn it into some seriously impressive skills. Hulafit runs sessions across the city. Soundtracked with bangers from Britney and Beyoncé, they’re suitable for beginners, but will soon have newbies doing hoop tricks like pros – while toning up abs, legs and arms.


This one is a favourite of Nancy’s. It is all about control and strength. These classes involve techniques from dance, yoga and fitness. The specific sequences will encourage muscles to stretch and strengthen, leaving you calm and relaxed. Be prepared to entangle yourself in strangely long and twisty positions.


This isn’t so much about the dog as giving yourself a purpose and cute furry companion to go out for a long walk or run. Try and wear your dog out. It will likely never happen, you’ll just get it more excited. Let it run behind you as you cycle or jog along with you. Plan out a long walk at least once a week.

Grab one of our Large Bagletts to carry all your dog walking essentials with you!

Baglett With dog treats


Become a clown… okay, we joke. But you can find yourself one of the many ‘Cirque du Soleil’ style workouts which involve dangling for long periods of time as you try to regain some interpretation of up.


This may seem like fun and games, and that’s the point, but this is a really serious question of your leg strength and overall stamina.


Not only could this come in useful one day (although hopefully not) martial arts require feats of strength, balance, skill and fitness. There are classes for all skill levels and ages, you can take up contact or non-contact.



What’s your favourite sport?

Sports are great ways to exercise and it doesn’t have to be some high intensity game like rugby to count. Try tennis or golf perhaps. Great excuses to enjoy some of the outside world and stretch your legs a bit.



Get ready to get sweaty. They crank up the heat and put you through a series of vigorous yoga poses. You’ll need a shower after this one there’s no doubt about it. After a few classes though it’ll begin getting easier and you won’t be nearly as stiff. (I don’t think we need an image of sweaty yoga people…)


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Dark Chocolate May Actually be a Superfood

chocolate could be a superfood

Dark Chocolate the superfood

Despite ourselves we love chocolate in the HBB office, especially dark chocolate, maybe paired with a dark fruity red wine. And that got us to thinking, we’ve all heard the rumours about dark chocolate having health benefits. But if you ask anyone with they will always attempt to justify their cheeky indulgence.As a writer I like to tell people that beer makes me more creative for example. It’s not true, but I still like to tell people this.So, we decided to explore the possibilities, whilst we nibbled upon our Green and Blacks, that maybe, just maybe, dark chocolate truly was is the health food that chocoholics having been claiming all along.

6 Ways Dark Chocolate is Healthy… in moderation.

1. It’s helps you have a healthy heart

That’s right. When you eat dark chocolate it gets eaten by good bacteria in the gut which “grow and ferment it, producing compounds that are anti-inflammatory.” said John Finley Ph.D., who led a recent study. “When these compounds are absorbed by the body, they lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue,” this lessens arterial stiffness and helps prevent white blood cell adhesion, both of which are common causes of arterial clogging which can lead to strokes. If this doesn’t make it a superfood, we don’t know what will.

Chocolate Heart

2. It’s actually pretty nutritious

A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains for example, on average contains:
11 grams of fiber
67% of the RDI for iron
58% of the RDI for magnesium
89% of the RDI for copper
98% of the RDI for manganese
It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium

However, we should probably point out that you really shouldn’t be eating that much chocolate a day. This 100g bar of chocolate also comes with upwards of 600 calories and a pretty hefty sugar count, the negative effects more than negating those nutritional benefits. However in moderation, its nice to know that there are important micronutrients in this delicious treat. 

Learn about the effects of sugar intake here 

8 Reasons you Should Cut your Sugar Intake Today

3. It technically counts as a “super fruit”

The cocoa bean is in fact a berry. And in a recent study it was shown to have higher nutritive value than superfoods like blueberries and acai beans with a high antioxidant level. Which kind of means your dark chocolate bar is a superfruit…

Healthy Snack

In a controlled study, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL for those with high cholesterol. Basically what this means is it helps good cholesterol, and helps get rid of bad cholesterol. All of which means a reduced risk of heart disease.

There are a couple of bioactive compounds in chocolate that are good for your skin. One of these is flavonols which can help protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration. Eating dark chocolate isn’t a replacement for sun cream though.

Good news for people with type-2 diabetes.

“The antioxidants in chocolate help the body use its insulin more efficiently to help control blood sugar,” says Anna Simos, CDE. “This in turn helps lower blood sugar levels naturally and actually helps your body use your insulin. As a result, it helps decrease insulin resistance, which we see in type 2 diabetes.”

According to an animal study published in the November 2017 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, it’s the compounds found in cocoa called cocoa flavanols that appear to enhance certain cells’ ability to secrete insulin, the hormone that manages blood glucose. Another point for the superfood case.

chocolate could be a superfood


I suppose we should finish this article with a word of warning. Chocolate is high in sugar, so all consumption, even of the rich dark superfood that is dark chocolate should be consumed only in moderation. If you eat dark chocolate regularly, make changes to your diet by cutting out other sugary foods and calories to make sure you maintain a healthy balanced diet.

That being said we are more than happy to inform you that yes, dark chocolate is healthy so i guess we have to prove that red wine is as well next…


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Cardio vs. Strength Training: What should you be doing?

Lifitng Weights

Cardio vs. Strength Training

When it comes to losing weight there is a pretty broad mix of different things people tell you to do. Some swear that cardio is the only way to get thin. Others maintain that strength training (weights) is the way to go.

But who is right? And what should you be doing?

Unsurprisingly, the answer isn’t simple. The results you desire dictate the kind of exercise and how much of it you should undertake.

Before we begin, what do we mean by cardio, and what do we mean by strength training?

Strength Training = exercises designed to build strength and stimulate muscle development through the use of increasing resistance, for example, lifting freeweights or using resistance bands. An intense strength training session could count as a cardio workout if it raises your heart rate enough!

Cardio = cardiovascular exercise. This is any exercise that increases your heart rate dramatically. Examples of cardio are things like running, rowing or using an elliptical machine.

To Build Speed and Strength

Cardio: Exercises such as running should help strengthen leg muscles and increase speed and fitness levels, allowing you to exercise harder, burn more calories and build more strength.

However, your body is great at adapting to change. Just pacing out those 10 miles a week on a treadmill isn’t going to be enough. Your body will get used to the exercise and you’ll quickly find yourself plateauing.
In order to continuously see results, you need to push your body outside its comfort zone with speed training cardio workouts. These can jump-start your metabolism, help burn fat and increase endurance.

Strength Training: As the name suggests this is about building strength. If you want to be faster and stronger, you’re going to want stronger muscles.

More than that, strength training allows you to work muscle groups all over your body, most importantly your core and back muscles. This will help you better support your body weight and maintain good form, resulting in more powerful muscles.

Boxed Water

To Burn Calories

Cardio: For burning calories and reducing body mass, cardio has the upper hand. However, it’s not quite as simple as burning off the pounds.

It has been found that people who ostensibly do just cardio burn large amounts of muscle mass along with the fat.

Strength Training: This doesn’t burn as many calories, but it does promote the development of muscle mass. This is important because muscle mass, even when idle requires more fuel for everyday functions than fat does. So, by building up muscle you will burn more calories over time.

It also takes energy to repair the muscles you break down during training. One thing to remember: muscle weighs more than fat. So, if you want to lose weight and only care about what the scales say, adding muscle will slow that process down.

If your goal then is to lose weight quickly, a cardio-heavy exercise regime is going to be best for you. However, if you want to keep the pounds off, you need to put on some muscle at the same time.

Cardio Ccle

Improving Lifestyle

The right exercise can help you improve your quality of life. Cardio is proven to help with a number of ailments, including, but not limited to, helping blood pressure, strengthening your heart and helping with osteoporosis.

That being said, it’s not all good news. Exercises like running, are incredibly hard on your joints and can lead to straining ligaments, wearing out cartilage and other permanent injuries that you might regret in later life. One suggestion we would make is to choose low impact cardio exercises like swimming.

For back health, resistance and muscle training are vital, particularly when focusing on your core. For those suffering from back problems, regular strength exercises can help minimise the effects of these problems on your daily life, while also stopping the build up of intra-abdominal fat.

Combatting Stress

Exercising for just 15 – 20 minutes a day, no matter what it is, will help increase your serotonin levels and help your brain produce endorphins which will massively improve your mood.

On top of this, getting your heart rate up helps increase your energy levels by increasing blood flow to your muscles. A short cardio workout will stretch your muscles and break down any lactic acid in your system, reducing stiffness and aching.

Personally, if I am experiencing high levels of stress, I find a high-intensity strength workout consisting of lifting implausibly heavy things helps to vent my frustrations and clear my head.

Yoga pose

Avoiding Injuries

Cardio: Regular cardiovascular exercises can help keep your body in shape and perform to its best ability.

However, the repetitive nature of doing cardio alone (that is, without combining it with any strength training) can put serious pressure on your joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons, and potentially result in injury.

Strength Training: Functional strength training teaches your brain how to handle muscle contractions that are quick enough to prevent or minimize injuries.

If you choose exercises that work your core, improve your balance and force you to bend at multiple joints, you are actually protecting your body. Think lunges, rows, squats and pull ups!


Simply put, if you want to lose weight, cardio burns more calories. Yet, as I hope I have made clear, this isn’t so cut and dry…

Cardio doesn’t do a whole lot for your muscles, in fact, a cardio-heavy exercise regime will reduce muscle.

Strength training on the other hand will help you build muscle, which, in the long term will help you burn more calories. ‘For every 3 pounds you gain (of muscle) you can expect to burn an extra 120 calories a day without moving.’

As you get older, resistance training becomes more important, as it improves muscle strength, suppleness and bone density. This will help keep you healthy and mobile and enjoy a better quality of life.

The best solution then is a clever combination of both cardio and strength training. This will help you slash calories, but build muscle at the same time leading to a leaner, stronger you.

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Bernard Gutin, Paule Barbeau, Scott Owens, Christian R Lemmon, Mara Bauman, Jerry Allison, Hyun-Sik Kang, Mark S Litaker; Effects of exercise intensity on cardiovascular fitness, total body composition, and visceral adiposity of obese adolescents, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 75, Issue 5, 1 May 2002, Pages 818–826.