Queen Bee Style Blog

Top Tips to Help You Back to Work by Annabel of AC Executive Coaching

Top Tips to Help you Back to Work – By Annabel Cowley of AC Executive Coaching

Our guest post this month is written by Annabel Cowley of AC Executive Coaching. Annabel is a mother of two young children who has 20 years HR experience. Now an accredited coach, having trained at the Academy of Executive Coaching, she has decided to utilise her skills and knowledge through her own coaching business. As a working mum she has seen at first hand the challenges of trying to balance a career with family life and is passionate about helping individuals reach their personal and career potential.

A warm welcome to all local mums and dads reading this article. Sally and I are joining forces for our first event for local mums’ at The Florence on 14th October when I will provide support to all those uncertain about returning to work from maternity leave or simply needing support during a transition phase into a new career.  For some mums it’s a no brainer if you have a job to return to and once you’ve added up the costs of childcare but for others it’s an opportunity to review your old career and consider if it still makes you happy or whether to use this time to look at other avenues.  I can support you in bringing these ideas to fruition whilst adding structure and time management to your planning.

Here are my top tips to get you started:

Update your CV!

There will be plenty of templates out there for you to google… I always suggest keeping it to 2 pages with a small bio under your name to attract people to read more. When writing a cover letter with your CV try and find the name of the person that will be interviewing you rather than “Dear Sir/Madam”.


The very word might make you shiver … but it is often who you know in this world. The power of the local mum network never ceases to amaze me and all the amazing jobs they do so keep connecting, collaborating and inspiring!

Work experience

If you’re planning to follow a new career path it’s worth considering some voluntary work with your chosen employer if they are open to it.  A few hours a week could make all the difference and you never know, it could lead to paid employment once the networking begins!

Social media

There is no escaping the digital world these days. We need to get on board with it and when you do there is no end of possibilities and opportunities!  If you do find yourself struggling with your skype, Instagram and Linked In this might be the right time to brush up on your skills.  Local colleges often run evening courses to help you get on your way …. Or even a local student could I’m sure help out!

If you are interested in hearing more on this please do come to our or if you’d like a complimentary chemistry meeting with me to discuss how coaching might benefit you do please get in touch.  My bio is below for your interest.

annabel@acexecutivecoaching.com  or +44 (0)7966 530137.


My Latest Vlog – Simple but effective tips to update your autumn wardrobe

My latest vlog with the inspirational Louise Webster from Beyond the School Run We discuss simple but effective tips to update your autumn wardrobe and personal style.

I’ll also be demonstrating how you can do this at the  Connect, Collaborate and Inspire workshop on October 15th, 10-12pm at The Florence, Herne HIll. Annabel from AC Executive Coaching will also be  talking you through steps to reconnect with the workplace. For more details and to book tickets please click here or drop me a line.

Connect Collaborate and Inspire

Friday October 14th 10am-2pm.
The Florence, 131-133 Herne Hill, SE24 0NG

Annabel from AC Executive Coaching and I have joined up to present Connect Collaborate and Inspire. A workshop that offers practical advice and support to help you reconnect with the workplace. It is a unique opportunity to focus on personal goals, understand the next steps to take and learn the power of networking!

Feeling confident in how we look is a vital part of getting yourself prepared. I will show you simple tips to re-energise your wardrobe and update your personal style.

Spaces are limited and cost £10pp, including coffee and biscuits. Please email us asap to book your place.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Sally & Annabel

Out with the Old and In with the New

I love September, not just because it marks the start of a new fashion season but because it presents an opportunity for change and a fresh start in all areas of life. For me, it is like the start of a new year and a chance to make positive changes to my business and wardrobe. I’ll spare you the business synopsis and instead go straight to the subject of the wardrobe in which I’m slightly more knowledgeable.

As many of you will be heading back to work after a summer break the new season is the perfect time to shake up your work wear. According to a new study, well dressed people earn 20% more those who don’t. ‘Dressing well’ is subjective but it isn’t about wearing designer or the trendiest clothes. Being aware of your own style and body shape, as well as paying attention to grooming, is key. It ultimately comes down to being happy and confident in our appearance as individuals. This, in turn, will have a positive effect on us and how we present ourselves.

To shake up your work wear I would urge you to chuck out one item and add in one new item. This will make all the difference in refreshing your wardrobe. To help you decide which new item to add in, here is a list of my top 5 work wear items for autumn/ winter 2016:-

Statement Trouser


In this case a pair or dogtooth culottes that will slot seamlessly into any wardrobe. If culottes aren’t your thing then choose from a number of new trouser styles out there, wide leg trousers, crops, palazzo pants and embellishment to name but a few. The whole point is to move away from the black and navy classic cuts.

Midi dress


All I can say about this style is, ‘thank goodness’ as my exposed knees are best left to high days and holidays! A midi dress is such an easy option to wear. You can coordinate with ankle boots and no tights when the weather is mild and layer up with a roll neck in the colder months.

Crisp White Shirt


Never out of fashion and having a much deserved ‘moment’ this season. My personal favourite is the longer line style worn with cropped trousers. They also look great with jeans and statement skirts as shown here.

Bow Detail Blouse


There are lots of different styles around from pussy bows, oversized bows, finer ribbon ties and some crazy prints too. They offer a lovely, feminine touch to any outfit.

Full skirt


Technically not the right description for this skirt, there are no pleats coming from the waistband. These types of full pleated skirts are very much on trend but they are not the easiest to wear, as they can accentuate the hips and tummy. I’ve chosen this one as it does the opposite; as well as being a stunning design, the a-line shape will balance our the hip and tummy area.


Dogtooth culottes – Zara, White shirt – COS, Bow detail blouse – Max Mara, Midi dress – Uterque, Full skirt – & Other Stories

If you would like a helping hand to ensure your wardrobe is up to date for autumn please get in touch.

Holiday Wardrobe Essentials

I used to be the sort of person who could fill a large suitcase with just toiletries when going on holiday. Nowadays I fit my travel size containers into a very small soap bag and travel light. I’d like to pretend that this is because I’m not that indulgent anymore, but the real reason is the restrictions on luggage by most budget airlines. I also have to take the rest of the family into consideration and the fact they may need to wash and change their clothes every now and then too.

To my surprise, it has been a relatively painless experience and I have realised how few clothes I actually need – in case you ask, I haven’t switched to naturist holidays either! Just a few essentials can go a long way and the added bonus is there is less washing when you get back. If you find packing a pain, here are a few of my must have items that will ensure you can travel light yet still look stylish in the sun.

You can’t go wrong with a midi length dress, they are very flattering and perfect to take you from day to evening. It’s worth taking time to shop for one you love as you can keep it in your wardrobe summer after summer. These gorgeous statement shorts are brilliantly versatile. They can be dressed casually with the grey vest or with the ‘cold shoulder’ top for a smarter look. If you don’t like to wear shorts you can substitute them for a printed/patterned skirt. The yellow ‘flatform’ sandals work well with the dress and the shorts. They also offer enough lift to elongate the legs but are still comfortable enough to walk around in – bonus! Finally, don’t neglect the accessories; chose these wisely as they are likely to be the items you wear the most.


Shorts –Top Shop. Sandals, Anthropologie. Dress, H&M. Sunglasses, Mui Mui. Vest, H&M. Blue top, Zara. Bikini, Top Shop, Hat,

Top 5 Flat Shoes

It was during my first maternity leave that I realised I couldn’t actually walk more than a few yards in most of the shoes I owned, save for a pair of crusty gym trainers. I was the person who changed into heels under the desk as soon as I arrived in the office, none of which were very useful for my change in lifestyle.  The art of pushing a pram carrying a cappuccino whilst simultaneously texting called for shoes that were fit for purpose and these obviously had to be flats.

Thankfully nowadays flat shoes are an integral part of most wardrobes and in my case anyway, heels have to be relegated to high days and holidays. The recent furore over the receptionist who was sent home for not wearing heels proves this point, I haven’t spoken to a single person who isn’t astonished by this outdated dress code policy.

In honour of flats I complied one of my toughest (because there are so many styles to choose from) top 5s for the season below:-

  1. Cutwork – these are particularly useful if you want a lightweight summer shoe but hate showing your toes. I’ve chosen a slipper style here but there are many other cutwork styles such as espadrilles and sandals on the high street.


  1. Lace ups – every brand has a version of these and they are a great contemporary update on ballet pumps. Beware though, think black laces can make legs look shorter and wider. Choose instead nude colour styles with thin short laces that only wrap the ankles once.


  1. Espadrilles – you’ll find many versions of these from leopard print to floral and even studded versions. The latter from Valentino – a snip at £495. They have indeed come a long way from my childhood pair from Woolworths. Don’t be put off by the ties on this pair as you only need to tie them at the front.


  1. Sliders – sometimes called slides. I would advise googling the former unless you want to shift though a lot of children’s toys! These work really well with boyfriend jeans as well as shorts and are so very comfortable.


  1. Boho sandals – there are some amazing sandals around at the moment which are guaranteed to add life to any outfit. Look for multi-coloured poms poms, fringing and studs to name but a few!



  1. Top Shop
  2. Zara
  3. Manebi – Net a Porter
  4. Sliders – Carvela
  5. Sam Edleman

If you would like a helping hand to get your wardrobe ready for summer please get in touch.

3 Top Tips to Improve Your Work Wardrobe

I’m going to be optimistic and say that warmer weather has finally arrived which probably means you need an injection of Spring in your wardrobe. At this time of year our work wear, in particular, can seem tired and heavy. If we’re not careful it will make us feel and look the same way too – not the sort of impression you really want to make at work or anywhere else for that matter. I’m aware that not everyone can go out and buy a whole new wardrobe (if you do you know I’d be happy to help!) so here are my top 3 tips that will breathe life into any tired wardrobe (and human) :-

Add a pop of colour

Move away from the black, beige and dark grey and embrace colour. This is a scarf I bought recently which has given my wardrobe a new lease of life.

Mango scarf

Statement Shoes



Plain black and nude pumps can suck the life out of an outfit, especially if worn with similar colours and black/nude tights. Alternatively, a vibrant pattern or colour will have the opposite effect and can change the whole look into one that is modern and contemporary.

Whistles shoes

Take a Risk


I’m not suggesting here that you go to work in hot pants but we all get stuck in our comfort zone of wearing the same styles most of the time. The next time you go shopping challenge yourself to embrace a new style or colour. The best way to do this is focus on the styles you wear the most. For instance, if you usually wear slim leg trousers then consider culottes, cropped flares or even the same style but in a print/bold colour.

Finery trousers

If you feel your wardrobe is looking a bit tired and would like a helping hand to update it for spring, please get in touch.

You can also book a free no obligation telephone consultation to discuss your needs and how our services can help you.



Your Spring 2016 Message

I love how the first flowers of spring give a colourful glimmer of warmer days to come. After the drab greys of winter, a bright, (nearly) warm day, highlights the vibrancy of the colours around us and are a welcome arrival. For many of us it signals a time to refresh our wardrobes and I’m often asked ‘What I should be wearing this season’ more than any other time of year. I usually reel off a list of trends but this really isn’t the right answer.

What you wear should be based on your own individual style and bodyshape. Whilst it is important to update your wardrobe, most of us want to aim for a contemporary rather than trendy wardrobe. The clothes you choose to wear are your individual identity. They communicate a message to the people around us, whether we are conscious of it or not. As the season of renewal, spring is a good time to reflect on what your message is. If you are feeling positive about your image then the chances are you will feel positive inside too. If not, the opposite could be true.

If you feel that your message is a bit tired, then adding in just one new item can have a huge effect. Below, is my list of key pieces for this season. They are not based on trends so much as being useful pieces that will breathe life into any tired wardrobe. I would urge you to choose one today and most importantly, have fun with it – it beats sorting out your tax any day!

In order of appearance, not importance:-
1. Citrus – can be a top, trousers or in this case, a coat from Zara
2. Off the shoulder top – no matter what size you are this is usually the slimmest part of the body. Whistles
3. Pleated skirt – versatile style that looks just as good with trainers as heels. Zara
4. Metallic shoes – can be heels, boots, flats or sandals – whatever style, they add guaranteed sparkle to any outfit. Office
5. Wide leg trousers – they are back! Cos

Don’t forget it’s Mother’s day on March 6th. If you would like to treat that special person in your life or better still be treated yourself, please contact me.

You can find details on all our styling services online.

Inspired Mums Guest Post – 4 ways to boost your inner confidence

Starting this month we will be featuring guest posts. Our first is by career and confidence coach Fiona Clark, founder of Inspired Mums, who is passionate about helping mums find fulfilling and flexible work, shares her expert advice on how to boost your inner confidence.

I don’t know about you but when my confidence levels are low, all the compliments and praise in the world can feel like water off a duck’s back. That’s because true confidence comes from within – you need to believe in yourself before you can begin to convince others.

Just as Sally helps her Queen Bee Styling clients look good on the outside so they feel better on the inside, as a qualified career and confidence coach, I work with mums to develop their self belief so they have the confidence to go out and and secure their dream job.

So here are my tried and tested top tips to help you boost your confidence:

1. Be proactive.
First things first, you need to identify the particular area you want to develop confidence in. Next, try to brainstorm some actions so you can take real steps towards achieving your goal. For example, if you want to have the confidence to deliver presentations to large groups, then ask yourself what you could do to feel more practiced in this area. A solution could be to deliver a regular presenting slot at your team meeting. By taking control in this way, you will adopt a more positive mindset that will help raise your confidence levels.

2. Step outside your comfort zone.
One of the most important pieces of advice I give my clients is to remember to step outside of their comfort zone. This is easier said than done. It can be very tempting to stay in the place where we feel safe, but it’s only by moving into our stretch zone that we can truly develop as a person. So take the opportunity to try something new – whether it’s saying ‘yes’ to learning a new language, starting a new sport or taking on greater responsibility at work. You will soon realise how good this feels and reap the rewards of a leap in confidence.

3. Get going!
The most powerful way to start developing confidence in yourself is to get some momentum back in your life. Don’t be tempted to procrastinate – even the most high achieving women can find themselves putting off actions that are challenging in some way. So, whether you’re starting a business, or relaunching your career, work out some simple next steps you can take each week to continue to make real progress. And by the way – try to be realistic. If you are working full-time, juggling work and home life, it’s far better to have a couple of weekly actions that you can achieve, instead of a list of 10 that you can never complete.

4. Tame your inner gremlin.
We all have one – that voice in our head, often our harshest critic, that tells us why we can’t do something. One of the key ways to boost your inner confidence is to silence this inner gremlin by flipping any negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, if you have seen your dream job but hear the voice in your head saying “there’s no use applying as they’ll have hundreds of applicants”, say instead, “I have many skills are relevant to this job.” You will be surprised by how much further you can go with your inner voice on your side.
If you need helping developing your inner confidence, please contact me on 07789 597209 or at fiona@inspiredmums.co.uk or visit www.inspiredmums.co.uk.

I offer every potential new client a FREE, no obligation, 30 minute phone consultation to discuss your goals and how coaching can help you.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/inspiredmumscoaching
Twitter: @Inspired_Mums

How to Connect with Your Style Vlog

On Monday I was invited along to the Guardian offices along with other women who run businesses that support mums back into the workplace. I was truly inspired by the work that many of these women are doing and was struck by the enthusiasm that we all shared for changing the current culture and helping more women return.

After the event, I spoke with Louise Webster, who is the founder of Beyond the School Run, a website dedicated to helping the lost talent pool of parents that have left their careers, connect back to the workplace. We discussed how important it is to be happy with our image and the simple, practical steps we can take to feel good about ourselves.