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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fashion Basics: Flatter with Texture

The use of texture as a design element is yet another powerful tool for styling a woman's body in the manner most pleasing to her aesthetic. Texture is simply the way the fabric is woven and the bulk of the materials used.  The most common names for the ways fabrics are woven are plain weaves, satin weaves, jacquard weaves, knit weaves, and twill. All of them simply refer to the way the threads cross over each other when woven. The thickness of the thread used and the pattern of the weave will determine how bulky the actual fabric looks.

 A fluffy mohair sweater is going to look a lot larger than the exact same size and cut as of a smooth knit merino or silk knit sweater.  The smoother the finish and the more matte the finish, the smaller the woman wearing garment could look. HOWEVER, (this is a big however,) a very smooth, dull  thin garment can show every little ripple and bulge you have wherever it touches your skin. (You have seen this many times with very thin woven cotton t-shirts, etc.) In a nutshell, fuzzy, thick,  or shiny textures usually give the illusion that a woman's body is quite bulky, especially if the lines (silhouette and/or inside lines) are not skimming the body.  Smooth, firmly woven, dull textures usually make a body appear smaller.

Texture is especially noticeable when the knit or fabric has any sheen. or pattern with a stripe) In other words, the overall body may LOOK smaller, but it may focus on every bump  one may wish to minimize or conceal. The basic message here is a woman must consider the bulk of the fabrics she is wearing and how they will flatter (or not) different areas of the body. Styling artistry can be created by using this principle to create illusions for an overly slender or heavy body part. 

Texture (as a design principle) also can be used to create visual interest and update a fashion "look". The monochromatic gold color scheme of the ensemble pictured is much more interesting with the lacy multi-woven pattern of the top, the smoother sheen of the pants, and the shinier gold leather. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fashion Basics: Flatter With Color

Although all of the design elements are important to project the image you want, strategic use of color is probably the most important weapon in your styling arsenal.

Color attracts the eye; it is the first thing the eye registers; Color pulls the eye , color is what people notice first. Even the most clueless male will make a comment on how "nice", or "pretty"  a woman looks when she wears a flattering color. (Women, of course, will specifically compliment you on the color choice.!)

Shiny and bright colors command immediate attention; dull and smokey colors fade into a background; hence our use of words "pop a bit of color"; or a color is a "neutral"; (a color that is not particularly noticeable on its own, and that will fade into the backgrounds). even white; white has to be very bright before it attracts the eye-hence "winter white" being the neutral.

The use of a monochromatic color (any color) scheme usually makes a woman look more slender, more polished, taller, etc., When used thoughtfully, it will usually flatter any body type. However, you do need to understand the effect and the prevailing guide lines for color mixing and the potential negative effects that you might have to overcome.  Fortunately, most of them can be easily remedied.

Monochrome can be boring; It is important to use a bit of personal styling to make overall use of one color interesting.  you have the danger of looking like you were dipped in a dye vat; You don't see it much anymore, however, most of us older stylinistas can remember when many women dressed head to to in one color that had to match exactly.  Often, the only color in an outfit would be the gold of jewelry worn with stones the same color of the outfit; even the eye shadow was in the same shade! (I must admit I was one of these for some time, and I still prefer monochromatic dressing as it suits my body type and aesthetic in so many ways). 

Monochromatic dressing can look  like a "uniform" , One does have to use other artistic considerations to pump up one color outfits.  A woman can break up the shade of the color; use the same tone, but use light and dark values to relieve a bit of the monotony. This keeps the line of color long, especially if carried through to the toe or hat. 

Other interesting things one can do to minimize the negatives of dye vat dressing is to mix up your textures and fabrics.  No one need adhere to perfectly matched materials. Move out of the conventional comfort zone (tastefully, of course); a bit of leather with lace, high grade polyester is now worn with everything, even wool and cashmere; the most exclusive designers are using all forms of man made materials and mixing them up in their  collections. Any change in texture or tone will relieve any feeling of "old fashioned" or the monotony associated with one color dressing.
Monochromatic tone on tone 

Using a broad base of one color and using small colorful accents to "pop" attention to your figure assets is another way to use color to your advantage.  Accessories or tops and bottoms broken by an undergarment such as a shell or tank break up the monotony of only one color.  There is so much you can do just by experimenting. Monochromatic dressing is usually defined as a color scheme that is approximately 75-80% or more the same color.

A woman can do a lot with just a bit of accent color and accessories. Remember, prints that are significantly prominent in the color of your chosen solid also can be qualified as monochromatic, especially if you use the classic solid color jacket (sweater), and lower garment, and use a shell top with the same color print.

Color is a powerful tool; If all over use of one color makes a body appear taller and thinner, the use of contrasting color on top and bottom garments will make a woman appear shorter.  High waisted garments in one color make the lower body appear longer, etc. Women who choose to wear shoes and hose in the same color and tones instantly project a polished appearance while lengthening the overall body and legs.

Color can also attract or detract from areas of the body; darker and dull colors tend to make an area of the body appear smaller; lighter or brighter colors can be used to emphasize your best assets. Color changes should be strategically evaluated as to where they occur on the body as  that part of the body will be emphasized. Strategic use of color can also be used to boost or downplay inside lines of a garment. 

The greatest problems occur when one chooses the wrong colors.  Although any color has most of the same principles ,(the same color will produce different illusions depending upon what colors are used together) it is vastly important that you choose the right colors for YOU, That does not mean what some arbitrary pamphlet of color of your "season", or whatever new diet of color in fashion tells you to use.  The incorrect use of color is especially devastating on the mature women because our skin color changes as we age, and we simply fail to take note of the need for a re-evaluation.  The wrong color choice is also more devastating on older skin. 

I firmly believe in color analysis; the theory of choosing the right colors for you is very sound. (Some women absolutely glow when they wear certain colors, some look drained, tired, sallow in certain colors.)  The danger comes from inadequate understanding of color, often by a 'colorist' who really has little or no understanding themselves and use blanket "rules" that simply do not apply to everyone.  Most colorists have a "four size fits all approach" based on skin tone, (warm or cool), hair color (brunette, redhead, blond, grey), and eye color (blue, brown, hazel).  Right away, you see just with those combinations (basic, mind you) you would need a minimum of 120 swatches of a specific color just to align to the "season" approach.  I have never seen 120 swatches of blue offered to help me choose my best shade.!!  Even with all that, generalizations occur.  

One of my former managers was a slave to her color chart; a conventional "fall", with reddish hair, brown eyes, and a warm brown skin tone.  Unfortunately, she missed many opportunities for "rocking her age" because she would not even try on newer shades of color than were in her swatches.  I also had a co-worker during those same years who looked marvelous in all her suggested winter colors except the suggested shade of fuschia she was given.  The color accentuated the veining in her cheeks and neck that was simply unattractive.  One other important note: colors are chosen for each season far ahead of time.  Different "committees" determine the shades of colors and how much of it you will see.  Those colors rarely match the swatches given by the color stylists.  Trying those colors next to your own skin is the only way to be certain, and gaining a certain amount of knowledge of color theory (color wheel) will give you the ammunition you need to plan ahead for appropriate color mixing.
Monochromatic +line

Through trial and error I have discovered that most of the colors suggested for "summer" actually work better for me. Just like other fashion rules, your best choice of colors are individual, and do not necessarily "fit a box".  One of the best markers (beside your mirror, of course) is the unsolicited admiration of others.  If you wear a garment of a certain color and you get "raves" all day, you can be pretty certain the color looks good on you.  As we age, we do need to evaluate if last years color choices are still the best for us now. I will be re-evaluating many of garments in my closet because of the significant change in the color of my hair.

In all of the above pictures, you can see the influences of monochrome dressing I use in my own day to day clothing choices. ( It is not that I am so vain that I want to keep myself in pictures, but using them in pictures of me in my daily wear illustrate my results from using the design elements).  Of course, most of these are casual, but that is my usual "role". 

As the new fashion season emerges, now might be the time you consider taking a closer look at the colors of your garments (when worn on you!).  Are they your personal best?  I believe of all the elements, if I had to choose one and only one as being the most important, it would be color.

Mature Fashion: Flatter With Inside Lines

Evaluate how lines are used in this ensemble
From the last post we reviewed the importance of the silhouette of a garment and how those "outside lines" relate to our general body shape. Let's review how important the inside lines of the garments relate to camouflaging our perceived defects or enhancing our perceived assets. (notice, I say "perceived"...a woman may perceive a body part quite differently than the viewer of her body).

All garments usually have one or more vertical lines. Inside vertical lines include center seams, zippers, rows of vertical buttons, and other ornamental detail.  These lines usually lengthen and narrow a body shape.  An even greater slimming effect is generated if there is more than one vertical line closely situated by another. (if too far apart, they draw the eye horizontally, and widen the area. (remember, all of this is an illusion; "trompe d'oeil or fool the eye".) Several stripes placed vertically need to fall relatively straight.  Stripes or verticals such as small pleats can actually accentuate bulges in the wrong places if the lines are not straight; (many a woman has chosen ribbed tights that accentuate every bulge in her lower body) Wide vertical stripes can be used very creatively to balance an upper body to wide hips, and vice-versa. Basically, vertical lines can be used in many ways to create the figure illusion a woman desires.

Certain horizontal lines visually broaden and shorten.  I say certain lines because when used creatively to form a vertical effect making the eye move up and down. One such example is a narrow row of horizontal stripes down the middle of a garment. Strong horizontal lines across the shoulder broaden the shoulder, horizontal pocket flaps call attention to the area where placed, and if placed widely apart, widen the top.  An excellent design strategy for a triangular body shape, providing the pockets and flaps are in proportion to the body.

Stripes are one of the most confusing horizontal lines;(in fact, you note that I posted on this subject; so many stylists just take the "safe" way around the problem by decreeing a mature woman should not wear stripes)  Wide, colorful stripes boldly blazoned across a full bosom can be deadly; however, narrow closely placed together alternating or variegating across the top pull the eye up and down; the closer the color of the stripes to each other, the more lengthening the effect.  Stripes also can be used very successfully to balance wide hips by extending the width of the upper half of the body of a triangle shaped woman.  For a woman with a rocking, well shaped bosom, she may use a tasteful array of stripes across her "girls" to accent this desirable asset.(use care in this area; stripes work best when used all over or across the shoulder area.  Stripes also look best when one of the colors in the stripe match the color of the bottom. This lengthens the line of the body.  

A story: I have a friend (triangle shape) who recently bought a wonderful cream white silk blazer with thin navy and red paintbrush stripes,(just perfect for this upcoming spring )  The predominant color of the stripes is the cream white background. I recommended she wear cream white ankle length skimming trousers with cream white heeled shoes with this combination. What! white pants on a triangle!!  you bet; although her hips may be wide, they are nicely shaped; her biggest figure challenge is short legs in addition to the hips.  In this instance, the longest line she can generate to her lower body is more significant than the general "rule" that she wear a dark bottom .  The line of white color and her personal well toned shape make it a great choice for her. 

The last horizontal line I am discussing is the hemline  Hems occur on dresses, skirts, jackets, and blouses.  Care must be taken to be sure you choose the most flattering hem lengths for all of them; in the case of tucked in blouses, the waist line substitutes for the hem line.  It usually works best to style accordingly.

 Diagonal lines lengthen directly in proportion to the amount of the angle of the lines; the more vertical, the more they lengthen the area. V shaped necklines are diagonal lines, mirrored. Diagonal lines can also be very dramatic and are usually very kind to mature figures because they usually skim over any problem area.  I am always amazed of the rather small use that is made of diagonal designs in the "plus size" shops.  The only reason I can think of is because it takes more fabric to cut diagonal clothing (usually).  It also requires certain shaped garments because of the "pull" factor. ( For mature women who sew, consider this option for creating some "killer" fashions that can do a lot for any body type.()

Curved lines, depending upon their direction, usually perform the same functions as above, depending upon the direction of the curve. They are not as effective, in general, as straight lines but can be much more effective in flattering a figure asset if placed exactly where one wants them.  Curves are also a softer look and may appeal more to the "girlie" styles or when used dramatically to flatter a figure asset.

As you know by now, I strongly believe that each woman must completely analyze her body for every aspect and use the knowledge strategically when choosing and wearing her clothing, if she desires to make the most of herself. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fashion Basics; Flattering Silhouettes(body Shapes)

Check out the use of Line
In my last post, I mentioned that the term silhouette is used in two different contexts, although both of them have to do with outside lines.  The first have to do with the silhouette (shape) of the body itself. There are five different geometric body shapes; the triangle, the inverted triangle, the inverted triangle over a triangle (hour glass), the rectangle, and the oval.  The second context is the five different silhouettes for garments; triangular, inverted triangle,hour glass, a rectangle, and an oval (usually only seen in maternity wear). 

In general, it is pretty safe to choose garment silhouettes that match your body type; A-line dresses on triangle shaped bodies,etc.  Certain silhouettes usually are not especially flattering to  certain body types. For instance, if you have an hour glass shape, an A-line (triangular) dress would hide your best feature, a small defined waist.  If you have an inverted triangle shape, an A-line dress would not flatter your trim hipline and legs but would only make you look wider all over.  A-lines dresses usually flatter the rectangular, triangular, and oval shaped figures. Hour glass shaped dresses usually look good on hour glass shapes or triangular shapes if shoulder detail balances the wideness of the hips and the dress is not too tight in the hips. They would only accentuate the thick waist of a rectangle. Rectangles usually look quite good in garments that have an inverted triangle silhouette.  

An inverted triangle garment is narrow at the bottom and usually makes a woman look smaller and thinner all over. This is true for almost all body shapes; it is even true for the triangle, except that the hips will appear larger, not the overall body.(don't worry, pear shapes; inside lines can come to the rescue!)

The second most important line in the silhouette of an upper garment is the shoulder line.  In past years every stylist promoted the necessity for strong shoulder lines, including shoulder pads on almost all upper garments.  Today's relaxed styles have eliminated shoulder pads on many garments; many of today's fashions do not have any shoulder structure to speak of.  Once again, this "rule" does not necessarily hold true or everyone; your own body shape in the shoulder area should dictate how the rule should be applied, if at all.

Once one gains and understands design elements, and with just a little practice,you can become a shape stylist in no time. Remember, the base rule:  Let your mirror be your guide (BTW, your mirror needs to be a three way mirror or a series of mirrors that will allow you to see yourself from all angles.  Today's camera phones and the prevalence of "selfies" are also very helpful.-although I still have problems trying to stage a "selfie".)

This post explains the use of outside lines (the silhouette) of garments and their relationship to body shapes.  We will save discussion on how inside lines affect styling solutions for the next post.

I know most of you already know these of the design principles, but the styling information serves as a reminder.(I try and review this information when evaluating my seasonal purchases)  If   this post is providing new information for the reader, practice a little by trying different sillhouettes on your body. 

It's the little things:

Good posture is one of the most slimming uses of line; Aside from creating a pleasing vertical line for the entire body, it is an aid to offset the illusion of "old age".

Friday, April 15, 2016

Fashion Basics: Flattery

Of course, everything a woman wears should ideally be something she likes and express one's style personality, but if a woman wants to be "all she can be", she should not wear just everyhing she likes!! (unless she is a high fashion dress model!!) Every woman has a different body, complexion, fabric sensitivities, etc. and the same garment will not look the same on every woman. (look at all those "who wears it best" pictures!  No matter her age, she has complete control over styling elements that can and WILL add or detract from her appearance based on her individual body type and the five clothing design elements.  These design elements are line, color, texture, scale, and proportion.

Line is very important because eyes follow lines. There are basically two different types of lines when we discuss styling a woman's figure, the silhouette of her body and the lines of the garments itself.  A stylinista creates a bit of magic in using both types of lines to flatter her figure and to add comfort to her garments.  Body silhouette lines are based on geometric shapes, a triangle, an inverted triangle, an oval, a rectangle, and the hourglass (inverted triangle over a triangle) . The garment lines are inside lines such as seams, decorative items such as a row of buttons, or the patterns on the fabrics (stripes, etc.) These lines will affect the illusion you wish to project to a certain portion of the body; they may be curves, asymmetrical and of course, vertical or horizontal. Other garment  lines indicate the general shape of the garment, also called  the garment silhouette. (a-line skirt, column dress, etc.). We will clarify this a bit more in the next post.

Eyes are attracted to color; the brighter the color, the more the eye is attracted to it; the reverse is also true. Strategic use of color, its values, tones, etc. just by itself can effectively be used to flatter any type of figure or any section of the body..

Fuzzy or shiny textures can make a portion(or the entire body) appear bulky; smooth and dull textures can make the body or body part appear smaller.  The choice of fabrics for specific garments can (and do)  create illusions of a slender or heavy body part and can even be used effectively to provide the illusion of  weight loss.

Small design detail (collars, buttons, cuffs, etc.-not the print of the fabric) usually make the body look larger, while large design detail make it look smaller.  Design can be used to strategically call attention to our best asset.  This particular tool is especially friendly to those of us over forty who may still have a part of their body that is especially attractive.  

The last design element, proportion is somewhat counter intuitive; equal proportions are not desirable in a garment. Uneven proportion for various garments; (a long top with a short skirt, a short top with a long skirt, etc.) are usually the most flattering on your body.  For those of you who were art students, you may remember that as long ago as Greek and Italian craftsmen ruled the art world, proportion was an element of pleasing design. The generally recognized balance of proportions for overall pleasure to the eye was 1/3 to 2/3. (The Golden Mean) This art principle still holds true today. (try it sometimes with two colors, say red and black...use identical amounts of each color between all the garments and accessories...take a picture of yourself...then reduce either color to 1/3 of the whole and increase the other to 2/3 of the whole..take another picture). You will usually be more attracted to the second combination-One reason why too much "matchy matchy" does not look as good as limited use of contrasting colors in accessories, etc.

In the somewhat fuzzy pictures above, you can see how each of the design elements are used to plan this ensemble.  I have tried to maximize each of these design elements to disguise or enhance my own age, figure type, somewhat heavy mid-section and arms.and rather short height and legs.  (remember, there is only so much one CAN do), but I am pleased with the result.  The pictures also demonstrate how much heavier my figure looks when I put on the black jacket over the matching shirt and skirt.  Adding either all black or all grey purse, hat, and gloves would put proportion back into balance and I would look taller and slimmer (I used black).  The proportion factor can be addressed instantly and up a stylinistas fashion game.

In future posts I will expand upon each of these elements, explore body types, and other styling principles to create a reference that each stylinista can use to make the most of her assets and minimize body features she chooses to disguise.  I created this blog for that purpose because each element has too many details to explain all at once.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fashion Basics: Fashion and Style

Why "Styling"? A stylist wants to create an overall look that consistently supports a personal fashion style (personal brand) that suits ones body type, culture, personality, goals, budget, and lifestyle. In order to accomplish that look, a woman needs the right wardrobe, the right cosmetics, the right grooming skills, and an allocated budget that allows her to dress for any particular situation with ease and confidence. When each of these elements have been identified and fulfilled, managing the styling and wardrobe needs become much easier (and cheaper!!)

Fashion is not style; and a style is not fashion, although the words are frequently misused. Let us first address the issue of Style.  What is it? It is self expression, an aesthetic or "point of view" that best represents an individual woman's personal likes and dislikes. Style has a personality of its own: glamorous, elegant, reserved, (usually called Classic), creative, preppy, sporty, bohemian (Boho), rebellious, futuristic, country, etc. It also includes manner of speech, posture, and other methods of projecting one's self.

A personal style may mix elements of two or even three style personalities in a generalized overall "look"; in fact to be truly authentic, a personal look must have elements that are unique to her, and to her alone,  Sometimes the look may have a "signature" such as elements of denim, corduroy, or comfortable chino in almost every ensembles she creates, or a flattering hairstyle that she continuously wears that gives her a unique hairstyle, or a "statement" piece of jewelry.  All that is needed is the desire to "be all one can be"  a little imagination, and developing a woman's  personal style tastes. Every author or teacher has its own boundaries, titles, and definitions of these styles. My approach is a "4F" combination of Fit, Flattery, Fashion, and Finance: An ensemble must have the desired fit, it must flatter the wearer, it has to be fashionably interpreted, and within the stylists desirable finances.

It really does not matter what one calls it, what matters is a woman must understand what her personal "brand" is. If a woman does not know what her point of view is, she must first identify it.  There are many ways to do this; I always create a style book using pictures from fashion magazine, seasonal runway fashion shows (thank you, because I want to know what looks I am using to "shop my closet" for interesting and up to date fashion inspiration (remember, I believe that a woman must know the latest fashion trends and judiciously incorporate them into her wardrobe if she wishes to appear "youthful" rather than dowdy).  In addition to the "point of view" (thank you, Project Runway), I make special note of the seasonal colors that compliment both me and my existing wardrobe.

A woman can use any method she wants, but  identifying a personal look is essential.  In later posts I will re-iterate all the how-tos from (If you want the information right away, you can weed through the posts on that blog). 

Fashion, however, is entirely different from style; A woman's style may be lifelong or last a few decades.  Fashion is a point in time only.  A "fad" is a fleeting fashion that may only last a matter of weeks; a "trend" is a fashion (or group of similarity in design, color, etc) that may cover several seasons.  In any event, any fashion will wax and wane.  Like the moon, it will always re-appear.  However, rarely does it appear in the same form as before, and it is almost always worn differently.  The time elapsed will usually vary, but, it will eventually re-appear.  For a budget minded "Stylinista", this knowledge is critical to understand when building a quality wardrobe and updating her other styling elements.

Everything worthwhile takes effort, whether it is great cooking, gardening, or learning a new skill. The degree of excellence depends upon a little innate skill, but mostly, it is accomplished in acquiring the right knowledge and diligent practice of the necessary critical skills. Acquiring the knowledge is what this blog is all about; practicing the skills is up to the reader (and writer-I mentioned these blogs are my personal styling journals, requiring me to to continually practice, learn and improve.) Identifying a personal style is empowering to a woman.  It assists in helping her in planning what to buy and what to leave on the rack.  It also provides confidence that she is selling the image she wishes to project to the world. 

The mantra is always "You feel good if you look good" and I have found this to be true throughout all my life; I have also found that I have to feel good to willingly make an effort to look good (hence,  Another reason that I try to style my entire wardrobe (bed clothes, sports, grubby work) with items that are flattering no matter what condition I am in.  I firmly believe that one can find flattering garments that suit all my needs, that are as comfortable as I desire, and that are truly "effortless" to wear and make me look as good as possible for the occasion. There are tons of information available on the latest fashions but not nearly enough on building personal style.

Rockmystyling will provide the necessary tools for identifying clothing and accessories that are usually the most flattering to your individual body type, how to create a wardrobe of clothing that you will love and expresses your unique fashion persona. It will also allow you to create your own "look' successfully with whatever budget you have available.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Fashion Basics: The Introduction

Hello, fellow Stylinistas;

The RockMyStyling blog is all about developing a personal and authentic style that suits the individual.  The target audience (aside from myself!) for the blog is the mature woman who wants to look "good" no matter her age and who has the initiative to not settle for less than being all she can be.  It is meant as a resource for those who wish to refine and possibly add to (and share) her sense of style and "tricks of the trade" with other women who are also interested. The basics apply to any woman of any age.

I began with the  the first  blog in the "RockMy.." series last September with "" , that I planned as an on-line journal to celebrate all the ways women over 40 "were not dead yet", (a name I discovered as a blog site) Within the first week I discovered the subject was much too broad to cover in one blog.  I added "" as a site to remind myself and share advice as to the most suitable wardrobe a woman would need to serve all the different roles a woman might play in her personal play called "LifeStyle". ( A bit cutesy, but accurate).  Each of us perform in this play every day and in every way.

Unfortunately, I have discovered that this blog is somewhat a mish-mash of basic styling principles, styling tips, general how-to's on acquiring an appropriate wardrobe, etc., etc., etc. I have covered all the basic principles, etc. in that blog but it is certainly not a quick reference guide..........hence, this blog that is meant to remain generally static, but easy for me to update, and easy for the reader to find information on a general topic or styling tip. The blog "" is intended to provide general tips for helping the older woman feel well enough to care about her appearance.  "", is a stylebook I display on line demonstrating my personal styling tastes for the upcoming fashion season.

I will re-post and update the fundamentals of defining and identifying personal style, basic design principles of fashion, and choosing fashions the most flattering  to a woman's personal body type, features, age group, and aesthetic.  Although the "RockMy..." series is targeted toward the 40+ female, the information contained within this particular blog is suitable for any age group, or gender for that matter.

Comments on my blogs are always welcome; I do not list with subscribers, I do not get paid in any way for these can call it an on-line hobby or a personal styling journal I share with my friends and new fashion associates.  I also leave an e-mail address that you may correspond privately with me at any time should you not wish to leave a comment.