Wednesday, 20 June 2012

#KeepCalmandCarryOn - H&M Sale

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I am the queen of sale shopping, there is no two ways about it. However, I can understand those people who complain that the sale rails are overwhelming, being especially put off by those crazy middle-aged women who throw clothes everywhere, hurriedly piling their baskets full with mounds upon mounds of crap. During the sale season I tend to live by one famous motto: Keep Calm and Carry On. Look for pieces that are timeless, ones which won't just pass by with the transitory trends of that month. Sales are great for picking up basic wardrobe stables too, such as plain blazers, jersey tops and smart trousers. But if you're really clever you can enter the shops having done your research into what trends will be hitting the next seasons ranges and try and manipulate the bargains into those future key themes.

However, right now its only half way through June and we have before us the mid-season sales. I've been wandering around looking for solid summer pieces which I can bring out year and year again and have found myself refreshingly surprised at what H&M has to offer. Usually, I'm not a huge fan of H&M; I find their sizing ludicrously out of touch with reality and their colour palettes too simplistic (I also think the deceiving, extra-flattering mirrors that they place in their changing rooms is a tad too cheeky, have a look next time you're in there!). Yet, today when I paid a visit to their Windsor store I found a lot to work with. I came out with some great bargains including a LWD (Little White Dress) for only £15 that I have absolutely fallen in love with. The dress is made of mesh which has been delicately embroidered with dragonfly and skull shapes, thereby incorporating a curiously gothic image into an otherwise very feminine piece. The shape is perfect also, so much so that the dress could almost be a part of one of the popular designer collaborations which H&M often do - its not too tight and not too floaty, with a slight flare on the 3/4 length arm which adds to the bohemian feel of it all. I also found a pair of over-sized glasses with thin bronze-frames which go great with the dress, at only £3!

Also at a crazy £3 I found a basic knee-length navy dress with pocket detailing which would be great for the beach or for an easy, casual summer look. I particularly like the longer length of this dress as I am getting bored of my standard mini-skirt habit.

(you'll have to make allowances for my cringe mirror photo's btw)

For only a pound each I also found these fab 2-in-1 nail-polishes in popping colours which take me back to being a kid and the fun 'Glitter Babes' range which Boots used to do.

So I say get down to H&M and bag yourself some bargains! But don't forget: Just #KeepCalmAndCarryOn.

Monday, 18 June 2012


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Lately I've been going a bit crazy for sunshine yellow (see pic on the right, but ignore my crazy background warping, I got a bit carried away in photoshop!) – much to the annoyance of many of my friends who complain about being blinded by the brightness of it all. However, rather than put me off, this reaction actually spurs me on to wear brighter colours more often. Too many people out there are stuck in a rut of wearing a safe wardrobe of blacks, greys and blues. Admittedly it’s an easy trap to fall into and I have definitely fallen victim to it before, but with neon and colour-blocking trends returning to the shops, it’s a trap that summer has no tolerance for. Instead, many catwalks sampled sunshine yellow mini-collections within their Spring/Summer 2012 shows, notably Elie Saab and Missoni. Ellie Saab’s collection in particular really inspired me: the yellow tones weren’t too loud, even bordering on a subtle mustard hue whilst the dresses incorporated delicate lace detailing which served to remove the risk of overly harsh blocking. Missoni on the other hand, took a less feminine approach with a blazer/trouser combo which I feel could be easily translated into a casual workwear look, worn with a plain white top (rather than the crazy tribal dress which Missoni have opted for!? #wtf). Below, I have found alternative ways to create these runway exemplars. Firstly I found a few designer alternatives (all still available online at Net-a-Porter) and then I managed to hunt down comparitively affordably options from the high street.  So take note and #DareToGlare this summer:

Elie Saab, S/S '12
Hakaan, £960
French Connection, £30 (Sale)

CATWALK: Sass and Bide, S/S '12
DESIGNER: Equipment, £230


Elie Saab, S/S '12
DESIGNER: Giamabattista Valli, £1,605
HIGH STREET: A|X Paris at New Look£21


Missoni, S/S '12
Rag and Bone, £410Trousers: J. Crew, £260  
Topshop, £40. Jodhpurs: Boohoo, £10 (Sale)

Friday, 15 June 2012


I don’t know about you guys, but I am totally loving the colour cream right now. It’s my new favourite neutral hue for the season - partly because I’ve decided that nude tones look strange on my coffee-coloured skin tone and have been looking for an alternative, and partly because I’m trying to clutch at summer amidst all these depressing June showers. So I’ve been trying to lighten things up in my wardrobe my replacing those staple black items with cream ones, and I have found some amazing pieces out there to do this with.

Firstly, I fell completely and utterly in love with this incredible cream leather studded biker jacket from Zara. Now, usually I would NEVER be able to justify spending £170 on any one piece of clothing, for a bargain hunter like me it’s a criminal atrocity but I am a total sucker for studs, and it truly is a rarity these days to find a good quality leather jacket in a user-friendly shape. Restrictive clothes are a pet-hate of mine (this is why I choose not to wear jeans) and I always find restriction a huge problem when trying on leather jackets because if the material is too tough and thick at the elbow then I can barely move my arm. But Zara have got it entirely right with this one: the softness of the leather allows for easy movement and the cream hue stops the leather/stud combination from looking too gothic or grungey. I’m a huge fan, salivate over it with me:

Unfortunately, it seems that I got incredibly lucky finding this one in the Windsor Zara store, and having sold out in stores the jacket is now selling for £300+ on ebay!? Alternatively they have it in black still available on the Zara website, or there is also a similar but studless plain cream jacket online:

 Zara, £169.00
Zara, £149.00
Secondly, following my #BackToThePack post last Sunday, I was inspired to invest in a new neutral backpack that could go with most of my outfits. Originally I was looking for a classic, tan style but when I found this Jobis one in cream I had to have it. Reduced to only £27 in T.K.Maxx it was a bit of a steal, especially considering that it’s genuine leather.



Okay, so following my last post, #DoTheSplits, I’ve been thinking about how easy it would be to do this trend without actually having to spend a penny. After all, it’s a micro-trend that won’t stick around for long, and once it’s gone you’ll be left with a foolish item you spent too much money on. My solution? Do it yourself. If you know your way around a sewing machine then why not try your shot at cutting up two pairs of different old trousers and attaching the two mismatched legs together to form a new pair of split trousers. This could be easier with leggings. An even easier solution for those of you who, like me, are hopeless at sewing, I’ve come up with a simple way of creating the look with tights. Isn’t it frustrating when that brand new pair of tights gets a horrendous ladder down one of the legs? Well this no longer means that they’re fit only for the bin, instead you can recycle them. Find yourself a pair of thick opaque tights and cut one of the legs off up to the thigh, then simply wear the opaque ones over the top of the ripped ones so that the opaque leg covers the ladder. This technique can be transferred also to the split leg trend, simply just wear your cut up opaque tights over the top of a pair of totally different coloured or patterned tights. I tried the look only the other day combining plain back with a pair of sheer spotted ones, and I was really pleased with the result.

Sunday, 10 June 2012


A micro-trend that I’ve noticed appearing on the high street recently is mismatched legs, particularly on jeans and leggings. It’s an attention seeking look for sure, and in order to pull it off correctly it needs a large dose of confidence and an equally large measure of attitude. So far I’ve seen the trend most predominantly used as part of a monochrome scheme with one leg black and the other white, as demonstrated by the young fashionista Lourdes Leon. In another form of mismatched legs I have also seen the same black/white contrast used but split so that the front of the trouser is white, and the back is black (See Aqua leggings below). Although I speak not from experience, I believe this style would be the more flattering form of wearing split legs, particularly as the black back panelling would form a slimming outline around the white from a front-on view. 
House of Holland for Pretty Polly,  £15

The clashing legs look has also been more boldly approached by the likes of House of Holland through the use of mismatched prints. The most recent House of Holland for Pretty Polly collection cashes in on the Olympics and Jubilee with the use of flag prints – the Union Jack, the Australian flag (oddly enough), and of course the USA flag under that ever-exhausted stars and stripes trend. Now usually I consider the stars and stripes trend snore-worthy; it occurs year after year and as a proud Brit I feel it gives off a strange political image to be wearing another country’s flag. However, having said all this, the split legs look seems to take the snore out, so much so that I’m tempted to invest. The key to this look of course is to keep the rest minimal – clashing patterned legs need to be counter-balanced by a simple plain t-shirt in order to keep the look wearable and not too busy.

So far I’ve only managed to spy out a select few split-leg items, my favourites definitely being the black/leopard print contrast jeans which I found buried on the urban outfitters website. However, I predict that we’ll be seeing a lot more of this micro-trend over the coming weeks and I’d personally love to see some examples in clashing florals. Here’s what I’ve found so far:

River Island, £30
Trippy NYC at Urban Outfitters, £70
Motel, £48
Washborn at ASOS, £75
Soul Cal at Republic, £35

River Island, £40
Topshop, £34
Aqua, £75


With popping colours and aztec prints hitting the high-street hard this season it certainly seems that the 90’s are experiencing somewhat of a revival. Despite the undeniable fashion atrocities that the decade committed this is nevertheless a revival that, as a child of the 90’s, I am welcoming in with open arms. One aspect of the trend which has particularly jumped out at me has been the return of the backpack; usually considered a sickeningly hipster or ‘scene’ style choice, the bag has taken on a new popular fashion image, as both high-street and high-fashion bring a new take on the practical piece. With the likes of Alexander Wang and Louis Vuitton rocking the rucksack in their Spring/Summer 2012 catwalks, it was immediately set to be a look that would be reflected across the fashion spectrum. Sure enough, we can see stylish alternatives produced by Eastpak, Accessorize and even for men in Topman and River Island.
This flexible trend is so wearable not just for its practicality but for the fact that it can be interpreted in many different ways, depending on what style suits your needs best. For a softer option look to more neutral tones and leather satchel shapes, as demonstrated by Alexander Wang. Turn to Accessorize for a more feminine, summery take with pretty florals and nautical stripes. And for 90’s popping patterns look toward high street names such as Urban Outfitters and Topshop. Wear it your way this summer. Get inspired by my pick of the best:

Accessorize, £32
Alexander Wang, £715
Topshop, £34

Pierre Hardy, £1,145
Topman, £12
Eastpak at Urban Outfitters,  £39
Topman, £60

My bargainista tip to you? Search where people won't be looking for fashionable options - for example, in sport shops and Mark and Spencer type shops... I found my paisley print backpack for only £3 in the men's sale section in T.K.Maxx!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


It is true that the definition of monarchy in this country has changed almost beyond recognition. Whilst the crown is no longer the political centre of the nation that it once was, it is reassuring to still see the nation stand up in honour of our Queen this weekend, as Britain threw itself into celebrating the Diamond Jubilee. What has not changed, however, is the status of the British monarch as a fashion icon. History shows us that the eyes of the country have always looked to the royal family for style inspiration, whether that be Queen Victoria with her eternal mourning-dress, Charles II and the beginnings of the three-piece suit, or Elizabeth I with her harsh Tudor silhouettes. The same is still true today, as evidenced this weekend - the Queen’s Jubilee outfits have been the talk of the town. In particular, the mint-green crystal studded coat and dress ensemble which Liz donned for the thanksgiving service at St. Pauls, crafted by the Queens designer-of-choice Angela Kelly, seems to have been a massive hit. The fine silk material was beautifully embroidered in silver thread and embellished with small flower shapes, as well as scattered with Swarovski crystals in places. An amazing brooch, made from two of the nine stones which originally made up the world’s largest diamond, the Cullinan Diamond, gave the outfit that extra regal touch, and of course the look would not have been complete without the Queen’s signature headgear. My personal favourite item worn by her Majesty this weekend was her cape coat which she wore during the Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace, apparently an Admiral’s Boat Cloak. I love the way the gold buttons stand out in stark contrast against the black material, very much like a cape cardigan that I bagged in the Topshop sale last Christmas. In fact, the Queen’s cloak is apparently the very same one that she wore back in the 1968 for a Cecil Beaton portrait.

For me, the Queen’s style is perfectly elegant and encompasses everything that a female monarch should be; it is a style that expresses power and dignity, commanding respect yet maintaining that element of feminine chic. Here’s my pick of some of her best outfits over the past sixty years:

Looking beautiful in white lace at the Australian Tour in 1954

Again looking wonderful in white at a Windsor cocktail party in 1959

Elizabeth certainly knows how to wear a cape coat, teaming her beige waterproof with boots for a very British, country look - 1989.

Loving this modern take on tartan, keeping it fresh and colourful whilst visiting the University of Nottingham back in 1999.