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Sunday, April 27, 2008

The star spangled banner......

Whilst I was studying at University, my good friend Jennie and I spent a year on an internship in the good ol’ US of A. I’m sure if you’ve ever taken a ‘vacation’ in America, you’ll be in agreement when I say they are a different culture! During my time as an honorary resident in Newport, Rhode Island, I experienced quite a lot of differences between us Brits and the Yanks. To name but a few…they love coffee, we are a nation of tea drinkers; they eat blueberry pancakes with bacon for breakfast, we eat bacon on a butty; their fresh bread tastes as sweet as doughnuts, our bread is a taste sensation; but more noticeable than anything coming from a stylish city like Leeds is their lack of everyday style!

Now don’t get me wrong, for a country that churns out the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Dita Von Teese and Nicole Richie, I’m not applying my opinion to America as a whole, just a lot of those Americans who can’t afford the designer togs and the expertise of a stylist.

And it’s not like I’m saying it’s their fault, I’ve been there and experienced the shopping and some stores just ain’t pretty! Trying to find a decent outfit beyond the casual sportswear and basics produced by such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Banana Republic anywhere on a high street budget beyond New York was a struggle. At times, even The Big Apple was trying if there wasn’t anything decent in H & M….. Hey, it’s only my opinion after experiencing the shopping there for a year, but anyone who has ever stepped foot in Forever 21, which was once the US equivalent of Topshop, will tell you the same (well, I’m sure my friends would anyways!).

Anyway, opinion out of the way and back to the trend in question…. So, considering that America is quite often behind Europe in fashion trend terms, what a surprise it was to see an American influence smattered across any of this season’s catwalk collections. A funky twist on the nautical colour palette of red, blue and white, Chanel and Jean-Charles De Castelbajac cleverly dissected the star spangled banner and put it back together again to recreate like only they could with some stunning pieces.

Jubilant star patterns also shone prominent on the runway, with the likes of YSL and Pucci demonstrating the versatility with multi-coloured accessories, shoes and glitzy star prints. Not forgetting the fabulous star spangled Chanel piece Kate Moss wore for her birthday celebrations!

A cartoon and a cowboy theme could also be seen riding the runway, but more on those trends later.

So, feeling inspired by the catwalk (but with the lack of catwalk budget) I hit the high street in my endeavour to recreate an outfit with a nod to the American dream. Adorning myself in big and bold glittery stars just isn’t for me, but I am partial to the print in miniature. So, I’ve played safe with this one and stuck to the basic colour palette. Take a long navy blue and white striped shirt dress, add a splash of red with Mary-Jane's and a belt around the waist to create curves, and throw in a scattering of stars with a cute neck scarf to create a pussy bow and voila….. channelling the Chanel look on a Primark budget Stacey style (now who would have ever thought those two brands would have been featured in the same sentence!!)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spot the difference

Earlier this year I had a bit of a love affair going on with this French Connection Skirt.... Oh yes I loved it alright, sat on the shelf it caught my eye and I thought it was beautiful, sexy and glamorous. Although no matter how badly I wanted it I just couldn't bring myself to cheat on my bank balance and justify spending £75 on a skirt I would only wear once or twice.

Don't get me wrong I'm not tight, I just have a serious shopping habit I need to fund, and so my morals got the better of me and I forced myself to refrain from purchasing. Once again, it was Primark to the rescue....

After already dragging my friend around Meadowhall and finally promising H&M would be the last shop, on walking past Primark I spotted this little black number in the window and couldn't believe how similar it was to the skirt that was once the unrequited love of my life. Not quite the same by the fact that it is black, but for £10 it would do for me! So, off I dashed inside to buy that skirt leaving behind my friend with the familiar look of dismay I've received from plenty of shopping partners.

Mission accomplished! Not only is the high-waisted ruffled wasitband and tulip shape skirt flattering on any lumps and bumps, but it is also very versatile. For a high fashion look wear it plain with the sash tied in a huge bow, another detail that is currently seen on style icons across the globe, or dress it up differently with one of your own belts or a sash. It's a great all-rounder little black basic to have in your wardrobe!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fashion Fantasy.... Peek-a-boo shoe boots

Just one more reason why I love Primark... Patent peep-toe lace-up shoots!

They were always destined to be THE shoe to be seen in this season after both D&G and Gucci featured them heavily on their Spring/ Summer runways, but after seeing Sarah Jessica Parker wearing a pair there's no doubt I just had to have some to add to my already extensive shoe collection!

Peep-toe shoe boots have recieved mixed opinions, with some people actually calling them 'Ugly' and others unable to understand the reasoning behind cutting out the toes from what could be a very practical, stylish shoe to keep feet warm on those breezy spring days. But me, I think its a genius style statement from the Italian designers and a trendy twist to update last season's shoe to be seen in!

However, as much as I dream about being able to afford a pair hot off the catwalk, once again the bank balance stands in the way! So, I'm sure you can just imagine my euphoria at spotting this almost identical pair in Primark for a bargain £12 - a mini fraction of the cost of a designer pair!There's no doubt I just had to have some to add to my already extensive shoe collection!

To all you sceptics out there, take a tip from me and pair them with a pair of cute, glitzy socks. Ok, so it kind of goes against the whole concept of the peep-toe by covering your peeping toes, but at least it goes someway to adding a little warmth to your feet on those breezy spring days.... oh so very Daisy Lowe style!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Just hang on a darn 'mini-trend' minute... foil wrap dresses

Im usually a big fan of mini-trends – those blink and you’ll miss them kind of trends that for one mini moment in fashion time allows fashion followers to step outside of the parameters of the season’s major trends to experiment with something a little different.

However, this flash-in-the-pan mini-trend is far too flashy for me! Don’t get me wrong, being the vintage vulture that I am a bit of 80’s gold lame has been no stranger to my wardrobe in the past…. but I’m talking in small doses like the odd accessory and a funky cropped cardigan I was once the owner of (that’s a thing, where did that go!?!?)

However, and despite Daisy Lowe usually being one of my favourite style icons, dressing head-to-toe in foil and resembling a turkey with all the foil trimmings on Christmas day just does not do it for me!! I’m not claiming to be a style guru of any kind, but in my eyes foil wrap dresses look tacky and cheap despite the designer label!!

Although, if this is a mini-trend for you DO still take a gold leaf out of Daisy and Dita’s lookbook and keep the bling accessories to a minimum to avoid the full-on glitterball effect! I don’t know how she does it, but even Dita still manages to carry it off and look glamorous at the same time!!

Whatever you do, DON’T do a Denise Van Outen! Shiny material can be severely unflattering so remember to choose a dress with a cut to suit your figure. Thumbs up for the fab heels though!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

To hoard or not to hoard.....

...now that is the question! Finding this old photograph of my mother in the seventies I found myself overwhelmed with the sense of deja vu, realising not but a few days before I had worn almost exactly the same outfit!I'm loving the seventies vibe that is rocking the high street at the moment, and looking at a mirror image of my mother 30 years ago, albeit give or take a few accessory and hair colour differences, is just as frustrating as it is humourous.

See, my mother is one of those people who seem to take pleasure in having a good wardrobe clearout from time to time, unlike me. I'm the complete opposite and not ashamed to admit it that I'm a hoarder - yes, one of those annoying people who will live amongst boxes and storage bags full of previous season's clothing, knowing that one day the fashions will once again come around full circle!

As I type there's no mistaking the faint tut tuts from the likes of Trinny and Susannah who recommend a regular wardrobe revamp and throwing out the old to make way for the new, but, take it from me, make room for the old I say! My wise belief has saved me a few pounds in the past however much it annoys my housemates and parents that I take up all the spare space in the house and closets with my clothes, shoes, belts, handbags, etc. etc.

How I wish my mother had the same attitude! Just lately it seems that every time I bring home my latest purchase she says "Ooh, I had one of those just like it at your age!" Great mother, I've seen the pictures of you as a once very stylish twenty-something in your bright red stillettos and funky outfits, which leaves a hoarder like me wondering why the hell didn't you keep your wardrobe? See, if my mother had the same attitude as me I would now be the proud owner of quite a few original styles that have greatly inspired this season's trends.
Take these jeans for example. As my previous posts have told you trouser shopping for a shorty like me is a challenge. Well the same goes for jeans. Fortunately, being the 'expert' shopper that I am I finally found this perfect pair from H&M, but imagine the trouble and money it would have saved me if my mother had saved hers from all those years ago! More importantly, imagine how great it would be to own an actual pair of vintage flares from the seventies!
Oh well, I guess I'm just going to have to lump it and hope that someone somewhere is putting to good use my mother's cast-offs because, luckily for me, I take after my nannan. Her three wardrobes and shed piled high with boxes is a vintage treasure chest full of clothes and accessories that have survived the decades. Up there with the vintage boutiques in Paris, 'shopping' at my nannans is one of my favourite places in the whole wide world....

Monday, March 31, 2008

If it's good enough for celebs...

It's common knowledge that whatever you buy in Primark it's highly likely you will see it on everyone and their mothers. In order to avoid this fashion faux pas I try and purchase items that won't be favoured by the population and basic wardrobe staples that I can dress up in my own way.

However, on a recent trip to Primark I couldn't resist this beautiful bag even though my stylish sixth sense knew it would be bought by half of the city. So, imagine my pleasant surprise in not seeing any members of Joe Public carrying the same accessory in Leeds, but Fearne Cotton with the exact same bag in cream as she stylishly struts the streets of London!

Well, who can blame her for buying this bargain! Despite being able to afford designer clobber, seeing Fearne with this Primark bag just goes to prove to all of us with a less attractive bank balance that it doesn't matter how much it costs or where its from, its how it looks - and this bag looks fab for just£6! Patent and oversized with a big bow, this bag is bang on trend.

I just have one slight issue in owning the same bag as a celebrity style icon, and its that people will now know where I've got mine from (well, that's if they havn't seen it already)... Oh well, if it's good enough for the famous it's good enough for me! And what's more, I also have the same anchor printed neckscarf that cost £1 from Primark, but can I just state for the record that I bought both items before seeing the picture of Fearne, honest! Not that I'd mind anyone thinking I got my inspiration from Fearne Cotton anyway, she always looks great.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nautical as a nipper

Looking through some old photographs the other day I came across this cute pic taken of me and my sister in the late 80's. With our nautical tees and Kate Moss fringes, this is proof if ever I saw it that what goes around comes around in fashion!