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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!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Living the London Look

Well, I've put in a poor, poor performance lately when it comes to my beloved blog, but I do have good reasons! Some of my time has been taken up by that thing we all call our 'day job' and seeing friends but, not to worry, I've also managed to squeeze in lots of shopping and even a week in London, which obvioulsy involved shopping! Well, it would be rude not to visit the capital and peruse a few stores, so I've got lots to report....

Starting with my new favourite outfit which I've affectionately labeled 'The London Look'.

On my recent trip to the Big Smoke, I decided against getting caught up in the crowds on Oxford Street and took my shopping shoes in the direction of the quirky markets, vintage and high street stores we're not lucky enough to have in Leeds... and it turned out to be up there with one of the best shopping decisions I've ever made!

Obvioulsy, escaping the crowds wasn't possible, I mean it's London I'm talking about, but what was possible was succeeding in my search to purchase items I knew would be scarcely seen outside of the London Boroughs.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, travelling all the way from London to make a rare appearance in Yorkshire is my new favourite outfit "The London Look"!
Tuning in my bargain radar led me to the Illustrated People shop on Brick Lane, where I stumbled across the sale with everything selling for £10 and picked up this fab printed t-shirt. Not only are graphic prints a look to be seen in these days, but funky flowers are a fashion must to step into spring with style.
Apart from the cute pocket detail, the skirt from American Apparel is plain and black - but that's what makes it a great wardrobe staple. This really will go with anything, and because it sits on the waist it covers any lumps and bumps you want to disguise. Also available in lots of different colours and a bargain at £20, so why not collect the whole range?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fashion Fantasy... sexy satin stillettos

It's official, there is such a thing as love at first sight! How I would love for these Giuseppe Zanotti satin stillettos to take pride of place in my wardrobe. It's the detail that's got me - the front platform with knotted round toe makes for a sexy yet chic evening shoe.

However, with a whopping price tag of £355, I guess I'll have to settle for the similar version in Faith at a more realistic price of £60. Damn you bank balance!

S/S 2008 - Desirable Denim... and not just jeans!

If you're anything like me with dark hair and hazel eyes, blue is a colour that rarely makes it into your wardrobe unless it is a military navy or a shade that lies closer to grey or green in the colour spectrum (I think the 'professional' names would be something like a slate grey and aqua?!). So, for some of us, carrying the colour off isn't easy task but have no fear... unlike other colours we can cheat with a touch of good old denim blue!!!

Spring/Summer 2008 will enjoy a massive throwback to the '70s and '80s, especially when it comes to denim. Not only should everyone own a pair of good fitting blue jeans, but denim is a trend to be worn in every way. Jeans are Spale and super-flared, floral printed blouses are tucked into high-waisted shorts and torn denim jackets have been pre-washed and frayed. These pieces are distressed and effortless and easily worn with prints or plains.

There are some great denim pieces on the high street at the moment, from staples to fashion forward dresses, kick flares and skater skirts. Denim accessories and new washes are also in great supply that will see you multi-trend in style throughout the season. Warehouse comes highly recommended for its latest 'Ware Denim' collection and this floaty and feminine dress in a soft, pale denim is perfect for a lunch with the ladies on a weekend. Wear with pretty lace tights, a neckscarf and kitten heels or ballerina pumps to bring out the girly in you!

More to follow on the great range of jeans in store and the latest trends to buy later.......

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lay off my blue suede shoes

Walking around topshop last weekend I spotted these lovely navy blue leather and suede court shoes, and just couldn't help secretly smiling at the thought of a very similar pair sitting in my wardrobe. Curiosity got the better of me as I strolled across to the shoe section, smug in the knowledge that mine were sure to have cost a fraction of the price.

On closer inspection I was actually surprised to see that they retail at £35, not expensive at all and very reasonable for Topshop shoes - well thats not expensive unless, like me, you paid a mere fiver for the below almost identical pair from a charity shop!

Ok, so don't shoot me, but I have to admit that the only thing I love more than getting an genuine vintage bargain is seeing a copycat version inspired my orginal pair on the high street at more than triple the price! Plus, the two may very well look very similar but I believe I am the one with the advantage knowing that when I wear them I am sure to avoid that dreaded moment... you know the one, that horrendous moment when you're in a bar in a perfectly planned outfit down to every last detail only to see a girl enter in the same dress as you!

That's the best bonus of a good vintage find or a customised piece of clothing, it's highly unlikely to bump into anyone wearing the exact same!

S/S 2008 - The New Tailoring... Riding high in jodphurs

Being just a tab end taller than 5ft with a grand 27" inside trouser leg and short body, finding that perfect pair of trousers or jeans is an almost impossible feat and buying for my bottom half is an absolute nightmare - so much so I would even go so far as to saying I despise trouser shopping (gasp! shock horror!). But, for some reason unbeknown to me, recently I've been caught up in the midst of a black trouser fetish... I think its the backlash from the thrill of the hunt for the perfect pair of black skinny cigarette pants.

Well, however hard I've been looking, I'm still looking... although the search did lead me to a fabulous pair of jodphurs from Topshop's Boutique collection. Like a true horse rider who enjoys the ecstastic experience that comes with their horse winning the Grand National, it has to be said that trying on my new jodphurs was a feeling to rival! Because not only are they a trouser trend of this season but the higher waist and tapered legs hugs me in all the right places, enough to show off my curves but maintain the looser jodphur style around the thighs.

But the most unbelievable thing about these trousers above the fact that they fit perfectly is I picked them up in the Topshop buy-one-get-one-free sale for the bargain price of £20 reduced from £45, and I got a patent buckle belt for free!

For a Saturday night out, once again my love of vintage got the better of me as I stepped out in this 80's inspired outfit that would've given Jane Fonda a run for her money in the era's style stakes (although minus tiny bum, big blonde hair and odour of hairspray). When worn with a plain black vest, the focus lies heavily on the chunky buckle belt, but I have brought the look into the noughties by adding chunky accessories (albeit in brassy gold) and my new beautiful bow gold shoes from Faith. These killer (and I mean literally after dancing the night away) heels from somehow give the impression the even I have long and lovely legs!

For a more dressed down outfit that wouldn't look too out of place at the stables, go for casual-meets-country chic and wear with a striped blazer and boots.

Whilst I was browsing the rails at Topshop I also picked up a pair of navy shorts with big black buttons for the bargain price of £15, another staple buy that will see me through the sunshine of S/S 2008 whilst ticking the box for the nautical trend, and a pleated black t-shirt for free. Now that's what I call a successful shop all round!

Monday, February 18, 2008

S/S 2008 - Nautical and Nice

The maritime moment we’ve been enjoying remains on the horizon for Spring/Summer 2008 as the nautical trend has firmly dropped anchor to survive yet another season. An all-American colour palette of smart navy, crisp white and cherry red reigns supreme, and go overboard for bows, buckles and brassy buttons – feminine details that add the finishing touch that emphasise the chic sophistication of a trend that owes inspiration to the 1950’s and 1960’s sex kitten. Sail into style with a sea of stripes, rope detailing and anchor prints that dominate tops, shirts, cotton dresses, bags and accessories, and the classic sailor-style bib collar gets a new lease of life in the form of dresses and smock shapes. Loose linen, denim, wide-legs, crops and full skirts are the bottom of choice to save you from sinking in the style stakes.

If top-to-toe sailor style isn’t your thing, just focus on the sharp core colour scheme for a look that is simple plain sailing - small touches like adding a red handbag to a plain white t-shirt and jeans, or this stripy handbag from Primark. Alternatively, hint at the trend with key accessories, such as big bangles in bold red and navy or an anchor pendant – often seen on celebs. My anchor necklace was a bargain from New Look at just £3.50, and I also have it in silver, but for a wider range of nautical accessories I recommend Ebay - you can even pick up original vintage accessories.

My take on the trend….

The high street is awash with nautical inspired wear, but as the nautical trend first hit the fashion scene decades ago thanks to the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, being the vintage addict that I am, this for me is the perfect excuse to ‘hoist mizzen’ round vintage and charity shops to pick up some genuine pieces that have survived the decades – as you can see from the piccies, a successful shop all round!

For the office, marry minimal maritime details with a basic white cotton shirt and black trousers to introduce a more subtle nautical theme.

For the office...

  • For a look that fuses two trends, a white and navy blue anchor print neckscarf used in the form of a statement pussy bow ticks the boxes for the beautiful bow trend.
  • The nautical-inspired trousers with their brassy buttons gives a nod to the slouchy androgynous style seen strutting the catwalks.
  • A flash of red brightens the classic work uniform and adds a colourful edge.
  • Alternatively, team a basic red or navy top with a sexy pencil skirt team or these grey sheen sailor front crops from Warehouse, and accessorise with a neckscarf or chunky bangles.
  • Stand out in stripes with a candy striped shirt, with my favourites being these from Warehouse and the online store Boohoo.com.
    Wear a striped cardigan over a plain white t-shirt or blouse for ‘sailor-meets-geek’ chic.
  • Remember, stripes are infamous for making even the waspiest of waists seem wider, but the red stripes and wide navy waistband on this multi-striped cardigan from Topshop draws away the eye.

For the Pub...
  • This full skirt with maritime inspired buttons is the key for perfect pub outfit. Try a denim skater skirt (where) or this rope-detail pencil skirt from Topshop also to enjoy a multi-trend moment by mixing nautical and denim.
  • If you’re feeling brave and bold, go for these red shiny shorts or a red pencil skirt, both from Boohoo.com.
  • Keep the focus on the skirt’s details and team with a stripy, anchor print or plain coloured vest.
  • A vintage neckscarf adds an original touch reminiscent of the outfits worn decades ago – even better if you can find one with a nautical-themed print.
  • Alternatively, try chunky accessories for nautical in the noughties.
  • Add a flash of racy red to these sailor style dresses from Topshop with a skinny belt like this one from Primark and a red handbag.
  • ‘Toe the line’ with a pair of red or navy heels – adding flats will dress down the outfit for a warm summer afternoon in the beer garden (not quite possible just yet!!)
  • Add a pair of coloured tights to hide any white legs that have been snuggled up in winter woollies for the past few months.

For the Weekend...

  • For a weekend look, team a printed vest with denim – I’ve gone for my favourite high-waisted black jeans, but a blue pair would enhance the nautical fee. Try the new flares out in the shop for a 70’s edge.
  • Wear a pair of ballet pumps to ensure your feet can carry you shopping til you drop.
  • The red hat is colourful yet practical touch to keep you warm until the sun comes out.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's a wrap-up... and for less than a sandwich wrap!

Despite the sun donning his retro plastic shades to treat us to a short burst of warm weather of late, I'm not quite ready to pack up my winter woolly wardrobe! You can even still find me buying those knitted necessities - and just look at this latest knitted number I picked up from Primark for the grand total of...... £1!

Yep that's right, a whole pound!!! You're lucky these days to buy a hot butty for a £1!

This long lovely will see me through to summer as it's ideal for layering. Add a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath, a pair of chunky tights or leggings and boots for an outfit to brave the winter chill. Or like me, for a day when the sun is shining but it's not quite t-shirt and shorts weather, team with a pair of knee socks, a vest and neckscarf to keep warm but not sweltered and cool but not cold. Create curves with a belt and wear with chunky accessories.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Fashion Against Aids

I try to do a little bit for charity - I buy a Big Issue if I see a seller, I'm forever putting loose change into boxes and always sponsor friends and work colleagues in their bid to raise money, but obvioulsy I don't have the millions to really contribute - so a big thumbs up to H&M who have combined my love of shopping with a very worthy cause close to my heart!

H&M have teamed up with Designers Against Aids (DAA) and commissoned a handful of celebrities and designers to design artwork for a range of 100% cotton clothing. Not only to help raise awareness of Aids amongst young people, but 25% of each purchase from the collection will be donated to improving HIV/Aids awareness.... And I think you'll agree, this is a funky range of tees and hoodies designed by the likes of Rihanna, Jagger, My Chemical Romance and Timbaland.

Not only are these clothes stylish, they're good on the bank balance and even better on the conscience in the knowledge that the fab purchase you've just made will contribute that little bit more.

Never has shopping been so important... so, what are you waiting for?! Head to your nearest H&M now and prepare to be morally proud!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A word from the queen of the catwalk....

It has to be said that Vivienne Westwood has to be one of my favourite designers, not least because of her outstanding collection of clothes and fabrics that never fail to liven up the catwalk, but because of her sense - of course her design sense, but mostly her common sense!

In a fashion world gone mad where size zero reigns supreme as the ultimate ambition for every model; a world where it isn't acceptable for her to strut her bony stuff on the catwalk unless she's bordering on skeletal, to hear Dame Vivienne Westwood's view on BBC news this morning was so refreshing - especially coming from a designer!

Dame Westwood recalled in utter disbelief how, when working with a 16 year old model who she described as "being pretty" and "a perfect size 10", she was shocked to hear that her agency had told her to slim! and went on to say how she preferred her models to have "an attitude", not so much a skinny figure!

Good on ya Vivienne, it's good to know not every designer is pro - size zero and there's still the occasional one who recognises women for their curves!

All hail Queen Vivienne....

Sunday, February 3, 2008

This weekend I'm... very vintage in purple

As the previews of Autumn/Winter 2007 collections appeared in last summer's magazines, I found myself in a flurry of fashion excitement to see purple in all shades a dominant colour on the catwalks. Apparantly, it is a colour to make a rich, royal and opulent statement, but for me it is a colour I prefer to wear.

Purple was the colour of choice for my Friday night accessories, combined with a flash of gold to vamp up the vintage vibe. So, as I faintly hear the designer clad clan tut their Dior glossed lips at my charity shop bargains, I admit they may not be the most regal of items but, most importantly, they make a statement of my individual style, how I wear purple with personal panache... and that's what makes an opulent outfit in my eyes!
The outfit out and about!

Although my neckscarf is a one-of-a-kind find, if you're a fellow fan of purple prints you can find a similar one in Topshop, albeit at the not-s0-bargain cost of £15. But who says style has a price eh...?
Floral weave paisley neckscarf
Topshop £15

Wool at work... or on the weekend!

Take one knitted dress...

... and you've got an outfit for all occasions! My favourite store on the high street, H&M, hasn't failed me yet, and this fabulous vintage-inspired neutral knitted dress for just £24.99 is my latest favourite wardrobe staple to wear any day of the week.

Some of my friends have a love-hate relationship with H&M - occasionally they pick up the perfect purchase, but most of the time they can rummage for hours and not come across anything that catches their eye, but I always find something! In my world of shopping, H&M stands for 'holy & magical' - a land full of treasures where I know it's a certainty I will find what I am looking for, or even something I'm not looking for but just have to buy! From the basics to the bang-on-trend items, H&M has it all... I favour the uniqueness of some of their ranges, and still even own a couple of classic little black dresses with a difference I bought a couple of years ago that I rely on from time-to-time and bring up-to-date with the latest season's accessories...

...and I have a feeling that this beige knitted dress will be added to my long-term collection! Very versatile, it creates a neutral base ideal to smarten up for work or dress down for the weekend, and I just love its vintage theme with the gold buttons, fake pockets shift shape.

For work, my accessories of choice are these bargain brown lace-up brogues that are a great take on the designer versions that strutted this season's catwalks, a waist-cinching belts to emphasise curves and pretty gold-tarnished accessories. When the weekend comes, I prefer to vamp up the vintage look with neckscarfs, flat slouchy boots and a vintage handbag. However, these are just too of the many loks that could be created with this dress... go on, use your imagination!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

S/S 2008 - The New Tailoring... Wide-legged Wonders

JJ Park metallic rosette sleeve top - ASOS £65
White rib frill vest - Topshop £10
Faceted beads and charm necklace - Miss Selfridge £8
Black Trousers - River Island £34.99
Quilted Mary Jane pumps - Topshop £25
Carta - Faith £55

You see, I am a great believer in investing in quality staple garments that will last last me many seasons, such as a perfect fitting pair of skinny jeans and a classic LBD or killer heels, but for some reason I have an aversion to spending anything over £20 on an item for work! I'd rather rummage through the sales for a bargain pair of trousers or shirt, which isn't very logical considering 4 days out of the 7 demands a specific dress code for work so really I should be spending a lot more money on items I have to wear the most (Friday is 'wear what you want' day, my favourite dressing day of the working week!).

So, with my new monthly shopping fund sitting in my bank, what else was a girl to do on Saturday except hit the stores - with the plan to find myself a new pair of work trousers, straight leg being my preferable choice for a change. After scouring the usual H&M, Dorothy Perkins and Primark for the perfect pair of (cheapish) trouse rs, I was out of luck and in despair heaving round my unexpected heavier environmentally-friendly M&S shopping bag bulging with a few unplanned purchases I just had to have (You know the kind I mean!).

Until I came across these black beauty's from River Island. The fact that it was in River island was a shock - is it just me or have they transformed their rails from what was once a range of sequin clad lycra to a new fab collection complete with pretty details, fabulous fabrics and hot handbags, shoes and accessories!

With a feminine edge on masculine tailoring riding high in the fashion stakes and a military theme with a classic, old-school influence adorning the catwalk, these trousers with their nautically nice buttons and wide-leg, slouchy cut tick a combination of trends that will see me through to spring - and what's more, they were the only size 8 in short length, which for a girl at just 5 foot is an absolute blessing that you don't find often... it was a sign I just had to buy them, they were obvioulsy made with me in mind!

There's nothing more powerful than a woman dressing in tailored men's clothing and black trousers are a necessary staple for any girl. The buttons on these make this particular pair even more versatile.

  • Tick the box for sheer tailoring and team with these beautifully bowed peep toe heels and black rosette sleeve blouse to create that perfect desk-to-dawn dancing outfit.
  • Or keep the silouhette slim and dress down with a this pretty frilled vest. Take the look into S/S 2008 with statement jewellery.
  • For a smart weekend look add cute quilted flats.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

If you can't beat em, wear em... Winter Blues

Feeling blue?... Great, you're in fashion!

Who'd have thought scientists are so stylish? well, some clever boffins are certainly bang up-to-date in the fashion department with their latest diagnosis that this time of the year is officially the bluest... makes me wonder if their research came from the latest fashion magazines and a wander around the high street? Because fashionistas, it's a blue, blue season!

The high street is awash with blue hues at the moment, from baby blue to midnight blue, electric blue to navy blue, it's the latest colour to have in our wardrobes! So, let's brave the windy wet weather and defy the dark days to shop til we drop. Not only will shopping make you feel good, but a blue splash on any outfit will make you look good!

H&M's latest Spring collection certainly makes the most of blue. This blazer should be a staple garment for those with a love of all things bright and beautiful, and combine with these fabulous dresses and make a bold statement in top-to-toe electric blue - or add a spark to any outfit with the shoulder bag. A look not for the meek and mild, but not to worry, H&M has thought about you too with this cosy cardigan and trendy trench coat in baby blue. And I'm loving this knitted beige dress at £24.99... so much so, it's already hanging in my wardrobe!!

Being blue makes a statement dahlin'.. not only of our mood but also our style!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Just hang on a darn 'mini-trend' minute..." - Leopard Print Accessories

Bring out your inner party animal, literally, with the latest mini-trend to hit the high street - leopard print. From scarves, tights to bags and shoes, just a glimpse of leopard print is purrfectly cute and stylish!

Love it or hate it, leopard print has been a favourite of fashionistas since the 1960's, evident in the timeless faux fur calf-length coat from Topshop that kept my mum stylishly snug through her punk phase in the 1970's. The coat survived the many gigs and today the tradition continues with this priceless piece (still with the original Topshop label!) proudly gracing my sister's winter wardrobe.

A classicaly vintage statement piece, this original number never fails to express my sister's 'rock chick' persona when teamed with a simple combo of jeans and slouch boots.

However, this much leopard print isn't for everyone. So, if you're more like me with the attitude "a little bit of leopard print goes a long way", then take a trek through the high street to pick up some of these latest stylish accessories and you'll soon be feline fine!

Tights - Dorothy Perkins £8
Pointed Ballet Pumps - Miss Selfridge £20
Neckscarf - Marks & Spencer £12
Leopard cub Raglan Tee - Urban Outfitters £35

But beware, leopards can be dangerous... leopard print is attention-grabbing and one to wear with caution. Too much can be cheap and chavvy (especially on the wrong material and style of clothing) and always steer clear of the tackier prints.

So, if you're still not sure if leopard print is too loud for you then secretly indulge the trend with this cute and sexy underwear. This jewelled leopard ring is also a multi-trend must-have as chunky is in. And for the leopard print lovers in your life, you can't go wrong with this kitsch fluffy hot water bottle as a gift!

Jewelled Leopard Ring - Urban Outfitters £12
Animal Hot water bottle - Topshop £8
Animal mesh thong - Topshop £3
Animal mesh balconette bra - Topshop £14