Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's good to be square

Remember I was looking for some chunky bangles to go with the braided bib-front cardie I blogged about back in February? Well, these ones from Banana Republic fit the bill nicely. And, at £19.50 for all four, that's less than a fiver each.

I've been meaning to write about Banana Republic for a little while now. This American brand hit UK shores last year, opening up on Regent Street in March 2008. Opposite COS and Liberty, it forms a little triangle of my favourite shops in London.

Banana Republic's clothes may look rather corporate at first glance, but if you look beyond the smart workwear, there are well-made, classic-with-a-twist designs to be had. We're not talking bargainista prices exactly but, based on cost per wear, the quality and longevity of its pieces mean you get excellent value for money. One of my most-loved dresses is a simple black silk with a latticework neckline that I've worn so often since last summer it is most definitely worth every penny of it's £95 price tag.

As for these bangles, being just shy of £20 isn't too expensive given their contemporary style and the fact that they look and feel far superior to cheaper high-street counterparts. Plus, you can wear them how you like - by the armload or solo - giving ample opportunity for various outfit combinations. Convinced yet? I hope so.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Free flip-flops (almost)

Summer wouldn't be summer without a pair of flip-flops and my all-time favourites have to be these LK Bennett ones. I love their traditional floral designs, which hint at classic Liberty prints, and the comfort factor, combining sturdy cotton with cooling rafia.

I discovered them a few years ago, when they were free with a magazine. Usually, free flip-flops tacked onto a women's glossy aren't much cop, but these LK Bennett pairs in pretty rosebud and floral sprig fabrics were surprisingly quite good quality. So good, in fact, that I've hunted them down on eBay and stocked up on some more. That's the beauty of eBay - there's always someone selling something that you may have missed out on first time around. And, while they were no longer free, I really didn't mind paying a couple of quid for them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gap Design Editions

Want Alexander Wang at high-street prices? Get yourself down to Gap first thing tomorrow morning. The latest Gap Design Editions initiative sees the American designer's twist on khaki, along with new up-and-coming label Vena Cava and milliner Albertus Swanepoel.

Collaborating with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winners, this is the third year Gap's Design Editions has helped to bring emerging US design talent to the high street. And we couldn't thank them more, as previous years have seen the likes of Rodarte, Phillip Lim and Thakoon reinterpreting the white shirt.

I've successfully managed to avoid tomorrow's stampede after bagging a ticket to a preview shopping event at Gap's flagship Oxford Street store this evening. And the first thing I made a beeline for? This gorgeous khaki dress by Vena Cava. Featuring design duo Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai's trademark hand-drawn prints, I love how the neckline looks like it's covered with heavy embellishment or chunky jewellery. And, considering they're one of the hottest names to watch, £48 isn't bad for a limited-edition piece.

Albertus Swanepoel (he's the US version of Stephen Jones), meanwhile, has recreated the sunhat in khaki with four cute designs. As for Alexander Wang, his urban take on khaki classics has resulted in two jackets, the ultimate khaki pants and the sweetest, flirtiest, super-short, pleat-fronted shorts.

Prepare for a designer collaboration sell-out!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Gap's Mulberry Bayswater bag

It was the Mulberry sample sale last week and, geared up with the promise of bargains, I got there bright and early. But, aside from some amazing Jonathan Kelsey for Mulberry ankle boots, reduced from hundreds to a paltry £75, the sale wasn't a steal.

I've been dreaming of snapping up the classic Mulberry Bayswater bag in oak at one of these sales... but nada. Although this time around, the mock-croc version was there for practically half price at £350.

Anyway, it wasn't until the weekend that I suddenly remembered I already own a Bayswater bag (sounds ditsy, I know, but I can explain). And not any old Bayswater at that. For lurking in my wardrobe is a limited-edition red-jersey number which went on sale in Gap as part of its Product (RED) range.

I still remember that cold, grey day in December last year when I joined a queue that snaked around the block at Gap's flagship Oxford Street store to get my hands on one of the 500 bags available. But it was worth it. At £95, it's a fraction of the price a normal Bayswater bag commands, even if it's not made of leather. Plus, the limited run gives it cult status - I knew I'd landed myself a good investment when I saw bags swapping hands for over £200 on eBay.

So, the reason my Mulberry bag has been languishing, forgotten about, in my wardrobe is this: it clashed with my red winter coat. Factor in the bad-weather conditions and the thought of toting around a bag that soaked up more rainwater than a pair of leaky shoes somehow just didn't appeal.

But now that summer's here, it's time for my Bayswater to make its first appearance. Isn't it nice when you discover something you've forgotten about? I feel like I've got a brand-new purchase and I can't wait to show it off. Yay!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gilt-y pleasure

I've long admired this necklace. My friend Claire has one and every time she wears it, it just looks fabulous. It quietly makes a statement of every outfit it adorns (from party dresses to jeans and a T-shirt) and there's an antique feel to its tarnished-gold lustre.

She's had it for ages (we're talking previous seasons here so it's practically vintage!), so I was thrilled to discover it's back in the shops. So, want to know where to find this classic treasure? Good old Topshop. It comes in silver, too, while my friend Tracey (another early adopter) has it in black.

At just £7, how can you resist?


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