Sunday, July 26, 2009

The statement necklace

The statement necklace is autumn/winter 2009's big jewellery trend. So be style-savvy and get set for the season ahead with this embellished number from Accessorize. Rocking Chanel's spring/summer look with the mutiple flowers, it's a key piece that will continue to bloom right through the autumn and winter months.

I love the juxtaposition of the understated felt-and-ribbon bib-style 'chain' with the luxe bead, metal and fabric floral 'pendants' - it's both not too dressy and completely and utterly so. Which makes it the perfect accessory for day or night. From a plain cotton-jersey top for work to a LDB for the evening, the rule is to keep everything else simple and let the necklace do the talking.

You see, it doesn't take a huge investment to get your wardrobe new-season ready - £12.50, in fact (it's half price in the sale!). Now that's what I call a class-A bargain.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The £2.99 beach bag

Heading to the coast this weekend? Then grab this beach bag from Gap before you go. It's only £2.99 in the sale, reduced from £7.50.

I do love a good stripe and this bold, cheerful tote is perfect for the seaside. Plus, it's on the generous size, so there's bags of room for all your beach needs (towel, sun cream, water, magazines...).

Made of thick sturdy cotton, it's also handy as a shopping bag. And it comes in a more sophisticated palette of grey and white, too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dress parade

My bargain buy in the Whistles sale was this cotton sweater dress by American Vintage, reduced from £55 to a mere £15! Grey is always a winner for me - and even more so when it's sooo velvety soft.

American Vintage is a French label, which is maybe why I've been feeling ever so chic working my sweater dress with leggings and the Chie Mihara heels - it's fast becoming my favourite outfit. Come autumn, I'm sure I'll be replacing the leggings and sandals for woolly tights and ankle boots or taking the 'dress' out of sweater dress and wearing it with skinny jeans. Oh, I do love a versatile buy.

The second of my three dress purchases was this grey jersey Whistles number, down from £65 to £35. Given my penchant for grey jersey, it was hard to resist. Especially with the flattering empire-line detail. And the slouchy side pockets. And the silky, lightweight feel of the jersey.

Again, I've been teaming this with leggings and the Chie Mihara heels. It's like having a uniform! Likewise, I'm picturing this with tights and ankle boots or skinny jeans when the weather turns. Plus, a big chunky cardie thrown on top.

Last but not least, this silk Whistles piece completes my trio of dress purchases. It was the most expensive of my choices at £60, reduced from £130, but it's also the most elegant of the three. I love its gently draped front that nips in at the waist and the sexy hemline that rides up at the front to give a flash of leg. Like the grey jersey dress, it also features slouchy pockets and, on the shoulders, it's got that exposed zip detail going on which I wrote about earlier this month.

Yes, those zips definitely give the dress attitude, making elegant look slightly edgy. Which I like. This is a great day-to-night dress. Keep it simple with a fine-knit cardigan or a tailored jacket by day, then sex it up in the evening with some killer heels. Talking of which, the Chie Mihara's compliment this dress, too. What a stellar find.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Whistle-stop shopping spree

I had a mini shopping spree at Whistles the other day. Well, with up to 75% reductions in the sale, how could I resist?

Three dresses and a pair of shoes later, I was only £160 down.

My best buy? These Chie Mihara shoes - reduced from £195 to £50. Their zigzag cut-out detail is right on trend with this summer's gladiator sandals. And I love how they ooze plenty of attitude. I feel fierce, aggressive and empowered when I'm walking tall in these!

Since Jane Shepherdson took over as chief executive at Whistles (following her departure from Topshop), the brand has slowly but surely reasserted itself on the high street. Previously, I would have shopped in Whistles for pretty tea dresses, but now the label offers new-improved design credentials, with pieces that are more confident, more stylish and more designer-led.

One angle of Whistles that's still going strong is its support of other designers. Shopping there is like visiting an exclusive boutique, with brands such as Sass & Bide, Velvet, Won Hundred, Unconditional and Alex Monroe stocked alongside Whistles' own label.

Which brings me back to Chie Mihara. This Japanese designer focuses on design, comfort and quality - and I could tell the minute I slipped on her shoes. Thoughtfully designed and well-made, my sandals are so comfy they make wearing heels a pleasure. At just £50, I think I've bagged myself an excellent bargain.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Utterly frilled

Remember the ruffled tote bags from Gap that I blogged about back in April? Well, I was thrilled to discover that the Liberty-print version for Gap's Product (RED) range (which went on sale last December alongside my Gap Mulberry Bayswater bag - see June's blog) has been wheeled out in the sale. Was £25. Now £6.99.

Made from Liberty's iconic art fabric, it goes without saying that the material feels reassuringly expensive. There's a handy inside pocket and the tote is completely lined. So yes, be swayed by the sturdy construction and quality of the bag, but let your head be turned by the pretty print, too (it reminds me of delicate oriental parasols). Cheap and chic.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The new LBD

If there's one think every girl should have in her wardrobe, it's a little black smock dress (LBSD). Why? Because it's so versatile. For starters, it's so easy to dress up or down. Plus, its shape is very forgiving - and easy to wear.

Right now, my favourite LBSD is this sleeveless cotton version from Uniqlo for £19.99 (which I've customised - but more of that later). With T-shirt trim around the neckline and armholes, it has a cool urban appeal that reminds me of Alexander Wang (a past collaborator for Uniqlo's Designer Project ranges). Plus, it's got hidden side pockets - a LBSD must. It's the perfect number to keep me cool all summer long. But if you find black too sombre for the heat, the dress also comes in white and cornflower blue.

As to how I've customised my LBSD, it's all down to a £1 piece of beaded ribbon that I found in a haberdashery shop. Originally destined to be the bib detail on a plain navy vest, my plans were scuppered when a shopping trip to Uniqlo resulted in one dress but no vest. But, thinking that my simple LBSD could benefit from a touch of embellishment, I got the needle and thread out and, a few stitches later, this is the finished result. I'm liking the black and navy combo a lot. And the understated elegant. Not bad for £21.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Love hearts

I've wanted a pair of heart sunnies ever since I saw Alison Goldfrapp wearing some Cutler & Gross ones at a gig a few years ago. Thankfully, there's been plenty of these Lolita-style sunglasses around since last summer - and I think I may just have happened upon the cheapest ones on the high street.

These are a mere £1 from Primark (or Primarni as me and my friends like to call it). At such a bargainous price, I snapped up a pair with white frames, too. If you're going to any festivals this summer, these are the ones to heart.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Full exposure

I do love COS. And I love it even more when there's a sale on. This rather plain and unassuming fine-knit top is my latest buy from there. With 50% off, it was just £9.50.

I was attracted to its classic-yet-modern style. It's the exposed zip that does it. Zips are on show everywhere right now, with everyone from 3.1 Phillip Lim to Whistles getting tough with zip details on pretty dresses and tops. It adds a gritty urban edge to saccharine-sweet designs, turning a practical element into a feature.

I'm thinking this new acquisition will look great under a skirt suit or teamed with jeans and a statement necklace. It's the perfect foundation for my autumn/winter wardrobe - not that I want summer to be over just yet!


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