Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cheap frills


One of my favourite sale buys this year is this cream cotton frilled tote bag from Gap (above left). I'd admired it all winter long, clocked the Liberty-print version for Gap's Product (RED) range at £25, and then somehow missed out on buying one altogether... until one day, sifting through the remnants of the sale, I found one lonesome bag, clipped onto a hanger as though it were an item of clothing. And what a bargainous sale find - reduced from £10 to £2.99! It's served me well ever since, being the ideal size for carrying magazines and carting around the overload that I can't fit into my handbag (umbrella, make-up bag, lunch...).

It's so good I'm tempted to buy another and this season's jersey version is very enticing. It is slightly pricier at £12.50, but you do get more fabric for your money as this time round the tote is lined. Plus, with Gap's 30% discount voucher valid from now until 4th May, you can bag yourself one of these cute totes for £8.75 (find the voucher at www.moneysavingexpert.com - Martin Lewis is my bargainista guru!). Obviously, with my love for all things in grey jersey, the plain one is a winner, but the stripy tote does look so summery. I think I'm going to have to have both!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mischa Barton's wearing MY skirt!


When I saw this photograph of last night's pre-launch evening for the Matthew Williamson for H&M collection, I had to share it with you. The designer is pictured with Mischa Barton and she's wearing the skirt I bought! Doesn't it look cute? (Which is a darn sight more than I can say for the dodgy MW for H&M leather waistcoat she's teamed it with!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Matthew Williamson for H&M


I love designer/high-street collaborations. For a bargainista fashionista, it means designer style at high-street prices. Stella McCartney for H&M? Yep, been there. Celia Birtwell for Topshop? Sure, done that. So when my friend Claire invited me along to tonight's pre-launch evening for Matthew Williamson for H&M, I eagerly accepted.

I have to admit, I'm not really a Matthew Williamson girl. Jade Jagger, Sienna Miller, Kate Moss - they all look stunning in his designs. But, personally, I find his collections a bit too loud and, dare I say it, a bit brash. However, this latest H&M collaboration, following on from last autumn's hugely successful team-up with Comme des Garçons, promises to be even bigger and better as it rolls out to 1,600 H&M stores around the world tomorrow, so I was curious to check it out.

Williamson has raided his design archives, reworking his most popular designs to product a 20-piece collection for H&M. And its launch couldn't have come at a more perfect time. With the sun shining in the hottest April this decade, this summer-perfect collection definitely set the temperature soaring. In Williamson's trademark fuchsia and cobalt-blue colour palette, with bold, bright prints and peacock-feather and butterfly motifs, think Ibiza, think colourful, think fun.

The star buy (judging by the myriad shoppers milling around H&M's flagship Regent Street store where the pre-launch event was held) was the colourful abstract-print sequin dress - a Williamson signature piece for a mere £149. Claire snapped up the butterfly tee (£19.99) and the turquoise cashmere cardie with embroidered peacock feather curling over one shoulder (£49.99). Also available in fuchsia, Williamson says this cardie is a reworking of a piece Kate Moss wore in his first-ever catwalk show.

And me? Well, I discovered this rather cute tulip-shaped skirt (£39.99). In a fabulously textured navy and gold brocade, it's got two discreet side pockets and doesn't scream 'Matthew Williamson', which I like.

Anyway, content with our purchases, Claire and I left with Pixie Geldof (she hopped into a waiting car, we carried on to the Tube) and walked smugly past the snaking queue that had grown around the block. Matthew Williamson for H&M goes on sale tomorrow at 9am sharp, so get there early!

PS. Williamson's next instalment for H&M, including bikinis (Ibiza here we come...), hits stores on 14th May.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Seen in the shops THIS lunch time


Inspired by the Alexander Wang T-shirt dress from theOutnet.com, I ended up in COS trying on this grey cotton-jersey version. I've admired it several times before for a number of reasons. Firstly, like cult blogger Susie Bubble of StyleBubble.co.uk, I, too, have a love for all things in grey jersey - and the grey marl of this one is the perfect shade of darkness. Secondly, the slightly batwing sleeves are a subtle nod to the 80s trend without being too try hard. And thirdly, the asymmetric pleat detail is oddly pleasing.

Now, I've overlooked this dress on previous occasions. I guess it's just one of those items that doesn't look that hot on the hanger. But wow, when I put it on in the changing room, it was amazing (and I should have shown a shot of me in it to get my point across - but I'm shy!). The asymmetry somehow works, giving the dress an edginess that looks both sexy and cool. Worn cinched in with a thin belt or loose, it works both ways, making it the perfect day-to-night number. I can also picture myself wearing it everywhere from the office to the beach, making it a versatile buy for £39.

As the April showers have shown up in full force, this T-shirt dress also offers the perfect excuse to slip back into tights again. For a touch of spring fever, I'm thinking the floral versions that are cropping up everywhere from River Island to Topshop will offset the grey nicely. My favourites are these Topshop ones in a vintage rose print for just £8.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Welcome to TheOutnet.com



As I may have already said once before, designer pieces with HUGE reductions is every bargainista fashionista's dream come true. So you'll understand why I was very excited to finally see the launch of theOutnet.com today.

My picks of the day were the cotton scribble-print dress by See by Chloé (soooo fun for summer), reduced by 50% from £93 to £46.50, and the black cashmere and jersey T-shirt dress by Alexander Wang (a timeless classic), with a massive 80% off from £210 to £42.

Needless to say, the best bargains were snapped up within hours of theOutnet.com opening for business. This is, after all, the discount designer fashion outlet from Natalie Massenet, the woman who founded Net-a-Porter.com, and it's set to redefine designer sale shopping as you know it.

Forget camping outside Selfridges waiting for the doors to open, the mad rush up the escalators and the frenzied search among instantly messy rails for that 3.1 Phillip Lim dress or that Stella McCartney jacket in your size. Now, thanks to theOutnet.com, you can go designer sale shopping 24/7, all year round, from the comfort of your home - with a plethora of labels (think Luella, Marc Jacobs, Christian Louboutin, Vivienne Westwood...) slashed by up to 80% just a mere click of the mouse away.

OK, the pieces are out-of-season, the availability is limited and, yes, you may recognise many of them from Net-a-Porter.com's previous sales, but as Massenet wisely states, 'Good fashion doesn't date' and it sure beats buying a bedraggled sale item that's been tried on by many and left limply hanging on the rail with maybe a make-up smear or a missing button.

For me, theOutnet.com is designer sale shopping from your sofa. And with no queues and no tussles, I'm sold.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Je t'aime


The dreamy print and subtle shades of this H&M smock dress instantly won me over. Faintly reminiscent of Marimekko's cowslip design, it stood out among a sea of plain-coloured fabrics in the shop. But the real clincher was that it looked like it could be a dress by A.P.C. The chic Parisian label does the loveliest simple-yet-pretty smock dresses, and this little H&M number had that je ne sais quoi about it.

At £24.99, it's a fraction of what you'd pay for its French counterpart, but you still get all the details: the fabric-covered buttons, the pin-tucking, the hidden side pockets... plus, it's made of organic cotton.

I have to say, H&M does a good line in organic cotton. It's really soft and nice to wear, it washes well and has great longevity, too. I've been a supporter of its organic cotton range since it launched in 2007 and my favourite steely-grey leggings (not too Lycra-y, nice thickness to the cotton, comfy ribbed elasticated waistband, super-long length) from its first collection are still going strong. Not bad for £9.99. So, H&M, if you're reading this, please make some more!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sale bargains



I always find the Gap sale is perfect for stocking up on wardrobe basics. Breton stripes for £5.99? Well, if you insist. Navy cardie for £19.99? Oh, go on then.

You may have noticed that I've got a penchant for cardies. They're my wardrobe staple. I spotted this particular one back in February, when it was a full-priced £35, and noted its advantages: a sweet ruffled bib detail that keeps this classic from looking boring; a fine-gauge knit that ensures it's wearable from spring through to summer, and the versatility of wearing it either as a top or as a cardie (layered over long-sleeved jerseys, vests, dresses...). What's more, the colour is going to come in handy for working summer's nautical trend, too.

Which brings me to the Breton stripes. Every wardrobe should have a Breton stripe or two. And the scooped neckline, cropped sleeves and cheerful red of this Gap number just puts a smile on my face. As does the price, which is down from £10.

As a bargainista fashionista, you can't go wrong if you shop in the sales, especially if it's for wardrobe classics that aren't going to fall by the wayside when a trend reaches its expiry date. And I've hit upon another of my smart shopping secrets, too: be familiar with the shop's stock so you're ready to snap up your favourite pieces come the sales. I know it sounds obvious, but if you identify and try on what you like early on in the season, you're all set to snaffle it up in the right size when it hits the sale rail.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Seen in the shops THIS lunch time


If you're like me and fancy working this season's tailored look without looking too, well, smart, then this H&M jacket is just the ticket.

This is what summer tailoring should be all about. A neat, flattering cut that works in two discreet front pockets? Check. A lightweight cotton and short sleeves to keep you cool? Check. Smart but not corporate? Check.

In this season's neutrals, it's a snip at £16.99. OK, it might not be lined, but the seams are all overlaid with satin for a tidy finish and if you replace the button for a 'smarter' version, you'll never guess it was less than 20 quid.

While it's still spring, layer it over fine long-sleeved jerseys, then replace with delicate-print camisoles or longer-length vest tops to counter the almost cropped cut of the jacket. Just don't add a white shirt!

I'm planning on wearing mine with a ribbed white tank from Gap, the Uniqlo skinnies and Converse.

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