Monday, November 30, 2009

Let the countdown begin!


From the moment the fairy lights appear on the high street and the festive window displays are revealed, I love the excitement and anticipation of Christmas. It must be the thought of all the shopping!

So, to celebrate the festive period, I've got a Christmas special for you... Let me reveal Bargainista Fashionista's take on the Advent calendar. From 1st December right up to Christmas Eve, I'll be your personal shopper, posting a blog a day with affordable fashion ideas for gifts, plus a few luxe treats to add to your wish lists (it is Christmas, after all!).

So, if you see something you want, just forward the story on to friends and family as a little hint! Or, if you spot something a friend would like, why not play fairy godmother and alert their loved ones? 'Tis the season of goodwill, so spread the love.

Come back tomorrow and the gift idea behind door one will be revealed...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's cashmere darling


Cashmere-lined leather gloves are one of my little indulgences. They're on my Christmas wish list every year. And Santa delivers, more often than not. That's because this luxe treat isn't budget busting. In fact, it's practically a bargain for the ooh factor. Think the softest of leathers, the finest of cashmeres...

And my gloves of choice? They're £25 from Marks & Spencer's Autograph range, available in black and brown. Sure, they cost a fraction more than ordinary leather pairs but, rather like silk underwear, it's what you can't see that matters. In this case, the extra layer of cashmere, baby soft next to your skin, that goes a long way to keeping your fingers toasty. It's an extravagance that's worth every penny - especially based on cost per wear.

If M&S was to up the ante on these perennial classics (and I've been a fan for many a year now), I'd like the cashmere to come in a choice of colours. If the high-street retailer can offer a rainbow selection of cashmere jumpers, why not this? I'm thinking pastel shades from powder pink and baby blue to lemon yellow and mint green, plus pop brights such as bubblegum pink, acid yellow, turquoise blue and teal green. Oh, and grey, too, please. Or how about leopard-print cashmere à la Christopher Kane? The possibilities are endless, but I'd take one in every colour!

As you can see, my current pair (above) has seen plenty of wear. In fact, the cashmere's now worn through on one of the fingers, so Santa, if you're reading this, you know where to go. But hurry, before the Christmas shoppers snap them all up!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jimmy Choo for H&M / Stella McCartney for GapKids: part 2

While I may have encouraged you to join the stampede of shoppers at the Jimmy Choo for H&M launch on Saturday morning, I have to 'fess up: I didn't actually make it. And, by the looks of eBay - with more than 2,000 Jimmy Choo for H&M items listed by the end of Saturday - many of those who did make it weren't there for the love of Choos. Luckily, there are still pieces of the collection left in H&M, especially with stores receiving a fresh delivery of stock yesterday.

To be honest, though, I wasn't blown away by what I saw - which is, admittedly, only a fraction of the whole collection, as most of it has sold out. I think the suede dresses in smouldering grey and electric blue look fantastic and the cage shoe I pictured on Friday is amazing. However, the fabric quality isn't great and definitely not enough to warrant the price tags. Take the grey leopard-print scarf for example. I had hoped that this would be the high-street equivalent of the iconic Stephen Sprouse for Louis Vuitton version, but it wasn't. Made of itchy wool, the thread count wasn't high enough and it was mean on fabric, too, so I certainly wasn't going to spend £29.99 on it. Designer label or not, this collection just didn't do it for me. But I hope some of you got some great bargains on my behalf.

I, meanwhile, have been trying to squeeze myself into more Stella McCartney for GapKids. With the second batch of pint-sized clothes hitting Gap stores yesterday, I furtively had a look today. The black knickerbocker-style shorts caught my eye, but I feared they'd be both too small and too revealing for my derriere. And, while I love the grey leopard intarsia cashmere sweater, it'll just look like I've shrunk it in the wash!

While I haven't got any shopping finds to share with you today, I do have news of a 30% discount voucher for Gap starting tomorrow, which is valid until 29th November. Get your voucher at www.moneysavingexpert.com. Happy shopping!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jimmy Choo for H&M


Tomorrow sees the first H&M designer collaboration to launch on a Saturday. Yes, the hugely anticipated Jimmy Choo collection hits stores on the busiest shopping day of the week. So, for those of you who have missed out on previous H&M collaborations because of their midweek launches, or had to take a day off to shop, it's got a whole lot fairer (unless you work on a Saturday, of course).

Heck, the high-street retailer is even talking about orderly queues and wristbands with designated shopping times on them for the first 160 shoppers to ensure it's a 'better shopping experience' (I did wonder how Choo mania would allow room enough for everyone - or anyone! - to try on all the shoes!).

Let's hope H&M has taken a leaf out of Topshop's Christopher Kane launch and has enough stock to satisfy demand, because if there's just one quibble I have about H&M's collaborations, it's that stock is so limited it sells out on the first day. So, given all the hype and publicity, the majority of shoppers just don't even get to see the collections.

Anyway, it's time to think tactics and prepare for tomorrow. Here's my suggestions...

1. Familiarise yourself with the collection. It's all online at the H&M website.

2. Read up on the 'How to shop' rules, as the wristbands only apply if you're shopping for shoes, bag and accessories, not clothes. (Did I mention Jimmy Choo has made a foray into garments for this collaboration? My money's on the grey suede one-shouldered dress at £149.99 being the star buy.)

3. Target your store. Doors open at 9am, but it doesn't hurt to doublecheck and do make sure that your H&M of choice is selling the items you want as the collection is only available at selected branches.

Then, on the day, get there bright and early - and I do mean early. Wrap up warm and come armed with supplies (a flask of tea and some cookies will do nicely thank you very much) and some friends (shopping in numbers always helps on launch days like this!).

Good luck and let the 24-hour countdown begin!

PS. The leather shoes and suede zebra-print ones pictured above are both £79.99.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Give us a twirl


Here's a cheap start to the week - a fun and flirty dress for just £19.99 from H&M.

I love the silky ruffled tiers and the slightly provocative length, but mostly I love the subtle pattern. Like beautiful Italian marbled paper, it also has a suggestion of snakeskin about it - perfect for a novice animal-print lover like myself.

And the good thing about this dress? It'll see you right through to spring/summer next year. Right now, add opaques and it's as sweet as can be.

It also makes a fresh alternative to the LBD for party season. Work the office-to-party look with ballet pumps by day and heels by night. Just make sure you spin it right round on the dance floor to get those tiers twirling!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stella McCartney for GapKids & babyGap


Is it wrong to wear children's clothes... as an adult? Well, after someone in the office wore a glow-in-the-dark skeleton tee from Marks & Spencer's boys department for a Halloween party, I thought I might give it a whirl - especially given the launch of Stella McCartney for GapKids and babyGap today!

Don't get me wrong, I haven't got a hankering for kiddie's clothes, but with Stella being the latest in line as a Gap collaborator, I was curious to check out the goods. One glance and I was smitten - and I wanted more than anything to fit into it all! So, if journalists such as Angela Buttolph are willing to be filmed squeezing themselves into miniature Stella creations, the least I can do is a little Bargainista Fashionista research. After all, aren't kids' clothes meant to be cheaper?

Stella's collection for bambinos is exactly what designer babywear should be all about. Heavy on the use of organic cotton (natch) and cashmere, there are sweaters with sleeves that turn over into instant mitts, the cutest grey snowsuit with fleece-lined hood, kangaroo-style front pockets on tops, leggings and babygrows, Fair Isle knits and - as an extension of her days-of-the-week knickers - days-of-the-week babygrows.

Anyway, enough of the baby talk, as those items certainly aren't going to fit a grown up, and onto the girls collection. The grey cashmere hoodie (£65) is the one piece Stella says she and her team especially love and I can see why. It fits an adult! However, what I desperately wished I could shrink myself into was the cute corduroy smock dress with an all-over 'I love you' print. Alas, it's a stretch to even imagine it as a top - and a midriff-skimming one at that.

I fare better with the boys clothes, finding a yellow anorak (above) that's a steal at £40. I love the cheery colour - perfect for blustery, wintry walks along the beach. It's lightweight and the longer-length back with a snap-flap keeps my derriere covered, too. The only snag is that the sleeves come up a little short. But, in a 13 XL (the biggest size available), it does fit.

I envisage a lot of disappointed children out there as us adults snap up their threads! Still, there's another drop on 16th November if they (or you!) miss out on today's launch pieces.

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