Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's in my laundry basket...?

This weekend, I've mostly been reading Elle Collections. OK, I admit, I may have been forcing it upon my nearest and dearest because I worked on it, but, by God, is it worth sharing. Buy it now to get the heads up on this season's key trends - and the designer looks you'll be copying on the high street. Not only is this an invaluable guide to spring/summer, it's also a thing of beauty - a coffee-table tome that you'll treasure. All for just £6.

There's lots to read, too. One of my favourite features is 'What's on my desk...?' where people like Sonia Rykiel have listed, well, the things on their desk (we're talking each and every item here). It's so interesting to learn what people surround themselves with in their working environment. So, as a tribute, I thought I might do a 'What's in my laundry basket...?' (What's in my wardrobe...? would have been a very long inventory, whereas this is a far more insightful view to what I've been favouring at the moment.)

So, what's in my laundry basket...?

01. Gap red knitted cardie, cotton and wool (the item that launched my blog!)
02. Uniqlo blue skinny jeans, cotton and elastane
03. Levi's blue 555 straight leg jeans, cotton and elastane
04. 18th Amendment blue Lollabrigida skinny jeans, cotton and elastane (I like to wash my denims in one go to help them retain their colour)
05. Poltock & Walsh white T-shirt with black snowflake print, bamboo cotton (I did a T-shirt swap with my friend Nicky)
06. Topshop multicoloured floral-print dress, polyester (bought on eBay)
07. Viktor & Rolf for H&M black short-sleeved top with sheer heart motif panel, silk (circa 2006)
08. Banana Republic canary yellow cardie with crocheted buttons, cotton (I haven't had anything else to wash it with, so it's been in my laundry basket forever!)
09. Gap black and white striped top, cotton and modal
10. H&M steely grey leggings, organic cotton
11. American Vintage grey sweater dress, cotton and polyester
12. Temperley for Target black miniskirt, polyester (circa 2007, from Selfridges)
13. COS multicoloured tie-dye print shift dress, silk (the ink-splattered print isn't disguising the red wine or chocolate stains any longer!)
14. New Look black Rock 'n' Roll sweater dress, acrylic, nylon and angora
15. Addict grey sweatshirt dress, cotton (bought from a sample sale in Brick Lane last month for £20)
16. H&M lilac and beige floral-print dress, organic cotton
17. Banana Republic pale blue pyjama bottoms, silk, cotton and cashmere (bought in 2006 during a trip to New York)
18. Sonia Rykiel black and white striped sweater with purple 'Paris' heart motif, merino wool (circa 2006, a Christmas present from the Stickman)
19. Marks & Spencer red leopard-print cardie, viscose and acrylic
20. Abercrombie & Fitch grey V-neck sweater (bought in 2006 during the same trip to New York)
21. White Stuff pink and grey striped socks, cotton, polyamide and elastane (an emergency purchase in Padstow after falling into a rock pool)
22. Various tights, socks and underwear
23. River Island pale blue and navy bear hat with pompom 'ears', acrylic and wool (the item responsible for my Observer Magazine fame!)

Bargainista Fashionista cleaning tips:
While many of my clothes have dry clean only labels, I hardly ever go to the dry cleaners. So long as you're careful, most items can be gently handwashed in cold or lukewarm water. And, if you've got a handwash function on your washing machine, even better.

I've also discovered Dr. Beckmann Dry Clean Only sheets (£3.49 for 3 sheets). Save money on your dry cleaning bills by using these instead. They remove spot stains and odours, leaving your clothes clean, refreshed and ready to wear in just 20 minutes. Just use the sheet to remove any stains and then place it in the tumble dryer with up to four garments for 20 minutes. And there you have it, dry cleaning at home for a fraction of the price.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pretty in prints

OK, it might be a bit nippy to go out and buy this dress right now, but trust me, you won't regret it. For starters, you'll be getting a head start on this season's big trend: print. Snap it up now and stash for later, or be brave and wrap up warm with a cardie! Its yours for £29.99 at H&M. There's a pastel green version, too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Marc Jacobs belt for £1 (yes, really!)

Where does one go for a cheap designer fix in London? Why Marc by Marc Jacobs, of course. With its Special Items range, you can spend hardly anything at all for a piece of Marc Jacobs-branded merchandise. The best buy? These watch-strap belts for the bargain price of just £1 each.

Available in gold, silver and pewter, they're reassuringly good quality with Marc Jacobs discreetly embossed on the reverse of the buckle. And one size fits all (they're exactly like those expandable watch straps, after all!). I overheard a sales assistant telling her colleague that the belts were originally £32. I guess it's a case of old-season stock that they just want to shift (a bit like my £3 Marc Jacobs hat, which had been £34).

Anyway, at less than the price of a Starbucks, it would be rude not to have one in each colour, so hurry before they're all gone!

PS. The giraffe is named Jerry (after Ms Hall) and is the latest card design from Umpen Editions. Cute, isn't she?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New shoes!

With the sales reaching an end, now's the time to embrace the new-season stock in the shops. (Isn't it hard to pay attention to the last of the sale items when spring/summer's new wardrobe looks so fresh and enticing?)

My first footwear buy of the season are these T-bar platform sandals from Topshop. Yes, despite the rain and the snow, I'm already open to, well, open-toed shoes. Foolhardy? No. You see, a trick to getting ahead with your new-season wardrobe is to get things early. Come spring, when the daffodils are out and you're beginning to shed your winter woollies and tights, you can bet your bottom dollar that these beauties won't be in the shops any longer - or that the most popular sizes will be sold out.

When these arrived in the post, I was surprised at the sheer height of the chunky platform heel. OK, I know I'd seen pictures on the Topshop website and there were measurements, too (heel approx 5 inches, platform approx 1.5 inches), but there's something about online shopping that just doesn't give you a realistic 'I've seen them in person, touched them and tried them on' impression.

That said, I do love these shoes. In them, I just about eye-to-eye with the 6ft+ Stickman and boy, do they make my legs go on forever! The wooden heel is deceptively light and the tan leather is so soft. I'll be teaming them with tights until the weather warms up and then it's hello legs and pastel shades of nail polish.

They also come in black leather and for the reasonable price of £75. Plus, until midnight tonight you can get free standard P&P when you spend over £50 on the Topshop website. Just enter JANFREESHIP at checkout.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sale shopping

I love shopping at the end of the sales. There may not be much left, but the bargain-basement prices make the final trawl of the sales very much worthwhile.

Take River Island, for example. It's knocked a further 50% off sale prices, making its reduced wares cheaper than Primark! I got this heavy textured-cotton skirt for just £6 (it was originally £29.99). And, with print being a big spring/summer trend, it'll do me well for the start of the season.

So, if you're prepared to hunt through the remnants of the sales rails for that undiscovered gem, here's a few shopping tips to make the most of the end of the sales:

1. Stock up on classics such as skinny jeans, plain vests and tees, stripy tops (the Gap one I blogged about in December is now £6.99 in the sale), leather bags and good quality underwear. Look for things that you'll get a lot of wear out of. The trick is to take advantage of the sale price to invest in something that is better quality than you'd normally buy - so if you'd usually spend £30 on a sweater, why not spend that same £30 on a sale sweater that would have normally cost £60?

2. Swot up on the new-season trends so that anything you buy will still look current. For example, my sweater dress from the COS sale crosses over into spring/summer's sportswear trend. As a heads up, look out for prints, nudes and sporty pieces. But avoid anything gimmicky and details that date an item back to last season - big shoulders are a no-no.

3. Shop for designer labels at knockdown prices. If there's a brand that you love, now's the time to get your favourite label for less (like I did with my Sonia by Sonia Rykiel sweater). Department stores often offer the best reductions on designer goods, but there's bargains galore online, too. I've been browsing the designer offerings at and

4. Don't get too preoccupied with the sale price. Just as supermarket offers such as '2 for £3' bamboozle you into thinking you've got a great deal when, in fact, you're only saving a matter of pence, so it can be with sale prices. Ask yourself if you would still buy it if it wasn't reduced? If the answer is no, then no matter how cheaper it is, you didn't really want or need it.

5. Don't be afraid to ask for more money off if a sale item is damaged. For example, if something has make-up marks on it, a rip or a broken zipper, I'd expect a further reduction (note, extra discounts like this will make the item non-returnable in most cases). However, only buy faulty items if they can be fixed and you're prepared to do so - otherwise they'll remain unworn in your wardrobe.

6. Lastly, look beyond your clothes size. Sizing varies so much from store to store, designer to designer and even item to item. So if you can't find an item in your size, go a size up (or down!). You never know, depending on the cut or style, it may be fine - and you may even like the look or fit of it better. I often find that going a size larger on sweaters can still look good.

With many stores now offering final reductions as they aim to wind down the sales by the end of the month, there are bargains to be had. So happy sale shopping!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

C'est chic

If Sonia in the sales isn't bargainous enough, here's the next best thing... and it's even got a Parisian theme going on, too. Now that's what I call Left Bank chic.

This cotton-knit jumper in cool navy and cream is £38 from Topshop. Wear it with jeans or a cute black skirt and tights. I love mixing navy and black, don't you?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Crazy for stripes

Will I never get bored of stripes? Or Sonia for that matter?

Following a case of dress envy - after I spotted someone wearing a cool grey, purple and black stripy Sonia Rykiel affair - I decided to go sale shopping.

And this Sonia by Sonia Rykiel sweater is what I picked up for half price. OK, it was still (whisper) £92, but it did start out at £184 originally so that's a saving of nearly £100! Plus, it's made of the loveliest, softest merino wool (which doesn't itch at all. Don't you just hate itchy wool?).

Sonia's sweaters wear well, so this is an investment piece. And her trademark stripes are a classic, too. I love the low-key frills around the sleeves and the waistband, and the purple and black combo is a refreshing change from monochrome.

OK, I could have waited until next month's Sonia Rykiel Pour H&M launch but, you know what, there's always space for Sonia in my wardrobe - especially in the sales!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Grey matters

On the hanger, this looks like a boring, oversized grey sweatshirt with a weird frilled hem.

On a person, it becomes a cute sweater dress that gives a nod to this season's sportswear trend.

And, what appears to be grey jersey is, in fact, 80% silk and 20% angora (we're talking luxe sweater dress here!).

So, the moral of this story is: never judge a book by its cover - or rather, never judge a piece of clothing by its hanger appeal alone. Even the most unpromising items hanging up in-store can turn out to be the most surprising and best finds.

I like how the drawstring hem creates cuteness and detail to this athletic design, how the contrasting fine ribbed sleeves are extra-long and the fact that it's got side pockets, too.

Oh, and it's also 50% off in the COS sale now. Down from £59 to £29.50.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Another pretty lace

Don't you just love a 2-for-1 deal? Well, this Topshop skirt does just that, ticking off two of the new-season trends in one slinky hit: neutrals and lace. Both for just £30.

I love how the side ruching makes for sexy curves, while the exposed back zip in contrasting black, with a grosgrain-ribbon zip pull, adds edginess to the sweetness of the fabric. And, to spare your modesty, the sheer beige lace is lined in black. What more could you want? I'm wearing mine with my H&M frilly shouldered jumper.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to school

It's Monday morning and probably the first day back at work in 2010 for most. So, I thought I'd inspire you with a new-season trend: satchels (apple for teacher/boss optional).

Yes, thanks to Chloe's s/s 2010 show, school-style satchels are making a comeback this season. Great news if you'd like to compartmentalise your life in your handbag! Personally, I do like the orderliness of a satchel - there's a home for everything from your purse to pens, which means no more rooting around at the bottom of your bag for your keys!

So, while many of you have been scouring the sales, I've been doing a bit of shopping of my own - from the comfort of my sofa. My online store of choice? eBay. There are plenty of old-school satchels up for auction. I snapped up this cute vintage one for the bargain price of £5.50 (well, £8 if you count postage, too). My top tip? Never assume a bag is made of leather from the picture, especially if it doesn't say so in the description. You don't want to be disappointed if you pay over the odds for something that it isn't when it arrives in the post! Just email the seller to check or bid accordingly. Happy hunting!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bargainista Fashionista is in The Observer Magazine!

Happy New Year! And, what a happy year it's shaping up to be as Bargainista Fashionista is in The Observer Magazine today!!! Yep, yours truly is featured in the 30 Ideas for a Better Life story, along with a picture of moi in my River Island bear hat!

The article is about bright ideas to help you make the most of 2010, such as how to become a savvy fashion shopper (which is where my blog comes in!). If you missed the magazine, you can read the feature online (although, sadly, minus the bear hat picture). Enjoy!


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