Monday, March 29, 2010

I'm a Barbie girl

I know I've been promising you all some snaps of my Sonia Rykiel pour H&M haul, but I've been in a state of denial at how much I've spent on the collection. Sure, happiness is a wardrobe full of Sonia, but it's also a bank balance that's not in the red!

So, to make myself feel better about splashing out, I've decided that instead of wearing everything at once, I'm going to bring out a new piece every month. Not only will that prolong the excitement of owning Sonia at high-street prices, it'll mean I'll have something new to wear until the end of 2010 at least!

To help me unveil my first Sonia Rykiel pour H&M piece on this blog, I've called in a style icon who's bigger even than Sonia. With a career that has spanned 50 years, she's achieved international status and joined the ranks of Madonna, Britney and Kylie by being known by her first name only. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce Barbie and my new BBF (best blogger friend) at Barbie of the Day, who provides a daily fashion fix by showcasing Mattel's leading lady in a wardrobe of custom-made pieces that reflect the season's trends and trendsetters.

All that's left to say is... come on Barbie, let's go party!

Bargainista Fashionista wears:
Cotton sweater, £24.99, by Sonia Rykiel pour H&M
Cotton skirt, £19.99, by Sonia Rykiel pour H&M
Sunglasses, £1, from Primark

Barbie wears:
Sweater by Barbie of the Day
Skirt and sunglasses, Barbie's own

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bargainista Fashionista is in Elle!

I've been a bit slow in mentioning it, but I'm in Elle this month!!! Yep, Bargainista Fashionista is Elle's Style Advisor in the free supplement that's out with the April issue now. So, if you want some more thrifty fashion advice, check out the back page. (Sadly, the illustration isn't of me!)

Also, in the supplement is a feature called '50 tips from the stylish on how to shop the high street'. I'm tip number 14!

Btw, don't you just love Elle's Chloë Sevigny cover and the Elle title made up of Miu Miu's cute puppy print? Adorable.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mary, Mary, quite contrary

H&M launched its Garden collection yesterday - a range made with recycled and organic materials. You may have seen the adverts featuring this strapless red dress, the skirt of which looks like it's made up of roses. It is, in fact, made with recycled polyester. It also comes in cream and is just £29.99. The catch? It's only available in selected stores. So, despite a nationwide campaign, the chances of getting that dress are slim unless you live in the capital or other big city. However, the rest of the Garden collection is in all stores and there's plenty of other bargainous - and sustainable - fashion to be had.

Now, I've long been a fan of H&M's organic cotton clothing, so it was no surprise that I made a beeline for this pretty cream dress - made of 'wonderfully soft' (to quote the label - although I totally agree) organic cotton. I love its babydoll proportions, the garland of appliquéd flowers around the neckline and the hidden side pockets. If its simple but sweet design isn't enough to tempt, its price sure will - it's a mere £14.99! Plus, I'm sure I'll wear it far more than the red rose dress.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spot the difference

One is a limited-edition pair of Liberty-print sunglasses by RetroSuperFuture. Handmade in Italy, it features Liberty's classic Nina rose print, has Zeiss lenses and is available exclusively at Liberty for £120.

The other has a remarkably similar rose print, but is available nationwide in Primark for just £1.

I know which pair I'll be buying. Plus, it won't be a worry if I accidentally sit on them or lose them! Get them now ready for festival season.

Btw, if you hadn't guessed, the Primarni version is the one on the bottom.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Please vote for my Sport Relief T-shirt

It's Sport Relief 2010 and this is Victoria Beckham (well, ok, someone who looks very much like her!) modelling a Sport Relief T-shirt that TK Maxx challenged me to create an outfit around (read more about the the challenge here and how I customised the T-shirt here).

Please vote for my efforts on TK Maxx's Facebook page! Click here, become a fan of TK Maxx and click the 'like' button under my picture. The winner gets announced on Monday morning, so I've only got two days to beat the front runner who's got 125 'likes' so far.

Thank you so much! x x x

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's wicker, man!

What's more, it's just £7 from Primarni (aka Primark!).

Who'd have though straw could be so sophisticated? But take a cool boxy design and elegant gold and leather trim (faux, of course) and you've got yourself a new-season bag that will add class to a multitude of looks from utility to safari to military. Right now, I teaming it with a vintage cape, but I'm picturing it with a wardrobe of khaki or stone once the weather warms up.

It was my friend Laura who first spotted 'the hamper' - and it lives up to its nickname, being roomy enough to carry a bottle of wine (yes, I tried!). But, just so that we're clear, on office days it's used for my personal effects and sarnies!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Go nude

This dress looks more expensive than it is - which is £39.99 from H&M. Yes, really. It comes in black, too, but it's the barely-there shade that's the stand-out colour here. Along with those beaded epaulette details.

Yep, this elegant dress in this season's nude (trust me, this spring/summer, beige is your new best friend) will see you from 9 to 5 through to cocktail hour. The only thing missing? Hidden side pockets. But hey, that's a personal preference. Its nipped-in waist is super-flattering, too.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Flower power

Remember Nike's Liberty Dunks of 2008 and 2009, where the trainer giant designed a version of its most popular style using Liberty-print fabric? An instant hit, these limited-edition shoes sold out fast. And I was gutted I'd refrained from paying £85 for such a design classic (a bargain price in retrospect). I was even more disappointed that Nike and Liberty didn't make it a third year running with a Dunks collaboration for 2010.

So, imagine my joy at discovering these flower-powered high-top trainers in New Look. Their floral bouquet in pretty brown fabric and white water-resistant material instantly reminded me of last year's Nike Dunks, which came in a whimsically romantic patchwork of Liberty prints (and launched on Valentine's Day no less!). And, even better, New Look's version is just £25. Cheap chic? Love it.

While I'm on the subject of Liberty prints, I'm loving the store's latest collaboration, which launched on Monday (instore and online). It's joined forces with über-cool French boutique, Merci, to produce a range of items from clothes and stationery to homewares and soft furnishings, all in posy-perfect Liberty prints. My favourite pieces are the petite valise for £45 (a cute-sized suitcase that conjures up myriad uses) and the friendship bracelets for £6.

PS. The floral background to the picture is a favourite sun dress of mine. It's a simple silk number from Warehouse that I bought in a sale for £12 many years ago. It was a couple of sizes too big, but I just knotted the spaghetti straps to the right length and revelled in the fact that it was floaty rather than clingy. It doesn't look too large at all. In fact, a surefire sign of it's success is that it comes out every summer when the sun is shining.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bargainista Fashionista is in Grazia!

Wow, my blog is mentioned in this week's Grazia! It's listed in the column, This Week's Ups and Downs, as one of the things on the up. How amazing is that? I'm soooo excited.

This is what the weekly fashion magazine says:

Tips on dressing cheaply + chicly = a fashion blog to revive your recession-hit wardrobe.

Thank you so much Grazia!

And thanks, too, to those readers who spotted it first and pointed it out to me. It's much appreciated.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nail it

Just as accessories are the finishing touch to an outfit, so too is your hair and make-up. One of my favourite cheap and chic tricks to update a look is with nail polish. It's a quick-fix route to instant glamour and a clever way to refresh your wardrobe without buying any new clothes.

You may have read my Tweets about Chanel's new nail colour, Particulière. This sell-out shade in this season's nude (I'd liken it to a latte or mink) is proving as popular as it's limited-edition predecessor, Jade (a rather medicinal/dental-looking mint-green). I reason that if a girl can't afford to have Chanel hanging in her wardrobe, at least she can have it on her fingertips. But don't worry if you a) haven't got £16 spare for a bottle*, or b) can't get your hands on this must-have shade, as I've got some thrifty alternatives for you.

Butter's Fash Pack is virtually identical to
Particulière and slightly cheaper at £12 (or £10 at I've been wearing it since last year and only spotted the resemblance when I took the photo above (the Butter shade is peeking out at the bottom of the pic).

If you've not heard of Butter, you'll love its ethos: its
3 Free nail lacquers have no formaldehyde, no toluene and no DBP. In other words, no nasty chemicals. Fash Pack is out of stock on its website at the moment (must be the Chanel effect), but I've heard that its Yummy Mummy shade is a close choice, too.

As for Chanel's Jade - a nail colour so limited-edition it's rumoured that only a few hundred bottles were manufactured - I've found a £2.95 shade that's practically the perfect match. It's Barry M's Mint Green (shade 304). While for £2.50, M&S's Nail Colour in Mint is similar, if marginally paler. And its Tea Rose shade looks like a promising compromise for Particulière, although I've yet to see it in the shops.

So, if Chanel's now iconic 1994 nail colour, Rouge Noir - a gothic, blood-tinged black worn by Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction and a favourite shade of mine - is anything to go by, you really do get the look by nailing it with polish.

(* £16 may sound steep for a bottle of nail polish, but I've yet to reach the bottom of any of my polishes, so based on cost per wear, it's virtually bargainous! For further thriftiness, why not chip in with friends to share a bottle?)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wise up

The postman beats a regular path to my front door. Mostly, it's statements and bills. But, occasionally, there's a Jiffy envelope or a box, with the whiff of an eBay auction win and the promise of the prize within.

The latest such package contained this dear little owl brooch. Sure, the gold metal is slightly tarnished, but that adds to its charm. Its puffed plastic chest, meanwhile, is a pleasing coral colour (so this season!) and adds height to its diminutive one-inch stature. It's a vintage Boucher piece, although I certainly wasn't searching under that keyword - vintage, owl and brooch was as far as I got!

Anyway, it was a steal at less than a fiver. But, being Stateside, postage more than doubled the cost. Still, for under a tenner, it's a sweet, original piece. And that's what I love about it most. I'm not going to bump into someone else wearing the same thing any time soon.

So, if you want to luxe up your high-street look and make it your own, give it a unique twist by clever accessorising. It's all in the detail.

Here's my top three eBay tips to get you started:
1. Use search words such as 'vintage' or 'retro' (and 'pin' as well as 'brooch')
2. Extend your net worldwide. If postage isn't too prohibitive and exchange rates are favourable, then you're onto a winner
3. Never bid too much - there's always a new find to discover if you miss out. To keep your maximum bid down, ask yourself if you can afford it if it gets lost in the post. Works for me!

Happy hunting!


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