Monday, May 31, 2010

My little pony

This cute belt is a fab find for less than a fiver. A mere £3, in fact. My friend Laura was wearing it the other day and when she said it was from Primarni, I was galloping there faster than you could say 'Grand National'.

It's a black elasticated belt with popper fastenings, a faux-suede front and a trio of gold metal horses - perfect for cinching in this summer's maxi dresses; it looks great with a LBD, too. Go on, trot on down to Primark and treat yourself.

Btw, the coral leopard-print dress is another steal - £14.99 from H&M's Fashion Against AIDS collection which launched a little over a week ago. You can get a matching tent for just £7.99 and leopard-print rain ponchos for £1.99, too (in black, grey and white or orange and white).

As you may have guessed, the collection has a festival vibe, although annoyingly, like the Garden range, it's only available in selected stores. On the plus side, though, 25% of the ridiculously cheap prices is donated towards AIDS/HIV awareness projects. As if you need an excuse to shop!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Get shorty

From now until the end of summer, you'll find me in shorts. And, while I may not wear mine to work, this season shorts are wholly acceptable office attire. There are plenty of smart, tailored designs on the high street that are work-friendly, from knee-grazingly long pairs to thigh-skimmingly high styles.

I think this pair from Gap (above) traverses both work and play. Made from modal and polyester, it has the luxurious feel of washed silk, while the turn-ups give it a smart edge. Teamed with a crisp white shirt, it's easily suitably for the 9-5. Note: heels are a must, but chunky or wedge not stiletto.

They're £29.50 and come in khaki green, too, and, even better, you can get 30% off until 2nd June, taking them down to just over the £20 mark.

For under a twenty, these cute cotton H&M shorts (below) are just £14.99. I love the brass-edged fabric-covered buttons and the fact you can adjust the width of each leg. But, mostly, I adore its sweet bloomer-style design. It also comes in black and pale denim blue.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In full bloom

This summer, Gap is giving Liberty a run for its money with everything coming in gorgeous floral prints, from maxi dresses and shirts to bikinis and bags. I'm particularly loving the spacious shoppers as they're pretty as a picture and I just can't resist a good tote bag.

Now this was meant to be a 'fab find for a fiver' story, but Gap has surreptiously amended the price of its floral shoppers from £5 to £8. Annoying, yes. But still irresistible. And the saving grace is that you do get two bags for the price of one as these pretty totes are reversible, featuring contrasting ditsy flower prints (and the odd stripe) inside and out. Plus, you can get 25% off in Gap until 25 May with the voucher in Grazia, making the shopper just £6. Just take your pick of the florals below, plus more.

Oh, and the bags aren't the only items that are reversible - Gap's cute triangle bikini tops are, too. What a great idea for streamlined holiday packing! Pretty and clever? Looks like it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mary's Living & Giving Shop

It was the launch of Mary's Living & Giving Shop for Save the Children today. And, while I wasn't early enough to get the Alexa bag that Mulberry had donated (that went to the first person in the queue who got there before 8am!), there were plenty of designer bargains to go round.

Most impressive was the cabinet of vintage Chanel handbags (above). Yes, really! The generous donor? A lady who runs a vintage designer bag website. Prices started from £899 upwards, so while it wasn't exactly a steal there were definite savings to be had. And, of course, it all goes to a good cause. Save the Children's Nadia El Meallem told me the store took £2,500 in the first hour!

So, what did I spot? A Stella McCartney coral silk dress for £530 (RRP £1,525), Marc by Marc Jacobs bags for £80 a pop and a cornflower-blue Sonia Rykiel skirt for £50 (all pictured), to name just a few. It wasn't all designer labels though, as donations included high-street brands such as ASOS, French Connection and Whistles. Plus, there was menswear, too - although I'm not sure if anyone would have snapped up the ridiculously flared Jean Paul Gaultier jeans that Jonathan Ross donated to guest Mary Portas last night on his BBC1 show!

The shop isn't huge, but there's plentiful stock - and it's all in great condition (it was hard to tell which items were new and which weren't!). Plus, shoppers came armed with donations, including me. So, when you visit, look out for my contributions - I've put tags on them with little style tips on the reverse.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Donations for Save the Children's Living & Giving Shop

A quick rifle through my wardrobe last night unearthed these donations for the new Mary Portas Living & Giving Shop for Save the Children, including the David Beckham T-shirt I customised for TK Maxx's Sport Relief challenge and some Banana Republic bangles I blogged about last year.

I'm also going to attach these labels to my donations with style tips on the back, so look out for them! And don't forget your donations, too.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mary Portas Living & Giving Shop for Save the Children

As a Bargainista Fashionista, it's no surprise that charity shops are one of my usual haunts. So, you can imagine my excitement when Save the Children told me about its latest shop opening on Saturday.

The charity has teamed up with retail guru (and star of the BBC’s Mary Queen of Shops and Mary Queen of Charity Shops) Mary Portas to open a permanent Living & Giving Shop for Save the Children in London's Westbourne Grove. This follows the success of last year’s pop-up shop in London’s Westfield shopping centre and December’s first Living & Giving Shop in Stockbridge, Scotland.

Take note, this is no ordinary charity shop. Fashion’s biggest names have made donations, including Marc Jacobs, Christian Louboutin, Nicholas Kirkwood, Charlotte Olympia, Future Classics, Agent Provocateur, Issa, Temperley, Antonio Berardi, Aquascutum, Liberty, Browns, Sass & Bide, Diesel, Superdry and more. So, what better place to bag a bargain.

Talking of bags, Mulberry has donated an Alexa bag worth £895 which will be selling for £300!

The shop at 177 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2SB, opens on Saturday at 11am. See you there. Oh, and don't forget to bring your donations along. What better excuse to clear some space in advance, eh? I'm off to sort through my closet now.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Sonia girl runs away to the circus

Back in March, I asked Barbie of the Day to help me showcase the Sonia Rykiel for H&M pieces that I'd bought at the collection launch. I'd been promising some snaps of my buys, so I thought it was a fun way to share them with you.

But, as I'd felt so guilty at my overspend, I've been rationing myself to just one new Sonia piece a month. May sees the turn of the Sonia stripy dress. These rainbow stripes were a core theme to Rykiel's collection for H&M, translating into everything from sweaters and scarves to tights and socks.

With the circus in town, the Stickman and I couldn't resist a little photoshoot. I hope you like it! And I hope you like Barbie's homage to Sonia, too.

Style tip: a cotton-knit dress is perfect right now when the weather can't decide if it's hot or cold; try ASOS or Dorothy Perkins. And check out the crochet dresses at Topshop and River Island, too - very Mark Fast, and perfect for flinging over a bikini when the weather hots up. The essential festival dress I think.

Bargainista Fashionista wears:
Cotton dress, £24.99, by Sonia Rykiel pour H&M
Sonia doll, £14.99, by Sonia Rykiel pour H&M
Sunglasses from Chanel
Bag from eBay
Suitcase from eBay
Wedge sandals from Topshop

Barbie wears:
Dress by Barbie of the Day
Luggage, Barbie's own

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balm

Ever since Nivea discontinued its Cherry Kiss Lip Balm (a fantastic lip salve with a cute cherry red hit of colour), I've been searching for a replacement. And I think I've finally found it with Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balm in Crystal Red. OK, at £15.50 it may be a little more expensive than my old favourite, but it soothes my lips and gives the subtle hint of colour I'm after.

I like how this lip balm has been made into a 'proper' lipstick. And I love how it looks like it's made out of jelly. It even smells like sweets! It's like Lancôme's cult Juicy Tubes, but in bullet form (and without the stickiness).

I love being able to apply it as a lipstick. No messy fingers in tiny pots of balm and no blunt (and, frankly, unglamorous) bullets, either. Never has a lip salve been so sophisticated.

It comes in three shades: Crystal Red, Crystal Coral (both shown above) and Crystal (a pale pink). Personally, I think the Red packs the most punch colour-wise, but I also love the almost-neon look of the Coral (it reminds me of some orange Perspex pieces of jewellery that I own).

The bad news is that they're limited edition, so they won't be around for long. But the good news is that Debenhams (where I got mine), is offering 10% off beauty and fragrances until the end of today so you can snap them up for £13.95 instead.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Merci Liberty collaboration

When Parisian boutique Merci opened a pop-up shop in Liberty back in March, I had intended to blog about this pretty Liberty-fabric suitcase it had designed for the store. However, the 'petite valise' sold out in less than two days. Available in five different prints, it was an affordable treat at £45 and the star buy from the limited-edition collection of Liberty-print products - from fashion and stationery to homewares and soft furnishings - designed by Merci's creative director, Marie France Cohen. (I also liked the £6 Merci medallion friendship bracelets made from slivers of Liberty-print fabric.)

So, why am I mentioning the suitcase now? Well, thanks to its instant popularity, more have been made - in five new prints - and they're in Liberty now. You'll have to be quick though as they've already sold out online, despite a sneaky price hike to £48. Compact and chic, it's the most stylish piece of hand luggage I've seen in a while. Just travel light - or use it as a vanity case instead.

Btw, the Emma Hope shoes were my wedding shoes!

Macmillan Cancer Support chari-tee

Fashion for a good cause? Look no further than New Look's collaboration with Macmillan Cancer Support. Its Macmillan Rocks range comes just in time for festival season offering fun, retro-inspired T-shirts and bags - all with festival-friendly slogans.

T-shirts are £8 for women's, £10 for men's, and bags are £5, with £3 from each T-shirt and £1.50 from each bag sold going directly to Macmillan to help improve the lives of people affected by cancer. So, with at least 30% being donated to charity, spread a little goodwill next time you shop.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

H&M's Garden Collection dress is back in stores

Remember this H&M dress that I blogged about back in March? Organic cotton, appliquéd flowers, babydoll proportions, hidden side pockets, £14.99...

Well, guess what? H&M has restocked! I saw a rail-full in London's Bond Street store just today. Don't expect them to be there long though; as summer dresses go, this one's far too much of a steal to resist.

At least three of my friends have succumbed to its girlish charms, which I'm so pleased about as sharing my finds was one of the reasons why I started this blog. And I know a fair few of you have got one, too. Beautiful and bargainous? I can see why we all love it so.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Red hot

My favourite Topshop sandals fell apart the other day. I've had several years of wear out of them, so it wasn't too distressful (although I did have to limp home with the sole hanging off). Plus, the Stickman said - in the manner of the mice in Bagpuss - 'We will fix it, we will mend it.' Good job, too, as it was a week of footwear disasters: I ruined the heel on my Chie Mihara shoes and had yet another pair of sandals disintegrate on my feet. So, what better excuse to go shoe shopping than out of necessity?

Usually, when I'm in need of something, I just don't find it. But I discovered these sandals in a shop when I wasn't even looking (don't you just love it when that happens?). They're from H&M, which, admittedly, isn't the first place I'd look for shoes, but their vibrant colour caught my eye - that and the elegant braided detail. I like the mini-wedge heel, which promises comfort alongside style. And the ankle tie that you wrap around your leg - it's a little bit boho and a whole lot summery. Oh, and I like the price, too - just £14.99.

Dress up blue denims in one easy hit. Give a hit of colour to an all-black ensemble. Team with a maxi dress. Or add to summer's prints - from ditsy florals to bold graphic patterns. You'll find that these sandals complement a multitude of looks, working your wardrobe from the office to off-duty, and from low-key to dressed-up. The most versatile summer shoes you could own? You bet.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bargainista Fashionista is in Elle!

I completely forgot to say: I'm in the May issue of Elle! It's only on sale until tomorrow, so hurry.

See the coverline 'Shop for spring: 25 fashion experts show you how'? Well, I'm one of those fashion experts, along with Alison Goldfrapp and Kate Moss!

Elle asked me for a fashion tip on how to shop for spring. And my advice? Well, it's inspired by a £3 scarf which proved invaluable last year.

This season, H&M has done another leopard-print scarf in classic brown for £7.99. There's also a nautical red square scarf featuring a repeat anchor-and-rope print for £9.99 and several pretty floral prints, too. A scarf as your spring/summer essential? Who'd have thought it.

Come to bed

Dearest Gap, how I've missed you. I've been unfaithful for many a month, with a flirtation here, a dalliance there and many a shopping bag everywhere else. But your summer charms have seduced me once again. So much so, I'm taking you straight to bed with these pretty print pyjama bottoms.

My heart has been won with the soft cotton, the flash of pink with the drawstring waist, the fabric-covered buttons, the patch pockets at the front and the cute turn-ups (should I wish to reveal a little more leg). All that attention to detail for less than a twenty (£19.50).

And my, how you tease me with matching bras, knickers, camisoles, shorts and slips, all in the very same delicate print. I'm ready to fall head over heels.


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