Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Belt up

Plaits are in. And it's not just hairstyles I'm talking about - plaited leather belts are everywhere on the high street right now, in brown and black, thick and thin.

I'm liking this tan one, reduced from £17.50 to £12.99 in the Gap sale. I'm sure there are cheaper versions around - I nearly bought a thinner one in H&M a little while ago. But this belt is a nice, thick, good quality leather. And, with a width of one inch, it's not too chunky, but not too feeble either. It's perfect for holding up blue jeans, cinching in a crisp white shirt or wrapping around the waist of a pretty floral dress.

I love that it's the kind of leather that improves with age and wear. Because of this very fact, it's a great style to look out for in charity shops and car-boot sales.

Thicker belts with a more complex plaited weave look especially good accentuating the waistline of a plain dress or a jacket. The trick is to wear the belt as a detail instead of a functional item. So, instead of buckling it up, tie it in a knot. It looks far more stylish.

Of course, the cheapest way to belt up is to borrow one from your boyfriend/brother/dad. It needn't be plaited - a classic, worn-in tan leather belt is just as boho and cool. And, of course, waist size isn't an issue when you're simply going to fasten the belt with a knot!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Spot the difference

My love affair with leopard print continues apace. The latest addition being a leopard-print bag. Now, which one would you choose?

One is a spacious, rectangular-based cotton-canvas tote bag in an abstract animal-style print that features a little discreet branding in the pattern. There's a short shoulder strap and two handles to carry this tote by.

The other is a similar-sized, rectangular-based cotton-canvas tote bag in a distinct leopard print with subtle branding on the handles. These longer-length handles allow you to carry this tote by hand or on your shoulder.

OK, the first (on the left) is £30 from Temperley. The second is from Reiss and it's free with the July issue of Elle (£3.70). So, for the price of a couple of magazines, you could buy several and still have change for the cost of the Temperley version. Which is a good thing as this Reiss tote also comes in cool navy-and-white stripes or plain, classic navy.

You've probably seen it on the shop shelves already, but if you haven't you'd better hurry as Elle's July issue (the one with Twilight's Kristen Stewart on the cover) is only on sale until the beginning of next week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hello sunshine

Pretty, flirty, floral dresses sum up my summer needs. If it's lightweight and loose and can be flung over a bikini, I'm happy.

This cotton number ticks all those boxes - and it's just £7.50 from Primark. Result!

I like how the trio of spaghetti straps cross over at the back and I adore that the pale yellow floral print channels a vintage vibe. It looks just as cute with Converse as it does flip-flops and goes perfectly with my cream H&M cardie. Sorry Zara dress, but this has become my new favourite.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Black lace

Nail two of next season's trends - lace and the ladylike wardrobe - with this elegant LBD. The hat-trick bonus? It's half price in the COS sale which started today, reduced from £99 to a more affordable £49.50.

Technically, the cotton-crochet fabric isn't lace, but with more than a passing resemblance it ensures you're right on trend for a/w 2010. And, as it's a lightweight cotton, it's perfect for now, too.

The semi-fitted shape of the dress gently skims the figure without clinging (think sophisticated rather than provocative) and the longer-length sleeves are modest yet summery. The scalloped-edge hem, meanwhile, gives extra dress inches, while discreetly revealing subtle flashes of skin thanks to the lining falling a fair bit shorter. In total, its demureness is the right side of sexy; not too revealing but hot nonetheless.

Its stylishness goes on. Suited to all manner of occasion, from smart officewear to lunch and dinner dates to cocktails and dancing, this will be the LBD you can't live without. So, snap it up quick before it sells out.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In the navy

I like Topshop's Boutique label. The designs are slightly more edgy and less mainstream than the core brand. You do, however, pay a little extra for the privilege of buying something that's deemed more exclusive (or desirable, as is the case with the Kate Moss Topshop range), but the benefit is that you end up with something that's less instantly recognisable as Topshop and which could pass for a more expensive label.

This cashmere-mix dress is a case in point. A flash of thigh at the front, a fluttery almost-train at the back - it's a modern, sophisticated alternative to a LBD. And I do like navy as a refreshing change to black.

Its asymmetric hem adds attitude - its rise and fall resulting in a rather slinky affair - while the gaping gash of the armholes are deliberately revealing and provocative.

While £40 doesn't get you much fabric - it's lightweight and thin - it does offer a sexy alternative to the body-con dress, softly draping the figure without clinging. It's allure lies in the contradiction: demurely covering up the body while also revealing subtle flashes of flesh.

But don't reveal more than you intend. Wearing something underneath is mandatory. I'm going for contrast with hot pink or fluoro vests. A lace body is good, too. And leggings protect your modesty somewhat, given the semi-sheer fabric; either that or go for a good pair of nude knickers that don't give themselves away with a VPL.

I'll also be flinging this over my bikini for poolside cocktails. Instant glamour guaranteed.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

White spirit

There's something very pleasing about a simple white dress. It's the unassuming design. The purity of the colour. And the promise of warm summer days. Which is why I'm loving this Zara number very much.

From the store's basic range, it's a sheer cotton babydoll design - double-layered to avoid transparency - with straps that turn into a racer-style back and the most minimalist of crochet detailing on the front.

It's an affordable £25.99 and also comes in coral pink and emerald green, but I'm liking white the best. You can always dye it the colour of your choice, too.

The beauty of a summer dress is that it's good to go. No wardrobe dilemmas. No fuss. It makes getting dressed in the mornings dead easy. Worn with my Primark beaded earrings (pictured above) and M&S wedges, this is my favourite summer outfit right now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The midas touch

Accessories maketh the outfit. This couldn't be truer for these luxe beaded earrings. They're dramatic without being bling, and dressy without being try-hard.

I've mostly been wearing them with cool summer whites and maxi dresses for a boho, hippy vibe - they're great for festival season. But for after dark, you can afford to go for a more slinky affair; think solid colours such as black, white or gold to achieve the high-octane glamour they conjure up. Remember, less is more. A simple LBD and these earrings will speak volumes.

Now, they may be long - at approx 18cm, they hang down to your shoulders - but I promise that they're not at all heavy. I like how the multi-stranded ends shimmy as you move And I like the price even more - a rather bargainous £2.50 from Primark. Reassuringly expensive looking, but as cheap as chips. I love. A lot.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Spot the difference

If you love London designer Erdem's prints as much as I do, you'll like my latest finds...

One is a multicoloured floral-print silk dress by Erdem (as seen in the catwalk picture from Erdem's website).

The other is a collection of pieces in a similar flower pattern from Oasis.

So, if the beautiful Erdem dress is, sadly, a little out of your price range (it's £665 from www.net-a-porter.com), go for the pretty Eden prints at Oasis instead. The corset-style top is £35, the angular skirt with side pockets is £40 and the strapless dress (which comes with detachable straps) is £60.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rainbow warrior

Look at the pretty watercolour print. The elegant bubble hem. And the flattering fit. Need I say more?

OK. I like that the bubble hem makes short look chic and flirty. It's good that there are detachable straps to turn strapless into strappy. And I love that £24.99 buys me a silky dress that's suited to so many summer occasions, from parties and weddings to dinner dates and cocktails. Where to get this versatile little head-turner? Good old H&M.

Btw, the neon-orange perspex 'love' necklace is by a label called My Little Sister Says. I always bring it out come summer as it's so vibrant and colourful. Cute, eh?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Marks & Spencer's sell-out wedge sandals

Ever regretted not buying something? My list is endless. But one item that I always kick myself about is a pair of tan leather wooden heeled platform sandals by Pierre Hardy for Gap from a few years ago. They'd been reduced in the sale to a mere £7.99 and still I didn't snap them up. More fool me.

So, when I saw these leather wedges from Marks & Spencer's Autograph range, they reminded me what I had missed out on - and, this time, I did snap them up (as did my friend Claire, who's modelling her sandals with me). At £45, not only are they a classic style, they go with everything from trousers and jeans to dresses and shorts (as seen in a previous blog). Plus, I can see myself wearing them with tights or socks come autumn.

The stacked wedge heel gives an extra 4 inches in height, while it's slight platform sole ensures it feels neither too high nor too tottery. The best part is that they are so amazingly comfortable. Heels I sometimes struggle to walk in; wedges never. And with these, I can walk, I can run - no problem. So, maybe they're actually better than the Gap sandals of memory. What I do know for sure is that these will be glued to my feet all summer long.

A word of advice: hurry! These are selling out fast. However, they are available in cream, too, which looks modern, summery and great with a tan.

Top tip: bright nail polish looks good with either the tan or cream wedges. Claire and I have gone for hot pink and red, but everything from beige to Rouge Noir goes.

Photograph by Nikki McClarron. (Thanks lovely!)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Organik Rocka

So, did I buy anything at the launch of Mary's Living & Giving Shop for Save for Children last Saturday? I did indeedy. Sadly, not a vintage Chanel handbag (although it was tempting!) and, selflessly, not something for myself, either (although, as you can see, I've already borrowed it!).

I picked up this T-shirt for the Stickman for a tenner. Donated by Organik Rocka, the guitar design caught my eye, while its ├╝ber softness (it's made of bamboo and organic cotton) sealed the deal. And, as the Stickman's a bit of a muso in his spare time, I thought he might just like it (check out his tunes at www.carlinimusic.co.uk).

I'd not heard of Organik Rocka before, but a search on the internet revealed it's a label set up by some East London creatives interested in music, fashion and video. Many of the designs, like this one (which comes in white, too), are unisex. I'm liking the lips tee with metallic gold stars. Check it out.

PS. Thanks for the loan of the guitar Mr Em!


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