Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sailor stripes

I love a Breton stripe (as you know) and I love discovering new labels, too. And, thanks to Urban Outfitters, the purveyor of an eclectic mix of independent fashion brands, my collection of stripes is getting bigger. Plus, I'm now acquainted with Sparkle & Fade.

I like how Sparkle & Fade have given this tunic top a sailor-style square neckline to reinforce its nautical look. And I like even more that it's just a tenner, reduced from £35 in the sale (yep, the sales continue on the high street). Plus, you get an option of three colourways, with navy and raspberry as your other two choices, both of which feature two cute patch pockets on the front.

My only gripe? I wish it were just that little bit longer - that way I could wear it as shift dress. Still, I can't complain. It looks great with jeans and leggings alike. Plus, it looks good with the H&M orb necklace, too.

For more Breton stripes, check out the tees at Gap - as of this week, you can now stop the store online at Happy sofa surfing!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The lady is a vamp

This H&M dress covers two trends in one: leather and embellishment.

OK, it's faux-leather but, as Stella McCartney has proven, it doesn't have to be real to look good - plus, it makes for a far more affordable buy (£34.99 actually).

The soft, faux-leather discs are the size of a 1p coin and cover the entire front of this knitted vest dress, shimmying away rather like mermaid's scales. Don't worry, it's realms away from any Splash or Mermaids connotations. In fact, the figure-hugging knit of the dress teamed with the tough-edged 'leather' makes it slightly S&M and a whole lot sexy. One to team with the New Look clogs or autumn/winter's high-heeled hiking boots (both offer far more attitude than a pair of stilettos).

Talking of Stella, giant sequins were her embellishment of choice for her a/w collection. But, as the faux-leather paillettes on the H&M dress show, trimmings don't have to sparkle and shine to adorn a garment - texture is just as important. At COS, this has been interpreted with round fluttery discs semi-punched out of sheer organza to create an elegant, whimsical top. Likewise, at River Island, a chiffon vest top receives similar treatment, taking the shape of big fat petal-like teardrops for paillettes.

So, how to wear embellishment? Softer pieces like the COS and River Island tops will work well with the new season's trousers and the ladylike trend, while head-turners like this H&M dress are best saved for nightfall.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Clog blog continued...

By far the most affordable clogs I've seen recently are these New Look ones. They (and these legs) belong to my friend and fellow bargainista Laura, who can vouch for how comfy they are - she's worn them nearly every day since she got them.

Looking at them, you really wouldn't know they weren't leather. Or that they were a mere £20 for that matter. And, as well as black, they come in next-season camel, too.

River Island, meanwhile, tackles clogs and the new season in one. Making a head start on the shearling trend, it's got a leather clog trimmed and lined with sheepskin. The price for cosy feet? £49.99 - in a choice of brown, black or navy. It's a far better deal than Topshop's version - a black leather fleecy-trimmed clog - which comes in at £85.

Or, if you're feeling crafty, get Laura's New Look version, wear them until autumn and then give them a DIY update with some fleecy fabric. Easy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

GoodWorks buy one get one free offer

I don't often mention my beauty buys, but this is a bargain that's too good to miss: buy one get one free on GoodWorks products at Boots.

I discovered the range when I bought the Good Intentions Hand Lotion as a gift for Em. Every time I visit, I'm tempted to sneak it back as it smells so goddamn gorgeous! (That'll be the patchouli, orange and geranium.) Anyway, I finally decided to get my own, which is when saw this offer.

Now my hand wash and lotion of choice (should you care to know) is Molton Brown's Thai Vert, but at £15 a pop we're talking £30 to wash and moisturise here. Which is why GoodWorks is easily my thriftier choice. Its Good Sense Hand Wash and Good Intentions Hand Lotion are £8 each, so with the Boots offer, that's £8 for both! I know there are cheaper options but, trust me, the scent is divine.

And, if you've not heard of GoodWorks before, let me bring you up to speed. From the founder of This Works, it's a beauty range with a 'green conscience'. Think ethically sourced ingredients, pure essential oils, no artifical colour or fragrance and environmentally-friendly packaging.

There are shower gels, body scrubs, bath oils, body lotions, lip balm and more, so while the Boots deal lasts I'm going to get more acquainted with what's on offer.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Clear cut

Today's blog is a fun and frivolous buy, for £9.99 gets you a miniature crystal ball. Or a giant gobstopper that Willy Wonka would have been proud of.

I was a bit like a child in a sweet shop when I saw this orb. Its clear sphere twinkled at me under the bright lights of H&M, reflecting everything around. And, when I hung it around my neck, I couldn't resist twirling it around in my hand, such was the tactile, cool, comforting nature of its smooth glassy dome. I like how it's suspended on a long silver chain, hanging down towards you navel, just so you can look down and admire it. Oh, and it comes in jet black, too.

For me, part of its appeal is because it reminds me of the jewellery by Lucy Hutchings, albeit minus the amazing delicate metal 'cube' cages she constructs around her globes. Plus, I like how a simple spherical shape can be so eye-catching. I mean, look - the Stickman's gone all arty and captured the reflections of our Tord Boontje paper lace lightshade in it!

If you're liking the idea of a clear stone pendant, COS has a more organic, pebble-shaped version for £12. It's a clear winner (if you'll excuse the pun!).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Parka perfect

This month, I've written a guest blog for The Style Glossy, a US fashion and beauty website that is now extending its content to the UK - hence my contribution! (Click here to read my blog post - it's the one dated Sunday 1st August 2010.)

The subject of my piece? This season's utility trend and my trusty green parka (shown above with my H&M Breton-striped dress and anchor brooch at this year's red-themed pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery; I love that the parka's length makes the shortness of my dress somewhat less indecent!).

Said parka was in the Gap winter sale for £24.99, reduced from £78. It came with faux-fur trim around the hood and an inner padded gilet, both detachable and both very necessary when it was cold. I recall bemoaning the fact that the sleeves were a little on the short side, but right now the elasticated cuffs are perfect for sliding up my arms to below elbow-length.

And, come autumn, I'd be re-establishing that faux-fur trim, as both the parka and fur are key for a/w. I'm picturing it with maxidresses (think the Olsen twins here; and yes, the maxi is another trend that lives on into next season) and dressing down the smartness of the new a/w trousers.

That's what I love about my parka: not only is it a coat for all seasons, it goes with all manner of wardrobes, looking stylish rather than scruffy when teamed with something classic and toughening up girlie pieces that would otherwise be too saccharine-sweet. It even adds edge to eveningwear, such as my French Connection sequined dress.

Given it's such a staple, you'll be pleased to hear there are plenty of parkas on the high street, as well as its sister piece: the utility jacket. Zara's khaki take on this is similar to Céline's s/s design, while Gap offers both the utility jacket and parka and Topshop has a whole catalogue of choices. Invest in one now. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cool clogs

Clogs have been around all season (thanks to Chanel), but you'll be seeing a lot more of them come autumn/winter. There's no pussyfooting around this shoe trend - if you want to clomp and stomp, this is the footwear for you.

It's also the shoe to wear with next season's big hosiery trend: socks. Knee-high, over-the-knee, ankle, patterned, plain... the good old pull-up is having a moment. And nothing makes them look more quirky cool than a pair of clogs.

I'm liking these from Marks & Spencer's Limited Collection (above and top). In a pewter leather with braid and stud detail, they're £39.50 and come in navy suede, too. (I've teamed them with £2.99 purple over-the-knee socks from H&M). My only issue? I haven't quite mastered walking in clogs yet, which might be a problem!

Given that we're prone to rain (even in August), closed-toe styles are a good option. Check out these chocolate leather Topshop ones (below). They're £35 in the sale, reduced from £70. Plus, try New Look - it has a brown leather pair with buckle and stud detail for £40. And, if you don't like the idea of socks and shoes, wear your clogs with thick tights instead.

Elle Collections a/w 2010

Have you seen the latest issue of Elle Collections yet? You get a lot for £6... a round-up of the season's best catwalk shows, a summary of a/w 2010's key trends (aka the looks you'll be working in the next few months), a beautiful colour pull-out, a special tribute to Alexander McQueen by one of my favourite artists Rob Ryan and even contributions from Team Elle's progeny.

There's lots to read, too, from a debate on fur and people in fashion talking about the new-season looks they love to a 'What's in my bag...?' feature. I love the nosy nature of the latter (a follow-on from Elle Collections s/s 2010 where the question posed was 'What's on my desk...?'). And, as it inspired me to blog about 'What's in my laundry basket...?' last season, this time round I thought I'd stick with the format and reveal what's in my bag. I've taken a picture, too, to show that despite my bag's diminutive dimensions (20 x 18 at widest point x 9cm), it is actually quite Tardis-like - I just have to be neat and methodical in packing it!

What's in my bag...?
Bag: vintage leather bag bought on eBay for £1.24 (see Fab finds for under a fiver)
01. Book of stamps
02. Homemade Bargainista Fashionista business cards (must get some real ones made up!)
03. Paracetamol
04. Wasabi KitKat that friends bought back from Japan
05. Chewing gum
06. Security pass for work
07. Very old Nokia phone (I pay peanuts for my phone so I can spend more on clothes! I do want the new iPhone though; I'm impatiently waiting for the white version to hit the UK)
08. Smythson fuchsia Fashionista notebook, customised with additional 'Bargainista' wording (maybe one day I'll get a proper personalised version, but at £5.95 per letter not right now!)
09. House keys
10. Blue Welsh tweed frame purse with two compartments - one for loose change, one for my mini make-up kit comprising:
Bare Minerals sample-size mineral foundation and brush
Chanel sample-size mascara
Elizabeth Arden sample-size Eight Hour Cream
Miller Harris Figue Amère eau de parfum sample (my favourite summer scent)
11. Zoe & Morgan necklace
12. Lara Bohinc tan leather wallet (from a sample sale)
13. iPod and pink iPod sock
14. Muji pens in pink and black
15. Travelcard
16. Nivea Cherry Kiss Lip Balm (I love this as it's cherry tinted, but annoyingly it's now discontinued)
17. Weleda Lip Balm
18. Black hairbands

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Spot the difference

One is a lavender lace dress with front pockets and a black bow that has caused a little controversy of late. Worn by Lily Allen on the cover of the August issue of Elle, the storm in the teacup was the fact that the same style dress was also pictured on the covers of Vogue and W magazine. However, the dresses in question weren't even the same colour or fabric - just the same label: Miu Miu.

The other is also a lavender lace dress with hidden front pockets and a black bow. OK, so that's where the similarities end, but the point is the trend they're dictating: pastel-coloured lace. If you want to work a pale, pretty lace, you can't go far wrong with H&M's version for £34.99. It's far cheaper than the dress shot for Miu Miu's advertising campaign, which will set you back by a four-figure sum.

Coloured lace makes a refreshing change from traditional black (although both are plentiful next season) and is a great transitional fabric to take you from summer through to autumn. Look for sophisticated designs that cinch in the waist and create an elegant silhouette. Autumn/winter is, after all, the season of the woman.


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