Sunday, October 31, 2010

Free £5 voucher from Debenhams, PLUS free Clinique mascara at Boots

If you saw a five pound note on the pavement, you'd pick it up wouldn't you? Well, I've found a 'virtual' fiver that's yours for the taking. Debenhams is giving away a free £5 voucher. No minimum spend, no catches. Just click here to get yours now. It's valid until 12 November 2010.

With concessions such as Topshop and Warehouse, the Designers at Debenhams collections (think H! by Henry Holland and Star by Julien Macdonald) and the beauty hall, spending your £5 voucher couldn't be easier. Call it an early Christmas treat or, if you're being good, put it towards your Christmas shopping.

Me, I got a £6 Korres Lip Butter in Wild Rose (below) for just £1 (top tip: use a cotton bud to apply tinted lip colour). It's like the Nivea Cherry Kiss Lip Balm I loved so much and, as it's tinted, it's not as dark as it looks in the pot. One of my Twitter followers, meanwhile, saved £5 on a Chanel nail polish.

For more bargains likes this, follow me on Twitter. I'll often tweet about things I haven't got time to blog about or if I hear of something that needs to be shared immediately. My Twitter name is Bargainistafash.

While I'm on the subject of freebies, Clinique is giving away free samples of its High Impact Mascara (above) and High Lengths Mascara. Simply head to the Clinique counter in Boots and trade in your current tube (it can be any brand) for a Clinique one. Offer ends 16 November 2010, while stocks last.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Designer collaborations

Note the Pierre Hardy shoes. The Jil Sander jacket. The Sonia Rykiel shorts. With the king of shoes, the queen of minimalism and the madame of knitwear dressing me this season, it's amazing that my head-to-toe designer outfit comes in at under £245.

I am, of course, dressed in pieces from this year's latest and greatest designer/high-street collaborations. Namely, Pierre Hardy for Gap's suede and leather wedges (£89.50), Jil Sander for Uniqlo's +J velvet jacket (£129.99) and Sonia Rykiel Pour H&M's cotton-knit, sailor-front shorts (£24.99; see my previous blog posts here, here and here).

Want a slice of the action? Well, Pierre Hardy's Design Editions for Gap and Jil Sander's +J collection for Uniqlo are both in stores now.

Plus, the upcoming designer/high-street collaborations to put in your diary include Roksanda Ilincic's third and final collection for Whistles on 10th November, Lanvin for H&M on 23rd November and Valentino for Gap on 27th November. And not forgetting the final Kate Moss for Topshop collection which hits stores next week on 2nd November. Designer fashion for less? You bet.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bargainista Fashionista is mentioned in The Independent

Bargainista Fashionista was namechecked last week in The Independent online, thanks to the BBC's Andrew Marr.

Speaking at this month's Cheltenham Literary Festival, Marr had branded bloggers as 'socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting'.

Now, while I'm pretty sure I wasn't the object of Mr Marr's scorn (I certainly don't fit that description!), I am pleased The Indy waded in and joined the debate, especially as Marr had said 'most citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all' and that blogging 'is not going to replace journalism'.

On the latter point, I don't think most bloggers are trying to replace traditional forms of media. I, for one, hope that what I offer is an extension of magazines and websites.

Marr's criticisms may well have been targeted at specific bloggers, but what The Indy's online feature aimed to do was highlight '10 examples of blogs which we think defy Marr’s assessment of drunken rantings, and offer up a unique or interesting perspective which adds to modern-day journalism rather than takes from it.'

Bargainista Fashionista's mention is all down to Handpicked Media, one of The Indy's top 10 blogs. This is what it said:
'The super-blog dawned a while ago now in the form of aggregator sites that could take on mainstream media and win. Handpicked Media is one such beast. It is a collective of bloggers writing across a range of lifestyle subjects including food, beauty, fashion and parenting. Ms Marmite Lover, Bargainista Fashionista and Womb for Improvement are some of the featured highlights.'

Well done Handpicked Media! Thanks for your support and thanks, too, to The Indy for the mention. I'm chuffed!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pierre Hardy for Gap wedges

If you've read the weekend supplements and magazines lately, you'll know these lace-up, peep-toe wedges by Pierre Hardy for Gap are on every fashion editor's wish list; a surefire sign of a successful designer/high-street collaboration. So, take note, as they're in selected Gap stores now for £89.50.

There are three colour choices: work the 1970s trend with the retro-inspired tan suede and brown leather pair, go military with the khaki leather ones or classic with the black suede and leather version (above and below).

Why do I love them so?

Well, the minute I put them on, I knew I'd be able to walk in them. It's all down to the wedge heel and platform sole giving added stature (over an extra four inches, in fact) without the pain!

The peep-toe makes them trans-seasonal - wear with socks and tights now and with bare feet and a pedicure come springtime.

I like the leather laces. A lot.

Oh, and Pierre Hardy at high-street prices? What's not to love?

Hurry, as these won't be around for long. Sadly, Gap online doesn't seem to be stocking footwear at present, but I promise these are worth tracking down.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Spot the difference

One is a minimalist, camel-coloured wool cape, hot off the Alexander Wang catwalk. The other is also a minimalist, camel-coloured wool cape, this time hot off the high street at Zara

With its clean, simple lines and luxe fabric, the Zara version is runway-worthy, but at a fraction of the designer price - £99, in fact. I love its cafe au lait colour, but if it's too pale a shade of camel for you, it also comes in rich toffee and black.

Now, there's something about a tailored cape that is refined and elegant, so much so I have to up the ante a little and dress like a lady. Hence, the M&S T-bars and a smart styling trick with my Gap skinny belt (it's been an invaluable buy!).

I have to say, this Zara cape is, hands-down, my favourite purchase of the season. It makes my previous cape choices pale into insignificance (sorry, H&M cape).

It's so true that what you wear affects how you feel. And this makes me feel sophisticated and oh-so chic. Below, I've wearing it sans belt and my almost-Céline vintage bag.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

+J for Uniqlo

Last October, I blogged about a rather defining moment in the world of designer/high-street collaborations: Jil Sander stepping out of retirement to launch a capsule collection for Uniqlo (click here to read my blog post).

Her +J collection for the Japanese high-street chain, with its minimalist designs, impeccable tailoring and much sought-after coats, was a huge success. Not surprising really, as fans of the designer who once produced £700 white shirts could now snap up a whole wardrobe for the same price, with change.

The good news is +J for Uniqlo a/w 2010 is even bigger and better. Sure, the prices have gone up (last year's coats were £79.99/£89.99, this year they're £129.99/£149.99), but Sander has really excelled on quality this time around, with beautiful, luxurious fabrics and highly covetable designs more often seen on the catwalk.

The fact that she has been able to go back to some of her favourite Italian fabric mills shows. From fine merino-wool knits to heavy tailored wool separates, soft cashmere jumpers to raw wool felt coats, they're reassuringly expensive to touch - yet at affordable prices.

And, in keeping with this season's colour du jour, there's plenty of camel to see you through a/w in style. Plus, Sander's trademark white shirts (pictured above) return in their latest guise - think Egyptian cotton and pintucked/frilled placards for £39.99.

This year, I decided a jacket would be my investment +J purchase. And, while at £129.99, there's hardly, if any, difference in price between the jackets and coats, the piece I had to have was the black velvet jacket (above). It's tailored cut and slim lapels (with satin reverse) says sophisticated, sexy and stand-out. I'll be wearing it with jeans by day and party dresses by night. It's that special piece that turns the ordinary into extraordinary.

The +J collection is available at the following Uniqlo stores: 311 Oxford Street, London; Westfield London; Selfridges London (menswear only); Bluewater Kent, and online at

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sweet feet

The humble sock is having a moment. From ankle socks to over-the-knees, this season's hiking boots, clogs and brogues aren't complete without a pair.

I particularly like these wool knee socks from Topshop, a) for their muted, retro colour (in between mustard and camel), b) for the cute button placket detail, and c) for the chunky cable-knit.

One to team with a circle skirt and clogs as much as my River Island lace shorts (as seen above). I'm going to wear them with my pink Hunter wellies and orange Addict jacket, too. My, I will look colourful on the beach!

They're £8 and come in cream, too.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Gold brogues

Add a touch of sparkle to your step with these gold and cream brogues. They're leather and just £34.99. Get in there!

From New Look's Limited Edition range, this two-tone number also comes in black and cream. Very dapper.

Team them with rolled up jeans, Gap's cropped trousers or go cute with ankle socks and a skirt/dress. Comfy and stylish, what's not to love?

Plus, you can get ahead for party season with these - just add to a black tux suit for a cool, androgynous look.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mix & Match at Mango

I've missed the shops while I've been on holiday, but with the virtual high street at my fingertips, I can get my shopping fix online anytime, anywhere. And, thanks to Mango's Mix & Match tool, I can even try things on!

Now Mango is one of the stores I often miss out on, simply because it's not within a lunchtime radius of my office. But browsing online, I discovered you could play at dressing up straight from your computer and I thought you might find it fun.

Remember paper doll books, where you cut out your doll and dressed her up in cut-out paper clothes? Well, that's what Mango's Mix & Match tool does. Simply select the What Should I Wear tab on the Mango website and choose Mix & Match to create an outfit (or click here to take you directly there). Your 'paper doll' is a model in her underwear. Dress her, then click Shop Online to buy.

Here's the outfit I created. And, being a bargainista, I wanted it to be budget-friendly...
Wool-mix top £24.90 - I can't resist a bow and this will look great with jeans, too. 
Shorts £29.90 - I love the flirty, flared shape and the hidden side pockets. Use tights, from opaques to patterns to lacy, to change your look. 
Leather boots £84.90 - These add attitude and are so versatile. Team them with everything from pencil skirts and trousers to skinny jeans. 
Satchel £64.90 - This adds a little schoolgirl charm to the outfit. It's far cheaper than a Mulberry Alexa, too!

Do you like it? How would you improve the look? Have a go at and let me know how you'd style it. I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

An instant style trick

Take one plain jumper and one thin belt. Cinch the belt around your waist and fasten in a knot. It immediately makes your sweater look smarter and creates the illusion of a slimmer waist.

This V-neck jumper is from Uniqlo. There's myriad colours to choose from (10 in fact) but camel is my favourite. In merino wool and cashmere, it's just £24.99. And, even better, it's on offer right now for a mere £14.99. Plus, take your pick from round necklines and cardies, too.

As for the belt, it's the Gap one I got in June. But as slimline belts are this season's svelte accessory, there's plenty of choice on the high street. Just follow the rule of simple and slim.

As for belting up with a knot, this style technique looks just as good on a cardie or a dress. Just play with texture, colour and detail to add a little contrast. You'll be surprised at how one small accessory can turn simple into sophisticated. Really, looking chic couldn't be easier.


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