Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wear your hearts on your sleeves





I heart this cardie. It's a monochrome imitation of a purple and mustard version by See by Chloé, but a whole lot cheaper at just £11 from Primarni. Isn't it adorable?

Mix and match your monos like I've done here with my H&M Breton-striped dress or team with solid colours or contrasting prints. The rule is: don't be fainthearted.

Monday, April 26, 2010

TheOutnet £1 sale dress


A year ago, I blogged about the launch of Net-a-Porter.com's discounted sister site, TheOutnet.com. Designer clothes at bargain prices? What's not to like? Especially if the website in question is offering thousands of high-end labels for just £1, which is what TheOutnet.com did on Friday 16th April to celebrate its 1st birthday.

Sound too good to be true? It may have been for some as the start time was secret and within minutes of the sale invitation hitting my inbox at 7.23am, the site was too busy to cope.

To make things fair, you were restricted to one item. My friend Avril snapped up a pair of black silk evening shorts by Phi which were originally £720. And I persevered and managed to bag this Giles dress.

It wasn't smooth sailing though. My size sold out while I was trying to buy it, so I was forced to get the next size down in a frantic attempt to purchase something, anything, for £1. It was frenzied and slightly frustrating, but the thrill of putting my £6.95 payment down (including postage) on what had been a £1,365 dress was amazing.

Sadly, the slip is too small to breathe in, while the dress is too big to flatter (on me anyway). To prevent it from looking like a giant nightie, I've cinched it in with a belt. But the colour doesn't help - so-called nude, it's more of a boudoir blush or bridesmaid-dress peach.

The detail around the hem (below) is beautiful though. Wafer-thin, laser-cut pieces of fabric are stitched on to form a leafy, floral border. It's like a work of art. So, until I buy another slip, it's hanging up on my wall.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spot the difference

One is a Breton-striped, fine-knit, cotton-blend sweater dress with a multi-coloured flower intarsia design and contrast striped hem and cuffs by Stella McCartney which is £545 at www.net-a-porter.com.

The other is, well, a Breton-striped, fine-knit, cotton sweater dress with a multi-coloured flower design and contrast striped hem and cuffs. The difference is it's £35 from Next.

I know you like these 'Spot the difference' stories, so when I saw the Stella McCartney version in a magazine the other day its canny resemblance to the Next dress prompted me to bring it to your attention. (Or should that be the canny resemblance of the Next dress to the Stella one...)

Stella's stripes may be wider and her intarsia design more intricate, but if you don't have a spare £545, then it's nice to know there's a more affordable dress to be had.

Btw, I wasn't able to find the Next dress in my local store (hence the catalogue picture), but you can either order it instore or online. This link should take you to the online page, or search for 'stripe flower dress' on the Next website.

These long-sleeved cotton sweater dresses are just the ticket for spring - cool enough in the sunshine, but warm enough if it gets chilly. Plus, they'll see you right into autumn, too. Breton-stripes with a twist? Get me one now.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Girl in the hood


Uniqlo's latest collaborations have gone a little under the radar. Maybe because the names aren't as high-profile as previous (and existing) collaborators, such as Alexander Wang, Opening Ceremony and Jil Sander.

You see, this time round, Uniqlo has extended its Designers Invitation to homegrown talent - namely seven Japanese labels: Zechia, Han Ahn Soon, Suzuki Takayuki, GVGV, Mintdesigns, Mother, and Fur Fur. While you may not have heard of their names, you will love the designs - they're casual, cool and charmingly quirky.

My favourite is this £19.99 hooded T-shirt dress by Zechia for Uniqlo. First, there's the cute bow emblazoned across the front. Then there's the handy side pockets. And, of course, there's the stripes. But what I've marvelling at most is the genius idea of a summer hoodie.

Picture this: you're on the beach, you've just dried off after a swim and you want to cover up in the heat. Simple: throw on this light cotton number over your bikini and pull up the hood in lieu of a sunhat. It will easily protect your face, neck, shoulders and more from getting burnt. I love it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Trompe this



One is a dress that I blogged about back in December. Part of the exclusive Designer Collective at Oasis, it offered a fun and flirty trompe l'oeil print in this season's nude for £35.

The other is a very similar piece that has followed in its wake. Available in both black and white, it's an even more bargainous £7.50 from Primark.

So, if you missed out on the Oasis version, grab the Primarni one now. You'll love its body-con T-shirt style. And, thanks to its slimming trompe l'oeil design, it will enhance and create curves in all the right places. So sexy - and a steal, too.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor


My fixation with the Breton top has extended (both in liking and length) to the Breton-striped dress. A simple classic, it's so French, so chic. There is plenty of choice in the shops at the moment. And, while I can't afford Twenty8Twelve's sexy, scooped-backed version, this H&M one is definitely within my budget at £9.99.

I like it's body-con style which skims the curves in a flattering and slimming way, the scooped neckline which flashes just the right amount of demure flesh, and the bracelet sleeves which are a fraction longer than three-quarter-length options. Most, of all, I like how it makes me feel like I'm on holiday - even when I'm not.

Oh, and the finishing touch? A recent birthday gift from my friend Kirsty, which plays on the nautical theme: a cute crocheted anchor brooch by Coquelicot. Sweet.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Love birds


I'm a big fan of the swallow motif. This season, Miu Miu has got a flock of them printed on everything from shirts to dresses to shoes, while Marc by Marc Jacobs has used metal swallows on bags, belts, brooches and more (I love the detail of the bird's eye, which spells out Marc by Marc Jacobs in a circle - v subtle as branding goes). Kate Moss, meanwhile, has a pair of these sailor's favourites tattooed on her lower back. And the Victorians used the birds in jewellery as a symbol of love and fidelity.

So, when this pretty swallow-print dress from New Look flew into my view, I couldn't resist. It's a steal at £20. And, if you get this week's Grazia, there's a 25% off voucher, making it even more of a bargain at £15! The dress has got adjustable straps and the strip of trim along the top is a cute finishing touch. I'm loving the pop of colour it creates when teamed with my little red Gap cardie.

I'm also wearing it with my favourite birdie accessories - a swallow and heart necklace and some swallow stud earrings by Alex Monroe. What else does a girl need to get her heart all a-flutter?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly


Capes were all over the autumn/winter 2010 catwalk shows, from Chloé to Céline, Yves Saint Laurent to Haider Ackermann, and 3.1 Phillip Lim to Alexander Wang. My friend Hannah and I are getting ahead of ourselves and working the cape right now. It's the perfect cover-up for spring. It instantly adds elegance and grace - you don't walk in a cape, you glide. And its flattering silhouette makes you want to dance and twirl around.

So, where can you get a cape before they hit the high street this autumn/winter? eBay, of course. It's where Hannah got her Crombie cape in this season's hot colour, camel, for £80. And where I found my baby blue 1950s version for a bargainous $20 from the USA; it cost a further $27 in postage, but it still works out at about £30 in total.

Get on board the cape crusade now and you, too, can get ahead in the fashion stakes. Trust me, come next season, the cape will be a key piece in your autumn/winter wardrobe.

Hannah wears:
Vintage Crombie cape, £80, from eBay
Vintage satchel
Vintage charm bracelet
Poison ring by Zoe & Morgan
Marc by Marc Jacob shoes

Bargainista Fashionista wears:
Vintage cape, £30, from eBay
Sunglasses from Chanel
Rattan bag, £7, from Primark
T-bar shoes, from Marks & Spencer

PS. A big thank you to Nikki McClarron for taking Hannah's photo!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Play nice


Playsuits may not be the most practical of items, what with having to literally undress each time you go to the loo, but they are sure are cute. Take this vintage-looking version from Primark (yes, Primarni!) - isn't it the sweetest?

At first glance, you could be forgiven for assuming it to be a flirty little dress. But look carefully and you'll notice that its gently puffed sleeves (accentuated with a smidgen of a shoulder pad) and elasticated smocked waistband define the playsuit's silhouette, pinching in the waist while matching the shoulders to the slight flare of the shorts. Add the button-front and your escape route in and out of the garment is guaranteed.

This pretty floral print is perfect for work. Just add opaque tights and a satchel. I got mine on eBay for practically the same price as the playsuit - which is just £13! And, if ditsy flower patterns aren't your thing, Primarni also does a similar playsuit in big fat polka dots - just take your pick from navy or grey.

The big question is - will you dare to bare your legs when the weather warms up? I'll get back to you on that one!

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