Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bargainista Fashionista is in Elle!

I still get a thrill every time I see my name in print – even more so now when it's under the Bargainista Fashionista moniker. So, excuse me while I blow my own trumpet a little (or simply scroll on past to my next blog post)...

Thanks to the amazing support of those at Elle HQ, I've contributed to a feature in the latest issue. (Sorry, I've been a bit slow in saying, but it is still on sale until 3 May. Also, a big welcome to anyone who has just discovered my blog through this article. I hope you continue coming back!)

The piece in question? How to shop the high street, of course. With advice and tips from the Elle experts (that includes moi!), you can save time and money with a little know-how.

So, hone your shopping skills with Elle's secret tricks, out now in the May issue. It's just £3.80 and you get a free beauty supplement, too. Now isn't that smart shopping?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pierre Hardy for Gap's sweet Mary Janes


Designer footwear on the high street doesn't stand still. Hot on the heels of last week's launch of Swedish Hasbeens for H&M comes the latest drop of Pierre Hardy shoes for Gap, out now.

Since the shoe designer and high-street giant first collaborated in a/w 2007, their Gap Design Editions footwear has gained cult status. Only last month I was blogging about the wooden-heeled sandals from s/s 2008 that are so current right now. Plus, last year's iconic wedges (click here, here and here to see my previous blog posts) are yet another style that's hot to trot this season.

You've got to hand it to Pierre Hardy – his designs for Gap are often seasons ahead, which make they worth investing in. And, of course, they're a bargain compared to his own eponymous line.

For s/s 2011, Pierre Hardy and Gap have gone all ladylike on us with elegant two-tone pastel Mary Janes in a choice of two colours: nude patent-leather with matching grosgrain trim and grey leather with peach grosgrain trim (below). The price? A reasonable £79.95.

Wear with this season's sheer pleated midi skirts, such as the Whistles Carrie skirt which is now also available in highlighter blue and lemon yellow. Alternatively, go retro with capri-style trousers, or add to rolled up jeans for a sophisticated yet casual twist.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Swedish Hasbeens for H&M update


So, did anyone get the Swedish Hasbeens for H&M clogs? I plumped for the red pair… and the same style in white, too. I couldn't decide which colour to go for, so I thought I'd buy both and choose later. Of course, now that I've got two pairs I'm reluctant to give up either!

The fact that they're so comfortable makes them hard to part with. I know they're not everyone's cup of tea, but I do like a shoe that I can walk – and run – in. And run you can in these, as the wooden heel is surprisingly light for a clog.

I love the retro 1970s vibe of this collection and the image of librarian chic my shoes conjure up. What's more, at £34.99 a pop, two pairs don't even match the cost of Swedish Hasbeens normally. Plus, a surprise bonus is the cute organic-cotton shoe/tote bag (above) that your shoes come in. Ditto the note from Swedish Hasbeens inside. Rather like adoption papers, it details all you need to know about your new shoes and how to care from them.

For example, did you know that as Swedish Hasbeens are handmade from natural materials, you could pretty much bury your shoes in the garden? Should you wish. No chance here – they're for wearing on my feet. But I won't be doing a Helena Bonham Carter with a different colour shoe on each foot – the pictures below just illustrate how impossible it was to choose between the red and the white!


I heart Swedish Hasbeens for H&M. And, the good news is, if you do, too, the collection isn't sold out yet. There are some styles and sizes left both online and in store, so get them while you can.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Swedish Hasbeens for H&M


Have you heard about H&M's latest designer collaboration which launches tomorrow? Hot on the success of its footwear collections with Jimmy Choo and Lanvin, the high-street giant has joined forces with one of SJP's favourite shoe labels: Swedish Hasbeens.

The timing couldn't be better. With the 1970s back in fashion this summer, Swedish Hasbeens has created three designs of clog for H&M, inspired by the traditional Swedish styles of that decade. Choose from a chunky heeled sandal, a gladiator-style wedge and a peep-toe, lace-up wedge, all made by handcrafted methods in leather with a wooden sole.

It goes without saying that one of the most exciting things about this collaboration is getting Swedish Hasbeens at high-street prices; after all, the cult label's shoes are usually £175 upwards. So, thank you H&M, you've done it again, bringing us designer labels for just £34.99 to £39.99.

My favourite is the red pair. Which ones do you like?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Care Bears at Uniqlo

Care Bears have had turns as greeting cards, plushes and movie stars, even. Now, they're having a fashion moment as Uniqlo puts these cute characters from the 1980s onto T-shirts for its latest UT collection.

Following the Japanese store's UT collaborations with Cath Kidston and Antoni + Alison (with T-shirts featuring Barbie rumoured to follow), the Care Bear UT collection goes on sale tomorrow with 20 tees to choose from, all at just £7.99 a pop.

So, guilty pleasure or ironically cool? Who cares. I heart them.*


* I'll most likely wear my tee on the beach or in bed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 £2 sale

Remember my £1 Giles dress from's first birthday sale? (Click here and here for the blog posts.) Well, the discount designer fashion outlet is doing all over again tomorrow to celebrate its second birthday, this time with items priced at £2.

But to avoid the frustration and disappointment of last year, where many customers couldn't even get onto the website, has made it more of an exclusive affair, with just 2,000 tickets available for the £2 sale.

So, with a mere 2,000 customers entitled to access and each person only allowed to buy one item, one assumes there should be enough bargains to go round. Otherwise, what's the point of being one of the select few if there are even fewer products to buy?

Sadly, Bargainista Fashionista isn't one of the lucky 2,000. But my friend Ivy is. So, while we were discussing shopping tactics today, I thought it might make a useful blog post. Rather late in the day, I know, but this is sound advice for future flash sales, too. Meanwhile, for those 2,000 of you out there, here's some tips I gleaned from last year's experience…

Be an early bird
Right, ticket winners, apparently, you'll be informed by email between 8am and 9am of the sale start, so make sure you're at your computer well before then.

Open lots of windows
Once you receive the sale link, open it up in several windows. This allows you to multi-browse, shopping for different things in separate windows. Plus, if a page is taking a little while to refresh, you can carry on shopping in another window. However, there shouldn't be the technical difficulties encountered last year, as surely the site should be able to cope with 2,000 people online at the same time?

Be specific
Be an efficient shopper and shop by size. After all, there's no point in looking at size 12 clothes if you're a size 8, is there?

Your best bet
A popular product is the designer handbag. It was one of the items that sold out first at last year's sale. And the beauty is, unlike clothing, you don't have to worry if it fits or not. Ditto for accessories and jewellery.

Speed is of the essence
There's no time for faffing. The item isn't yours until your transaction has gone through successfully, so remember fastest finger on the button wins. Make sure you have an account with set up in advance and have your debit/credit card to hand.

Good luck! And remember, there's always Primark for a £2 bargain!

PS. Let me know if you get anything (from the £2 sale, not Primark!).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dressing for Cannes

Have you seen the Stella Artois TV adverts, putting out a casting call for someone to play the 'King of Cannes', Jacques D'Azur (click here for more details)? With the short film to be premiered at Cannes Film Festival next month, it got me thinking about dressing for the Riviera.

So, imagine if you were Jacques's plus one at the Cannes Film Festival. What would you wear? Here's a few suggestions – all from the high street, of course.

Dressing for the red carpet...

Floor-length? Tick. Plunging neckline? Tick. Leg-revealing front split? Tick. For £155, you can get yourself a red carpet-worthy gown from French Connection. It captures Hollywood glamour without being too OTT, working this season's colour trend while also championing the reinvention of pleats in a sheer, floaty fabric.

This dress is one of the pieces I selected for last month's ELLE feature. I love it because it's a great evening dress that will work for parties, weddings and beach holidays alike. Lightweight and luxurious, it's a summer winner. Plus, when it's worn and well-loved, you can chop the length and give it a new lease of life.
Other suggestions: try Monsoon's Liliana white lace dress. A little more expensive at £200 but stunning.

Dressing for cocktails at the Carlton hotel...

This Erdem-inspired dress by French Connection is the dress of the season. Coloured lace is big right now, and crimson is the red-hot choice (although this also comes in royal blue and turquoise). At £110, it's a fraction of what the Erdem original costs, but still a major head-turner thanks to the mix of demure yet sexy.
Other suggestions: try the navy and cream silk Phoebe dress by Whistles. It may be £275, but the Grecian-like pleats are beautiful and elegant. 

Lounging by the pool...

Poolside glamour doesn't have to be all about the bikini. A one piece can look just as sexy. Work some retro glamour with this Topshop swimsuit. It's a snip at £30. A flattering halterneck, frills around the bust and top of the leg, a scooped 'o' shaped back and a vintage-esque flower print all work together to show that sweet can be sultry.
Other suggestions: if you only do bikinis, then Topshop's blue frilled polka-dot number, £28, is the retro alternative to the one piece.

For more Riviera chic, look to this season's 1950s prom dresses. There are plenty around, from New Look's Stella McCartney-esque lemon print (£29.99) to Primark's Prada-esque beach scene (£16) to Laura Ashley's retro postcard print (£100). Cannes, here you come.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Play days

I'm not usually one for cheap fabrics such as polyester and nylon. My argument being that inferior materials look, well, inferior. But there's something rather comforting about this viscose playsuit. It may not be expensive-looking, and luxe it certainly isn't, but the fabric is cool and light, with a kind of nostalgia about it.

Maybe it's the sweet ditsy floral print. Or the spaghetti straps that tie in a bow on the shoulder. Or the crocheted bib detail at the front. All of which conjure up favourite childhood outfits in my mind.

And, being a playsuit, it's well suited to childish pursuits. I'll certainly be frolicking in the sunshine and rolling around on the grass in this. It makes dressing for leisure fun and easy.

Plus, at £14.99 from H&M, it's almost yesteryear pricing, too. Trust me, dressing like a big kid suddenly got fashionable, with a playsuit being summer's essential piece. All I need now are the Liberty Nike Dunks to go with it.

Just one rule of thumb: avoid going down the hippy route. Instead, to add some attitude push up the legs and team it with wooden platform heels (like my Gap ones, above) or wedges.

The nude leather belt, btw, is also from H&M – a steal at £14.99 for two (the other is in brown). The sandals below, meanwhile, are old Topshop ones that I can't bear to throw away, even though they're falling apart, because I love their pale summery yellow colour.

Yep, summertime is just around the corner…


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