Monday, February 28, 2011

20% off at A|wear


A mini magazine and a 20% discount led me to A|wear, an Irish high-street chain that's hit British soil with an online presence and three UK stores in Bristol, Stoke-on-Trent and Leicester.

I have to admit, most of the stock isn't my style (especially as much of it is made of polyester), but I'm willing to try a lesser-known brand in the name of bargain-hunting – and a steal presents itself in the shape of these leather boots. Available in brown and black, they're in the sale, reduced from £109 to £45. Take an extra 20% off that and they seem too good to pass up. (The discount code is SPRINGDIGITAL, with 20% off everything when you spend £30 or more. Offer ends 21 March 2011.)

The site is easy to navigate and buying online is a doddle, with postage charged at £3.95. I order on Tuesday, the boots are dispatched on Wednesday and they arrive on Friday.

They fit, which is a good start, but I'm disappointed that the leather is papery thin. I definitely wouldn't have paid full price for them. Not being able to see, touch and try things on are the biggest barriers to internet shopping, especially if you're unfamiliar with the brand you're buying.

Still, £36 is a darn good deal for a pair of real leather boots. Although, if I'm honest, I'd probably put the money towards a pair of boots I really love rather than these, which I'm lukewarm about.

However, I do need a new pair of boots and these are good for working spring/summer's 1970s trend, worn with midi-length skirts or this season's white and floral dresses. Plus, the lightweight leather does have an advantage - they'll be cool enough to wear even when the weather warms up. They look good with my Topshop socks, too.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Brief encounter


Gap undies are fast replacing M&S as my favourites for basics – especially when they look as good as these. Just £2.99 in the sale, reduced from £8. Must be the Valentine's Day leftovers. Comes in grey, as well as scarlet.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A sale bargain not to be missed


Don't you just hate it when you see something you bought full price in the sale? If I've had lots of wear out of it, that softens the blow. And I was wearing this velvet jacket just last week over my Giles dress, so it was priceless (my work coat just wouldn't have cut it over an evening gown!).

Anyway, do you remember this jacket? It's from Jil Sander's a/w 2010 +J collection for Uniqlo that I blogged about back in October. (Click here and here for the blog posts).

Well, if you liked it, you might be interested to hear it's been reduced – twice! – in the sale and is now down to a bargainous £29.99, reduced from £129.99 (yes, I did buy it at that price. And yes, it is heartbreaking).

I saw a dozen jackets left in London's Oxford Street flagship store just this evening. So, if you're a size extra small or small, you're in luck. It might be available in other stores, too, but sadly it's not online. Snap it up while you can – I hear velvet is still going strong for a/w 2011.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My £1 Giles dress from TheOutnet.com


Last week, I abandoned the Stickman on Valentine's Day to attend the ELLE Style Awards. Very unromantic of me, I know, but he was happy for me to go as it was the perfect occasion to debut my Giles dress from TheOutnet.com's £1 sale.

Remember that dress? That unbelievable £1,365 bargain snapped up for a quid? Who'd have known its peachy nude colour would be so this season?

With its dramatic laser-cut hemline, I kept the rest of the outfit simple, wearing it in a 1920s flapper style with a jet-black bead and chain necklace by Marc Cain, a vintage mesh clutch bag by Whiting & Davis from eBay and my matte-gold sequined platform shoes by Emma Hope. What do you think?

  
 PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEPHANIE SIAN SMITH

Thursday, February 17, 2011

London calling


Want this limited-edition £100 dress for just £35? Well, when this bargain hit my radar, I knew you'd love it, so here are the details…

To celebrate the start of London Fashion Week tomorrow, French Connection has designed this cute cobalt-blue cotton dress. Isn't that oversized ruffle just adorable? Named after the UK's fashion capital, the 'London' dress goes on sale on Friday 18th February.

What better excuse to work this season's brights? You'll have to be quick though as only 2,000 dresses have been made. Get yours online from 9am at www.frenchconnection.com or in one of the 40 selected French Connection stores nationwide. Call (020) 7036 7200 to find out your nearest stockist.

Now French Connection just needs to bring out some more bargain dresses over the following weeks called New York, Paris and Milan!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Little wonder


This season's mini bag trend has got me worried. How can I declutter my handbag to the bare essentials? In an effort to streamline the amount I carry around, I've condensed my possessions to fit into this cute and colourful purse.

It's not quite minaudière proportions, but it's a good start in the downsizing stakes. And the best bit is, despite its fairly petite dimensions (20 x 23cm), it's a bit of a Mary Poppins bag. It holds my everyday necessities (wallet, phone, keys) and more (camera, make-up bag, notebook, pen), plus there's room to spare.

And, like Mary Poppins's carpet bag, it comes in a detailed tapestry fabric which is a little bit twee, a little bit boho and a whole lot vintage heirloom. The addition of the folky ribbon and colourful pom-poms, meanwhile, shouldn't work, but they do. They're quirky and fun. Ditto, the oversized wooden balls on the clasp – they're like giant Maltesers and are satisfying to click open and shut.

The only letdown is the faux-leather strap and red lining which are a little on the cheap side. But the lining's hidden from view and you can tuck in the strap to turn the bag into an oversized clutch. Besides, you can overlook these flaws when you hear the price: £8 from Primark. With its elegant frame, it's adding a touch of granny chic to my parka right now.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fab find for a fiver


Remember the £3 Marc Jacobs 'I love you' spinner necklace I blogged about in December? Wasn't it a steal? It always gets admired whenever I wear it and it's even been mistaken for Stella McCartney's far more expensive version.

Anyway, in the name of bargain-hunting, I went back to the Marc by Marc Jacobs store on London's South Audley Street in search of more affordable charms and trinkets. 

The store didn't disappoint, with its Special Items range offering this gold-tone wishbone necklace for £5. On a 24-inch chain, it hangs down towards your navel and looks great doubled up with the 'I love you' spinner necklace which, by the way, is still available.

It's not only the chain that's longer, the wishbone charm itself is two-inches in length. The necklace, meanwhile, bears a 'Marc' of authenticity in the shape of a Marc Jacobs branded tag attached to the clasp. 

Designer jewellery for a fiver? Now that's good luck worth wishing for.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Short comings


This season's nudes couldn't be better captured than in these blush-pink shorts from H&M. With their lacy, broderie anglaise fabric with peek-a-boo cut-out sections that reveal the nude lining beneath and their oh-so pretty scalloped edging, there's more than a passing resemblance to luxurious underwear.

But these are made to be seem. Wear them now with thick wool tights (pale colours not black) and then bare legs come summer. A multi-seasonal piece for £24.99? Now that's what I call value for money.

Like them? Then you'll love the dresses, too – available in the same material, there are two styles that are £34.99 each.

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