Thursday, June 30, 2011

Spot the difference


One is a citrus-print cotton tunic dress by British designer Stella McCartney. The other is also a citrus-print cotton dress, by another British favourite: Primarni.

But while the former will set you back by £337.50 (and that's the sale price, reduced from £675), the latter gives you change from a tenner. Yep, this Primark special is just £9.

The shirred elasticated back ensures a perfect fit, but you might need to go up a size to actually get in and out of this dress (I couldn't get my usual size past my shoulders!). I love its 1950s style and the hidden side pockets (always a bonus in a dress, I find).

A bold, cheerful print, it's great for working this summer's colour trend. Accessorise with bright bags and shoes (think pink, red, green, blue…) or go classic with tan. It comes in black, too.

Fruit. A fashion favourite. Who'd have thought it. But as the nursery rhyme goes:
'Oranges and lemons
Says the bells of St Clement's'
… and Stella, Primark, New Look, River Island and Dorothy Perkins, too!
Yes, check out the citrus brights from the latter three stores as well. Meanwhile, if the Stella tunic's for you, here's the link.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Love the Gap sale


Pierre Hardy for Gap Mary Janes. Previously £79.95. Now £19.99. That's all.

Actually, that's not all. Take your pick from a choice of two colours: nude on nude (above) and peach on grey. See my previous blog posts here and here.

Now, you might have to make a trip to London's flagship Oxford Street store to lay your hands on these, but they're a bargain worth chasing - especially for working autumn/winter's eccentric lady trend.

A possible reason why there's still plenty of pairs in store is because, unless you're in the know, you wouldn't realise they're by Pierre Hardy. Unlike last year's Valentino collection, Gap's collaborations with the shoe designer come under the Gap Design Editions label rather than carrying Pierre Hardy's name (ditto the high-street chain's team up with Alexander Wang in 2009 and Roland Mouret in 2006). Personally, I think this a missed opportunity for the store to big up its designer connections, but it's good for the clued-up shopper.

Anyway, the Gap sale has big, HUGE reductions – mostly 75% off. So, even if you're not after these shoes, it would be rude not to shop now, wouldn't it?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Uniqlo's Save Japan! T-shirts

 
 

Ten T-shirts, 10 world-famous celebrities, one message of support to Japan. Launches tonight at 1am.

The latest collaboration from Uniqlo brings you designs by Karl Lagerfeld, Lady Gaga, Alber Elbaz, Victoria Beckham, Blake Lively, Gywneth Paltrow, Orlando Bloom, Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Cyndi Lauper for just £12.99.

Working with Condé Nast Japan, publisher of Vogue Japan and GQ Japan, Uniqlo has produced a limited-edition collection of T-shirts for the Save Japan! project. Profits from the worldwide sales of the T-shirts will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society to aid recovery efforts in north eastern Japan, with Uniqlo pledging approximately 100 million yen (£750,0000). Wowzers.

So whose T-shirt will you be wearing? Karl Lagerfeld, Lady Gaga and Alber Elbaz's tees are pictured above. To see the rest of the collection and to shop online, click here. Otherwise, head in store from tomorrow.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Win a Filofax!


Voting for the Filofax blogger style-off finishes in 12 hours' time. I'm so close and yet so far, standing in second place, with less than 20 votes to take me into the lead.

But, you don't get anything for coming second, so please help me win the 12 Filofaxes to give away to you, my readers.

All you have to do is 'like' the Filofax Facebook page and then 'like' my three pictures (click here).  Remember, if I win, you could win, too! Thanks for voting.

Votes need to be cast by 10am on Friday 24th June (tomorrow!), so be quick.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What I wore to work


This week, as seen on ELLEuk.com's What ELLE Wears blog, Bargainista Fashionista is embracing summer's colour trend. It's all down to my latest sale purchase – an almost Day-Glo coral dress from Whistles. Here's the low-down:

Whistles Tessa dress (£60 in the sale right now, reduced from £95)
Topshop socks (£3.50; I went down the 'three pairs for £8' route)
Pierre Hardy for Gap sandals
Mulberry Alexa bag (a gift from the very generous Stickman)
Urban Outfitters and Orelia necklaces

Click here to see what the rest of Team ELLE wore. I want Louise's neon bag (below) from The Cambridge Satchel Company so badly (it comes in fluoro orange, pink, yellow and green). Doesn't it look fabulous with her amazing Peachy Keen manicure and Zoe & Morgan love ring? Sigh.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY PHILL TAYLOR

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Versace for H&M


You've probably already heard the news but, in case you haven't, just announced today is the latest – and now most highly anticipated - designer/high-street collaboration: Versace for H&M!

So, put 17th November in your diaries now, as Donatella Versace's exclusive collection launches in around 300 H&M stores worldwide and online.

Oh, and if one drop isn't enough, the Versace creative director has also designed a pre-spring 2012 collection for H&M that will be available exclusively online from 19 January 2012. (This must mean H&M is confident that its website will be able to cope with the demand better than it did for last year's Lanvin for H&M launch, which is promising.)

'The collections will be quintessential Versace,' says Donatella Versace (below, second left), who has turned to the archives to reinterpret some classic Versace designs. Referencing the vibrant heritage of the brand, expect the womenswear collection to be dominated by dresses in studded leather, colourful prints and luxurious silk, together with high heels and costume jewellery – all at high-street prices, of course.

'Donatella Versace's collection for H&M will be glamorous and flamboyant,' says creative advisor at H&M, Margareta van den Bosch (below, on the right). The menswear collection, meanwhile, will showcase the perfect tuxedo, as well as focusing on sharp tailoring. And, as a first for H&M's designer/high-street collaborations, Donatella Versace has also designed some homeware pieces. Versace bedspread and cushions anyone? 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOHAN SANDBERG
IMAGES COURTESY OF H&M
 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Elle's free Reiss + Garance Doré top


Have you got this month's issue of Elle yet (with the lovely Rosie Huntington-Whiteley on the cover)? Well, hurry, as the July issue is only around for one more week and you don't want to miss out on the fabulous free top that comes with the magazine.

A fashion and blogger collaboration, Reiss, the high-street (and Duchess of Cambridge) favourite, has joined forces with Parisian blogger, fashion photographer, illustrator and writer Garance Doré to produce a summer top especially for Elle.

Featuring an exclusive illustration by Garance, the soft muscle-back vest comes in four colours – white (above), blush (below), sage (bottom) and cornflower – with the design emblazoned across the chest or 'tattooed' on the hip. C'est chic, non?


Achingly cool but effortless, Elle's Reiss + Garance top sums up Parisian style perfectly. I've teamed mine with my new Uniqlo cropped chinos (top and below, £19.99) and Chie Mihara shoes and my latest vintage buy, a denim-look, A-line skirt (above). But I'll also be wearing it with this season's flared jeans, belted with a maxi skirt and summer shorts, too.

It's so versatile – and a bargain at that. With Elle only costing £3.80, it's tempting to get all four colourways!

Now, as Garance is running a competition to give away one of these tops, I thought it might be nice to do the same. So, if you'd like one (or another!), simply become a fan of my Facebook page and leave a comment under the Facebook post about this story saying which colour vest you'd like if you win. I'll pick a winner in mid-July. Thank you and good luck!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Filofax blogger style-off


When Filofax invited me to take part in a blogger style-off to win 12 Apex personal organisers to give away on my blog, how could I refuse?

The brief was simple. Style some looks inspired by the new Apex Filofax.

The Apex is a bit of a departure from the classic personal organiser for Filofax. Taking this season's colour trend, it injects a big hit of fashion and fun into Filofax's previously more traditional offerings. Plus, its cross-hatched, faux-leather cover works next season's texture trend, too. As colour will still be going strong for autumn/winter, what better way to accessorise your wardrobe (and get organised at the same time)?

I love the bold pop of colour and the contrasting wraparound elastic closure. There are four colourways to choose from: green/pink, blue/yellow, pink/turquoise and black/orange. Plus, two sizes: pocket (115 x 145mm) at £24 and personal (135 x 190mm) at £26. They include the usual to keep you organised: diary, address book, notepaper, indexes, etc.

Anyway, how can you win an Apex Filofax? Read on…

Simply become a fan of the Filofax Facebook page and 'like' my three pictures (click here). If I receive the most likes, I'll win the 12 Apex Filofaxes to give away to my readers.

As an incentive to vote, the readers who 'like' my pictures will be the lucky ones who get entered into the draw for the Filofaxes. So, if you've got a colour preference, leave a comment along with your 'like' saying which one you'd prefer if you win.

Thanks for voting and good luck to us both! Plus, up your odds of winning by asking your friends to vote. Remember, not enough likes = no Filofaxes.

Votes need to be cast by 10am on Friday 24th June, so hurry!

In the meantime, here are the details of my outfits…

Look 1:
Primark dress, £9
Topshop wedge sandals, £15 in the sale a few years ago
Filofax Apex personal organiser, £26

Look 2:
Gap T-shirt, £12.95
Whistles skirt, £110
Filofax Apex personal organiser, £26

Look 3:
Marks & Spencer dress, £89
Chie Mihara sandals, £50 in the sale a few years ago
Filofax Apex personal organiser, £26

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bargain of the week


As you know, I'm a bit of a Sonia Rykiel fan. So, when the Selfridges sale started this week, I couldn't resist this merino wool Sonia by Sonia Rykiel hat, scarf and glove set - even though it's meant to be summer. Forward-planning, people!

A Christmas exclusive that didn't sell, it was reduced from £180 to £45! I admit, I was seduced by the massive price cut (along with the cute tote bag the knitwear comes in, complete with pom-pom-adorned drawstrings).

But then, picture this: three days later, there's FURTHER reductions. So, if you fancy these winter woollies, they're going for a song at the ridiculously cheap price of just £20. Now, if only I'd waited…

What I wore to work

PHOTOGRAPH BY TOM BUNNING

So, this was Bargainista Fashionista's Monday morning look this week, as seen on ELLEuk.com's What ELLE Wears blog. Here's the lowdown:

Sonia Rykiel for H&M sweater
Uniqlo jeans
Swedish Hasbeens for H&M sandals
Vintage bag from eBay

All in, head-to-toe, my outfit comes in at under £100! But then, you know I love a good designer/high-street collaboration. Big names, bargain prices.

Click here to see what the rest of Team ELLE wore this week. I'm digging Phillippa's poncho and those D&G sandals - a Harrods winter sale buy for £50!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Marks & Spencer's red lace dress

 

This is not just a dress. This is a M&S dress. An Autograph exclusive even.

Yes, this Marks & Spencer red lace dress has probably had as much coverage as the Whistles Carrie skirt. And no wonder. Its similarity to Erdem's Margot dress makes it highly desirable. But, while the publicity came and went, the dress didn't – it only hit the shops this month (I say 'hit the shops' loosely, it's only available at London's Marble Arch store and online).

Anyway, good news if you thought you'd missed it. And bad news for other high-street copies – from French Connection to Asda – as the M&S version is by far the best quality and reasonably priced at £89. It's just the right shade of red (chic rather than cheap) and a very pretty lace (not McQueen's Royal School of Needlework standards, obviously, but elegant all the same).

Which makes me really sad that it's not the perfect fit. Now, if I weren't still on a high about my free Whistles dress, I'd be gutted. But this M&S dress is designed for the more ample of bust, broader of shoulder and slightly chunkier of arm. The latter two details I could live with, but the roominess my chest doesn't fill makes for a terrible fit (I've tried my best to disguise it in these pictures!).

Now, if only I were Sam Cam and could get M&S to run up a dress especially for me! (Remember that dove-grey, polka-dot dress that she wore to the Conservative party conference in 2009? A £65 design to celebrate the store's 125th birthday, it sold out fast. So much so, M&S had to have one specially made for the PM's wife.)

Sure, the M&S dress is not as skater-girl short as Erdem's design, which makes it more prim that cute. And the lining appears golden rather than nude, which in turn looks more bridesmaid than almost-bare-flesh sexy. But the balance of the demure with harlot's scarlet makes for a head-turner – and one that looks far more expensive than £89 (especially with those sweet scalloped edges).

Plus, its versatility makes it a great investment. From work to weddings and cocktails to city breaks, you'll get a whole lot of wear out of this number. Just keep it on the right side of sweet (rather than slutty) and you'll have the look nailed. For example, think statement shoes, not stilettos; a ballerina bun rather than a vampy blow-out…

Now I'm almost talking myself into keeping this dress! But that's plain silly. If it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit. Anybody recommend a good tailor?


PS. My new beauty love is Giorgio Armani Lip Wax in 5 Cardinal Red. If you're scared of red lipstick, let this be your introduction – it's more subtle and sheer and you can build up the colour the braver you get. Right now it's in the Selfridges sale for £14, reduced from £20. Click here to buy.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What I wore to work

PHOTOGRAPHS BY KIRSTIN SINCLAIR

Check out Bargainista Fashionista's Monday outfit on ELLEuk.com's What ELLE Wears blog this week. This is a regular work look for me. I'm wearing:

tba shirt dress (a bargain £20 January sale buy, reduced from £148)
Uniqlo cardigan (a staple in my wardrobe)
Falke tights and French Connection brogues (same tights and shoes as worn with my French Connection lace dress, different outfit)
Orelia triple chain heart necklace (a birthday gift – thanks Claire!)
Vintage bag from eBay

See what else Team ELLE is wearing here. I'm deeply envious of Louise's D&G dress.

Btw, check out tba, it's one of my new favourite labels. It stands for 'to be adored', which is pretty much how I feel about its whole collection.

And, right now, there's a few tba bargains to be had at ASOS. The steal is the cream silk and cotton embroidered dress, reduced from £140 to just £39, but I love the black velvet and mesh prom dress, too, down from £135 to £64.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The story of my free Whistles dress

 

Somebody pinch me. I still can't quite believe I got a dress from Whistles – for free! OK, let me start from the beginning...

This morning, to celebrate the start of summer, Whistles launched a treasure hunt. It's treating customers to exclusive prizes and offers in stores across the UK from Wednesday 8th to Thursday 9th June. All you have to do is check the Whistles treasure map throughout the day to see if your local store holds the prize. If it does, click on the arrow, print the ticket and dash there as quick as you can to claim it.

Which is exactly what I did this morning when the map revealed Whistles was giving away five dresses in its St Christopher's Place branch – a stone's throw from my office (thanks for letting me take an early lunch, boss!). Three other branches were offering the same prize, too.

Given it was nearly 11am, almost an hour after I'd received and only half-read the Whistles treasure-hunt email, I wasn't sure I'd be in with a chance. But, ticket in hand, I ran (unheard of for me!) to the shop, ever hopeful that not all five prizes had been claimed.

It was my lucky day. I was golden ticket holder number 4, with number 5 hot on my heels. (Sadly, number 6 was right behind her, but the lovely Whistles staff gave her a consolation prize of a tote bag. Not quite a dress, I know, but less disappointing than leaving empty-handed.)

Now, have you ever shopped without looking at the price tag? Me neither. So, to be told I could pick any dress in the store for free, well, it was a shopping addict's dream come true. Ditto the novelty of being able to pick a dress I truly loved, rather than narrowing my search to within a price bracket like I usually do when I shop.

Whistles is easily one of my favourite shops (its Carrie skirt has got to be my best purchase this season), so it wasn't difficult to find a dress I liked. My shortlist (pictured above) included the Siri turquoise lace dress, £275 – like Erdem's scarlet skater dress but a vision in blue – and the Phoebe navy and ivory silk dress, £235 – all sheer panelling and Grecian pleats in the style of 3.1 Phillip Lim. The latter would have been my dress of choice had my size had been available, but the Sabina ivory crepe dress, £295, stole my heart, too. A dressy pleated number with a beaded hemline, it's more classic than the Siri and just as elegant as the Phoebe. It also comes in black, too.

So, need convincing to check the Whistles treasure map tomorrow? Thought not. Click here to go there now. The prizes may not all be as amazing as a free dress (another of today's offers was a Freida tee for £10 – normally £40 – with any purchase over £40, available in four selected stores) but with lots of stores on the map, I'm sure Thursday will have many more treasures to be discovered!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Spot the difference

 

Coloured lace is this season's big success story. From Christopher Kane's fluoro lace dresses to Whistles candy-coloured confections, the trend has filtered down from the catwalk to the high street, injecting a dose of colour to our previous favourites: black, navy, cream and white lace.

Possibly the most popular shade to spring up is scarlet. So, which of the above would you choose?

One is a sheer red lace dress by Erdem (as seen in the catwalk picture from Erdem's website). The other is also a sheer red lace dress… from Marks & Spencer's Autograph range.

I love Erdem's Margot dress. Its beautiful crimson lace combined with a cute skater-skirt length has undoubtedly influenced many a high-street version. But at £1,960 it's a little out of my price range, even if it weren't sold out on www.net-a-porter.com.

M&S's dress, however, is a far more affordable £89. It's just gone on sale this month, but hurry – it won't be around for long. Click here to buy it online now. Top tip: collect in store and save on postage.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Care Bear coffee break


Uniqlo's Care Bear T-shirts are now £4.99 in the sale.

Remember I blogged about the retro revival of these cute 1980s characters back in April? Well, at the time I couldn't decide which Care Bear T-shirt to go for. I finally plumped for the pyramid of bears with the big red love heart, choosing an XS tee for a tight fit.

But now they're in the sale, I can justify having a few more. So I've added Tender Heart Bear and Funshine Bear to my collection of tees and teamed them with denim cut-offs. This time round, I've opted for a size small for a looser fit. Which T-shirt is your favourite? Click here to see the whole range.

Reduced from £7.99, you get free delivery if you spend over £40. So, that's a T-shirt in every design then!

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