Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas jumper of the week

Did you get anything at Maison Martin Margiela with H&M's launch last month?

I love a good designer/high-street street collaboration and I've been to enough to know this was a good one. With over 100 items of Maison Martin Margiela's back catalogue on offer, what better way to get your hands on a piece of iconic design at a fraction of its normal price?

I did wonder if owners of the original designs would be annoyed that the pieces they own are now so widely – and cheaply – available. Or if they loved them so much, they were glad for the chance to stock up on a second.

However, I decided I wasn't going to shop this collaboration. I simply didn't love anything enough to queue for the 8am launch. And, while I appreciate Maison Martin Margiela's conceptual designs, I had to ask myself how well these avant-garde pieces would work in my wardrobe.

But then I saw a fashion editor's tweet with this men's Fair Isle sweater and my heart started racing. I'd dismissed the womenswear as not for me, but I'd hardly given the menswear a second glance. I. Wanted. This. Sweater.

When my friend Andrew came back to the office with a Maison Martin Margiela shopping bag after a late lunch, he got the full inquisition.

Yes, you could walk straight into the store and shop the collection now.
Yes, there was plenty of menswear left.
And yes, including that jumper.

I hotfooted it down there at the speed of light and gleefully grabbed the one and only XS on the rail. It was meant to be!

I like that each piece of this collaboration comes with a tag explaining which collection the original design appeared. My Re-assembled Fair Isle sweater? From autumn/winter 2004/2005.

Back home, my husband the Stickman took a liking to said jumper. He slipped it on and it fitted. On me, I was swamped. So, that was it – my Christmas shopping had started!

If you were wishing you'd snapped up a piece of Maison Martin Margiela with H&M and had missed out, think again. There's a few items online in the H&M sale. I got the chunky knit Dolly cardigan when it was reduced from £59.99 to £30. Now it's just £20.

The car seat cover dress and glove clutch that Helena Christensen wore are now down from £179.99 to £70 and £79.99 to £30 respectively. And don't miss Maison Martin Margiela's leather jacket. It's a bargain at £100, reduced from £179.99.

There are other items in the sale, including menswear. However, they're no longer listed under Maison Martin Margiela so you'll have to scour through the sale items to find them. The big reductions should make it worth your while, though, so happy hunting!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas jumper of the week


ELLE celebrated Christmas Jumper Day on Friday 14th December in support of Save the Children. As my festive knit, I chose this Torsby Fair Isle sweater from Superdry.

There are so many Fair Isle jumpers to choose from at Superdry, all at £49.99, but it was the Christmassy snowflakes that attracted me to this particular design. Plus, the similarity to Sarah Lund's sweater in cult BBC4's crime drama The Killing.

I admit, I've never watched The Killing, but detective Lund's sweaters are probably the most famous jumpers on TV. Scandinavian knitwear company Gudrun & Gudrun are the makers behind her wardrobe. Its sweaters are hand-knitted in the Faroe islands in traditional patterns originally used by the fisherman's wives to distinguish their husbands as they approached shore.

And the cost of a Gudrun & Gudrun sweater? A hefty 280 euros (around £228). But they are hand-made from 100% organic, untreated and undyed Faroese wool, taken from the native sheep. The result is an incredible soft and warm wool.

Such is the popularity of Sarah Lund's sweaters, they have their own fan website and there are even knitting patterns for the jumpers. But if you can't afford the Gudrun & Gudrun originals and haven't the time to knit one, Superdry's Fair Isle knits are my top recommendation.

For more Christmas jumper inspiration, click here see what the rest of Team ELLE wore on Christmas Jumper Day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas jumper of the week

These Aubin & Wills fox jumpers are at the top of my Christmas jumper wish list. What's more they're already in the sale, reduced from £125 to £98.

I love a good animal motif and this season there's been plenty around. Just take Burberry's owl knit, it's inspired a whole parliament of owls on the high street from Marks & Spencer to River Island and New Look.

This foxy intarsia design is Aubin & Wills' signature motif emblazoned on its best-selling Portland jumper. It's made of super-soft merino wool and comes in a choice of chargoal grey or oatmeal. Taylor Swift was spotted in the latter with Harry Styles in New York earlier this month.

With celebrity credentials, it's not surprising this foxy jumper has just sold out online, but check your local store for availability. And, while you're there, make the most of it as sadly Aubin & Wills, the sister label of Jack Wills, is closing its doors shortly after Christmas. Sob.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The love ring at 21 Diamonds

Remember my Zoe & Morgan love ring? I've found a blingier version! Don't you just love the gold-plate and sparkle?

It's by Munich designer Elsner Basera, whose label Leaf is stocked at online jewellery emporium 21 Diamonds. At £68.95, it's one to add to your Christmas wish list. It also comes in silver and there's a matching necklace (£102.95) and bracelet (£84.95), too.

21 Diamonds offers free shipping and returns (which is handy if you get your ring size wrong, which I did), but items are shipped from Germany so you better get busy with your order.

That's once you drag yourself away from browsing the site, that is. As well as fine jewellery, there's watches and brands such as Les Néréides, Pilgrim, Mint, Paul & Joe, Swarovski Crystallized and many, many more. There are also myriad charms and beads to make your own charm bracelets and necklaces.

Prices are really reasonable with great items that bridge the gap between non-precious high-street jewellery and high-end pieces. And with a plethora of choice, there's something for everyone.

Btw, Zoe & Morgan's love lasso ring now comes in rose-gold. It's the same price as the gold version at £99, while the silver option is £77.

Which love ring do you like best? Time to start hinting so someone can tell you they love you this season!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The great outdoors

Now that it's properly chilly, I can bring out my Penfield down jacket. I'm not usually one for puffa jackets, but I do love this particular Penfield Gillman jacket. It's a collaboration with Scottish wool maker Jamieson's of Shetland so it features a Fair Isle knit yoke and pockets.

I got my jacket in the ASOS sale back in April, when it was reduced from £260 to £130 down to £65. I couldn't believe what a bargain it was and knew that even though I wasn't going to be wearing it for months, I'd appreciate it when I did.

And I do. It's so cosy and warm. I can't wait for the weekend, when I can team it with a scarf, hat and hiking boots for a brisk walk in the country. What better excuse to embrace the great outdoors, eh?


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Maison Martin Margiela with H&M on sale this week


Maison Martin Margiela with H&M, launches in just four days' time on 15th November. As I reported back in June, this is the high-street giant's latest designer collaboration with the avant-garde Parisian fashion house.

The 105-piece collection is a series of re-editions of Maison Martin Margiela clothes and accessories from various seasons. It features the very best of the label's signature designs, from oversized, draped silhouettes and loose, masculine tailoring to quirky, unusual details.

It's a bold move from H&M to offer a designer collaboration that's so different. It's sure to be a hit with die-hard Maison Martin Margiela fans and, hopefully, will win a new customer base over, too.

And, showing you just how wearable Maison Martin Margiela with H&M is, see how the celebrities wore the collection at its New York launch last month.

Selma Blair wears Ladies Nº10 – horizontally worn dress, £99.99, and Ladies Nº49 – plexi wedge pump, £149.99

Sarah Jessica Parker wears Ladies Nº25 – oversized masculine jacket, £99.99

Leigh Lezark wears Ladies Nº23 – silk scarves top, £79.99, and Ladies Nº24 – silk scarves apron, £69.99, and Ladies Nº49 – plexi wedge pump, £149.99

Helena Christensen wears Ladies Nº36 – car seat cover dress, £179.99, Ladies Nº 59 – invisible wedge ankle boot, £179.99, and Ladies Nº39 – glove clutch, £79.99

Mena Suvari wears Ladies Nº3 – body with integrated bra, £29.99, Ladies Nº6 – hitched up skirt, £59.99, Ladies Nº47 – plexi wedge pump, £149.99, and Ladies Nº 57 – candy clutch, £34.99

Julianne Moore wears Ladies Nº13 – narrow shouldered jacket, £69.99, Ladies Nº22 – pattern-cut trousers, £59.99, and Ladies Nº 59 – invisible wedge ankle boot, £179.99

Kanye West wears Men Nº63 – overcoat with inverted lapels, £149.99, Men Nº 77 – fusion of two shirts, £59.99, and Men Nº65 – painted jeans, £59.99

Chace Crawford wears Men Nº72 – suit jacket, £79.99, Men Nº71 – suit waistcoat, £34.99, Men Nº73 – suit trousers, £59.99, Men Nº 77 – fusion of two shirts, £59.99, and Men Nº 104 – mould-effect boot, £149.99

'It’s an amazing collaboration!' said Julianne Moore. 'Margiela is a beautiful brand – arty, iconoclastic and always edgy.'

'I've been a great fan of Margiela for many years,' added Sarah Jessica Parker. 'They are mysterious and compelling. [This collaboration] is a great opportunity for people to have access to great designers. It makes luxury available to everyone. It's very democratic and I'm all for it.'

“I’m a huge fan of Margiela and I love H&M – it’s a great collaboration,' chimed in Helena Christensen. 'I never get surprised by H&M’s choices, every designer they pick I’m interested in. I’m always standing in the queue with my mother in the early mornings.'

So, will you be joining Helena Christensen in the queue for Maison Martin Margiela with H&M? It launches in stores at 8am and online at 9am on 15th November so get the lowdown on how to shop here.

Right, you've seen how the celebs wear the collection. Now check out how Team ELLE wears it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The perfect dress at Karen Millen: the bloggers' edit

Hey, guess what? Bargainista Fashionista is one of the 10 bloggers Karen Millen chose to present its bloggers' edit of the perfect dresses.

With party season just around the corner, Karen Millen asked 10 of the 'hottest bloggers of the moment' (their words, not mine!) to give their essential pick of its stunning dresses. See what styles are the favourites in the bloggers' perfect 10 dresses.

Season after season, Karen Millen produces dresses that wow. Its celebrity fans include Eva Longoria, Nicole Scherzinger and Emma Bunton. So if you're looking for the perfect dress, Karen Millen has to be top of your list.

This limited edition metallic sequin dress (pictured, top), £265, is my perfect evening number as it covers so many occasions, from smart client drinks to your work bash to Christmas cocktails with the girls. The heavy sprinkle of sequins and metallic shine will guarantee you stand out this party season – for all the right reasons.

I love how the accents of black temper the sparkle and add a timeless elegance to the dress, while the black band nips in the waist for a sexy silhouette. Plus, the back zip that runs from neckline to hemline adds a modern edge.

From sequin embellishment to signature shapes and baroque detailing, Karen Millen has this season's must-have trends covered so I hope I've inspired you to find the perfect dress. Fairytale femininity? Gothic drama? Classics with a twist? Whatever look you choose, the Karen Millen mood is sure to be dark, glamorous and sexy.

To help get you in the party spirit, join Karen Millen at its perfect dress store event at its London Regent Street store on 15th November from 6-9pm. There will be cocktails on arrival, glamorous makeovers and VIP personal styling appointments, so RSVP now to secure your place.

Lastly, there's even a competition to win the perfect dress, plus accessories. What are you waiting for? But before you go, let me know if you like my Karen Millen dress choice!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Olivia Palermo's Reiss leather skirt

Leather is a big, HUGE trend this season. But take note, this is not leather as you know it. We're talking sophisticated leather rather than the S&M kind. It's still sexy but in a far more subtle way.

What's different this autumn/winter is the elegant, daytime direction that leather's taken. Less after-hours, it's very office-friendly. Plus, it comes in a palette of colours and is paper-thin, soft and supple. Look out for cut-out details, too.

Of course, there are myriad leather biker jackets this season, too. Ditto the perennial leather pencil skirt. And then there's the leather trousers. But there's a whole lot more.

To show you how versatile – and varied – leather can be, see how Team ELLE wears leather. Bags and shoes aside, leather has never played a big part in my wardrobe – probably because I assume leather isn't going to suit me. But even I was swayed. So I put it down to the new mood of leather.

The object of my new-found love for leather? The Barrett olive-green midiskirt, £225, by Reiss. Olivia Palermo's a fan, you know. She wore hers to London Fashion Week.

This Reiss skirt is so ladylike and chic. And the colour is such a refreshing change from black. It's buttery soft and has a surprisingly light thinness to it that I'd not associated with leather before. Yep, my connotations of thick, stiff leather have been completely blown away.

Let me know your thoughts on leather. Are you wearing it this season?


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nicole Farhi sample sale


Sample sale alert! Put the Nicole Farhi private sale in your diaries now. It's on from Wednesday 24th October to Tuesday 6th November.

And, great news, this is the biggest one-off sale Nicole Farhi has ever held. You'll be able to shop its extensive archive collections, all at up to 75% off.

Nicole Farhi, which celebrates its 30th year in business this year, is known for luxe, laid-back clothes that real women want to wear. A beautifully made coat. An elegant evening dress. Soft, fluid separates. (The designer also launched French Connection 40 years ago.)

So, for French chic and British cool, the Nicole Farhi sample sale has accessories starting from just £20, shirts and skirts from £35, trousers and knitwear from £45, dresses from £50 and outerwear from £90. Imagine, your new winter coat could be a Nicole Farhi one for under £100, which is cheaper than the high street.

With new lines added daily, it's going to be a fortnight of bargains. Oh, and there's menswear, too. The Nicole Farhi sample sale is at 16 Fouberts Place (off Carnaby Street), London W1F 7PJ (cash and credit cards accepted). Weekdays 8am to 8pm, Saturdays 10am to 6pm and Sundays 10am to 4pm.

Let me know what you get!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Elizabeth Lau for ASOS: the interview

In a season of cartoon knits, animal jumpers and statement sweaters, London designer Elizabeth Lau's collection for ASOS couldn't be more timely.

Following my September blog post about this new designer/high-street collaboration and ahead of a shoot she's done for ASOS's Fashion Up iPhone/iPad magazine, I got an exclusive interview with Elizabeth herself (pictured above)...

Describe the Elizabeth Lau girl.
I have always felt the Elizabeth Lau girl is an individual who has an eye for detail and style and is not afraid to have a bit of fun with fashion.

Who do you see wearing your designs for ASOS?
With the ASOS lower price points, I see anyone who likes a witty knit wearing these quirky jumpers. They're just pure fun and will bring a cheer to the grey winter days ahead!

Why did you decide to collaborate with ASOS?
We've been on each other’s radar for a number of seasons. ASOS liked the concept of my a/w 2011 Cockney rhyming collection and invited me to design exclusive jumpers for them in the same vein. It’s an incredible opportunity to reach out to new customers all over the world. The real challenge was to get the price points down to a level that did not compromise the designs and motifs.

And why a jumper collection?
Why jumpers? I guess it’s our signature item and a universally easy-to-wear piece of clothing.

What's your favourite piece in your ASOS collection?
It’s a tie between the Dog & Bone (Cockney rhyming for telephone; pictured above) and the Lizzie smiley face. I am a sucker for kawaii motifs!

Give us some styling tips. How would you wear your ASOS jumpers?
Jumpers go with everything. You can team them with slouchy jeans, skinnies, cigarette pants, shorts or a cute skirt. When I'm in my studio, I wear my ASOS jumpers with dungarees and tough DMs. It's the perfect outfit for autumn/winter.

What are your high-street recommendations?
I am a high-street magpie and will cherry-pick items from a variety of places. My favourites are COS for its understated yet design-led pieces, Whistles always has great cuts and Uniqlo for reliable basics. Recently, I'm also liking Aubin & Wills – it offers great quality, no-nonsense clothes with a good old British sensibility.

For exclusive behind-the-scenes pictures of the making of Elizabeth Lau's collection for ASOS and to view the whole collection see my previous blog post.

Meanwhile, check out the Instagram pictures (below) from her shoot with ASOS, featuring Elizabeth and her cousins, sisters Susanna (aka Susie Bubble of Style Bubble) and Louisa Lau (of Lust & Found).

Elizabeth Lau wears Treacle Tart jumper, £75
Susie Bubble wear heartbreaker jumper, £65
Susie Bubble and sister Louisa Lau, who wears Dog & Bone jumper, £75
Louisa Lau wears Union Jack jumper, £70. Susie Bubble wears Havin' a Bubble jumper, £75. Elizabeth Lau wears La Di Dah jumper, £75. 

So which jumper is your favourite? The Dog & Bone and Lizzie smiley face designs get my vote. Shop the Elizabeth Lau for ASOS collection here and check out Elizabeth's blog, too.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I heart these Diane von Furstenberg lace shorts

There's a lot of lace in the shops right now. From lace dresses (inspired by Erdem) to lace panels and details (à la Phillip Lim), you can wear as much or as little lace as you'd like and still be on-trend.

For ideas of how to incorporate lace into your wardrobe, see how Team ELLE wears lace. I hope you'll be inspired by the diversity of choices.

As you can see, with my choice of lace I haven't steered far from my workwear favourite of shorts. These are by Diane von Furstenberg. I love how the lace makes them look feminine without losing the androgynous cool of the slouchy pockets and the neat boy shape.

Admittedly, they may be a little expensive (about £165), but the quality of the lace is superb. And, while there will be high-street versions, these feel so luxurious to wear and are made to last. I'm in love with them. More so because they slip into my existing wardrobe so seamlessly.

I've teamed them with my Aubin & Wills jacket and Pierre Hardy for Gap shoes and new River Island suede bag. And you know what, with the lace trend running and running, I'll be able to wear these shorts without tights come next summer. OK, so who's going to buy me a pair then?


Sunday, October 14, 2012

William Tempest for River Island video

If my last blog post about William Tempest for River Island has got you excited about the next designer collaboration to hit the high street, here's some more pictures. As you can see, that glamorous flapper dress (top, £150) comes in black as well as nude. It's so Great Gatsby!

William Tempest's collection for River Island Design Forum, which launches on 22nd October, made a stylish debut at London Fashion Week in September. It was showcased in a short film as part of the British Fashion Council and River Island's Fash/On Film initiative which supports and develops creative film in the industry.

So, take a look and start compiling your partywear shopping list now…

William Tempest for River Island

William Tempest for River Island is the next designer collaboration to hit the high street. Here's a sneak peek of his sketches for the collection.

River Island is on a roll. With Rihanna already designing a capsule collection for spring 2013, it has enlisted British designer William Tempest to create a range for it's Design Forum label this autumn.

Tempest, a London College of Fashion graduate, worked with Giles Deacon and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac before launching his own label in 2009. And he counts Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham and Emma Watson as fans of his luxurious, modern designs. Now you can be, too.

Using his flair for innovative cutting and experimental shape-making, the 26-year-old designer has created a 13-piece collection for River Island inspired by ancient Egyptian mythology, 1920s interiors and the work of graphic artist MC Escher.

Ready for party season, Tempest has designed an eveningwear collection for River Island. It offers effortless gowns, separates and accessories including a beautiful Art Deco plunge-back tasselled flapper dress (below, £150), a sequined chiffon shirt dress, laser-cut heels and elegant evening bags.

Black and nude fabrics with opaque contrasts feature heavily. Plus, there are exclusive textiles for the collection, including a geometric Art Deco pattern and a tessellated design. The scarab beetle, a symbol of wealth and power for ancient Egyptians, has been turned into a motif, too. Look out for the quilted leather bag it features on.

William Tempest for River Island is available in selected River Island stores and online from 15th October. Prices from £40 to £150.

***Just checked with River Island HQ and there's been a delay. The new launch date is now 22nd October***

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Introducing Izabel London + Reader Giveaway!

Izabel London is one of the latest fashion brands to launch online. Already stocked at Dorothy Perkins, Debenhams and House of Fraser, the label's website launched this summer bringing its easy-to-wear, trend-led designs into the realm of internet shopping. All, of course, at high-street prices. In fact, the affordability factor is one of Izabel London's big plus points.

I admit, I wasn't familiar with the brand until now. But a quick browse of Izabel London's website and there's plenty of bargains to score. These are the pieces that caught my eye…
Can you believe this laser-cut dress is just £22? It comes in yellow, too.
And here's another £22 dress. I love the contrasting, scallop-edged collar and retro design.
I heart this heart jumper at £30. Knitwear is such a big trend this season and this is too cute!

Like what you see? Visit Izabel London and discover more. Plus, win your favourite piece! Leave a comment below with a link to the item you like best and it could be yours. Don't forget your email so I can get in touch. I'll pick a winner next Friday 19th October. I can't wait to see what you choose! This giveaway is only open to UK residents (sorry international readers!).


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Uniqlo's Fair Isle tank top

This Uniqlo Fair Isle tank top is a bargain £14.90. Cute, isn't it?

If you're thinking you haven't seen this in Uniqlo, then look in the menswear department. That's where I found this Fair Isle gem. It comes in a choice of three colours: brown, grey or navy.

I do love a Fair Isle knit. And I love shopping in the men's section just as much, especially during the autumn/winter collections. There's the cosy knits that the term 'boyfriend jumper' was coined from and the white cotton shirts that look great oversized.

Uniqlo and Gap are my two favourite stops for menswear shopping. Both offer XS, which is good for petite girls wanting to add an androgynous spin to their wardrobes without clothes that drown them. Plus, both excel at cashmere and wool, too.

Also look in the menswear departments of H&M, Cos, Banana Republic and Topman for this season's tux jacket. You'll be thankful for the head start come party season, trust me.

And if you like Uniqlo's Fair Isle tank, check out its Fair Isle cardigans, too. In the men's department, of course.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What to wear on your first day at a new job

In the October issue of ELLE, the team reveal what they wore on their first day in the office in the feature The ELLE Style Stories. My story's included, too!

A first day anywhere can be stressful enough, but a first day on the world's biggest-selling fashion magazine? That makes dressing for work extremely tough.

To illustrate my story, I decided to root about in my wardrobe to find the skirt that I wore on my first day at ELLE a number of years ago. The skirt (above and below) was from London's Spitalfields Market by a designer called Susy Harper.

I'd chosen it because I wanted to champion new talent, and by doing so I hoped that it would show I was worthy of working in fashion. Plus, I wanted to wear something nobody else (hopefully) would be wearing.

I love the simplicity of Susy Harper's design. A single piece of wool, one seam, no hem, no waistband. The result is an asymmetrical silhouette that subtly curves into a longer length at the back. It's good to see it still looks current.

My original first-day outfit included a black Joseph top and Pied A Terre boots. But here I've teamed the skirt with my Sonia Rykiel for H&M jacket, a H&M camisole and clutch bag, a pair of Chie Mihara sandals (another summer sale buy) and my Michael Kors watch. It still works now, don't you think?

If you're starting a new job, here's my top five tips on what to wear on your first day:

1. Wear something you feel comfortable in

2. Make sure it's fuss-free. You don't want to spend the whole day constantly fiddling with your outfit

3. Think of decorum and leave the low-cut tops and thigh-high skirts at home. You don't want to reveal too much cleavage or leg in the workplace

4. Grooming is just as important as clothes. But remember less is more when it comes to make-up and hair styles

5. Lastly, don't forget to smile!

A fail-safe formula is a good-quality jacket worn with a blouse/shirt and skirt/trousers. Add a few well-chosen accessories – a watch and a necklace, say – and finish with a great pair of heels and a bag. The bottom line is to think classic rather than quirky, so consider what first impressions you want to create and go for it.

For more first-day tips, read this feature in the October issue of ELLE and learn from the rest of the team. It's only on sale for one more day, so hurry now! (Or get the digital edition at iTunes).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bargainista Fashionista writes for ELLE

Since I started this blog three and a half years ago, I've seen a trend: the rise of the savvy shopper, aka the bargainista fashionista.

She's the kind of girl that loves fashion and gets a thrill when she finds what she wants for a bargain. She lives for designer/high-street collaborations, as well as the designer sales (and the occasional designer splurge), but the high street is her staple.

Obviously, there's a whole lot more to her. Quality counts. But so do pennies, too. So she's savvy in her spending to make her money go further and clever with her clothes so she never looks cheap, always chic.

Looking good for less is easy with a little shopping and styling know-how. So I hope my blog has helped you to be savvy yet fashionable – and to get a few bargains along the way.

For more tips on how to be a bargainista fashionista, see my feature (above) for ELLE. It's in the October issue, with Gwen Stefani on the cover (below), which is on sale now until next Tuesday. I'm so excited! Let me know what you think.


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