Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wearing pyjamas to work


I think the pyjama look is my favourite trend this season. It's so relaxed and easy to wear. And, while I haven't worn my Marni for H&M pyjama outfit from top-to-toe yet, the shorts have become a regular fixture in my working wardrobe. 

This week, they've been particular good for the warm weather we've been having, although I admit I haven't dared bare my legs.

This is what I wore on Tuesday:
Gap T-shirt

If you like my silk Marni for H&M shorts, they're still available in hot pink. Plus, they're reduced to just £14.99. Click here to shop.

Yes, you did hear me right. Marni for H&M is a) still available and b) even cheaper. You'll have to hunt them down on the H&M website though as they're no longer grouped together, nor are they listed under sale items.

Instead, you'll have to do the laborious task of searching under each category. This is where an encyclopedic knowledge of the Marni for H&M collection pays off (tip: for a quick spot, they're usually the still-life pieces rather than the model shots).

Pieces I've seen include the blue spotty jacket for £29.99 (was £69.99) and the silver leather sandals and black leather sandals, which are £14.99 apiece (were £29.99). Note, sizes left vary (these are returned items, after all) and may sell out, so shop while you can! And check out the Marni for H&M menswear, too.

Meanwhile, for more summer-inspired workwear, check out this week's What ELLE Wears blog at

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mary Katrantzou for Topshop

I thought I'd do a quick follow-up blog about last month's Mary Katrantzou for Topshop launch as I've just rediscovered this photograph on my phone. (Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen this already.)

Yes, I was there at the launch. And no, it wasn't as crazy as Marni for H&M. But then, why would it be? Mary's nine-piece collection just doesn't compare to the mammoth reworkings of Marni's back catalogue for H&M. Plus, you have to be in the know to realise there's something about Mary (sorry, I couldn't resist).

However, Mary Katrantzou's exquisite prints were a cheery start to a Thursday morning. As were her free tote bags with every purchase.

But you know what stopped me from buying a piece of Mary? I just thought the prices were too steep, especially for some items that were made of polyester. Sure, Topshop's collection makes Mary Katrantzou affordable, especially as her mainstream designs are out of the reach for most of us, but I just didn't love it enough to part with my cash.

Still, it didn't stop me from trying a few items on, including the £350 lampshade-shaped dress. Hence the changing-room pic above. I may not look as good as Poppy Delevingne, who wore it to the ELLE Style Awards, but it was fun to have a little dressing-up session.

Did you shop the Mary Katrantzou for Topshop collection? Let me know.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Boux Avenue's first birthday

Lingerie brand Boux Avenue celebrates its first birthday this Sunday 1st April. Launched by Dragons' Den entrepreneur Theo Paphitis (a man who knows a thing or two about smalls – he previously owned La Senza), it offers good quality underwear at affordable prices.

As part of its birthday celebrations, Boux Avenue set me a blogger style challenge: to incorporate its underwear into my day-to-day wardrobe. Easy. We all need bras and knickers, don't we? The tricky part? Shooting it without going X-rated!

Luckily, when I spotted the Romy lace plunge bra (below) from Boux Avenue's spring/summer collection, I knew exactly how I'd like to style it – its vivid coral colour looks great under a sheer white tee and works this season's neon brights trend in one cool hit.

I love how luxe it looks and feels. Working one of this season's hottest shades, note the pretty lace, the stitched satin trim and the ruched silky straps. All for £28. There's matching knickers (£14) and thongs (£12) should you so desire. And it comes in cream, too.

But don't just go with my top pick, check out the website or visit your nearest shop to see for yourself. You'll find Boux Avenue at Bluewater in Kent, Lakeside in Essex, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow, Gateshead and Guildford. Plus, a London flagship store and Norwich branch open next month.

With gorgeous underwear that ranges from romantic to seductive, and nostalgic to contemporary, there's a style to suit your every mood. There's nightwear, swimwear and accessories, too. And, right now, there's sale bargains to be snapped up as well.

Let me know what you think of this new lingerie label. Oh, and check back soon as I've got a Boux Avenue treat for you!

Details of my outfit:
Boux Avenue bra,  £28
Gap T-shirt, £9.99 in the sale, reduced from £16.95
Uniqlo boyfriend fit chinos, £14.99 in the sale, reduced from £29.90
Pierre Hardy for Gap sandals
Orelia Martha horseshoe necklace
ASOS button necklace

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

DVF for GapKids and BabyGap

Diane von Furstenberg, the queen of the wrap dress, has teamed up with Gap to design a collection for GapKids and babyGap and it launches tomorrow.

Girls under the age of 14 are in for a treat (sorry boys, but this is a girls-only range) with DVF dresses, T-shirts, shorts and trousers for newborns through to teenagers. There's also sunglasses and the cutest sandals, too. With prices from £9.95, the little ones really do get a designer label for less. And yes, there is a DVF wrap dress (below). Oh to be little again!

If the success of Gap's previous GapKids and babyGap collaboration with Stella McCartney is anything to go by, Diane von Furstenberg's collection is sure to be a sell-out (plus, you may find grown women trying to squeeze themselves into the teenage sizes!).

And it's not only Gap that's encouraging a designer habit from an early age. Liberty opened its children's department earlier this month, with labels including Stella McCartney, Paul Smith and Isabel Marant. Fashion starts young it seems.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Shop the Whistles £20 rail

The Whistles sale is now on with 50% off, but for bargain hunters don't miss its £20 rail of past-season pieces.

I picked up the Phoebe dress (above) for my friend Sophie. When I blogged about it last June, it was £235. Now, at £20, that's more than 90% off! With its navy pleats, silk underskirt and chiffon body, it's very 3.1 Phillip Lim. I'm a little bit jealous!

What else did I spy on the bargain rail? There were coloured jeans (very this season), black trousers and shorts, bikinis and a variety of dresses, from summer smocks to party frocks. Sizes are predominantly 12, 14 and 16.

The Phoebe dress was a bit of a hidden gem in the £20 rail (at the Covent Garden store in London, should you care to know), but there are a few others.

In the St Christopher's Place branch (yes, I did do a 'Whistle-stop' tour of its central London shops!), I spotted the Roksanda Ilincic for Whistles Hellebore dress (below) in a size 14. And there were two of them!

I blogged about Roksanda's party-dress collection for Whistles back in December 2010 and the Hellebore dress was £325. Not near the store? Give them a call. I've found that Whistles is more than happy to post items out to customers.

Also spotted in the St Christopher's Place store was a pair of the Daisy black lace shorts in a size 16. With a scallop-trim hem, silk waistband and side pockets, I nearly picked these up last year when it was £110. Now, it's a snip at £60. It's the last pair in the shop, mind (unless they were snapped up yesterday).

Let me know if you get any bargains!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Marni mania

I know some of you weren't able to shop the Marni for H&M collection, so please feel free to skip this blog post (although you might be interested to hear what I've got to say near the end).

I got the silk pyjama top and shorts that I so dearly wanted. This outfit (one of the most popular in the collection, I think) sold out in seconds at the preview the night before, so I was convinced I just wouldn't get my hands on it. But luck was on my side.

And, at £79.99 and £34.99 respectively, it's a little bit cheaper than the Whistles wisteria PJ outfit I've had my eye on. Result! What's more, I also managed to bag a few Marni pieces for the girls at work (the most-requested pieces were the blue spotty jacket and skirt, black spotty coat and jewellery).

This was my first time shopping a H&M collaboration via its wristband system and I enjoyed it far more than the preview shopping evening. Picture having access to the whole collection in a group of just 20. It sure beats the scrum of previous non-wristbanded events. OK, 10 minutes isn't really browsing-at-your-leisure kind of time (it's still a little Supermarket Sweep), but it makes it fair – as does the one-item-per-design rule.

But I've got an idea that would make it even better, so listen up and let me know what you think (H&M, I hope you're reading this!).

I think H&M should take a leaf out of Burberry's book. Wouldn't it be nice if, for the next designer collaboration, H&M previewed the collection online (maybe live-streaming a fashion show, perhaps) and then made the pieces available for pre-order for a limited period? That way, it can cater for the demand and know exactly how much to produce.

This doesn't dampen launch-day hysteria as there are always going to be people who didn't pre-order. And, H&M is, of course, at liberty to hold back a few prized pieces that aren't available for pre-order at all, to ensure the hardcore devotees start queuing from the early hours of the morning.

So, does this idea appeal to you? I believe it would enable H&M's collaborations to reach more of the population, making them truly accessible to people who don't live near a store that stocks it or who can't make the launch day.

And, importantly, it goes some way to bringing online customers back on side. After all, the H&M website's inability to cope with demand left a lot of frustrated customers. But with a pre-order period, the number of people shopping should be more evenly spread (as there is no mad frenzy of buying quickly before items sell out).

Let me know your thoughts. And, tell me who you'd like to see as the next H&M collaborator, too.

PS. Although the picture suggests otherwise, I won't be wearing my Marni for H&M PJ set to bed! No, I'm planning on teaming it with opaques and my Grenson brogues.

PPS. Remember my mussel-shell heart wreath? If not, click here to discover how to make it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The coloured jeans trend

If you buy one thing this season, make it a pair of coloured jeans. From pastels to fluoros with every conceivable shade in-between, every shop on the high street is offering their take on coloured denim so you're spoilt for choice.

My advice is to buy cheap and cheerful. This is very much a spring/summer 2012 trend, so you don't want to be spending too much to get the look. Plus, the more of a bargain they are, the more pairs you can buy!

Take this skinny electric-blue pair from Matalan. At just £18, you could have yourself a different colour for every day of the week. Take your pick from pastel pink, yellow and blue to aqua, coral, white, orange and more, with prices from a mere £10 for cropped styles.

If traditional denim is your staple, this is a good first colour to try. It has the comfort factor of still being blue and is vibrant without being too loud. It goes well with my china-print Erdem for Topshop tee and Chie Mihara heels, but a plain white top and white Converse will look just as good.

What else to wear with coloured jeans? For pastel pairs, layer on similar shades for an ice-cream sundae effect. Neons need to be neutralised with white, grey or black. And for brights, go with block colour. This season's florals work well with coloured denim, too.

Top tip: to stop coloured jeans fading too fast, wash them inside out on a cold wash. Also look out for washing detergents designed for coloured garments.

What coloured jeans are you going to try? Following my pale pink Uniqlo pair, I've got pastel yellow and mint on my wish list and I fancy a fluoro pair, too.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Orla Kiely for Uniqlo UT collection

Whoa, if I'd known Orla Kiely for Uniqlo would fly out of the stores so quickly, I would have given you the heads up much earlier. (It's just that I wanted to shop and shoot this exciting collection to show you first! Never mind.)

This latest collaboration follows hot on the heels of February's Laura Ashley range and the launch of UU Uniqlo Undercover on Friday, a family-orientated collection for men, women and - a first for Uniqlo - children and babies. (I've always thought that Uniqlo would do kids' clothes well, so let's hope this debut is a taste of things to come as the pieces are seriously cute!)

As for today's launch, Orla Kiely for Uniqlo showcases the designer's distinctive prints on a plethora of T-shirts, vests, dresses, shirts, scarves and more. I particularly love the slippers but, oddly, the smallest size available is a medium, equivalent to a size UK 8! I guess the smaller sizes just didn't make it over here, sadly.

To view the collection, watch the video above. It presents Uniqlo's coloured denim collection, styled with Orla Kiely pieces and modelled by a celebrity cast ranging from teenage blogger Tavi Gevinson to singer Cyndi Lauper.

Prices for Orla Kiely for Uniqlo start at £9.90. But hurry, it's selling out fast online and when I popped by at lunchtime, the store was heaving! It's like Marni for H&M all over again.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Topshop's NEWGEN T-shirt by Erdem


My new Erdem for Topshop T-shirt is now firmly entrenched in my work wardrobe. It's the elegant lace collar that lifts its from casual to chic (minus the bright blue bra that Topshop chose to style Erdem's tee with!).

I added my faux-leather Monki skirt to give Erdem's pale blue china print a little bit of edge and, given I'm a flat shoes kind of girl, my shiny Grenson brogues got an outing, too. Don't you just love those toggle laces?

So, here's the details of what I wore to work on Tuesday:
Uniqlo cardigan
Erdem for Topshop T-shirt
Monki skirt
Grenson brogues

For more workwear inspiration, check out this week's What ELLE Wears blog at

And, if you got a Topshop NEWGEN T-shirt, let me know how you styled it. I passed my Mary Katrantzou tee onto my friend Laura and she rocked it with a River Island kimono. A mish mash of prints is the way to go this season!

Erdem for Topshop's NEWGEN T-shirt

When Topshop's NEWGEN T-shirt collection launched in February, I was very excited. Twenty of London's hottest designers had each created a £30 tee for the high-street giant. Marking a decade of Topshop's support of young British talent, each and every one of them had benefited from the NEWGEN scheme, so this was an opportunity to return that support.

This Erdem lace-collared design was top of my wish list. It stood out from the rest with its delicate blue china print and the intricate lace. Oh Erdem Moralioglu, you make even the humblest T-shirt so much more refined!

He's also deconstructed the tee, removing the sleeves to leave wide, straight-cut armholes. Rather like a tank top, this contemporary twist adds contrast to the elegant neckline.

And it's this juxtaposition that makes it so easy to wear, complementing everything from casual jeans to smart pencil skirts. It's great for this season's print clash, too. In particular, it works well with Mary Katrantzou for Topshop's blue floral-print trousers (although after Marni for H&M I haven't got a spare £130!).

I think the Erdem tee is sold out, but with 20 NEWGEN T-shirts created, along with some sweatshirts, too, there are still plenty of designs available. Click here to shop.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cut out and keep

Remember the New Look laser-cut skirt I blogged about recently? (Click here for the blog post.) Well, I thought I'd treat you to a few extra pics. And give you more of a lowdown.

For starters, it's £34.99 from New Look's Limited Edition collection. Second, it looks a lot like leather (although it's actually faux). And third, it taps into this season's love of laser-cut details, as spearheaded by the like of Giles and Christopher Kane.

Why does it work? It's the contrast of the pretty punched-out floral pattern with the tough 'leather'. The girlie skater shape versus the sexiness of 'leather'. And the refreshing grey, an antidote to traditional black. This skirt takes the idea of leather and turns it on its head.

I'm tempted to remove the lining and add a coloured slip instead. Imagine fluoro pink, orange, yellow or green peeking out through those punched-out holes. I think Christopher Kane, the king of neon, would approve, don't you?

Here's the details for the rest of my outfit:
Top by Next
Brogues by Grenson
Socks by Topshop
Vintage bag from eBay
Rings by Alex Monroe, Orelia and Zoe & Morgan
Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy (Penguin clothbound edition) - a sale bargain from Anthropologie!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cheeky Monki

A few weeks ago, H&M's sister brand, Monki, opened its first standalone UK store on London's Carnaby Street, along with another sister label, Cheap Monday.

I've been meaning to tell you about Monki ever since it hit British shores at the end of last year with a concession in Selfridges, London. A Scandinavian brand that launched in 2005, its collections are modern, quirky and individual. And, best of all, extremely affordable.

So much so I wanted to show you that you can get a complete outfit for little more than £50. Here, I've teamed the viscose Lerima top (£6) with the faux-leather Maya skirt (£25), Chandelle necklace (£6) and faux-leather foldover clutch (£18).

I love the silver and rose-gold colour combo on the necklace and the A-line skirt easily passes for leather. Plus, it has a clothing favourite of mine: pockets! OK, the shoes are my Pierre Hardy for Gap wedges, but Monki does footwear, too.

What makes Monki stand out from other brands is it's a little bit out of the ordinary. Its clothes are feisty and playful, and encourage you to express yourself.

Then there's the store design. With areas delineated as the Forgotten Forest, City of Oil and Steel, and Sea of Scallops, its fabulously fanciful. There's also the little Monki creatures, which are as characterful as the clothes. So, welcome to Monki world!

Marni for H&M

Did you shop the Marni for H&M collection on Thursday? I admit, after my massive fail at Wednesday's preview shopping evening, I did go back for a second attempt.

When I got to the Oxford Circus store in London just before 9am, there wasn't much of a queue. I was surprised. Little did I realise that people had been queuing since 3am and had already been allocated timed wristbands with their 10-minute shopping slot!

My wristband time? 10.55am. So I went to work, took an early lunch break and returned to shop.

What did I get? Well, this is a little bit of teaser as I need to shoot some pictures first. But pop back soon and see…

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Marni for H&M launches tomorrow!

Marni for H&M launches tomorrow at 9am in selected stores and online. Need I say more?

I was lucky enough to go to a preview shopping event this evening, but unlucky enough not to get my hands on the two pieces I wanted - the silk pyjama shirt and shorts set above. Disappointed doesn't even cover it.

However, what I can tell you is that everything is great quality. This really is the best of Marni at high-street prices. Don't miss out on this collaboration. And, if you see the above shirt and shorts in a size 8, please snap it up for me!

Anyway, I'll leave you compiling your wish lists...

Whistles wisteria wish list


Want to know what this season's Carrie skirt is? You know, the iconic Whistles piece that everyone wants to get their hands on?

Well, while the Carrie midi skirt continues (this year in powder blue, a wild meadow print and Cecile candy stripes), its the Whistles wisteria print that is spring/summer's hottest floral. Bold, bright, beautiful blooms tempered by sophisticated navy, the top and trousers tap right into a second trend, the pyjama outfit (as championed by Stella McCartney), making them number one on my wish list for March.

What's great about this oh-so casual combo is that it works for both day and night, offering an elegant (and comfortable) alternative to the work suit or party dress. Although there is a wisteria-print jacket and dress, should you desire.

OK, I'm not going to deceive you with the figures. The top is £85, the trousers £125, and the dress and jacket £150 apiece. But remember, we are talking silk here. And, of course, the most desirable print of the season. So much so, that it's practically a sell-out. My local store only had one top left in a size 16 and a couple of pairs of trousers in sizes 12, 14 and 16.

But this is where Whistles customer service excels. Email or call (; 0845 899 1222) and they'll track down your size to the nearest store. And that store will even post out to you, too. I'm rarely impressed at the lengths stores go to to satisfy their customers, but Whistles really delivers. Oh, and if you order online, there's free delivery.

PS. Don't forget John Lewis. It's often forgotten that this department store stocks Whistles, but it's a great source for the pieces and sizes that sell out quickly elsewhere. And, of course, you can shop online there, too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Company Style Blogger Awards: the shortlist

Remember I was nominated as Best Blog for High Street Lovers by Company magazine for its inaugural Style Blogger Awards?

Well, look at the picture it dug up of me for its profile of the shortlisted nominees! This outfit is a summer favourite. Read my blog post about it here.

There are 10 awards categories and the winners will be announced at a grand ceremony tomorrow night. To see who made the cut, click here. And keep your fingers crossed for a Bargainista Fashionista win. Here's hoping!

Garnier Nutrísse's British Blondes collection

I can't profess to know much about dyeing hair, least of all going blonde (mine is jet black and hasn't been coloured since I was a teenager). But I do know a thing or two about getting value for money and the savings to be made from colouring your hair at home, as opposed to salon visits, is huge.

So if you fancy going blonde on a budget, let me introduce you to Garnier Nutrísse's new British Blondes collection. It's a permanent hair-colour range that's just £5.10.

All you need to decide is what kind of blonde you'd like to be. Consider your skin tone, eyebrow colour, the colours of your wardrobe and the jewellery you wear. For help on finding the perfect blonde for you, check out the Garnier Nutrísse video below.

And, to make your chosen blonde last, use shampoos and conditioners designed for coloured hair. Also go easy on heated appliances such as hairdryers and straighteners, which can cause hair to become dry and brittle. And a top tip from a faux-blonde friend? Clarifying shampoo. It helps prevent the dreaded green tint from chlorine and stops your hair colour from looking dull. Let me know if blondes really do have more fun!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Next’s international style challenge

Australian readers, listen up. Did you know you can now get British high-street favourite, Next, Down Under? Yep, the UK retailer has launched an Australian online shop at Those of you with Aussie friends and family: spread the word!

To celebrate its global expansion, Next invited me to take part in an international styling challenge, pitting Brit bloggers against Aussie ones. As part of Team GB, I've chosen one Next item and styled it in a way that reflects my style and British heritage.

The item in question? A blush and grey striped cotton-knit top with a cute built-in white shirt collar. A snip at £25. To shop for it now, click here. I like the impression of layering the top gives and, well, me and pink 'n' grey have history (that's another blog post entirely, but let's just say I'm partial to that colour combo).

Working the top's scholarly look, I've been inspired by the good old British school uniform. Hence the schoolgirl-style skater skirt by New Look with its edgy laser-cut pattern - a high-street take on the work of London designers Christopher Kane and Giles - the pointelle ankle socks from another long-standing British brand, Topshop, and the classic school shoe, a brogue, turned out in suede and patent-leather by UK shoemakers Grenson. Then, of course, there's my choice of literature: classic English author Thomas Hardy (a much cheaper alternative for those of us who can't afford Olympia Le-Tan's beautiful literary box clutches). British roots through and through.

Another thing I think we Brits do well is vintage fashion. So my look is completed with a 1980s Chiltern bag that I got on eBay for £11 and a retro Boucher owl brooch, again from eBay.

So, what do you think of my thoroughly British outfit? Let me know. And, if its schoolgirl charm isn't your cup of tea, style the Next top with this season's pastel jeans (I'm thinking aqua, mint or powder-blue) or go preppy with a pair of navy chinos instead.


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