Monday, April 30, 2012

The pyjama trend and how to wear it to work

PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEPHANIE SIAN SMITH

The other week, I braved the head-to-toe pyjama look with my Marni for H&M silk PJ shirt and shorts. And no, I didn't get laughed out of the office.

The Stickman, who's usually very vocal about my sartorial choices, said, 'Oh, you're wearing them both together', but with no further comments I boldly continued to work.

On the plus side, the pyjama trend makes for comfortable workwear. And these shorts look less bedtime than PJ trousers for a top-to-toe outfit.

The downside is the loose pyjama shirt is a bit baggy and shapeless. Even with the sleeves rolled up, I felt more slobby than smart. But I think this PJ shirt will come into its own as a summer jacket.

To make the pyjama trend work for you, here's some tips:

Do take inspiration from Stella McCartney (this season's pioneer of the PJ trend) and choose a tonal paisley print. Smaller patterns work best, although bigger, bolder prints can look good, too – the Whistles wisteria print for one.

Don't dress like you're going to bed. Which means no slipper shoes please! My Grenson brogues and Pierre Hardy wedges both work with the PJ shorts, but for PJ trousers add a heel with platform sandals or wedges.

Do choose luxe materials. Fluid fabrics like silk make the look chic and elegant and less 'bedtime'.

Don't try wearing normal pyjamas. Cute cottons don't cut it.

Do experiment with vintage PJs or men's silk PJs, though. Wear with confidence and you'll be able to carry it off with panache (take Susie Bubble as your reference point - see here and here).

Remember, the reaction you want is 'Wow, she makes PJs look cool' rather than 'OMG, she forgot to get changed this morning!'

Of course, the easy route to the PJ trend is to wear the top or the bottoms rather than the full outfit. Zara has a pair of blue tie-print trousers that are very Stella McCartney.

For more tips, read The Guardian's deputy fashion editor Imogen Fox's feature on 'How the pyjama look became an unlikely hit trend'. She's linked to my Whistles Carrie skirt blog post, too!

Here's the details of my outfit:
Sonia Rykiel for H&M jacket
Grenson brogues

For more workwear ideas, check out the What ELLE Wears blog at ELLEuk.com.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kore by Sophia Kokosalaki at ASOS


Designer collaboration alert! Sophia Kokosalaki, the London-based Greek designer known for her trademark draping techniques, has launched her first diffusion line, Kore, exclusively at ASOS.

The first drop of the collection is available now, with more pieces arriving later this week, priced from £60 to £495. Named after the ancient word for maiden, Kore offers handcrafted dresses, tunics and trousers in organic cotton and silk with artisan lace detailing made by a community co-operative workshop in Sri Lanka.

'Our first support project under Kore is to work with the lace-making ladies to provide a regular income for them and their families,' explains Kokosalaki. 'It is also important that Kore helps keep traditional handcrafts alive.'

This silk dress (above and below) with its intricate handmade lace neckline and racer back is one of my favourite designs in the collection. It's an investment piece at £320, but boy isn't that delicate back detail stunning? It comes in teal, too. And, of course, it's that little bit more affordable than Sophia Kokosalaki's mainline collections.


The ruffled, wired hemline of the star-trim cocktail dress, meanwhile, reminds me of the Sophia Kokosalaki catwalk design (below) I nearly chose for my wedding dress. From her spring/summer 2006 collection, it shares similar details to both these Kore designs.

While I didn't get married in Sophia Kokosalaki, one of her early collaborations with Topshop in 2005, I think, may well be the first designer/high-street purchase I made. (A soft grey jersey draped gown, should you care to know.)


Talking of Topshop and wedding dresses, let me tell you about two more designer collaborations. First is by London designer Maarten van der Horst, whose signature Hawaiian prints feature in a capsule collection for Topshop, on sale now.

Then, in June, comes Topshop's first bridal collection, courtesy of Richard Nicoll. Viktor & Rolf made a wedding dress for H&M, but here Nicoll has created a whole collection. Bargainista brides, this is for you.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Free £15 Whistles gift card with ELLE


Whistles fans, listen up. Get the May issue of ELLE (with Emily Blunt on the cover) and receive a £15 Whistles gift card for free!

What's more, you could be one of the 10 lucky golden-ticket winners in line for a £1,000 shopping spree at Whistles. Just register your gift card at ELLEuk.com to find out. But hurry, ELLE's May issue is only on sale for one more week until 1st May. The gift card itself is valid until 30th May 2012.

Top of my Whistles shopping list are the seam back tees, available in white, marl, grey and orange. A luxe, longer-length top with a scooped neckline and wide, short sleeves, it makes the humble T-shirt look effortlessly cool. Plus, being smart enough for work and casual enough for play, it's a core wardrobe staple that makes the £35 price tag worthwhile. Even better that it's just £20 with your ELLE/Whistles gift card.

If you're after a bargain, this mock-croc leather credit-card holder (above) is it - it's a mere fiver with the gift card. But even at £20, it's good value for real leather. Navy is a chic alternative to black, but take your pick from mustard and tan, too, or the smooth leather credit-card holders in bright orange, mustard and turquoise.

PS. The ditsy floral print pictured is my Orla Kiely for Uniqlo T-shirt. The collection got depleted fast, but there are still a few tees and scarves to be found in store.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bargainista Fashionista guest blogs for Very


This week, I've been guest blogging for the Very blog. Click here to see what I've picked from online retailer Very's extensive spring/summer collections.

Did you know that in addition to its own-label designs, Very stocks high-street names such as French Connection and Superdry? Plus, it's a great destination for your favourite shoe brands such as Havaianas (essential for your summer flip-flop), Ash (good for this season's wedge trainers), Converse and Superga (the sneakers to sport) and Dr Martens and Ugg Australia, to name but a few.

As you can see, I could have compiled an enormous shopping list. But, with Coachella kicking off the festival season last weekend, I thought I'd help to get you focused with a guide to summer festival dressing.

So, check out my three looks for three different festivals. The best thing? They don't become redundant after the sound systems are turned off as you can wear them all summer long – or even if you don't plan on going to any festivals!

My favourite pieces include the embroidered drawstring bag (above) for £25 and Superga's tennis shoes, which start at £30. I hope you find my guide useful. Click here to read it now and let me know.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Win a £50 Boux Avenue gift card


When I blogged about Boux Avenue's first birthday last month, I promised you a treat. Well, lingerie lovers, listen up: I've got a £50 gift card to give away to one lucky reader, courtesy of the lovely people at Boux Avenue.

Today marks a special date in the Boux Avenue calendar. Owner Dragons' Den entrepreneur Theo Paphitis opens the brand's 11th UK store, a flagship shop at Westfield London.

What's great about Boux Avenue is the wide selection of beautiful underwear, nightwear and swimwear it offers at affordable prices. Oh, and the wide range of bra sizes it caters for – 30A to 40H, in fact. 

I was particularly delighted when my online order arrived gift-wrapped (free of charge!). So expect a pretty gift box, exquisite tissue paper and silk rose petals as standard.

To enter this competition, become a fan of my Facebook page and leave a comment saying what you like best about the Boux Avenue shop or website and where you'd like the next branch to open. The competition ends at midnight on 6th May 2012. Click here to go to my Facebook page now. Good luck!

PS. The bra pictured is Boux Avenue's Chloe lace plunge bra. It's £18 and comes in a choice of eight colours. The bag is, of course, my fluoro-pink Cambridge satchel.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nike x Liberty spring/summer 2012

 

The second installment of Nike x Liberty launches at 10am tomorrow! I admit, I wasn't as excited about the first batch of trainers (below) that were released earlier this month on 2 April. Following last year's Nike x Liberty collection (which I loved), the five new styles – from £70 to £100 – were, well, a bit too trainer-like. These three I like more.

Take the red Liberty print Dunk Sky Hi sport trainers. Wedge trainers are all the rage this season thanks to Isabel Marant and this pair combines a concealed platform heel with spring/summer's print trend all in one shoe. And, at £95 they're cheaper than an Isabel Marant pair. More than 75% so.

Then there's the yellow Liberty print Blazer trainers and imperial purple Liberty print Hyperclave high top trainers, which are both £75 a pair.

This year's styles all feature Liberty's Lagos Laurel print and are available exclusively at Liberty, both in store and online. So, which pair will you get? Click here to see the whole collection, plus Nike x Liberty sportwear, too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Superdry spectacle


Every few years the Stickman announces he needs a new pair of glasses. And I sigh. Because it's not going to be a quick shopping trip. Over weeks (sometimes months), we'll visit the opticians, try on every single pair, make a shortlist, try them on again, take photos (to evaluate/scrutinise later) and then go home again. Eventually (although not necessarily always), the Stickman decides on a pair of frames and our work is done.

This time I had a head start. I'd heard that cult British fashion label Superdry had branched out into specs last season and with several of my colleagues (both male and female) sporting their frames, I thought it was worth checking out. So I steered the Stickman in the direction of Vision Express, the exclusive high-street stockist of Superdry glasses.

He was impressed. With a wide selection of classic styles – eight are unisex, six are women and one is men's – in modern materials and finishes, the quality of the Superdry frames is outstanding.

What makes them stand out? The retro twist. Superdry's debut collection of frames offer a vintage look, based on iconic 1950s styles (so this season), with a contemporary feel. And, just like its clothing line, the frames echo the Superdry brand: style, material, detail and quality are paramount.

Which is why, after the first trying-on session, we left the store whispering, 'What's the catch?' Because at £110 to £135, the quality far exceeds the price tag. There's the seven-barrel chrome hinges for starters. Bamboo or leather arms. Zinc finishings. Premium acetate. Finishes in jet black, rich tortoiseshell and colour fading. Hand-crafted workmanship. The list goes on.

I like all the touches you get. Like the hand-embossed Superdry enscription etched along the top of the frames, the personalised frame names (Dean, Brando, Depp, Caine and Honor to name but a few) engraved into the inner arm and the retro pencil case-like box they come in. These frames are so achingly cool, it hurts.

So, what did the Stickman end up getting? The Riley frames in a black fade colourway and zinc arms (above and below). He loves them so much I think my job is done for the next couple of years!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My new Vanessa Bruno dress

PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEPHANIE SIAN SMITH

When I bought my Grenson brogues, I pictured wearing them with a chic black smock dress. I wanted a cool French sensibility. A look where girlie meets androgyny.

Enter this black silk Vanessa Bruno Athé dress. I fell in love with its simplicity of shape when I saw it hanging in Urban Outfitters. Bare of detail except for an almost-collar and strip of lace around the neckline, the elegance is all in its plain smock-cum-shift design.

But Parisian label Vanessa Bruno doesn't come cheap, even if it is the more affordable Athé line. Lucky for me then that this dress was in the sale, reduced from £190 to £80. Yay!

So, this is what I wore to work last week:
Vanessa Bruno Athé dress
Grenson brogues
Alex Monroe swallow earrings
Vintage bag
Michael Kors watch
Ring from Paris

For more workwear inspiration, check out the What ELLE Wears blog at ELLEuk.com.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H&M's spring mac


Last week my editor asked for my recommendations for spring macs for her blog. Given today's weather, it looks like may you need one.

My top pick is this H&M design. A modern, deconstructed version of the classic mac, I love the no-button, belted detail. Its wrap style gives a contemporary twist to the trench, while the colour keeps it firmly rooted in traditional territory.

It's a future classic for £69.99 (actually, it's now £34.99 in the sale!). Click here to shop now. To make it your own, swap out the belt. I think a strip of neon yellow or pink would give you another look for your money.

10 things to know about Erdem


I was tidying up this Easter when I came across this postcard-sized tag. It came with my Topshop NEWGEN T-shirt by Erdem.

To celebrate 10 years of supporting British talent, Topshop asked 20 of its NEWGEN recipients from the past 10 years to collaborate on a series of limited-edition T-shirts. And, it seems it asked each designer for 10 facts about themselves, too.

This is what Erdem wrote:
1. Erdem is my first name.
2. I am a twin!
3. My studio is in Shoreditch… LONDON!
4. My first show was in 2005…
5. I am a Scorpio…!
6. I have quite bad eyesight! Hence my glasses… My left eye is worse than the right.
7. I have dressed Keira, Alexa and Mary-Kate!
8. My obsession is books. I have lots. Over a 1000!
9. I went to the Royal College of Art in London.
10. My middle name is Jan! Random…

What a nice finishing touch to my purchase!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Zara's sell-out shopper


Remember Zara's popular leather tote bag? The Stickman got me the tan version for Christmas and it's still selling strong.

It's been a great addition to my wardrobe, catering for all the overspill from my handbag (and more) and doing it stylishly. However, if I'm honest, although I love sharing all my fashion finds – that's the whole point of this blog, after all – it's getting a little embarrassing bumping into so many people carrying my tan bag every day!

Admittedly, I can't take credit for the runaway success of Zara's leather shopper (although I have helped spread the word), but with tan being the most popular colour I wish I'd snapped up the cherry red one that I first saw.

But Zara, what have we here? You've made my heart beat faster with the bag's new cream incarnation (above). It's such a beautiful pale buff colour, like the stealth wealth version of the tote – understatedly expensive-looking (yet still only £79.99) and oozing pure class.

Following last season's teal, there's a new blue colourway, as well as the original tan and black options. Or you might also like the pale tan design below. At £79.99, it features an elegant cut-out pattern.

There's also a mini shopper. While my tan bag comes in at 40.5cm x 51cm x 23cm, the mini version is a more compact 33cm x 40cm x 12.5cm. And, of course, a smaller tote warrants a smaller price tag: £59.99. Currently, it comes in the new-season blue.

So, which shopper do you like best? Honestly, I don't mind if you pick tan – so long as I don't bump into you when I'm carrying mine!

Also, what colour tote would you like Zara to do next? I'm inspired by The Cambridge Satchel Company's fluoro bags, so a neon range would be top of my list. Metallics might be nice, too. And, obviously, a reissue of the cherry red shopper wouldn't be amiss.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bargainista Fashionista is in ELLE!


Have you spotted Bargainista Fashionista nestled among the pages of the April issue of ELLE this month?

I'm featured in The Tech Edit, a 16-page ELLE promotion, in association with LG, as one its favourite bloggers! Susie Bubble is another, naturally, while elsewhere in this guide to the new LG Optimus L7 phone are fellow bloggers Emily Johnston of Fashion Foie Gras and Jackie Dixon of Show Me Your Wardrobe.

I'm so flattered with what it says:
'Fab blog from one of ELLE's own. Follow the wardrobe highs of London fashion maven Susie Wong, courtesy of regularly updated picture posts, alongside a plethora of knock-out recommendations on how to look good for less. In Susie's world, every day is a fashion day. Seriously cute.'
You'd read my blog if you read that, wouldn't you?

I love the picture, too. It's from my blog post about the fluoro-pink Cambridge Satchel.

Btw, if you want to win the new LG Optimus L7 phone, plus a year's subscription to ELLE, click here.

Meanwhile, on the topic of ELLE's April issue, which cover do you like best? Mary-Kate or Ashley Olsen? Let me know.

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