Monday, January 21, 2013

The Westfield London £50 sale challenge


I've got a confession to make: I've never shopped at Westfield London… until now. But when I was challenged to spent £50 in the sales there, it was a task I couldn't resist. After all, with 389 stores, from high street to high end, how difficult could it be?

My mistake was going late-night shopping. Even with Westfield London open until 10pm Monday to Saturday (and 7pm on Sunday), I hadn't estimated on the behemoth size of the shopping centre.

I skipped The Village, as I didn't think my £50 would go far on luxury brands such as Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton, even in the sales, and made a beeline for my familiar high-street stomping ground.

Right now there's great bargains to be had at Westfield London as the end of the January sales sees further reductions. House of Fraser's Blue Cross sale offers up to 70% off, while Gap's final reductions go up to 75% off.

My first ports of call were Banana Republic, Zara and COS. These are shops I love for the quality of the clothing and the ones I seek out in the sale. After all, getting even more value for your money is no bad thing.

It was the latter, COS, that claimed my £50. With 50% off sale items, I got two pieces, both reduced from £55 to £27.50 – it was like buy one, get one free! OK, I blew my budget by a fiver, but with two new buys for my spring/summer wardrobe, I think I've invested wisely for the season ahead.

My first purchase was the caped dress above. Now you know I'm a sucker for a cape, and the caped detail on this stretch-jersey dress makes for elegant-looking sleeves. This is going to be a great spring dress when the weather warms up and the perfect day-to-night piece, too.

My second buy was the cotton-mix shirt below. The gathered neckline is smart without being too formal, giving the classic white shirt a modern twist. And the curved hem, side splits and longer length at the back look good worn loose or tucked in. I can wear it right now layered with cardigans and jackets, then come spring/summer those cute capped sleeves will come into their own.

I hope you approve of my Westfield London sale buys. I'm definitely going back. The shops didn't feel crowded, there were no queues for the changing rooms and with everything under one roof, not even the snow can stop me. I mean, just click here for a list of all the women's retailers. Shopping heaven. What bargains have you bagged in the January sales?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shop the sales at 2nd Day, Shopbop and Grenson


For most of last autumn, I wore my 2nd Day Benne cape. You'll remember I got it back in 2011. The good news is, it's still available. Plus, it's half price in the sale in the 2nd Day sale at £149.50, reduced from £299. I've had so much wear – and compliments – from mine, it's worth every penny. Other stockists to try include Question Air, Sue Parkinson and Jules B.

You might also spot the Diane von Furstenberg Lucy lace shorts I blogged about in October. I loved them so much I couldn't not buy them. Especially as when I tracked them down to Shopbop they were 30% off.

Originally $265, I got them for £119, with customs and duty on top. They were an investment piece rather than a bargain, but based on cost-per-wear they're working out well.

It was the first time I'd used Shopbop, a US-based global online retailer, and I was very impressed. International delivery was free (yes, free!) and my shorts arrived less than 48 hours. And, as customs and duty are calculated at checkout, there's no nasty surprises when your purchase arrives.

The January sales might be a good time to get acquainted with Shopbop. But take note, returns (by DHL) are very expensive – around the £25 mark.

My outfit is all about good, classic pieces. The main staples of my wardrobe if you like. So I can't miss the shirt. It's the perfect Oxford shirt from Gap. Amazingly soft cotton, a nice fitted shape, great tailored details. It looks far more expensive than its £29.95 price tag.

And, of course, my trusty Grenson brogues finish off the look. Check out the Grenson sale for more brogues, loafers and boots.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY SILVIA OLSEN

See what the rest of the ELLE team are wearing at the What ELLE Wears blog at ELLEuk.com.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

DIY patches by Andrea Crews for Uniqlo


Last month, Uniqlo teamed up with Andrea Crews, a Parisian artististic collective, to create 'Christmas Dream by Andrea Crews for Uniqlo'. A collection of iron-on patches, they enable you to personalise your Uniqlo pieces in an instant.

For Uniqlo's Pinterest page, Bargainista Fashionista customised a Uniqlo jacket with an Andrea Crews patch for one of its Pinterest boards. Here's your quick and easy step-by-step guide to DIY personalisation…


1. Christmas Dream by Andrea Crews for Uniqlo is a collection of iron-on patches in five different designs priced at £1.90 each. Which is your favourite design?


2. I chose to personalise this varsity jacket by G.V.G.V. for Uniqlo's Designers Invitation Project. This style has been everywhere this season and it's a great buy for £79.90.


3. The Andrea Crews patches are iron-on, making it quick and easy to customise your wardrobe. However, I'm going to sew mine on so that it gives me the flexibility to remove it and use it on another garment if I wish.


4. Pin your chosen patch in position. I've placed mine on the spot where many varsity jackets feature their team's initials, but it would look just as good on the yoke, on the arm of a sleeve or a pocket. You can iron it on by turning your garment inside out and pressing on the back of the patch with an iron for 20 seconds or, like me, stitch it in place with a needle and thread. It only takes 5-10 minutes.


5. Ta-da! My finished personalised varsity jacket. By the way, you don't have to be great at sewing as the edge of the patch hides any wonky stitching and, if you like to chop and change your wardrobe, sewing is less permanent than ironing-on so you get multiple opportunities to re-use your patch.

What would you customise and how? Let me know. And let me know what you think of my Pinterest board for Uniqlo, too.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

 PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEPHANIE SIAN SMITH

Happy New Year! I hope you've all had a lovely Christmas break and are looking forward to 2013.

So, what did you get up to last night? My NYE outfit might have comprised this bead and sequin Club Monaco skirt – if it were mine! Unfortunately, it's $198.50 on the Club Monaco website.

I wore it last month, when Team ELLE was modelling metallics for party season. I love the festive mix of gold and wine. Adding a simple sweater, like this Uniqlo one (that I borrowed from the husband), makes it great for day-to-night dressing.

Click here to see how the rest of Team ELLE wore metallics. And don't forget to look out for metallics in the January sales. They're very wearable if you team them down with something plainer.

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