Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A little red dress from & Other Stories

 
 
 PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEPHANIE SIAN SMITH

I was so excited about the opening of & Other Stories on London's Regent Street back in March. The latest brand to come from the H&M stable, it's so refreshing having a brand-new shopping experience on the high street. A unknown label to discover, a different store interior, a whole new offering of fashion – and beauty.

More colourful and fun than its utilitarian sister COS, but more grown-up and higher-end that its H&M sibling, & Other Stories is a breath of fresh air.

I was there like a shot on the store's 8th March opening date. Fitting into the clothes might be more challenging with a growing bump but the leather bags had me hooked in an instant. And, in fact, sizing up or not, there were quite a few non-maternity maternity options for me, such as this red & Other Stories dress bought for a special birthday trip to Paris at the end of March.

It's the best dressy item I've bought while pregnant as the pleats work magic on a growing bump, caressing my changing shape rather than stretching taut. Plus, I feel so stylish and sexy in this dress (no mean feat when you're expecting).

The colour is an eye-catching red and the style is smart enough for work and glamorous enough for a swanky dinner in Paris (sadly, I have pictures of the food but not me and the dress!).

These pictures are from April's What ELLE Wears blog at ELLEuk.com when Bargainista Baby was about 27 weeks. And I wore this dress again just last Friday as my final work outfit before going on maternity leave. It's amazing because as I've expanded, so too have the pleats – gently and softly so the dress still looks good.

The drawstring belt is a nice detail. Hidden zips in the side seams allow it to be threaded through to create a gathered waist – or in my case, a gathered empire line; perfect for giving a pregnant figure some definition. And with the drawstring belt threading through inside the dress, the back is billowy and cape-like.

Oh, and did I mention that I bought this dress in my normal pre-pregnancy size? No sizing up required. Which makes me think I should snap up the black version, too. After all, it's just £45. What do you think?

For the majority of you who aren't pregnant, this dress looks great without a bump! Check out the pictures on the & Other Stories website. I can't wait to wear mine post-baby – it'll be a chance to rediscover this little red dress in a whole new light. In fact, it gives me another excuse to get the black dress, too!

As for the rest of my outfit, it's that vintage bag and those River Island boots again, plus my Orelia horseshoe bracelet.

If you haven't discovered & Other Stories yet, make it your next destination. The & Other Stories sale is on now so it's even more affordable.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bargainista baby!

PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEPHANIE SIAN SMITH

I've got some news… I'm having a baby!

So please excuse my absence. I've been meaning to give the Duchess of Cambridge a run for her money with Bargainista Fashionista's maternity wardrobe but, well, this pregnancy seems to have flown by – Bargainista Baby is due next month!

These pictures were taken for the What ELLE Wears blog at ELLEuk.com in March, when my bump was about 22 weeks. It's a lot bigger now!

I have to admit, I haven't bought much maternity wear. This stripy stretch-jersey dress is from H&M's basics range for a mere £7.99. I just bought a size up from my usual dress size and it's still seeing me through to the end of my pregnancy. (I wear it with leggings now.)

And pregnant or not, you can now get this stripy number as a tank dress version for £7.99 from H&M.

I think it's great that stores such as H&M offer a maternity collection as it makes pregnancy dressing affordable. After all, why spend a fortune on clothes you a) won't be wearing for long and b) grow out of very quickly?

But, in reality, I've found H&M's maternity options rather limiting and dull. Just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I've lost interest in fashion. And, at a time when I'm more likely to appreciate natural fibres and organic cotton, I've been disappointed by the polyester and viscose choices that get thrown at me. So instead, I've shopped the store's main collections and sized up in the designs I like.

As for the rest of this look, the kimono top is from Monsoon – a sale purchase from last summer, reduced from £60 to £30 – the vintage bag is from eBay and the boots are from River Island.

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