If The Shoe Fits…

This season, there is more choice for your feet than ever before. There is no one fad, no must-have style, not really even any risk of getting it wrong so varied is the Summer 2015 footwear offering. I’m partial to a heel, that’s no secret, but this year as the weather gets warmer I’m being tempted by trainers, platforms and gladiators – multiple shoe personality disorder is on the increase and it may even be contagious. You may only have two feet but there are a huge seven days in the week (two of which are for most, freestyle) so make the most of them, and if you have the storage space then really there’s no reason not to have at least 31 pairs. If you need further convincing then did you know the average pair of feet have roughly 250,000 sweat glands. There’s more; they can produce up to half a pint of moisture a day so you absolutely shouldn’t be wearing the same pair two days in a row as they need time to dry out. Delightful!

Monday

Fringes shoes £49.99 at Zara

Fringes shoes £49.99 at Zara

You know how a fringe is a good way to cover up lines on your forehead? Yeah well the lovely people at Zara have devised a shoe that covers up your cracked heels. So if you’ve had a weekend of wearing flip flops out and about and your feet have suffered then here’s your solution. Sorry but I’m very much of the belief that flatties can be every bit as damaging to the foot as stilettos.

Tuesday

Mid heel £29.99 at Zara

Mid heel £29.99 at Zara

I once had a boyfriend who found Tuesdays intolerably depressing. His reasoning was that they were worse than Mondays because there was no turning back and yet still over half of the week to go. If your feet are feeling they can’t make it to Friday but you still have to look smart for work then go for a mid heel.  A few years ago they were impossible to find, now they’re everywhere. These Zara ones will go with anything.

Wednesday

Wedges £129 at Reiss

Wedges £129 at Reiss

Wednesday is Hump Day. That’s a good enough reason to celebrate and while I don’t need an excuse to be at least three inches taller than my God-given five feet and five inches, these Reiss wedges are perfect office to pub wear and will look just as good with trousers or shorts as with skirts or dresses. Wedges are supposedly right back in this season but actually, did they ever go away? A design classic, despite Kate Middleton’s best attempts at putting us all off them.

Thursday

Lace-ups £89 at Boden

Lace-ups £89 at Boden

Now I’m no Boden fan but these gorgeous navy lace up flats are a great alternative to the skyscraper versions that can teeter on hooker territory (love ’em). Available in several colours, these shoes will cover up your toes if they are not fit for purpose and yet add a femininity to a trouser ensemble. I’m tempted, I’m very tempted because I just know this shoe would be the one I’d wear to death so the (quite costly) cost per wear would be negligible.

Friday

Sneakers £49.99 at Zara

Sneakers £49.99 at Zara

Do offices still do dress down Fridays? Well anyway even if they don’t, these Riviera style slip-ons will cut it either way. Metallic is big this year too so you’re buying two trends for the price of one with these. They’re rather unisex are these so you might want to think twice before going on a first date in them. Or don’t. You could keep your feet under the table all evening I suppose.

Saturday

Gladiators £79.95 at Massimo Dutti

Gladiators £79.95 at Massimo Dutti

Another summer staple, the strappy gladiator sandal has replaced the common flip flop as the go-to summer shoe because there is nothing it doesn’t go with and nowhere it won’t pass muster. Although the 2015 take on this design is to have the laces criss crossed up the calf, I’m unconvinced by the practicality and comfort of those. Even if you can tie them so they stay put all day, you’re likely to encourage varicose veins in the process which isn’t ideal.

Glittery shoes £38 at Dorothy Perkins

Glittery shoes £38 at Dorothy Perkins

It was love at first sight for me when I saw these shoes. The colour! The sparkle! The price! Almost too good to be true, I agonised over whether to get these or the nude shade they also come in. Frankly at £38 you might as well have both. I will be wearing mine with jeans, skirts and dresses. I may even wear them on the school run and to do the hoovering. There are only so many balmy Saturday evenings in London after all.

Sunday

Slide £49 at Kurt Geiger

Slide £49 at Kurt Geiger

More glitter and this time with gemstones too. I’m not sure how long you’d be able to wear these before getting sucked into an escalator or having the person behind you tread on the back rendering you unable to move but I’m sure they’d look fab by the pool. Slides are not my favourite look but they seem to have stuck around despite my disapproval last year so you may as well make them sparkly.

Wooden mules £35 at ASOS

Wooden mules £35 at ASOS

These wooden mules are a cross between the clog and the ‘after’ shoes worn by Sandy at the end of Grease. My dear friend Clare was wearing actual clogs when she met her husband in the early ’90s so I’m going to refrain from being as rude about them as I’d like to be. The shoes in Grease however, well, unlike most things in that final scene, they’ve stood the test of time rather well and dare I say they look quite comfortable? The perfect Sunday evening footwear as you get the fringed heels out again in preparation for Monday morning.

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Fashion’s Oscars Hit a Bum Note

When Elizabeth Hurley turned up to her boyfriend’s film premier in that dress, it caused a stir and gave her a career boost and we all thought good on you for seizing the day. When Princess Diana chose to arrive at a function in a low cut short little black dress just as her estranged husband was admitting to adultery on television, you had to admire her balls. It’s generally accepted that a female nominated for an award is going to go all out to look her most fabulous self to make the most of the moment and we all enjoy a good old dissection of those looks as they swan down the red carpet.

Rihanna - insert omelette joke here

Rihanna – insert omelette joke here

However when the stars of stage, screen, catwalk and music all decide to pull out the stops on the same night with seemingly little regard for taste, style or even the theme of the evening, it starts to look a bit daft. For the purposes of this blog and a desire to not be wholly negative, I trawled through pictures to find the best dressed of the night and it was no easy task due to even the most acclaimed of fashionistas looking, well, ridiculous. It comes to something when Sarah Jessica Parker, Sienna Miller and Anna Wintour leave you wondering WHY?

Sarah Jessica Parker in H&M dress and Philip Treacy headdress

Sarah Jessica Parker in H&M dress and Philip Treacy headdress

Usually these three women’s combined style credentials are unrivalled and yet at the Met Gala they looked like they’d jumped out of a child’s drawing. SJP had apparently designed her gown herself with H&M which only begs the question of why H&M let her. I have several H&M dresses far more fabulous than this one. Sienna Miller, her of the cute haircut and effortless chic looked deeply uncomfortable and who can blame her. Every part of her perfect figure was hidden in a matador get up so effortless she forgot the white vest.

Sienna Miller in Thakoon

Sienna Miller in Thakoon

No wonder Lady Gaga looked bemused. Accustomed as she is to getting all the attention for her outfits, on this occasion nobody bat an eyelid at her huge black gown thing, if anything she downplayed it. Or perhaps it was simply that there is not a celebrity in existence, no not even Kim Kardashian, who can eclipse JLo’s arse. Are we still going on about that? Yes it appears we are.

Jennifer Lopez - you watch your cheek young lady

Jennifer Lopez – you watch your cheek young lady

This time Jennifer Lopez decided that the pertness of her backside wasn’t enough. This time we needed to see most of it. Too much of it. In her red glistening body stocking, JLo looked as if she’d been peeled up the side and with her clammy face (‘dewy’ was I’m sure the intention) she looked as if the peeling process hadn’t been very pleasant.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga doing ‘crow trapped in trellis fence’

Beyonce did bare bum (albeit bare bum de Givenchy) too and managed it in a marginally less tacky way than Lopez. Still, all I could wonder was how those jewels were going to stay in place without being crushed when she sat down.

Beyonce in Givenchy

Beyonce in Givenchy

So you see, I’m not very impressed this year, they’ve all gone too far and it smacks of merely wanting attention and being desperate to outdo one another and all at the expense of actually looking good. The theme, of which very few seemed to take any notice, was ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’, at least Rihanna, in her cacophany of egg yolk was wearing Chinese designer Guo Pei. For everyone else, the references were tentative to say the least.

Thank the lord for Diane Kruger in Chanel

Thank the lord for Diane Kruger in Chanel

So anyway, I said I was looking for the winners of the evening, I did eventually find them and it was such a relief. Diane Kruger who rarely puts a fashion foot wrong, looked edgy but still classy in Chanel, Rita Ora oozed elegance in red satin and Kate Hudson sparkled in gold.

Rita Ora

Rita Ora in TomFord with the designer looking on approvingly

They weren’t doing anything new or risque but then perhaps they didn’t feel they needed to. This after all is an event to mark the opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new exhibition. Somewhere along the line when this annual gala was dubbed ‘The Fashion Oscars’ the art got forgotten. I’m bored of bums, surely Kim Kardashian has single handedly made them naff by now? Let’s put them away and go back to wearing clothes that look great. Now wouldn’t that be a thing.

Kate Hudson in Michael Kors

Kate Hudson in Michael Kors

 

 

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How To Give Winter The Cold Shoulder

Around this time each year when we get a teaser of warmer weather only for it to disappear as quickly as it arrived, I make the rash decision to start applying fake tan. I then send a text to my friend Cesca telling her of my intentions. I have no idea why I do this, I don’t share this rather dull information with anyone else, but then it is also Cesca who gets to hear about when I go to work with only one earring in, or god help my colleagues, no mascara on. Cesca’s husband Aaron once inadvertently ripped open his boiler suit (way before boiler suits were cool, Aaron wore his for the purpose for which they were created) exposing his bare chest whilst tinkering with something under the bath, so really we have no secrets.

Bare shoulder dress £55 at ASOS

Bare shoulder dress £55 at ASOS

Back to the fake tan. In return for my most uninspiring of texts, Cesca responds by telling me that in order to avoid strap marks she has already been out in the sun in a halterneck dress. She now has halterneck strap marks. Every year this happens. And every year I say in a clever clogs fashion (because I’m slightly jealous that she has kick started her tan) “You’re going to have those strap marks all summer now”.

Bare shoulder top £28 at ASOS

Bare shoulder top £28 at ASOS

Bare shoulder shirt £38 at ASOS

Bare shoulder shirt £38 at ASOS

Well ladies and gentlemen, this year it’s all going to get a bit complicated where straps are concerned because I don’t know if you’ve noticed but suddenly the shoulder is The Thing. Shoulders are the new cleavage. Now I know that in light of her white marks, as soon as the sun re-emerges Cesca will be out in regular straps to counter the halterneck shaped ones but there are so many options for your shoulders this season, by July you could have a striped upper body on your hands. Unless you stick with the off the shoulder or strapless look for the entire summer in which case you’re laughing and/or very good with a strapless bra. Personally I can’t afford the luxury of actual laughter whilst wearing a strapless bra. Quite apart from the fact that strapless bras are no laughing matter anyway.

Off the shoulder dress £125 at French Connection

Off the shoulder dress £125 at French Connection

Off the shoulder dress £25.99 at Zara

Off the shoulder dress £25.99 at Zara

These two strapless dresses are completely contrasting styles. The French Connection one is lovely for hourglass shapes while the Zara version will be ideal for boyish or apple shaped figures. The beautiful top by Reiss is a softer take on the halter neck style and ties with a lovely bow at the back. You can go for a cross back bra with this one and it’s perfect for day to evening looks.

Racer back top £95 at Reiss

Racer back top £95 at Reiss

One shoulder styles are tricky and I think it’s almost impossible to avoid looking lopsided of boob unless you’re less well endowed. However I think even I would break my ‘no one shoulders’ rule for this ASOS dress because it’s so gorgeous. You’d have to be very cautious wearing it in the sun though – perhaps if you turned it around halfway through the day and wore it back to front so the one shoulder is on the other side, you could actually end up with an even tan.

One shoulder dress £70 at ASOS

One shoulder dress £70 at ASOS

Female shoulders are great. They don’t age as much as other parts of the body, they’re effortlessly sexy and it’s not rude to stare at them. Yes, shoulders are the new black. Don’t forget the sun screen.

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It’s Not All in the Jeans

So the sun is out and oops, it turns out suede is the least practical fabric on the planet when you actually have to move about and eat and do stuff (if you don’t do any of that then it’s fine). And don’t even think about suede and small children because suede stains really easily doesn’t it (greasy little fingers = agghhh!) and the cost of getting it dry cleaned is prohibitive and well, you might as well go and buy the flippin’ suede item all over again rather than pay to dry clean it. Back in the day I had a suede mini skirt bought from TK Maxx for about £15. I loved it but as clean and careful as I was, eventually it had to be washed. I was quoted £25 so I ended up putting it in the washing machine. I know, I know, but I weighed it up and decided it had had a good innings and all that. The suede mini skirt came out resembling a chamois leather kept in the dashboard of a monster truck.

You think the long coat will protect your M&S skirt Alexa, but it won't!

You think the long coat will protect your M&S skirt Alexa, but it won’t

I hope you didn’t fork out two hundred smackers for the infamous M&S suede maxi skirt because quite apart from the washing issue, it’s really rather warm for suede when you get to mid afternoon in London isn’t it? It was a good and extremely stylish idea for about three weeks somewhere around mid March (although again, not if you have toddlers). Don’t worry though because I’m not just going to rain on your suede, that would be churlish, after all I did rave about it not so long ago and just this morning found myself dribbling at a stunning pink suede duster coat in Warehouse.

The answer dear reader, is denim. Before you throw up your hands in despair that I’m going to harp on about flares again (although I AM right about them, aren’t I?) I’m not talking about jeans, it’s the other denim stuff; the dresses, jumpsuits and jackets you can’t move for at the moment. Now, there will be a window for this too because currently in London at least, we are enjoying warm weather but it’s really chilly in the mornings and this is where denim is so perfect.

Look how much happier Alexa Chung is now in her machine washable denim dress!

Look how much happier Alexa Chung is now in her machine washable denim dress!

Unlike jeans, denim dresses, skirts and jumpsuits are more office appropriate as they can be worn with smarter pieces for a groomed look. Equally, you can easily dress down the look for the weekend or after work. It’s easy to clean, ageless, and as long as you get the right fit for you, flattering too. Quick, take your suede back, exchange for denim!

Dresses

There are heaps of these on the high street at the mo and in all sorts of shapes, lengths, colours and weights. Go for belted if you prefer a nipped in waist or the tunic look over the top of trousers or shorts. Tights, no tights, boots, no boots, done up to the neck, worn open with a camisole underneath – the options are endless. Just don’t do the shapeless version unless you are built like a little boy.

Dress £42 at Miss Selfridge

Dress £42 at Miss Selfridge

Skirts

I’ve had my eye on this M&S skirt for months now but it sold out very quickly. However they have replenished and the reviews (should you ever be bored enough to read such a thing) range from young ‘uns to a lady in her seventies who claims to have worn a similar style in her youth and loved it so much she has worn it ever since. I’m getting me one to wear with daft impractical shoes and a skinny top. Imagine the cost per wear if I wore it until I was seventy! Due to the distinctive pockets, probably best to avoid if you’re on the hippy side.

Skirt £35 at M&S

Skirt £35 at M&S

Jackets

This coat style by Zara is really unusual and will dress up a casual daytime outfit. Denim jackets are a staple as far as I’m concerned because they go with absolutely everything. I have always had one as a go-to cover up for the summer months, but this year they are a must-have item for everyone. Word of warning though: my boyfriend and I met up for a date once and were both in our blue denim jackets. I thought it funny (secret desire to be the Beckhams?), he did not. It was just the one drink at the pub that evening.

Coat £89.99 at Zara

Coat £89.99 at Zara

Tops

Not such a commonplace item this, but handy if you can find one. Denim looks great with any colour and any fabric so you’ll always get your money’s worth even if you find it’s not as relevant next year. A lovely cover-up on the beach over a bikini and if you can save yourself the money and steal a denim shirt belonging to a bloke in your family, even better.

Shirt £24.99 at H&M

Shirt £24.99 at H&M

Top £19.99 at Mango

Top £19.99 at Mango

 

 

 

 

 

Trousers

No not jeans, we all know about them. These slouchy yet rather elegant looking trousers are off-puttingly called ‘joggers’ on the high street but they are far from being something you run around the common or visit Homebase in. Wear with heels and a chic little top and you have the perfect office outfit. Obviously, the fabric is not strictly denim as it is much softer and more lightweight but it looks like denim and will be gorgeous to wear even when it gets really hot.

Trousers £55 at Banana Republic

Trousers £55 at Banana Republic

Accessories

If you fear looking like a denim sofa, then punctuate your look with denim instead. I’ve had a good look and it’s not just the shoes, hat and bag I’ve included here that you can invest in. Hair pieces, socks and even cushions come in denim this season.

Converse £45 at Kurt Geiger

Converse £45 at Kurt Geiger

These lovely cheap denim accessories will look fabulous paired with the white eyelet pieces that are all over the high street and are a good way to dress down for daytime.

Tote bag £14 at Forever21

Tote bag £14 at Forever21

If I hadn’t just bought the unbelievably comfortable denimy jumpsuit from Forever 21, I’d get this tote too. The whole lot together might be pushing it I think…

Hat £7.99 at New Look

Hat £7.99 at New Look

This hat is too cute and if I didn’t have such an unfeasibly large head, this would be my answer to bad hair days. I may buy one for my son instead. We’re lazy about our hair in my house so we love a hat. And this is less of a statement than the gold crown the little man is insisting on wearing to school this week. Well, if the boyfriend won’t do his n’ hers denim then maybe my son will.

http://www.missselfridge.com

http://www.marksandspencer.com

http://www.zara.com

http://www.hm.com

http://www.mango.com

http://www.bananarepublic.co.uk

http://www.kurtgeiger.com

http://www.newlook.com

http://www.forever21.com

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The Return of the Mad Women

After Grey’s Anatomy and Sex and the City but before before Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey, there was Mad Men. Suddenly in our lives, filling the gaping sartorial hourglass shaped hole left by Carrie and the gang, were Don and Betty Draper, Peggy Olsen and Joan Holloway. I was on maternity leave, not my most elegant of times, and heard about it from my son’s father one lazy but routine filled summer’s afternoon.

Betty, Joan and Peggy of Mad Men

Betty, Joan and Peggy of Mad Men

“It’s amazing!” he said and when he added “And I think I’m slightly in love with Don Draper,” I decided to believe him, after all declaring feelings for a fictional character of the same sex based in the last century is not something one does lightly. I should know, I had a fleeting thing for Jessica Rabbit and Daphne from Scooby Doo.

£95 at The Pretty Dress Company

£95 at The Pretty Dress Company

£140 at Phase Eight

£140 at Phase Eight

Now I know Mad Men is not for everyone and I am the only member of my family to have stuck with it. My mum oddly decided to start with series 4, a huge mistake as I strongly believe you must do the fashions in the right order. Mad Men is strictly chronological, bar the flashbacks, and half the fun is anticipating the world events and changes in style, episode by episode.

More Betty, Joan and Peggy

More Betty, Joan and Peggy

Mad Men did for ladylike dressing what Friends did for flat shares. The characters make it look easy and the reality of living 24/7 in waist cinchers – or in the case of Friends, each others’ pockets – starts to look like the only way forward, even if in reality it would cause some serious health, not to mention, friendship issues.

£125 at Coast

£125 at Coast

£140 at Phase Eight

£140 at Phase Eight

The latest, and (sob) final series of Mad Men airing this month will be set in the 1970s. And oh how clever as here we are ensconced firmly in a huge seventies revival. We’ve already got our floppy wide brim hats and tassled handbags on the go so grab yourself a Harvey Wallbanger and an iridescent lipstick and get ready for the last lap. It’s going to be emotional.

The Mad Men and women of the final season

The Mad Men and women of the final season

Let’s not forget though, the influence of such stylish shows last long after the credits roll up the screen for the last time. We’ve already had a Mad Men collection at Banana Republic and now the show’s costume designer Janie Bryant has her own shoe collection ‘Shoes of Prey’ (of course she has) presumably so you too can buy into whichever season of Mad Men takes your fancy the most.

£25 at ASOS.com

£25 at ASOS.com

Reduced to £29.99 at Zara

Reduced to £29.99 at Zara

Personally I loved the first season’s wardrobe best but then I have a weakness for the glamour of the 195os with its nipped in waists, neat handbags and matching shoes. But also Mad Men has been a masterclass in how to dress well whatever the fashion of the day and whatever the body type. Actress Christina Hendricks has an incredible figure but va va voom curves aren’t the easiest to clothe without drifting into brassy territory. However the character of Joan Holloway has remained elegant and poised throughout.

We may be leaving Joan, Betty and Peggy to live out the rest of their lives on the great television in the sky, but the Mad Men style will thankfully linger on.

http://www.theprettydresscompany.com

http://www.asos.com

http://www.phase-eight.com

http://www.coast-stores.co.uk

http://www.hobbs.co.uk

http://www.zara.com

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How Will You Shape Up?

The thing about the warmer weather is the clothes. They’re brighter and prettier and well,  summery, but they’re also skimpier, less forgiving and involve rather more exposure than your average coat and boots ensemble. Now I’m not the type to whip out the hot pants as soon as the sun appears in April (in Battersea alone I’ve already spotted flip flops, shorts, wife-beater tops and a sundress) but I do like to be prepared and so I am thinking about, if not actively doing anything about, body scrub and gradual tanner to get me off the starting blocks.

With all the tiny playsuits, billowing maxi dresses and knee length gladiators around, it’s an idea to whittle the summer 2015 offering down by working out what suits your shape and what doesn’t. This season there are a lot of contrasting styles in the shops – skinnies versus wide leg trousers, peasant tops versus cropped ones, huge statement platform sandals versus pretty little flatties – the answer is always what works with your body so that you feel comfortable, gorgeous and above all confident.

It’s easy when you know how and ultimately it makes shopping far less time consuming when you can zone in what works for you and ignore all the rest. We all have parts of ourselves we’d rather cover up but there is always a part you can show off, even if it is the miniscule area just below your collar bone or your thin ankles sweedie (sic)*.

For inspiration and a little reassurance that even rich, beautiful and advantaged women get it wrong sometimes (or a lot in some cases), look no further than these ladies. All very definite body types, all very different and all with either the services of a stylist to hand or an open door policy to designer boutiques all over the world.

Pear shapes

Kim Kardashian - too much bulk on her bottom half

Kim Kardashian – too much bulk on her bottom half

Kim Kardashian - smooth and so much better

Kim Kardashian – smooth and so much better

Although there’s no denying Kim Kardashian likes to show off her voluptuous body, by wearing a ruched skirt with fabric draped like festoon blinds over her hips, she is making her hips rather than her bottom look HUGE. This is all very well but by adding a flattening, flesh coloured, high necked top, she looks very pear shaped, not to mention topless.

Petite shapes

Kylie being swallowed whole by a pair of flares

Kylie being swallowed whole by a pair of flares

Kylie Minogue is lucky that she can get away with a lot of shape5looks many women her age could only dream of getting away with. She is tiny but also has a boyish figure meaning she can wear high necks, double breasted jackets and floaty styles. To create the illusion of more curves she should avoid being swamped by too much volume. These jeans are all wrong for such a petite frame and by wearing a boxy jacket she’s making the silhouette even bigger.

Triangle shapes

Rebecca Adlington - AAAGGGHH!

Rebecca Adlington – AAAGGGHH!

Athletic shaped bodies are the opposite side of the coin to the

And breathe... phew, this is soo much better

And breathe… phew, this is soo much better

pear shaped. Broad shouldered and with narrow hips and shapely legs, halter or strappy styles should be avoided while a little extra bulk on the hips will give a more balanced look. Rebecca Adlington’s choice of bodycon dress with wide open neckline is about as wrong as she could get making her top half look ginormous while the bottom half disappears into a point a bit like a genie coming out of a bottle. The long sleeved, more covered up evening dress however looks gorgeous and elegant and your eye is drawn to her fabulous legs rather than her shoulders.

Hourglass shapes

Kelly Brooke - too much fabric, too many patterns, too much

Kelly Brook – too much fabric, too many patterns, too much

Enviable yes, but not without its pitfalls, the hourglass shape

The dress she was born to wear!

The dress she was born to wear!

looks best in fitted styles that don’t suffocate the bust and show off the waist. Polo necks and double breasted tops are a no-no while scoop and v-necklines work are ideal. Extra bulk at the bust or hips is simply not needed with an hourglass shape like Kelly Brook, so the circular skirt and baggy t-shirt makes her look way bigger than she is. A belted dress that hugs the curves and leaves the neckline open is much more flattering.

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If You Buy One Thing…

Have you decided how to look this summer? Will you be Stevie Nicks, Debbie Harry or Audrey Hepburn? Or a combination of all three depending on how you feel when you wake up? There are some clear front runners in the trend stakes and not only are they very wearable, you might just find you can wear them right now. I know! Right now in the wind and the rain and the hair-frizzing gloom. If you’re as bored of your winter wardrobe as I am, get spring summer 2015 off to a flying start with one of these lovely updates. One clever purchase and you’re done – all these pieces will work with clothes I guarantee you already have in your wardrobe.

Suede

Suede skirt at Zara £159

Suede skirt at Zara £159

Suede top £40 at ASOS

Suede top £40 at ASOS

It’s everywhere. Except where it isn’t because it’s sold out before it’s even hit the shop floor (Google ‘that skirt’ if you haven’t heard about the M&S hit of the season). Suede might seem at first glance, a little heavy and well, ‘cowgirl’ for 2015, but think again because how perfect is it for this awful in between weather? It’s warm and pretty much age-proof. It’s not cheap but it’s cool and I bet you’ll get your money’s worth. My mum still has her suede jacket from the early ’70s and it has never in all those years looked naff.

Stripes

Heels £24.99 at New Look

Heels £24.99 at New Look

Dress £24.99 at H&M

Dress £24.99 at H&M

Stripes are never really not in but this summer they are popping up in more unexpected places – your old Breton t-shirt is not going to cut it this time. Even Victoria Beckham – not known for using prints – featured a bold striped maxi dress in her summer collection. I spent years avoiding horizontal stripes because I thought the rule was they made you look wider. This isn’t true and if anything a stripe can be very flattering. Give them a go, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Obi Belts

Leather belt £20 at ASOS

Leather belt £20 at ASOS

Oh I love a cheap and cheerful instant wardrobe update! I am lucky enough to have a kimono style belt that I stole from my mum years ago but have never quite known what to do with it. Well, this season, the question is more what NOT to do with it. Floaty blouses, structured shirts, dresses both short and long, jackets and coats all look modern with a wraparound belt slung on. If you can’t steal one from a family member then buy one (or make one!) and start experimenting.

Asymmetric

Vila dress £38 at ASOS

Vila dress £38 at ASOS

Dress £79.99 at Mango

Dress £79.99 at Mango

This look will date very quickly so get involved as soon as possible and don’t spend too much on it. Asymmetric hems in pleated skirts are particularly now but this look is by no means restricted to skirts and dresses. Trousers, jackets and tops have all been slashed to wonky proportions by someone somewhere so be brave. Just try to avoid the asymmetric fringe, a hairstyle my sister and I modelled for most of our childhood, which is where it should remain.

Culottes

Culottes £135 at Reiss

Culottes £135 at Reiss

Culottes £36 at ASOS

Culottes £36 at ASOS

I swore I wouldn’t and sold the only pair I ever bought on eBay last year. But I’m coming around to this quintessentially ’70s piece because it can actually be rather flattering and stylish. Culottes. Are they a skirt? Are they trousers? Who cares, the point is they are the most up to date version you can wear of either currently   and actually rather versatile. While it is still cold wear culottes with long boots and a polo neck and when it warms up, go for platform heels and a little t-shirt or bandeau top if you dare. Just make sure they are a good fit around your hips and waist to avoid unnecessary bulk.

It’s daft to say if you only buy one thing this season because who does that? But if you only buy one thing this week, then make it one of the above. Or get all five and hide four of them under the bed. It’s Easter, knock yourself out.

http://www.asos.com

http://www.reiss.co.uk

http://www.hm.com

http://www.zara.com

http://www.mango.com

http://www.newlook.com

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Spring Style at a Steal

Timo Weiland Spring 2015

Timo Weiland Spring 2015

It’s March. The clocks are about to go forward and the Easter holidays are almost upon us therefore it must be Spring, right? Well, the temperature has only done the time of year justice a handful of times and then only briefly, so it’s not quite time to banish boots and crack out the cropped tops yet.

Pleated skirt £120 at LK Bennett

Pleated skirt £120 at LK Bennett

I don’t know about you but I’m growing bored of coats and was so uninspired by all my scarves last weekend that I dipped into my boyfriend’s

Cropped top £8 at Miss Selfridge

Cropped top £8 at Miss Selfridge

collection just for a change. And the poor old high street has gone into mid season sale mode before we’ve even had a chance to start the new season – the build up is killing me I tell you!

Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2015

Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2015

The answer is to be prepared so this week

Top £35 at Miss Selfridge

Top £35 at River Island

I’ve picked out some gorgeous catwalk looks and their more accessible alternatives. That way when the bank holiday weekend suddenly turns

Shorts £30 at Miss Selfridge

Shorts £30 at River Island

out to be blisteringly hot and you’ve not so much as shaved your legs since September 2014, there’ll be one less thing to do.

My sister-in-law is talking BBQ and cocktails for Easter Sunday so there’s obviously a rumour flying about that some sun is on the way. Having said that, we can huddle around the BBQ eating burnt sausages on the patio while the kids hunt for eggs, we’re British after all.

Paul & Joe Spring 2015

Paul & Joe Spring 2015

Dress £29.99 at H&M

Dress £29.99 at H&M

One of my favourite looks for the summer is the matching top and skirt / top and shorts combo. I’ve already snapped up a

Hat £14.99 at H&M

Hat £14.99 at H&M

lovely blue floral organza skirt version from Miss Selfridge and now they have shorts in too. It makes getting dressed very easy – just add accessories – and then the pieces can be mixed and matched too for a more dressed down look. I can’t wait to wear mine.

Chloe Spring 2015

Chloe Spring 2015

If you want to rock the seventies look then H&M have some very strong pieces in this area, the maxi dress pictured here is in stores currently and it’s a good ‘in between’ dress as it can be worn with boots and a jacket now and then on its own with sandals when the weather improves.

Playsuit £24.99 at H&M

Playsuit £24.99 at H&M

Pleated skirts are still around, this is their third summer now, (who’d have thought it?)  so if you don’t have one already in a sorbet shade, then perhaps now is the time to invest. They look modern with a t-shirt but it doesn’t have to be cropped as at Timo Weiland, a light knit top will work just as well if your 21st birthday is but a distant memory.

Isabel Marant Spring 2015

Isabel Marant Spring 2015

Look out for tops with ties at the waist as this trend is huge for summer. Either wrap it judo-style or add a belt to a longer length lightweight top already in your wardrobe. I bought H&M’s blue Conscious Collection v-neck version a month or two ago and wore it for the first time at the weekend. It was a simple update to old jeans and will look just as good with a summery skirt for Isabel Marant’s more girly take on it. Feminine and flattering.

Top with tie £130 at Whistles

Top with tie £130 at Whistles

 

Failing all that, or if you prefer a more clean silhouette, then the fifties style dress is still around and is a trusty and elegant option for everything from weddings to picnics. You can never have too many in your wardrobe. Just add shoes and a clutch and you’re good to go.

Victoria Beckham Spring 2015

Victoria Beckham Spring 2015

Oh and maybe add a blanket and hot water bottle if you happen to be invited to my sister-in-law’s on Easter Sunday.

Dress £195 at Whistles

Dress £195 at Whistles

http://www.lkbennett.com

http://www.riverisland.com

http://www.missselfridge.com

http://www.hm.com

http://www.whistles.co.uk

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Why I Love McQueen

This weekend saw the opening, finally, of the much publicised exhibition Savage Beauty, which celebrates the work of the late British designer Alexander McQueen. Like most people, I haven’t seen it yet so this isn’t a critique, but I did rather cleverly ask for and was given (thanks Mum!) a membership to the Victoria and Albert museum for my birthday this week, meaning I might be able to avoid the inevitable queues.

McQueen 2008

McQueen 2008

This exhibition comes four years after New York’s Metropolitan presented one of a similar nature. I was disappointed to have missed that much lauded show, so am thrilled that this one – bigger and better reportedly – is in London, the place of McQueen’s birth and the place from where he found most of his inspiration.

McQueen for Givenchy haute couture

McQueen for Givenchy haute couture

Brought up in Lewisham in South East London, McQueen was the youngest of six and left school at sixteen. He eventually studied fashion at Central St. Martins but not before he had worked at the costumier Angels and Berman’s where he learnt the art of sixteenth century pattern cutting and razor sharp tailoring. This experience would provide the backbone to much of his work. The historical references in his couture collections for french fashion house Givenchy for which he became chief designer just four years after graduating from St. Martin’s, to the dramatic lines of his more own brand pieces.

McQueen for Givenchy 1998

McQueen for Givenchy 1998

Alexander (more commonly known as Lee) McQueen pushed boundaries and it is that for which he will forever be revered. For all the flowers and feathers, there were the dark gothicky collections, for every feminine, delicate gown, there was a sharp masculine jacket. If a shoe could not possibly be any higher, he removed the heel completely. Hipster jeans as low as is decently possible?

The McQueen heelless boot

The McQueen heelless boot

McQueen made them indecent, thereby introducing the bumster. And then there were the skulls, skulls on everything – who hasn’t got a piece of jewellery or a scarf with a skull depicted on it in their wardrobe today? Very few of us, whether we are aware of it or not, remain unaffected by the imagination of this talented yet troubled designer. Alexander McQueen made clothes in classic shapes that flattered the female form accentuating angles and curves but always with an unpredictable twist. Despite the quirks, many of his pieces are timeless, his tartan Givenchy suit (pictured above) a case in point. McQueen’s designs could be fun but often dark and sinister too. Perhaps he put more of himself into them than we can possibly know.

Drew Barrymore in McQueen 2009

Drew Barrymore in McQueen 2009

Alexander McQueen would have been 46 this Tuesday. His death, all too soon in 2010, has left us to wonder what he might have come up with next. In his own words, “That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but keep the tradition.” A rule breaker with a passion for the traditional, his vision is missed but lives on; God Save McQueen.

McQueen silk skull print scarf - a modern classic, £165 a Liberty

McQueen silk skull print scarf – a modern classic, £165 a Liberty

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JEANS – How will YOU decide?

Jeans.

The only things you don’t have to feel guilty about having more than one pair of. The only things which are better unwashed. The only things which will go with just about all your shoes. The only things you can rip or get bored of and then turn into shorts. The only things you can match with your boyfriend/Mum/toddler without appearing to be as bananas as a Kardashian. The only thing you’ll happily and justifiably spend over £100 on and still reduce the cost per wear to minus figures in the first year.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

'Mom' look jeans £40 by Moto at Top Shop

‘Mom’ look jeans £40 by Moto at Top Shop

I could go on. It’s funny though how jeans and indeed denim have become the most indispensable items in our wardrobes despite such humble beginnings. In the 1500s they were worn by Genoese sailors – their name taken from the French expression ‘bleu de Genes’. Then a few hundred years later along came a Mr. Levi Strauss who decided to add rivets to this workers’ garment to make it even more hard wearing and produced them in twilled cotton (denim)  instead of hemp for comfort. For a long time jeans were seen as something for the working classes, certainly not for women, a really rather rebellious statement even for a man. As recently as the 1980s I can recall my granny, a very stylish and elegant lady who never wore trousers, laughing at how my mum always wore jeans because they were so “manly”. She found the fact that they had a pocket slapped on each buttock hilarious. And actually when you think of it like that, it is rather. You can imagine her horror when I started to wear oversized, ripped, secondhand jeans. She laughed – she had a good sense of humour, my granny – but looking back I think it was probably because to her I might as well be dressed as a plumber.

Debbie does Double Dip

Debbie does Double Dip

Faded jeans £29.99 by Diesel at TK Maxx

Faded jeans £29.99 by Diesel at TK Maxx

So here we are in spring 2015 (go with it, after all it’s a few degrees warmer this weekend) and the denim offering has never been more huge. If you thought you had it pegged with your beloved dark blue skinnies, then you may want to think again. Because while dark blue skinnies are still perfectly acceptable and a very good choice for almost every body type, there are now so many other styles, fits and rinses out there, it’s little surprise that the terrifying double dip look has resurfaced once again.

Kate Moss

Kate Moss

Flared jeans £38 at Miss Selfridge

Flared jeans £38 at Miss Selfridge

There was a time when if you were in anything other than red tab Levi 501s, there was every likelihood you’d be arrested. The mid ’80s were a dodgy time style-wise but you couldn’t go wrong with a pair of faded Levi 501s. God forbid you be seen in a pair of Wranglers. And of course supermarkets didn’t have clothes ranges in those days so there was no temptation to pop a pair of £14 jeans into the trolley along with the tampons and potatoes.

Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart

Skinny grey jeans £24.99 at H&M

Skinny grey jeans £24.99 at H&M

Denim stormed the catwalks and is now all over the high street for Spring/Summer 2015. There is a definite backlash against ‘low rise’ / muffin top look with the high waisted ’70s style dominating. The 1970s is proving the strongest influence with the return of not just the flared leg but the bleached out look too. At my nephew’s first birthday this week my thirty something sister and brother and my seven year old nephew were in a pale jean – shocker – seven year old Curtis is a preppy dresser historically so this was a big statement from him. Last month both my sixty something mum and I bought dark blue high waisted flares from Miss Selfridge. Meanwhile I am sitting writing this in a pair of Ralph Lauren stonewash boot cuts. The whole family is in denim disarray, it’s madness I tell you – MADNESS!

Victoria Beckahm in her own label jeans

Victoria Beckahm in her own label jeans

Made in Heaven jeans £29.99 at TK Maxx

Made in Heaven jeans £29.99 at TK Maxx

It’s not fun buying jeans, I know that, so you are absolutely right to stick with what you know and the style and fit that flatters and makes you feel most comfortable. All I’m saying is take a moment to consider something new because denim technology and jean design improve constantly and what didn’t work on your juicy teenage bottom may very well hoist it and boost it where needed in 2015. Remember, not so long ago skinnies seemed appropriate only for Kate Moss and now they’re more commonplace than Ant & Dec. Keep an open mind and you may just be pleasantly surprised, as I was with my ’70s slasher flick flares. Even my boyfriend (who the moment I said ‘flared’ simply said, “NO” without turning his head away from the computer) changed his mind. Time heals all wounds. It was after all only last year that I roared with a mixture of confusion and horror at a Daily Mail piece that announced “Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly take a stroll in New York in double denim!” The accompanying pictures showed this very attractive couple, (Paul is one of my son’s godfathers so I admit I’m a little biased) sporting what was, in total, quadruple denim. I’m now thinking they were ahead of the game.

So the moral of the story dear readers, is don’t judge a man ’til you’ve walked in his trews.

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