You Wear The Trousers

The question I am asked the most after the one about dresses with sleeves (see last blog) is where can I find the best cut trousers? This is huge and my heart sinks slightly because you really can’t answer helpfully without first checking out the enquirer’s bottom half. It’s a tricky one for three reasons:

a) The cut of trousers depends very much on your shape.

b) Once you’ve taken into consideration the current trends and comfort (or perhaps just how much discomfort you are prepared to tolerate), it may feel like there is very little choice other than leggings.

c) Trousers are not jeans; trousers are for grown ups and in my experience  for formal or workwear and therefore not exciting to shop for. Rarely does one consider trousers when trying to appear one’s most sexy self. Now I feel bad for trousers, maybe trousers need better P.R. Doesn’t ‘trousers’ sound weird when you read it out loud repeatedly?

So back to the point… assuming you don’t want to resort to leggings or chinos, (both have worryingly sneaked back onto the fashion radar this season) how do you identify the perfect trouser for you? Each season there seems to be more choice than ever and that never helps matters. The wide leg has got wider and the difference between trousers and skirts has blurred even more with the term ‘culotte’ rather overused. FYI a culotte is ‘knee or calf length trousers cut with full legs to resemble a skirt’. If you want to look like you’re wearing a skirt then I’m going to presume you would wear a skirt. I have nothing against culottes, in fact I have two pairs but they are not the answer to this particular question. Here are the body shapes, the best cuts for those shapes and the tried and tested (by me) brands I think you should go for.

Triangles (bigger bottom half)

If you want to play down your juicy lower portion, then my advice is to keep it dark in colour and avoid heavy patterns. For summer, go for a lightweight fabric which skims rather than clings and either avoid pockets at the side or sew them up so there is no excess bulk or sticky-outy bits at the hips. A slim leg is best, not too skinny and not overly boot-cut. Banana Republic does excellent trousers, the best of which are made in their ‘Sloan’ fabric, a stretchy fabric that holds you in and is ultra flattering. This style at Cos is one of their staples as it is so popular, it comes in a variety of colours and like the Sloan, it seems to suck you in beautifully.

Rectangles (straight up and down)

Lucky rectangular shapes can be bang on trend this summer as the so-called ‘paper bag’ trousers are the thing. Loose in the leg and bunched in at the waist they create the illusion of a more curvy hip and therefore a waist. You can opt for a heavier fabric and no worries about pockets for you lot! Next do really lovely slouchy but smart trousers in a decent quality fabric. This style comes in petite, regular and tall and goes up to a size 20 – don’t forget you can still be rectangular no matter what size you are. Rectangles can also happily rock a flare or wide leg too. We don’t hate you at all.

Hourglass (ample bust and hips, in at the waist)

Hourglass figures have hips so don’t go adding bulk by plumping for trousers with tucks or bunching at the waist. For a smooth and flattering silhouette without overspill make sure you have a mid rise rather than a low rise and favour a slim or straight cut leg. As an hourglass of whatever size, you are in proportion already so work with what you naturally have. If you’re a tall hourglass then a wide leg in a floaty fabric will work too. Hip online boutique FineryLondon does a great range of trousers the most flattering of which is the Ackland trouser, a steal at £55.

Circles (larger around the middle with slimmer limbs)

If you want to draw attention away from your tummy then choosing the right top is just as important as the type of trousers for circle physiques. The good news is your slim legs can carry off a pattern and/or a lighter colour but keep it muted and plain on top. Try a style with a stripe down the side, there are lots about but Mos Mosh cut their trousers beautifully. Avoid wide legs, a slim cut will be much more flattering. If you are a decent height opt for cropped to showcase your ankles with a fabulous shoe.

Now is a great time to do a trouser edit as we finally transition from winter to spring. Be brutal – you may think those voluminous pull-on white linen trousers that looked so good on holiday in 1998 will tick the pyjama style trend in 2017  but trust me they absolutely won’t. You’ll just look like you’re wearing tired old linen (silly stuff, linen) trousers from 1998. Send them back there.

Have a great weekend lovely readers!

My book ‘Shopped’ has more tips for successful dressing and is available here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=emily+stott+shopped

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Sleeves Please!

As I sat shivering in my leopard print coat and knee length boots this week, the world’s most cheerful Fedex delivery man informed me there was a heatwave on the way. This should be good news, it is good news but my instinctive reaction was to check my diary to see whether it was going to fit in with my waxing appointments. Summer arrives without warning and then only briefly so while it is thrilling to have it join us, we want to look the part right from the outset to make the most of it, right? Ideally, you want to be searching for the picnic blanket, firing up the BBQ and transforming jeans into festival style denim cut-offs while the fake tan and nail varnish applications dry. Then and only then might you feel brave enough to do battle with your exhausted looking strapless bra collection and myriad sun dresses, some of which have been around since last century.

Work

So let’s assume there is some warmer weather around the corner. It’s daunting isn’t it? Ditching the black opaques and eskimo-esque coats is liberating but what of the flimsy, floral and (whisper it) iced gem coloured items hidden away in boxes? When you packed it last year you told yourself you’d chuck most of it away this year didn’t you? And those cheap fabrics (always a lesser quality fabric in the summer for some reason) look like used Jay-cloths now don’t they? Don’t panic though because there will be some fabulous pieces you had forgotten about in there. Don’t save them for a special occasion, good weather is a special occasion in this country! Demote last year’s favourite dressy stuff to everyday wear for 2017, take the not-so-interesting, slightly dubious smelling, older pieces to the recycling bin and then rush out (or stay in) and buy new things. And don’t delay because the best stuff is selling out fast these days; I’ve just missed out on an amazing pink cardigan/jacket thing at Other Stories. It’s a sad state of affairs that I’m even looking at knitwear a week away from May, I know.

Play

Re: The subject of summer dresses. I know what you’re thinking:

  1. I want dresses with sleeves and I can’t find any.
  2. My legs aren’t up to wearing short, I want a longer length and I want it with sleeves.
  3. I’m up for trying a jumpsuit but I’m not sure I’ll suit it and I want one with sleeves.
  4. I thought sleeves were a thing at the moment, FFS where are all the sleeves?

Transitional

I hear you. I’m not sure why some bright spark hasn’t simply added a sleeve option to all the sleeveless dresses so that we have a choice – and by ‘we’ I mean potentially anyone over the age of 45 which, by the way, incorporates the biggest age demographic in the UK* – when it is clearly a gaping hole in the fashion market. On the other hand, this really is the year of the sleeve so get out there and stock pile before it isn’t. I promise there are dresses with sleeves on our high street and – because my mum keeps saying “Well I can’t find them” – here is the proof…

Occasion

Jumpsuits, as I know you’ve heard me say repeatedly, are another great option, particularly if you’re not keen on showing off your legs. Wear them with dressy heels and a jumpsuit looks glamorous and also chic. Some of them, like the one here from Uterque, don’t even look like a jumpsuit (unless you actually jump about). But really, what’s your problem with jumpsuits? They’re just a pair of trousers and a top sewn together, if anything they are even more versatile than a dress because you don’t need tanned legs. I even talked my mum into a jumpsuit last year and now she has two and she’s a stubborn madam at times.

Jumpsuits

Now, in case you’re still not convinced, here’s another idea; delicate, barely there tops or bodies can be worn underneath a sleeveless dress, it’s a great look for the evening and guarantees you a one-off look you won’t see on anyone else – unless of course they’ve read this blog too.

Tops

Good, I’m glad we’ve cleared that up. Good luck finding the picnic blanket. Any other questions?

 

*There are now a larger number of 68 year olds due to the spike in births after the end of World War 2 FYI.

 

 

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It’s a Cover Up!

At school it was so simple wasn’t it? Autumn Term meant overcoat and tights and Summer Term meant blazer and short socks, even if it was still really cold in the mornings. But back in the seventies and eighties the seasons were more clear cut and let’s face it, if your mum said to put a vest on or take a cardi, mostly you did, if only for a quiet life.

These days it’s not unusual to be lulled into a false sense of security by an unseasonal April heatwave only to be faced, once you’ve done away with tights, with a cold wind early on the Monday morning – as if Monday mornings weren’t troublesome enough. I for one have abandoned my coat and I’m not going back to it until October because for starters it now looks sad and old and the colour – grey – simply doesn’t work now we are in spring, even if it is chilly until midday.

So what is the alternative? Layering is all very well but for the working week or evenings out, a proper outer garment is required, even if only to get from your front door to the Uber. It’s tricky to find something as all encompassing and slick as a winter coat there’s no denying it, but this spring season there are more options than usual so here’s what’s out there currently. As always, to find the best piece for you, you need to consider three things which should narrow your choice down nicely:

  1. Which is the most flattering colour for my sun starved face?
  2. Which shape suits my figure best?
  3. Which style will I get the most use from?

Arm yourself with the answers and then take a look at the lovely pieces below..

The Blazer

Blazers have had a renaissance in 2017 but since most of us have used it as a go-to with jeans and boots when we’re late for a do and can’t be bothered to think of anything cleverer, you should have at least one in your wardrobe already. If you’re a curvy type then look for an open neck and minimal buttons like the Boden one here and if not then a more boxy style will work well.

The Trench

There is not a spring season in existence where the trench coat hasn’t been hailed as the must-have cover up. There is a reason for this – it’s practical, versatile and about as classic an item as you are likely to get. A trench coat will never date and whether belted or loose, long or short, it will always look effortlessly stylish whatever your shape. You’ll never regret buying a trench.

The ‘Shacket’

The so-called shacket is the brunch of outerwear. It’s not quite a jacket for one reason or another (too short/too lightweight/too casual) but it does the job. The only question is, will it see you through ’til dinner? Only you know the answer to that.

The Biker

I’m allowing the biker jacket in even though it feels as if it’s been overly done. I should be pleased because I invested in a leather one from Whistles when my son started school nearly three years ago so I’m getting my money’s worth. However at one mummys’ drinks evening, my friend Becs not only pointed out that at least fifty per cent of the mums were wearing a biker jacket, but found that at the end of the night someone had gone off with her own rather lovely Mint Velvet one leaving her with a similar (cheaper) Oasis one*. All this put me off  a bit but the biker simply refuses to go away. I’m including it on the condition that you wear it in an unconventional colour or fabric – see the two shown here.

The Hybrid

All these hybrid cover ups can be worn with jeans, over a dress or skirt or as a statement piece in its own right. All three will be really useful for work but will do equally as well for cocktails afterwards; anything that pulls in at the waist is great for those with boobs and hips with the longer length wraparound particularly flattering for larger hips. The neat Chanel inspired cardigan is better for a more boyish shape.

Have a fabulous chocolate filled long weekend everyone and if anyone’s asking I’ll have the belted wraparound Zara jacket please…

*It was an innocent (drunken) mistake which was soon rectified. Also it has to be said that Oasis does excellent leather goods, but not as good as Mint Velvet. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do You Have Good Jeans?

There are times when jeans fall out of favour. Very occasionally denim takes a back seat and the sighting of a jacket or a skirt in the stuff becomes the stuff of urban legend.

Now is not one of those times.

Spring 2017 is awash with denim in every colourway, rise, cut and length. If you once thought a dungaree was a scary denim option (I’ve been stared at in the playground more than once for my dungarees and the playground is surely the best place for a dungaree?) then prepare to be ruffled because this season you will be faced with not just double dip denim but triple dip. You may also see a jean so deconstructed as to be less jean and more rip. And yet at the other send of the scale there is the embellished jean; covered in glitz and a million miles away from the workwear for which the humble jean was originally intended.

If your dark skinnies are welded to you then you may not care for all this denim frivolity but if you fancy trying your luck at something a little more ‘now’ then here are the latest options – pitfalls (there are several) included. Remember, there was once a time not so long ago when you thought you’d never wear skinny jeans. Also, however hard you try you are unlikely to look even half as daft as Kim Kardashian in her shredded jeans…

The ‘Boyfriend’ Jean

Usually faded, unrivalled in the comfort stakes and a good choice in warmer weather due to the air vents (holes and rips). Looks v OTM (very Of The Moment, do keep up) with fishnet tights worn underneath and peaking through at the knee. Roll them up at the ankle if you’re leggy or don’t if you’re not because they will not lengthen a short leg. I love my Boyfriends and look to Olivia Palermo (pictured above) as the perfect example of how to smarten up some holey ol’ jeans.

The ‘Mum’ Jean

The Mum jean is defined largely by its high rise waist, gently tapered leg and eighties vibe. If you’re thinking they just look like naff jeans you might have worn when you were about twelve then you’re on the right track – your mum would have been wearing them too – get it? Those of us who are mums now are trying desperately not to look like one but that’s the thing, all the kids (the actual kids) are doing this now. But yes I know, it’s a big leap from your hipsters. Far better for tucking your bits of mummy tummy into though.

The ‘Two Tone’ Jean

These jeans are the newest denim incarnation on the block and the one most likely to fade (into the wilderness, rather than literally fade) once the summer draws to a close. While a dark stripe down the side of the leg can’t fail to be flattering, be careful of randomly placed patches and cuffs which will tend to shorten the leg or draw attention to parts you’d rather not highlight. You wouldn’t put a plaster on a spot on your face would you? Exactly.

And finally… what’s going on with hemlines?

Now here’s one you can try at home. Frayed hems are the ideal solution if your jeans are no longer a length you like. Or you could just turn them up. Turn ups are now a real thing and the higher up they’re turned the better. During research for this blog I noticed that Sarah Jessica Parker turns her hems up at every opportunity she gets, no matter what the style of jean. Now this may be because SJP is diminutive and would rather her jeans didn’t trail behind her as she pounds the New York streets  but sometimes she turns just the one leg up so that can’t be it – could masonic chic actually be a thing? You heard it here first.

SJP turning it up and then up again

 

 

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Here’s How You Too Can Wear Yellow (yes really!)

If the mere utterance of the word yellow strikes fear into your heart then rest assured you are not alone. Yellow comes in many guises but it is undoubtedly a fair weather colour, one to approach with caution and preferably a bit of a tan. You are absolutely entitled to your fear.

Viola Davis resplendent in yellow at the Golden Globes

As a pasty skinned blonde myself I have mostly pretended that yellow doesn’t exist – there is nothing yellow can do for me personally I have reasoned, and so it is best avoided. There was a moment when I briefly considered whether my small child might benefit from a bit of yellow but the likelihood I decided was no he wouldn’t, it just wasn’t worth the effort of making it work and after all there is always something better isn’t there? I didn’t even go for yellow ‘to be on the safe side’ before I knew he would be a boy; white seemed to the genuinely sensible option, or blue, blue is good across the board, right?

Kate Moss in vintage yellow in 2003

That is until La La Land came along. Just as a sun kissed Kate Moss sparked a renewed interest in yellow when she stepped out in the palest of ice-creamy coloured dresses in 2003, now Emma Stone has brought it all up again for summer 2017 by not only appearing on the red carpet in yellow repeatedly but also by dancing her way to an oscar in it.

Both ladies looked gorgeous in their frocks providing the best P.R. for yellow since cupcakes and tulips, but these two also know what looks best on them – with their skinny silhouettes and access to anything and everything the sartorial world has to offer, they don’t really have an excuse to get it wrong.

Top £19.99 by New Look

Don’t worry though because if you do feel the urge to give this shade a go then it can be done, you really can avoid looking like a lollipop lady or teletubby and here is how:

  1. The ideal way to find out which is the most flattering shade of yellow for you is to have your colours done. This will enable you to pinpoint exactly what to go for and more importantly what to steer clear of. For example a fair skinned blonde (what we call a ‘summer’, Reece Witherspoon for example) is best in the palest yellow. A warm skinned dark eyed ‘autumn’ such as actress Jessica Alba however, will be able to pull off a much richer version, even a mustard.
  2. If you’re considering blond highlights for the summer months then the same rule applies. Choose carefully; if you have a cool skin tone then an ash blonde will work (see Reece again), if you are more bronzed or olive skinned then you should opt for honey tones which will be much more flattering on your face.
  3. Don’t believe everything you read (except this obviously). Grazia recently claimed that ‘mustard suits everybody’. Cobblers! It absolutely doesn’t and is possibly one of the hardest colours to pull off. Always get the colour right first and then pick a style. In the right tone (either warm or cool depending on your skin), your face will look brighter and you will appear more youthful – people will think you’ve had work done. It’s easy when you know how.

    Coat by Zara

  4. If in doubt, dip your toe in with accessories. A bright handbag or colour popping shoes look fabulous with a more muted outfit, it’s also a more cost effective way of buying into a trend which will surely have sunk without trace by next summer. We can but hope.

Seriously though, find the perfect sunshine hue for you and you may be converted. I have a fifties style dress in an icy pale yellow and I do actually feel good in it, have had it for years in fact. I won’t be investing in any of the eggy colours out there currently but I simply don’t have the colouring for it. If you do though, that’s excellent news, it’s a cheerful kind of colour (Mr. Happy is bright yellow after all) and so much more interesting than Breton stripes and baby pink this season.

Stay safe everyone.

You see I can’t wear tulip yellow but my muted buttermilk kitchen cabinets work a treat

See details of colour analysis on my new website:

http://www.emilystott.net

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Five Easy Pieces for Spring Style

When I started to write this post I was sitting at my desk wrapped in a scarf to keep out the chill. But two days later and it’s definitely spring! It’s March so frankly it should be spring and we should be casting off the tights and hats but retailers have panicked and decided it’s time for their mid season sales.  Admittedly, I momentarily panicked too and rushed to look at what they were offering in these sales and – panic over – the stock is left over from late summer last year or the really boring basics that came out to fill in the gaps after Christmas. Ignore it – unless ‘really boring stuff’ is actually on your shopping list – and take a closer look at what’s coming out now because it’s far more exciting.

If you’ve been watching the four main fashion weeks play out over the last month (live streaming of catwalk shows straight to your sofa and instant availability of those collections is possibly the most worrying thing to happen to your bank balance since the internet was invented) then you’ll be chomping at the bit to get out there and shop. But wait, because if you’re very clever you can get the most fabulous of the designer looks at a fraction of the price on the high street. Not only that but now we’ve seen at fashion week what’s in store for our wardrobes next winter too, you can invest in those looks which will still be relevant come late October or whenever the hell autumn is supposed to arrive these days.

New York has suddenly been revisited by snow in the last week so don’t quote me on this, but I really think you need to start cracking open the spring wardrobe now while the sun is in evidence. Don’t tell my mum but I’ve come out without a vest on today… I know! I like to live on the edge. Life is too short not to embrace warmer weather, although I draw the line at full beachwear until May. The answer is to add a hint of spring to your look with one piece which will single-handedly breathe new life into an otherwise tired look. Here’s what to look out for on your next shopping trip:

Lace – nothing new but that’s why you can afford to have more than one piece. This season make it cream or ivory which looks delicious with faded denim on the weekend. The H&M version seen above is a brilliant rip-off of the sold out Self Portrait design.

Florals – this print is everywhere and on everything at the moment, it doesn’t have to be a dress necessarily. Buy in a darker hue (see Warehouse) and it will work with boots and knits just as well as with strappy sandals and a bit of bronzer.

Chunky Shoes – Whether it’s a mule or a trainer, a loafer or a platform, your feet will look instantly Spring 2017 if they’re encased in something chunky. It’s a great way to add edge to florals, lace or frills and by now you’ve got loads of those – right?

Asymmetric hems – A far more user friendly take on this trend which will keep reappearing. These wonky hemlines actually look really soft and feminine, take full advantage and use the extra fabric to cover any bits you want to hide, it can be remarkably flattering.

Yellow – Nobody is more terrified of yellow than me but yellow comes in a multitude of shades and if like me you’re pasty then the likelihood is you’ll require the palest of yellows. You may just be surprised and find you like it. Objecting to yellow this season, after that yellow dress in La La Land, will get you the same reaction as saying you thought the film was “OK”. This I know.

Have a lovely spring and thanks for following – please share!

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And the Winner Is… Or Is It?

It was always going to be a night to remember. After Donald Trump blasted Meryl Streep ‘overrated’ following her Golden Globes speech last month, who knew what would go down at the biggest ceremony of them all. Some of the attendees had vowed ahead of Sunday night to use the platform (should they be so lucky to get up on it) to speak out, while others admitted they found such protestations by Hollywood A-listers inappropriate. Meanwhile the President of the United States himself had announced (in case anybody cared) that he would not be watching the 89th Academy Awards. Clearly he has more pressing plans, perhaps Sunday night is when he stays in to wash his hair and flick through his interior decoration magazines.

The Colour

Either way, there was going to be some reporting to do. At midnight UK time, I was situated on my sofa, awaiting the dresses and hoping my latest lodger – a mouse who seems to be living under said sofa – would also boycott the event. Would we see the flowers and flounce that dominated the Golden Globes? Or would it be a safer more muted crowd, as tends to be the case on this the biggest and best of award season? I felt sure there would be colour, lots of it, La La Land style, in keeping with the upbeat mood in fashion currently. What I hoped for was excitement – something to talk about this morning – and boy did we get that.

The Champagne Shade

For me, the stand out winner of the night, in more ways than one, was Viola Davis who was stunning in red Armani Prive. This look – both the right red for her colouring and the flattering cut of her gown – will go down in my little book of how to get it right. Ruth Negga pulled the red off just as beautifully. Her high neckline wouldn’t work on everybody but it was perfect for her petite frame and the long sleeves were an addition which proved popular for the first time in a while. Meryl Streep’s gown/ jumpsuit hybrid was a good choice for her but sadly the very rich teal colour drained her, she would have been better in something softer.

The Fairytales

The theme of the night colour-wise though (thank goodness, not white this year) was what was quickly tagged on Twitter rather appropriately, as ‘champagne’. The three pale skinned lovelies who chose it wore it well, I just wish Dakota Johnson’s dress hadn’t had that toilet seat shaped apron feature hanging from her waist. I thought the vintage style was pretty, it was simply too heavy on the detail for me. Emma Stone (a perennial winner in the style stakes) and Nicole Kidman (who thank the lord left her Golden Globe parrots at home) were immaculate. There were many others who opted for even less colour than the champagne. I thought Felicity Jones’ delicate and girly Dior gown, unusual in its length, was lovely while Priyanka Chopra’s angular strapless column dress by Zuhair Murad was another of my favourites of the night.

The Oscar Statues

However the drama, I think, is more often than not caused by the more surprising sartorial choices, or put more bluntly, those who get it wrong. This is up for debate of course but given that on this particular evening, nobody got it more wrong than Warren Beatty, I might as well go for it. There are always a handful of ladies who are inevitably compared to the Oscar statue himself and this year Jessica Biel was a yes from me but Charlize Theron’s strangely unflattering Dior was a no.

The Not Quite Right

I know this might be an unpopular opinion but I was underwhelmed by Naomie Harris’ Calvin Klein frock, which despite the train (a little too reminiscent of a toilet roll unravelling for my liking) failed to do it for me because of the length. I’m old fashioned in that respect; it really has to be long for the Oscars. However it was head and shoulders above the voluminous  gowns worn by Scarlet Johansson and Janelle Monae which were unflattering, ageing and over fussy, not my cup of tea at all.

The Show Stoppers

But who doesn’t love a showstopper? Those worn by Taraji P. Henson, Cynthia Erivo and Brie Larson made me catch my breath thanks to their amazing fit, accentuated waists and sumptuous fabrics. Ladies, this is how you do it.

But who could possibly have imagined that the ultimate show stopper would be right at the end of the ceremony itself when the much feted favourite to win La La Land was announced as the winner of best film only for someone to realise there had been a mistake and the winner was in fact Moonlight. Oh my! Not even Donald Trump could make it up.

 

My book SHOPPED is on sale now here! 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Shopped-Story-Secret-Shopping-Self-Discovery/1910463302

 

 

 

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When Did You Last See Red?

Shoes £70 at Aldo

Shoes £70 at Aldo

It was the unlikely event of a random Next Directory being left on my mum’s doorstep which started all this. She and I were having cheese on toast at the kitchen table, wondering when the weather would lift and pondering ways to wear our summer dresses prematurely without looking utterly ridiculous (I’m always up for looking ridiculous in the name of fashion while my mum thinks wearing skirts in winter is “draughty”) when the Next Directory caught my eye. A casual flick through the hundreds of pages – it’s now bigger than an encyclopedia – revealed something so unexpectedly fabulous, I nearly choked on my crusts. Red boots. Not dark red or cherry red but unashamedly all over tomato primary coloured red boots. They were ankle boots, chunky heeled and suede-ish and there wasn’t a hint of hooker about them.

You don’t believe me do you? I can see you wincing and backing away from the screen. Or are you just scrolling down to see if there’s a picture of them?

Bag by Loeil.com

Bag by Loeil.com

Well, they really weren’t hookerish at all and styled with the worn in denim and bed head hair of the model, they looked as fresh as a daisy. I knew I had to have them but I didn’t get them there and then (it’s my mum’s fault, she offered me pudding) despite the very reasonable £68 price tag. It was a huge mistake. I spent a weekend in Rome dragging my boyfriend in and out of shoe shops in search of red boots and berated myself as I saw image after image posted on Instagram showcasing similar boots doing their thing with a matching slick of scarlet lipstick or an oversized mannish overcoat. There was no doubt about it, the red ankle boot was where it was at and when finally another fashion blogger posted a picture of herself in the very Next boots I’d spotted all those weeks ago, I went into a blind panic. While my boyfriend was in the shower, I went onto the Next website. Now I’ve been to Rome several times but that doesn’t justify shopping online from the hotel room – nobody in the history of shopping goes onto the Next website when in Rome. “You’re very quiet… are you doing your social media-ing?” called out the boyfriend. Naturally I called back that I was texting my sister.

The Next boots were sold out in every size but 8.

Boots £75 at Top Shop

Boots £75 at Top Shop

I think a red boot in a size 8 might be a bit too much red boot but I’m sure those remaining pairs will find happy homes in the end. As for me, afore-mentioned blogger tipped me off that Top Shop did a very similar boot and so having learned my lesson the hard way, I immediately purchased myself a pair and later on informed my son he had kindly bought me my birthday present while he was at school that day. He wasn’t very pleased – “Mummy, do you know what the hottest colour of the season is?” he demanded. “It’s pink.” Turns out the clever clogs had looked at more than just the article I wrote for S magazine a couple of weeks ago.

Knotted belt £29 at Cos

Knotted belt £29 at Cos

So anyway, the boots are on their way and I am contemplating dusting off my Ruby Woo by Mac lipstick because bright red suddenly seems very modern and it’s a simple way to update exactly what you are wearing now until it’s warm enough to go full throttle on the spring garb.

Shoes £108 at Loeil.com

Shoes £108 at Loeil.com

And yes, pink may very well be hot right now but if the pink doesn’t feel quite right with your vitamin D starved skin in the doom and gloom of late February, then please give red a go because a little splash of it goes a long way, it doesn’t have to be top to toe and it doesn’t have to be next to your face if that feels too scary. There is a red for everyone and I won’t hear otherwise, but that said, if you get the wrong red for your skin tone, it can be very wrong.

That’s why accessories are the answer to this trend. There are lots of gorgeous red dresses and tops out there if you have the nerve but if you don’t then go for the pop. It really works as an instant brightener – a bit like Clarins Beauty Flash Balm – just look how lovely this page looks with the odd bit of red here and there. Personally I’m hoping, with eye-catching bright red feet, people will be far less likely to notice my split ends and the irritated skin on my face.

Top £19.99 at Zara

Top £19.99 at Zara

 

 

My book SHOPPED is available to buy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Shopped-Story-Secret-Shopping-Self-Discovery/1910463302

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The All New Stars and Stripes

I think it’s fairly safe to say that the familiar image of the American flag is enough to strike fear into even the most brave of hearts currently. That the prints to emerge as the favourites of all the many patterns on offer (overshadowing the perma-present animal prints and classic polka dots) are the components of the star spangled banner, is nothing short of ironic. After all, the spring 2017 collections were designed way before the eyes of the world turned to Washington D.C. last November.

Near where I live there is a boutique, Katie & Jo, whose eye-catching window is currently resplendent with midi dresses by new design team Rixo. The display is so unselfconsciously upbeat that every time I walk past to buy a pint of milk or a coffee, I find myself slowing down and just staring, wondering which of the three I would have if I was made to choose. I stop short of pressing my nose up against the window but that’s only because of my age, otherwise I would. Similar images catch my eye on Instagram (most recently pieces from label A Postcard from Brighton at boutique Lolly and Mitch) and it is those which slow down my scrolling action to press ♥. Suddenly hard lines and monochrome don’t feel right, they’re just not as fun or as easy on the eye.

As discussed last week with all the frothy evening gowns in Hollywood, we need distraction and colour right now and stars and stripes can’t help but raise a smile. Think of a stripey, starry thing – candy canes, deckchairs, a clear night sky, pyjamas, disco balls, a well done star sticker under your homework and breathe – you can tell I’ve started going to yoga. Not thinking about Donald Trump now though are you?

This is quite a bold statement to make and many of the colours are bright so if stepping out in a print is departure enough, then wear the statement in your accessories. There are lots of starry scarves to choose from on the high street but this one from Mango features softer more spring like colours – just in case winter lets up… you never know.

Finally, a word of warning, these stripes aren’t your everyday Breton variety so look before you leap! Avoid looking like a clown by keeping your outfit close fitting rather than voluminous – voluminous is fine for floaty dreamy stars but a flyaway vertical stripe could stray into escaped convict territory so think neat. The only other suggestion I would make is perhaps don’t wear your stars and stripes at the same time. Personally, I’m going for the stars this season because as I said to my six year old son when he pointed at the lines on my forehead and asked how he could get some ‘stripes’ too; you have to earn those. Now I wonder if I can get Botox with a Groupon voucher?

Marc Jacobs earrings £55 at VeryExclusive.co.uk

Marc Jacobs earrings £55 at VeryExclusive.co.uk

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Don’t Mess With My Frou-Frou

A few weeks ago I awoke to several messages from my friend Sarah From The Pub* offering her thoughts on the procession of evening frocks unveiled overnight at the Golden Globes. Admittedly this was the start of awards’ season but since she doesn’t do this usually and I was stuck at home unexpectedly with an ill child, I was thrilled. I settled myself down with a cup of tea and had a scroll through the globe gallery of gorgeousness. I could immediately see why this year’s red carpet had provoked a reaction – instead of neat columns of black and nude, there was flounce after flounce of floral frill.

For years now at these occasions we’ve seen beautiful but yawnsomely safe designs which refused to break the mould or put it out there. I’ve pounced on the occasional jumpsuit or cape attachment worn by an Emma Watson or a Gwyneth Paltrow so exciting did it appear in the crowds of plunging necklines and spangled see-through mesh. But then eventually even those became ‘done’ and the red carpet readiness was suddenly so dull I longed for someone to get out of their limo clearly not ready at all, or wearing something they had to borrow at the last minute from their mum.

Well this year, it has all changed – the gowns we are now seeing on the most camera friendly of the species are girly, fussy and frankly completely over the top – I love it! And it’s fascinating because as we know, fashions are a reflection of our time; the designers’ reactions to what is going on around us. Whatever your political inclinations or thoughts about the loss of the most feted male pop stars of the seventies, eighties and nineties, we can agree there has been some seriously hefty stuff going down in the world. It’s a fact that hemlines lower in times of economic hardship yes, but this has gone several stages further; it’s as if the Hollywood memo to award nominees said ‘Dresscode: Upbeat and Colourful. #DisneyPrincess #windowboxes #Quality Street’.

There is so much going on (what we might at any other time, refer to as ‘too much going on’) this season that we’re too distracted to even notice the cut or shape of the gowns. The trend is think of embellishment, any embellishment… and wear it… preferably lots of embellishments all at the same time. So, ruffles, corsages, sparkles, stripes, bows, lace trims, even pretend trims at Gucci (as seen on Clare Foy), are all on the menu. Try looking at this page with your eyes half shut and it looks more like a line up for Strictly Come Dancing doesn’t it? I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, as you know I love the Strictly exuberance, but what can it all mean? We are living in worrying times for sure but there is probably worse to come and what then for our wardrobes? I can’t help thinking if the red carpet displays any more colour and froth, the bottom is going to fall out of the accessories industry. This look may be full blown frou-frou but no stylist worth their Choos is going to advise further adornment – you can have a clutch bag for your lippie and that’s your lot.

This girlyness, this soft sugary dressing is refreshing in its unexpectedness. It’s in keeping with La La Land and raindrops on roses and Beyonce being pregnant with twins – it may not be your thing, you may not give two hoots, but it’s something positive, a bit of frivolity with your breakfast. It’s women in their forties dressing like 6 year olds and breaking all those stupid rules. Now that’s progress…

*In fact I met Sarah in the building we both lived in… which wasn’t a pub.

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