Top of the Frocks 2018

The one statement I hear more often than not from my lovely clients is “I hate shopping.” It’s a shame. Whether this has always been the case or these men and women have fallen out of love with the experience because it is no longer fun, I don’t often find out. But what with long working days, kids and the frantic pace of life, the days of a leisurely stroll around the town centre with a friend, stopping for a spot of lunch when your feet start to throb are long gone for most. Shopping tends to be a necessary evil, something to dread and put off until it has to be done for a special occasion. By the time I get to stick my oar in it may have become a pressurised situation with only a handful of days to go.

Sequin evening dress £89.99 at Zara (sizes S,M,L)

The problem can be simply not knowing where to start. I also hear a lot of concerns about not knowing how “to put stuff together” and “how to dress for my shape”. Add to this the enormity of the choice both on the high street and online and what we are faced with is a barrage of endless brands, trying and testing, pokey fitting rooms, inconsistent sizing and at the end of it all a load of stuff we are unsure about and have half a mind to take back a week later. I understand, I get it. You’d rather be anywhere else. Especially now department stores have started playing the Christmas songs.

Multi coloured dress £65 at Top Shop (sizes 4-18 )

With all this in mind you may be pleased to hear then that I have taken matters in hand and done all the traipsing around for you (both literally and metaphorically) and have collated what I consider to be the best occasion dresses out there. The criteria was simple; it had to be full length, a piece you could wear for a black tie do but also if you fancied for Christmas day because, why the hell not. I looked at online and I looked at the high street, from the cheapest of the cheap (H&M) to the higher end of the affordable market, (Ba&Sh and Reiss). I considered British, Spanish, Scandinavian, French and Polish brands and what I have come up with is here – prices range from £49.99 to £395, sizes from 6 to 26.* This list isn’t exhaustive and it isn’t completely objective either ( I like all those I’ve chosen as well as considering them excellent for the job) but I have covered over thirty retailers so it’s taken the majority of the hard work away. Grab yourself a drink, put your feet up and don’t forget you can click to go straight through to the retailer’s website!

If you want Sleeves…

Fluted dress £79 at Arket (sizes XS-L)

High neck ‘Julietta’ dress £120 at Phase Eight sizes (8-18)

There are many more designs with sleeves these days, in fact the other day I even struggled to find a dress in a certain colour without sleeves. Go for a style like this Arket one if you have boobs, the Phase Eight one if you don’t have quite as much.

 

 

If you don’t want to do Black…

Fuschia dress £89.99 at Zara (sizes XS-XL)

Floaty burnt orange dress £89 at Other Stories (sizes 6-16)

This one is a bit harder this particular autumn as black is back as the new black after a year off. If your skin tone is cool or you’re very pale then the crimson Zara number will be lovely on you, if you’re a warmer skin tone or a red head then go for the Other Stories burnt orange dress which by the way is the shade of AW18.

 

If you’re small on top…

Ruffle ‘Marissa’ dress £139 at Coast (sizes 6-20)

Asymmetric neck hem £225 at Reiss (sizes 4-16)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucky you, you can fully embrace the ruffles and high neck detailing. This red Coast design is a dead ringer for one Nicole Kidman wore on the red carpet and is stunning on (I’ve seen it) while the brown Reiss dress is more of a Jennifer Aniston. The one shoulder look is made for you – go for it.

If you’re bigger on top…

‘Despina’ chiffon dress £395 by Ba&Sh at Iris (sizes 1-3 EU)

Pleated ‘Violetta’ dress £179 at Coast (sizes 6-18)

Necklines are dramatic this season and thankfully unlike previous years there are plenty of open styles which are gorgeous for a more generous bust. Not having to wear a strapless or multi-way bra is a big plus as far as I’m concerned because really, who wants to spend an evening hoisting up their underwear? I need both hands to hold my Prosecco and brie and cranberry parcels.

If you’re bigger on the bottom..

Alanis Empire line dress £169 at Monsoon (sizes 8-22)

Asymmetric hem dress £176.25 at Karen Millen (sizes 6-16)

This is the hang up I hear about the most! It’s easy for me to say focus on the bits that don’t worry you (“thin ankles sweetie”) but honestly, a frock such as this beautiful Monsoon number will have everyone envying your shapely shoulders or daring décolletage and not what’s going on to the south of them. The bottom line (sorry) is to go for something that gently floats over your hips (avoid a cinched in bunched up waistline which will add volume) with a bit of detailing at the neck, shoulders or bust to draw attention upwards.

If you’re bigger in the middle…

Halter neck dress £49.99 at Stradivarius (sizes S,M,L)

Pewter dress £88 by Little Mistress at Simply Be (sizes 12-26)

It may feel as if there is nothing out there for you but there is, there’s never been a better time so have a second look. You probably have good arms and great legs so that’s what you need to be dressing – don’t worry about the bit in the middle that makes you reach for the layers. This dress (a steal) from Stradivarius highlights the top half and the split elegantly reveals a bit of leg. Meanwhile the Little Mistress show stopper showcases the neck and ankles. Who’s looking at the mid section now? Not me.

And if you want to dress your shape, have sleeves and do colour…

‘Alexandra’ jersey dress £99 at Coast (sizes 6-18)

‘Rebecca’ green satin dress £198 at Boden (sizes 6-22 )

Then here you are. This Coast design is a comfortable jersey fabric, the colour is stunning, neckline ideal for smaller busts and the price is plain daft. Done. The Boden is a classic with sleeves and the Monsoon is a bit of old school glamour for a curvy girl – very Marilyn Monroe. I didn’t say it would be an easy choice now did I? Be sure to let me know what you go for. Happy shopping everyone!

‘Stevie’Fit and flare dress £119 at Monsoon (sizes 6-18)

 

*Not all styles available in this size range

Advertisements
Posted in fashion, occasionwear, style, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Season of Extreme Dressing

This weather is all very confusing isn’t it? You’ve packed your t-shirts and flip flops away and replaced with knits and boots and then what happens? We’re basking in sunshine and feeling overdressed in jeans and a leather jacket. And if it isn’t possible to get a bit of a bronzing in this unseasonal weather (woe betide you omit the SPF moisturiser though) then really, is it even worth the hassle of the constant taking on and putting back on again of various layers?

It’s been a year of extremes and the autumn winter collections are no exception. For every simple strappy slip dress there’s a balloon sleeve and for every pair of black skinnies there’s a wide legged, high waisted pair. And don’t get me started on the colours; mustard versus electric blue versus gold, it’s even OK to wear them simultaneously apparently.

Long slashed polo neck £95 at French Connection

The trick is to wear your statement pieces one at a time and keep everything else low key. The look you want to achieve is edgy rather than outlandish. Take the winter coat – a staple in every wardrobe – this season it is oversized, bright, patterned, possibly all three. You’ll struggle to find a sensible black full length overcoat this year but then you’ve probably already got one. Why not live a little and splash out on a huge puffer which will keep you far warmer than your safe pea coat and have everyone else green with envy too.

Green ankle boots £80 at River Island

Large tote £59.99 at Zara

Talking of green, if last year was the winter of the red boot then a year on it’s a free for all of colour when it comes to accessories. Being a little bit more outrageous with your accessories is an easy way to modernise your look and totally cost effective since we get so much use out of our them. These green boots look more Prada than River Island and will go with most things in your wardrobe, from boho dresses to sleek trouser suits.

If you prefer to play it safe with the colours you know suit you best then experiment with asymmetric hems, textures and lengths. It’s actually quite a challenge to find an ordinary straight skirt on the high street at the moment as everything is slashed, wonky or pleated or a complete mixture. You’ll be surprised how flattering an asymmetric hem can be though, at any age or size. I’ve had a job persuading my older clients of this but I promise I wouldn’t lie about it – the jagged hems give a mere hint of leg making it a flattering, lengthening style for a heavier bottom half.

If skirts aren’t your thing then the alternative to the safe skinny or tailored pant is the wide leg trouser. Great with flats and a shirt for a Katharine Hepburn vibe or a heel and camisole for more of a Great Gatsby look. It can be louche yes, but also effortlessly sophisticated – so much fresher than the skinny jean and blazer combo.

These pieces are wearable, versatile and dare I say it, comfortable. This may be the last time in a while that I talk about comfort (we’ve got party wear and the annual Strictly Come Dancing posts coming up don’t forget) so enjoy it while you can! Go to extremes this autumn and make your statement without saying a word.

Mismatched earrings £27 at Other Stories

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Real September Issue

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Click on products to buy! (how can you resist?) It’s been a long time, I know. I have no excuse other than life getting in the way – work and all the stuff that gets squished in around it, usually … Continue reading

Gallery | 4 Comments

Fash n’ Carrie

It’s hard to believe that last week marked twenty years of Sex and the City. I forget I have been an adult for over twenty years and yet I know I was well into my twenties when SATC started; not quite old enough to fully get the low points of the thirty something friends but old enough to appreciate the high ones. I can’t help but wonder what I’ve done with myself in the years since it ended, I certainly haven’t watched anything on television with such relish – Mad Men had the style but it didn’t resonate. Sex and the City always resonated in some way, whether with my own life or one of my friend’s: an ex who gets engaged to someone else way too quickly? Tick. A date who never calls after what seemed the perfect evening? Tick. Unable to get over the One Who Got Away? Tick. Repeatedly going for the commitment-phobe? Tick. Spending money you don’t have on too many pairs of shoes? Tick tick tick.

Those were the days when you had to wait a week for your half hour dose, when (as my friend Sarah has just reminded me) you stopped your gossiping in the communal hallway to run back into your flat upon hearing the familiar HBO signal and when you knew you could call a friend to comment on the storyline/outfits without fear of spoiling it because you knew she’d be at the same bit. You knew in your heart which character you were most like and you were either pro ‘Big’ or pro ‘Aiden’, there was nothing in between. Back then dating in London was far simpler (it wasn’t even called dating) so the antics of these four New Yorkers – in a pre-online dating age – seemed outrageous and thankfully unfamiliar. We should have known that it would end up over here too.

Carrie Bradshaw appealed to me, I instantly liked her and I loved her dress sense. Where others found her selfish and her wardrobe ridiculous, I thought it refreshing to see a character who dressed according to her mood, the day and just because, well, why not? One minute she would look chic and pulled together, the next utterly bizarre. It was as fascinating as it was entertaining. You may not have liked what Sarah Jessica Parker and costume designer Patricia Field did with Carrie Bradshaw, you may think of yourself as more of a Charlotte York,  but you have to admit they made an indelible mark. There are trends we are influenced by to this day, even if you don’t realise it. I’m here to remind you of the Carrie Bradshaw lurking in your closet…

Flowers

OK, so Carrie’s corsages may have grown bigger than her head by the last series but the idea was a good one. Why should we save flowers for weddings and funerals and Remembrance Day? Admit it, you do flowers, like them even.

Tulle

Right from the opening credits it was there. I’d always wanted an excuse to dress like a five year old and this was it. The tulle was another theme of the show, by the time we followed Carrie and her Russian to Paris in the last series, the Carrie necklace was back and so was the tulle, huge froths of it. I bought an enormous tulle skirt to wear to my sister in law’s 40th last year and it was much admired. Is it just me? I don’t think it is.

Statement Shoes

Sex and the City made it acceptable to have more shoes than qualifications and what Carrie didn’t know about shoes you could fit on the tip of one of her skinny stilettos. She wore her heels anywhere and everywhere and while Lily Allen was in London coupling her trainers with her prom dress, Carrie Bradshaw was accessorising her Jimmy Choos with her running shorts. You wear brightly coloured shoes with dark outfits now don’t you, we all do. Even my mum has a pair of red ankle boots she wears with swishy skirts. It’s a thing and Carrie Bradshaw started it.

The White Dress

After the billboard campaign introducing the four main protagonists of SATC in Little Black Dresses, you rarely saw Carrie in an LBD again. However, watch closely and the white dress is a recurring theme which reappears whenever Carrie has a seminal moment with either Big or Aiden. We never saw her marry (that didn’t happen until the feature film) but the romantic white dresses were there adding to the exquisite agony. Sarah Jessica Parker can pull off pretty much anything it’s true but this summer I bet you’re tempted by all the white dresses aren’t you?

Dressing the Part

My favourite Carrie outfits were those where she dressed like a child would – a Heidi outfit complete with basket for a picnic in the park, a nurse’s costume to tend to a convalescing Mr Big. We’ve all done it in some small way; who hasn’t agonised over what to wear to meet the ‘in-laws’ for the first time and ended up in something a million miles from the norm? When Carrie did it she hadn’t even been invited which only added to the school ma’amy dress. I can only say that when she wore pin striped Vivienne Westwood to her meeting at Vogue Carrie looked fabulous. When I wore white nylon high street for my meeting at Vogue, I did not.

That concludes my case. Except to say that since recently returning from a long weekend in New York I have dusted off the SATC DVD box set I borrowed to watch it all over again. Not much has dated, interestingly the clothes least of all, and I’m loving it even more than the (ahem) third time. But then this stuff inspired not just two films and SJP’s shoe collection, it inspired me to be a bit braver, to put my love of clothes out there and turn it into my profession and then finally to write my own book.

I ♥ SATC.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Dress for a Royal Wedding (or any wedding)

Where were you on Saturday morning? If, like me, you were sitting on the sofa in your pyjamas watching the royal wedding from the moment the coverage began, then this post will be a welcome second/third/fourth/fifth look at the proceedings. If not, then it won’t.

I loved it. From Oprah being one of the first to arrive, as if she was the least important person, prompting an immediate worry about how she was going to survive that many hours without food, to the Beckhams sparking a Twitter debate about whether they’d had a barney on the way – this was top notch entertainment. I was interested in what everyone wore naturally – my working life is currently 75% dressing women for weddings – but it was what Meghan showed up in that was the real reason behind my taking the iPad all around the house with me. But how differently it all played out; by the time I had seen that Meghan was in a boat neck number, I had seen so many beautiful, surprising outfits file into the chapel, I’d already peaked.

Amal Clooney timed her entrance to perfection. A ray of absolute sunshine on an already bright day, she was a willowy buttercup in a field of daisies and made George look like a rather third rate accessory to her Stella McCartney asymmetric midi, his role very much the supporting one. Arriving as they did just ahead of the Beckhams, it was almost like watching the long dark shadow of a cloud creep over the walkway as the spiky silhouette of Victoria tottered over – her orange stilettos the one pop of colour in her head to toe navy – her face set in misery (or agony, she did appear to have trouble walking), the flip side of Amal’s sunny side up.

Lady Kitty Spencer in Dolce and Gabbana

Posh wasn’t the only one who opted for a more wintery shade though, in fact there was something of a trend with forest green, berry and claret (is there a difference in those last two, who knows?) appearing as often as the baby blue and lemon, almost as if the guests had planned their oufits for crap weather. However the dress styles – midi again – saved the day because they were just so darned fabulous. I Googled which designer was responsible for Lady Kitty Spencer’s corseted flowery frock, possibly my favourite of all, but I should have guessed that Dolce and Gabbana were behind it. Chaste yet sexy is what they do best for the hourglass figure, once again an orange shoe turning up the heat. I can only hope that H&M or Zara act quickly to bring out a copy of this dress for autumn.

If Kitty Spencer represented the autumnal pallet then actress Carey Mulligan was championing the summer in every way. Her dress by Erdem was on the cusp of being a maxi, the delicate floral fabric gently twisted at the neckline and falling in ruffles to her ankles, nothing else needed but heels and a clutch. You could almost see Carey pulling this out at a later date to wear with flats and a cropped denim jacket for the school run. With her currently ash blonde hair and pale skin, she reminded me of a young Marilyn Monroe – absolutely gorgeous. James Blunt’s wife Sofia opted for a similar style, a column of flowers, this time in bolder colours. The only downside being it seemed to make JB look even shorter alongside, if you half closed your eyes they could be Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman back in the day.

While there were many pretty prints on show, fitting in neatly with the carefully placed foliage around the chapel door, those who chose a block colour – mostly the older ladies for whom perhaps floral is historically too ‘mother of the bride’ – went for a pastel and the greens chosen by the Queen and the actual mother of the bride looked fresh and stylish. Meghan’s mum Doria Ragland was the epitomy of grace and sophistication in Oscar de la Renta mint from her pillbox hat to her pretty vintage style clutch. No huge brooches or daft ostrich hats for her; you could immediately see from where Meghan Markle gets her poise and understated elegance.

This wasn’t the red carpet, it was far more interesting with so many hats and fascinators and a level of anticipation not even the Oscars can evoke. The celebrities added excitement but the glamour was already there in spades, so I was all primed for Meghan’s former Suits cast mates to add the giggle factor, to get it completely wrong with some kind of Googled version of what one should wear to a British wedding. As my dad always said, a wedding isn’t a wedding until someone causes a bit of trouble.

Sadly, it was not to be, not even Princess Charlotte mucked about. The Suits actors were show stopping, yes, but for all the right reasons. Contrasting styles and a masterclass in how to dress for your body shape – the Alessandra Rich governessy navy and white polka dot was another of my favourites.

We couldn’t have asked for more – perfect weather, stunning venue, a beautiful happy couple and the best dresses available brought together to mark the occasion. There’s only one thing left to say and it’s controversial so I’m going to say it and then leg it.

The new Duchess of Sussex in Stella McCartney

I preferred this one.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Your Summer Style Steals

Click to buy!

Following my last post where it was all hot weather and floaty cotton dresses, I am back in my jumper and socks feeling fairly smug that I didn’t waste any time slathering on the fake tan. I have discovered over the years that not only do tiny splashes of the tanning lotion flick all over my bathroom only to be discovered when it has stained the wall/floor forever but that also somehow the excess washes off in the shower and stains the grouting. I KNOW! They don’t warn you about that on the bottle.

The original Cult Gaia bamboo bag retailing at £92

Bamboo bag £45 at Very

Anyway, I digress. Undecided on what to write about this week, I had a scroll through Instagram and came across a lovely bag modelled by an in-the-know fashion editor. Said bag turned out to be from fashion website Very and was a quite brilliant rip-off of a style by Cult Gaia who also produced one of last year’s summer It bags. I was onto Very.co.uk faster than you can say “definitely don’t need another impractical summer bag” and there it was – my next accessory and the inspiration for this blog all in one.

Prabal Gurung SS18

Mini dress reduced to £32 at Very

Very is worth a look because it’s not just bags they shamelessly copy from the pricier brands. I have found dresses, knitwear and even a console table on one of my nights in on the sofa with my iPad and as you know I don’t usually go a bundle on online shopping.

Another high street name who has sought designer inspiration is Warehouse. There’s lots of chambray, A-lines shapes and button details, it’s all rather seventies in feel, totally wearable and will work for all ages. Just don’t team with wedges (too predictable) which will make the overall look a bit mumsy, a pair of box fresh trainers will add a splash of cool instead.

Dress £52 at Warehouse

Dress £49 at Warehouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

The husband and wife team who make up label Preen have been designing for Debenhams for several seasons now and their collection is always hotly anticipated. This summer the pieces are an explosion of colourful florals and the similarities to their main line are plain to see. You’ll have to be quick if you fancy any of the silk or blue and white confections because they are flying off the rails and with another bit of warm weather on the way this bank holiday weekend, the shoppers will be out.

Dress £120 Studio by Preen at Debenhams

Dress £69 Studio by Preen at Debenhams

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, if your feet still aren’t ready – I know, it’s been far too chilly to have your toes out long enough for the varnish to dry – then invest in a pair of this season’s must-have white ankle boots.

Maison Martin Miguela $675

Ankle boots reduced to £56.25 by Faith at Debenhams

Yes, they’ll be useful with your denim pieces but more importantly will add the edge to these girly dresses and skirts. Think Debbie Harry mixed with Stevie Nicks and you’re on the right track this summer. These Faith copies of the extreme cowboy style by Maison Martin Miguela which retail for around £700 are a bargain in comparison but they’re also far less scary a prospect to actually wear out in public.

Valentino studded heels £650

Studded heels £45 at Dune

The much Instagrammed Valentino studded stilettos aren’t technically new but they have survived to see in another season and are available in other colours. If you have a wedding to go to and you don’t want to fork out for a new dress then think about updating with the most outrageous designer copy of them all – I defy anyone to spot this £45 Dune pair aren’t the real £650 thing. Now there’s a really good reason to feel smug.

Happy bank holiday weekend everyone!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Look Heatwave Ready (when you’re not)

You’ve been longing for it for months now. You’ve lusted after those easy floaty kaftans and basket bags and you’ve joked about how many applications of fake tan it will take to shift the blue tinge from your legs. The rosé has been chilling in the fridge since February and you’ve even abandoned the navy blue nail varnish for of the moment lilac despite it making your feet look like they’re missing a toe tag. Yes, all that and possibly more and yet… and yet you’re not ready are you?

Despite the moaning about snow in March and the Easter holidays being more about umbrellas and wellies than bunnies and chocolate, you’re still not ready to crack out the upper arms and lower legs are you? You now have less than two days before the ‘Hotter than Ibiza’ headlines and you’re probably at work too. And quite apart from the practicalities of a mini heatwave in a major city, panic preparation is costly. Yoga classes, waxing appointments, giant bottles of instant tan, pedicures – there’s nothing left for the weekly food shop. What’s a girl to do?

Unless you’re one of those women who has a tan all year round, whose highlights are always touched up and nails never chipped, you will be torn between anxiety at how to get dressed on Wednesday and excitement at some warmth and vitamin D at last. We’re all (apart from the afore-mentioned perma-bronzed broads) in it together, I’ve asked around, here’s what I think:

  1. One fake tan application does not a summer leg make…

Cigarette trousers £19.99 Anna Glover x H&M

Pleated wrapover skirt £39.99 at H&M

Go long. Patterned trousers, split skirts, maxi dresses, the choice is endless this summer, this is one year you really don’t need to worry about your legs. Friend Dina never does anyway; she won’t get hers out until her holiday and photos taken there are strictly waist up only. Wide legged trews will keep you cool while ‘cigarette pants’ are neat for work. This pleated skirt if the perfect day to night piece – just swap your white trainers for heels when you leave the office.

2. Forty something feet used to boots should be reintroduced gradually…

Trainers £149 by Air and Grace at stockists nationally

Weave heels £39.50 at Marks and Spencer

While you buff, scrape and polish in the evenings, lightweight trainers or pumps will cover for you during the day. Don’t bother with sandals ’til you’re good and ready because there comes a time when sitting on your unsightly feet simply isn’t appropriate (see weddings / job interviews). I love these wickerwork style courts by Marks and Spencer – don’t they look lovely and airy – and you should check out Air and Grace whose trainers have just the right amount of edge to toughen up a girly skirt.

3. I was right about denim jackets then and I’m right now…

Denim jacket £95 at French Connection

Basket bag £49.99 at Zara

You may recall four years ago (it’s more likely you may not) that friend Cesca was worried about splashing out on a French Connection denim jacket. Said FC jacket has been worn almost to death and is about to be replaced. Cost per wear is currently in minus figures and counting. You see? This jacket and bag will look perfect with the mustard maxi below and either pair of shoes above. Oh I am really enjoying myself now…

 

4. If you still haven’t bought a long floral dress, you have only yourself to blame…

Off the shoulder dress £150 at French Connection

Button up dress £24 by Miss Selfridge

I’m going to keep going on about this I’m afraid but I may find different ways to say it. Here goes: button up styles can be worn undone with a vest top and jeans or cropped trousers underneath, shapeless styles can be belted, dressy styles can be dressed down with trainers or flip flops and that denim jacket. Or a leather one if you think you can stand the heat. Even the cheap dresses look great so buy several and never worry about separates ever again. Also, for a look that’s very this season add folky accessories such as the lovely tassel bracelet below from my local boutique Katie and Jo.

5. And finally, one word – jumpsuits.

White jumpsuit £250 at Reiss

Tassel bracelet £34 by Shashi at Katie and Jo

An excellent one-stop-go-to piece for your mini heatwave working wardrobe. I have seven. Go up a size so it doesn’t feel like you’re being sliced clean up the middle like a cartoon character when you sit down. And before you ask about going to the loo, there is a way to not let your jumpsuit drop around your ankles but explaining it in writing is way beyond me. But yes, it is a pain in the bum, sometimes quite literally. This gorgeous Reiss jumpsuit is elegant enough for a special occasion but could also be worn with trainers or flats for work. Consider a contrasting belt or scarf around the middle to break up the white.

I’m tempted to say send in pics of your heatwave looks so we can all have a look but this will only encourage my mum to text me to prove she’s not wearing a vest. But please do enjoy dressing for the unseasonal (or is it seasonal now, I’ve lost track?) hot weather and go for it because it may be  a while until we get the chance again.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At a Cinema Near You

Click to purchase! 

I didn’t publish my usual Oscar blog and for that I apologise; I had the wedding mentioned in the previous blog to go to the next day and I didn’t think it polite to turn up bleary eyed and ready for a nap by the time it got to the speeches. However during my flit through all the red carpet dresses, it did occur to me that while I was as fascinated as ever with who wore what, the cinematic characters portrayed by these actresses were for once just as interesting.

Fascinator £89 at Coast

Both on the big and little screens, there have been some deliciously meaty roles for women, and not just the twenty somethings either. Big Little Lies started it all off for me, followed by the Crown and the under-hyped Feud. But it was at the cinema that I really sat up and took notice (without even spilling my wine for once – they really shouldn’t allow me to take it in). I was captivated by the stories these women told and the icing on the cake was that there was so much sartorial stimulation too. From Frances McDormand in her old school boiler suits to Margo Robbie in her over embellished ice skating dress (did anyone else momentarily think of Jayne Torvill as a style icon based solely on her Bolero costume back in the day?), the costumes encapsulated the time, the person, the state of mind. As clothes tend to do, whether or not we intend them to.

So let’s look, as they say, at some of the achievement in costume design. And instead of the usual Oscar red carpet line up, let’s focus on the roles which got them there and the clothes which made us love them even more:

The Post

Meryl Streep in The Post

As if having Meryl Streep (the only multi award winning actress referred to as ‘overrated’ by a sitting president – kudos, it takes effort to be overrated) playing a 1970’s woman who owns a newspaper wasn’t exciting enough, La Streep does it in a procession of fabulously sensible middle aged outfits. High necklines and sofa prints are accessorised with Margaret Thatcher hair and the Queen’s handbags and we know exactly where

Kaftan by Isabel Marant at Iris in Battersea

we’re at. Until that is, Meryl’s character Katharine Graham hosts a party in a show stopping kaftan and all of a sudden there is hope. Never has an unflattering triangular piece of fabric which lends itself to changing into your bikini on the beach, been so cool. I’m almost, almost tempted to get myself one just so I can start lounging about on my sofa at 6pm sipping cocktails.

 

 

The Darkest Hour

Kristen Scott Thomas in The Darkest Hour

Frankly, I went to this film post Gary Oldman’s Oscar win to learn a little something about Winston Churchill about whom I knew embarrassingly little. I loved it, was surprised at how fascinating I found my impromptu history lesson on a Thursday afternoon and moreover, the unexpected wardrobe parade courtesy of Kristen Scott Thomas. Hold the kaftan, I thought, I’m over expensive hippy chic, pill box hats and nipped in jackets are where it’s at now. Kristen of

Dress £150 at Uterque.com

course is built like a twig but like Meryl, she makes being over fifty years old look like something to look forward to. I’ll take that and whatever she’s wearing.

 

Molly’s Game

Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game

 

 

Yet another character based on a real person and true events, former Olympic class skiier turned poker game host Molly Bloom gives a master class on how to fuse power dressing with slightly brassy sass should this be a look you ever wish to emulate. Jessica Chastain is a curvy non-stick insect type and yet she does the

Necklace £28 at Oliver Bonas

cleavage and statement necklaces combo without looking like a hooker – no mean feat – I’m taking notes.

 

 

 

Lady Bird

Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird

And so to the youngest character of the bunch and the loveliest film I’ve seen in years. This reminded me so much of my teenage years, I wish I could go back and do them again but with a better wardrobe. Christine (or Lady Bird as she refers to herself) does thrift shop chic beautifully, the pale colours and vintage fabrics managing to emphasise actress Saoirse Ronan’s youth and delicate Irish colouring. I comforted myself

Lace dress £55 by Vila

when thinking back to the frizzy bobbed hair and oversized shirts I wore at 17 that nobody looks good in stuff bought from charity shops and then I remembered my friend Clare. Clare looked great in second hand flea-ridden crochet. I did not.

It’s been a great year for escapism via the medium of film at a time when it was never more called for. Here’s to more women in more films saying more good stuff and yes, wearing more clothes. Happy first day of spring everyone!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nice Day for a White Wedding

Click to buy!

White weddings in the movies are always so romantic aren’t they? Snowflakes softly falling on the twinkly eyed lovebirds while Bing Crosby or whoever sings something poignant close by. Even Phoebe from Friends managed to have a sexy snowy wedding. I’d have settled for a white Christmas but no, we had to have snow in March, when wedding season begins. A wedding is going to happen whether you are ready or not. It doesn’t matter how much more up for a matrimonial celebration you’d be if it was warmer /you were a bit tanned / in a relationship, that wedding is in the calendar and as much as you might like to, you probably can’t go in your balaclava and moon boots.

Trouser suits at Mulberry AW 2018

Trouser suit £378 at Massimo Dutti

I love a wedding but it has come as something of a surprise to me that having started on the merry-go-round of weddings back in 1999 when my friend Clare was the first of my friends to get hitched, twenty years on and we’re still not done with the first round.*

Back in 1999 I bought myself a skirt from Urban Outfitters in New York and paired it with a top from Karen Millen and I wore it to no less than seven weddings. It was an excellent outfit (despite the need for a strapless bra) and although I broke the heel off my shoe on the dance floor on its first outing, I managed to talk the shop I bought them from into replacing them. All seven weddings were different sets of friends or family so I really got my money’s worth, not to mention saving a lot of angst.

Ruffle dress £69 at Warehouse

Long dress at Temperley AW 2018

However, nineteen years on and next week we are off to witness our old friend (at this stage in the game one whole side of this particular congregation will be over 40) marry his lovely bride and while I am tempted to resurrect the 1999 outfit (it happens to be this season’s lilac), it seems too early for pastels and far too cold for bare skin.

Long dress £295 by Rixo at Katie and Jo

So what to wear? I style a lot of women going to weddings at this time of year but because of the extreme nature of our ‘spring’ weather, it is causing more problems than usual. The shops are full of pink, mint and the afore-mentioned lilac and dresses are largely short and sleeveless. Currently I am wearing two pairs of socks, a vest, heat tech top, a jumper over tracksuit bottoms and Uggs and I am in my own home. The thought of putting on a floaty piece of silk with a pair of sheer tights and heels makes me shiver. And can you imagine a fascinator in this howling wind? Aren’t we still being advised not to do any non-essential dressing up? Or is that travel?

Red clutch bag £29.99 at Zara

I am advising clients to do as they would on a normal day which is to layer up. Luckily there are plenty of very elegant pieces around which lend themselves perfectly to this – you won’t even need to resort to a pashmina – and if you have to put your dressy shoes in a bag and change out of your wellies behind a tree, then so be it.

 

Jumpsuit £76 at Warehouse

Jumpsuits at Jonathan Simkhai AW 2018

The timing of the four main fashion weeks showing the trends for next winter (by which time we’ll have worn our summer wardrobes for oh, at least a

Jumpsuit £139 at Coast

fortnight), plays straight into the winter wedding hand. Keep your spring stuff for when it actually feels like spring and add a bit of autumn winter 2018/19 style hot off the runway. Statement coats, interestingly coloured trouser suits and long sleeved, long length dresses are very much on trend and will be sticking around until well into next year so if you buy now you don’t need to worry about only wearing it once.

You’re probably better off worrying about clashing or worse, matching the bridesmaids. I’ve dressed a fair few bridesmaids already this year and I will warn you that they are wearing a lot of Monsoon and Coast, pink mostly, so bear that in mind. Try your local independent boutique where they are far more likely to sell only one or two of each size and may even make a note of who is wearing what to each event (yes, lovely boutique owners really are that thoughtful!) to avoid doubling up. Or find a gem in TK Maxx which is reduced from £1200 to £150 because no-one but you can see its potential, so what if it needs to be taken up or a button added?

Statement coat at Oscar de la Renta AW 2018

Stripey coat £95.99 at Zara

Pink silk trench £349 at Massimo Dutti

Perhaps we should all take a leaf out of the bride’s handbook and make a decision about our outfit well in advance, hope we’ll still like it on the actual day and just hope nobody else turns up in the same thing.

 

I once went to a wedding where the bride was unknown to many of us before the big day. Into the chapel she walked looking resplendent and gorgeous in a daringly low cut white knee length dress and headdress. She was composed and smiling and took her seat in the front row. She was in fact the mother of the bride, the bride herself was a little more low key and didn’t seem to mind at all about her scene stealing mum.

Anyway, the temperatures look a little more sensible in London next week so hopefully we won’t all freeze to death at the wedding. Now I wonder if I can still fit into that Urban Outfitters skirt…

Sheer jacket £119 at Massimo Dutti

 

*That there have been no second marriages so far is in itself amazing isn’t it?

Posted in fashion, occasionwear, style | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Striping a Balance

CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO BUY

You’ve noticed the stripes haven’t you? You’ve seen them popping up in magazines and shop windows and you’ve tried to ignore them. You’re horrified and want nothing to do with them and that’s fine because stripes are scary.

Striped top £25.99 at Zara

Go faster (possibly) trousers £25.99 at Zara

It’s fine, but it doesn’t mean they’re not there. Stripes are here for spring and they’re not going anywhere. And these stripes aren’t subtle; they’re not nautical and they’re not your standard Breton, these stripes are irregular, brightly coloured and might even make your eyes go funny.

Shirt dress £260 at Sandro

Don’t worry though because I share your fear, I’ve never been brave when it comes to prints. Although I can stomach a small daisy print or a polka dot, I’ve been indoctrinated (and who hasn’t?) by the largely incorrect belief that vertical stripes lengthen while horizontal stripes widen. It isn’t true, or at least it isn’t always true but perhaps you also believe that a ‘go-faster’ stripe down the side of your running leggings does actually make you run faster.

Midi dress £199 at Karen Millen

Maxi dress £25.99 at Zara

But ok, let’s take this striped midi Karen Millen dress. Yes, it’s head to toe monochrome stripes – on paper (or tablet) it sounds pretty much like a zebra onesie. But look at it – it’s fabulous! If it’s too much fabulous for you then slip a skinny rib black sleeveless tank top or cardigan over the top to break it up a bit.

Asymmetric dress £29.99 at Stradivarius

Floral dress £39.99 at Stradivarius

For a gentler introduction to this trend, look no further than new name on the high street, Stradivarius. It’s from the same stable as Zara and the majority of their stuff is aimed at the teen market but if you can hold yourself back from the pom pom key-rings and flatform trainers then you will unearth some really fantastic, ridiculously cheap dresses and skirts. FYI I went in there looking for a present for my neice (I did!) and came out with a pair of knee high red suede boots reduced from £85 to £25. Yes, they are comfortable and no, I didn’t need them one bit.

Pleated skirt £29.99 at Stradivarius

Shirt dress £69 at Arket

If you can’t get your head around the Karen Millen number, you’re not going to like what’s coming up I warn you. When I first starting researching this blog a couple of weeks ago I had noticed the beginnings of a trend. However now I am massively overdue in posting it, the stripes are everywhere, each piece bigger and bolder than the last. I have to admit I am completely sold on it, so much so I am even considering the pyjama trend. This is an unfortunate development because it has hung around for several seasons now and I have repeatedly refused to get involved. Also, although it didn’t seem possible for the pyjama trend to look more pyjama-ish, now it comes in vertical stripes, there is absolutely no difference at all. Looking on the bright side, you could in fact wear pyjamas and save yourself a bit of cash and in this freezing weather, it’s not such a bad idea all things considered.

Palazzo trousers £35.99 at Mango

Striped jacket £79.99 at Mango

Seriously though, adding this Mango blazer to a pair of jeans and red boots or a tight polo and heels to the palazzo trousers and you’ve got an effortless yet up to the minute outfit. Equally, a denim jacket or tux style black jacket and boots will water down any one of the dresses. Spring feels a long way off still (I’m actually sitting at my desk in my coat) so this is a good way to pep up your wardrobe without breaking the bank or wearing pastel florals. Have a great weekend and go buy stripes – you’ve earned them!

 

 

 

Posted in fashion, humour, style | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments