Double Trouble

When Bucks Fizz won the Eurovision Song Contest and were suddenly thrust into our lives dragging with them a love of primary colours and highlighted perms in desperate need of conditioner, there was nothing I wouldn’t have done to be part of their group. I thought I wanted to be Cheryl (Cheryl was the chubbier, more smiley one, the antithesis of the pouting Posh Spice) but really all I wanted was a circular skirt fastened with Velcro which could be whipped off at a moment’s notice by an identikit boy in a matching sweatshirt and trousers. I also loved the children’s books Topsy and Tim the stars of which were twins who always dressed identically.

Topsy and Tim go shopping

Topsy and Tim go shopping

I flirted briefly with the idea of dressing my sister up in the same outfits as me but this never really worked as we went for different colours – Hannah blue and me red – and I had a far higher tolerance of itchy fabrics which Hannah wouldn’t abide along with yogurts with bits in (about the only thing I actually would eat). I was more successful in grooming my poor unsuspecting brother as he was seven years younger and had no idea that wearing red tights and a zoo park gift shop sweatshirt was a bit girly albeit a costume for our dance routine to Toni Basil’s ‘Hey Mickey’.

My brother and me channeling Bucks Fizz in 1982

My brother and me channeling Bucks Fizz in 1982

But this was the ’80s and as we know not a lot didn’t happen in terms of clothes in that era – no-one came out unscathed, not even three year olds. I haven’t really revisited that whole twin dressing thing, at least only fleetingly. I once made my boyfriend of the time have a piece of fabric which matched my dress sticking out of his tux jacket as if it was a handkerchief. We were off to a black tie party and I thought it was an excellent bit of subtle styling until my friend Lee asked my boyfriend why he had my knickers sticking out of his breast pocket.

The Beckhams - their co-ordinating outfits could be a happy coincidence

The Beckhams – their co-ordinating outfits could be a happy coincidence…

... This is not

… This is not

The thing is, no matter who you are and how gorgeous and stylish, dressing to look the same as your partner never looks good. It looks cringeworthy and embarrassing and well, as if you want to be in Bucks Fizz.

Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris

Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris

So why is it so many celebrity couples, even those who rarely step out of the house without consulting a stylist, are drawn to the idea of consciously coupling their wardrobes? Do they think it makes them look cuter? Richer? More bankable? Because most of the time it just makes them look totally daft, with the blokes looking by far the most ridiculous of the two. Most men I know don’t even co-ordinate their socks.

Justin and Britney come as a denim sofa

Justin and Britney come as a denim sofa

Are Justin and Jessica just jesting?

Are Justin and Jessica just jesting?

Taylor Swift tends to adapt her wardrobe to each new boyfriend and her latest relationship with Calvin Harris is no different. I am genuinely bewildered because it appears nothing was learned from the denim explosion that turned out to be Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. That was in 2001 and yet since then not only has Justin Timberlake stepped out matching his (generally rather elegant) wife Jessica Biel but countless others have jumped on the matchy-matchy bandwagon too.

Topsy and Tim on holiday

Topsy and Tim on holiday

Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan on holiday

Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan on holiday

The Beckhams love a bit of complementary dressing. They’ve refined it so it’s not so in your face these days but still, do we really need reminding that they are as one? It would be so refreshing if just once they appeared on the red carpet in horribly mismatched outfits – David in the suit he wears when he hangs out with Prince William and Victoria in her World Cup 2006 in Baden Baden hot pants and water melon boob push up bra for example. I can’t help feeling dressing like twins is beneath the Beckhams now what with him having an OBE and her being a feted designer an’ all. We expect it of Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan, it would be disappointing if they didn’t have his n’ hers perma tans, his n’ hers dazzling teeth and his n’ hers swimwear but the Beckhams don’t have anything to prove anymore do they?

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the British Academy Film Awards 2014

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the British Academy Film Awards 2014

And then Brad n’ Ange, who are normally too cool for school did it at the BAFTAs last year and it jumped to a whole new level. Suddenly it occurred to me that it was a status thing, along with having multiple houses and children with peculiar names. Mere mortals don’t go out dressed the same as their partners because they would be laughed at in the pub and then possibly set upon on the way home. Celebrity couples simply climb back into their limo. It’s a way of announcing “Look at us, we can do exactly what we want, including dressing like toddlers!” You won’t see Prince William and Kate appearing in public with co-ordinated wardrobes because they have the status by default and besides they’re far too concerned with being appropriate to waste time comparing the wash of their jeans.

Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebl breezily co-ordinated

Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebl breezily co-ordinated

One final word – if you’re tempted to go out looking like 50% of Bucks Fizz (Mike Nolan and Jay Aston rather than Cheryl and Bobby I’m guessing) then for goodness sake make it look like a hilarious accident. After all, there is not a human being in the world who didn’t find Rod, Jane and Freddie deeply disturbing – you have been warned.

Absolutely nothing breezy about this pair

Absolutely nothing breezy about this pair

 

 

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The Beginning of Season Sale

I rarely buy new season clothes when they first appear in the shops. I know the sensible fashiony people with their finger on the pulse buy their winter coat in August and their bikini in February to ensure not missing out but I just can’t do it. I don’t have the wardrobe space for one thing. For another, who in their right mind (apart from Gisele Bundchen) wants to be trying on swimwear right after Christmas?

Sequin skirt £21 down from £39.50 at M&S

Sequin skirt £21 down from £39.50 at M&S

Fashion, by its very nature, is always one step ahead. The Autumn Winter shows are scheduled in March and Spring Summer in September. This would be fine and logical if those seasons then started in reality six months later. However these days and for the past few years now, summer hasn’t properly started until July and a diluted winter not until December.

Camisole top £12 down from £20 at Top Shop

Camisole top £12 down from £20 at Top Shop

So we shouldn’t really be surprised that the ‘mid season’ sales are appearing before most of us have even turned the heating on/off which then of course has the knock-on effect of the ‘end of season’ sales commencing in at what is really only the beginning of the season. This year we are now in full blown sale mode in June and it’s hardly surprising given most of us are still wearing a jacket to go out and eating porridge for breakfast. I actually wore my puffa to the playground last week for goodness sake.

Dress £124.95 down from £249 at Anthropologie

Dress £124.95 down from £249 at Anthropologie

My greedy, shopaholic self is thrilled that there is all this discounted stuff on the high street three weeks before I go on holiday. Meanwhile my pragmatic, list making side is recoiling in horror at the thought of the shops being full of knitwear and boots by the time I get back. An outfit I daringly bought in April because I loved it so much I didn’t want to miss out is still in its packaging. It’s probably also half price now dammit.

Knotted Dress £25 down from £39.99 at H&M

Knotted Dress £25 down from £39.99 at H&M

There is only one thing for it and that is to be sensible and to buy pieces that will work right through to the end of the year rather than just in the pub garden or on the beach. And actually the Spring Summer 2015 collections have been full of versatile colours and fabrics so there will be plenty to snap up.

1. Suede and leather

Suede bucket bag £35 down from £50 at ASOS

Suede bucket bag £35 down from £50 at ASOS

It’s everywhere and while it seemed daft at the start of the season, if you invested in a bag or a pair of shorts in suede or leather it’s probably the hardest working thing in your wardrobe. It’s a no-brainer as sale purchases go.

2. Silk

Silk blouse £64.90 down from £85 at Uterque

Silk blouse £64.90 down from £85 at Uterque

A second season of Gillian Anderson and her silk shirts in The Fall meant the love affair with anything silky continued. The soft shades in the shops now will look gorgeous with the heavier fabrics later in the year.

3. Swimwear

Swimsuit £14 down from £25 at M&S

Swimsuit £14 down from £25 at M&S

Well obviously because swimwear is an absolute nightmare to shop for at any time of the year so if you find something you love and it also happens to fit then get it – get it twice, three times if it’s in the sale! This M&S one is a structured fabric and has a lovely slightly 50s feel while still being completely classic.

4. Midi Skirts

Midi skirt £59 down from £135 at Reiss

Midi skirt £59 down from £135 at Reiss

I can’t believe I’m saying this yet again but they’re not going away are they? They’re great for any age and any occasion and whether it’s hot or cold they work. This Reiss midi will be just as fabulous with a polo neck and boots.

5. Maxi Dresses

Maxi dress £19.99 down from £49.99 at Zara

Maxi dress £19.99 down from £49.99 at Zara

This reduction is too good to be true. The colours of this floaty fabric ensure an easy transition into autumn and the dominance of pretty maxi dresses this summer means they won’t be going anywhere fast. Team with a skinny rib underneath or a chunky knit over the top and then add boots.

6. Slingback heels

Slingback heels £85 down from £135 at Reiss

Slingback heels £85 down from £135 at Reiss

Who doesn’t need a pair of classic black heels? These Reiss slingbacks are classic with a twist and oh so elegant. You might as well get them when they’re reduced because you’re never not going to replace classic black heels when they look worn out are you? They’re like carpet in that way.

Now where did I put my credit card… Happy Beginning of End of Sale Shopping Everyone!

 

 

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Summertime and the Dressing is Easy

I booked my holiday flights this week. We’re not going until the end of July and so having counted the weeks in my diary I now have something of an understanding of how my small son feels when he asks me in October how long it is until his next birthday (it’s August).

Holiday postcard print dress reduced to £62.30 at Boden

Holiday postcard print dress reduced to £62.30 at Boden

Here in London we haven’t had many opportunities to break out the summer wardrobe thus far so it is occupying my mind which clothes I should take with me for a fortnight in Spain. Of course these days I share my suitcase with my son and then when I get there I share the hanging space with my boyfriend (you win some, you lose some – he is one of a rare breed who actually likes to unpack) so there are limits. You may recall the ‘hand luggage only’ debate last year, well the boyfriend ended up being amazed at how little I appeared to have packed, so I can’t help but feel there is a reputation to be maintained in this area.

Tropical print dress reduced to £27 at & Other Stories

Tropical print dress reduced to £27 at & Other Stories

I am of the belief that there are few garments simpler than the dress, especially in the summer months. This season, dresses come in all styles, lengths and colours and there is not a body shape or occasion in the world that has not been catered for. A pair of shorts requires a certain amount of leg preparation and well, aren’t they just a terrifying item anyway? A dress however, can cover a multitude of sins (in my case, pasty skin), can be styled up for the office or down for the beach and best of all, you merely have to add shoes and you’re done – precious time saved. It’s the sartorial equivalent of toast.

Midi dress £65 at & Other Stories

Perfect day to evening dress £65 at & Other Stories

I have trawled (oh the agonies) through hundreds of dresses to find some of the most versatile and problem solving pieces on the high street. In a bid to cover all eventualities from the boardroom to the boardwalk I have chosen these dresses for their unique selling points, based on what ladies tell me they are looking for (and can’t often find) in a summer dress.

 

 

Maxi dress £98 at Stefanel

Maxi dress £98 at Stefanel

If your legs aren’t your favourite feature then there has never been a better time to look fabulous in a midi or full length dress. Team with flip flop style casual footwear in the daytime or on holiday and jewellery, a belt and mules to vamp it up a notch as the sun goes down. Other Stories is your best bet for midis currently.

 

Striped dress £70 at French Connection

Striped dress £70 at French Connection

The biggest gripe I hear is that there are never any dresses out there with sleeves for those who prefer a little more coverage on their upper arms. Admittedly, it’s not easy but they do exist which is lucky given that it hasn’t been nearly warm enough for those of us in the UK to go without sleeves. This number from French Connection has sleeves and it embraces the nautical and midi trends too. Wear with white plimsolls in the day for a laid back French vibe.

 

Multi-tasking dress Reduced to £24.99 at Gap

Multi-tasking dress
Reduced to £24.99 at Gap

My favourite find of last summer was the 3 in 1 stretch dress from Gap which was obviously a hit as Gap have brought it back this year. The new version here has an uneven hem but retains the roll down bandeau top ideal for covering up from the pool to the table. I wore mine constantly last year both as dress and skirt, it’s the ultimate easy holiday piece as it doesn’t tend to crease in your suitcase. Add a tan belt and floppy hat for a romantic daytime look.

Shirt dress £131 at All Saints

Shirt dress £131 at All Saints

It can be a bit of a shock when summer suddenly arrives and you don’t feel body confident enough to go with the figure hugging stuff. This gorgeous dress from All Saints is a great work piece, will work equally as well with tights and a jacket as without and best of all has an eye-catching print and a bit of ruching around the dreaded tummy area. You’ll really get your money’s worth with this one.

Dress £195 at Reiss

Dress £195 at Reiss

It’s always harder I think to dress for occasions when the temperature rises, as it’s harder to be comfortable all day. Light fabrics show sweat too easily and god forbid you should drop something down pastel silk. Still, this dress from Reiss is so melt in the mouth, I couldn’t leave it out. It’s got pleats, it’s got a waist and it’s demure enough to wear to a wedding or christening. Probably best to stick to white wine and potato during any meals though.

Caped dress £49.99 at Zara

Caped dress £49.99 at Zara

And for my final trick… this crimson dress is so unlike any other I saw I have dreamed up an extra category just so I can include it. It’s such a statement dress that it would almost be worth buying it now to simply hang in your wardrobe (my boyfriend bought me an amazing dress I didn’t need based on this theory – sigh). It has sleeves this dress, but not much else, so underwear would be tricky, but hey, if you were wearing a dress like this wouldn’t you want to walk into rooms backwards anyway? Enjoy the sun dear readers, get your summer dresses out and use the time you save getting dressed in the morning to go shopping in the sales for a few more.

 

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Supermarket Sweep

WARNING – THIS BLOG CONTAINS DREADFUL CLOTHES!

Just recently a piece in the dreaded Daily Mail caught my eye and I was even more horrified than usual by the content. While I will happily read the infamous column of shame to catch up on gossip and who’s wearing what, I take it for what it is and add a hefty amount of salt.

This Primark dress is according to the Mail "perfect for day to night dressing"

This Primark dress is according to the Mail “perfect for day to night dressing”

The Mail thinks this Asda kimono makes this look "more dressy". Cripes.

The Mail thinks this Asda kimono makes this look “more dressy”. Cripes.

This particular article was focusing in on a capsule holiday wardrobe and promising it for a mere £60 care of the budget brands Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Primark and Asda. Now I won’t dismiss any brand out of hand, you never know where the next must-have item might come from and if an outfit is styled beautifully much of the time you can’t tell who has made it anyway.  For her ‘going away’ outfit Friend Cesca wore a fabulous Pucci-esque dress that turned out to be from Asda and I have a £14 Primark skirt which has been mistaken for Prada. Consequently I was excited to see what the Daily Mail fashion lot might have come up with.

 

OK, THIS IS WHERE IT GETS BETTER…

 

Dress £20 at Asda

Dress £20 at Asda

Jumpsuit £25 at Asda

Jumpsuit £25 at Asda

I was gobsmacked. It was the worst collection of flammable looking horrible garments I have ever seen and the comments left below the article proved that nobody else was terribly impressed either. I wouldn’t have paid £20 for it, let alone £60 and I doubt any age group would have been inspired by the selection. And I once bought a dress in Peacock’s, I really will shop anywhere.

Wedges £12 at Tesco

Wedges £12 at Tesco

Maxi dress £20 at Tesco

Maxi dress £20 at Tesco

So instead of lamenting the fate of the poor Daily Mail readers who quite possibly may not know any better than to follow such misleading advice, I got busy with choosing my own pieces from the British supermarket. Although of course if you actually want to look like an old lady’s bed, then the peach coloured valance above is absolutely the one for you.

 

Bikini top £6 at Primark

Bikini top £6 at Primark

Bikini bottoms £4 at Primark

Bikini bottoms £4 at Primark

I would happily wear any of these garments in London any day of the week, not just on holiday. They are versatile, on trend (unlike the huge unflattering layers of the orange number) and in my opinion, genuine bargains rather than just cheap and cheerful. The colours chosen for the Mail article are dated, unattractive and irrelevant for this season. A teenager might wear the shorts and kimono combo on a package deal to Faliraki at a push but having been a teenager on a package deal to Faliraki myself once, I sincerely doubt it.

Trousers £30 from Sainsbury's

Trousers £30 from Sainsbury’s

Dress £22 at Sainsbury's

Dress £22 at Sainsbury’s

And anyway who wants to be faffing about with all those separates? Far better to keep it simple when it’s hot and space in your suitcase is limited.

Stick to the outrageous gossip Daily Mail and leave the supermarket sweep to those of us who shop somewhere other than Waitrose.

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Another Last Day of Disco

It’s that time of year again, the time of year when friend Sophie’s email goes out to notify, or warn everyone of her forthcoming birthday. It’s a notification to keep the date free until she’s had time to design, redesign and angst over her invitation. It’s also a notification to those close to her that the birthday countdown has begun and we should expect questions about glitter balls, playlists and costumes on a regular basis (much like the year before and the year before that).

Mick and Bianca Jagger at Studio 54

Mick and Bianca Jagger at Studio 54

Because make no mistake, where there is a party organised by Sophie, there will be a theme and this year’s theme is Studio 54. Cue massive groan from my boyfriend who would rather pick his own eyebrows out hair by hair than go to a party in fancy dress. With a fortnight to go, boyfriend is nudged by email about the playlist which Sophie has been compiling. She is needing more tunes and is asking those she deems in the know (although Sophie herself is well qualified having worked in the music industry) for suggestions.

Angelica Huston and Jack Nicholson

Angelica Huston and Jack Nicholson

Boyfriend pauses his eyebrow attack long enough to respond that Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ isn’t actually as good as the full 17 minutes of Donna Summer’s ‘Love to Love You’. At this point I decide not to engage in this email thread despite being copied in and poised to remark upon the omission of Kylie and Jason’s ‘Especially For You’ which went down a storm (with me mostly) last year. Although last year’s party had an ’80s theme you may recall so Kylie and Jason were worthy candidates.

Farah Fawcett

Farah Fawcett

Diane von Furstenberg with Andy Warhol

Diane von Furstenberg with Andy Warhol

But with a week to go have we decided on our outfits? No we haven’t. And yet the Studio 54 look lends itself perfectly to the jumpsuited, one-shouldered, ‘free the nipple’ times we live in currently. That’s the problem, there’s just too much choice and since I really shouldn’t be buying any more clothes, the procrastination is saving me money. Every cloud and all that. So far I have unearthed a hat, a sequin jacket and a feathery jacket in my wardrobe, all of which I am ashamed to say have never been worn and still have the tags in. All very Studio 54 and with the addition of a fabulous pair of knickers, the perfect outfit. But I don’t have the nerve to turn up in just knickers and a hat so it’s back to the drawing board.

Diane von Furstenberg dress £280 at The Outnet

Diane von Furstenberg dress £280 at The Outnet

Jumpsuit £245 at Reiss

Jumpsuit £245 at Reiss

Studio 54 opened in New York in 1977 and played host to the likes of Andy Warhol, Jerry Hall, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Diane von Furstenberg and Grace Jones. It was the home of glamorous excess and where turning up on a horse, or yes, in just your knickers might get you past the notoriously tough door policy but was only groundbreaking until the next outrageous act. I think Sophie would rather I turned up starkers than ride a horse over her new flooring but I’ll probably hedge my bets anyway with one of the many jumpsuits around .

One shoulder dress £100 at ASOS

One shoulder dress £100 at ASOS

DVF dress £200 at The Outnet

DVF dress £200 at The Outnet

Meanwhile the boyfriend is refusing to discuss costumes preferring to rely on the dodgy grey wig he wore last year to accessorise his ’80s tracksuit. The look was inadvertently Jimmy Savile and could probably double up as Andy Warhol.

Let’s face it, anything went at Studio 54 as long as it was fabulous. A flick through the pictures of the rich and famous partying there show a love of metallics and an aversion to the bra. Perhaps those in need of support stayed at home because the plunging, tight and sheer garments of the time certainly did not lend themselves to a big bust. Sophie and I have spent many an afternoon throughout our adult life considering this particular sartorial problem and there simply is no solution other than to let it all hang out. You could wear some eye catching shoes and a jaw dropping necklace and hope that no-one notices what’s going on in the middle I suppose. Back in the day, I suspect everyone was so out of it they genuinely didn’t notice.

Earrings £7.99 at H&M

Earrings £7.99 at H&M

Silver shoes £85 at River Island

Silver shoes £85 at River Island

In reality we could kit ourselves out at H&M for under £50 and at the end of it all have an outfit that would work just as nicely on Christmas Day. But there’s something about Studio 54 that evokes scandal and bad behaviour and well, perhaps head to toe lycra from the high street won’t quite cut it. So it’s great timing that The Outnet, that mecca for cut price designer wear, suddenly has a wealth of Diane von Furstenberg stuff. She who went to Studio 54 on the arm of Andy Warhol himself! It’s a bit more wonga but not much for authenticity that is almost too good to be true.

Dress £120 at Whistles

Dress £120 at Whistles

Sequin dress £85 at River Island

Sequin dress £85 at River Island

Right, I’m off to tong my hair, dig out green eye shadow and get started on some pec exercises. If anyone knows where Sophie can get her hands on a glitter ball please let me know so next year she has more time to spend worrying about the playlist.

 

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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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