Wardrobe Malfunction Alert!

Inspired by the horrific mishap suffered by Madonna during what was supposed to be her triumphant return to the BRITS stage after twenty years, this week I am looking into the first world problem that is The Wardrobe Malfunction.

Madonna and her dreaded cape at the Brits

Madonna and her dreaded cape at the Brits

We’ve all been there and for once this isn’t an issue confined to womankind alone. For every skirt tucked in knickers story, there’s a willy caught in zipper one. Who could forget poor old Judy Finnigan standing up at that awards ceremony only for the top half of her dress to fall off revealing a huge unsightly flesh coloured bra? Almost as infamous but far more entertaining than Judy, is an old school friend of mine who in his role as best man at our mate’s wedding, posed for the bridal party photos shortly after returning from the loo. A blob of wee on the front of his trousers is clearly visible in every single picture.

Judy Finnigan and that bra

Judy Finnegan and that bra

Have I shared my broken heel story? It starts with an inauspicious walk of shame from north to south London one Tuesday morning shortly before my dreaded 30th birthday. Dressed in nightclub black from head to foot and with last night’s make-up blotted onto my face, I hadn’t got much further than the end of Abbey Road (I’ve put the address in to make it all sound a bit more cool) when my spike heel simply broke off.

Dilemma.

Call a cab? No, too expensive.

Bus to Oxford Street and buy a cheap pair of flats? No, too early.

Style it out and bank on the fact that if you walk as if you have a stiletto on each foot then that is what people will assume?

Shortlived bloke with whom I’d been out the night before wasn’t ever going to come to my rescue (no room for feminism here), he laughed at the spike heel in my hand, exclaimed, “I thought that only happened in films!” and hotfooted it off down the escalator to catch the tube to his Berkley Square office. He couldn’t get away from me fast enough and when I discovered he had a girlfriend, I realised why.
So the third option is what I plumped for, to style it out being the cheapest and quickest solution. The bird’s nest which when I left the house twelve hours before had been my carefully straightened hair style, helpfully distracted attention away from my feet. I spent three years in drama school and it wasn’t all wasted apparently because my little improvisation worked like a charm. That is to say, no strangers approached me saying, “Excuse me, you have one stiletto heel missing and yet you don’t appear to have noticed?”

Janet and Justin at the 2004 Superbowl

Janet and Justin at the 2004 Superbowl

I think Madonna has actually come off rather well from the Brits incident. She recovered magnificently from what must have been a really painful fall and her performance, which by the way was sung live, was largely unaffected. And there was absolutely no question that it was an unfortunate accident. Unlike the 2004 Superbowl when Janet Jackson supposedly suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction which saw her right breast come face to face with Justin Timberlake. The immediate backlash that followed questioned why, if this was a genuine mistake, did she have such a bizarre and unnecessary piece of jewellery attached to her nipple? No publicity is bad publicity folks. And that right boob must have really needed the publicity badly.

Lady Di - Oops!

Lady Di – Oops!

So-called wardrobe malfunctions make front pages and are really nothing new. Remember the picture of an innocent Lady Diana Spencer posing with two toddlers in a nursery garden?Photographers don’t miss a trick and while I’m sure the Queen was none too pleased, it earned Lady Di a few supporters and had newspaper editors rubbing their hands with glee. In later years, Princess Diana certainly used her wardrobe to her advantage and although she would be careful not to be caught out again, it wouldn’t be the last time she showed off her legs to ensure media coverage.

I’m a die-hard Madonna fan so I’m pleased that she’s fine and has ultimately gained respect for her ‘show must go on’ attitude because whatever you think of her, she didn’t deserve to be pulled backwards by the neck down steps. It’s all too easy to appear quite by choice in a transparent dress without any underwear as Rhianna did last year (pfft, Madonna’s been there and done that) but in the end it’s your recovery and dignity in the face of potential humiliation which is most revealing.

Kate Middleton and the heel that got stuck in the grating

Kate Middleton and the heel that got stuck in the grating

As for me, despite the ungallant behaviour of my date I made it safely back to my flat in Clapham Junction with just the one heel, and aside from one sore calf muscle, I was just fine. Shoes and date went in the bin shortly afterwards.

 

 

 

 

 

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

It’s Raining Oscars!

It must be a bit of a bummer if you’ve spent the whole day getting ready for the Oscars only for it to rain the moment you step onto the hallowed red carpet. Tonight, reporting from my brown carpet in Battersea, I am almost relieved to be in my Primark pyjamas because my hair is disastrous in the rain, no matter how much hairspray is involved.

The Academy Awards is the climax of award season and this year there are so many Brits involved in the main categories that it feels somehow fitting for there to be rain involved. Perhaps it’s a sign, let’s hope so.

 

Rosamund Pike

Rosamund Pike

I’m struck already, by how many actresses have pulled it out of the bag for this occasion. With the arrival of Rosamund Pike in surely one of the most stunning dresses of the night, red and strapless, so elegant and such a great colour on her, I feel like I can relax now because she’s been a bit hit and miss this year.

Dakota Johnson in YSL

Dakota Johnson in YSL

Melanie Griffith

Melanie Griffith

Red is proving to be a popular colour choice this year, along with simple neat hair and the one shoulder look and one of the first to arrive, Dakota Johnson, ticked all three boxes with her sophisticated Yves Saint Laurent number. She brought her mum as her date and for once Melanie Griffiths doesn’t look bizarre, she looks stylish in a perfectly shaped dress.

Felicity Jones in McQueen

Felicity Jones in McQueen

There’s a lot going on with Brit Felicity Jones’ Alexander McQueen gown. It has a hint of the Elizabethan era about it and although the colour washes her English rose complexion out rather, I love the high embellished neckline and corset.

Lupita Nyong'o in Calvin Klein

Lupita Nyong’o in Calvin Klein

 

Lupita Nyong’o wowed last year every single time she set foot on a red carpet so it was always going to be hard for her to follow up such a great start. I’ve been a little underwhelmed by her choices in 2015 so this Calvin Klein gown embellished with 6000 pearls is a showstopper. Can you imagine how much it must weigh?

Julianne Moore in Chanel

Julianne Moore in Chanel

Julianne Moore has also gone for embellishment and her custom made Chanel gown has an unusual twenties vibe to it. I’m not wild about the colour – she usually does lovely rich jewel tones which are more flattering – and this off white doesn’t do her very pale skin any favours.

oscar10

Reese Witherspoon in Tom Ford

 

From the intricately jewelled to the sublimely simple, Reese Witherspoon has done it again with this lovely Tom Ford monochrome column dress, I love it and she’s one of the few ladies tonight who has left her hair flowing naturally.

oscar11

Jennifer Aniston in Versace

 

Keira Knightley in Valentino

Keira Knightley in Valentino

But my favourite of the night, and thankfully with her trademark hair left as we love it, has to be Jennifer Aniston who looks absolutely gorgeous in Versace. Thumbs up (again!) to pregnant nominee Keira Knightley, like Ansiton in in a nude shade, her lovely fairytale gown by Valentino.

Marion Cotillard in Christian Dior

Marion Cotillard in Christian Dior

Lastly and least I’m afraid, and unusually, is nominee Marion Cotillard. She’s taken a risk in Dior Couture but it’s a little odd. At the front it looks ill fitting and from the back it looks like a maternity dress worn back to front. Love her hair and earrings though.

So that’s the 87th Academy Awards done and dusted for another year. Oh wait, they haven’t actually handed out any awards yet… well never mind, it’s now 1.45am and it’s back to school tomorrow so I’m off to bed. Fingers crossed for Eddie Redmayne!

 

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

The BAFTAs 2015 – Who was your favourite?

The first thing to say is that I am sitting at home wrapped in two oversized cardigans and I’m still feeling a bit chilly. Those poor souls on the BAFTA red carpet in Covent Garden this evening have little choice but to walk the red carpet into the Royal Opera House without the luxury of H&M knitwear. I interviewed on that walkway in 2007 and I was shivering in my Karen Millen frock most of the night. You know when you are so cold your jaw freezes and it’s hard to get your words out coherently? That was me. A little like being drunk only without the warm feeling. Secondly, it’s a good turn out at the British equivalent of the Oscars this year. My brother worked for several years behind the scenes so I know only too well that the organisers are never quite sure until the very last minute who will actually put in an appearance on the night so this evening they must have felt rather pleased with themselves. And hey, at least it isn’t raining. Here are my thoughts on the great gowns and the frightful frocks as they happen tonight in London…

Rosamund Pike - at last!

Rosamund Pike – at last!

I have to start with Rosamund Pike who one way and another I have given a very hard time to so far this award season. She has taken some risks or maybe she’s been ‘having fun with her style’ – which reasoning do we admire most? I don’t know, but either way for the most part, the looks haven’t worked. Tonight however she has chosen a far simpler column silhouette by none other than Roland Mouret and he is of course the master of sculpted dresses. Although with her fair colouring I’d rather have seen her in a colour instead of black, I love the twisted halter neck and the overall look is sheer sophistication. Let’s hope she goes with Mouret for Oscar night too. Kristen Scott Thomas is someone who is rocking the black. Her dress is exquisite, looks slightly warmer than most of the others and is age appropriate. Love.

Kristen Scott Thomas

Kristen Scott Thomas

I’m also going to give some love to Keira Knightley (I know, unheard of, what’s come over me?) because I’ve been a bit perturbed by her pregnancy wardrobe thus far. Well, despite the 3D petals which add volume that no woman heavy with child needs, this Giambattista Valli midi gown looks just lovely. And it’s haute couture for flip’s sake; when I was pregnant I wore a big Primark thing to the Sex and the City 2 premier. Different world I tell you.

Keira Knightley - bloomin' lovely in Giambattista Valli haute couture

Keira Knightley – bloomin’ lovely in Giambattista Valli haute couture

You can rely on Amy Adams – nominated three years in a row now so she’s well rehearsed – to look gorgeous at these occasions. She’s in a white Lanvin column dress this year and while I like it, I can’t pretend I didn’t think for a moment there that she had some kind of ammo around her middle. They don’t need that kind of security panic on the red carpet.

Amy Adams in Lanvin

Amy Adams in Lanvin

Reese Witherspoon is supporting British talent in a Stella McCartney number and this purple one is a more daring one with a very booby neckline I can’t decide if I like. Ultimately, this is such a fantastic colour on her, I’m going to give it the thumbs up. Also, I want her hair please.

Reese Witherspoon in Stella McCartney

Reese Witherspoon in Stella McCartney

There are a few reds popping up and Julianne Moore’s cut-out long sleeved (oh how sensible) Tom Ford gown is a winner but then isn’t Julianne always? It would be great if she was finally recognised by winning an award for once too.**

Julianne Moore in Tom Ford

Julianne Moore in Tom Ford

Finally, I love the lilac of the very elegant gown worn by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Her hair and make-up are immaculate and her beautiful posture is a lesson to all. Or maybe she was in fact rigid with the cold.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Not so fabulous in my opinion, and it is with a heavy heart I say this, is Patricia Arquette whose dark Pamella Roland red frock is ageing and looks ill fitting. The neckline is too high and isn’t the best style for her shape. I’m cross on her behalf that she’s been stuffed into that old thing – sorry but I named my cat Alabama after Arquette’s brilliant character in True Romance so I’m a bit emotional. I wouldn’t mind only Patricia herself doesn’t look all that thrilled either.*

Patricia Arquette in Pamella Roland

Patricia Arquette in Pamella Roland

*Patricia Arquette has just won the best supporting actress BAFTA – excellent, I’m genuinely thrilled. Bet she wishes even more she hadn’t worn that particular dress though… **Hooraay Julianne Moore has her BAFTA at last!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Who’s Wearing the Trousers Now?

Ever since new poster girl for feminism Emma Watson rocked up at the 2014 Golden Globes wearing trousers under a skirt, the jury has been out on this edgy take on red carpet fashion. It helps that Emma is young, successful, petite and fashion savvy, she rarely makes a mistake and so this look, despite the doubters, was no different. Being British she has fun with her clothes, fun that most of those in Hollywood are simply too busy having armpit botox and vitamin transfusions to have time for. But would others dare to follow in her footsteps? Well, fast forward to the Globes in 2015 and the answer it seems, is a resounding yes.

Emma Watson blazing a trail with her trews in 2014

Emma Watson blazing a trail with her trews in 2014

With the BAFTAs and the Oscars still to go, we have seen the stars of the silver screen throwing caution to the wind and it’s not just the young and hip actresses who are wearing the trousers. First up, was the gorgeous Emma Stone – always one to watch for her sartorial choices –  who appeared at the Golden Globes in a strapless jumpsuit by Lanvin. With its large bow at the waist and jewelled corset top, it was chic, feminine and yet because it wasn’t a gown, still slightly risque. Again, it doesn’t hurt to be a stunning twenty-something redhead but this was a look that could be worn by anyone of almost any age and shape, I loved it.

Emma Stone in Lanvin at the Golden Globes

Emma Stone in Lanvin at the Golden Globes

At the Critics’ Choice Awards, Jennifer Aniston went for something so far removed from the rather disappointing black sparkly number she wore to the Golden Globes that it was almost shocking. Her dark red Gucci trouser suit was the perfect shade for her autumnal colouring and while the suit was androgynous, by pairing it with natural free flowing hair and a completely bare decolletage, Jennifer got the balance just right. God only knows what would have happened if her name had actually been announced and she’d jumped up too quickly in her race to the stage.

Jennifer Aniston in Gucci at the Critics' Choice awards

Jennifer Aniston in Gucci at the Critics’ Choice awards

Julia Roberts has been attending award shows for many years now so she marches to the beat of her own drum style-wise. Being an acclaimed actress in her forties, she has nothing to prove, looks way younger than years and has the height and figure to carry off almost any style. For the Screen Actors’ Guild awards last week she chose an understated, sophisticated jumpsuit by Givenchy in which she looked utterly comfortable. Now as you know, I have always been an advocate of the ‘all in one’ piece and bar the terrible shoes Julia accessorised with (the foot would have been much better covered to keep the look sleek) this particular jumpsuit is a great example of one that will be done brilliantly by the high street so if you haven’t already, go get yourself one now!

Julia Roberts and her Givenchy jumpsuit last week

Julia Roberts and her Givenchy jumpsuit last week

There’s no getting away from the fact that the trouser suit is big news for Spring 2015 although of course it’s nothing new. In 1981 actress Sissy Spacek picked up her Oscar in a black and gold jumpsuit, a daring statement for a nominee, even in this day and age. Michelle Pfeiffer then turned out in a navy Giorgio Armani trouser suit at the 1989 Oscars.

Michelle Pfeiffer in Giorgio Armani in 1989

Michelle Pfeiffer in Giorgio Armani in 1989

Thankfully, in 2015 the cut is sharp and flattering without being punctuated with the huge shoulder pads or massive fussy buttons of the ’80s. This is a look which will work in the office or equally well on an evening out, with the added bonus of the trousers and jacket being useful as separates too.

Jumpsuit reduced to £49 at Coast

Jumpsuit reduced to £49 at Coast

My sister in law and I have both already homed in on the fabulous navy tux style suit at H&M (as always ridiculously well priced and decent quality too), luckily neither of us get out much and are rarely together in the same place so we should be safe in that respect.

Jumpsuit new in at Reiss £195

Jumpsuit new in at Reiss £195

There aren’t many of us who will choose the bra-less look under a one button jacket either for aesthetic reasons or purely due to lifestyle – I for one can’t sit still for long enough, quite aside from the fact I’d need gaffer tape rather than just tit tape for any semblance of decency. A bandeau or corset top would be an on-trend option for a dressy take, a soft silk blouse (try Thomas Pink) or cashmere knit (a staple at Joseph) would be ideal for daytime.

Tux style jacket by Whistles at Brand Alley reduced to £55

Tux style jacket by Whistles at Brand Alley reduced to £55

H&M is a very good place to start for a trouser suit and they have plenty of choice so you can mix and match without breaking the bank. You could go for the navy I mentioned earlier but don’t wear it out with my sister in law Lucy because not only will she not thank me but neither will you as she has ridiculously long skinny legs with which you won’t want to compete. Or alternatively how about this amazing seventies influenced belted number? Far less risk of your boobs falling out of that one.

Jacket £34.99 at H&M

Jacket £34.99 at H&M

Jacket £49.99 and trousers £39.99 at H&M

Jacket £49.99 and trousers £39.99 at H&M

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who Said Style Forgot the Seventies?

If the seventies was the decade that style forgot then what on earth is there left to say about the eighties? You show me a bell bottomed jean, I’ll show you a ginormous shoulder pad. Got a problem with polo necks and pendants? Then how about perms and back lighting? I’m being defensive, I was born in the seventies and although I winced when I looked back at my childhood photos as a teenager, now I can only see an achingly cool time when summers were endlessly hot and Christmases were snowy. To look at images from the seventies is to look at a decade that is instantly recognisable by virtue of its very wearable and often unisex trends. Skinny rib striped tops, platform boots, and flared trousers were worn by everyone from Rod Stewart and Jane Fonda to Rod, Jane and Freddie and it somehow suited everyone. You didn’t see a muffin top or an underbum in those days.

Love Story's Ali MacGraw

Love Story’s Ali MacGraw

 

Trousers £29.99 at H&M

Trousers £29.99 at H&M

The seventies saw the arrival of the wrap dress by Diane von Furstenberg, the Timberland boot and Manolo Blahnik’s first

Polo neck reduced to £12 at Oasis

Polo neck reduced to £12 at Oasis

shoe collection for women. So far so fashionable. There were the openings of the first French Connection, Laura Ashley and Monsoon stores. And lest we forget, this was the era that gave us Abba. Need I go on?

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda

If you are thinking I’ve changed my tune simply because we are on the brink of a seventies revival then you’d be half right. Following the

Over the Knee Boots £58 at Next

Over the Knee Boots £58 at Next

success of the film American Hustle and its fabulous costumes, I started to see the seventies in a different light and when I looked back over old family photograph albums I decided that actually everyone looked really cool, from babies (me) to old ladies (my granny) the look was laid back, colourful and body conscious. Will my son look back in the same way when he is my age and wonder at our great sartorial prowess? Somehow I doubt it – skinny jeans and slouchy boots – are we really so stylish here in 2015 that we can claim previous decades are inferior?

Leather bag £78 at Next

Leather bag £78 at Next

Jane Birkin

Jane Birkin

I suspect the more time we put between the present and the past, the easier it is to stomach our fashion mistakes – “I was young and stupid”, “I didn’t have any money”, “Knicker-bockers and golfing socks were THE thing then” – or was that just me?

Trench coat £59.95 at Gap

Trench coat £59.95 at Gap

and so currently I’m digging the seventies wardrobe (man) and loathing the boot cuts and liquid eyeliner I wore in the nineties. The fact is that the seventies have now been revived so many times since the actual seventies that we now know not to step out in a white polyester trouser suit looking like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (just me again right?) and can aim for a subtle take on Diane Keaton as Annie Hall or a young Debbie Harry.

My mum in her mini in 1970

My mum in 1970

Dress £38 at ASOS

Dress £38 at ASOS

I mostly did wellies and sunhats with nothing in between when I did the seventies the first time round so this time I’m going to be a bit more discerning (or perhaps wearing nothing but a hat and footwear is discerning?)  And then if anyone asks where I got my outfit, I shall say, “I got it from the decade that style suddenly remembered”.

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

How to Keep Your Globes Golden

By now you are aware dear readers that the Golden Globes ceremony in L.A. is the start of awards season and generally seen as a clue to who the winners might be at the Academy Awards later on in March. We have also learnt that more risks are taken at the BAFTAS – if indeed the actress attends the London ceremony. Nominated actresses always save the best gowns for the Oscars when scrutiny is at its most acute and if you create a clanger at the Oscars you will be remembered forevermore for that one appearance. Think Cher in her headdress, Bjork dressed as a swan and Celine Dion with her tux on back to front. Can you picture Bjork dressed in anything else? I bet the mums on Bjork’s kids’ school run were really disappointed when she pitched up on the first day in jeans and a sweatshirt.

Dakota Johnson, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, Diane Kruger and Julianne Moore

Dakota Johnson, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, Diane Kruger and Julianne Moore

At this year’s event, there were some glorious outfits by a glittering array of international designers. Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore, Diane Kruger and Jennifer Lopez rarely get it wrong and this year was no exception, they had all opted for metallics and looked great. Jennifer Aniston is usually someone who can be relied on to keep her look simple yet classy; she often wears black and more often than not wears a plunging neckline.

It's a "No" from me

It’s a “No” from me

Ohh yes!

Jennifer as we know and love her – the brown is much softer with her ‘Autumn’ colouring too

This awards season there has been much hype surrounding Miss Aniston and her performance in the upcoming Cake. It’s a frumpy/weight gaining/no make-up role (yes one of those almost guaranteed to get you an Oscar nod) and her Golden Globe nomination this year was her first since she won for Friends so this was a Big Deal. However it’s almost as if in the process of putting together a serious look, she tried too hard and the result was less Jennifer Aniston and more well, Courtney Cox. Jennifer has a curvy figure and she isn’t a twig as film actresses can often be (I’ve met her so I can vouch for this) so she looks best in fitted dresses with an open neck. The mid section of this week’s dress makes her look like she has no waist when she does – very odd. And as for her updo… I can only imagine that she and her hair stylist decided to scrape the most famous hair in the world back out of sight to put Rachel Green to rest once and for all. It didn’t work.

Dame Helen - we're not worthy

Dame Helen – we’re not worthy

Lena Dunham and way too much satin

Lena Dunham and way too much satin

On the one hand it’s inspiring to see how Helen Mirren can wipe the red carpet with many of her far younger counterparts. On the other, how can someone as rich and canny as Lena Dunham continue to wear such unflattering awful clothes? I admire Lena Dunham enormously as you know and I get that she likes to have fun with her wardrobe and this red dress was so close to being fabulous it makes me want to scream. Of course you have to approach shiny fabrics with extreme caution as they accentuate but you don’t have to go as far as not letting the fabric touch your body at all. Quite bizarre and such a shame. Helen Mirren’s red number however was the perfect shape and fitted like a glove to Dunham’s lampshade.

Gone Girl Rosamund Pike

Gone Girl Rosamund Pike

Kate Hudson appearing curvaceous in Versace

Kate Hudson appearing curvaceous in Versace

I couldn’t make my mind up about Rosamund Pike’s cutaway dress and I felt guilty even commenting as she’s just had a baby but then out came Kate Hudson in her cutaway Versace and I reconsidered my position. You see the Versace gives the illusion of a waist where on the enviably athletic Hudson body there isn’t much of one. Whereas the Vera Wang gown on Pike gives suggests a rather thick waist where surely the idea was to define it, what with it being a naturally softer area post partum. Have I put that tactfully enough, I’ve agonised over that sentence?

"We're celebrity boobs, get us out of here!"

“We’re celebrity boobs, get us out of here!”

Salma Hayek and the Golden Globes 2015 style

Salma Hayek and the Golden Globes 2015 style

Now I feel bad about the very talented Rosamund Pike (even if she did beat me to a role in a BBC costume drama many years ago), I feel I have to end on a positive note. Diminutive actress Salma Hayek is someone whose wardrobe choices I have long despaired of (stay with me, I said I’d end on a positive note and this isn’t the end yet) because she does love to stuff her ample bosom into tops up to her chin. It makes her look uncomfortable, as if she can’t breath and rounder than she is. But at this year’s Golden Globes – hoorraay! – Salma got it right. There wasn’t a strangulated boob in sight and she looked absolutely gorgeous. There, I knew I could do it. Now let’s stop talking about Globes and move on to the BAFTAs…

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The January Blues

Forget Black Friday, that was soo last year. I am calling this month Blue January – and not for the reasons you might think. The sales are in full swing, bank balances are running on empty and the weather isn’t really living up to its potential so all those lovely hats and gloves are a bit redundant. This new year needs something fresh.

A fabulous alternative to the black ankle boot - reduced to £62.99 at Aldo

A fabulous alternative to the black ankle boot – reduced to £62.99 at Aldo

I started my training as a stylist with colour analysis which wasn’t something I had given much thought. Black was slimming and most widely available (pun unintended) so invariably I had a wardrobe full of black. Who doesn’t? Well men don’t actually, which is interesting in itself. My female friends are in far better shape generally than their male counterparts but you don’t often hear a bloke asking if a pair of trousers comes in black “as they’re more flattering”. I think the answer is they care less. Anyway, having been told I was a ‘Summer’ (rough translation: cool and muted shades) the one awful truth was that black had never been and would never be my colour. Even if I dyed my hair black and wore dark coloured contact lenses. In the end it comes down to skin tone you see. There were tears. Well, you try sitting exhausted after a sleepless night and a Giardia diagnosis, scrubbed of your make-up in a roomful of strangers. It’s no picnic believe me. It was a turning point though.

Navy with black - once one of the biggest style crimes

Navy with black – once one of the biggest style crimes

I haven’t worn navy since I last wore my school uniform. I don’t dislike navy it has simply never occurred to me to wear it and I am convinced this is because I wore it day in day out from the age of seven to sixteen. My uniform was actually rather nice as uniforms at all girls’ schools go – kilt, white blouse and v-neck jumper – but there wasn’t much room for customising. My friend Sara came up with the innovative short socks over tights with clumpy shoes combo but they soon put a stop to that. Then there was the tried and tested rolling up of the skirt to make it mini (fyi this doesn’t work brilliantly with a kilt) but bar the electric blue mascara (Sara again) and frosted lipstick (me) that was about it. So yes, I think we can safely say by the time I entered the sixth form I was well and truly over navy.

So not a school jumper - reduced to £75 at Reiss

So not a school jumper – reduced to £75 at Reiss

But now here we are and Navy Is Having A Moment. It hasn’t been this available for years and the whiff of Sloane ranger it once had (think Lady Di) has given way to a hint of Home Counties (more Kate Moss at the weekend). And what’s a girl to do when you can buy all your staples in a colour other than black which just happens to be far more flattering on your face than black and although it is not black it is still as smart and stylish and streamlined as black and goes with almost as many other colours as black. And and… did I mention it isn’t black?

…but this is – Mila Kunis

This is not what I mean by navy having a moment by the way

 

I haven’t gone cold turkey on the black, far from it, but my boyfriend did express surprise last weekend when I put on a black dress for the theatre. There are some things that your wardrobe would feel bereft without and as with black trousers and black stilettos, it is quite possible that a working female living in London would be arrested if she were found to be without at least (ahem) three LBDs.

Dress reduced to £49 at French Connection

Dress reduced to £49 at French Connection

This January snap up the navy pieces from the sale rails; it’s classic, classy and apparently you can even wear black with it this time around. There are rules of course – just look what Kate Middleton has done to her navy get-up by adding those awful wedges. Look at Mila Kunis making a fairly ordinary trouser suit actually look cool by adding the colour pop stilettos and you start to see my point.

Trench coat £245 at Reiss

Trench coat £245 at Reiss

And if that doesn’t convince you, did you know that there is a shade of navy for everyone and that includes those ‘Winters’ who are lucky enough to look good in black? I know, nobody said life was fair. Happy New Year Everyone!

Dress reduced to £75 at Hobbs

Dress reduced to £75 at Hobbs

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

2014: Style Review

For me, 2014 started well. I saw the new year in wearing my new All Saints sequin mini dress, a gift from my boyfriend. Although we were only in eating takeaway and watching telly I kept noticing bits of bead and sequin that I had shed during the evening so I had to try not to move too much. I love that dress but it’s not the most practical piece and so I haven’t actually had the nerve to wear it out in public since. This year has followed the same theme – lots of sparkle with many practicalities to negotiate along the way.

Style wise, I think 2014 has been a rather classy one. There have been dubious trends of course – I’m still tutting about the summer ‘slides’ while this winter’s knitted trousers seem to have vanished from the rails and yet onto no-one in the whole of London that I have noticed. Perhaps the legs have been sent back to the suppliers and will be cut up to make snoods for autumn winter 2015. This year saw maxi skirts do big business while hats and long boots were all you needed to be bang up to speed; the 70’s look was nerve-wracking initially but once you realised you could channel Annie Hall rather than Rod Stewart, it was all rather comforting. After all, hats cover up crap hair and foreheads and boots cover up laddered tights and go with everything. I even bought a sensible lace-up pair by Steve Madden and my boyfriend commented that they were such a departure from my usual footwear, he found them almost cool. (From him, this is HUGE).

Massimo Dutti snood £44.95 - a trouser leg in a previous life?

Massimo Dutti snood £44.95 – a trouser leg in a previous life?

So as 2014 draws to a close, I would like to nominate those women who, for me, stood out for their sartorial choices. This is all fairly shallow, don’t expect to see any heads of state or Nobel peace prize winners in my list, I just like the clothes and the attitude. And actually you know, you can get a surprisingly long way on both those things when needed.

Lupita Nyong'o at the BAFTAs in March

Lupita Nyong’o at the BAFTAs in March

1. Lupita Nyong’o

This actress gave a masterclass in colour during award season and left many other more seasoned red carpet walkers in her wake. The only problem she has is keeping it up. Luckily her acting mettle is not to be underestimated either. Lupita is the one to watch.

(Read more on Lupita Nyong’o in previous blog: https://aftercarrie.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/stop-the-dress-bafta-special/ )

 

Dame Helen Mirren

Dame Helen Mirren

2. Helen Mirren

Seventy in 2015, Helen Mirren goes from strength to strength and rarely puts a style foot out of place. I interviewed her once on the BAFTA red carpet and she looked impeccable; twinkly and yet completely natural. She knows what is best for her voluptuous figure and always chooses soft shades that flatter her skin tone.

(Read more on Helen Mirren in previous blog: https://aftercarrie.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/and-the-award-goes-to/ )

 

2014emma

Emma Watson

3.  Emma Watson

I have never seen any of the Harry Potter films and so I come to Emma Watson without any pre-conceptions. Her UN speech on feminism meant for once here was an actress feted for her intelligence rather than her wardrobe. But hey, let’s give her a pat on the back for her wardrobe too since she always looks so darn chic.

 

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence

4.  Jennifer Lawrence

I love this girl. Does anyone not? She has fallen over at TWO awards ceremonies and you don’t get much more real than that. In a year where Jennifer has had more than enough of herself revealed, she has chopped off her long hair, had to deal with Gwyneth Paltrow in a love triangle type scenario (allegedly) and done most of it dressed in Dior. What’s not to love?

Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson in The Fall

Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson in The Fall

5. Stella Gibson

If you put Gillian Anderson into Google, the most popular search is ‘silk shirts’. Last weekend I spent at least ten minutes discussing said silk shirts with a friend’s mum who had recently unearthed her own silk collection form the attic as a direct result of the second series of The Fall. So yes, I know that Stella Gibson is a fictional character but she (with actress Gillian Anderson at the helm) will forever be credited with making blouses sexy again. And for making 46 a fabulous age to be for a woman.

(Read more on previous blog: https://aftercarrie.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/the-dress-gets-shirty/ Gillian Anderson )

A very Happy Christmas to all my readers, thank you for following and I look forward to seeing y’all in the new year.

 

 

 

 

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

Dress You Up

Have you decided on your festive wardrobe yet? Are your outfits all picked out and ready to go with accessories laid out? Have you checked your stockings for runs and booked your mani/pedi in time for the big day? No, me neither. Planning it is a fool proof way of dropping off to sleep though, when your head is full of such nonsense as errant grandparents who steal your child’s school work and how you managed to spend £7 on one box of M&S nibbles.

Classic evening dress £144 by Coast

Classic evening dress £144 at Coast

I have put off writing this blog because it is something of a treat to write about party dresses. As anyone who knows me will testify, I am never happier than when dressed in sparkle and heels and this year I have trawled loads of websites to find the most gorgeous gowns with as much variety as possible. As I write, brands are cutting prices by the day and there are several high street names that have already gone into full blown sale mode so things are looking up for those of us who still have presents to buy and Christmas wardrobes to plan.

Dress with arms! £79.99 at Mango

Dress with arms! £79.99 at Mango

Sequin dress £95 at ASOS

Sequin dress £95 at ASOS

I’m a big advocate of not saving your most fabulous frocks for best. Life is short and if you’re a mummy then occasions to glam up are few and far between. My colleague Nina (as I’ve mentioned before) wears sequins and lace to work regularly and nobody in her all male office bats an eyelid. She is my hero for this – that and the fact she accessorises with a hot water bottle on colder days. So, my advice is not to worry about forking out for something you fear you may only wear once. Buy the dress and then wear it afterwards with a big chunky knit over the top (see last week’s blog) and boots. Also, eveningwear tends to stand the test of time better so even if you refuse to be seen in Asda in your plunge neck jumpsuit, there’ll undoubtedly be a day when it will come in useful again. If it’s timeless you’re after then think lace, muted shades and long and you won’t go far wrong.

Cutaway jumpsuit £29.99 at H&M

Cutaway jumpsuit £29.99 at H&M

Should you be interested in trends, fringing is big this year – Caroline Flack seems to have it incorporated into her Strictly costume every week. Word of caution though, it can be horribly unflattering if hanging from an ample cleavage; less is probably more with tassels.

Tassled dress £350 at Reiss

Tassled dress £350 at Reiss

Tassled mini dress £119.99 at Mango

Tassled mini dress £119.99 at Mango

There are also more full length gowns around than in recent years which is great news for pear shapes. You can probably stand bare legs with a long skirt and that means you can go for a strappy shoe rather than a more dull closed toe, which more often than not, are black.

I’m always hearing women say that they want a dress with long sleeves both for warmth and for coverage and this isn’t nearly as hard to come by as it used to be. Reiss has many long sleeved shorter length styles and Mango has a wealth of maxi versions so that does away with the age-old problem of hunting high and low for a dreadful bolero/pashmina/cardi.

One shoulder dress £465 at Pinko

One shoulder dress £465 at Pinko

Sequin maxi skirt £125 at Coast

Sequin maxi skirt £125 at Coast

The one shoulder look is still around (avoid though if you have substantial boobage) and this stunning style from Italian brand Pinko is worthy of an Oscar red carpet. Off the shoulder is also a big trend and worth consideration if you’re thinking of going for a maxi skirt and top rather than a dress. Separates are a useful option as they can be downplayed by teaming with a fitted shirt or cropped cashmere knit.

Finally, newish website ThreeFloorFashion is worth a look for unusual designs at fairly reasonable prices and it is also stocked by ASOS. It’s skimpy stuff and there are a lot of ‘cut-out’ styles so if midriff baring and goose pimples isn’t your thing (whyever not?!) then perhaps stick to Coast or Reiss both of which are excellent for womanly figures and a range of sizes.

Strappy dress £192 ThreeFloor at ASOS

Strappy dress £192 ThreeFloor at ASOS

I covet most of the dresses on this blog and am no closer to making a decision on either my Christmas day outfit or the party I’m going to this weekend, so I apologise if I haven’t helped. Ah well, I have also discovered that the outrageously expensive M&S nibbles expire this week meaning my son and I will have to eat them for dinner every night. It’s back to counting dresses tonight for me then.

Sequin playsuit £49.99 at H&M

Sequin playsuit £49.99 at H&M

http://www.coast-stores.com

http://www.reiss.co.uk

http://www.mango-stores.com

http://www.asos.com

http://www.hm.com

http://www.pinko.it

http://www.threefloorfashion.com

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

Are you a Knit Picker?

If ever there was a season to be buying knitwear, it is this one. There really seems to be something for every body shape from v-necks to polo necks, from alpaca to cashmere, a cosy cover-up is your easiest wardrobe update.

Bally Autumn Winter 2015

Bally Autumn Winter 2015

 

Roll neck at Massimo Dutti £69.95

Roll neck at Massimo Dutti £69.95

Snood at Zara £17.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My boyfriend has always been a devotee of the sweater – for the whole of the 26 years that I have known him he has favoured this particular item of clothing over any other. As soon as there is a hint of autumn in the air (this year, it was a long time coming which infuriated him) he reaches for a jumper. He even took a sweater on our summer holiday to Spain IN AUGUST. This season his weakness is for cashmere crew necks with elbow patches and he already has several. I think I have mentioned before that he has his cashmere dry cleaned, what I didn’t say was that he also tends to leave it on the floor. This is possibly because he has run out of space to store them in one of the many wardrobes because of all the old versions he can’t bring himself to throw away. This is all great news for me of course because I get to borrow them, even if bizarrely he complains when I’ve picked one from the floor.

MaxMara Autumn Winter 2015

MaxMara Autumn Winter 2015

My funnel necked knit at Zara £45.99

My funnel necked knit at Zara £45.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was head to toe knits at Stella McCartney and The Row at the autumn winter 2015 shows. It’s lucky then that the temperature has dropped here in the UK because this is not a look to pull off with aplomb if everyone else is still doing bare legs and camisoles. The oversized jumper is everywhere and although it’s not the most flattering garment ever designed, it is easy to wear and does look good with a lot of things – skinny jeans, a lingerie style dress or a pencil skirt. It’s all about contrasting textures and silhouettes which is rather refreshing. This weekend I wore my new Zara funnel necked knit with boyish boots and lace trimmed silk shorts prompting both my mum and my boyfriend to (separately) say, “Have you forgotten to put your trousers on?” Which only goes to show that no matter how old you are there will always be someone who thinks you’re going to catch your death if you’re not wrapped up from your head to your toes.

The Row Autumn Winter 2015

The Row Autumn Winter 2015

Knit at Zara £59.99

Knit at Zara £59.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the autumn winter shows earlier this year those woolly suits from The Row looked really daft to me. However now the nights have drawn in and there’s ice to scrape off the car in the morning, the idea of knitted trousers is growing on me. Blimey, how sensible is that? Quick, someone fetch me my lace shorts…

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