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

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

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

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

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

Cigarette trousers £19.99 Anna Glover x H&M

Pleated wrapover skirt £39.99 at H&M

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

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

Trainers £149 by Air and Grace at stockists nationally

Weave heels £39.50 at Marks and Spencer

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

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

Denim jacket £95 at French Connection

Basket bag £49.99 at Zara

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

 

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

Off the shoulder dress £150 at French Connection

Button up dress £24 by Miss Selfridge

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

5. And finally, one word – jumpsuits.

White jumpsuit £250 at Reiss

Tassel bracelet £34 by Shashi at Katie and Jo

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

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

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At a Cinema Near You

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

Fascinator £89 at Coast

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

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

The Post

Meryl Streep in The Post

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

Kaftan by Isabel Marant at Iris in Battersea

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

 

 

The Darkest Hour

Kristen Scott Thomas in The Darkest Hour

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

Dress £150 at Uterque.com

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

 

Molly’s Game

Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game

 

 

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

Necklace £28 at Oliver Bonas

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

 

 

 

Lady Bird

Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird

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

Lace dress £55 by Vila

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

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

 

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Nice Day for a White Wedding

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

Trouser suits at Mulberry AW 2018

Trouser suit £378 at Massimo Dutti

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

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

Ruffle dress £69 at Warehouse

Long dress at Temperley AW 2018

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

Long dress £295 by Rixo at Katie and Jo

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

Red clutch bag £29.99 at Zara

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

 

Jumpsuit £76 at Warehouse

Jumpsuits at Jonathan Simkhai AW 2018

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

Jumpsuit £139 at Coast

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

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

Statement coat at Oscar de la Renta AW 2018

Stripey coat £95.99 at Zara

Pink silk trench £349 at Massimo Dutti

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

 

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

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

Sheer jacket £119 at Massimo Dutti

 

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

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Striping a Balance

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

Striped top £25.99 at Zara

Go faster (possibly) trousers £25.99 at Zara

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

Shirt dress £260 at Sandro

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

Midi dress £199 at Karen Millen

Maxi dress £25.99 at Zara

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

Asymmetric dress £29.99 at Stradivarius

Floral dress £39.99 at Stradivarius

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

Pleated skirt £29.99 at Stradivarius

Shirt dress £69 at Arket

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

Palazzo trousers £35.99 at Mango

Striped jacket £79.99 at Mango

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

 

 

 

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Snappy New Year

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It’s freezing cold, Donald Trump is still president and there are at least two weeks to go until  pay day. It’s a bleak outlook – I intended to start with a rousing ‘Happy New Year!’ Sorry about that.

On the other hand, the sales are still on, restaurants are doing special offers to tempt us out of our Dry Januarys and into their establishments and there’s lots of good stuff on the telly. This year I decided against doing the most miserable month without alcohol and as half price steak within walking distance of home is too good to ignore, I’m actually feeling quite excited about the year ahead. Happy new year!

Asymmetric pleated skirt £34.99 by H&M

Meanwhile over on Planet Fashion it’s almost as if they’ve got the memo about austerity measures because a handful of 2017 trends have been given a free pass into 2018 – excellent news for the post-Christmas wardrobe budget. So while there are things we won’t be sad to leave behind in 2017 (the return of Crocs and blue lipstick to name just two) there are plenty of others which you can get more life out of. “Oh but I didn’t invest in those things last year when you told me to!” I hear you cry. Well, that’s where the last of the sale rails come in; you’ll still find what you need at a fraction of the original price. You’d better be quick though, out there in the department store trenches serious consumers don’t hang about, no matter what you’ve read in the news. There are people trailing suitcases around the shop floor for the sole purpose of filling them up with bargains (and saving approximately 30p on carrier bags), it’s a tough crowd I warn you.

Pink ankle boots reduced to £69 by Dune at House of Fraser

Not to worry though because if you’ve already done the sales and retreated back to your sofa with a cuppa and a packet of Jaffa cakes (hidden under a cushion so you’re not forced to share), the new collections are starting to filter in. Phase Eight have gone full blown mother of the bride overnight and Monsoon are ready for the keenest prom queens. It may be hat and glove weather at street level but the tropical climes of the department store are urging people to think about their spring outfits. Here’s what to take with you into the next season while still being sensibly dressed for winter:

The lengths we’ll go to…

Zimmerman Spring Summer 2018

Long shirt dress reduced to £75 at French Connection

It doesn’t have to be impractical and eveningy and you don’t have to spend a lot on it. Keep the fabric lightweight and add layers, either under or over and downplay the whole floaty aesthetic with trainers or lace up boots. I am completely in love with this look and have at least three long dresses none of which have cost more than £40.

Sheer madness…

Elie Saab Spring Summer 2018

Sheer dress £180 at Uterque.com

This time sheer is actually rather prim. Although some designers sent head to toe sheer down the catwalk, if flaunting your pants and bra while popping to the corner shop for a pint of milk isn’t your thing, there is this. Use sheer to your advantage – perfect for upper arm and crepey cleavage coverage.

Juicy Fruit shades…

Versace Spring Summer 2018

Coat reduced to £115.50 by Jasper Conran at Debenhams

There’s going to be a lot of colour out there – some of it quite frightening – so make sure you pick your shade wisely. Sticking with one colour all over is fab in theory but be careful you don’t look like a carrot.

 

Stable Jean-ius…

Tom Ford Spring Summer 2018

Denim jacket and playsuit by Vale at Asos.com £44 and £60

It looked like we were moving into faded, washed out, distressed, whatever territory for a bit there didn’t it? But fear not because for 2018 our denim is to be sleek and heavily dyed. You’ll have blue legs like a corpse when you take them off but it’s arguably better than doing that unflattering eighties Bros denim again.

Laid back Florals

Vilshenko Spring Summer 2018

Floral dress reduced to £59 at French Connection

OK, so florals in spring are about as inspired as Tess Daly’s Strictly script, but this season’s floweryness, a staple for most of 2017 and cropping up on everything from jeans to boots, has a classy vintage feel so you won’t resemble a charity shop three piece suite.

 

I’ve already put out my work outfit for tomorrow: long pretty dress half price at H&M worn with an ancient Ralph Lauren longline cardigan bought at TK Maxx and Steve Madden boots bought a couple of years ago a size too big and therefore conveniently ideal for thick socks in this rubbish weather. It’s all about comfort in January. Speaking of which, I’m off to stuff my face with pie and mash. Have a great 2018 lovely readers, here’s to our sixth year together!

Dark jeans £45 at River Island

 

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Desperately Sequin Season

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Silver dress £150 at asos.com

Silver kimono £100 at Top Shop

It’s that time of year again. The invitations start pouring in (apparently) and suddenly that stylish navy shift dress simply won’t cut it. People who are fairly sensible for eleven months of the year dangle Christmas puddings from their ears and sprinkle glitter on anything even vaguely sticky. And then there are the sequins – I love sequins. Not everyone does though and I’m well aware of the arguments against the wearing of sequins…

  1. They’re for middle aged women trying to look glam at the office party. (This, from my boyfriend who brings it up every December when the first sequin appears).
  2. They’re terribly unflattering, what with being so shiny and reflective an’ all.
  3. One falls off and then it’s just a matter of time before they’re all over the house.
  4. They look cheap and nasty.
  5. I’m too old for sequins (I think my mum uses this argument just to wind me up).
  6. I’ll look like Shirley Bassey.

Socks £8 at Asos.com

Blue strappy dress £99 at Warehouse

Here’s what I think: No they aren’t, and well yes, maybe, but live a little, it depends how you wear them and finally, no you’re not – no, you won’t! And if that doesn’t convince you then consider this: sequins were discovered in the tomb of King Tut who died in 1323 BC. Tut’s garments were covered in gold sequins and it was believed that they would guarantee financial stability in the afterlife. In Egypt and India, sequins were also believed to ward off evil spirits. Ohh yes, they’re appearing a little more practical now aren’t they?

Heels £28 at Dorothy Perkins

Ankle boots £150 at Uterque.com

I’m pro sequins and I’ll wear them any time of the year. If you’ve read my book* you’ll know that my friend Nina, once the only female in an I.T. office, wears sequins to work. And not just any old sequins; Nina wears mini skirts covered in the big versions, technically known as ‘paillettes’. Now that is my kinda girl. FYI, what Nina doesn’t know about the cocktail bars of London isn’t worth knowing, but that’s a whole other story.

Pink dress £385 at LK Bennett

Green shift dress £99 at Monsoon

My dislike of Christmas jumpers is well known by now, I don’t consider them an option. I just think there are better ways to be festive and draw attention to your chest than reindeer noses flashing on it. You could, for example, fall down the stairs blind drunk in a boob tube at your school drinks evening, or drop a brie and cranberry parcel down your front having burnt the roof of your mouth on scalding melted cheese. Both of those things would genuinely make people laugh without you having to buy a hideous Christmas jumper.

Sheer top £40 at Top Shop

Strappy top £99 at Karen Millen

I will talk you into sequins. All of you. Just look at these lovely shimmering things, how can you not want to look like a disco ball on new year’s eve? Seriously though, you don’t have to wear them head to foot and this year there’s so much choice, you can pick your colour, so take another look before you write this tiny shiny piece of plastic off completely.

A few suggestions for successful sequin wearing…

If you’re tall, skinny and don’t have to worry about lumps and bumps then you can embrace the body conscious sequin look without a care in the world. The pink LK Bennett dress will add curves to a slight frame while the green Monsoon will show off your long limbs and frankly no-one else will get away with this style quite as well.

Scalloped top £55 at Very.co.uk

Black jacket £199 at Zara

For figures which are heavier on the bottom, try a sequinned top and wear with something dark and neat on the bottom half – a pair of tuxedo trousers or a pencil skirt for example. Far better to have the eye catching glitz on the top half. Perfect if you’re attending an evening which involves being seated at a table all night.

If you are bigger up top then do the opposite and wear your sequins below the waist. The Miss Selfridge midi skirt is gorgeously fifties in style, features flying birds and is now reduced to a fraction of its original price tag which was fully justified for such a unique piece in my opinion. Wear with a plain dark top or shirt and keep jewellery to a minimum. The skirt also comes in electric blue and crimson pink as well as the green featured here – I want all three.

Green midi skirt £45.50 at Miss Selfridge

Black midi skirt £49.99 at H&M

There are some amazing deep jewel shades to be found on the high street and online at the moment. Both Debenhams and Very have incredible purple dresses in classic shapes while Zara has mixed them all up and has at least two pieces with a sequin rainbow effect. The real problem should be how to choose what to go for.

Purple dress £65 at Very.co.uk

Wrap around dress £69.99 at Zara

Then there’s always the shoes… personally I’d put sequin shoes with just about anything but if you really would rather a minimal look then nothing brings a little black dress or a trouser suit to life than a sparkling foot or two.

Right I’m done, I have a nativity performance to go to. But just one final thing before I go. If you do find yourself tempted into the supermarket for that Christmas jumper, why don’t you get one of these sheer dresses instead – £30 by George at Asda – I know! Have a great weekend everyone.

Sheer maxi dress £30 by George at Asda

*Shopped by Emily Stott available to buy on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01FW5J742/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

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Be Cool in the Cold

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It’s getting colder. You’ve got your jumpers out, your scarves, gloves and hats are by the front door and your boots are in a huge pile in the bottom of your wardrobe. None of them are quite as fabulous or as cosy as you’d remembered are they? There are moth holes and bobbles on the knits aren’t there and – sharp intake of breath – that is mud dried onto those soles isn’t it and not… not dog poo? Initially it’s so exciting at this time of year to get the first whiff of fireworks and mulled wine and to feel that tingle of anticipation that actually, it would be rather nice to have a bit of autumn/winter (not too much obviously, maybe until the end of January when you get paid would be doable) and to snuggle up in cashmere socks while eating biscuits in front of the telly.

Bobble hat with net veil £18 at River Island

Pom pom gloves £17.99 at Zara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But then you glance at your heaps of nibbled knitwear and tired grubby denim and you think, sod that, I haven’t got the time to think about keeping warm, layering and not looking like a bag lady. It’s around about the end of November that I scrape my longest coat off the floor of the Hoover cupboard (where it annoyingly appears to have been since March), because I can’t really be bothered to get dressed for school drop-off and a long coat will hide whatever dreadful outfit I’ve thrown on underneath – or on a particularly bad morning, the pyjamas I haven’t managed to change out of.

Embellished turban hat £15 at Aldo

Faux fur scarf £8 at Primark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So this winter I’m throwing out all the un-amazing stuff; anything with holes, anything that doesn’t really flatter, anything that looks like I felt the day after my sister in law’s 40th birthday party when I consumed a bottle of prosecco on a stomach empty but for a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Then I’m investing in pieces that will give me a boost and make me feel pleased it’s winter – even when it gets to April.

Patterned jumper £28 at Next

Jumper with pearl sleeve detail £45 at River Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017  is after all the season of the jumper. Never have jumpers been so bright, big and brilliant. And cleverly, there is a style for everyone even though a huge sloppy knit might seem to be the very worst thing you could put on to look stylish or slinky. Some of this autumn’s turtle necks (see the River Island one above) are beautifully shaped so as not to add bulk and the length is perfect; not too long and not too short. I’m planning to wear big jumpers with absolutely everything. At this point, when it’s still fairly mild (at time of clicking on ‘Publish’ anyway), a thick piece of knitwear and a scarf and you’re good to go, save the coat for when it’s genuinely cold.

Faux fur coat £79.99 at H&M

Quilted velvet coat £95.99 at Zara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know how many coats is too many but for me it comes down to space. You’re always going to get your money’s worth in terms of cost per wear with a coat in London, but then it should be a thing of beauty shouldn’t it? You won’t ever feel guilty about splurging on a great coat if you love it and everyone asks you where you got it. Didn’t you spend at least twelve years of your life wearing a regulation navy blue overcoat or black blazer? Exactly. You’ve done boring dreary outerwear to death by this stage so live a little. That’s my reasoning for the utterly fantastic pink fur number above and I’m sticking to it.

Sheepskin lined ankle boots £160 at Boden

Fur lined Converse boots £44 at Kurt Geiger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, prompted by my friend Clare who this morning mentioned feeling conflicted after someone referred to her as looking as if she’d ‘stepped out of a Boden catalogue’, I went and had a look at what indeed this might look like. Where Clare feared for the image she was currently projecting to others, I suspected the description suggested she looked healthy (a glow courtesy of moving out of London), wealthy (enough to afford Botox but not actually needing it) and wisely clad from head to toe. A pair of the most impractical lovely shoes caught my eye on the Boden website but alas, they had sold out some time ago. The sheepskin lined fold down boots above though… sensible and yet still kinda sexy – just look at the little yellow tag – those boots will take you from dusk to dawn, in trousers or skirts. They may even go with my pyjamas and long winter coat.

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The Witch in your Wardrobe

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Leather gloves £19.99 at Mango

Like Christmas, Hallowe’en arrives earlier every year. Although the full blown American-style Hallowe’en hysteria has taken a good twenty-five years to get here, now we’ve caught up with our friends across the Atlantic our children are wanting costumes far more grotesque than the ghosts or pumpkins we used to dress up as. When I first had my son I remember thinking mini skeleton babygrows were a bit inappropriate, now I am helping said son cover his clothes in pints of blood and googling ‘walking dead make-up’/’does fake blood ever come out’ just to keep up with the one night of the year when we turn a blind eye to minors taking to the streets to beg for sweets. Luckily, our patch is between two screamingly middle class schools meaning every household situated in the middle has little choice other than to embrace 31st October with the kind of enthusiasm and imagination seen in ET and countless other American films, or (and this would be an option for the very few in our area who are blissfully child-free) you could fake your own death.

Tulle dress £39.99 at Reserved.com

Ankle boots £69.99 at Mango

It’s safe to say you can’t avoid All Hallows Eve these days and the fashion industry has reacted accordingly. This year is the first in a long time that black isn’t taking a back seat. It’s definitely back this season whether in the form of shiny vinyl spray on trousers or lace ruffle Victoriana blouses (ooo those two pieces together though – very Adam Ant circa 1982…), pointy boots or velvet dresses. There is no excuse not to unleash your inner Goth on the world come Hallowe’en, and any day either side for that matter. Although I’ve been championing a more school uniformy navy in recent years (yikes, I sound about 92), I’m sorely tempted by many of the fabulous black pieces on the high street and am thinking of breaking my own rules. All in the name of looking witchy. 

Midi dress £55 at Warehouse

Ankle boots £119 at Massimo Dutti

If you don’t fancy the idea of head to toe black then a slash of red lipstick or flash of sparkle at the neck or ears will break it up a bit and keep the look contemporary – nobody wants to really look Goth in 2017 do they… or do they? I always associate that particular fad with split ends and Marlboro Lights in the late ’80s but then I was always far too cheesecake to carry off anything remotely dark and brooding so what do I know.

Jumpsuit £110 at Phase Eight

Earrings £20 at Phase Eight

On the other hand, if black is your thing then this is your season! The Phase Eight jumpsuit and Warehouse dress are simple and yet stylish options and I would pair with nothing more than a pair of the spikiest, witchiest ankle boots you can find. Sock boots are the latest thing and although they may look a bit flash in the pan, I once had something very similar and wore them to death because they were unbelievably comfortable and went with absolutely everything in my wardrobe. A pair in red or purple would probably be equally as useful. The colour pop is still going strong so you could kick two trends with one boot.

Coated skinny trousers £49 at Warehouse

Star body £38 at Top Shop

Fashion’s love affair with stars (my favourite print) continues well into next year so there’s still time to invest in it. Again, the one shoulder body from Top Shop is a two in one trend so you’re getting your money’s worth there too. Failing all that, do your bit on 31st October by digging out those shoulder grazing earrings and novelty tights, switch all the lights off and scare yourself witless watching Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween. And scoff all those mini bags of Haribo yourself. If I wasn’t being dragged around the streets of Battersea by a seven year old zombie high on sugar that’s exactly what I’d be doing. Happy Hallowe’en lovely readers! xx 

Star bag £29.99 at Zara

Star tights £17 at Calzedonia

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Unzipping the Velvet

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This won’t be the most timely blog I’ve posted since one look at the weekend weather suggests we’ll be back outside the pub sipping aperol spritz in our sunnies by Sunday. However, it’s good to be prepared and since you may be clearing through last year’s winter clothes right about now, there is one thing you should be holding onto – and it’ll seem far too heavy in this muggy weather but stay with me – VELVET.

The days of velvet being only for sofas and Christmas day are long gone. By all means sit on a velvet sofa wearing velvet on Christmas day (preferably not in the same colour) but this season you should view velvet as you would cashmere or silk; you can get it for a snip in H&M and M&S and it looks fabulous dressed down with denim on any day of the week therefore it can be taken out of the ‘special occasion only’ drawer. Oh but try not to spill anything down it because like the afore-mentioned cashmere and silk you really don’t want to be washing it too often.

Longline velvet coat with scarf £115 at asos.com

Military style velvet jacket £69.99 at Zara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a wealth of velvet on offer currently and unlike the old days when your choice was limited to a stuffy blazer or a stiff looking pair of black trousers, now the high street has you covered from head to toe. Don’t fancy your back view encased in stretched velvet (thoughts of that sofa again…)? Opt for a pair of gorgeous boots, almost every brand is doing them and they’re ridiculously priced. If a velvet skirt makes you think of school birthday parties in the early ’80s (I insisted my mum made me one in royal blue) then go for a dress with a more daring neckline for a sexier take on velvet – you don’t have to look like Princess Anne, really you don’t.

Teal velvet midi dress £55 at asos.com

Velvet dress £49.99 at Mango

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other thing about this autumn’s version of velvet is the colour. Yes, a bottle green or a midnight blue is lovely for a trouser suit in the evening but consider a mustard velvet (if mustard is a colour that suits you) or a teal because a pair of shoes or a camisole in these shades will be a real scene stealer and will bring a simple suit or dress bang up to date.

Velvet jeans £85 at French Connection

Velvet skinny trousers £39.99 at Zara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no getting away from velvet jackets but if you do invest in one I guarantee you’ll get your money’s worth. Wear it like Romee Strijd (above) dressed down with a t-shirt or nip it in at the waist with an obi belt or embellished sash for a more glam night time look. Such is the luxurious texture of velvet that jewels sit beautifully on it, wrap yourself in a jacket a size too big, secure it with a leather belt and just add something sparkling at the neck or on the lapel – no layer underneath even needed.

Flat velvet shoes £90 at Boden

Velvet ankle boots reduced to £19.60 at Dorothy Perkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately though, a touch of velvet in your outfit is a great way of looking like you’ve made more effort than you in fact have. I walked past the John Rocha jacket in Debenhams this week and all I could think was how much time it would save me when getting ready to go out in the evening – throw over a floaty dress or a pair of jeans and a white shirt and you’re good to go. Velvet shoes and boots will have the same effect. And is it me, or do even the £19.60 Dorothy Perkins boots looks quite expensive?

Velvet jacket £55 by John Rocha at Debenhams

Velvet bag £35.99 at Mango

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So once this mini Indian summer is over, fold your t-shirts and shorts away once and for all and consider velvet. If you’re still not convinced then start with a trainer piece such as a choker or a bag or a pair of flats like the oh so cute Boden flats above. You never know you may love velvet so much that by Christmas you’ll be doing the school run in these over the knee boots…

Velvet over the knee boots £150 at Uterque.com

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All You Need…

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This morning I locked myself out of the house. We were on our way to school on our bikes and the door closed shut behind me with the keys in the lock on the inside. Thankfully I had my mobile phone and purse with me but that was about it. I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet and was dressed for my yoga class so it was a little drafty as I cycled with my son to school. As I awaited the locksmith in my second coffee shop of the day, I realised I had unwittingly become one of those middle class mums who gets dressed in leisure wear as if on their way to or on their way back from some sort of physical activity. I felt self conscious going around like ‘Exercise Barbie’ all day but it did give me the opportunity to try out the must-have autumn trends and work out exactly what will offer the most bang for our buck. And there’s nothing like wasting time in a warm fitting room when you’re feeling a bit chilly around the trainer socked ankles. Actually, it turns out that all you really need is a little help from your friends, your phone and a coffee shop app this autumn but if you’re up for a wardrobe refresher course then here is what you need:

A Checked Coat

Checked coat at Mulberry AW17

Of course you already have a coat, you may even have two or three but this look heralded by Mulberry amongst many others, is very relaxed so you don’t need a big thick expensive style. I’ve got my eye on this neat coat from Debenhams.

Coat £75 at Debenhams

A Pair of White Boots

White boots at Narciso Rodriguez AW17

I bought a pair of off-white boots last winter and although I felt a bit space age in the playground, I can’t stress enough how much wear I got out of them. They go with everything! Hopelessly impractical in the rain but so much more interesting than boring old black. Will you just look at these M&S ones – I’ll race you to them…

Boots £79 at Marks and Spencer

A Long Floral Dress

Floral dress at Roland Mouret AW17

I’m sure I suggested this piece last winter so if you ignored my advice a year ago then more fool you because a long flowery dress will be soo useful. Dress down with a big knit (see below) and lace-up boots or dress up with white boots (see above). And if you’re not convinced  by the length, you can always shorten it at some point. You have nothing to lose. If only you’d listened to me the first time.

Dress £59 at Warehouse

A Big Knit

Big knit at TopShop Unique AW17

Yes, yes, I know this was around last year too but these knits are even bigger this season. Go for brights, go for big sleeves and something clashing in colour or style underneath. The look you want is louche rather than student.

Turtle neck jumper £49.99 Mango

A Trouser Suit

Trouser suit at Daks AW17

Again, this is a slouchy laid back kind of vibe, you don’t need to be Madonna in the Express Yourself video (been there, done that – I’m not joking) although with what’s out on the high street, you can if you want. In the office wear with a Victoriana blouse, out of the office wear with Adidas trainers and a t-shirt.

Suit £123.95 at Massimo Dutti

 

A Pair of Statement Earrings

Statement earrings at Balenciaga AW17

No-one’s saying wear odd earrings as shown here but this is your chance to adorn your head with the chandelier replicas previously only associated with Bet Lynch or Pat Butcher. Now’s the time to do it and be classy. This opportunity might not come around again until your ear lobes have drooped down to your shoulders, so seize the day.

Earrings £19 at Coast

Something, Anything Red

All red at Fendi AW17

It started last winter with the red boots and now it’s worked its way up, via the show stopping red dress in late summer, (see my post: http://wp.me/p3RaVN-1cH ) to pretty much head to toe red this season. Don’t let that put you off (although I think this Zara look is fab I have to say) just pick one eye catching piece and wear it with denim for a look that’s totally now.

Blouse £69.99 at Zara

So there you have it. You may be interested to know that I have finally gained (£100 later) entry back into my home while my son has cycled his bike through dog poo which I am endeavouring to get rid of with boiling water and an old toothbrush. In the nine hours I have been locked out I have consumed more cafe chain food and drink than I dare think about. Have a great weekend and enjoy the new collections!

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