The Call of the Wilder

First of all, a confession. I spent a large part of my childhood dressed as Laura Ingalls Wilder in the Little House on the Prairie television series. I loved dressing up and – this is all incredibly predictable – I didn’t really see the point of putting normal clothes on at the weekend. Why wear jeans and a t-shirt if you can wear a bonnet, smocked dress and a pinny? So yes, this is something of a disclaimer; I am not the most impartial person to be talking about a trend which really has no place in a city in 2019. Or in the wardrobe of someone over the age of 8. Except that, while even I started off wondering whose idea it was to revive the nightshirt blouses and the layered skirts, the sun came out in February while the country looked like it was going to hell in a hand cart and all of a sudden it seemed rather lovely. And I can’t explain it any better than that. Other than Michael Landon being an absolute dreamboat of course.

The Little House on the Prairie cast

Anyway, as usual it’s taken me far longer to complete this blog than I planned and now while the country is probably even closer to disaster than when I started, normal service has resumed as far as the weather is concerned so you may have to add an extra pair of bloomers to your prairie look until the sun comes out again. Until then, roll the theme tune and grab yourself a Penguin biscuit, here’s my beginner’s guide to working the prairie look in 2019 without being put in an institution.

Working the Landon

Shirt reduced to £37 at KitriStudio.com

Striped shirt £50 at French Connection

This nightshirt look is perhaps the most wearable of the lot but you’re best off going without braces unless you are as sunkissed and ripped of chest as the Michael Landon character. I had to wear bright red braces when I worked at Pizza Hut and it was a constant battle of wills between my boobs and the elastic. No winners in that scenario.

 

Midi – western Dresses

Dress reduced to £38 at Other Stories

Dress £24.99 at H&M

If you’ve been doing midi dresses all through the winter then you’re already halfway there. While it’s still cold just add a cardigan (this season’s must-have) or a biker jacket and boots and you’re good to go. Wear tights or go for chunky socks. Do not accessorise with a dog on a string or daisies in your hair.

 

Pretty Little Things

Blouse £16 at Asda

Blouse £45 at Oliver Bonas

These blouses look great with denim. Don’t be tempted to team them with a long skirt or you really will look like Ma Wilder. With something this little girlish you have to go urban on the bottom. Think jeans, denim skirt or shorts. Steer clear of bonnets and milk urns.

 

The Bootie Call

Suede boots £149 at Massimo Dutti

Lace up boots £115 at SteveMadden.com

There is no reason why cowboy boots can’t be sensible girl about town footwear. Where I live in South London people drive vehicles with cattle grids on the front so I see no reason why a cowboy boot shouldn’t be seen as de rigeur. Why not go the whole hog and do the school run with a horse and cart this summer?

 

Dress £110 at Other Stories

Cardigan £145 at Iris boutiques

When the weather finally improves, I think this is going to be a really versatile trend, not to mention comfortable – you can wear your big pants underneath and you won’t need to worry about grass stains or food spillages because that’ll only add to the aesthetic. And if we do suffer food shortages after the 29th March we will be appropriately dressed for ploughing the land.

Happy March everyone and thanks as ever for following!

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The Way They Wore (2018 edit)

I don’t know about you but by the end of 2018 I felt completely done in. It got to the point where it seemed like only the onset of a new year would renew the energy. It didn’t quite work like that but I do believe a change is as good as a rest and January was at least a change of pace – I have thrown out some old bras and shoes, forked out a fortune on niggly things to do with my car and agreed stone cold sober to go on a camping weekend – run of the mill perhaps but all things absolutely inconceivable in December.

December can be fun but it’s exhausting and so I quite enjoy the look back over the past year. It’s comforting to see how much has gone on in the previous twelve months, somehow justifies the lack of energy, even if none of it had anything remotely to do with me. The news in general was fairly depressing all year so we’ll stick to just fashion shall we? In the interests of sustainability, I’m wondering about which fashion moments  and ideas from 2018 are reuseable enough to be carried over to this year.

The Markle Effect

The Megan neckline

Who doesn’t love a wedding? The first of the two royal weddings came at a time when we most needed it. It was like something out of a Richard Curtis film – American bride, sunny day in the country and Robbie Williams in attendance – it was heaven sent. And then from somewhere up there Victoria Wood had a hand and threw in some trouble making relatives and a caricature preacher. And I’d thought I was watching to see the dress. Nobody expected the Givenchy, some (me) preferred the evening do’s  Stella McCartney but whichever your leaning, it was the start of a thing. I could have done with a bit more Megan doll before the maternity wear kicked in but either way, it’s a great show. The boat neckline will definitely be with us in 2019.

Boat neckline sweater £89 at Hobbs

Killing it

Jodie Comer in Molly Goddard as Villanelle

If Grey’s Anatomy didn’t make a Sandra Oh fan of you, then Killing Eve will have. Full of spectacular leading ladies accompanied by the enigmatic Danish actor Kim Bodnia (if it was bugging you, you saw him in The Bridge) it was horribly violent, slightly slapstick and “yeah, we’ve got this” in a non-threatening feminist way. And yet… and yet, what was the real star of the show? Well it was the pink frou frou Molly Goddard babydoll dress, so ridiculously over the top and impractical it seemed perfectly reasonable for a multi-lingual serial killer to be wearing it in Paris. If anyone actually wore a dress like that on the streets of Paris, a local would have a heart attack within minutes. And have you noticed how already the pink frothy frocks are appearing on the red carpet this season? Needless to say I’m in love.

Pink tulle dress £44 at ASOS.com

Animal Overkill

Spotted (in more ways than one) on Oxford Street

The lengthy summer hadn’t even petered out when it became clear that far from being what fashion editors refer to as “a neutral” (did anyone ever really buy that?), leopard print had in fact gone completely the other way. It had become the Burberry check overnight – without the help of Daniella Westbrook. It became the wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen as everyone bought head to toe leopard print and then went out in it thinking they were somehow the only person to catch onto this thing. All I can say is, if Theresa May wearing leopard print didn’t put you off, nothing will. Having said that, I am still wearing my Dolce and Gabbana leopard print heels and my River Island belt. If you take one thing with you after this blog, let it be this: Everything In Moderation.

Return of the Spice

The way they were – the Spice Girls

Never for a minute did we think that Victoria Beckham would rejoin the Spice Girls so we didn’t really pay much attention to talk of a reunion tour. But then pictures emerged of the other four reconvening at Geri Halliwell’s house and all of a sudden it was back on. And didn’t they look good? I’m all for it as the Spices are around my age and I want to think  a) they look really young  and  b) it’s not inconceivable that they could get away with prancing about onstage in union flag dresses and sequin catsuits. While most of us comfortably in our forties are forging second or even third careers, this lot are going back to the first one. Imagine! They don’t even appear to have changed their outfits much. The thought! I personally won’t be wearing those massive trainers this year but I’m all for everyone else doing it. They are very much back whether it’s thanks to the Spice Girls or not. One word of advice though, if your feet are over a size 6/39, probably best not.

Big ol’ trainers £79.99 at Office

Wearing the Trousers

Victoria Beckham doing all trousers and no mouth

Meanwhile over at Beckham HQ, there was news of DB cash injections into the VB fashion line, an imminent divorce announcement and a Beckham Vogue cover without the founder member. Whatevs. I was far more interested in Victoria’s style about turn – could it be true – she of the plunge necklines and hooker shoes was now doing louche androgynous trouser suits? Not since Madonna took to the stage at Wembley in 1990 (I was there and so was my now boyfriend whatever he might tell you) in her pinstripe trouser suit and conical bra, had a trouser suit looked so tempting. This is so going to be my thing in 2019 I thought. I won’t be borrowing my dad’s old work suit to wear to anyone’s 21st this time around (more’s the pity on both fronts) but I will be wearing one.

Trouser suit £79.95 and £139 at Massimo Dutti

The Waistcoat

England manager and fashion icon Gareth Southgate

There are no words. But I’m going to put some down nevertheless. I’ve carried Gareth Southgate dressed in that awful grey England kit and his ill fated penalty somewhere in my heart since 1996 so while I was pleased when he took over as England manager, I was also worried for him, it is after all the most thankless job in the UK in recent history. And then the waistcoat happened; he looked hot, he looked cool, he looked in control and then somehow while we were all ogling Gareth and his impossibly lean navy clad torso, the England team reached the semi finals. It was a magic waistcoat and I miss it. Don’t ever change Gareth.

 

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Top of the Frocks 2018

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

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

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

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

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

If you want Sleeves…

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

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

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

 

 

If you don’t want to do Black…

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

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

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

 

If you’re small on top…

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

If you’re bigger on top…

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

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

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

If you’re bigger on the bottom..

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

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

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

If you’re bigger in the middle…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*Not all styles available in this size range

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The Season of Extreme Dressing

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

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

Long slashed polo neck £95 at French Connection

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

Green ankle boots £80 at River Island

Large tote £59.99 at Zara

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

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

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

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

Mismatched earrings £27 at Other Stories

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The Real September Issue

This gallery contains 3 photos.

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

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Fash n’ Carrie

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

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

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

Flowers

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

Tulle

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

Statement Shoes

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

The White Dress

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

Dressing the Part

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

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

I ♥ SATC.

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

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

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

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

Lady Kitty Spencer in Dolce and Gabbana

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new Duchess of Sussex in Stella McCartney

I preferred this one.

 

 

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Your Summer Style Steals

Click to buy!

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

The original Cult Gaia bamboo bag retailing at £92

Bamboo bag £45 at Very

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

Prabal Gurung SS18

Mini dress reduced to £32 at Very

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

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

Dress £52 at Warehouse

Dress £49 at Warehouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Dress £120 Studio by Preen at Debenhams

Dress £69 Studio by Preen at Debenhams

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Maison Martin Miguela $675

Ankle boots reduced to £56.25 by Faith at Debenhams

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

Valentino studded heels £650

Studded heels £45 at Dune

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

Happy bank holiday weekend everyone!

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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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