Tuesday, 31 August 2010

today i'm wearing...

Maxidress: Topshop

Shirt: Topshop

Belt: Topshop

Necklace: Topshop

Bangle: Accessorize

Bird ring: Topshop

Glasses: Calvin Klein

Saturday, 28 August 2010

today i'm channelling... drew barrymore

Everyone loves Drew, don't they? She's that rare breed of celebrity adored by men and women alike. Men love her, well, because she's fit. Women love her because she looks like you could have a debaucherous night of cocktail drinking and tabletop-dancing with her, but could also still turn to her for a shoulder to cry on, and it feels like she would always have your back. Amazing how all that can be conveyed with just her face and dress sense, eh?

But despite Drew's (admittedly imagined) suitability as friend material, what I really want to focus on is her style. Granted, she hasn't always got it right fashion-wise (the what-were-you-thinking bouffant she sported to last year's Golden Globes springs to mind), but when she does get it right, boy, does she! The last couple of weeks have been especially exemplary. Prancing around the world on a promotional tour for her latest film, Going the Distance, Ms Barrymore has showcased an array of delightful, effortlessly chic ensembles, from the white maxi, Ray-Ban aviators and studded leather jacket combo worn for a daytime TV appearance, to the ridiculously gorgeous gold brocade Catherine Malandrino full-length dress, accessorised with boho-esque arm jewellery and that gorgeously tousled mane of hair, worn to her LA premiere.

My favourite look of Drew's recent excursions, however, has to be that which she sported to the film's London premiere:

Drew looked effortlessly gorgeous in a simple McQ by Alexander McQueen jersey minidress, which she sexed up with a studded Balmain belt, leg-lengthening YSL platforms, mussed-up hair and vampy berry-coloured lips. In short, the perfect outfit for this tricky summer-into-autumn time of year, and one which is very much my cup of tea.

But how to get your own Drew-inspired ensemble? Well, I've hunted high and low and found the perfect McQueen-esque khaki minidress. There were several out there but none compared to Asos's Outside Seam Knitted Fit & Flare Dress, which is really not a million miles away from Ms Barrymore's and, at £36, a darn sight cheaper. It could be a fairly average piece on its own, but paired with Miss Selfridge's Black Figleaf Skinny Belt, £10 (love this), and Dorothy Perkins' Nude High Court Shoes, a very reasonable £35, the look is elevated into seriously sexy territory. The final touch is to apply a slick of dark berry lipstick, which will bring your ensemble firmly up-to-date and add an after-dark edge. Topshop's Lipstick in Vamp, £8, should do the job nicely.

So there you have it: an understatedly gorgeous look which is perfect for autumn cocktails (just shrug on a faux-fur jacket if the weather is too chilly). Add black opaques and this could work for the office, too. Now, if only my roots would grow a bit faster so I could channel Drew's so-now two-tone hair...

Picture of Drew Barrymore:


Thursday, 26 August 2010

today i'm wearing...

Top: Gap

Culottes: Dorothy Perkins

Leather jacket: Topshop

Bag: Topshop

Shoes: Topshop

Necklace: Topshop

Bangle: Accessorize

Flower ring: Topshop

Monday, 23 August 2010

today i'm wearing...

Top: from New York, customised

Cardigan: Miss Selfridge

Jeans: Topshop's 'Jamie'

Bag: Topshop

Bird ring (left hand): Topshop

Snake ring (right hand): Asos

Necklace: Topshop

Saturday, 21 August 2010

today i love... the 'what elle wears to work' blog

Golly, I do love a bit of fashion voyeurism. You will probably have gathered this from my obsession with celebrities' wardrobes, a fascination which found its spiritual home in Vogue's 'Today I'm Wearing' blog, the subject of one of my previous posts. But as much as I love a good gander at what the famous folk are wearing, sometimes it can be equally inspiring to see what the ordinary people are outfitting themselves in. The rise of street style blogs such as The Sartorialist in recent years is perhaps due to the realisation that - whisper it - just because you're famous doesn't mean you dress well (or at least not unless aided by a stylist - I'm talking to you Cheryl). Some people derive great joy from scorning the hideously misinformed choices of those in the public eye, but I personally prefer to look at a good outfit over a bad one any day of the week. And so, when the rich and famous fail to deliver on this account, we must look to the non-rich and non-famous. And who out of said ordinary folk is likely to offer up the finest in sartorial delights? Why, those who work in fashion, of course!

Step forward ELLEuk.com's 'What ELLE wears to work' blog. The genius folk at this rather fabulous fashion publication have afforded us a glimpse into the fashiontastic wardrobes of their staffers. The premise is simple: every week the photographer snaps the best office outfits, asks their owners to provide details of where their inspirational items were purchased, and posts them on the blog. Simple, but brilliant.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

This lovely lady (above) is the rather gorgeous and consistently well-dressed Kat Webster, ELLEuk.com's Picture Editor. Keep an eye out for her if you do visit the blog, because she is always decked out in a simple, elegant ensemble, often keeping to a classic palette of black, tan and grey marl, and accessorising with that classic Mulberry Bayswater and pared-down hair and make-up. Here she wears a leather jacket from Topshop, top from H&M, trousers from River Island, shoes from Nine West and bag, of course, by Mulberry.

Next up we have Bonnie Rakhit (above), ELLE's Market and Merchandising Editor. She favours (from what I can gather), a soft, muted colour palette and draped, fluid tailoring. And she looks lovely in it. Here she sports a gorgeous silk parka from Whistles (want), a dress by Stella McCartney, shoes by Office and that Mulberry Leah bag that Kate Bosworth's been toting lately. Lovely stuff.

And last but not least we have Kelly Skeritt (above), an ELLE Bookings Assistant, and another consistently well-attired staff member. Kelly is not afraid to take risks with her fashion, regularly posing in geeky glasses, oversized tailoring, panama hats and the like, and playing with proportion, colour and print. Most of the time her fashion risks pay off in dividends. The above is my favourite (so far) of her outfits and demonstrates perfectly how to carry off the military look in the summertime; pay particular attention to her of-the-moment looped tan belt, topknot and round shades. She wears a dress from Topshop, vintage shirt, Maxmara belt, H&M sunglasses and shoes from Zara.

Of course there are many more sartorial delights to be gleaned from ELLE's fabulous blog (which is updated every Monday, FYI); I've simply picked my top three. I strongly advise you to check it out pronto and update your work wardrobe accordingly. I for one will continue to check it regularly... until, of course, the day that ELLE gives me a job and I appear in said blog instead.... watch this space...!


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

today i'm pondering... festival wear

Before I start, I should probably mention that I don't do festivals. I've never been to one. I've never had the slightest inclination to go to one. I just don't understand the appeal. I've never been much of a live music person anyway; the only two proper gigs I've ever been to have been my favourite bands in the entire world (Death Cab for Cutie and Maroon 5, since you ask). I don't like the idea of being squished in between a load of drunk people bouncing up and down and inhaling their body odour. Put the gig outside, and add mud, a lack of toilets and a general absence of any hygiene to the equation, and you pretty much have my idea of hell. And don't even get me started on the idea of sleeping in a tent. So yeah. Not a festival person. The only aspect of festivals that does appeal to me is festival-appropriate attire. I'm quite taken with the idea of dressing myself in wellies, a Barbour jacket and a hippy-esque headband, even if I probably never actually would in real life. So I've decided, in the interest of being terribly au courant ('tis the season of the festival, after all), to dedicate this blog to pondering what I would, hypothetically, in an alternate universe, wear to a festival, even though I will never have any need of my conclusions.

So let's start off with a bit of fashinspiration, shall we? And who else could we look to but the eponymous queen of festival fashion, Miss Alexa Chung? This picture is in fact from a few years ago, but is still highly covetable as festival wear, and offers a number of helpful festival-dressing rules: 1) You can't go wrong with a Breton top. This actually applies to almost any situation in life, not just festivals. Gosh, I do love a Breton top. 2) You can't go wrong with a little leather jacket either. 3) Wellies are a must. I don't care if it looks sunny, I doubt any other shoes are equipped to deal with standing in cowpat/puddles of cider/puddles of something that looks like cider, but really isn't. 4) Over-the-knee socks are perfect for festivals, because you probably won't want to have too much flesh on show, and they will therefore sex up your outfit just the right amount. Plus it's rarely warm enough for bare legs, and tights will look out of place. 5) When in doubt, reach for some denim.

So here are a few Alexa-inspired pieces to help you recreate this presenter's effortless festival charm: first, in place of Miss Chung's ubiquitous Barbour jacket, try
Topshop's Wax Cord Jacket, a rather lovely (and rather cheaper at £80) imitation. Under this, sling on Topshop's Slubby Breton Stripe Tee, £16, and these gorgeous Whistles Boyfriend Denim Shorts, £50 at Asos.com (looove the Whistles). Finally finish off your look with Miss Selfridge's lustworthy Black Croc Wellies, just £25, and Topshop's Rib Over Knee Socks, £6. Sorted!

Alexa has therefore provided us with a sterling example of what to wear to a good, old-fashioned, rainy British festival. It's just the right mix of practicality and sartorial perfection. But what to wear if, perchance, the sun does deign to come out? Well, we need only look over the pond to the ever-gorgeous Kate Bosworth, who wore a rather magical ensemble to the Coachella festival in California:

Now, admittedly, much of the reason why this outfit is so fabulous hinges on Kate's mile-long, tanned legs and artfully dishevelled, sun-bleached hair. But this is not to discredit her perfectly understated sunny festival attire. Note how the neutral-coloured crochet dress (a Topshop number, incidentally), which wouldn't look out of place in a bar, is cleverly dressed down with cute little cowboy boots and Mulberry's canvas 'Leah' bag for a look that screams festival perfection, while also avoiding looking too studied or fussy.

Now you just need to bag yourself some similarly hardworking pieces to recreate Kate's lovely summery look (we'll work on the perfect limbs and hair later, eh?). Sadly her exact Topshop frock has sold out, but I reckon her winning accessory formula of ankle boots + canvas bag will work a treat to festival-ify most minidresses (yes, I'm rescinding my wellies-only rule a little, but hey, I never claimed to be consistent). I've found a lovely substitute in Miss Selfridge's Cream Cable Stitch Knit Dress, reduced from £37 to an incredible £12. Its knitted fabric means it's more seasonally appropriate than Kate's crochet, but gives the same slinky silhouette. Pair this beauty with Topshop's Canvas Washed Large Tote Bag, £40, a dead ringer for its Mulberry counterpart, and finish the look with Mango's Paris Low Heel Ankle Boots, £70 at Asos.com. Lovely, understated chic.

And lastly I've selected the outfit of a lady whose name I do not know, since I found her on a street style website. But I think she's got festival dressing down to a T.

It's a simple outfit, but this young lady makes use of a whole host of styling tricks to bring her outfit right up to date: 1) Pick a maxi skirt in an easy fabric and plain colour. Tiered, frothy, brightly-coloured or printed maxiskirts (or indeed maxidresses) will look fussy and dated. Choose jersey pieces in a muted palette for a failsafe festival staple. 2) Keep your jewellery simple, but eye-catching. This stylish girl's super-long pendant necklace creates a focal point and pretties up her simple vest without looking over-styled. 3) Put your hair in a messy topknot. Practical, in that it means it will be out of your face (probably a good plan if you're not going to be able to wash it for a while), but also very now, dahling. 4) Cinch your waist with a skinny tan belt. I've mentioned this accessory before but this picture proves it goes with absolutely everything.

So there you have it. Recreate our anonymous festival-goer's look with a few simple pieces; Topshop's Maxi Slip Skirt, £40, is the only blush-pink version I could find, but there are jersey black ones aplenty on the high street for as little as £10. Pair this with Topshop's Basic V Neck Vest, £6, and Topshop's Rose On Chain Necklace, £7.50 (I've just bought this and I love it). Finally knot Asos' Square Buckle Skinny Boyfriend Belt, £8, around your waist, and voilà! Easy festival dressing all sewn up.

I think that's pretty much covered what to wear to a festival... now just don't forget to pack baby wipes, suncream and dry shampoo. See you there.... or not!

Picture of Alexa Chung: Channel4.com

Picture of Kate Bosworth:

Street style picture:


Sunday, 15 August 2010

today i'm channelling... lauren conrad

I love LC. I think she's just great. I love her obsession with Chanel bags. I love the fact that she hates Spencer. I love that she told Audrina to her face that Justin Bobby physically disgusts her. Haha. And I love, love, love her swishy, golden glorious long hair. Truly the most lustworthy barnet in all of creation. In my opinion, Blake "apparently-owner-of-the-most-requested-hairstyle-in-New-York" Lively's 'do can't hold a candle to LC's luscious locks.

Most of all though, I love Lauren Conrad's sense of style. Sure, she might not be breaking any fashion rules and won't get any points for being avant garde anytime soon. But I don't think that's such a bad thing. Give me an LC over a Lady Gaga any day (and seriously, since when was throwing on the most ridiculous thing you can think of enough to grant you style icon status?? Not a fan of the Gaga). In my book, looking good triumphs over looking wacky any day of the week. And if there's one thing Lauren knows how to do, it's look good. She looks good when she walks the dog. She looks good when she goes to the salon. She looks good when she attends premieres/book signings/clothing line launches. And that's something I, for one, definitely strive to emulate.

After all, looking good at all times is no mean feat. But Miss Conrad knows the value of a few simple rules. 1) Dress for your body type. 2) Don't put all your assets on display. 3) Always, always have glossy, gorgeous hair. 4) Keep your make-up simple and classic. 5) Wear a Chanel bag and Louboutin shoes. And that's it, my friends. Five simple pathways to sartorial success. Take the picture I've chosen as an example. A slightly shapeless mustard dress would on almost anyone else be a recipe for disaster. But coupled with LC's Californian tan (NB, I do not condone actual tans. Fake if at all, please), golden, loosely waved hair, neutral accessories and a nice sprinkling of Chanel, said dress looks absolutely gorgeous. And that's why I've chosen it as today's blog subject. I do love a bit of mustard but it can be tricky to pull off, and sometimes we need a little bit of fashinspiration to nudge us in the right direction.

I've selected a gorgeous mustard item that acts as a perfect high-street substitute for LC's high-end frock.
Topshop's Mustard Tuck Shift Dress, £40, is not only a beautifully flattering shape and soft, wearable colour, but is also the perfect summer-into-autumn piece, making it the perfect starting ingredient for our fashion feast. To this you need only add a few tan accessories, so as not to detract from the dress' fabulous colour or over-complicate your look. First cinch your waist with Asos' Metal Keeper Super Skinny Belt, just £6 (for a very now look, dahling, point the belt loop downwards). Now add some tan strappy shoes; the ones I raved about in my first blog post would do nicely, but failing that, try River Island's Brown Caged Heel Sandals, £39.99. And finally, to top it off, a cute little Chanel 2.55.... but if you can't stretch to two grand, Asos' Nude Quilted Lock Across Body Bag is not a bad copycat for £15.

And there you have it. Easy, breezy, Conrad-style chic, perfect for late summer drinks or even a day at the office. Now all you need to do is put a cute little plait in your hair, a little bronzer on your cheeks, and you'll be ready to take on Hollywood (or at least Spencer Pratt). You might not be on the cutting edge of fashion, but you will certainly look good. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

Picture of Lauren Conrad:


Friday, 13 August 2010

today i love... my aviator jacket

The moment I watched the gorgeous, oversized, furry-collared, deliciously soft leather aviator jackets come stalking down the Burberry catwalk back in February (on the internet, sadly no front row tickets just yet), I knew that I would be saving up my pennies for a high-street copy come autumn. And, as I reported in my last blog, it is now officially autumn in fashion circles. My desire for a shearling aviator jacket, then, which has been slowly building over the last few months, has in the last couple of weeks reached fever pitch, so that I am now convinced that owning one such specimen is as necessary to my survival as clean water.

With each 'hero' piece, as I have pretentiously decided to refer to items of clothing that have in the past instilled in me such desire as to seriously risk disrupting my sleep patterns, I imagine that I want it even more than I wanted the previous piece. And with each one, I consider spending just a little more money. A year ago I fell completely, inexorably in love with a cream cropped leather jacket, soft as butter, and with gold-studded lapels. I dreamed about it for nights on end before deciding that it would be the perfect present for my parents to give me as a congratulations on graduating from university. At £160, it was the most money I'd ever spent on an item of clothing, and I worried that it wouldn't live up to its price tag. But I'm happy to say I have continued to love and adore it, and still wear it pretty frequently (I say pretty frequently because I never wear one item of clothing more frequently than once every two to three weeks. Amen to that).

The next really lustful item that came along was the Mulberry 'Alexa' bag. You know the one I mean. Almost a year after it was first a blip on the fashion radar and you still can't move for them. Each season Emma Hill (Mulberry's accessories designer) churns out different reincarnations to keep the bandwagon a-rollin' and the fashion editors snap them up like greedy crocs. It was probably around January/February that my all-consuming desire for an Alexa reached the point that, for a moment, I seriously considered shelling out the £695 for that beautiful tan leather arm candy. Then I remembered that I was on minimum wage and soon to quit my job and thought, hmmm, maybe not. Luckily in April Topshop answered my fashion prayers with a gorgeous Alexa-alike, resplendent in all its tan, squishy leather glory. I promptly spent more than I usually would on a bag (£85), hoping that satchels wouldn't go out of fashion too quickly. As luck would have it, Topshop is still selling variations of said bag four months later and I have used my faux Alexa at least once a week since then.

So I am hoping that my latest hero purchase will prove to be an equally sensible fashion gamble. Especially as it is, by far, the most I have ever spent on any item of clothing. It is more than double what that cream leather guy set me back (and I didn't even pay for that myself). Yes, that's right, this morning I spent £325 on the most beautiful jacket I have ever set eyes on:

Say hello to Topshop's Sheepskin Flying Jacket, or as I think of it, the love of my fashion life. I mean, just look at it! You can understand why, despite being unemployed, I happily gave Topshop 325 of my precious pounds in exchange for this absolute beauty. It hasn't actually arrived yet so I can't feel it in my hands (God I hope it fits...) but you can tell just from the picture how amazingly luxurious it is. Look at that ridiculously extravagant shearling collar! The soft, supple leather! The chunky buckles and zips! I may die of happiness when I realise it is soon to arrive on my doorstep. It is, quite simply, the perfect item of clothing. Thank goodness August is cooperating by throwing us some grey, rainy weather. It surely understands that the need for jacket-appropriate temperatures far outweighs the desire some (non-fashion folk) have for sun.

So there we have it. Go forth and purchase. This particular Topshop beauty only arrived back in stock this morning, after promptly selling out first time around, so I doubt it'll linger long this time either. So get your credit card out now! But if you do miss out, I happen to know that Asos will be bringing out a version almost as stellar as this one in October (again not exactly peanuts at £350). However, I for one plan to have already worn mine approximately 300 times by then. Now, I'm off to sit hungrily beside my doorstep awaiting its arrival.... must fly!


Sunday, 1 August 2010

today i'm channelling... miu miu s/s'10

Today is 1st August. For many people, August signals the very height of summer. People are disappearing left, right and centre off to strange tropical destinations and returning looking like something that's been left on the barbecue for too long. The nation is steadily consuming its own bodyweight in Pimm's. The smell of burnt sausages, cut grass and factor 15 mingles with the sound of ice cream vans trilling out their merry tunes. The month of August is indeed the month of the British summer.

But for fashion folk, the arrival of August means that summer is over. Oh yes, by mid-July the spring/summer collections are becoming but a memory; the sales are fading out the last of frothy dresses, swimwear and sunglasses, and being replaced by a bevy of deliciously wintry new stock: thick woollen coats, snuggly knitwear, hardwearing leathers and sturdy boots aplenty. It is time for the autumn/winter collections to work their magic on the high street. Before long you won't be able to move for camel coats, aviator jackets and velvet.

So I thought it would be a good idea to champion what has been one of spring/summer's most successful and influential collections, before I am completely sucked into my desire for a Burberry-esque leather aviator (want, want, want). That collection is Miu Miu, the little sister of Prada, but by no means the ugly duckling of the family. I admit I did not take all that much notice of Miu Miu until a couple of seasons ago, when it began to branch out from solid accessories into some seriously good and, crucially, individual collections. But it wasn't until spring/summer '10 that Miu Miu became a serious frontrunner among the fashion elite. Admittedly when the models first stalked down the catwalk back in September, kitted out in clothes emblazoned with a mixture of cat, dog, lady and swallow prints, all 60s lashes and huge comical platform shoes, I didn't foresee quite how influential this collection would become. But even then it certainly stood out among designers focussing on serious cuts and pared-down silhouettes.

Fast forward a few months and suddenly you couldn't move for Miuccia's adorable prints. They have adorned the forms of a wide range of celebrities, including Chloë Sevigny, Mischa Barton, Kirsten Dunst, Victoria Beckham, Alexa Chung and, as you can see below, the gorgeous Keira Knightley:

I've chosen this outfit, worn back in March, because I think it illustrates perfectly the allure of Ms Prada's cheeky prints. The reason this collection appeals to such a variety of people is because it perfectly treads the line between demure and edgy. By contrasting a simple, classic silhouette with an eye-catching print, the clothes allow you to look fashionable and interesting without stepping out of your comfort zone. Miss Knightley is a case in point. She has never been one to venture too far from her classic, feminine style, but still manages to keep her outfits firmly out of boring territory with a nod to the current trends. This classic skirt and blouse combo is flattering, feminine and timeless, but were the pieces simply block coloured, would lack much interest, and would probably have landed Keira in the 'safe' fashion camp. Simply add a cheeky naked lady print, however, and voilà, suddenly she's terribly au courant.

What I love most about the collection, though, is not its versatility, wonderful though that may be, but the fact that it is so fun. The mischievous prints imply a certain carefree joie de vivre, perfect for fun summer nights spent sipping strawberry daiquiris with friends. Which is why I was so desperate to get my hands on a look-a-like. Luckily for me the high street quickly recognised Miu Miu S/S'10's star potential and produced a bevy of beautiful copycats (geddit?). The first one I fell in love with was a delightful navy cat-print dress from Zara, a steal at £19.99. Sadly I was a little late on the bandwagon and it had sold out by the time I had set my heart on it. But luckily an even more beautiful substitute was soon to pique my attention:

This little beauty is Asos's Cat Print Playsuit, now just £25. Its monochrome colour palette means it's not too out there, but the cute print keeps it from being too safe, and feels a lot more now than a boring old polka-dot would. And who doesn't love a playsuit? I think I'll be veering away from Miuccia's models' huge plaits and exaggerated lashes and instead pairing it with loose centre-parted locks, nude heels and a little bit of leather. And I reckon I can get away with it for easily another month or so, at least until the nights grow cold, the Pimm's runs dry and the barbecues are all rained off. Still, maybe after that I could just chuck a lovely aviator jacket over the top and carry it on through to autumn/winter... purrrrfect!

Picture of Keira Knightley:

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