Saturday, 24 July 2010

today i'm pondering... cocktail wear

So next week I'm off to the Royal Academy of Art for an evening reception: lots of art, champagne and canapés. Pretty swish, I know. But it got me thinking about cocktail wear. After all, it's one thing to pick out a nice dress that feels occasion-appropriate; it's another matter entirely to bring it up to date and ensure that it looks sufficiently of-the-moment. In many ways daywear is a lot simpler. Adding a skinny belt, a satchel, cat-eye sunglasses and a bit of khaki to your standard tee and shorts is probably enough to make it look reasonably 2010. But revitalising that cocktail dress that's been languishing in the back of your wardrobe for a year proves a mite trickier. I therefore present to you two fine examples of how to update any dress that's feeling just a little last season. First up, it's none other than Diana Vickers:

Now I admit that when Miss Vickers first popped up on our screens, my housemates and I found her just a wee bit annoying, what with her bird's nest hair, bare feet and of course the infamous 'claw' hand movement. But since she's become an actual real life pop star, she appears to have had a rather smashing image makeover to go along with it. The unruly mess of hair has been replaced by soft, long and rather lustworthy layers, she no longer does that thing with her hand, and she's even taken to wearing shoes. But most impressive of all has been her noteworthy array of cocktail apparel, all of it bright, summery and impeccably accessorised. So far this has included a silky little blue dress teamed with a sleek and oh-so-now topknot and red lips, a full-length tomato-red jumpsuit paired with gorgeous, 70s wavy hair and a simple studded bangle, and a seriously delectable Julian J Smith ensemble, clashed brilliantly with a Mulberry leopard-print clutch. But my favourite has been the gorgeous geometric-print sundress she wore to Marc Jacobs' perfume launch this week (pictured), which she teamed with nude strappy sandals, soft voluminous locks, barely-there fresh-faced make-up and toenails painted a lovely shade of sea-green.

There are a few valuable fashion lessons that we can glean from Miss Vickers' grade A outfits: firstly, try an accessory in a clashing print, making sure the colours are tonal; secondly, twist hair into a topknot for an instant update, or go for long, loose 70s-style waves; thirdly, team a bright pop of lip colour (I'm loving orange à la Prada) with a dewy, slightly bronzed face and minimal eye make-up; fourthly, when in doubt, go for nude shoes to lengthen legs. All you need do is follow these simple rules to take your cocktail attire from must-try-harder to model pupil.

On the other side of the Atlantic, there is one stylish lady who does classy cocktail dressing like no other. That fabulous femme is the one and only Olivia Palermo. Perhaps because as a New York 'social' she seems to attend a different gallery opening/fashion line launch/celebratory dinner every single night, this girl really knows how to dress to impress. And, unsurprisingly given that her other title is that of US Elle's Accessories Editor, Miss Palermo really understands the power of a well-chosen accessory. She has been known to perk up a plain nude dress with a well-cut black blazer, inject life into simple stripes with a neon clutch, and add pizzazz to a blouse and shorts combo with a statement bib necklace. The picture I've chosen shows the lovely Olivia attending the Cyrus screening after party dressed in a fairly simple Ports 1961 grey dress. On its own it could look rather lacklustre, but the ever-inventive reality star teams it with an inspired range of accessories: chocolate brown court shoes, her favourite vintage tan Hermès clutch, assorted luxe bangles and rings and a gorgeous neon-yellow accented scarf by (her friend) Rachel Roy. This unexpected ensemble of accessories is exactly what we've come to expect from Miss Palermo and illustrates perfectly how to take an outfit from mediocre to magical.

Fashion lessons that we can take from this impeccable New Yorker, then, include, but are not limited to, the following: number one, make any outfit look high-end with red nails, a gold mannish watch and salon-worthy hair; number two, don't plump for boring black accessories, but add unexpected colours and prints into the mix; number three, a really good vintage clutch will pep up any outfit; number four, pile on statement rings and bangles for high-octane glamour.

So, I think that concludes your lesson in how to update cocktail wear for today. Do your homework and you may just pass with flying colours...


Picture of Diana Vickers: Glamourmagazine.co.uk
Picture of Olivia Palermo: Glamourmagazine.co.uk

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Thursday, 22 July 2010

today i love... my high-waisted silk shorts

Good afternoon all. Today I'm happy for a few reasons. Number one, I just found out that the new series of Would I Lie To You starts tomorrow and I LOVE that show. Secondly, the Radio 1 DJs have been on top form today; Fearne Cotton's accidental impression of a train had me guffawing into my cereal this morning. Thirdly, it rained today and is much cooler and altogether more pleasant weather-wise than it has been in a few days. And lastly, I have a delightful new pair of high-waisted silk shorts, Asos's Scalloped Hem Silk Short. Feast your eyes on the beauties, as modelled by the lovely Amber Le Bon:

Oh yes, they certainly are just my cup of tea. Not only are they real actual 100% silk, with a delightfully Chloé-esque scalloped waistband and slightly reminiscent of bloomers, but they were also reduced from £35 to £20. Result! Now if I'm honest, I think Amber could do with going up a size, because I can tell you from experience they look much nicer when a little looser around the thighs. Now I must assure you that this is not a slight on Miss Le Bon, who I think is amazing; it is merely that having the shorts hanging off just a smidgen affords them a little more casual chic, a little more of that hands-in-pockets nonchalance that I was banging on about yesterday in my Clémence Poésy post.

The shorts made their first outing on Tuesday, when I wore them to rendezvous with a gorgeous friend of mine, and took them first to see Twilight Eclipse and then to the chicken heaven that is Nando's. Gosh I'm classy. Anyway, they looked rather delightful paired with a cream & black polka dot tiered cropped top (a Topshop number, bien sûr), my tan leather satchel slung over the shoulder and the gorgeous tan heels I waxed lyrical about in my very first post. There was even a teeny bit of midriff visible between the high waistband and the cropped top. Shocking, I know. But somehow a tiny sliver of flesh just above the waist looks the very opposite of the horrifying pasty muffin top spilling over low-rise jeans. Shudder. So yes, the shorts were very successful on that outing. The shoes not so much... I came home with approximately ten blisters. But you know what they say, mes chéris, beauty is pain...

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Saturday, 10 July 2010

today i'm channelling... clémence poésy

Is there anything more inimitably fabulous than the completely indefinable, insouciant and altogether effortless brand of chic that is French style? I'm thinking Vanessa Paradis, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, Lou Doillon... and my ultimate style crush of the moment, Clémence Poésy. You may recognise her as Fleur Delacour in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a role she is soon to reprise in The Deathly Hallows. I'm extremely excited about this recurrence, not only because I've seen the set of her and Bill's engagement party (they have some nice heaps of presents and a lovely banner), but also because she is the very definition of French chic. I have also recently learned that she has landed a role (hopefully recurring) in season four of Gossip Girl, and await with bated breath the coming together of two of my favourite fashion loves in what will surely be an hour of fashiontastic television (and if the on-set pictures are anything to go by, it won't disappoint). And so, with my obsession showing no signs of waning, I have deigned the fabulous Clémence worthy of a blog post.

There were far too many fabulous pictures of Clémence to choose from, but (after a rigorous process of elimination) I have settled on one which I think suitably demonstrates her penchant for easy-chic dressing. It generally takes a simple, but winning, formula: easy timeless basics, fabulously chic accessories, and centre-parted, just-rolled-out-of-bed hair. What stands out about this outfit is that it is so incredibly simple, yet so incredibly stylish. Which is pretty much France's sartorial mantra.

Let's start with the trousers, shall we? A high waist is always very chic, eliminating as it does all possibility of unwanted flesh exposing itself (quelle horreur), and Clem's (I like to think we'd be on nickname terms if we knew one another) perfectly tailored trousers are just loose and silky enough to skim and flatter her petite figure without drowning it. Quality is of course of the essence with tailoring, especially pour les français, so take care when selecting a pair. I like the look of
River Island's Wide Leg Tailored Trouser, £29.99, but without trying them on I can't be sure if they'd give as fabulously nonchalant an effect as our muse's.

Anyway, onto the shirt. Perfectly loose, half-unbuttoned, with sleeves casually rolled up, and excellently gives off the impression that Clémence carelessly picked it up off the floor as she sipped her morning espresso and threw it on. Or something like that. This exact air of dressing is not very easily imitated, but then again, one can always try. Again it's the quality of the shirt that will make or break your look here. Try
Topshop's Washed Military Cotton Shirt, £28, on for size. You may want something a little silkier, but I rather like the shoulder-tab detail on this guy.

And last, but certainly in no way least, is that fabulous bag. A little bit structured, a little bit squishy, a little bit smart and a little bit casual. It's the perfect accessory to elevate this look out of potentially-boring territory, adding a dose of quirkiness but without looking too try-hard or out-of-place (a bright bag, for example, would look all wrong here. The French don't really do colours anyway: another reason I love their style). I like to imagine that Clémence found hers lying around in her grandmother's attic or something, but in lieu of a vintage treasure, Topshop have two really rather wonderful offerings that would complement this look no end. First up is the effortlessly chic
Leather Chain Handle Bag, which serves as a slightly edgier version of the classic Chanel 2.55, and looks a lot more expensive than its £45. The exposed burnished-gold chain would add just the right amount of rock'n'roll edge for anyone looking to take this look firmly away from the workplace (though à mon avis this look is spot-on for the office). The second brilliant armwear option is probably my favourite (and I am seriously considering shelling out for it). Topshop's Two Tone Leather Satchel, £60, offers a slightly more trend-appropriate option, given that satchels are literally everywhere at the moment (and rightly so, for they are beautiful, practical and amazing). And those three adjectives have never been more appropriate than when applied to this delightful black & brown leather wonder, with its gold clasp and somehow humble, understated elegance. Je ne doute pas that Clémence would carry it with pride.

Now, all that remains is for you to roll out of bed without running a brush through your hair, dab on minimal make-up (a dash of mascara and a lip stain, perhaps), fling your outfit on carelessly, grab a croissant on the way to work and stand around all day with your hands nonchalantly in your pockets, exuding an aura of je ne sais quoi.


Picture of Clémence Poésy:
Elleuk.com

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today i am...

... sweltering. It is approximately 6 million degrees here in the UK at the moment. I, being an avid fan of leather jackets/trench coats/military outerwear/generally anything furry and warm that rests on one's shoulders, plus a regular consumer of the hot beverage tea, do not approve.

... eating spicy lamb-stuffed courgettes. Or I will be in approximately half an hour. Nom nom nom. Oh and also my amazingly wonderful fairy cakes (cheers Nigella):

... drinking pear cider. My newly-discovered tipple of choice, and rather suited to a sunny afternoon on the garden patio, don't you think?

... watching Lewis. Or I will be from 7-9pm. A rather late discovery of mine, but most definitely my favourite British drama of the momento. Stars Laurence Fox, who is just adorable, and who is husband to Billie Piper, who is also just adorable. If you haven't seen it, think deliciously posh murder mystery set in Oxfordshire.

... listening to one of my all-time favourite Sunday soundtracks, Death Cab for Cutie's album Narrow Stairs.

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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

today i love... vogue's 'today i'm wearing' blog

Let's be honest, it doesn't get much more fashion-tastic than Vogue. And Vogue.co.uk does not disappoint as an online equivalent. To be honest I'm addicted to the websites of many many magazines... favourites being Elleuk.com, glamourmagazine.co.uk and graziadaily.co.uk. Anyway, last month I made the ridiculously amazing discovery that is Vogue's 'Today I'm Wearing' Blog. The premise is simple: each month they target an ever-so-stylish celebrity and ask her to take a picture of herself every day, accompanied by a caption detailing the designer or brand of each item of clothing. A-mazing. For someone like me, who spends her entire life poring over pictures of impeccably outfitted famous females, this is pure heaven. Especially as the celebrities they have chosen do not disappoint. My favourites so far have been Alexa Chung in February and Olivia Palermo in April, both of whom I am sartorially obsessed with. Take a look at this, one of Miss Palermo's impeccable fashion choices (I love me some leather):

What I love most about this feature is that unlike paparazzi shots picked apart by magazines and websites, with designers and brands guessed at and imitated, these photos and their captions allow us to hear from the horse's mouth exactly where we can find these fabulous pieces. I've always known that Olivia shares my obsession for a certain Topshop, but it's exciting to have her name the pieces herself, and to have proof that celebrities really do wear high street. And it's perfect for the Twitter generation, who love getting a sneak peek into celebrities' minds and lives... and wardrobes. Last month was the ineffably cool Julia Restoin-Roitfeld (daughter of French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld) and this month is Zac Posen's muse and supermodel Coco Rocha... take a sneaky peek and be inspired.

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Monday, 5 July 2010

today i'm channelling... ashley olsen

I should start off by warning you, early on, that I am completely and utterly obsessed with the Olsen twins. I literally think they are the coolest humans in the world, and their coffee table tome, Influence, is my bible. Not only are they genuinely accepted by the fashion elite as style aficionados and bona fide designers, but their entire lives are a lesson in how to be amazing. But I mainly love them because, in a sea of celebrities being constantly lauded for their style when in fact all they have is the money to pay someone to dress them (ahem Cheryl Cole), the Olsens' edgy, minimalist and unapologetically individual fashion sense really stands out. And even if I can't have their ridiculously fit houses and endless stacks of Louboutins (sigh), I can at the very least imitate their looks with some cheap and cheerful pieces from the high street.

Today's inspiration is Ashley looking rather delightful at the amFAR Gala in New York:

I love how she manages to incorporate countless trends into her look (jumpsuits, neutral shades, tribal prints, box clutches) and still look as though she threw it on in five minutes with an air of nonchalance. The outfit also effortlessly manages to avoid looking too busy or too slave-to-the-trends. You see why I love her so? Anyway, I'll be copying this look with a few genius high-street pieces (or at least I would if I had the money).

First up is
Kookai's Lace Front Military Jumpsuit, which is £75 at Asos.com. Yes it's a wee bit on the pricey side, but it's a dead ringer for Ms Olsen's, and is sure to be a whole lot cheaper than the original, which is in fact from the Olsens' own line The Row. The lovely nude shade and slouchy fit make it super versatile. You could get away with any kind of jacket on top of said jumpsuit, but I do love Ashley's unexpected addition of a Dries Van Noten tribal one. Similar specimens of outerwear are unfortunately in short supply on the high street; I perused Asos's excellent Africa collection, which is full of amazing tribal-print maxidresses, jumpsuits and bags, but sadly found no suitable item. The closest I've come is Miss Selfridge's Black Embellished Detail Cape, £55, but the appliqué is floral rather than tribal. I also rather like River Island's 3/4 Sleeve Jacket in cream with silver stripes, but this colourway might not work with the nude jumpsuit. Rather than accept a poor substitute, I may be inclined to throw on a little leather bomber instead, and add the tribal detail with a chunky beaded necklace.

Finally, feast your eyes on
Asos's Black Leather Keyhole Clutch Bag. £60 is a lot for a tiny wee bag, granted, but it is simply divine, and the perfect thing to add a slightly tough edge to this ensemble. So that's my outfit sorted then. Now if only I had a posh New York Gala to go to...


Picture of Ashley Olsen: Elleuk.com

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today i am...

... eating avocado and Edam sandwiches. Truly two slices of bread are honoured to have these ingredients nestling between them.

... drinking Yorkshire tea, of course. I usually average 8 mugs a day (big mugs too, not weedy little ones).

... listening to Scott Mills on Radio 1. He is an extremely funny man. I love Oh! What's Occurring? more than is probably advisable. Also loving the following tunes today: Bang Bang Bang by Mark Ronson, Just Be Good To Green by Professor Green feat. Lily Allen, XXXO by MIA and Tenderoni by Kele Okereke.

... reminiscing about my holiday to Lagos, Portugal last week. Two friends and I spent a chilled week sunbathing, having rooftop cocktails and burritos, eating figs and watermelon on the beach, meeting thousands of Australians (there can't be any left in Australia from what I've seen) and generally taking a much-appreciated break from life.

... watching The City. Quite possibly my favourite programme of all time at the moment. I am obsessed by Olivia Palermo's impeccable fashion sense, and I absolutely want Whitney Port to be my friend.

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today i love... my new shoes

Anybody who knows me - okay, anybody who has ever met me - knows that I am 100% obsessed with Topshop. And not just since it became very hip and chic and landed in New York; oh no, I'm an old-school fan. For a good seven years their stock has been making up about 80% of my wardrobe. In fact, if I had saved all the money I've given that shop in my life, I could probably pay off my student loan. But I have no regrets. Because good old Arcadia brings me much joy, and Topshop is definitely my cup of tea. (It's even my Internet Explorer homepage...)

So onto my new shoes. Feast your eyes on these little beauties:

They are Topshop's June Crossover Peeptoe Heels and they cost £55. Now this is usually more than I would spend on footwear (I prefer to splash out on jackets), but sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind. When shoes are as simultaneously beautiful and versatile as these, that ridiculously pointless 'cost-per-wear' equation suddenly seems extremely relevant. "When you think about it, I'll wear them every single day for the rest of my life ever," my inner monologue (JD from Scrubs-style) tells me excitedly, "making them about 0.001p per day! They're an absolute bargain!" No, I don't really believe that, but it somehow assuages the inevitable shopper's guilt.

Plus, if I ever get a job, they will be absolutely perfect for work. The mini-heel doesn't fall into the usual mini-heel trap of looking a bit ridiculous (this is because it is, crucially, not a kitten heel, but a fairly chunky heel), therefore making them eminently practical for daytime; they are also tan and therefore go with absolutely everything under the sun; I am already imagining them paired with city shorts, my new slinky khaki camisole and some huge round sunglasses, Lauren Conrad-style.

I think by now I have suitably demonstrated why these shoes are definitely just my cup of tea.

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good afternoon

Hello everybody and welcome to my blog. More accurately would be 'hello myself', I suppose, but no harm in aiming high. Here I will be posting general musings about my constantly changing and ever-evolving fashion obsessions. I'll be showing you how to get celebrities' looks for less, picking my favourite pieces on the high street, sharing the best fashion sites and blogs out there and showing off my own buys. Hope you enjoy...

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