Sunday, 31 October 2010

today i love... finishing touches

Sometimes, no matter how good your outfit is, it can be ruined by the wrong accessories. Finishing touches like bags, belts, scarves, jewellery and sunglasses can make or break a look. So with that in mind, I thought I'd show you a few of my favourite accessories...

Bag: Primark; silk scarf: Topshop; necklace: Dorothy Perkins

Clutch: Topshop; scarf: vintage; pearls: Topshop; feather headband: Miss Selfridge; earrings: Topshop

Bag: Topshop; scarf: H&M; belt: Topshop

Feather bag: Miss Selfridge; tortoise ring: Topshop; flower ring: Topshop; gold, diamonds & topaz ring: vintage; snake ring: Asos; nail polish: Rimmel Lycra Pro in 'Ruby Me'

Clutch: Dorothy Perkins; purse: Jaeger; sunglasses: vintage, from Miami; feather earrings: Topshop

Bag: Topshop; silk scarf: Topshop; sunglasses: Topshop; owl necklace: Topshop


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Saturday, 30 October 2010

today i love... faux fur

It's getting properly cold now: biting winds, driving rain, frosty mornings and dark velvety evenings are upon us. The clocks go back tonight which means it's officially winter time. All summer clothing has now been well and truly relegated to the back of the wardrobe; it's safe to say anything cropped, sleeveless, bare-legged or open-toed has had its day. Instead, outerwear has come to the fore: thick, cosy woollen coats, huge snuggly scarves and toasty hats and gloves. And when it comes to outerwear, there surely couldn't be anything cosier than faux fur.

This season designer collections and high street shops alike are awash with all manner of furry fashion: coats, jackets, wraps, hats, gloves, stoles and even bags. In a season where shearling is the super-fashionable, super-exciting outerwear fabric of choice, faux fur represents a slightly less of-the-moment, but perhaps longer lasting, alternative. It is, after all, nothing new: Hollywood starlets have been wrapping themselves in oversized furs for decades and it's just as much a status symbol as their ubiquitous sunglasses. The Olsen twins, my ultimate fashion icons, are a case in point. They are frequently spotted out and about swathed in huge furs; I particularly love Ashley's snow white one (see it here) which just screams luxury.

Of course, however, you need to tread carefully with faux fur, because get it wrong and you will be the very personification of tacky. Generally you can avoid falling into this trap by choosing your place of purchase wisely. Steer clear of any shop that has ever had chavvy associations; so River Island, Primark and New Look are out (New Look's boxy faux furs with gemstone buttons make me gag a little). After that you just have to use your instincts, and, if you're going for a coat or jacket, stick to the golden rule of voluminous top half = super skinny bottom half.

So onto my pick of what the high street has to offer. First off, if you're looking for a trophy piece, it doesn't get any better than a huge super-soft jacket. My absolute favourite is Topshop's Patchy Faux Fur Box Coat, £80, which is a great copy of Acne's super gorgeous original, as modelled above by my new style icon Caroline Blomst (see my post about her blog). I love that the Topshop coat has a proper collar (good to look out for), as well as being hip-length; you don't want anything shorter or all that volume risks looking a bit silly. If you don't want to go the whole hog, though, there are hundreds of pieces out there with just a hint of faux fur, on trims, collars or patches. I love Topshop's Faux Fur Collar Waistcoat, £75, which will pep up any outfit a treat. And the other day I snapped up Miss Selfridge's Black Faux Fur Trim PU Biker, reduced from £55 to £40, which I love because the furry accents are subtle enough to add interest to the biker without making too much of a statement (see yesterday's 'today i'm wearing' for how I wore it).

But perhaps my favourite way to wear faux fur this season is with a detachable accessory, as demonstrated above by the lovely ELLE staffer Kat Webster, (see my post on ELLE's 'What ELLE Wears to Work' blog). I bought Topshop's Faux Fur Stole, £25, last week, and I absolutely love it, because you can sling it on top of any cardigan, jumper, jacket or coat to immediately bring it bang up to date. Asos has a stellar collection of furry accessories for just that purpose, from peter-pan collars and tippets of all lengths and colours, through to fur hoods, capes, headbands and mufflers. My favourite is the Fantasy Fur Peter Pan Collar, £16, perfect for revitalising any tired old coat that might be festering in the back of your wardrobe (and super-cheap).

So there you have it. With so much choice out there to cater for every budget, there's no excuse not to snap up a furry delight to keep you warm during the winter months. And, I can tell you, there truly is no better antidote to cold wet weather than snuggling up in a furry jacket in front of a roaring fire.


Picture of Caroline Blomst:
Carolinesmode.com

Picture of Kat Webster: Elleuk.com


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Friday, 29 October 2010

today i'm wearing...


Jacket: Miss Selfridge

Tee: Topshop

Jeans: Topshop

Shoes: Primark

Bag: Topshop

Necklace: Dorothy Perkins

Ring: Gogo Philip at Topshop


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Thursday, 28 October 2010

today i'm wearing...

Jumper dress: Topshop

Leather jacket: Topshop

Leggings: Topshop

Scarf: H&M

Boots: Zara

Bag: Topshop

Bracelet: can't remember

Necklace: can't remember

Ring: Gogo Philip at Topshop

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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

today i love... carolinesmode.com

Hello world. Today I'd like to share with you a fabulous blog I've just come across, as it is certainly just my cup of tea. Carolinesmode.com is the work of Caroline Blomst, a stylist and street-style snapper from Sweden. Now there are thousands and thousands of fashion blogs out there (of which mine is the best... duh) but I often find that what really sets the best apart is the writer's own fashion sense. Because if I don't like what the blogger is wearing, chances are I'm not going to agree with their opinions on fashion. So while Caroline's blog is full of stunning photographs of catwalk shows, designer pieces and street-style subjects, for me the best thing about it is its chronicling of Caroline's own wardrobe (just like my 'today i'm wearing' feature, but with a much better camera). If you click on this link, you'll find I've just selected the posts dedicated to Caroline's outfits, and you'll see what I mean. This is one stylish señorita. It helps, of course, that she's ridiculously gorgeous, looking like a cross between Lost's Evangeline Lilly and Erin Wasson. Her style certainly bears more than a passing resemblance to Wasson's, too, what with her penchant towards bed-head hair teamed with skin-tight trousers and shaggy fur coats. Caroline has perfected the balance between simplicity and edginess, all the while retaining a laidback nonchalance that only comes with true innate style. She favours a mainly monochrome colour palette, with grey marl a frequent staple, and flashes of scarlet and camel. In terms of textures, however, she is not so reserved, and knows that the perfect way to add interest to a low-key look is with tactile pieces: a huge shaggy fur coat; skin-tight leather trousers; a battered, studded bag; a sheepskin-lined biker; furry angora knits; zips, buckles and quilting galore.

This focus on texture rather than colour is a mantra I myself always try to adhere to. In my opinion, a shaggy black knit over a ribbed black tee paired with black leather trousers will always look infinitely more chic than a vibrantly printed outfit all colours of the rainbow. Caroline's ability, too, to make the simplest of basics look fresh and edgy is a testament to the fact that it is not what you wear, but how you wear it, that really counts. These and many more lessons in fashion await you at Caroline's Mode. And while Miss Blomst's purchases are often a little too high-end for my budget (Alexander Wang, Balenciaga and Isabel Marant are favourites), the good old British high street is currently awash with brilliant faux furs, super-luxe knits and leather everything. So although most of us may never be quite as cool as Caroline Blomst, we can darn well try.


Pictures: Carolinesmode.com


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Sunday, 24 October 2010

today i'm wearing...


Aviator jacket (yay!): Topshop

Top: Topshop Boutique

Faux leather trousers: Topshop

Clutch: Dorothy Perkins

Boots: Zara

Necklace: Topshop

Ring: Topshop

Lipstick: Rimmel's Lasting Finish in Retro


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Saturday, 23 October 2010

today i'm channelling... poppy delevingne


Click here to see Poppy Delevingne's look


Poppy Delevingne isn't exactly a new face on the model circuit, but it's only in recent months that she's really upped the style ante and planted herself firmly on my fashion radar. She is a force to be reckoned with on the party scene, showing her face at every London bash worth its salt and looking rather fabulous in the process. The other night, however, Miss Delevingne (great name, too) really pulled it out of the bag when she wore this stunning ensemble to Brian Ferry's album launch in Soho.

I love this outfit because it is super simple, yet super effective. The components are nothing new: biker jacket, skinny jeans, silky tee and leopard print bag. But the key is in the execution: gorgeously slouchy jacket edged in bright gold zips, dark tan leopard print Alexa bag, nonchalantly crumpled tee and, best of all, casual topknot paired with bright red-orange lips. It's the perfect outfit formula for a low-key evening event; obviously we don't all have album launches to go to, but the same rules could equally apply to a dinner with friends, a casual date or even post-work drinks. It could, in fact, work for a multitude of occasions because it's so versatile. The jeans and tee say casual, while the leather and leopard print sex things up a bit, and the hair swept away from the face and stark bright lips say after-dark sophistication.

So how to emulate Poppy's effortless evening elegance? First you will need a great pair of skinny jeans, for which I never look further than Topshop (I know, surprise, surprise). Their Jamie jeans are seriously the comfiest, stretchiest things in the world, though, and I can't recommend them enough. I love the
Coated Black Jamie Jeans here, £40, to keep things feeling more PM than AM. Pair these beauties with Marks & Spencer's Scoop Neck Satin Shell Woven Blouse, £19.50, and then sling a classic biker on top; sadly I couldn't find any with gold zips (and trust me, I've been looking for years) but Oasis' Cropped Biker, £130, is surely a worthy silver substitute. As far as leopard print arm candy goes, I've fallen in love with Reiss' Leopard Print Satchel, £245, but sadly I can no more afford that than I can Poppy's Mulberry, so I'll have to settle for River Island's much more budget-friendly Brown Print Bowler Bag, £39.99.

The final touch is to ensure you adhere to Miss Delevingne's exemplary beauty rules: swirl your hair into a loose topknot and team flawless skin and barely-there eye make-up with statement lips. I love Rimmel's Lasting Finish Lipstick in Retro for Poppy's fabulous orangey-red shade (poppy red, you might even say?), but if you're more of a classic pillar-box-red girl, then try Topshop's Lips in Rio Rio, £8. And there you have it... a pared-down evening look fit for a model.


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today i'm wearing...

Shirt: Miss Selfridge

Faux leather trousers: Topshop

Boots: Zara

Faux fur stole: Topshop

Bag: Topshop

Belt: Primark

Necklace: can't remember

Ring: Topshop

Glasses: Calvin Klein

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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

today i'm wearing...


Jumper: Topshop

Top (underneath): Topshop Boutique

Jeans: Topshop

Boots: Zara

Faux fur stole: Topshop

Headband (worn as necklace): Miss Selfridge

Ring: Gogo Philip at Topshop

Bracelet: can't remember


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Sunday, 17 October 2010

today i love... my sheer white shirt

I've been searching for the perfect white shirt for a good few months now. Ever since it emerged just how much influence the Céline AW'10 show would have on this season's fashion, it has become one of the hero pieces of the moment, up there with the aviator jacket, the camel coat, the midi skirt and the understated ladylike bag (and Céline's creative director, Phoebe Philo, had a hand in most of those, too). But unlike the aviator or the midi, the white shirt isn't exactly a novel concept, and hasn't ever really been out of fashion, per se. Most of us probably have a couple of variations of it hanging out at the backs of our wardrobes. But it's never been a trophy item; it's not showy or extravagant. Which is probably why, despite the fact that we've never looked at a white shirt and been appalled by its outdatedness, we haven't been reaching for one for a good few seasons either, because up until recently, fashion was all about extravagance.

But, thanks largely to Philo, simple is the new showy. Lashings of sequins and huge exaggerated shoulders have been replaced by classic tailoring, understated colours and a lack of accessories. We have in many ways gone back to basics. And what could be more basic than the unassuming white shirt? Except, of course, that digging out that badly cut M&S polyester one leftover from your school days just isn't going to cut it. What you really want is a nice new one. And while some looks certainly require a shirt that's a little stiff and polished, I think a soft, sheer, silky one is far more versatile, and infinitely more sophisticated.

My first port of call when searching for such a specimen was the ridiculously chic label Equipment, a label that sells purely shirts and blouses (the jury's out on the difference between the two), cut in luxurious silk and available in a range of beautiful understated colours. It's even owned by Christian Restoin, husband of French Vogue's editrix Carine Roitfeld: talk about impeccable fashion credentials. Sadly, however, it's a wee bit out of my price range, with each shirt setting you back approximately £180. I decided, therefore, to look a bit closer to home, and where better than my beloved Topshop? It took them a little longer than I would have liked to produce a similar offering, but at last I chanced upon the
Gold Button Military Shirt, £32 (pictured below).

This beauty was just what I had been looking for. Firstly, it's divinely silky and sheer but still machine washable: winner. Secondly, I can never resist a gold button, and this has them in abundance. I even worried, judging by the picture, that they may have overdone the gold buttons, but this, I can assure you, is not the case on the person. It is also the perfect length and a perfectly manageable price. I've already worn it casually with skinny jeans, shearling-lined boots and dark tartan coat (see Today I'm Wearing for 13th Oct), but am also envisaging it tucked into high-waisted grey tailored trousers for a smarter look, or paired with little shorts and sans vest underneath for evening. If you want to look really Céline, tuck it into a leather pencil skirt and team with some mid-heel courts, slick back your hair and go without accessories. Perfect understated chic, and proof that basics definitely do not need to be boring.


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today i'm wearing...


Jumper: Topshop

Vest (underneath): Topshop

Coat: Topshop

Jeans: Topshop

Boots: Zara

Bag: Topshop

Necklace: can't remember
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today i'm wearing...


Top: Topshop

Faux fur jacket: Topshop

Jeans: Topshop

Bag: Miss Selfridge

Shoes: Topshop

Necklace: can't remember

Ring: Topshop
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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

today i'm wearing...


Shirt: Topshop

Jeans: Topshop

Boots: Zara

Coat: Topshop

Bag: Topshop

Necklace: can't remember

Ring: Gogo Philip at Topshop


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Monday, 11 October 2010

today i'm wearing...

Blouse: Topshop

Top (underneath): Topshop Boutique

Jacket: Topshop

Leggings: Topshop

Belt: Topshop

Bag: Topshop

Boots: Zara

Ring: Topshop

Necklace: Topshop

Glasses: Calvin Klein

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Sunday, 10 October 2010

today i love... dorothy perkins' daily dress up challenge

The concept of the capsule wardrobe is an interesting one. In the days of environmentally-friendly this and economically-sensible that, many people argue that spending lots of money on lots and lots of clothes is a bad idea. Obviously I think they're mental, and I don't believe any of this stuff about 'women only wear 10% of their wardrobes'. Clearly they've got rubbish wardrobes, because I love each and every piece of my clothing and wouldn't be without any of it for the world. I'm also very dubious of women who say they prefer to buy just three massively expensive designer pieces rather than spending the same amount of money on loads of high street clothes. I mean, fair enough, those three pieces are going to be lovely, but after a few days, aren't you just going to be wearing the same outfit over and over again?! I for one hate the idea of wearing exactly the same outfit, well, ever. Yes, I'm perfectly happy to wear the same combination of top and jeans a few weeks apart, but I'll certainly wear a different cardigan/ scarf/ handbag/ jewellery to shake things up a bit. Apart from anything else, I find it extremely boring wearing the same thing. Sure, they'll always be a few items that I love more than others at any one point in time, and these will figure pretty frequently in my outfits for a while, but soon enough they'll be replaced by new loves, and so the cycle continues.

So anyway, the idea of anyone sacrificing the beauty of choice in favour of a capsule wardrobe both terrifies and intrigues me. It's a notion that can easily be taken too far; the girl that tasked herself to wear the same dress every day for a year - and then continued after that year was up - strikes me as a bit pointless and attention-seeking. But reducing your wardrobe to 8 seasonal items for one month - now that could be very interesting. And that's exactly the concept behind
Dorothy Perkins' Daily Dress Up Challenge.

I discovered the Dorothy Perkins blog when I chanced upon an article on the Grazia website involving an interview with the lovely DP staffer Rachel, who was championing the original Dress Up Challenge, which took place back in April. Back then she was given 8 of Dorothy Perkins' key pieces for spring/summer and challenged to turn them, and only them, into 4 weeks' worth of fabulous outfits, with the addition of her own shoes and accessories (one of which pictured above). Intrigued, I clicked on through to the DP blog, and was amazed with what I saw. This idea has such a potential to be disastrous, after all, if you pick the wrong girl. But Rachel, apart from being insanely gorgeous with some seriously good hair, is one stylish lady. She took those 8 items of clothing and made 28 truly desirable outfits, which is no mean feat at all (the way she wore the floral culottes was so great I even bought them). It really got me to thinking: would I be able to be that inventive if I had to (God forbid) scale down my wardrobe like that? Rachel hitched up a maxidress to make a midi; she put a tee over a dress and rolled up the sleeves; she tried out patterned tights and over-the-knee socks; she tucked dresses into shorts and used a blouse as a jacket. That takes some serious fashion creativity, my friends, and after having been excited to see her put a new spin on the items each day, I understandably lamented when the month came to an end.

So imagine my joy when I checked out the Dorothy Perkins blog yesterday and found out that the Daily Dress Up Challenge has been resurrected for October. The lovely Rachel is back to bring us another fabulous month full of brilliant outfits. This time she has 8 items from Dorothy Perkins' AW'10 collection: khaki combat jeans, a black drape jacket, a mulberry chiffon top, tan suedette shorts, a fringed maxidress, a grey cardi, a stripy top and a denim shirt. She has so far completed 5 of the looks (day 4 pictured above) and they are all fabulously inventive. I can hardly wait to see the rest, and I strongly urge you to check out the blog. If nothing else, Rachel provides a handy lesson in accessorising, and even though the sensible ones among us would never dream of downsizing our wardrobes, we can at least get some helpful tips on how to revitalise anything that's looking a bit tired. The blog may even get you to see your own wardrobe in a whole new light. So for that I say: thank you, Rachel!

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today i love... the best of pfw

So as you will by now be well aware, the SS'11 shows are over. The fashion folk can finally kick off their killer heels, hang up their Céline bags and get back to watching The X Factor (I'm rooting for Rebecca Ferguson, just so you know). Now I know that I haven't done a best of Milan fashion week, but, frankly, it ain't my fave. The Italian designers are just too flamboyant for my tastes; there was far too much drama, and far too many bright colours and eye-popping prints for my liking. So while I did enjoy some of the shows, I thought it would be best to save my attention for Paris fashion week, which I much prefer. And true to form, it didn't disappoint, showing the best of Gallic charm in all its glory. There were far too many fabulous shows to mention them all, but here's the lowdown on the ones that really caught my eye...

First up, let's talk about the holy trinity of British female designers that always get everyone talking at PFW. I'm referring, of course, to Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo of Céline, and Hannah MacGibbon of Chloé. Last season they produced the collections that underpinned the minimalist movement, championing a sleek, pared-down and beautiful silhouette of exquisite tailoring and seriously lustworthy accessories. Céline's envelope bag is probably the most touted of the moment, and Stella's kitten heels made even the most-dedicated killer heel-wearer step down a notch. So I waited with bated breath to see what these three ladies had in store for SS'11.

Céline was the first I saw of the three and - I won't lie - I was a little disappointed. Such an exquisite AW'10 collection was admittedly always going to be difficult to follow, and unfortunately it did not measure up to its predecessor. There were certainly some beautiful looks, such as a gorgeous navy dress with pockets and a deep V-neck, but much of it just didn't excite me. A look consisting of a long-sleeved pale lime green top paired with white trousers and punctuated with a red belt seemed, frankly, a little dated. This wasn't the only colour combination that didn't work for me: an orange tunic paired with wide-legged white trousers, and several looks of bright sky blue set against deep burgundy, just didn't ring true, while the bold, geometric patterns that crept in later on even made me recoil in disgust. Perhaps it's just me, but it seemed that Philo crumbled under the pressure to produce a collection as brilliant as her last one, which is a real shame.

Fortunately, however, the other two parts of the trinity were not so disappointing. Stella McCartney can always be relied upon to produce wonderful tailoring that is extraordinary in its simplicity. She didn't veer too far from her signature aesthetic, and why should she? She knows what works. Lovely cream trouser suits were excellently cut, and floor-sweeping dresses in white, black and cornflower blue, were just gorgeous. I wasn't entirely sold on the photographic orange & lemons print that appeared towards the end, but then again, I didn't hate it, so I'm prepared for it to grow on me. And then there was Chloé (above). After Céline, I came to view this show with some trepidation. But I need not have worried. She didn't try to do another collection in the same vein as AW'10 (which is perhaps where Philo fell down), but branched into a new direction, with a distinct ballet theme. Models wore ballet slippers with ribbons snaking up their legs, and strode down the catwalk in a variety of beautiful looks. Pleated chiffon was the star of the show, and a fine choice of fabric in my opinion. Semi-sheer skirts were worn with simple tees and perfect white shirts. In an homage to the ballet theme, leotard-esque slim long-sleeved tops were paired with full, floaty skirts and 70s-style trousers. But the most beautiful pieces were the dresses: exquisite Grecian-style floaty columns of delicious chiffon, in lovely soft shades of chocolate brown, purply-grey and taupe - they were just crying out for a red carpet.

Another collection that stood out for me was Valentino (above), because it was just simply beautiful. Lovely little polka dots, lots of frothy chiffon and black lace, adorable short suits and of course the ubiquitous full-length, red carpet-ready gowns made this collection the perfect eveningwear destination. Colours like coral, blush pink, taupe and, of course, Valentino red, fitted the clothes perfectly, and almost certainly pleased a front row that included Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo.

There are lots of other shows that deserve a mention... Vanessa Bruno (above) stood out to me for a lovely use of colour; where some designers, especially in Milan, have been throwing around brash colours like they're going out of fashion, this show was a lesson in how to make it wearable. Muted prints on relaxed silk tailoring looked young and fresh, and pandered to the cool-girl clientele the label is associated with, and which is epitomised by its face, French It-girl Lou Doillon, who sat front row. Christian Dior also made use of Hawaiian prints, which, coupled with bright red lips and sailor hats, lent something of a wartime feel to the clothes, something I personally found a welcome change from 70s references. Yves Saint Laurent produced a standout collection that harked back to its own vintage, with tux-inspired dresses, lovely colour combos of navy and orange and pieces made entirely from sumptuous caramel-coloured feathers. Alexander McQueen was one of the most hotly-anticipated of Paris fashion week, given that it was the first collection under the helm of Sarah Burton, who took over after McQueen's death in February. She managed to rise wonderfully to the challenge, producing a fitting tribute to the late designer while still carving out a niche for herself, and shifting the focus towards a somewhat lighter, less dramatic aesthetic on which the label will move forward. On a more negative note, I didn't get Louis Vuitton; after disliking Marc Jacobs' own line it perhaps wasn't surprising that I wasn't a fan of this either, but there was just too much colour and drama; ultimately I respected the showmanship, but I just didn't want to wear any of it.

So onto the main attraction, the undeniable star of Paris fashion week: none other than Chanel (above). Always a magnificent, star-studded affair, this show did not disappoint. How I wish I could have seen it live. Fountains galore, pebbles underfoot and three miles of catwalk provided the backdrop for clothes paraded by no less than 90 (!) models - and what clothes they were. After last season, which in some places seemed more about the drama than about the clothes, and which reintroduced that perennial fashion sin the Yeti boot (sorry, but not even Karl Lagerfeld could make me put one of those on my feet), it was distinctly refreshing to see a collection that was above all beautiful and wearable. In a predominantly monochrome colour palette, Lagerfeld stripped back the drama and showed off what the Chanel legacy is all about: beautiful tweed skirt suits and elegant dresses. It wasn't breaking any fashion boundaries, but I for one was supremely glad that Lagerfeld went for style over show. It also produced an absolutely stellar front row turnout, with attendees including Alexa Chung, Caroline Sieber, Elisa Sednaoui, Keira Knightley (where has she been hiding lately?!), Leigh Lezark, Lily Allen, Lou Doillon, Rachel Bilson, Vanessa Paradis and my ultimate style crush of the moment, the gorgeous Clémence Poésy (below).

And just before I go, a final mention must go to The Row (below), Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's label, because I simply love them, and their small collection of fifteen impeccable looks just goes to show that sometimes you don't need frills, you don't need outlandish colour and print, you don't even need accessories; if you've got a real eye for style and know how to cut some exquisite tailoring, then that may just be all you need for a timeless and brilliant collection.

Pictures of Chloé, Valentine, Vanessa Bruno, Chanel and The Row: Elleuk.com
Picture of Clémence Poésy:
Glamourmagazine.co.uk

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Thursday, 7 October 2010

today i'm channelling... leigh lezark

Sometimes you come across someone so ridiculously cool that it's just a bit unfair. Such people pose something of an ethical dilemma: you really, really want to hate them, but because you also want to be them, you just can't help but love them. A lot. Leigh Lezark is pretty much the epitome of this. Everything about her is just insanely cool, from her alliterative name right through to her trademark glossy black bob. Given all this and the fact that her two professions are model and DJ, she could be in real danger of verging on the pretentious. But Miss Lezark manages to avoid this pitfall (in my opinion, at least) with her bold, sleek and frankly excellent sense of style.

Leigh has been a regular fixture of all the fashion weeks this season, and has showcased a variety of looks that excellently demonstrate her signature aesthetic. Typically it consists of a high-fashion minidress, sky-high stilettos, a tailored blazer or leather jacket, and of course that razor-sharp bob of hair. Mostly she sticks to a très fashionable palette of black, or nearly black, with the occasional splash of luxurious colours like blood red, deep purple and midnight blue. Sometimes this high-octane style can verge on the severe, but most of the time it hits the fashion nail on the head. Of the many outfits she donned during this fashion season, I've chosen one she wore in Paris (below). I love this because it's one of her more wearable looks, and also because it showcases Leigh's innate ability to tackle a tricky trend with effortless ease - in this case, tartan.

Tartan (or plaid, or simply checks, whichever you please) is a tricky beast to tame. It is a pattern which appears with somewhat surprising regularity on the catwalks (we can hold Vivienne Westwood partly responsible for that), but which is so incredibly difficult to get right. In fact I think it's probably the hardest pattern to wear, given the number of pitfalls it is possible to fall into. Don a checked shirt and you could quite easily resemble a lumberjack, a preppy Jack Wills-addicted teen, a fake-tanned Scouser, or, perhaps worst of all, just someone who really is not very stylish. Don't even get me started on checks run through with silver thread: chavtastic. A tartan skirt is no less of a fashion minefield. You will either seem to have wandered erroneously out of your bagpiping club, or to be a Blair Waldorf-wannabe schoolgirl.

But don't give up hope. If you are of a sufficiently stylish disposition (which, given that you're reading this, I of course assume you are), you will no doubt find a way to navigate a safe path through the treacherous tartan minefield. Having myself purchased a couple of checked shirts over the years which, after initially seeming promising, I just could not grow to love, I had almost given up on tartan entirely. But last December, among the delights of the Boxing Day sales, I happened upon the most beautiful tartan coat (from Topshop... duh). It was double-breasted, trench-style with a flared skirt, and made of lovely hairy wool. Its checks were navy blue and forest green, and an exposed gold zip coupled with a bevy of delicious gold buttons served to enhance its charm. I snapped it up immediately and, as you can probably tell by my loving description, have never regretted it. Note, then, that much as the sophisticated colour palette and gold details contribute to the success of my coat, so are the drop-waist cut, cerulean blue checks and luxurious silk all crucial components of Leigh's elegant choice of dress. Still, even this dream of a frock could have the potential to veer into tacky territory had Leigh paired it with, say, a denim jacket and ballet flats. Tartan requires some fierce accessories to keep it in high-fashion territory, which is why Leigh gets it spot on with a leather biker (generally a safe bet to fashion-up any outfit), chic understated heels and a classic Chanel handbag.

So, now that I've quite finished exalting Miss Lezark's expert handling of this tricky trend, let's move onto how to make this look your own. Admittedly it almost goes against what I've been saying to try to offer up a cheaper tartan option, and from what I can see there's not much in the way of plaid perfection on the high street at the moment. So I would suggest biding your time and keeping in mind the golden rules: choose a dark, chic colour palette; nothing with frills or capped sleeves or, God forbid, metallics; make sure the fabric is luxurious - no cheap flimsy cotton please. Now, after much scouring I've found a possible alternative to Leigh's dress courtesy of
Warehouse's Check Shirt Dress, reduced from £40 to £15. But proceed with caution, because there is certainly potential for disaster with this one. Firstly, I really don't like the silly little capped sleeves, so would probably hack them off. Secondly, I would almost certainly replace the boring buttons with some chic gold ones. But I do approve of the colour palette, so if you're prepared to make those two changes, you could do a lot worse for £15. However, if you're less than confident, I would suggest trying a slightly less difficult pattern, such as a painterly or digital print, or the perenially fashionable leopard print, or indeed just waiting until the high street turns up a nice tartan gem (you may be waiting a while, though).

Once you've selected your dress, pair it with a classic black biker jacket such as
Miss Selfridge's Black Authentic Leather Biker, £120; it's worth investing in one if you haven't yet because, even though they've been around for a while, Christopher Bailey has ensured they won't be going anywhere any time soon. If you've got the budget then of course a classic Chanel handbag will up the ante of any outfit, but in the meantime settle for Asos' Quilted Suedette Lock Bag, just £16 (loving the suedette finish for a modern twist on quilted leather). Finish off your outfit with a classic pair of black lace-up shoe boots like New Look's Lace Up Platform Heel, £44.99.

All done. Now you have all the necessary components to produce an outfit befitting a chic young model/DJ/muse of Karl Lagerfeld. While you may never rack up as many cool points as Leigh Lezark, you can at least look the part.


Picture of Leigh Lezark:
Glamourmagazine.co.uk

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Sunday, 3 October 2010

today i'm wearing...

Shirt: Topshop

Top: Topshop

Jeans: Topshop

Boots: Zara

Belt: Topshop

Scarf: Topshop

Ring: Gogo Philip at Topshop

Necklace: Topshop

Bag: Topshop
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Saturday, 2 October 2010

today i love... my zara ankle boots

It's around this time of year that the temperature (finaaally) starts to drop, rain becomes a near-daily occurrence and the sun seems to set before you've even had your dinner. Some people may lament the passing of summer into colder, crisper days, but personally I adore autumn (as I may have mentioned before). October is one of my favourite months, making me think of crisp, misty mornings with grass laced with dew, the smell of pumpkin pie baking cosily away, hot coffees warming chilly gloved hands, and, above all, cosy clothing. This is probably one of the reasons I loved Burberry's AW'10 show such a ridiculous amount: it was full of really cosy, warm, snuggly clothes. I have wholeheartedly embraced the resurgence of sheepskin (or shearling, the fashioned-up version of the name), as I demonstrated in August by waxing lyrical about my aviator jacket, because it's such a lovely, cosy wintry fabric. Lately it's even seemed a little too cosy, because it really does need to be in the minus degrees for me to wear my aviator (oh, it's dying to make it out of the wardrobe!) But happily for me, shearling applies itself in a wintry warming role to all manner of clothing, from the ubiquitous jackets, gilets and capes, to the less obvious rucksacks, gloves and boots. And it's boots I want to focus on today. Having sated my appetite for the main component of Burberry's show, I was not yet content. I had my eyes on the delicious heeled hiking boots adorning the models' feet: black, heeled, buckled, shearling-lined and simply divine. The only problem therein being the 'heeled' part. I'm not so good with a daytime heel. I would love to be the kind of person who, Victoria Beckham-style, dons five-inchers to nip to the supermarket; sadly, I'm not, though I live in hope that one day I shall be. Until then, I decided I needed a flat shearling-lined boot, and, with much effort, passed on New Look's amazing Burberry-alike heels (which you definitely should go for if you are a daytime-heel-wearer because they are a bargainous £34.99).

My quest for the perfect flat shearling ankle boot, then, had begun. Topshop offered up their own lustworthy heeled version, the
Amore Shearling Ankle Boot, £95, but sadly no flat equivalent. Asos had a few options but nothing to really tempt me. And then, while browsing Zara's newly-launched shoppable website (er, finally? Just joined the twenty-first century, have we?), I happened upon the solution. The Wool Ankle Boot With Buckles (below): a beautiful, flat, leather, buckled, black shearling-lined ankle boot. It was love at first click. Not cheap at £69.99, but about what I will usually spend on my one good pair of winter boots. Before I knew it I'd created an account and they were winging their way to me.

Now admittedly they did take an age to arrive; despite claiming a delivery time of 3-5 days it was nearly two weeks after ordering that I got my hands on them (presumably the perils of a brand new system, and hopefully a problem soon to be solved). But boy, were they worth the wait. The softest, softest leather, and the most comfortable things I've put my feet into in a while; it's like plunging your tootsies into a plush carpet. They are also reassuringly chunky and from the front look extremely Burberry, just minus the heel fatigue and price tag. Not only that, but they go with eeeverything and will keep your toes cosy as pie as the nights draw in and the scarves and gloves come out (but not so cosy that they have to wait for snow, like the aviator). It's not too often that fashion and comfort collide so wonderfully, so make the most of it and grab yourself a pair, pronto.

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Friday, 1 October 2010

today i'm wearing...

Top: Topshop Boutique

Skirt: Topshop (customised from a dress)

Jacket: Topshop

Be
lt: Primark

Shoes: Topshop

Tights: M&S

Necklace: Topshop

Butterfly ring (right hand): Gogo Philip at Topshop

Pearl ring (left hand): vintage

Lipstick: Benefit 'Fruit Cocktail'

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