Tuesday, 31 May 2011

today i love... basics

Ever since I did a little Q&A for Shopaholic (read it here), in which one of the questions was which five items I think belong in every woman's wardrobe, I've been giving a lot of thought to basics. Basics can be a dirty word in fashion, implying pieces of clothing that are necessary but not really very exciting. But I prefer to think of them as timeless, classic pieces that go with everything and stand the test of time over the changing fashion seasons. After all, those items that you wear more than any others should surely be those you love more than any others. And these days I find myself more and more inclined towards simple, higher-quality pieces that will last rather than throwaway trend-led clothes. All you need to do is invest a little time and money into finding great basics that will form the building blocks of your essential wardrobe. So with that in mind I've decided to write a series of posts, approximately once a week, dedicated to those can't-live-without items I think every woman should have. First up: t-shirts.


1. T-shirts

If there's one thing every woman should own, it's surely a simple, classic t-shirt. As someone who has a lot of statement jackets, I find myself reaching for an understated jersey tee nearly every day. Besides, there can be no easier route to simple chic than a pair of well-fitting jeans and a classic white tee. You can, of course, choose any colour you like, but everyone should own at least one in white, grey marl, navy and black, because they will go with everything. Try to avoid fussy details, because the basic t-shirt is all about simplicity. Stay away from prints, slogans, buttons, zips and unusual sleeves, because they will date the piece and reduce its versatility. (The only exception to this rule is the Breton stripe, because it works with everything). A small pocket or an unusual hem or cutout, however, will add interest and prevent all your basic tees from looking exactly the same.

The main issue that I have with jersey tees is the quality. I absolutely love my white Topshop v-neck but unfortunately after a couple of washes it stretched beyond all recognition (I still wear it, but it usually needs a top underneath now, which sort of defeats the object). I had heard good things about Gap's t-shirts but I had the same misshapen problem there. The other day I invested in a superbly soft, sheer Whistles tee which so far I'm extremely pleased with, but I've yet to see how it stands the test of time. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend spending ridiculous amounts on basic t-shirts, but at the same time don't assume that because they are basic, they should be cheaper than trend-led items. After all, most of the time you'll get what you pay for in terms of quality. When buying my Whistles tee I was umming and ahhing about spending £32 on it, when I realised that I would have dropped that without thinking on a Topshop shirt, so why on earth wouldn't I pay the same for something I'm guaranteed to wear more often? Try to think of the cost-per-wear, and don't pick up three for a tenner in Primark: they really are unlikely to last. Also, as I also thought when considering the Whistles tee, if I hadn't have bought that, I'd probably have spent half as much on something I'd have loved half as much.

Fit is the other thing that's crucial when buying basic t-shirts. Obviously it's a personal preference when it comes to how you like it to look on you, but personally I like mine a little loose and a little sheer. You certainly want to steer away from skintight, stretchy tees: they aren't flattering on anyone who isn't a model. Plus a little bit of give makes it more comfortable and more wearable, which is surely the name of the game with a basic. As for whether you prefer a v-neck, a round neck, sleeves or no sleeves, that is of course up to you.

So below I've selected a few of my favourite basic t-shirts from the high street (yes the Topshop Boutique one is probably better classed as a vest, but they're just tees without sleeves, anyway). Some of them are very classic, some with a subtle point of difference. I can't vouch for the quality of many of them, except to say that the Whistles tees are super-soft, and the Topshop Boutique vests are incredibly flattering and versatile but very delicate, so be extremely careful when you wash them. But in staying away from the New Look/H&M end of the market I've hopefully selected pieces that will last more than a couple of washes. And if you have a particular favourite t-shirt or brand that I've missed out, I'd love to know about it, so do leave me a little comment.

Don't forget to check back next week for another post on basics.





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Monday, 30 May 2011

today i want... topshop raffia sandals

Now normally I have a real aversion to anything remotely rope-like anywhere near shoes: I hate espadrilles, especially wedges (and the same goes for cork). Come summer the shops are filled with cheap brightly-coloured cotton wedges with horrible scratchy rope heels and I absolutely hate them. So it comes as a big surprise to me that I really rather love these shoes. I think it's the fact that there's nothing remotely wedge-like about them that's won me over, and that the chunky heel + buckles makes them look tough and edgy rather than sweet and girly. They are also appealing to me right now because that heel looks very wearable, and because they'd add a lovely hit of summer to any ensemble, providing the perfect solution when chunky black shoes feel a little too wintry. Add them to leather shorts and a white tee, for example, and you've got an outfit that's effortlessly simple but simply brilliant. The downsides, however, are a) the price and b) I'm just not sure whether I can swallow my hatred of rope heels once and for all. Watch this space...



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today i'm wearing...

(yesterday)



Jacket from Miss Selfridge; tee from Whistles; shorts from H&M; boots from River Island; bag from Topshop; tights from M&S; watch from ASOS.

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Sunday, 29 May 2011

today i'd love to wear...



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today i want...

Just thought I'd share with you a few things that are on my wish list at the moment...


A little bouclé jacket. One that's not too prim, not too structured, preferably with zips.. oh and cheap. Something like this Isabel Marant beauty, only a lot more affordable, please (get this one in navy here).


This beautiful Proenza Schouler bracelet. I've been searching for weeks and weeks for a cheaper alternative, but to no avail.


Canon S95 camera. I've promised myself I'll buy it once it drops under £300, but I am still going to have a mild panic attack at splashing that amount of cash.


Marc Jacobs Splash Curacao eau de toilette. The actual smell of summer. Though I'm a little torn between this and the Ginger one.


A white blazer. This has been on my wish list since I posted the amazing The Row video a while back. I love this Zara one, but I'm holding out for something a little cheaper. And steering clear of all the horrible linen versions around.

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today i'm wearing...

(yesterday)




Dress by Topshop Unique; shoes from Topshop; clutch from Topshop; bracelet from ASOS; nail varnish is Topshop nails in Zenith.

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Saturday, 28 May 2011

today i'm channelling... elin kling


Click here to see Elin Kling's look


Vero Moda Very leather skirt, £88 (reduced from £110) at ASOS; Religion Vixen clutch bag, £50 at House of Fraser; New Look mesh crew neck jumper, £10 (reduced from £21.99); Topshop navy lace triangle bra, £18; ASOS Hachi peep toe platform mule, £31 (reduced from £45)


I'm a little bit obsessed with Elin Kling. This super stylish Swede might not be a household name over here, but the fact that she designed her own capsule collection for H&M in her native country (read about it here) should give you an idea of the fashion clout she has over there. And with her innate sense of style, her own magazine and an army of diehard followers, I think it's only a matter of time before she starts showing up here in the UK. She's living in New York at the moment, attending lots of events, doing lots of cool stuff and generally looking awesome (just a bit jealous). Anyway, her latest fantastic outfit was worn to the Vogue Whitney Art Party, and consisted of a brilliant cream leather skirt from Acne, the Isabel Marant mesh knit I've been referring to a lot lately with a sporty bra peeking through, and some go-with-anything black slingbacks. It's just such a simple but fantastic look. I love the slightly sporty feel of the mesh and the bra, while the luxe leather of the skirt ups the ante. White and cream might not be conventionally thought of as a great colour combo, but I'm loving them together right now (especially a white tee under my cream leather jacket, as here). So as ever I've chosen some appropriate high street alternatives, most of which are helpfully currently reduced (yay). The skirt isn't a great colour match but it is leather, which is probably more crucial to this look than the exact shade, given that it's the texture clash which elevates this from basic to brilliant. That Topshop bra is definitely on my wish list; remember that you don't want a black bra here, or anything overly sexy: if you're going to have your bra on show, it should be quite sporty and simple. Anyway, I can't wait to try this look out for myself. Thanks for the inspiration as always, Elin.

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Friday, 27 May 2011

today i'm wearing...





Leather jacket from Topshop; top from Topshop; trousers from Topshop; shoes from Primark; bag from Next (borrowed from my mum); bracelet from ASOS; lipstick is Topshop lips in Infrared; nail varnish is Barry M nail paint in 134 Yellow.


Nice little trip to Nando's tonight and then to the cinema to see The Hangover 2. Very funny but oh so wrong...! Hope you have a lovely weekend!

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today i want... topshop faux snakeskin biker jacket

You are probably aware by now that I am powerless before a little leather jacket. (I recently went away for five days and took four leather jackets, ahem). The simple fact is that they go with everything and can make the most boring outfit look chic, edgy and interesting. And while everyone should have a classic leather biker in their arsenal, you can never have too many variations on it either. Besides, sometimes it's nice to have one that's a little bit different from everyone else's. That's why this amazing Topshop biker caught my eye this morning. The classic shape, the classic colour, but with a fantastic faux snakeskin effect to add a little something extra. I'm quite genuinely in love, and only three things are stopping me from buying this right now: money (sigh), the fact that it's only a month since I bought my fringed leather jacket, and the fact that I already have a snakeskin-effect biker, albeit in silver (see it here). However, if you aren't facing those same conundrums then I highly recommend you snap this beauty up before it's too late. It will add interest and edge to any outfit this summer, from a grey marl tee and denim shorts to a cocktail dress and sky-high heels.



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Thursday, 26 May 2011

today i bought...


Lovely little shopping trip today. Firstly I managed to find these cute little denim shorts in H&M and they're just the ticket for summer. Really good length (nice and short but not bum-revealing short, as most of Topshop's seem to be), not a bad price (£19.99) and with some lovely distressed detail. I also found a gorgeous faux leather skirt in H&M with a zip up the centre, but forced myself to put it back, given that I've just splashed out on my perfect leather shorts. Took some serious willpower though.


I do love a scented candle at the moment. There's surely nothing better than lighting one and reading a bit of Vogue of an afternoon. A lot of mine seem a little too wintry so I thought I'd get a nice fresh citrus scent for summer. This one's John Lewis' Mandarin & Lime and costs £5.


And finally a beautiful t-shirt from Whistles. I've always loved the brand ever since Jane Shepherdson overhauled it a couple of years back, but sadly the prices are mostly out of my budget. Walking through House of Fraser today, however, I noticed they had a 20% off promotion, and couldn't resist trying on this lovely tee. At £40 (though I got it for £32) it's hardly cheap, but I actually think you should spend more on basics, as you're going to be wearing them so often. And I know this t-shirt will barely be leaving my back this summer. It's incredibly soft, just the right amount of sheer, and fits like a dream. Super pleased with it.

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today i'm wearing...



Leather jacket from Topshop; top from Topshop; jeans from Topshop; boots from River Island; bag from Miss Selfridge; earrings from Topshop; ring from ASOS; lipstick is Mac Viva Glam Gaga; nail varnish is Barry M nail paint in 134 Yellow.

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today i love... topshop secret store

One thing I love about Topshop (among many others) is that it's never been one to rest on its laurels. As probably the most successful high street brand in the world it would be all too easy for the head honchos to just keep things moseying along as they are. But they're constantly pushing boundaries and finding new ideas to keep Topshop at the very top of its game. In the last year alone they've added a very successful make-up line, launched the Edited concept, expanded their catwalk show to become one of the hottest tickets of LFW and recruited more new young designers for capsule collections than you can shake a fashion-forward stick at. And now their latest venture is the Secret Store, a pop-up shop located in the Oxford Street flagship and also available online. I'd love to go and see it in person, as if Twitter is anything to go by it's a sight for sore eyes, but in the absence of a London shopping trip at least we've got the world wide web. The premise is basically a cluster of exclusive, limited edition collections by some of the most exciting young design talent out there as well as their own in-house team. So you've got Meadham Kirchhoff, Pamela Love, Ann-Sofie Back, Michael van der Ham and many more, plus extra special Boutique designs and a selection of pieces from the Unique archive (two of these are from the surfer-inspired S/S'10 collection, my own dress from which I'll be wearing on Saturday, coincidentally). In keeping with the upmarket, boutique feel of the collection, all of these pieces are only produced in small quantities, ranging from just 6 up to 200. And unsurprisingly, prices have gone up, too, much to my dismay. Given that fact, and that the exclusive collection means they are only returnable to the website, I probably won't be splashing out today. But below is my pick of the best of the bunch just in case I do feel like giving my debit card a workout. Happy shopping...


























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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

today i'm wearing...



Lurex cardigan from Topshop; top from Topshop Boutique; jeans from Topshop; shoes from Zara; watch from ASOS; nail varnish is Barry M nail paint in 134 Yellow.

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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

today i'm channelling... chloe sevigny


Click here to see Chloë Sevigny's look




What I love about Chloë Sevigny is that when she gets dressed, she's not concerned with having the shortest skirt, the biggest hair or the most make-up. She is one of that rare breed of celebrity who will wear what she likes, when she likes, and doesn't really care if you don't think she's the hottest girl in the room. Often this kind of mentality can go too far and result in a less than fashionable outfit (Helena Bonham Carter anyone?) but with Chloë's achingly cool sense of style, she rarely looks anything other than fantastic. Her latest outfit, worn to the MoMa dinner (nope, me neither), is a case in point. Her knee-length cream dress could be demure, but a cheeky cutout keeps things fun (note, by the way, its crucial placement above the midriff: bellybuttons should never be seen). Chunky black heels and a denim jacket add a dash of Chloë's signature downtown cool, and a slick of orange lipstick is the perfect finishing touch. And it's a foolproof way of dressing down any piece of clothing that you fear may look a little too corporate, or making an evening dress appropriate for day. After all, teamed with prim heels and a neat blazer Chloë's dress would have looked quite nice, but it wouldn't be setting any fashion flames alight. So feel free to follow her faultless styling tips this summer and you're sure to avoid that dreaded adjective: boring. After all, if there's one lesson we can learn from Miss Sevigny, it's that it's always better to look interesting than safe.

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Monday, 23 May 2011

today i'm inspired by... acne high summer lookbook

According to Swedish brand Acne, it's now high summer. The raindrops on my window pane tell a different story, but let's be optimistic, shall we? After all, it was the warmest April we've had in quite some time, and it'll certainly take more than a spot of rain to stop me dressing how I like. Besides, Acne's high summer lookbook isn't full of shots of depressingly tanned models in bikinis. Rather these pictures are low-key, effortlessly simple and perfect for the classic British pseudo-summer. They exemplify everything I love about this fantastic brand: beautiful, simple, urban tailoring that anyone can wear and everyone will want to. If you can afford to buy these wonderful clothes, you can find them here (and you can check out Acne's pre-fall lookbook here). But given that a basic tee will set you back £120, I'm just as likely to buy them as I am to cultivate a deep golden tan (aka not at all). Sigh.








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today i'd love to wear...



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Sunday, 22 May 2011

today i want... reiss 1971 mesh knit top

Mesh knits are big news at the moment, thanks mainly to a certain very influential French designer by the name of Isabel Marant. Her surfer girl S/S'11 collection (see it here) brought a whole lot of things back into fashion that just a few seasons ago we'd have shuddered at (mesh knits; pink denim; varsity jackets). But such is her power that we now find ourselves lusting after a garment that's really not all that far away from a string vest. Crucially, though, it is not a string vest, and that's something we should bear in mind here. The general rules to stop things from veering into trailer-trash territory are to keep the mesh fine and the sleeves long. Black is also easier to carry off than white. Which is why this Reiss 1971 top ticks all the boxes. It has in fact been on my radar for quite some time; the lookbook in which it features was the subject of a "today i'm channelling" feature I did back in November (see it here). The styling is geared to winter, but the outfits still look great and could easily be adapted to suit sunnier climes. The best part, of course, is that this lovely top is now reduced. The only downside, as with so many online shops, is the delivery charge: £4.95. It astounds me that so many websites charge so much for delivery; you would have thought that by now they'd have learned from ASOS' staggering success that free delivery = much more custom. Oh well. For this bargain of a top, it might almost be worth it. And if you need any inspiration as to how to wear it, check out Swedish trendsetter Elin Kling looking ridiculously amazing in her Marant top here.

Reiss 1971 Tate mesh knit top, £23 (reduced from £69)


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Saturday, 21 May 2011

today i'm inspired by... topshop neon lip make-up tutorial

I came across this make-up tutorial on Topshop's website today and I absolutely love it. The bright, pale neon lip teamed with nothing but dewy skin is such a fresh, modern way to wear lip colour and perfect for summer. I love the way there is nothing to compete with the lip; a highlighter is applied all over the skin to give a glowing sheen but there's no strong colour or eye make-up, making it look incredibly natural and contemporary. I'd probably add a little slick of mascara and might need a touch more concealer, but other than that I'll be test-driving this look as it is very soon. I think it would work just as well with my new orange Topshop lipstick, but I will also be snapping up that amazing neon pink lip liner in Fearless when it arrives (sadly it's not yet available). Until then you can find most of the other products used here.



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Friday, 20 May 2011

today i'm wearing...


Shirt from Miss Selfridge; leather shorts from Topshop; boots from River Island; bag from Topshop; tights from M&S; bracelet from ASOS; nail varnish is Barry M nail paint in 301 Block Orange.

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today i bought...


That's right, the amazing Topshop leather shorts are now mine! I posted about these beauties when I ordered them the other day and have been impatiently awaiting their arrival ever since. This morning I practically grabbed them off the delivery man and put them straight on. And thankfully they are just as perfect as they looked in the picture. I doubt I'll be taking them off much at all this summer.


I was going to buy this Barry M nail paint in Yellow today, after having featured it in "today i love... yellow" the other day, but when I mentioned it to my sister she revealed she already owned it, and said I could have it! Result. This gorgeous lipstick, Topshop lips in Infrared, had been on my wish list for quite a while and it was time to give in. I just love an orange lip; it's surprisingly flattering and looks so much more modern and summery than red.

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Thursday, 19 May 2011

today i'd love to wear...



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today i'm wearing...


Jumper from Topshop; jeans from Topshop; belt from H&M; clutch from Topshop; bracelet from ASOS; nail varnish is Barry M nail paint in 301 Block Orange.

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