Friday, 30 July 2010

Silk Prints

silk print dress
silk print dress
silk print dress


Ah for some sun to wear a printed silk dress again.  I love a print dress for summer.  Even more so if it is in luxurious silk.  Picked this up at the start of July in the sales in Spain which started the day I began a three day journey by car and boat back to cloudy old London.

Although I hardly needed another dress to add to my already burgeoning collection it was the detail and vibrancy of the gorgeous floral print that won me over.  The style of the floral pattern and border is very similar to that used on the traditional Thai sarongs that my grandmother wears.

Wore it straight after buying it and hardly took it off throughout the trip as it was perfect for keeping cool in the heat, but since I've been back in the UK I've only worn it once.  Praying for an Indian summer so I can wear it again.

Floral Silk Print Dress by Mango

Traducción:

Ah para un poco de sol para ponerse un vestido de seda estampada de nuevo. Me encanta un vestido estampado para el verano. Más aún si es de seda de lujo. Recogieron esto al inicio del mes de julio en las rebajas en España, que comenzó el día en que comenzó una tres días de viaje en coche y barco de vuelta a nublado tiempo londoniese.

Aunque apenas necesitaba otro vestido para añadir a mi colección ya floreciente fue el detalle y la viveza de la impresión magnífica floral que me ha conquistado. El estilo de los motivos florales y fronteras es muy similar a la utilizada en la tradicional tailandesa pareos que mi abuela llevaba.

Lo puse inmediatamente después de comprarlo y apenas se la quitó durante todo el viaje, ya que era perfecto para mantenerse fresco en el calor, pero desde que estoy de vuelta en el Reino Unido sólo lo he usado una vez. Estoy orando por un veranillo de San Martín para que pueda usarla otra vez.

Vestido en Seda imprimido con flores de Mango

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Bellissima!

Image from The Sartorialist

Thank God for Anna Dello Russo!

The Kingdom of Style post yesterday about Look magazine depressed me.  This photo of Anna in Dolce and Gabbana posted on the Sartorialist cheered me up.  This woman is 48.  Brava!  I read through all the comments on the post and it is interesting how this outfit splits opinion.  People seem to either love it or hate it.  There are also plenty of comments about it being inappropriate for someone of her age.

Personally I think she looks awesome.  I don't think Dolce and Gabbana just had teens and twenty-something year olds in mind when they designed this dress.  The Italian woman is frequently their muse, and the older Italian woman wears lace as naturally as if it were her birthright.  How many younger women could carry this dress off with such confidence and humour? (Come to think of it how many of them could actually afford it?)  She has a better bod than many women half her age, runway clothes look great on her and she has the passion and courage to wear them and champion their designers.

To her credit she never tries to hide her age, she is often photographed wearing little or no makeup and hasn't tried to look younger through massive amounts of cosmetic surgery.  She just owns it and I think that is key to her widespread appeal.

There were also lots of comments about how she isn't elegant because of her choice of pink sunglasses and earrings as accessories.  Hello?  Do you think a fashion director for Vogue and a major trendsetting force in her own right just threw those on without thinking about what kind of statement she wanted to make?  I don't think she was going for elegant here.  Who says fashion is always about being elegant?  Sure you could wear it with more pared down accessories to make it look elegant but I doubt Vogue Nippon is going to be on the phone offering you a position as their creative director.  I think she decided to have fun and it shows.  Scott Schuman gets Anna Dello Russo completely.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A Royal Insult

I know that Planet Fashion's fundamental marketing premise is that the only people worth advertising to and catering for are under the age of thirty.  This has always seemed to me to be equally fundamentally flawed as the over thirties are more likely to have the bank balances to buy their overpriced products.

It is a crying shame however that the fashion industry thinks it has the right to put an age limit on creativity and originality.  Was shocked to see this post from Kingdom of Style today about how the Queens decided to pull out of having their interview for a feature on bloggers in Look magazine.  The reason being that Queen Marie was deemed by Look to be too old at 44. 

Too old for what exactly?  To blog about fashion? To be stylish and fearlessly fashion forward?  To care about style, design, fashion and want to share that passion with an audience?  Personally I have found the Kingdom of Style ladies beyond inspirational in all these areas.  You'd think we all just cease to exist after we turn thirty, let alone thirty five or even forty!  Look should have taken up a fantastic opportunity to acknowledge that people in this age group still love fashion enough to be adventurous with it and blog about it.

WWW:Styling Tips - Part 1: Chinos

Image from WhoWhatWear
The Captain Trousers by Current Elliot: Image by Net-a-Porter
The Army Pants by Current Elliot: Image by Net-a-Porter

Military trends don't generally do much for me but I have a confession to make - I was gullible enough to have indulged in the past.  Recently while looking for some inspiration I found myself impressed with Gwyneth Paltrow's getup of pairing chinos with a sharp blazer and even sharper shoes as featured on the recent WhoWhatWear post WWW:Styling Tips.  Rather than looking like an extra from Platoon she looks smart but sassy.  It has almost convinced me to give this more formal version of the military look a shot but I don't want to splash the cash to do so as I think I have the required ingredients already lurking in my closet!

I qualify my statement with "think" for a reason.  Remember many years ago when the cargo trouser was in fashion?  When dragon embroidered khakis were all the rage?  During that time I bought a pair of cargo trousers from Topshop.  Over the years I toyed with getting rid of them and never did.  They are practically vintage now and I am hoping to pass them off as this season's take on military.  In contrast to Gwynnie's much simpler chinos my cargo trousers have their fair share of bells and whistles - front and back pockets with button down flaps, knee patches, elasticised ankles, ankle zips.  Less chic, more all singing, all dancing.

They also have the word VELVET emblazoned in large white Gothic script across the trouser seat.  I must say that this is the one feature making me think twice about leaving the house in them - it may be sassy but its hard to feel smart when you have VELVET stamped across your arse.  I guess infusing a good dose of irony into army trousers is the only way anyone could sell them to me in the first place.

If we ignore the VELVET issue, I have plenty of neutral blazers and slouchy tees.  I even have an old pair of pointy toed, kitten heeled pumps which are apparently very now.  I could work this look for a whole week!  Would this be cheating?  Could my cargo trousers qualify as chinos or are they different things altogether?  After some research I found the answer in an old article in the menswear fashion section in the Times Online which states:

"It is important to define our chino as distinct from the cargo pant, an American style (like the chino) that has found favour over recent years and that often has chino-like fabric and colouring, but is distinguished by the presence of multiple pockets for carrying whatever it is that inhabitants of the concrete jungle like to have to hand.  The chino proper is another beast. For a start, it is clean, simple and flat-fronted. The lack of pleats is apparently down to a fabric-saving drive during the Second World War by the US military - and the provenance of the style is military through and through."

So strictly speaking cargo trousers are not chinos.  According to WhoWhatWear the pair of green chinos Gwyneth is wearing are Current Elliot's The Captain cotton trousers which are available on Net-a-Porter for £163 and despite the hefty price tag, they are almost sold out.  The very similar Army cotton slouch pants by the same brand will set you back over £215 for the addition of some external patch pockets and flaps on the back pockets - in my book those details elevate them to being cargo trousers!

But check out how Net-a-Porter are combining a slouchy tee, blazer and heels with both chinos and cargo trousers.  The looks are eerily similar to Gwyneth's.  Well, they say all art is theft, and I intend to get my military fashion kicks for free this season as, thorny issue aside as to the placement of the word VELVET, the bottom line (ha ha) is that my old cargo trousers qualify.

"Velvet" Cargo trousers by Topshop
Grey Boyfriend Blazer by Zara
White t-shirt by Cos
Black Leather Stiletto Pumps by Gucci

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Commerce and Creativity: can they co-exist?



Seems that the creativity of the fashion industry is up for public debate.  Grazia covered the following debate at a Fashion Fringe event.

The adjudicator is leading fashion commentator Colin McDowell who puts the challenge to the panel (including John Galliano and Nick Knight) that fashion is not in a particularly creative state at the moment - that the industry has lost its way from the point of view of true creativity.  He voiced several strong opinions on the topic. Firstly he thought fashion is suffering from a mindset that it must be commercial and that always means going to the lowest common denominator; and that many designers were encouraged to be lazy and turn out things that they know that the press and buyers will understand.

Sounds like a thinly veiled protest about the comeback of camel coats to me!

Givenchy Stripes

Image from www.style.com

One of my favourite weekend activities is catching up on Bill Cunningham's On The Street series.  Apparently New York is having a bit of a Graphic moment this summer.

This predilection for stripes may be the influence of the vision of designer Ricardo Tisci who sent geometric black and white stripes down the runway for Givenchy's Spring/Summer Ready to Wear collection on dresses, leggings, accessories and sharp jackets like the now almost iconic one pictured.

Image from Polyvore

I have a few stripey pieces in my closet already as I find they are always a very striking addition to an outfit.  But the Givenchy influence has infiltrated some of my recent purchase decisions too.  Vivienne Westwood Anglomania sported a number of draped striped pieces this season including jersey dresses and this linen skirt which I bought but still (shamefully) haven't worn.


I managed to exercise enough self discipline to hold off buying another striped dress.  Instead I have been wearing this striped dress from the Kate Moss for Topshop collection which I've had for a couple of years.  Its cute on its own or with skinny black jeans or leggings in cooler weather.


I couldn't resist picking up this strong shouldered striped jacket from Zara in the sales in Spain.  It is an obvious nod to the Givenchy jacket but has the added bonus that it doesn't come with a Givenchy price tag!  I've been wearing it to smarten up a slouchy tee with either my Black Rats or leather shorts.  Although it complements black and white pieces like the Givenchy runway look featured, I have found it is also great with dark blue jeans.  

Licorice Striped dress by Kate Moss for Topshop
Draped Stripe Skirt by Vivienne Westwood Anglomania
Strong Shouldered Blazer by Zara

Monday, 26 July 2010

Six Items or Less




Believe it or not I am trying to cut down the number of clothes I buy during the year.  I have had mixed success reading style guides and trying to learn lessons about focusing my clothing choices.  The other day while looking for articles on the subject of reducing one's wardrobe I came across the quite fascinating Six Items or Less project on the New York Times.  Imagine having to wear just six items from your wardrobe over a month!

As someone who by their own self admission spends too much on clothes and has too many clothes in her wardrobe this seems like a good exercise in self discipline to attempt.  I have to say however that my brain goes into meltdown just thinking about how I would do it.  I am not enough of a masochist.  I do admire these participants for what they have achieved and can understand their various motives - wanting to free up mind space to think of other things, learning to spend less and be more disciplined in their choices when shopping, anti-consumerism, concern for the environment and a desire to reduce waste - all admiral reasons.  I know however that I would never be able to achieve it.  I keep trying to make a similar list and six is just not enough.  I would be truly miserable.

If I wore only those six items as presented by the blonde in the video (I have equivalent items) I would freeze to death in the English summer.  If I was in a consistently warm and sunny climate perhaps this exercise would become far easier.

I came up with this list from my closet:

1) Black Cue suit jacket
2) Black Cue suit trousers
3) Vivienne Westwood Black cowl neck jersey T-shirt
4) Grey Skinny Jeans by Kate Moss for Topshop
5) Long navy cardigan by Akiabara
6) Cos grey t-shirt

I picked the first three items for work.  The last three on the list are clothes I currently have on and I selected these as what I would wear at home and to do chores in so the work clothes don't get messy.  My feeling is that this list would be totally inadequate for the weather here and my lifestyle.  There is not enough for me to layer up adequately in the famously fickle weather of London when the weather turns suddenly cold when it should be warm (like today!).  If I had to go out now in the rain I would need to rely on just an umbrella and go without a trench or parka.  Are there really more environmental benefits of owning only one shirt and suit to wear five days a week to work when you will be hand washing and dry cleaning far more frequently?  If it got suddenly hot as it was a couple of weeks ago I would fry with only jeans or trousers as options.

Still, as one who constantly craves variety in her closet, just going through the mental exercise of choosing six items you can't live without for a month is enough to highlight that I don't use enough of the clothes that are already there nor do I need to buy anywhere near as much as I do.  It also makes me quite appreciative about having more than six items to choose from!

An interesting point made by the participants was that hardly anyone noticed that they had been wearing the same outfit several days in a row.  It flies in the face of the general wisdom that appearances are everything, especially in the workplace.  However, even if nobody noticed I had been wearing something for several days in a row I think I would notice!!  Dressing oneself is so often touted as an important form of self expression.  I would be bored to tears wearing the same thing every day which says a lot about my own self perception being defined by what I choose to wear.  I need to see something fresh reflected back in the mirror, perhaps not everyday, but frequently enough, so that I feel good about myself.  I also like to think that I am being creative in the process.  I care - but if, as the article and video suggest, nobody else does, then should I really be so concerned? 

Some of the participants quoted a motive of becoming more creative, either by freeing up their minds to be more creative in other parts of their life or in finding new ways of putting together outfits using only six items and their accessories.  This raises interesting questions for me.    I agree that creativity is not about having more items to play around with but in finding new ways to combine them however, is creativity in my dress sense an integral part of trying to be creative in general (as I have always believed), or is it just draining creative energy from other areas of my life where it would be better spent?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The Death of Tough Chic?


Image from WhoWhatWear

I love WhoWhatWear.  I especially love that they are still plugging leather leggings and bikers or a sharp shouldered jacket as a look as demonstrated by Karmen Pedaru in their recent post.

Those old cronies at Vogue have decreed the death of all the fun things I was looking forward to in fashion for winter: crazy leggings, biker jackets, tricky hareems, power shoulders, statement heels, gothic black... despite all the new stock rolling in online at Net-a-Porter featuring all of these now apparently passe pieces.  In fact Vogue US went so far as to run a piece saying the tough chic look favoured by the likes of Pedaru and Kate Moss is now tired and that looking polished and grown up is back.  They even featured a pictures of both models looking amazing in leather leggings.

And the fashion revelation this Autumn/Winter for which we must leave all this excitement behind is (drum roll)... the Camel Coat.

Now I know that half of Europe including the UK is facing austerity measures and the only women who can afford to buy clothes at the moment are the high flying, glass ceiling busters but is that really all fashion could come up with this season?  Whatever happened to fashion being an escape from reality, a form of self-expression, a platform for rebellion?  Obviously designers are no longer prepared to suffer for their art - they are more concerned about making a profit.  Fair enough, but every time I open a new magazine the pages are awash with camel, camel and more camel.

As elegant as the collections are the continuing orgasms that the fashion editors are having over Celine and Chloe finally producing "clothes designed by women that women can actually wear" is actually starting to grate.  Any one of them going to be brave enough to buck the trend and admit that all this sensible dressing is just a tad boring?  Where is the drama?  Where are the risk takers?  Are they really talking about a generation of fashion conscious twenty somethings who can take the most serious fashion risks wearing this polished, grown up look for a night on the tiles?  Does anyone really fancy working this look for a trip to the local pub?

Yes its all great if you work in an office where you have to look dull and conservative in order to be taken seriously and camel suits your skin tone (it looks awful on mine) - you will have plenty of choice this season and I can understand the collective sigh of relief coming from the quarters of the ordinary working woman (of which I am one).  However I am sure I am not alone in that I find it impossible to maintain enthusiasm for a suit and blouse combination or shift dress by the weekend after navigating around a grimy city like London during the week wearing them to the office.

I can understand if you work in the City or a business that bears no relation to fashion - you are obliged to dress that way on a daily basis.  However, if you are the editor of a fashion magazine surely it is your job, nay, your moral responsibility, to be pushing the envelope on the style stakes, to inspire and support the creativity of designers with your fearlessness in embracing the new and avant-garde - if you buy a camel coat to wear to work surely you have failed in that respect.

The male reaction to fashion is always an interesting reality check we ladies often choose to ignore when indulging in the trend of the season.  My boyfriend's reaction to my hareems was lukewarm but they grew on him. In response to my sharp shouldered jackets and dresses he would comically put up a hand with fingers splayed in a Spock like V and chant "nanoo nanoo" in an attempt to communicate with me.  But his response when asked what he thought of camel coats was to screw his nose up in complete distaste saying it reminded him of nasty uptight middle class girls from the local public school where he grew up. Enough said really.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Kate Moss Limited Edition

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Kate Moss Limited Edition

Kate Moss is at it again with another drop at Topshop of rather expensive limited edition frocks and jumpsuits.  Here is a selection of what I thought was pretty.  The maxi dress reigns supreme in what is quite a small collection.  I think I actually have Kate Moss fatigue now and don't plan to buy anything this time.  I still haven't had a chance to wear the lace wrap over dress from the last drop and I've self imposed a ban on myself from buying more dresses until I get real wear out of the ones in my closet.  My recent dress analysis has proven that evening gowns and maxi dresses are not great cost per wear items for me.  The only piece vaguely tempting me is the blue silk racer back dress with the cascade of frills and the white harlequin detail maxi dress.  Lets see how long I can hold out!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Colour Wheel of Tees

I admit it is a truly self indulgent thing to own this many t-shirts.  Even more self indulgent is to be able to sit around photographing them after they have been laundered and folded.  As my free time is about to abruptly end with the onset of gainful employment I thought I'd better make the most of the few idle days left.  Obsessing about t-shirts seems about as good a pastime as any.

In my defence I will say that prior to reading several style guides over the last year I was pretty shameful in the dressed down department.  If I didn't need to be smart, and even worse when it became cold, I quickly became a slob and at home I was likely to be in old tees, sweaters and tracksuit pants that had been slept in, were falling apart or both.   When you live with a partner this starts to take its toll.  I wanted to stop being an eyesore during the hours of the day when my boyfriend was most likely to see me!  I was after that relaxed layered look that the Californians do so well but discovered there were several missing links in my wardrobe, namely easy to wear knitwear and t-shirts.  My previous style strategy was to spend money of clothes I like going out in, like cocktail dresses or sparkly tops, rather than things I wear everyday.  How often do I go out?  See the dresses pie chart and bar graph in a previous post for an indication.  So accordingly I have recently reversed this spending pattern.  I threw out all my midriff t-shirts and any old "at home" tees or relegated them to workout wear and invested in a new t-shirt wardrobe.

The style advice regarding a causal wardrobe all boils down to more or less the same advice on tees.

"Arm yourself with tees" is the advice given in Harper's Bazaar Great Style guide as a trick to make the most of your wardrobe and get your clothes to go the distance - "Play with different weights and fabrics."  A white tee is hailed as an "ultimate classic" a timeless staple and a foundation for layering and "when you find the best fit and fabric, stock up!"  On the subject of essential elements to a great dressed down wardrobe: "Layering pieces are fundamental.  Whether your low-key look of choice is a simple white tee, two vests at a time, or a poloneck tucked under your sweater, have stacks of them in different styles and fabric weights.  They can be the basis for nearly any outfit."

I guess I took them seriously or they have succeeded in brainwashing me.

It is a testimony to the quality of Cos tees that I have ended up adding this many of them to my t-shirt wardrobe.  All for less than what a couple of Wang or Kain tees would have come to mind you.  They have multiplied my casual wardrobe options to the extent that I no longer complain of having nothing to wear when facing getting dressed.  They actually make me want to get out of my pyjamas and get dressed!  I noticed that as soon as the first few Cos tees I bought went into the wash I would pine for them as suddenly a key element of a new outfit possibility would be missing.  Perhaps I should just do the laundry more often - but instead I have just ended up expanding my tee options in both styles and colours.

Although they aren't the cheapest on the market (Zara and Uniqlo are less than half the price) they use a much finer knit lending them a luxe, slinky feel and a causal but elegant fit.  Some I plan to wear with suits to the office.  The fabrics they are made from also ensure they are luxuriously soft and so whisper thin that you can easily layer them up without adding bulk to your outfit.  I tend to only buy the ones made out of 100% cotton, viscose or modal.  I find anything that throws even just a little bit of polyester into the mix instantly stiffens the fabric so that the fit is more boxy.  Personally, I prefer my t-shirts to drape softly across my body.  I have also bought within a neutral colour palette which goes with everything.  They are all round or scoop neck which is all Cos seem to do at the moment.  But for my V necks there is always Zara and Uniqlo!

Even my boyfriend has noticed the difference and has complimented me some days on how I am dressed.  I should be suitably armed now for that dreaded professional minefield of Dress Down Fridays!

Black cotton round neck swing t-shirt dress with 3/4 length sleeves
Black double faced cotton round neck t-shirt with short sleeves
Dark Navy viscose scoop neck t-shirt with short sleeves and pocket detail
Navy cotton singlet
Charcoal cotton scoop neck t-shirt with short sleeves
Pale Slate Grey modal viscose t-shirt dress with short sleeves and shallow asymmetrical V neckline with ruching
Silver Grey cotton round neck t-shirt with long sleeves
Pale Grey cotton round neck t-shirt with short sleeves
Cream cotton round neck t-shirt with short sleeves
Off-white viscose scoop neck t-shirt with short sleeves and pocket detail
Bright white cotton scoop neck t-shirt with short sleeves

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Talismans



Thought I would try my hand at my first "outfit of the day" today.  I am not sure I will be doing too many of these just because of the sheer effort required to get a decent photograph!

I have a lot of lovely trinkets that I don't make enough effort to wear so today I took some Rachel Zoe advice and structured an outfit around accessories.  Using these Hand of Fatima necklaces as my focal point this is what I came up with.

I'm prone to wearing a small talisman of some description on a simple thin chain for long periods of time as my only piece of jewellery.  Maybe it has to do with many years wearing a crucifix as a child.  For many years I wore a little coloured glass ball I got from a Buddhist monk in Thailand to ward off bad luck and evil spirits.  Later it was a vintage Victorian amethyst pendant which was a gift from my boyfriend.  

Since I have been spending a lot of time in Spain I have taken up wearing the Hand of Fatima which reminds me of many girlfriends there who all seem wear one.  In Spain I lived for a time in a street where there was a small wall mural of the all-seeing eye that used to watch you as you walked past.  Hence this Mawi charm necklace has become my latest talisman - it has both the Hand of Fatima and an Eye amulet and brings back fond memories of my time there.  I bought the small Hand of Fatima pendants in Accessorize and another as a gift for a close friend of mine in Spain, Claudia, whose birthday is the day after mine.  She gave me these earrings which are also talismans in a way - when I miss her I put them on to remind me of our friendship.

Large Hand of Fatima Charm Necklace with various charms by Mawi
Small Hand of Fatima Charm Necklace by Accessorize
Earrings a birthday present from Claudia
Suede Cutout Shorts by Kate Moss for Topshop
Grey Marl T-shirt by Cos
Cropped Embellished Waistcoat by Day Birger et Mikkelsen
Gem Embellished Leather Sandals by Zara

Dress Down Days

I have worked out that I have 124 dresses. I counted. I know I never throw anything away but this seems a little excessive. On first appearances they seem to be mostly of the floaty and floral summery kind that I barely get to wear during the year living in England because of the short and fairly cool summers. In fact there are many I generally recall wearing only on holidays abroad.  There are even some sitting in a wardrobe in my parents house in Australia for when I visit.

Since we are having somewhat warmer weather than usual (albeit cloudy) I have hung all the most flowery and colourful out to tempt me to wear them. To accommodate them this has meant removing almost everything else from my rail including suits and smart office wear. Until today this hasn't mattered as I have been in permanent dress down mode for the last two weeks without an office job to go to. Now however all that is about to change as I have been offered a job!  Goodbye dress down days of summer.

In preparation for my new job I have been getting reacquainted with the joys of Microsoft applications and presentations, in particular one spreadsheet package in which I am supposedly an expert.  What better way to oil the rusty gears of my brain than to use said application to analyse the breakdown of my dress collection.   So here we are: a pie chart showing the breakdown into rough categories equalling, LBDs (little black dresses), Day, Evening Gowns, Day to Evening, Cocktail/Party and Maxi-Dresses.  Each dress is included in only one category - though obviously this is only partially satisfactory as a maxi dress could count as either a Day or even Cocktail/Party dress, and when does a Day dress become a Day to Evening option etc...

But I digress - to take my nerdiness to new heights I broke down each category according to other data associated with my frocks: length, material, season, year, designer or high street.  But the most telling was the split between worn and unworn shown on the bar chart beneath (worn once counts by the way).  I hang my head in shame to report that almost 30% of my dresses have never been worn.  I thought this wasn't bad at first - I mean the statistic generally thrown around is that we wear 30% of our wardrobe 70% of the time.  However my boyfriend was horrified and said that this is really a rather terrible usage rate.  Having thought about it I think I have to agree and have delved into the statistics to try to reform my ways.


The culprits are, unsurprisingly, the little black dresses and cocktail numbers - those super elegant or glitzy little numbers that tempt you while shopping and which you imagine will change your life when you put them on for all those fancy nights out.  In these categories the number of unworn dresses was highest as a percentage of total dresses in the category, indicating a lower usage rate.  (The maxi dresses are not great on usage rate either but I own far fewer of those).  I shop, I am sure like many others, for a lifestyle I just do not have.  As if I had a cocktail evening or party every weekend.  I clearly don't!

The challenge now is to wear the unworn dresses without purchasing any new ones.  Sequins to the office!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Belt up

belts

Don't you just love Ikea? All those nifty cheap solutions to turn disorder into order. This divider drawer makes me feel almost organised! This is my belt collection (with a couple that actually belong to my boyfriend). It has been going a while and some of these are years old but still going strong. I took this photo to remind me that I have this many belts (thirty four to be exact) and I should wear them more often.

Apparently there is something called a Wardrobe Personality and there are something like ten. I think my own must fall into a new genre and its likely to be called Schizophrenic. If my belts are anything to go by there is everything from Biker chic, Punk rock, Western, Folk, Boho, Vintage, Ladylike to City slick in there.

Here are a few of my favourites.

belts
From top to bottom:
Chain belt with brass filigree flowers and turquoise stones by Kookai
Black patent leather belt with gold studs and hardware by Kate Moss for Topshop
Black PU extra wide belt with rivet and stud detailing by Bershka
Black leather snake print double buckle belt with silver hardware by Cue
Black vintage leather belt with gold hardware from Topshop Vintage
Black leather belt with double buckle and brass hardware by Kate Moss for Topshop
Brown leather crocodile print belt by Banana Republic
Macrame belt with fringe tie and leather rose detail by Chine

Friday, 16 July 2010

Zoe-bot


Rachel Zoe is a woman after my own heart and the Rachel Zoe aesthetic continues to influence summer dressing.  Lately I bought a seventies style cashmere mix strappy racer back maxi dress and a fluffy chiffon bolero, both from the Topshop Boutique range, both very Rachel.

This dress was recently featured in the latest Guardian's How to Dress video on maxi dresses (and by the way doesn't Jess Cartner-Morely look like she has been styled by Rachel herself in this video?). The feel of the fabric of this dress against your skin is so luxurious and soft due to the cashmere in the mix and it has a very relaxed yet glam LA starlet off-duty vibe.  I can get around not being able to wear a bra but still manage to show off the racer back and strap detail by teaming it with a black boob tube I have by Aussie label Metalicus. They do a great range of thin and clingy underpinnings, vests and and t-shirts perfect for this type of layering.  To get over the problem of being short I'll follow Jess's advice and wear a pair of wedges like my Reiss ones, a vintage black and gold belt to cinch it in at the waist and pull it up off the floor.  To accessorise I'll take a page from Rachel's style book and add some seventies style gold jewellery and my new shoulder bag.

The jacket reminded me of one I adored from one of Carrie's outfits in the first Sex in the City movie - a zip up bomber covered in chiffon roses.  I saw the original in Harrods and quickly ran away when I saw the price tag but have been keeping an eye out for a cheaper version since.  I missed out when Topshop first released this bolero as it sold out so quickly but they recently kindly re-released it.

Tonight I have a drinks function with a bunch of suits in the city.  While I fully intend to push the boat out and go dressed up in my new purchases in the style of Rachel the wind, rain and rapidly dropping temperature might have me reaching for a long cozy cardigan instead!!  Oh and look what I found on Polyvore - ha ha!  My new Marc by Marc Jacobs bag.  So courtesy of Polyvore - what I hope will be my outfit for tonight in honour of Rachel Zoe whose recent video brilliantly sending herself up still has me laughing.

Odd Boots for a New Bag



Olive leather bag, Marc by Marc Jacobs

 I have to report a sad loss to my wardrobe.  A couple of days ago when the weather turned far more wintry than summery I put on my YSL Imperiale boots for the second time since buying them.  The first time I wore them was just after I bought them, at at the beginning of a very wintry spring.

I noticed this time that without the added bulk of tights one was much looser than the other.  Imagine my horror to find that when I turned them over and scratched some dirt off where the size was printed on the larger right foot to notice that what I initially had thought was 36.5 was 38.5 while the left was 36.5!!  The size difference was slight enough that you need to look pretty closely to see it but then you can see that one shoe is bigger than the other.  I was mortified.  Certainly with tights on and with a high heel the size difference hadn't been so obvious until I tried them with bare feet.

I rang the store I bought them from immediately and explained what had happened, including that I had bought them in the sale three months ago, had worn them once, had been told when they were sold to me by the sales assistant that they were a pair in 36.5 and had taken it on good faith that that was what I had bought until now. Surely somewhere in the stockroom was the other odd pair which they could sort some sort of exchange out with me so I didn't have an odd pair.

Despite feeling very sheepish and silly saying all this the girl I spoke to on the phone was more than sympathetic and told me to come into the store as the manager at her discretion had agreed to issue an exchange note for them - in the meantime she promised to hunt down the odd pair.

I went in the next day with the boots but the pleasant sympathetic sales assistant I spoke to on the phone and her helpful manager were nowhere to be found.  Instead I was given a rather cold reception by the manager on duty who informed me that the manager who had agreed to issue my exchange was not authorised to do so and it had been her last day that day.  She also made out that it was my fault for trying the boots on and not noticing that they had been different sizes.  All the while the sales girl who had originally handed me the odd pair of boots when I tried them on (after checking at my request that they were both 36.5) was standing doe eyed in the background.  The odd pair was nowhere to be found in their stockrooms either which makes me wonder if some other poor soul has also found out she has forked out a small fortune for a mismatched pair of YSL boots.  I will never assume a sales assistant is competent to check sizes on shoes or for that matter anything again.

I loved those boots and in my weaker moments had toyed with keeping them despite the mismatch but after being treated like what felt like a criminal for something that was as much their mistake as mine I ceased to care that I was handing back a pair of boots they couldn't re-sell.  I insisted I should at least get the exchange I had been offered until she said she would ring customer services to check if an exchange was possible.  I then wandered off to check out what was in the store while she made the call.  The manager finally approached me with a somewhat more contrite manner saying that she could after all offer an exchange so I was free to choose something of the same value or more and pay the difference.

Not much in their stock appealed to be honest.  But I was determined to get good value for the money I had spent on a pair of boots that I'd expected to wear for years and didn't want to waste it on expensive cocktail dresses I would get no wear out of, or on strange directional pieces that were already dating as they hung from the sale rail.  I've said before I've never been much of a bag lady but needed to pay more attention as my choice of everyday bag was generally letting my choice of outfit down.  So when I spied this Marc by Marc Jacobs bag in a smart and sombre tone of olive with brass hardware fittings I knew that the disciplined choice would be to go for that rather than last season's jewelled and hopelessly high heeled ankle boots from Alexander McQueen.

I've had my new bag just over a day and it has so far been my companion to both an interview and the pub and it looked great with both outfits.  But the loss of those boots still bites and I am never, ever going back to that shop again!

Monday, 5 July 2010

London Calling

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Got off the boat in England yesterday to be welcomed by cloudy skies, a nippy wind blowing and even a bit of rain. To think that not more than a day or two ago I was in a bikini and mini-shorts. It feels more like autumn here than summer although people are assuring me that it was hot up until I landed back in the country.  Such cold comfort (ha ha) as I grumpily reacquaint my now Spanish acclimatised body with my wool cardigan.

Thankfully Topshop has come to the rescue with the release of their Autumn Winter 2010 look book so that I can actually get excited about being back in cold rainy London for the new season!  There is so much in this collection I am salivating over.  Black features heavily with a continuation of the dark, fierce gothic and biker trends of past winters that I have loved.  There continues to be a mixing up of contrasting fabrics and textures such as lace, feathers, fur and leather.  I love the leather pieces such as the shorts, the buckle-up pencil skirt, the skater skirt, the cropped biker jackets and biker gilet.

There is even the return of one of my favourite trends - studded embellishment.  This time however the studs have morphed into shark tooth spikes adorning gloves, scarves, biker jackets, biker gilets and shoes.  Tell me - is it unreasonable to be lusting after spiked leather driving cap?

There are even some sequins thrown in for good measure with a sequinned waistcoat and sequinned mini-shorts and a range of gorgeous sheer embellished fabrics worked into amazing dresses.  Despite all the indications in the press that they are on their way out leggings in many guises still feature.  There is a definite nineties grunge feel to some of the outfits in which doctor marten style shoes are worn with floaty dresses and punky shredded knitwear.  Then there are capes galore - in shearling, leather trimmed tartan, camel wool and in military buttoned navy.  And to top it off a Burberry style avaitor jacket in shearling so you can be fashionable and warm at the same time.

Who said fierce shoes and statement heels were over?  Check out those ankle boots with harnesses and shearling tops or shoes with ferocious spikes on the heel.  It also looks like the thigh high boot will get another outing this winter and I'm betting Topshop will re-release the Britany series of boots that sold out last season.

Roll on winter I say.  Now I just need to win the lottery!

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