Saturday, 10 December 2011

Baby it's cold outside

I have been leaving you to your own devices recently. In the cooler months I suffer and shiver and maybe, to tell you the truth, I just find it hard to get excited about clothes that are beautiful but fail to deliver on the warmth function.

Another reason is that I think when you are recommending items for people to buy, it is imperative that you have properly test-driven the product. Last month, with some excitement, I thought I had found a replacement for my trusty black cashmere Uniqlo jumper which has done years as a loyal wardrobe staple. Having found itself scooped up accidently into the washing basket one too many times, the Uniqlo piece is now child-sized and beyond service. The replacement pieces, I bought two Benetton Pin-Up jumpers at a tantalising £35 each, promised everything. And, even without images from their website to push the products I felt I wanted to shout it to the rooftops that everyone should rush out to get one...or two. But just weeks later they are covered in bobbles. Not a good look and typical of cheaply made knitwear. So I didn't trouble you with that.

One thing I can recommend for the long suffering cold of you are these Topshop leggings. They are thick and warm. They remind me of having my vest tucked into my pants as a child. They are high wasted - which means that if you are wearing a tight-fitting skirt or dress over the top you don't have that muffin top effect. They are affordable (at £18). And they survived the wash without falling apart, losing colour or shrinking to Barbie-size. If you wear leggings and get cold, get these!

Click the link and find them at Topshop for £18.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Baby you can drive my car

The character Penelope Pitstop is all about leather, the matching car, clothes and luggage and 60s glamour. And what better muse could you find to inspire the A/W11 collection from Louis Vuitton - a label with all these values at its core?

Also drawing heavily on the quality and palette typical in vintage car upholstery, my new best friend, Burak Uyan also uses strong shaping and beautiful stitching in the boots below.

There is something very mechanic fantasy about the thought of a brutish vintage car enthusiast having to manipulate and persuade thick leather around corners and stitching it authoritatively over the structures of a car to such elegant ends. Despite the strength required to craft these pretties, you can feel the sensitivity required to do so. As such you can see that these boots have probably had the same treatment in production.

Imagine Dita von Teese stepping out of a chauffeur driven, vintage Rolls Royce in a pair. Sheer vintage-lover heaven. Pure purrr.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Josephine de la Baume... sheer poetry

I have to confess that I am a bit fascinated with Josephine de la Baume at the moment.

She is a vixen... Agent Provocateur.

Her pre-Raphaelite tresses and taste for vintage can easily transport her look into a by-gone era... Kate Moss and Jamie Hince's wedding with husband Mark Ronson.

And yet she looks equally gorgeous in contemporary pieces too... this summer's Mango ad campaign.

This is one seriously cool girl.

Monday, 10 October 2011


Alexa Chung is always beautifully turned out. That is not news. But the Yves St Laurent dress she wore to host the 2011 Elle Style Awards back in February was quite fascinating. A break from her usual coquettish 1970s school girl schtick, the dress fused 1950s influenced print with the trend of matching two-pieces from the same period. But it just wouldn't have been the same without the ribcage slash. On a dress like Alexa's YSL, a small flash of skin like this can be very seductive.

But the design principle of the whole piece has to be demure otherwise it will just end up looking cheap. The litmus test is really whether the piece would retain it's class without the peeping skin.

Below, the spellbinding Spring/Summer 2012 collection from the brilliant British designer Christopher Kane also uses cut-outs to create drama in conjunction with vibrant prints on otherwise minimalistic construction work.

Sadly neither the YSL piece nor the Saunders pieces are within the financial reach of most but with a little innovation it is possible to achieve this look by taking a different approach. At a recent premiere, actress Emma Stone wore a Luca Luca dress that used layers to create a peep.

Through simple combinations of high street pieces it's easy enough to get the slash-effect without shelling out. This week I have been experimenting with layers to inject a little bit of keyhole flirting with pieces from my own wardrobe.

Above: Customised, thrifted cardigan over a silk and satin layered camisole by Philip Lim label development.

One of my stock dressing principle is 'always check the rearview' but why just leave it at that? Below I tried out adding a bit of peephole interest to the back of my outfit.

Above: maroon Poleci t-shirt layered over a staple Topshop vest.

Above: Topshop Unique blue cotton jumper and Reiss silk camisole.

This might be one you have to build up to but have a rifle through your wardrobe and see if you can get into the mood.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Miu Miuccia

This 1980s Liberty scarf has just surfaced from the bottom of a scarf drawer that I seldom visit. As soon as it peered from under the other carefully folded silken kerchiefs I had to resurrect it. I think it's a great accessory to put a little fun into Monday. Apart from it's obvious, stand alone charm, what prompted me to pick it up in 2008 was it's almost spooky resonance in the current Miu Miu collection. I couldn't help but feel that it must have been hiding in Miuccia Prada's wardrobe before it found it's way into my hands in a quiet Portobello Road vintage boutique.

Its coming back to the forefront of my wardrobe seems as good a reason as any I'll get to step back in time to extoll the merits of another killer collection from Miuccia Prada's bottomless bag of tricks.

At the time Kirsten Dunst had been employed as the leggy ambassador of Miu Miu to seduce us from the pages of every fashion magazine. The campaign was shot in rich colours mimicking the small spaces behind heavy, red velvet curtains at a circus... or peepshow. Kirsten toyed with us like a pin-up in shrunken doll dresses and curtsied lasciviously in harlequin prints. Miuccia introduced the fashion world to separate collars popular once more in high street shops and with the likes of fellow fashion blogger Susie Bubble.

This collection is my own personal Exhibit A of Miuccia Prada's creative genius and is a testament, if any were needed, to the work of a major force in the fashion world.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Film Studies: Hannibal

Hannibal is a supremely stylish film and it is one of my favorites. I could watch it endlessly.

In this film, director Ridley Scott develops the intellectual fascination Clarice Starling had for The Doctor in Silence of the Lambs into a dangerous need for his approval that is not without oedipal overtones.

Hannibal Lector values good manners and taste above all. His charm is such that anyone who cannot abide by this simple code is just asking to be offed in some bizarre and vindictive way. So you can forgive Clarice's faltering professionalism when she wakes up to find that the old dog has bought her a very classic, Halston style Mark Bouwer halterneck and Gucci shoes to wear for dinner. After that you cannot deny that the man has taste and I could forgive him almost anything. This is classic 90s design at it's best.

Lit seductively in the closing scenes who wouldn't?

Sports Luxe - very, very frightening me

When I see trend for sportswear in all of the fashion magazines, I begin to worry.

(Above is Elle October cover star Emma Watson in Jil Sander A/W11 sportswear knit).

In the nineties women chose to ditch tracksuit bottoms with elasticated ankles for exercise purposes in favour of yoga pants and, more recently, leggings. In short, they were just more flattering. Now the fashion press is shouting about the look becoming a wardrobe must for every day. Gathered-at-the-ankle looks good on no-one, even if you have wedges on.

(The above 'sweats' are available from Aubin and Willis).

With the likes of Phoebe Philo at Celine, Philip Lim and Jil Sander designing extremely popular minimalistic collections over the last few seasons it was only a matter of time before Utility turned Sporty.

The look itself is summed up by Marie Claire 'Team loose, jersey trousers with a draped, racer back vest and wedge-style plimsolls.' You can see the pound-signs appear in the high street label's eyes as it dawns on them that they can recreate the structure and simplicity of their own collections with inexpensive sweatshirt fabric.

(Racer back vest top by Vanessa Bruno)

This is all well and good, and not untypical in the fashion world, and yet the worry is that to get away with the current trend for sportswear-as-daywear you will need to be exceptionally slim, working in fashion, have a healthy bank balance and you will need to be in heels. No pressure.

Let loose in the mainstream, this trend only gives women a license to team Juicy Couture velour tracksuits up with The Dreaded Sheepskin Boots for a truly slobby and unflattering look. This is real fright night stuff and enough for me to start having dreams about my teeth falling out all Halloween.

Thursday, 22 September 2011


If you ever get the chance to go to Copenhagen, do. There is every chance that you will love it. Anyone struggling with the conundrum of how to look good in the cold could take the brief flight over to the Danish capital and learn some quick lessons.

Aside from their acumen in dressing for often cooler climes, designers are hugely creative and move less as a pack than I experience elsewhere. I loved the beautiful detailing and soft femininity of the prints of Rutzou's collections and have fawned over them constantly since I saw them in Copenhagen.

Join in the love by going to the website to see their beautifully styled lookbook but to put your money where your mouth is go to the Anthropology or ASOS websites.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Mental (Colour) Block

Trend CBT: Slowly and surely widespread exposure to AW11's gorgeous colour combinations are changing my behaviour. These gum-drop colours, blocked within one key piece are re-programming the stripe addict in me. As someone once said to me 'you can't have the same favourite flavour of ice cream your whole life' and I'm getting a bit bored of stripes. And this could just be the solution.

Above: Sonia Rykiel AW11

Above: Jonathan Saunders AW11 scarf

The moodboard for this look, and what it means to me and my waning relationship with stripes, is perfectly encapsulated in both the blocked colours of the 80s shutdown screen of the BBC and all those hours I spent as a child optimistically staring at it hoping for something to change...

Style note to self: Wear with black wardrobe staples and gold or brass jewellery (from Mor Jewellery)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Lesser spotted

Spots appeal for less...

at Wolford. Yes please!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Greater spotted

In May 2010 I wrote about stylists taking inspiration from Man Ray. And maybe it is a case of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. Maybe I was just seeing something that I loved all about me because it's happening again.

Fast-forward to Stella McCartney's current collection and the stand out piece, a cut-out spot dress (below) and I am seeing echoes of Man Ray's obsession with the shapeliness of the feminine form. Maybe it's me but never-the-less I think that this is sheer droolery. I always think spots on netting are chic. They have a sexy, vintage, look-but-don't-touch allure.

Something in this (sell out on Net a Porter) piece obviously also appealed to Karen Elson who chose to wear it with panache to Kate Moss and Jamie Hince's wedding. Both clotheshorse and dress are equally playful, seductive, bold and gorgeous. Round of applause please.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Don't get collared

Nights are drawing in and the motherly voice inside my head is reminding me that I need a good coat. Wish Coat Criteria...
  • Extreme warmth
  • Timelessness - an investment piece that will see me through a couple of winters
  • Versatility - it must that will go with everything and look part of an outfit, not a throw over
  • Midnight blueness
  • Collarless - so that I can go to town on scarves.
These two Acne numbers are mouth-watering. The first, below, is a multi-lapelled trench is beautiful - right at the top of the list, and available from My

The second is much more Minimalist but it remains classic. Available from Liberty.

Sonia Rykiel is also in on the midnight/collarless action. Loving the giant zip action but probably a touch one the nippy side with 3/4 length sleeves. Focus.

The next one is not great for all shapes and would sit better on a straight-shaped girl than me but you can't argue with the typical texturing that Preen have incorporated into this Teddy-Boy look coat. Available at Matches, this number's excruciating price tag is only slightly off-set by a cool grasshopper tailcoat at the back.

Now all I need is to stock up on gorgeous scarves. See you at the Liberty's scarf hall!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Festival for Less

Latitude Festival is just a few tantalising days away from me and I am in a fashion frenzy putting All-Eventualities outfits together. Because our climes are so unforgiving it is hardly worth investing in anything specific but if you are inspired by the constant pages of festival chic in magazines, and simply have to have something new, why not rummage the sale rails and get the look for less? This year's Glastonbury saw three days of torrential rain then one of scorching heat so you'd be wise to prepare for rain or shine or you'll find yourself looking into bin-bag chic on site.

If it's really sunny you'll need a hat so how about this 'Ditsy' trilby from Accesorize (was £20, now £10)? The beauty of a hat like this is that it'll squash into your bag and won't look the worse for it.

With trenchcoats being the exception, rainwear is always a stretch when it comes to fashion but it is a must for festival-goers. Given that the endlessly chic trench can be a bit more bulky you'd be better off in a Lightweight Parka like this one from New Look was £34.99 now £24.99. It is equally perfect for screwing up into a ball when the sun is inevitably shining.

Avoid the awkward tan lines by wearing a strapless dress like this soft denim beauty from Sandro (was €175 now €87).

And finally footwear. Whilst it's paramount that your feet are comfy, your shoes will no doubt get pretty trashed so if your dry weather shoes aren't a washable Converse type affair (you can get Light Oxfords at Schuh for £26.99 rather than the usual 34.99), stay cheap and go for something like French Connection's Nadalia trainers (was £35 now £25).

Last of all don't forget knee-high socks to avoid welly-rub and tights or leggings as back-up for when the temperatures drop the evenings and you can't be bothered to trudge back to the tent. Finally add rip-off Rayban Wayfarers (avoid the heartbreak of sitting on the real ones by leaving them at home) pile on the charity shop bracelets and get into the arena.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Blue Shoes

You just can't argue with a good pair of blue shoes. Here are three of my own favourites.

Above: Zara suedette strappy sandals, Sam Eldermann blue suede shoes from Whistles, my Grandmother's 1970s shoes. Metallic blue leather with couture style rosettes (also detailed below).

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

What will Princess Catherine choose?

I am inordinately excited about what the newly invented Princess Catherine will wear for the Royal Wedding in just a few weeks time. There has been speculation that she will wear Alexander McQueen and because she is a modern princess I would love to see her in a label like this, known for it's drama. Yet I suspect that even if this bride ever had daring styling tendencies, they will have been dumbed down by a sense of decorum. I hope I am wrong.

To be fair there is so much choice for brides that I can only imagine how hard it is when it comes down to it. You can see my own favourite, multiple personality wedding style below.

Elegant waists...

Here, above, Brigitte Bardot in casual pink gingham Jacques Esterel and below, Dita von Teese in voluminous Vivienne Westwood. Both dresses rely on boning and structure to emphasise tiny waists and are endlessly flattering.

Lace and Edging

Nicole Kidman (above) wore Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga for her wedding. The dress was delicately detailed, and it's turn of the century style sleeve was reminiscent of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. The exquisite lacework of another dress I am in love with belonged to the original Queen of Hearts, Grace Kelly. First and foremost a silver screen icon, her dress was aptly designed by MGM designer Helen Rose.

A modern legend in bridalwear design, Vera Wang, was the chosen designer of the dress for Avril Levigne's wedding in 2006. From the scalloped edges in Grace Kelly's veil to those on the bodice and skirt of Avril's dress you can see how mastery of an elegant detail like this can soften the image of even the most tomboyish.


I am most enamoured by this outfit. It reminds me so much of Ossie Clark's pattern-cutting that I can hardly believe he didn't design it himself. In fact this was a Mainbocher creation. The label also designed a further 66 pieces in the wedding trousseau which were accessorised with Schiaparelli and Chanel. Lucky girl!

Bianca Jagger married Mick Jagger in a sharp, white Yves Saint Laurent suit that although eminently stylish can only be pulled off by the slimmest bride. Daring in her omission of a top!

I think the only approach is to adopt what I call 'The Elizabeth Taylor Principle' - have lots of weddings, chose a totally different look every time! I wonder what Princess Catherine would say to that. But then, I think I might know that already.

Elizabeth Taylor wears an Irene Sharaff shift dress (Sharaff was the costume designer on Taylor's 1963 film Cleopatra).