Thursday, 28 October 2010

Objects of desire: Stine Goya

Printed dresses don't often appeal to me - they tend to shout too loudly. A bold printed dress can only be worn a handful of times because it's usually just too memorable. It's too much of a commitment being the girl in that dress. But every now and then you see something that just makes you melt a little bit inside. Browsing the internet I stumbled across this rather lovely example by Danish designer Stine Goya.

Stine Goya - Moonprint dress - £264 -
Look you can even tuck it into a pair of high waisted trouser (although this would only work if you were terribly skinny I fear). And now I want it very, very badly but given I had to bid a sad farewell to the beautiful scoop neck, perfectly soft, triple ply cashmere coat/cardigan at the Tse sample sale last night, there's no way I can afford this, especially in cost-per-wear terms. 

Ever the glutton for punishment of course I had to go and visit Stine Goya's site to see what else was on offer this season and found the perfect bag.

Thunder bag - Stine Goya - 2000 DKK (approx. £235) - 


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Cashmere glorious cashmere - Uniqlo jumpers and the Tse sample sale

 This season's Tse collection - but last season's was good too
The nights are getting longer and colder and it feels like we've actually skipped autumn and headed straight into winter. But the change in seasons has its compensations and of course one of those is glorious, soft, warm cashmere and lots of it. Or at least I wish I had lots of it.
If, like me, you can never have enough cashmere (and I really can't on my budget) but you have more than a little (but not masses) of cash to spare and the time and inclination you should definitely hot foot it down to the Tse sample sale on October 27, 28 and 29 at the Camden Town Hall where the cashmere brand is offering up to 80% off its main, mens and diffusion lines. I'll be there late after work to mop up any remaining dregs from the bargain rail.

Tse, Tse Men and tsesay Sample sale
October 27(11 am to 8pm), 28 and 29 (10am to 8pm)
The Camden Centre
Bidborough Street
London WC1H 9AU
enquiries - 020 3227 1046 ext 0
nearest tube: Kings Cross

Otherwise may I recommend investing in a men's cashmere jumper from Uniqlo? They come in a vast range of colours and the knit is fine enough for you to tuck into a high waisted skirt or layer up in. They're cheap enough - although not so spectacularly as to make you severely doubt the quality of the wool - to just slouch about in too. They look great under a blazer and over a shirt with a sharp collar or tucked in to a pretty skirt and the cardigans are oversized enough to be thrown over the shoulders and not instantly fall off again. And I can't think of anything more comforting to wear underneath a duffle coat on bonfire night...

Cashmere v-neck cardigan in 32 Beige - Uniqlo - £129.99
Pure cashmere crew neck sweater in 03 grey - Uniqlo - £89.99
Or if you prefer something more fitted the latest Velvet and Uniqlo collaboration should be able to offer something more to your taste.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The £10 challenge - zebra/tiger print

I think it's fair to say that I'm fairly unlikely to ever wear these outside of my house. Or in fact ever again. But they do illustrate a point - some things just don't work when they're done on the high street. Slightly shiny zebra or tiger (depending on the background colour - these are a caramel colour so probably tiger and marginally more forgiving than the monochrome version) print peg legs are never going to look great really, unless you are very tall, quite thin or so brave that we all admire your tenacity and ignore the fact that it looks like you are wearing flammable pyjama bottoms.
Personally, I think even if these were pure silk and worth enough to put down a deposit on a small house, they still wouldn't be for me. Me and prints don't generally gel, let alone an animal print that also looks a little bit like an exaggerated wood grain. I can see that on someone else they could possibly look amazing.

However they do give me an excuse to show off my new shoe purchase - the Pierre Hardy for Gap wedges with which I am desperately in love. This morning I was wearing them to potter around the house in while still in my actual pyjamas (more grey marl than animal print) and every time I take them off I catch myself stroking them absent mindedly. I haven't felt this way about a pair of shoes in a long time. Inevitably JFK will hate them because they are wedges and men tend to dislike wedges, and the minute he says something they will lose a little of their lustre. I must admit I used to be a wedge hater, but now I have seen the light - as long as they are very high and not strappy sandals. Whoever said wedges were easier to walk in though hadn't met London pavements. Especially those special textured paving slabs that are meant to warn the visually impaired about road crossings but also serve as a mini obstacle course to any wedge wearer.

£10 challenge outfit;
Jumper - Mango -  car boot sale - £1.50
Trousers - Wallis - car boot sale - £3
Vest - Uniqlo - car boot sale - £1
Total - £5.50

Pierre Hardy Design Editions - Gap - £89.50

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Halloween make-up for grown-ups - Topshop and Mac

Is there any excuse as good as halloween for indulging in some quality fancy dress? I think not, but if yuo can conjure one up let me know and I'll be there. This year two of my good friends, Miss Laura Trouble and Eloise de Fine, are hosting a Zombies Ball at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen so of course an outfit must be planned. Especially as it is on a Friday night so I will probably have to get changed in the toilets at work or at the venue.
Usually what happens in these situations is that I go out and blow between £20 and £30 on pointless pots of glitter, eye crayons and all sorts of other rubbish from Superdrug, half of which I never end up using and the rest of which I use once, only to discard it all about six months later in a make-up bag purge. I promised myself this year would be different. I already have two suitable eye shadows from Mac - a poisonous looking glittery purple called Beauty Marked and an evil potion shade of shimmering green called De Menthe.

But I need another texture. Mac have just launched a new range called Venomous Villains, inspired by various evil Disney characters including the wicked queen from Snow White and, of course, Cruella de Vil. 
Venomous Villains lipstick in Heartless - £13 - Mac
Venomous Villains mineralize eye shadow duo in My Dark Magic - £16 - Mac
Sadly my budget won't stretch that far. Instead I found the final ingredient for my make-up concoction at Topshop, whose autumn/winter Heavy Duty range is rather pleasing and filled with suitably dark and sinister colours with names like Grunge or Gloom. I was seriously tempted by a very deep purple lipstick which was tempting, but realistically was only going to be worn once so I steered myself away and towards a gel eye-liner in an emerald green called Ravine. Layer it on thickly with the little brush and it's dark enough to wear on its own so won't just be a fancy dress purchase but smudge it up and it makes a great base for something else. For halloween it will become a rather gangrenous looking cream blusher. 

Solid gel eye liner in Ravine - £8 - Topshop
I'll post a picture of the finished results after I sleep off the hangover next weekend...

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The fantasy autumn outfit - Carven and a bit of cable knit

Arctic winds are a-blowing in London today. The sun is warm and the sky is perfectly blue with litle white fluffy clouds speeding across it but the wind-chill and the spine-shivering cuts announcements from the government today just make you want to swathe yourself in layers and layers of cashmere. Luckily this season's trends are, if you hadn't already noticed, big on the chunky knit. But working out what to wear with a big cable knit sweater isn't always easy - a chunky knit can completely eradicate the shape of the person underneath so you look warm but slightly like an oversized cat toy.
My own solution is to go for short skirts and tailored coats or jackets, cashmere gloves and a good scarf. A short flippy skirt may not be the best option when walking over a windy Waterloo bridge, as I discovered during a Marilyn moment this morning, but they do look nice or you could swap them for some surprisingly forgiving leather shorts. A pair of thick black tights will go a long way to preserving any modesty you have remaining.
At the moment I swear by John Lewis' cotton tights, because I'm not meant to be wearing lycra, but usually it would be my beloved Falke Cotton Touch tights.
Below is a slightly idealised version of what I'm wearing today (obviously I don't have this kind of money so almost all of mine is ebay and car boot sale alternatives but a girl can dream)...

Let's start with the coat - mine is an oversized sharply cut black APC number that I found for £10 in a charity shop. I particularly like the pin-stripe lining that peeks out when I unbutton and roll up the cuffs. However in dream land this season I would have bought this and pushed the coat to the back of the wardrobe (or at least taken it to the dry cleaners becasue I wouldn't have to wear it every day or freeze);
Carven belted wool jacket with fur trim - $1660 from
Underneath it would be a much more swish version of the soft cream cable knit chunky crew neck that I'm wearing right now which was £1.50 at the car boot sale and is actually for a 10 year old boy. The luxury version is from Prada, but here's anotehr alternative from D&G - technically a dress but a little on the short side without something underneath it even for me;

D&G Cable knit wool-blend sweater dress - £280 -
And underneath that would be a silk shirt buttoned all the way up to the top tucked into either shorts or a short skirt. The shirt I'm wearing is a very old, slightly worse for wear, grey, lumberjack, £1 Primark bargain bin find from way back when but I'd much rather be wearing this one;

Rag & Bone Marai silk shirt - £220 -
With this, which has my favourite thing in a skirt - hidden pockets;
Whyred Pasca drape skirt - £142 -

Some kind of ankle boot is essential, and a little platform helps navigate the puddle strewn pavements of London without getting your feet completely soaked. The ones I have on are desert boots (who came up with that name? how can anything suede with a heel be useful in heat and on sand?) from River Island and are a pinky-sand colour with a chunky rubber heel. But of course in fantasy land where my feet never hurt wearing heels I'd be wearing these;
Burberry Aviator shearling platform boot - £695 -

I mentioned above that the sun is warm. It's also exceedingly bright so some sunglasses would be nice.
Zooey sunglasses - $350 -

I don't wear a huge amount of jewellery other than the pieces JFK has given me which I am inseperable from, so one amazing piece like this would do nicely;
Bear Ring - $136 -

And of course a scarf and some gloves are essential.I like my scarves big and snuggly - a hood is definately an added bonus to this one and I could never say no to long fluffy Margiela gloves...

Ann Demeulemeester Bebe snood - £250 -
Maison Martin Margiela angora long glove - £185 -
And finally a cup of hot chocolate made with dark chocolate, 50/50 milk and cream, a shot of brandy and strictly no marshmallows... 

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

First glimpse of the Lanvin for H&M campaign

We have fairly firmly established how I feel about the high-street designer collaborations that have become a routine part of the high-street schedule here in the UK. Generally they're a bit of a dissapointment. It's best to go into them without high expectations and be pleasantly surprised rather than spend months getting all excited and be part of the scrum on launch day only to discover that you've left the shop with a handful of rather squeaky feeling polyester that makes you look square. No, not hip to sbe square, but square as in shaped like a cardboard box.
But now that the Kate Moss at Topshop era is over and +J at Uniqlo is enjoying another successful season - with better fabrics this time round too - I feel it's time to reconsider my stance just a little bit. Especially because the Sonia Rykiel for H&M collection was lovely and now there's this to look forward to;

Plus there are these amazing Pierre Hardy for Gap wedges that I tried on in the shop only the other day and am now saving all my pennies for.

Pierre Hardy Design Edition wedges - £89
For once something really covetable from one of the most boring shops in the world. And we even got them before they dropped in the US. Fingers crossed there's still a pair in my giant foot size left by the time I can afford them....

What the high street seems to have realised is that we won't want nasty cheap fabrics and cuts more just because there's some fancy label on them.We'll happily pay a bit more for something a bit better (although we'll always think it would be nice if we didn't have to). I love that Alber Elbaz talks about making H&M into a luxury label for a few weeks, rather than opening up Lanvin to the masses. Fingers crossed they don't cock it up.

Of course, we may have invented this whole thing on the British high street, but you can trust the Americans to take an idea and run with it. Their king of collaborations, Target, is set to launch Mulberry for Target later this year. Sigh...

Monday, 18 October 2010

Topshop majesty ballet pumps - don't buy em

Topshop is having a very good winter if what I saw when I popped in there to treat myself to my first new thing in ages was anything to go buy. One part of the shop was a veritable sea of covetable camel, cable-knit and shearling. Yum.
Sadly, my treat budget didn't stretch to any of that. What it did stretch to though was a pair of pretty tweedy ballet pumps, with a Chanel-esque black ribbon bow and diamante detail. Despite the name of this blog, I am rarely attracted to shiny things because on my budget most of the shiny things I can afford just look very cheap. I feel similarly about lace - if you can't afford the good stuff it's best avoided. But these seemed to be the exception. Look, aren't they pretty? And only £28.
Imagine them worn with turned up Max Mara black cropped trousers, a crisp white Aquascutum shirt and a chunky grey Cos jumper... and you will have a vision of what I was happily wearing to work on Friday. The shoes even managed to put a spring in my step, even if they were simultaneously rubbing most of the skin off the back of my right foot.
Sadly though this love affair was to be all to brief. The diamante studs started falling out around lunchtime. I spent half an hour in the hellish environs of the returns queue at Topshop's Oxford Circus branch on Sunday to swap them for another pair but the same thing happened before I even left the shop. So a refund was granted. 
I'm not casting any aspersions on Topshop, who accepted the fault and did not hesitate in giving me my money back, but the whole thing made me a little bit sad. If you can't treat yourself to the odd pair of shoes without them falling apart, what is the point of earning money?
Anyway, I'm back off the embellishments for a while again and I would suggest that if your happiness depends on your shoes, even only slightly, don't buy these ones. 

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The pledge

It's been over two weeks since I last blogged. Life has been busy - not that I enjoy blowing my own trumpet but I'm pleased to say that I am in the running for a major promotion and have been working my socks off to secure it. It's not just my blog that's been neglected; I haven't looked a in almost a month let alone been anywhere near any shops. My already fairly limited social life all but disappeared for a while there and I have given up most of my freelance work, although I'm sure more will come along as I'm not very good at saying no to interesting projects.
Never the less this isn't really an excuse for my poor discipline. I have spent today trying to catch up with events in the blogosphere, reading my favourite blogs, clicking on links and hunting for new entertainment. Belgian Waffling, my favourite blogger in the whole world ever, has made a promise to blog every day for a month with varied results.
So to demonstrate my commitment (if lack of inventiveness) I too am going to make a similar pledge. Only it's only going to be for two weeks to begin with as I fear setting myself up for failure.
I have a couple of ten pound challenges in the offing, but other than that I am scrabbling for ideas slightly. If there's anything you'd like me to write about, any burning questions you'd like answered or any particularly annoying style sub-groups you'd like me to demolish, please do let me know.