Saturday, 30 August 2008

Style Session - Birmingham

I'm not in the habit of detailing or showing personal styling session because they are just that. However, yesterday Rachel was a willing winner of the style comp and happy for me to share the day. We both managed to arrive within 10 minutes of each other in Birmingham and successfully rendezvous.
We took a location photo of the architectural end of the Bull ring shopping centre, it is the outside of Selfridges. It does look amazing and again without a glorious digital SLR all the images will be sub standard but it gives a flavour. Next was coffee and then off to H&M. Rachel had a budget of £500 and needed to updated her wardrobe. She is tall, with a slim athletic frame and does marathon running, her next one is in Amsterdam. Rachel bought a list of items in her wardrobe so I could check what could stay, what was worn out or very outdated and what might be revamped.
I sort of worked out a style based on the seasons trends and what I thought would suit Rachel and her lifestyle. The baseline suggested and explained was the cuts of the 1930s/1970s with different textures and an intertwining colour palette plus a few this seasons items.
I'm not someone who says you must wear this colour or don't wear black etc. But when your on a budget and starting afresh a colour palette that enables you to mix and match items to create lots of different outfits is so useful. I drew lots of wide leg trousers for Rachel and blouses and dresses and explained cuts and the fit of clothes. After all she needed to be able to do this herself going forward. I wanted to substitute sheer chiffon blouses for business shirts. Introduce colour and ensure her look gave a nod to this season.
Oasis have a gorgeous purple sheer blouse with a tie that is so versatile and has lovely detail to dress up or down. I also selected a turquoise necklace and fuchsia large flower ring.
H&M provided much needed quantity for casual items, with 3 skinny polo tops in purple, black and grey. Also a funky organic cotton tee plus my favourite high street item a vibrant jewel turquoise blue cocoon coat. For £60 it is stunning in cut and colour and a radical departure from most coats. OK they've referenced Louis Vuitton and Giambattista Valli A/W 08 collections but for a wool high street coat it has a lot of presence and zing.
Back to basics, a black and grey £9.99 bat wing cardi completed the H&M spree.
Topshop yielded the great Evita exaggerated boot cut flare. I'd initially selected the Bette 70s flares but sometimes the cut doesn't suit the body shape so the Evita were the perfect ones on the day. A long black tassel necklace and dark romantic ring from the Freedom range were added to the spoils.
Zara was great for a work skirt, a cocoon pencil in dark grey, a long grey boyfriend cardi, a grey tank and their black lace dress offering. The last bit of the budget was reserved for flat pointy shoes from Pied a Terre - in purple. All items purchased on or rather under budget at £445
We did get sidelined by these cute baby uggs!

Rachel serene in her cocoon coat!

A flavour of colour and texture.

OK so we had a cheeky champagne at the end of it all! Darlings it was Selfridges we were sat amongst the Choos' it would have been rude not to!

Friday, 29 August 2008

All things updated!

Ages and ages ago I ran a style makeover comp and I'm off to Birmingham today to meet with Rachel and it should be fun! Here's a few pics of before and I'll take ones as we go along to post over weekend. The first photo is a party dress pic and the second is a wedding outfit. Rachel is from New Zealand and was working in Australia before arriving in West Wales - the purpose of the make over is to UK (ise) her, style wise!

Plus I reached a decision about my bag, you would not believe how many satchels I examined on ebay or how many I spotted in the streets of London apres my post. Why even in Topshop I saw a satchelesque bag in tan and brown.

However, I had a make do style eureka moment when I combined all the comments and all my thoughts into a bubble, comic style and came up with a solution. I'm going to use my Gucci shopper. I figured it was a good size for bags, not too heavy to start with (thank you Savvy Mode for your top tip regarding leather bags and books being too heavy), it was also sitting gathering dust in it's dust bag because I was saving it best? I need a bag for two days a week to take books and one notebook in plus a few other items so why spend the cash when I've got a lovely bag that needs to be used.

Which means the brilliant Skylark and Son gifted me a new charge card for nowt!

But.. if it was the real McCoy then I'd spend it on these....I still love these little critters! In a twist of tagging you can pinch my card and exhibit your one blow the budget wear!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

The stillness of COS

Yesterday I met Pater MD&M for a peek at the Vilhelm Hammershoi exhibition at the Royal Academy. I had to drop samples back and so combined this with a free entry to the exhibit of paintings by this Danish artist. Pater is a member of the RA so I piggy back on any offer of a free coffee and a browse. It is a beautiful retrospective small exhibition of his work summarised by this copy:-
'Hammershøi's most compelling works are his quiet, haunting interiors, their emptiness disturbed only occasionally by the presence of a solitary, graceful figure, often the artist's wife. Painted within a small tonal range of implied greys, these sparsely-furnished rooms exude an almost hypnotic quietude and sense of melancholic introspection.'

Actually this could equally apply to COS. I find myself coming over all introspective and silent when entering the Regent Street shop. I'm slowly coming to the conclusion I should do all my shopping here, as it is blissfully interesting and produces such brilliant items. Whilst all around are screaming plaid and losing their heads to bling, COS presents a minimalist haven of structure, quirks and graceful pieces that you wear not wear you.
Plus I love a shop that has a petticoat, in COS's case a dark green sultry number.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Warehouse clearence

Well for those of you who have a few pennies to spare and fancy a bargain then on Friday 29th of August from 12 - 8pm and Saturday 30th August from 10am to 5pm - it is the Matches warehouse sale. The location is The Hellenic Centre, 16-18 Paddington Street, Marylebone, London W1U 5AS.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Back to school

It's that time of year again and I'm in need of a satchel or bag for my books and papers. Queen Michelle of Kingdom of Style bagged a vintage satchel a few weeks ago for £4. Now I've been hunting but no joy to date.

I've sourced a few options one is rather masculine satchel from Amazon at £70.99, which then made me think about popping to Ted Baker to look at their boys selection of bags. But then do I want to spend much at all - which makes H&M look the best price option with their cheapie £15 holdalls.
Do I opt for the prof look and buy a leather item or do I really make do with a lesser number?
I need your views and suggestions!

Monday, 25 August 2008

A week in the life part

After a late and long drive on Thursday night (slightly delayed due to late picking up of samples as my client was a delight and led me astray at Selfridges champagne bar) I arrived chez parents for my work in Bristol the next day.

Friday 22nd August - technically had a lie in as I didn't get up until 8am. Skipped mater's wholesome breakfast and opted for Costa Coffee cappuccino and an apple slice instead. Met and had a good chat with my personal styling client. A lovely journalist who needed a bit of an update. We had a successful shop and I created a great look for her (I plumbed for a 70s take on this season with great success, because a) my client had a preference towards rock chic and boho and b) she had fabulous long tamed curly hair. All I did was reignite her passion and the rest was easy. Lunch was M&S vegetarian sushi with water which was pointless as I then met my sister-in-law with her six month old twins for a mocha and muffin. Truly I need to love food less and embrace my shallow VB tendencies.

After a fashion I stopped cuddling the cuties and hit the road again - this time the M5 which was mercifully OK for a bank holiday Friday and I managed to find my way to Cricket St Thomas with ease. I had hoped to set up everything for the fashion talk the next day but the hotel events person had abandoned her station. I resigned myself to dinner sans company and sat down with book in hand whilst picking my food. The make up artist was late so I went to bed at 10pm.
Cricket St Thomas, Chard, Somerset image:Warner Leisure

Sat 23rd August - Got the room ready with the help of Hazel the Wildlife park manager who was also a mind of information on the place. How firstly the family had let 'To the Manor Born' be filmed there and then Noel's House Party. It was the latter which ruined them, and led to the sale of the house and some of the grounds to Warner Leisure. The grounds were designed by Capability Brown and were delightful. The make up artist rocked up and we were all set for our talk. I'd failed to pack my mood board due to my squiffy packing on Thursday night but I happily talked unprompted with my rail of clothes about this seasons trends. The event went well including photographs for a feature in The Sun newspaper.
I packed, changed and headed off again this time to Hardwick Parks in Oxfordshire to join the Jolly Boys WAGs do. Basically a bunch of accountants being nice to their other halves providing a day and night of fun to make up for their annual golfing jaunt, except we were camping. Despite a rainy evening and night we had a jolly time snuggled up in our sleeping bags even if I did have to endure the amorous couple in the tent next door - both Mr MD&M and petit garcon fell asleep straightaway

Friday, 22 August 2008

A week in the life of...part 2

Wednesday 20th - Dropped the petit garcon off at nursery, and met a fellow stylist for coffee to talk new season and fashion assistants. Put cheques in bank and other mundane things like posting my Career Development Loan form for my MA course.. Also had to check out store's stock for my shop tomorrow with client. Picked up the garcon from nursery to find out he'd been hopeless with his potty training. Once again became mad mother and made him use potty at train station before thinking 's*d it' and putting a nappy on him. Got to Canary Wharf in one piece with pram and picnic to watch the Garden Opera company

The performance was Donzetti's Don Pasquale at Jubilee Park, Canary Wharf. The performance had tremendous costumes from the 70s - the real deal. I'd like to take credit but despite having styled the manager I'd had no input on the choice of costume. If only I'd had a proper camera you'd be treated to sartorial elegance circa 1974.

The only damp squid was the weather which decided to pour forth in the second half so I missed the finale. It is worth going to and is a great introduction to opera if you've not been. The next performance in London is on Monday 25th of August at Greenwich Park but it tours round UK until end of September.

Got bag ready for tomorrow's shop and early start, fell into bed.

Thursday 21st - A personal shopping session for one of my contracts. Hard work at beginning of season because stock levels are variable. Early finish so off to Austin Reed PR team to pick up samples for my fashion talk on Saturday. Back home to sort out household before driving off to Bristol ready for Friday's personal styling session.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

A week in the life of...part 1

Busy times again so this post is part one of a few days worth as I travel the country! Often people think what I do is quite glamorous because fashion stylist sounds better than being an insurance executive. However I'm a jobbing stylist - a grafter, not a styliste. Before kids (yes there are 3 but the other two would kill me if I mentioned or featured them in a blog - opps I'm dead!) I had a bit of glam in the old Elle office on lower Regent Street, many moons ago and I can tell a few tales ...but these days it goes more like this:

Sunday 17th- day 5 of potty training petit garcon why oh why can't I have a nanny who does this sort of thing. Skim through The Sunday Times whilst simultaneously trying to write blog, read other blogs and comment. Put up tent that has hibernated in attic for eons, to check all OK before its outing later this week. Large glass of wine with late Sunday lunch. Finished a proposal and then settle down to read difficult academic film studies book, needed dictionary to check certain words! We are camping on Saturday in a true make do and mend style as the location is hot property over bank holiday and charges exorbitant prices. We've gone for cheap as chips.

Monday 18th- check email, send off quotes for two fashion shoots. Chase clients for money. Read through personal styling forms from clients. Do the pile of washing and attempt cleaning. Decide to add to burden by hand dying four items - a canvas belt and dress with tulip red and a knit and ballet belt violet. Also have to get sleeping bags for myself and petit garcon. Dash to out and buy cute Cath Kidston racing car sleeping bag for garcon and snag a Celia Birtwell number in Millets for me. Sales Assistant assumes I'm going to Reading Festival so briefly I concur - who's interested in a gathering of accountant golfing chums in Oxfordshire! Proceed to join league of mad women by making garcon sit on potty in John Lewis car park before driving home.
Cooking, blogs and break through on potty training when petit garcon actually asks to go on it and we have a eureka moment! Go to swimming training but coach has gone to see band so only a few of us there. I get chatted up by fireman in jacuzzi, sadly I think this is a result and am particularly pleasant to Mr MD&M. I fall asleep while reading film studies tomb and wondering what the **** auteur is. Thank goodness for Wikipedia - Auteur theory holds that a director's films reflect that director's personal creative vision, as if he or she were the primary "Auteur" (the French word for "author").

Tuesday 19th - more household chores and day 7 of potty training. Play trains and cars whilst emailing, blogging and generally attempting to run household. Arrange a play afternoon with garcon's chum. Finish A/W fashion summery board - choose red, black and purple as the colours and lace, sheer and sculptural as my main talking points. Go for shop at Sainsbury to stock up on food and household items plus take plastic and cardboard for recycling. I have to force myself to change out of track pants into jeans. Then peaked by adding mascara and lippy.
Playtime again followed by making tea and then hot footing it off for a run. More joyous chores - the delights of ironing. Think about telly then think need sleep!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Retail Review - Zara

Apologies in advance for not having nice press images from the Zara PR team to load up but a) I never get them and b) I've given up requesting them.

However in all other areas Zara is the height of retail efficiency. Owned by the Inditex Group, the first Zara store opened in 1975. Today, Inditex is probably the world's fastest growing retailer and Zara has just overtaken Gap to become the worlds largest clothing retailer. Zara prides itself on its ability to compete with quality brands at affordable prices. It is claimed that Zara needs just two weeks to develop a new product and get it to stores and launches around 10,000 new designs each year. Zara has resisted the industry-wide trend towards transferring production to low-cost countries. Perhaps its most unusual strategy was its policy of zero advertising; the company preferred to invest a percentage of revenues in opening new stores instead.

That said, Zara has the most annoying clothing tags and quality is variable. Yet Zara has the ability to draw you in with its great on trend numbers and some of its own consistent items.

Thus far in the season Zara is paying homage to or inspired by Gucci and Chloe. In fact it will draw upon all the catwalk trends and deliver everything. The fast turnover means you have to buy if you love the item as it's likely to be gone for good. This is particularly true with their shoes and belts - literally gone in a blink. Many a time I've kicked myself for dithering or being good(not spending!), or thinking I'll find something nicer elsewhere.

The layout of the stores is clear and items are always grouped in colour combinations. Changing rooms are sparse and lighting harsh so if it looks good on - its great!

Last season S/S 08 the collection was more miss than hit but this season Zara looks like it is shaping up for a great one!

Monday, 18 August 2008

A/W 08 wish list

It's time to lay my cards on the table and share my planned A/W 08 purchases. I'll be sticking to my list as for the next 15 months I'll be an MA student and be down to one working day a week.
My must haves to update my wardrobe are a black leather jacket, so far my front runner is Muu:Baa number, £119. But I'll be checking out Zara and Warehouse.
Then to make my hot footing around town on my feet a breeze I'm plumping for Kurt Geiger black biker boots, £140 to work with trousers and skirts.
I'll be buying a pair of 7/8 trousers, Gap apparently have some for £35 which would be perfect if they fit. I find Gap sizing hit or miss depending on the cut. My final purchase will be a red sheer shirt from Jigsaw for £65. And that is my budget blown. Hard student times ahead!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Favourtie things...

Cricket. My confession to a private passion is cricket. I've always loved cricket and I even badgered my way into the boys cricket team at school. I wasn't allowed to play in competition matches just friendlies.

My favourite occupation is a day at the Oval watching Surrey play and when I can get them test match tickets. Suddenly this closet and covert indulgence is being pushed to the fore with a resurgence in cricket clothing, more specifically cricket jumpers.

With the release of Brideshead Revisited in the States this weekend expect a keen interest in cable knits and fair isle numbers. For girls that want one now then pop into John Lewis childrens wear and get a reasonably priced one to customise.

For the genuine fashion number try Ralph Lauren, Gant or cricket specialist wear in sports shops or on line.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Exclusive and Stacked

These mighty numbers were an Iron Man premier pair worn by Gwyneth Paltrow and snagged after their outing as an exclusive for Russell & Bromley in the UK. Designed by Guiseppe Zanoti they'll be retailing in the £400+ bracket.

This snippet of information formed part of the Elle's trends talk at the Barbican.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Inspiring times

This time of year is always filled with abundance. Bumper sized magazines. New A/W stock arrivals and blackberries.....

Everyday this week the petit garcon has made me pick blackberries. Not much has ended up at home as he basically eats what is picked and can even stop his mode of transport to refuel himself. I'm a bit scratched on arms and legs but I'm always inspired by blackberry picking, the colours, the thought of crumble and the fact they are free!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

High Street pick of the month

The rationale behind this is to identify one key fashion item each month that adds to a wardrobe. Keep with me on this one....think about it if you only buy one item a month you can save the additional money you would have spent.

Now what I select each month isn't going to be to every ones taste and there are some of you who are superb thrifters and others who are not currently buying or making their own. If that's the case then look at it another way - it's a savings plan. If you actually put aside the amount the High Street pick of the month costs - you could in 6 - 12 months time actually buy that divine Dior number, the cute Chloe chiffon, a Marc Jacob bag - whatever is your must have!

It is an alternative to spend spend spend, and equally not a reaction to doom and gloom economy issues. I haven't bought the Oasis dress so technically I saved £70 already.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Chanel bag for Channel swim update

The sale of my cruise collection Chanel bag raised £77.49 for Zimhippo and his cross Channel swim to raise money for Homes for Zimbabwe

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Fashion Focus - part 3

Thursday was a long old day when you've been in post hols slumber. By the time I got to the Barbican for the Elle Magazine 'How to Spot a Trend' talk - about 6ish- I had a lovely manicure in Topshop at Nails Inc, I chose the fab grey varnish named The Thames. A glorious colour, a bit like it's namesake the river Thames, truly deep grey.

The nail bar at Topshop if you face the right way - looking out to the store is a great people watching experience. I like that you can sit for 10 to 20 mins letting you polish dry, providing more nosey time. My summary of the trends flitting before my eyes could be summed up by one word - whatever. I saw it all from high end WAG to trailer trash. In between were try hards, London Paper Buzz wannabes, tourists, M&S mums with troubled teenager and Sloane Rangers to name a few.... 8 items stood out:-
Short skirts
Knee high flat boots
Gladiator sandals
Logo tee shirts

Then after departing Oxford Street I plumped for a glass of champagne - the white wine at the Barbican was £7.50 so £8.00 seemed fair enough - sat outside in a concrete enclosure with water features, I thought why am I at the Barbican, I was in sniffing distance of Smith of Smithfields

This is a glossy photo of the Barbican - it is a concrete jungle. It doesn't gleam at all.

I needed to qualify my state of mind as I could have quite cheerfully told the Barbican manager and curator off ! A) I'm not hearting my surrounds and B) the talk has changed from 6:30pm to 7:00pm , last minute decision, OK a bit annoying but only really @*^$"£! annoying because due to complete event organisation incompetence the poor Elle team had to sit for 20 mins while chairs charades and other nonsense was carried out. Then the curator made some trite apology and made me go off ankle socks and shoes combination because she's matched horizontal blue/white stripy socks to vertical blue/white stripy shirt dress.

I furiously flicked through the September copy of Elle which had been placed on our seats whilst trying to refrain from sniping at lady sat next to me who was biting her nails and fiddling! You see even 3 days later I haven't let go of the annoyance! Don't worry I'm getting to the crux of this post now....The Elle team were patience personified. They were left sitting like lemons, lovely ones of course.

Anne-Marie Curtis, Fashion Director; (pictured left), Victoria Riedl, Beauty Editor; Emma Meysey-Thompson, Bookings Editor and Laurelle Gilbert fashion and celebrity editor were the esteemed panel.

Anne -Marie finally kicked off the proceedings with a comprehensive explanation of how and why they compile their fashion trends forecasts for the magazine. (a few minutes into her talk there was more disruption the detail of which I shan't bore you with). She immediately captivated my attention with a summary of the A/W 08 trends - serious investment dressing, with a return to the classics and proper dressing for women. Which I thought was a fair assessment of what I hope it will be - the actual translation of this summary into the high street. The lack of 'proper clothes' across the spectrum is a problem for women. The fact Linda, Naomi, Claudia were back for Prada, Chanel etc. and with Lauren Hutton fronting the Mango campaign the older woman was being catered for or spoken too. Anyway, Anne -Marie explained Elle's translation of the shows into their 10 key trends:-

1. Bad Girls - a move away from the high gloss maintenance of WAGs and IT girls to a more modern grunge/goth/punkish look. Less black chipped nail varnish and unkempt clothes of the first grunge episode; more of an up market reference to the muso scene, looks personified by Amy Winehouse and Courntey Love. Think luxe not lice (that's my take!). Designer references were Burberry, Pucci, McQueen & Rodarte.

2. The LBD - a real resurgence of the the perfect wardrobe staple with a LBD making it back as day wear. Designer references, Lanvin. Calvin Klein and Jil Sander. And a must have for night, designer references for evening Lanvin, Prada and Balenciaga.

3. Minimalism - this was defined as simple structured quality pieces with images from Marc Jacob, YSL and Louis Vuitton.

4. Embellishment - a selection of varying designers were referenced were feathers, over sized sequins, silver sequins and sparkle were detailed. Elle particularly loved this trend as it was a reflection of Elle's ethos to be have fun and be quirky.

5. Plaid - sorry but I yawned, not Elle's fault but I'm over it already. I vaguely remembered some reference to Balmoral and D&G.

6. Accessories - Elle decided this was a trend in it's own right as the word 'statement' plus necklace, cuff et al indicated the importance of the accessory this season, particularly in the absence of no statement bags on the catwalks.

7. The New Power Dressing - suits making a reappearance again for women. Todd Lynn was attributed with the accolade of making it 'cool to wear a trouser suit again'. Jil Sander was also referenced.

8. Dark Romance - Givenchy was referred to as the strongest house for this trend. A more sophisticated take on the Bad Girl trend but an obvious cross over.

9. 70s Elle Girl - layering, flared jeans, sheepskin, Gucci and printed chiffon a la Chloe were delightfully presented as the quintessential Elle Girl look. I forgot to jot as Anne-Marie really sparkled as she spoke of this trend evoking the revolutionary spirit of the Parisian Left Bank. I liked that this was unabashed obvious Elle magazine fodder.

10. Cocktail Hour - the return of the cocktail dress continued the overall theme of grown up dressing with images of gorgeous dresses in jewel colours and beautifully constructed cloth of couture quality due to advances in technology.

An array of mini trends were also highlighted as potential A/W runners - tights as accessories, dropped hemlines, knee high boots plus patent and PVC. In contrast to Vogue and others florals were barely mentioned other than slightly included in the 70s Elle Girl section.

Laurelle then talked in depth about how responds to updating the day to day variety of the trends surfacing across the globe with the ability to blend street and papped celebrity pictures to reflect popular and emerging trends no always catwalk driven. Street style was a great reference point for trends that successfully translate from the shows but was essential to cover given so many trends start here as well.

The model bookings editor, Emma, gave a frank insight into the cult of the model, explaining how personality had popped back into the equation after a few years absence when the main bookings were lithe Lithuanians and other Eastern European models. They cache was to be the perfect clothes horse. Cue photo of Agnyess Deyn and the now required model with personality. Emma explained the photographer and stylist would have a view on who they wanted for a shoot and the fact the photographer usually won on that one!

Beauty Editor Victoria showed some great backstage photos of the hair and make up from the A/W 08 shows and illustrated why proper make up was back to go with proper clothes. Think structured and refined smoky eyes, lipstick not lip gloss and of course gold. That's gold eyeshadow and nail varnish courtesy of Chanel. Victoria was already wearing the new gold Chanel nail varnish. Hair got a mention but I'm a dreadful worrier about hair given mine has a mind of its own so I sort of froze in terror thinking about it until small heads got a mention. Small Heads equals brushed back neat hair swept into bun. OK small heads perhaps isn't the best of expressions, I was stifling a giggle but I felt quite relieved that this was a hair trend I could embrace to save me a lot of bother.

Questions were put to the floor, but it was a nice evening, there had been a late start and the talk was so comprehensive it seemed a bit pointless for me to pipe up about the influence of blogs - not that I was going to anyway! Someone asked a really muddled and convoluted one which bored everyone so that was the end. Then the bright young things merrily skipped up with their magazine copies for the team to sign, which was really sweet.

I exited stage left with boyfriend jeans and forgo Smiths of Smithfields as my trusty stead (cycle) was waiting at the station for me to take it home.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Fashion Focus - part 2

What's occurring in stores? Bottom line not a lot - OK new stock is arriving but is it actually the stock you want yet? I'm not sure after a couple of looks that I can really paint a picture. Granted it is still early August and there's the bin end of sale stuff but the shops are stocked to the nines with stuff!

Firstly, that is the nub of my problem. Too much stock. If there is one thing the high street could learn immediately it is this, reduce your number of items in store. Cut back on ranges, anything to reduce rails and increase space to look. And M&S clearly need to do it right away!

I can't abide the fact you have to say sorry every 5 mins because you inadvertently bump into someone amongst the clothes. At least I say sorry! Also it wasn't that busy. When you walk into the Marble Arch store from the Selfridges end you walk into a nice space dedicated to Limited Collection, but even this area can feel cluttered at times. In the last 12 months I've become increasingly intolerant of shop layouts. This over stuffing of lines happened before in the early 90s and M&S had to radically shift then.

Did I feel inspired or uninspired. Well quite frankly I was completely underwhelmed. I'm going to be specific - it's the colours! How does M&S get colours so wrong? What is their obsession with apricot and pale apple green - this is a perennial feature whatever the season. To my eye there is always something off about their choice of shades more DIY store own line of paint than Dulux in the mid range and Farrow & Ball at the top end.

Give M&S pink and it is an odd magenta rather than a Schiaparelli shocking pink. I want colours to be true to nature think a beautiful pink display of bougainvillea not a nasty dye.M&S is fine with neutrals, black, white, grey, and navy but the rest of the colour choices aren't great. May be it's their fabric choice too - who knows? Having said that they have a spectacular pair of bright blue leather gloves.
Pure Leather Plain Gloves £15.00 Colbalt Blue Product Code: T012872

Then there are the shoes - some fab options at great prices depending on your foot size or shape. I'm slowly converting back to my preferred option of wearing sock with all shoes. I broke with wearing socks with everything in an attempt to be more grown up but when Stylist Stuff happily appeared wearing her socks with shoes at the Barbican I felt more than a surge of euphoria, but that's another story!

Back to M&S shoe selection. I'm cautious on the fit. I recommend trying a few sizes on to check fit to find out how comfortable they feel as the cut isn't as high quality as proper shoe shops. Go at the end of the day when feet are swollen and tired to really get the right pair. I've selected a few gems.Lace Up Town shoes £39.50 in Beige product code T022081

Limited collection Tri-panel Shoe Boot £59.50 Grey/Black mix product code T022108
Limited Collection High Shine shoe boot in Grey product code T020521

Now I loathe all things Per Una - really if I was given Superhero powers I'd abuse them straightaway by ridding the world of the fashion evil that is Per Una but..I'd save these..

Per Una Leather Lace Up Brogue in Brown £49.50 product code T021647

You could pair these brogues up with a nice plaid pair of trousers (not from M&S) and this peachy little number on top.

Short Sleeve Bead Neck Top with Silk £35.00 (colour not specified so very very pale pink/peach - that's my call) product code T416243
The picture does it no favours but it is a light delightful easy to wear top with a 1930s feel. It isn't in any defined M&S range just amongst the many items on the many rails. Another item, amongst the rails,was this sweet cable knit- again please ignore picture - they need a stylist!
Short Sleeve Cable Knit Jumper in Grey £29.50 product code T387409

Finally there is a Limited Collection little satchel that would be a handy handbag! And a steal at £25.00, in store they had them in navy too.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Fashion Focus - part 1

After my delightful day out in Brighton to discuss fonts and design for all of 5 mins, it was back to hard work. Yesterday I set about a full on fashion focus to get me back in the swing of things. I'm definitely suffering from holiday malaise, that's the trouble with being freelance you need a proper work environment to shake you out of your bubble.

Anyway I planned a day of retail research - what stock is in etc. I did a thorough rekkie of M&S which I'll report on tomorrow. Then later on I attended Elle Magazine's How to Spot a Trend event at the Barbican, again I'll do a write up over the weekend.

Given that many of you bloggers have ben highlighting or publishing photos of a little jeans trend, namely Katie Holmes and Rachel Bilson, to name a couple, wearing rolled up boyfriend jeans. Well I though I ought to give it a whirl. In the name of the street and experimnetation I braved my cycle, the overground, the tube, the crowds of Oxford Street and the watchful gaze of four fashion journos. Now I didn't have a penny/cent to go out and buy a pair so I grabbed Mr Make Do&Mend's jeans handily with a knee hole due to being worn. Bearing in mind I've mentioned a few times they are too big for him then they were a tad large for me, but when has ridicule prevented me from boldly going.... anyway I decided I would just do it.

In fact I was technically channeling the original 80s vanguard of this look - Bananarama - no sniggering Observationmode! In reality my boyfriend rolled up jeans were also bordering on harem pants, plus a tad too high waisted! They didn't have an sleekness you'd get from a fitted pair but the vibe was the same.

I paired the jeans with a See by Chloe top and a studded belt. On my feet a pair of Pierre Hardy's designer shoe for Gap. With a sense of foreboding I set forth into the fashion highway - the street. I did adopt a 'you say anything about my jeans and you're toast' attitude.

Against the sea of gladiator sandals, summer dresses, leggings, tights, shorts and short skirts teemed with check shirts - I was the only jeans crusader from Selfridges to Urban Outfitters. A brief sojourn into the London College of Fashion took me away from the crowds and a safe environment. I braved Topshop and got a willing person to take a pic of me in the fashion tourist mecca - in fact Alex Gerard (nee Curran) WAG to Steven Gerard was in with friend. I have to say the WAG look is so outdated - or was that just me being sooo fashion forward. Anyway bet you any money she'll be papped in rolled up boyfriend jeans soon.

Catching the tube to the Barbican at rush hour I did notice lots of women of all ages checking the jeans out - either in horror or wonderment, it is such a departure from skinnies. As I walked to the front of the talk, the Elle team couldn't have missed me, god only knows what they thought!

Would I wear them again - well I've broken in the look, officially! But honestly I need some proper fitting ones. The tip is to lose the exaggerated -ness of the 80s when there were no boyfriend jeans for women - just your boyfriends and get a good fitted pair. Oh and maybe wait a month or two because trail blazing ain't for wimps.

Here's the evidence (warning laughter is a probability!)

Thursday, 7 August 2008

How to have a meeting

Having left marketing meetings behind many years ago nothing bores me more than a meeting. When Delicious Industries had our planned design meeting (we met eons ago through both working for the same photographer) we broke all the rules! We went to Crane Kalman first to view the brilliant Jeff Divine 'Surfing's Golden Age' photo exhibition. Then for a wander around the shops in Brighton's lanes.

Oh dear there's thanks for you. I'm on Mary's side I'm amazed it could be rescued!
I'm mainly channelling CZJ here - it's so St Tropez don't ya know!
OK we actually wrote something down in our note books at this point - over lunch.
There's nothing to beat a good old British pier (poor Weston-Super-Mare, sniff).

So tempting to sit down for rest of afternoon and not bother getting train back to London.

The waves were quite fierce and it is a drop down to the sea here -so no opportunity for a paddle. OK the sea doesn't look med blue either!

The posts were channelling ice cream colours for this season.

What's a girl to do at the end of a delicious meeting but go grab some fudge! Roly's fudge is really to die for and they have a shop in the USA too....

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

A day in the life of a petit garcon

Sometimes everything gets way too much! So many things to juggle. It is at times like these I could do with Disneyrollergirl's bunting. Or I could lead the simple life a la petit garcon.....
Nothing like a stick and a 35p IKEA ice cream to make your day!