Sunday, 31 May 2009

Much appreciated!

Can't think why my daily life was allowed to ruin my blog life when I get little tokens such as this ...
This gift of appreciation was from the ever resourceful and effervescent Sharon Rose.

I'm truly rubbish usually at posting such niceties and not very good at passing on so to speak ...therefore I'm dealing with this promptly and going to award an old follower the talented and inspirational Delicious Industries and a new be blogger and follower Looking fab in your forties - keep it up!!

There are lots of you lovely bloggers and readers and I could bestow this award in you all but I'm in the midst of cooking Sunday lunch, fretting about my presentation to the external examiner on Wednesday about my MA dissertation proposal. Thank goodness for Style magazine for a distraction on all things clothes and make up!

PS am I the only person who feels very sorry for Susan Boyle losing last night. I did vote for her in case others didn't but Diversity were my first vote and choice, as I loved their brand of dance and performance from the off. I wanted them to win but voted for Susan as she has the loveliest of voices and has probably had the hardest week of her life. Bless her, isn't it awful when others take delight in your moments of confusion and despair. All I could think is how could you cope given you've never ever had sex and all your hormones must be going bonkers!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

High Street pick of the week

I'm loathed to promote something I like so much but when I first saw it in January, before its launch in May, I fell for the print and still feel the same. All I can hope is when I eventually get paid for my work (being freelance you are at the behest of the finance departments ability to process invoices!) there'll be one left for me.

It works on its own, over leggings, with tights and over cigarette pants. It's not often I fall in love with a print but this is one!

Excuse the minuscule pic and go to here to view the splendour of the Oasis White Rose Print Shift!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

If you love Paris...

...then the new release of a book called Fashioning the City: Paris, Fashion and the Media by Agnes Rocamora is, if this blog was Coco's Tea Party, the girl crush of the month!

Agnes is herself a women who exudes an easy chic associated with the streets of Paris, and a French je ne sais pas conveyed by the shrug of the shoulder. The book conveys a cultural and historical investigation into the space, the comments and the construction of Paris as a city of fashion, if not the fashion city.

If you long for a complete understanding of Paris, the literature, the construction of the city and it's perception and portrayal in the fashion press then Fashioning the City will take you on a tour via Balzac, Proust, Vogue, Le Monde and the Eiffel Tower itself.

The writing is intelligent, somewhat academic, but this in itself is refreshing in the day of attention grabbing subbing with little to fulfill the expectation. The discourse is punctuated with images that remind us of our own love affair with Paris and the fashion of Paris. The rich historical referencing to the space and use of the city is supplemented with Paris as a city of pleasure. Rocamoro reminds us that 'In the nineteenth century, Paris became increasingly perceived and fashioned as a center of pleasure, and amongst the pleasures it offered the visitor was sex...A particular kind of prostitute, the 'courtisane', became particularly associated with the French city.' And later in the book the imagery from Vogue Paris, August 2006 titled 'Nocturn Parisien' photographed by Mario Sorrenti remind us how sex still smolders with a glamorized image of a model suggestively posed as if she were a prostitute.

Somehow love, sex and fashion make interesting bed fellows but this is only one facet of Paris and Fashioning the City takes you on a full and in depth insight to the boulevards and side streets that reminds you of your favourite Parisien films, paintings and books and maybe evokes a heady parfum too!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Bloggie Award of a fabulous nature

Returning to the fold of the blogosphere is even nicer when you get an award.

Now I have to detail three things I can't stand and three random things plus answer a question from the lovely blogger Looking Fab in your Forties who gave me this award!

Three things I can't stand:

1. People who bite their nails or chew their fingers in a cannibalistic way. I'm subjected to this on a daily basis when travelling on train/tube/bus - please desist. File your nails and sit on your hands.

2. People who chew gum with their mouth open. Again I'm subjected to this on a daily basis when travelling on train/tube/bus - please don't and actually don't chew gum at all as I recently stood in some at Waterloo and I nearly screamed!

3. Flat tyres - my poor bike is suffering a worn valve and its booked in for repairs at cycle shop on Thursday. Not being able to cycle to station is the worst thing to befall me. I don't cycle in central London as even I'm too scared, we need cycle lanes like Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

Three random things:

1. What's on your bedside table? Photo of Mr MDS, earplugs (he snores and breathes too heavily!) a biography of Leni Riefenstahl, my phone, earrings from yesterday, a hairband, a lamp, a clock and petit garcon's baby comb.

2. Last thing I bought? Well after a great talk at Central College St Martin's Innovation Centre on Fashion and Celebrity by Pamela Church Gibson last night, I fell of the high brow wagon and bought Hello and of course Grazia on the way home for a bedtime read.

3. Guilty pleasure? This year it is buying clothes. I've sold items on ebay, saved my pennies to convert to pounds and occasionally allowed an allocation of work money to buy essentials. For example I needed some jeans for my recent stint in Watford. Oh and once a month I have a wicked Wednesday and have some cake - I'm amazed how frugal times give you more pleasure than times of plenty. Why is making do so satisfying? Sure I miss a multitude of products for skin, hair and a facial I'm sure I'd faint in ecstasy if I had one now...

If you could shop online from one retailer, which one would it be?
Toast - I'm sorry it's their home ware. I can't resist the quality and indulgence, please don't let me bore you on this matter.....I'd rather go naked and lie in their towels!

In the spirit of (global)tagging I tag

La Belette Rouge
Wendy B
Already Pretty
Skylark & Son

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Gladiator glory!

Are gladiators about to join the long line of perennials? I did an about turn on them last summer as my trusty pair of gladiators I had had for some years gave up the ghost. Well, rather even Mr MDS sort of gave a look that conveyed the fact missing studs and frayed front and battered sides wasn't working. And, this is the stupid bit, because they were every where and the sandal of the season, I sniffily refused to replace them.

This leaves me for a second year without a pair and my resolve is beginning to wain. I still hanker after my old pair and haven't been inspired to replace them - that and a wafer thin budget.

I rather fancy a couple of pairs in Russell & Bromley one at the princely sum of £155 but then I think its silly to spend so much.

Russell & Bromley gladiator sandal in tan calf

My perusal of Office, Faith et al hasn't revealed a favourite, partly due to my nostalgia for my past pair - so if you've got any faves or a gladiator glory pair you want to share - do tell!

PS Thanks to RML for this very handy link which has me sold on all three! It's like the bus scenario...

Saturday, 23 May 2009

No!! I've been You Tubed!!

My first entry onto You Tube - yikes! Where's my make up, hair and styling team hey!!

Now I know how hard it is to do presenting! I had my arms twisted to do this as part of my styling stint in Watford and I just had to do it on the hoof....

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

A date with Glasgow

Had a great day at TK Maxx for the NHJ Style and TK Maxx designer sunglasses style session. It was all rather super from the moment I left the house in lovely sunshine at 6:15am to when I set foot back through the front door at 8:30pm.

I enjoyed the splendour of Terminal 5 and particularly was taken with Carluccios in the check in area. A bicerin at 7:20am was a treat, a glorious blend of espresso, Florentine drinking chocolate and cream, all served in separate jugs to mix in the cup yourself.

My lovely assistant stylist for the day was Claire Wacey and we had good fun from the start to finish. We both agreed there is nothing like a smile and some pleasant chat with all and sundry to make for a positive day.

Claire and I snapped in the afternoon sunshine of Glasgow

The TK Maxx at Southbank in Glasgow featured the most pleasant and helpful staff I've encountered for ages anywhere. In all the people we met in the other stores there and the customers of TK Maxx were fabulous. Truly, the peeps of Glasgow were a delight, so much so I've forgiven the taxi driver who charged us an exorbitant £20 for a 5 mile drive, which took 10 mins, and I hope he sat down with his family and enjoyed a fine wine!

My favourite customer of the day was young Aaron who snaffled a bargain pair of Mickey Disney Club sunglasses down from £49.99 to £7.99.

Young Aaron trying sunnies on for size!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Has it really been that heart M&S

Truly I do, love M&S. I'm sure it is in part an association with many memories over the years, even a hideous pair of sandals for school one summer. It wasn't Markses fault, I just wasn't allowed a more on trend but obviously 'cheaper' pair from Stead and Simpson. The cheapness was in the shop of course and M&S stood for all those wonderful middle class/petite bourgeois values. And to some extent it still does. Who wouldn't prefer to do their weekly shop at M&S or Waitrose over the rest, if we were moneyed. Now the old purse strings are sort of shut - indulgence is at a premium and has reverted to being a luxury, not a necessity.

Whilst M&S celebrates a 125 years of trading on the high street in all it's many manifestations, it is also facing a drop in pre-tax profits of 40% ( down from £1.1bn to 706m). Now there are lost of reasons for this due to lowering margins, restructuring etc. etc. But, one can't help but feel that the high street clothing offerings are not hitting the mark.

I have a few areas of criticisms and a whole heap of praise after all who would want to see it disappear - I'm still getting over Woolworths and holding a torch for Snob (I felt so grown up the first time I shopped there).

It's not the first time I've made a few remarks and so a couple of remarks are repeats!

Over stocking on the shop floor - please there's too much stuff, given the current layout of the store. Browsing is harder and so it getting something off the rails without knocking half the items to the floor.

More importantly the reason I suspect for the drop is the fact many of us have been turned off from M&S clothing in the last few years due to our glam purchases on Net-A-Porter, Matches, My-Wardrobe to name a few supplemented by Topshop. Primark et al. Why buy at M&S when you can get what you want from Oasis to Reiss or APC to American Apparel. If you're a boutique shopper or a Dover Street Market person then M&S has no relevance for you. It is the lack of relevance for the savvy shopper, the confident car booter and Internet purchaser.

Those of us who are avid followers of fashion form trends to individual quirks and style then step into M&S and be greeted by Per Una and we are out of the door or just hot footing it to the sandwich section. I'm only prepared to check out their stock for clients and M&S can satisfy a range of issues from size to budget that a broader mix can't.

Whilst Per Una might satisfy today's 50+ lady it certainly isn't true of those hitting 50 in the next few years ( the Madonna factor). By and large they wouldn't be seen dead in such garments. I could go on for ever on my loathing of Per Una!

Yet, even the rest of the products tend to lack a certain something supplemented with some really brilliant pieces - which become an amazing find because a) they are in M&S and b) they are great value for money.

Take these kick flare jeans at £19.50 they are a complete bargain and they are fab! Then you can spend your money on a expensive top instead.

I'm a great fan of their knickers but would never buy a bra there. The children's clothing is getting better and better after probably being the worst high street offering for ages. Certainly the Menswear Autograph range delivers great value and now is getting its act together on the jeans. If you want a functional, good value and lovely denim jean then it is worth a browse in Autograph.

If you hunt long enough you can always find something of value or worth for your wardrobe in M&S...but if it wants to keep it's market presence in womenswear for the next 125 years it needs to take stock and bring in some fresh eyes!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Designer sunglasses date

My trusty favourite for all sorts of bargain and delightful purchases TK Maxx, is hosting in conjunction with NHJ Style, a fabulous in-store styling session to help you find the perfect sunglasses.

I'll be the stylist on hand to help you with choosing from a selection of designer sunnies in store at Glasgow on Wednesday May 20th and London's High Street Kensington store on Thursday May 21st.

PS am in store from 1pm to 3pm at both locations.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Genius High Street jeans

I'm on day 2 of a 9 day stint at the Harlequin Centre in Watford during May and am at the cutting edge of putting women of all ages and sizes in all types of jeans.
My fab four are currently all probably off trend but deliver a great look for those who care more about fit than fashion fix.

Oasis - Scarlet, truly a reliable number for those who need style and a good fit but nothing too out there! The white pair look fab and its nice to see some white jeans making women smile.

Warehouse - Bell bottoms, these are so funky and give a great shape particularly if you are slightly pear shape these lengthen the leg and create a bit of drama.
M&S - really, really and truly. They have these high waisted wide leg jeans that are great. They are a good colour, have nice seams and the white stitching looks good. They work on all ages and it is lovely to see the 50+ age group having jeans that fit a wide variety of sizes that look good. The M&S bootcut are great too for the older lady looking for both style and comfort. I'm really impressed.
French Connection - the boot flare, again a glamorous addition to the wardrobe with high heels or flats depending on the length of the legs. Go for a snug fit as the denim is soft and expands easily. Just wash constantly to regain that taut LA look! The £65 ones are lower waisted than the high waisted £70 ones.

I have to give a shout out for best fashion fix jeans at River Island, tres Balmain at bargain budget level - the ripped pale wash skinny jean at £39.99. Due to the impossible nature of the River Island site I can't link directly to the product but they are featured on front page, currently and in the jeans section!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Jean Genie

Forgive me for my dual relationship with the blogosphere. I was consumed with the demands of essay writing and felt that I was delivering a poor service and needed a break. I'm sort of back but still caught between my love of making do and a serious analysis of all matter fashion and film.

I have discovered that I'm actually not Mark Kermode when it comes to film reviews! Which is probably a good thing as he is rather excellent at them and whilst I wish I was as good as Mr Kermode, I'm actually much better at my fictional attempts.

However I now know I'm good at my make do style delivery. This is very cheery news and none more so than when my expertise is called upon to delivery good old fashioned high street fashion solutions.

I'm quite excited to be the stylist in residence at the Harlequins shopping centre in Watford (almost VB territory if you count the Hertfordshire Beckingham Palace residence) for the month of May on all matters concerning jeans!

This prompted me to review my jeans scenario and find it sadly lacking on the looking sexy front. It was fine from the point of view of skinnies - tick (Topshop), old pair of good bootcuts -tick (2004 Abercrombie and Fitch purchase in NYC). However I had a pair of American Lucky jeans with hole in knee due to car races with petit garcon and a suspect H&M pair that really only are allowed to fall into mum on go/ in house bracket ( oh how I envy all without kids who have no need for jeans!)

Realising I needed high street not designer jeans I hot footed it to French Connection and splurge £70 of my precious pounds on a fab pair which I'm not sure are available on tinternet.
I fell for them because they are the pair that I thought were very Chloe-esque. They remind me of Phoebe at her height (is it me or am I the only person desperate for her first proper Celine collection!)

Anyway you'll either get to see me at Watford if you are passing or on a video being filmed this Friday when I do a make over!