Thursday, 31 December 2009


May you all have a Happy New Year with much health, wealth, good fortune and happiness. Thank you for reading Make Do Style over the years!!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

My latest video

I've just made a video to showcase the work of my MA course. It's not all about me but also my lovely fellow student chums. It will be revised, this is the full length version before the cuts are made. I will also wait for La Belette Rouge to email me with her suggestions for botox for my forehead. I've had a wrinkly forehead since my early twenties - I'm too expressive, but that's all the damage to date!

Just click here to go to the Fashion and Film blog to find out more about the MA outputs, if you've got a spare moment or suffer from insomnia!

PS update - I realise my throw away remark about botox is potentially a sign that I'm considering it. I'm not! La Belette is a big fan of botox and always tells me to get some as a top tip for skincare. I just don't think I'll ever succumb because a) cannot afford it and b) a fringe will do instead!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Inject colour or quality with sale items

Now if you do fancy a flutter with an internet sale purchase then please go for colour and quality. You'll need a little pick me up for the long, dark and drab weeks of January and February.

A great jumper to wear with your jeans - Sonia by Sonia Rykiel striped bow sweater now £118

A cardigan to take you from now all the way through to the summer. Until the sun shines and the flowers spring from the ground, just wear this cardi over a skinny polo neck or over a white shirt. See by Chloe gold cropped cardigan now £181Or this neutral but beautifully pale toned tunic dress from Antik Batik now £199 is embellished enough to add sparkle day or night but easy to wear with tights or leggings layered with boyfriend cardi. Then come summer time wear with flats and a good piece of jewellery.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Thought for the week - quality v quantity the 2009 top ten list

In November you all responded to my question of what top 5 quality items you would buy or desire. Of course most of you moaned that 5 is a tough call, however it did keep you focused and the result is a resounding top 10 list.

In no particular order this is the Make Do Style top 10 quality items as determined by you the readers (can you tell I'm missing X Factor!) from the items that got the most mentions.

1. A watch - the suggestions were Cartier, Tiffany tank, a gold Rolex and an Omega constellation
2. A bag - the brands cited were Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Mulberry to name a few
3. A scarf - Hermes and Louis Vuitton were mentioned
4. Pearl necklace
5. Beautiful jewellery - this included heirloom, diamond studs and a Wendy Brandes Empress Wu ring (forthcoming)
6. A beautiful or timeless coat - the list range from Max Mara, a shearling coat and a Margaret Howell Trench plus I'm adding a Moncler!
7. Great pair of shoes - Christian Louboutin, Prada and Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik all got a vote of confidence but Chanel ballet pumps and also a couple of boots were mentioned
8. A gorgeous dress - Roland Mouret, vintage Ossie Clark, a beautiful black cocktail dress got a mention
9. White shirt
10. Great pair of jeans

And the nearly there... a pair of black trousers, a pencil skirt, a Chanel suit and a cashmere sweater...

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Sales and Fox hunting go together

image The Guardian

I have two consistent dislikes queuing for sales on boxing day and fox hunting, which was always a boxing day event. I consider both past times barbaric. The latter, fox hunting is obvious in the fact the thrill of the chase is to scare a creature out of its wits and then when eventually it dies of a heart attack or is caught, the hounds are allowed to maul the creature and rip it asunder.

I know you thought I was talking about the sales, the thrill of the chase and the grabbing of an item out of another human beings hand.

In fact it wasn't that long ago a Wal Mart employee died as bargain hungry humans stampeded into a store. The opening of Primark on Oxford St also took casualties as gathered crowds pushed open the doors because they were tired of waiting for it to officially open.

I know there will be those of you who indulge in or support one or the other. Mainly sales participation I suspect but for those of you who support fox hunting I have to say before you think I'm some lefty city dweller, I would like to point out I grew up and lived on a farm. I've pulled calves out of cows, hunted for new born lambs who's mothers have died in the night to save them and hand rear them. Equally, I've fed pigs to be slaughtered and bred grouse to be shot. It's all in a days work. When it comes to pest control i.e. rabbits and rats then the guns come out and the same goes for a fox. If the farm dogs ran off and caught something then so what. But we never ever went native and barbaric - looking for the kill, savouring the chase, riding in a wild frenzy wearing red and blowing horns, yuk! It always struck me as undignified to be a hunter in a group all brazen and vindictive pursuing just one poor lowly fox.

I don't miss living on a farm, it was a hard life in the wild west of Wales as is farming anywhere. I I do love the countryside but I cannot reconcile eking a living from the land with bunch of folk chasing a fox. It is those same folks who turn their nose up at city folk as they queue in a pack to run and bag a bargain.

Moi, you'll find me on boxing day with a glass of red wine or two, a book in hand and some family and friends. The only hunting we'll be doing is for the remote control when we've tired of conversation and eating.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Tinsel and Champagne

Well what a year ... I would do a post on the end of the noughties but... I think this might be covered, except in one respect, making do.

Basically if we view 2000 as a year of excess in respect of partying, money and the day all computer were going to crash (remember that), then the latter end and 2009 is the bit where it all came crashing down figuratively. I would say that the excess of the decade was typified by Tom Ford and Gucci, with the greed and consumption of the developed nations typified by the rise of Primark. Gosh, I'm a cheery soul aren't I.

I loved the Tom Ford era at Gucci but in retrospect it was like a lot of tinsel and too much champagne - you can have enough of a good thing.

I know I'm going to sound like a broken record and retailers aren't going to thank me, but please remember these three things.
1. Make do with what you've got from now until March 2010 and save every penny you would have spent on a frivolous buy.

2. Make your own quality list of things that would add WOW to your wardrobe - not just clothes think jewellery (shout out for WendyB here!). Look how great Queen Michelle looked with just the addition of swear rings. Don't compromise to fill an emotional hole on an off day.

3. Save a little each month for a rainy day (or year) trust me this is a wise move. If all else fails eat cake and have a nice cup of tea - wouldn't you agree Queen Marie!

Over at Fashion and Film blog is my top three chick flicks for this holiday season.


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Dress a blogger for a wedding

A request has come in from Angie Muresan to provide her with an outfit for her sister's wedding in Hawaii next month.

Angie wants to look beautiful not trashy. Now my first view is that it is always important to remember that it is the brides day. Regardless of anything it is not your day it is the bride and bridegroom who matter. So, the best thing to achieve is a look that is fitting for the day, fitting for you and not too showy.

Angie has told me she is taller than her sister and she adds a bit rounder but she has had two children! Her sister is opting for a Grecian white dress. I've decided that for Angie to feel at ease she needs to wear flats and a dress with colour. I've opted for blue as the setting will be quite gorgeous and in my opinion it will be calming for the wearer and won't be attention seeking and will allow for understated and gorgeous accessories.

I've selected items from the forthcoming season and gone for designer, as Angie can potentially buy the dress, and then find cheaper flats or a necklace (choose one expensive item and sub any cheaper version but don't compromise on style). Or she can source similar items as new stock arrives. The dress is clever in that the shape is in the bow, and a shift dress is more forgiving than anything body con. The shorter length will allow longer legs to be shown but will be balanced by pretty flats. The items are respectful of the Grecian theme but are not imitating or trying to compete. Just add perfect manicure and pedicure - be daring go for a dark midnight blue or black nail varnish to avoid a prissy look. Hair up or down depending on the bride.

As for a bag... well hand your lippy to husband and be hands free for easy elegance and a glass of champagne!

Moschino Cheap and Chic bow front crepe shift £335 Net-a-Porter

Oscar de la Renta Gold plated chain necklace £525 Net-a-PorterStella McCartney Metallic braid detail flats Net-a-Porter £195

Monday, 21 December 2009

Dress a blogger for Hanukkah, Christmas, Happy Holiday

Gosh I'm nearly over Christmas! I think I peaked too soon as petit garcon had his little concert last week and once the snowman has sung it seems all over.

We also had to do Christmas Day version 1 yesterday with in-laws as they are off skiing in France. I wore my Christmas Day outfit as snapped minus my head. I had no will to smile, smirk or give the evils. I will wear this again on Christmas Day proper.

Navy blue tunic H&M £24.99
Sequin leggings H&M (August purchase)
Stripy top from Gap (years old) worn underneath tunic.
M&S Autograph blush pink pumps (2 years old)
M&S gold faux Moroccan necklace (4 years old)
Nail varnish - Chanel Vendetta

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Project resourcefulness

I haven't read this one yet but I have Nina's other style books - this one might be a good Chrimbo gift for yourself to curl up with for an hour or two. It is meant to help you eliminate any unnecessary spending on clothes.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Dress a blogger for Hanukkah, Christmas, Happy Holiday

After completing the Masters degree, having given over 18 months of my life to it, my brain has suddenly turned to mush. I'm slowly getting back to some semblance of order but not as organised as there is a delay in linking the Small Fabric of my Life and the fact she actually got the dress and shoes and compiled a real life version of my suggestion! How fab!

Today's victim is across the ocean and some.... Enc of Observationmode This is a look for the toned and honed! Which means keeping it simple....

Warehouse One shouldered dress reduced to £35 in dark teal

Oasis Bright green round facet stone necklace £18

French Connection Jess shoe reduced to £96 in red

total budget is £149

Monday, 14 December 2009

Dress a blogger for Hanukkah, Christmas, Happy Holiday

A reader request who is also a dear friend from the Wild West of Wales with a plea to dress her for Chrimbo. Two factors - one the reader has a pair of sequin leggings so I'm going to exploit this fact and use this to build up an outfit. Secondly, high street stores are limited so I'm sticking to the two I know are there! As usual the £150 budget applies

Dress to wear over sequin leggings New Look Tiered Chiffon Dress £25.00

Dorothy Perkins Pink gladiator sandals £30.00

Dorothy Perkins Cobalt leopard print cardigan £32

DP's Facet stone collar £12

2 x New Look gold Chain stretch bracelet £6 (one for each wrist)

total cost is £111

Rachel -wear cardi undone and just add black nail varnish to fingers and toes, apply smoky eyes! and some pink lippy!
PS the necklace might not work but just try and see...if not substitute earrings.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

High Street Pick of the Week - Christmas gift ideas

As John Lewis announced record sales in the run up to Christmas, it is definitely worth a peek inside or on line for some proper Christmas presents.

Friday, 11 December 2009

No excuses...

Ow my head hurts. It is my own fault I rather overdid the champagne last night and somehow sampled some sloe gin in the process. I was celebrating a planning objection victory plus the birthday of petit garcon.

He got his bike on Sunday and he is as pleased as punch with this first bike - what a great feeling. I'm off to nurse my frightful hangover and I think I've been put off drinking for a very very long time....

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Ebay special

I'm selling an under used Mulberry bag - a black nylon number. I haven't ebayed for ages and it has changed so I've been rubbish at listing it and so I'm promoting here!!

Mulberry Black Nylon carry bag

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Get ready for Spring

Yes I know Christmas hasn't even happened but in fashion terms you should be planning your spring wardrobe ready for March. After all January and February are dud months - post Christmas fatigue, detox specials and poor bank balances all makes for cosy nights in and making do.

You'll be needing to hit the gym or making with the aloe vera as spring fashion is mainly of the body conscious kind. Once again the cut of the cloth veers towards the 80s but reigns itself back from being the brash flash persona of late. Really the garments although opting for 80s lengths owe more to the 30s.

For Spring/Summer 10 (we are in to double figures) think pale pink, lilac, navy and taupe for block colours, with lace and satin , prints and embellishment. The Miu Miu collection encapsulated this perfectly although this is not the only collection to do so, I'm just not in the mood for listing designers!
So my forward planning tips are to pack up your brights and keep your black lace and sequin items to wear with summer dresses and skirts. Think pink but rose, blush and nude.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Thought for the week - quality v quantity part 3

The main concern I have with fashion editors and magazines et al bestowing great virtue on quality style purchases, is this is determined by your available income.

I've read up and digest all the differing views on this matter and it basically distills down to one fundamental point - your disposable income. The problem is you have to choose what you buy very carefully if you have very little or no disposable income.

Think about planning your wardrobe as a map - a map of activities. If you are a stay at home mum for example then you need more casual clothes than going out items. I would recommend you buy more items but at lower prices for things around the home, a couple of easy but fashiony school run items and save up to buy a gorgeous dress and bag for going out. Make the dress a stylish designer number and the same with the bag. You have a special item to pull on for dinner dates, drinks with girl friends and an item you can keep. The idea is whether you are working, young carefree or burdened down by responsibility or mortgages, then plan your basics and build the fabulous stuff in year by year.

I think the less is more approach allows you to have goals and these goals mean carefully selected items that you will keep. TK Maxx and thrifting at charity shops and car boot sales are a great way of getting individual well made items by great designers.

As a rule of thumb I always keep any designer item I've bought and I include certain high quality retailers like Joseph in this category. But I do not buy overtly high fashion items from designers otherwise their glitz fades. And this is always a hard one to qualify or agree on but sometimes certain garments are of a moment and unless you've got money to burn be careful.

I bought a silver maxi skirt from Kate Moss's first Topshop collection which I was always keep and I have a New Look leather jacket which is a winner as it is very 70s and always comes in handy - but these are exceptions. I tend to wear out and never keep most of my high st buys in the long run. Although I don't buy expensive white tee shirts and I've had a Gap one for years.

Choosing style and slow fashion over the immediacy of trends and a jam packed wardrobe is quite hard but with planning, wardrobe mapping and a bit of patience fabulous pieces that work year in year out can be yours.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Dress a blogger for Hanukkah, Christmas, Happy Holiday

Continuing this popular series from last year my first proposed outfit for a fellow blooger is Jane from The Small Fabric of My Life
I take all the clues from the clothes the blogger tends to wear, the colours and then challenge their usual looks a little! Being Make Do Style the budget is set as it was last year at £150. The total for this outfit is £137.99

Dorothy Perkins Blue geo print shift dress £32

Monsoon Cotton Stretch Ivory Bolero £36

Clarks Daily Bread Smart Shoes in Red £59.99

Navy 80D opaque tights £5
(I'll leave you to imagine navy tights! This look could easily substitute red tights instead of navy)

New Look Heart Necklace £5

I laughed out loud

It isn't often I cite the Sunday Times Style magazine after all they usually draw upon me, but I forgive them every time because they cheer my Sunday up in the same way The Guardian Weekend magazine fulfils the same role on a Saturday. However today for good measure in the Going Down section were Melissa Shoes and I quote "Crocs for the fashion pack. Stop this plastic madness!"

Saturday, 5 December 2009

High Street Pick of the Week - Christmas gift ideas

Again not exactly on your high street although I'm sure you can find a shop that sells hand held fans. After my brush with Turandot I thought a fan might make a cute stocking filler for Christmas cheer.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Carrie does Covent Garden

Mama and Papa MDS took moi and Mr MDS to the opera last night to see the English National Opera's performance of Turandot at the London Coliseum on St Martin's Lane. It was a delightful evening and I will post a review of the opera production on my Fashion and Film blog.

I will say that it was a long day and I wore my opera going togs from 9am in the morning as I had to get to Holloway at 10ish to pick up my dissertation from the book binders. There followed a morning of coffee on Upper St in Islington just down the road with a fellow MA student. We then hit Oxford St and college to bind our supplementary copy and had lunch in Pret! After our dissertation handing in (yes yes yes!) we did what any sensible gal would do hit the shops. Just for a browse.... Selfridges and H&M were enough for visual pleasure and I have to say H&M have some great things in. We also discovered a pile of rotting Jimmy Choo shoes downstairs in the H&M at Oxford Circus and some clutch bags, we understood why they didn't sell and spent a splendid time discussing collaborations.

A final stint in the LCF library (goodbye books) and I met Mr MDS outside work and we walked to Covent Garden where we enjoyed a hasty but satisfying supper at Carluccios. In fact me saying 'pasta con fungi' was the only Italian of the night as the ENO sing in English. I loved the music and singing but found the production 'interesting'. All I can say is I love it when I can make a bunch of old folks laugh in the aisles with a Gordon Ramsey take off, at the end of an evening.

Of course I'm to busy being a crowd pleaser to take photos of outfits so I hastily recreated it this morning.

Purple top Limited Collection - M&S
Glitter cardi - Zara
Patent navy blue belt - LK Bennett
Silver grey Skirt - Joseph

I call my skirt 'Carrie' it is a great skirt which stands out on it own and is such fun to wear.

I wore the outfit with purple tights and years old boots from Sacco Shoes in New York. They were probably my faux pas but I has a lot of walking to do yesterday and it was raining in the morning so I wanted dry feet.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Back to Work

Now I've finished my dissertation and hence my Masters I need to go for glory on getting freelance fashion styling work. I'm lucky to have fairly regular contract work and I'm teaching on the next NHJ Style Academy in January...however I need to mention that I do undertake personal styling and direct you to my website, which is in need of an update as it's been a holding page for two years now! Contact me for commercial, editorial or personal styling.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

New Skirt and a hip update

On my charity shop browse last Saturday I spied a cute orange skirt for a fiver and thought I'd pop back on Monday to get it. It is a woollen M&S number of quite a few years ago and it is a UK size 10. I also found a £199 Dolce & Gabbana gold dress in TK Maxx for which I couldn't return to buy!
Back to the skirt - well I just about squeezed into it! It was a shocker as I realised my fat hip issue was really a fact that was here to stay unless I tackled it pronto. I engaged in public ritual humiliation by using a weighing machine that prints out your height, weight and body mass index. The one I choose actually said it out aloud. At 169 cms, 5 foot 6.5inches I'm officially 64kilos, 10 stone or 140lbs. According to my BMI I'm in the healthy range but nearer the borderline than I'd like to be. If I go by Edith Head's 1967 assessment of healthy weight ranges I should be 13lbs lighter at least!

Basically I've eaten and drunk like a good 'un during my MA and done little in terms of exercise. My hips are a frightening 38 inches where once they were 33 inches - opps. In fairness I will have a Master's degree and I have managed to work when I can, look after petit garcon and run a home. But it is time to stop the rot. I'm going to have to exercise a lot to get rid of the deposited fat and seriously pull a healthy balanced diet together that stops me from adding any more pounds.

Any top tips other than zipping my mouth!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

New Book

I really want to read fiction again after nearly 18 months of academic reading only. The transition is proving harder than expected. I've managed to devour my Christian Dior's The Little Dictionary of Fashion. It is a great read and the perfect Christmas present for any fashionista. I got mine at the wonderful V&A shop. I'm also reading Edith Head's How to Dress for Success which is an invaluable and instructive book regardless of the fact it was written in another time, it was first published in 1967.

I had toyed with a Jilly Cooper or a chick lit special but I haven't the heart for it. I went for a browse in a few charity shops on Saturday whilst the petit garcon was at a birthday party. I had £2 on me for a coffee but I spent my pocket money on this book instead.
It is a bit heavier going than I intended to choose but I fancy being transported to Paris and that of the 30s and 40s.