Sunday, 31 October 2010

Make Do Magic - online stars

Today is Halloween and on Friday it will be bonfire night so next week I will officially be free to talk about the C word. Until then we'll just say we are being prepared.

If you fancy easy preparations for the seasonal joy on its way then there are amazing online options which do all the work for you.

Cancer Research has a wonderful feast of great gifts on their online shop. Not only to you get to choose some interesting items but you are giving at the same time. I like the bright and bold items. They have something for everyone. Try here first before anywhere else.

Next on the making it easy for you stakes is Not On The High St. So many gorgeous gifts it is overwhelming. I like the fact you can personalise items really for no effort other than parting with your dosh - no wonder the founders are multi millionaires now. Don't you just equally admire and grit your teeth over these smart movers. Still they make our lives easier even if we wished we'd been the smarty pants instead.

If only Mr MDS was a rugged out doorsy type I could get him this log carrier (sigh). Luckily for him I've found these nice cashmere football scarves. His team might be looking down at the championship but there is no need for him to let standards slip!

'Save Water Drink Wine' framed print £45 Not On The High

Of course you can't go wrong with Amazon for books, cds and dvds but don't get everything else from there. Not when you can get great retro gadgets at The Contemporary Home

And one of my personal favourites is the naughty but hilarious Shot Dead in the Head. I religiously read The Guardian every week but laughed a lot at this tee for your Guardian reading friend.

The Guardian Daily Mash T-shirt £14:00

Or just for wearing on a Saturday night

X-Factor Contestant T-shirt £14.00

Best thing about internet shopping for gifts is you tend to laugh a lot but remember they might be opening their pressie in front of you!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

High Street Pick of the Week

Well now that M&S, Next and ASOS are out of the running my options are narrowing. Still I was inspired by a visit to London Zoo yesterday with the petit garcon. I'm not actually a big zoo person. But the garcon insisted I went to see the butterflies. How glad was I! It was magical, they flew around you and they were so colourful and gorgeous.

Which put me in mind of the Butterfly range by Matthew Williamson. I forget sometimes how fab the designers at Debenhams can be. Shame I couldn't get a large image. But this top will look great with jeans or a maxi skirt.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Style Budget Special Week - Day 5 Winners & Losers

After a long week of number crunching and economic retention, I feel like I've got my house in order. In the midst of it all a bit of a pickle erupted. Some silly men got all hot about the collar and full of testosterone in a real Apprentice manner. These men (and one woman) are CEO's who wrote to The Telegraph in their personal capacity but then added their company name and title.

I don't want to get into the whys and wherefores of the cuts nor the degree of necessity but it does gall me when well off people have the audacity to interfere in political matters. Can you imagine a letter like this being published by shop assistants? I'm sure they are hob nobbing behind the scenes and quaffing champers not cava but please do not publicly rub it in our faces. You can read the list by clicking through on the link above but suffice it to say I'm joining a growing ground swell of people who are boycotting the businesses.

It is not easy to do and probably will not be successful but I have to have a clear conscience. I have strong moral views when it comes to riches and the distribution of wealth. As I child I never paid any attention nor read the New Testament even when I was supposed to but one story captured my imagination and that was the parable of Lazarus and the Rich man. You can tell how rubbish I am as I relied on Wikepedia. And that folks is why I rather stay away from Percy Pigs than choke on one. Why did M&S do such a plonkerish thing just when they were getting good again. And ASOS - what were they thinking of! Now you know why I plummed for the designer category - they are openly mad and bad!

In my book all the above are losers. But the good new is their loss is my gain (purse wise) and even better news is there are four winners of the my987wardrobe giveaway are:-

I have too many shoes

A handful of dust

Delicious Indust


Please email me with your size and address so the lovely Laura can send you your dresses!

And next week it is back to fun and frivolity and what Balenciaga sent me and why....

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Style Budget Special Week - Day 4 Going Forward

For some reason I love a plan. I think it is part of being a stylist. I make lists - a lot. I have to write down items, what was used, what to reference. Even with an assistant to help I tend to do the doing part. I prefer to send them on errands or sew and steam.

I've always found the best way to have a versatile and useful wardrobe is to know what you've got and what you need. Don't get me wrong, spontaneity and that sudden must have isn't out of the question...except when times are hard. There have been some wonderful comments this week to help organise my thoughts. My favourite is the direct action option from Fashionistable 'cut back'.

Over this week the purpose of the posts has been to make you think about what action you can take (if you need to) to assist you to baton down the hatches or keep in credit. The hardest element for the fashionista is how to stay stylish. It is quite difficult if you are a trend terror but less so if you have your own style that is based on what you like.

The first piece of advice is the dullest but most important. After you have paid your taxes and NI, plus contributed to a pension plan you need to save 10% of your net income - in my case that 10% goes to pay off my MA loan and costs.

Then you need to sort your outgoings out for all the essentials and whatever is left over is your spend. I read somewhere recently that the most pleasure people get is from experiences. I mulled this over for quite sometime and realised I get the most pleasure from being dressed up - drat!

horrified that dressing up won't count

I am more than happy to make do with what I've got but am bound to have moments of weakness. I like Pearl's suggestion in her guest post of just getting a new nail varnish to fill those moments. Also the idea of selling items to buy a new one is a good shout, but I think you have to pay off what you have first before you can buy. Not always the easiest thing to do, especially when you have a bad hair day.

Here is my plan for the next year. My birthday is in November and I've decided to stick to it for a whole year. Rather than set buying restrictions, I'm setting category/retailer restrictions.

My radical approach (well it isn't actually) calls for a cocktail of restraint, creativity and cunning. My category for buying is... (X Factor style pause, big music and lights plus big hair do) designer.

I've chosen the designer category on the basis of quality and exclusivity (of sorts). It gives me a broad range of buying opportunities from car boots sales, charity shops, ebay, TK Maxx, the Outnet and full price if I can afford it. I felt designer would naturally restrict me and stop me buying high street 'homages' to the catwalk which somehow always date quicker. I value high street less for some reason,ss unless it is something I really love and then I don't care where it is from. I have until mid November to get my marabou fix in from Oasis.

The less is more suits me more than a rammed wardrobe and I will feel I'm really getting good additional items I will always keep. I might not get many but rather than fritter money away I will have to think, think about what I buy.

My going forward plan is simple. Make sure 10% of my net is squirrelled away. Think nail varnish first then only designer items can be purchased. Bonkers I know but it is what suits me to help me make do. I think I'm with Dame Viv and might throw my tablecloth around me with a good belt if it comes to it.

Will you have a plan? Would you think it would help to have one? And what category would you choose?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Style Budget Special Week - Day 3 Thrifty ways

Money, Money, Money, this has been the epicentre of everything of late. Who has it, who owes what and how to reduce debt. Or whose hiding what in their Swiss Bank Account. Even in fashion money has driven the style status looks.

There was a time when magazines devoted a great deal of editorial to helping young women and women manage their budgets. A great place to dive into this archive of a different style of magazine is at The Women's Library

In fact today blogs have taken up the role of the help women's magazines used to give. It is the blogosphere that provides useful tips, motivation and advice for all budgets. Within the fashion blogging world there are a multitude of bloggers who ignore the trappings of luxury marketing.

I've selected some who offer an alternative way to luxury and mainstream fashion. I find them inspiring because money is not the main driver. Their style is predicated on personal values and their love of certain clothes.

First up is Vintage Vixen and this blog probably needs no introduction.

Why I love Vix and her posts is the variety of outfits and the snippets of her live. Who couldn't not love Gilbert. I once thought I saw Gilbert on the M4! Vix is resourceful, generous and lives her life as she pleases. The creativity employed in her home is also a joy. Vix is a clear example of using alternative means to live a comfortable life. She inspires me to think less of labels and more of what I truly love and find pleasure in.

Oranges and Apples
is a fabulous example of the Etsy generation (is that a dreadful phase to coin? I mean well).
Not only does Franca work her magic with her knitting needles (I have a wonderful hat that kept my head warm last winter) but her husband to be is a whizz on the sewing machine. How cool is that. Oranges and Apples is a feast of colour and fun finds. Again resourcefulness is at the fore.

The next blog to enjoy is of the uber thrifty kind. Sharon Rose is the blogger de jour of charity shop finds at MyStyle - Thrifting, Fashion, Me...

If it is in Net-A-Porter, Sharon Rose will find it at her local Sue Ryder! She seeks and she finds. Not only that but Sharon Rose paid off all her debts by sticking to a budget and only buying clothes from car boot sales and charity shops.

A recent blog that has captured my imagination is Calamity Jem's Vintage Vauderville. Again it is the resourcefulness and endeavours to rework items, recycle and re create new looks with old things.

What these blogs have in common is a spirit of sharing, sharing ideas, approaches and all without guile. Their enthusiasm for second hand items translates into smart choices and good ideas.

Do you have blogs that motivate you in respect of wiser choices and ways to make your money go further particularly when it comes to fashion and style?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Style Budget Special Week - Day 2 Guest Post

The wonderful Pearl of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom kindly wrote this guest post on her recent wake up call regarding her credit card for my budget special week. Not only is it great of her to be so honest but I hope it helps us all to know there are going to be lots of us in the same boat (are you reading this slasher George and Sir Stuart Rose).

Take it away Pearl...

I have cut up my credit cards. To be honest it was a bit of a non event, snip, snip in the bin and off to do some washing. But in actual fact it was quite monumental. Could you live without your credit card?
If this had happened last year or even earlier on this year I think I would have had a panic attack! But I think I had just gotten to the point where I didn't want to do this anymore.
It came about when I had just managed to squeeze a final purchase onto a maxed out credit card. The thought of it made me feel sick and it was, I admit a long time coming that I just realised this had to stop. But maybe I should explain how I got in this mess in the first place.

Less of this!!

Earlier this year I graduated university with a PhD that is eight years of my life spent at university though three degrees. Going off to uni in your twenties you are promised the world at your feet, what they don't tell you about is the extent of the debt. It is a classic symptom of my generation that is entirely the governments fault, taking away grants and replacing them with student loans. If you want a good job you need an education, to get the education you need the loan. I didn't have any other choice and they make it sound like no big deal, everyone else is in the same boat. Then you finish your degree but can't get into the field without a masters degree, and then you need the PhD. There was no funding in my area so both were self funded. Then nobody tells you about the numerous conference you will be expected to go to, all over the world, oh and that there is no funding for those either!
I cannot explain to anyone who hasn't done a PhD even closely what it is like, it is like running a marathon for 3.5 years. It never stops, you can't go home from work and turn off, it is 24/7 and it is relentless. It is like an addiction, it has to be or you would never get through it.
So you need a release. Imagine the feeling of jumping into an ice cold pool on a hot day, of hiking to the top of hill, of falling in love even. For me the pool is through the big glass doors of Selfridges, the rails of clothes in Harvey Nics beat any alpine forest; no man could hold my heart like the finely carved heel of a Chanel boot. If I have had a bad day my troubles slip away as soon as you walk through those doors and are enveloped by the scent of newness. Even if you are having a fat day, there is no judgement from a new bag, nothing to make you feel more fabulous than a new limited edition nail polish.

But when you get to the point where you have a stack of clothes all still with their tags on and your only pastime is walking those stores, there comes a point where you have to break. This is how I ended up starting my blog. It gave me a way of sharing my love of fashion without the endless and pointless shopping. Over a year and a half later I guess I still can't tell you why, but it just came about that I don't feel this immense panic and need to get that desperate shopping hit.

I have to admit my wardrobe is pretty impressive, and it is still an absolute addiction, but not one raking up debt, I earnt it. I hope you can see how easily it was for me to fall into that gap, what difference does the odd pair of designer shoes make when I owe thousands for uni fees and conference costs. I don't mean to use that as an excuse and my shopping made up only a very, very small fraction of what I owed. I have to look at my education like a mortgage - a long term investment, you can't say that about a new stash of Topshop!

Any of you who read my blog will know I certainly didn't chop up my credit card and stop shopping! Instead what I have been doing is, erm, saving up! I have also been 'negative shopping' only buying new things with money I raised from selling other things. So for my birthday I just got my first ever pair of Louboutins bought with three faux fur coats, a sheepskin coat, two pairs of shoes, three skirts, a t-shirt and a pair of socks. In fact in emptying my wardrobe of all the useless stuff I have in there and selling it I have not only raised money to pay off the credit card but I have also edited my wardrobe so that I can see where I do and do not need to buy new things.

I am not about to start preaching to you that you will feel more virtuous struggling to save up every bean for a new pair of shoes, if I won the lottery the first thing I would do is get myself to Harrods. I truly believe that we need luxuries in our life to keep us sane, but they don't have to cost hundreds of pounds. Buying just one thing you actually need and truly love is much more satisfying than bags and bags full of random stuff. So my advice is to really stop and think. If you fancy a mid-week treat why not buy a new lippy rather than a whole new outfit. If you get tempted by this seasons new Miu Miu's why not wait a few weeks and see if you really do want them as a perfect complement to your wardrobe or if it was just a case of new season lust. Discover vintage and your local charity shops, get your friends together and swap some clothes, have fun working old outfits in new ways, avoid shopping in the sales. If the shopaholic bug is itching ring a friend, the sheer horror on someone’s face as you shop like a crazy person will snap you right out of it.

My name is Pearl Westwood and I am a shopaholic - in rehab.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Style Budget Special Week - Day 1

Slasher George has done his worse with threats of more to come. In the UK we have a baton down our style selections emergency to keep the wolves from the door situation going on. Regardless of our personal fortune there is an overriding need to start building a contingency fund in case of hard times.

What does this mean? Well in the MDS household the Chanel 2.55 savings fund is being moved to the 'don't panic Mr Mannering' fund. I'll be the first to admit being of the magpie tendency that I always need a spending strategy. I am actually quite a big fan of the piggy bank approach! With interest rates so low there is no much joy for savers. You are realistically better off paying back any debt.

I don't want to put a dampener on the joy of new clothes and undermine the fashion industry but your priorities should be a healthy bank balance and then your contingency fund to cushion you from any shocks - be it the 20% VAT in the new year or the potential increase in unemployment.

None of this is nice, pretty or sparkly. It is a shame that the bankers broke our economy and got the government to bail them out. It was a necessary evil for which we are having to pay for. Hence my rant about greed on Friday. I've been on a make do and mend push since 2007 and have just started to break even, so I feel slightly bitter at being stuffed not by my own personal stupidity or greed.

What I've learnt since writing on this subject over the years is we tend to peak and trough on financial restraint and living within our means. Until now it seemed okay to occasionally have a blow out at not much cost to our bank balances. However, given the coalition are hell bent on culling fun and frolics to reduce national debt I'm afraid the hard times edition has set in.

Think of it logically style isn't just about the clothes on your back, it is your poise, your inner peace of mind. What can you do to work your wardrobe harder? What do you think is a top tip when it comes to thrift, savings and debt reduction? What plans do you have for the coming year? How far are you prepared to go? Share all here to help motivate us (in the UK!).

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Make Do Magic

The C word is creeping up quicker than you'd care to think. This week I remind you that it is about giving and not about showing off. Children love a big haul but grown ups should err towards the understated. Hampers and magazine subscriptions are my favourites.

Forward planning is key to a Christmas hamper, as you can spread the cost over the whole year. I buy wrapping paper after Christmas when it is in the sales. I keep all my cards and then cut them up to make gift tags. I buy the baskets at IKEA and then each month fill them up with goodies. My favourite buys are nice soaps, body stuff, lip balms, and tins of great things from Harvey Nicks, Fortnums and Selfridges. I also pop into Marc by Marc Jacobs on Mount St for little nick nacks. Books can also make an appearence usual travel related to somewhere that person loves to go. And that is it - simples.

Keeping it simple brings pleasure. I know my family rely on me for my Christmas hampers. And choose well and the items become a feature. My sister has kept this spaghetti caddy tin for years.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

High Street Pick of the Week

Austerity measures or slasher George is looking at your bank account. Act now and make with the early bird by bagging this limited edition (okay it is M&S we are talking a thousand or two or three but still limited in their world) for the forthcoming party season - all 2 hours of it.

At £39.50 in Autograph at M&S, you can't go wrong - add necklaces or belt to work the many functions that will take place despite the Cam/Clegg attempt to be party poopers.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Coleen you have to walk off our ads

And our lives when it comes to fashion in general. You have chosen to stay with an arrogant, money grabbing man, whose behaviour this week in respect of his 'demands' is completely out of step with current trends in respect of hopes, desires and behaviour plus the economic reality of most.

I will admit I am horrified and mad that Nancy Sinatra's wonderful These boots are mad for walking have been used in a Littlewoods ad. I have nothing against Littlewoods and think it is a clever ad campaign, even quite good fun. However it does concern me that a women of good fortune whose recent private life has been of murky depths due to her husband's behaviour continues to be paraded as a vehicle for selling things. I loved that song - it is temporarily spoilt.

The delightful Wayne is concerned about his fellow work colleagues being up to scratch in the servicing department (goals = points =prizes). Can you imagine turning up at work and negotiating a new contract for more money and better work colleagues? A bit rich coming from the person who couldn't up his game at the world cup.

Regardless of the detail of this top football story of the week, the point about Coleen going off our screens, print ads and ahem, editorial is valid.

Her success is predicated on her marriage to a highly paid footballer and she has been afforded the opportunity to make lucrative deals. She has chosen to stay with a man who continues to enjoy a bit of paid fun with willing women (victims?). Yet what does this message send to us all. If you are young and impressionable you might strived to achieve the same at whatever cost. If you are young and cynical you probably can't stand them and if you are like me then you might be heartily sick of the fact their love of money seems more important than anything else.

So dear Coleen, Littlewoods et al enough is enough (No more tears....Donna Summer & Barbara Streisand). Begone.

Update: Pressure came to bear and Rooney renewed his contract with Man Utd. Rumour has it no other clubs would talk to his agent. He got his pay rise and the reassurances he wanted! God help Coleen. In light of comments I would like to add I think she is very sweet and I'm glad she has had these opportunities. I also think had she taken her A levels she'd have gone on to university. My view is based on the corruption of values due to money. There is nothing wrong with having money but the love of money above other matters...and that is born of arrogance. The arrogance belongs to Wayne. Coleen has been weak and is that weakness born of status and money?

Thursday, 21 October 2010

It was a good 'un

Whilst all around political editors debated and dissected the budgetary issues of the UK, Mr MDS and I nipped out in the cold London air to celebrate.

It felt a bit like we were indulging in some hedonistic pleasure while Rome burned as we entered Hix Soho on Brewer St. It is by no means opulent but it is new(ish) and exciting. We went down stairs to the bar for a pre dinner drink. It is such a good venue that in the midst of my meaningful discussion with my beloved he said 'cool bar'. I had to concede it was a point well made and dropped any attempt at deepness.

My champagne was served in a delightful glass and I made Mr MDS undertake a photo which was not cool in a cool bar. I actually look different in the photo but not in a good way and my up do is lost in the coolness of the dark ambience. But the glass is magnificent so I'm ignoring my vanity. I'm also wearing the dress I bought off Mrs Bossa and altered.

Then it was upstairs for dinner. Mr MDS loves Mark Hix, he is good blokey chef and I've always enjoyed his chef aesthetics even if sometimes the food is too rich for me. I always select the lightest possible food on the menu. But you can't go to Hix's establishments and not have oysters.

There was a choice of three types and I asked the waiter his view on the rock or natural after discounting the Duchy of Cornwall's ones. After more questioning he did reveal lots of people spurned the royal oysters, it seems there are a lot of us anti-royalists around. I choose some good old Essex rocks which were delicious and I only had 3, which I think is enough.

The rest of our meal was delicious and the wine was superb too. It was such a lovely wedding anniversary evening.

Oh the glamour of getting the train home even in Prada shoes!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Go Mad Men yourself

Today is Mr MDS's and mine wedding anniversary. Therefore I present ourselves as we will look tonight in Soho.
You too can go and Mad Men yourself if you so wish here

Monday, 18 October 2010

Same theme, old advice

My collection of books are quite simple if one was to set about cataloguing them. Literature, Cinema, Fashion being the main ones with Cookery, Nutrition and a smattering of Interior Design. All my non fiction books are biographies on fashion or film stars. Of course I have a few Rough Guides, Time Out or Style City books, but I'm a creature of habit when it comes to reading. So much so my parents recently bought me a biography of Kaye Webb the founder of the Puffin Club who was probably quite influential on a number of young readers. I suppose what I'm trying to say is my habits remain similar in all areas of my life. (Actually, I thought this was going to be a to the point post but it isn't - get a cup of tea now!)

I'm very much a keeping it simple and keeping order when it comes to my wardrobe. I get totally overwhelmed if I have too much. I'm not really a hoarder, although I always keep any designer purchases. I regret having a cavalier attitude to some designer pieces I once had which I lost, gave away or misplaced. Lesson learnt. High St stuff I really ease come easy go about although I only buy when I need to replace worn items, so I repeat the same things. I do have the odd moment of frivolity. I was recently tagged for a reveal but I was too busy to do it so I'm incorporating the gist of it but ensuring you get more in-depth analysis (more tea).

My style icons remain the same regardless of anything and they are:-
Françoise Hardy
Audrey Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn
Grace Kelly
Ali McGraw

all 3 images are of Françoise Hardy

With the exception of Hardy they all have a cinematic element (although Françoise appeared in a few films). And they all had their own style despite the requirement for performance. If I was to translate the inspiration into films it would run:-
Funny Face
The Philedelpihia Story
(the original High Society with Cary Grant, if you haven't seen it you must)
To Catch a Thief
Love Story
La Dolce Vita

There are other films which I find wonderful visual feast when it comes to clothes and most of these are before the 1980s (with the exception of Uma Thruman in Pulp Fiction), including Antonioni's L'Eclisse. The interesting element is how what you love/admire determines what you buy.

When it comes to style books one of my favourites is Genevieve Antoine Dariaux's A Guide to Elegance first published in 1964. She was a director at Nina Ricci for many years and I suppose her views and advice is that quintessential French take on fashion. I read her book many years ago before it was republished in 2003 as part of research for a fashion shoot with style advice. It was probably about the same time I discovered Françoise Hardy because no doubt the style director told me to get some images. In my youth I thought I was the ONLY person to have discovered Nico because none of my peers were into her.

As a young willing junior fashion assistant I became tutored in the art of the capsule wardrobe, the basic wardrobe for building your style and a devotee of quality versus quantity. I still can't cope with quantity although I'm getting better at it.

Genevieve had a view on the budget wardrobe and the ideal wardrobe. The budget wardrobe gave you your starting block and the ideal wardrobe equipped you with outfits for any time of the day and instructed you on what to wear at certain times.

This is her starting list for the winter budget wardrobe to see you through any occasion:

  • 1 coat in a bright colour - for example, red
  • 1 matching skirt
  • 1 sweater in a complimentary colour - for example, beige or brown
  • 1 black skirt
  • 1 black sweater
  • 1 silk sweater, black or white with a pretty neckline
  • 1 pair of black high heeled pumps
  • 1 pair of flat brown shoes for the country
  • 1 black leather handbag
  • 1 pearl necklace
Then when it comes to the winter ideal wardrobe her direction is fearless! I'll give you what you should wear first thing in the morning:-

"9 A.M Tweed skirts in the brown autumn shades and harmonizing sweaters (the British are peerless in this realm), worn under a good coat, well cut. Brown shoes with medium heels and a capacious brown alligator bag (A really elegant women never wears black in the morning)."

What is interesting is her old advice regarding budget, the idea if you haven't got the money spend on good items and have a plan for your long term wardrobe. I'm sure most of us don't do this. The idea of having a place where you will be in respect of your clothes seems contrary to the whims of fashion. However, if you can establish your preferences, what inspires you to create your own style then perhaps building a good wardrobe for you lifestyle and creative views is achievable on any budget.

[Both extracts are from A Guide to Elegance]

Maxi, Midi, Mini - growing pains

I dunno about you but some days I wake up larger. It could be the time of the month or an excess of goodness knows what. Therefore on such days I turn to shapewear. Usually a M&S big knicker number but for dresses you need a good all over number to deal with ones growing pains.

The crème de la crème has to be Agent Provocateur's Zelma satin contour dress £425 from Net-A-Porter. So good you'd probably take a punt on wearing it out on its own!

For one that does the job with no fancy pants details, then the Wolford Individual Nature Forming Dress £75 from Net-A-Porter is the perfect cover all.

Good old ASOS sells the Flexees Firm Control Full Slip £36 which performs the job of slimming down stomach, thighs, muffin tops and wait for it...back fat.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Make Do Magic

Whilst I'm not of the Etsy variety, I do enjoy a bit of clothing DIY. A couple of weeks ago I featured faux fur collars which in turned inspired the lovely Vintage Vixen to make her own from her jumble sale haul. So we come full circle in the blogosphere of style to a make do Christmas present idea for a dear fashionable family member or friend.

To create a faux fur collar you need either a second hand find to take the faux fur collar off, or go to John Lewis or a haberdashery shop. Handily even ebay has sellers who deal in faux fur.

All you have to do is cut to the required size and add material or ribbon to tie the collar. If you find a long faux fur collar in a charity shop, look for a brooch too to add to it.

For those of you worried about 'cleanliness' then depending on the fauxness, the easiest way to clean/freshen up is to spray the material with Fabreeze or similar and hang outside to dry. Then put inside the airing cupboard or tumble dryer with a drying sheet to make it new.

Look how fab it looks on Viv!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

High Street Pick of the Week

Continuing on the theme of mad bad frivolous items for your wardrobe, I was torn between choosing nightwear of the baby doll or sexy nightie variety, or these....

These £50 large sequin shorts are exclusive to Topshop Oxford Circus and Topshop online.

Imagine the stir/fun you can have this winter in these going out/diner parties/parties/ice skating at Somerset House. Who said fashion wasn't fun!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

That will be £9.87 please

'Oh why is Burberry cool?' said Laura of my987wardrobe. 'Maybe I'm being mean because they didn't give me a job once, but really Kate why did they suddenly become the it brand.'

'Don't set me off on Burberry please.' I plead, quick sip of wine. 'However, now you've asked let me tell I've been bearing a grudge ever since they shut down their factory in Treorchy, South Wales in 2007. They made 300 people redundant all in the name of profit and margins. Since when has money been more important than community and people. They must have spent more on advertising than 300 peoples wages for a year. Makes me mad.'

Why am I so passionate about this topic, well my great uncles worked in the mines of the Rhondda Valley and these areas have been decimated by the downturn in heavy industry and in the subsequent decades the communities have faced high levels of unemployment due lack of investment and interest in the area. This is not Burberry's fault but the decision to shut a factory based on 'commercial viability' did smack of corporate greed. The manufacturing moved to China. How different is this story to the recent rescue of miners in Chile from the San Jose mine. The triumph of hope, community and putting 33 lives above money - because the rescue cost millions - captured the imagination of many. In conclusion Chile is cool but Burberry is an empty hollow façade.

Which is why Laura Richenberg is committed to selling clothes at a price that reflects the garment cost and makes enough profit to earn a living. There is no fluff, my987wardrobe is realistically the Primark of the internet. It has all the beauty of a bargain without the rammed shop and the stress of the changing rooms.

Laura Richenberg captured on camera by Fashionistable last April in Knightsbridge

Laura, I'm sure Make Do Style readers will want to know why £9.87 for an item?

Well I worked as a buyer for Topshop for many years and I found myself questioning the unit price compared to the retail price. I know that Topshop is a huge organisation and the overheads of running the business are considerable but fashion changes at such a pace I wanted people to get more of a bargain. I thought that I change my looks quite a lot probably because I live in London but I still love a bargain. And £9.87 is a bargain, it is under a tenner!

Isn't there a cost or rather compromise to it being a bargain?

There is a cost to mass production where ever you buy from. As a buyer I've seen first hand many places particularly in China and to me it is slave labour. The living conditions can be appalling but interestingly the same is true of the working conditions of many factories in the UK. I'm not backing away from the question but it is fact that manufacturing is an intense, competitive and harsh industry. And everyone is chasing profit.

I felt the cost of a reputable company buying an item at £3.50 for example and selling at £25.00 began to bug me. You are compromising who ever you buy from so why not buy from someone who charges you less.

Ah yes less cost music to Make Do's ears but equally I'm a brand or a designer magpie. What can you offer me to satisfy my 'snobbery'?

It is about choosing to buy clothes that satisfy a short term need but some of those will be keepers. We sold out of maxi dresses that had a Pucci vibe to them and I couldn't get get any more to satisfy demand. [Mrs MDS nods her head thinking of her cheapo Bay Trading maxi dress which still turns heads summer after summer] I do manage to source great items and how can you really tell where something is from if you put an outfit together well. [Good point Laura's wax leather jacket was from Topshop and I assumed Barbour] Having said that I love good shoes. I have to walk in them. I'll spend money on a decent pair of shoes but I don't see the point with clothes. Fashion is so transient and did I tell you I love a bargain!

Doesn't that place you in the disposable Primark category?

Primark does have a lot of good quality items as well. Often it is the product material which determines whether a garment lasts. A good cotton/viscose mix is easy to wash but will last. When I select the items to go onto the my987wardrobe I do try select simple but stylish items for now. We are aiming at the 15 to 25 age group who have less disposable income but a higher need for a variety of clothes. Fashion is fun and part of belonging to a crowd enjoying life. but fashion transcends age now and so I suppose the audience is really ageless. I do tend to select more understated trend items and I'd like to think I was buying for Olivia Palmero! Perhaps on that basis my987wardrobe clothes will be less disposable.

What does the future hold for my978wardrobe?

My first aim is to make it a viable business. It takes a lot to set up an internet business and I have ideas on how to develop the site, what customer experience people will get, as part of my running it on a day to day basis. Of course I want to increase sales but that is organic growth and can only happen if my customers get some joy from buying nice things for a bargain. I do envisage expanding the range. I need more stock for the 9.87 range but I would like to have a higher end ranges of 19.87 and 29.87. It will take time but as long as there are people out there who like a bargain then I'll keep going.

Any accessories to add to the range?

I'm looking at handbags.

Oh, can I select a Make Do Style one for my987wardrobe?

Of course that's how we met admiring your clutch.

At this I clap my hands! And both Laura and I then had to go our separate ways into the London night but not before I secured the giveaways for Make Do Style readers and one for myself. I love a bargain too!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Giveaway don't forget!

Lazy post I know - believe me I'm working my 'butt' off at the moment and still trying to finish 3,300 words for someone who is going to kill me if I don't do it soon!

Black dress giveaway link here response to person who asked about 'cheaper' quality goods. I think the issue is not the quality of the cloth, but less time and money has been spent on three critical area: prior to production - research, development and design. The buyer selects on only what is available, so no amends. Then, finally the finish is less rigorous and by this I mean the button details will not be secured in a way a higher end garment is made. Once upon a time the finish on Prada clothes was appalling, this was addressed. Cheap doesn't mean bad - it just means less of other areas. Then you are relying on the buyers eye to select items you would like.

Please feel free to ask any more questions and I hope to get Laura's interview up tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

A Little Black Dress or 4, but first...

It was at the recent Elizabeth Emanuel LFW show that I met Laura Richenberg the person behind the my987wardrobe venture. We met due to my lovely original Anya Hindmarch clutch, which she admired. That led to talk about blogging, car boot sales and her business.

Last week we met up with the intention of an interview, which was hard to achieve as we could have talked about anything and everything! I'd already done some prep and received one item of clothing to check out. I selected a pair of black harem pants, something I would never buy. I wanted to try before I buy because the ethos of my987wardrobe as a value stockist.

It was weird wearing harem pants but the material was lovely and they were a good cut for the style. At £9.87 they beat Primark for material quality and seemed no different to all the harem pants I'd passed by. I have been converted to their usefulness for a summer holiday. I attempted to take a photo - on a self timer- of the make do outfit. Um, it is a game of more than 2 halves. In fact I had to go into extra time. But I was pleased I compiled a universal holiday look for travelling or out and about with the harem pants and my old gladiators, a cut up Gap stripey tee, the Topshop shrug and my trusty Mui Mui sunnies. I bought these about six years ago on sale in Sunglasses Hut at Heathrow Airport For £36 on route to Philadelphia. I'd forgotten mine, it was November but I can't be without sunglasses, ever.

Yep the self timer worked

Attempting to get a full body shot but failing

Oh hang it here are the feet

I might not have sold harem pants to you and I'll readily admit they are pretty shapeless but these pair are so soft I trusted Laura's judgement on her stock. I persuaded her to give 4 dresses away. They are all the same style but there is one in Small, Medium, Length, Xtra Large. It is a 60s style swing dress and all you have to do to win one is be a follower and state win in the comment box plus tell me your best recent value purchase.

And the full interview with Laura to come soon....

UPDATE - Laura emailed me to say she's just come back from a buying trip with lots of great new pieces to add next week as she moves into A/W stock phase 2.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Maxi, Midi, Mini - the cocktail hour

My favourite hour is cocktail hour. I'm strictly a martini girl, and nothing goes better with my fantasy movie scene of sitting at the bar and sipping a dirty martini than a cocktail ring. Oh yes and I like mine yellow, goes well with a slinky black number and a green olive.

We're talking top ten choice with the Tiffany&Co Tiffany sparklers, truly the maxi of indulgence and fantasy movie scenes.

For a comfortable midi range there is the Kenneth Jay Lane clear crystal whopper that will catch the sparkle of the lights to add to your glow.

If you want to save your money for you tipple then it is off to Accessorize for you and a nifty number for £14.00. No getting drunk at the bar now!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Ebaying continues...

...I'm still going. The trouble is that to date my rediscovering eBay has meant more expenditure than income. So now I'm on a roll to redress this inbalance. The problem is that Paypal can take money from you account rather than you having to have a healthy balance in your Paypal account. Opps. I wish I didn't discover these advancements.

Anyway, all my items to be listed are pre planned. I did say I would shout when my leopard print coat was listed and it is now - click here.

I've also listed the orange wedges, they are slightly too big for me so I don't wear them. They did feature in my short film so I have them forever captured on camera! - click here

Saturday, 9 October 2010

High Street Pick of the Week

What with a late burst of an Indian Summer in October, my mind was set wandering off to jumpsuits. I lived in two of them last summer and my Topshop one had a zip malfunction which I have yet to fix. Not that I'm out spending...but if I was I'd be grabbing a jumpsuit or two.

This Scatter Flower jumpsuit from Topshop seems like a trans- seasonal addition to the wardrobe. Wear now with huge sunnies and flats because you can due to the sun shining. Before you know it a polo neck (turtle neck) underneath or a long boyfriend cardigan and skinny belt will see you through the winter months in it. Then come next spring summer all you have to do is whip your cardi off.

Friday, 8 October 2010

More Marilyn Monroe

100 new photos of Marilyn Monroe, as well as letters and essays, appear in the book Marilyn: August 1953, a period when she injured her ankle filming River of No Return in the Canadian Rockies. All photos are by John Vachon who was then a LOOK magazine photographer. You can pre-order the book on Amazon

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Love shopping, fashion and cool new things. Do I?

The very sentence 'we know you love shopping, fashion and cool new things' was in an email to me from some marketing person. It doesn't really matter who from, in fact it was no one I'd even heard of, but the sentence had my eyes popping out of my head. Really, do I?

Actually no I don't like shopping, except for some reason in French and Italian supermarkets on holiday. I do like shops and I do like checking out stock and knowing what is in them. But I would never choose to shop. One of my clients asked me for help the other day in choosing a birthday present. I introduced him to Net-A-Porter. He loved it. For him it was the most pleasurable experience, no effort required. I suspect his girlfriend will love me too.

It is why people love Ocado, it is why if you could you would buy your food only from M&S and Waitrose. Anything that makes the shopping experience less of a chore and more pleasurable is the key.

Then there is fashion. Well of course I love the fashion industry, it enthrals and amuses me in equal measures. But I don't love fashion in some blind must have latest thing way. In fact I think fashion needs to reclaim some moral high ground and create an expression of culture through clothes. Of course marketing, profits and big companies dictate otherwise. Then there is the issue of people buying to create wealth. Our disposable incomes actually helped to fuel economic growth in the developing countries. Yet now we face such hard times (thanks to a few!) we need to not love fashion as we did.

I've fallen off the wagon of late in respect of not putting money aside as savings and instead spent it. However, I need to get a grip and return firmly to the fold of making do. On Sunday I decided to do a Make Do Magic post which provides useful shop things from range of products - please don't expect laptops or laptop folders type products - and I'll continue to do this. Which promptly puts me in the actually do I look bothered about cool new things. The coolest new thing I could ever get is a Miele washing machine.

My spending spurt is in direct correlation to the outpourings of our coalition government. I find their use of the word 'austerity' 'deficit' and 'cuts' rather preachy. I feel as if I'm being told off and I ought to know better. Being a bit rebellious by nature I want to do the opposite. Ah, that would require the means. I'll just keep switching the radio/telly off whenever they are on instead, it will stop me ranting at radio/telly too.

All of which puts me back firmly into the slow fashion camp. I think the buzz words should be cherry picking, creative and cunning. Both Vintage Vixen and Fashion's Most Wanted have impressed me with their resourcefulness (cunning) and I'm planning a Make Do 12 month strategy to ensure I employ more cunning (resulting in healthier personal finances) but satisfy my creative nature and my vanity. I think if you love fashion on any level you have a good healthy dose of vanity. I'm going to devise a cherry picking plan which will allow me to buy but within parameters. And in a way that doesn't really involve shopping particularly for cool new things.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Something I threw on...

...what I enjoy about the fashion shows are the polarisation of views. One of us loves x another hates it etc.etc. The fact is most of what we like is subjective initially and then after a while it becomes more everyday so we tend to not think of it in the same way.

Opinions change. Last week I was so upset with the Prada show but to date for as long as I can remember Prada has been directional in some form or another. So will I come to appreciate what I instinctively dislike?

My offering today might frighten some, even though I think it is a perfectly safe number. It is truly a something you can throw on. The knock knock of the door and it is the ruddy DHL/UBS/Cityline/Parcelforce person and you are in your undies post shower - you can pull this on in a jiffy.'ve got to meet your friends/acquaintances for coffee and you have no will to make the effort ...again you can throw this on. Dinner party guests and so on.

I know what you are going to say..oh my stomach or my thighs or my bottom, bust, arms ...well what ever the issue forget it. Pull it on over tights or leggings and fiddle around a bit (the side ruching is genius trust me), sigh and apply lippy ...out of the door.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

At last something to love

A year IS a long time in fashion. Who can forget the debacle that was the Lindsay Lohan for Emmanuel Ungaro. Well within the year they've done the sensible thing and hired a proper designer. Giles Deacon at the helm has delivered a feast of texture, fabric and a modern 30s vibe that has me smiling. Feathers, silk, plaits and a stripy top. The lovely Fashion's Most Wanted has the first pics and go feast your eyes on them not least for Anna Della Russo modelling!

Equally at Celine there is much to praise due to the continuum of the aesthetics Phoebe Philo has brought to the house. She hasn't veered much off script - enough to add detail and dimension but enough of the same to build the best of stylish wardrobes. Clever Celine in these times. But thank goodness for frivolity too, bless you Giles I'll be packing my bicycle basket with lashings of ginger beer, wrapping a feather boa around my neck and kicking up a heel or two come summer. Now all I have to do is grow my hair super quick!

Celine S/S 11

Monday, 4 October 2010

Celebrate a European Win with J.Crew

Well what a Ryder Cup event. My homeland of Wales hasn't seen so much excitement since goodness knows when.

It was a great battle between the might of the US and the minnow Europeans. In recognition of the marvellous spectacle provided by both teams ...go bag yourself a J.Crew cashmere sweater in the winning blue of Europe. A perfect blend of two continents.

Maxi, Midi, Mini - a fur collar of faux

When Fashionistable and I were on a recent street style shoot, we go shouted at by a random person for putting fur on a person. The fur in question was faux fur as I don't do fur. I just laughed at the abuse because the person seemed slightly off his cake and there was nothing I could do.

So, if your not afraid to show off even with faux fur then the addition a faux collar is the ticket to taking a plain jumper or dress into the more glam style stakes.

No expense spared and a nice bit of polka dot action to boot from Mr Jacobs.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Cheeky faux fur collar £260 Net-A-Porter

Not strictly faux but lets say with 7 million sheep in Wales compared to 2.5million people no one got hurt in this because a lot worst could happen to a sheep than making a good roast and a stole.

Whistles Sheepskin Stole £75

As ever Topshop saves the day with the budget option. Sew on some ribbon to tie or add a brooch and wear with style.

If you are new to Make Do Style every Monday the Maxi, Midi and Mini post gives you three budgets choices on one garment.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Oh holy mess now JPG does it to me!

I'm lost for words. I can't talk about it. I love JPG and his collections, his work for Hermes and his film costumes. I share his love of stripes and Spanish influence in costume/style.

Now I'm crying again over the hot mess that was his show. I don't care about the size issue nor the notion that the collection gets distilled down from the performance. I just plain disliked it.

I will never feel the love for Doc Martens or look a likes and quasi layering is wrong for a show/collection, it seems pretend work.