Friday, 29 April 2011

The Uninvited Guests

It was an early start and a tad cool in London town. Still in true middle class fashion I had packed a picnic and a flask of coffee for the momentous occasion. However petit garcon turned down brioche for jammy dodgers on the district line.

After breakfasting on the glamorous tube we alighted at St James Park and walked towards the Mall.

Proud flag carrier

The view of Buck Palace from St James Park

Quick morning chat with Chris Evans as you do. Lots of people wanted his attention. Last time I'd seen him was at TFI Friday, how times change I said, it used to be Oasis and now its a Royal Wedding. I suddenly felt v grown up (read as ageing!)

We got our pitch with some fun people

Flag waving practising at 8am!

Blanket down and breakfast part 2 - note the handy loo roll I grabbed as we left home.
The blanket got very grubby as did my white jeans and when we gave up sitting on it I hung it on the rails on the Mall and it was still there on our way home so I packed it up and am hoping it will scrub up well in the washing machine.

The programme - and yes we all sang the hymns when they were in the Abbey - as well as cheer very loudly when they said I do!

Lots of crownsAnd big hats

Listening to the radio whilst standing & waiting

A quick cuddle

Look at the state of my jeans, blanket & springform pumps

Catherine going past with her dad - the veil looked stunning in the car and it was offset wonderfully by her dad's grey hair - it was a lovely sight.

There was lots of marching and guard changing on the Mall whilst the ceremony took place. And I failed to get a photo of the carriage as the spectacle of the Guardsmens, the horses and the carriage plus William & Catherine was mesmerising.

I was amazed how incredible an occasion it was. I loved the chats I had and the fun with complete strangers from all over the world. And I got quite tearful thinking how sad it was that Diana wasn't there for her son's day. Catherine and her family were fabulous and the dress was perfection.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Right Royal to do - och aye!

Okay this is the last of a trio of vaguely linked right Royal posts due to the, pause, Royal wedding.

Of course I am referring to the rightfully royal Kingdom of Style. On behalf of Queen Michelle and Queen Marie I am ordered to give you - Kate Middleton- some useful royal advice before you join the Firm.

1. You shall make Kingdom of Style your number one blog, it is the done thing.
2. Tea will be your drink of choice.
3. Consider your subjects - do follow Queen Marie and adopt 'affordable' things like sunglasses. No need to wear labels.

4. Make like Queen Michelle and get with the underwear - 'nuff said.

5. Deer are for Christmas baubles not shooting in the Scottish Highlands.
6. If you need any proper royal referencing defer to the late Queen Mum and hoard trinkets - they will be useful in case of like father like son behaviour.
7. If one finds things too much, then instead of sulking get Metallica on the decks, a good head bang will sort it all out.
8. If you need something less high st and more unique but not designer, (subjects to consider & all that) then the Queen's can point you in the direction of a few Etsy pieces.
9. A Glasgow kiss is no way to go, in case one of the staff suggest it (you can't trust 'em).
10. If in doubt refer to point 2 - A CUP OF TEA.

All images Kingdom of Style

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

If you're going to buy Royal do good

Of course I haven't splashed out a penny on anything to do with the Royal Wedding. I did buy some melamine Union Jack cups in Waitrose a few weeks ago but for picnics and use by kids.

However there is something quite tempting about wearing this t-shirt from Warehouse on Friday. The Flag & Crown Tee is £20 and more importantly it is a Fashion Targets Breast Cancer number (30% of profits go to Breakthrough Breast Cancer).

You know I'm an anti Royal so buy one and think of this wonderful lady instead!

Please read Christina's lovely post on Poly Styrene at Fashion's Most Wanted

Monday, 25 April 2011

Why Kate Middleton is not a style icon

There is a lot of build up to the Royal Wedding (globally) if you haven't noticed! You can't move in London for tat and camera crews filming everywhere.

The biggest speculation is the DRESS. I admire the fact they have kept it all under wraps. I feel that Kate (soon to be Catherine Wales - unless she doesn't turn up on the day) has done exactly what she should do as the bride and keep her dress a secret. I don't begrudge them the media hype, it isn't there their fault and who doesn't like a wedding. Why under strict guidance from Mr MDS, we are taking the petit garcon to flag wave on the Mall (and I am an arch anti-Royalist - why I even moaned in Waitrose the other day as the only organic eggs I could get were the Prince of Wales's Duchy Originals). My parents are more Republicans than Royalists but even they went to the Prince of Wales investiture in 1969 at Caernafon castle and have one of the commemorative chairs from it. On balance a bit of pomp and ceremony is all they are good for it would seem, in my books.

I have to confess I'm not that bothered by the dress, I know lots of people are. My only hope is it that it is demure, I am worried she will do an arm show a la Michelle Obama. Kate is very thin, too thin for her height, and whilst thin arms are always worth a showing off (if mine were I'd flaunt them) there is something about wedding dresses that bring out the arms and shoulders and I wish it wasn't that way. I want her dress to be something different and thereby impose a new standard or alternative to the current unchallenged view of wedding dresses. But of course I doubt if I'll be satisfied but if I am I will be the first to admit it.

So, with wedding and dress aside - is Kate Middleton a style icon? The case for is the fact she copied by others. The case against she is not copied by lots of us. But this is the beginning of her journey as first lady of images - for she will out image all the others.

To date her looks have been very pedestrian. Safe Sloane or rather Middle Englander. Most women of her age from 28 to 42 tend to adopt a fashionable safe look. It is the alternative to the idea of Parisian chic with more of a nod to the British High St but the non high fashion retailers - enter stage left the demure Jigsaw, Reiss and maybe Whistles (although too borderline for the non fashionista). It is a more refined execution of high fashion mixed with British country casuals, the sweater, hacking jacket, skinny cords or jeans with riding boots or hunters even a flat cap.

Kate is not going to be the Duchess of Windsor, she will continue to play it safe, after all William is the future King of England and thereby Britain, Canada, Australia etc. William will expect her to follow his mix of well bred but polite therefore never showy and never one to judge those less fortunate. He is after all his mother's son and even his father has always made the effort to provide for other via The Princes Trust

William has eschewed high end Saville Row for popularist Grieves & Hawkes - so for what it is worth I don't expect Kate to choose Alexander McQueen but then I'm merely speculating like the rest of us!

I like that Kate does and will continue to use the high street, it will be part of her social responsibility to do so, particularly given her background and she must remain down to earth. Her price bracket will probably stay at mid end designer although when she is a bit older say 40 ish I'm sure a Chanel suit or two might slip in - who can blame her. What she wears will set a tone for younger women and like Simon Doonan I think a more staid version of younger womanhood is no bad thing to offset the Jordan/Paris Hilton culture of the last decade. The setting a tone is different to setting a style. The other Kate's are style setters, Kate Moss the model, Katharine Hepburn the movie star.

First Lady's are free to be themselves in the style stakes due to democratic elections. Kate Middleton will be bound by decency and a regard for others while the Firm relies on not exposing itself too much to tip the balance in favour of us republicans. No Westwood pirate boots for Princess Catherine then.

Diana was never a style setter either, more a mood or tone setter too. She kept it safe with white shirt and chinos a la Audrey Hepburn for her work with landmine victims and her off duty look. The only time she veered off script was with THAT dress - a Catherine Walker and of course she favoured Versace, Valentino and even Chanel only after her divorce.

It seems that Kate will be a safe bet style wise and more Charlotte than Carrie - which the men always prefer from my research. And that is the point, no matter how much the media try to shove Kate's style down our throats it will only matter to Middle England. Those counties of Bucks, Berks & Surrey will be casting an eye over what she wears more than most I suspect; after all she is a product of the area.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Bits & Bobs

Having to work again so soon after well...quitting, was frankly shocking. I managed to cover someone's work and spent two days in central London with heat and too many damn tourists! Still it did allow me to enjoy a lovely end to a working week catch up with friends on the Thames at Southbank. Not before I'd have a cheeky drink with fellow stylist Waceystyle at our secret haunt Dego near Market Place. It really does do the best Italian wines and nibbles in the capital. So keep it to yourselves - okay. En route to Market Place, Upper Regent Street was resplendent in Union Jack bunting. This dressing up on the Crown Property street is a big plus of the impending Royal Wedding, there is nothing quite like a bit of stylish dressing up, just don't get me started on the minus things!

Before I quaffed, I managed to try on a dress in Reiss I've been admiring for ages. It say Italy to me, particularly the Italian Riviera. I tried it on and it was very disappointing to find the cut didn't work on me. Mind you I'm not sure if it is because the cut isn't right or my body needs to be longer. What I found was the size 10 was really voluminous on top and nicely fitting on the hips. This is not a match made in heaven. I couldn't go down a size as my hips would have caused a strain and I certainly couldn't go up a size to ease off on the hip area. In fact the waist could have been higher too. Sizing perplexes me as surely the trick is to deliver well to the mean and get your percentages right from there for the other sizes. Or maybe I should have tried the next size up to be voluminous all over but then it would have an open window to the world of my bust area. It was a shame as one nice summer dress would have done the trick.

Because I had unexpectedly worked I felt flush and had allocated a portion of my fees to much needed new bras and since I was never going to get the leather jacket I decided to dip in to that fund to buy something new and the rest I needed to save. It was definitely a case I want to buy something! I was of course thinking summer, however I ended up buying a knit on an exceedingly hot April day. It is a very fine knit that has a neat ribbon tie at the nape of the neck and is like wearing a knight's gauze with sequins. I felt it was the perfect top to fling with all manner of things, for all manner of occasions.

I'm wearing the Jigsaw shimmer sparkle tie back sweater (£109) that I bought after snapping a quick changing room photo of the thing on me. It was more than I was intending to spend but less than the Reiss dress, (which was £169) so of course in my girlynomics head it was a saving of £60!

Anyway I am very pleased with my purchase and am hoping for an evening out to wear it. Maybe if it is a cooler day next Friday 29th of April I can wear it for the Royal Wedding for our evening barbecue with the neighbours.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Gap - a lament

In April UK Harpers there was a lovely jacket on page 71 - Gap's nude leather bomber. The blurb and the lovely visual and the price of £175 sold it to me. I've wanted a leather bomber jacket for ages and this was the first one I've really really liked.

My subscription edition to Harpers arrived in the March. Of course I checked online, the flagship Oxford St store and there was no jacket. I kept trying, asking staff, showing them the magazine. Then the mid season sales happened so I reasoned it would be an April drop in to store. Leaving nothing to chance (I had saved up my pennies for this item) I decided to call Gap for further information. The number in Harpers was only the store locator number. On Gap's UK website the customer services number is incorrect but I finally managed to get it by calling the Oxford St flagship store.

image: Harpers Bazaar April 2011

I spoke to customer services, I explained the item, the reference to it in Harpers and the page number. I gave my email address and mobile number. I was also given the press office number. I phoned them and left them my email address - as I appreciate how busy it all can be and not having to phone someone back is often a relief.

Guess what NO ONE has come back to me. NOTHING. The capital express my fury. It makes me cross that a store which is struggling with its profits and failing to attract a customer base due to competition cannot be bothered to get back to one person. Every encounter required effort from me. I have had to persevere. I even looked in the ruddy Oxford St flagship store yesterday and no jacket. I officially give up.

What I would say is that The Gap has no one but itself to blame for losses. Next time I see an item from Gap in a magazine that piques my interest, I'll nip it in the bud straight away. The knock on effect is I can't even be bothered to go into the kids section for petit garcon's clothes as I'm really put off Gap forever it seems. This is not the first poor customer relations encounter I've had with them and it took me quite some time to get over the last one. I think it really is time to knock Gap on the head after all if they couldn't give a stuff about the individual why should the individual give a stuff about them.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Where to spend it

I'm often bemused and amused in equal measures by the FT's How to Spend it magazine. The most recent was an outstanding issue with gorgeous dresses made of wallpaper made especially for the home and garden edition it was. The amount items cost in How to Spend it are huge bucks.

Actually it was the wallpapers, nothing under £43 per roll (although £43 was cheapest price I've ever seen in the mag) which made me think about where to spend ones money. I'm always thinking about the how and why of where to buy clothes and is a good reason etc. It is one of my obsessions. Recently I reverted back to my age old mantra of buy quality for shoes, jewellery and bags, knits, t-shirts and trousers and everything else doesn't matter.

My reasoning is thus, these items need to be of quality to look good with ease. For some reason trousers only truly last and work well if they are cut well. And good cuts cost. I'd rather buy one really good white t-shirt than lots of substandard ones. I'm only likely to wear it once a week if that, so better to spend more for something that lasts longer. You don't have to go bonkers the Isabella Oliver 365 Perfect Tee for £35 is fantastic quality and a perfectly respectable nonchalant cut.

The same is true of shoes. I bought a pair of Tods loafers in Rome nearly 5 years ago and they are still going strong.

I think where you spend your money is a better choice to making things last. The amount of money I wasted on tat, or quantity of goods, means I could have easily had a 2.55 Chanel bag ages ago and the same is true of my now curbed high st costume jewellery splurges. Why I could have had this instead! A wonderful unusual - not worn by Alexa Chung (although I'm sure WendyB would be happy if she did) - Tortoise locket ($2,800.00)

It could be all a case of growing up or being wiser but if I have spare coffers again then I know I will wait to spend it where I will get the best returns and greatest pleasure.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Bring it on!

My script writing mojo is back. I'm actually loving my script again which is key to good writing and creative visualisation. I might be the worlds worst blogger over the next few weeks or so - my mind is not on fashion as the passion is all for writing.

I've inserted my MA short film for old times sake. Sometimes I'm amazed I made it given:
a) I'd never made a film before
b) I raised all the money through graft as a stylist to pay for it
c) Negotiated with major companies to use their locations - once again thank you Oasis, Pret & Charlton Athletic
d) Manage to shoot it over 3 days with Swine Flu - one day I will be able to share the whole gruesomeness I suffered.
e) Combined the film making with an 18,000 word dissertation

Still it was worth it!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

High Street Pick of the Week - The 2011 Style File

No self respecting 70s gal would have gone without a summer basket as part of her carefree lifestyle. Of course she would have been part inspired by Jane Birkin and part inspired by Yves Saint Laurent.

You can grab yourself a bit of 70s summer cool with this Moroccan Basket from Jigsaw. At £49.00 you get an individual look as no two baskets are the same.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

I confess, I wish...

...I was lying down like this (as snapped by the petit garcon)

Instead I am run ragged by a tennis playing, football playing, scooting, swimming 5 year old. I'm not stylish nor am I able to blog. Apologies. Normal service might resume but in the meanwhile I've got to dash out to kick a football or three!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

I just want to know..

..who is she! The woman who can afford this dress. What does she do? What does she look like - in fact we know that she is fairly skinny as the US size 2 has sold out already and there are 2 dresses left in size 4 & 6.

I'm left perplexed by the gap in funds and how wide the gulf is. If I had £8,390 to spend I'd be paying off a bit of the mortgage, any debts and have some pence left over to save not spend. Mind you it is a beautiful dress...oh well.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Girlynomics™ the hard times edition

Girlynomics™ has been a long project of Mrs MDS. Why over two years ago the Girlynomics book had an agent. Then the crash happened, the agent got very interested in Asian literature and Girlynomics languished at Curtis Brown with not a sausage. Anyway times have changed and after a couple of years things have got worse. I would happily admit to be not very focused on Girlynomics or actually being as make do as I used to be but change is a foot. The fact of the matter is that hard times are upon Mrs MDS and now is the time for action. I have a couple of people nagging me to rewrite and complete Girlynomics - which I will do but first I need to get back on the wagon of making do - BIG STYLE.

I assessed my finances (not good), my earning potential (not good) the chances of addressing either (not good). I weighed this against my creative freedom (very good), the well being of the petit garcon (excellent) and the potential of writing (very good). All in all my income is pretty rubbish but I have a marvellous opportunity to finish my writing projects. Focus is in hand and to be continued.

Anyway I realised the enormity of my responsibility to deliver lots against zero! I am truly going to have to make do. Of course the moment reality hit the old brain cells kicked in. Well in fairness they kicked in at Sainsburys on Saturday when Mr MDS called me with a request for some cheap gym socks. I actually ventured into the world of Tu. I got the socks and I spied some wedge sandals for me. Now what enabled me to make the purchase was points. Points make prizes. In the world of Girlynomics there can be no compromise one has to buy things practically for free or go without.

I have never bought anything from a supermarket before except useful clothes for the petit garcon. I confess I have been a bit of a snob until now, about supermarket clothes. But needs must and I needed some shoes for my lovely palazzo pants. My nectar points which I normally save until Christmas were spent but I have some very useful wedges for the summer and I will be making do with everything else in my wardrobe.

Just to show that the palzzo pants are to the ground and cover the shoe!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

High Street Pick of the Week - The 2011 Style File

One of the many similarities between the 30s & 70s is the prevalence of long sleeve dresses in chiffon.

Chiffon is a material much beloved of these two eras. And no one is exploiting the 70s better than River Island on the high street at the moment. Their revival of the iconic Chelsea Girl brand, well iconic if you were someone who needed fashion in the mid to late 70s and early 80s. That and Snob.

a wonderful archive image from Chelsea Girl

In fact so proud are River Island of their heritage, they have moved on from selling a few Chelsea Girl bags and revived the ethos of the past. However what they are doing best is their Seventies Girl selection of garments and this dress in particular

I have no price, it isn't on the website but the stockist number to call is 0208 991 4904. Maybe the River Island press office will let me know. It is a wonderful example of an all year round dress that will see you through many an occasion. Good old River Island or is that Chelsea Girl!

PS I'm worried this dress is sold out but least think of it as a reintroduction to some great pieces at River Island you didn't think existed!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Let's go large

Spring is here. No longer does one have to think can I pack my deepest darkest winter clothes away.

This wonderful burst of sunshine puts me in the mood to dance, skip and well frankly not blog! It is almost as if one needs to savour every moment of this sunshine. Our bodies are craving the natural vitamin D.

Kick off your boots and put on the biggest hat you can find in celebration that the sun is out.

Marc Jacobs

Alberta Ferretti

Caroline Herrera

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Choose sophistication with a dash of glam!

After what seems like an age but is barely a week I find myself retrospectively examining what sort of fashion stylist I was! I think is partly due to the Christophe Decarnin departure from Balmain. Whilst his leaving isn't unexpected given he has been unwell, it also reflects a move away from the what I would call 'euro trash' style of design. I cannot honestly think of one item from Balmain I admired or coveted. My view of Balmain was it was worn by women with more money than sense and mainly those in their 50s on a yacht off the coast of Monaco. Of course I am very opinionated but this was fairly useful in gaining private clients who needed directional advice!

Private clients of a particular income and status like to be well advised and those who are younger hard working women in the banking industry from Eastern Europe and Russia need to avoid the 'euro trash' stereotyping. And of course they are young women so don't want to become grande dames of the Aramani or Lauren school of style - yet.

American fashion house Milly has been a god send in respect of bearing the perfect blend of Park Lane Princess with some flair and at a decent price. Okay we are not talking much change out of £300 or £500 here for an item but in comparison to some the items are eminently affordable and have that key factor - longevity.

Just in case you think Milly is all work and no play well here are a few images from the Spring/Summer 11 collection to inspire you will I go off and write a film script....

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Eggs from Poland via Etsy

The wonderful aspect of blogging is the element of chance. Chance meetings, comments and finds. Recently my Feminism & Ageing post drew in different readers and invariably comments. Because I'm a polite bunny I always make every effort to visit the commentators blog.

Bozena Wojtaszek was one such blogger I visited to return the compliment of a read and comment. In doing so I stumbled across a beautifully textile blog called The Textile Cuisine. Bozena also has an Etsy shop
The shop has some delightful items especially for Easter and I really couldn't resist some eggs. I took some photos on my iPhone with ordinary camera and a couple of Hipstamatic ones.

back view of textile eggs

front view of textile eggs

The quality is extraordinarily and they are gorgeous items for decorating ones home at Easter. If I was a buyer at a department store or interior or furnishing shop I'd be snapping up her work.