Monday, 31 October 2011

Where is the mainstream going?

I felt like my youth had been robbed last night when The Special's Ghost Town was played on Strictly Come Dancing. The Specials used on Strictly! And don't get me started on #frankiefieldmicehair singing The Clash on X Factor.

Those were the days when only really young people listened to Radio One or hung out in record shops of a Saturday afternoon. Now, even I still listen to it occasionally though I have put Radio 2 on twice in the last week when driving. Then to compound it all I got an ASOS fashion mag/catalogue which looked like something I used to throw together minus the ads of course when I was young and hand out to people. I really used to pull a magazine together and hand them out to complete strangers. A couple of friends used to help me and ok we stapled it together, it wasn't bound but we didn't care. Now I do nothing that is invention and pure indulgence, apart from my writing.

Not that I would ever have labelled myself as street but I've always been pioneering and moving forward. One of my biggest bug bearers is when someone says of an item of fashion 'Oh I couldn't wear that I wore it first time around'. Nothing is the same, it is always a pastiche, a reinvention. I saw two looks in the ASOS catalogue which I wore in the 80s with joy and guess what I want to wear those sport looks I loved then again. The first time round I wore a sporty tee with a tight midi bandage skirt and metallic ankle socks and trainer. Plus I has a long red mohairish jumper which I wore with tight leggings or stripy or lurex tights. I keep pushing to the back of my mind the hideous purple dungaree jumpsuit thing I bought in Kensington market and wore quite a lot for one summer., however it never put me off re-embracing the jumpsuit thing again, it gave me hindsight on best of bunch choices!

images from ASOS catalogue 
It is funny how the most mundane everyday issue of a piece of post can cause you to reflect on so much. For goodness sake it was only an ASOS fashion mag as catalogue, a big marketing ploy not a fanzine style mag produce in your bedroom and a garage.

But I suddenly felt I needed some of that old vibe in my life and given I've no money and can't buy the items to give me that injection of fun and frivolity I'm not entirely sure what to do next. I think the pursuit of grown up glamour has polarised how we dress into classic, edgy, street and glamorous but really is that fair? Don't women get put into so many boxes anyway - mother, 'career' woman, bitch and baker. Gosh I'm tired of it all. I want to be liberated of all these constraints.

Even my wearing of a blue wig on Saturday night for a Halloween party felt like a breath of fresh air!

 Even my blue wig gave a me a go crazy licence. I did drink too much and maybe that sambuca shot was not a good idea but at the time...

After all the ASOS mag thing was dull in the sense it followed the format of celeb on cover, celeb modelling clothes, a facile interview -  the usual. And that is what is irking me everything seems mainstream these days even tattoos. Even the Occupy events are like a roll out of a brand # + occupy + location. It is as if everything has a pattern, a blue print.

I feel a garage magazine coming on again! I need to go back to my roots (I'm even thinking of changing those from my natural blonde to brunette & blue!).

What would you like to see in a magazine? What angle or take on fashion is missing? What would you change to the current fashion magazine formats? And could someone tell some people that tweeting about dressing up in x, y and z or buying x, y and z is hardly living on the edge. This blue wig is going walk all over my mainstream life and shake it all up!

Friday, 28 October 2011

High St Pick of the Week

I've steered clear of Reiss of late due to the Middleton factor. However the shop shouldn't be associated just with Royal middle of road classic dressing. In fact there is a whole different vibe going on there other than superior high street but safe items.

What is not to love about these shoes. Ok the price tag is a tad prohibitive for Mrs MDS's liking but would you go chestnut or magenta - oh decisions, decisions...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The story of the wedding dress

Prompted by our recent wedding anniversary I thought I ought to go and get my wedding dress! It was our fifth wedding anniversary so picking it up was long overdue!

Luckily for me Karen Reilly designer and dressmaker knew about my mad dash move from Bristol to London four years ago. My dress was with Karen as it had been in her window display and then went to the dry cleaners and I was going to pop in to have it shortened. Well 6 months after our wedding Mr MDS came home and told me his Bristol office was going to 2 weeks! And 14 weeks later we had managed to sell and buy a house and move to the South East and the Big Smoke. Neither of us were bothered by the move as we'd both lived in London before. But my poor wedding dress and velvet cape got left behind in the rush.

Of course I'd spoken to Karen but we both burst out laughing when we met again as it had been 5 years! It was so lovely to try my dress on again, although ahem I've got a few pounds to lose. I could get it on with ease but it was a big snug in places shall we say.

 I was cooing over Karen's all singing & dancing new beast of a sewing machine

Current dress on display designed last year for a wedding back in July

One of my wedding photos in Karen's shop

The petit garcon outside the shop he last entered as a baby!

More posing on the gorgeous 16th century Christmas Steps the fabulous location of Karen's shop

Of course we finally pinned the dress up for it to be shortened so I will be pounding the tread mill to lose the extra pounds so I can wear it when my sister in law picks it up when it is altered. I did feel relieved that Karen is an amazing dressmaker and so respectful of the dresses. I did have a fantastic excuse for my abandoning of my dress but she actually has over 10 dresses that people have never picked up again after they'd been dry cleaned after their wedding! Karen has kept them and as she pointed out her location and telephone number has never changed. 

Who has abandoned their wedding dress after the big day? Have you liked me had your wedding dress altered so you can wear again? I did design my own dress and made Karen do a bias cut which she loathed at the time but has done quite a few since and is a convert to the bias cut!

Karen Reilly, Christmas Steps, Bristol 0117 929 2614.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


It is half term and I'm entertaining the petit garcon and myself. We have a 2 day trip to Bristol, the Tintin movie to see and lots of holiday school homework to complete.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Fabulous! Trousergate

When fashion has fights they really are the best. Of course no blows are thrown but a fashion face off is always a public affair. The latest public spat is between fashion journalist Liz Jones and the fashion fabulous Mary Portas.

If you haven't read this article by Liz Jones, then do it essentially boils down to a spat about trousers, fabulouos fashion trousers at that!

 Liz & Mary prior to trousergate, image from Daily Mail article and the launch of Mary at HoF

As Mary Portas would say, 'you've got to love her.' I love them both (well actually that's not entirely true, love Mary, but think bonkers Liz needs love) and hope they can both reconcile over a mutual despair of Marks & Spencer, whose shapeless trousers grace far too many bottoms.

Friday, 21 October 2011

High St Pick of the Week

Despite the dreadful racket that greets me every time I sent foot in the Kingston upon Thames branch of Whistles, I manage to spy in my 5 minute window of tolerance a fabulous dress. A truly grown up gorgeous dress. Back to the music. I love a bit of loud blaring stuff but not when I step into a Whistles store. They are trying to sell to me but I can't tolerate the noise. I want peace and quiet a sublime browse and therefore I will from now on stick to the Kings Road or St Christopher Place branch which feels no need to give me a headache.

Here is the dress I quickly ran my eye and fingers over the item and think it is a great buy for now, for the Spring and any Summer events. Work it!

(PS it is also annoying me that the item is creased in the product shot. In the annoying loud music store it was hung beautifully and uncreased!)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Tonight Matthew... I'm wearing

I love this day! It is the wedding anniversary of Mr & Mrs MDS. It is always a beautiful day, to date other than a light shower on our wedding day I've never known it rain. Of course I fully accept this might be a tinted rose coloured spectacles view but hey!

We always have a lovely night out, although when it was on a Sunday we took petit garcon for lunch with us to Carluccios. It wasn't the same, nice but not the same as being alone and in splendour. I had hoped for a night at Hix again but it was fully booked. Mr MDS wanted to try some new fancy pants restaurant but I preferred to stick with the known. As much as I enjoyed our night out a few years ago at The Wolseley, I couldn't face being given a rubbish table again. And then I realised why not embrace my favourite place, the place where we  fell in love with Mark Hix's food, Le Caprice. I loved it for the salmon fish cakes and Mr MDS loves Mark Hix's food and his blokish fayre. I must remember not to have fish cakes tonight. We were only ever lucky enough all those years ago sans petit garcon and straight after work to get an early table. But we didn't care one jot, it was such lovely service, great food and familiar.

And we got a table! Ok it is a 7 - 9, still not that 8 or 8:30pm well connected, well to do sort of dining time in London but luckily we don't give a fig for such nonsense. My biggest concern is the outfit given the compression stockings. After all I spent most of surgery planning various outfits but 10 days later, bruised legs and another week of compression stockings to go, all my planned looks are out of the window.

Instead I've returned to a favourite look of mine. Navy velvet trousers, white shirt and black jacket. My velvet trousers aren't the best cut and are better with flat shoes but I have to wear my wedding shoes, a pair of Roger Vivier with a comma heel. I wore the trousers, (from Toast as they were the only people making velvet trousers years ago) a Gerald Darel shirt and a H&M tuxedo jacket as my honeymoon outfit with a pair of velvet jewelled Miu Miu. The Miu Miu shoes are my other choice but are ruled out due to compression stocking malarkey, I'm going to have to wear socks as well. I still love this items so much, nearly as much as Mr MDs himself and it goes to prove if you love your clothes and love a look it works time and time again. I've added a Zara metallic scarf (for warmth) and will be gripping a Dior clutch.

In my usual fashion I've taken quite rubbish photos of what I'm wearing tonight.

I normally wear some satin gloves as it will be nippy out but I'll be stashing some mittens in my clutch as I'll be cycling to the station Zone 6ing it to Zone 1 on public transport and we'll both be cycling home back from the station. Whilst it is nice to treat ourselves we can't afford to slack and indulge in taxis and the like. I handed my bike lights to Mr MDS as he went off to work this morning so he can carry them in his coat pockets. Oh the joy of making do! However I like to think it is tres Parisian to cycle nonchalantly in Roger Vivier heels.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Shortcut Shopping

The lovely Mrs Fab and I were having a conversation the other day and she reminded me about an item of clothing I bought eons ago thanks to a post of hers. The said leather jacket was 'sourced' by Mrs Fab via a friend of hers, Vanessa - a friend who is one of those wonderful women who have the 'eye'. Anyway I bought the leather jacket and wore it to death for 18months before ebaying it. At the time I was dong my MA and it worked so well I was asked in the LCF library, in shops and everywhere about this jacket. It had 3/4 length sleeves which needed long sleeves under it and then arm warmers over the top on very cold days. I also wore a lurex snood thing from Zara with it all the time as well. On coat days I changed from leather jacket to my Mango faux fur leopard coat - which also hit the ebay pile. Both belonged to my 'student days' and I couldn't face another winter's wear out of them.

Vanessa street style snap from Look magazine

My leather jacket was a great example of shortcut shopping. I love this option when you are so busy and have no time to even think about the inside of a shop or a magazine flick let alone an internet browse. You see someone you know with something you like, you ask, you contemplate and then you buy. I'm often asked by people where I've got something from and I tell them. In fact being a stylist I often go the whole hog and can usually tell them stock levels and product number. My view is that I bought it in a shop off the rail and so can anyone so it seems perfectly fair to be asked and to supply the information.

Some people have a problem with shortcut shopping. They will give a vague answer to the question 'oh this old thing' or 'I can't remember' even throwing you off scent with 'I think it was in [insert wrong shop]'.

I can appreciate the fact they might want to preserve their sources but really is there any point. One of the primary reasons for the success of fashion blogging was the sharing of the items they'd bought, were wearing and items they admired/coveted etc. The joy of shortcut shopping is that you are buying a new creative angle. One you hadn't thought of or rather you get to see something with fresh eyes. The reason you notice the item is because the person is wearing the item with confidence. Confidence is 9/10's of fashion fabulousness. The more you love something, the more you wear it well.

The next level to shortcut shopping is stealth shopping. Stealth shopping is when you spot someone wearing items you admire and then you follow the person around seeing what they select and do the same! The items might work on you or they might not but you get to widen and open your style horizins when you do a bit of stealth shopping. Shortcut or Stealth Shopping is a great way to inject the new or the fabulous into your wardrobe. Do it loud and proud but don't say I told you to!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Trend flash

The nearest Mrs MDS is going to get to this season's prevailing fetish trend is a pair of risqué tights. Tights that are more flash than functional.

And these Falke lace net tights from on line Tightsplease are a pair of bobby dazzlers!

Falke Lace Net Tights £20.48

Monday, 17 October 2011

X Factor Styling 'Not Fabulous'

I'm not sure what is worse the constant ad breaks or the styling on this years X Factor. In some tweets over the weekend others went further and called viewing X Factor as 'soul cancer'. True, X Factor is hardly challenging the brain cells and to say it is pure low brow doesn't quite capture the 'added value' of Saturday night TV which takes us from Strictly Come Dancing on BBC1 to X Factor on ITV.

In these hard times, where spare cash is sparse and then add on babysitter fees and you can forget an evening out. Strictly and X Factor offer pure family entertainment. In our household we have an evening meal all sat down together. Our Saturday supper usually consists of something hearty like lasagne. This Saturday I pushed the boat out and we had a lovely Lamb pilaf with figs, pomegranate and feta. I went for a more lavish home cooked meal as we forgo a bottle of wine. Then we all settled down on the settee. Petit garcon and I snuggled under a throw and my iPad was at the ready for the usual tweet off. There is no doubt twitter makes X Factor more fun and interactive. The views, the tweets are a concoction of hilarity, rudeness and empathy. Those girls from 2 Shoes are still getting the public love via twitter. And of course Mr Gary Barlow has joined in the fun with his outfit tweet timed to perfection prior to the X Factor doors opening on the judges.

Gary Barlow tweet pic

Depending on who you follow your timeline tweets will vary but mine is full of pith and opinions on the styling, hair and make up. Such is the evening banter on the styling that The Telegraph have started a great feature online X Factor fashion: hits and misses

Frankie Cocozza image: The Telegraph

Last year the styling of the contestants was dreadful and this year ...the styling is dreadful. Sometimes it works mainly it doesn't. The reason it gets panned so much is the disconnect between performance and aspiration. Most of us have followed the pre live finals stage and enjoyed the individual look of the hopefuls. Of course some hopefuls are hopeless at styling so having a blank canvas should make it easy. 

What happens is the style team forgets that these people are trying to win a competition and elevate them to performance artists. This year the looks seemed to be based solely on current trends from American singers (I can't bring myself to type the word artist - I just have Kitty in my head emphasising she is 'an artist') or rather American music scene cultural references. Sometimes the make up, hair and costumes are all fighting with each other. Then when the hopeful isn't easy to pigeon hole like poor Sophie Habibis, the style referencing seems to take on a mind of its own. Read Carol Vorderman for Habibis on Saturday and Phoenix Nights for Sami Brooks. What is the brief? Is it to make the contestants a laughing stock? Frankie Cocazza had a little look of his own going on and now it has been exaggerated to Tim Burton proportions, especially his hair. Seriously I truly believe field mice are living in his barnet now!

It is hard being a stylist, too many opinions, the fact it has more or less all been done before to some extent but I am annoyed that a seemingly simple format, ordinary everyday person translates to 'mash up' styling. Surely there is way to blend aspiration and grooming with a bit of show biz glitz that prevents Widow Twanky aka Johnny making an appearence and turning the whole of X Factor into pure style panto.

Friday, 14 October 2011

High St Pick of the Week

This week my choice falls into the category of great value and a grower! A perfect blend of understated glitter and a colour that will work now and for S/S12. At £25 it is a snip for adding some useful everyday wearable glitz into your wardrobe.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Fancy Footwear on radar

What I love about fashion is the ability to tweak something ever so slightly and make you out of fashion instantly or on trend in a flash.

This season leopard print is still relevant but mainly on your feet! Drop it everywhere else and put it firmly down below. The great thing is you'll get a flash of fancy fun one step at a time. The other great factor is the fact we are talking low heel not hooker high heel this season.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Your so 'vein'

Yesterday I was a very brave person. I went all on my tod to the London Clinic to have day surgery to removes a couple of veins from my legs. Today I'm bandaged to the hilt like Nora Batty. It is not a good look. However tomorrow later in the day, 48 hours after the surgery I can take off the bandages and wear compression stockings for 2 weeks. Luckily the stockings are black and I can get away with them as leggings or tights. No one will know with some clever dressing.

It was severe discomfort that led me to have them taken out. I am so quite vain so on the plus side I feel a sense of relief as well. Not that I ever let the veins on the back of my legs stop me flaunting bare legs but I took measures to disguise the worst one on my right leg. And at times when the combination of heat and humidity exasperated the vein I preferred to hide it. It has taken years for me to do anything about it. Mainly because the NHS no longer undertake such procedures. Well from my research I deduced they were non essential surgery and therefore most health authorities have dispensed with addressing varicose or protruding veins.

Luckily Mr MDS has medical cover through work and I was able to be referred to a vascular surgeon by my GP and hence my operation. Prior to the operation I was able to ask my consultant a number of questions on how women get varicose veins and the bottom line is they are hereditary. No amount of leg crossing, leg shaving, standing on your legs etc. will be a factor in the likelihood of a varicose or protruding vein. For years I thought was it my job, there is a lot of standing up and around as a stylist. Have I crossed my legs too much? Did my half marathon running make it worse and the answer to all these questions is no. The fact my paternal grandmother had varicose veins and the fact my mother has a protruding vein and a visible vein but not a varicose vein, has given me the varicose vein on my right leg and the protruding vein on my left leg. Having this predisposition increased the chance of me getting the vein issue on my legs.

Once I knew that I could have the surgery done I thought why not! My vanity kicked in. The fear of the procedure was overcome not by the realisation that my legs wouldn't ache any more, but that the veins would be gone!

My arrival was all very straightforward (train & tube worked well) and I had time to to go Marylebone High St for a copy of Grazia. I had to fast so no sneaky coffee or breakfast was allowed. I was shown into a cubicle to get my surgery look sorted!

I'm sure only a stylist could in the midst of a hospital procedure think about the recent S/S12 collections. I was struck by the colour of my dressing gown and the print of the gown, plus my small size hospital slippers of both Prada and Marni's S/S12 collection... or more specifically the pale blue colour and it's pairing with red or yellow.

It cheered me up anyway before my impending day surgery! Of course the cut of the gown is not a fashion statement (I had to do it up myself so I made sure I did bows at the back!) but I'm really looking forward to S/S12 now as I felt Prada, Marni, Chanel and Louis Vuitton delivered a wealth of inspiration to create great looks. I feel the injection of pale blue as a summer coat or skirt is going to have to be a must.

And yes the op went fine. I was hard core and opted for minimal sedation, i.e. just a heavy painkiller with an oxygen mask. Again all I could think was how good oxygen was for the skin and nodded enthusiastically when offered it. I knew what was going on and could tell what was being done but I mainly busied my mind with what outfit to wear given the compression tights situation for our wedding anniversary meal at Le Caprice. It is amazing how thinking through wardrobe options can keep you occupied for an hour and a half of surgery.

It is 4 miles a day walks for me now and a bit of discomfort after yesterday which will pass as it all heals.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Mrs Fab says it all!

Not one to expend unnecessary energy I was delighted to read Looking Fab At Any Age yesterday because Mrs Fab had found time to do a very decent informative blog post on the Isabella Oliver Pop Up Shop this Thursday in Chiswick

Thank you Mrs Fab and she's right if you got the time go forth and dress up!

Monday, 10 October 2011

'Fabulous' H&M Conscious Collection

Last week I was teaching on a personal styling course and at the beginning of the week one of the students asked if I thought sustainable or environmental fashion was successful - it was something along those lines. I told them about the different lines, companies who have an ethical stance and of course reminded them about second hand buying, recycling etc. But the bottom line was in respect of styling I was not convinced by specific collections for the mass market.

I'm not an expert on this subject, although my old college LCF has the wonderful Centre for Sustainable Fashion. I am very much in favour of a raft of approaches to garment producing including sourcing of material, design, working conditions and practices but bottom line for any of these things to be ultimately successful the items have to be desirable. As consumers we buy things we desire and we are influenced by price too.

Thinking as a stylist without any preferences or emotional views (you know my I loathe designer/high st collaboration ones and celebrity ones even more!) I'm mightily impressed with H&M's Conscious Collection

It has been perfectly edited. All credit to stylist Robert Rydberg and the design team. I love the fact it has drawn upon Scandinavian heritage (I have Norwegian blood in there somewhere not Swedish so no bias!) and I love that it truly looks like a collection. Yes, the word conscious is a bit naff but otherwise we might have had an IKEA style word like Stolmen or Pax so I'll let it go.

I cannot testify to the quality of the products but it is H&M, it is very reasonable priced and from viewing online I have fallen in love with it. I will be buying the skirt and cardigan...

I feel there is something grown up about the two combined and nicely Scandinavian about the look it creates. However it is true that I am in love with all things Scandinavian since spending a summer reading only Scandinavian authors. Vintage Vixen sent me a Jo Nesbo one and I read all the Stieg Larsson Millennium trilogy as well, couldn't put any of them down.

But ultimately what H&M have done is drawn upon our desire to be more sustainable and our consciences regarding clothes production and given us something we can afford to buy. The items don't scream fashion and therefore they are items we can pick and choose to work in our wardrobes for a long time. I would splash the cash if I had it on quite a few pieces, I love the wool coat and overall H&M have raised the bar in a credible way.

Friday, 7 October 2011

High St Pick of the Week

In my endeavours to always find the right item to put into your wardrobe, I'm afraid I've gone a little on the 'spensive side this week. But I've made a small discovery of new options to buy from. Tegan is a new brand but it has rather old credentials. Firstly it is a new brand owned by French Connection who also own Great Plains, Toast and now Tegan. The original owners of Toast are still involved with the company and therefore I deduce they might have some involvement with the new brand given Toast was conceived in Wales and Tegan is a Welsh name.

Tegan as a name actually means blessed, beautiful and fair. And this new fashion venture certainly falls into the beautiful. I think this brand blends the grown up aspect of Toast with the youthful flair of French Connection. This new venture could be truly blessed if the elegant approach to understated fashion delivers!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Grown up & gorgeous

One moment it is all fashion flash buys with me then the next I'm on my make sure you buy beautiful items to add luxe to your wardrobe. The fact is the key to a versatile and fabulous wardrobe is this mix of quality with random injections.

When I open my wardrobe I am greeted by a seeming madness that defies belief. Colour, texture, print, patterns, sequins and a few too many white shirts for starters.

In the mix I have a few vintage 70s frocks from my mother, a bit of a DVF dress collection and my favourite little black dress a sequin number from the Isabella Oliver 365 Collection

And it is the 365 Collection that I turn to again and again in a personal and professional capacity. The quality is wonderful. My first introduction to Isabella Oliver was via the maternity wear and I admit I was slow to pick up on the 365 Collection because of this association.

When I got this season's lookbook I thought...I'll have the lot! Perfect, no effort required and I'd be all grown up and put together perfectly.

Such is the simplicity of the IO 365 Collection any item you pick will effortlessly blend in to your wardrobe without a care. If I had to pick my top five pieces then today it would be these (but tomorrow is another day...)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Trend flash!

Winter orange is a joy of a quick flash trend. We all know it won't last but nothing beats a quick trend injection to a wardrobe to get that fab fashion feeling.

The best way to fix a fast fashion must is to buy at a price that doesn't blow the budget. I've selected a few orange items to have fun with a flash!

Monday, 3 October 2011

'Not Fabulous' Weather and Retail

Three things have happened to make me question the current fashion and retail cycle. We are all somewhat complicit in the retail and fashion cycle of clothes distribution, given we all just go along with it. I found myself rushing to buy at the end of September some ski clothing for the petit garcon on the basis if we have snow in any month soon there will be nothing in store. It has taken me 3 years of snowfall to get completely au fait with the retailers window of opportunity to buy snow type gear. Even specialist shops 'run out' at the most inopportune moment i.e. when it snows!

There I was handing over a sum of money to a woman in John Lewis in sweltering heat for a ski jacket on the second day of October. In another area of the store the Christmas selection had arrived and I realised I must have only two week window to get what I like because normally I never get anything because it is gone - bearing in mind I refuse to buy anything Christmassy until December. I'm thinking I'd better lose that last rule of decent acceptable behaviour and get with the programme!

The current heatwave we are experiencing in the UK is the second reason I've suddenly realised the retail cycle needs to be re-examined. Everyone I know had packed away their summer items and suddenly found themselves getting them back into action. Luckily I'd only piled them up in a shelf in my closet (no, I'm not being American and forgetting to say wardrobe, it is really a closet with a wardrobe element - a 'closrobe' perhaps) but I found my summer holiday wardrobe was a bit to casual and I nipped into a local H&M and found a brilliant pair of chino's for £14.99. They were a transitional season offering and luckily they had a pair in my size that fitted perfectly. I have to say they are the best pair of chino type trews I've ever owned. Three people in 3 days have asked me where I got them from and someone even texted me to say they wanted a pair. I'm not a trouser person. I love a jumpsuit and my red skinny jeans but I don't really wear trousers that well. I digress...

Then on Saturday night I had a twitter conversation with Eilis Boyle a wonderful designer based in Dublin about our pet subject the fact you can't buy a decent coat in February when everyone is freezing at LFW. We both agreed that if you are a retailer who stocks coats and jumper in January to April you make a killing. I often think the success of Net-A-Porter and now The Outnet wasn't so much the factor of buying designer items over the internet but ultimately the fact you could buy things you needed when you needed them. The stocking capability of Net-A-Porter is a phenomenon. Yes, you sometimes have to be quick as per Matches or My-Wardrobe but NAP beats all the other E-luxury/designer outlets online by miles with the availability of clothes often 'out of season'. By out of season I mean out of the  fashion or retail drop cycle that means coats and jumpers are in the shops in July but gone by August! This get it while you can is becoming increasingly absurd with the increase of designer collections. The two main collections, the pre collections, the Cruise collections etc.

The trouble is that retailing has lost sight of the customer in the battle for collection rip off supremacy. Actually that is a bit harsh, not all retailers are in the business of paying homage to the catwalks but the main emphasis is on a 'must have' item is reflected in the print media, the blogosphere, in store and direct marketing. I'm as guilty with my high street pick of the week post. I have tried to put it in context as a way to build up a wardrobe but I do by and large get carried away by the notion of spotting something, promoting it and making it a desirable item!

Marketing and vanity aside there must be a retailer out there who is looking to find a middle way. If I had the money I would go into business to provide all year round items, regardless of the fashion cycle. As hard as it would be to almost circumvent the buying cycle and therefore the trend and seasonal aspect of it all, I would find a way.

The other alternative is to change ones shopping habits. I have been doing that for the last 5 years and has paid off. My basics are set almost in stone. It is roughly a list of 50 things I need to survive 12 months of the year. It does include things like a bikini but not my gym kit and swimming goggles! If you compile a list and work on a one in one out basis then you tend to buy items that last and the compromise is less trend led and maybe certain colours dominate (black, white, grey, blue and red in my case!). It is not a water tight or fashion fabulous system but then it is not fabulous being cold in February.

What would you change about the retail cycle? What items do you need all year round regardless of fashion dictates?

Images: Christmas items from John Lewis and clothes all Net-A-Porter