Saturday, 27 October 2012

High St Pick of the Week

How many trends and micro trends are there? Who knew that anything goes really is the truth when it comes to fashion these days. My task is to pick an item that defines the season as of the last week of October - don't expect it to last until November!

For one week only I'm suggesting you get owl(ed) up. In fact I'm giving you three micro trends for the price of one item, shirt (tick) detail on collar (tick) owl print (tick). Wear this shirt with jeans, a skirt or under a shift dress.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Poppy Power

Progress isn't always a good thing but sometimes it most definitely is, especially in the case of wearing poppies in honour of soldiers. As start of the First World War nearly a century ago approaches the danger of history is the lessons of the past are no longer drawn upon. The Royal British Legion has to battle it out with other 'good' causes and many due to the whys of recent wars some of us struggle to find the relevance.

Lets not forget the reality of humankind is that our progress is faltering in many departments but the fallen, the injured, the widowed and the children still rely on the Poppy Appeal to provide welfare for serving and ex-service people from across all the Armed Forces.

Sometimes fashion really does lend a helping hand with the advent of the poppy as a piece to wear with pride and style during the Poppy Appeal run up to Armistice Day on November 11th. I've already bought mine and as well as donating by buying the poppy to wear with ease, I also happily donate my lose change to the collection tins.

I bought my poppy from aptly named Poppy Sparkles for £9.00 including UK postage the poppies can be brought from Viv or via her Etsy shop.

On the high street Marks and Spencer are 'bedazzling' us with their Diamant√© Encrusted Remembrance Day Poppy Brooch £15  - this is a real wow poppy that I need for night time. Currently it is the easiest way to transform your day to night look! The M&S diamant√© brooches are available in stores and online.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Somerset Passion & Fashion

It seems the notion of six degrees of separation is bringing me and Alice Temperley ever closer. Given her parents have a cider farm in Somerset and my father has recently provided a cider press illustration for a book on a Somerset family it surely means we must soon meet and chink a glass of cider ourselves.

There is much to admire about Alice Temperley, her designs and success but more importantly it is her recent collaboration with John Lewis and her Somerset range that will surely endear her to the masses. Before writing this post I popped into John Lewis to have a good look at the collection. It is true to the aesthetics of Temperley London designs and reflects an idyll of living in the country which works as well for an urban city dweller.

Somerset is a county that is often neglected being neither Cornwall or offering the Cotswold's as does Gloucestershire. Although of course Somerset does have Glastonbury! It is an area of the country synonymous with cider and apples. Somerset has no pretensions, it is an easy going sort of place and quietly gets along with its own business of farming and remaining essentially a collection of towns and villages. Unless you count Bath and Bristol there is no major conurbation still in the 21st century.

Hence the romance of the Somerset collection in John Lewis

Yet the fashion for Somerset is not merely restricted to actual fashion garments nor is it merely the romantic conception of Alice Temperley. Somerset is alive and breathing in an amazing family tale of village life and a snapshot of social history in the book The Wrong Side of the Track

It is the opposite of Temperley's Somerset with its almost stately reverence and is a reflection of the village life of the workers, often the hardships of ordinary folk mainly in the 1920s and 1930s. Yet the same romance and magic that Temperley plays upon is captured in this book due to the interweaving of narrative and memoirs, historical investigation and reflection and ultimately the complexities of the family. Trish Jennings pays tribute to her father Fred Jennings as the last male of the family line in this book. It is all there in words in the way the popular BBC series 'Who do you think you are' can only touch upon. One of the most enlightening and amazing facts of the book is that the village of Shapwick suffered no male losses during both World Wars. There is much more to this book than mere pleasant facts as everything about the family is laid bare.

At £12.75 on Amazon 'The Wrong Side of the Track' is a lot cheaper than the Somerset line in John Lewis, but they both go hand in hand. Both are a homage to a county that is held dear to many. The rich jewel of Temperley and her Somerset designs are supplemented by the richness of exploration of Somerset village life in the Jennings book.

Therefore, I suggest you buy a dress from Somerset by Alice Temperley to look the part for the festive season and you have 'The Wrong Side of the Track' ready for January to read and digest the detail of a bygone era .

Friday, 19 October 2012

10 things I didn't know would happen with a dog

When I foolishly listened to the petit garcon and ceded to his plea for a puppy, other than the practicalities of walking, dog food, pet insurance, vet fees for jabs and sundries like bedding stuff, I really had no idea what it would be like.

1. I never knew that the dog we got, Patches Valentino, would become so fond of me. He loves and adores me and now I know why homeless people and drug addicts have dogs. They really are company and devoted company to boot.

2. I would know the names of around 20 dogs but not a single name of the owner.

3. That Wilkinson is the best place to buy doggie poo bags. Wilkinson is the new improved better Woolworths but this fact is a separate post to come!

4. That dogs are super playmates. When you are the youngest child you have nothing to look after or boss around and your dog fits that bill perfectly.

5. That there is a whole industry built around dogs - dog walkers, dog groomers, dog holidays, dog clothes, accessories, toys - you name it there is a doggy version.

6. That some dogs i.e. my dog is a cartoon dog come to life. He chews socks, buries bones, digs for things and like sticks. Often people call him Snowy as he looks like Snowy from Tintin. I loved Tintin books and always wanted Snowy as a child. The petit garcon has a cuddly toy he has had from birth called Snowy (who is slightly grey now and due for a wash) so it is amazing that we have ended up with a real life Snowy.

7.  That walking the dog would be such an enjoyable experience. It really it a necessity come what may and surprisingly it is a real bonus for your health and happiness. There is a lot of pleasure to be derived from a walk and I feel safe and secure with the dog.

8. You talk to strangers a lot. I thought I was a bit of a Welsh windbag when it came to striking up conversations quite happily in any situation but now I have all these people who talk to ME! All because of the dog. My engagement with society has broadened. I had no idea there were all these people who loved dogs and don't necessarily have their own.

9. That I would need a whole new dog walking wardrobe. Currently I'm making do with what I have but seriously I could pull together a good look if I had the funds. You really do need specific things and it isn't Parisian chic when you have a Parson Russell Terrier.

10.  That I would have to write a letter apologising for the behaviour of my dog. Never had to do this with the children but my naughty little pup decided to bully, yes bully, another really lovely sweet dog. He got a whiff of power and it went to his head. Unlike the BBC with Jimmy Saville I recognised the signs and have had to stop walking him at the same time and write to the owner as I didn't get a chance to properly apologise as the poor woman was rescuing her dog from the clutches of mine. You would never think it was the same dog who lies in my arms for cuddles and really stupid doggy talk (yep I do that and I didn't know I had it in me) and he really doesn't behave like that with any other dog whatsoever.. Mortifying but all part of having a dog it seems!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The C Word part deux

These suggested gifts are for the MAGPIE family or friend person. All that glitters is not necessarily gold but they'll love then any way. All items are under £20 which is a good benchmark to have as a cap on anyone you are buying for. Money doesn't grow on trees and depending on the size of your Christmas gift list it is good Girlynomics sense to agree with everyone not to go mad. Quite frankly you;ll need the extra pennies and pounds for your Chrimbo heating bill!

I've selected  a couple of gold related items from different brands which are all quite simple and I'd like to think tasteful for a gift: 


Marks & Spencer

Stella & Dot

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Th C Word

Realistically I should wait until after bonfire night until I mention Christmas, however I'm changing my approach this year and getting everything done re: Christmas shopping before bonfire night. My logic is, if I get it all out of the way I can enjoy the fun and frolics of the festive season. Also if you get it all done now there is no way you'll be tempted to buy cute little extras that always appear nearer Christmas and look so beguiling. Plus you can buy second class stamps and send your cards on the 1st of December!

Over the next few days I will be selecting some great Christmas gifts you can get now. Make your list and allocate a budget and be a joiner!

For the Foodie

The number one food book this Christmas is going to be race to the end between Nigellissima and The Great British Bake Off

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Pick of the Day

The selected pick of the day dress has accompanying photos of me wearing it as it was sent by Baukjen for me to review. The choice of clothing to review was up to me so I fought with every bit of my being which screamed sequins into my head and choose an item I had selected as a top 5 pick  in a recent post on the new collection.

It is the Karen Print dress which retails for £169 and I thought that you would want to know how to maximise use out of a dress at this price.

Firstly the dress print is gorgeous. Again I was being adventurous as I lack print in my wardrobe and I tend to choose plain well cut pieces (mainly in black) which is a tad predictable and boring. The colour of the the print appealed to me and it is better in real life than in an image. It is an 'eclectic mix of black, gold and grey' and this makes it incredible versatile. I can imagine the colour will suit all skin tones and hair colour. The cut is a classic feminine style which favours hourglass and pear shaped figures.

You do need a small waist for this dress and by this I mean in proportion to your bust and hips area. If you are quite busty then the fit is pretty good but I did find the buttons popped open. It is easy for me to remedy by making the button holes smaller and I did feel it was my fault I jinxed the buttons by opening them instead of just using the side zip. I like the addition of the tie bit on the collar as you can have it down, open, in a bow or tucked in. I would even fold it round to the side and add a brooch.

If you are apple shaped it is a no no and if you are straight up and down then you need to be tallish and add  the Baukjen Wrap belt in tan to your basket.

When it comes to styling the dress it is easy. The dress suits flats or heels and I found it welcomes a jumper on top. I only wish I had a yellow and red jumper to show how adding colours would look. Adding a jumper creates a nice skirt which again gives you more options.

My photo shoot was accompanied by a pup and it was all a bit rushed as this is a very busy week for me. I've worn it a few different ways, I could easily have added a denim skirt to the first wear with the flat black riding boots as a casual day look. I almost forgot the say the material feels lovely, it is a good grade polyester and would travel well for weekends away.

 The model is 5' 6" (although shrinking due to poor posture) and is wearing a size 10

 Worn with a last year's Baukjen purchase - this year the Gemma boxy jumper is a similar style. I love the olive colour.

This is an attempt to show the fit at the back - best I could manage!

 The dress is worn with a velvet black jacket. I thought the velvet added more lustre and suited the print and dress material rather than a more matt jacket of cotton or wool or synthetic material. I have black tights on with my faux Valentino shoes from M&S

 This is an easy going evening look with a light grey silver Joseph knit I have had for a few years. I love this knit and it does go with quite a lot but this dress with its grey and gold means I can mix my metals with the silver knit and my gold Zara shoes.

 Lastly I decided to 'GO FOR GOLD' and completely accessorise the dress with the Zara gold shoes from last year, a gold Reiss belt from 2 years ago and my Zara gold clutch which I got 8 years ago. None of the gold items match but this is a good thing as the print of the dress allows you to get away with this (thanks for the inspiration Mrs Fab!)

A close up of the accessories. And finally note no dog when wearing the last look, he finally got bored and wandered off. Just as well as he'd started to fancy chewing the dress!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Pick of the day

Today was a tough one as this year there are so many lovely reasonable priced mid range numbers to choose from. But I wanted to find a dress that everyone could wear regardless of body shape and by chance one of those mini catalogues included in Harpers inspired me to examine a label I'd not really glanced at.

Called Me+Em, err not sure what I really think of the name, the company does seem to make rather lovely aesthetically pleasing not trend driven garments. I didn't like everything but thought much of their offerings were really good and I was particularly taken with one dress.

Ignore the cutsy styling of this dress it can be worn in a more sophisticated way. The cut and style of dress is such that it will suit all body shapes. It really doesn't matter what shape you are the only thing to get right is the size. It works for boyish shapes as it creates volume and curves with the a-line cut. For apple shapes it falls nicely from the bust area working in the same way as an empire line or tunic dress. Ditto for hourglass figures it will do the same for you, fall nicely from the bust and gives you an alternative option to always emphasising your waist! Pear shapes you will love the fact it skims the hip and thigh area with ease but does so in a feminine way due to the cut.

The pockets make this dress otherwise it would be a plain tunic with too much volume. The quality of the jersey will mean it keeps it shape and all in all it is an exceedingly useful dress. At £165 it is pricey but that is similar to dresses in Reiss, Karen Millen, French Connection etc. This dress has more longevity and less of the crowd factor too.

Handily there is a 20% off discount code 11HA20 which shaves about £33 pounds off. Wear it with or without tights and leggings, flats or heels and add a necklace or scarf to decorate. It really is a versatile number.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Pick of the Day

My poor neglected blog. What with ploughing through editing revisions for Girlynomics, plus copy deadlines and other things to do, it is no wonder I find little time to focus on Make Do Style. To make up for the neglect this week I'm picking a dress a day to encourage you out of your jeans.

Never a slouch when it comes to asking someone where they got an item of clothing from, I made a beeline at a party on Friday night to ask a lovely lady where she had got her green dress from. Turns out it was the Jaeger Boutique range and a £80 it seemed a bargain because it looked liked it cost much more. Selfishly I ordered one for me before I shared. I couldn't run the risk of missing out.

I was genuinely torn between the red and the green but choose the red number. Given all my dresses are black, grey and blue this will be a welcome addition to the wardrobe. Also since I love red dresses I was quite shocked I didn't have one.

Jaeger are one of those annoying websites that have zoom and no decent enlarged images to use and it is not the most enticing display of garments either, hence the small images.

Why this dress works: 3/4 length sleeves, good heavy jersey material, it has pockets and a loveley skirt cut to the dress. Will work all year round. A great work to evening number. Go for the green if you think red is overpowering. Wear with heels or flats.

Which shapes does the dress suit: Pear and slim hourglasses, plus boyish frames. Hourglass shaped make sure you wear a good bra to keep the breasts perky for this style of dress.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Take a new look at Viyella

These days we buy into brands and garments because of the narrative. We love the styling and the story certain items and looks portray. Those nude heels worn by the Duchess of Cambridge (my how deferential am I today) from LK Bennett could have a magazine in their own right! Garments come to life on people and well styled campaigns sell us an aspiration, a feel good factor.

But what about brands that haven't that history or don't translate well to the new blogging, street style snapping or magazine must haves? When I worked full time as a stylist there were brands I had to rely on for customers who didn't conform to disposable high street numbers or have the figure that fitted into the cut. for other clients they had more discerning tastes and didn't want cheap but also didn't want to spend money on designer clobber either and may I say one of those was a real life Duchess too. For these private clients the concessions in John Lewis or Peter Jones were where I went. For many John Lewis remains the most reasonable and decent store in the world, particularly if you are a Home Counties person.

Within John Lewis and other stores are almost forgotten brands such as Viyella. But honestly folks you are doing yourself a disservice by forgetting these ones as the quality is incredible. Not everything is going to appeal and some items are badly designed and over priced, although the pricing is a reflection of the material used. I cannot fault Viyella on its quality and I'm going to show you some pieces that say chic, classics and desirable.

My favourite item this season is the gloriously named Milano dress in plum. Great name and great colour. This is a great work dress and easily takes you from day to night if you are going from work to the theatre, for example. It is a good length if you don't like your knees but I would shorten it as I think it makes it more funky.

My other dress selection is another block colour in this fabulous red dress that has something very Sophia Loren or Nigella about it. Again I would probably shorten the length but the boldness of the colour which also comes in a striking cobalt blue is what I'm buying into here plus the strongly defined neckline.

And Viyella are moving towards enticing in younger customers from 35+ with their new Ella range and again quality is key. Note the construction and colour of this leather skirt. It looks expensive, it is super soft and you could wear this to work as well with a crew neck jumper and a statement necklace. The style notes rather let Viyella down as they state 'ideally worn with a flowing blouse' emmm, NO.

In fact the skirt would look great at the weekend with this jacket from the same range. But no flowing blouse okay.

 You can understand why a certain age and class of women enjoys the products but that heritage look is in and has been for a while. It is not going away soon as the certainty of quality is overriding disposable items.
And there are some basics which will serve you well.


The Viyella range gives you options to create up to date looks but by shopping this brand you get some individuality too. Not every one looks at all the brands and there is a tendency to stick with high street darlings and not explore other options.Next time you need a new dress or top then wander into John Lewis and take a peek at the Viyella range or browse online

This is a sponsored post.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Pile 'em high

For nearly a year I have as a sideline sold Stella & Dot jewellery. It has been great fun and gave me some focus after winding down my styling business and picking up my writing mantle again. Of course as we all know when you have a few projects on the go something tends to dominate eventually. I currently write for a few publications and have nearly completed a book with a new one to tackle as soon as the former is sent to the designer when the suggested editing revisions are completed.

Stella & Dot satisfied my magpie instinct and I have a great collection of costume jewellery, although most will be going to other stylists as samples I will be keeping rather a lot. It is a wonderful shift up from the rubbish I was buying at Topshop et al and I love the bracelets because I can pile them high. Bracelets were the bane of my life as my wrists are tiny but surprisingly Stella & Dot ones work (not all of them on slender wrists but most) and I have been having a complete bracelet moment to make up for the years of only being able to wear my Tiffany & Links of London charm bracelets. Even watches are an issue unless loads of links can be taken out.

The prices range from £15 to the latest addition of the limited edition Admiral bracelet by jewellery designer Lara Bohinc which is £170. This is cheaper than her full price range.

My personal favourite this season is the Lakra bracelet £65 which is second from the bottom from the image below, although I love all of these ones! It is not a great image but take a look at it via the link.

Finally there are some very cute new bands which are brilliant Christmas presents for friends. Sorry about the C word!

This one is the Love one and there is Light and Courage to choose from. I am really glad that I was introduced to Stella & Dot as their pieces are fabulous and fun and affordable and I will continue to look forward to their new collections and buy from them. The items are the right side of grown up glamour and today I pushed the boat out and spoilt myself with a ring - an Alice by Temperly fox ring for £45!

Jewellery is personal but Stella & Dot offer something for everyone, maybe you can join me in the bracelet  piling 'em high club.