Sunday, 18 November 2012

Jump around

And we're back. Uncharacteristically I have a couple of social engagements coming up over the next months and while I like shopping, party frocks are really not my thing.

So I have gone in a different direction, a jumpsuit shaped one. Thanks to the writers of the excellent blog The Women's Room I spotted this intriguing model from Phase Eight, not somewhere that had been on my radar before.

I've always loved wrap tops, especially ones with proper sashes that you can pull around yourself and the sleeves are perfect. So I trekked along to my local branch and tried it on. Results below.

What do you think? I know the legs are miles too long but that aside I love it. For starters it is sooo comfy and those wide legs and unbroken line put me in mind of the kind of effortless glamour of 30's movies. In my head wearing this I am in company with Katherine Hepburn and Carole Lombard.

There will be challenges ahead with this. I wore very different types of jumpsuits and dungarees back in the 1980's and remember the frozen shoulders that resulted from every toilet trip. The combination of that and control pants could be a logistical nightmare but I'm willing to give it a go.

And in terms of fashion lessons its good to mix things up, try something new. Instead of an evening jumpsuit it could be a different trouser shape, a new colour or texture.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Ties that bind

I love a good scarf, which can enhance an outfit into something personal and unique. Scarves are the real heroes of fashion. Better than shoes or bags which have a hirearchy based on designer labels finding a good scarf is a more random process and the best are just as likely to have come from a charity shop or some Etsy vendor as from some upmarket boutique, and they can cover up a bad hair day, a crepey neckline or oops, a stain on your top.

I'm here to praise a particular new company called Jewel in her Crown.  Full disclosure obliges me to tell you that this is a venture started by my niece Lauren and her partner Ross, so I may be biased, however I have no stake in their business and I do objectively think the scarves she is producing are a bit special.

The scarves are hand printed onto metre long silk squares with images taken by Ross from around Fife and the Lothians. The way that the process transfers onto the silk renders the colours and images with a vintage feel.

There are nine designs in the first collection available from the Jewel in her Crown Website and also from ASOS Marketplace  where they are shown with a number of different suggestions for wearing.

Which brings me onto the next big scarf issue. Tying the darn things. Now in winter time I tend to go for the classic noose as demonstrated by a certain Mr Fassbender in the recent masterpiece Shame ( I may be the only person keener on seeing Mr F fully clad in that movie as I was obsessed with his neckwear prowess)

However for spring and summer I think its good to do something a bit more adventurous with your scarf tying. You Tube, Pintrest and Tumblr are awash with how-to guides for this sort of thing. But I've attached details of the best demo I've seen I've spent ages hypotised by the grace and prowess the model brings to variations on the basic rectangle or square, it is great fun to try at home and you can try out the edgy new sport of spotting a boa or a waterfall on stylish passer bys and nodding sagely acknowledging another in the know scarf insider.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

I walk the Linea

I've always enjoyed shopping at Frasers, House of Fraser's flagship in Glasgow: it has a wonderful cosmetics hall,  a shoe dept. where I can fantasise about owning a pair of Jimmy Choos and a proper powder room. So its always been with a resigned shrug that I've walked past the two floors of women's clothing collections as there was nothing for me there at all. 

However a recent bit of idle web browsing uncovered the surprising news that their own label brand Linea has expanded its size range and now offers clothes up to a size 22.  Even better these sizes are stocked in store and are not just available mail order. There are plenty of things I'd be happy to wear from the range such as this interesting dress with a distinct whiff of Missioni  

However my first purchase was this cute summery striped top. £40 is maybe not cheap for a jersey pullover but the quality of the fabric is substantial and the bardot neck sits pretty.

All the noise about House of Fraser stores over the past few months has been about Mary Portas redesigning the middle aged woman's wardrobe. She's done a good job I've got no issues at all with her range which has recently expanded quietly (I know uncharacteristic) up to offering clothes in UK size 20. Much like Net-A-Porter who as Deena pointed out in a recent post offers clothes by Vivenne Westwood and others in a sizes much larger than might be expected. Anything that makes shopping a more interesting, less stressful experience is to be applauded and I'm delighted that I'll now be able to pick up more than just lipsticks from this glamorous store.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Clements Riberio designs clothes for big birds

It's not new news now but Clements Riberio, the British based design duo, have released their first Swan collection for Evans. This collection checks a lot of boxes for me. I have long been crying out for a designer range in larger sizes, and this in particular has a vintage-y feel to many of the designs, archly named "Joan", "Betty" and "Peggy" after our favourite quality slice of TV existentialism. Evans also promised better quality fabric and cut than their usual fare which I have pretty much shunned of late.

So last Saturday morning I switched on my trusty Mac and tried to make the decision about what I was actually going to purchase. I'm not a seasoned onlined shopper and the prospect of ordering several items with the view of choosing only my favourites and sending most back does not appeal to me. So I deliberated and then I went crazy, opting not for a classic red gown or the Adele-ish black broderie but for the mint -green and coral print with spotty overlay. What can I say- the sun was shining at the time?Anyway here is my new dress as posed on Evans' gorgeous model, on the hanger and finally on a 45 year old woman just back from the gym with frightwig hair and no make up.

I promise you the reason for the pic is because of my excitement about receiving the dress. It met all my hopes most hansomely; the dress is made from a lovely heavy crepe quality viscose, fully lined and though you can't really tell from the pic it is fashioned at the waist and bust in a way which nips in nicely without constricting. I'm now awaiting invites to garden parties and Civil Partnerships where I will have the chance to show off my new purchase.

I've been following the reception of this collection closely through some of my favourite bloggers such as Lauren of Pocket Rocket Fashion and Em of Oh, the places you'll go  who have done sterling work across all Social media trying on the range and describing it to prospective purchasers and inevitably I strayed onto the Evans Facebook page which did not turn out to be a fun read. I was struck by some of the vitriol directed to Evans and the range by contributors there. "Frumpy", "like pyjamas"and my favourite "The patterns reminded me of the interior upholstery of an early 90s Ford Orion". Customers also generally found it to be too expensive and there were plenty of concerns about quality. Although there were also a few supportive, constructive comments there was a definite negative bias. I'd really hate to work for Arcadia's customer service if I had to face this every day.

It occurs to me that customers who have so little choice where to shop really need Evans to meet their expectations, but this covers an impossibly wide range of tastes, age groups and budgets. If I had the choice of anywhere on the high street to shop I'd be lurking around Zara and Anthropologie; others might favour Topshop or River Island or even Jane Norman, heavens help us, but we can't shop there cause there is nothing to fit. Maybe a smart way for Evans to go would be to offer better defined capsule collections in store as a way of meeting these expectations. I think its a fascinating problem and would love to know how to work it out. An alternative would be for more shops to extend their size range but that's an issue for another day. I'd rather sign off here by celebrating what I see as terrific, well-thought out set of clothes that made me and a few other shoppers very happy.

Post update. Following my mail order purchases I paid a visit to my local branch of Evans to see the whole range and decided to splurge on the summer weight coat. Dressing room pic above. I've also got the "Arrows" top on underneath and the two patterns work together pretty well I think. However I do need to replace the tired old denim skirt I'm wearing.

Monday, 20 February 2012

My car coat is not a silver bomber jacket

A nasty accident with a cracked paving stone and a takeaway coffee has rendered my previous favourite winter coat obsolete, so I when the rest of the fashionable world is deciding which tone of pastel will work best for them (clue-none of them, they're all hideous) I found myself looking for something to tide me over the last weeks of winter.

So I decided upon this. I'm calling it my Car Coat as that is my favourite slightly naff description for this camel beauty from ASOS Curve. Its one of only two items from the Curve collection described as "Premium" as might befit its wool and mohair blend fabric and its currently reduced from £100 to £30. It looks classic enough to last a few years, so long as I've got a fine-knit cashmere sweater and pair of slim fit jeans to wear with it should get plenty of wear.

I was browsing the ASOS website after checking out the What Size am I?  website featured in the Guardian and elsewhere last week. This useful app checks the measurements that you enter for bust, waist and hip measurements against those that a number of high street stores claim their clothes will match. Using this I found my best bets were Monsoon, ASOS and Marks and Spencer, which was pretty much what I would have predicted myself, though its close to hobson's choice at my end of the market. I'm sure that as the content matures there will be more entries and hopefully wider accurate choices for larger sizes, this is not meant as a criticism of the developer who I think has done a great service merely by demonstrating how unpredictable size labels are for all shoppers.

And so to spring and hopefully the chance to crawl out of the opaque tights and knee length boots I've been living in for the last three months. (I love 'em but I'm sick of them). Again on the ASOS site I'm liking this lighter weight coat which I think veers just to the right side of novelty dressing

As well as this there is still Marni for H+M and the Clements Ribero collaboration for Evans to come over the next two months. So there is much to look forward to without having to consider peach city shorts as a viable option.

Monday, 2 January 2012

The cardi-connoisseur

So its January and I've been looking at some of the bargains to be had out there that will help me fill out the holes in my wardrobe, which are largely jacket shaped. I have tons of coats and in summer I can throw on a denim jacket but otherwise I really have none that I like wearing. I hate workwear style suit jackets which just feel stiff and immovable on me and most plus size jackets seem designed to invoke a mixture of pity and scorn in the wearer and are best avoided. If anyone can suggest a shape that might work on a larger size or point me in the direction of a good sales source I'd be much obliged.

Instead I live in knitwear; I am a cardi-connoisseur and luckily in 2012 (Happy New Year!) there is plenty of choice out there for me to buy, to drool over and possibly even to make. (Have I mentioned here before that I do that too?)

So in the first category to buy there is plenty o' choice out there in this irony-aware season. My eye was caught by this handsome vintage number which looks hand-knit its available from Cow Vintage online for £48. Had I seen this in December it may have been on my back on Christmas Day

However instead of that I decided to bring sexy back by choosing this gorgeous printed sweater dress from Planet which was reduced from £99 to £79 before the holidays
When it comes to luxe knitwear to drool over I'm a serious cashmere fan. TSE cashmere in particular and for me one of the loveliest sweaters ever was shown on TV over Christmas by Cameron Diaz in top rom-com The Holiday 

So that leads me to one of my possible projects for 2012. This beauty, Opposite Pole by Jojo Locatelli has an echo of Cameron's cardi but also plenty of structure and definition 

But…before I can tackle that I need to finish my current project, based on one of the models from the most iconic sweater wearer of our age. Previously an honour that was held by Val Doonican, Gyles Brandreth or Noel Edmonds…so thank heavens for Detective Sarah Lund and her Gudrun + Gudrun wardrobe which blends classic Faroese designs and craftsmanship with a modern design sensibility.

Blog update, stardate 18th June and I have a Lund-a-like sweater. The sun has just come out and its far too warm but I just love it.  It's made in a sumptuous wool/alpaca blend and was a joy to make, mostly knit whilst watching The Bridge. Roll on Autumn.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Footwear Buzz

Like Carrie Bradshaw and her cohorts I find that few things bring more uncomplicated pleasure than the purchase of footwear.  I particulary like a fine boot and so with some unspent John Lewis vouchers hanging over from my birthday I got these lovely items which I hold to be stylish, versatile and comfy.

The boots are by Fly London who describe themselves as providing "The footwear of universal youth culture" .  Someone should have a word with them about this. Fly is wildly popular with Guardian reading middle-youth types, I could bank on the fact that every time I attended a parents day at my son's school last term I'd see either one of the teachers or another parent wearing a pair of their ubiquitous wedges.  I bet you recognise these too

Fly have lots of interesting styles on their website with prices around the £100-£150 price range. I think their stuff is just as distinctive as the higher profile Camper and they are less ubiquitous than Clarks. There is a nod to Punky/New Wave influences in their distressed leather and buckle-heavy collection which makes them perfect to spice up sober daywear.