Toe the line

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QUICKIE POST ALERT!

I’m sure you will have noticed that toe-capped shoes and boots are all over the place at the moment and are sure to be an AW ’12 staple!

Trouble is with these sort of trends is that you never know how long they are going to be around for.

Follow my two simple steps on maximising you PPW (pays per wear) out of this particular fashion:

1. Forget expensive shoes (this season) – buy cheap or buy in the sale. You don’t know how long this trend is going to be around for. Buy a cheaper pair; wear them to death. If they’re not in again this time next year, you’ve got your PPW out of them. If they are, then it’s a trend with a bit more longevity – that’s the time to buy a more expensive pair.

2. Don’t bother with kooky colour matches – yes clashing colour toe caps might look cool now, but you may not feel the same about having different coloured toes in six month’s time. Buy dark – navy, grey, brown or black. Less expensive shoes can look cheap in lighter colours. If you must have a different coloured toe, go metallic.

Here are my top five under £30:

5. Leopard flats – £25 at Oasis

4. Brown/bronze heels – £30 at Dorothy Perkins

3.  Black/gold heels – £16 Matalan (also available in this season’s burgundy. At this price, go for it!)

2. Silver toe and heel ballet flats – £29.50 Wallis

1. Black suedette/black patent heels – £24.99 H&M (Also available in red or grey. And supremely comfortable!)

So, adorn your toes for under £30! Do it. x

Independents day

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Hello friends.

I have fallen in love. With independent labels. Again.

Reasons why independents (indies) are great:

1. Nice different fabrics, prints and colours that you don’t find in your standard high street store.

2. Prices are the same as or not much more than you would pay in somewhere like Toppers or Zara.

3. You can be pretty sure when you wear an item of clothing from an indie that you won’t rock up to a party and find someone else wearing the self-same thing.

Downfalls of the indie:

1. They are often only available in the larger stores, or online (where you have to pay ruddy postage. Twice if they don’t fit.)

2. The smaller the indie, the less range of sizes they will have – S/M M/L or worse still the dreaded ‘One size’. Yuk.

3. They have limited stock, so you don’t really have time to um and ah about whether to get something, as next time you look there might be none left.

The current objects of my affection, namely Ruby Rocks and Louche, seem to manage to avoid these three quite nicely though. The former is available on it’s own website (www.rubyrocks.co.uk) but also at the likes of ASOS and DP; the latter, available at Joy (www.joythestore.com).

Here are the ones wot I ave been looking at recently…

1. Ruby Rocks

Ring-Ring! Hello Ruby Rocks, can I help you? Hello yes, I would like a well cut, lined dress in a funky fabric at a reasonable price please? No problem, here you go. Wow, Ruby, you rock. Thank you.

Check these badboys out:

L-R: Ochre coffee bean print midi dress, £30; Turquoise car print dress, £28; Lemon bird print dress, £26.

I own the first one and have my greedy fashion peepers on the other two as well. And the beauty is…all of these are available online at Dorothy Perkins in their brands section. Well done, Dotty.

2. Louche

The fact that Louche’s main stockist is at a shop called ‘Joy’ is no coincidence. I nearly squealed with delight when I walked in the other day at all their lovely wares. When I say nearly, I mean actually. Eyeball these beauties:

 

L-R: Navy/orange Paloma dress, £50; Square check Zaza dress £45; Multi print Cassidy dress £49; Blue floral Julita dress (as seen in Grazia, apparently) £55.

I also metaphorically dribbled over this mac there too, although it is £75 so you would have to justify in terms of pays-per-wear before getting it:

 

Word to the wise: Louche sizings err on the smaller side, so you might need to size-up from what you might normally buy.

But don’t let that put you off. There are a whole host of wonderful independent brands out there, Ruby Rocks and Louche are just two.

Further your research by checking out Closet, Numph, Soaked in Luxury, And/Or and Dahlia. Quality. Nice. x

Sale away

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Sales are a blessing and a curse. I’m sure you have been in some of the below scenarios as many times as I have:

Blessing: find something super awesome that you wanted for ages but you couldn’t afford full price.

Curse: find something super awful that you try on because it’s a ‘bit different’. Buy in a frenzy of ‘out-there-ness’. Put at back of closet and never look at it again.

Blessing: Try on something that you liked but hadn’t dared to try on before because it was out of your price range and you might really love it. It fits a treat, wear forever and a day.

Curse: Try something on in a size above/below your actual size because you really, really like it and are determined to have it. Convince yourself it sort of fits. Buy. Put at back of closet and every time you try it on, remind yourself of the money you wasted on it because it doesn’t fit.

Blessing: Find some great wardrobe staples from better quality labels at high street prices.

Curse: Buy something that is ‘on trend’ at the moment, but is a fad and the reason it’s in the sale is that no one will be wearing it in a month’s time. (Macrame and tie dye, I’m looking at you.)

So. I have hit the sales recently and in a valliant and conscious bid not to waste my hard-earned on any ‘cursed’ items, I think I’ve done rather well. (Gloat, gloat.) Here goes.

1. Safari shirt dress

Totally loved this safari dress from Oasis when I saw it, but tut-tut they are so naughty with their full-priced stuff sometimes – they definitely overcharge on most items I find. I’m a bit of a ‘lining-pedant’. If an item is over a certain amount of money and isn’t lined I refuse to buy it on principle.

This shirt dress (a freaking wardrobe classic) was originally £65 and WAS NOT LINED! I declined to buy, on the basis that it wasn’t worth the money. Imagine my delight at finding it in the sale for £27, which made me less bothered about the whole lining thing. That’s a bit more like it, isn’t it Oasis?

Verdict: Sometimes its worth holding out when you like something but it ain’t worth the RRP. (P.S. this has been reduced to £20 since.)

2. Leather handbag

I’ve needed a new handbag for a LONG time. My current one I bought about five years ago and I have used it pretty much every day since then, and it is hanging on by a thread! I trawled the online catacombs of John Lewis and happened upon several Radley bags I liked. Now, traditionally Radley had been the leather-based stomping ground of the conservative and slightly older lady, but they have brought me around with this Christa handbag. Full price: £169. Sale price: £84.50.

Verdict: Some bags on the high street cost this much full price and aren’t real leather. If I use it every day for the next 5 years, that’s a pays-per-wear figure of  5p. Investment.

3. Decent underscroggins

I need not tell you that when it comes to underwear you get what you pay for. But a good underwear set can cost you £40 right off the bat. By the time you’ve bought a black one, a lace one, a t-shirt one, a nude one you’ve spent £200 without even realising! That is why I will always invest time in searching the sales for underwear. T’is always a bit hit and miss – often you’ll find they have limited sizes left, or you’ll find the bra in your size but the bottoms in sizes 6 or 26 only. But it’s worth the metaphorical rummage to get good underscrogs for more reasonable prices.

I bought this funky animal print set from the Caprice lingerie range on ASOS. Whole set cost me £19. The original price of the bra alone was £24, so that is a full on bargain as I see it (the whole set full price would have cost £38)

Verdict: Worth spending some time to grab yourself a bargain – but getting good fitting underwear is important, so don’t be wooed by the saving, and only keep it if it fits your brits a treat.

So there you have it! Take my advice: brave the sales intelligently; grab some bargains; regain the respect of your bank manager.

Jack-et in

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Fashion friends, I have been bad to you. I have not been showing the shops the love that they deserve. I must have been ill, but by jiminy, I am back and ready to rock your socks!

I’ve gone a bit nuts for jackets recently! Loving a bit of tailoring and the high street is doing the business right now. Jackets are brilliant in this cruddy in-between-y type weather we’re dealing with at the moment, and also they instantly smarten up any outfit, so they can take you from day to evening no problem.

Mellow yellow

Now, I find Next to be more miss than hit, but I happened upon the first drop in their Autumn collection and found this beauty for an equally beautiful price of £32!

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Ignoring the slightly hideous dress underneath it, I’ll be keeping it simple with some nice deep denim jeans, a plain white top and some tan heels and accessories. Lush.

Spot(ty) the ball

Next up is this lovely cropped jacket by Specsfiles fave Closet at House of Fraser. I managed to snatch it up on one of their 20% off promotional days so it only came to about £33, but full price is £42. Still it’s a classic; navy with white spots and a snazzy scarlet lining. As we all know, nautical is ‘in’ every summer, so you’ll get your pays-per-wear out of this chappy.

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Camel-eon

My last little dribble has been over this little camel tux-style jacket from Oasis. And it’s in the sale too! It’s £42 and I saw it as part of a great outfit on one of the mannequins in the store, which I will share with you now.

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So there’s my top three, but there a whole host of other beauties out there…I implore you to explore! x

A love in – with Marks and Spencers

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Yes, you heard it M&S. Gone are the days of frumpy cardies and all things knee length in taffeta. M&S has come of age in a spectacular way, namely with it’s Limited Collection line.

Don’t worry, peeps, Per Una can still go eff itself.

Its winter drop was somewhat disappointing, but summer’s nearly here (did you get that, April…get stuffed with your endless rain!) and Marks are doing us proud with kooky prints, bright colours and a whole dollop of funk.

Here are the ones which rated highest on my lust-o-meter:

Orange

Loving a bit of orange at the moment, it’s a wonderful summer colour. Not loving it as much as M&S though: they’ve loved it, taken it home to the parents and asked for its hand in marriage. Feast your eyes on these badboys…

The picture on the first dress (£39.50) doesn’t really do it justice. A few neutral accessories and a belt will set this beauty off a treat. I am hearting the heart print dress (also £39.50) in a very very bad way. I think this would be a cute, kooky date dress. If anyone wants to buy me a present, please may I have this one. Thank you. Lastly I love the chilled style of this hornbill-print tie top (£29.50). Hornbill-print. M&S, you are out there. Orange goes beautifully with dark denim, so I’ll be whipping out me hotpants to wear with this cheeky little lovely when I go on hol!

Kooky prints

If that hornbill top just wasn’t enough for you and you want more funky prints in your life, try any of the following wonderments.

These red leggings (£19.50) have some serious funk about them. An oversized tee or jumper, a beanie and some well chosen chains will make this a cute casual look. I am loving the shape, colour and print on this funky tribal skirt (£29.50). Let the print do the talking with a plain coloured top. Finally, add some snazz to your work wardrobe with this lovely green and pink bird print sleeveless shirt (£27.50). A nice pair of high waisted navy palazzos and a pink belt will rock the humble workplace’s socks.

Best of the rest

There are some things that I love, but just don’t fall into any particular category.

I love the colour, cut and leather trim to this gorgeous blazer. At £55 it’s not cheap, and the colour might limit it in terms of pays-per-wear. My advice is to hawk-eye it when the sales start and grab a bargain.

As soon as I saw this yellow striped skirt (£29.50) I loved it, but did wonder what you might wear it with. Then good ole M&S answered my prayers with this cute two-tone top (£25). Tuck it in, cinch that waist with a belt. If you’re feeling feminine slap on a pair of peep toes. If you’re feeling a bit alternative, find a cute pair of ankle socks and team with the laser-cut brogues from Clark’s that I pointed out in a previous post.

Oh M&S, I’m exhausted after our love-in. But it feels good. x

Kiss me Kate

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I don’t know if anyone else had a double take at the lovely Kate Winslet’s curves when she wore this amazing optical illusion dress, but I did and as a skinny old minnie, I was dying to get one for myself! Let’s face it, she looks stunning.

Now. If you have a spare £885 to buy this Stella McCartney beauty, then…well, marry me essentially.

But in seriousness, I doubt that anyone in the real world actually has that money to spare on a dress even as killer as this. It was just a matter of time before the high street heard the word on the grapevine, and thank the lord!

For a mere £19.99, you can set lasers to stun in this pinkie number from New Look.

There’s also this very similar version by Love at Topshop in Coral. Still fairly bargainous at £28.

If you’re feeling a little more flush (and don’t like pink!) then this gorgeous emerald green version is for you – at Runway Route for £46. An awesome dress for a date. Hello boys.

Finally, for just a widdle bit more you can nail two trends in one with this tropical print lovely from Lipsy at Freemans – at £65 its still not bad.

All I need to do is saw the padlock off my purse and find myself a hot date, and I’ll be snapping up one of these before you can say “Jack, I’m flying”.