Monday, 31 December 2012

Alternative Partywear: Taking Your Jumpsuits and Playsuits Out to Play

Squeezing in one final outfit post of 2012 which might just help out someone who's still in a quandary over what to wear tonight! A couple of years ago, I vowed never again to venture out on New Year's Eve, at least until I had a chauffeur (and preferably an invite to the Beckham gaff). As hard as I've tried to get into the spirit, being squashed in the midst of large crowds of drunken people, followed by long walks circumnavigating stubbornly closed train stations in stilettos, topped off by 2-hour waits at taxi queue points/night bus stops in sub-zero temperatures in the early hours of the morning has just never added up to "the best night of the year" for me. So I will be enjoying my perfect start to 2013 in the company of my mum, Geri the cat, Alan (Carr) and a bottle of mulled wine.

If you do have somewhere fabulous to go though, or just happen to enjoy the above, and your favourite party dress is starting to suffer from seasonal fatigue, why not try something a bit different? You can't go wrong with disco pants or sequins, but a playsuit or jumpsuit is also more than capable of stopping the show...

A jumpsuit is such a brilliant throw-it-on day-to-night season-to-season piece, and there are so many amazing styles around at the moment - all you need to do is pick a piece of statement jewellery and some fabulous heels and you're done!

You might have already seen this classic black palazzo-style version featured in my original How to Wear Playsuits and Jumpsuits post - you can change its look and vibe completely, depending on what you pair it with, but this time I decided to go ultra glamorous, with a twist courtesy of classic pearls strung in dramatic shapes - a great spin on formal wear if you don't want to go for a traditional cocktail gown.

Jumpsuit: Peacocks (Past Season)
Shoes: Primark (Past Season)
Body Chain: Miss Selfridge
Bracelet: Primark (Current)

For a less formal (and yes, more playful feel, the playsuit is a great antidote to the LBD. I've had this black velvet number for a couple of years now, and find it surprisingly versatile - great dressed up - either solo save for heels and statement choker, or layered over a sheer long-sleeved top - but just as wearable for day layered over a shirt or jumper with opaque tights and boots...

Playsuit, Wedges, Lace Top and Jumper (below): All Primark (Past Season)
Boots (below): Peacocks (Past Season)

Whatever you're doing, have a brilliant time, and make sure you come back and see me next year!

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How to Wear Sequins, 24/7

Just because the festive season is nearly over, doesn't mean you should relinquish your sequins to storage - along with velvet, thigh high boots, faux fur and mulled wine, they're one of winter's few redeeming features, and it sure ain't over yet! Every year, I make it my mission to wear mine as many ways as possible, in as many unlikely situations as I can - here are a few of this season's efforts so far, featuring my favourite sparkly gems - the Lavish Alice peplum mini, £2 Primark bralet (catch it if you can) and Topshop hotpants.

Princess Sparkle

Because you're never too old to wear a My Little Pony T-shirt... or refer to yourself as Princess Sparkle. A "casual" look for your inner Disney Princess that can't fail to cheer you up... try a band tee for a rockier look.

Skirt: Lavish Alice
T-Shirt: Republic (Past Season)
Wedge Trainers: River Island
Hair Band: New Look*

*Part of my #NLXmasHair Prize

Knit It

Throwing on a knit is the easiest way to tone sequins down - I've kept this look quite polished with a slim fit and heels, but you could grunge it up with a slouchy jumper and biker boots.

Skirt: As Above
Jumper and Boots: Both Primark (Past Seasons)

Fix Up Look Sharp

Dressed up sequins minus the disco diva vibe? A shirt is the way to go... Dress it down again for day with a knit, just allowing the (preferably embellished) collar to peek out (and don't forget the opaques!).

Shorts: Topshop
Shirt: Primark (Current)
Jumper: Primark (Past Season)
Shoes: Dorothy Perkins (Past Season)

Full Length and Fabulous

If it's no-holds-barred glamour you're after, a sequinned bralet looks amazing with a full length or dropped hem skirt (high-waisted for optimum sophistication, vs. mermaid fancy dress costume). Add attitude with chunky ankle boots, or delicacy with strappy sandals.

Bralet: Primark (Current - originally featured in How to Wear Disco Pants)
Boots: Boohoo* (Current)
Maxi Skirt: Jane Norman (Past Season)
Mixi Skirt: New Look (Current)

*Part of my Boohoo #PartyPose People's Choice prize

Maximum Impact

I've noticed quite a few bloggers and style mavens relaxing the "cleavage or legs" rule recently, particularly when it comes to festive bralets... I don't believe that fashion commandments should be adhered to in a religious manner, but this is one that can be hard to break successfully, particularly if you're an E-cup blonde. Never one content to be left out when it comes to fashion, however, I figure that this is the time of year to experiment. With a high waist, fierce footwear and an attitude to match, I think it can work... not a look for nipping to the supermarket though!

By the same token, doubling up on sequins can be tricky... but what could be more fun than a sequinned bralet with matching bottoms? My failsafe formula when it comes to matchy matchy sparkles is to keep it black, and stick to high waisted shorts or pencil skirts, or a skinny trouser... By all means be brave and forge your own path though!

Bralet and Hotpants: As Above
Faux Leather Skirt: Primark (Current)
Metallic Pleated Skirt: Forever 21

Medium Impact

If you're not quite so brave, try a slightly more subtle statement top with sequinned bottoms - I love the contrast of lace and/or chiffon, and a more relaxed fit injects a dose of laid-back glamour.

Skirt and Boots: As Above
Shirt: Primark (Current)
Top: River Island (Current)

How do you wear yours?

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Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas 2012: The Outfits, Prezzies and Prizes

Epic post alert! Whilst you're still revelling in the festive spirit... or at least still imbibing the remains of your festive spirits, I thought I'd share some visual souvenirs of my Christmas - the outfits worn, the presents ripped open and the competition wins celebrated...

What I Wore...

Christmas Day

Santa Baby...

Over the last 9 years, it's become a tradition for me to sneak off after lunch and re-emerge as "Santa" to dole out little surprise presents to the rest of the family - in the last couple of years, this has escalated into a full blown song-and-dance routine (largely at mum's instigation - themes make her very excitable). This year, Kylie sang Santa Baby, whilst I performed a burlesque-lite Marilyn-inspired number (last year, I was Santa's little belly dancing helper - what will we come up with next year?)

Black Velvet

When I wasn't playing St Nicholas, I wore this black velvet Topshop dress - a surprise present from mum. Yes, I swapped accessories when I changed back after my little cabaret performance; some years it's a full blown Oscar-presenter-worthy 3-outfit change. The belt and earrings were Primark bargains we picked up on our annual Oxford Street Christmas shop, and we found the furry collar in H&M - I actually only slipped it on to save it from the enormous wrapping paper pile which had formed following Santa's mid-afternoon visit, inadvertently discovering that it looked great with the dress!

Boxing Day

A mixture of much-longed-for new and stalwart old - for family shindig #2, I teamed this Missguided cut-out berry velvet dress, which I finally got to unwrap on Christmas Day, with studded Lita-likes from my Boohoo #PartyPose winner's haul, star print Primark tights, and a cropped gold cardi which finally enjoyed a day in the spotlight after languishing in my wardrobe for the best part of a decade.

27th December

My grandmother's 83rd birthday meal... So what if everyone else who frequents ASK at 4pm is rocking jeans rather than a carefully cultivated contemporary twist on Art Deco meets Audrey Hepburn?

This is the Madam Rage dress which I have been raving about and lusting after for months now (and will currently cost you an unbelievable £10 if you're as excited by it as I am!). Luckily enough, nana picked it straight off my Christmas list (she's rather OTM when it comes to fashion), so I finally got my mitts on it!

I'd originally planned to give it a rock chick twist, with my new cross-print tights, a studded belt and hairband, and fierce boots, but once I'd top-knotted my hair, it seemed to be crying out for the new velvet River Island hairband mum had kindly gifted me with, so the plan changed... The belts and earrings are all Primark finds - with a couple of statement accessories already in the mix, I stuck to classic black tights and courts to avoid over-cluttering the look.

A couple of quick notes for those of you who might be considering an investment in either of the above dresses - they're incredibly comfortable, and stunning in real life, but the cut-outs can reveal bits of bra - if you're a C cup or under, I doubt you'd have this problem, but as a DD/E size 8, I struggle to avoid it, which is slightly annoying... Also, the cut-outs on the black dress have elasticated edges, so I feel a waist belt is necessary for the purposes of concealment - not that I mind - it's a great accessorising opportunity! Overall, I'm more than happy with them.

What I Won...

Boohoo #PartyPose People's Choice Winner's Haul

If you're a regular reader, you'll know by now how delighted I was to be announced as the winner of the bloggers' version of the Boohoo #PartyPose competition earlier this month. Turns out a few wires had become crossed, as Boohoo had actually stated in some of their terms that the winner was to be picked at random, so it was lucky for me that they'd already deliberated over their favourite entry and chosen me! This means that a second winner has been picked, at random this time, and I have been re-titled the People's Choice Winner - which is quite nice really!

I had £100 to spend (plus a discount code which gave me about £25 more to splash, including delivery), and spent many sleepless nights poring over the Boohoo website before finalising my prize haul. I did consider purchasing my winning outfit, but the gorgeous Macie dress was sadly out of stock in my size (now it's back and half price, boohoo indeed)... The Lucy peplum belt was already in the "must-have-or-I'll-cry" section of my Christmas list (written before I knew I'd won), so I invested in the Tali lace-up cutaway wedge boots (which came with a warning label!), already featured in my How to Wear Disco Pants post, along with a few other pieces I'd been lusting after for a while - some amazing Baroque-print skinny jeans, patent military-style over-the-knee boots, I-Can't-Believe-They're-Not-Litas (featured in my Boxing Day outfit above) and a beautiful berry roll-neck bodycon midi. I popped the gold studded hair band in to make up the last few pounds, after wangling out of mum that she'd already ordered the silver one from my wish list!

I couldn't be happier with my choices - everything looks just as good or even better in real life, and fits like a dream (a couple of sizing notes for those of you who're squeamish about buying without trying - I'm in between shoe sizes and the larger size from Boohoo fits perfectly, and I need a size larger in their jeans than I do in most high street stores, but not in their dresses, disco pants or leggings - they do hassle- and cost-free returns anyhow though). Don't forget to enter my Boohoo giveaway for your chance to win your own £50 or £100 haul!

New Look Christmas Hair Winner's Haul

In the same week that I found out about my Boohoo win, I was over the moon to hear that I'd also won the #NLXmasHair competition on Instagram (see my winning entry here). A mysterious goody bag full of hair accessories was dispatched via Special Delivery the following day - what service! I loved the selection, which was very feminine - part-vintage chic, part super-sparkle - and included lots of the kinds of things I'd always wished were part of my mane-drobe but had never chanced upon, like pearl hair bands and embellished combs and slides.

I really wanted to do a party hair post before New Year's Eve incorporating all the lovely goodies from this selection and from my Christmas stocking, but a combination of lighting issues and timing constraints (too many mini mince pies to eat = too little time to braid and backcomb) has conspired to push it back to January... Oh well, we can still sparkle in 2013, right?

What Santa Brought Me...

Coming Soon to an Outfit Post Near You...

Along with the 3 gorgeous dresses featured in the What I Wore... Section above, I unwrapped these lovelies... I apologise if I have blinded you - have just discovered the "glow" feature on Photoshop.

  • Sequinned Peplum Mini: Lavish Alice - An early present from my BFF (I may have dropped a very subtle hint on Pinterest) and set to feature prominently in my upcoming How to Wear Sequins post...
  • Robbie Williams T-Shirt (with rhinestoned eyes!), Sequin Collar Drop Back Lace Shirt, Knitted Pleated Burgundy Mini Skirt, Sheer Side-Split Maxi Skirt, Cream Lace Midi Dress, Monochrome Panelled Bodycon Midi Dress and Grey Bodycon Midi Dress: All Primark (Chosen by mum and I on our annual festive Oxford Street shopathon, then reluctantly relinquished for wrapping).
  • Black Lace-Topped Sleeveless Top: River Island

  • Sequinned Bustier: Primark - On a later, last minute trip (featuring a present buying ratio of about 2:1 in favour of us vs. other people), mum and I came across this bralet reduced to a frankly ridiculous £2! I absolutely love it - it even comes with little hidden hooks for optional straps! Yes, you may have seen me sneakily feature it in my disco pants post pre-Christmas - I received it early since mum was suffering from pre-wrapping anxiety.
  • Midnight Blue Velvet Leggings: Boohoo - A lovely surprise waiting when I returned from the afore-mentioned shopping trip, c/o of my BFF , along with the studded collar featured below - these are just amazing - lovely and thick and cosy (but still rather sexy, according to various van drivers, anyway), with a wide, high waistband - not quite as high as their disco pants, but stunning enough that you don't want to cover it up!
  • Disco Pants: Daisy Street - Button-up disco pants! These were on my wish list, but I wasn't expecting nana to pick them out (she is in effect the gatekeeper for extended family gifting!), so it was a surprise to unwrap them on Christmas Day! They're almost indistinguishable from the AA ones in my opinion - no baggy ankle syndrome, which is something I was worried about in a button-up version. Of course I still love my Boohoo pants, but these will be fabulous for a slightly different look (and days when I haven't eaten a full veggie roast followed by 4 mini desserts - they squeeze with the best of them!).
  • Black Patent Wedge Trainers: Primark - A must for the footwear wardrobe - I love my white high tops, but having a black pair doubles potential wear, and the patent sheen will render them equally at home with both sporty and more dressy looks. Can't wait for their pastel counterparts to drop for SS13!
  • Grey Over the Knee Boots: Forever 21 - Flat rain-proof boots are by far the most practical footwear choice for an English winter, and I think over-the-knee styles are just that bit more exciting (in case you hadn't guessed from seeing my Boohoo beauties). These are fairly fitted, and ruche up in a delightful manner when you put them on - pretty enough to wear with skirts and dresses, but simple enough to wear casually and without worries about overpowering the rest of an outfit.

Accessories and Foodstuffs

A melange of vintage chic and rock chick...

Roughly Clockwise from Top Left by Retailer:
  • Monochrome Clutch, Deco Drop Earrings, Oval Jewelled Earrings, Rose-Diamante Necklace, Mustard Necklace and Earrings, Ponytail Holders, Gold Collar Tips, Jewelled Shoe Clips, Beaded Belt, Multi-Strand Leather-and-Metal Belt, Jewelled Collar Tips: All Primark
  • Cat Ear Hair Band, Studded Hair Band, Studded Collar, Leather-Look Peplum Belt: All Boohoo
  • Diamante Earrings on Card, Cross-Print Tights, Spiked Hoop Earrings: All Topshop
  • Faux Fur Collar: H&M (featured above)
  • Silk Sleep Mask: Silk Sleep
  • Silver Ball Bracelet, Notebook, Beaded Hair Band: Unbranded
  • Velvet Hair Band: River Island (featured above)
  • The obligatory (and much-loved) Chocolate Orange, choccie coins and satsuma, mouthwatering Lindt Mini Pralines (highly recommended) and an enormous Lindt Creation Dessert selection, which mum decided to invest in on witnessing my third year of drooling in the Selfridges Food Hall, accompanied by simultaneous protestations that such a collection was surely far too large for me to manage by myself (I did promise to let her have one of each...).

Reading Material, Toiletries and Retail Funding

  • Vintage Style: 25 Iconic Fashion Looks and How to Get Them and Style Me Vintage - two beautiful books I've been lusting after for months (was it for my benefit that Waterstones plonked their new cafe right by the Fashion and Photography sections?) - I'm sure they'll inspire lots of new ideas and features in 2013!
  • The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory and The Noble Assassin by Christie Dickason - the latest reads from two of my favourite historical novelists - there's something so magical about being able to escape to another time, and their books completely sweep you away; medieval to 21st century - I'm spellbound by it all.
  • Goddess of Vengeance and The Power Trip (both by Jackie Collins) - I'm not ashamed to admit that I've read every one of Jackie's 29 novels (except these two latest ones) in the time since I was 14 or so, and they're still some of my all-time favourite reads.
  • The Decision by Penny Vincenzi - another "must-read-everything-she-produces" favourite - she captivates with modern and historical tales alike.
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and I Heart London by Lindsey Kelk - two books chosen by my uncle from the list I keep of books I'm interested in reading, regularly updated in response to magazine reviews etc. When I find an author I love, I never miss a new release, but I'm equally excited by discovering new stuff - war lit, chick lit, thrillers, crime... just as long as it's got the seal of approval from either Heat or Richard & Judy.
  • No 7 Body Wash & Body Lotion and Bayliss & Harding Body Wash (in sequin-jacketed bottle - how on-trend, nana) - Er, do I look dirty? Lush smellies to make my shower a little more luxurious...
  • £20 to spend in each of Topshop, Boots, Debenhams and Amazon - my purse rejoices!

How was everyone else's Christmas? Did Santa bring you everything you wanted? And how hard is it to get a decent picture of your Christmas tree?!

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£50 Amazon or Threadless Voucher for Joining the Daxon VIP Fashion Blogger Network

Hands up who's back from the holiday blogging wilderness? I've been working hard (note the time!) on lots of festive fashion fare coming your way in the run-up to New Year, but first a quick post to let you know about the opportunity to join the Daxon VIP Fashion Blogger Network, for anyone who hasn't come across it yet.
I must admit I hadn't heard of Daxon before, but they are part of Redcats, the world's third largest home shopping organisation, which also parents La Redoute, and are currently giving a £50 Amazon or Threadless voucher to every fashion blogger who joins their network. All the details are on their blog, but there are no future obligations, and the only requirements are to upload a badge to your blog and write a post about the opportunity, including a link to their homepage (! You'll then need to email to let them know that you've completed these steps (by 31st December). Um, yes please!

Satin Clutch, £29

Daxon's cornucopia of clothes, accessories and homeware seems to be geared primarily towards the more "mature" lady (or gentleman - they stock menswear too) - definitely a place to stop if you're on the hunt for a birthday present for mum or nan - but on closer inspection there are definitely also a few gems I'd welcome into my wardrobe with open arms, like this stunning clutch bag and pure silk polka dot scarf - perfect for rocking a vintage-inspired look, and both under £30 too! I'll definitely be keeping an eye on their new additions...

Silk Polka Dot Scarf, £23

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