Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Curious Case of the Missing Outfit Posts

During my camera replacement saga, I missed out on documenting some outfits I really wanted to post (I have actually been attempting to repeat already-photographed outfits or go "casual" for the last month so as not to "waste" anything, but I couldn't do it every day, and it's nearly killed me anyway)... So I have decided to recreate them!

I am really pleased with the upgrade in quality and versatility from my new Olympus Pen E-PL3, compared with my old point and shoot, but it's still difficult to take indoor pictures after 4pm in this autumnal light, and the flash is producing some noticeable shadows, so I've just ordered a more powerful flash with a bounce and swivel head, which will hopefully help - it also has an LED for video shooting, so I can show you the AW haul I've (mostly) refrained from wearing until I could record its existence!

But on to the clothes...

I wore this dress the night before my birthday to go on a sundowner champagne and canapes cruise on the Thames (not quite as glamorous as it sounds!) with my mum, nana and BFF. It first hit the high street at the tail end of the summer, but I regretfully decided it was too "red carpet" for my lifestyle... Then I saw it on a blogger at the beach, flowing out behind her as she clambered gracefully over some rocks, and became obsessed... By this time it had disappeared from every Primark in a 15 mile radius, and despite posting people on watch in other cities it seemed I'd missed the boat... Until the week of my birthday (the last week in September), when I walked into my home store to be confronted by a great rack of new arrivals, and alarmed my mother and grandmother with the most excited reaction they'd seen since I unwrapped Ariel's Undersea Hideaway on my birthday some 20 years previously!

Dress: Primark (Current)
Shoes: Primark (Current - Limited Edition - £30)
Necklace: Primark (Past Season)

I've used a bit of artistic license in my recreation - adding my new Gaga-esque heel-less shoes (which precipitated just as excited a reaction as the dress when I walked into the new Tottenham Court Road Primark a couple of weeks ago) and a statement antique gold/feathered necklace for a bit of a Halloween-y vibe... In "real life" I have to wear tights, because it has a tendency to ride up, and it's a struggle to pull on and off over the shoulder/bust area because, despite being "ultimate bodycon", it's not really stretchy! But, for its undeniable beauty, I can make concessions...

The shoes are suprisingly easy to walk in - you don't feel as if your heels are floating in mid-air; it's just like wearing a platform wedge! I did find that the right shoe in every size I tried on dug in beneath my ankle bone slightly, but I think that might be down to my anatomy rather than the shoes... They are by far the most wondrous exemplars of their kind that I have seen anyway, so I forbear...

I wore the outfit below on the following day for my Oxford Street birthday shop-a-thon - the top was a present from mum, along with the scarf - I threw them on over one of my favourite staple all-seasons mini dresses (see more of it in this post), adding a faux sheepskin jacket to tone in with the neutral palette and boho feel, and printed chelsea boots to double up on my leopard accents.

Dress: Primark (Past Season)
Top: New Look (Current)
Boots: Primark (Current)
Scarf: Tu at Sainsbury's (Current)
Jacket: New Look (Past Season)

On another outing for the new top, based on mum's styling suggestion to wear it over nothing but a bra (!), I teamed it with a stretch pencil skirt (also a present from mum, and another prime example of what you can pick up along with your milk and cat food these days) and heeled biker boots to toughen it up.

Top: As Above
Skirt: Tu at Sainsbury's (Current)
Boots: Peacocks (Past Season)

The tea dress is one of my favourite transitional pieces (again, check out this post for more ways to wear). Over-the-knee socks give a classic look a slight edge whilst keeping you warm(er). I added a swing jacket to retain a vintage feel.

Dress and Jacket: Primark (Past Season)
Shoes: Peacocks (Past Season)
Socks: Primark (Current - £2.50 for one navy and one burgundy pair)

On another occasion, I decided to bring a vintage-style dress into the 21st century with a rock-chick/Lana del Rey twist, teaming it with a leopard-print bomber, lace ankle socks and studded ankle boots... Oh OK, this look was actually partly accidental - I reached for the nearest jacket because I was cold - but it works, right?!

Dress and Boots: Primark (Past Season)
Jacket: Primark (SS12, but may still be some in stock)

Happy Halloween everyone!

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Saturday, 27 October 2012

AW12 Lust Haves... This Season's Sensational Skirts

A few more of the separates on my shopping list/in my dreams this season...

1: Primark

Love the '50s circle skirt structure, and it looks so cute with the top!

2: Next, £35

Everyone needs a polka dot pencil skirt in their lives, surely? This would look scrumptious with a peplum top or tucked-in shirt and heels to max out the vintage secretary vibe, or grunged up with a relaxed knit and leather jacket.

3: Matalan, £18

One of my favourite takes on the Baroque trend so far, Matalan is really stepping it up this season! It's so sumptuous - sort of Anne Boleyn brought into the 21st century!

4: Missguided, £22.99

Beautiful printed mixi for AW - the leather waistband just gives it that little extra edge.

5: Primark

I've bought this in a creamy/nudey colourway, and would so love to complete my sheer maxi collection with the black version, but the last couple of times I've been on pilgrimage to the new Tottenham Court Road store, the same lone size 16 has been hanging sadly by itself. I'd urge you to nab one if you can - the little built in shorts are really cute and comfy, and it's the best value option around for creating those gorgeous full length sheer looks all season (and beyond, I'm sure).

6: Glamorous, £25.99

A dropped hem gives the classic pleated midi a modern twist, and you can't let claret mania pass you by (no, I'm not calling it oxblood - I'm a vegetarian).

7: Marks & Spencer, £49.50

This skirt has been bandied about everywhere, since well before the first leaves turned russet, but I'm still yet to find a more perfect mirror print garment...

8: Matalan, £16 (available here)

Another beautiful berry mixi - fab with black or blocked with other rich autumnal tones.

9: Primark

See - you don't need to put your tutu away just because it's nearly November, or you're only going to the supermarket! Would look fab with a ladylike blouse and killer heels for a dressier look too - the below-knee length gives it an elegant feel.

10: ASOS

A high waist and structured feel give this bodycon mini a veneer of sophistication, but still allow it to retain a sexy-as-hell underwear-as-outerwear edge. I'd wear it with a slinky-knit batwing top or fierce bralet and skyscrapers for evening, or a sloppy knit, opaques and chunky ankle boots for day.

11: New Look, £27.99 & 12: River Island, £30

Two delicious baroque skaters; the choice is yours... I originally featured the River Island piece in my How To Wear Metallics, from Dawn to Dusk post. I love the structured shape of the River Island skirt, and its eye-popping preponderance of gold, but the New Look one may be more wearable if you want a subtler look.

13: Primark

My favourite flapper-style skirt to take to the shop floor so far this season. I would wear it with a denim shirt or chunky knit for day, because I refuse to let my sequins languish in the wardrobe, even if it is 3pm, but it would also pair amazingly well with the embellished Matalan top in my recent AW12 Tops Edit for top-to-toe '20s glamour.

Bonus Round: Wallis, £35

Up to now, Wallis has definitely not been on my "feverish new-in browsing" hitlist, so I was gobsmacked by this amazing metallic pleather pencil skirt, and its price! I originally posted it on my new AW12 Lust Haves board on Pinterest, where you can find a direct link to buy it online, and I'm also adding other objects of desire as I discover them... please do pop over and join me!

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Sneak Peek: Kardashian Kollection for Dorothy Perkins

Dorothy Perkins have finally released the lookbook for the Kardashian Kollection, launching in the UK on 8th November! Prices range from £25 for tops to £50 for the most expensive dresses and £75 for a lace trench coat (below). It's very Kardashian-y - lots of curve-hugging bodycon shifts, animal print and the requisite pleather-panelled leggings. I sort of wish they'd pushed the envelope a little further with some of the more classic pieces, but they are very true to their sources of inspiration - you could easily envision plucking them directly from Kim's wardrobe.

I love the tie-dye panelled bodycon dress, above, £50, and the black keyhole shift, £40, is a great staple LBD.

Below are a few of my favourite picks not included in the main composite image. The gold bodycon shift is classic Kardash-fash, and the slight crop and asymmetric hemline of the pleather jacket give it a sexy edge.

So what do you think? Are you a Kardashian fan? Impressed by their first UK kollection?

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Saturday, 20 October 2012

AW12 Lust Haves... Scorching High Street Tops

A few styles I'm coveting this season...


1: ASOS, £38

Hit the Baroque trend in full-on stun mode! A full-length catsuit version with skinny velvet legs is also due in soon... *hyperventilates with excitement*

2: Glamorous

This would look gorgeous over a studded bralet and leather skinnies, or to sauce up a pencil skirt.

3: Matalan

A nod to Great Gatsby chic - I'd wear this with a similarly embellished or fringed mini, a pleated midi or a sheer maxi, to work the twenties vibe to the max.

4: Missguided, £26.99

So excited that an AW crop top avalanche is hitting the shops this year! Obsessed with the rock chick embellished styles beginning to trickle onto the high street... Perfect with leather or high waisted skirts.

5: Matalan, £22

Loving the mock croc twist on the peplum, and the sleeves will keep the chill off! This would look equally fab with treggings or a ladylike pencil skirt. For an even sexier take on the long sleeved peplum top, check out River Island (see this post).

6: F&F at Tesco, £16

Such a chic, beautifully tailored example of the peplum top - work a ladylike look or dip a toe into gothic romance.

7: F&F at Tesco, £20

And talking of gothic romance... Drooling over the Edwardian styling of this high-necked sheer shirt. And the piping details don't just add to its beauty - I think they'd also act a bit like those "illusion" panels - with the side and waist detailing accentuating and minimising the waist, and the "V-neck" panel flattering larger busts, whilst enhancing smaller girls. Who knew supermarkets could be such treasure troves?!

8: Next, £28

Luscious vintage styling... You could go (or should I say wiggle?) almost anywhere in this, whilst all the time feeling like a Mad Men extra - and what could be more fun that that?

Have a look through my past posts for more of my AW picks, like these velvet tops.

Now to get on with preparing my seasonal skirts edit...

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Tuesday, 16 October 2012

My New Camera! Plus A Couple of Buying Tips...

So after a lot of research, 2 deliveries, 1 return and an hour in Jessops, I finally have my new camera! I'm upgrading from a dinky pink Samsung ES55 which has served me well for nearly 3 years, but was starting to get reeeally frustrating in low light and in terms of lack of controllability... After ordering and fighting with a Nikon DSLR which really just wasn't for me, and testing out the Canon 550D, I've (controversially?) plumped for the Olympus PEN E-PL3, a mirrorless/micro four thirds/EVIL compact-DSLR hybrid.

From my modelling experiences, I am convinced that different cameras can make you look completely different, regardless of settings, photographer skill etc... I've had photos taken by different photographers in the same week, in which I look about 3 dress sizes bigger in one set compared with another... And obviously, if self portraits are your main stock in trade, you really don't want the results to depress you every day! I've never really got the entrenchment with which people dig themselves into the Canon or Nikon "clubs", but I do now! Despite reading the manual from cover to cover and playing with every setting I could find, I found the Nikon pictures cold and just really didn't like how they captured me, at all - I wanted to run back into the arms of my little pink point and shoot, crying!

So, my number one tip if you're looking for a new camera? Try before you buy!

Sounds simplistic, but hours of internet research or looking at the results other people have got from a camera are no guarantee that it'll feel right for you and produce the kinds of images you're dreaming about (which is still no excuse not to study your specs, reviews and other bloggers' photos too!).

Having narrowed it down to an "EVIL" Olympus PEN or a Canon DSLR, I ventured to Jessops in Epsom (my nearest store with both in stock), where the staff couldn't have been more helpful, or less pushy (although they were politely bemused when my mum and I inadvertently started talking in unison, thanking them for their help in complete synchrony).

Which brings me to my next top buyers' tip: Take your own memory card with you so that you can compare the photos from different cameras when you get home. 

Zooming in on a camera's LCD bears no comparison to getting the full picture on your laptop. Mum and our friendly sales assistant took portrait and full length shots of me (a bit cringe, but worth it!) with both cameras, and, although I liked the (very similar) rendering of images from both, we were pretty sold on the Canon from the views on the LCDs (although, after much agonising, our Jessops man decided he'd go for the Olympus)... until we got home.

Now I know you can coax awesome fashion images out of a Canon, but, on Auto, in terrible fluorescent shop floor lighting, the images from the Olympus were undeniably better - crystal clear, with slightly better colour rendering and less overblown highlights (or shiny face syndrome!). So, combined with its ridiculously cute vintage styling and handy size (and weight), it was a no-brainer for me.

It's available from Amazon from £285 (in silver; £320.28 in black) with a 14-42mm lens, but I decided to go for the twin lens kit from Jessops, which includes a 14-42mm and 40-150mm lens for a pretty bargainous £369.95 - as the longer lens is selling for around £200 alone, I figured it was a deal not worth missing! Another plus point for Jessops - and I'm not working for them here! - is that they throw in a 2 year guarantee.

The E-PL3 is the middleweight in the PEN range (L for Lite, between standard and M for Mini) - I was originally looking at the E-P3, but from online reviews gathered that the performance of the Lite version was near-identical. I would never have got the standard version plus 2 lenses for anything close to my £400 target budget, so this was a welcome finding! The third PEN generation seemed to be the best fit for my requirements and budget, balancing features and performance with value for money - the E-PL5 has just become available (for some reason there is no E-PL4), but I haven't tortured myself by reading about how wonderful it might be, at the prices it's currently retailing at!

I'll try to do a fuller review once I've got it up and running (waiting for the battery to charge as we speak)... but I think it's a great option for anyone upgrading from a standard compact, or wanting a more portable DSLR-like camera - it offers pretty much all the control you get with a DSLR, plus better video capabilities than most (up to 29 minutes in full HD with stereo sound) and a hot shoe for accessories/flash upgrades. The one thing I was concerned about from reviews was its low light performance (generally regarded as good, but not as good as a typical DSLR), but, as I've said, on Auto, it surpassed DSLR performance in the shop, so fingers crossed! I'd imagine it's not really a "night landscape" camera, but hopefully for indoor outfit shots it will suffice!

Results of initial experiments coming soon to a screen near you...

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Sunday, 14 October 2012

This Weekend's Hottest Online Fashion and Beauty Deals

So I found a few more drool-worthy dresses (all in the name of research, obvs) - that just happen to be amazingly good value if you snap them up today... A|Wear is offering 25% off selected dresses for a limited time, and Dorothy Perkins is taking 20% off all full price dresses until midnight tonight.

1: A|Wear, usually £50, now £37.50

I have been sneaking onto the A|Wear website for weeks now to admire this gorgeous vintage-style peplum tea dress - it's just crying out for matte red lips and a victory roll!

2: A|Wear, usually £59.99, now £44.99

Also available in cream, how gorgeous is this flapper frock? Sheer layers over a cinched base allow you to work the traditional silhouette without losing your waist.

3: Dorothy Perkins, usually £29.50 - 20% off today only

You wait months for a peplum tea dress and a whole convoy arrives at once! This stretch, below-the-knee, tie waist style is super flattering, and also comes in a beautiful bird print, as well as block black and purple. Their fitted shift range in general is incredible at the moment - you'll find a piece for literally any occasion you can think of.

Also worth a mention - Max C London is offering a huge 50% discount today with code TWIT50 (well worth following them @MaxCLondon). I am currently bemoaning my wardrobe's sad lack of spike studs, and this peplum top is amazzzzing (usually £25).

Finally, if you're stocking up on hair and beauty essentials, check out the HQ Hair sale quick, before it ends at midnight tonight - you can bag 25% off Kerastase products and over 40% off Moroccanoil! Plus, buy 2 sale products and you'll get an extra 15% off with code SALE15.

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