Sunday, 30 September 2012

How to Wear... The Trophy Jacket

A mini post (by my standards!) to end this month's inaugural series.

Whether it's a lurex-threaded boucle jacket, a sequinned blazer or a statement-shouldered cropped number like mine, I can bet you already own, or have your eye on, a stunning little cover-up to make those autumn evening chills just a little more bearable, and a lot more stylish.

Any of the above will look awesome draped over a simple LBD, but they're also great for adding a feminine twist to an androgynous tailored look, for those of us who want to dip a toe into tomboy territory but feel naked without at least one item of clothing that Barbie would be happy in.

At 4.30am one night (it was meant to be an early night, but after reading the new issues of Look and Company Street Style Edit from cover to cover, I was too wired to sleep, as outfit ideas kept popping into my head), I realised that, despite not issuing from the same shop, or even in the same year, my little cream lace shorts were an almost exact match for my cream lace trophy jacket (all kinds of exciting mental insights such as these keep you awake once you've amassed as many clothes as I have). A buttoned-up shirt (with embellished collar, natch) and heeled brogues added the finishing touches to my lady-boy look.

Jacket: Primark (Past Season)
Shorts: Jane Norman (Past Season)
Shirt: Primark (AW12)
Shoes: Peacocks (Past Season)

Contrasting-toned tailored trousers also paired well for a girly twist on power-dressing (see this post).

So don't restrict that sequinned blazer to Christmas parties - go ahead and slip it on over your sequinned hotpants, with a sharp sheer shirt and some shiny brogues - OK, it might be pushing the boundaries of masculine tailoring to Elton John levels, but it's fun!

This is the last of my daily September How to Wear posts chronicling almost all the outfits I've worn in the past year. If all has gone to plan, I'll be hitting the new Oxford Street Primark and its neighbours on my birthday shopping trip as this post is published, and will return armed with bags of new possibilities to be photographed by my shiny new DSLR. So, although my posting rate will probably calm down slightly now (so I might have some chance of getting something other than blogging done), I hope that this is only the end of the beginning.

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Saturday, 29 September 2012

How to Wear... Faux Fur and Winter Warmers

It's time to get your winter heavyweights ready girls - it may still be blazer weather during the day, but your transitional jackets and lightweight macs won't keep out the evening chill for too much longer (especially if you live in the UK). Even if you're not as excitable about faux fur as I am (I bought this season's first piece in August, on the hottest day of the year - never leave anything you love behind), hopefully, by the time you've read this post you'll agree that winter does have some redeeming qualities.

Classic Winter Wool

A heavyweight woollen coat hitting mid-thigh or below is a must for AW - you're bound to be able to find one to suit your style.

Colour pop shades add vibrance to a classic look, and are great for illuminating neutrals or blocking with other tones. Rich berry, scarlet, orange, navy and mustard tones are perfect for this time of year.

Coat: Freemans (Past Season)
Dress and Shoes: Primark (Past Season)
Tights and Hair Band: Accessorize (Past Season)

An empire line cut gives an elegant vintage feel and has a flattering effect on nearly all body types.

A crombie coat is great for less girly types, or toying with a touch of androgyny, and the cocoon cut will cover a multitude of sins. I'm intrigued by this Primark coat as it's so different from the styles I'd usually pick out.

This Primark peplum coat is top of my grab-as-soon-as-it-drops list. The peplum gives a classic heritage-inspired style a feminine twist, whilst the buttons hint at military styling. The shape is fantastic for accentuating or creating hourglass curves.

The only thing that can make a princess coat more irresistible? Fur collar and cuffs. I love the way this beyond-cute Miss Selfridge number combines classic camel with animal print.

A super-feminine, super-cute take on the duffle, this coat from Tu at Sainsbury's will look as perfect with a pencil skirt as it will with jeans.

A full-length coat is an investment you'll never regret (especially if you can find the one in Primark). A godsend for those times when your dream dress just looks somehow frumpy and wrong poking out from under the hem of every other coat you own, and amazingly snug with boots and furry accessories on those arctic winter days - pick a wrap style or one that nips you in at the waist to maintain shape.

Coat and Boots: Primark (Past Season)
Hat: Miss Selfridge (Past Season)

The Duster
For a go-with-anything cover-up with a swinging sixties feel, grab a duster. Flattering on most shapes, this metallic Primark version will look stunning on a night out.

Faux Fur

The Accessories
Not only practical but soooo much fun, a cossack hat or dalmatian print pillbox and mittens give a sophisticated From Russia with Love edge to a wintry look. Generally, it's best to keep furry accessories and coats separate (unless it's reeeeeally cold), or it can all get a bit eskimo/Cruella de Vil. I like to wear mine with classic fitted sweater dresses or vintage-inspired blouse and midi skirt ensembles. Accessorize and Next have some gorgeous cossack hats in their AW12 collections.

Dalmatian Hat and Mittens: River Island (Past Season)
Coat: As Above
Blouse: Primark (Past Season)
Skirt: ASOS (SS12)
Tights: Primark
Shoes: New Look (Past Season)
Cossack Hat: Miss Selfridge (Past Season)
Sweater Dress: Warehouse (Past Season)
Necklace: Primark (Past Season)

The Coats

Faux fur gilets look great layered over chunky knits, maxi dresses or sweater dresses for a boho/rock chick vibe, or over a lightweight mac or parka to extend their seasonal lifespan. This one is from F&F at Tesco.

Fur jackets and coats are perfect partners for both casual and formal looks - adding a seventies glam rock feel to jeans, leather skinnies and boho maxis, and a touch of old Hollywood glamour to evening dresses, pencil skirts and floaty midis. Give bodycon minis a wide berth though - Pretty Woman is not your inspiration here.

New Look, £39.99

A short-haired, cropped, animal print style adds the perfect dose of silver screen stardust to a vintage-inspired daytime or sophisticated night-time look.

F&F at Tesco, £40

A longer-haired, hip-skimming jacket in neutral or colour pop shades looks great with long boots pulled over leather or denim skinnies.

A|Wear, £80

Long, chunky faux fur coats beg to be belted for an elegant hourglass silhouette. Don't feel you need to stick to the belt or tie your garment comes with - switch it up for different looks - skinny, wide, embellished...

Warehouse, £90

Tomorrow: How to Wear the Trophy Jacket

See more posts featuring faux fur here

See more posts featuring jackets and coats here

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Friday, 28 September 2012

How to Wear... The Body Chain

No longer confined to fetish clubs and, er, "red rooms", the body chain has become the ultimate statement necklace, with delicate gold strands and strings of pearls to adorn those who aren't into the leather harness and buckles look. Here, I scratch the surface of its surprising versatility.

The Pretty Party Dress
A delicate jewelled version adds a bit of edge to a classic girly frock without spoiling its sweetness.

Body Chain: Freedom at Topshop
Dress: Dorothy Perkins (Past Season)
Shoes: New Look (SS12)

Modern Rocker
A simple multi-strand body chain is perfect for amping up a plain vest or tee, and works especially well as part of a "rock chick" look, with metallic, leather, studded or just plain dark denim skinnies. A single ear cuff is the cherry on top, whilst a denim shirt turns the volume down a bit - a leather blazer would dress it up whilst maintaining the feel of the look.

Body Chain: Freedom at Topshop
Ear Cuff: Miss Selfridge
Jeans: Parisian at New Look (Past Season)
Boots: Primark (Past Season)
Shirt: Tammy (Past Season)

Vintage Vixen
A pearl variant adds wow factor to a little black midi (and would also look amazing with flapper style shifts, and pencil, lantern, tulip and skater shapes). I think it works particularly well with a monochrome or single-colour palette.

Body Chain: Miss Selfridge (still available in many stores, although not currently online)
Dress: eBay

A metallic fine-chained piece, like the one featured in Modern Rocker, above, gives a slightly subtler edge to a multi-coloured vintage-style ensemble, as illustrated in yesterday's post, where it ramps up the glamour and adds impact without competing for attention with the colour pop pencil skirt.

The AW12 Wear-With-Anything Super Chain
If you're yet to take your first steps into the world of body chains, you can't go far wrong with this Primark buy for £10 - it's elegant enough to wear with vintage party gowns, but edgy enough to wear with leather and studs - and the mixture of gold and silver strands means it will work with most tones of garments and accessories.

Tomorrow: How to Wear Faux Fur and Winter Warmers

See more posts featuring body chains here

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Thursday, 27 September 2012

How to Wear... The Kimono

Oriental florals are not just having a fashion moment - they're having a fashion year, at least. Chinoiserie cuts and prints were all over the AW12 runways, and thanks to Mrs Beckham, you'll be able to wear them proudly into SS13 too. I've actually had my favourite piece since last AW, so the kimono is a definite investment buy (my "investment" was under £15 - can you imagine what the cost per wear must be?!).

Left loose and worn as a classic cover-up, a floral bed-jacket style kimono looks stunning clashed with a contrasting oriental-style floral dress, or adding impact to a classic neutral-toned ensemble, two looks I explored in last week's How To Wear... Florals post.

But it also has far broader possibilities, which don't necessarily require you to wear anything else underneath to "cover up" - it makes a stunning, unique top in its own right.

It can be toughened up for a Geisha-meets-warrior-diva look, by pairing with leather skinnies and lace-up ankle boots, and cinching in with a matching leather obi belt (a look I first featured in How to Wear... Leather).

Kimonos: Both Primark (Past Seasons)
Look 1 - Trousers: Primark (Past Season); Boots: Peacocks (Past Season); Belt: ASOS (Past Season)
Look 2 - Skirt: Jane Norman (Past Season); Shoes: Primark (Past Season); Body Chain: Freedom at Topshop
Look 3 - Skirt: Jane Norman (Past Season); Belt: H&M (Past Season); Earrings: Primark (Past Season)

Alternatively, I like to wear it as a (discreetly safety-pinned!) wrap top tucked into a high-waisted skirt for a romantic feel. Teamed with a pencil skirt, it has a Marilyn Monroe vibe, which can be glammed up to the max and given a contemporary twist with a delicate-stranded body chain. With a chiffon maxi and more delicate obi belt, a typically oriental look is infused with a boho twist.

Next on my agenda is to try pairing with high-waisted palazzo pants for a glam autumnal pyjama-style look - watch this space!

The shape of this AW12 Accessorize kimono, £35, above, would lend itself well to wrap-top looks.

Longer lines can be more flattering on apple and pear shapes. This fringed cardigan from Matalan's AW12 collection is elegant enough to wear over a formal evening dress for a glamorous twist, but the sheer fabric would inject sex appeal if worn as a top (up to you how daring you want to get with what you wear underneath - try a bandeau top for a just-the-right-side-of-demure look). I think it would look sensational tucked into a velvet pencil skirt to pick out the detailing - check out yesterday's How to Wear... Velvet post for more inspiration.

Tomorrow: How to Wear the Body Chain

See more posts featuring kimonos here

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

How to Wear... Velvet

One of the few redeeming qualities of sub-15C temperatures is the fact that they legitimise decking yourself from head to toe in velvet - and no, you don't have to wait for a Christmas party!

The Skirt

A high-waisted skater cut adds cuteness to a velvet mini, making it easy to style for day as well as night. I like to team mine with a tailored shirt, opaques and heeled brogues for a smart daytime look, with a hint of berry to soften the monochrome palette. It would also work well with a sleek tucked-in knit for a vintage chic feel, or a slouchy studded jumper and chunky ankle boots for a hint of rock chick.

Skirt and Shirt: Primark (Past Season)
Belt: H&M (Past Season)
Shoes: Dorothy Perkins (Past Season)

For a luxe ladylike vibe, a velveteen pencil skirt would look lush, paired, again, with smart or casual daytime pieces, or with sexy bodycon tops for a glamorous evening look.

The Dress

A smock or skater-style velvet shift makes the perfect base for a decadent yet quirky daytime look, dressed down with opaques, boots, chunky cardis and gilets... and maybe a statement hat. Great for minimising tummies, this printed Chelsea Girl at River Island dress, £30, references this year's enormous Baroque trend, and could also be dressed up for evening in a flash with skyscraper heels and an armful of bangles.

No need to stick to black either - rich berry shades look amazing toned down with a casual jacket and tights, a la Kelly from A Twenty-Something.

Day to Night
Velvet looks amazing mixed in with sheer panels, lace and chiffon - and you get all of the above in this stunning midi dress from Marks and Spencer, £45. Layer on a long cardi, belted slightly open with a chunky waist cincher, and team with opaques and flats for day, then whip off the cardi and swap the flats for Loub-a-likes for night.

For optimum glamour, go bodycon, and make it full-length and fabulous (or stop below the knee for a slightly less high octane, vintage-style feel). I love black and gold for AW nights - all a velvet maxi dress needs is one statement accessory to tease out its full potential, plus some fabulous shoes, of course. If you're not confident enough to go bodycon, look out for a fuller-skirted version, or team a velvet body (see below) with a flowing chiffon skirt.

Dress, Cape and Shoes: Primark (Past Season) - originally featured in How to Wear... the Maxi Dress

The Top

New Look boasts a phenomenal range of velvet separates this season. This classic body, just £7.99, will look great with a leather skater or pencil skirt, chiffon or lace maxi, or lantern style skirt, topped off with statement accessories.

For added drama, a velvet peplum, like this one, £9.99 and also from New Look, is perfect for channelling the Edwardian, glam goth or rock chick vibe - team with a pencil, midi or maxi skirt, shorts or skinnies in leather or lace fabrics, or matching velvet for a one-piece look.

This version has a stunning lace back, but an all-over velvet version is also available.

Velvet also makes a stunning accessory to sheer fabrics, leather and embellishment, as in the stunning River Island top I featured in yesterday's How to Wear... Leather post.

Trousers and Shorts

Velvet leggings give a luxe, romantic twist to a casual look, teamed with chunky boots and a loose-fitting shirt, blouse, T-shirt, jumper or boho layers (I'll be channelling Marlenka from The Girl Never Gets Older), but would equally make for a glamorous jumpsuit effect paired with a peplum top, like the ones above. The pair below left is £18 from River Island, whilst the ones on the right are £7.99 from New Look. I haven't had the good fortune to come across either pair in real life yet, but the River Island pair look to be slightly higher-waisted, and possibly slightly longer - whether this makes them worth the extra £10.01 depends on your body and what you plan to pair them with - I think it's an only-really-know-when-you-try-them-on job.

Velvet shorts look great with chunky knits for day, and glamorous bodies and peplum tops for evening. I prefer high-waisted styles for a bit of a sophisticated vintage twist. These Baroque-embellished, sheer-panelled knicker shorts from River Island, below, are about as knockout as you can get, but try a plain A-line or knickerbocker style if you're less bum and thigh confident, or after a slightly subtler look.

Look out for playsuits too, to make a real statement, or create your own by mixing and matching separates.


A velvet coat adds pizzazz to boots, courts, sandals and wedges, which look great teamed with other velvet garments, as well as leather, denim and chiffon. I think velvet might be one of the only things that could possibly tempt me to pick up a pair of creepers - I really don't like those orthopaedic-style corrugated plastic soles... but a velvet platform does put a different complexion on them... The beautiful berry pair below are from Rocket Dog at New Look, £54.99 (also available in black glitter). Come on, bring out a pair for under £30!

Tomorrow: How to Wear the Kimono

See more posts featuring velvet here

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