Thursday, 28 February 2013

A Week of Dropped Hems: 7 More Ways to Wear the Mixi

Thanks to an evil cold striking me down, after a flurry of activity, the last week has been my least active since I started blogging (with my 6 month "birthday" coming up tomorrow) and it actually feels a bit weird trying to get back into it again, but here I am, tissue-free and chiffon-clad once more!

I thought it was about time for a mixi update showcasing some of my more recent additions (see my original How to Wear the Mixi post here), so here are a week's worth of outfits-for-the-indecisive-of-length (I didn't actually wear all these in the last week, but I didn't really want to show you my tiger print onesie and red nose combo).

Skirt: New Look (Current), Hat and Trainers: Primark (Current), T-Shirt: Primark (Past Season)

This look was actually inspired by a shot of Little Mix (cringe - they're looking pretty hot these days, alright), but you can tell who my favourite band is, I take it? I loved the idea of using the skirt to inject a bit of unexpected glamour and pizzazz into a casual band tee/wedge hi-top combo.

Skirt: As Above, T-Shirt: Forever 21, Belt: Primark, Boots: Peacocks, Bracelet (Worn as Hair Accessory): Primark

Making the T-shirt combo party-ready by cinching in a metallic version with a statement waist belt... This was the hairdo that won me the #NLXmasHair Instagram competition.

Skirt: Miss Selfridge, Jumper: Marks & Spencer (Past Season), Boots: Peacocks (Past Season)

Although this M&S jumper is a year or two old (my grandmother treated us to matching ones - she's still wearing her own hot pink version too!), it's still like new and has really come into its own this winter. The grey shade goes with everything, the slouchy-but-not-shapeless fit makes it great for toning down dressier outfits, and the ability to tug it oh-so-casually off the shoulder adds a bit of femininity. I love the contrast of thick wool and long boots against the skirt's delicate fabric and hemline. This is a combination I'd been dying to try out since I wrote my original post, and I'm really pleased with the results!

Skirt: New Look (As Above), Shirt: Primark, Boots: Red Herring at Debenhams

Shirts also work well with mixi hems, with different cuts, styles and accessories lending themselves to completely different vibes. I teamed this buttoned-up leopard print number with a tan waist belt and chunky shearling-trim ankle boots for a pared-down daytime look with a fierce edge.

Skirt: Miss Selfridge (As Above), Shirt: Primark (Current), Shoes: New Look (Past Season)

For a dressier shirty ensemble, I switched in my pearl-collared long-sleeved blouse and dolly shoes, limiting myself to a sleek monochrome colour palette.

Dress: Madam Rage, Shoes: Faith (Past Season), Collar: Topshop, Bracelet: Primark (Past Season), Cat Ears: Boohoo

You may have already seen this amazing Madam Rage dress in my Christmas outfits post, styled Audrey/Deco-style, but it's so gorgeous that I challenged myself to find more ways to wear it, and came up with these two looks. The ensemble above is a cutesy fairytale-esque combo inspired by the ASOS outfit I put together for the Fashion Vouchers Christmas Challenge. The outfit below is my attempt to put a rock chick stamp on the dress (finished off with my meticulously honed "don't mess" expression, obvs). I'm really pleasantly surprised by its versatility - I had to have it because it defined gorgeousness on its own, but getting three (and counting) completely different ensembles out of it was definitely beyond expectations!

Dress: As Above, Hair Band and Boots: Boohoo, Earrings and Tights: Topshop, Belt: New Look (Past Season)

I know this is a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it trend, but I'm helplessly addicted... I've just invested in a basic (but perfectly formed) £8 jersey maxi-mixi from Primark for summer, and I'm pretty sure it won't be the only asymmetric piece I "invest in" this season. How about you - are you obsessed yet?

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Thursday, 21 February 2013

DIY "Designer" Heels for £20 - One of Life's Little Wins

Earlier this month, Money Supermarket asked me to take part in their blogger challenge celebrating "life's little wins". Have you ever experienced a rush of euphoria on discovering a £20 note in the pocket of a discarded coat or pair of jeans, or even a pound coin in an old purse? This experience has been rated the greatest of those everyday reasons to be cheerful, so Money Supermarket decided to conduct their own feel-good experiment... How would you feel if a £20 note was handed to you alongside your dry cleaning? See the reactions of the unsuspecting participants here.

Extending the love to bloggers, they offered me £20 to spend on whatever I pleased, challenging me to embrace my creativity and money-saving skills, whilst, most importantly, ensuring I used it for something that made me feel good. The results have definitely put a smile on my face...

Despite being a shoe-a-holic, I've recently been bemoaning my lack of a wear-with-anything black platform peep-toe (perfect with disco pants, leather, jeans, pencil skirts, shorts, LBDs, LWDs...), so I decided to treat myself to these beauties from New Look. They're a pretty bargainous £19.99... so far, so perfect (can you believe they're even named "Serendipity"?). However, I was lucky enough to experience another of life's little wins at the till, saving £4 off the marked price with a 20% off voucher from Look magazine!

So, working with my remaining £4.01, I decided to upgrade my high street classics into designer dupes... Who hasn't coveted Alexander McQueen's rock-chick-chic skull-emblazoned masterpieces over the last few years? These shoes are a prime example. If one thing was certain though, it was that I definitely couldn't justify their £625 price tag.

So what's a girl to do? Particularly if she's a D.I.Y. noob suffering the severe lack of a glue gun... In the end, two crafty purchases were all it took... some gem-encrusted skull stud earrings, £2.70 including postage from eBay, and a pack of drawing pins, 59p from my local newsagent. In total, I spent £19.28 on my luxe lookalikes, meaning I saved a grand total of £605.72 on the designer price tag! As a bonus, research has found that immersion in creative pursuits can evoke intense feelings of happiness, and, much as I enjoy admiring the fruits of other people's labour when it comes to fashion,  there's always something extra special about something you've created yourself. If you fancy fashioning a similar pair, read on...


Using one of the drawing pins, poke a hole in the shoe where you wish to place your skull.

Remove the drawing pin and replace with the skull stud - once inserted, fold the stud's prong underneath to secure in place (and avoid poking yourself in the toe when you put them on) - look, no glue!

One by one, push the drawing pins in along the shoe's platform - I assessed placement by eye, but you could use a measuring tape if you want to be pedantic about it - it might save you the numerous re-dos I had to allow for! I won't lie, this is quite tough on the thumbs, but I found that hammering just didn't work - I used a sort of twisting-pushing motion to ease them in.

In all, the process took me just under an hour and a half - well worth it for the rush of pride and achievement at the end (and to avoid the tyranny of misplaced glue splodges) as well as the lusciousness of the finished articles. As a bonus, although they're very secure, the skulls and "studs" could easily be removed or changed if desired - you could experiment with any variety of statement earring (as above), customise the drawing pins with nail polish before applying to the shoes... the possibilities are endless!

What would you spend an unexpected windfall on? I'm one of those people who never lets their car insurance renew automatically without checking out other quotes on price comparison websites, or goes out without checking whether there are any vouchers floating around for my favourite shops and restaurants, and I switch ISAs every year based on how much interest my little nest egg can earn, so I get that "win" feeling fairly regularly from using sites like Money Supermarket myself. I must admit, the surplus usually goes on clothes, but even when I'm treating myself I'm always alert to making the most of whatever's in my pocket!

Why Little Wins (And Shopping) Are Good For You

Funnily enough, I've recently been reminded of one universal psychological quirk which backs up just how good those "little wins" and little £20 spending sprees can be for our mental wellbeing (check out the UK edition of Psychologies, March 2013, for an easy-to-read overview on savvy spending) - sooner or later, we adapt to all our acquisitions and changes in circumstance, tending to return time and again to the same baseline level of happiness (which is why, a few years after their windfall, lottery jackpot winners are, on average, no happier than they were before). So... smaller, more regular hits of those little things that make you feel good can help to keep your happiness levels "topped-up" - scientific proof that a weekly high street spree is good for your health, girls (sort of - if you're saving for a house deposit or struggling to pay the bills, keep the sprees small - I accept no liability for homelessness). And if what you want just doesn't come cheap, roll up your sleeves and engage that creative energy!

Moral of the story? If you find a £20 note nestling at the bottom of that old handbag, or deserve a pat on the back for saving yourself a lot more by remembering to switch your insurance providers, treat yourself... or someone else - hard as us professional acquisitors may find it to believe, the research is also pretty emphatic that giving does make you feel better than receiving, so in a way it's a present to yourself anyway... anyone's BFF after a pair of McQueens for her birthday?!

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Saturday, 16 February 2013

Lust-Have Arm Candy: Lulu Guinness SS13

I had to share the new Lulu Guinness bag collection with you - a mixture of subtly refined and revamped LG classics and innovative new designs - girly meets fierce, vintage meets oh-so-now - and sooo my style! This is the accessory wardrobe of my dreams. Believe it or not, this is but a sliver of the incredible selection available (I could have filled a book) - visit the Lulu Guinness website to see the full range of wonders.

Top Row, L-R: Black Doll Face Fifi Clutch, £265; Black and Pink Natalia Perspex Clutch, £175 (also available in black and white); Black Patent Leather Medium Eva, £425 (also available in polka dot); Black Medium Victorian Picnic Basket, £650

Middle Row, L-R: Powder Pink Leather Small Eva, £350; Black Studded Lips Clutch, £475; Pink Escape Car Clutch, £245

Bottom Row, L-R: Black and White Stripe Fifi Snakeskin Clutch, £325; Black Swarovski Paloma Fan Clutch, £795; Black and White Domino Fifi Clutch, £265

For a bit of Lulu glamour with a smaller price tag, check out their super cute accessory ranges - revel in this year's spring showers from the safety of your birdcage umbrella...

Or add a bit of pizzazz to your car keys with the Pink Escape Car Keyring if you can't afford to splash out on the matching clutch...

What arm candy will you be sporting this season?

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Friday, 15 February 2013

What I Wore to Tea at the Savoy

On Wednesday, I went to the Savoy in London for champagne afternoon tea with my mum, grandmother and cousin, Martina, to celebrate Martina's 23rd birthday in a rather decadent olde worlde manner, and took the opportunity to wear my newest favourite buy for the occasion, an exquisite cream lace prom dress from Quiz.

I've never bought anything from Quiz before, but when I saw this beauty in the new concession in my local Debenhams (and happened to have a 20% off voucher burning a hole in my tote too) a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't resist - it reminded me of all the Jones + Jones concoctions I've lusted after over the years in the Oxford Circus Topshop basement, but couldn't bring myself to spend £60+ on. Considering the workmanship involved - it has moulded cups and net and satin underskirts as well as an amazing scalloped hem - £49.99 seemed frankly bargainous, and as I could lop £10 off that thanks to my newspaper tear-out voucher, there was no way I could leave it on the rack! I picked up a super cute striped roll neck crop top for £7.99 too, but that doesn't seem to have made its way onto the web yet...

A classic '50s prom style updated with a mini cut (to be honest I think it would look gorgeous at any length from here to the floor!), I decided to play up the vintage vibe (and keep out the winter chills) with some nude back-seamed hold-ups and T-bar heels (I wore these the one and only other time I dined at the Savoy, 5 years ago - they just seem like Savoy shoes somehow!). My £3.50 Primark hold ups deserve a nod for being pretty darn amazing (and much better than their wartime counterparts, according to nana!) - sheer enough to blend perfectly with my skin tone, but somehow they still kept me warm in barely-above-freezing temperatures, and after two wears they still haven't snagged! Definitely going to invest in a back-up pair or two before they go if I have a chance.

Dress: Quiz Clothing (Available Here), Hold Ups: Primark (Current), Shoes: Faith (Past Season)

The tea itself was fabulous - over 3 hours I consumed 2 glasses of champagne, 7 finger sandwiches (including lots of weird and wonderful vegetarian versions made specially for us - a nice touch, although I still liked the egg and cress ones best - tomato and pesto was a delight though), a scone with jam, clotted cream and homemade lemon curd, all 6 pastries on offer (chocolate and coffee “Opera”, raspberry and lime macaroon, fruit tartlet, lavender ├ęclair, royal chocolate cake and mandarin and elderflower meringue financier, if you're interested) and a vat of chamomile tea (damn teeth whitening, I haven't been allowed real tea since New Year). We opted to take our fourth course of Victoria Sponge/chocolate fudge cake home... thankfully the dress is incredibly comfy too (with a lot of stretch!). The only downer was the mood lighting - great ambience and all, but impossible to get any of those crisp baking-recipe-book shots I was envisaging (which seem to come so effortlessly to every other blogger who goes out for afternoon tea) with my still-very-limited low light skills... And fiddling around with your camera settings for hours whilst attempting to photograph the crockery in a 5 star hotel makes one feel like a bit of a pleb! So please forgive the lack of food porn which I should doubtless be providing you with.

Toodle pip!

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