Helpful hinting

However much you’ve had your head in the sand, it cannot have escaped your notice that the festive season is nigh. I am trying desperately to get organised on the present front with at least one delivery arriving daily. However, I couldn’t help but notice and be concerned about the amount of parcels arriving for my dear husband. Running total – 0.

This is doubly worrying for me as my birthday falls less than one week before the big day. Now, to be fair, Mr TMT works insane hours. We class a fifty hour week as very quiet. So I do appreciate he is not overburdened with time. However, that understanding and consideration will run out PDQ if my birthday arrives fruitless. Ergo, I thought I’d be helpful and make it really easy for him by creating… A dedicated Pinterest board.20131125-184853.jpg

It was actually really easy to do and a lot less effort than ‘subtle’ hinting. It’s not a prescriptive list but it gives him a jump-off point and saves him spending a fortune on something ugly/inappropriate/functional (delete as applicable) and me the trouble of returning it. So if your significant other is floundering, why not save him a panicked Xmas Eve wandering John Lewis before buying you a new iron and make a board of your own – you may find he’s very grateful!!

A rogue Lust List

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, hasn’t it? But I couldn’t resist as I made a lovely purchase from this particular store last weekend and have a lot more on my wishlist. And if that wasn’t enough, there is currently 25% off all full-priced items with the code partytimes – perfect timing for the festive season.

So, where am I talking about? None other than Coast. I’ve always had a soft spot for the store – I actually bought my wedding dress there. I was the anti-bridezilla, I emphatically did not want to spend thousands on a dress I’d get a single use from (that’s money that could have been, and indeed was, spent on handbags). Here is my lovely dress, still available at below the £200 mark, and with the judicious addition of a vintage beaded shrug I looked like this (mid-vows):

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Anyway, on to my Lust List, starting with the top I snapped up last weekend:

Ginevie Top - £55

Ginevie Top – £55

I really didn’t need a sequin top, but I could NOT resist this one – it’s such a fabulous deep indigo colour, looking almost purple in some lights, and the shape is simple and flattering. I’m planning on wearing it with a slinky black maxi skirt with a high slit and pointy pumps. I’d recommend sizing down in this one, I bought a 6!

Andrea Cardi - £65

Andrea Cardi – £65

I used to have a cardi just like this, though mine was an el cheapo special from H&M, and I found it really useful. It was great over a simple cami and skinnies or a plain dress for a bit of evening sparkle, and I think this one would perform much the same function.

Louie Knitted Dress - £85

Louie Knitted Dress – £85

I tried this dress on when I bought the top, and I was SO tempted it has gone straight on my Christmas wish list. The fabric is that heavy, very elastic kind that you see in Herve Leger dresses so it is very figure hugging but extremely flattering. I love the simplicity of it, this is a dress that you could wear time and again, jazzed up with different accessories, and no-one would be any the wiser!

Sparkle acrylic clutch - £60

Sparkle acrylic clutch – £60

Speaking of accessories, Coast are having a serious moment on that front. If you’re looking for a cheaper version of the Jimmy Choo Candy clutch, this could be just the ticket!

 

Chunky chain necklace - £35

Chunky chain necklace – £35

Another item that very nearly came home with me (damn that bag fund) was this gorgeous statement necklace. It looked WAY beyond its price tag and would be just the ticket for jazzing up the Louie dress. Love.

Teresa Lane maxi dress - £115

Teresa Lane maxi dress – £115

For a bit of serious Hollywood glamour, how about this maxi? You could even get a bit of Angelina leg-action going on with the split. Personally, I’d lose the gold belt and go big on the jewellery – door knocker earrings and couple of cuffs would seal the deal.

Clayton necklace - £50

Clayton necklace – £50

Another fab necklace that I’m smitten with, this ribbon and diamante piece would look great peeking out from under the collar of a silk shirt, or even over a plain grey tee, come to that.

Snake clutch - £55

Snake clutch – £55

I have precisely no need for another clutch to sit gathering dust in my wardrobe, but if I did, this would be it. I love all things snakey – if you look closely at my photo above, you’ll see I had little Swarovski snakes as my earrings on my wedding day and, though you can’t see them, I wore cream and gold snake print shoes! This bag would fit into my wardrobe quite nicely, and at 25% off maybe there is just a little dust-gathering space somewhere at the back…

So, what’s on your lust list at the moment? As always I love hearing from you guys, so do let me know!

 

Something else I can’t get excited about…

Two reasons why I’m really not a proper fashion blogger:

– I’ve not yet been to J Crew, I may not even go until next week; and

– I didn’t even log on to the H&M website today.

I know, right? It’s blogging blasphemy, but I just can’t get excited about designer collaborations. It’s not that I don’t like Ms Marant – my pink scarf is absolutely gorgeous; and god knows I’ve put those wedge trainers on my Christmas wishlist more than once take the hint Mr TMT – but I can’t help thinking, in the style of Carrie Bradshaw, ‘are high street/designer collaborations all they’re cracked up to be?’.

The general consensus seems to be that when you buy from one of these collections you’re getting a designer piece at a high street price, but what if you’re just getting a low-end high street piece at a high-end hight street price? I got sucked in during the Marni x H&M furore and ordered a pair of silver sandals for £39.99. A fair enough price for leather, sure, but would I have ordered those same sandals at the same price if they’d just said plain old H&M on the label and come tied together with a piece of elastic, rather than in a funky semi-transparent green box? Probably not, is the honest answer – they give me blisters and cankles. I’m not sure which is worse.

I had a squiz at the collection when the images were released (well how could you not – if you’re on Instagram, Twitter or read any fashion related publication you probably felt like you were slapped in the face with it) and while I some of it, paying £200 for a H&M jacket isn’t something I’ll be doing soon, especially when Isabel Marant Etoile jackets start in the region of £280. I’d rather save a little longer and pay a little more for the real thing.

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The gulf between designer and high street has narrowed considerably in recent years. Many designers have fantastic diffusion lines at accessible price points and stores like Whistles and Reiss bridge the gap beautifully, turning out sharp, modern, wearable collections that nod to trends without being as ostensibly ‘AW13’ as the catwalk collections. As a result, for me, ‘designer’ stuff doesn’t have quite the cachet it once did (bags and shoes excepted, natch). Personally, I’d rather spend my £200 on a well made jacket from Whistles.

I also can’t get hugely on board with the philosophy behind the collection – apparently Marant was tired of seeing mass produced, cheaper copies of her stuff churned out, so she thought she’d get a slice of the pie by churning out her own cheaper copies. Hmm. But isn’t £200 for a cotton jacket being a little bit grabby?

Well, apparently not – people will pay more, one is currently up to £427 on eBay as I type. Maybe she should have charged more?

Still each to their own, ‘buy what makes you happy’ has always been my philosophy, and those girls pouring out of the stores clutching their tie-dye totes certainly did look happy, so she’s doing something right, it’s just not for me!

P.S. Isabel, you do know I had a pair of wedge trainers in 1996, right? They were from Tammy Girl.

What a performance (coat)!

There comes a time in every woman’s life (usually around the time she reproduces and begins to spend seemingly limitless amounts of time freezing her tits off at the playground) when she succumbs to the lure of the ‘performance coat’. She no longer makes Zara her first port of call when seeking outerwear and instead finds herself feeling slightly lost in her local branch of Blacks.

This rite of passage came to me slightly later than most. I had my first child almost four years ago but have spent the ensuing winters valiantly trying to convince myself that a leather jacket over a cashmere v-neck and a pair of wristwarmers will suffice. Well, guess what? It won’t. And so this year I found myself searching for my very first performance coat. That’s right, a clothing decision made for the sake of function, not aesthetics. Who’d have thunk it?

The also-rans

There were a few contenders. First off, I considered the Lands’ End Shimmer Down Parka (currently available here for a very reasonable £105). I really liked this one – the burgundy colour is lovely and its got a good furry hood, plus I’ve heard its very warm – but eventually discounted it due to the lack of a belt. An hourglass shape in a padded coat can easily look rectangular.

shimmer down

A few friends bought the Aigle Cuckmere last winter and I really loved the look (and the reports that it was incredibly warm and cosy). Unfortunately it uses real fur on the hood and while I have very few principles, fur is a non-negotiable thing for me. I did find a version without the trim in my local department store but it looked too plain without the furry hood so I left it there.Aigle_Cuckmere_Ebene

The last coat I considered was the North Face Arctic Parka as it is widely known as the sport-spectating mother’s coat of choice. However as I feared with the Lands’ End it did my figure no favours whatsoever. Shame as the merlot colour was really lovely (see, I’m all about function).9163-merlot-red_enlarged

The (eventual) winner

I’d liked the Barbour Arctic Parka for a couple of years but had refrained due to the limited colour choice (black (ok, but my work coat is black), stone (corpse) or olive (nauseous corpse)) but this winter they’ve done it in my very favourite navy, with a gorgeous grey fur trim and silver hardware. Don’t mind if I do.

Barbour have also taken the decision to substitute feather down for a high tech synthetic alternative. This means you can subject your coat to more extreme conditions ( i.e. pouring rain) without fear of the filling getting sodden and clumping. I ordered online from Cavells (more to come on them in a forthcoming post) and sized up to a 12, having tried it on in store. My coat was with me in a couple of days, beautifully wrapped, and I’m glad I sized up as while I probably could have got away with a 10, it wouldn’t allow for many layers.Barbour

The verdict

I absolutely LOVE it. It only arrived on Thursday but it has already been subjected to several downpours and come out the other side. It keeps me toasty warm and unlike a lot of coats of its ilk, looks really sharp and stylish too. The hood fits closely over my head, meaning it doesn’t blow off in the wind and the fur is really soft. All in all, I’m as happy a pig in the proverbial.

A few photos ensued…

Hood down:
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Hood up:
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From the side:
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Gratuitous selfie:
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Editor’s note:
Thanks to everyone who bore with me through the utter tedium that was the decision-making process. I promise never to talk about levels of down-fill ever again.

Also, I am not a ghost – it was just really sunny (perfect to showcase an all-weather coat) and I’m not wearing any make-up.

Style Crushed

So with the fashion world abuzz at the opening on the UK’s very first J Crew store tomorrow, all eyes are on the brand’s legendary creative director who took it from zero to hero in the blink of a boldly bespectacled eye.

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Yes, I’m talking about none other than Jenna Lyons. The blogosphere is awash with fashionistas proclaiming her to be their ‘style icon’ and ‘girl crush’, so like the contrary little madam I am, I’m stepping up to be the lone voice of dissent.

Actually, that’s not fair, I do admire her style and I have A LOT of respect for any high-profile unabashed glasses-wearer. She is also evidently a pretty savvy business woman, who certainly knows what people want. However, the madness has gone too far.

My copy of Grazia was waiting on the doormat when I got home last night, Jenna as cover girl, promising to disclose her style secrets within. Oh yes, such gems as ‘dress for your body shape’, ‘nick your fella’s jumper’ (I’m paraphrasing, natch) and ‘try and stick to a limited colour palette when travelling’. I mean, god love her for trying, but it’s hardly new material, is it? I know we’re all reinventing the wheel when it comes to fashion, and yes, I concede, Jenna does a better job than most, but she does have the slight advantage of being over 6ft tall, extremely well paid and with one of the world’s most celebrated clothing brands at her disposal.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have my own girl crushes – Kristen Stewart, for example – I bloody love her. Never afraid to be seen without make-up and wearing a hoody, she’s a girl after my own heart. She refuses to get tarted up to nip to Starbucks, but when she does the red carpet, man, does she rock it? But the fact still remains that celebrities have it easier than mere mortals.

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The people I most admire are the ones who don’t get sackloads of free stuff everyday or have an army of hair and make up artists trailing in their wake. Like my fabulous friend L who dresses entirely to please herself in a mish-mash of bright prints and textures that should never work but always do, on a primary school teacher’s salary. Or the lovely K (*waves to Germany*) who always looks effortlessly beautiful and chic in her blues, greys and pinks. Or my colleague E, whose style could not be further from my own – think pastels, pearls, tidy chignons – who looks so sleek and immaculate she makes me feel like Medusa. I know so many stunning, stylish women that this list could go on for the rest of time, so I’ll leave it there. My point is the women I really admire are the ones figuring out their own style everyday, without any help or fanfare. So pay it forward folks, if you see a woman at the bus stop in a fabulous coat, tell her! If there’s someone at work you think has great taste in shoes, let her know. I know nothing makes my day like an unsolicited compliment, especially from a relative stranger (shallow? Me?)

P.S. I do love Jenna really, I just know that if I tried to dress like her i’d be like the Danny DeVito to her Arnold Schwartzenegger (Twins, great movie).

P.P.S. can someone let me know when it’s safe to go to J Crew on Regent St? I have kids to think of so I don’t want to die in a stampede like Mufasa (Lion King, also great movie).

Monday Night Fantasy Shopping

Forgive my tardiness, the lure of the demon drink got in my way last night and anything I’d have posted would have been awful.

So, anyway, what have I got for you this week? This bag really is a fantasy buy, because I know in my heart of hearts it’s a little too prim and proper for me, but isn’t it beautiful?

20131104-193821.jpgPrada bags are so classic and well made that I think they make superb investment bags. I can’t imagine this one ever looking dated. I also like the fact it had lots of pockets and can be worn cross body (you can tell I’m a mum!) A definite possibility for the future when I’m no longer pretending to be 22 a bit more grown up…