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Thursday, 27 December 2012

A Sucker For Oxblood

And there you go: this is look number three of the four burgundy files, featuring a little tunic from Topshop.

I have something quite similar in dark pine green, less lacy and more everyday, with a slight bubble hem. I found earlier that this dress style worked for me - it clings lightly to your shape but is forgiving around your bottom half (right, quarter), it is very feminine but in a soft and girlie way.

Some may question my choice of footwear but when you have to go outside in winter and be ready to walk a lot (who knows where you end up at what time of the night), I just want to wear low chunky heels and something in a knee height.

I have ordered my Topshop studded boots in burgundy, which will look impeccably elegant next to these battered black lace-up boots. Until then, even the pickier of you should rest assured I am not deluding myself into thinking I look half smart in these pics - I just had to show you the dress.

Which is, by the way, not even a dress, but a tunic in the main range of Topshop. It also came in black and in a petite version, but I definitely wanted the choice to wear it as a dress.

The transparent lace back may be a bit tricky if you want to give it a swirl in the office or want to wear a bra without actually showing it off. That is why I dropped a simple cotton cami in the very same colour in the shopping bag when placing the order with Topshop, et voilá.

The dress or tunic looks best as part of a total burgundy look, so get a pair of soft opaque tights and, unlike me, wait for that pair of oxblood boots to be delivered before getting your photos taken! And if you haven't done so already, do hit the sales - it is that time of the year.

Lace tunic dress and studded boots: Topshop, quilted clutch: Primark, lace-up boots: vintage, tights: Intimissimi

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

How Decent Is Too Decent?

A little pleated, striped, sleeveless shirt dress can go a long way in ensuring you are office-appropriate in any season. Here it is, moulded into a 1950s-inspired look with a little help from a key seasonal piece, the jumper.

The patent leather ballerinas with their half-inch heels put just the right spring in your step - the look would definitely feel uncomfortable with anything high or chunky. 

Still, ballet pumps are not the only option. Any pair of low-heeled cute shoes (such as traditional kitten heels or something modern and metallic) will do nicely. Alternatively, if you want to tough it up just a bit, some ankle booties will do the job and keep the cold at bay at the same time.

And yes, as you can see, the quilted sleeveless biker with gold detailing is still one of the biggest staples. I wear it all the time, as it's the perfect autumn jacket, while it provides the best under-coat layer in winter. 

One more thing. Out in the cold, and in this pale sunlight, everything tends to look so bleached out you may need a dash of bold lipstick to spice things up.

pleated shirt dress: Pull & Bear, jumper: Mango,
ballerinas: Clarks, quilted jacket: New Look

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Don't You Step On My Purple Suede, Err, Stuff

For part 2 of the purple-bordeaux-burgundy-oxblood-whatever series, I definitely wanted to give my suede shorts a little style-up - I bought them in the sales sometime early this year and, even though I love them, the poor babies have not made it outside the house yet.

The shorts would lend themselves well to 1970s styling, hence the hat and the big scarf. But the point was to pull together a current outfit featuring these Miss Selfridge shorts and make myself comfortable in it, to the point where I could imagine it as office-wear. 

Not sure if I succeeded but I'll give it that much, the shorts and the  tights would be great together as part of any total purple look.

Now, I realise the knitted halterneck top, with its two pinky lilac hues, seems a little too sweet or the wrong kind of matchy-matchy. Believe me, I did my wardrobe research, and found that none of the more now pieces clicked the way this top did. Empirical evidence over fashion fascism.

To make the shorts work in winter weather, all you need is a full length coat (worn open, and preferably with heaps of fur trims) and knee-high leather or suede platform boots, chunky and slightly worn in. The verdict: stripped of the fancy dress factor, the look might just cut it in an office somewhere - I'm just yet to find that office.

suede shorts and contrast lapel blazer: Miss Selfridge, knitted top: Mango,
suede wedges and wool hat: New Look, scarf: vintage

Saturday, 1 December 2012

We Are The Kids Now

If I can wear kids' stuff, you can, too. And don't let them tell you not to.

Ever since I started browsing girls's clothes to give my niece the gift of extra coolness, I've been flirting with the idea of filling a shopping basket there.

Interestingly enough, this affair also started with a gift I received - a voucher, to be exact. I popped into continental cheap & chic C&A but seemed to find nothing that sort of had my name on it. But only until I wandered there long enough to spot their best-kept secret, the girls' line.

Among about a dozen different designs of retro-style graphic jersey dresses, I settled for this one with spots and button detail. I love to layer up for winter but find it quite hard to do with style, so you can imagine my joy when I bumped into a rack of soft cotton biker jackets.

Now, about sizing. The A-line minidress was a perfect fit in my size (158cm/5'2"), but since dress sizes go all the way up to 176cm (5'9"), you can't say this candy store is only open to kids and petites. As for the biker, I did not want or need a proper jacket, only a layering alternative of a warm, snug little cardi, so I went down a whole dual size (to 146/152) to get the right fit. Going down a couple of sizes when needed is a kind of heaven in itself, something I can only do in the kids' corner. Now for the layering story - just peek below.

retro dress: C&A, ankle boots: Asos,
ribbed elastic long-sleeve tee: charity shop

dress and soft biker cardigan: C&A,
ankle boots: Asos, mini-satchel: H&M

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Colour Up: In Vino Veritas, Part One

Wine, purple, oxblood, bordeaux, the colour of the season. The key is to wear it as a total look, or with similar shades, or with a few select non-intrusive complementary colours. Which, essentially, sounds like you should be short on styling choices, but frankly, that could not be farther from the truth.

I had a few old and not-so-old-but-not-so-new pieces in these dark, warm winter brights, plus my eyes on a couple of current season numbers I want badly. Even so, it was almost shocking how many ways you could wear them.

This is the first look - slightly evening-style, office-appropriate, and very simple with a tiny twist. Note how the comfy, half-elastic belt makes the outfit chic, and how much better it looks with purple tights, proving the single-colour approach right.

Below is how the simple dress is dressed up and up until you get a final result you're sort of happy with. I suggest you start having fun with the wine-coloured things in your wardrobe. I will be back with more - in vino veritas.

pinny dress and suede wedges: New Look, 
contrast lapel blazer: Miss Selfridge

dress, wedges and double hinge belt: New Look,
tweed cape: Mango, tights: Calzedonia, velvet jacket: vintage (Gimbels)

Friday, 2 November 2012

Simple Sixties: Light, Shadow And Flame

Can you not love a 1960s graphic retro look when the cold days arrive? The uber-comfort of a fine high-neck tee, a pair of super-soft opaque tights and  low, chunky-heeled ankle boots? Well, you might be generally avoiding such basic comforts like the plague, for fear of ending up looking and feeling utterly boring. 

But fear no more. And, mind you, no need to give in to femme fatale tendencies either - bad weather, the muddy or icy catwalk of city streets and killer heels do not match. 

There are other ways to sharpen up and brighten up: colours, graphic effects, and cuts.

Hence the monochrome patch pocket miniskirt with gold buttons, an op-art image of bright light streaming through a window, a finely crinkling-and-folding long-sleeve top in the brightest red, a lick of flames in the fireplace, plus a bit of patent leather with a hint of gold at the heels, proof that even the darkness can glow.

This season, the look has got even better with my favourite, go-with-everything quilted, gold-zipped biker jacket in a classic cropped and collarless Chanel style by New Look. Just as with the New Look summer parka, I can't get enough of it because of the snug sleeves, that us petites with twig-like arms so rarely get in a jacket, and that makes all my other jackets appear big and bulky in comparison.

This is a classic autumn look that, when the going gets tough as low temperatures hit, you can throw an oversized boyish winter coat, a traditional wool trench, a padded parka or a shearling cape over it, and you're covered up nice and tight.

monochrome skirt: River Island, quilted jacket: New Look,
poloneck top and 1960s ankle boots: Asos

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Baroque Daywear: Off The Wall

For the past few seasons I have been crazy for all things floral, baroque, paisley and jacquard. Add to that the fact that I've always been quite the baroque creature when it comes to print - more is more, the louder the better - and a sucker for tapestry and classic wallpapers.

Nowadays, if you want to dress in head-to-toe baroque, you'll find the choice is overwhelming, even on the high street. But to find your favourites is a challenge, and you can't just pick any piece or combo - you owe it to yourself to buy what works best for you.

By the time I discovered this Topshop tapestry print, it had already sold out, except for the white summer sleeveless-crop-shirt-and-shorts co-ordinates. But soon enough, the black suit emerged in the petite range, so it was time I took full advantage of my imposing 5'2".

The trousers in my size are teeny-tiny, they look almost like leggings but after some heavy road-aka-office testing I found them quite easy to wear. For an even smarter look I decided to go a size up (taking advantage of the sales) but I'm definitely keeping this smaller pair too.

The belt was basically an accident - I wanted something elastic to keep the waist together and hide anything that needed to be hidden even if I decided to undo the buttons (yep, the waist on the petite size 6 is that small for me). I have no idea where I got it but it's something cheap. As it happens, it was the metal clasp detail that put a real baroque stamp on the whole otherwise baroque enough outfit.

The blouse from Zara with its contrast collar, front and cuffs gives structure, proving that colour blocking details tend to look amazing with exuberant prints. To finish it off, I needed heels, so I went with my trusty storm-coloured patent shoe boots. If you want the right bag to go with all this, choose a sturdy and boxy classic satchel or some big, butter-soft leather beauty in rich, dark tan with bits of gold detailing. 

While I was taking the photos, I was so impatient to keep going that I wouldn't wait until I could hang up - sorry if I sounded weird, Mum. It might well happen again.

tapestry print trousers and blazer: Topshop
contrast detail blouse: Zara, shoe boots: Clarks, elastic belt: no idea