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ancientgreek-sandals
Shoes, Sponsored Posts

These Sandals Give You Wings

I’ve had my eye on a pair of Ancient Greek Sandals for a couple of years. It took me a long time to succumb to the whole gladiator sandal fad in the mid to late 2000s, but when I finally did buy a pair I wore them to death and I think they’re definitely due a comeback. They’re comfy, practical, and look great with all the boho maxi dresses and fringed shorts that are filling the rails for Summer. The trick is to pick a good leather pair that’ll wear well (and be less likely to rub). These babies definitely tick all the boxes. Plus, what’s not to love about a pair of sandals with wings? They may be a bit much for some, but the good news is there are plenty of other options that are a little more understated.

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They’re created by designers Christina Martini and Nikolas Minoglou. The former was born and raised in Greece, has worked at Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton and studied at Cordwainers College (part of my alma mater, the London College of Fashion). The latter was raised in London, but moved to Athens to run his family’s business (shoemakers, obviously).

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With a pedigree like that, you can expect the very best craftsmanship, which is why a pair of Ancient Greek Sandals will set you back upwards of £100. But these are built to last. Celeb fans include Beyonce, Kate Hudson, Zoe Saldana, Jessica Alba and Candice Swanepoel, so if you do invest in a pair of these, you’ll be in good company. Head over to the Ancient Greek Sandals page on Avenue 32 to buy. I’ve got my eye on the black and gold Nephele sandals for Summer, though the waterproof version, in an array of bright coloured rubbers, come a close second. So fun!

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Disclosure: In association with Avenue 32

niggle
DD+, Lingerie, Sponsored Posts

Improving Your Life One Niggle At a Time

You may have already stumbled across Triumph’s latest lingerie campaign, which is all about fixing the little niggles that make life more difficult. You know what I’m talking about, when you make a delicious meal and realise too late that you’re out of the one herb or spice you need to bring it all together, when you ladder your tights as you’re walking out the door, when you find yourself on public transport face-to-armpit with a man wearing yesterday’s shirt…just take a look at the video for more. I think we’ve all been there!

 

Of course, as a bra obsessive and advocate of the perfect fit when it comes to clothes, the heart of this campaign is close to my heart. Ill-fitting bras are definitely one of my niggles! But even if you’re wearing the right size, wires can dig over time, shift about during the day, and cause discomfort and temporary marks (if the marks start to become permanent, it’s definitely time for a fitting and a new bra). But the alternative – a non-wired bra – isn’t an option for many of us when it comes to support. I can think of only one viable non-wired D+ bra that even exists!

So I’m intrigued by Triumph’s new Magic Wire bra, which seems to offer the best of both world. It’s seamless, and looks a little sexier than some non-wired offering, but the new silicone ‘wire’ provides the support that many of us need. Size wise, it goes up to an E or F cup depending on the band size, so while it’s not technically a fuller bust option, it does cater to much more than the usual A-D range available in most non-wired options.

What’s more fun, though, is the #nigglefix campaign, which really got me thinking about those little things that drive me mad. I’m talking people who stop in the middle of a busy street with no warning, skinny jeans that sag at the knees, flat shoes that suddenly start rubbing the backs of your heels despite the fact you’ve been wearing them for months, rucksacks on public transport, when someone pronounces it “expresso”, and absolutely everything about self-service checkouts.

I’m only scratching the surface here, but I’m sure you have plenty more to share. You can share them with Triumph using the hashtag #nigglefix – you might make it onto the microsite, and maybe someone can help fix your niggle?

Disclosure: Posted in association with Triumph

joules
Clothing, Sponsored Posts

You Can Take The Girl Out Of The Country…

I’ve lived in London for almost twelve years, but I actually grew up in a rural village, surrounded by countryside. I never really appreciated it when I was there – country walks were just something my dad made me do when I could have been shopping – but I’ve grown to learn how lucky I was that I spent my formative years adopting hedgehogs in the garden, sledging on the common in Winter and attempting to rollerblade through fields in Spring. I’ve been on my fair share of camping trips, played epic games of hide and seek in the grounds of the village castle (really) and can still identify most common birds and butterflies, despite rarely seeing them in Clapham.

The one thing I never really embraced properly as a country girl was traditional country clothing. Ok, I had a gilet once, but that was more to do with wanting to be a member of All Saints than wanting to go to pony school. Some things I wore out of practicality, like a pair of hand-me-down moon boots in the snow, a wax jacket won in a school raffle when I was about 6, a striped rugby top, and the seen-better-days casuals my mum refers to as “scruffs” that I wore on the rare occasions I was dragged away from my sketchbook (and later computer) to help in the garden. But the full-on British prep look wasn’t something I embraced until much later, when country casuals got a pretty, vintage-inspired overhaul.

Country Clothing at Joules

Now, I’m smitten with these styles, all from purveyors of all things country-pretty, Joules. Look at that swimsuit! Check out the twee print on the sundress! This is not the countryside dressing I remember from childhood. This is the country chic dressing of a Richard Curtis film, where everyone’s got double-barrelled surnames and large family estates. And I love it!

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av32top
Sponsored Posts, Websites

Designer fashion wishlist – Avenue 32

One of my biggest bugbears when shopping online is stores that have so much choice I fear placing an order in case I miss something brilliant in the process. A girl doesn’t have the three hours needed to look through everything on some of the big online retailers. Choice is excellent if you’re looking for something specific, but sometimes I crave an edit. That’s where sites like Avenue 32 come in. They take the stress out of the online hunt by doing the hard work for you, bringing shoppers cleverly chosen selections from a crop of must-have designers, rather than stocking everything under the sun just in case. With some of my favourite designers like Temperley, Phillip Lim and Giles in stock, this is pure designer fashion heaven. And even if you can’t afford to drop £1k on a dress, you can dream…here’s my current wishlist in action!
snakeskin pashli bag

3.1 Phillip Lim Blush Snakeskin mini Pashli bag £850

I have a tendency to carry really huge bags at most times, but I love the smaller, more compact little sister to the bestselling Pashli bag, a sort of high fashion satchel. It still has the defining details, like the extendable zip panels on the sides and the shoulder strap, but in a smaller size. It’s been updated for Spring with a snakeskin panel – a great way to try the print if you’re not a fan of all-over snake, which I think can look a bit 90s!

Temperley ribbon skirt

Temperley London black satin Freya ribbon skirt £720

I fell completely in love with the Temperley Spring / Summer 2013 collection, full of big skirts, Dior New Look references, beautiful Riviera-esque resortwear, and a fab colour scheme of black, white, red and pale blue. I love this take on the transparent trend, with dramatic volume and a 50s feel. It’d look amazing with pointy heels and a bright coloured top.

wingedsandals

Gold Ikaria winged sandals £150

Ever since I first saw these babies pop up on Pinterest I’ve been swooning over them. £150 is a lot to pay for a pair of flat sandals, but look at them, they’re winged! And they are leather. I think Ancient Greek Sandals may be one to watch – think of them as the new Swedish Hasbeens, but with more quirk and less clog!

Thakoon strapless jumpsuit

Thakoon Addition Peacock bandeau jumpsuit £340

I’ve been considering a strapless jumpsuit for a while – I’m such a dress girl that something like this goes against all my normal fashion rules, but there’s something very appealing about a different kind of all-in-one outfit. I love the louche, relaxed shape, which just needs some kind of huge necklace and wedge sandals to dress it up. It would be a real contrast to my usual look.

antonio marras lace dress

Antonio Marras pink floral lace dress £905

Aaah, c’mon, like I’d let a wishlist go by without at least one ‘Gemma’ dress! This baby by Antonio Marras has everything I normally look for. 50s shape, check! Pretty print, check! Nipped-in waist, check! Vintage feel, check! I love that it looks like something that could have been picked up at a tiny little beach boutique or holiday market for just a few quid, but you get the sizing and detailed construction of a designer piece, rather than the irritating ‘one size fits all’ of a cheapie.

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croppedtrousers
Sponsored Posts, Uncategorized

How to wear cropped trousers

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[l-r: Diane Von Furstenberg, Matthew Williamson, Tibi – all SS 2013]

There are certain styles that you never think will work for you, and cropped trousers have always been one of those for me. It wasn’t always that way – in my late teens I loved them, and had my fair share of black combat-style numbers that ended mid-calf. But pretty soon cropped trousers became last year’s trend and even my mother started buying them. During that time, I’d learned that there were alternatives for warm-weather dressing (like dresses, dresses and more dresses) and never really wore a pair of cropped trousers again. I was happy to leave them in the late 90s where they belonged, until now.

Because cropped trousers are back! Catwalk designers are raising the hemlines of their trews as well as their skirts. Suddenly, a slim pair of trousers for women that end that little bit too high feel right once again. The look is a more playful and 50s-inspired than the old combat styles of old, and the look feels more Audrey Hepburn, less Popstars: The Rivals. I’ve even given it a go myself – it all started when I rolled up the hems of my jeans, and before I knew it I was buying printed, slightly cropped trousers and trying to work them into my wardrobe.

I’d forgotten there were some great benefits to cropped trousers – they’re comfy in hot weather but provide a bit more coverage than shorts. There’s no risk of the dreaded upper thigh rub which anyone with a body like mine is probably used to dealing with when wearing skirts in very hot weather. They’re also a bit more appropriate for work than shorts, which all seem to be super-tiny at the moment!

My Top 3 Tips for Wearing Cropped Trousers

 

Keep it simple

The best cropped trousers are simple in shape, without too many pockets, details or anything that’ll add bulk. You want to keep this look sleek, slim and chic. When it comes to length, you need to be careful – anything too short and you’ll end up drawing all attention towards your thighs (which is ok if you’re happy with them, but I know a lot of us would rather people’s eye is drawn elsewhere).

Equally, anything too long and it’ll just look like your trousers are too short, rather than it being a deliberate move. I favour something that sits about 3 or 4 inches above the ankle (maybe a bit less if you’re on the petite side). Try them on with the footwear you’re going to wear them with – I recommend heels at all times to lengthen the leg, but the right flats are fine as well.

Experiment with colour

Obviously black is the classic, but this season it’s all about colour. Bold prints, like florals or graphic square prints look really great on cropped trousers – though watch that they’re strong and graphic, not old-fashioned and curtain-like. Alternatively, there are loads of great block colours like pink, green and blue floating about (try the range of cropped trousers from bonmarche) if you’re not brave enough for prints. Also, look out for black and white, monochrome is huge for Spring.

Go smart, not casual

Last time round when cropped trousers were in fashion they were usually worn casually. Too casually, if you ask me. Teamed with trainers and a fleece or t-shirt, they did nobody any favours. So this time around trainers are banned! If you want to make this look work with a high fashion spin, use off-duty models as your inspiration.

Layer up to highlight your best bits. Your legs will look longest if these styles are worn with super-high heels or wedges, and I’d then add a slinky top and a blazer or leather jacket, plus a pendant necklace or bangles. If you can’t do heels, keep your flats as simple as you can. Avoid chunky styles and any ankle straps and channel Audrey (queen of the cropped trouser) with a pair of ballet flats (pale colours that are close to your skin tone will work brilliantly) and a simple turtle-neck top or white blouse. In warmer weather, this is the perfect excuse to try flip-flops!

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flats
Shoes, Sponsored Posts

Five fab pairs of flat shoes for Spring

I have dozens of pairs of gorgeous heels, but the truth is I spend most of my time in flats. I love how heels look and I can bear the pain for long enough to wear them on a night out or for a quiet day at work, but I hate the way they slow you down. Even my low-heeled ankle boots cut down on how quickly I can get across London – and I love to walk everywhere. In this city you get about faster if you ditch the public transport and use your legs instead!

So I am always on the hunt for flats that look good, are practical, and work with my wardrobe. Here are five pairs of fabulous flats, all available at Bank.

flats_1

Millie metal toe pumps £18

I’m obsessed with anything art deco, and I think the goldtone metal detail on the toes of these flats has a very deco feel. They’d be the perfect partner for my many (many) floral tea dresses and 40s-style belted dresses, and I have a gold block clutch that would be the perfect finishing touch. These are a great buy if you want smarter shoes to wear with dresses, but can’t bear the idea of heels.

flats_2

Suri stripe pump £16

It’s Spring (almost!) which is the perfect time to try something nautical. But that doesn’t necessarily mean going the whole red / navy / white route with an anchor necklace and a rope belt! Just a nod to the fresh, Spring-like trend is enough. I have a very battered pair of black and white striped pumps with a bow very similar to these that I’ve worn to death in Spring and Summer, so it may be time to replace them with these. I’d team them with cropped jeans and a sleeveless navy blouse, or a floral dress for some subtle pattern clashing – the stripes are close enough together that it’ll work.

flats_3

Chelsea boots in leopard £15

I’ve got a pair of blue leopard chelsea boots very similar to these, and I’ve been wearing them loads recently. The elastic in the ankle means there’s more give, so they fit better than a lot of ankle boots (I have cankles from hell) and the flat sole makes them super comfy. They’re the perfect footwear to team with skinny jeans, but I also wear mine with tights and dresses. And they’re only £15 – score!

flats_4

Mel ballet pumps £14

I don’t know what it is, but I always find quilted ballet pumps to be both comfier and longer-lasting than their thinner, un-quilted rivals. I’m onto about my fourth pair of toe-cap pale coloured flats like these. They’re not only my go-to shoes for Summer when I want closed-toe shoes to wear with skirts and dresses, but they’re also useful for shoving in your bag for a quick change if you do decide to wear heels. The gold toe-cap gives these babies a bit of bling, and we all know I love a bit of that!

flats_5

Gemma glitter pumps £5

I had to finish with these, didn’t I? Not only are they pink, glittery and completely over the top…they’re called Gemma! It’s obviously fate (well, it would be if they had any left in a size 6). Just because your shoes are flat doesn’t mean they have to be boring, and these babies are just as striking as anything with a platform and killer heel. They’re also available in black glitter in a few more sizes for £8.

Post sponsored by Bank.

fitness
Health & Fitness, Sponsored Posts

Fitness fashion & a 30 Day Shred update

zaggora_hero

I have a confession to make. I’ve not done very well at the 30 Day Shred. By now I should be pushing towards day 30, showing off my abs and well into level 3. But the truth is I’ve only managed to get halfway to day 10. It’s not because I not enjoying it, it’s purely because my schedule has got in the way, and I keep finding excuses not to squeeze it in. I’m feeling very guilty – it’s only 30 days and the last two times I’ve done it I’ve managed to fit it around my life with only a couple of missed days. But for some reason I’m struggling this time.

But I’m not giving up. Next week, I start again, and this time I will persevere. I have no excuses this time – no fashion week, no Oscars all-nighters, no big events after work. I’ve just bought three more of Jillian’s workout DVDs (Ripped in 30, No More Trouble Zones and Killer Buns & Thighs) to work my way through. And to help push me through those tough first ten days of killer workouts, I’m using the workouts as an excuse to try a few pieces of fitness clothing too.

The problem I’ve found so far is that supposed ‘sports’ clothing is often anything but. My Stella McCartney for Addidas cropped leggings with a swirled seam look great, but they slowly disappear down my hips and halfway down my thighs by the end of one minute of squats. I’ve started wearing Zaggora Flares instead, which are like leggings made out of wetsuit material that make you sweat more during your workout for optimum fat burning. They do seem to help keep body temperature up, but they also squeak and rustle throughout.

fitness1

And then come the trainers. Oh, the trainers! I quickly learned you cannot shred in bare feet. You need the support of a pair of trainers designed for fitness. But since I’m the least sporty woman on the planet, I have the most profunctory pair of Nikes known to man – plain white ones with thin soles and no detail that cost me about £20 in TK Maxx. Not exactly the cool Nike Air Max styles I should probably be wearing. I think it’s time I upgraded – but perhaps I need to do more than 20 minutes a day before I can justify investing in a pair.

There is one area where I’ve got it sorted though, and that is my sports bra. I’m switching between a Shock Absorber and a Panache style now (review to come) and it’s amazing to be able to work out without the jiggle that usually comes when you combine a big bust and jumping jacks! I really believe you can wear whatever crappy joggers and t-shirt you want provided you have the right sports bra and the right supportive pair of trainers. So next time you see me running through Battersea park in a t-shirt I got in a goodie bag and a pair of Primark joggers, remember that?

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staples
Sponsored Posts

Wardrobe staples – the 10 things that’ll make your clothes work twice as hard!

AdvertisementI’m always surprised by the items in my wardrobe that I wear the most. Whether they’re classic styles, cool statement pieces that reflect my personal style, or just reliable clothes that wash and wear well, I’m a big believer in identifying those instant wardrobe staples – the old faithfuls that make all your other clothes that much easier to wear. These are the pieces that you take great care of, cling onto until they’re threadbare, and replace the instant they’re past their best. Here are my top tips on what makes my wardrobe that much more versatile.

1. The perfect black jacket

Be it a blazer, a leather jacket, a tuxedo jacket or a mini mac, the perfect fitted or semi-fitted single-breasted jacket will work wonders. I have two or three I wear a lot; a tuxedo style suit jacket from the long-gone Stella McCartney for H&M collection, a peplum jacket with big round buttons also from H&M, and a jersey and leather Supertrash number. These go over dresses, on top of tees and blouses with skirts or jeans, and instantly take a dull or casual outfit to the next level, or add a bit of much needed warmth in cold weather. They’re particularly useful when teamed with black tights for making more Summery dresses work in colder weather, but I also like them for making strappy dresses a bit more work appropriate.

2. Jeans that make me feel fabulous

I have a love / hate relationship with jeans. In the past I’ve got on fine with cheap brands and have a lot of love for Primark’s £9 super skinnies. But buy the wrong cheap jeans and you’ll quickly end up with saggy knees and a loose waist. I’ve now discovered the best pair of soft skinnies I’ve ever tried, and I hate to admit they’re from Cheap Monday, where a 32″ waist is more like a 29″ and anyone over a size 12 will struggle to squeeze into anything. The Super-soft feel is what has sold me on these babies, though, and the fact they have a button fly (I hate a zip that comes down) and never seem to sag. When it comes to a slightly less tight-fitting style, I’m 100% sold on my “OMG HOW MUCH” Hudson jeans (which were a gift). They’re called the ‘baby bootcut’ and they fit like an absolute dream, just kicking out a little bit at the ankle over a pair of heels or boots. When you find the perfect jeans, casual dressing becomes a cinch.

3. A party dress that turns heads

We all know I love a good dress, and I love a party dress even more. For me a big knees-up is the perfect excuse to pull out all the stops. I’m big on sparkle, full skirts, bold colours and lots of embellishment, and the fit has to be perfect. At the moment, my go-to dress is a custom made style from Gorgeous Couture (more on that soon) and I’m also still completely in love with my Vivien of Holloway ‘Grace’ dress. I also found two brilliant frocks on my recent trip to the USA, both of which you’ll be seeing a lot more of soon; a black peplum dress by Alice + Olivia, and a gorgeous 60s style brocade dress with a jewelled neckline by Carmen Marc Valvo. God bless the outlet mall!

4. The handbag of my dreams

It’s from Linea Pelle, it’s called the Dylan Medium Tote, it’s perfection. We’ve been over this before. I still love my bag as much as I did the day I got it, which was well over 12 months ago. Since then I have acquired a new Linea Pelle hobo, a boxy Kate Spade number and a lovely LK Bennett shoulder bag, but nothing really lives up to the perfect shape, size and slouch of the Dylan. I use it for everything from work to travel, and it never lets me down. I’m definitely going to treat myself to another colour then next time I can afford to.

5. Denim shorts for hols and beyond

I never ‘got’ denim shorts until I went to Australia, and every girl, regardless of dress size, was wearing them. I made it my mission to find a pair to fit me. Denim shorts are great for a variety of reasons. You don’t have to worry about exposing too much in the wind, and they get better as they age and scruff up a bit. Being a curvy girl, I don’t have a gap between my thighs, and wearing skirts in high temperatures can be uncomfortable. Shorts help with this, and they’re the perfect jeans alternative in hot weather. Add to this the fact the 90s are back and wearing them in cold weather over tights is perfectly acceptable again, and you have a surprisingly practical item that you’ll wear far more than you could imagine! My two pairs are from Dorothy Perkins and Primark.

6. Boots that are comfy all day long

When I started working in a fashion office again, I was amazed how much the whole team was devoted to their ankle boots. I’d spent years wear knee-highs, trying to squeeze my disproportionate cankles into boots that squeezed them tight, thinking an ankle boot with a mini / knee length skirt (my go-to length) was a no-go. But then I realised that an ankle boot with a slight heel and some kind of detail (right now it’s usually studs) was super-practical, working with jeans (skinny and bootcut) or skirts / dresses and tights, and also shorts and maxis if you can work a slightly grungy look. My current boots are £20 Primark cheapies and they’re brilliant – I wore them stomping around town during fashion week and never suffered any pain!

7. Black tops of all descriptions

I own a lot of printed items, so having a good stash of black basics to mix them with is vital. A nice slouchy black tee looks amazing with my many pairs of printed trousers and fitted skirts, a long-sleeved Uniqlo heat-tech tee takes a sleeveless dress into winter, and a little vest can be worn under a sheer shirt to save blushes. I’m constantly snapping up cheap black separates, and I find it’s my black staples – particularly those long-sleeved tops – that I wear the most. I even have an old-school bodysuit for tucking into pencil skirts without bunching.

8. Something wonderful I made myself

Long-term readers will know that I’ve got back into sewing recently, and I have to say there is nothing more brilliant than wearing something amazing that you’ve made yourself. My most recent creation is a strapless dress with a full skirt and boned bodice, in a bright blue fabric with white polka dots. If you’re not good at sewing (and trust me, it’s not hard to learn) you could try customising instead – even changing the buttons or adjusting the hem or neckline can bring new life to something you love, extending the wear for years. It really saddens me that people don’t know how to sew any more. It may be a seemingly old-fashioned skill, but it’s so useful, especially if you have a body shape that doesn’t work with a lot of modern clothes. Just being able to take in a dart or let down a hem can help you to make sure your clothes fit better, and being able to make something from scratch means you can get the perfect fit time and time again.

9. The best bra in the world

I’ve spoken a lot about the importance of the right underwear, so it goes without saying that when I’m talking about my top fashion buys, a good bra is on the list. My favourite all-rounder is a moulded or slightly padded bra in a colour as close to your own skintone as you can get. Find the right flesh coloured bra and it will work with both light and dark coloured clothes much better than black or white bras. For me, the top bra is the Freya Deco, but I also love the Panache Zara (which also has multiway straps which are great with racer-back tops and dresses, and comes in a ‘mocha’ shade which is a much better match for darker skins). It’s worth trying a few to see which shape works for you, as it very much depends on the shape of your bust.

10. Shoes that make people stare

My love of ostentatious shoes is well recorded. I’m a huge fan of a mad shoe, from Irregular Choice craziness to the tiki sandals I’ve recently been coveting. The joy of shoes – other than the fact they fit at all times – is that you can use them to dress up any boring outfit. Switch out ballet flats for designer heels and suddenly that jeans and t-shirt combo is a little less boring. A black dress becomes a ‘wow’ dress with a pair of scarlet heels. And a pair of jewelled flat sandals will make an otherwise stuffy maxi dress look cool an bohemian. Never underestimate the power of the right pair of shoes!

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