Trends: How to Stand Out this Party Season

I am starting to get excited about all the parties for Christmas and New Year’s now. But ever year there is the same problem, how do you make your party outfit stand out from the sea of little black dresses and sequins? One trend this season is to highlight the back, giving interest to your outfit without taking away from your dazzling smile. Stella McCartney has mastered this technique, subtly with the cut out detail ‘Exter Miracle’ dress and dramatically with the full tassel backed ‘George’ dress. Both striking yet classic LBD’s which you could dress up or down as you pleased. If you already have your perfect party dress, then you might want to brighten it up, the Alexander McQueen chiffon capes are a fabulous way to add impact to your outfit and also work as a light cover up. Shown here worn with blouse and trousers, they are also very versatile. There are plenty of jewel coloured shoes around, ruby, amethyst, emerald all perfect with black and gold dresses. If you fancy something different however, why not try a white shoe? With Spring / Summer collections becoming available even earlier this year you can buy now and wear well into spring. The Stella sling-blacks above would make equally fabulous party shoes as they would with a light dress in the summer.

Accessories are the simplest way to dress up an outfit and also easy to use when creating a day-to-night look for after work parties. A small clutch or bright bauble you can stash in your office draw. There are a multitude of power packing clutch bags on the scene right now, here from Alexander McQueen and Diane von Furstenburg. You could play out your own Cinderella fantasy with this charming clock face bag. Don’t be afraid to be bold with the jewels either, a nice gob-stopper cocktail ring or chandelier earring. This sweet bee from Delfina Delettrez is something a little more unusual to the average giant gem. Wearing a large necklace or layering up many thinner ones can create a cool feature and is as perfect for dressing up a party frock as it is an old t-shirt.

All items available from Matches Fashion

How will you be tackling the party season? Fancy any of these in your stocking?

Harrods Fairytale Christmas Windows

Nothing gets me into the Christmas spirit more than the lights going up and the windows being transformed into winter wonderlands. Manchester hasn’t had spectacular windows since before the bombing which is a real shame. As a kid it would be a day out to go and see the windows unveiled. So I always try to make it down to London to see the window’s there, this year Harrods created the most magical fairytale windows. The windows were created not only using costumes but real merchandise from the store including clothes, accessories and jewellery. The smaller display windows focused on designer jewellery and watches, many gold and glittering. Cascading diamond necklaces and gob stopper cocktail rings.

Can you guess which tale they all belong too? The Chanel one? No, not a traditional fairytale, but maybe a modern one?

Outfit: A World of Stars

(Wearing: BeckSondergaard scarf and purse*, Zara boots, Primark hat and jumper, Vivienne Westwood Gold Label skirt; nails Chanel ‘Malice’ with OPI ‘The Man with the Golden Gun)

Winter is coming. It really has got to the point where I can’t bear to leave the house without hat, scarf and gloves. I really like a huge, sweeping scarf which I can wrap around. As you know I pretty much live in my Louis Vuitton leopard stoles but I’ve been trying to find something similar in size with a more accessible price tag, yet still impeccable quality. I was very happy to discover BeckSondergaard and am wearing the World of Stars┬á scarf in ‘Dark Wine’ here, isn’t it fabulous! I’ve been wearing it non-stop and it seems to be one of those items which has had people stop me and ask where it is from. When a lady started stroking me on the tram I did get a bit concerned! It really does have that snuggly, tactile quality to it though.

The brand have a fantastic range, I already have things earmarked for Christmas gifts for friends. Both and The Dressing Room have a good selection of BeckSondergaard scarves which range in price from around ┬ú25 -┬ú69. They also do a really nice selection of leather and eel skin purses and bags, all in pretty, retro styles. All the purses and scarves come in a huge range of colours and patterns, I am sure there would be something to please everyone! Stars, leopard, birds, spots and dots. I already have the Christmas Eel skin purse and the Super Nova scarf on my wish list. Go on, have a look, you won’t be disappointed! I had the scarf on with my navy coat which looked fab, I will take some outdoor photo’s as soon as this weather clears up. At the moment we have nothing but rain here up North.

My work on STYLE.etc Magazine & Meeting

Those of you who follow my Twitter and Facebook will know I’ve been up to quite a lot of things of late. One of them is writing for STYLEetc magazine. Above are photos of the AW12 edition for which I wrote a piece on London Fashion Week. You can pick up the magazine at various locations around Manchester, Liverpool and Chester or read it online. I have also been in London this week to meet the fabulous, who was launching his new iPhone camera accessory. The range will be coming up North but it launches in Selfridges on 6th December, do go take a look at the set up in store as my friend Clarie who works with Will has designed it. You can read my article ‘It’s dope, it’s freaking, it’s jammywammy… it’s STYLEetc meets’ online. It was fun meeting Will, he is such a nice guy and we shared a mutual appreciation of each others bling!

Airstep Winter Boots

I love getting a new pair of winter boots to stop around in. After my old army boots bit the dust I was debating what to go for this year. You can’t beat uggs for warmth but they aren’t the best shoes for walking dogs through muddy fields. When I saw these Airstep boots I was made up, with shaggy sheepkin and thermal insoles they combined the army and ugg boots. What is really cool is that the leg has a thin wire in the seam so that you can fold them up or down and they hold the shape. Have worn them most days since getting them, they are really comfy.

I hadn’t come across the brand before, this is their philosophy “Since their creation in 1972 near the Lac de Garde in Italy, Airstep has combined tradition and innovation. Quality materials and modern technology come together in the manufacturing process of their models for an unparalleled quality and design. Deeply rooted in the legend of Italian shoe making, AirStep creates audacious and creative models each season – perfect for fashionable urbanites as well as those looking for a stylish, sleek shoe.”

They have tons of gorgeous new styles, I am lusting after another pair. The tan ‘Page‘ are such a rich colour and would work well into spring too. Ah I know, we have only just had the first frost, well doesn’t hurt to think ahead right?

What do you think of Airstep, ever tried them?

The Original Crinoline

Crinoline 1860-65, sprung steel frame covered with wool and linen, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

I saw this beautiful crinoline at the V&A during my last visit. Looking up close at all the wire involved, made from steel and how it would hang from the waist by a slim belt really makes you reaslise how uncomfortable, even painful they could have been. Yet wear them women did. It doesn’t seem to matter what decade or country you look at in history, there will always be people going to extreme lengths for fashion.

Hello 6″ Platforms!

ÔÇ£Shoes must have very high heels and platforms to put womenÔÇÖs beauty on a pedestalÔÇØVivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood’s 1990 ‘Portrait’ collection was all about stepping out of a painting. Vivienne was hugely inspired by the Wallace Collection taking inspiration from things she saw there. With prints taken from Andre Charles Boulle furniture transformed into black velvet dresses with gold leaf. Details from Francois Boucher paintings were made into waist cinching corsets, pearl chokers and drop earrings adding to the opulent look. The key to the collection however were the pedestal’s the models were put upon, the 6″ platform heels. My black suede platforms are from that first collection, though you can still have a pair custom made from Vivienne’s shop today. Due to the sturdy platform and chunky heel they aren’t as difficult to walk in as you might think. I would only wear them for a night out, however it makes me smile to think in my teens I used to wear a pair of boots with this heel daily! These days I am lucky if I can manage a night out, ah the joys of youth.

Portrait collection and cabinet from the Wallace Collection

Vivienne Wore a pair of patent platforms to collect her OBE, she also flashed the photographers too!

A few years later Vivienne created the Super Elevated Platform shoes, which Naomi famously fell on the runway wearing. Here she is with Kate moss in looks from the Anglomania 1993 collection, I adore this photo of them. How I would love Kate’s coat.

You can see this great video of Vivienne taking a tour of the Wallace Collection and explaining the influence it had on her collections.

(Other images courtesy Vivienne Westwood Ltd)

Vivienne Westwood speaks out for Azza Suleiman

Amnesty International UK have just finished producing a video with Vivienne Westwood. Every winter, they ask people to send letters to those imprisoned unfairly, targeted for speaking out or seeking justice against all odds. A simple letter can bring hope, comfort and support to those suffering such human rights abuses. But it also shows those in authority that we will not stand by as they try to oppress such individuals or communities.

This year, Vivienne Westwood has come on board to support the campaign. Together they have made a film highlighting the injustice and abuse experienced by Egyptian woman Azza Suleiman, who was beaten unconscious simply for trying to help another protester. No one has been held accountable for the assault.

In the video, Vivienne talks about how it was a sense of injustice that first got her involved in punk.

You can find more information on Azza Suleiman here: where you can find details on how you can help, be it signing the petition to the Egyptian president or sending a card of support to Azza.

Those of you who know me already know of my connections with Egypt so this is a cause close to my heart in many ways. I think it is wonderful that someone like Vivienne will lend not only their support but their celebrity to highlight cases of injustice.

My love of Panache Lingere

Is it just me or do all party dresses seem to create a problem for underwear? Why do they all seem to have these crazy straps and fabrics that make your regular bra super visible! Carrie Bradshaw might have been able to pull of the bra on show look but it isn’t for me, so I have the festive joy of having to find a bra to match my dress. I hate shopping for undies, hate it. I find it so boring and so annoying trying things on, so what I usually do is once I know the size I need from a brand I just stock up online. My fancy pants come from Agent Provocateur but my every day brand is Panache. The Moulded T-shirt bra is my favourite bra ever, it is so comfy and you can wear it under pretty much everything without having to worry about it. It comes in standard black, white and beige, what more could a girl need. Well going back to the party dress bra situation I can’t tell you how made up I was to discover the Panache porcelain bra range has been extended. There is now a Strapless bra and a Plunge bra in the collection. With the addition of the Viva to offer the bra in a different fabric and with more colour options. This has made me very happy indeed. I have been taking a look around their website and discovered they also do this fun range called the Cleo which you can see here – as much as I am partial to a plain bra they don’t make for an exciting blog post! The Cleo range however comes in all sorts of colours and styles, I really liked the cute candy shoot. What I noticed even about the fancier ranges is that they all have the same classic fit, designed for comfort. I am feeling tempted to stray from my basics. Whether I can cope with the pressure of having to match my undies every day is anther story.

Do you wear Panache? What’s you favourite lingerie brand?