Comic Relief: 50 Ways to Wear it

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I am sure you already know that TK Maxx have joined with Comic Relief and Stella McCartney to design these fun Red nose day t-shirts to raise money for the charity. I took mine along to London Fashion Week and wore one each day – such a shame it was so cold and I didn’t get to show them off as much as I would have liked! My favourite way to wear the t-shirts was with a pretty, floaty skirt and sky high heels.

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Now you can share your own ways to style the Comic Relief t-shirts and help raise awareness for Red Nose Day by uploading you photo to the TK Maxx Facebook page and clicking on the 50 Ways to Wear it app tab. Just ‘like’ the app page and upload your photo, easy as that!

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If you don’t have your t-shirt yet they are available in TK Maxx stores and online here in women’s, men’s and kids sizes and a range of designs.

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Ladies Day at Cheltenham Races

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Cheltenham Ladies Day is soon approaching and I was asked by bookmakers Ladbrokes to give some tips with regards to finding the perfect outfit for attending. I think it defiantly depends upon your own personal style however I personally would air on the side of formal attire from what I have seen in reports of the occasion. The most important part of any race-day outfit has to be a hat or facinator. Choose something large and bold as you please, but keep it tasteful, this really isn’t the place for anything comedy. There are three main options when it comes to hats, you can match it with your outfit, keep it neutral or go for a contrasting statement. When matching it is best to choose paler shades or just match the hat to one piece of the outfit. The Queen is the perfect inspiration for this, always matching her over coat to her hats, here in pale lilac. If you would prefer to keep the hat neutral this is a great option when you want your dress or coat to be the statement piece. It also means you can wear the same hat with numerous outfits.Straw hats or beige, sand, black and brown are good colours to go for. If you really want to make a statement with your hat however the contrasting it will ensure it stands out. You can choose to colour-pop using a bright colour such as orange against a black coat or colour-clash using a colours which battle against each other such as an orange hat with a fuchsia pink coat. The other thing to think about is hat embellishment, you can have anything from feathers, bows and flowers. If you want something simple Pill-box hats are an elegant style which sit on top of the head still reveling most of your hair style. Where as a bonnet style will conceal most of the hair – something to consider when styling your hair. For an added air of mystery you can experiment with veils or half-veils, perfect with a Hollywood red lip for a touch of old school glamour. Most of all wear with confidence and a smile, something I don’t need to bet on for a winning look!

(Images from BigPicturesPhoto, PA and Getty)

Kitty & the Bulldog: Lolita Fashion Exhibition V&A

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Kitty, as in Hello Kitty and the Bulldog, as in the British Bulldog, representing the juxtaposition of Japanese and British fashions. The exhibition examines how British fashion influenced the Japanese street-style know as Lolita fashion. On thing to be clear is that Japanese Lolita has nothing to do with the novel of the same name. In fact the two are at opposing ends of the spectrum, as Lolita fashion is every thing to do with cuteness (kawaii) and innocence. The clothing is modest, skirts below the knee and prim blouses buttoned to the neck. In a way it is a rebellion against the overtly sexualised way women are represented, killing it with cuteness. Taking pretty and feminine to the extreme.

Lolita fashion arose in Japan sometime during the 1980’s, the aim to dress in such a modest and elegant way, living a pure, untainted life. Original inspiration comes from Victorian and Rococo eras, the most iconic of Lolita outfits somewhat resembling a Victorian doll. As Lolita became more popular different sub-cultures grew, many incorporating elements of Western fashion.

“A striking feature of Lolita fashion is the extent to which it is influenced by British culture: Alice in Wonderland, Glam Rock, the New Romantics, Gothic, Punk and Vivienne Westwood. Although the attitude and aggression of Punk and Gothic have no place in the world of the Lolita, the movement represents a similarly powerful rebellion against the conventions of contemporary society.”

An interesting aspect of Lolita fashion is how the sub-cultures arise. It is a very much brand lead market, with each sub-culture having one or more main brands who produce the clothing. Though wearing a brand doesn’t immediately put the wearer into a specific sub-culture it is still very much dependent on the full co-ordinate (outfit), some brands can be interpreted into many sub-cultures and others more static. It turn this mainstreamed the fashion and made it assessable outside Japan. The V&A exhibition focuses on the brands and the sub-cultures which they promote.

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Classic Lolita

Classic Lolita is represented by an Innocent Word outfit, the focal point is the Rococo influenced dress which has a red putti (cherub) and rabbit print. The simple colour pallet and softening aspects such as the lace wristlets, shawl and parasol mark out the style. Adding to the look are the sweet little knitted bunnies carried in the basket, reenforcing the innocence being portrayed. Innocent World was founded by Yumi Fujiwara and produces both Classic and Sweet Lolita styles.

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Sweet Lolita (left) and Alice and the Pirates (right)

Sweet Lolita is the oldest of the Lolita styles, originating in the 1980s with brands such as Shirley Temple and Pink House. It is also one of the most popular styles outside Japan. Easily recognisable, the look is all about pastel colours such as pink, blue, purple and green. The pastels are further sweetened with the addition of candy themed prints such as sweets, cupcakes, macarons and ice cream however there are many other prints, anything goes so long as it is cute. Huge hair bows and pastel coloured wigs are also popular. The Sweet Lolita outfit show here is by the mega brand Baby, the Stars Shine Bright (BTSSB or Baby for short). The Tokyo brand was established in 1988 by Akinori and Fumiyo Isobe, however it was in 2004 when the company was launched to fame by the film Shimotsuma Monogatari ‘Shimtosuma story‘ (re-released in 2006 as Kamikaze Girls with English subtitles). In the film the main character Momoko is a Lolita who wears BTSSB exclusively through out the film. The film, based on the 2002 novella by Novala Takemoto, tell the story of a young girl and her trials and tribulations to have her dream wardrobe, but is essentially a story about friendship something at the heart of the Lolita community.

The second outfit shown above is from Alice and the Pirates a sub-brand of BTSSB, created to meet the needs of the growing popularity for more Gothic styles. Whilst still sweet it has slightly darker undertones, influenced by Alice in Wonderland and Pirates (as in the Vivienne Westwood 1981 ‘Pirate’ collection, more romantic than pillaging the high seas). In this ensemble the striped tights and clock handbag hit at aspects from Alice in Wonderland, along with the black ribbons marking it out from it’s Sweet counterpart.

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Elegant Gothic Lolita

Gothic Lolita is another popular branch of Lolita fashion, most recognisable by the use of black and white. The Lolita Gothic style relates back to Victorian Gothic and though uses dark colours it is still very much related to sweetness and innocence. One of the main Gothic Lolita brands is Moi-m├¬me-Moiti├® created by Mana of the band Malice Mizer in 1999 to define his own style. This sub-brance of Gothic Lolita is know as Elegant Gothic Lolita (EGL). for girls and Elegant Gothic Aristocrat (EGA) for guys. The vivid blue in the above outfit is often used by the brand.

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Gothic Lolita

The above outfit is also Gothic Lolita, this design is by Alice Auaa who established the brand in 1995. This brand is somewhat set apart from other Lolita styles due to the interest in S&M, bondage and Gothic horror. The couture-like designs are now show in runway fashion shows and at price points beyond reach of many, yet the workmanship is exquisite.

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Punk Lolita

Punk Lolita is perhaps the most surprising evolution of the Lolita sub-styles. As a Brit the anarchic ways of British Punk are well know, yet Punk Lolita takes bad-ass and makes it cuddly! Zippers, safty pins, tartan, studs and chains are all combined with the pretty, girly Lolita silhouette. The above outfit is by Putumayo, who opened their first store in Harajuku in 1990. They stock punk items including things suitable or Punk Lolita but are not an exclusively Lolita brand.

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Punk Lolita

This Punk Lolita outfit is quite detached from the frilly, full skirts of the Lolita styles we have already looked at. The outfit is actually unisex and is a real hybrid of cultural styles. The clothing here is from the brands Sixh. and MINT Neko both belonging to the umbrella company KINCS clothing group. It is a much more casual style and something which is very similar to what is seen worn in the UK if you replaced the sandals with Converse.

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Japanese Lolita

Japanese Lolita is a strikingly different look to the Sweet and Classic styles, the most obvious features are that the clothes have traditional Japanese influence rather than European. The first outfit is by Takuya Angel, established in 1995 by self taught designer Takuya Sawada, who hand-makes all of his designs. He recycles old kimono material which is a trademark of his brand. Along with taking influence from Japanese culture the brand has elements of Cyber-Goth.

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Japanese Lolita

The most traditional of Japanese clothing is this outfit by Mamechiyo Modern. The designer who had been a vintage kimono dealer for many years set out to make kimono more wearable for everyday use with her own label. The designer experiments by introducing none traditional elements such as the headdress and lace collar, bringing appeal to the younger market.

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The exhibition was placed amongst historical Japanese displays, giving a wide perspective of the country past and present. I found it particularly intriguing to see in contrast to the Samurai armor and traditional kimono.

The exhibition is on until 24th Feb 2013, more information can be found on the V&A website.

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UK lolita’s visiting the exhibition, image (c) V&A

Outfit: How to Wear a Crop Top!

Wearing: Vivienne Westwood Gold Label ‘Wild’ jumper and lace skirt, Vivienne Westwood Limited edition ‘Bag’ boots.

┬áThis is the second part to my last outfit post, revealing what I wore beneath my sweeping cloak … it’s a crop top! Oh yes, I can’t say I would ever have been convinced that my 31 year old self would ever wear anything that could be called a crop top. When I was 14 I wore crop tops and mini skirts all the time alas I’m not a skinny little thing who doesn’t feel the cold any more. What I do like however, are very high waist skirts and trousers, the higher the better – but not quite as high as Simon Cowell. What goes well with high waists? Crop tops as it happens! The trick is, to just have the top sit on the waist band, so only half an inch is bared. You can even wear a body underneath for the same effect without baring any skin – essential in colder months. If like me you don’t have abs of steel, try layering another, looser layer over the top too such as a shirt or coat. Or vise-versa, wear the crop top over a longer top. Another way to try the look is to go for an asymetric or hi-low jumper, anything which hit at the natural waist. Autumn Cashmere have some perfect hi-low knits, whilst Moschino do some cute cropped cardigans.

I bought the top and skirt in World’s End, the top is called the ‘Wild’ jumper, its beautiful soft mohair and from the current Gold Label collection. There is a dress version too which Dame Vivienne herself has been wearing, here she wears it to receives the Harper’s Bazaar ‘Inspiration of the Year’ award accompanied by husband Andreas. The skirt is from a few collections past, it is gold lace over black wool so pretty as well as warm.

 

The Wild dress and jumper on the runway, AW 2012.

Worn by Stella Tennant in this seasons campaign.

Do you crop top? Bare all or bare an inch?

You can check out my Pinterest board for some crop top inspiration!

How to Look Chic for Halloween

Witch? Devil? Mummy? Sexy bunny (cringe)?

I absolutely love Halloween parties, I love getting dressed up and going wild for the night. I love wearing masks and fake blood. But seriously there really is only so many times you can pull off evil fairy and that glitter takes weeks to finally be rid of it all! I’ve also been asked a few times, what do you do if you don’t like fancy dress? Well there is no reason at all you can’t go out and enjoy Halloween in something more chic than Herman Munster’s threads. The best option is to just ‘Halloween-up’ a regular outfit. Here I have chosen four purse friendly evening dresses from Next which can be styled up, best of all you still have a gorgeous frock to wear you can wear again.

The easiest way is to start with a dress that has a bit of a Gothic edge, black lace, sequins, sparkle, velvet, brocade. Then you opt for a simple lace mask for an elegant masquerade vibe – perfect with this pumpkin orange shift dress. If you still want to add a dash of fun to your look try a pair of horizontal striped tights, a green and black pair instantly say ‘witchy’ without the hook nose and boils, paired with this glimmering LBD. A subtle look is Vampire, just wearing a pair of fangs with a blood red velvet dress is much more Vamp than funeral -pire! If the sexy-bunny look is still calling out to you, try a more subtle version such as the black lace ears made famous by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen over a sweet pink dress, the Gothic black embroidery detail adds a darker edge leaving people guessing if you are sinister or sweet.

(Image credits: All dresses available at NEXT.co.uk; Mask – venicemaskedball.co.uk; Tights – struts.co.uk; Fangs – fanpop.com; Bunny – cocosteaparty.com)

Which look would you choose?

101 Ways to Wear a Vivienne Westwood Pirate Squiggle Top

(Wearing: all Vivienne Westwood -┬á Worlds End ‘AR’ t-shirt, Squiggle top as pants, 3-tongue shoes, malachite necklace, gold orb belt.

Oh alright not quite 101, how about 3? There really are a lot of ways to wear these hugely popular tops (available exclusively at Vivienne Westwood World’s End ┬ú150), first and for most as an actual top! Just like I was wearing in my last post ‘Squiggle Girl‘. They are a really versatile piece, easy to wear casual or dressed up with a suit. But hey this is Westwood and that is a bit too obvious. A few of us were talking about this on my Facebook page, how the Squiggle top can be styled into so many other things. Mark Andrew shared his seriously cool take on the top as trousers and so I thought I would show a couple of ways you can try styling your top.

1. Trousers – I admit this seems a really odd thing to do, put you top on as if it were trousers! The arms from the legs and you can belt the opening around your waist, the neck will leave a hole but just pull it up and pin it however you please. It think they give a really cool harem style pant. The only limitation with this is that you need fairly slim legs so you don’t stretch out your top.

2. Apron – a take on tying your top around your bum like you did as a kid, you can do a similar trip but in a more stylish way. Here I tied the top on the side, wrapped the arms around the back and around the front again, tying in a knot. It gives an extra layer and a great pop of print.

3. Scarf – a really unexpected way to wear the to is as a scarf. Roll the top up from the sleeves down to conceal the neck hole, hold on the chest and wrap the arms around the back of your neck and down the front, tucking any exposed underarm patches in. Tie the ends of the sleeves in knots to give the tassel effect.

There you go a few ways to experiment, you could do this with any loose fitting long sleeve top, not just the Westwood Squiggle top. Have fun!

Trends: Some Ideas on How To Wear Pastels

Pastel shoes from Dune

When I first started seeing all the pastel colours coming down the runway I got lost in the beautiful dream world they were offering. Like a kid in a candy store, I couldn’t wait for spring and with it the new season collections. But then it got here, I wandered around all the shops, touching the delicate beading and floral applique. Running my hands over lace skirts and dresses in mint, lilac, pink. But when it came to the crunch I struggled to buy anything for myself. You see I was looking at it all wrong. I had this image of Kate Moss on her carousel horse at Louis Vuitton, in a flouncy lace dress and matching pastel heels. The thing is I’m not Kate Moss and if we are honest she wouldn’t wear that outfit outside of work either.

When it comes to translating runway trends it is all too easy to get caught up in the image the designers create. I know we all have things in our wardrobe that we bought on a whim, only to find they don’t actually go with anything else in our closet, or even perhaps ourselves. Because that is the key rule when embracing a new trend, it needs to work with US, it needs to be our own version of the trend. So I sat back and had a think about what I already owned which could be translated into the pastel trend. I have a baby pink blazer and erm that was about it! I am a black girl, it is true, with varying shades of grey! There is colour in my wardrobe but they are bright and bold. Embracing pastel was all quite new to me.

I thought about the shapes I like and the cuts I wear. I thought about the things which are my ‘go to’s’. In the end I got a pair of printed trousers in my usual high waist style but with a pale blue print. I have a baby pink top yet it has a metallic sheen, I adore metallic’s so it felt more approachable to me. I picked up a baby blue vintage dress, in the same style as my other dresses so it remains in my comfort zone. I can wear it with black shoes or maybe I will try it with a pair of neutral or even pastel ones too. Here are my top tips for wearing the pastel’s trend:

1. Take it slow, try adding a pastel coloured top with more neutral things like blue jeans. You get the same effect but it is less full on.

2. The shoes! Or in fact any other accessories such as a bag or scarf. You can play around with accessories really easily, trying them with different things.

3. Consider your usual silhouette. If you always wear trouser suits a super girly prom dress might not be you, look for similar shapes and cuts but in the new colours.

4. Try a different take. Pastel shades but in tribal prints for the pattern lover or baby pink studded shoes for the rock chic.

5. Add in contrasting colours. You don’t need to have a full pastel outfit, bright neon’s and block colours such as orange and blue work really well against softer tones.

Lots of pretty applique at River Island, even on the shoes!

Pastel colours yes, but in tribal, striped and floral patterns we are familiar with, River Island.

Spikes on pastel shoes, the perfect antidote for the not so girly girls, River Island.

More applique at Very.co.uk.

Pastels with a punch, pairing pastel blues and greens with neutral an contrasting orange tones down the full on candy colours, Very.co.uk.

An Easy Way to Work the1920’s Style

From Chanel to Spijkers and Spijkers there is a real 1920s influence on fashion trends for spring/summer 2012. Fashion in this period was all about fun and glamour combined however it can be a very hard one to pull off. The iconic Flapper girl is tall and willowy with a boyish figure and short bobbed hair, perfect if you were born that way but many of us were not. Personally I break out in a cold sweat at the very sight of a dropped waist dress! So how can you still work this trend with a different body shape? The easiest way, as with all trends is to go for the accessories. A string of knotted beads and the all important shoes!

The key to the 1920s shoe trend is a low heel, because you can’t do the Charlston in a pair of skyscrapers! Atelier Voisin have nailed this trend with their wonderful collection. I particularly like the Mary-Jane styled ‘New Poche’ (shown here in black suede but also available in nude) and the stunning ‘Solale’ with brogue style detailing. The shape of the shoe is also important, aim for an elongated almond shaped toe, not too pointy and not too round, somewhere in between. This combined with a low heel, around two inches, gives a very elegant, vintage style.

How to Wear: That Little Black Dress

 

No matter what your budget a little black dress is the perfect answer for the party season. A timeless frock which can be dressed up or down easily with accessories means you can stop worrying about what to wear and enjoy the party!

Outfit One – Budget: Lace dress ┬ú59.99, studded ankle boots ┬ú19.99 ( RRP ┬ú50), jewelled clutch bag ┬ú9.99.

Outfit Two – Blow Out: Beaded shoulder dress ┬ú149.99 (RRP┬á ┬ú740), snakeskin effect shoes ┬ú59.99 (RRP ┬ú150), oversize clutch bag ┬ú249.99 (RRP ┬ú885).

All from TK Maxx where you can find your own little black dress!

Shoe Saturday: How to Wear Evening Flats

Pixie Lott, Nicole Richie

With Christmas and New Years fast approaching Ive had a few questions about party wear so I will be dedicating a couple of post to the topic. One thing I did want to go into are some ways to wear flat shoes to an evening event. Now you all know I am a heels girl at heart but sometimes that just isn’t possible for whatever reason. Such as during pregnancy, illness or just because you aren’t a flats kind of girl! I have to admit I always feel a bit odd wearing heels to a house party so have been reaching for my flats more often. Many people worry that flats just aren’t dressy enough but that simply isn’t true, especially with the great choice of flats out there at the moment.

You can use shoes to dress up your outfit, a pair of Glitter flats will add instant glam to any look be it a simple dress or pair of wide leg trousers. I think with a statement shoe like this you can either keep the rest of the outfit simple or wear with a vibrant print for a striking effect. I have my eye on a pair of these which I will wear with vintage dresses as I love a contrast.

If you want your dress or jewllery to be the focal point of your outfit then a pair of Classic flats will work wonderfully. Nicole Richie above demonstrates  this well with her bright dress and statement sunglasses the shoes take a back seat in this look but keep it polished.

If you want something in between full on and plain then a pair of Embellished flats might be for you. Pixie Lott pairs hers with a chic little black dress and an oversized blazer, which looks perfectly smart yet playful and ready to party.

A way I like to dress up my flats is to add a pair of coloured tights. Either with a little black dress like the Saturdays girls or with a matching or contrasting print they give extra dimension to an outfit.

(Image credits:Saturdays, Nicole, Pixie, Womens Shoes)