Monday, December 13, 2010

Looking back on a fab week

Hi kids. Apologies for my lack of blog activity over the last week. I can assure you it was nothing personal...I was merely catching up with some of my own favourite bloggers – do check out my blog list sometime its fabulous.  I was also attempting to finish off the Christmas shopping, which I have to admit is not going well. There is only so much one can buy when one has inquisitive little people demanding rainbow biscuits every time I make a move! Thankfully I had no such trouble in the style department. In fact every time I ventured into the smallest-wardrobe-in-the-world I came out looking like a pin-up girl for the latest flashy mag (if I don't say so myself) and I didn’t have to consult with the SATC 2 almanac once. Yay for me. Must have been my brush with Prada-on-a-budget the week before that ignited the latest fixation because suddenly I would accept anything less of myself than looking like a glamazon albeit in Sussan.

This was the first memorable outfit of the week. I wore it on Monday. I’d been somewhat mildly depressed over the demise of my favourite pair of jeans – the DKNY’s rom Filene’s Basement that I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out. I also really wanted a pair of knee length denims but promised Dr Love I’d make a concerted effort to pay off the credit card. Eep! So with the obligatory pair of ‘good scissors’ (every household should have one) and a needle and cotton I set about re-inventing my fav denims into the much wanted capris without having to spend a cent. The batwing top is somewhat of a shift in convention. I brought it last year during the post chrissie sales from Sussan. Usually I’d go with a block colour but every so often something flashy catches my eye and I have to have it. I love the shape of this blouse and the way it floats over all the bumpy bits making them disappear. The gold isn’t an exact match to my colour wheel but its close enough to get away with it. The shoes, would you believe spent nearly two years in a non-descript shoe box buried deep in the SWITW. I brought them from this amazing little shoe shop around the corner from Macy’s in New York. Can’t remember the name of the shop because I was too distracted by the quality of the sale inside. Full price Steve Madden for under $100!! These aren’t Steve Madden BTW but I love them anyway. The little wedge is perfect when you want a little bit of extra height. And the red picks up the colour in the blouse. Top it off with my favourite bangle combo – beige resin and black wood and I’m right to go.

Remember this ensem? I posted this photograph last week as part of the Vogue January review because it was the inspiration behind what I wore on Wednesday. Well actually it was the necklace that initially sent me leaping into the smallest-wardrobe-in-the-world because I have one that is very similar. It was only by pure coincidence that by the time I’d finished working my magic that I realised I’d practically recreated the entire look only without the spots. Not that I mind spots. I quite like them actually but the SWITW is severely lacking in the spot-slash-dot department and I had no inclination to beat myself up over incidentals. Although Forever New was the initial inspiration for my look, I decided to do a Prada and channel Chanel for the day. I’d not long seen the flick, Coco Avent Chanel and was mildly obsessed. I brought the dress from a Jacqui E clearance sale for $50 a couple of months ago and yes, it’s black. But it is a classic and worn as a statement piece so it’s allowed. It’s probably a bit higher in the neckline than the E cups would like, but the empire waist and pencil skirt compensate nicely. My gorgeous orange shoes are new - shhhh! I brought them from the Nine West clearance store for $40.00. Every time I went outside however, I had to swap them for my flats – Chanel inspired of course, because it was raining and I didn’t want my flashy new clogs to get wet. What can I say, I hadn’t water proofed them yet. I topped it off with a cute bling ring – which I managed to get caught under baby cub’s car seat the other day and nearly tore my finger off, and my cut-priced Lucca bag from Strand Bags.

It was a tad cool on Sunday so it was a good excuse to show-off this gorgeous drape cardigan from Fenn Wright Manson that I brought at first site from the House of Fraser, and we all know how much I love the House of Fraser. I’m not kidding when I said I brought it at first sight, although I did have enough forsight to try it on first...then it was love at first sight. Whipped out the credit card without a second thought and haven’t looked back since. I teamed it with a pair of dark blue denim skinny jeans from Sussan that I picked up for $39 and a singlet also from Sussan. I topped it off with Chanel inspired flats and a pair of cute ear-rings I secured for $2 from an accessory store at my local shopping centre.  Will admit my fabulous sister-in-law did enquiry as to my head-to-toe palette of neutral and psuedo neutral colours considering my recent anti-neutral rants, but what can I say?  I don't mind wearing it from time to time, I just don't want to walk into every second store on the local shopping strip and have nothing but neutral for choice.  Know what I mean?

OMG I love looking good. Wonder what this week will bring?


Monday, December 6, 2010

It's been a while, but the review is back! Vogue...January 2011

Compared with the December edition of Vogue; a cracking mag of over 270 pages of fabulous fashion fantasy and finds albeit completely out of my price range, I was a tad disillusioned by the January publication and for a split second considered not spending my hard-earned on a magazine that could barely scrap together 184 pages. It should be said however, that one should not be so hasty as to pass such severe judgement upon first glance and should instead sit down quietly over a cup of tea and peruse its contents before mouthing off. This gloss-pot boys and girls turned out to be a perfect and delectable example of quality over quantity. I really enjoyed immersing myself in perfectly presented pictorial montages and well-written prose and it wasn’t long before I was searching the net for a floor length silk caftan-style-cape in sky blue as worn by the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire on page 171. Sadly, couldn’t find one, which wasn’t an altogether blue? Not really my colour.

A pregnant Miranda Kerr on the shiny new jacket was in my opinion a brave move. It stimulated a number of interesting arguments on the Vogue forum, which yours truly took part in for the very first time (long time reader, first time poster...can you believe I actually wrote that?) I will admit, I nearly didn’t recognise the latest edition owing to its foray into unfamiliar territory on the front cover but as one poster pointed out ‘pregnant women want to look glamorous too’ and let’s face...when it comes to Miranda Kerr you’ve got the best of both worlds. Personally I reckon I could have given her a run for her money when pregnant with the oldest of my little people. There was not one swollen ankle in sight. Not so with baby cub...I spent the first 18 weeks huddled over a toilet bowl and the next 22 trying to avoid it.

Will admit, when you break it down, I wasn’t so impressed with the individual pieces of apparel on display. Aside from the obligatory swim wear and odd sunglass, I couldn’t help but feel as though the fashion team had picked up the least wintery pieces from the Autumn/Winter catwalk collections and passed them off as high summer. Who knows, perhaps it was the rich shades of caramel brown that dominated the pre-winter scene in the UK and Paris or the plethora of long-sleeve, trench wearing celebs that tipped me off to the dilemma. The ‘anything goes’ spread on pg 150-156 did a reasonable job at hinting at what one might wear when one is scorching but on the whole lacked that summer feel. ‘Spose it is a bit hard when you are trans-seasonal to the fashion world and household names like Muiccia Prada who along with her esteemed friends made this gloss what it is, are whipping out the wool when-ever they get the chance. For my mind, the December edition did a much better job at capturing the current temps if you have a chance at a back copy.

Not that I didn’t find a treasure trove of inspiration for the coming months...I did and in the least expected places. The full page advertisement for Forever New (still not a good fit as far as advertising goes for my mind) had me running for the smallest-wardrobe-in-the-world for a complete outfit that I intend to wear on Wednesday. Something I am going to have to get used to yet again now that I have decided to stop...gulp...spending for at least...sniff...four months. Please don’t say anymore...the credit card has spoken and I’ve already gone through one box of Kleenex in sympathy with myself.

In closing, if you can get over the questionable fashion finds then this is a great little publication in which to put up your feet and enjoy. The beauty, life and entertainment sections are all good reads and there are number of ripping articles to keep you well entertained. Vogue doing what it does best...only without the usual dominating pages of high priced fashion that those with a mortgage can only dream about.

I’d buy it. Oh wait, I already have...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shop Your Own Wardrobe Pt 7: How to recreate Prada without really trying

I have completely fallen in love with this Prada dress featured in the latest edition of Vogue – which, btw, is a ripping publication and quite worthy of a review if I ever get around to it. Now, I don’t know about you but Prada isn’t exactly something that is readily available or even optional within my budget. Rather than sit around in a snit for the next ten months because I can’t covet what I adore however, I decided to take a step back in time and shop my own wardrobe.

It’s been some months since I set about recreating a look from the contents of the smallest-wardrobe-in-the-world. Then again the post-holiday, pre-Christmas credit crunch means a drastic cut-back on new acquisitions so I had little choice. If I wanted Prada, I was going to have to think Kamikaze and seriously get over myself. The beauty of using a high-end design straight out of the pages of the latest glossy is this:

1. The chances of procuring said high-end design are basically zero so it’s easy to look at it as an inspiration rather than an acquisition, and

2. I’m ripping it straight from the pages of the very latest and quintessential glammie mag, which means it a modern must-have and bang on trend.

Like our previous expeditions into our own wardrobes as enthused by the SATC 2 almanac, re-creating a look from a latest gloss-pot means taking into consideration all the various elements of your chosen best and adapting them to suit your shape, your style, your wardrobe, and in this case your season. This little frock is part of Prada’s latest autumn-winter collection and clearly for those of us living somewhat south of the equator the sun is well on its way to reaching its zenith. But here again lies the beauty of knowing how to shop-your-own-wardrobe. You not limited by the position of the sun or the occasion and can still be stylish without even trying.

For this project, I took into consideration the total look – printed dress with fitted bodice and full (or in my case with my thighs, A-line) knee-length skirt, classic pumps in a contrasting colour with a high heel and detail and co-ordinating head band with upswept, bee-hive hair as well as the lady-like silhouette of the glamorous and stylish 1950’s housewife.

Here is how I did it:

Printed dress fit fitted bodice and full knee-length skirt: What luck, I have a knee-length printed dress in hues of blue albeit in a floral design rather than geometrics. I brought it last year from Kamikaze for $100, but between you, me and your local Prada outlet any colour will do. I substituted the long-sleeve fitted bodice with an empire seam under the bust and thin shoulder straps because it was already in my wardrobe and its hot at the mo. The trick to recreating a look out of season and one which is more conducive to your body shape and wardrobe is not to get too caught up in semantics. The cut of the MFS substitute while not authentic to the original look still creates the same slim, feminine silhouette achieved by the archetype.

Contrasting yet classic heels: The heels in this look are burgundy patented leather with a black bow and diamante feature. While I do have a pair of merlot coloured patented leather mary-janes in a very similar style that I purchased while abroad, they feature a leopard print motif and will be a bit too busy for this ensem. This look calls for a simple but elegant pair of heels that add to, but do not detract from or confuse the overall appeal. Or in other words my fabulous fashionistas...block colour with a little bit of bling. I have choosen a pair of purple suede peep toe shoes with a chrome coloured buckle at the sides, which I brought from Betts for a ridiculous $27.

Headband: As we have already ascertained in a previous shop-your-own-wardrobe post (SYOW part 2: From Halston to Diana Ferrari; how you can do it too), I can’t do full head head bands because I have a flat head and they keep falling off. So I’ve substitute with a half band with black and silver bling that I brought a few years ago from a Myer sale for $5. I knew it would come in handy one day.
Tights: It’s hot so I’m not going to bother although if I did I would go straight for Ambra’s peeptoe pantyhose in nude which you can pick up from any major department store for $12.95.

Accessories: For this look, I would keep it simple. You really want the silhouette of the outfit to make the statement not the accessories. Add a classic but simple handbag in a neutral – in my case my new Lucca that I purchased from a Strandbags clearance sale for $14.

And there you have it...another guide to re-inventing your wardrobe and your style without spending a single cent. I love this so much, I’m wearing it work tomorrow. Bye MFSxxx

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Memoirs of an English (and French) adventure...and then I shopped

Ted Baker in Paris
Now that the great shopping drought of the holiday abroad was broken (ah the memories of the Selfridges shoe galleries) I was on a roll.  We were one day away from spending five days in the most beautiful and stylishcity in the world so I was damned if I was travelling 40 meters under the English channel seabed looking like a tourist.  I had a cunning plan that involved a carefully constructed list and whole lot of restraint.  Unfamiliar territory for me really when I’ve got a wad of cash and credit card burning a hole in my back pocket.  Anyway, prior to the big adventure and post pre-holiday hissy-fit over what I was going to buy (read more here), I did a reccie of the smallest-wardrobe-in-the- world and taking into consideration the sorry, dated and stretched state of numerous occupants, together with my current lifestyle needs – skinny jeans and pair of runners,  I came up with the following list:
  • One, if not two pairs of jeans in a straight and/or bootleg cut
  • A good winter coat with a decidedly UK flavour
  • A new trench in a colour other than grey
  • A cashmere cardigan in ahem...neutral
  • A pair of navy blue converse runners;
  • Several pairs of shoes; and
  • A hand full of new tops
Now, it would have been completely irresponsible of me to purchase everything at once – refer to the pre-holiday hissy-fit for further information, so I decided to break it down into absolute French necessities and made a bee line for the Ted Baker jacket from my local John Lewis store that I’d been obsessing over for the past six days.   As I've already blogged about it, you can read about it here. 

My funky new runners...not that I run.
Next stop was the converse sneakers.   I’d been considering procuring myself a pair of converse sneakers for some time now and was absolutely delighted to find they were a fraction of the price – I paid just $50 for them even with the exchange rate.  As I’m rather partial to dark denim skinny jeans, then navy converse sneakers were my funky trainer of choice.  I have no doubt that there are many stylists out there in the fashion jungle who will tell you that those of us with curves probably shouldn’t walk around in a pair of skinny jeans as they have the potential to make us look like Colonel Sanders southern fried chicken legs.  I, on the other hand believe in making (some) current trends work regardless of body shape (thank you Gok) and always wear mine dark with extra length so the bunching around the ankle works to lengthen the leg and therefore make those problem areas magically disappear.  Eat your heart out Harry Potter.  Has anyone seen Hermoine’s new hair style  by the way.  She looks amazing.  Anyway, by adding a sneaker in a similar shade I’m simply adding to the overall length of the leg making them appear ten foot long rather than the obligatory three!  Who would have thought after 11 years, Dr Love not only noticed my shoes, but commented on them too.  Well done Dr Love.  

My jeans were Ralph Lauren, and although I didn’t set out to purchase Ralph Lauren no matter how many times I had dreamed about it in the past, once I tried them on – four days earlier, there was simply no going back!  They had spoiled me for choice.  In fairness to myself, I did attempt to find a suitable alternative for a much lower price – they were £90 pounds (eep) but nothing compared to cut or colour.  It was as though they were made for me...the perfect denim dud with the much sought after but never previously experienced suitably straight leg.  The dark denim (the flash on the camera makes them look lighter than they really are) and wisping around the zip and upper thigh is just perfect for girlie girls carrying their curves on their lower half.  It breaks up the colour, which in block format could have the potential to make us bigger than we really are (see here for my past post on finding the perfect pair of jeans) and really, who wants that?

Girl about Paris
The last purchase for the day was a purple trench from Hobbs, another of my new favourite obsessions.  I mentioned once before that Hobbs was a good comparison to Veronika Maine only with more purple and there is no doubt that it was the colour of the season.  Lucky for me it is also smack bang in the middle of my colour wheel!  Never be frightened to buy multiple items in the same colour or shade boys and girls if that same colour or shade makes your skin glow like the glossy cover of the latest Vogue and your eyes pop like diamonds.  And no, black does not count!.  Buying multiple pieces in the same shade shows that you know exactly what to do to make yourself look smashing and colour coordinating your wardrobe just got a whole lot easier.  Take my favourite holiday outfit for example – Ralph Lauren jeans, converse sneakers, teal blue Stella top with empire waist/tie and blue looks fabulous with the Ted for a sophisticated but slightly edgy glam look, as well as the Hobbs for those days when I just want to be classic and quiet girl around town...Paris town. Au Revoir

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Memoirs of an English (and French) adventure...Puttin' on the Ritz

B & G in London making sure we are not lost!!
I was born to take tea at the Ritz, I am certain of it. So when my cousin G suggested that my other cousin B, G and I partake in high tea at one of London’s finest establishments, I almost tripped over myself with excitement. I love high tea. There is something so decadent about leaving the little people with Dr Love, frocking up (I wore the 'outfit inspired by Grandma') and drinking as much tea as you possibly can in a short period of time in the lap of absolute luxury. We had now been in the UK for five days and had yet to visit the nation’s capital. I was also yet to buy anything since we had arrived and between you me and your local Lipton plantation I was starting to get a tad worried about myself. Suddenly after years of perfecting the art of parting with one’s hard-earned cash (and credit), I was reluctant to part with anything. What if I made a mistake and brought the wrong thing? What if I got so caught up with all the wonders on offer abroad that I forgot that red was not my colour and the E cups ceased to exist in favour of that double breasted woollen coat in teal green? Oh my god, it was Charlie Brown all over again.

The shoes B and I brought.  Such good taste.  Must run in the family.
Of course, once I stepped over the thresh-hold of the shoe galleries in Selfridges on Oxford Street I needn’t have worried. All the anxiety and self-doubt over my shopping prowess was immediately vanquished by how many pairs of shoes I could justify without having to resort to international post! In the end I settled on a single pair of navy blue patent leather heels with my all-time favourite mary-jane strap by KG by Kurt Geiger. B, who had avoided high heeled shoes for most of her life but who was also going through an image metamorphosis opted for the same pair, indicating her fabulous sense of style and impeccable taste in footwear! G, choose a simple but classic pair of round toed patent black leather court shoes by Office which worked so nicely with her ensom for the day that she broke them out of the signature yellow bag on the short black cab ride through town and wore them to tea.

B & G enjoying high tea at The Ritz
If any of us had built up any expectations of our impending experience with dainty finger sandwiches and miniature truffles, we were not disappointed. This particular shin-dig was everything it promised to be and more! Within minutes of being centrally seated in front of the gold gilded lead fountain sculpture of a reclining woman, we were soon snapping off random shots on the digital desperate to preserve the memory of how the other half lived and vowing to replicate the decor within our own abodes with a few chosen pieces from ebay. Oh wait, that was just me! As the tea poured endlessly from silver pots and the gentle tinkle of perfectly formed sugar cubes dropped from antique sugar tongs into fine china cups upon matching sauces, opulence was in abundance. Every day men and women from all corners of the globe adopted the airs and graces befitting the rich - pinkies in the air - and enjoyed the golden yellow ambiance of the centrally located Palm Court with its quintessential French furnishings and resident pianist. Even the ladies toilet was something of an experience with the narrow, plush pink carpeted stairway and free girlie products. It was a completely fabulous day for many different reasons, least of which was the final breaking of the great shopping drought. But for now, it was time to return home to Dr Love and the little people.  Apparantly they had smelt blood and gone for the kill! So with our specially ordered cake secured in its blue box – we simply could not eat another crumb and just quietly, if I saw another cup of tea I might just cry, we bit farewell to the Ritz and all of its elegance and began the journey on foot through the beautiful open parks about town to Paddington station and home.

All the fabulous treasures and treats at the Ritz, which I'm determined to replicate at home.  I love the Ritz.  Ebay anyone?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Click, click shop!

My FWM wrap dress that arrived today.
I am unbelievably super excited and surprisingly it has nothing to do with William or Kate or the impending royal knot and everything to do with the dress that arrived in the mail today!  When I was abroad I fell in love with a brand of clothing called Fenn Wright Manson or FWM for short.  I first discovered FWM at my new favourite fashion house-slash-department store, House of Fraser and haunted her racks every time I stepped across the thresh-hold.  What attracted me to this particular brand was in the first instance colour!  Whoever told Australian designers and buyers that one must wear nothing but blacks, greys and other assorted neutrals when winter hits has clearly never shopped in the UK on an overcast, cold and rainy day.  Seriously, if I heard one more person try to justify the lack of colour in fashion houses down under as an acceptable reflection of the season pre-holiday abroad I was going to take a match to every neutral I could find in the smallest wardrobe in the world in remonstration.  OK, so that’s a complete exaggeration.  I would never do that to any of my clothes but you get my point.  In a country renowned for its long and dreary winters stores all over the land were rolling out deep lush colours in every shade imaginable in protest of the darkened and colourless sky.  As I’m sure you’ve guessed FWM was no exception.  As luck would have it, the colour palette bore a striking resemblance to the more prominent shades on my colour wheel and understandably become the object of my obsession.  The fact that it also comprised easy to wear, classic designs in everything from frocks to cardigans was a complete bonus.  I’d been eyeing off this dress for the best part of four weeks hoping that would be reduced as had a number of other similar dresses in shades less flattering to my complexion.  Eventually it was reduced on-line by a whopping 50 per cent.  Imagine my excitement when I returned home to find that not only was it available in my size, but delivery to Australia was a scant £10 and as a non-EU citizen was completely void of the VAT (tax).  Naturally I ordered it.  It’s perfect.  The kind of dress every girl should own.  The only question that remains is whether I should have brought the brown one with the white dots too!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What I wore when I heard the news

It would be completely remiss of me not to blog about the prospect of a royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. In addition to being obsessed with everything British, I am also a loyal royalist and have been ever since Charles whacked a big blue rock on Lady Diana Spencer's finger all those years ago. To put it into perspective, I was eight! Who could forget the majestic romanticism of that time when a dashing prince (ahem) pledged his life, or at least part of it to a young princess in a dress from which fairytales are made? Certainly not a little girl with a still existing scrapbook of memorabilia! Needless to say I rushed down to the nearest newsagent during my lunch break and picked up a new scrapbook and newspaper to start a new tradition for the little people. I can’t wait for the glossies to come out next week. I’m going to buy them all.

Perhaps I subconsciously knew something wonderful was afoot in the land of kings and queens. Just yesterday the biggest of my little people, big girl cub, presented an old Barbie doll of mine in a miniature replica of Princess Diana’s wedding dress for show and tell at Kinder. Plus, we have just come back from quite possibly the most fabulous holiday in the world where we soaked up as much royalty as possible. Just think, if we stayed for a little longer, we too could have been caught up in the hysteria and returned with a tackey souvenir plate in celebration of the pending nuptials.

From a fashion sense, this poor girl will be forever held up to endless public scrutiny by every fashionista who dared adorn a bit of must-have bling. Already she is being compared to her long-gone but never forgotten mother-in-law. Did anyone catch William’s reference to his mothers’ ring (and I paraphrase) “this is my way to keep her close”...oh my god...brought tears to my eyes. I loved her too. She was the princess of my childhood and the princess of my dreams. When I was 12, I envisaged myself as a budding fashion designer and created a whole line of clothes around my all-time favourite Diana dress. I’m still obsessed with asymmetrical frocks but strangely am yet to own one! Chalk one up to Kate though, she looked absolutely stunning today in a long sleeve blue frock. 

What I was wearing when I heard the news

As if I wasn’t excited about what I wore today, then the news of the soon to be heard wedding bells ringing out from Westminster Abbey or whatever church the couple chose to pledge their troeth had me positively dancing in my new KG by Kurt Geiger shoes. I too was wearing blue, and considering two pieces of my ensom were acquired whilst in the UK, felt well qualified to be besides myself with delight.  If ever a girl felt the need to be glamourous then a cascade of frills and well fitting empire blouse with pencil skirt will do it everytime.  Let me break it down for you:

Blouse: french blue wrap top with frill around the neck line and empire waist tie. I brought this stunning and very versatile top – I wore it with jeans on the weekend, from Coast, a high street boutique on sale for £35. Very funny and successful shopping expedition actually.  My cousin got stuck in a gorgeous navy blue dress that she had somehow managed to squeeze into backwards.  Don't think I have laughed so hard or for so long in my life.  Ah the memories.

Skirt: Black elastane pencil skirt purchased six years ago from David Lawrence.  Every girl should have one.

Shoes: Airforce blue patent leather with Mary-Jane strap and round gold buckle from KG by Kurt Geiger purchased from Selfridges.  More on those puppies later.

Bling: Cuff and ear-rings by Diva for $5 each.

You know, I think I’m going to like Kate. There is no doubt she has very big shoes to fill and the pressure of the saffire on her finger must be immense.  But, as I watch the William and Kate special on channel 9, I am filled with a quite contentment that this young monarch to be is a refined beauty with an elegance that is both confident yet humble, friendly but reserved and above all, real. I wish them well and every happiness befitting a young couple in love.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Memoirs of an English (and French) adventure...the Royal Borough of Windsor

St Georges Chapel.  Resting place of many known Monachs
and English nobility including Henry VIII and his BFF Charles
Brandon.  The little people liked it many statues
Dr Love had picked up something nasty on the flight abroad and barely made it through the Oxford adventure. So the following morning, my cousins B and G, myself and the little people left him on the couch and set off for a fabulous girls’ day out at the Royal Borough of Winsor. Ah Windsor. A little town so entrenched in British royal history –I am almost obsessive when it comes to the British, that it almost made up for the fact that despite being in the UK for three whole days, I had yet to shop! So unlike me I know but there was so much to see and so many old buildings and castles to do that I was strangely content to bide both my time and my ahem...budget! Visiting Windsor and particular Windsor castle for the second time in seven years was just shy of receiving a Prada handbag at Christmas on the Richter scale of excitement. Not only was I walking the very same stones that were underfoot kings and queens a hundred times over and greeting the tombs of the known and not so known monarchs and their favourite nobility – hello Charles Brandon, I feel I know you so well - but there was a palace shop on almost every corner! And I love a palace shop nearly as much as I love a shoe shop! Go figure that one out!

The stroll up the hill and onto the Castle itself had us all breathless with the majesty of the imposing grey stones that towered and curved above and around us. If I was hoping for a leisurely stroll through the embellished and stately apartments that escorted us back to a time when heads rolled as often the fashions of the season, I was mistaken. The youngest of the little people, baby cub, had relinquished her pram at the cloak room upon admission and although was happy to be free from its restraints did not like being told where she could and could not run and oh wow, didn’t that gold gilded sideboard and big tall bed look inviting to an excitable dare devil! So, with screaming babe in arms it was a quick meander through the hallowed halls and a fleeting glance at Queen Mary’s dolls house and the centuries old portraits of monarchs for whom stories are told and television shows are made until we reached the end and could divulge ourselves of her not so pleasant nappy!

From the castle, we strolled through the pretty streets nearby searching for the Crooked House of Windsor; our chosen venue for an afternoon tea delight. Imagine our excitement when we found the tiny 16th century building right alongside the columned facade of the guildhall, the very place Charles and Camilla tied the royal knot five year before.  Believe it or not the Crooked House really was crooked and once inside rather discerning to those of us climbing the narrow stair case to the upper level in order to partake in a spot of tea.

We had some spare time before our train arrived in the afternoon so we popped into a few of the shops that lined the station concourse; an exciting experience on its own. It was here that I first discovered Hobbs, a sophisticated high street retail heaven that offered classic cuts and elegant silhouettes for the chic fashionista in all of us. When I considered the closest Australian alternative, the best I could do in comparison was Veronika Maine, only more refined and colourful with a cascade of rich teals, blues, greens, reds and purples. It was fair to say that I was in colour wheel heaven and would return to Hobbs many times over the coming weeks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The most under-rated item in any woman's wardrobe

Check these out. These are my brand new walking shorts. I purchased them quite unexpectedly on Friday when I popped out of the office during my lunch break in search of a couple of pairs of magic knickers to replace the originals that didn’t quite make the trip home from the holiday abroad (RIP magic knickers). The acquisition was quite out of the blue but none-the-less on the list of required items that would supplement the smallest wardrobe in the world now that the sun has come out of hiding. I am a big fan of the walking short. I brought my first pair over seven years ago from a relatively minor yet rather pricey chain store that no longer exists. Every summer I tell myself that I should give them away (for no particular reason) and then end up wearing them more than any other item in my keep. Why? Because they look fantastic. They flatter my thighs and are cut in a way that they will never go out of style! Seriously, what was I thinking? Give them away! In my mind, the walking short – and by walking short I do mean those the end at or just under the knee - is the most under-rated garment in any girl’s wardrobe regardless of your size, shape or age. They are an excellent alternative to the skirt and although I cringe at the use of current the cliché – for the mum on the go – are a perfect and practical choice when one is required to navigate one’s way through a jungle gym in pursuit of your little one without showing off your Sunday best whilst still staying cool while one is at it! Add a pair of heels and suddenly your summer work wardrobe just got a whole lot better.

Like any piece of clothing (or accessory for that matter) let your body shape dictate the style that is best for you rather than the fashion of the moment. There appears to be an abundance of walking shorts on offer in stores at the mo – anyone seen the latest Sussan catalogue? But the vast majority of those I have seen in the last week appear to taper in toward and end just above the knee, which is no good for anyone! For most of us packing a few huggable curves around our thighs and bum or those with an apple shape look for a wide or straight legged short that end at or just under the knee. They will be even better if they possess a mid to high rise.

These little puppies are Yarra Trail and comprise 97% cotton and 3% elastane. Perfect for the summer months and even better for disguising the curvier parts of the post baby, chocoholic body. I brought them from a little boutique called Collage in South Melbourne for $75.00. I know, I’s more than I would usually spend and what’s more they were full price. Shame on me. But based on the seven year life cycle of the original pair of walking shorts from the chain store that no longer exists, that’s an investment of just $10.72 a year! And besides, they looked so fabulous when I put them on and added a pair of t-bar heels from Diana Ferrari that I picked up from Mathers for $30 (reduced from $160), the sales lady was overtly delighted and couldn’t put a pair away for herself quick enough. Ironic really...I just sold a pair of walking shorts to the sales lady I brought them from. Need I say anymore!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Memoirs of an English (and French) adventure...the beginning

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin. 
The largest of Oxford's parish churches and the
centre from which the University of Oxford grew.
It is hard to believe that it has been nearly a week since Dr Love and I and the little people touched down on Australian soil, tired and grubby from a 21 flight from Heathrow to Honkers and home again. At least I looked good even if I did smell terrible! A complete turn about from the journey abroad let me assure you.  I don’t know what possessed me to compromise my style whilst in transit en route to London all those weeks ago. I suppose I could have been forgiven for thinking trackie-dacks and a tee-shirt with runners was a reasonable combination in which to tackle such an arduous journey (remember the little people!) particularly after my rather public declaration that I would not succumb to my usual fashion concession as a tourist who walks a million miles from one hot-spot to the next in relative comfort aka a sensible pair of shoes. For some reason however, I spent the majority of the air journey in complete discomfort made all the worse by the realisation that discarded baby-food – and believe me when I tell you it was in abundance - lit up like the Christmas lights on the facade of John Lewis’s flag-ship store on Oxford Street when smeared upon black cotton. Thank god for the ‘most comfortable pair of jeans in the world’ and my new navy converse sneakers on the return. They got me comfortably yet stylishly through the English Channel when we travelled on the Eurostar to France and did not let me down 30,000 feet in the air. Needless to say the outfit of origin did not get another run in its entirety although the trackie-dacks got a reprieve in the evening because let’s face it; England in October is freakin’ cold.

Sheldonian Theatre.  Build in 1668 from a design created by the
exceptionally talented Sir Christopher Wren.
 Anyhow the memories from the family adventure to the UK and France are in abundance and there is plenty to share including what I wore when, what I saw and what I brought whilst over there (and when I returned home... don’t tell Dr Love). The capsule collection I put together to get me through the four weeks of fabulousness proved incredibly adaptable albeit mostly in blue – I’m going through a phase – and provided me with a rounded selection of everyday must-haves and special occasion separates. Knee length boots with a sturdy heel and trusty ballet flats provided acceptable alternatives (until I got the converse trainers) to adidas sneakers that between you and me and my local Athlete’s Foot have never felt right. While a selection of bling complemented the outfit of the day. I am sure if one ignored the back-pack and the camera one would never accuse me of being a tourist!

Where we went, what I wore and why I wore it!

One of the first places we visited, besides the local Slug and Lettuce for a meal on the first day was Oxford (day 2).  I wore a much loved Stella camisole with empire tie in one of my most perfect colours, teal blue, to celebrate my second visit to one of the most beautiful medieval cities in the world.  The last time I visited Oxford was late November in 2002 and I was dressed in a doona to ward off the artic blast.  On this occassion, I teamed the cami with my skinny jeans from Sussan, knee length boots (which I left abroad for my cousin to enjoy and return at Christmas when she visits – god love family) and a cute little cardigan I picked up from Review a few weeks before departure for $41 - sorry, forgot to tell you about that one!  This became a favourite ensome whilst abroad and I got plenty of wear out of it with varying substitutes. The camisole is a bit long for my body shape and risks cutting off my legs before they start. The cardigan however nips me in at the waist and hits me at the sweet spot just under the hip bone thus making my legs appear longer and counteracting the adverse length of the blouse. Clever huh!  This was the perfect outfit for climbing in and out of the big red bus (tour) and walking the medieval streets enroute to Maccas to feed the little people who were getting a bit tetchy after spending over an hour on the top deck of the double decker.  Great day had by all.
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