Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas 2014 Gift Guide: Jewellery Brands

Jewellery is a great gift.  I'm not talking expensive, pregnant-with-meaning, fine gems, nor am I talking a quick pair of generic glitzy earrings grabbed in Accessorize on the way to meet your bezzie.  

I mean thoughtful, good quality jewellery that fits in with someone's personal style and is carefully chosen.  It's difficult to justify spending money on frivolous accessories for yourself, but realistically, you could wear a bracelet you really love, every day, with every outfit.

I've been a little bit bored with high street offerings of late but I realise that everyone does not have time to trawl markets, vintage stalls and online to find something different or unusual or special.  

So my generous offering to the deluge of gift guides is this: my top picks from some of my favourite jewellery brands you might not know about.  If you're really struggling I recommend sticking to necklaces or earrings - I know that my pathetic excuses for adult-sized hands make bracelets and rings difficult to get right.

Seeing as we're cutting it a bit fine for web orders and delivery, I've kept this to brands either based in the UK, or with excellent shipping.

NB:  Don't go to H Samuels.  What are you, some kind of moron?


If she likes:  The V&A Shop and boudoir interior design

Beloved of FKA Twigs when she's not inducing global hilarity via the medium of Robert Pattinson's hair, Finchittida Finch make some glorious baroque-style adornments in shiny perspex.  Subversive innit?  

Christmas 2014 gift guide


If she likes:  Urban Outfitters and gothic touches

Datter Industries is a bit of a stretch at this point for Christmas orders but I could't resist.  If you know a lady who would appreciate jewellery that looks delicate and elegant but on closer inspection, is a bit weird, this brand will tick those boxes.

best independent jewellery brands


If she likes: Zara and Game of Thrones

I don't think you can underestimate the ease of chucking on a statement necklace with whatever else you have going on to up the glam factor.  If she's not into faffing around, get her something that she won't see on everyone else from the lovely Stella & Dot.

Christmas gift guide


If she likes:  Muji and maths

There are so many great designers at FAO Shop but I think this Danielle Vroemen ring is very cool.  The site is full of geometric shapes and clean lines so this is a good starting point for a minimalist-lover.

Danielle Vroemen ring


If she likes:  Cos and rose-gold

This is not a cheap option but if you want to get something special, Jessie Harris could be a great call.  This is more about subtlety than wow factor, but a chic lady with great taste will appreciate the simplicity and quality.

Christmas gift ideas


If she likes:  Portabello Market and a touch of sparkle

Wolf & Moon is just plain cool.  It's a bit like a less kitsch Tatty Devine with lots of wood, pearl and tortoiseshell effects plus a healthy spattering of glitter.

Christmas presents 2014


If she likes: Etsy, ebay and having stuff no-one else does

Suite Hazen is a haven of delights all round but their jewellery section is like stumbling across a particularly well-curated Etsy list.  A range of prices and styles, you should be able to find something to suit most tastes, but crucially, that you could never get on the high street.

Alpha Beta jewellery


If she likes: & Other stories and personalised presents

I have so much time for Tarr and Fether at the moment.  It's a perfect contrast to when I wear masses of gaudy gems (also fine) as it's full of tiny smart pieces like this choker.  

great jewellery designers

Thursday, 16 October 2014

High necklines are MY necklines

The only NY resolution that I spoke out loud to anyone this year was telling someone: "I think this year I'm going to wear lower cut tops" and I have failed miserably thus far.

What can I say?  I love a good turtleneck.  I love polo necks.  And I love the cardinal cleavage sin of fully buttoned up shirts.  

I'm also very conscious of how fully I embraced the "party top" as a concept when I was 16.  Spaghetti straps, embellished triangles and an empire line, all battling with a misshapen strapless bra lumping around all over the place underneath; H&M kept me well stocked.

In more recent years, colleagues have mentioned that a saucy neckline for me is no lower than a crew-neck jumper.  Y'know, a glimpse of the old collarbone when I turn to one side. Pure filth.

Due to a number of good and exciting things, I have been pretty short on cash lately so shopping trips have been perilously few and far between.  I've allowed myself a replacement pair of black boots (that I actually featured here a few weeks back) and a new clothing gadget that is destined to keep me covered up on those days when even a crew-neck just seems too wayward.

Marvel at this:

It's called a "mock-shirt".  How exciting.  What's that, you're wearing a shirt under there?  No, no, this is just my mock-shirt.

I do enjoy clothing that is both functional AND sneaky.

Ironically, I have been roundly mocked for my mock-shirt, mainly because it is hilarious to look at whether I'm holding it or wearing it.  I agree that it looks like a weird adult bib, and that spending £29 on such a thing seems really bloody stupid.  I agree that it seems like something I bought on QVC or equivalent TV shopping channel.  I am also aware that it is not a sexy item to incorporate into bedroom undressing situations.

But, in my (petite) defence, shirts can often be way too bulky underneath jumpers because of the excess material.  Not with the mock shirt!  The mock shirt has adjustable straps and thus always lies flat!

I love a crisp white collar to round off an outfit but my office has a totally unpredictable climate and sometimes two layers are sweltering.  Mock shirt to the rescue again!  Only the illusion of two layers, keeping me from a perspiration-based incident!

If any of this sounds sensible, I cannot urge you enough to buy one.  And I was reliably informed by the sales assistant in Cos that they have new ones for winter.  Navy rollnecks!  Mercy mine!

NB: Most important lesson:  you cannot take your jumper/top layer off if you get too warm.  Repeat, you absolutely cannot.

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Perfect Grey Jumper

I could talk wistfully about the marvels of grey jumpers for hours.  I could write so many blog posts.  I could write poetry (nothing too epic but possibly a short book of haikus).  I've optimistically titled this post "The Perfect Grey Jumper" but I'm kidding myself that there's only one.  There are hundreds.

A good grey jumper solves outfit troubles like nothing else.  A  crew neck knit with a breast pocket and layered over a button-down shirt is always preppy but chic.  A ribbed polo neck means you can wear skimpy stuff without freezing your tits off in winter.  A lovely cosy grey marl sweatshirt thrown over something glitzy makes sequins daytime appropriate.

I reckon I'm going to have to add this over-sized slouchy Zara v-neck to my collection.  Aiming for something that looks like you've borrowed it from a boy is normally a safe bet.  I would urge the trying on of knitwear before buying, because store sizing is basically obsolete here; if you want it baggier, buy a much bigger size than you would normally.  Equally, if it's drowning you and you'd rather it was a little bit cropped, don't hesitate to buy smaller.

This is the last in my mini-series of posts on interpreting the faux fur and woolly mammoth knitwear trend for IRL and I've come to the conclusion that my general rule is to go more relaxed with jumpers but keep jackets or coats structured to avoid looking like a pile of coats left on the bed at a party.  Such insight.

styling up a slouchy grey jumperLeather and transparent PU mini satchel: £65 & Other Stories  Deep V-neck grey jumper: £35.99 Zara  Laser-cut leather top: £79.99 Mango  Matte cut-out bangle:  £19 Cos  
Block heel leather boots: £135  Cos  Lime wool mini skirt: £25 Marks and Spencer

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Faux fur trim: Nineties style

The nineties revival has had its highs (chunky footwear, slip dresses, checked skirts, velvet, backpacks) and its lows (scrunchies, bandanas, spaghetti straps, camo print, handkerchief hems).  

I'm yet to decided which camp mood rings belong in because, somewhat ironically, those things are an emotional minefield.  Am I calm and loveable or honest and devoted?  I JUST DON'T KNOW.

The best nods to the nineties have been mainly tricks stolen from grunge, only this time with better hair.  But this winter's faux furs and fluffy jumpers are in-keeping with the preppy Americana end of the nineties spectrum.  Think Clueless, Empire Records and early seasons of Friends.  This look is the goody two shoes at her first keg party, not the cool stoner who likes Nirvana.

You don't want to look like you're wearing a costume - unless you're going to a Halloween party as dead Cher, in which case, KUDOS - so it's important not to go too over the top.  If Rachel Green would wear it, it's all good.  If Phoebe would, maybe re-think things.  Handy Pinterest board here for some more inspiration.

Fur trim is a good way to channel the vibe without overdoing it, and without over-heating under all that man-made fluff. Plus it's less bulky, which is helpful if you're petite.  Keeping everything else pared back is also a good call, but I couldn't resist these fluffy socks. 

This Antipodium fur trim cardigan is great - wear it zipped all the way up, or a little undone with only a bra underneath.  After all, Renée Zellweger as Gina wouldn't try to seduce Rex Manning whilst wearing a vest.

empire records 90s style
Chartreuse cardigan with faux fur collar: £165 Antipodium at ASOS 
Black pleated faux leather skirt: £135 Whistles  Gold choker: £55 Tarr and Fether  
Black textured socks:  £7.99 Zara  Blue snakeskin-print court shoes: £39.99 Zara

Monday, 15 September 2014

Why you need a bruise-coloured coat

If you can get your head around faux furs this autumn, brightly coloured ones might just be a step too far.  But I am making it my mission to find a wearable coat that isn't black or grey before winter hits us with an icy slap in the face.

The disadvantage of coats in non-neutral colours is that, in general,  they look much better against bare legs than black tights.  The alternatives are risky: skin-coloured tights are an abomination and sheerer black ones only really look good if you shell out on a few high-end pairs.

Luckily for everyone, I've come up with an definitive, absolutely bullet-proof way to reconcile coloured coats with black opaques.  The key is to veer away from straight-up pastel and towards something with a cold blue or green base.  In practical terms, this means buying a coat in a shade that could legitimately appear at some point during the life-cycle of a really spectacular bruise.  Amethyst, greyish-mauve, steely blue and deep plum, or the last bruise-y shadows of mossy chartreuse and creamy avocado are all flattering options.

My epiphany may or may not be related to the stunner I currently have accessorizing my right knee after not paying attention where I was going and sprawling over a payment in King's Cross, surrounded by the innards of my handbag and possibly suffering a mild concussion from when my head bounced off the kerb.  But I'm standing by it either way, head injury or no head injury.

The good news is that bluey-purples seem to be in this season. There are more shades to play with than last year's pink craze and there are definitely some more subtle options around.  If (like me) you already own a plethora of grey coats, a dusky lilac is a good way to mix it up without straying too far into cartoon territory.  The one I've picked from Whistles is a dead ringer for the morning after sustaining an injury: right when the general outline of the bruise is visible, but before that deep maroon has really blossomed.  

This is how I'd wear it for the next month or so, but come November, I'll stick a black polo-neck and opaques underneath.  And some sensible shoes - because bruise-coloured coats do not need to be accompanied by actual bruises.

bruise coloured coatMauve textured cocoon coat: £325 Whistles  Clear plastic  clutch: £40 Skinny Dip at ASOS  
Lilac sequinned top: £195 Whistles  Lilac suede A-line mini skirt: £50 (was £95) Topshop  Turquoise leather and silver watch: £75 Skagen at H Samuel