Sunday, 1 May 2016

Must Buy: The Basket Bag

Top: £185.30, Club Monaco. Dress: H&M (bought instore but buy similar from Asos here). Watch: Shore ProjectsBracelets: Astley ClarkeShoes: Asos (old). Wicker bag: £55, The White Company. 

I know it's early, but you need to start thinking about that summer carryall now. Luckily for us, it's all about an oversized wicker bag that you can throw everything in - towel, books, iPad, kindle, sunglasses and suncream. But I also like the look of wearing it on home turf, with jeans and trainers - after all, it is weekend size. Pop to your local coffee shop with a new book and fresh flowers poking out - how Parisien.

Dress: H&M (bought instore but buy similar from Asos here). Watch: Shore Projects. Bracelets: Astley Clarke. Wicker bag: £55, The White Company. Shoes: Asos (old). Photographs: Christopher O'Donnell

But thank goodness you can buy one on the British High Street:

1. Painted straw basket bag, £55, The White Company

2. Stripe basket bag, £45, Straw Bag at John Lewis

3. 'Merci' jute bag, £55, The Jacksons

4. Smiley face monogram basket, £165, Rae Feather

5. Cream tassel basket bag, £24.99, New Look

6. Navy textured rug shopper, £24.99, New Look

7. Stripe straw tote, £69.50, J Crew

8. Straw bag, £34, Next

And one last one, just because...

Basket bag: £39.99, Mango

Friday, 29 April 2016

All That Glisters (with a sparkling exclusive discount)

Jacket: J Crew (old but buy similar here). Jumper: Gap (old). Bag: £108, J Crew. Gold-plated pins: £35 each, Astley Clarke.  'Kula' bracelets: from £70, Astley Clarke. Photographs: Eva K Salvi
I like to adopt the literal quote of Shakespeare here, rather than 'All That Glitters' - I think it has a bit more of an impact (and I'm a bit of a Shakespeare geek). But unlike the end of the quote, this stuff really is gold, and great quality, too.

Now I'm sure you know, I don't wear a lot of jewellery - inside my jewellery box you'll find a few select brands of fine layered jewellery - and Astley Clarke is one of those brands I rarely take off. In the summer in particular, I love their bracelets layered up with a crisp white shirt an skirt in the evening, or even with a swimsuit on the beach.

 Gold-plated pins: £35 each, Astley ClarkeKula' bracelets: from £70, Astley Clarke.
But as we know, their pieces are an investment. But one worth making, which is why I'm doing this post on their new 'Kula' bracelets, at a much more accessible pricepoint. Like friendship bracelets, they're easy to stack and look great all bundled or on their own - I love the idea of wearing one classic gold one with all black - the epitome of chic.

And also - a bit of a revelation - you can now buy single stud earrings. Yes, they now sell gold-plated studs from £35 each so you can mismatch your ears and buy for that single extra hole you had pierced. Genius.

Side stripe trousers: £128, Me and Em
Oh, but did I mention the good bit?! As a Frugality exclusive offer, you can get 15% discount on the Kula, the pins, in fact any of the Biography range using code FRUGALITY15 from today until Tuesday 3rd May 2016 (if I were you, I'd check out the lightning bolt earrings). And: it's PAYDAY.

Jacket: J Crew (old but buy similar here). Jumper: Gap (old). Bag: £108, J Crew. Gold-plated pins: £35 each, Astley Clarke.  'Kula' bracelets: from £70, Astley Clarke.

'Kula' bracelets: from £70, Astley Clarke. Love' disc rose gold bracelet, Astley Clarke (my own)
'Kula' bracelets: from £70, Astley Clarke.

This post was in collaboration with Astley Clarke, which meant I had to send back these gorgeous pieces after this shoot.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Stationery Fiend...

Clockwise from Bottom Left: Spotty notebook: Fortnum & Mason (old). Birthday card: £4.95, Marlby & Elm. 'Thank you' card set, £20, Kate Spade at Amara. Neon biros: £15.95 each, Caran D'ache. Alphabet stickers, £4.50, Meri Meri at John Lewis. Gold pen: £12, Kikki K. 'Ciao' notelets, £10 for set of 6, Marks & SpencerCopper tray: £16, Kikki K. 'The Life Plan' book, £24, Kikki K. Post-it notes: old. 

It's no coincidence that my birthday falls on National Stationery Week...

I'm a paper and pen girl, always have been. A quick note in with a gift to say 'hi', 'thinking of you' or a thank you card - I just love the feeling of pen to paper. Even my 'To Do' list and ideas are jotted down in a real life book, the 'Notes' app redundant on my phone.

I always use the same pens, Caran D'ache neon biros - they're so easy to write with and can always find them in my bag (they're pricey but have had mine for years - and have been known to ask for my birthday!), and more recently I am using the Kikki K gold rollerball. I love personalised notecards too, Honeytree is a really great bespoke service and I now use Moo for all my business cards and Frugality headed notecards - the quality is excellent.

Spotty notebook: Fortnum & Mason (old). Passport holder: Aerin. 'The Frugality' notecards: Moo. Glasses: £98, Bailey Nelson.  'Better Than before' by Gretchen Rubin, £15, Kikki K. 'Thank you' card set, £20, Kate Spade at Amara.
I think with the world becoming so digital, and in particular a job such as mine, I need something that is solid (and I don't want to forget how to do joined up handwriting!). So I've dedicated this post to all those out there like me, who love sending and receiving notelets, postcards, who enjoy sitting and writing down thoughts or memories, or those who take pleasure from wrapping presents with washi tape, coloured ribbon and labels (I am a sucker for stickers, too). Happy #NationalStationeryWeek!

1. 'Save The Date' cards in fluoro: £14.95 for 6, Marlby and Elm

2. Sausage dog washi tape: £4.50, Ohh Deer

3. Pug notelets: £10 for a set of 10, Fortnum & Mason 

4. Liberty print alphabet stickers: £7.50, Meri Meri at Asos

5. 'Welcome Little One': £3.75, Rifle Paper Co at Papermash

6. 'Nib and Ink' calligraphy book: £9.09, Amazon

7. Telegram notepad: £9.50, Kate Spade at Quill London

8. Copper rollerball pen: £12, Kikki K

9. Marble and copper 'E' notecard: £3.95, Studio Sarah

10. 'Love' card: £2.10, Big Jon

Monday, 25 April 2016

Tips for a Wardrobe Detox

There is no one on this earth that can call me a hoarder. I like a clean, tidy and minimal household. Kind of ironic considering I'm a Fashion Blogger - but for me, all the more reason to be practical. You've seen the size of my wardrobe (here, if you need convincing) - if the new stuff doesn't fit, the old stuff has to go.

I often take for granted how easy it is for me to detach myself from belongings. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not very materialistic - or maybe I'm just fickle, yet to be deciphered - and clearing out gives me a sense of control and wellbeing - it's upcycling after all!

Vestiaire Collective sent an email a few weeks back about 'Practical Minimalism' and have in fact released a Wardrobe Detox booklet, partnered with Anuschka Rees from Into Mind (if you haven't seen this blog, it's FAB), which is downloadable from their site - and it made me think I have never shared a few of my tips that people might find useful. So, along with Fanny Moizant from Vestiaire, I'm sharing a few nuggets of wisdom:

1. Do you really need that many of the same thing?

So I'm not really counting breton tops in this discussion but I am a total sucker for buying something I like again and again and again. Even whilst writing this, I'm thinking about the pair of Archive by Alexa x M&S sneakers I was looking at today when I clearly have enough classic white trainers. But when I'm clearing out I look realistically and think, do they serve the same purpose? Are those looking a bit worse for wear and can be replaced with the fresher ones? Sometimes the answer is 'no', but more often than not I can lose something...

2. Does it spark joy?

Now I can't be held responsible for this one, Marie Kondo's now infamous phrase makes a lot of sense to me. Sometimes I'll pull something old from the back of my wardrobe and think 'I haven't worn this for a while, I must wear that again', so I do, and if I don't feel fabulous in it all day, I'll come home and get rid.

3. Prioritise

I love clothes, but sometimes a big fat realisation slaps me in the face and I become Carrie in Sex And The City "I've spent $40,000 on shoes and have nowhere to live?". Currently with the refurbishment and roof bills, the idea of doing carboot sales and making some extra cash seems more important than having an overspilling wardrobe.

Bracelets: Astley Clarke

4. Pack away

Due to space, I swap over my winter and summer wardrobes and store in our loft. Time away from clothes helps with detachment and often, when I go to unpack last season's clothes, seeing them all come out creased and worse for wear helps me make a decision about pieces that I love/ don't love anymore.

5. Designer pieces hold their value

Yes, they cost more money originally, but designer clothes are always worth more at resale value - so for me, they're often the first things to go. I've just resold my Cecilie Copenhagen dress on Vestiaire Collective and didn't lose that much on it.

6. Be practical

Those shoes you bought, the pointy kitten heels. Are they comfy? can you wear them everyday? Or do you feel a wince of pain just looking at them? Yes, they're pretty, but they're taking up valuable space in your wardrobe if you dread wearing them.

Still finding it hard? Here are some tips from style expert Fanny Moizant - one of my style crushes and founder of Vestiaire Collective - on making your wardrobe work for you: 

1.    Firstly pull together the classic pieces, the ones you wear everyday; these will make up the core part of your wardrobe.

2.    Operate a one in one out policy, if you purchase something new then something has to go!

3.    Think about versatility. If you can't wear an item in three different ways with things that already exist in your wardrobe then it doesn't work anymore.

4.    Be brave, if you haven’t worn something in the last 18 months, then get rid of it.

You can download your own Vestiaire Collective Detox Booklet here

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Frugal Wedding Dresses: Asos

Times, they are a changing. Although the majority of people want the strapless gown of their dreams, some just have different priorities and want something modern, cool and affordable. Enter Asos Bridal to solve all our wedding woes - be it for a blushing bride (underwear, veils, accessories as well as the main event dress), a gorgeous Bridesmaid or as a guest - this section on the website is dedicated to all wedding associated sartorial  dilemmas, and it is surprisingly chic.

Lace and pearl maxi dress: £250, Asos Bridal

Lace dress: £160, Asos Bridal

Dress: £65, Asos Wedding
Trophy jacket: £160, A Star is Born at Asos

Frill detail maxi dress: £70, Asos Wedding
Lace column dress: £300, Self Portrait at Asos
The last wedding I attended was in a pub in Tooting and the Bride wore Self Portrait and she looked low key and incredible. So here's to the relaxed, cool, self assured Bride on a Budget - my kind of woman.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Designer Outlet: Kilver Court, Somerset

Leather jacket: £295, Jigsaw. Jumper: Gap (old). Jeans: £36, Topshop. Shoes: £19.99, H&M. Bag: £108, J Crew. All photographs: Christopher O'Donnell
I've been to a lot of designer outlets in my time. But this is one with a difference.

Set amongst the grounds of an early 1900s Lace Mill, there is definitely more to Kilver Court than first meets the eye. When we first arrived, I thought 'this won't take long', and boy was I wrong. We wandered around the gardens first (did I mention there were flamingos?) and then I planned on seeking out a few of my favourite brands that are stocked here - all hand chosen, and on point - M.i.h Jeans, Mulberry, Chinti & Parker are all resident brands, and more to come. 

Plant shopping? They have that, too, in the newly constructed Nursery. 

In terms of shopping, it's all those mid brands I love - Toast, Bamford and Margaret Howell with more in the pipeline, as well as food brands such as Fortnum and Mason and Daylesford Organic (I got some bits for my American friend we're visiting next week). It's not the biggest designer village compared to others but that's what I liked about it, it's not daunting and makes a lovely place to mooch around - whether it's the gardens, the shopping or the tea rooms. 

This red Toast jumper reduced from £159 to £59

The great thing about the brands they stock is that they're chic without being too 'fashiony' (much like myself, I like to think!), so the pieces are investments without being 'fads'. The Margaret Howell range was a rail resplendent with bretons and chinos that will last and last.

The Chinti & Parker cashmere was well stocked and 50% off, a cashmere crew-neck (the grey with the stars, for instance) was coming in at £180 instead of the usual £360.

The M.i.h jeans section had loads of sizes in denim as well as ready to wear. A lot of the brands don't have separate stores, so it feels a bit like walking around your favourite department store (but all the product is healthily reduced).

If I were really on a spending spree....these would definitely be my pics: Margaret Howell 'shacket', M.i.h boyfirends jeans and Chinti & Parker cashmere crew-neck. 
The Sharpham Pantry specialises in 'spelt', dishes, all locally sourced 

Just when we thought we had finished, we popped into the Farm Shop for a quick look around and realised there were three floors of 'miscellaneous' and homewares we had yet to discover...and then remembered the Mulberry Factory store, too - it's up the Road (like 15 metres up the road) but definitely worth the trip - it's beautifully merchandised and the discounts are worthwhile. Told you there was more than meets the eye.

The Mulberry outlet store should be on your list if you're after something special:

This bag reduced to £350 

Wallet: £205 

I was very tempted by the red 'Lily' bag for £485 as a birthday treat but resisted...we need new carpets in our flat!

Leather jacket: £295, Jigsaw. Jumper: Gap (old). Jeans: £36, Topshop. Shoes: £19.99, H&M. Bag: £108, J Crew.
As an alternate outlet shopping destination, do try out Kilver Court if you're in the area - it would make a lovely weekend visit if you're staying nearby (The Pig near Bath, or Babington House are close I've heard!), there are the gardens for families and menswear too (Pringle, Rapha bikes etc).

And what did I buy? I bought some Fortnums treats and Rococo chocolates for gifts but clothes-wise I have already asked for too much for my birthday next week! But I will definitely be back...

This post was in collaboration with Kilver Court, but I will return soon for extra curricular shopping.
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