The Nightie: India’s Go-To Outfit

Like it or not, what we wear defines us- what we do, how much we earn, what music we listen to, young, old, off to the shops or out for a night on the town. Even so called wardrobe staples come in a bemusing array and will inevitably be shunned by one group or other. There is something comforting about the discovery of an article of clothing that seems to defy this. One that is found in all levels of society, equally at place in a posh resort or sea-side shack, on the socialite or the knitting grandmother, the lawyer or the beggar, the conservative of one religion and the liberal of another. The Indian nightie is, in its own way, as much of the Indian culture as its more recognizable sari or kurtis.

It will come as little surprise to even the uninitiated that the sari is a time consuming- if nearly universally flattering- garment. Many younger people eschew it in favour of Western clothes or the considerably faster-to-wear salvas kamiz. The blouse, traditionally worn in lieu of a bra, is worn bandage tight and there are increasing reports of ‘sari cancer’- a cancer that occurs when cellular mistakes are made healing the daily abrasion of the cinched-tight petticoat. With practice, draping it becomes second nature- yet how a woman is able to confidently tie a sari in a train toilet remains one of life’s true mysteries. Even the washing, the drying, the ironing and the storing of six metres of fabric are equally an art.

Enter, then, the nightie. All soft cotton and comforting bagginess. No cinched waists, pinched arms, and stifling layers of fabric. Feminine flowers, stark and minimalist, gods and goddesses, traditional patterns and fresh-of-the-runway prints- whatever your style, there is a nightie for you. Despite the rising hemlines and backless cholis of Bollywood, the nightie has remained a modest garb- its acceptability even in the most conservative of communities adding to its appeal. For the breastfeeding mother, cunningly hidden zips enable breastfeeding to be both easy and discreet. Lounging during lazy weekends in front of the television or slaving over a hot stove are done in an effortless blend of comfort and style.

Adding to their ubiquity is their acceptability outside of the home. With a dupatta for modesty, they are happily worn to pop to the shop, or for when friends come for tea. Honestly, there’s very few among us who haven’t been tempted to pull a coat over our pajamas and dash out for milk- and the nightie is just the garment! Small children dart around in them, happily covering them with the muck that miraculously appears on children’s clothes the world over. Mothers don’t mind, the cotton washes easily and soon dries, even in the steamy damp of the monsoon.

With its little additions of feminine ruffles, puffed sleeves and bows it is, to the Western eye, very much a nanna nightie. For that reason alone, it’s wonderful. There is no pressure to dress up, hold in your stomach an extra inch to tighten the petticoat, squeeze your arms down sleeves- the nightie soothes and frees the wearer. She can relax, work,  study, or play in absolute comfort.

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One of travel’s many joys is the opportunity to peer into the lives of everyday people, often far more interesting than the tourist attraction on the front of the guidebook. While it may not have the glamour or the exotic appeal of India’s more noticeable garbs, the nightie is an intrinsic part of the culture. It connects the grandmother at the doorstep, the girl buying sweets from a corner side vender, the newborn nursing. And as anyone who owns one will tell you, it quickly becomes a very vital part of the wardrobe indeed.

Tips on Dressing to Look Younger

It seems that we all seem to want to appear youthful these days. Particularly, as when you approach certain milestones it is easy to lose your way and still dress like a student when you have a fully fledged career. And for some reason your style just hasn’t quite caught up.

Generally there is a tendency for clients to dress old for their age. And often their current wardrobe doesn’t match their status, personality or even really reflect who they really are today. Effectively being caught in a time warp! So dressing younger often helps you look and feel better too. It can be liberating and mentally you feel like you have moved on the next chapter in your life. Effectively having a wardrobe you love and all in all, a hugely liberating experience.

So if you want to inject some youthful vigour, into your current style that is done in a tasteful/age appropriate way. Then here are some of my tips:

Always pick the right bra as clothes to mould to your shape. A tighter band and fuller cup appears more youthful.

Play to your strengths by picking one area and choosing garments with features that draw attention to it.

Avoid washed out drab colours all over your body and instead make a colour statement.

Choose classic garments that are shaped with gentle tailoring to give a youthful silhouette, with vertical seaming giving a streamlining effect.

Have fun with accessories. Bags and statement jewellery are a great way to bring an up to the minute trend into your wardrobe and re-invigorate your look.

Avoid retro styles worn the old-fashioned way: below the knee skirts, bow blouses, pears – never worn together. These classics can be refreshed when you style them differently.

Avoid boring belts. Dark jeans work well with a thin belt in a contrasting colour. Wide belts are good for cinching in dresses, jackets and cardigans. Belts in brown leather, animal prints or a shimmery metallic help make someone appear current and youthful!

Avoid silk-scarf mistakes. Be careful as scarves can be very aging. A scarf in soft colours, lightweight and can be tied in different ways are the best multi-purpose ones.

Update your bag. Bags should be rotated and used for different occasions. A tatty worn out bag will just make you feel exactly like that. So treat yourself to a lovely bag that is wearable across a range of outfits.

Ditch dowdy shoes. Some shoes just look plain safe and boring. Some well chosen colourful/fun shoes can add that much needed zest to finishing off an outfit.

Cardigans can be very aging, literally adding years onto people. When choosing one, go for one with a little sparkle or with unusual detailing. This way, you will avoid the Great Aunt Maud look.

Pair down make-up. Overdoing the amount of make-up applied is often a result of trying to keep youthful looking when in fact this has just the exact reverse effect.

Don’t forget to wear UVA sunscreen everyday: this will help you from getting wrinkles, red and blistered. Sunlight even on cloudy winter’s day, overtime ages skin.

Image reproduced from blog.debenhams.com

Wedding Fashion Tips

With Kate and William’s nuptials looming, wedding fever is definitely upon us.  I am really looking forward to seeing Kate walk down the aisle and marry her prince. I love her sense of style and am really looking forward to seeing all those lovely frocks! A real fashion feast! But as a guest at a wedding, what do you wear to a summer wedding to make sure you get it just right? Well here are my fail-safe wedding tips.

This season
The hot look for this season is for the bride to wear white, ivory or cream and the bridesmaids to wear nude or taupe tones.

Bridesmaids
Wedding photos last forever, so it’s best to wear a Spanx slip, so this enhances both your figure and the outline of your dress. Also, static electricity often causes problems, so add anti-static spray to your ‘getting ready list’. You will be very thankful for this on the day.

Mother of the Bride
At least 3 months before the wedding date, book an appointment with a specialist shop, which are used to giving high quality service and can advise you through getting the right outfit and accessories that will go with both the style of wedding and the bridal party’s dresses.

Shoes
If you are going to a garden wedding, then get a pair of Heel Stoppers, as they let you walk easily across the lawn and help you avoid ruining your heels.

Wedding Dress
For the bridal dress, I recommend you:

  1. Hang your gown the night before and steam and fluff out any layers, so it looks lovely and fresh on the day.
  2. Enjoy your dress. It’s best to enjoy your day and not be too precious, as you can get it mended and dry-cleaned afterwards.
  3. Use a specialist wedding dress dry cleaner. Have it boxed (with acid free paper) or hung.

To be a well dressed guest:

White Tie
Opt for a full length evening dress, ideally with some delicate sparkle.

Black Tie
Wear a bold coloured or patterned long evening dress.

Cocktail
Wear a pretty short dress with carefully chosen bold accessories.

Smart/casual
Wear a smart pair of trousers, with a fun/elegant top, with a clutch bag.

Garden wedding
Choose a flowing, short or mid length floral dress.

If you are confused as to dress code, call the bride or groom and clarify what’s required so that you dress appropriately. As it’s their party, I am sure they would appreciate you honouring their wishes and dressing correctly for the occasion.

Accessories
You will need a clutch with a strap, as you may be standing around a bit and need both your hands free for holding a drink in one hand and then nibbles in the other! Other key items you should consider in your bag are: blister plasters, a safety pin, powder set, a lipstick or lip-gloss and a little camera ready for those key photos.

Final Preparations
For a polished look, have your nails French polished. And then, match your hair style with your dress eg. vintage hair to go with a vintage dress. However, if you are planning on wearing a hat or fascinator, I strongly recommend putting your hair back in a pony tail, this looks sleeker and more finished off. I have seen so many ladies wearing their hair down and this makes their overall outfit look unfinished.

And finally, it is often a good idea for a summer wedding in particular to add just a hint of self tanning lotion. If you can, go for ‘St Tropez’ as it gives both a
natural and even tan thus avoiding the tangerine look!

Top image reproduced from Mario Testino / The Telegraph
Bottom image reproduced from healingdream / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

An A-Z of New Season Style

There are many people out there who feel that a new season means a completely new wardrobe.  Indeed, this is one of the main criticisms of the fashion industry, in that it promotes mindless consumerism.  However, I don’t believe that this is the case.  It is for the designers to come up with brand new collections several times each year, and it is for us to look at what we can pick and choose to insert into our existing wardrobe.

With this in mind, here is a brief synopsis of this season’s key trends.  Happy shopping!

A – Androgyny.  Each season this trend takes on a new guise, and this time round it’s all about slick tailoring teamed with slick hair.  Keep it feminine with a touch of red lipstick and colourful shoes.

B – Bomber jackets, the new must-have piece of outerwear.  Boots are also an essential item for anyone’s autumn/winter wardrobe.  This season sees the classic knee-high take centre stage once more.

C – Capes.  Wear with skinny trousers and high heels for a longer silhouette.

D – Dresses.  Whatever the weather, find one that makes you feel like you never want to take it off.

E – Evergreen.  Pine-needle green works as a great alternative to black for work wear.  Try it in the form of a blouse or court shoe.

F – Florals.  Usually the reserve of spring and summer, floral prints have made an unseasonal appearance.  Think less ditsy Liberty print, more big and bold statement.

G – Gold.  Whether it’s your accessories or clothing, it’s time to get your shine on.  Just be wary of turning into a bad 80s throwback.

H – Hats.  Arguably the must-have accessory of the season, hats add that little bit of drama to an outfit.  Fedoras, cloches, caps… the choice is yours.

I – Indigo.  Nails, bags, shoes or suits: all suit this versatile colour

J – Jewellery.  Autumn colours are naturally a bit more muted, so make your jewellery do the talking with bright splashes of jade, turquoise, silver and garnet.  Layer chunky necklaces for a modern update over workwear.

K – Knitwear.  Chunky knits, cable knits, slim silk knits… they’re all for the taking.  An elegant piece of cashmere is the perfect way to dress down a silk maxi skirt for day wear.

L – Legs.  Yes it’s getting a bit colder, and our summer tans have worn off, but that’s no excuse to hide behind trousers for the next six months.  Get your legs out in an array of brightly-coloured hosiery to set off that brand new pair of boots.

M – Men’s shoes.  If heels are a bit of a struggle, then why not try some brogues, Chelsea boots or loafers?  Best worn with skirts to keep the look more ladylike and less ladylump.

N – Neoprene.  The surprisingly successful fabric of the year.  Don’t go all out and wear a wetsuit; keep it subtle with a clutch bag or shoes.

O – Origami.  Structured shoulders, peplum waists and cocoon silhouettes are all key looks this season.

P – Pencil skirts.  This is not just for those sitting behind a desk.  When teamed with an embellished top and a pair of killer heels, a pencil skirt makes ideal evening wear.

Q – Quilted jackets.  Available at every price range, there’s nothing cosier than snuggling down into a padded collar and soft sleeves.

R – Regal.  You’d be hard-pushed to find a brand that hasn’t got something with a crested breast pocket or mini crown motif.  Tongue in cheek required.

S – Scarf.  So long summer silk, hello winter woolliness.

T – Trousers.  Yet another season of different shapes is upon us.  Palazzo pants make a great alternative to maxi skirts, and you can hardly move at the moment for the glut of seventies-style flares in ochre, plum and teal.

U – Umbrellas.  A true British staple, not to be left at home.

V – Velvet.  This fabric makes a comeback each year.  My personal favourite would be a velvet body teamed with cigarette pants.  Understated glamour at its best.

W – White.  How to convey luxury and glamour in one item of clothing.  Just watch out for buses and large puddles.

X – X-rated.  The fetish trend was going strong on this season’s catwalks.  While feather dusters and bondage boots might not be to everyone’s taste, there’s always room for a little lace or leather in your winter wardrobe.

Y – Yellow.  Less sunshine, more mustard.

Z – Zoo time.  Animal prints are still everywhere, albeit in a slightly more subtle way.

Summer Loving

It’s that time of year again – hemlines come up, necklines go down, and the opportunities to hide our lumps and bumps under thick and forgiving fabrics become more and more scarce.  So, what are our sartorial options this summer?

My personal favourite is the decorative day-wear trend that was prevalent at Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada.  Dresses with lace overlays, embellished lightweight coats, and floral prints in abundance all give daytime dressing a smarter sheen.  Think ladylike as opposed to girly, so choose glamorous accessories such as gloves or a chic hat.

Pastels were on every catwalk for this season, and designers have finally succeeded in creating clothes in sugared hues that don’t look like wither nightwear or something from the bottom of a seventies bargain bin.  Through use of fine fabrics such as silk and lightweight cotton, dressing all pale and interesting just got a whole lot easier.  Pastel pink is a suits-all shade, whereas minty green is slightly harder to work with and should generally be avoided by those with a complexion similar to Casper.  Various grades of blue and aqua look great when teamed with metallic accessories, and if you can’t decide which bit of rainbow sherbet is your favourite, then there’s always colour blocking.  A lot of detailing can go into pastel colours without looking ostentations – lace appliqué, feathers, embroidery… with a neutral background, these delicate additions can go a long way to making an outfit go up a notch or two.

On the subject of detailing, it looks like the peplum trend is here for at least another season.  I personally am a huge fan of this – what better way to show off your waist and conceal your hips?  The key with peplums is to keep things simple.  Think colour blocking, minimal patterns and detailing – let that flare do the talking.

Of course, you could go extreme in terms of simplicity and adopt the all-in-white look that was seen at Celine, Calvin Klein and Jil Sander.  Whether you go graphic or girlish, this is a high-maintenance look that won’t tolerate spaghetti Bolognese or smeared lipstick.  The appeal is in staying as fresh as possible, so low-key hair and makeup are a must.  It might also be an idea to get the St Tropez out in order to avoid the all-in-white look extending to your limbs.  Just don’t use the instant stuff – trust me it’s a nightmare to get off fabric.

A slightly more avant-garde trend that graced this season’s catwalks is the one for high-shine fabrics such as lame, PVC and leather.  Perhaps opting for Chanel’s plasticised swing coat and trousers isn’t quite what one might do on a rainy day, but a glimpse of glistening silk organza will go a long way to updating an evening outfit.  And then there’s what the magazines are calling Vintage Americana, which seems to pop up ever four years or so to remind us how great the fifties were, not that any of us can actually remember them.  Cat’s eye sunglasses, rich and glossy leather skirts, nipped in waists and retro prints all make dressing up an every-day activity.  For the slightly more daring, there’s the option to expose an inch or two of (preferably toned) midriff by teaming together a high-waisted skirt and a pretty bra top.  Now where’s that drive-in movie?

A/W ’11 – Wardrobe Pieces To Buy

This season is all about forties glamour, the return to the seventies, tartan, continuing with colour blocking and of course prints!

If you don’t fancy being a slave to fashion but would like some key pieces that are sure to spice-up your current wardrobe for the coming winter, then I recommend the following pieces:

1. A watch
A good watch is a classic fashion statement. As an accessory, they can make a simple but bold style statement. Often over-looked, so many watches I see today are middle of the road and just plain dull. Instead, why not make a style impact by looking at the ladies watch range from Michael Kors. It simply will not disappoint – it’s such a strong range that you are bound to find something to suit your taste.

2. Dress
A lime green belted dress, at £60 from Julien MacDonald at Debenhams adds a touch of 70’s to your look, and is set off by the gold metallic belt. This dress has lovely detail: the bow, the button down shirt and long sleeves with fitted cuffs.

3. Polka Dot
A shirt in polka dot is such a snazzy look. It’s both classic and very up to date. I like the Polka Dot shirt from Zara at £39.99. You can easily wear this shirt under a gilet or boyfriend blazer jacket. Alternatively, opt for a simple black and white polka dot tshirt, with black dots. Such a strong look for this season and can be worn off-duty and on – how you wear is up to you!

4. Blouse
Mint Velvet has some lovely blouses that are good for updating a wardrobe, making you feel very feminine. These are so soft to wear but also have the added benefit of covering your arms, whilst being see-through. This is a grown-up sexy look that a lot of my clients absolutely love!

5. Shoes
Kurt Geiger has the ultimate shoe selection for when you can’t find anything. I adore these Sooty boots, £190. They are good for elongating your legs with jeans, dresses or skirts.

6. Colour Blocking
Wallis do a lovely violet tier tunic that is on sale currently for a bargain price of £20. This is lovely item to wear with a purple bolero, as this colour combination is very striking! Worn with a pair of skinny jeans and pumps and you will have perfected the effortless day-time chic look.

7. Pencil Skirt
Lastly, invest in a classic black bandage skirt, from Mint Velvet at £79. The pencil skirt is the epitome of 40’s glamour. It is not only beautiful to wear but is hugely complementary on almost anyone. My clients love wearing this skirt and it really is the best pencil skirt I have seen in a few years! If you go for this, you won’t regret it, as it’s a good investment piece too.

Enjoy getting key pieces to update your Autumn Winter wardrobe? Buying less and getting it right is essential for getting a wardrobe that works for you. For any style questions or queries regarding getting a wardrobe that works around your current life then contact Cambridge-based personal stylist, Katie Bowen at www.styko-stylist.co.uk or on 07855 754487.

Images reproduced from debenhams.com, zara.com and wallis.co.uk

Fashion at the Races

Katie Bowen – fashion writer and Cambridge-based personal stylist – offers fashion advice for the racing season and gives style guidelines on perfect Ladies Day outfits.

Going to the races is not just about the horses of course, it is also about getting dresses up and having a glass of champagne or two. Ladies Days at Cheltenham, Aintree, Epsom, Ascot and Goodwood are all big dates in the British racing calendar. If you are lucky enough to be attending you will want a stylish Ladies Day outfit to wear.

Etiquette and Dress Codes

There will be different dress codes and etiquette for each event, race course and type of ticket that you have. When picking an outfit, ignore trends and go with what suits you. If you are going to go for a particular trend in terms of your outfit, it needs to be worn in a classic way.

Generally Ladies Day Outfits and dress codes for bigger events call for a more formal style of dress. Some tickets allow for a casual dress although you definitely won’t look out of place if you want to get dressed up. To be sure, you should check the race course website well in advance of the day, therefore giving you plenty of time to plan your outfit. Some race courses don’t allow bare legs, anything above the knee or uncovered shoulders. So do look into what the dress code is.

Race Day Dresses

This beautiful necklace halter neck dress from Warehouse highlights a slim waist, with wrap effect at the bottom adding a touch of glamour.

The dress is made from lightweight yellow silk and the floaty hem sits just above the knee. Accessorize with matching heels and a clutch bag.

For a simple and bold statement, this neutral bravo dress from Coast is a perfect choice but is not for the shy and retiring.

The a-line ivory spot dress is a stylish 1950’s inspired piece. Beautiful silk taffeta is cinched in at the waist to create a flattering silhouette. Fully lined and with a concealed side zip detail, the dress is 50% silk 50% polyester.

If you would prefer to wear more than one colour then a maxi dress is a good choice, whilst keeping your accessories simple. For inspiration, see below for the maxi dress that Coleen Rooney wore to the races in 2009. She teamed her colourful maxi dress with matching gold accessories.

Hat or Fascinator?

Generally for a more formal racing event, a hat is required but a fascinator is also acceptable. Structured fascinators are increasing in popularity. For a timeless look opt for a classic wide brimmed dress hat.

Race Day Accessories

Generally speaking a ladies day outfit will not require very much in the way of accessories as you will already have one statement accessory with your hat or fascinator. Usually it is best to keep with simple with perhaps just a necklace.

Finally, a good deal of walking is done on any racecourse, so you maybe it’s best to avoid the new popular trend of wearing sky high heels. After all, no-one looks good when they are unable to walk properly!

Images reproduced from myfashionlife.com, dressesfortheraces.com, look.co.uk and lovetheraces.com

Primark: SS13 Fashion Trends

For all you Primark Lovers, and I know you’re out there, we now have the Spring/Summer collection 2013 ready just for you to review. If you think Primark’s 2012 collection was the bomb – get ready to explode with the new trends from complimentary pastel colours to daring leather outfits. We’ll show you the real attributes to looking dapper this summer.

What are the differences between last year and this year’s collection? The advance in fashion conventions means that more floral prints and leather designs will hook the racks of our favourite high street shops. On the contrary, previous collections such as the skinny belts and high waste trousers will still remain in style but you can now mix it up with a more prevalent, contemporary look.

Baseball T-Shirt - £6

Baseball T-Shirt – £6

Primark has also taken the interest on the American-style baseball look, which is sure to hook our tomboy trendsetters. Meanwhile artistic fashionistas can express themselves with the new Aztec range including matching jewellery. The diversity in Primark’s new 2013 collection has attracted a vast amount of customers as reflected in the 118 reviews that Primark received; a rating of 4 stars out of 5 was recognised for the value for money category.

The quality of the 2013 collection is exceptional and this is great news especially for those wanting a classy but affordable look, such as the attractive white boucle blazer for an outing on a beautiful summer’s evening. And for our leather-lovers, Primark has a range of leather goodies, from short sleeved biker jackets (for those really hot days) to a long beautifully designed leather coat.

Styling this year’s collection is absolutely no problem as Primark is known for its ability to mix and match style. However here are two on-trend styling tips:

Printed Trousers - £12

Printed Trousers – £12

1. When wearing one of Primark’s printed items, be it top or trousers, wear a solid colour with it to help the item stand out. For example, try a white or a black top if wearing printed bottoms. This will do just the trick.

2. We all have our casual days and what better to express this by Primark’s new baseball style collection. You can pull the casual look by simple jeans and oversized tees and tank tops. Simple but effective.

It is definitely the season to put our best foot forward. Primark knows this and they have open sandals available for us this year to give our feet some breathing space. They’re not too heavy on the eyes and can just about go with any outfit you will be rocking. For a classy look, there are open heels that are super easy to walk in.

There is no better time than now to buy trendy accessories while they’re available. Nothing is more annoying than to hear your must-have item is “not available in stock”. Sunglasses are on the top of the list for essential summer needs. Trendy and affordable sunglasses are available now in Primark and they are already selling fast!

So Primarkers: ready, steady, summer!

While it is great to talk about the spring/summer 2013 collection but I would love to hear your opinions or predictions regarding the autumn/winter 2013 trends.

Trends for Autumn / Winter 2012

Dust off the hats, grab the gloves and mummify yourself with your scarf’s – here comes the cold! Now, I could state the obvious and simply say “wrap up” but we all know this! What’s under those layers needs to stir up this drab weather.

Now ladies, when I say to drab up and point you in the direction of grey nubby cardigans, don’t side-eye me, these are really taking over right now and each store/designer taking their own spin on them, for me one of my favourites is in Pull and Bear – a thin knit grey sweatshirt with a mixed-studded collar – it was love at first sight! We also have Lana Del Rey twisting up H&M and bringing some lovely 60’s revival into the spotlight from angora to chunky knit we certainly have no excuse in being cold this season.

Not much has changed in the last month regarding fashion, keep the brocade prints and leather textures in as these are still very much sought after, peplum tops and dresses are also still in the running over the next month, another style of dress slithering onto the rails is the sheath dress, favourably in form of a graphic print, these figure-hugging-snug dresses are one to keep an eye out on at the moment. The ankle boots are a real winner for our feet at the moment, and what better time really, keeping our ankles and feet nice and dry from the expected down-pours.

For the men this coming winter mixing up your casual get-up couldn’t be easier, go grab those woollen beanies as hats are completing a lot of the gentlemen’s fashion right now – you can opt for a simple one-colour to garish granny knits, either way make the most of enjoying keeping warm and being the fashionable dudes that you all are.

Button up shirts are always a hit and we are still seeing the use of rich luxurious colours spilling onto the fabrics, deep blues and fresh purples screaming regal, thin denim shirts are also a great choice especially for casual days and go great with most trouser bottoms, I’ve seen the double denim pulled off quite a lot this season, and not looking like a b*witched boy band tribute! (Nothing wrong with that though) Of course it wouldn’t be autumn without the lumberjack shirts! You can never go wrong with the ‘traditional’ red, teaming that up with smart or casual attire; it surprisingly goes with almost anything!

Shoes for both the ladies and gents the versatile shoe or trainer of the moment are the VANs era shoe, get them in the right colour for you and they will go with anything and pretty much any occasion, well worth the cost for such a great shoe!

Fashion Update: Autumn/Winter 2012

With fashion – it just gets better, what with Marc Jacobs rolling in with models on a Louis Vuitton train at Paris fashion week, it really sets what were in for this season!

For women the shapes of the clothing seen on the catwalk this season are still between athletic and cute small curves, a line skirts and skater skirts are the main skirts seen on the catwalk this season and enhancing the waist by bringing it in ever-so-slightly by using wide belts/cinchers and wearing fitted blazers and peplum tops. The peplum style is massively popular with designers this season from Elie Saab to Lanvin the style has been covered or replicated by most if not all designers this season. Gentlemen this season suiting up was all over the catwalk, beautiful suits ranging from textured suits to glitter suits, Mugler had a fabulous range for the gentlemen this season!

The prints gracing the ladies garments this season is a refreshing change, think deep Gothic colours with brocade prints like a luxurious wall-paper, jewelled garments such as wearing jewellery on the clothes and in the hair for a quirky new accessory the catwalk has definitely taken a regal approach this season, lots of golds and silver and yes, lurex! Lurex tights have been seen on the catwalk by Chanel and I couldn’t be happier to see them again! Colours popular this season are Purple, Vermilion, Black – Purple being a definite winner for men and ladies. Military accents are on long jackets and jump-suits are popular in militant colours such as Khaki and light browns, a look that will surely make you scream don’t-mess-with-me when strutting around the high street! We are not with-out the sheer-garments, finally mixing sheer fabrics to make shirts and jackets are suitable for all seasons! Yes, sheer garments even for men too.

The catwalk wasn’t without it’s textures for men and women – PVC and jewelled garments donned the catwalk heavily this season, PVC garments were more with darker colours and khakis and the jewelled garments featured a lot on the creamy pinks, satin and soft fabrics are in a lot of high-street retailers at the moment and if you don’t like to look bulky with the PU leathers and adore the wet-look, grab yourself a pair of satin trousers, they are thinner and a lot more comfortable! Hippy chic is also another strong theme this season, the muted tones mesh well with the military themes happening so it’s a mergable style in regards to that, the prints are very 1970’s including making it’s way onto the shoes!

Light platform heels have taken centre stage too, I’m not talking massive platform but in the style of creepers but applied to pumps and dolly shoes which give outfits a cute Harajuku look! Other shoes to keep an eye out for is, and I take a deep breathe because these are my favourite shoes, platform Mary Jane shoes, actually Mary Janes feature a lot not just in terms of platform heels. Accessories to suit the military theme are the wonderful long gloves, these beauties bring a nice edge this season, team that up with a beautiful cape and you will look elegant and edgy! The men this season were also in brocade capes and textured fabrics Cuffs and collars are also a great way to change up the usual bracelet/necklace routine! Shoes for men are classic black smart shoes, one pair I saw were glittery and I adore these! Gents should opt for a pair of Matrix-esque glasses, these solid black glasses bring a touch of mystery to an outfit.

Image reproduced from vogue.co.uk<

Delve into Denim

Denim has always been a popular choice every season with its dress up and dress down capabilities. I’d be surprised to open anyone’s wardobe and not see at least one or two items of denim.

There are so many items of denim on the market it is hard to go wrong unless of course you’re Caggie Dunlop from Made in Chelsea with her hideous one-piece denim outfit – if you can call it an outfit!

For those of you who love the denim look and, unlike Catherine Dunlop, know how to wear it, you shall be pleased to know that Wendy Montgomery – our very own London based denim aficonado – has developed the fashion brainchild of the year with the launch of her new UK online store – www.therawdenimbar.co.uk. This e-store stocks the height of fashion containing the hottest US denim brands and is extremely popular with celebs all over the world.

In fact, the magazine Look is doing an exclusive offer of 20% of all purchases from therawdenimbar.co.uk from 21 June to 28 June 2011. All you have to do is enter the code LOOK20 at the checkout cart.

Celebs already pictured in Wendy’s fabulous denim include Rosie Huntington-Whiteley who rocked denim skinny shorts, Rihanna who sexed it up in a fabulous charley 5.0 denim dress, Kirstin Stewart who wore Denim Of Virtue complete with ankle zips which was a far better accessory than R-Patz in my opinion. For those not wanting to rock the skinny jean look, Nicole Ritchie ventured out in a pair of work custom jeans announcing that they make her legs look “a mile long”.

If you want to be understated, Jessica Alba showed us how to do it best with her denim Domino jacket paired with a beautiful floral knee-length dress and huge 70s inspired sunglasses. Even Jennifer Aniston was seen stepping out in Raw Denim look.

The only drawback to Wendy Montogomery’s fabulous site therawdenimbar.co.uk is that the better items are at least over £100. There expensive but well worth the money. If you want to keep on trend and not upset your bank manager, stick with this season’s hottest look of bright denim – my favourite colours are tangerine, yellow, pink and deep purple. These looks can be found in most high street shops at affordable prices. I recently spotted a yellow version and a cropped pastel pink version at Primark just the other day so if you’re quick you should be able to snap them up.

Images reproduced from canstockphoto.com, fabsugar.co.uk, styleoursouls.co.uk and therawdenimbar.co.uk

X-Factor 2011: Style Wars

It’s no surprise to UK viewers that for the last few seasons of X-Factor Cheryl and Danni have been playing a quiet game of battle of the dresses which luckily for us kept raising the fashion stakes. During the audition process I was sometimes mesmerised by the outfits rather than the atrocious off key wannabe hopefuls. As we got closer to the live performances, although the singing was fabulous, I and no doubt many others couldn’t take my eyes off the dresses, make-up and hair that Cheryl and Danni rocked each week.

Sadly these two fabulously gorgeous women have now left our screens and we have four new leading ladies entering the fashion wars. On the UK side we have Kelly Rowland, of Destiny’s Child fame and Tulisa Contostavlos of N-Dubz versus Paula Abdul (who needs no introduction) and Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger taking centre stage Stateside.

The sexy awards so far definitely go to Kelly who has been showing off her tiny waist and fabulous long legs in superb short dresses but respectfully with a high neck-line and Nicole who oozes sex appeal with bold colour choices and low cut numbers to envy Jennifer Lopez’s infamous Versace dress. It’ll be a close call as to whom Kelly or Nicole will win sexiest female judge.

No strager to the X-Factor, Paula Abdul keeps her spot on the American judging panel and although she managed to pull off chic, simple and occasionally very daring to pull off a mini prom dress, it is my opinion that her years as a X-Factor judge are soon to come to an end.

As for Tulisa, she has a hard road to follow as she is often seen in British high street labels and tries to keep on trend with animal prints and cute floral blooms. Her stylist really has a lot of work cut out for her to help her reach the standard of the old pros. We wish her luck but the only fashion item I have liked on her so far were her neon T-Bar Zara heels which detracted my attention from her Olivia Ruben dress.

I am looking forward to Sky +ing Saturday night X-Factor and reporting later in the series who was my overall style queen. It seems like an unfair battle as Nicole quite clearly gives even Cheryl Cole a run for her money when it comes to looking fabulous.

Images reproduced from meanmassive.com, mirror.co.uk and idolator.com

Maxi Dresses for Maximum Impact

The maxi dress has been adorning the red carpet and the high street for a long time now however we have taken it upon ourselves to highlight a few of our favourites for you to experiment with this summer.

If you’d like to sizzle in style as the lady in red, this evening maxi dress look by Elie Saab was worn exquisitely by Catherine Zeta Jones at the Tony Awards in New York.

Taking it from demure to sexy, Heidi Klum rocks a Michael Kors thigh high split dress that reminds us of Liz Hurley-esque with a dangerously low plunging neckline that makes even Versace shudder however this mother knows how to work this turquoise maxi at a prestigious gala event in New York.

Diane Kruger goes for demure in an off white partially lace number by designer Alessandra Rich. At the forefront of fashion, Diane knows how to maximise her maxi with a neon tangerine (colour of the moment) belt to make sure she is a show-stopper at the gala event in Paris where she was photographed.

The film festival in Shanghai highlighted two of this month’s hottest A list frocks. Fan Bing Bing emulates an exotic beauty in this light lavender George Hobeka maxi which is a personal favourite of mine. However I was pleasantly surprised to see Mischa Barton at the same event looking fully recovered from her “time out”.

If these dresses are not enough to maximise the green-eyed monster in any girl, Blake Lively rocks the most amazing white maxi Chanel wedding dress layered with Lorraine Schwartz jewellery and with her long luscious locks she’s as beautiful as ever.

For those of you with a more modest pocket, Lisa Snowdon stepped out in a beautiful 100% silk maxi dress by Autograph at Marks and Spencer bringing new glam to Sunday casual.

Even cheaper still, Jennifer Metcalfe was not only seen out in a yellow Miss Selfridge strapless maxi dress (£50) but she also accessorized with this season’s hottest look gold, gold, gold!

Again we are spoilt for choice as Colleen Rooney’s latest line for Littlewoods also contains a fabulous red bird print maxi dress with the added feature of it being a halter neck which will add the va va voom to any occasion. This dress can be snapped up for just under £100.

Look luxurious in lace. This sheer black lace maxi is only £85 from pretaportabello.com. A skin coloured slip will keep your modesty whilst still looking fabulous in one of this season’s key looks.

The latest in maxi dresses is a deep V front cut which is more flattering to curvy ladies. Our two favourites so far are an animal print from Jarlo at just £70 and a purple pleated maxi from Asos at just £65. The best thing about the Asos dress is that it is rumoured that pleats will be massive for autumn so you’d be hitting two hot trends (the maxi and pleats) in one fell swoop.

If you’re looking for a real bargain, look no further than the labels Fuse, Apricot and Isabel where you can pick up maxi dresses for under £50. The quality is not as good but you can still keep on trend.

Images reproduced from whatbesttowhere.com and aqku.com

Twenty Fashion Tips to Revamp Your Style

Tired of the same old familiar outfits that you’ve pulled out of your wardrobe every year?

Are you wearing the same make-up in 2011 that you wore in 2001?

Will the fashion police be knocking on your door this month?

Here are 20 top tips and quick fashion fixes to revamp your style this summer to follow fashion, stay in style and on trend throughout the season.

1. Bring the corsage back. Put it on your neckline like Carrie in “Sex and The City” in the episode when she dates Mr Politico. Adorn it to your hair, clip it to your waist of even attach it to your shoes. Go for daring colours to make a statement for a fabulous SATC look.

2. Layer your T-shirts – “Scrubs” has been doing it for years. It’s time we started too as block colours are sometimes hard for us to get used to.

3. Wear red as a statement piece. It’s also fabulous for lifting your tan.

4. Follow Jennifer Lopez’s style and invest in a tangerine lipstick or lip gloss.

5. Keep nail varnish bold. Colours of the moment are purple, yellow, blue and tangerine.

6. Experiment with your eye make-up. MAC do a green mascara and Benefit do mascara in both purple and blue.

7. Invest in Clinique’s Chubby Stick – this is a moisturising lip balm in enough shades to suit all skin types.

8. When it comes to perfume, experiment with Kim Kardashian’s debut fragrance released just recently on 8 June.

9. Wear more than one ring on each finger. We don’t suggest you turn into Mr T but mix and match is the way to go.

10. Forget mixing white with black. Dig out your tans for the ultimate colour combo.

11. Upgrade floral prints to tropical prints.

12. Invest in funky tights – patterns and colours – to wear with one colour outfits.

13. Ditch silver for gold which goes amazingly with this season’s hot block colours.

14. Occasionally ditch your skinny jeans for western flares on the weekend.

15. Revamp your espadrilles replacing laces with bright colours. Again tangerine is a good look as are dark purples and electric blues.

16. Invest in fabric dye (Dylon sells machine washable colours for only £4.95). Use this to give your white jeans a revived look in pale pink, light tangerines or lilac or even refresh your black jeans with a darker colour.

17. Hem your skinny jeans to above just ankle length for that extra summer sizzle. If uncomfortable rocking the look with high heels Miss Kurt Geiger are selling to die for sandals at only £55 in a myriad of colours and sequins fit for day and night.

18. Keeping with the sequinned theme, invest in a sequinned bolero which can be dressed down or up. Our favourite this season is a white multicoloured sequinned gold trim cardigan from Miss Selfridge for £95.

19. Use scarves in the loops of your denim shorts choosing bright and bold colours and patterns.

20. When not using your scarf in your shorts, this doubles up as a scarf accessory for your hair for those bad hair days.

I hope these fashion ideas give you plenty of inspiration to look your best this summer. If you have any feedback or style suggestions of your own, please feel free to comment below or send a tweet to @CityConnectNews.

Images reproduced from emmagem.com, designer-shoes.me.uk, shopstyle.com, superstarmagazine.com, celebitchy.com

Fashion Trends for Summer

Whether you love floral prints, tropical prints or block colours are more your style, our English summer (when it’s behaving itself!) is allowing you to show off the hot looks this season. The top seven must-have items for your wardrobe this summer are as follows.

Block Colour Blouses

Thanks to Gucci and the comeback of bright colour in gorgeous textures such as silk, chiffon and sheer fabric, block colour blouses have allowed us to bring sexy back to our wardrobe.

During the day they team well with plain shorts – denim – or if you’re more daring florals. Or for a fabulous look at night, team with skinny jeans and killer over-sized heels to die for.

Rock T-shirts

Our American A listers have been donning Rock T’s for ages, with our British companions having always loved the T-shirt with a cool slogan or a funny saying. David & Goliath is no long the order of the day. It’s the rock T’s that are adorning the celebs either side of the Pond at present. The look is cool grunge and is best paired with drain pipe jeans, leather minis and of course the staple killer heels. With regards to accessories the chunkier the better.

Tropicana Camisoles

Although we loved the silky one colour sheen of the camis last season we are loving the exotic twist of floral and tropicana prints. We suggest you wear these camis tucked into a day skirt for the afternoon and the fabulous mini for the evening. This way you can choose big and bright prints as they won’t overwhelm you yet will look gorgeous at lunch or dinner sitting across from your hunky beau. This look is best teamed with nude heels or even flats for daytime.

Sexy Bustiers

If you want to step up the sex factor a notch while keeping in theme with the bold florals or even geometric designs, choose a strapless bustier to sculpt your shape and make all the boys heads turn. If the weather holds this style makes for a pretty festival option and can be paired with a maxi skirt and funky wedges. If on the other hand you want to make an impression in the evening, team it with a short skirt and cinch in your waist with a fabulous belt to give you the hourglass figure that every girl would die for. KIller heels also work well with this option. The trick here is to match them to your belt especially if you’ve been brave enough to go for a spot of colour.

Smart Tank Tops

This simple look has lasted through the ages and is especially useful for the office when paired with simple black trousers and a matching jacket when necessary. If you want to stay on-trend there are many bold block prints out there, our favourite one being from Topshop as it’s in tangerine – this season’s hottest colour. The high street is also adorned with floral and tropical prints in this style so be sure to pick one up. The best part about this top is its versatility as when rushing out of the office for after-work drinks it can be easily teamed with a fashionable black skirt, be it ruffles, lace or even pencil. The trick to pulling off this look is to keep the neckline high sitting just below the collarbone and as our summer has not been that kind to us, if you have time an instant tan on your arms to contour them for a quick slimming fix would make this outfit go from great to fabulous.

Retro Crop Tops

We’ve watched the 50s come back, the 60s, the 70s and God forbid the 80s. We now see the return of the 90s with the relaunch of summer retro crop tops.

Personally we feel this is better as a day look in horizontal and vertical stripes to still keep the bold coloured fashion theme however Jaime Winstone was seen partying into the small hours wearing a white and purple bold print retro crop top with beautifully tailored white trousers. A chic pencil skirt would just about carry off this look for evenings.

Polka Dots

For those of you who have seen the film “Because I Said So”, you may remember the scene between mother and daughter where the mother forces the daughter to wear a red dress with white polka dots. Although in this particular film it got her the “wrong” guy, work this look correctly and have men fall at your feet. Again a perfect combo to rock both at work and at night is bold tangerine with black dots (Dorothy Perkins £28) is a good look with classic tailored black trousers for work. If you are in a daring mood, go for a sheer polka dot shirt with a camisole underneath and when darkness falls follow Amelia Fox’s style by removing the camisole for a sheer and sexy look. Do remember to team this with a sexy but not too revealing bra. As all the attention is on your torso, if not at work keep it simple during the day with black shorts and to make sure you look demure rather than tacky for night-time endeavours team any sheer polka dot shirt with a long black evening skirt – less is more when it comes to skin.

We look forward to your comments about which style suits you best or tweet us directly @CityConnectNews – don’t forget to use the hashtag #todayimwearing.

Image reproduced from asos.com and fabsugar.com

Women’s Fashion Trends for Spring 2011

The catwalk collections for spring/summer 2011 were full of fabulous trends that have now hit the high street and every trendy girl about town will want to get her hands on the key trends this season. City Connect’s Fashion Guru, Alan Philippe, brings you the hottest Spring looks that are guaranteed to add some sunshine to your wardrobe on even the cloudiest of days. Check out his recommendations for what style-savvy ladies should be wearing this season.

TANGERINE
This zesty shade of orange is the hottest colour this season as it was all over the spring/summer 2011 catwalks. If head-to-toe orange is too bold for you, tone it down with a contrasting colour like hot pink or turquoise. Or use tangerine as an accent colour on accessories such as shoes, bags or sunglasses. The ultra feminine orange dress below is from J by Jasper Conran and is exclusively available from Debenhams.

LACE
The delicate beauty of lace adds a feminine touch to clothing this season. Lace dresses are totally on-trend and look great in a range of bright summery colours. Lace details are also very fashionable and add tasteful elegance to your style. Barely there shades of cream and taupe are also a hot look to go for in lace.

RAINBOW BRIGHTS
A rainbow of zingy colours has flooded the high street and everywhere you look there are bright blues, citrus yellows and hot pinks. Tangerine is the hottest shade of neon brights as previously mentioned but you’ll be on-trend in any bright colour this season. Trousers in vibrant shades are very hot at the moment. The best way to carry off this look is by using block colour in your outfits.

STRIPES
Bold stripes are a key trend for Spring as seen in the Prada spring/summer 2011 collection. Horizontal stripes are the way to go in a variety of colours including the classic black & white. This can be an unflattering look if worn badly so choose your stripes wisely to avoid a fashion faux pas.

WHITES
Almost every designer showed white in their spring/summer 2011 collections so whether you go for a cool, crisp blouse or a stylish tailored trouser suit, you’re sure to stay on-trend. Just be careful not to spill anything!

FLORAL PRINTS
It wouldn’t be Spring without floral prints making an appearance. This season’s look takes on the Orient and the beautiful flowery designs reflect this chinoiserie influence right through from lingerie to blouses and dresses in light floaty fabrics.

TRIBAL PRINTS
There is a lot of animal print available but also look out for designs inspired by every corner of the globe. Tribal prints are bold and funky which makes a confident statement this season. These trendy patterns can be found in harem pants, batwing t-shirts and the season’s hottest fashion item – the jumpsuit.

SEVENTIES STYLE
The decade of glitzy glam and platform shoes is a defining trend and a must-have look to wear this Spring. Flares, palazzo pants, floppy hats, round-rimmed sunglasses and bold prints are all making a comeback. Don’t forget the big hair to top off this hot look.

Image reproduced from debenhams.com