Sunday 26 May 2013

Shoe Embassy London Original Leather Brogues

Shoe Embassy

Okay, so this post is not about weddings or dresses. This post is about SHOES. Because, after all, what's a great dress without great shoes to accompany it?

I discovered this brand a couple of months ago at Spitalfields Market. If you don't know London markets well, get acquainted with them soon because the wealth of creative design on offer is hard to find elsewhere.

Shoe Embassy's tag-line is 'Softest genuine leather ladies' shoes. You'll wish to sleep with them on...'

Quite a tall order, right? Read on...

When I first discovered the brand they occupied a market stall, but today I visited bricks and mortar at Greenwich Market. Established in 2011, this brand is certainly making swift progress.

They stock a colourful variety of cute and quirky shoes that are reasonably priced, well-made and really do feel just like butter to wear. I bought a pair of tan brogues in January that I wear practically every day to travel to work, (the idea of wearing trainers with a dress is, frankly, abhorrent) and they are the stuff of wonder! They also look sweet with coloured tights and a dress on the weekend.

Hooray for Shoe Embassy! You need these shoes in your life.

The reluctant process of elimination

Happy colours.
And the winner is: these gorgeous red pumps. I have very slim feet so I often struggle to find slip-on shoes, but these fit perfectly. And they were a snip at £45. As I said; the stuff of wonder.

The boys are very envious and are hoping they design a men's range sharpish.

All images by me.

It was a rare, gorgeously sunny day in London today and Greenwich is an ideal place to visit on such occasions. The market is easy to locate in the centre of the one-way system via four entrances. For more inspiration, take a look at Greenwich Clocktower Antiques Market. We found an antique coffee grinder today! Finish off your shopping with a walk around the stunning Greenwich Park with a delicious freshly squeezed Lemonade and a well-deserved ice-cream.

Here's to glorious Bank Holidays.


Tuesday 21 May 2013

Society Events Dress Code Races Ascot Epsom

What to wear to the Races

The social season is under way now and we're rapidly approaching the races. Whether you're heading to a smaller event or to the coveted Epsom or Ascot, the races are an occasion to go all out and dress like a real lady.

Last year I had my fifteen (more like five) minutes of fame when I was photographed at the Epsom Derby by Grazia Style Hunter. What a compliment! Obviously I wore a dress...

Ascot dress ideas
'Explaining' my outfit.

The Epsom Outfit

Dress - discovered on a mannequin in a local charity shop. It's a handmade 1950s dress made of crepe de chine over a pale yellow slip with ruching at the waist. The lightweight material creates a feminine silhouette which is ideal for a day at the races. £55 well spent.

Hat - £295 from Yvette Jelfs from LoveHats.

At the races you'll have some serious competition so it's well worth making the effort. Do not underestimate the power of a good hat and avoid unnecessary fussiness - if you've got too much going on you'll spoil the overall effect.

Where to start?

With the strictest guidelines to date at Ascot, miniskirts, sheer dresses and spaghetti straps are no-no’s, and for those ladies in the Royal Enclosure, fascinators are banned and headpieces must have a base of at least 4 inches.

I personally am rejoicing at this; I really dislike fascinators and am seriously considering taking a leaf out of Ascot's book and applying a similar dress-code to our wedding day...

But I digress.

Take a look below for fabulous inspiration for a range of budgets:

Take your cue from Kate Winslet and choose an Ellsewhere animal piece:

Kate Winslet fox
Love, thy name is Peacock. I am in awe of Natalie Ellner's designs; they are brilliantly eccentric but somehow totally stylish at the same time. Go on - be brave. (c) Paul Grover Photography for Ellsewhere

For the sophisticate:

Ascot dress ideas
Large organdie pleat bell with bow
Ascot dress ideas

Faith Hot Pink Pleated Dress REISS, £189

Show your dedication to the sport in this fairytale creation. Let the dress do the talking by accessorising it with a classic wide-brimmed hat:

Ascot dress ideas
Italian straw picture hat with petersham ribbon

Nala Dress with merry-go-round print, Project D

Ascot dress ideas
Sticking with the animal theme, this Anna Sui creation is fantastical yet chic: 
Ascot dress ideas

Anna Sui Lace-trimmed Woven Straw Kitten hat,, £396
Cloud Organza Boat Neck Dress, Orla Kiely £338
This outfit comes in under £100 and channels 1920s sportswear chic:

Maddy Disc Hat, John Lewis £40

Ascot dress ideas

Tricolor Dress,Zara £49.99
 For quintessential race day glamour, look no further:

Ascot dress ideas
Ascot dress ideas
I am dangerously in love with this dress, so if any kind soul out there fancies bestowing it upon me then that would be okay. Just the right amount of sparkle for summer social eventsBalanchine Sequin Detail Dress, Alice by Temperley, £465
Ascot dress ideas
Move your bloomin' arse!
I would normally recommend staying well away from maxi dresses for the races, so this is an exception. Take inspiration from My Fair Lady with the next outfit...
Ascot dress ideas
Striped fine straw ring disc with bow

Julia Cuts dress, Acne - £1,250

 Be a breath of fresh air in blue:

Ascot dress ideas
Justine Bradley-Hill, £310

Ascot dress ideas
Limited Edition Chiffon Skater Dress, Topshop, £120

Or go all out and wear the colours of your jockey, (or support the guy (or girl!) wearing your colours...):

Ascot dress ideas
Sweety Dress, Acne - £330

For more dress inspiration, check out:

Quick tips:
  • Don't be afraid to trawl charity and vintage shops. It can be hard work, but when you discover a gem you'll be elated. As will your bank balance.
  • The hat is crucial so do spend time on this. It can make or break an outfit. Etsy and Ebay are really good resources for hats if you're tied to a budget.
  • DIY. I just bought a vintage hat for £8 and am in the process of upcycling it with lace, Liberty prints and silk flowers (photographs to follow). If I can do it, you definitely can!  
“The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners,
but having the same manner for all human souls: in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where there are no thirdclass carriages, and one soul is as good as another.”
George Bernard Shaw, My Fair Lady

Friday 17 May 2013

Poppy Children Dresses for Little and Big Girls

Childhood Inspiration

I am an '80s child and even back then I enjoyed clothes. My favourite pieces included a sparkly Mickey Mouse jumper, a red and black polka dot waistcoat and matching skirt(!), stirrup-leggings (wardrobe staple, reader) and then my collection of dresses.

My fascination with dresses began early on. I don't even remember the moment, but I do remember having names for them: there was The 'Sound of Music' Dress; The Magic Dress; The Old Dress; The Sunny Dress; The Birthday Dress and The Pudding Dress. Among many, many others.

I associate dresses with stories and possibilities. In fact, I rarely buy a dress for an occasion, rather I create the occasion for the dress. I love imagining where a dress might take me.

Now I own more dresses than I care to mention and I still have The Old Dress and The Sunny Dress in the hope that some day I might pass them on to my daughter. It has taken me years to gather my collection and every dress has a memory attached to it. 

But sometimes I find myself looking longingly at children's clothes in shop windows pining for the myriad of colours and patterns. And the stripey tights!

So imagine my delight upon discovering Poppy.

Poppy is a children's clothes design company based oop north. The clothes tell the story of Poppy and her dog, Fred. The images are depicted on the borders running around the hem of each dress. You even receive a storybook with your dress and each season brings a new adventure. The best bit? They also make the dresses for grown ups! 1950s inspired and feminine shapes are what you can expect to find here. 

So, to re-cap: that's bright colours, feminine shape and adventure story all in one dress. I think this might just be the epitome of wonderful.

My pick of this season:

I wish...Make A Wish Dress £129.99

This is simply delightful: Birthday Bash £139
Giraffes and telephone boxes. Perfect. London Dress in raspberry £125.99
Wispy and Dreamlike: Butterfly Dress £129

1950s bridesmaid dress
These sugary-sweet shades would look lovely as bridesmaid dresses. Add a bright, frothy petticoat for a vintage tea party finish.

I met the team at the Country Living Christmas Fair in London last year and they were delightful. They also stock a range of petticoats in a fabulous range of colours to wear underneath for a Fifties look.

And adorable stripey tights - which of course I bought.

See where Poppy and Fred will take you...

Thursday 16 May 2013

Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Dress Outfit

You've planned your wedding right down to the groom's shoelaces. Then you realise it's a week until the rehearsal dinner and you haven't even considered an outfit.

This may be the rehearsal dinner, but you might as well think of it as the dress rehearsal as well. Besides having a wonderful time with your nearest and dearest, your mission is to be the most wonderfully dressed. In short, you need to look like the bride.

So, if you find yourself in this conundrum then do not fear. Whether you're looking for bridal-esque or not, short or long, budget or 'sod-it' this selection should provide you with the perfect solution.

rehearsal dinner dress
Embroidery, crystals and sequins with delicate tulle. The pale nude colour makes this a good choice for a rehearsal dinner; the added sparkle makes this a winner. Hoss Intropia - £410 
rehearsal dinner dress
Demure, understated and definitely a wear-again piece. Perfect for the girl who wants to look like the bride - this silk dress is vintage-inspired and perfectly on trend. Polka-Dot Maxi Dress by Hoss Intropia - £275
rehearsal dinner dress
If it's bridal you're looking for then look no further. The beautiful daisy motif lace is wonderfully summery and this dress encompasses everything about being a bride-to-be. I'm also a big fan of the perfectly placed waistband. If this is a little too bridal then try the red or black options for a more after-dark appeal. Guipure Lace Dress by Hoss Intropia - £330

rehearsal dinner dress
Adrianna Papell is rapidly becoming one of my go-to names for sophisticated dresses. Elegant, sexy and flattering in all the right places. Accessorise with bold jewellry and a sprinkle of a tan - £150

rehearsal dinner dress

Dazzle and amaze as you ride the Gatsby wave in this beautifully embellished Untold Beaded Blouson Blouson Style Dress. It's gold and sparkly. What more could you want? On sale and a steal at £175.

rehearsal dinner dress
Silk - check; florals - check. If you're looking for something a little less ostentatious then this beautiful dress by Peter Som for Anthropologie might just do the trick - £228
Above all else, enjoy this. You are getting married after all!
I'd love to know which dress is your favourite...

Wednesday 15 May 2013

The Great Gatsby Flapper Dresses and Cannes Premiere

'The Great Gatsby'

Another post about Gatsby!

The breathless anticipation surrounding Baz Luhrmann's remake of Fitzgerald's classic depiction of the American Dream has reached fever pitch. I don't know what I'm more excited about - the film or the fashion.

Okay, it's the fashion.

The film premieres in Cannes today and the stars haven't  disappointed. Carey Mulligan wowed in a black jumpsuit by Balenciaga - her trademark minimalism striking a marked contrast with her character, Daisy Buchanan's ornate dresses. However, she did give a nod to the 1920s with her YSL t-bar shoes.

Isla Fisher opted for a crisp white (NOT 'an elaborate afternoon dress of cream-coloured chiffon') Dolce & Gabbana sleeveless dress. I love this dress (the shoes not so much) - white is perfect for summer, but if you can't quite stretch to Dolce heights, then Anthropologie offers a more affordable but just as sweet option.

Gatsby Cannes Carey
Carey Mulligan in Balenciaga by Alexander Wang at Cannes - 'The Great Gatsby' photocall

Isla Cannes Gatsby
Isla Fisher in Dolce & Gabbana at Cannes - 'The Great Gatsby' photocall

Image credits: Getty and Red Carpet Fashion Awards

Last week I was talking to a group of teenagers about their summer ball and the outfits they're hoping their generous parents will buy for them. The trend was definitely 'Gatsby'.

If you're going to a wedding, ball or party this summer and want to channel Gatsby glamour then I've picked my favourite dresses. The prices range from £135 to a cool £2,245. Well, in the spirit of Jay Gatsby: we can dream, can't we?

red flapper dress
A touch of excess - this red silk dress is the epitome of 1920s glamour. Lanvin Silk-charmeuse gown £2,245

Joy yellow flapper dress
'We sat down at a table with the two girls in yellow" - Frock and Frill Zelda Dress - Joy £135

blue flapper dress
One of my favourite dresses. Beautifully cut to give some definition to the waist while still looking authentic. Lily Rose Dress from Mes Demoiselles £215

beaded 1920s dress

'In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.' Gorgeous Adrianna Papell beaded dress - John Lewis £330
Jigsaw flapper dress
Channel Daisy Buchanan in this intricately beaded Flapper Dress - Jigsaw £325

Enjoy, old sport.

Monday 13 May 2013

May Birthday Party Dresses

May is my birthday month so I'm dreaming of party dresses in fresh colours with delicate embroidery and nature-inspired prints...

(product name angle)
Blues and purples are such uplifting colours. They always make me think of romps through bluebell woods. Purple Sleeveless Wrap Dress from & Other Stories


Channel the twenties in this embroidered silk dress from Brora

I remember the first time I bought a dress from Anthropologie. It was an asymmetric tartan dress which I wore for NYE. It was bought using one of my first wage packets and I remember thinking, "I've made it". The Elusive Lacy Dress is just perfect for summer strolls in the country...or for city girls living vicariously.

The Dream A Little Dream Dress from Ruche is guaranteed to add a little Gatsby sparkle to any event - and with subtle detailing around the waist to create a little more definition.


Another offering from Ruche, the Spotty Dotty Sash Dress is bright and feminine. The girl who wears this will no doubt win the local baking competition.

Sophie Dahl Brora
Emily Tea Dress by Sophie Dahl for Brora. I could write an ode to this dress, I love it THAT much. Perfect for a birthday tea, wouldn't you say...? Well done, Miss Dahl. Well done indeed.

The question is: which one is fit for the birthday girl?