Tuesday 30 July 2013

Dress of the Month July

The Dress of the Week section is a celebration of design, form and elegance and I hope to introduce you to incredible, sometimes eccentric, always wonderful pieces. Enjoy...

The Designer

To launch this new section, what better than high street favourite and every woman's go-to store: Coast.

The Dress

Constantina Maxi Dress, £395

The blurb

Architectural dress shapes of the 1950's couture houses act a source of inspiration for this statement gown. The Constantina Maxi dress is a full-bodied design created with a voluminous skirt for added drama. Soft floral prints combined with a fixed-bow waist belt lend a romantic feel. This fully lined dress contains a corset which allows for freedom of movement yet retains security and form. The dress length from underarm to the shortest part of the hem at the front is 79cm/ 31 inches.
Fabric: 100% Polyester
Wash care: Dry Clean Only
Product code: 2213170498 

The reason

I saw it today in the window of Coast on London's Oxford Street and dragged the fiancé into the shop. Up close it is even more visually impressive. The colours are almost iridescent; the cut unusual; and it exudes femininity. It was actually my fiancé who encouraged me to try it on (a rare occurrence, reader) and as soon as he saw it, he loved it. Praise indeed! 

The shape is reminiscent of 1950s Dior and has subtle reflections of Georgian allure. The best bit is the back skirt - you can't see this on the photographs, but the train sweeps behind making this THE statement piece to be seen in at summer balls. All you need now is a masque and Casanova...

I'd also like to see it styled with opaque tights and stilettos for winter events - the look will be sharper and your legs will go on forever. 

A similar design is available in black. Sigh.

Save your pocket money, ladies. This is a must.



Monday 29 July 2013

Kate Moss Wedding Fashion Inspiration Blue Velvet

At Leah Wood's wedding in 2008, Kate Moss committed a wedding faux pas - and came perilously close to a second - by turning up late (10 minutes after the bride!) and in a full length light grey Chanel dress. However, though this dress might have skirted a little too close to a bridal gown, it was nothing compared to Rosie Huntington-Whitely's pale pink outfit. Beautiful, but too bridal. For perfect summer wedding guest inspiration, look here.

But I digress.

What I am most interested in is the cover-up Moss wore to the event. Indeed, while the Chanel dress is impressive, it would lose a lot of appeal without that one key accessory. 

Silk velvet.

It tends to get a bad press and is largely associated with batty Art teachers or overweight mystics. But this is a hugely overlooked fabric. Popular in the Edwardian era to the late 1920s, silk velvet encapsulates vintage glamour, which is why it works so well with the vintage-inspired Chanel dress. The range of colours available also ensures you'll find a colour to suit whatever outfit. And it's lightweight. And unashamedly glamorous.

Nonetheless, it can be quite expensive to buy and if you're not sure about it, that can be very off-putting. But, dear, brave reader, I have the solution. 

I have written before about our excursions and explorations. Well, yesterday we decided to leave our little nook in south west London and venture into the north to Hampstead Heath. I'd been there a few times but never via the shops. But yesterday James 'allowed' me 5 minutes. 

Down an old, lumpy, bumpy side street we discovered a lovely old bookshop with books piled right up to the ceiling and opposite, a little boutique called Zana. 

Printed silk dresses and scarves adorned the window as well as silk velvet coats and cover-ups. But the best part was the prices. The scarves were £10(!!) each and the silk velvet cover-ups £30. Oh, and did I mention that this shop just happens to be the very same shop that Kate Moss got her blue velvet wrap from? 

Zana, the woman behind the name, makes the pieces herself in the back room (which is what she's doing when I enter). I tried two versions: one in pink, the other in white. The designs echo vintage opera coats and I can't help but imagine myself swanning around by a poolside in one of them. 

While I was busy dreaming, Zana and her colleague offered frank opinions, and in the end I settled on the white. It has peacocks on it, too. What could be better? I later returned to buy another in blue (below).

Zana is located on Flask Walk, Hampstead.


Friday 19 July 2013

Love Lane Vintage Clothes

Last month I wrote about my day out to the Love Lane Vintage fair in Wisborough Green, Sussex. One thing I didn't tell you about, however, was the Love Lane Vintage clothing range.

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Imagine warm late summer sunshine on wild meadow flowers, walks on the riverbank, dried lavender, gooseberry jam...

Are you there yet? 

Okay, it might sound a little cheesy, but this is what Love Lane Vintage clothes conjure in my mind, which is why I travelled all the way back to treat myself to one of their lovely pieces.

The owner of Love Lane Vintage, Lucy Haywood has a tangible passion for fabrics and design, which is evident when she discusses her work. She sources top quality antique French and new hand-dyed linens and transforms them into 'Garden Coats', 'Potting Shed Smocks' and 'Meadow Dresses'. After much deliberation - they are all so lovely - I chose the 'Garden Coat' in pea green. 

I don't even have a garden; I'm a Londoner living in a doll's house. But I just had to have one of these delightful creations. Inspired by a vintage design, this coat is flattering, lightweight and a dream to wear. While I envisage mostly using it for romps around the countryside, it could easily be gussied-up for smarter occasions. Simply add a brooch or corsage, or a sash around the middle for more definition, if you like.

Lucy's designs have a timeless charm - think Jane Austen meets Cabbages and Roses - and they carry echoes of clothes I wore as a child. Whether you're a country dweller or a Romantic city type, these are clothes to make memories in.

Me wearing my new pea green garden coat by Love Lane Vintage
I'm hoping they make a red version for Autumn...



Monday 15 July 2013

Wedding Guest Fashion

What to Wear to a Summer Wedding...

I do love a good wedding, as you are probably aware. The romance, the smiles, the unique touches - it's a magical occasion for all involved.

However, as a guest, it can be quite tricky to decide what to wear to a wedding. Is it appropriate to wear white? Is a short or long dress better? Hat or no hat?

As those of you who have been here before will know, I am a keen advocate of etiquette because it can help to avoid embarrassment.

Some couples may specify a dress code in their invitation - in which case, you're sorted. If hats are required, wear a hat - it's non-negotiable. But, more often than not, a dress code will not be specified and, if you're not especially close to the couple, it can be difficult to gauge the appropriate level of dress.

The best tip I can give you is it is far better to attend over-dressed than under-dressed.

Quick Tips:

White? Just don't do it. Seriously; there are thousands of colours in the colour spectrum, so choose something else. Pippa Middleton might have made cream wedding attire appropriate, but her sister was marrying a prince. Don't steal the limelight.

Long or short? This perplexes me because, unfortunately, 'maxi' dresses tend to connote floral, flimsy cotton dresses with unflattering waist-lines. These really belong on a beach or at a barbecue. But, on the other hand, if you turn up in an elaborate full length lace and silk affair, then you could commit another faux pas by upstaging the bride. See? Minefield.

My advice is to look at knee length (or thereabouts) and midi length dresses. Don't go for a mini dress. Don't be that girl.

Midis are usually overlooked yet can look extremely elegant.

Day to night? Consider whether you're going to be able to change between the wedding breakfast and evening reception. It's so much easier when this is the case, but if not, think about whether your pink floral dress will look quite as chic on the dance floor under the stars.

The weather? We Brits love to discuss the weather - it passes the time at bus stops - but it can be a devil. Use your common sense here, ladies, and have a back-up plan. Don't wear a floaty dress in gale force winds; do wear a jacket or cover-up in cold weather; and DO have a pretty umbrella. That is a British wedding guest essential.

So, with all this in mind, here are my summer wedding picks (with a bow to the midi dress):

The light blues
On-trend and perfect for every skin tone. Style with cream shades or be bold and add a splash of pink or red.
Raindrop Print Tea Dress, Jigsaw

Issa Silk-jersey dress, £565, net-a-porter

Elsa Peplum Dress, Anthropologie, £128 (more like this here)

Hoss Intropia, £100

Byron Lars Fleurs-de-Lys Dress, Anthropologie, £178

The neutrals

A great choice for taking your outfit from day to night. Cream or sparkly accessories add sophistication and drama.

Cream Georgette Trim Sequin Dress, Jigsaw, £259

Silk Chiffon Embellished Dress, Jigsaw, £259

Lela Rose Lace-print silk dress £1,655, net-a-porter

Strappy Lace Vintage Slip, £38 Topshop

Beatrice Sleeved Dress, £149, Monsoon

 The greens

Bright, bold and a little more daring than the rest. Green is perfect for the spring/summer months. Try a number of shades to get the right match for your skin tone. Cream or nude accessories work especially well for a demure finish.
Grace Dress, Poppy Children, £98 - more here.
Alice by Temperley Kyoto pleated crepe dress, £375, net-a-porter

Wiggle dress in border wallpaper print, ASOS, £42
Latia Lace Dress, Coast, £145
If you like this style, there are more like it here.

The citruses
Yellow is a key colour for summer - and it's happy, happy, happy. Go for gold accessories for real colour commitment. 

Image 1 of Whistles Sculptured Crepe Dress
Sculptured Crepe Dress, Whistles, £135

Tory Burch Isidor embroidered silk-organza dress, £520, net-a-porter

Erdem, Amina printed silk and organza one shoulder dress, £770, net-a-porter.com

The pinks

The ideal go-to colour for summer events. It's feminine and flattering and there's a shade for everyone. Nude shoes finish off the look perfectly.

Gracie Dress, £58, Oliver Bonas

Condu Dress, £49, Oliver Bonas

NW3 Constable Dress, £110, Hobbs

Jardin Lace Dress, Anthropologie, £238
Lace and pleated silk-organza dress, Valentino, £3,385, net-a-porter

Invitation Maida Vale Dress, Hobbs, £299

The dark blues

My favourite colour - and a fantastic investment piece. This is perfect for every season and always looks chic. Silver or gold accessories work well - but really, pretty much anything goes.
Sunburst Midi Dress, £88.95, Anthropologie

Midi Dress in Floral Print with Buttoned Waist, £42, ASOS

Prabal Gurung, Floral print cotton and silk-blend satin dress, £1,850

Lace Dress, Milly, £318.49

Alberta Ferretti Wool and silk-blend midi dress, £1,280, net-a-porter

Hobbs Invitation Audley Dress, £149

Roksanda Ilincic, Izumi colour-block wool-crepe dress, £885, net-a-porter

The patterns and shapes

A guaranteed good choice. Ensure the dress has a strong structure to make it stand out from your standard summer day dress.

Floral Dress, £70, Nomads 

Oscar de la Renta Embellished lace and silk-faille dress, £5,950, net-a-porter

Strappy lace midi prom dress, Topshop

Jacquard Striped Dress £139.50 Hoss Intropia

Honour Cats Eye Tulip Dress, Zimmerman, $680

Perfect dresses for the perfect wedding guest. Mind you, the etiquette doesn't extend to rules on catching the bouquet... 

Sunday 14 July 2013

How to make a flamingo dress costume

I'm coming over all 'Blue Peter' here, and this week's project was a flamingo fancy dress costume. You're probably wondering why on earth one would ever want/need a flamingo costume. Well, in the spirit of this wedding blog, it was in aid of my friend's 'Alice in Wonderland' themed hen party.

My Mam and I had a crafting evening (tulle + sequins + wine = wonderful time!) and we took inspiration from Bjork's famous 'Swan' dress, which she wore to the Oscars in 2001. I loved it then and I love it now!

So, to make the flamingo version of this, you will need:
  • pink petticoat (tutu)
  • pink tulle*
  • pink sequins*
  • pink feathers*
  • thread
  • 1 metre x 20cm pink fabric
  • 1/2 metre wadding
  • hot glue gun and refills
  • black and white felt
  • fabric scissors
  • two safety pins
*I chose two shades of pink, but you could use any number you like.

Step 1 Making the flamingo neck:

Cut your pink fabric into two equal pieces of 10cm x 1 metre each. Put right sides (the pieces you want to be on the outside eventually) together and pin in place. Cut one end into a triangle - this will form the beak. Sew along the long edges and then along the beak end. Obviously a sewing machine makes this a lot easier, but if you don't have one, by hand is just as good.

Gather the neck together and turn inside out (this will now be the right side out). Gather it together again and push the wadding inside, right to the top of the beak. Pull the neck down around the wadding and sew up the end, being sure to enclose the wadding.

Step 2 Adding the ruffles:

Be as creative as you like here - you can never have too much tulle! You only need to add it to the front side. Simply gather it and sew it into place. I added 10 layers to the neck.

Step 3 The skirt:

Repeat step 2 and add your layers to the front of the petticoat or tutu. I added more to the top and stopped around half way down, but you can be is inventive as you like.

Step 4 Adding your feathers and sequins:

My favourite part! Add feathers and sequins to the neck - try to put them under and on top of the layers of tulle. Cover the top of the petticoat in feathers, then add them sporadically to the bottom of the skirt.

Tip: Be careful here, poppets. You do need to take your time when using these - as I discovered - and one big blister and lots of choice language later - I have learned the hard way. It turns out parental supervision is always necessary! DO NOT TOUCH THE HOT GLUE. You have been warned.

Step 5 The beak:

Cut one curved strip of white felt and two triangles of black felt (the same shape as your pink fabric). Stick or stitch the white piece first then add the two black triangles to the end, ensuring there is no pink showing. To make the eye, cut a small circle of black felt and affix above the beak.

Step 6 The finishing flourishes:

Sew the bottom of the neck onto the inside of the skirt and attach the neck to your top with a safety pin.


Standing around on one leg is optional...


Monday 8 July 2013

Kim Sears Victoria Beckham Dress Wimbledon

The Winning Dress

I don't know about you, but I didn't realise just how keen I was on tennis until Sunday.

Watching the mighty Murray win the Wimbledon championship was, by turns, terrifying, agonising and elating. It's quite astonishing that a sport can have such an impact on a nation, but there it is. I feel truly proud.

But, naturally, I'm not here to extol the virtues of British sporting prowess. Rather, I'm here to talk about Andy Murray's girlfriend, Kim Sears.

Guaranteed to turn up to Wimbledon looking every bit the quintessentially stylish and beautiful girlfriend, Kim Sears did not disappoint this year. But, inevitably, the dress we will all remember most is the one she wore to watch Murray win the championship: the £925 SS13 Victoria Beckham mint green dress.

Mint is a very flattering colour for summer and suits most skin tones. I have a mint green lace dress by Helene Berman from SS12 and so many people have come up to me in the street to compliment it. This colour needs to feature in your wardrobe.

So, if you're feeling just as inspired by the sartorial efforts as the sporting ones, then here are the best picks of mint dresses available to buy now:

Kim Sears arrives at the Wimbledon Men's Singles Final

Victoria Beckham SS13

 LACE SHIFT LOW BACK DRESS, Roman Originals, £40.00

Plissé silk-chiffon dress, Band of Outsiders, £295

Lace Dress, Kaliko, £130

Two Tone Frill Dress, Topshop by Cici, £52

Sea Glass Jacquard Tunic Dress, Ruche, $58.99

Lace Maxi Dress, Cici at Topshop, £62.00

Izzy Lace Dress, Oasis, £55

Say You'll Be Mine, modcloth.com

Elsa Peplum Dress, £128, Anthropologie

Game, Set, Match.