Quote Of The Day

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” - Coco Chanel

Thursday, 1 October 2009

White Shirts

I love the undyeing classic elegance of a white shirt. They are so fantastically British. The smart, cool exteriour, the hint of repressed sexuality if worn in just the right way. The crisp lines like an Autumnal morning and the pure class that is their very essance.

Aquascutum, Gap and Chanel are my top shirt choises; try and venture away from M&S!

Happy Shopping,
Love Fashionista

H&M For Autumn 2009

Friday, 14 August 2009

Untitled but Elegant

This "The Sartorialist" image (all copyright to the photographer - http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/) is, in my opinion, so amazing it deserves an entire post dedicated to it. Scott Schuman says of his photograph; "I love the simple color story of navy, tan and brown; but what really caught my eye was the slimness of their jacket sleeves. Look how narrow they are around the wrist - so many of today's jackets are cut so loose to fit everyone (or at least everyone with fat wrists)."
I think its breath taking. The combination of Schuman's simple, realistic photography and this man's exquisite style make for a photo to inspire the entire season's wardrobe.
To translate this timelessly tailored look opt for a blazer just like this one, with the key element a very slim sleeve, sitting just at the wrist (Reiss, Zara, Ralph Lauren). Team this with Topshop's 'Pippa Ankle Grazer' jeans in a dark indigo wash, and cuff the bottoms like this man has done. Make sire the turn-ups are no thicker than 1 inch, to complete the super-slim-and-tailored vibe. For the shirt go with a simple button-up in pale blue, or on chillier days a navy-blue slim sweater and maybe even a gold and maroon diagonal striped tie. Shoe-wise stick to brogues like this man does, or try a simple white or navy lace-up plimsoll (Topshop, Office, Primark). The straw trilby also adds a lovely, fresh touch; try one with a red and blue striped ribbon to add to the slightly nautical feel of the whole look.
I haven't changed the style much I know, but its so perfect I really didn't need to!

Happy Shopping and Read The Sartorialist! Real people are the best style inspiration you will ever find.

Love, Fashionista

Monday, 10 August 2009

Happy 126 Birthday, Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel's birthday was the 19th August 1883, so this week is dedicated to her and her undying fashion influence. Coco is the mother of modern style, the inventor of the Breton top, creator of the classics and style icon to the world.
True style never dies, and Coco Chanel's has lived on. So today we say Happy Birthday to the most iconic and influential fashion figure of all time.

The story of Coco Chanel's incredible life
Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel (19 August 1883 – 10 January 1971)[1] was a pioneering French fashion designer whose modernist philosophy, menswear-inspired fashions, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made her an important figure in 20th-century fashion. Her extraordinary influence on haute couture was such that she was the only person in the field to be named on TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people of the 20th century

Coco Chanel

Chanel was born on August 19, 1883. She was the second daughter of traveling salesman Albert Chanel and Jeanne Devolle in the small city of Saumur, Maine-et-Loire. Coco was born in a poorhouse. Her birth was recorded the following day. Two employees of the hospice went to city hall and declared the child of feminine gender. The hospice employees were illiterate, so when the mayor François Poitu wrote down the birth, no one knew how to spell Chanel so the mayor improvised and recorded it with an "s," making it Chasnel. This misspelling made the tracing of her roots almost impossible for biographers when Chanel later rose to prominence. Her parents married in 1883. She had five siblings:two sisters, Julian (1882-1913) and Antoinette (born 1887) and three brothers, Alphonse (born 1885), Lucien (born 1889) and Peter (born and died 1891). In 1895, when she was 12 years old, Chanel's mother died of tuberculosis and her father left the family a short time later because he needed to work to raise his children. Because of his work, the young Chanel spent seven years in the orphanage of the Roman Catholic monastery of Aubazine, where she learned the trade of a seamstress. School vacations were spent with relatives in the provincial capital, where female relatives taught Coco to sew with more flourish than the nuns at the monastery were able to demonstrate. When Coco turned eighteen, she left the orphanage, and took up work for a local tailor.

Hat by Gabrielle Chanel, 1912. Published in Les Modes.

While working at a tailoring shop she met and soon began an affair with the French playboy and millionaire Étienne Balsan who lavished her with the beauties of "the rich life," diamonds, dresses and pearls. While living with Balsan, Chanel began designing hats as a hobby, which soon became a deeper interest of hers. After opening her eyes, as she would say, Coco left Balsan and took over his apartment in Paris. In 1913, she opened up her very first shop which sold a range of fashionable raincoats and jackets. Situated in the heart of Paris it wasn't long before the shop went out of business and Chanel was asked to surrender her properties. This did not discourage Chanel; it only made her more determined. During the pre-war era, Chanel met up with an estranged and former best friend of Étienne Balsan, Arthur "Boy" Capel, with whom she soon fell in love. With his assistance, Chanel was able to acquire the property and financial backing to open her second millinery shop in Brittany. Her hats were worn by celebrated French actresses, which helped to establish her reputation. In 1913, Chanel introduced women’s sportswear at her new boutique in Deauville, in the Rue Gounaut-Biron; Marthe, Countess de Gounaut-Biron (daughter of American diplomat, John George Alexander Leishman), was Chanel's first aristocratic client. Her third shop and successor to her biggest store in France was located in Deauville, where more women during the World War I era came to accept her view that women were supposed to dress for themselves and not their men.

Later in life, she concocted an elaborate false history for her humble beginnings. Chanel would steadfastly claim that when her mother died, her father sailed for America to get rich and she was sent to live with two cold-hearted spinster aunts. She even claimed to have been born in 1893 as opposed to 1883, and that her mother had died when Coco was two instead of twelve. All this was done to diminish the stigma that poverty, orphanhood, and illegitimacy bestowed upon unfortunates in nineteenth-century France.

In 1920, she was introduced by ballet empresario Sergei Diaghilev to world famous composer Igor Stravinsky (The Rite of Spring), to whom she extended an offer for him and his family to reside with her. During this temporary sojourn it was rumoured that they had an affair.

Coco Chanel

In 1923, Coco Chanel said to Harper's Bazaar that "Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance." Coco Chanel always kept the clothing she designed simple, comfortable and revealing. Unlike most designers in that Europe, she kept the woman inside the clothes at the center of her creations. "I gave women a sense of freedom; I gave them back their bodies: bodies that were drenched in sweat, due to fashion's finery, lace, corsets, underclothes, padding."[3] She took what were considered poor fabrics like jersey and upgraded them. Chanel's style is popularly associated with the image of the 1920s flapper, a "new breed" of self-confident young women that challenged the established concept of socially acceptable behavior. The flappers demonstrated their independence through new looks and attitude, such as short skirts and haircuts, openly using cosmetics, and being seen to smoke and drink cocktails. Compared to previous generations of women the flappers also showed an increased level of activity, pursuing athletic sports, driving their own automobiles, and going out to nightclubs where they could listen to jazz music and do energetic dances such as the Charleston.

The iconic Chanel jacket is a symbol of this design philosophy. A Chanel couture jacket has numerous design and construction details that distinguish it from a tailored jacket as traditionally constructed. For example, these jackets lack the complex inner structure of interfacings, pad stitching, and facings commonly used in bespoke tailoring. Rather, the silk lining is machine quilted directly to the fashion fabric, the long exterior seams of the fashion fabric are machine sewn, then the shoulder fashion fabric seams are machine sewn. The interior lining seams and the outside edges of the lining are turned under and hand stitched to the edge of the jacket. The three piece sleeve (another distinctive Chanel feature) is constructed in a similar manner, then hand sewn to the body of the jacket. The heavy trims, cast metal buttons and the curbed chain sewn to the hem have a functional purpose by adding weight to a garment that is really nothing more than fashion fabric and lining.[4] The end result is a supremely comfortable garment, more like a sweater than a traditional jacket. Most of her fashions had a staying power, and didn't change much from year to year—or even generation to generation.[5]

Chanel came out with her first signature fragrance, Chanel No. 5, in 1921. The perfume was the first to have a designer's name attached to it, and it has enjoyed tremendous success since its introduction. In this way, Chanel set the standard for successive designers to do the same.[6]

In 1925, Vera Bate Lombardi, reputedly the illegitimate daughter of Adolphus Cambridge, 1st Marquess of Cambridge and Duke of Teck,[7] became Chanel's muse and public relations liaison to a number of European royal families. Lombardi had the highest connections possible to build the House of Chanel. Chanel established the English look based upon Lombardi's persona and Lombardi introduced Chanel to her uncle the Duke of Westminster, her cousin the Duke of Windsor, and many other aristocratic families for Chanel's creative, romantic, financial, social and political rise to power.[8]

In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, the designer closed her shops. She believed that it was not a time for fashion.[citation needed] She would live in the Hôtel Ritz Paris, on and off, and for more than 30 years, making the hotel her Paris home even during the Nazi occupation. During that time she was criticized for having an affair with Hans Gunther von Dincklage, a German officer and Nazi spy who arranged for her to remain in the hotel.[2][9] She also maintained an apartment above her couture house at 31, rue Cambon and built Villa La Pausa in Roquebrune on the French Riviera.

In 1943 after 4 years of professional separation, Chanel sought collaboration with Lombardi in Rome to access Lombardi's relative Sir Winston Churchill in the Walter Schellenberg Nazi plot "Operation Modellhut" under the guise of requesting Lombardi return to work for the House of Chanel in Paris.[8][10] When Vera refused to comply with Chanel's request to come to Paris, she was arrested as an English spy and thrown into a Roman prison by the Gestapo. The true motives of Chanel's invitation to Lombardi, which later became purposely diverted by Chanel in a trip to the Ritz Hotel in Madrid, Spain, was that Chanel wanted Lombardi to contact Churchill in order for him to see Chanel. Chanel was later arrested for war crimes, but prevented from being taken to trial through the British Royal family's intervention.[8]

In 1945, she moved to Switzerland, eventually returning to Paris in 1954, the year she also returned to the fashion world. Her new collection did not have much success with the Parisians because of her relationship with the Nazi spy; however, it was much applauded by the British and Americans, who became her faithful customers.

Coco Chanel's Designs

Coco Chanel died of a heart attack in her private suite at the Hôtel Ritz Paris on 10 January 1971, at the age of 87. She was buried in Lausanne, Switzerland and her tombstone is carved with lion heads representing her birth sign, Leo.
Karl Langerfield At Chanel

He May Be Just Not That Into Her... But God Are We Into Her Style!

One style I feel in love with recently was that of Anna, Scarlett Johansson's character in the hit film "He's Just Not That Into You". Anna wears simple, lose, curve-flattering styles in light and pretty colours. Through the film her staples were very faded and worn jeans, grey marl and nude loose tees and vests, soft cardigans, tan belts through the belt loops of her jeans and her beige trench.
She wore all these soft shapes with a care-free, happy and cheeky attitude, and emulated Alexa Chung's "just threw this on" vibe.
This look is incredibly easy to recreate, team it with long, loosely curled and tousled locks.
The best places to shop for this look are probably Mango, Gap and Zara, as these all have good basics ranges, nice knitwear and simple, slouchy shapes. If you don't find what you want there then you could also try Topshop, H&M, Urban Outfitters and the rest of the High Street. For a High-End alternative head to Chloe for beautiful-casual.

Chloe Winter '09

See by Chloe Fall '09

Here's a quick shopping list for anyone who loves the Chloe/Anna look:

High End - Just go to Chloe! Buy the whole shop!

High Street -
  • Mango is Mecca for you now; get some pretty, fine knit cardigans there in pale colours like grey, peach and nude. Also get a good beige trench coat, some loose tees and anything else that catches your eye.
  • Gap is also very good - stock up on basics such as vests and tan belt-loop sized belts. And always remember the colour palette - Grey, Peach, Pastels, Nude with the smallest hint of Black and Navy.
  • Zara - They have lovely cardigans and sweaters. Try on a a few in larger sizes for a looser fit, but remember you want to look relaxed and comfy rather than swamped. Cable knit is nice, I have a lovely grey marl long-line cardi from Zara.
  • Levi's - Get some good investment Jeans from their original makers. Choose the right fit for you, don't worry if they're skinny or boyfriend but stay away from flares and choose a faded, worn wash that gives a pastel blue shade rather than a harsher indigo.

Some Levi's to show you what to look for.
A great Chloe/Anna style Levi's Belt.

Scarlett/Anna in He's Just Not That Into You

With Co-Star Drew Barrymore

Shop for Charity

Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend in Starbucks for an afternoon of coffee and trawling the charity shops. It all sounds terribly vintage and Soho-Chic
Charity-Shopping is one of my favorite hobbies at the moment; it makes for a fun-filled time while being all for charity! (not including the coffee of course, but after all that do-good shopping I think we'll deserve one!)
Many of us have had to cut back due to the recession, but there's no need to stop shopping, and besides; if anything charity-shopping is more fun that hitting the High Street as you never know quite what you'll find, and when you do find something its always a happy thought to remember how much of a bargain you got it for! For example; a while ago I found some lovely cashmere-blend Gucci trousers, in brilliant condition, for just £7 in Scope! Other purchases include a Benetton wool jumper for £4, a Russel and Bromely leather tote for £1 and a Tommy Hilfiger striped top for £3.75... so get bargain hunting!

Charity shopping is also better value than vintage because the items are donated to the charity so, since whatever they sell it for will be a profit, they can keep the prices low.
Another reason for charity-shopping this season in particular is that, with the heritage trend sweeping the nation, you're very likely to find what you want as tweed, argyle and blazer styles are always plentiful in charity shops.
So Charity-Shopping = An amazingly cheap, exciting, feel-good and fun adventure

Happy Charity-Shopping!

Love, Fashionista

Style Icon - Alexa Chung

Tomboy style is huge this a/w, and Alexa Chung has the casual "I just got out of bed and threw this on" vibe radiating out of her. Luckily this style is very simple to recreate, just make sure you wear it with just the right amount of laid-back nonchalance.

Layering is key in this look, so try a basic loose tee in nude, grey, black or white (Zara, Topshop, H&M, Primark) under a Breton stripe top, which every girl should own. Its hard to recommend shops for these, as everyone likes a different style. I have 2 however - A short sleeved tee from H&M and a long sleeved classic french vintage one. Complete this look with skinny jeans, plain boots or plimsolls, long miss-matched necklaces and a couple of bangles.
For cooler weather a military style coat is the essential cover-up. Wear with a simple skirt, black opaques and brogues.
In the summer opt for ripped denim hot-pants an striped tops or shirts, semi-tucked in. Add ballet pumps and a bright beach bag for days tomboy fun in the sun.

Alexa Chung is pretty much the saint of the Breton stripe top, so if you're trying to emulate her style then its a absolute essential. It can be so tricky to find the perfect one, so I've helped you out a bit - I love this Jack Wills version of the classic, its loose, stylish and distinctly Alexa Chung:Its in the Jack Wills seasonal sale now, for £39.

Skinny Jeans are another wardrobe essential, and key to the Alexa look. If you don't already own a pair head to Toppers and snap up these beauties:
For the military coat try Zara, or Primark's wonderful new collection. Topshop also have some nice versions and if you're shopping with no budget then Miu-Miu, Burburry and MaxMara are the coat Meccas.
For a night on the town stay with the cool vibe, just dress it up a little with a Uniqlo grey marl jersey skirt, ballet pumps (Office, Faith etc.), a blazer (Another Alexa essential, try Zara and Ralph Lauren) and head to Gap and snap up one of their new silk slouchy tees for the finishing touch of laid-back luxe.

Skirt - £19.99 at Uniqlo

To add an individual touch add a few different necklaces, bangles and rings to your look, but be careful not to over do it or you will look like you tried to hard. The aim is to look like you couldn't care less, but still be utterly fabulous!

Happy Shopping!

Love, Fashionista

Friday, 7 August 2009

Understated British Perfection

For a/w '09, I'm so completely in love with Aquascutum. Their classic, sophisticated take on Audrey Hepburn-esque poised elegance is perfect for next season, with warm winter basics combined with beautiful detailing and a timeless vibe. Here are my favorite looks from the new collection:

This chic ensemble combines brights with a/w must have; tweed. The pieces are available at http://www.aquascutum.com/ but for a cheaper option try Reiss, their look book is very reminiscent of Aquascutum's clean lined luxury:
I love this look, and you could team it with a tweed blazer; one of Reiss's own or Zara and Topshop have some slightly less pricey versions available. I love the yellow skirt here; yellow is huge for a/w '09, it has that much needed cheerful smile about it, and looks radiant with our winter darks and neutrals. To finish off the look, add shoes or boots in a neutral shade and a large, neural tote (Louis Vuitton?)

Here's my next lust-worthy look from Aquascutum:
I love this blouse. Love it. Its so feminine and voluptuous, and so British. It's also very Blair Waldorf (look at my earlier post on her if you like this top). I love it with the Gucci style trousers, but I think it would be even better with a fitted high-waisted skirt in neutrals, maroon, yellow or moss green, possibly made from boiled wool. And so here's the Reiss look that I think captures this style:
I know it might look quite different from the Aquascutum style, but they both use the magic combination of the statement, voluptuous top with the slimline, neutral toned lower. I love the detailing on the hips of this skirt and the top gives a nice hint of colour, but If you love this look then that stunning Aquascutum blouse is the only true choice; team with a Reiss skirt, or head to Zara for a cheaper option.

Here's my final Aquascutum style:
J'adore. This dress is lovely, and the detailing adds interest. Also have you noticed Aquascutum's silk headscarf's on these models? I love them, they add that charmingly personal, vintage edge to any look. Try Hermes for true tradition, or head to Tie Rack for a fantastic bargain. A silk scarf is such a useful thing to have; wear one round your neck, on your head or, for a bit of flair, try knotting one round one of the handles of your bag. Voila; sophisticated Parisian chic!

For a High Street adaptation of this high-end look, try a simple smock dress (Zara, Reiss, Phase Eight, Whistles, Boden etc.) in a neutral tone, with discrete pattern or detailing. Clinch in at the waist with a chocolate brown skinny belt and tie a bright silk scarf around your head or neck for a finishing touch. Team with neutral heels or brown boots and a large, neutral tote.

Happy Shopping!

Love, Fashionista

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Cheap and Chic With Red Soles

Saving money gives me that great little self-satisfied feeling I got when I found the perfect Viktor and Rolf boots, only without the month of being utterly broke that followed. So, purse in hand, I went to Primark and bought these hideously bad heels for £8. I then rooted around in my studio for some enamel paint, and painted the soles red (Christian Louboutin - Nothing is sexier) and the heel and small platform black. I tied and Green bow on the front and... Voila! Lovely, unique heels for just £8, plus the added bonus of all the fun I had making and designing them!

Speaking of Louboutains, I'm in love with them for a/w. I find those red soles a bit rich for summers light and frothy chiffon styles, but now we're into the season of trench coats, Velvet and leather gloves nothing could be more covetable. Here are a few words from Net-A-Porter (Internet shopping Mecca)...... "Louboutin's trademark glossy red soles give an instant stamp of fashion excellence. The designer's ethos is to "make shoes that are like jewels" and each unique design demonstrates unparalleled quality and an innate sultriness. From vertigo-inducing pumps to the seasonal must-have shoe boots as well as a covetable range of totes and clutches, Louboutin is the accessories brand for every super-chic fashionista." Couldn't agree more.
Here are my most coveted pair for a/w '09: I love the cheeky leopard print detail peeping out over the top, and the glossy red soles which, I'm pleased to say, look just like the ones on my own £8 wonders! If your lucky enough to afford these stunning shoes-boots get them at: http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/48257

Although slightly less lust worthy than those sky scraping wonders, the other photos are of my own humble creations, with before and after photos... Enjoy!

Happy Shopping!

Love, Fashionista

B is for Brilliant, Beautiful and Best of the Bunch

In the CWs hit teen drama Gossip Girl Leighton Meester Plays Blair Waldorf; Preppy, Bitchy and absolutely OMFG worthily brilliant.

GG is my all time favorite show (If you don't watch it you're missing out; its on at 8-9pm on Wednesdays on ITV2.) and Blair is my all time favorite style icon. Shes the epitome of feminine, classic, preppy luxury but with a new and sexy edge. Blair's a complex yet lovable character, and so is her style; just look at her here in this stunning lace mini and shrug. Oh so elegant.
Blair's look may seem like an impossibly expensive ideal, but its really not so hard. Here are the essentials:
  • Plain beige trench coat - Of course we all love Burbury, but for a cheaper option try Mango and Zara, and even Primark surprised me this season with a nice new range of Blair-esque coats.
  • Tights, tights and more tights. Get some black opaques and lace style patterns, like in the picture on the left. But also go for some eye popping brights; I love red, purple and blue. Topshop has a great tight collection this season.
  • Voluptuous silk blouses, patterns are best but some plains and well.
  • Heels. Blair's a perfect lady, and a lady wears heels.
  • Short dresses, nothing below the knee.
  • Lots of waist skirts, try a plain grey one that sits on the knee (H&M) with a red based patterned silk blouse tucked in.
  • A smart navy blazer - try Ralph Lauren, Zara or Topshop
  • A headband, preferably with a big satin ribbon bow. The headband makes Blair Waldorf, and I love them. They're cute, but sophisticated and add a personal touch to an outfit.
Happy Shopping!

Love, Fashionista

Hello Fashionistas!

Hello Fashionistas!
Inspired by Gossip Girl, Vogue and my new resolutions I have decided to start a blog. I doubt anyone will ever read it, or if I will mange to keep it up, but here goes!
Its the most important time of my fashion calender right now, as its time to sort out our a/w '09 wardrobes! I hit Oxford Street yesterday and I'm saving for one of those gorgeous cashmere tweed Ralph Lauren Blazers. Tweed: Stylish, Sophisticated and utterly, utterly timeless. From Chanel monochrome to farmers hats, we British love tweed as much as Wimbledon and our dogs.Tweed Investments a/w 'o9: Chanel Jacket
Miu Miu's Oatmeal Tweed Coat
Ralph Lauren Cashmere Blazer
Chloe's Grey Tweed Suit (Wear with feminine Blush Silk Blouse)
Farmers Cap

Remember - Tweed has spilt into two distinct groups; The masculine, farmer style caps and loose blazer club and the feminine, structured and clean sophisticated luxury. I'm all for them both, but I love the new elegant tweed, it screams next season; new, beautiful and classic. I adore classic.
Speaking of classic, lady like is back. I'll be dreaming of Chloe's scalloped blush jackets this season, and maybe Diane Von Fustenburg with her stunning signature jersey wrap dresses.

So here are my resolutions and my wish list of a/w 'o9:


As Gok Wan Says "Shop Less Wear More"
Start a Blog
Have a clear Image of what I want
Only buy pieces that fit into this Image
Be Better Organized
Read Enlightening Books


Breton Stripe Top
Ralph Lauren Tweed Blazer
Marni Coat (Winter Florals)
Viktor and Rolf Flat Boots
Elbow Gloves in Berry Shades (Nina Ricci have some stunners)
Jumbo Hounds-Tooth Waist Skirt or Jacket (Try Chanel and Hobbs)
Chloe Scalloped everything
DVF Jersey Wrap Dress
Camel Trench
Boiled Wool Coat and Skirt

Happy Shopping!

Love, Fashionista

Gucci and Christian Lacroix show us why we heart tweed...

Happy 126 Birthday, Coco Chanel!