Topic: Budget Fashion

Outfit: Summer Styling with TK Maxx

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TK Maxx asked me if I would like to be part of their summer campaign to show how you can easily pull together the perfect summer outfit from their online store. As you all know I love TK Maxx, it is where I get a lot of my designer bargains from however I had never actually used their website before so I jumped at the chance. The idea was to choose a pair of shoes and a dress, an easy way to make an outfit. TK Maxx have such a huge selection, with many high street and designer brands. The website, as with the store, is a real treasure hunt, you never know what you will find! Pros of the website vs the store is that you can edit your search by size, style, colour and brand making things easier and quicker for those who don’t have time to rummage. It was really interesting to browse the brands selection, discovering names I hadn’t realised TK Maxx stocked. Since it is summer (apparently) I though it would be nice to look for an easy to wear day dress which could be dressed up or down. I didn’t particularly have anything in mind, so just decided to search by size and see what came up. My eye was caught by all the lovely bright prints but I was torn between a pencil or 50s silhouette. Most of my summer dresses are vintage so I opted for this printed orange silk dress which is a similar style to what I have, full skirt and nipped in waist. As TK Maxx only have limited stock the dress I chose already sold out, however you can browse all their other fabulous dresses.

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For the shoes, of course I wanted heels! But I really wanted to try something a bit different to my staple court shoes. The first pair I chose were a stunning pink, sequin peep-toe pair, but unfortunately they were too big, sob. I returned them, one of the only cons of the website is that you have to pay for posting items back but you can return them in store. Instead I choose these bright, colour block sandals. Even in summer I can’t bear to ditch the socks so these little anchors are my seasonal option! These shoes also sold out right after I got mine, one thing I will advise is buy it when you see it. TK Maxx don’t carry huge stock, that’s how they get such bargain prices, so things sell out fast. Don’t worry though there are lots more gorgeous shoes here waiting.

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Since I had my hair in a messy beehive -new default lazy hair style – I felt the whole outfit looked a bit too vintagey, with the 50s shape dress and cat eye sunglasses. To tone it down a bit I added the cut-off army jacket and belt. The sunglasses are such a nice shape, they only have a rim on the top so are bit aviator, a bit rayban. I actually just bought them myself from the TK Maxx website, designer sunglasses for £20 (rrp £100), can’t really argue with that! The designer shoes were £80 (rrp approx£400) and the high street dress £29.99 (rrp approx £120), such great savings! If you have never checked out their website I really do recommend it, you will be surprised what big designer names you find.

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Have you ever shopped at TK Maxx online? What do you think of my picks?

How to Look Chic for Halloween

Witch? Devil? Mummy? Sexy bunny (cringe)?

I absolutely love Halloween parties, I love getting dressed up and going wild for the night. I love wearing masks and fake blood. But seriously there really is only so many times you can pull off evil fairy and that glitter takes weeks to finally be rid of it all! I’ve also been asked a few times, what do you do if you don’t like fancy dress? Well there is no reason at all you can’t go out and enjoy Halloween in something more chic than Herman Munster’s threads. The best option is to just ‘Halloween-up’ a regular outfit. Here I have chosen four purse friendly evening dresses from Next which can be styled up, best of all you still have a gorgeous frock to wear you can wear again.

The easiest way is to start with a dress that has a bit of a Gothic edge, black lace, sequins, sparkle, velvet, brocade. Then you opt for a simple lace mask for an elegant masquerade vibe – perfect with this pumpkin orange shift dress. If you still want to add a dash of fun to your look try a pair of horizontal striped tights, a green and black pair instantly say ‘witchy’ without the hook nose and boils, paired with this glimmering LBD. A subtle look is Vampire, just wearing a pair of fangs with a blood red velvet dress is much more Vamp than funeral -pire! If the sexy-bunny look is still calling out to you, try a more subtle version such as the black lace ears made famous by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen over a sweet pink dress, the Gothic black embroidery detail adds a darker edge leaving people guessing if you are sinister or sweet.

(Image credits: All dresses available at NEXT.co.uk; Mask – venicemaskedball.co.uk; Tights – struts.co.uk; Fangs – fanpop.com; Bunny – cocosteaparty.com)

Which look would you choose?

How to Buy Vivienne Westwood & Other Designer’s on the Cheap

(Wearing: All Vivienne Westwood – Red Label shirt, shorts, blazer; Gold Label ‘T-Bar shoes)

As I am sure you all already know I am a huge fan of Vivienne Westwood, let’s face it you can’t really get clothes any more unique than Viv. The thing is fancy clothes come with a hefty price tag and whilst I’m perfectly happy to spend my entire seasons clothing budget on one piece of Gold Label I know most of your aren’t! Having said that I do have a hell of a lot of Westwood and I’m no millionaire so how do I do it?

 This is a topic I’ve covered before ‘How to Buy Designer clothes at High Street Prices‘, so in this post I am just going to focus on Vivienne Westwood but the tips do apply to other designers. Conveniently this outfit demonstrates my top tips.

1. Store sale – Blouse RRP £215 reduced to £79

If you get familiar with how your favourite stores work their sales, you can start to make educated guesses about what will be left when it comes to the sale and what reductions will be given and when. Most stores start the sale with 30-40% reductions and can go down to anything from 65-90%. With Westwood the sale starts at 30% and goes down to 65% so it is always worth keeping your eye on things. That said if there is something you can’t live without you best get your butt in the queue on the first day of sale or risk it not being there a couple of weeks later. Averages sizes will sell out faster too, so you are more likely to find size 3 and 7 shoes left in the sale over size 5 and 6. Also accessories sell out faster than clothing, so if you are debating over a bag and a shirt I’d always get the bag first. Also learn which items are classic and which are seasonal, with Westwood the Gold Label shoes for example never go on sale.

If you sign up for the website newsletter and follow on Facebook you also get special codes for extra discounts  – usually an extra 10% off during the first week of the sale and invited to the Warehouse sale when they hold one.

2. Outlet stores – Blazer RRP £410 reduced to £49.99

Everyone who follows me on Twitter and Facebook will have already seen me share photo’s when I spot a great designer bargain. I always keep my eye on the game, even my route to work now involves cutting through TK Maxx so I can check for new arrivals which they get in everyday. TK Maxx recently got in a large load of AW11 Anglomania and a stash of really old Red Label, hell you could even call it vintage. So you never know what their buyers will find. To save you rummaging time the big designers TK Maxx stocks will be under the ‘Gold Label VIP’ section, but do check the other rails as Calvin Klien, Farhi by Nicole Farhi and Clements Ribero are found there.  Other outlet stores include Bicester Village and Cheshire Oaks to name just a few. Bicester Village has a dedicated Westwood store but I haven’t visited it myself. The only thing to be wary of with outlets is that sometimes the price can be more expensive than the store sale as the outlet has to make a profit. On the other hand outlets get stock from all over the world so they may stock pieces you have never even seen before, they also aren’t limited to the previous season for sale items, so worth stalking if you want to go back further into the archives. You can find out if your local TK Maxx stocks the Gold Label VIP collection by checking the departments listed on the store locator.

There are also websites which work in a similar manner such as Yoox and The Outnet. Member only websites such as Cocosa get’s different designers in for limited time periods. All these stock Vivienne Westwood.

3. Consignment store – Shorts RRP £260 reduced to £67.50 (were £75 – 10% special discount)

Another shop I go on about all the time is Elite, a designer consignment store / dress agency in Manchester and a branch in Altrincham. This is the one I go to as it’s local, but do check your own areas for ones nearby. Consignment stores sell on items which people no longer want, sharing a cut of the proceeds with the client. I’ve found loads of bargains in these stores and Elite always have some Westwood in there. Elite also have an online store and post new item on their facebook page. They also have special event evenings where you can sometimes get money off as I did with these. Don’t be put off if you aren’t keen on second hand clothes, many things like these shorts are brand new with the tags – I’m sure we have all bough something and never worn it!

There is also the online Consignment sites such as Vestiaire Collective which stocks a wide range of designers including Westwood. The great thing about this site is that the items are independently authenticated so there isn’t the risk of ending up with a fake like with eBay. You can also keep your eye out whilst shopping vintage stores and charity shops.

4. eBay – Shoes RRP £330 reduced to £85 (plus £4 p&p)

EBay, eBay, eBay where can I start. There is no way I can express my love for eBay, I check it every single day so I know everything Westwood that is on there at any one time! Yeah it is obsessive but if you want to be on top of the game you have to show a bit of dedication. To make it easier you can save searches and have new items emailed to you. I have a couple of previous posts about eBay ‘How to Find, Buy and Sell Vintage and Designer‘ and ‘How to sell stuff and make mega bucks: Guide for Carboots, EBay and Etsy‘ which are full of tips but the basic rule is you have to put some effort into searching regularly to get the good stuff. You also have to beware of fakes on eBay and Etsy my free eBook ‘Guide to spotting Counterfeits‘ has tips on this. One thing I do have to stress about eBay is the huge number of fakes, Westwood don’t have someone working with the sites VeRo program so there is nobody to regulate it. The worst is the jewellery 99% of it on eBay is fake, then there are many pairs of fake Pirate boots and Melissa shoes, some basic knits and t-shirts too so be careful.

You can also check Gum Tree, but again there is the risk of it being fake so beware.

Total RRP =  £1,215

Total Cost = £281.49

Total SAVED = £933.51

Now that’s good fashion sense! Do you have any tips to share? What was your best bargain buy?

Outfit: Double Stripes

(Wearing: F&F striped top and pencil skirt*, vintage necklace and belt, Primark socks, LK Bennett shoes from TK Maxx, nail color Chanel ‘Sky line’)

This is what I wore to go check out the new F21 store yesterday at the Trafford Centre. You may have seen on other posts that I also have this skirt in red and the top in pink, what can I say I like stripes, a lot! It is just nice to have easy to wear basics which you can throw on. I admit I have an attraction to beautiful things and beautiful clothes are often very high maintenance. Half my wardrobe is dry clean only or impossible to iron without an industrial steamer. I am forever sewing back on stray sequins and a lost button causes all out panic. Most of my clothes are really not suitable for my life but who cares so long as they are fun to wear!

I’m not prissy about my cloths, I don’t see the point having them if you are to scared to wear them, but when I buy something I buy it to last.I always look for quality be it a designer, vintage or high street buy. These two garments have me right at opposing edges of the quality spectrum. The top is fantastic fabric it hangs nicely, it has fancy buttons and even better you can chuck it in the washer. The skirt on the other hand is a total let down. The same thing happened with my red one too, after the first wear of only a few hours the fabric bobbled and the printed stripes began to fade. This quite frankly makes me really angry because I would have worn the skirts often and it is such a waste. A waste of money, a waste of all the production that went into making it, sigh. I will try hand washing this one and see if it fares better than the red one going through the machine. I guess that really is the gamble we make when buying so called ‘fast fashion’, we have no guarantee what it will be like. I have things I’ve bought from the high street last for years and other fall to pieces, so it always makes me wonder why we cant have more of the former and less of the latter?

Trends: The Summer Dress

Feeling the sand between your toes, flipping the pages of a well thumbed novel, sipping a tropical cocktail all your daydreaming realised as you finally get away for the summer…

…or not? Sure summer holidays are great but they are soon over or none existent for some of us. So for those of us spending summer in the city, we may as well focus our attention on other things, sartorial things perhaps? That is the great thing about fashion, it can transport you to any place in the world, during any time period be it a blast to the past or even into the future should you desire. For those of you who take pleasure in nostalgia, a 70′s geometrical print will be right up your street. Don’t let long sleeves put you off, in fact dresses with sheer or light weight fabric sleeves are a great alternative to a cover up. The past not your thing? Then shoot into the future with the Sports-Luxe trend. Think monochrome and straight lines, for a sleek silhouette. If it is far off destinations you are longing for then why not take a trip down the less beaten path. Think embellishment, beading, bright colours and chaotic prints with a Tribal edge. Less adventure more exotic your thing? Then go for turquoise and sea-green’s with over sized, abstract flowers, you will soon  feel like a Hawaiian girl.

All the beautiful dresses featured here can be found at Matalan.co.uk, where everything is budget friendly. You will find all the trends from summer dresses, party dresses, maxi dress and knitted dresses, you name it they have it! I also found a lovely selection of shoes and jewellery too, should you not want to stop at just one new season wardrobe update! In fact I just bought a few things from their home wear section, promise to share once my bedroom make-over is complete.

Outfit: Metallic and Floral An Interesting Union

Vila Printed trousers, Vero Moda metallic knit jumper, Clare Shoes, crystal necklace all Fashion Union, clutch bag vintage, assorted bracelets.

As you know I don’t really like shopping on the High Street. Why? Well I often find the quality poor and over priced. Lately however my head has been turned back in that direction. Not fast fashion, but genuine good quality clothes without the hefty designer price tag. I am also a bit of a shopping snob, I admit it! I can’t stand going into a store with people pushing and shoving, queuing to use a fitting room with chewing gum stuck all over the curtain and dust on the floor. I won’t name and shame such stores but I am sure you know what I mean. I love hunting out a bargain as much as the next girl but I want to enjoy that experience not come out of the shop empty handed and in a hot mess.

Shop online then, that is surely the answer right? Well yes, in a way but so many online shops are hard to navigate, don’t have accurate photos blah, blah, blah. Then you can never find a full outfit on one site, plus who wants to be head to toe in one brand, you end up with ten pages open trying to compare stuff… So when I was asked by Fashion Union if I would like to check out their wares I was intrigued. An online store packed with the latest trends from a number of brands and the promise to keep prices low so you have change for cocktails – it sounded right up my street!

I had a good look around the site, well stocked but not with too much choice that it is overwhelming. If you follow me on Twitter (@pearlwestwood) you will know this season I am all about the metallic’s  and printed trousers to add to my faithful staples heels and a statement necklace. I found tons of things I liked and it was nice to see different takes on the trends than what you would see in the shops. The prices ranged from the seriously cheap to the mid-range, the jumper I am wearing was £42, trousers £35, necklace £15 and the shoes just £12 on sale from £20! I really didn’t know what to expect so was seriously excited to rip open the parcel. What is my favorite thing? I can’t decide LOL! I don’t say this often but I was blown away with the quality of the necklace and jumper. The necklace is heavy crystal beads entwined with velvet ribbon, as you can see it catches the light and sparkles beautifully. The jumper is a cotton mix with a painted effect silver coating so it looks a bit like chain mail. It is so soft and comfortable to wear I haven’t had it off my back since I got it, worn with skirts and jeans a real versatile piece. The trousers too are really nice, a good weight fabric which doesn’t cling like some satin-like materials can. The print is unusual, I haven’t seen anything similar elsewhere and I think it is one which will easily transits into next season, they also come in blue. The shoes I will be honest about. For £20 I wasn’t expecting a pair of Louboutin’s, I was expecting something cheap and fun which is exactly what I got. The elastic front is as good as any higher priced comparison and the backs are faux leather. That said for the price they are a great pair of shoes, I will happily wear them during the summer, for cheap shoes they are comfy too with soft soles and a stretchy front which moulds to your foot. All in all everything I ordered was exactly as expected and in some cases even better! The sizes were all spot on – something of a miracle these days ordering online.

Discovering new websites and being able to share them with honest reviews really makes me realise what a fantastic position I am in sometimes.  I don’t often do reviews like this but I really feel I have found a gem in Fashion Union! I already have my eye on this cheerful sunshine yellow heels and cool maroon faux-fur coat – don’t laugh we just got snow warnings for next week up North!

I would love to know what you think of the pieces and if you have shopped with Fashion Union yourself?

Review: Baby Blue Topaz Ring

I thought I would have some fun with these photos and what better to set off a beautiful ring than a fabulous manicure. This fabulous piece of jewellery was kindly set to me by Gembid who have a fantastic range of jewellery with something to fit everyone’s budget. I had a hard time choosing from all the wonderful pieces but as soon as I saw this huge baby blue topaz ring. I knew it was the one. In solid silver with a rhodium coating – this gives a mirror finish and rhodium is one of the hardest metals making it stronger, perfect as I will be wearing this a lot. The ring is exceptional quality, the stone crystal clear and the most striking colour. I have never bought jewellery online before but I would really be encourage too now, especially when the prices are half that of high street jewellers.

How to Wear: That Little Black Dress

 

No matter what your budget a little black dress is the perfect answer for the party season. A timeless frock which can be dressed up or down easily with accessories means you can stop worrying about what to wear and enjoy the party!

Outfit One – Budget: Lace dress £59.99, studded ankle boots £19.99 ( RRP £50), jewelled clutch bag £9.99.

Outfit Two – Blow Out: Beaded shoulder dress £149.99 (RRP  £740), snakeskin effect shoes £59.99 (RRP £150), oversize clutch bag £249.99 (RRP £885).

All from TK Maxx where you can find your own little black dress!

No Bangers Allowed: Vix and Pearl v’s Gok Wan

I am sure you are aware of a certain TV show called Gok’s Clothes Roadshow. I am not all that sure why I even watch it. Gok is a likable enough chap, he is friendly and gives woman back their confidence, which of course is great. But I have two really big issues with Gok, firstly his demonic use of belts. Why, why, why would anyone belt an empire-line???? Secondly he wastes money. This series he sets two outfits for each trend, one with a £250 budget and one with a £50 budget. All very well, but what grates with me is his promotion of fast-fashion. Heading down the high street to Primark to spend £50 on a fashion look, then off to somewhere slightly more expensive such as River Island to slam down £250 for the same look. At the end of the show both looks are paraded down the runway for the gathered crowds to vote if they like the cheaper or more expensive look. I never like either because they always look really cheap and terribly over styled. Of course the crowd 9/10 times votes for the cheaper look, so we can all celebrate the fact we can go down to Asda and buy as many £10 frocks as we please.

Even if I don’t start ranting about how these garments were produced by underpaid workers, the fact is that the quality is so bad they wont last you over a month. But of course this is what the wheel of fast fashion wants. Together with the glossy magazines the fashion wheel keeps turning making you think you need a new look each week, a new trend to fulfill. What Gok’s show totally misses is the fact that you don’t need to buy new stuff every week and you don’t need to start gluing crap to your old clothes to make them ‘on trend’, all you need is some good styling. As for the budgets well I don’t really agree with going out and buying a full outfit, I prefer to collect pieces I know will work along side my other clothes. That way I can focus my budget on a well made, classic piece that will last for years not just one season.

So, after another headed Twitter debate during the show the fabulous ‘Vintage Vixen’ Vix and I decide to put our money where our mouths were. We will each recreate the four trends featured in Gok’s latest show from our own wardrobes, Vix with the £50 budget and me with the £250. Here goes:

Leather

Wearing: Vivienne Westwood shirt £70 on sale, leather trousers £5 eBay, Day Birger leather necklace a gift but approx £50.

As I have a rotten case of the flu I decide to have a look through past outfit photo’s to see what I could use. At first this was to spare you awful photos of me with a big red nose, but as I started searching I realised that by using past photos I was actually proving a very good point. That all the new trends aren’t all that new at all and most of us have the pieces already in our wardrobes we probably just never felt the need to label them as a look before!

So all my photos have been on the blog before some as far back as three years ago! You can tell this is an old one as I look really thin, I don’t think these pants fasten at the moment! Anyway the ‘Leather’ trend Gok chose a faux leather dress, I don’t want to think how sweaty that would be to wear, and I really don’t think I could pull one off. I know Vix could, wonder if she wears one?? Leather trousers on the other hand are fab, they are a wardrobe staple of mine through winter. This pair are real leather but I also have a faux leather pair of leggings from Topshop which are rally comfy too.

I also want to point out leather necklace, a really great way to take on a trend is to wear a simple accessory such as jewellery. You might have noticed I didn’t include the bag and shoes in the outfit description, well that is because they go over budget, so I want to raise you these two bargains instead. This is my own clutch, it is real leather a lovely vintage find for only £5. I also have to hold my hands up in the case of shoe snobbery, I don’t really own many pairs of cheap shoes mainly due to the fact I cant find any high street shoes to fit me properly having wide feet, being a half size and having inflammatory arthritis in them. But if I wasn’t such a pain I would totally love to wear these heeled loafers £65 from Topshop.

TOTAL – £195

Winter Brights

Wearing: Vintage dress eBay approx. £9, tights Primark £2, Fendi shoes via eBay £17.50, vintage necklace eBay £10, I want to trade this clutch for the vintage one above again.

The idea for summer brights to me is to wear a vibrant colour you would usually reserve for summer such as orange or yellow. Gok’s outfits were both orange party outfits I think – having trouble remembering, maybe it was mental blocking?? But I think most people actually want to wear their outfits during the day too so this shift dress is perfect as it can easily be dressed up or down. I really like to contrast colours so the grey tights were a must, and they will keep me warm! This outfit is a total bargain so I totally earned some expensive shoe saving points!

TOTAL – £43.50

Evening

Wearing: vintage leopard dress £20 thrifted, sequins shoes New Look sale £10, vintage clutch £5 thrifted

This was a hard one for me as Gok used flowing evening gowns, not something I have a call for in my life! Neither do I feel comfortable trussed up like a turkey so even when I do go out for the evening I tend to wear the same clothes I would wear during the day. An easy option for me is a frock and a pair of statement heels. This was actually a photo for when I was selling some vintage items but it is a great look, with a slight nod to the 1940′s I think. I love these shoes they are proper Dorothy shoes but I can’t wear them for long as they are a bit big and really not at all comfy for me. A simple wrap dress is a great option too, really easy to wear and I simply adore a splash of leo print! Oh dear this one is too cheap too!!

TOTAL – £35

Pleats

Wearing: Primark top £8, vintage skirt eBay 99p, clutch bag Primark £8, vintage necklace eBay about £8, Pierre Hardy shoes on sale £100ish.

I love this look, it is so cheerful and it also goes to show that you can wear pleats and not have to do the prim and proper secretary look which dominate the magazines and Gok’s show.

TOTAL – £124.99

Well I am really disappointed in how cheap some of my outfits are ha ha! But of course as I said they were put together from things I had in my closet that I wanted to wear, I didn’t set out to wear a trend. I do love a bargain as much as anyone else and always trawl eBay and vintage shops. But I also love to save up for a beautiful investment piece, my brown Fendi clutch in the first two looks was bought A/W 2007 which I sat up and waited until midnight for it to go on sale in Net-A-Porter for a 30% discount it cost £350 and on cost per wear has more than paid for itself. Same goes for the brown court shoes in the first look, they are Vivienne Westwood and cost £200 when I bought them, they have now gone up to £365 shows how long I have had them for! They are the only shoes which I find fit me perfectly and are so comfy I can wear them all day and night. I would much rather have one pair of these shoes than twenty high street pairs. Quality lasts.

On a final note Gok mentioned a huge pile of pairs of Primark shoes you could get for £160, well here is something for you. A pair of Vivienne Westwood platform riding boots for the same price on sale. Good things come to those who wait!

What do you think, did I do better than Gok?

Now go check out Vix’s post!

Styling This Seasons Trends With TK Maxx

Early in September I went to the TK Maxx press day to see what they had for the coming season. Whilst in London over Fashion Week I called into the Kensington High Street branch to see for myself if what they had promised was on offer. It was, in abundance!

Here I styled two looks around the trends featured during the press day: Country Heritage and Party Wear. (You can read the press day coverage here and here). TK Maxx has a fantastic range of this season key pieces, with deliveries being made every day there is always something new to see. I call into my local branch every time I am in town to check I am not missing out on any bargains. You need to view shopping in store similar to vintage shopping. Have a good look at everything, take you time, try things on and the real gems will soon reveal themselves. If you haven’t got a local store or aren’t the rummaging kind then you can now shop online too.

Country Heritage

Many elements of the heritage trend are very easy to wear from moss coloured knits to tweed skirts. Cocoon yourself in complimentary layers for a chic yet warm look. Dress up a simple outfit of jeans and sweater with a wax jacket and statement ankle boot.

Party Dresses

With Christmas and New Year fast approaching it is time to bag yourself the hottest party dress. Out smart your friends by turning up in something unique – don’t you hate it when every girl in the party is in the same ‘must-have’ High Street frock. With TK Maxx offering a vast range of limited designs no 0ne is going to outshine you. From wine colours to glittery details, neon flashes and sequins the options are endless, just don’t forget your heels.

Click for full size


Click the thumbnails for full size images or check out the entire album on my Facebook page

Look 1: Dress RRP £2280 TK Maxx price £599.99, cardigan RRP £1220 TK Maxx price £199.99, boots RRP £304 TK Maxx price£105

Look 2: Dress RRP £3060 TK Maxx price£199.99, shoes RRP £418 TK Maxx price£99.99

All items from TK Maxx designer Gold Label section

Styling by Pearl Westwood

Photography by Florrie Clarke

So what do you think were you surprised you could score runway looks from TK Maxx or have you been stalking the rails for years? Which trend is your favourite for Autumn / Winter?