Wearing a Red Dress to a Wedding

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Red is one of my favourite colours, in fact my red dress is one of my absolute favourite pieces. However when I mentioned to a friend that I was going to wear it to a wedding I was met with a gasp of outrage! Besides wearing white – obviously a big no, no, it seems red and black are somewhat frowned upon for wedding guests. Red seen as too sexy, black too morbid. I can’t agree with this at all, I think red is such a cheerful colour and there isn’t a happier occasion than a wedding. The trick is to make the colour more friendly with the right accessories, I wouldn’t say wear a little red dress with back seem stockings and black stilettos for the occasion. Rather I would ‘pretty it up’ using so summery and laid back pieces. To illustrate I chose this stunning red dress from Zac Posen it has such a beautiful cut with a fitted bodice and full skirt. The Calvin Klein Collection shoes instantly give it a more day time and summery look, the colours breaking up the block of red. Adding a bold statement necklace takes eyes away from the cleavage and ads another colour contrast, this one is from Rosantica. I chose a simple and classic black and white clutch from Lena Erziak which ties in with the shoes. As I am not really one for a facinator and up-do, I thought this unique ear cuff from Husamel Odeh would look amazing, shown off with hair tucked behind the ear. The jacket was an easy choice for me, I don’t think you can beat a biker for throwing on with absolutely anything, yes even evening dresses. This luxe Wunderkind snake print makes the perfect update. Very wearable red indeed!

All images Avenue32.com *Commissioned post

Spring Wish List

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Spring is in the air, all be it amongst the snow, but that doesn’t stop us lusting after warmer climates and lovely new things to wear. I have a stash of bright 80′s vintage dresses which are my summer staples. I can dress them up for work with a blazer or down with a leather jacket but I do like some nice new baubles to make them feel fresh each year. I think my key piece would be a watch, a nice big, statement watch. Definitely influence by Victoria Beckham who always has a beautiful chunky metal strap watch. This Chronograph watch from Swatch caught my eye with it’s lovely brushed gold finish and crystal studded face. It is nice that the fun brand of my youth now offers some seriously grown up stylish pieces. Did you have a Pop-Swatch? For the uninitiated they were a 90′s trend where the watch face popped out so you could swap it with your friends or remove the strap and clip it onto your school jumper, so cool!

I found the watch on the John Lewis website and was surprised at how much they had to offer. I admit it is more of a shop I go to for kitchen utensils but they have some amazing things on offer. Most notably is their vintage jewellery section which draws together collections from Susan Caplan, Eclectica and Alice Joseph to offer designer costume jewellery from the 50s-90s. It isn’t cheap, the stunning Eclectica 80s necklace above is £395 and the Alice Joseph 90s Valentino earrings £126.50, however you are guaranteed authenticity and mint condition. I really want to start investing more in my jewellery collection, I self confess a love for cheap tat, so it would be nice to have some classic pieces.

My other key items are heels and a clutch bag, there is nothing easier for me to pull an outfit together. As you know I don’t do flats unless absolutely forced so my summer sandals would be heels too. These Vera Wang ‘Hinda’ tick all the boxes, nice high but manageable heel and whilst a neutral the tan, white and black mix keep it interesting. They would also be just as fabulous with trousers as with dresses, maybe even shorts if we get super lucky with the weather.  You can’t beat Lulu Guinness for a quirky bag and this ‘Dial M for Murder’ clutch is perfect for a bit of fun.

Finally no new season look is complete for me without some new make-up. I am still loving Bobbi Brown and picked up lots of tips backstage during London fashion week – more of that to come soon. What did prove popular were the new Long-Wear Cream Shadow Sticks, super easy to use as an eye liner or smudge up for a smokey eye.

What’s on your Spring / Summer wish list?

Commissioned post

Should Engagement Rings be a Fashion Statement?

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As we move into the Spring and Summer months the wedding invites start to appear, perhaps you are even planning your own big day? I usually write something about current trends for wedding guest outfits however this year it is the engagement rings which are in focus. I think we can all say it is thanks to the Royal Wedding which has sparked such media interest in the topic and the hundreds of ‘”Princess” Catherine style’ engagement rings cropping up. There was much speculation as to why Prince William choose to give Catherine Princess Diana’s ring some saying it would be bad luck, William just wanting a lasting symbol of his dear mother. Whatever the reason it has caused a shift in engagement ring trends. For the past couple of decades yellow gold and gemstone rings have taken a back seat whilst white gold and platinum diamond rings have taken center stage. Thanks to the crazy world of Hollywood and WAGs huge, gobstopper rings have been all the rage. Ever on the hunt to out do each other the celebs have also created a trend for colour diamonds, JLO and Mariah Carey opting for baby pink stones whilst Rebecca Romijin and Kelly Clarkson choose yellow diamonds, most famous of all Carrie Bradshaw’s black diamond. More recently there has been a shift back to subtler engagement rings, Scarlet Johansson and Claire Danes both choosing traditional smaller stones with yellow gold bands. Halle Berry broke all the rules and went for a very modern emerald design. The main thing to remember is that this ring will be worn for the rest of your life, so choose one which suits your own style and tastes.

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There are some key facts to help you choose the right  ring for you. Samara James, a diamond engagement rings specialist lists the four C’s rule – cut, clarity, colour and carat. The first part of the diamond grading process is carat – where the stone is cleaned then weighed to calculate the size. Next a gemologist will grade the diamond by colour, this is done by comparison to a master set of diamonds. The highest is grade D which is total clarity and colourless, and the lowest Z. Next is to assess clarity, this is a microscopic assessment of the inclusions within the diamond. The final stage is the cut, where the diamond is scanned by laser and each facet recorded, this gives the idea recommendation for the best way to cut each stone. The cut is very important as a diamond which has better angles and proportions will have noticeably superior amounts of brilliance – the proportion of light reflected, scintillation – how the light reflects to give sparkle, and fire – how the light refracts to create colours within the diamond. Each diamond could be cut to it’s perfect state of beauty however in some cases a large stone would have to be cut down very small which would effect the size of the diamond or yield. Therefore bear in mind the four C’s when choosing as you may find the more beautiful diamond is smaller or may choose to have a larger stone with less facets – it really is personal choice. When choosing your ring Samara James recommends:

“We would always recommend choosing the best proportioned diamond possible, even it means reducing the colour and the clarity of the diamond to keep within budget. This is because the perfectly cut diamond will have visibly more brilliance, fire and scintillation than a less well cut diamond.” If you haven’t seen Samara James, they have a wonderful range of diamond rings, with some very unusual and also classic designs.

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(Images credit: smh.com.uk, vh1.com, fancywedding.wordpress.com)

Sponsored Video: Schwarzkopf Ultra Brights Hair Dye

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This time last year I was reporting from London Fashion Week, by far the biggest trend was for dip-dyed hair. From natural colour contrasts, to bright blues and sweet pastel shades anything and everything was seen. I was tempted to try it myself but really hate going to the hair salon so I played around with clip-ins. I have to say the trend for coloured hair isn’t going away but getting ever more popular, with celebrities like Rhianna and Nicky Minaj jumping on board. Taking the style one step further is to dip-dye with more than one colour, creating a rainbow effect. You can use complementary shades such as green and blue or lilac and pink; or contrast with bright orange and lime green. There are also lots of fantastic styles you can try out, pinning up a section or plating the hair so the colours are show off even more.

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Schwarzkopf have designed a really easy to use set of custom hair dyes and training videos to go with them. The video below shows how to get the dip-dye look but there are also ones showing how to do pastel colours, a full colour and streaks. The Schwarzkopf LIVEFacebook Page has tons of tips (try back-combing your hair a bit first to get a more even fade) and inspirational photos, well worth checking out. It has really got me longing for a rainbow mane.

(Sponsored by Schwarzkopf)

Trends: New Fashion Accessory the iPhone

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I don’t know about you but I’ve really noticed how people are using their iPhones as a an accessory. They now rival clutch bags, bracelets and rings as the hand accessory of choice. I’ve seen some amazing street style shots of the fash-pack all matching their phones to their outfits. The bunny ears cases seem to be really popular. I was due an upgrade in November and had my mind set on upgrading to an iPhone 5, even went into phones4u to get it. But didn’t. I love the iPhones but I’ve had a Blackberry for two years and I’m now scared I will choose the wrong phone! What if I can’t cope with having no buttons, I know I would get used to I’ve had touch screens before but I do really like the BB keypad. I do feel like I am missing out on all the cool iPhone app’s especially Instagram. I had a borrow of my mums iPhone and was really taken in with all the apps, you never can tell until you use it yourself though. I can imagine sending emails with a touch pad being quite slow. The BB Bold looks quite good and it is half buttons half touch screen. Hmm I don’t know, there will probably be a new phone out before I decide!

For everyone already with an iPhone you have to admit there are so many amazing covers and cases out there. The pink one above which is like a mini handbag is incredible. I’ve also seen wacky ones with everything from bottle openers to photo’s of ears!

What phone do you use?

(Credits: Vogue.com, Gastrochic.com, StockholmStreetStyle.com)

Man Wisdom: Finding the Right Jeans

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I remember when my brother first discovered what a difference wearing the correct fit jeans could make. He’s never been a fan of shopping for himself and I usually buy his clothes for him (someone marry his please). He asked me one day to pick him up a new pair of jeans to go with a smart blazer and boots outfit, I took his measurements and found a pair whilst out shopping. At first he was horrified, they weren’t the usual great big baggy, underpants exposing kind he usually wore. With a lot of protesting I forced him to try them on with the blazer and boots, it was to go to a posh meal so I said he couldn’t go with his butt hanging out. ‘Oh’, he said, ‘don’t they make my legs look longer’. I said yes that will be because you crotch and hips are in the correct place not half way down your legs! He said he had always worn his jeans baggy because if they weren’t pulled down they were too short. He had a point he’s well over 6ft.

I had to explain about the concept of jeans and other clothing for big and taller men, such as the jeans for tall men at Big Dude Clothing. Larger men stores don’t only have a range of lengths but also a range of waist sizes – no need to tuck you belly over the waist band! A recent trend I have noticed is the popularity for wearing jeans longer than you really need so they can be scrunched up at the ankle, this looks great with skinny jeans. Also having a turn up on jeans to show a flash of bright socks looks cool too. If you don’t want to go for traditional jeans then you could try a chino trouser which give the same smart-casual look. There is no real rule as to what is the correct length of jeans, it really is up to how you feel comfortable and what style you want. But don’t settle for something you don’t want because you think ‘it will do’ be sure to do your research and find out what is on offer.

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Christmas Gifts Made Easy

I have to say I am pretty much a last minute shopper. Unless I see something which would make the absolute perfect gift, I find myself sat a week before Christmas without any gifts, no cards wrote out and I haven’t even began to think about food. So here I am with presents still needed and a whole lack of desire to head out into town whilst it’s so busy. I bring to you the cheats guide to Christmas:

1. GiftGen – This is a cool little website which lets you enter gift requirements such as age, sex, price range and interests. Then it generates a list of suitable gifts. I think it is brilliant, especially when you have people you don’t know all that well such as distant relatives or partners family to buy for.

2. Christmas Shopping List app - There are tons of fun and useful Xmas apps to entertain yourself with such as the Santa Photo Booth. But one really useful app is the simple shopping list, which lets you keep score of who you have to buy for and your budget. Yes you could use a pen and paper or your memo but I’ve borrowed my mums iPad and I’m enjoying the novelty!

3. Gift Wrapping Services – Personally I really quite like wrapping gifts, but after the 5th pair of slippers it can become monotonous. So many stores these days from M&S to Amazon offer free gift wrapping which you may as well take advantage of to save you time and money.

4. Delivery – One thing I always fail on are the Xmas postage dates. Every year I totally forget and the people I won’t be seeing in person end up with their gift sometime in the new year. We don’t even have a post office in our town any more which is beyond inconvenient! Fear not Parcelforce is here to help. You can book online delivery where they even come and pick the parcels up from your house. Absolute lifesaver!!!

There you have it, easy peasy, leaving you more time for merry making.

Do you have any tips to share?

Mulberry Wishlist

This photo is from my blog, taken three years ago, how time flies! These pants and top are long gone, but the Mulberry clutch and scarf and still firm favourites in my wardrobe. I admit, I find the term ‘investment buy’ a bit of a cop out we use to justify blowing our budgets, but there is truth in it. I felt in love with this gorgeous raspberry clutch, with it’s gunmetal postman’s lock clasp. The burnt orange scarf complimenting it perfectly. They are easy pieces which I can wear with numerous vintage dresses or a simple shirt and trousers. I still get excited when I pull them out to wear and hope I will do for many years to come!

I think Mulberry has some gorgeous products, we have a lovely shop here in Manchester but the last time I went for a fondle was in Harrods whilst I was in London. They have a nice selection on the Harrods website too, above are my top picks. For a large, everyday bag I really like the Del Ray. The snakeskin is sumptuous and so versatile, I like the black but the greeny-gold would be top choice, it is so unusual.  I also like the fun side to the brand this season was all about big furry monsters, very Wild Things. Details like the quirky turtle clasps make such a unique touch, it is cute without loosing elegance. If I was going for another clutch I would choose the Clemmie. In the dusky pink it is such a modern bag, with a great shape too. It is the kind of colour which will modernise a winter wardrobe, imagine the ducky pink with berry’s and browns, so chic. Mulberry have even more fabulous scarves, so many patterns and styles to choose from. You know I am a big fan of an oversized scarf, I wear them all year round. This multicolour on really called out to me, as did the animal print ones especially the zebra.  The little friendship bracelets caught my eye too, these would make perfect stocking fillers (hint, hint). The pink with gold peace charm is my favourite, but they also have a key hole charm perfect for a loved one.

I really like to learn about how things are made, this little video shows the construction of a Del Ray bag, I thought it was fascinating.

Are you a Mulberry fan?

Trends: How to Stand Out this Party Season

I am starting to get excited about all the parties for Christmas and New Year’s now. But ever year there is the same problem, how do you make your party outfit stand out from the sea of little black dresses and sequins? One trend this season is to highlight the back, giving interest to your outfit without taking away from your dazzling smile. Stella McCartney has mastered this technique, subtly with the cut out detail ‘Exter Miracle’ dress and dramatically with the full tassel backed ‘George’ dress. Both striking yet classic LBD’s which you could dress up or down as you pleased. If you already have your perfect party dress, then you might want to brighten it up, the Alexander McQueen chiffon capes are a fabulous way to add impact to your outfit and also work as a light cover up. Shown here worn with blouse and trousers, they are also very versatile. There are plenty of jewel coloured shoes around, ruby, amethyst, emerald all perfect with black and gold dresses. If you fancy something different however, why not try a white shoe? With Spring / Summer collections becoming available even earlier this year you can buy now and wear well into spring. The Stella sling-blacks above would make equally fabulous party shoes as they would with a light dress in the summer.

Accessories are the simplest way to dress up an outfit and also easy to use when creating a day-to-night look for after work parties. A small clutch or bright bauble you can stash in your office draw. There are a multitude of power packing clutch bags on the scene right now, here from Alexander McQueen and Diane von Furstenburg. You could play out your own Cinderella fantasy with this charming clock face bag. Don’t be afraid to be bold with the jewels either, a nice gob-stopper cocktail ring or chandelier earring. This sweet bee from Delfina Delettrez is something a little more unusual to the average giant gem. Wearing a large necklace or layering up many thinner ones can create a cool feature and is as perfect for dressing up a party frock as it is an old t-shirt.

All items available from Matches Fashion

How will you be tackling the party season? Fancy any of these in your stocking?

My love of Panache Lingere

Is it just me or do all party dresses seem to create a problem for underwear? Why do they all seem to have these crazy straps and fabrics that make your regular bra super visible! Carrie Bradshaw might have been able to pull of the bra on show look but it isn’t for me, so I have the festive joy of having to find a bra to match my dress. I hate shopping for undies, hate it. I find it so boring and so annoying trying things on, so what I usually do is once I know the size I need from a brand I just stock up online. My fancy pants come from Agent Provocateur but my every day brand is Panache. The Moulded T-shirt bra is my favourite bra ever, it is so comfy and you can wear it under pretty much everything without having to worry about it. It comes in standard black, white and beige, what more could a girl need. Well going back to the party dress bra situation I can’t tell you how made up I was to discover the Panache porcelain bra range has been extended. There is now a Strapless bra and a Plunge bra in the collection. With the addition of the Viva to offer the bra in a different fabric and with more colour options. This has made me very happy indeed. I have been taking a look around their website and discovered they also do this fun range called the Cleo which you can see here – as much as I am partial to a plain bra they don’t make for an exciting blog post! The Cleo range however comes in all sorts of colours and styles, I really liked the cute candy shoot. What I noticed even about the fancier ranges is that they all have the same classic fit, designed for comfort. I am feeling tempted to stray from my basics. Whether I can cope with the pressure of having to match my undies every day is anther story.

Do you wear Panache? What’s you favourite lingerie brand?