Scouting for Bargains

So, you want designer chic without that eye-watering, gut-wrenching behemoth of a credit card bill flopping onto your doormat come the month’s end like an A5 bête noire mailed direct from the festering bowels of Hell? Welcome to my world where the pinched penny is King: it’s time to get down to some hardcore worship at the shrine of fast fashion (leave your petty prejudices at the door people…label-phobia is so noughties).

Lets talk sugary-sweet Sunday Best in cotton candy pinks and powder puff blue a la Christopher Kane’s gingham girlies…

Christopher Kane s/s 2010

New Look’s lookalikey: fifties-bustier, over sized check…softly, softly pastel-pink…£20

Lipsy: check halterneck £50 (love the button detailing – totally kawaii!)

Miss Selfridge’s red version £35 (for those out of love with muted hint-of-a-shade pastels)

Ways to Wear…

Think fifties pin-up meets Lolita on a lazy day in the country and look for straw hats (wide-brimmed or classic boaters are the most versatile trend-wise), oversized gingham checks and prissy retro cuts…if you want to take it super saccharine a pair of heart-shaped sunnies is a must

ASOS: straw Boater with coral band £15

Toughen-up with a biker jacket and stacked heels for a punky twist. Style-savvy shoppers should look out for a/w’s ankle boot cannily ventilated for s/s with peep-toes and sexy cut-aways…did I mention they’re set to be hot for a/w 2010 too? (As is the sock-sandal combo – good news for toes on those chilly autumn eves!)

Office: Morse Zip Bootee £40

Or why not rework the look adding faded denim micro shorts, tan leather accessories and a pair of prairie scuffed boots to gingham and lace and nail the urban cowgirl trend Daisy Duke style.

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It’s time to kick up a shoe storm – sports stylee!

Balenciaga s/s 2010

Alexander Wang s/s 2010

With the likes of Balenciaga, Alexander Wang and Loewe proving that gym wear can be über glam (and with my shoe cupboard crying out for fresh blood) I have turned my attention to footwear. A simple way to ease oneself into the urban sports trend, and to sate the insatiable hunger of the shoe beast – two birds, one stone. Genius? Could well be.

Office: Best Foot Forward in grey leather.

Ash: Thelma buckle wedge.

Schuh: Lois lattice court patent

These Lola Hush Puppies are simply fabulous – sport-chic with a retro twist: very cute and very me. (In fact I’ve just ordered them in black – the girlish gingham swung it for me; that and the fact that I like my wardrobe to multi-task and these will satisfy me during one of my monochrome moments when I need something more casual than killer).

Designed by Laura Berry for the HP ‘Shoeperstar’ competition; they come in black (gingham trim) and purple (trimmed with cute-as-a-button florals) and are supposedly kind to feet – Give me 5 working days and I’ll be sure to let you know!

New Look: mesh sandals

Schuh: Roche perforated lace-ups

The key with this trend seems to be structure – strong with a masculine edge – head for mesh, straps and cut-aways and work with sleek and minimal styling; think skater-meets-mod a la Proenza Schouler or Wang-eqsue collegiate-chic, et voila! Sport-chic without the sweat.

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Nude: barefaced chic is this season’s must-have neutral

Rose-bud blush, peach, buff, ecru, biscuit, beige: be it shirts, shorts, shoes, bags – or anything else you can throw-on, slip-into or drape yourself in – nude is the buzz-word for spring. Seen everywhere, from flushed pinks at Fendi and Luella to soft creams and taupe at Isabel Marant and Chloe, even nails have been having a nude moment.

If, like the models over at Isabel Marant, you are lucky enough to come with a glowing tan as standard, rejoice! The neutral palette is your sartorial oyster – go forth, go beige, go greige, go and claim your place in the halls of new-nude infamy.

For those (like me) who have been blessed instead with a fairer complexion (pale and interesting is my preferred epithet) nude becomes slightly more tricky – but not impossible…and totally worth it!) Think English-rose or peaches and cream and head for the warmer end of the nude/neutral spectrum to avoid looking washed out.

How to wear?

A big feature in all the major s/s trends, work nudes with leather (tan works a treat for a neat daytime look), try statement black shoe-boots a la D&G for a tougher finish, or slip into utility with slouchy structure and neutral layers (as seen at Chloe). Or take on the trend in nude footwear – totally now and gives the illusion of longer legs (could you really ask for more?)

Tip: Layers and drapes are also ideal for disguising any pesky problem areas, they also make sheers less daunting (and takes them from X-rated bedroom-wear to a more street-friendly PG).

Here are a few of my favourite ‘high street nudes’…

Topshop

Mango

New Look