Monday, 31 October 2011

A Hairy Tale

Generally, I'm not a fan of going to the hairdressers. I'm uncomfortable with having my hair washed and scalp massaged by a stranger, the small talk about holidays is awkward, and, usually, despite having parted with a large lump of cash, you're not 100% happy with the outcome, either. I've recently been having my hair cut by my barber friend Steve, and the whole process is very wham, bam, thank you mam, which suits me perfectly. I do decide to change my cut and parting on a monthly basis, which means my hair has a load of random layers and lengths - this was my hair this morning, just to prove that point:

So, when I was asked by Jonny of Trevor Sorbie last week to be a hair model, I was initially a little nervous. A free haircut, you say? What's the catch? Am I going to leave bald, or maybe with some random pixie cut? 

Turns out my fears were totally unfounded. Jonny has seven years of hairdressing experience, but has recently been employed by Trevor Sorbie, and needs to give a haircut to ten models a day for six weeks to pass the trial period. TEN a day! I think my arms would have fallen off by number three. 

The whole experience was fantastic and totally chilled. After a quick consultation and a hair wash, my hair was chopped into pretty much the most perfect cut I've ever had. My layers are luxe, the length lovely, and even my colour looks more cracking than before! The banter flowed and there were absolutely no awkward conversations about holidays or whether I'd watched Corrie that week. I'd definitely recommend Jonny, and I am going to save up and make the visit every couple of months. The anti-hairdresser has been converted!

If you'd like a haircut at Trevor Sorbie in Manchester (for free, with no catch at all, I promise!) drop me a comment with your email address and I'll send over the number.

Much better, no?!

Today's lazy outfit consisted of a H&M knit, charity shop blouse, Zara skirt, Asos monk creepers, and my dad's paisley tie. 

I've gotten into rings in a big way lately, and these are two of my newest purchases: tribal ring from Primark, froggie ring from Topshop. Dalmatian nails courtesy of my shaky hands!

I have a preeeetty exciting competition coming up tomorrow, so stay tuned if you'd like something lovely to wear this party season. Until then, here's a gratuitous picture of a cat; hasn't he grown?!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Miista Magic

I was just doing my daily browse of the Topshop website, looking for some boots, when I must've scrolled a bit further down than I normally would and my eyes clapped on three pairs of amazing shoes.

Got your attention?! These babies are made by a brand called Miista, and are designed by Laura Villasenin in Hackney, East London. In the brand's own words, Miista "brings together seemingly opposites. Miista deliberately juxtaposes elements that would be at war without creative expertise". That sounds like a bit of bumpf to me; what I think is that they're bonkers good cybery, punky, industrial, and sporty shoes that could actually pass for quite normal worn with jeans and an oversized blazer, or could be really FASH styled with a directional dress and some Gaga-esque make-up.

I'm also a massive fan of neoprene used in shoes and clothing, so I would happily stomp about all winter in the last pair! Whatever your opinion on the style of these babies, there's no denying that the quality looks top-notch and the leather looks buttery soft whilst still being hard-wearing. Buy through the Topshop website, or take a look at the where to buy page on the Miista website - my nearest stockist is Moo Boutique in Stockport.

Apologies for two shoe posts in a row; maybe I should coin today Shoe Sunday! Back to regular scheduled programming tomorrow.

Nearly forgot to Surface To Air...

I'm pretty good at finding serious fashion bargains: Terry de Havilland metallic snake wedges for £80, a Lanvin ♥ H&M tulle confection of a dress in a charity shop, and a leather Oasis dress for £15 in the outlet store, but I think this one may take the biscuit.

I've been lusting after Surface To Air shoes for many seasons now, starting with the strappy wedge all the editors & bloggers were seen wearing. Imagine my excitement to find a pair of canvas & leather Surface To Air wedges in Urban Outfitters for £20, down from £258! I quickly grabbed them and held them tight against my chest, until they were fully paid for.


What's your best fashion bargain find?

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A Fashion Dotty Guide to Manchester

I was recently emailed by one of my followers, who was visiting Manchester, asking for a guide to the city. As I was typing a reply, I realised I knew more about my city than I thought! I've been a visitor for the past ten years, and lived here since May, so I thought I'd share my knowledge with you all. Hopefully you'll discover something new, whether you've lived here your whole life or are a visitor.

Manchester is a vibrant, exciting city, and you will find it is very different to London. It's a lot smaller and the city centre is over a condensed area. If you're coming in by train, you'll most likely pull into Piccadilly Station. From here, it's most logical to hit the Northern Quarter first. Here, you'll find many independent shops, many with vintage or handmade goods. Spend an afternoon wandering around Tib Street, Thomas Street, and Oldham Street.

Curiouser & Curiouser is an absolute beauty of a shop, along Tib Street. The store houses many unique pieces, some quite dramatic, but all can easily be dressed up or down, with the addition of a vertiginous heel, or a denim jacket. A lot of work has been put into the visuals of this place, with inspiration being taken from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

My friend Jenna's favourite piece was this leopard bustier with attached pleated maxi skirt. I preferred the leather bustier and nude skirt option.

Downstairs is its sister shop, The Shoe Box. Here, hand-picked exclusive labels are displayed in gorgeous surroundings. After I'd been in, Corrie's Michelle Keegan bought the nude heels from the photo, and earlier in the week, Chloe Sevigny paid a visit..!

A little further along Tib Street, there's Kiku, a bespoke corset maker. Definitely useful to know this one, whether you're a budding fashion designer, or buying your wedding dress.

Ready for a brew already?! Take a breather at Home Sweet Home, on Edge Street. The ginger cake there is something else.

Okay, once your tea and cake has digested, it's time to tackle the city centre. Manchester has amazing high-street shopping, and although most of these shops you will find in your local town centre or online, I would say that the Topshop in the Arndale centre is definitely worth a visit. It's big, but not as big as the Oxford Street store, and has a varied selection of items, including things that are only available in flagship stores or online.

There are three main department stores - Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, and House of Fraser - and they are all worth a look in even if it's just to see the different brands and price points they carry. My personal favourite is Harvey Nichols. Their window displays are by far the best in Manchester (the biggest budget, perhaps?) and the average price-per-item in store is the highest, too! Go up to the second floor for fantastic in-store displays and amazingly beautiful clothing and accessories by Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Diane von Furstenberg, and many more.

Harvey Nichols is situated on New Cathedral Street, which houses some high-end flagship stores, such as Reiss, Ted Baker, and Burberry.

At the end of the street is Zara, which is my favourite high-street store in Manchester. The window displays are always interesting, and I love to wander around in my lunch hour, making a wish list in my head. So chic.

One of Manchester's best-kept secrets is Elite Dress Agency, down King Street West (next to House of Fraser). Unfortunately they had put their shutters down when I went to snap a picture, but rest assured they have an amazing selection of everything from Topshop to top names like Prada, all gently worn. There's a pair of Rodarte X Nicholas Kirkwood shoes in there right now that are breaking my heart - if they weren't three sizes too small I would've nabbed them long ago!

In the last stretch of our shopping trip, we head down to Manchester's new financial quarter, Spinningfields. The Avenue North has only opened this week, and has really cute illustrations, advertising it to prospective retailers. I'm excited to see who opens there! (I'd love it if someone could enlighten me as to who these illustrations are by)

In The Avenue, which is quite an established area now, you have more high-end flagships, like Flannels, Calvin Klein, Mulberry, and Kurt Geiger. Take a look at the awesome glass outer of the Armani shop.

And there we have it! You've pretty much toured all of the stores worth a look in Manchester. Do you have any favoured haunts of your own? Disagree with anything I've written? Write me a comment! Although fashion retail is my forté, I can also advise on eating & going-out, or know someone who can help. Enjoy your time in Manchester, and I hope you love the city as much as I do.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Red Hat No Knickers

I just plugged my SD card into the computer to write a blog post to find it had completely wiped itself. How, I don’t know. So the intended post will have to wait until I get more pictures.

In the meantime, I just wanted to let you all know about a new online vintage store that’s just opened called Red Hat No Knickers. Now, I’m not normally a fan of traditional vintage shops, as most places buy by weight from the rag man - meaning the bulk buy could be full of naff polyester shirts and ugly old-lady dresses. RHNK is carefully curated by passionate vintage lovers, who also focus on this season’s key trends.

Standout pieces include a mini pom-pom knit, an oversize Levi’s denim jacket, and a blue and white polka dot t-shirt - none of which would look out-of-place in this season’s Topshop collections. There’s also five full pages of dresses, so take a few moments out of your day to treat your eyes, and possibly your wardrobe. The price points are excellent, so your bank balance won’t mind, either!

All the girls are styled impeccably, and the website is simple and user-friendly. The site is updated frequently, so if nothing takes your fancy right now, make sure you keep checking back. And, pssst - for a limited time enter RHNK1 at the checkout to receive 10% discount!

Monday, 17 October 2011

One Black Dress, Many Ways

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by the lovely Stephanie, aka the Wardrobe Angel, to see if I'd like to assist her with styling a video. I of course jumped at the chance.

So many of us own so many items of clothing, but still complain that we have nothing to wear (I am guilty of this, too, as my boyfriend will attest). The Wardrobe Angel clears out clothes which do not suit your shape or lifestyle choices turns them into cash for you. Then, Stephanie will reorganise your remaining pieces into outfits for you - even adding labels - making getting dressed in the morning a no-brainer. The Wardrobe Angel blog is also very useful for clothing tips and tricks, should you not require the full service right now. There are super sale-shopping tips, and the ongoing theme is "shop your own wardrobe"!

The concept of this video is "One Black Dress, Many Ways". As explained, the dress is a basic, black, shift-style dress - there is likely to be something very similar in your wardrobe. Stephanie and I styled the dress according to different trends and occasions. For example, there are heritage, Parisian, and beach-ready looks.

Take a look at the video yourself - I personally am incredibly impressed with the production, and Stephanie's strong on-screen presence! If Gok ever takes a sabbatical, you know who to call...

Here are a few of my favourites:

These are beach, Parisian, party, and heritage times two. My camera makes the dress look almost glittery - I promise it isn't! As you can see, we re-used things as much as we could to create a "capsule" wardrobe.

I hope the post inspires you to go shop your own wardrobe, and create some fantastic outfits! 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Hobbs 30th Birthday Party

Remember the cute window cling from a couple of weeks ago, advertising a 30th birthday? Yes, yes, I couldn't remember whose window it was. After attending their 30th birthday party last night, I now know it was Hobbs!

My friend Becca and I were treated by the lovely Hobbs staff to an evening consisting of an autumn/winter 2011 style presentation, the chance to privately shop the collection, and, most importantly perhaps, a few glasses of bubbly.

The trend presentation focused mainly on smart, chic outfits for work, that can also be dressed down with jeans for the weekend, or with a sparkly dress for cocktails. The first is made of camel hair, and I would love to wear the skirt with a polka dot blouse or 1960s style sweater, plus some pointy, Prada-style court shoes.

Hobbs are particularly proud of their coats, and although these pieces are currently bang on trend, they will be a go-to for years to come. The first is a camel-hair crombie. I'd wear this with leopard print creepers and my bowler hat!

Leopard print is no longer a trend, we were informed, but is a "staple". That is just fine with me.

Love this shirt dress with unusual people print, in this season's colours of camel, navy and red. (Apologies for the NW3 signs over the glam assistant's face - she requested I don't show her gorgeous mug!)

After the presentation, Becca and I had a little style-off. Even the changing rooms are synonymous with the Hobbs branding, with luxurious fixtures, and quirky striped curtains.

I feel Becca (on the right) wins this round - the clashing prints make this a kooky look, but it works as the prints are subtle, and have the common colour of grey running through. I loved both of the pieces of my outfit, especially the super pussy-bow blouse version of the dress featured above, and would be a great alternative to suiting for work.

I don't think this is something Becca would normally wear - hence the slightly awkward stance! - but I think she looks amazing in it, and needs to get herself a wrap dress, stat. The print on this one is the perfect leopard, and, as you can see, the cut is incredibly flattering.

Love this Paddington-style NW3 coat!

Big thanks to the incredibly friendly and welcoming Hobbs team, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! Make sure you take a trip to the store on New Cathedral Street, Manchester.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Market Street News

News from Manchester's Market Street...


The Esprit store is closing down. For me this is more like "neutral news" as before today I'd never been in there, but it's always sad to see a major store closing. The place was packed with people getting last minute bargains.


It feels like an age after the Manchester riots which destroyed the Miss Selfridge Manchester flagship, but after nearly three months, the store is re-opening tomorrow morning at 10am! The shopfit is looking great with some gorgeous stock.

Here's how to do a sale window: ignore the sale's existence for the most part, apart from the window clings. Mango's window is still looking fabulously, luxuriously leopardy, despite them being in mid-season sale.


Completely unrelated to Market Street, but I have new hair - dip dyed with a centre parted A-line bob.

Also new brogues - £30 in the Office sale.

 This post was sponsored (or should I say fuelled?) by glasses of free Hobbs champagne - which will be explained fully in tomorrow's post!