I went to Paris a few weeks, and the trip was accompanied by the usual quandaries about packing. I knew the weather would be chilly (10 degrees) I plumped for my red coat with blue rosette.
On winter breaks, it is often your coat that ends up in all the photos so it is worth wearing something you love and feel comfortable in. This red coat, from United Colours of Benetton, was a ‘coming of age coat’ when purchased 4 years ago. I thought about it for ages before shelling out the most I had ever spent on a single item, and I have never regretted it.
My red coat
My travelling outfit (purple skirt and black top) didn’t make the cut because I got too hot and changed as soon as reached the hotel. Black shorts, chequered shirt and pumps served me well (although I need hardier footwear next time).
I wore an even more relaxed outfit on the second day – light grey Whistles jersey dress, sequinned top underneath with a purple Gap sweater over the top. This outfit was all about the details.
Trying to find creative ways to show you my outfit in Musee D'Orsay
And the third day saw me crack out my new favourite red Vanessa Bruno dress with brogues. There was a little bit of red overload but I’m hoping that anyone who saw me that day has now recovered.
Parisian shabby chic
And then it was time to go home.
But that wasn’t so bad because I ate more cake when I got there.
Limited edition Selfridges "men at work" sign. No, of course not really.
This isn’t the most fun but it is the most challenging part of my life to get dressed for. I work in publishing so for most of my working life have been allowed to wear whatever I want but now my job is more traditional so suddenly I am stuck in that smart-ish valley between formal and your own clothes.
In some ways having boundaries set upon your appearance can help you be creative but dressing for someone else really isn’t what I’m best at. When I interviewed for this job they commented on how my clothes weren’t smart enough because I was wearing a denim skirt. I really wanted to reject the job with the words “it’s Chloe, bitches” but I really needed the money, so here I am.
Working in the City, I see a lot of heinously, drably and sometimes weirdly dressed people, and a lot of suits paired with trainers. HIDEOUSNESS. But I also see ladies who have run with the aesthetic and look awesome. It’s much better to embrace the semi-smartness than to look like you’d feel happier in a fleece and jogging bottoms. It’s not about skinniness and beauty in this arena either. It’s about well-fitting clothes than project “give me money” (much more important than you think, for young whelks who still want to follow their dreams all the way to the job centre – that’s a bit harsh, but believe me when I tell you that the creative industries aren’t hiring right now).
In fact, workwear suits a lot of people more than weekend clothes do. If you have sticky-out-bits, then tailoring is your friend. I’ve seen some things recently that I like but would be too smart for my home life. Instead, I picture them upon the better S, who has a swishy ponytail, a steamed milk with caramel syrup, a briefcase full of manuscripts and hopefully an assistant who sorts out all the hard work.
This dress is really nice in real life and has an elasticated waistband, which I appreciate. I’ve only recently look in Warehouse for the first time since about the year 2001 and I was pleasantly surprised:
The rules, based on my current colleagues, seem to be:
- waist belts
- raspberry pink
- built-in shirt/jumper combos
I am totally clueless when it comes to workwear, but I might try and document my dressing process for this most important of outfits.
I spotted this Malene Birger dress in Glamour, the fashion pages of which have really improved in quality lately. It’s about the most ethereal, beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I seriously want to spend £190 on it and wear it all the time, maybe even with the cut-out latex leggings that also featured in her catwalk show (not featured on Style.com, who apparently didn’t attend Copenhagen fashion week). Really I would want to wear tiny shoes and a silk slip underneath and just be as chiffon-y and dainty as humanly possible, wafting around in a flurry of pleats. I really have a soft spot for romantic looks.
I really like the whole collection, which is worth looking at on the website. It’s basically a more modern take on the Day Birger Mikkelson vision, with large-scale prints and a whole mix of influences – it reminds me a little of Marni, but with a Scandinavian twist – by which I mean that slightly unworldly, quirky edge, but a Danish devotion to good times, which shows in the beachwear. I also think that the range is at the top end of the affordable middle-ground.
Silk dress, £55
The old magazine trope of “dressing for your shape” can be a bit too general to really help anyone decide what to buy, and also assumes that everyone wants to look one way, usually very slim with strategically placed curves, but only the ones pre-ratified by the fashion industry.
However, it is true that when one has curves, even the pre-ratified kind, it is best to dress in more fitted clothes and not to attempt anything too baggy – if you actually care about what you look like to others. I am often trying to explain to others that I don’t need to look like Cheryl Cole every day because I dress for comfort and for how I feel as well as to look as hot as possible.
I have found a dress that loves me. Not my usual style at all, but when I saw it in Marks & Spencers today on my way to buy a sandwich, I was drawn to it and tried it on. Do not discount M&S clothing for fashion snob reasons, especially the new dresses; although it is not Topshop, I think that when it comes to looking slinky, a tiny bit of tailoring can make you feel like a bombshell rather than the overgrown kid you feel like in leggings.
I didn’t buy the dress but the instant I am invited to an event or get more money, I think I will – I love how Mad Men it made me feel. It might not look like much to you in the picture but slipping it on was one of those moments where you realise how you could look, if you dressed the way your body is begging you to.
I’ve just discovered the amazing “open source sewing site” Burda Style, which includes tonnes of free sewing patterns and beautiful photos of the outfits people have sewn and styled. It’s a really cleanly-designed and Web 2.0-ish site and if I was a better sewer with a machine handy I would definitely be tempted to have a go by the look of the clothes people on the site have made.
A particularly amazing example is “Maryy”, who lives in Finland (Scandinavian power) and sewed this delicious truffle of a dress. I am really into white, pink and frills at the moment! Not on myself, but definitely on elfin girls with exciting events to go to.
I used to be really into sewing as a kid and I loved the technical side of it in a way I still do – I like taking things to the drycleaners and arranging storage. I had a brilliant book that had pictures of dozens of different fabrics and chapters on how to sew a button and make sleeves and things. I often feel frustrated that I can’t find the things I dream of in shops so maybe I should give sewing another go.
House of Boing is an outfit rental service with a difference. I was drawn to the bounce in the name, and I liked how the work of the outfit is already done. The looks are put together with unique pieces, all the way from statement dress to extravagant hairpieces. I hope to have an occasion special enough to warrant renting one of these inspired looks one day soon.
'Swayed' - Hire this dress for £70
Fairy lights - this outfit for £70 also
They also do commissions for dance shows.This one was for the Laban Studio Theatre.
And for the next time I want to go to a party as a lampshade...hire for £60
S wore this amazing red & white 1960s dress to our pal’s party last week. I was particularly enamoured with its sports like front zipper and voluminous back, and I thought I’d share it with you all through this Photoshop homage I created.
I know Juicy Couture is supposed to have moved on from the velour tracksuits a bit but even so I am rarely one to get excited about a new, overpriced line of jersey dresses of the sort usually churned out by LA labels to dress the young ladies of the West Coast, the very best of whom is Lauren Conrad and the very worst of whom we will not dwell on. I like the LA look on other people; it’s just never going to sit well on me, who is the least adventurous and most British person you will find who isn’t actually holding a dead grouse and complaining about the weather.
But wait! Look at this lovely dress with strawberry and strawberry-flower print from Juicy. No tiny spaghetti straps; not made of thin jersey; very appealing print and not at all retch-inducing considering how strawberries are usually rendered on clothes.
p.s. The model in this picture looks very threatening.
I do love a bit of Etsy but I often find it challenging, to say the least, to find items where the photograph actually does them justice. And it turns out that I’m not the only one to have noticed this as you can see from this Etsy article offering tips to designers who want to make a real impact.
For me, half the fun is looking at wonderful photographs and here are few from the shops of RubyPearl, SarahSeven and Makool, which really make browsing a pleasure:
White as Snow Dress by sarahseven
Ruffle Scarf by SarahSeven
Late Tea Dress
Lanvin S/S 09
This dress embodies what I wish I was wearing and also the climate I wish I was wearing it in. I think A is getting on better in this bitter weather with her silvery wintery shoes! I am instead dreaming of everything juicy and fruit-coloured. I love how smooth and slippery this Lanvin dress looks and of course the colour. I think even I could wear this orange (I being very pale and wintery myself).
Other lovely bright dresses I have seen include this lovely silk shift from Ducie, which you can buy on Asos in red and blue. It’s the kind of thing I wish I had to wear all the time, so I could just throw it on over tights and a vest and under a woollen coat. I just need to hold out until such a time when every pretty dress doesn’t automatically need a big jumper over the top of it.
Ducie, £145 (but Asos might have it on sale)