Monday, 25 January 2010

Postcards from the land of loveliness

I am almost reluctant to share my latest find. Part of me wants to keep it a gorgeous secret, but share I shall.

I bought this purse (£10.99) in a little shop called Ark in Cambridge, after falling in love with its cute postcard design. It is so quirky and cute and I have received many 'oohs' and 'aahs' when I open it at the till (one from a tough looking guy at HMV which rather surprised me but made me smile nonetheless). Since then I have been trying to track down other gems by the company 'Paper Plane'. Well today I stumbled across the website 'cloth-ears'. After that first stumble things will never be the same again. So many goodies to feast your eyes on and so many Brit-vintage inspired bits and bobs that fill my heart with joy... I am destined to pine for ever more.
This card case (£8.99) is the perfect size for an oyster card and so much more stylish than the garish plastic Ikea ones that are handed out. I love the message, although I feel a 'Daaaarling' is missing.
Make sandwiches so much more exciting with this pretty plate. Whilst we're in the kitchen, why not create a quirky collection with this Paper Planes 'Rise and shine' cereal bowl or from cloth-ears' Dandy Collection this plate with the message 'best thing since sliced bread, or this 'All gone' bowl. (all £7.99)
Be the coolest kid on the bus as you sip your tea or coffee from this flask (£12.99). In fact I think this is so lovely I may have to force myself to start liking hot drinks.
This Dandy 'Shower me with Love' wash bag (£19.49) hits the soft spot in my heart. In fact, I think my whole heart is pretty soft, which is probably why I like this so much.
I love the bird print on this make up case (£13.99) and the cute 'Let's kiss and make up'. Wouldn't this just sit perfectly next to my purse? In fact I think the two are almost a set, so it would actually be wrong not to buy this...
'Hello Beautiful' says this pretty compact (£7.99). What a lovely way to be greeted by your mirror. As is the 'You're looking lovely' message on this lovely little Dandy postcard mirror (also £7.99)
I love this amazing Paper Planes washbag (£19.99) for its 'Wash your Face, Wash your Feet, Now it's time to fall asleep' moto and its parcel design complete with stamps and brown string.
Oh weekend bag, oh sweet, beautiful weekend bag, I am in love with you. Map print, envelope front pocket, cute bow, old fashioned tan leather edging... what more can I say. What stylish voyages would await you with this travel bag (£54.99). (And as well as this bag you will of course require for your travels this matching luggage set (£18.99) - including a fab passport case and luggage tag.) For every day use (and a snip of the price) there is instead this cute shopper (just £9.99); I particularly love its measuring tape handle.
Cloth-ears is full of vintage style and pretty patriotic homeware and accessories, so it was difficult to pick my favourites. This Union Jack bunting (£18.99) jumped out at me; I can imagine it strewn around a garden with a picnic and barbecue going on below the trees. On a similar vein is this make-your-own union jack paper chain kit (£6.49). I also love this caravan doorstop (£19.99) that makes me think of beach holidays and Mr Whippy ice creams.
And I have no idea what you would do with this knitted sandwich and egg ensemble, (£12.99) but they made me think of english summer picnics and I just love them. You can also get knitted pastries and doughnuts for a complete woolen tea party. Fabulous.

Have a sneeky look at yourself to find your own fabulous favourites to fall in love with.


Friday, 22 January 2010

Rainy Days

As I write this the rain is beating down on my window and sliding as angry tears down the glass. If I look outside I can see huge puddles lurking in the road and a haze of grey in the field beyond. So what better day to talk about umbrellas? Everything looks so sad in the rain, so I have tried to find ones that will make you, and the people you pass in the street, smile. It may be miserable and rainy outside, but that doesn't mean you can't keep dry in style.

The three cityscape umbrellas above (£25 each from brolliesgalore) are my favourite; the black and white looks terribly chic and I love the iconic images. I might just have to go for the Paris version to match my Eiffel Tower jumper. But then the Empire State Building... and Big Ben... decisions decisions! If you like the London theme Cath Kidston do a cute fold up umbrella featuring famous London landmarks.

Very fitting I feel is this umbrella (£22.99 at umbrellaworld) featuring Gustave Caillebotte's painting entitled 'Rainy Days in Paris'. It's strong wooden handle and substantial size makes it sturdy enough for a gusty day too.
I love cherubs, so couldn't help but love this Jean Paul Gaultier umbrella (£99.99 at brollies gallore). A designer umbrella may seem a bit OTT, but if you want to invest in a designer piece it's probably a good choice. If you think how many days it rains in England per year, I'm guessing you'd get much more use out of a designer brolly than a pair of shoes that are too high to wear or a bag you're too afraid to use... non?
I don't think this one needs an explanation. Marilyn Monroe...on an umbrella...£24.99 at umbrella world... sorted.
If you're dreaming of sunnier times this umbrella (£18.49 brollies galore) is perfect. Walk around with your head in the clouds and you'll be so jolly you'll forget it's even raining.
For floral lovers there is lots of choice out there. I love this red folky print Cath Kidston brolly with its sturdy frame and wooden handle. Cute too is the flower and cherry print one below (just £8) - it is meant for children, but if you're small I'm sure you could fit underneath the pretty perspex shelter.

Lulu Guiness has a lovely range of romantic umbrellas and you can get your hands on them from brollies galore. This see-through brolly with its striking red and black rose print is fun and elegant at the same time (£28). I also love the whimsical bird cage below (£28), and if you're feeling in a loved-up mood then why not fall for this perspex brolly (£28) covered in colourful 'I love you's?

Lulu Guiness also has a mini style umbrella for £25; I particularly love the shoe print.

I thought this comic print umbrella was extremely cool (£12 umbrella world). Perhaps comics may be aimed at boys but why not make like Wonder Woman with this brilliant brolly?
And finally I couldn't help mentioning this see-through mac from Topshop (£55). Fabulously risqué but also really practical for keeping dry in a downpour. If I had this mac or any of these brollies... well I'd be just dying to get out and splash in the rain.


Thursday, 21 January 2010

All ruffled up

There is something charmingly sweet and playful about a ruffle. Whether it be layers of chiffon bouncing on a skirt or waterfall ruffles cascading down a blouse these curves and pleats look fabulously pretty. The high street is still awash with bad ass body con but just as fashion likes contrast, in swoops the ruffle trend for 2010.

For a vintage look and touch of frou frou opt for this amazing jacket from Topshop (£75) with its layers of tiny cream ruffles and its intricate chain and beaded trim. I think ruffles tend to look best in the softest of colours - nude and blush pinks that make you feel like a Grecian Goddess. This pale blush ruffle front blouse (£25 Topshop) makes a simple but elegant statement. I love the colour of this shell pink bubble frill skirt, (£32 Topshop) that would look great with simple black pumps and a black top. This delicate tiered cami (£25 ASOS) comes in a similar shade and is heartachingly pretty and taps into this season's lingerie trend as well.

Ruffles may make me want to pick up and swish the layers of my skirts whilst dancing to an old classic as per Dirty Dancing, but more demure options can be great for the office too. The grey tweed of this Oasis ruffle skirt (£45) gives it a sensible edge, whilst the ruffles make it more exciting than a pencil skirt, workwear bread and butter. As a contrast to the flouncy shapes of a ruffle skirt, pair it with a sharp tailored jacket - again making it suitable for the office. And to slip inside your handbag - this black Sara Berman zip purse. At £140 it may be well out of my price range, but a girl can dream.

And because a trend doesn't have to stop at the outside layers, how about these fab pink ruffle knickers? (£10 ASOS) Oh so silly but oh so fabulous.


Sunday, 17 January 2010

La Belle Paris

Fashion seems to have fallen head over heels with the city of love. The high street is abound with Breton stripes and Eiffel towers, and as for colours - well it just won't do unless it's black, red, white or blue.

I for one am loving this unashamedly pretty start to 2010. After a winter of studs, shoulder pads and attitude a little bit of the whimsical comes as a welcome contrast. All these Eiffel towers make me dream of being in Paris; drifting around art galleries,
shopping in glorious boutiques and cycling along the Seine with a baguette and croissants in my basket. Although I may not be able to run away to the Parisian attic appartment of my daydreams, I can at least feel all the joy of la Belle Paris by adopting this season's trend. I fell in love with this Topshop Eiffel tower jumper and just couldn't resist. I pair it with my cream and black ruffle skirt, my black velvet jacket, and - of course - my Accessorize Eiffel tower earrings. Too many Eiffel Towers I hear you cry? Not ENOUGH in my opinion! This isn't a trend that's about subtility; with an eiffel tower emblazoned across your chest you might as well go the whole fabulous hog. How about with this oh so cute Accessorize necklace, just £6?

Stripey blazers fit in perfectly with this trend, and I love this
red and white one from Topshop (£60). Perfect with a plain t-shirt and tailored shorts, or a floaty skirt for a more mix-and-match feel. Add opaque tights, black boots or simple pumps (tied with floppy ribbons for the total 'pretty meets paris' effect) and you're looking tres
jolie. At Topshop you can get all your souvenirs of Paris on one pretty pink dress, (£35) covered as it is in Eiffel Towers and Arch de Triumphs. Along the same lines is this fab Eiffel tower playsuit (£40) from ASOS, which looks great with a grey jersey jacket as shown on the model.

When thinking of Paris you can't help but think of Chanel, and this
black trimmed cardigan (£38) from Warehouse has a chic, 'Chanelesque' feel. You can pick up a similar style cardigan from Dorothy Perkins, or jacket from Topshop.

When it comes to prints, the Paris trend is all about spots and stripes. A simple Breton stripe top or dress has a classic appeal that oozes effortless style. This
stripe tshirt (£28) from ASOS with its cute heart detail is perfect, whilst this white and blue stripe tunic dress (£18) from Warehouse would look great with a grey jacket, or cinched with a red waist belt. Polka dots offer a pretty Parisian feel too, in the shape of this polka dot body (£16) from Dorothy Perkins. Bodies like this might look scary (childhood ballet lessons spring to mind) but they are surprisingly practical. Wear with high waisted shorts or skirts and avoid having to constantly tuck your top in as it rolls up, or pull your tights up as they roll down (ruining the elegant look somewhat). You can also get a striped version at Miss Selfridge.

And as it's still chilly outside, keep snug with these
cute I love Paris socks (£2) from Dorothy Perkins, or this navy Eiffel Tower scarf (£15) from Miss Selfridge. Finally (and because it just wouldn't be a Paris trend without it) this Accessorize navy beret (£12) with its polka dot bow is not only fantastique but practical for the wintery weather too All in all J'ADORE this trend!


Thursday, 14 January 2010

Beautiful Ugly People

Do looks matter to you when it comes to selecting a partner? Do you want to guarantee your dates will always be beautiful? Tired of filtering through unattractive people on mainstream sites? Such reads the homepage of 'BeautifulPeople', a dating agency where applicants are entitled to upload a photo of themselves to have it slated (or 'judged' as they call it) by existing members. Only those deemed 'beautiful' are allowed to sign up and join their aesthetically pleasing comrades in a haven of shallow-minded bliss. If that didn't sound horrific enough, it is notoriously difficult to be accepted and existing members are allowed to post comments about a potential member. "No WAY", "Perhaps without those saddlebags", "Um what are you thinking - get back to the ugly masses", or if you're lucky "Well I suppose so, but as long as you stay off the kitkats". Because weight seems to be a key issue when it comes to being beautiful in the eyes of ''. In the new year thousands of members had their accounts closed after holiday snaps showed they had 'overindulged' on the turkey and mince pies. Apparently once members have shed the pounds gained over the festive period they can reapply (how kind), which means, joy oh joy, going through the ritualistic humiliation of 'beauty' judging again.
Although saying that, I think you get what's coming to you. Perhaps an element of it really is a yearning to meet only those with 'superior' DNA, but I think it's mainly narcistic. You choose your most 'beautiful' photo (the hair, the complexion...I really am a fabulous specimen of humanity) and wait eagerly to be deemed 'beautiful' by your peers. And when that email comes saying your request to join the site has been successful... well it is just confirmation that you really are as gorgeous as you thought.

I must admit, there is a part of human nature that makes you wonder - what would they say about me? You can't help but be curious. But frankly, I don't want to find out. And that's not just because I don't particularly want to have strangers giving their harsh opinions about my physical attributes (or lack there of as the case may be), but because I don't see why, once actually within the agency, anyone would want to actually meet or spend a candle lit dinner with any of these beauties. What would the conversation be? "So, you're beautiful too..", "So, looks matter to you too when it comes to selecting a partner...", "So, YOU were tired of filtering through unattractive people on mainstream dating sites..." Delightful. If these people really are so beautiful, then why, might I ask, are they using an online dating agency in the first place? Is it maybe because (shock horror) there is more to a person than looks, and that personality has something to play when it comes to choosing a potential mate?

The saddest thing to me is what 'BeautifulPeople' shows about society. I am shocked there has been such little outrage over a site that discriminates so openly and that it is even allowed to exist. Yet worse than that is the way in which it has been welcomed with open arms in 16 countries, and has a huge database of members. '' may be all about beauty, but it reflects the ugliest of our society.