Sunday, 30 August 2015

How to Wear the Blanket Wrap (Take II)

Blanket wrap, cape, poncho or just plain old picnic rug: however you choose to refer to it, there's no denying one thing: it's back with a vengeance.

I picked mine up last summer, to throw on over playsuits and sundresses (see its first appearance here), but this year's tricky transitional period is providing it with a brand new lease of life... in fact, crazy as it may sound, a little bit of me is actually rejoicing in the resurgence of this damp, dreary weather - bring on the layers!

How to Wear, Primark, Style Inspiration, Outfit Ideas, Stylist, Fashion Blogger, London Style Blog, AW15, Missguided


How to Wear, Primark, Style Inspiration, Outfit Ideas, Stylist, Fashion Blogger, London Style Blog, AW15


How to Wear, Primark, Style Inspiration, Outfit Ideas, Stylist, Fashion Blogger, London Style Blog, AW15
Blanket Wrap and Shirt: Both Primark (Past Season), Trousers: Missguided, Boots: Forever 21

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Thursday, 27 August 2015

My AW15 High Street Hit List

Summer has always been my favourite time of year and, until I began peddling it myself, all that fashion chat about autumn/winter in August would fill me with a creeping sense of dread (along with an unconquerable compulsion to invest in a new faux fur coat). But this year, I think I've actually managed to convince myself - this season's 1870s meets 1970s vibe is right up my street. Presenting your AW15 everything-under-£40 capsule wardrobe (a.k.a. my birthday wish list - shhh).

Primark, Zara, Boohoo, Faux Suede, Faux Fur, Cord, Dungarees, Flares, Over the Knee Boots, Dune, Culottes, Suedette, Jumper, Pussybow Blouse, Printed, Mini Skirt, Gilet, Shearling, Midi, Fringed, Mac, 70s Style, 1970s, Sam Muses, Stylist, UK Fashion Blog, London Style Blogger

Midi Skirt, Maxi, Mixi, Button-Through, Faux Fur Gilet, Suedette, Faux Suede
Gilet £18, Jumper £8, Skirt £15, Bag £10, Boots £18: All Primark

Lace, Dress, Layering, Ribbon Tie, Shirt
Blouse £18, Dress £20, Shoes £14: All Primark


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Sunday, 9 August 2015

Go Green: The New Way to Wear Khaki

If you're UK-based, I'm going to go ahead and assume you've been shooting longing glances at these palazzo pants through the window of your local M&S for the last month or so, since pretty much every woman I've spoken to recently seems to have fallen victim to the evil genius of their latest visual merchandising campaign. I managed to hold out until a "20% Off Everything" email plopped into my inbox, and then it was all systems go - after all, I'm only human, and even at full price (£35), they're a bit of a steal.

Going green has to be the perfect way to take your '70s style staples into autumn (that skirt will soon be undergoing a military-style makeover too...) - and don't palazzos, midis and heels make for a far-too-long-awaited and ever-so-refreshing alternative to full-on combat gear? 1998 has been and gone, people! And, whilst its muted tones mesh effortlessly with neutrals, muted needn't mean dull, by any means - a pop of neon yellow will liven things up a treat - so of course I had to slip this canary-hued hobo into my virtual shopping basket... you know, while I was there (and anyway, at £29.50 it's going for a song).

Khaki, Palazzo Pants, '70s Style, Bell-Sleeve Blouse, M&S, Neon, Tote, High-Waisted, SS15, AW15, How to Wear, UK Fashion Blogger, Personal Style Blog, Stylist, Outfit Ideas, Style Inspiration, Sam Muses

Green Wide Leg Trousers and Yellow Hobo Bag - Marks & Spencer

Green Wide Leg Trousers and Yellow Hobo Bag - Marks & Spencer

Green Wide Leg Trousers and Yellow Hobo Bag - Marks & Spencer
Trousers and Bag: Both Marks & Spencer, Top: Miss Selfridge, Shoes: George at ASDA

Tempted to go green this autumn..?

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Saturday, 8 August 2015

A Week in the Life of a Personal Shopper

As you may or may not know, I recently began offering my personal styling services to the public, under the auspices of a well-known department store... So just how jammy is being paid to shop for a living? (Answer: not as much as you might think, funnily enough.)
61498-thickboxMonday, 10am
Arrive at work, following my tortuous 15 minute commute - on foot - for my 4 hour shift (OK, maybe I'm underselling the benefits of the job slightly). A couple of sales assistants haven't turned up, so I'm tasked with manning the fitting rooms - re-hanging clothes, handing out and collecting tags, and even doing up the odd zip - oh, the glamour!
11.30am
On my release from "Fits" duty, I collect the  key to my open plan office-come-changing-room "suite" and survey my territory. So far, I've been kept busy reading (multiple) tomes of "Best Practice" and covering sales assistant duties in lieu of actually doing any personal shopping, but I still live in hope that somebody, someday, will place a slightly greater demand on my skills than that exacted by ensuring all new stock is "finger-spaced". So, cloth and cleaning fluid in hand, I spend the next two hours cleaning my suite from top-to-toe - polishing my mirrors and removing all traces of various unidentifiable sticky substances from my furniture - whilst the same six tracks play on a loop over the in-store PA system, and I reflect that I am actually being paid less than the average London cleaner for doing the same job.
1.40pm
But my efforts are not in vain - on my way back from returning my now-unappetisingly-soiled cloth to the cleaning cupboard, I am almost knocked off my feet by a freak indoor tornado frantic middle-aged lady who ambushes me in "despair" (her words) of ever being able to find the right accessories to complement her wedding guest outfit. "No problem, madam - let me show you into my suite and book you an appointment" - score! The words "Personal Shopper" are as a magic balm to her frayed nerves. Coolly, calmly and reassuringly (and metaphorically jumping for joy), I note down her sizes and preferences, ready to make some sneaky shopfloor selects ahead of her Wednesday afternoon appointment.


Tuesday
An earlier start today, and a train to catch to Head Office for an exclusive personal shopper preview of the AW15 campaign going live later on in the month, and the collections set to touch down over the next few weeks (all advance blabbing about of which is, for the time being, officially embargoed and punishable by firing squad - or at least firing, I presume). Super-stylist Mark Heyes (him off Lorraine) acts as Master of Ceremonies, maintaining the speed and energy with which he presents a 3-minute ITV slot for over 5 hours - truly a feat to behold!


Wednesday, 11am
The day of my first appointment has arrived! My little human tornado isn't due in until 2.30pm, but I decide to get an early start on her selects, wheeling my little basket around the shop floor for a good hour and a half whilst scavenging shoe and bag options with which to complete her shift dress/fascinator combo.
1pm
Today I'm officially allowed to eat, since I'm working for more than 5 hours - whoop! So the M&S mozzarella and tomato sandwich I manage to scoff during my 30 minute break before hurrying back to make a couple of last minute additions to my rail is suitably savoured.
2.10pm
She's early! And she's only got an hour left on her parking ticket! Can I do it? Of course I can!
3pm
50 minutes later, leaving a trail of devastation in her wake (well, OK, just a couple of carefully re-hung jackets), my little tornado has left the building - £84.50 lighter, but a beaded clutch and pair of satin peep-toes heavier. Time to tidy up.
4pm
Contemplate doing a "floor walk" to update my mental stock database, but the exhilaration of my first appointment (and 50 minutes spent caught in the eye of a tornado) has drained, leaving me feeling too depleted to face it. Brainwave: I decide to do a virtual floor walk instead (i.e. browse the store's website until home time).


Thursday, 11am
I don't even make it into my suite today. Instead, I'm asked to spend an entire 4 hour shift on the tills - internet refunds, exchanges - it's all happening. But time does pass a little faster here than it does whilst stain-removing.


Friday, 11am
Arrive to find a Personal Shopper appointment already in progress - errmm... but I'm the Personal Shopper? Due to "technical issues", I'm still not able to access my online appointments diary, and no other record of the booking (made before I even started the job!) had been made, so the client turning up - 30 minutes before I was due in - was a complete and utter surprise to all concerned, including the senior sales assistant who ended up covering the appointment. Meanwhile, I'm left with no more productive option than to help out with "recovery" - and, believe me, 3.5 hours of "cubing" (i.e. ensuring the right size marker is on each hanger) is enough to make me want to lie down on the floor and cry. But then...
2.30pm
... I get... (pause for effect) ... a "walk-in". It's another desperate soon-to-be wedding guest (there's a definite theme emerging here) and she needs an entire outfit - fascinator and all - for tomorrow. I'm due to leave in half an hour - it's all a bit Challenge Anneka, but bring it on!
2.52pm
Despite my client's insistence on trying almost every dress in the store for size, she's decided to go with my initial pick - a beautiful vintage-style lace midi-shift. But she's still in dire need of accessorising. With 8 minutes of my shift remaining, I race out to grab a multi-strand pearl choker from the floor below, only to be waylaid by an unassuming young woman - "Excuse me - are you the Personal Shopper?". "Yes, I am, but..." (Seriously, you wait 3.5 hours for a client and then two turn up at once?!). "I know you're with someone at the moment, but I have an appointment booked for half-past two". Ohhhhhh.... dear.


Lessons Learned:
shopping.jpg~original
  1. Mark Heyes is (in all likelihood) a machine.
  2. Personal shopping clients are like buses, or, indeed, pretty much anything longed for and/or meticulously planned around.
  3. Although you will wake up in the middle of the night with them playing in your head - in the same order - the same 6 tracks can be listened to on repeat over a period of up to 5 hours a day whilst (relative) sanity is retained.
  4. Whether the same can be said for the effects of "cubing" over a prolonged period of time is as yet uncertain - further data required.

P.S. If you live in the Greater London area and would like to avail yourself of my services on a non-store specific basis (with my personal guarantee of NO double bookings!), take a looksie at my new website, or just drop me a line.


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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Alice Look

An Aladdin's cave of antique dollhouses and Alice in Wonderland memorabilia - probably not on your list of "things you might expect to see in Bethnal Green" - unless you've stumbled across the hidden gem that is the V&A Museum of Childhood. Perfect for big and little kids alike - and by big, I do mean over 25 - it really is a treasure trove of a place to visit... Unfortunately, I didn't have time to scope it out fully, but I had to catch their (free) exhibition on "The Alice Look".

When it comes to literary characters, few have proven as influential as Lewis Carroll's 150-year-old creation - and, from Gwen Stefani's "What You Waiting For" video to the awe-inspiring dance-based reinterpretations by the Royal Ballet and hip-hop supremos ZooNation which ran concurrently at the Royal Opera House over the Christmas period, the Alice effect shows little sign of letting up - I even got the chance to try her band for size myself in my theatre company's own physical theatre-based interpretation last year.

So just what is it about Alice? I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it's probably not the timelessness of white pinnies and universally-flattering nature of horizontally-striped socks - it's down to the unceasing human desire to believe in magic and possibility (or impossibility) - a desire that, as this exhibition illustrates - seems to transcend time and place. From 19th century English schoolgirls to 21st century Harajuku girls, the world has spent a century and a half hoping to stumble across its very own rabbit holes...














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