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Sleeves of the week! ASOS tartan shirt dress, £35

By Lauren Bravo on August 6th, 2013

Autumn will be here before you can say ‘pac-a-mac’, so embrace the new season’s bonniest print now…

ASOS tartan shirtdressAs I was sat yesterday, watching rain sheet down the office windows like the deluge from a less-fun log flume, I had a pang. A pang for autumn. “In only a couple of short months,” I thought quietly (because people clobber you if you say this stuff out loud), “I’ll be wearing a coat and eating custard again.

“I’ll stop getting messages that say things like ‘Hampstead Heath! 30 mins! Bring inflatables and a portable volleyball net!’ and we will all simply stay in with a blanket on our knees and watch X-Factor and have a snooze. I’ll stop moisturising my armpits like the Dove adverts tell me to and have time for important things, like finding out what this season’s snood will be and affixing kooky brooches to my hats.

“There will be new prints to embrace, ones that don’t involve flowers or flamingoes. The magazines will tell us that elbow-length leather gloves are going to be big, the way they do every September, and maybe, just maybe, this year they actually will be.”

The new print I have chosen to embrace first – because the Edinburgh festival is now in full swing, and Scotland tirelessly proves itself ahead of the fashion game year after year by being cold enough for A/W trends months before London finally shakes off the smell of overheated crotch – is tartan. ASOS is going fully Westwood for tartan this autumn (that’s Vivienne, not Tim) and I’ll be following along in their wake like the lovechild of Malcolm McLaren and a thickly carpeted chain hotel just off the M73. Heck, even the Queen’s at Balmoral.

This sheer shirt dress is a nice way to ease yourself into the richer colours of autumn without sweating it out in a jumper just yet. Team it with bare legs, big necklace and clumpy shoes, then wait patiently for leather glove weather to arrive. It won’t be long now, kids.

Available end of August


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Happy Royal Baby!

By Daisy Buchanan on July 24th, 2013

crown thumb.jpg

An approximation of what may or may not  happened in the Lindo Wing yesterday, based on several press releases I have received

“Mmmmm,” murmured Kate, looking around the room sleepily and reflectively. “I’d really like some chips. Really greasy ones, with loads of vinegar.”

“Sure thing, Duchess,” grinned Will. “How about I go to that place on the Edgware road?”

“Do be careful out there!”

“I’ll be fine – I’ll use the escape hatch. I’ll be quick!” Will wanted to get back to his beautiful bride and baby as soon as possible. He also wanted to make sure Kate wasn’t left alone for too long, lest she sign anything confirming the baby name as Princess Consuela Bananahammock. He had thought she was joking, but then, she was still feeling the effects of gas and air.

“Chips! CHIPS! No time for chips! How will you ever lose all that baby weight if you eat chips?” The mysterious, disembodied voice seemed to boom and trill simultaneously. It belonged to a man who, at first glance, appeared to be Karl Lagerfeld. He wore a onesie adorned with tiny Union Jacks, each formed from thousands of miniature Swarovski crystals.

“Um, hello, are you with the hospital? Don’t think we’ve met. I’m William.” Will grinned sheepishly as protocol kicked in.

“I am Davide. This is Sebastian – grooming. And Katya – hair setting. Alice – hair polishing. Ivan for nails, Ben for face make up, Sydney for eyelashes and Sidney for eyebrows.” A line of people stood waiting, each clutching a silver attaché case bigger than the last person’s silver attaché case.

“I, ah, um, er, may I get you something to drink?”

“NO NEED!” shrieked Davide, flicking the locks on the most enormous attaché case of all to reveal many, many cartons of Vita Coco.  He directed his attentions at Kate. “First,  the hair. You had hair that once made the editor of Figaro cry! Hair envied by Kim Sears, girlfriend of Andy Murray, and World No 2 in the world of hair! Now it is your hair that looks No 2. So lank! So greasy! What happened?”

“Well, you start to sweat really heavily when the contractions begin, and…”

“SILENCE!” whispered Davide, visibly shocked by the concept of a perspiring woman. “It is OK. We restore you to loveliness with Shu Uemura Cashmere Shampoo, £27 for 100 ml, and Frederic Fekkai Jasmine Shaft Serum, available from Space NK. ”

“What about a leave in masque?” suggested Katya, timidly.

“THERE IS NO TIME,” rejoined Davide.

As the magical hair and beauty elves set to work on Kate with Giant Sleep Rollers, as worm by Mollie from the Saturdays, Davide started talking wardrobe.

“I have this – classic,” he said, holding up a vintage midnight blue Roland Mouret Galaxy dress. “The same that Winslet wore to the Oscars. A good dress, if you are British and your name is Kate. But obviously, you will need shapewear.” He tossed her a pack of Spanx Punishers, eyeing her belly with disdain.

Kate drew herself up to her full 5″10. “That’s very kind of you, but I’d prefer not to…oh, William, TELL HIM!” Davide’s face said he wasn’t going down without a fight.

Will set his jaw to its most diplomatic jut. “We both talked about this – all of this – and we decided that we wanted it to be fairly low key. My wife has just had a baby. No-one expects her to have a tan and mascara and whatnot. She was just going to wear this.” He gestured to a dark, shapeless garment hanging on the back of the door.

Davide felt the material between thumb and forefinger and sniffed. “A Topshop beach dress! From Spring/Summer 2006? Purchased, if I’m not mistaken, in the sale!?” Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no.” The ball was in Davide’s court. With a flourish, he pulled a pretty blue polka dot Jenny Packham dress out of his sleeve. Kate fell upon it.

“No Spanx?” she frowned at Davide.

“No Spanx,” he smiled, crossing his fingers behind his back. “William, we have a blue shirt for you, too. We need you to match your wife, to show unity.”

William was reluctant. He had become quite attached to his grubby t shirt. It was covered in baby drool. It made him feel like a proper Dad. “We’re showing the world a baby we have had together. How much more unity do you need to see?” Still, he threw it on over his t shirt and started buttoning with a minimum of bad grace.

Kate was beginning to unwind. She watched in the mirror as her chestnut locks, glossy once more, were pulled into undulating curls. “God, I’ve become one of those totes blow dry dependent women,” she thought to herself. “Maybe I’ll get an organic Brazilian style treatment, available from hair salons nationwide! After all, I am a cash rich, time poor new Mum!”

Davide’s work was nearly done. “Go get ’em, princess,” he grinned, spraying Kate with Illuminum White Gardenia Petals and motioning for her to step into a pair of classic black LK Bennett courts. William and Kate exchanged a look. “At least they’re not Manolos,” comforted William as he helped the mother of his child into the shoes.


Later that day, Kate kicked back with a massive saveoly. Baby Princess Consuela Bananahammock was fast asleep, and Kate spoke quietly so as not to wake him. “Mum,” she said to Carole. “You were right. Thanks for sending stylists and things. Davide was really nice.”

Carole sat bolt upright on the sofa. “But darling, we didn’t send anyone! You told us you wanted to be left to get on with it! Who’s Davide?”

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A guide to New York style, by someone who hasn’t been there yet

By Lauren Bravo on July 21st, 2013

I’m going to New York! I’m going to New York! Bring on the marching band! Pour me a chocolate malted and put a bagel in my face! But what in the name of Gunther do I wear?

I have never been to New York before. I’ve never been to America, in fact. I’ve only got as close as Canada, which as telly would have you believe is about as close as going to Luton airport and saying you’ve seen Big Ben. So because I’ve been waiting a full quarter century of my life to finally take a bite from the Big Apple (and by ‘apple’ I mean ‘baked goods’, and by ‘big’ I mean, “is that a doughnut or a dinghy? Oh well too late I ate it.”), I’m putting a lot of pressure on my outfit choices.

Of course, all of my New York style fantasies until now involved tailored coats, snow, maybe an enormous fur hat or two – I didn’t imagine I’d be schvitzing my way round the concrete jungle in 30 degree heat. But air con-willing, I’ll still be able to reference some of my favourite New Yorkers from TV and film – and not a Manolo in sight.


The Elaine

Elaine Benes

balck and white Dune brogues

£69 Dune

We will truly know that fashion, like childbirth, erases painful memories to allow for its perpetuation when the 90s revival makes us start wanting to dress like Elaine from Seinfeld.

I’ve already felt the first twinges – fancying a pair of black and white platform brogues, poofing up the front of my hair into curly brown halo, craving a Big Salad despite barely liking small ones – but maybe this holiday is the time to really let rip. I could buy a floral-sprigged skirt and enormo-shouldered suit jacket, or a suede waistcoat to wear with some stonewashed Mom jeans. But I’ll beware the lying mirrors at Barney’s, naturally.



The Working Girl

Working Girl

Primark zebra earrings

£2.50 Primark


I recently watched Working Girl for the first time, and I’m not sure how I ever lived without it. I want to ride the Staten Island ferry across the Hudson with the wind in my perm while Carly Simon sings Let the River Run with a gospel choir. I want to apply purple eyeshadow up to my eyebrows and be best friends with Joan Cusack. And while none of those things are likely to happen, I can at least rock a pair of vaguely terrifying drop earrings like these, £2.50 from Primark.



The Hannah

Hannah Girls HBO

Topshop aztec playsuit

£44 Topshop

As we’re staying in Williamsburg and it’s basically the only show in my arsenal that makes New York look fun in the height of summer, Girls will be my primary reference point. I’m aiming for a strategic blend of 50 per cent Jessa, 20 per cent Hannah, 15 per cent Marnie and 15 per cent Shoshannah (entirely hair doughnuts and croissant purses).

The biggest regret of my chaotic pre-holiday packing process is that I haven’t had time to find a pair of shorteralls like Hannah Horvath’s. After all, nothing says ‘summer in the city’ better than a confident crotch-to-leg fabric ratio, and I never could resist draping myself in a nice portmanteau. Ideally I’d want them to be flimsy cotton in one of those prints that look like flowers, then when you get close-up you realise it’s actually tiny alligators, eating their young – but failing that, this Aztec playsuit by Goldie at Topshop will do the trick nicely.


The Diane

Annie Hall


white shorts Missguided

£21.99 Missguided

Diane as in Keaton, one of the finest actresses ever to grace a pair of wide-legged slacks (see also: Katherine Hepburn). Were I going in cooler climes, I’d be running round London right now trying to find tweedy Oxford bags and a tie to create a look I’d lovingly think of as ‘Annie Hall: the busty years’. But as it is I’ll have to be content with her tennis outfit, crisp white shorts, shirt with turned up collar, topknot, socks. That and hunting out Kate Spade’s La Dee Da bangle on request of my co-editor Daisy.

I’ll also state for the record now, when it comes to hair I will be channelling Meryl Streep in Manhattan for as long as I can… before it all sticks to my neck like a merkin in a steam room.



The Rachel/Phoebe/Monica


Friends season 1

Friends was not a clothes show. It was a hair show. We all know that. Never has a feature on the caffeinated sixsome started with a breathless, “the outfits!” followed by a treatise on Monica’s v-necked t-shirts, and it was probably all the better for it.

BUT, cast your mind way back to the early seasons and there are a few gems to be scavenged. Rachel’s crisp white t-shirts, jeans and tennis shoes; Phoebe’s penchant for crushed velvet smocks; Monica’s leather jackets… ok, no. It was a hair show.  I’ll just shut up now and start packing.


Affordable Fashions, dresses, Features, Opinion, Sleeves of the week, Trend Alert

Sleeves of the week! Neon animal tunic dress, £38 Topshop

By Lauren Bravo on July 17th, 2013

Nightshirts are the new minidresses, it seems. But they have sleeves and look foxy so that’s a-ok by us

Topshop neon tunic dress £38Every time I’ve been into Topshop recently, I have touched this dress and gone, “ooh!”. Sometimes I pick it up. Once I even made it as far as the changing room, before the sight of my gleaming red face in the mirror told me I was already far too sweaty for a ridiculous full-scale exertion like lifting my arms over my head then bringing them down again.

(As a side note here, will Topshop ever learn that proper air conditioning in their changing rooms would drive up profits by about 500%? I’m no Alan Sugar, but even I have clocked that customers are more likely to buy a garment if they don’t have to wring it out for underboob sweat at 30 second intervals. I bet that’s on page one of the Business Studies textbooks: ‘Don’t make your customers perspire against will’)

But glands aside, I love this dress. It looks vaguely like a man’s nightshirt from the turn of the century, in kickin’ fluoro animal print – if Tommy Steele had been in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, this is what he might have worn. It’s also a far more accessible version of that mens-shirt-bare-legs thing that has only ever been successful for post-coital women in films, and it’s plenty flimsy and bright enough to look summer-appropriate but with sleeves that will see you right through the autumn.


Affordable Fashions, dresses, Fashion Tips, Features, Sleeves of the week

Sleeves of the week! Bodycon shark dress, £30 Topshop

By Lauren Bravo on July 7th, 2013

It’s nice to take style inspiration from the sea in summertime. And why not add a whacking great shark too, for good measure?

Tee and Cake shark dress £30 TopshopNow we’ve all fully recovered from the fox/owl/horse/stag jumper orgy that was AW 12, it’s officially safe to go back in the sea of novelty animal prints. And for summer, instead of the fusty English country heritage thing, we’re advocating a dive into lesser chartered waters with a dress that’s scary, sexy and bracing in equal measure.

Tee and Cake have come to our attention recently with their witty, animal-inspired photo print tops (this parrot feather t-shirt is another favourite), and as a welcome change for those of us who haven’t successfully pulled off a t-shirt since John Major was in office, they also make dresses.

Yes, we’re cheating a bit with this bodycon shark frock because it still has short sleeves. But they’re a good length, almost to the elbow instead of that stingy capped sleeve that suits barely anyone, and besides IT HAS A SHARK ON IT.

Aside from the vague worry that the shark’s eye might end up looking like a rogue nipple, there is nothing about it that isn’t brilliant. Add a big necklace and sandals in a contrasting colour (coral so it looks like ACTUAL coral?) then stand around at the Sea Life Centre leaping out at tourists from behind educational displays. Hours of fun.



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Sleeves of the week! Topshop print stud denim shirtdress, £65

By Lauren Bravo on June 14th, 2013

It’s floral, it’s denim, it’s studded, it’s a shirtdress, it’s a bit 90s, it’s a bit 70s, it has sleeves. We call this one ‘the box-ticker’.

Topshop flroal denim shirtdressDenim shirtdresses are having a bit of a moment. At least in our hearts, if not in da clubz quite yet. They’re cousin of the giant denim shirt, in which I always like to imagine I will look like a happy lady in an advert, sighing wistfully in the doorway of an empty room with a smudge of paint on her nose while a knitting-pattern-handsome man brings her a cup of tea. But in reality giant denim shirts make me look like one of those women who writes love letters to men on death row, so the fitted denim shirtdress is an appealing compromise – more waisted, less wasted.

This Topshop print stud number is the second denim shirtdress to feature in Sleeves of the Week, and it’s a deserving specimen. We’ve seen 80s-does-50s many times, but who knew 10s-does-90s-does-70s would be so brilliant a combo? In a colourful feathery floral, it manages to be both summery and wintery at once and so will never leave you in seasonal purgatory, trying to waft cold air down your tights in a Caffe Nero loo. It’s even got sturdy poppers, meaning no button-popping fear for the ample of bosom. Add a floppy hat and the biggest necklace you can find.

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Sleeves of the week! ASOS botanical shift dress £60

By Lauren Bravo on June 8th, 2013

How many kinds of sweet flowers grow… on this lovely ASOS shift dress? Botanical and be-sleeved, it’s our pick of the week.

ASOS botanical shift dress £60Botanical things are usually good things. Botanical gardens, botanical extracts, that odd botanical cola you occasionally get served in hipster pubs. Surprisingly for a word that sounds so much like “botty”, botany itself is a lovely idea – I always like to think that it another life, one in which I’m a sudo-Mitford sister living in a crumbling 1930s manor house, I’d be really into dried flowers and pressing things.

But until that dream can be realised, I’ll settle for a botanical wardrobe instead. And there’s never been a better time to acquire one, as florals have really stepped up their game this season – gone are the mimsy patterns and Cath Kidston clones of yore, and in their place digitally-enhanced psychedelia and photo-realistic prints to bring a slice of nature to even the dingiest urban enclave.

Even better, some of them have sleeves! This bracelet-length ASOS shift dress is fresh as a daisy but far more interesting – with its big, detailed bluebells and foxgloves, it’d be a bit like wearing one of those wallcharts that used to come free with The Guardian. But less papery. Enjoy.

dresses, Ethical Fashions, Fashion Crush, Fashion Tips, Features, Opinion, Sleeves of the week, Uncategorized

Sleeves of the week! People Tree ‘Lauren Sweetpea’ dress, £65

By Lauren Bravo on May 18th, 2013

Fairtrade, eco-friendly and frankly, fierce – this week’s sleeved dress is giving Laurens a great name

Lauren sweetpea dress People TreeYou don’t get a lot of Laurens in fashion. Lauren Bacall was pretty much flying the flag for stylish Laurens by herself for several decades, before Lauren Hutton joined the cause in the ’70s and Laurens Goodger and Conran (they’re probably friends, right?) took up the torch in recent years. But on the whole, Laurens don’t have a whole lot of representation out there – even with Lauren Bush Lauren nobly taking taking husband Dylan’s surname to raise awareness twice over. Of course, myself and all the other Laurens in the world held our breath for her to go the whole hog and just be ‘Lauren Lauren’, but you can’t have everything.

Anyway, this is all by way of introducing our latest Sleeves of the Week, which is this frankly awesome frock by People Tree. It also happens to be called ‘Lauren’. With my wonderful co-editor Daisy Buchanan never more in vogue thanks to The Great Gatsby, it seemed fortuitous that the loveliest dress in my inbox this week also has my name. BUT ENOUGH ABOUT THAT.

If you haven’t yet discovered People Tree, it’s definitely time to. The “pioneers of sustainable and fair trade fashion,” they’ve been making clothes in partnership with farmers and artisans in the developing world for over 20 years. Everything’s made with fabrics and methods that bare minimal environmental impact – and they’ll have maximum impact on your wardrobe because the designs are damned nice too.

This jersey number has my second favourite sleeves, bracelet-length (balloon sleeves are my first favourite) and a beautifully flattering fit in a print that manages to be both fresh and springlike, but also suitable for the steeliest of grey-skied days. It’s also got that rarest of things, a high-but-not-too-high neckline that won’t squash your boobs into an unfortunate lump.

Basically, it would almost be unethical for you NOT to buy it… but then, I would say that. It’s a Lauren thing.

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Boom! The loudest prints on the high street

By Lauren Bravo on May 10th, 2013

Still waiting for your prints charming? From tribal to tropical and even a touch of tie-dye, we’ve rounded up the loudest, proudest patterns around

Long gone are the days when ‘print’ meant a polite little floral or a prim polka dot. This summer we’re pretty much being commanded to bedeck ourselves out like our Nan’s conservatory sofa, so it would be rude not to go prints all the way (before they become ‘the art formerly known as prints’ and we have to cover ourselves in symbolic squiggles instead).

As a rule of thumb, if it would look good on a plastic cafe tablecloth then it’ll look GREAT on you this season. ‘Aztec’ and ‘tribal’ are still hanging about like an enthusiastic gap year student at a house party, but there are also ‘tropical’ (think Carmen Miranda), tie-dye (if you’re lucky you’ll still have the stuff you made at Brownie camp) neon paisley (think PG Wodehouse at a rave) and photo prints, which are like wearing an entire landmark destination on your arse. Not that your arse isn’t already a landmark destination, of course.

So here are our pick of the loud, the proud and the really rather busy. Extra marks for clashing them. Points deducted if you apologise for being “a bit bright”.

Printed sleeveless bodycon dress, £32 Topshop


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Sleeves Of The Bank Holiday – M&S Denim Shirtdress

By Daisy Buchanan on May 6th, 2013

As we see it, the ultimate, tricksy, brow furrowing, chin stroking, difficult to solve 21st century dilemma is this: What’s a lady supposed to wear for weekend brunch?

Obviously there are proper dilemmas about wars and poverty and the disintegrating moral fabric of society, but we don’t have a hope in hell of solving those. The brunch one is like Sudoku – if we really put our minds to it, we can probably work it out with a pencil.

M&S Limited Collection Cotton Rich Fit & Flare Skater Denim Dress with Belt, £45

M&S Limited Collection Cotton Rich Fit & Flare Skater Denim Dress with Belt, £45

The thing is, unless you’re weepingly hungover and need someone to pour you into your tracksuit bottoms and lead you to McDonalds, brunch is a stealth formal affair. You’re still eating fried mushrooms smothered in ketchup, but the mushrooms were probably foraged by an artistic intern curating a Vine feed, and the ketchup has a bechamel quail base tempered with locally sourced botanicals. You need the outfit to match – something that’s all “threw this on AND WHAT?” but also something smoking enough to get the flat white and organic cupcake guy to give you the eye. And something that can stand a little quail ketchup spillage. Also, you’re going to want sleeves. You probably had your arms out last night – come the morning after, the standard practice is that you put the guns back in their holsters.

Where do you go for such a number? One of the Spitalfields boutiques staffed by ‘resting’ actresses who hand stitch wonky hems? Anthropologie, who have many brilliant brunch options for a mere three hundred quid a pop? The situation is frustrating enough to make you turn to gin, stained tracksuits and McDonalds, but all you need is this BRILLIANT M&S denim shirt dress that can be accessorised six ways ‘til Sunday and costs less than fifty quid. As it gets lighter and brighter, your hair can get bigger, your wedges will get fiercer and you can pop the buttons open until the flat white guy’s eyes pop out. On chilly, less reliable days, brogues, bright opaques and a snuggly knit will transform it faster than Madonna was transformed from garter flashing sex lady to Scottish Widow. If anyone feels like thanking Shiny Style for this invaluable wardrobe suggestion, we accept gifts of Anthropologie vouchers and organic cupcakes.

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So you want to look like… Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby

By Lauren Bravo on May 3rd, 2013

Pour yourself a mint julep and swing those pearls – thanks to Baz Luhrmann’s new release, the 1920s are roaring straight back into our wardrobes

Zelda-dress-frock-and-frillAre you a flapper? Do you flap? Not the type you do when you’ve got hot food in your mouth, but the fashion type, currently dancing its way across the silver screen again – on Carey Mulligan, Leonardo DiCaprio and Isla Fisher in The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece of jazz age ennui.

Decadent, libertine and eternally gorgeous, flapper style is the smart lady’s fancy dress era of choice because it’s more original than the 80s, less polyester-flammable than the 60s and less restrictive than the 50s, all those roomy waistbands allow for far more fun at the buffet table.

In normal life, though, it’s a trickier one to integrate. Unless you work in the kind of office where kooky feather headbands are tolerated round the coffee machine, the look is a more obvious choice for evening, when you can drape yourself in sequins and hit up a speakeasy* (*Wetherspoons). It’s also not an ideal look if you’re prone to spills – pastels and muted neutrals abound, as does Daisy Buchanan’s signature summer white.

Plus there are two other big obstacles to pulling off the 20s trend, and they’re bobbing about on your chest. As Thoroughly Modern Millie showed us with her beads that wouldn’t hang straight, those drop-waisted dresses are friend to the flat-chested gal, but a couple of cup sizes can take you from the beautiful to the damned. Or at least the ‘damn, that dress be hanging off her like a valance sheet’.

But hey – we ain’t about prohibiting here. Just find an embellished deep-V instead, or flap it up with accessories. Mid-heeled T-bars and Mary Janes have a fashion ‘moment’ so often you may as well stock up now, and there’s no desk-to-dancefloor situation (we have those ALL the TIME, right?) that a sequined cape can’t solve.

We’re also rather taken with Gatsby style as bridal inspiration… but one thing at a time, yeah?

Eden bib collar necklace, £19 Accessorize

Picture 1 of 15

I know, I know – you already have twelve ‘statement’ necklaces and you can barely afford the chiropractor. But look how beautiful this one is! Stick it on with a t-shirt and you’ve got downtime Daisy, the look she favoured for schlepping around the morning after all those gin gimlets.

Christmas outfits, dresses, Features, vintage, Wardrobe stories

Wardrobe stories: The fairy dress

By Daisy Buchanan on May 2nd, 2013

Shiny fairy 691817_74668070

To fully explain my feelings about fashion, first I must tell you about my mother.

For Mum, the seventies weren’t sexy, the eighties weren’t excessive and the nineties were about shielding one end of the family from their own raging, surging oestrogen levels and the other from their own baby sick. She grew up in an era when we were reacting to the structured, the rule based, the shaped. She was born to go braless, to wear jeans (because they help you move faster), and I think she had to be persuaded to wear make up on her own wedding day.

Perhaps because of her Catholicism, and the idea that vanity is sinful and sexiness is worse, Mum seemed to be born not to care about clothes. Also, she did a lot of her growing up when Thatcher was on the throne and money was tighter than Britney’s cervix circa 1999. And she arrived at the tail end of a big, boisterous family, and her confidence took a little while to blossom because, had she chosen to wear clashing clogs and look-at-me-neon, her brothers would have made her life insufferable.

Then she got married and birthed a daughter who seemed to share genetic make up with Ru Paul and Lolo Ferrari – not with her.

I believe every mother who claims they tried and failed to ban Barbie, because I was that kid. I pouted and strutted like a tiny version of Emily Howard, the Little Britain transvestite, in a hot pink cardie, pale pink tights, a fuchsia frock with my M&S vest over the top, because it had lace on and was embroidered with pink top hats. (My younger sister had the ‘seahorse with the sparkly eye’ vest – I was too big for it, and I hated her for it.) They either had yet to invent tiny plastic pretend heels, or I was forbidden from wearing them for mysterious reasons of ‘suitability’. Either way, I popped a couple of Brio building blocks down each socks and staggered on, just like a grown up.

At four, I was entirely secure in my own aesthetic. I knew what I liked, and I never wavered. And what I really liked was fairies.

Tinkerbell, who has dispensed with her fairy dress and is now wearing a fairy bathing suit.

Tinkerbell, who has dispensed with her fairy dress and is now wearing a fairy bathing suit.

Admittedly, it was probably Tinkerbell lighting up the Buena Vista logo with her wand that did it. But then, Tinkerbell was more promising a proposition than Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Ariel. I had no interest in being a princess. It was obvious they were just fancy WAGs. Palaces were places where one had to keep one’s bedroom tidy. Handsome princes would invariably grow up to become arsey, put upon Kings. So Menalaus nagged and Helen cried. Even the kit was a bit whevs. Crowns looked heavy, and you couldn’t run around in a crinoline. Fairies dressed for comfort and speed. They wore clothes to make and break rules in, because they could do anything. To wish to be a fairy is to wish for infinity wishes. And so I wished for a fairy dress.

I put my order in early. “So, Mummy, I was thinking that maybe Santa could bring me a fairy dress at Christmas?” This was August ’89, and ninety degrees in the shade.

“Darling” replied my mother, thinking quickly, “I’m not sure Santa can get those. You probably have to actually be a fairy,” (My lip wobbled and I blinked defiantly) “which I’m sure you will be, if you keep practising, but for some fairies it takes years and years. Why not ask Father Christmas for a nice…” she looked around wildly “paddling pool?”

There was no more talk of fairy dresses. But I practised very hard, and when I shut my eyes before I went to sleep at night, I saw a vision of pink ribbon and tulle. Something for jumping and soaring. A spell casting dress.

The heat shimmered and faded, autumn’s crunch came and gave way to wintry Radio Times covers and hot chocolate, not milk, before bed. I had a dim idea that Christmas was coming, and it was so exciting I didn’t know what to be excited about first. Nan and Grandpa were on their way! The Snowman was on telly! We were getting fish and chips! (I was given a battered sausage and told the crunchy part was essentially a giant Quaver. It wasn’t.)

On Christmas morning, I woke to a stocking full of promise. I decided the giant tube of Smarties would double as a wand, and was possibly a message from Santa – he was saying ‘hang on in there, kid’. I also acquired a pink parasol for my tiny drag act, an enormous encyclopedia and a Tinkerbell make up set – fairy endorsed. I set about applying pink lipstick to my chin until my father suggested I might like to read my encyclopedia.

It was a great day. There were plenty of presents, dinner was delicious and nobody wet themselves. It wasn’t until the evening, when I was starting to get sleepy, that Mum smiled and told me about the gift Santa couldn’t fit in my stocking.

She produced two boxes – one for me, and one for my younger, seahorse vest wearing sister. And we pulled out two dresses – visions of pink ribbon and tulle. Proof. Proof of glorious, unpredictable magic. Proof we were worthy of the powers those dresses would bestow upon us.

Looking back, I know the dresses were proof of a love even more potent than magic. Mum, who was taking care of a very young family, running a household and hated sewing even more than she disliked clothes and vanity, had been staying up, sometimes sitting in the dark when everyone else had gone to bed, stitching and cutting and pricking her fingers, because she wanted her daughters to believe in something mysterious and amazing.

I’ve spent my adult life searching for another fairy dress. Something to make me feel equal parts powerful and pretty, that I can jump and soar in. But then, maybe I don’t need a specific frock. Perhaps the fact someone loves me enough to have once made me one is what transforms all my dresses into fairy dresses.

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Sleeves Of The Week! Monsoon Eddie Embellished Dress, £119

By Daisy Buchanan on April 26th, 2013

Right at my core, there is a complex and unwinnable battle. Deep down, I know that to be chic is to be low key. I’ve seen too many pictures of Jackie Kennedy not to believe that the secret of style lies within the well cut. Supple silks and tasteful tweeds will take you everywhere. If you are understated, you will never be underdressed.

Monsoon Eddie embellished dress, £119

Monsoon Eddie embellished dress, £119

But then, the other of me is a MASSIVE GLITTER MONSTER who wants sequins and chiffon and shine, who always wants to look like Lady Gaga closing a show for Tom Jones in Vegas, if there were a Manumission in Vegas. And this Sleeves of the Week selection has somehow reconciled my yin with my yang, bringing me fashion serenity and inner peace. (Oh, come on. Did you really think I was going to get there through yoga?!)

The Monsoon Eddie dress is a bit Queen Elizabeth, a bit Bianca Jagger and a lot 1964. I reckon you could get away with it at a wedding, either as a guest or as a bride. (If you’re the guest, do check – don’t upstage anyone.) The sleeve and neckline detail is pretty blingy, so although the frock is over £100, you’ll save an absolute fortune on the many elaborate and expensive jewels that you’d normally rush out and buy to complement a new outfit. If you must accessorise, all you need is pearl studs and a sturdy chignon.

Steve Coogan’s Paul Raymond biopic, The Look Of Love hits cinemas this weekend. If you leave the screen with a thirst for the mod luxe, this is the perfect dress for channelling Imogen Poots.

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Monochrome – gallery of this season’s hottest op art style

By Ashley on April 22nd, 2013

Monochrome – the evergreen fashion theme that keeps on giving – is back big time this Spring/Summer. From wide black and white humbug stripes and large bold colour blocking, through to the ditsy polka dot, it is everywhere now. This is fashion at its most democratic! This clean-cut, sharp 60’s influenced monochrome look can work brilliantly for anyone regardless of age, size and budget.

Geo Bow Print Dress with Skinny Belt £22.75

Picture 1 of 12

A sleeveless woven dress featuring a geo bow print and skinny belt. Contrast double pointed collar with self-tie neck. Elasticized waist and slip with adjustable spaghetti straps included. Semi-sheer and partially lined. Forever21

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Sleeves of the week! ASOS paisley shift dress, £40

By Lauren Bravo on April 19th, 2013


The sun is finally out! The birds are singing, the children are laughing, across the country our flesh is emerging, mildly shellshocked, from beneath woolly layers to flirt coyly with something light and chiffony, and all the fashion editors are racing frantically to their keyboards to type “the sun is finally out!” at the beginning of an article.

So as the antidote to all that ‘beach ready’ bumf, and because we still live in Britain, not Belize, and because like a lot of women, I’d rather keep my arms under wraps for 90 per cent of the year if it’s all the same to you, here’s our very first Sleeves of the Week – proving that great dresses with sleeves DO exist on the UK high street, if you look hard enough and throw enough magic pennies in the wishing fountain. Cardigans, know your place.

This sprightly green number from ASOS is a nice bright take on what’s usually a wintery print, with elbow-length sleeves to boot – therefore flashing enough wrist to show seasonal willing, but still very firmly With Sleeve.

Plus, I’ve always had a soft spot for paisley. For some it might say ‘Grandad’s pyjamas’, but to me it says ‘has raucous weekend parties in a crumbling castle with Serge Gainsbourg’. Worn right, it’s the very definition of 60s louche.

If you were ever planning on re-enacting Megan from Mad Men’s ‘Zoo be zoo be zoo’ song in a semi-public scenario, this is definitely the frock to do it in.

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