Archive for the ‘Fashion Tips’ Category

Accessories, Affordable Fashions, Contests and Giveaways, Department Stores, Events, Fashion Tips, Features, Spotted in London

Shiny gets styling with M&S!

By Daisy Buchanan on August 16th, 2013

Here’s what happened when Shiny Style were asked to help style competition winner Alec for a celebratory dinner in store at M&S…

 

Alex looking smart in his suit.

Alex looking smart in his suit.

Alec told us he wasn’t exactly a fashion fan, but as soon as we clocked his height and posture, we knew he’d be a dream to dress. We were tempted to steer him towards a very formal suit that he could wear to weddings and smart parties, but he told us he was actually looking for something a bit more casual and versatile, that he could wear with jeans on a night out.

We knew the range for him was M&S Limited Collection, which specialises in modern, slim fit cuts which look great on younger guys. Limited Edition pieces tend to start at a a fairly reasonable price point, so we had a bit more styling budget to play with – we even managed to find shoes for Alec.

It didn’t take long at all to find Alec’s dream suit – a dark grey two button number that set off his broad shoulders a treat. After trying a classic white shirt/red tie combo, we talked him into a very light lilac shirt  – because purple is for guys too…

The piece de resistance came in the form of a bright purple floral embroidered pocket square and matching tie. The pocket square gave the traditional pieces a modern feel, bringing the look right up to date while referencing a vintage, gentlemanly look.

The day was so much fun that we’re tempted to spend our weekends hanging about the M&S menswear department and seeing if there’s anyone there we can help out. Obviously, we would have been completely helpless if it wasn’t for the brilliant members of staff, who knew everything there is to know about fit and style.

Meeting Alec was a true joy – he should feel very proud of his achievements. We hope he had as much fun as we did, and that his partner enjoys the results during his special dinner.

Follow Alec @prozacprince



Contests and Giveaways, Department Stores, Events, Fashion Tips, Features, News

Shiny Gets Styling With M&S – Part One

By Daisy Buchanan on August 14th, 2013

tie 200At Shiny, we love a challenge – and to be honest, the usual ones we undertake are of the “I bet you can’t eat all these sausages!” variety. So we were thrilled when M&S asked us to undertake a proper, grown up challenge – being given a budget to style someone up in the best pieces from their ranges. And that person would be a man. It was to be our first major foray into menswear – and we’re keen that it won’t be the last.

We were asked to style up competition winner Alec, who had just graduated from his police training with the MET. His partner, had asked if M&S could find Alex the perfect suit so he could celebrate his achievements in style at a special dinner.

We knew that styling Alec would be exciting, but challenging too – and the biggest challenge of all would be listening to Alex and making sure our own feelings about fashion didn’t influence him too heavily, and that he ended up picking the outfit that suited his personality best.

Come back tomorrow to find out how we got on. Did we manage to avoid any Fast Show suits you references? Did we have to chase each other around the menswear department with tape measures a la Benny Hill? Were we allowed inside the actual men’s changing rooms? All these questions – and more – will be answered.



Fashion Tips, Features, Gallery, Knitwear, Opinion, Tops, Trend Alert

10 trends to get you excited about Autumn/Winter 2013

By Lauren Bravo on August 11th, 2013

All good things must come to an end, and that means summer. But it’s ok, because autumn is waiting in the wings and by golly, is she well dressed…

I’ve always felt that September is the real New Year. It’s that back-to-school feeling. Every summer I planned to arrive back for the autumn term transformed – new hair; new school shoes; new Ellesee rucksack.

Now that we’re grown up the September resolutions are still there, but it’s more about going back to style school – remembering how to put proper outfits together, after a summer of slouching about in increasingly creased cotton things and sandals like a beach urchin. Silhouettes become a thing to consider. Layering is an option again. There are exciting textures to play with, and exciting jumpers to wear on all those exciting nights in watching Downton with a blanket on your knees.

Autumn Winter 2013 is already looking mighty fine, and she’s not even here yet. Tartan, cocoon coats, mind-spinning animal prints, leather in shapes you’ve never seen leather before… here’s a preview of great pieces to keep your spirits up when the temperature drops.

The cocoons!

Picture 1 of 10

If only all AW trends were named after the things you really want to do during autumn and winter. The 'blackberry crumble' trend and the 'duvet on the sofa' trend could join cocoon shapes in our wardrobe, and we'd accessorise with a hot water bottle hat. Until that day, we have coats like this one from ASOS to wrap up in - textured, cosy, and specially designed to leave room for extra pudding while simultaneously keeping the draught out. Plus, it's orange.



denim, dresses, Fashion Crush, Fashion Tips, Features, Get the look, Movie fashion, Nostalgia, Opinion, So you want to look like, Television, Uncategorized

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.

@laurenbravo



Beauty, Fashion Tips, Features, Get the look, How to Wear, Nostalgia, Opinion

The rookie’s guide to liquid eyeliner (by a long-term lover)

By Lauren Bravo on July 16th, 2013

Eyeliner was introduced to the Western world in the 1920s with the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, and we’ve been getting in a tizzy over it ever since… Here’s how to do kitten flicks without looking like a dog’s dinner

Tutankhamun, early eyeliner icon

Tutankhamun, early eyeliner icon

I am in a make up rut.

I am the Marge Simpson of cosmetics – just the same wardrobe of Max Factor mascara, Garnier BB Cream, Bare Minerals foundation and L’Oréal Superliners in varying levels of crumbling dried-outness, stretching back ad infinitum. The rest of these items will get an upgrade every few years, or fall out of favour for a week or two while I play with something newfangled, but the one constant that always remains is the eyeliner.

Do you remember a time before liquid eyeliner? I do, dimly. I remember crayoning on khol, jabbing white pencils in my tear ducts to ‘brighten’ them, meticulously sponging on lilac shimmer up to my eyebrows – but it wasn’t until liquid liner made its triumphant comeback, around 2005, that I felt like I truly had eyes. Before that they were just plain, blinky holes in my face.

It all changed when the 50s and 60s stormed back into the present, kicked Dido into touch, and replaced the tedium of the early noughties with new icons like Karen O, Alison Mosshart and the queen of them all, Amy Winehouse. Women who gave great eyeliner. And because I was 17 and mastering a kitten flick seemed easier than trying to date someone from a low rent Brighton indie band, liquid liner became my hobby.

Eyes

These are my eyes.

Eight years on and I’m pretty sure my look has been relegated to the retro cast-offs bin for longer than it was ever fashionable (when Kate Middleton got married in sultry panda eyes, it drew a suitably thick line under eyeliner’s reign as an edgy make up choice), but I don’t care. It defineth my face. And I mean that literally because without it I have an incredibly oval head, like a boiled egg.

Every so often I’ll have a fit of spontaneity and ditch the liner, because it does make my lashes look twice the length, but I just end up squinting into mirrors halfway through the day wondering why there’s a pink balloon with a mouth drawn on, hovering where my head should be.

So like Coco Chanel’s red lipstick and Cindy Crawford’s mole, precision liquid liner is my beauty ‘signature’ – and unlike my actual signature, I’ve become quite good at it after years of practice. So good I feel qualified to lay down my liquid liner laws. Ignore them at your peril! Or just comment below and tell me I’m talking bollocks.

 

LAUREN’S LIQUID LINER LAWS

1.    Find your liner life partner

Eyeko Skinny LinerL’Oréal’s original Superliner (£6.49) has seen me quite literally through thick and thin. I love it because it has a flexible nib, somewhere between a felt tip and the flimsy brushes of yore, and because it stays put, but can also be easily wiped off during application if I mess up.

But if you feel more confident with a sturdier tip, Alexa Chung’s favourite is Eyeko’s Skinny Liner (right, £10), which is just like the felt tip you would use to do your famous bubble writing on school projects (bubble writing really was the social currency of the primary years, wasn’t it?).  The inky nib makes it easy to get right up close to the lash line and good for a really sharp flick. Shout out also to Eyeko’s mascaras – I’m in love with the Mascara Wardrobe (£21), which gives you lengthening, volumising and curling wands to swap in and out as you please.

2.    Thou shalt not rush.

Michelangelo didn’t do the Sistine Chapel in half an hour, and your liquid liner deserves the patience of a grand master too. But once you’ve got the knack, it’ll take no longer than shmooshing on a bit of shadow, I promise.

3.    Eyes open!

Yes, yes, we’re all scared of accidentally blinding ourselves. But screwing your eye closed while you apply is only ever going to leave you with a weird feathery line and a blackened tear duct. So eyeball fear in the face, learn not to flinch and keep them open – it makes it far easier to see how your liner is actually going to look when you’re awake, too.

4.    Diff’rent strokes.

One of the biggest myths people to seem to believe about liquid liner is that it needs to be applied in one complete sweep, from inner eye to outer, with no stops, no reversing and no do-overs, or else the make up police burst out from a cupboard and confiscate it in the name of Dusty Springfield and all things holy. NOT TRUE.

The best way is actually to start by using little strokes, bit by bit, to build up a line that perfectly follows the curve of your eyelid. Remember that school science experiment where you built a standing bridge out of wooden blocks? It’s almost, sort of, not entirely unlike that.

5.    To err is human

If you go wrong along the way, don’t just keep painting over the mistakes until you can barely see – stop and wipe off the wonky bits as you go. You can get fancy with a cotton bud and eye make up remover if you like, but my preferred method is spitty finger.

6.    Think thin – at first

Even if you fancy bold, felt-tipped go faster stripes, it’s best to start with a skinny little line right up against your lashes. You can always go back and thicken it afterwards, but drawing it halfway up your eyelid from the off is a sure-fire way to look like an Avril Lavigne tribute act (Avril Latrine).

7.   Keep to your zone

The bigger the eyeliner flicks, the more chance there is they’ll look a bit ropey, or rub off during the day. So as a rule of thumb, the tip of the flick should line up diagonally with the end of your eyebrow and protrude no further.

8.    May the best flick win

Now, you’re a busy lady. You’ve got stuff to do. You’re halfway through that PHD and the cat needs worming and Storage Hunters is on in a minute. You don’t have hours to spend with a protractor, checking the exact angle on each eyeliner flick. I get that.

But nothing undoes the power of a slick lick of liquid liner quicker (or makes your face look wonkier) than mismatched flicks at the end. So my rule is: may the best flick win. Freestyle as best you can, and if one comes out thin and spindly, the other thick and blocky, pick the one you like best, wipe the other off and try to recreate it so they match.

@laurenbravo



Fashion Tips, Fashion's biggest myths, Features, Opinion, Uncategorized

Fashion’s biggest myths: the summer special

By Lauren Bravo on July 11th, 2013

Summertime, and the dressing ain’t easy… so the last thing you need is false information. Lauren Bravo blasts the myths of hot weather dressing.

 50s models on the beach

 

There is such a thing as a ‘summer work wardrobe’

beige shorts Apricot

Apricot

There really isn’t. As far as we’ve been able to discern, summer workwear as a concept was invented for the same reasons Valentine’s Day and the Queen’s Jubilee were – to fill magazine, shift merchandise and be a disappointment to all involved.

Glossy mags love to talk abut summer workwear because for them, as for their papery cousins, summer is silly season. And it doesn’t get a lot sillier than telling people they need beige city shorts and Perspex-heeled mules and a fedora to go to the office in the morning.

What summer workwear really boils down to, of course, is not boiling down – it’s just normal workwear but thinner, lighter, and far harder to wear a suitable bra with. Safari suits, white trousers, silk jumpsuits with bits made of rope, like a poorly assembled parachute. These are not the stuff great summers are made of.

Besides, if you work in the sort of environment that requires smart attire, you probably also work somewhere that is air conditioned up to the hilt from March to October, and so what you need isn’t a summer work wardrobe. It’s a summer work jumper.

 

Nobody can tell you’re chafing

Model wearing shorts and crop top from Pilot

Pilot

Hey you! You there! Yes you, behind the skip, fishing your hotpants out of your crotch for the fifth time this hour – coo-eee!

We feel your pain. No, we actually feel your pain – in the words of The BeeGees, we can tell by the way that you use your walk, you’ve a denim pang, no time to talk. Lots of trends are cruel in their own way, but summer trends are especially cruel because where comfort’s concerned, they go for the jugular. Or the inner thigh. Or the blistered bit of toe that’s squeezing out, misshapen, from your directional wooden platforms.

Those shorts may look fly, those heels may be sculptural beauties and the vice-tight pencil skirt very Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but when the overriding effect is “discomfort and intimate sweating”, it might not be worth the effort.

 

Just throw something on!

Kaftan dress, La Redoute

La Redoute

Just chuck on something light and breezy! Something ambiguous made of jersey! Something that might be a top or a dress or a skirt or none of the above! HURRY UP you have outdoor frolicking to do. Fun, yes?

The ‘throw it on’ myth stems largely from sycophantic celebrity interviews and passages in syrupy books, where people with golden skin like caramel are forever rolling out of bed, draping themselves in something charmingly sloppy and bounding out into the sunshine with birds’ nest hair and a winning smile to charm the world. It’s a lovely notion.

But what it fails to recognise is that summer involves a lot of drippy things. Sun cream, ice cream, ketchup, pulled pork tacos from whatever freestyle pop-up street food fandango has thrust itself into your face this week; it’s a time of gastronomic abandon, which means it’s also a time of mystery stains on basically everything you own.

Add to that the fact that summer also means keeping your clothes in a floor-heap because you’re constantly shedding them, snake-like, every time you get beetroot-faced on the walk back from the bus stop, and suddenly the lovely notion of rolling out of bed, pulling something on and bounding out into the sunshine means you’ll probably catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror later and find you’ve morphed into Billie Piper from that year she was married to Chris Evans.

But hey, if you’re cool with that then so are we.

@laurenbravo



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.

@laurenbravo

 



Fashion Tips, Features, Opinion

The curious case of Summer Girl

By Lauren Bravo on July 5th, 2013

We all know her. We all want to be her. We all think she’s lovely, and we all secretly want to beat her to death with a shoe. She’s Summer Girl, and she’s here again.

summer girlSummer Girl is a freak, mutant strain of woman. She’s a Disney cartoon come to life, whichever one it was that had woodland creatures greet her each morning and looked great in denim cutoffs.

On Sunday, while the rest of us woke up, saw the weather, and ran around the kitchen in our pants, wielding a razor and shrieking “Not yet! Not yet! I haven’t done the 30 day squat challenge or had microdermabrasion on my elbows!”, Summer Girl is the one who calmly rolled out of bed, pulled on something tiny and wafty made of linen, and had bluebirds braid her hair while she sipped iced tea from a rosebud.

Summer Girl smells like a cotton-fresh breeze and looks like a cool glass of lemonade. Summer Girl never gets blisters. She can wear smock tops without looking pregnant, sandals without looking elderly, and maxi dresses without looking like a bad school play.

Summer Girl has boundless energy, and likes to spend her time engaged in semi-sporting pursuits like Frisbee and tree-climbing. She will insist on climbing to the bit of the hill with the best view, while you were content to eat the picnic in the car park. She can do all of this with zeal, because Summer Girl never sweats. She doesn’t even glow, but retains a velvety-matte finish at all times. She never finds herself stickily adhered to leather upholstery, and she never buys a Big Issue just to use it as a makeshift fan.

But the interesting thing about Summer Girl is that she, like a delicate flower, only blooms for a short while. Her glory period is May to August, and maybe the occasional freak heatwave in March. The rest of the year she conserves her energy by being mediocre, hiding the perfect limbs beneath big jumpers and boring jeans, biding her time until the day she will coolly eat a 99 without ever, at any moment, getting a milky moustache.

@laurenbravo



Accessories, Affordable Fashions, Fashion Tips, Features, Gallery, Get the look, Jewellery, Trend Alert

Statement necklaces: the next generation

By Lauren Bravo on July 4th, 2013

They’re bigger, bolder, and your neck is going to be aching even more. Grab some Deep Heat and embrace the next generation of statement necklaces

If you’ve got a crick in your neck this summer, you’re not alone. As one of the most prevalent trends of the year, massive, scene-stealing necklaces might be taking their toll on the muscles but they’re still a mercy for those who, like me, use costume jewellery to compensate for the fact they’ll probably never be Mayor.

And the good news for chiropractors the country over is that necklaces aren’t shrinking any time soon. The next generation of statement necklaces will be just as big and bold, if slightly less brash – less adorning ourselves with items called “neon warrior”, more precious stones, interesting textures, and a divergence between intricate craftsmanship and things you could have glued together yourself after a rummage in that dusty shoebox you optimistically keep “craft materials” in.

Here are 10 we love:

Box chain rhinestone necklace, £25 Topshop

Picture 1 of 10

Because once the neck strain finally outweighs to style points, we’re predicting a return to more delicate, but still dramatic, pieces like this trinkety number from Topshop. Beautifully colourful without being faddy in neon, it’ll look perfect with bare shoulders on balmy holiday evenings.



Accessories, Fashion Tips, Features, Nostalgia, Wardrobe stories

The five weirdest things I’ve found while clearing out my wardrobe

By Lauren Bravo on July 1st, 2013

In two weeks’ time I’m moving out of the flat I’ve lived in for three years, and in which I have accumulated about 30 years’ worth of possessions. Here, after some very stiff competition, are the five oddest things I’ve found in my wardrobe.

 

clogsThe clogs, 2010

Do you remember spring 2010? The Icelandic ash cloud, the coalition government, and the biggest destructive force of all – me, in these bad boys.

You’re forgiven for forgetting, as infinitely more important and less, well, wooden things were going on, but for several months in 2010, clogs were a thing. The blame lay with Karl Lagerfeld for designing them, Alexa Chung for wearing them (note: a woman who never needs to walk up the stairs on a bus), and to a far lesser extent me, for singing their praises on this very website.

At the time I was skint, living on Pizza Express vouchers my parents used to send me from their Tesco Clubcard points, so when I found these in the Brighton Barnardo’s shop, my brain neatly overlooked their supreme ugliness in favour of the fact that they a) were undeniably clogs, b) were my size and c) were £14. And reader, I wore them. My ankles have never been more toned, or more regularly almost broken.

The verdict: Charity shop, so they can stop clogging up my wardrobe. Sorry.

 

The fantasy fedora, 2011

Proving that you don’t need many years hindsight to identify a purchase as ridiculous, this black felt fedora (I am calling it a fedora; I don’t know if it really is a fedora or if I just want to use the word fedora because it sounds more ‘fashion’ than trilby) was bought in the Topshop sale just after the Christmas before last. I thought it was androgynous, enigmatic and bookish, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what its magic was.

My boyfriend solved the mystery the next day, when I arrived in Edinburgh for Hogmanay and he confirmed I looked exactly like Terry Pratchett.

The verdict: Keep, in preparation for the Discworld-inspired Dior collection that I’m sure will be happening any season now.

 

The ballroom dancing shoes, 2007

ballroom dancing shoes“Oh,” you might reasonably ask, “did you used to do ballroom dancing?” No, I have never done ballroom dancing. Unless you count breaking out the odd salsa move at Favela Chic of a long-ago Friday night. But not knowing my foxtrot from my elbow was never an obstacle to me cracking out these babies. They were discovered in Absolute Vintage off Brick Lane in my first year of uni, when my craving for all things vintage (musty) knew no bounds, and 45 per cent of the floor of my tiny halls of residence room was a carpet of pre-loved footwear. In fact, so great was their tea dancey, end-of-the-pier appeal that I bought a pair in silver too.

Because they were designed for go-go grannies they were insanely comfortable and I would regularly march them to the pub, the post office and the kebab shop, hoping someone would spontaneously ask me to dance, like something in a nauseating indie film. Nobody did.

The verdict: Recycling bin. These did too much bopping to The Klaxons to be any use to anybody now.

 

The quilted bed jacket, 2005

Cardigans and I have always had problems. Like the friendly aunt you secretly suspect hates you, their cosy, cossetting ways fail me every time I try. In a cardigan, I am instantly Lorraine Kelly – hence the devotion to the alternative cover up in our Sleeves of the Week series.

In 2005 I was 17 and dressed like a much less successful version of Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink, mainly in lumpen vintage frocks from eBay. I was unpretty in plaid, unpretty in polka dots and unpretty in an awful lot of polyester. But by far the worst time was summer, when adolescent angst about my upper arms meant May-September were one long mission to keep myself concealed under anything slightly edgier than a cardigan. The best success was my 1950s bed jacket – quilted, pistachio-coloured with little puffed sleeves, I thought it was the last word in summer elegance and happily sweated my way round town, confident I had beaten the curse of the cardigan.

My friends, always quick to point out the incongruity of my wardrobe choices, referred to it as “the duvet”.

The verdict: Keep, if only for future occasions on which I might actually be bed-bound.

 

The woolen polo neck poncho, 2010

I went to Bristol for the weekend in May 2010, anticipating balmy spring weather, and it was very, very cold. So very cold that it induced me to buy an emergency black knitted polo-neck poncho from a charity shop – which I’m sure we can all appreciate is very cold indeed.

The verdict: My eyes! My eyes! Has the bonfire stopped smoking yet?

 

@laurenbravo



Affordable Fashions, Fashion Crush, Fashion Tips, Features, Festivals, Opinion, Sleeves of the week, Style spotlight, Trend Alert

Sleeves of the week! Boohoo.com tasselled jumpsuit, £30

By Lauren Bravo on June 26th, 2013

Shake those tassles, baby. This week we’ve discovered a jumpsuit to jump at (but not into a tent, thanks)

Tassled Sahara jumpsuit Boohoo.comDespite every fashion journo urge in my body bidding me otherwise, I am not going to tell you to wear this jumpsuit at a festival.

It may be pure, louche, rock and roll, with its theatrical tassels and Oriental-inspired monochrome like the lovechild of Stevie Nicks and a sexy dressing gown, and every media publication in the country might currently be falling over itself to jam ‘festival’ references into every other paragraph, but I’m going to resist – because everyone knows that the most important criteria for festival dressing is ease of public urination, and jumpsuits are the enemy of the toilet trip. You can do all the artful layering and directional trousers you like, but if there’s no direct route of access for a she-wee at the crucial moments, you will end up with a rep as “angry naked squatting lady” or a bad case of cystitis, or both.

But luckily for the rest of us sleeve-fanciers, not everyone is at a festival this week. Or all summer, even, unless Edinburgh counts. So on behalf of all the indie bush squatters, let’s wear this fantastic jumpsuit to a bar, or a restaurant, or indeed anywhere indoors with proper loo facilities, and give those tassels the shimmy they deserve.

Sahara jumpsuit, £30 Boohoo.com



Affordable Fashions, denim, Fashion Tips, Features, Festivals, Gallery, Style spotlight, Trend Alert

Go shorty: eight great pairs of shorts you can buy online

By Lauren Bravo on June 25th, 2013

Short and sweet, short and studded, short and stretchy and loud – we’ve got ‘em all, and you don’t even need to leave the house

Shopping is one thing. Shopping in summer is another thing, and shopping for teeny shorts in a 3ft x 3ft sweat box with fluorescent lighting that makes you look like one of the pasty boy scouts from Moonrise Kingdom is quite another altogether.

Which is why we’ve rounded up eight awesome pairs of shorts that you can buy online and try on in the comfort of your bedroom instead. Some classic denim, some beaded boudoir shorts, some print, some embroidered, one pair that looks like something the twins from Fun House might have worn for a big night out on the Skelter Belter.

The trick with shorts isn’t about the length or girth or whatever of your legs, it’s just about getting a pair that fits perfectly – no bunching, no pinching, no needing to stop every 30 seconds to fish them out from between your legs where they’ve ridden up like a theatrical curtain. I mean, we all know that the girl who “walks like Rihanna” in that The Wanted song is simply suffering from a bad case of disappearing crotch denim. So find a pair that hugs you real nice.

Levi's reclaimed vintage denim shorts, £40 ASOS

Picture 1 of 8

You could buy an old pair of Levi's jeans, and cut them into shorts one hot, spontaneous day with a pair of kitchen scissors, then wear them on a whole summer's-worth of adventures until they are appealingly frayed and slashed in just the right places, and everyone looks at you admiringly and thinks, "wow. She's a wild one.". Or you could just buy these ones instead.



Beauty, Fashion Tips, Features, Opinion, Opinion peice, ShinyStyle Investigates, Skin

ShinyStyle tries: Priori CoffeeBerry Enzyme Peel and Omnilux Light therapy

By Lauren Bravo on June 20th, 2013

Can a skincare slattern change her ways? Lauren Bravo tries her first fancy facial

I have had only two facials in my life before, both of them as a teenager and both in the spa at Center Parcs.

For a beauty enthusiast this might be surprising (I once applied mascara during a 3am fire drill), but I just have a far stronger interest in putting stuff on my face than I do in scrubbing it off. Plus, white towelling dressing gowns make me queasy.

As a teen I had consistently spotty skin for years, and stoically worked my way through every lotion and potion on the market until eventually, savings account empty and epidermis resentful, I just gave up and started doing nothing instead. The spots went away*.

Courthouse Clinics, Wimpole Street, London

Courthouse Clinics, Wimpole Street, London

For seven merry years I continued with a regime that was erratic at best, lazy at worst, and have enjoyed pretty good skin all the while – but now at 25 (I know, I know, the decrepit horror) I’ve started feeling the urge to ‘do’ skincare again. There are fine lines under my eyes where make up often settles in goulish grey creases. Sometimes if I look at my pores really hard in the mirror, I think I see a tiny person who has fallen into one of them, waving at me. I have no intention of trying to fight time, but if I could make friends with time and persuade it not to turn me into a handbag, that would be nice.

So when Courthouse Clinics invited me for a Priori CoffeeBerry Enzyme Peel and Omnilux light treatment at their London Wimpole Street clinic, I leapt at the chance. Actually, first I asked “WILL MY FACE LOOK LIKE MEAT?”, remembering that Sex and the City episode where Samantha has a chemical peel, and then I leapt at it – duly reassured that my skin would be ravishing, not raw.

My lovely facialist Kelly starts by asking about my current skincare routine. Sheepishly I admit that my sole cleanser for the past five years has been those cucumber wipes that are always on a 3 for 2 in Boots. But, I hastily continue, turning 25 has opened my eyes to a whole world of skincare, and I would like her to guide me through it now please. She looks at me as though I am the prodigal daughter, returned.

I decide I love her when she validates one of my favourite pastimes, confirming that spot-squeezing is ok. It’s ok! “As long as you do it right,” she adds. “Most people don’t.” I’m pretty sure I do it right – candles, music, a glass of wine after.

My 'redness' scan. Fetching, yes?

My ‘redness’ scan. Fetching, yes?

Kelly then goes on to impart so much wisdom that I wish I had a notepad and pen by my treatment bed, and try to mentally inscribe it on the insides of my eyelids instead. I learn that genetics play as big a part in the ageing process as sitting in the sun drinking martinis; I learn that I should cleanse twice, once to wash away the dirt and grime of the day, and once to really get deep down into my skin; I learn that the teeny, colourless bumps I get on my jawline and forehead are most likely caused by product overload (which makes sense, as I treat moisturiser like a barbecue condiment – pile it on, three types at once).

Once I’m cleansed and absolved of my skincare sins, I sit in front of the clinic’s fancy new gadget, a ClearVision 3D scanner. Like that friend with a posh camera who specialises in taking the least flattering photos known to man, it snaps me with four different filters to show the extent of my wrinkles and UV damage. I look like a Doctor Who villain. I wait for Kelly to tell me it isn’t that bad. “You can see here, the deepest lines under your eyes,” she indicates my little wrinkles, which are now terrifying crevices “and there’s some redness here by your nose that looks like a spot forming.”

“But… it’s not that bad, right?” I plead. “No,’ she eventually concedes. “It’s about average for your age.”

The antioxidant-packed CoffeeBerry peel goes on like any face mask and smells delicious, like vanilla rather than a macchiato. It tingles just enough to convince me it’s really doing something. Then it all gets a bit Doctor Who again as the Omnilux light machine is placed over my face, under which there’s barely room to wiggle my nose. A light as bright as the sun is shone into my eyes, through my goggles and tightly-screwed-shut eyelids and, I am convinced, right into my brain. For a moment I panic. I can’t cope. I am Icarus. I am going to melt. I- oh wait, it’s quite nice actually.

Once my eyeballs have adjusted it really is pleasant – warm and peaceful, a bit like basking on a sunny beach. “It’s my clients’ favourite,” Kelly tells me. “They all tell me how calm and zen they feel afterwards.” I generally get my zen from Nutella and Seinfeld boxsets, but I can see the appeal in this too. After twenty minutes I emerge feeling like I’ve had a holiday, and my face is cushiony soft. I can’t stop poking it.

Priori Advanced AHA Gentle Cleanser

My swanky new cleanser

Kelly finishes by smoothing on a serum, then a facial SPF, and then lets me play around with Priori’s CoffeeBerry mineral makeup – much like my usual Bare Minerals, it gives great coverage and I look glowily golden. Nothing short of a lottery win or sudden promotion to Pope will mean I can afford the course of six peels and light treatments she recommends, but I leave with a bottle of Priori Advanced AHA Cleanser, vowing that I will use it loyally and not be a product slag.

At home my boyfriend greets me with, “Oh my god your skin looks amazing!” – which is the response we had pre-arranged by text, to be fair, but his delivery sounds heartfelt. A week on and my face looks smoother, brighter, more even and in need of much less make up than before – not the kind of difference anyone’s going to cross the street to comment on, but I can tell.

More importantly, it’s also heralded a new era for my face. Armed with all my knowledge, I’m doing proper cleansing every day and using eye cream and moisturiser in the way dermatologists intend, not slathering it on like butter on toast. If I keep it up, I’d say time and I are going to be jolly good pals.

The Priori CoffeeBerry Natureceutical Enzyme Peel and Omnilux Light Therapy are available at Courthouse Clinics, starting at £65 for the peel and £55 for the light therapy

*Not that I’m advocating sleeping in your make-up, kids. My skin is probably just of a contrary persuasion, like Superman in Bizarro World.



Beauty, Fashion Tips, Features, Hair, Opinion

The eight worst things about going to the hairdresser

By Lauren Bravo on June 18th, 2013

For a ritual that’s supposed to count as pampering, having your hair done sure is a stressful business. Lauren Bravo rounds up the worst bits.

hairdresser cutting hair

1) Trying to establish whether or not your hairdresser is A Talker. “They probably don’t want to chat,” you tell yourself. “They’ve had a long day, perhaps they’d like to be alone with their thoughts for an hour or two. Why should I bombard them with my blather? Why do we have to fake a friendship based entirely on serum and why my fringe flicks upward on some days and downward on others? Let’s both just BE for a while.”

Then after four silent minutes, the pressure gets to you. You remember all the cosy, women’s mag articles you’ve read about a hairdresser being a girl’s best friend, confidante, therapist and mother all in one, and you feel inadequate. Maybe they do want to chat, it’s just that they’ve judged you unchattable-to. WHY can’t you chat? You are a person, with thoughts, and things – why shouldn’t you share them with this nice stranger? Particularly when the nice stranger is holding scissors menacingly close to your jugular.

So you grope desperately for something to say. You can’t ask them about holidays, obviously, because that’s a massive cliché and would probably offend them. “Just because I’m a hairdresser,” they might bellow back, “it doesn’t mean I spend all my time getting in a tizzy over package deals to Zante. Talk to me about the G8, or Proust, for God’s sake.”

But you don’t know anything about the G8, or Proust. “Um,” you say. “It looks like it might rain.”

2) The repeated enquiries about whether you’re happy with the water temperature. Nobody in the history of hairdressing has ever had a problem with the water temperature. And if you did, the blistering skin or blue lips would probably tip them off without you having to say.

3) Staring at your own face in a mirror under fluorescent light for upwards of two hours while your hair is placed in unnatural parting arrangements, making one look like one’s mother in her secondary school photo.

4) Needing the toilet but not being sure if you’re ‘allowed’ to go with a head full of foils. What if you do something that weirdly affects the colour while you’re peeing? What if you get the big flappy gown trapped somewhere unfortunate?

5) When they ask you how you like your hair blow-dried, and the only answer you can think to produce is “err.. until it’s dry?”

6) When they ask you if you would like to purchase some of the products used on you today and your mouth says, “Ooh, not today but maybe next time” while your face says “wonder if they sell it in Savers?”

7) When the hairdresser asks, smoothing your beautifully coiffed new ‘do into a style that deserves swishy exhibition, what you are doing that night. Because obviously, you must be going out tonight. You’re a hip young thing, and you’ve just spent an eye watering sum on having somebody preen you! So telling the truth, that you’re going to spend it on the sofa trying to complete the American states quiz on Sporcle, feels like failing your hairdresser. They will look at you in the mirror with sad eyes and think “My art! For what?”

So you lie and tell them you’re going on a hen night, or something.

8) The tipping. Oh lord, the tipping. Never in life (not even when someone produces a cricket set and suggests a casual two innings) am I more uncomfortable and awkward than when tipping, or failing to tip, a hairdresser. What’s worse is that NOBODY seems to know the rules, and when I ask people their responses run the whole gamut from “nothing, are you MAD? It already costs the same as a small bungalow in Aberystwyth” to “I slip a fifty in their pocket and kiss their feet, weeping.”

You know if anyone deserves the tip it’s the poor, harried hair-washers – but it’s pretty hard to get to them when there’s a beaming stylist in front of you. With scissors. Just rounding up the price would be a straightforward enough idea, except that my half head of highlights costs £88. What do I round to? £95? £100? Is it meant to be at least 10%, like a restaurant? Do I leave a sodding £12 tip and let my colourist think I’m secretly in love with her, for the sake of maths? DO I?

If anyone can shed any light on the matter, please comment below. My split ends and I thank you.

@laurenbravo



Beauty, Fashion Tips, Features, Get the look, Opinion, Opinion peice, Trend Alert

What does your selfie say about you?

By Lauren Bravo on June 17th, 2013

Let she who is without selfies cast the first moan! But if selfies could speakwhat would they say?

Classic pout

“I’m a traditional gal. I don’t deviate. like mild peri-peri on my Nando’s, and Paul McCartney is my favourite Beatle.”

Extreme pout selfie

The extreme pout

Extreme pout

“By playing with the proportions of the conventional photographic pout, I am making a comment on the nature of our society’s obsession with lip-to-face ratio. Also, look at me all minxy.”

Satirical pout

satirical pout selfie

The satirical pout

“This is what people do in selfies, yes? I’ve heard it is, but I can’t be sure as most of my time is taken up with poi swinging, not using Facebook and working on my quinoa recipe blog, Keen-a for Quinoa.”

‘The shoes’

“As this is only 20% a photo of my shoes and 80% a photo of some floor, so you’d be forgiven for commenting, “Hey! Nice floor!”. But that isn’t the intended response.”

‘The legs’

“Legs can’t be narcissistic, right? They’re just legs! Lovely, practical legs! Legs for climbing mountains, dancing a merry jig or, on this occasion, casually lying prone on a sun lounger under a light coating of shimmery body oil.’

the mug selfie

The mug

‘The mug’

“You think this is premium Venezuelan java. It’s actually Robinson’s Fruit & Barley. Now let’s read some Sartre.”

‘The mirror’

“Isn’t this a lovely toilet? Look, they have those nice quilted paper hand towels and everything. Try to focus more on my sassy outfit and less on the fact I’ve just urinated.”

The ‘new hair’

“This is legitimate. I have new hair! I must garner opinions! If a tree falls in the forest and nobody comments on its new hair, does it really exist?”

sleepy selfie

The sleepy

‘The sleepy’

“It’s pretty hectic, being me. But please don’t be associating my tiredness with the same sort of tiredness that produces eye bags and sleep farting and a little trail of crusty drool on one’s face. Mine is a different, sexy tiredness. Je suis fatigue. Look at my artfully rumpled hair. Are you imagining me in bed yet?”

‘The dopey’

“Geez, I’m so ditsy y’all. I didn’t even mean to take this – I was trying to pay my council tax using my online banking app, but before I knew it I’d snapped myself looking adorably gawky with my mouth slightly open. Still, shame to let it go to waste.”

‘The sneezy’

At the time of going to print, this wasn’t yet a selfie trend.

the dopey selfie

The dopey

There is a boyfriend in your photo

“OH LOOK I HAVE A BOYFRIEND!”

Your heads are bent together coyly

“NO I ACTUALLY DO I SWEAR”

His face is partially obscured because he is nuzzling your neck/kissing your cheek

“SEE? I AM SO ADORED.”

The arms’-reach, almost, just about, could feasibly not be a selfie

“But it obviously is.”




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