Friday, 30 July 2010

Never too short to maxi!

Maxi-dresses and summer skip happily together hand in hand. There’s something very boho-luxe about a long dress, in a light-weight fabric, ruffling in the warm breeze, worn with jewelled flat sandals, loose hair, and long earrings.

Like my sunglasses inspiration, my go-
to inspiration for the maxi is the Olsen twins, particularly Mary-Kate. She knows how to work a maxi...and shows that you don’t have to be tall to carry them off (an idea that was peddled for years before shorter famous folk started wearing them and looking great!).

There always used to be the idea that if you are shorter and going to wear a maxi, then you should wear a heel or a wedge sandal to make sure you’re not swamped. But I really don’t think this is an issue if you buy a dress that doesn’t completely swamp you and make you look as wide as you are high! It’s all about the cut, the fabric, the style...and then decide your shoe from there. Don’t feel forced into a heel just because you’re channelling Kylie rather than Elle!

I’ve got a few maxi dresses in my wardrobe, some patterned (such as my slightly ridiculous snow white dress!), some plain and all of them work for summer and winter. In winter, I just put a sweater underneath, thick tights, some flat black boots and a short jacket (though this winter, there’s more of a 90s grunge look going on, where sweaters are going over top of dresses).

All of which brings me to this week’s lust item (above). I spotted this in M&S this week and almost bought it on the spot! It was so ethereal and light-weight...almost like a fairy skipping through the woodland (sorry, bit silly!). Not only is the fabric really pretty, it’s toughened up with the interesting black straps and statement zip on the back of the dress, which takes it back from the whimsy precipice!

It would look gorgeous for the summer with flats, although the black heels shown on the M&S website work well too because the dress is not full-on maxi and the shoes are completing the look rather than just being used to give height. And again I think it would work in winter with a sweater and boots.

And all for £45. M&S...I love you!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Chanel Inspiration

I think I’ve already hinted that I have a bit of a love affair with Chanel...admittedly it’s a long distance relationship (and one put under strain by the A/W 2010 yeti-inspired collection!) My love for Chanel is about inspiration, rather than acquisition – I almost faint when I look at the prices. This is especially true given the recent announcement of a 20% increase in the price of its bags so that the admittedly iconic Chanel 2.55 bag now costs...brace yourself...£2045!

But, if I did win the lottery,
one of the first things I would treat myself to (obviously after giving most of it away to charity and friends and family...(!)) would be a classic black Chanel dress and maybe a boucle suit. Even though Chanel is so classic and elegant, it still feels modern and fresh (such as this great photo of Vanessa Paradis in a gorgeous Chanel jacket) and inspires so much of what I wear.

I think this is true for
lots of women, even subconsciously. So many of us own handbags with chain straps – I have one that I bought from Marc B, who does a great range. The use of corsages (which I know became huge after Sex and the City) can also be linked back to Chanel and the iconic camellia. I have a black jacket which is boucle in styling, with frayed edges (and £10 in Zara!) which is clearly modelled on Chanel. And then there is the stripe...which Coco started wearing after seeing Breton sailors in their stripey tops. I’m going to sound a little repetitive here, but stripes are an integral part of my wardrobe.

At least one day a week, my outfit is inspired by Chanel...and this week is no exception (although there’s probably a bit more fussiness in what I’m wearing than in the simplicity of Chanel).

My striped Zara jacket, worn with the cheapy Uniqlo dress, my new Clarks raspberry pink shoes...and
floral Cath Kidson handbag (I love the mix of stripes and florals), with an old necklace from the Erickson Beamon range at Debenhams.

For some more Chanel inspiration...

If you are interes
ted in Coco Chanel (which I was even more so after seeing the brilliant Coco before Chanel) then I cannot recommend enough Axel Madsen’s “Coco Chanel: A Biography”. Her life is fascinating. I also noticed on Amazon that Justine Picardie is releasing a biography in September, so also worth a read when it comes out.

I received a gorgeous Christmas present from my brother last year, which is a book of classic Chanel designs - "Chanel: Collections & Creations. I love flicking through it and always find it inspiring.

And on screen, everything I’ve been reading about the new film ‘Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky’ says that it is beautiful and just stunning to watch.

p.s. how great are my new Clarks shoes! I’m in love!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Queen of Sunglasses

My friend Lisa is the queen of sunglasses. Come the first hint of sunshine, she is working a shade...and looking good! Take this morning, a walk along the South Bank in glorious sunshine and she is wearing a great, retro style pair of coral coloured sunglasses, which really complement the monochrome colouring of the rest of the outfit.

I love the fact that sunglass
es can really enhance what you wear. Even jeans and a t-shirt look better when you’ve got a great pair of sunglasses on. They’re yet another weapon in our accessories arsenal!

I struggle with them a
little because I need to wear glasses – so I either have to go down the prescription sunglasses route or wear contact lenses. And as someone who suffers with hayfever and allergies (which cause lumps on the inside of my eyelids...sorry, bit graphic!) wearing contacts every day isn’t an option.

I did once try to buy prescription sunglasses but it was a disaster. I went to B
oots and chose frames and lenses separately and never tried on a complete set before buying. Never, ever do this. Glasses that work with normal lenses do not necessarily work as sunglasses. These didn’t. And, it took three attempts just to get the lenses to something even approaching a reasonable darkness. At each attempt they were far too light and I looked like one of those sex pests you see in the newspaper, who always seem to be in a pair of tinted glasses! Even after three attempts, I still looked like a borderline sex pest, with sunglasses I would never wear...and a few hundred pounds worse off!

Years later I must still
be smarting from the experience, as I have yet to make a second attempt to buy a pair. Yet another summer is passing without an investment being made. I’ve been thinking that maybe I’ll get a classic pair of Rayban Wayfarers and have prescription lenses put in...but seem frozen with indecision. If anyone has any suggestions on glasses that work well as prescription sunglasses (i.e. I’m still going to want to wear them twelve months later!) then please (please!) send over ideas.

In the meantime, I will
be spending the rest of the summer struggling with contact lenses and wearing some reasonably cheap and cheerful high street sunnies.

I’ll be trying to emulate the wo
nderful Miss Chung with some fifties-ish styling in these Jeepers Peepers ‘Sandy’ sunglasses at £16

Topshop vintage stud glasses - £18

M&S retro sty
le tinted sunglasses – £9.50

Cheap Monday sunglasses
down to £9.99 from £20

Asos bridge details cats eye sunglasses - £10

And my ultimate sunglasses inspiration...the Olsen twins. Wearing classic, quirky, original, flattering, eccentric styles – in fact every style known to woman - often just in the space of one week!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Summer work wear

Shorter and sweeter again this evening! A long night in the office last night means I am barely functioning today. I really wanted to go and see an early evening showing of the new Vanessa Paradis film Heartbreaker but have a horrible feeling that sitting in a darkened room in a comfortable chair will mean only one thing...sleep!

So I’m going to take my sorr
y carcass home, collapse on the sofa, hopefully muster up enough energy to paint my nails (wondering about neon yellow...but not sure whether it should remain a weekend rather than work colour?!) and get an early night. And then get up early to meet my lovely friend Lisa for a breakfast stroll along the South Bank before work.

To follow on from last week’s
blog about work wear inspirations, this is one of my favourite summer work outfits...and naturally includes a stripe!

The gorgeous Hoss Intropia skirt I mentioned in my stripe blog (hopefully this photo shows how great the shape is), bargain jacket bought in a House of Fraser sale for £10, Uniqlo v-neck t-shirt, really, really old red wedge sandals from TK Maxx and...

Topshop belt and Oasis beads that wer
e a present (and I have them in mustard too!).

Other lovely work wear skirts which would look great with bare legs this summer...

Reiss skirt down from £70 to £24

Debenhams cerise skirt (I haven’t heard the word 'cerise' in years! It was my favourite colour back in the eighties!) - £30

Kimchi & Blue chambray button front skirt – down from £39 to £19.99 (I'm presuming the model is tall, so this would hit nearer the knee on me!)

Monday, 26 July 2010

I heart sequins!

Mr W has pointed out that Saturday’s blog was a tad on the negative side...when I had pledged that ‘Edna’ would be about what I like and not go down the route of snarking about everyone and everything! I did try to argue that I had ended with lots of gorgeous items that I not only like but borderline love...but I take his point; slagging off what I think are ugly shoes is not in the spirit of the blog!

So today I am going to be extra short (as I’ve written a few epics recently) and extra positive!

And so to sequins. I cannot get enough of them. They are a joy to behold. It isn’t possible for me to love them more! They don’t really need to be dressed up, as they
do that all by themselves, but I particularly love dressing them down. Some of my favourite outfits are jeans, a striped top and a black sequined jacket thrown over top. Or I have a burgundy sequined dress from a Warehouse sale a few years back which is quite tight, with ¾ length sleeves and is quite dressed up but I love wearing it with a grey cardigan and flat shoes. I also have some sequined peep-toe sandals that again look great with a scruffy pair of jeans.

I really think sequined clothing is great to buy in the sales. Come January the rails are just full of the post-festive season sparkle on the cheap; I always buy one or two items which can be saved for a sparkly outfit occasion or dressed down throughout the year.

In the shops right now, summer sequins that will work all year around...

Markus Lupfer - grey sequin bodice jumper, down to £95 from £227! On the designer sale website Cocosa. If you haven’t heard of Cocosa or you’re not a member, just email me!

Topshop premium sequined drape skirt - £85. This would look great with a white shirt tucked in.

Gorgeous sequin detail cotton shirt – Oli – down from £70 to £21

Converse sequined boots, down from £68 to £34. These would frankly look perfect with the black dress I bought from Uniqlo two weeks ago.

And for something that is so out of my price range that it’s in a different stratosphere but to me shows exactly how pared down and chic sequins can look – this from Calvin Klein (for inspiration rather than purchasing...unless you’re feeling flush!).

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Average woman in ugly shoes warning

A friend forwarded me an article from yesterday’s Guardian’s G2 supplement about ‘Worishofers’ – the latest ‘ugly’ shoes to become fashionable.

You migh
t not know the name but if you’ve ever been near that classic sort of shoe shop/ladies outfitters that would have catered for your nan you will recognise them. There are a few little variations (sling-back/mule etc) but essentially they are an orthopaedic demi-wedge with a cork sole.

Apparently the
cool young folk of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, have embraced them; Kirsten Dunst and Maggie Gyllenhaal have been photographed in them...and where they tread, us plebeians will no doubt at some point try to follow.

Though I hope that once again I have the strength to resist the march of the ugly shoe! I have never worn Uggs, or those fringed Moccasin knee high boots made popular by Kate Moss and I frankly turn the other cheek if I so much as pass a Croc shop!

As the G
uardian article points out, the wearing of ugly shoes such as the Worishofer is a style statement; one that says you are “beautiful enough to subvert the ugliness of the footwear”. To this I would add that ugly shoes and, in fact, ugly items of clothing in general, are not only the preserve of the beautiful, but also of the young and of the famous...or all three. For someone like me, an average looking woman, wearing ugly shoes is just that; an average woman in a bloody ugly pair of shoes!

I don’t think that every item of clothing or footwear has to be about how attractive you look, b
ut I generally try to make sure that what I’m putting on doesn’t actually take me a step backwards. The last thing I would like fashion to do is take me from average to shit, all in one cork-soled shoe!

Most of us (I mean anyone reading this!) generally try to use our clothes, our accessorises, our style, as something that enhances and improves us. Not that this means WAG style dressing, ultra-groomed, tanned, heeled, uber-handbagged. I like looking a little dishevelled, not always too put together, some clashing, unexpected items...generally trying not to look like you’ve walked out of a catalogue. But openly embracing really frikkin ugly clothing...nope.

So I will be leaving the Worishofers to the lovely Dunsts and
Gyllenhaals of this world...and will instead be wearing these.

These retro Clarks sandals that are just the right side of ortho! (and c
urrently being worn by Grazia’s fashion editor on her holiday).

They would look very cute worn with a very bright, neon polish – such as one from this Nails Inc collection (Kings of Neon!)

And a summer dress from the Pearl Lowe for Peacocks collection

Or the Oli tribal print dress

And maybe this Cambridge Satchel nonchalantly tossed on!

Not super sexy statement dressing, or cutting edge fashionista, but just generally rather super summer clothing...that would look pretty and flattering. Goodbye Williamsburg, hello West Norwood!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Lust items of the week – pretty t-shirts!

I don’t wear t-shirts a huge amount, at least the sorts of t-shirts shown below, so it is a bit strange for me to choose them as a lust item. But I am attempting to introduce a bit more of a casual LA style to some of my out of work dressing (haven’t quite got there yet!).

In summer I wear t-shirts to work but I’ve mentioned before they’re usually loose, quite draped affairs that work with my work wardrobe. The t-shirts below aren’t suitable for my office, so would definitely just be for my life outside of work. And I do find it difficult to dress down in jeans and a t-shirt. Like most women, jeans are something I find difficult to buy – getting the perfect fit and length is an uphill battle. Do you buy for flats or for heels? And I know that you read about the miracles performed by J-Brand or Earnest Sewn or DvB jeans but I struggle with the idea of spending over £150 on a pair of jeans!

When you’re short(ish…I’m 5ft4”) and don’t have legs like sparrows, wearing jeans with flat sho
es can sometimes make your legs look like chipolatas! I don’t want to have to wear heels to make my legs look better as for me it will then negate the ‘relaxed’ look I’m aiming for. But with jeans, t-shirts and flats there is always the risk that you can tip into thirtysomething Avril Lavigne-wannabe territory! I’m aiming for somewhere in the middle of skater teenager and high-heeled glamazon!

So I’ve learnt that I really have to accessorise well if I want to just wear jeans, a t-shirt and flat shoes. This usually means wearing a blazer, some long pendants, loose curly hair, red lips, painted toe-nails with sandals, a colourful handbag...things to ‘woman-it-up’ a bit!

I also don’t like wearing t-shirts that are tight. Over the years I’ve learnt that getting a size slightly bigger than you would normally wear is a little more flattering. Skin tight, with bra straps and bra overhang on display was never a great look!

Which leads me to these lovely ladies! Both
a nice cut and a pretty image on the front...but still grown up (always a risk with patterned t-shirts that you can look like you’re trying to be cool...years ago a friend bought a patterned t-shirt only for his wife to point out that the pattern actually spelled out ‘Yo’!!).

The Whistles one is in the sale and down to £15 (it reminds me of classic Barbara Hulanicki Biba illustrations) (speaking of which, she does a great range of bags for Coccinelle, if you fancy a splurge)

And this one is a little at the top end of what I would pay for a t-shirt at £45...but is very pretty (though not sure whether the owl has been savaged by the cat!)

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Working the non-celebrity look!

I read on twitter this morning a fashion blogger who had been asking her followers for their suggestions on what they would like to see more and less of in fashion magazines. The majority of the responses were:

  • More real life style
  • Good writing
  • Fewer celebrities
  • And less ‘you need this’ bossiness!

All things which I am hoping you’ll get on this blog! I guess the way that I have been feeling about a lot of fashion magazines and blogs is not uncommon...others are feeling it too.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t look at celebrity news and celebrity photographs (Mr W has just pointed out that he doesn’t, so I’ll change that to ‘any woman’!). I have a ludicrous level of interest in what certain people are wearing (Ms Winkleman, as already confessed to, but also Alexa Chung – this is what I was looking at earlier today!) and do get inspiration from them. But up to a point. My lifestyle has, at best, limited parallels with most celebrities! Hence their style inspiration and relevance can only go so far...before it’s utterly irrelevant to my daily grind!

I would love to see more photos of women, like myself, who work, don't have huge amounts of time or money, but love fashion and style and want to look good. I know that all the ‘street style’ images you now see in blogs and in magazines are supposed to balance this out by showing ‘real’ people...but they’re frequently people who work in the fashion industry or they’re students/fashion students/artists/other bloggers who dress in an ‘eccentric/challenging’ way – often Topshop, with clashing vintage piled on top!

I want to see women on their way to work, who aren’t wearing thousands of pounds worth of Balenciaga! They’re in Oasis, Cos, M&S, House of Fraser, Whistles, Urban Outfitters, Zara, Clarks(!)...the British high street, with vintage, smaller brands, and other quirky items picked up on the way in life thrown in. And they look good!

I saw a woman on the way to work this morning who was wearing such a great outfit and I thought ‘that is who I want to see on a blog/in a magazine’. Unfortunately it’s still early days and I haven’t quite gotten over my timidity in asking strangers whether I can take their photograph! But I will and I hope that I can start sharing images of women, going about their busy daily lives, that will be an inspiration to you and relevant to you.

And please feel free to send me your photographs too...I would love your feedback and to hear your inspirations!

And here’s some of my work wear inspirations at the moment:

NW3 from Hobbs



p.s. I did try to take some photos of what I was wearing today...but loading them onto the computer has made it crash a number of times and for the sake of sanity I'm going to leave it for one I'll post them another time!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Raspberry Delight!

Before I get onto the subject of today’s blog, I wanted to just mention something that is ridiculously important to me. Today is the one month anniversary of my blog!! A month today I posted my very first one! I feel very happy that I’ve reached the one month mark without becoming a flake and skipping days (I wanted to do six a week) or giving up because it takes too much time. I’ve been doing it a month and absolutely loving it! As much as I am loving writing this, I’m also really happy that people are reading thank you Edna’s audience! It means the world to me (which I know sounds a bit earnest but I mean it!).

So one month on, today’s blog is about raspberries. Or rather, the glorious colour raspberry. This has been partly inspired by a purchase (ahem!) I made this evening. I know, I know, abstinence was the mantra of this blog and yet in the past week I’ve bought two dresses, a jacket and now a pair of shoes. But, the shoes were last week’s lust item and I did warn you that if they went under £30 I was moving in for the kill...and they did! I chose the raspberry pink version, which is so pretty but not too girly, but also raspberry is going to take me nicely into autumn (when it’s seemingly going to be everywhere). They’re being delivered next photos of me skipping around South East London in them will follow!

I think raspberry red/pink is such a lovely colour. Not too pink to be girly and a bit “Legally Blonde” but also a little gentler and less dramatic to wear than red. I wore a stunning raspberry coloured By Terry lipstick on my wedding day, inspired by Sandra Bullock’s gorgeous make-up at this years Oscars.

Moving into autumn/winter (which I don’t really want to dwell on too much!) there’s going to be loads of raspberry around. House of Fraser has a feast of raspberry including this raspberry trilby (by Helene Berman) which I am dying to get my hands on.

Or on Asos you can get these great clog style boots from Shelleys (down from £115 to £58).

And on the subject of pink/red hues, I recently read something about the use of ‘pink for baby girls and blue for baby boys’ which I found fascinating. Up until around the 1940s, pink was considered appropriate for boys because being related to red it was the more masculine and decided colour, while blue was considered appropriate for girls because it was the more delicate and dainty colour!!

So embrace your 'masculine, decided' raspberry hues for next season!!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The spark into Marks & Spencer

Marks and Spencer; good old M&S. I confess up front that I do like M&S, as distinctly uncool as that is! I want it to do well – but I always feel like it lets me down a bit; it disappoints me.

I went in there today to look for a birthday present for my mum and while I did come out with something (I won’t say what in case she is reading!), I came away once again feeling bemused by the experience. It’s not as if it’s an absolute dump of a store (although some of the M&S’s in slightly less salubrious locations than Oxford Street could go under the description ‘dump’!) and it’s not as if it’s only filled with hideous clothes. There are some absolute gems in there...but my god do they make you work for them!

Finding anything in M&S amongst the mountains of clothes they stock is difficult anyway – they really need to discover the concept of ‘space’ in a retail experience. Wrestling amongst packed rails of clothes is not a pleasant experience...which is also ironic when you face the inevitable challenge of any M&S shopping experience...finding anything in your size! Never has a store seemingly gone to so many lengths to get their stock so completely wrong. It’s like panning for gold trying to go in M&S and come up with an item in the size you need!

I did say that I wanted this blog to be positive and about what I like in fashion...and I know this is sounding a lot like a moan! I do have massive gripes about M&S and their ongoing inability to get on top of their fashion difficulties and find it even more disappointing because they do stock some lovely, lovely items of clothing, accessorises and underwear. They have great collaborations, such as the underwear collection with Collette Dinnigan (see photos below). But if they really want to extend their reach into the ‘middle youth’ market, they need a serious rethink.

I only have to go a few minutes walk away to somewhere like Oasis to see what they’re up against. Gorgeous clothes, presented in an appealing, spacious environment, with a mixture of clothes, organised around different looks and with all sizes available...and on the right hangers! I enjoy wandering around Oasis and don’t really think the price points are so much more than M&S that it can use garment costs as an excuse. I think that Oasis just understand their market, listen to their customers and are more creative in what they do. M&S are perpetually playing catch-up.

So a lot of whinging...but because it does have good stuff and gets mocked. When I tell my other half that I’ve been looking around M&S he says ‘that’s not a shop for you’. Which is a shame...because these are some of the gorgeous things that were in store today and lots of women would never know because they’ve been put off going into M&S. A shame.

Limited Collection slash neck dress - £49.50 (linen and silk)

Limited Collection plaited jersey maxi-dress - £32

Henley neck empire line stud dress - £45

Limited Collection panel pump shoes - £19.50

Twin buckle block sandals - £39.50

Indigo Collection stud overnight bag - £49.50

Indigo Collection button through skirt - £25

Collette by Collette Dinnigan silk rich floral padded balcony bra & low rise shorts - £19.50 for bra and £12 for shorts

Collette by Collette Dinnigan spot padded balcony bra & knickers - £22.50 & £12

Monday, 19 July 2010

In celebration of stripes

In honour of the first outing of my new, rather fabulous striped jacket, I thought tonight’s post would be dedicated to my favourite print...the stripe!

I know they are ubiquitous and everyone wears them but there is a reason for this – they are timeless. They may be lauded and lapped up more some years than others – which for me just means that there are more to choose from – but they are never really out of fashion...because they’re not about fashion. Stripes are about style. And stripes are an integral part of my here are a few items from my wardrobe (but by no means my entire stripe collection!).

This Oasis top is very quirky, I love all the detailing, from the drawn on pockets to the puffy shoulders!

Classic woollen striped dress from Gap - worn to death!

Stripes and sequins - two of my favourite things!

Vintage jacket, bought for a song years ago, with knackered buttons replaced with these slightly battered military style ones. Nips in at the waist and fits like a glove!

The glorious Hoss Intropia skirt I mentioned in an earlier blog - this photo doesn't really do it justice (I think maybe another photo using the twirl device is needed!!)

I love stripes clashing with another pattern, such as a blue/black floral print in this old Topshop Unique jacket.

I call this my snow white dress! My lovely other half pointed out the resemblance when I brought it home from the vintage store...hence it's never been worn outside the house. Again I love the mixture of stripes with a floral pattern but do think I look like I'm in fancy dress when I wear it!
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