Monday, 28 February 2011

Maternity shopping revelations

I promised that just because I’m pregnant, I wouldn’t turn Edna into a maternity clothing blog...which I hope I’ve stuck to! But, over the last few months I’ve entered a whole new world of shopping and wanted to share my experiences so far.

I knew from general grumblings in the past from pregnant friends that maternity wear can be fraught with fashion frumpery and shopping can become a depressing experience.

The choice has got better but it’s still not an experience that fills you with the usual shopping thrill.

I know some people swear by specialised brands such as Isabella Oliver - which does have a seven day sale on at the moment - but forking out around the £100 mark for a dress that will only be worn for a few months seems like quite a splurge.

I’ve been focusing on what’s available on the high street because that’s where I do most of my shopping anyway and I don’t want to spend a fortune on clothing that has a limited shelf life.

This is what I’ve discovered...

  • Shops seem obsessed in selling pregnant women combat trousers. Even if they haven’t got a single pair in the rest of the store, they always seem to stock them for their maternity range. I know comfort is key in pregnancy but I’m not sure why this automatically translates to dressing like All Saints circa 1998!

  • Even big department stores seem reluctant to give floor space to maternity clothing. I went into John Lewis on Oxford Street and wandered around for a while trying to find maternity clothes. Eventually I asked and was told that it was only available online...not a single item of maternity clothing over five floors! (But in wonderful John Lewis style the person was so helpful and friendly that it was impossible to get cross about it!)

  • The best maternity items I’ve bought have been maternity tights and leggings (from H&M)...worth every single penny. You can wear the loveliest, most comfortable maternity dress but if you have normal tights on digging into your pregnant belly or rolled down underneath your belly and cutting off the blood supply to your nether regions, you will not be a happy lady! I know, I attempted it a number of times and almost tore the tights off in public!

  • It can be very difficult to maintain your usual style of dressing if you rely solely on maternity wear. Too many ranges do err on the very conservative side and can be very uninspiring. Topshop has one of the best maternity ranges that actually resembles its main you don’t feel like you’re totally sacrificing style for comfort. 

  • Dressing throughout pregnancy is much easier if you’re more of a dress than trouser/jean wearer. I pretty much live in dresses and so many of my normal dresses have been fine so far...I’ve had to buy far fewer clothes that pregnant friends I know who usually live in trousers.

  • Finally, to keep your shopping and style sanity, don’t limit your maternity wear shopping to maternity departments. So much of the normal collections are fine in pregnancy...anything with an empire line is great, stretchy jersey is perfect and lots of other clothes are fine in a slightly bigger size than you usually fit into (and dresses in a larger size can often be worn post pregnancy with a belt to cinch them in).

So far, all I’ve bought are maternity tights and leggings, new underwear (underwired bras feel like cheese wire across your chest!), my maternity winter coat...and I had a little spree in Dorothy Perkins last week, which had a 20% off everything voucher that was itching to get used!

I bought three dresses...all suitable for a growing bump and not one from the maternity range.

And this is one of them...bought in the sale for £22 and with 20% off...worn for a birthday meal with Mr W! The waistline is just above the bump and it's a stretchy jersey so can accommodate the growth (I know I don't really look it in these photos, but I am five months pregnant and have quite a big bump!). 

Zara blazer, KG by Kurt Geiger boots and red belt from Gap

Kenneth Jay Lane gold bangle and Bex Rox gold & neon friendship bracelet

Mawi skull necklace

Friday, 25 February 2011

Anthropologie Accessories

I walk past Anthropologie most days and always have a covetous look at what they’ve got in the window. They change their window displays quite frequently, so there’s always something new to have a peek at.

If you’re not familiar with Anthropologie, it’s a US store that sells womenswear, accessories and homeware. They stock a selection of independent designers and smaller brands...and prices do tend to be on the steep side. But what they sell is gorgeous – though some of it falls a little too much into homespun/crafty territory for me.

And the shop itself is lovely to visit. I remember heading in there at the height of the Christmas shopping mania and it was an oasis of calm and good customer service.

Anthropologie Idesia necklace - £38
This week’s lust item is a necklace from Anthropologie. I have my eye on another necklace from there which is also a big, metal statement piece but they don’t seem to have it on their website. So this is the second place lust item. I’m really keen on quite plain, metal jewellery which I think works well across lots of different styles of dressing. And, it doesn’t cost a fortune...marvellous!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Flat shoes favourites

I read recently that SS11 is the season of the flat shoe. I think every season can be the season of the flat shoe if it’s what you prefer and feel most comfortable in! But hopefully this pronouncement from on fashion high will mean there’s more choice on the high street.

I love high heels but over the years the number I’ve bought compared to flats has started to nose dive. I think it’s different if you travel around a lot in a car or can have nights out where you don’t have to walk too much. But I walk a huge amount and have stumbled, twisted ankles, destroyed the balls of my feet...and even at one point fallen out of a pair of platforms...too many times and have gradually eased myself into a more comfortable...and safer...way of life!

But comfort shouldn’t mean frumpy...and as we start to move out of the depths of winter and shed the big winter boots, I’ve been looking at what’s available on the high street. My favourites – and the shoes that got me started on tonight’s blog – are the F Troupe patent ballet flats but I’m not quite enough in love with them to fork out £68. They’re in the sale, so I’m holding out for another reduction. 

Clockwise from top left:

F Troupe patent star ballet flat shoe - £68 (down from £85)
Aldo patent brogues – £13.99 (down from £45)
Irregular Choice Duke the 2nd floral flats - £49.99 
Kate Kanzier Izzie brogue - £25 (I'm always a fan of orange detailing on accessories!)
Melissa royal 11 latte shoes - £65
Deena & Ozzy Perspex lace-up brogues - £40 (from Urban Outfitters)
Zara ballet shoe with shiny toe - £59.99 
Zara coltskin ballerina - £49.99
Topshop kerb cutout t-bar shoes
- £55 

Kate Kuba snowdonia ankle boot - £69 (down from £141.96)
Kate Kanzier Thora flat shoe - £8 (down from £25)
East roma crochet shoes - £28

Monday, 21 February 2011

New winter coat for growing bump!

A few weeks ago I blogged about my wardrobe malfunction when my expanding pregnant belly finally burst through the buttons on my winter coat. My lovely mum took pity on me and bought me an early birthday present...the gorgeous maternity coat from the Red Herring maternity range in Debenhams. And it has been essential given that winter is still firmly upon's hardly been off my back since.

I also think that although the coat is maternity wear, it will be fine for future winters with its slightly looser styling and the multiple layers I wear throughout the winter (the oft-worn gilet was always a bit of a test for my form-fitting black M&S coat!). 

The scarf is an old favourite from M&S

Very pretty butterfly print lining
Detailing on the back of the coat
And underneath, I wore my designer bargain BCBG Max Azria silk dress (bought for something ridiculous like $40 at a discount outlet), with striped Gap top, my black winter boots from somewhere in Copenhagen, and jewellery that were presents (either from others or myself!).

Slightly straining around the waist!
And if you’re remotely interested, the lipstick is the Maybelline one I mentioned the other week, as recommended by Sali Hughes!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Clarks Originals Wedges

This week I walked past the Clarks Originals pop-up shop on Regent Street. I was on a work-related errand, so thankfully had no time to duck in and browse...otherwise this week's lust item would have found its way back home with me! I spotted them in the window and paused for a second to look wistfully at them before moving on.

I do have a soft spot for Clarks, which I’ve mentioned before. There is always some footwear treasures amongst the mountains of dross. And I think it’s a great initiative to promote the Originals line, especially as they’re trying to reach a younger crowd who would not normally spend their pennies there. The pop-up shop has DJs playing every afternoon and you can see they’re doing their best to try to cultivate a sort of East London-cool vibe...which I find quite sweet (patronising, I know!).

The shoes I’m lusting after are actually quite classic. A black wedge shoe would get a huge amount of wear and is something that would pretty much work with everything in my wardrobe. The only thing I’m unsure about is the height of the wedge...I don’t want to feel like I’m tottering along and going to go over on my ankle any second...particularly whilst pushing a pram around!

The next step will be to go and meet them in the flesh and test the wedge height to ankle breakage risk factor!

Clarks Originals black suede ‘Twist Rave’ shoe - £69

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Spring stripes

You know that I’m partial to a stripe and have to resist the urge to pack my wardrobe full of them. I always gravitate towards a stripe in a shop and have to really stop myself being a striped bore! Other than replacing worn out striped t-shirts, these days any other stripey purchases have to be very special for me to crack open my purse. 

At the moment, I have my eye on the pink striped dress by Ann-Sofie Back for Topshop. I love the ruching detailing and have been speculating on whether I can buy a slightly bigger size and get away with it as maternity wear.

Given it’s a new season and I’ve already got my eye on this new season stripe, I thought I would show you my favourite stripes in the shops right now.

Pink stripe ruch front dress by Ann-Sofie Back for Topshop - £55

Black stripe leggings by Ann-Sofie Back for Topshop - £35 (I'd wear these underneath something rather than on their own!)

River Island blue kaftan bubble top - £19.99

Warehouse drop waist stripe dress - £65 (lovely but not sure it would suit pear shapes like me) 

Red Herring Maternity black striped dress - £28

A very Prada SS11 dress...Asos stripe egg maxi dress - £45


And in my ‘hey, I’ve just found £200 down the back of the sofa’ scenario, this is the beauty I would be splashing out on! Boutique by Jaegar ric rac striped tea dress - £199

Monday, 14 February 2011

Finding your beauty guru!

I know we have beauty advice thrust at us from every direction. There is always a new cream, or serum, or tonic or treatment that we simply have to try to help correct our multitude of flaws and make us look younger, thinner, bigger busted, smoother skinned etc etc etc!

As much as it's annoying being inundated with products for problems you didn’t even know you had...good beauty advice is treasure indeed. No nonsense, honest, helpful advice is something most women appreciate.

Which is why, Edna readers, I'm introducing you to Sali Hughes, the Guardian magazine’s new(ish) beauty columnist, if you’re not already a fan. She has no time for creams that claim they will increase your bust size or resculpture your face!

A revelation for me was finding out that there is a difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin...and that it’s possible to have dehydrated skin as well as it being oily. So no more overly rich creams for me treating winter dryness while at the same time fuelling spots on my (still oily at 33!) T-zone. Instead, I now look for hydrating creams.

The only risk in reading her column each week is that it can turn into a bit of a beauty shopping list! So far I've tried the Garnia hydra-lock hand cream (£3.29 and brilliant), Origins drink-up intensive overnight mask (£20, only used once so far but loved it) and a Maybelline lipstick in coral tonic (£7.19 but got a 3-2 on Maybelline cosmetics in Boots...lovely colour that’s easy to wear for daytime).

Sali Hughes is my beauty guru!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Classic neon

I spotted this week's lust item in the April issue of Elle. I'm always partial to a bit of neon and there's quite a lot for SS11 and the magazines are packed with it. I tend to go for neon accessories (and nail polish!) rather than clothing...for clothing I would go more for something that is bright rather than full-on neon (such as the orange lace top from Dorothy Perkins in the last post). A full-on neon yellow/orange top could very easily slip into fluorescent safety clothing territory...maybe an added bonus on a dark night but not something I'm aiming for in my overall look!

This week's lust item fuses a classic satchel in a neon yellow/green...again, the mantra, classic with a twist! I tried to look on the Cambridge Satchel Company website for more information but at the moment all they have is a teeny tiny photo and a note that they are being made, will be available in March, are already hugely popular, so order now if you want one!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Summer in Dorothy Perkins

Some seasons, some shops get it very right, while others get it horrifically wrong. It can be so hit and miss. I remember last autumn going into Next and for the first time in years I picked up armfuls of clothes to try on...they were on fire!

At the weekend I went into Dorothy Perkins and had a rush of excitement as there were endless pieces I wanted to try on...not least the red poppy print border dress below which is a perfect maternity dress with its empire line fit (and is now top of my shopping list for the summer).

I could seriously have included huge numbers of pieces but have cut it down to my favourites.

So if you don’t usually include Dorothy Perkins on your shopping travels, this season it is well worth dropping in!

Red poppy print border dress - £38

Black bird pleat neck dress – £36

Red poppy print tunic - £32

Animal contrast collar tunic - £29.50

Cream bow embellished tunic - £45

A very Christopher Kane orange lace shell top - £19.50 

Peach bird print blouse - £32

Cream bird swing vest - £15

Oatmeal dragonfly jumper - £26

Multi snake floral jumpsuit - £55 

Monday, 7 February 2011

Classic Kate with a twist

Last week I blogged about the quirky jewellery from Maggie Angus and mentioned that I think that even at times when you’re going for quite a classic outfit, it’s always good to add an unexpected element. Go too classic and rather than looking the picture of sophistication, you can end up looking frumpy and a little dull (at least I find that I do...I embarrassingly channeled this look for a while in university (odd, I know) and looked like a 1980s secretary!).

Even sometimes just the addition of a bright lipstick or nail polish can be enough...or tousled hair with a very sleek outfit...just something to add some contrast and individuality.

And then the next day I spotted a photo of Kate Moss in an outfit that just totally demonstrated all of this...which is what she does anyway and has done for donkeys years. Classic with an edge.

Photo taken (to my shame) from the Daily Mail
Photo In Style
How much more classic can you get than a little black dress and a camel coat? Yet she gives it more interest by adding a floppy 70s style hat and sunglasses and that’s enough to stop it looking dull.

I know it’s not very original looking at Kate Moss for fashion inspiration but sometimes it’s worth it because she knows what she’s doing!

Classic with a twist!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Cobalt blue daydreams

This week I am lusting after a cobalt blue pair of trousers from Reiss. I walk past these in the window of Reiss on the way to and from work every day and they are calling out to me (though to no avail, given the bump that would now need to squeeze into the waistband!).

Gilda fluid trousers - £110

Still, I can fashion daydream and in my cobalt blue trousers daydream I'm wearing them out for drinks on a summer evening, with lots of gold – gold sandals, lots of gold jewellery, a loose, draped white t-shirt or vest and a short burnished metallic jacket!

I don’t own many coloured trousers. I have this odd paranoia about trousers in any colour other than black, white or a pattern showing up a sweaty crotch! I remember my friend Lisa telling me that she could always tell the novices turning up to her bikram yoga class, as they proudly walk in wearing marl grey leggings, and an hour later scuttle out with conspicuous dark patches in areas where it’s always embarrassing to have a dark patch!

However, I think I may be old enough and hopefully wise enough (at least in fashion!) that I can brave coloured a loose fabric...knowing that a sweaty crotch is not a common occurrence and I can wear these safe in the knowledge that I will (should!) be dark patch free!

Obviously in my cobalt blue trousers daydream, problems like a sweaty crotch don’t even exist!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Jewellery with a touch of quirk

One of the things I've most loved about blogging – other than the opportunity to ramble on a frequent basis about a subject I adore – is when I either discover or are pointed in the direction of a lovely brand I didn’t know about. A few weeks ago the jewellery designer behind Maggie Angus sent me a link to her site and asked me to take a look. And I finally did this week.

You know that I love a little bit of a quirk in an outfit. Even at times when you’re trying to be your most grown-up chic self, sometimes the addition of something slightly quirky can stop you looking too classic and perhaps avoid tipping into frumpy territory.

Maggie Angus jewellery certainly has lots of quirk and there’s lot to love. I won’t ramble about who she is and her inspirations and that sort of thing because it’s all on her website. Instead, I’ll give you a little hint of what’s in store with some of my favourite pieces!

Valentines heart necklace - £15  

Palm tree leaves necklace - £29.99 

Coral & Fish necklace - £24.99 

Leopard print shoes necklace - £26.99

Sweet vintage perfume bracelet in mustard - £24.99

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Dresses for all seasons

I mentioned last week that I find it difficult to get fashion inspiration at this time of year when shops and magazines are filled with clothes for warmer weather and we’re still in the throws of winter. As much as looking at summer clothes can cheer you up – just imagining the day again when you wear sleeveless dresses warms the cockles – it doesn’t help much when what you’ll be wearing for the next couple of months will be very different!

Dresses tend to dominate my wardrobe and when I want some fashion inspiration they're the first thing I tend to look at. So tonight I have done a little round-up of ten of my favourite dresses on the high street...most of which can be layered and worn right now. Some would work well with blazers and thick tights, others with polo necks, leggings and winter boots. I also think lots of them are suitable for the office and would work well with some thick tights, heels, a blazer and some statement jewellery.

Zara chambray dress - £25.99

Oasis 60s print two in one dress - £65

Oasis stripe swing dress - £45

River Island polka dot ruffle front shirt dress - £44.99

Fearne Cotton for Very mesh & rib tunic - £45

Warehouse chevron print dress - £45

Mango marilyn dress - £69.90

If you’re lucky enough to be a size 12, you can get this very chic dress from Jaegar, down from £275 to £49

Asos tailored ruffle front pencil dress - £40

Dorothy Perkins multi snake print twist dress - £35

And if I was flush with cash, I'd have a splurge on this beauty from Boutique by Jaeger (maybe instead I'll bookmark for the summer sale!)
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