Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Presents for little ones from the V&A

The V&A is one of my favourite places in London. I used to be lucky enough to live close enough that I could hop on a bus, get there in 15 minutes and go for a wander around for an hour. Pre-Laney May, when I had a bit more of a social life, I used to go to the Friday Lates and have the joy of going to an exhibition, having a drink, listening to music, all in that stunning setting.

It's also a lovely place to buy gifts...for yourself as well as others! The jewellery collection is amazing - you can pick up some beautiful, really individual pieces for reasonable prices. And, at sales times, some absolute bargains too.

Luckily (if you don't live in London) it also has a great online shop. It's birthday season coming up soon for Laney May and her little friends, so I've been on the look-out for present ideas. The V&A has some gorgeous presents for little ones. These are some of my favourites...

Edward Bawden colouring book - £5.99

Giraffe height chart - £22
Dog puzzle - £15
Jungle cubes game - £14
Rope climbing monkey tin toy - £12

Black & white embroidered dress - £20

Kaleidoscope dress - £25

Handmade elephant slippers - £22

Wooden animal letters - they're all lovely - £2.50 each

'Grannie' play apron - £8.50

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Mary Portas dresses...for any age!

I’ve blogged in the past about the Mary Portas range at House of Fraser and how great I think it is. It's becoming my workwear uniform. But when I mention to friends and colleagues where my outfit is from, they all think (without fail) that the range is for older women and that if you’re under 50 it’s not for you.

We do tend to be a bit obsessed with age in our society. Lots of women would never set foot in Topshop/H&M/Warehouse etc because they’re ‘too young’ for them. Lots of other women wouldn’t set foot in M&S/Clarks/Hobbs etc because they’re “too old” for them.

I totally get that we do dress differently at different stages in our lives but for me it hasn’t been a drastic change – I’d hope that the main change is that I’m a bit more stylish than I was in my teens...and even my twenties. Seriously, I went through a phase at university when I seemed to embrace Melanie Griffiths in Working Girl as my fashion the mid-90s! What the hell was I thinking?!

Anyway, I think it’s really about finding your style and adapting it to how you feel at any stage in your life.

J Crew is opening a store in the UK later this year...just up the road from my office on Regent Street (eek...god help my bank balance!). I was recently reading a profile of  J Crew’s creative director, Jenna Lyons and there was a real emphasis on the brand being somewhere where women of any age would shop. It was about style and quality, not targeting an age group.

So maybe I’d still shop at the Mary Portas range when I’m over 50. I’d certainly encourage my mum to shop there, as I think as women get older they can really get ignored and feel lost on the high street. But I’d also really encourage all my friends to take a look. There are such great pieces. And if you can’t afford full price Portas, then there are always sales.

I think where the range really excels are dresses. A lot of them may not have hanger-appeal but when you get them on you realise how flattering the cuts are.

These are my current favourites. Some are really simple, so it’s all about how you style them. That may vary depending how old you are, who you are, what you like...

Twist knot dress in navy - £49.50 (down from £99)

Tuck front dress in black - £49.50 (down from £99)

Printed no-brainer dress - £99
(though pretty much sold out)

Pleat neck dress in red - £67 (down from £135)

No brainer crepe dress in red (though looks
quite an orange-red, which I really like)
- £49.50 (down from £99)

Tree print dress - £80 (down from £160)
Fit & flare Linda dress - £49.50 (down from £99)

Cowl neck jersey dress in green - £49.50 (down from £99)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

SUNO & Uniqlo - print heaven

I bang on about designer collaborations on the high street all the time. They do seem to be ten-a-penny these days - so many, that it's much easier to be picky about what you're interested in. Take, for example, today's announcement about Isabel Marant doing a range for H&M. I know many of you will be hyper-ventilating with excitement but I'm not a huge fan, so don't feel too fussed about it (Marni for H&M was an entirely different matter!).

Uniqlo has had some great designer collaborations. A few years back, I purchased an Alexander Wang for Uniqlo dress for something like £20. It is one of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe...and now Alexander Wang, then a relatively new designer, is heading up Balenciaga!

The Alexander Wang dress was part of Uniqlo's Designer Invitation Project, which is still going strong. A couple of weeks ago, much to my excitement, the New York designer SUNO launched a range for Uniqlo. I remember a few years back seeing the first collection from SUNO (not in the flesh, disappointly, in magazines!) and loved the clashing prints and textures. The vintage Kenyan fabrics were used in a way that wasn't too boho, with gorgeous little tailored jackets, clashing blouses over dresses and fitted trousers. It looked tailored but totally deconstructed too - all in vibrant prints. I loved it. But, alas, my bank balance doesn't stretch to a SUNO hallelujah for Uniqlo!

The range is small with a couple of SUNO prints used across dresses, skirts, tops and trousers. I tried on these trousers and loved them but I think I needed a larger size than they had in stock. The fabric looked to be straining a little too much across my thighs! But they are lovely and a really nice length.

SUNO skinny trousers - £29.90

I also tried this dress and loved the clashing patterns and midi-length but again, they didn't have my size in stock. I think I tried medium and it was very, very roomy.

SUNO dress - £29.90

But in the end, I went for this skirt from the range.

SUNO flare skirt - £19.90

It has the gorgeous, clashing SUNO print and is fun and flirty. I had hoped I could wear it to work with a plain white shirt, but it's a bit too short. Even with flat shoes, I felt a bit exposed for the office. So I think it will be one for socialising...perfect for when the British summer does finally make an appearance!

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