Why Not Try...making New Year's resolutions for your wardrobe?

After about five consecutive years of failed New Years resolutions, always the same ones - join a gym, write more letters, drink less coffee - I'm done. After all, life is far too short to kid ourselves into ridding ourselves out of all our guilty pleasures, no?

I do think there's something to the whole concept of resolutions, however - the idea of starting anew, taking steps towards becoming a better version of oneself, and so on. So rather than boycott the tradition altogether, I've decided to apply it to the one area of my life where I always welcome change and growth - my closet.

Everyone has some bad habits to break when it comes to fashion, and there's no better time than the new year sales to put these sartorial missteps to right. And an added bonus of focusing resolutions on something as frivolous as fashion? At this time next year, I won't be feeling guilty for not quite managing to kick that Marlboro Light habit...

I Resolve...To Think in Technicolor
One of the consequences of living in London and New York for most of my life is that 97% of my wardrobe is in some shade of black or grey. I've always talked myself into thinking these non-colors give me a sense of je ne sais quoi, but seeing all of the jewel-tones and primary colors in stores now has sort of made me feel like the only one dressed in normal clothes at a costume party. So this year, I resolve to only buy black clothes if I also buy something in pop-art color - taxicab yellow, Barney-the-dinosaur purple, sapphire blue - even if it's just a pair of tights or shoes...

Spijkers & Spijkers Silk Pencil Skirt, http://www.ninaandlola.com/

Chris Benz 'Jenna' Top, http://www.netaporter.com/

Karta Jewel Inset Dress, http://www.intermixonline.com/

I Resolve...To Wear Mostly Dresses
I no longer live in a city that is cold and rainy ten months out of the year - therefore, I have no excuse not to kick my skinny jeans and knee-high Frye boot addiction. I mean, really, dresses are so much easier and have so much more character - and they give me yet another excuse to feed my hosiery addiction. Am thinking these are a good place to start (and hey, I didn't say I was giving up black cold-turkey...)

Diane von Furstenburg 'Rhythm Mondrian' Dress, http://www.intermixonline.com/

Hannah Marshall 'Batwing' Dress, http://www.ninaandlola.com/

Twinkle 'Girl's Night' Dress - http://www.elleh.com/

I Resolve...To Only Shop Independents
Shopping at Forever 21 or H&M in a city like LA, where there are thousands of independent boutiques full of personality and charm, is kind of like going to Pastis and ordering toast. I guess you could, but doesn't it defeat the purpose? Enough said.

The Sales, Continued...

Am sure that by now, you've all got my recent guide to the post-Christmas sales taped to your dashboards, addresses dutifully plugged into your TomToms and bank accounts sufficiently depleted. In case you still have a nagging balance to use up on your Visa, I've got another tip for you, perhaps the most exciting one yet.

My all-time favorite midtown shopping destination, Scout (7920 W. Third), has announced a sale on everything in store. There are discounts of up to 50% to be had on pieces from Sonya Rykiel, Arielle de Pinto, Clu and more - and, best of all, if you're a member of their mailing list you're eligible for an extra 10% off.

If you're still undecided as to whether you REALLY need yet another stripey Sonya top, consider this: JC Report has, er, reported that due to the weak dollar, European labels may be hard to come by in the new year, as many retailers report they're cutting back on brands that deal in Euros and Pounds. I don't know about you, but I know what I'll be doing New Year's Eve...



In the middle of packing to visit my parents for a few days, I came to a realization - nothing I was throwing in my suitcase had seen the outside of my closet since I moved to LA. Button-down shirts, cashmere v-necks, my once trusty Paper Denims, all staples of a preppified Northeastern wardrobe that don't quite fit in with the look I've gravitated towards out West.

The more I thought about it, I think I'm a victim of multiple personality disorder when it comes to fashion. Not only do my home clothes work in LA, but neither do most of my London clothes, and vice versa. For instance, this is a typically dull outfit for me when in upstate NY:

And this is one for LA:

And this overaccessorized, all-black ensemble is something I would have worn in London:

Is it just me, or does anyone else not really have a signature personal style, but different styles for different aspects of their lives? I'm not talking about beachy clothes that you only take on vacation, or chunky reindeer sweaters that you reserve for ski trips, but completely separate wardrobes, and maybe even different attitudes to match? I guess I might be a bit more schizophrenic than most, since I've lived all over the place and am jetting back and forth every few months. Either way, am thinking that Shopaholism may have met its match - perhaps I should become the first therapist in sartorial addictions...


Talking Shop: Post Christmas Sales

Right, so I hope my four readers have avoided breakdowns without me over the past few weeks...have working on a big story for Ocean magazine and haven't had much time to think about anything else.

With that said, I hope everyone had a relatively pain-free holiday and that you're ready for what I think is the most exciting thing about this time of year - the post-Christmas sales. I've thrown together an area-by-area guide to markdowns across L.A., so you can plan your strategies for spending those $20's Grandma put in your Christmas card - or, more likely, exchanging that unfortunate pastel pink cardigan from Mom...

Melrose Ave.:
-Creatures of Comfort (7971) : 30-50% off labels like Alexandre Herchcovitch, APC and Karen Walker
-Violet Grace (7021): 40% off labels like Chaiken, Rebecca Taylor, Walter
-Ron Herman (8100):
-Madison (8115): Up to 50% off labels like Matthew Williamson, Diane von Furstenburg, and Anna Sui
-Bird (8428): Up to 75% off clothes and jewelry from Lara Bohinc and Molly Jackson - Best for Jewelry Shopping
-Betsy Johnson (8050): Up to 50% off frothy party dresses

West 3rd. Street:
-Satine (8117): 30-50% off labels like Jenni Kayne, Vanessa Bruno, 3.1 Philip Lim, Thakoon & VPL - Best for New Year's Eve dress shopping
-Hillary Rush (8222 ): 25% off everything in store, including Samantha Treacy and Erin Fetherston
-Petro Zillia (8218): Everything 25% off, including own-label merchandise, Colcci shoes and Wilster frocks
-Polkadots & Moonbeams (8367): Up to 50% off on selected items
-Malgosia ( 8336)): Sale on items from Ranna Gil, Miriam Ocariz, and Rajesh Pratap Singh

Robertson Blvd:
-Lisa Klein (136 S.): Warehouse Sale with up to 70% off labels like Elijah, Paul & Joe, and Manoush
-Kitson (www.shopkitson.com): Web Exclusive Sale, with up to 70% off things like Dolce Vita shoes and Junk Food tees
-Intermix ( 110 N.): Big discounts on Stella McCartney, Norma Kamali, Thread Social, and more

La Brea:
-Bleu (454 S.): Up to 75% off labels like Theory, Boudoir and Generra
-Presse ( 326 S.): 50-60% off labels like Ric Owens, Proenza Schouler and Vena Cava

Beverly Hills:
-Harmony Lane (189 South Beverly): Up to 70% off labels like American Retro, Earnest Sewn and Development
-Saks Fifth Avenue (9600 Wilshire): Up to 70% off labels like Chloe, MaxMara and Dolce & Gabbana - Best for Haute Designer Offerings
-Neiman Marcus ( 9700 Wilshire): Extra 25% off sale items from the likes of Manolo Blahnik, Alexander McQueen and Fendi
-Barney's / Barney's Co-Op (9570 Wilshire): Sale on labels like Graham & Spencer, Marc by Marc, Trovata

Abbot Kinney:
-Brick Lane ( 1132): Up to 50% off labels like Betty Jackson, Nougat and Ted Baker
-A + R (1121): Up to 15% off design-led home & accessories

Santa Monica:
-Blonde (2430 Main): Up to 40% off labels like Cynthia Vincent, Ella Moss, and Kettle Black
-Michael Stars ( 1233 Montana): Up to 40% off cashmere, dresses and tees
-London Sole (1331 Montana): Sale on ballet flats - up to 25%

Orange County:
-Elle H (1833 South Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach): Up to 75% off fall & holiday merchandise from the likes of Eritokritos, Lauren Moffat, and Eva Franco
-Adele (735 South Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach): Up to 50% off labels like Rodebjer, Society for Rational Dress, and Ashish N Soni
-Haute Culture (5628 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla): 20-60% off labels like Kara Janx, Odyn, and Julie Haus


One to Watch: Marquis & Camus

My personal philosophy on jewelry is that there's no point in wearing it if it doesn't make a statement. I think I got this from my grandmother, who had a massive collection of costume jewelry - heavy beaded clip-on earrings that would have looked at home on member a remote African tribe; bright pink marbled reading glasses; and as many chunky gold bangles as her wrists could possibly bear.
So perhaps because of this, I am always attracted to jewelry that starts conversations, makes people ask questions - and why I've become a little obsessed with Marquis & Camus, the new collection from New York based jewelry label Potion, Inc. Each piece in the collection is made from bits and pieces of antique jewelry and found objects - everything from keys to pocket watch gears to chandelier crystals.

True, you can walk into just about any Urban Outfitters and find 'vintage inspired' jewelry, but there's something that's so much more authentic about these pieces. Each one has a story behind it, like the earrings above, which look as though they were made from a man's watch strap - you can actually picture a strapping New York banker wearing this to work every day decades ago. And the fact that each piece is limited-edition by nature (as designer Sarah Kang actually picks each object by hand from flea markets and estate sales) means you won't spot another girl at your knitting circle wearing the same thing.
Not surprisingly, Kang cites history as the inspiration for the collection - "our granmothers' necklaces and embroideries, our grandfathers' suspenders" being just a few elements. Even though my grandmother's necklaces were often made from plastic and I'm pretty sure she never touched an embroidery needle in her life, I have a feeling she would have liked these pieces too - simply because they're sure to make people stop and stare.

Euro Invasion: McQueen in LA, Chanel to Robertson

WWD has reported that Alexander McQueen is finally going to be setting up shop in LA next April - and, in my opinion, it's about time. Although his flair for the dramatic does clash slightly with the laid-back West Coast aesthetic, his creations are perfect red carpet material. Here's hoping that his arrival will inject a bit of excitement and controversy back into the Hollywood fashion scene, which has been feeling stale for far too long...

WWD has also announced that Chanel and D&G will be opening outposts on Robertson Blvd. in the coming months. A tabloid favorite, the street's boutiques are constantly being namechecked - here a Nicole Ritchie toting her baby weight in Kitson bags, there a Christina Aguilera buying cashmere diaper covers at Bel Bambini, and over there a Lindsay Lohan stocking up on $200 t-shirts at Lisa Kline. Is a smart strategy in terms of increasing column inches, but it does beg the question - who are these labels trying to appeal to? If it's Us Weekly readers, then great - but the brands might end up losing the interest of clients who value exclusivity and the cache of luxury. That is, if they haven't lost them already...


Fash Bash: Deck the Halls, Skip the Malls

One of the things that surprised me the most upon moving to LA was the area's independent retail scene. I never really expected there to be so many vibrant little boutiques, selling so many interesting things and attempting to re-define the boundaries of art, fashion, music, commerce, etc.
Which is why I was so startled to read in the LA Times last weekend that several of the most pioneering on the scene have recently made the decision to shut down. Iconology, Filly and Lily Savitch have all shut their doors this year, citing the major department stores' shift towards avant-garde fashion offerings (think Barney's Co-Op) - not to mention their ability to offer deep discounts in an economy where people are wary of spending - as a major factor.

For anyone here who's at all interested in fashion, this is seriously disheartening news. More so than even local designers, retailers like Iconology et. al. are one of the main reasons why LA has gained so much credibility as a fashion destination over the past several years. Without them, the city wouldn't be much different from any other large, yet uninspiring one across the country.

So, with that in mind, I'm hoping that the shops of West 3rd Street get a good turnout for their annual Holiday Shopping Block Party tomorrow night. For those who aren't familiar with the city, West 3rd has perhaps the best concentration of exciting independent boutiques in the city, with shops carrying hard-to-find designers both local and international - and it's no secret that it's by far my favorite place in the city to shop.

In an age where holiday shopping has become a bit of a chore for most people, this is a fantastic way to bring fun back into it. Not only will you find really unique things that you can be sure the recipient doesn't already have (and clued-up sales people that aren't 15 years old to point you in the right direction), but there will also be food and bevvies and live music and a lack of soccer moms fighting over the last pair of Old Navy PJs in size medium. I sadly have plans for that evening so can't attend, but will definitely be making my way down to the area next week - and reporting on the great things I find, for those of you who can't make it down tomorrow either.


Quest for the Ideal Handbag: Junior Drake

Everybody's got irrationally high standards about something. For some, it's food; for others, it's men; for me, it's bags. I've been looking for a new bag for over a year now, to no avail - I have no interest in paying thousands of dollars for something hundreds of other women will have (or will have a fake copy of), but still want something with a bit of luxury - in the material, detailing, etc.

So I've decided to begin chronicling my quest here, in hopes that I might be able to offer some suggestions to other picky bag buyers - and also, hopefully, some of you might be able to tip me off to a few good brands as well.

First up is Junior Drake. It's an LA-based brand inspired by the legendary actress Patsy Brown, who used Junior Drake as her stage name. Drake's most famous quote,"It's not the dress, it's the girl," serves as the basis for the brand's ethos - one of individuality, spirit and class.

The main thing that attracts me to the bags is their attention to small details. Things like braiding and pleating give them a luxurious element, and their range of non-traditional colors - like apple-red and burnished pewter - make them perfect for those who want to stand out from a sea of black and brown totes. My favorite is the Andie, pictured above. It's big enough to fit a few large-format style magazines - massively important for me - but at only $448, it doesn't have a price tag to match.


Why Not Try: Shopping With Your Boyfriend?

Working in retail, I have a lot of time to observe people's shopping habits - I find it really interesting, probably because I'm a devout solo shopper and so haven't had had that much exposure to other people's styles. For instance, I had no idea that so many people buy piles and piles of clothes, then return all but one or two things a day later. I didn't realize that people in this country have so few qualms about haggling prices - at a chain retailer! - for seemingly miniscule things (e.g. loose buttons, size tags being cut out of a garment, buying more than one of the same item).

And I also didn't realize how many women bring along their boyfriends as shopping partners - and, even more surprisingly, how willing so many men are to help 'style' their girlfriends. I'd always had this idea that when couples shopped together, the women were usually in charge and the men were grudgingly along for the ride, but it turns out that the opposite is becoming more and more true. In the past few weeks alone, I've seen men leading their girlfriends around the store, picking out winter coats and holiday dresses while said girlfriends passively smiled and nodded; women modelling clothes for men in the fitting rooms - men who were interested and engaged and making suggestions about size and color, then running off to fetch options they deemed more suitable; men bringing their wives' purchases in for returns and exchanges (often picking up a candle or set of dishes at the same time).
Maybe it's just LA, where everyone is slightly more concerned with their image than is really normal - but it's not even Hollywood types who are the most common participants. More often than not it's guys sporting facial hair and flannel, ones who would seem more at home in front of a Nintendo Wii than in a store filled with cookbooks and cocktail dresses and smelly soaps.
I, for one, hope it's a trend that catches on - not only because it would take away the need to choose between shopping and bonding with the boy, but also because it would be really helpful to get his opinion on some of my more...directional...purchases before I buy them - and saving a lot of those 'what ARE you wearing?' looks on future date nights.

Talking Shop: New High (M)art

Call me crazy, but I have this theory that Chinatown is set to be the next big shopping destination in LA. First the galleries moved in, then a few renegade boutiques popped up - Munky King with its collectibles and streetwear and, one of my favorites in the city, Welcome Hunters with a fantastic selection of Scandinavian and Aussie fashion - and I just have a hunch that more and more are going to start following suit.
Sometimes I think it might just be wishful thinking on my part, as I am slightly enamored with Chinatown: the oddly comforting scent of ramen noodles that thickens the air, all of the little knicknack shops filled with LA souvenirs left over from the '80s and the Chinese power ballads playing softly on the stereos, the fact that you can buy a box of 100 green jasmine tea bags for less than $2.

But maybe not. New High (M)art is the newest addition to the neighborhood retail scene, tucked away in a nondescript mini-mall between takeout restaurants. It's basically set to be a permanent venue for a monthly rotation of pop-up shops, each one curated by a different fashion personality. The first - and current - one is devoted to Brian Lichtenburg, who is well-known in the city for his unisex club-gear. The shop carries a nice selection of his hoodies, day-glo tank tops, holographic leggings, chunky plastic necklaces and customized Wayfarers, along with mix CDs and photography presumably curated by the designer himself.

It's quite possibly the tiniest retail space I've ever been in, but it still had an impact on me - even though the pop-up concept has been done hundreds of times over in other parts of the world, it's really quite daring for LA. Plus, I love the idea of finding a new shop every time I come to Chinatown to buy my tea. Perhaps my theory isn't so far off after all...



Why Not Try...?: A Statement Hat

Ever since I was a kid, I've always wanted to be a hat person. I went through a phase in middle school of regularly donning floppy 'Blossom' hats, complete with faux-flowers, baseball caps, and bucket hats, but for some reason , the practice didn't stick with me after the age of about 13.

However, I'm hoping this season will change that. Hats are an integral part of the "old Hollywood" aesthetic we're seeing at the moment, and there's certainly no shortage of them to choose from.
Am not really talking fedoras or beanies - unless you want to look like one of LC's hangers-on from "The Hills" - but elegant, vintage-inspired pieces that are unusual and individual, like the ones below:

The Portrait:
This is probably my favorite style of hat, similar to the ones shown on the Marc Jacobs AW07 runway. It reminds me of the seductive, mysterious heroines of old detective movies. The hat below is the "Smith Larson Portrait," by Portland-based Pinkham Millinery (http://www.pinkhammillinery.com/) - I love the unusual plum shade of the felt & think it would be gorgeous with a black trench.

The Cloche:
As a minimalist at heart, it's only natural that I would love cloches - there's nothing fussy about them, but they're still totally feminine & romantic. They're a good fit with this season's Poiret-inspired coccoon coats - and I love this one from Boring Sidney (http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=7515031), for its soft, yet steely simplicity (excuse the creepy mannequin head).

The Beret:
When wearing a beret, there's always a slight risk of looking like you should be riding a bicycle with a baguette sticking out of the basket - but the cableknit detailing of this one, by Eugenia Kim, gives it a more collegiate feel. Get it from Satine (http://www.satineboutique.com/), to wear while wrapped up in chunky knit sweaters and scarves.

The Feathered Headpiece:
If not styled properly, these can look a little costume-y - so it's probably best to stay away from any vintage clothing while wearing one. I think they're the perfect compliment to a little black dress, since they're really the only accessory you'd need. Boring Sidney also does a great one of these (http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=7289985) - and for just $35!


WTF: Fashion Calling?

In the ultimate branding exercise, the L.A. Fashion Awards team have created an official ringtone for this year's event. Am not entirely sure what rationale is behind this, especially as it's not really an event paid any attention by anyone other than local fashion insiders - is not as though it's the Oscars or anything, and is not really targeted towards the pre-teens who normally download ringtones. Perhaps is a way of giving loyal followers a chance to make the event last longer than one night, giving them a reminder of the festivities long after they've passed? Who knows.

Either way, the main problem with it is just how awful the tone is - I mean, the stock ringtones that come with most phones are on the same level as this. It reminds me of a theme song attached to one of the Saturday morning NBC teen shows back in the early '90s - think California Dreams, Name Your Adventure, Saved by the Bell, et.al.

The tone can be downloaded here if you're curious...


One to Watch: Rami Kashou

The L.A. Fashion Awards are nearly upon us again - on Friday October 26th, to be exact - and along with the usual suspects, there's a name on the nominee list I really think is worth watching.

That name is Rami Kashou, a Palestine-born designer and Project Runway alum who has worked on both sides of the fashion business - first studying design at Brooks College, then working as a retail buyer and merchandiser, then moving back into design.

Because of this bredth of experience, Kashou has the unique perspective of knowing what women want to buy - and also how to create those things with technical elan. What's remarkable is the fact that he's largely self taught - he didn't finish his degree at Brooks - given the intricacy and detail of his pieces.
Take his Spring / Summer 07 collection, for example - full of razor-sharp pleating, complicated corsetry and skirts with the perfect pitch of volume, it's full of the technical wizardry that would be expected from a St. Martins-trained designer. My favourite pieces in the collection are his tailored flutter-sleeved blouses - it's no secret to most that I'm having a sleeves moment this season, and these capture the mood perfectly without seeming too fussy or fairy-princess.

Rami Kashou - available at www.letrainbleu.com

Talking Shop: Jenni Kayne

I feel a bit sacriligious saying this, seeing as I am now an L.A. resident, but I think Jenni Kayne is massively overrated - have seen it all before, and usually done better for half the price. Even so, I thought I'd drop by her new shop in West Hollywood - the first devoted solely to her own designs - in hopes that I'd be pleasantly surprised.
It's filled with the typical Hollywood pretension that normally deters me from the area - lack of signage out front; window displaying a red carpet gown and taxidermied leopard; parking lot filled with Porsches, leggy girls with fake smiles, and the luminescent-sneakered men who love them. Inside is more of the same - all dark wood minimalism and shouty emo music serving as a backdrop to Kayne's unremarkable fall collection and a halfhearted collection of art books, which looked as though they were added as an afterthought to bring some color to the place.

The one upside to the shop is its jewelry collection - an impressive collection of vintage-looking Tiffany watches mixed with chunky statement necklaces and bracelets. I would have asked a bit more about them if Kayne and her shopgirl had been paying any attention to me -however, a visiting friend (who I think may have been the guy who plays the bitchy assistant on Ugly Betty) was taking up all of their attention, and I guess pointedly gazing into the jewelry case for several minutes was not enough of a hint that I was a potential paying customer.

The shop will probably appeal to the customers of Holiday and Maxfield, which are just around the corner on Melrose - but I prefer my shops with a bit more personality, in both atmosphere and merchandise.


New Title, New City, New Beginning

If anyone is still bothering to read this, I apologize for the...er...six month delay since my last post. You know how it is - things like school, working, moving to another country getting in the way.

Long story short, I recently made the extremely difficult decision to leave London and move back to the US. It just made sense, as my money, visa, and lease on my flat were all due to run out at the same time. Plus, since I'm setting out on a totally new career path, I figured it would be easiest to do it in a place where I can work legally...

Which brings me to the new title of the blog - Maid of Melrose (sorry, David Bowie). Yes, am currently in L.A., for how long am not entirely sure - as am really an East Coaster at heart - but the opportunity came up to live here all-expenses-paid while I try to break into writing. And now that things have calmed down a bit, I'm going to give the blogging thing another try, as it's proved to be a good outlet for me to try out new ideas in the past.

So, from here on in, you can expect to see more of what I wrote about in the past, but with a distinctly L.A. slant - the fashion industry is really starting to grow out here, and I already have a massive list of new shopping destinations, trends, designers and more to tell you all about. So watch this space, and I promise you won't have to endure another half-year wait for new material again..!



no pictures!

i've been feeling like a bit of a celebrity lately, and i have a feeling the recent influx of street style blogs may have something to do with it...

earlier this week, i was stopped at an art gallery event by a man with a camera who wanted to take a picture of my ankle boots, as he was working on a project about 'shoes at art galleries'...right. didn't think much of it until i spotted a telephoto lens pointed at me from across the room at dream bags / jaguar shoes a few nights later as i was putting on my vintage fur-lined trench, and then today i was stopped again outside of dover street market by another woman wanting to take a picture of my coat (different coat this time).

in an age where anyone can be a member of the paparrazi and it's not just celebrities who are in their sights, it seems as though we should be re-evaluating exactly what constitutes an invasion of privacy. i don't mind if someone asks me to take my picture and tells me what it's for - is really flattering, actually - but sudden flashbulbs from across a room feel invasive and uncomfortable, especially as it's likely the shots will be published somewhere. i am not a public figure, and therefore no one has the right to photograph me without my consent.

so, for any street-style bloggers reading this, please keep the age-old rules of common courtesy in mind when shooting - a 'please' and a 'thank you' go a long way, and will probably result in a much less grumpy-looking subject in the end.

runway report: new york

so the shows have started once again - although, doesn't it seem like they JUST ended?? - and my lunch hours for the next month will be once again spent at my desk browsing through the style.com reports and adding to my ever-growing lookbook. will try to condense my highlights of the day (or, more realistically, week) here, but will say in advance that i tend to look for interesting styling ideas more than for massive new trends.

so, on that note, the best of yesterday's shows, the first set of the week. nothing massively groundbreaking to report - seems as though menswear and exaggerated layering aren't going anywhere - but there were a couple of clever touches that made me smile:
coccoon-shaped cable cardi at yigal azrouel - i am slightly obsessed with oversized cardigans, and would wear this with leggings and a plain vest top. and am loooving the geek glasses the models all wore in this show! definitely could see this becoming a more mainstream eyewear look.

leather button-up 'legwarmers' at rag and bone - am sure there is a proper name for these, but it's escaping me at the moment...anyone?

one to watch: reiss

i've never been a huge fan of reiss - have always thought it a bit dull, a bit corporate, a bit unadventurous - and i don't think i'm alone. however, i am really impressed with their spring '07 collection, which arrived in stores this week, so much so that i actually wanted to buy almost everything i saw.

thin heather grey cotton jersey dresses with interesting pleating around the necklines...jewel-toned silk pencil skirts with big buttons up the front...oversized cardis with massive, graphic buttons styled over beaded flapper dresses...everything completely on-trend for the upcoming season, with the potential to be a staple piece of my spring wardrobe. am definitely going to be making a trip back there once pay day rolls around...


neighbourhood watch: whitecross street, ec1

my favourite places in london tend to fall into one of two categories - either they are so quintessentially english that they make you feel as though you're part of a working title film, or they make you feel as though you're in a totally different city altogether.

whitecross street, just off of old street in ec1, is a part of the latter group. essentially a part of the barbican district, the street is surrounded by soviet-inspired tower blocks and construction cranes, which gives the street a sort of eastern-bloc vibe, and actually does make it seem as though you're on holiday in a foreign country.

the shops, too, are quite atypical of london - most notable is bread and honey, whose utilitarian streetwear is reminiscent of that found in london or tokyo (but doesnt totally leave out the hipsters and girly-girls - is still a great place to stock up on skinny black lees or not-so-innocent chiffon dresses like this sweet leopard print one from laura lee)

a small, continental market is open on the weekends, which usually isn't too inspiring, selling not much more than 3-for-a-fiver 'pashminas' and cheap leather satchels - but it sometimes is transformed into an upscale food market along the lines of exmouth for special occasions like christmas - check the website for details

finally, there have been some fantastic small gallery openings on the street over the past few years - madder rose gallery always has consistently exceptional shows from emerging artists, while newcomer ancient and modern is definitely one to watch - their inaugural exhibition included works from the likes of jeremy deller and ricky swallow.


wtf: topshop 'corset' jeans

ok, so i am actually a massive fan of high-waisted bottoms - i own a pair of rib-skimming black shorts and think they are hugely flattering, get loads of compliments on them, etc.

however, think topshop has gone a bit too far with their 'corset' style jeans, in the picture above. first of all, what's with the two contrasting shades of denim? guess it's meant to look as though you're wearing a denim corset WITH denim jeans and not a pseudo-onesie - but when has dark denim on light denim ever been a good look?

then, there's the fit issue. i can't see how, unless you are 6'5 and built like a nine year old boy, these could possibly be flattering on anyone. all they would serve to do is showcase bumps and bulges and make legs resemble turkey drumsticks.

so yes - way to go, topshop, for trying to be directional, but i have a feeling you've not struck gold with these.


loving: macabre jewellery

whilst my dress sense is normally quite minimalist, i have never been one to play it safe with jewellery. my latest obsession is with somewhat dark and talismanic statement pieces, reminiscent of a 19th century memento mori - some favourites as follows

antler charm and 'cavity' pendant, alex and chloe

wishbone pendant, dinny hall

hamsa hand, shari wacks


dress code: winter weddings

winter occasion dressing is supposed to be easy, right? during the holiday party season, the clear message seems to be that all that's needed for festive fun is a sparkly little frock, vertiginous heels, and a tube of red lipstick - and what's so hard about that?
nothing, really - but after the fairy lights have been boxed up and the party hats turned to firewood, things become a bit trickier. enter the season of the winter wedding, in which the rules are a bit more difficult to navigate.

for one thing, weddings tend to be more conservative occasions than holiday parties - after all, there are normally more over 50's present than potential dates - and the former won't appreciate a wonderbra and set of sparkly tights as much as the latter. plus, there's the whole 'upstaging the bride' thing. the end result, as i witnessed at my first winter wedding of the year last weekend, is normally a sea of little black dresses and pearls - but aren't weddings supposed to be celebritory occasions - and, in effect, a chance for guests to have fun with what they wear?

contrary to what most people seem to think, i have set out to prove there IS a middle ground between the sequins and lace of holiday dressing and the funereal black shift that tends to dominate winter weddings, and have found a few looks that are fun without being frivolous, and attention-grabbing without being attention-seeking:
option 1: country club classic
this '60's inspired tunic dress is conservative enough for a country club wedding, yet the flared sleeves and magenta silk fabric ensure it stays interesting. i like it with jaunty heels in a contrasting shade, but the less daring could pair it with a pair of opaque tights and black patent courts.

*outfit by topshop and available at topshop.com*

option 2: city hall chic
the head-turning graphic on the front of this dress by balenciaga is the perfect marriage of art and fashion - perfect for an urban wedding. i would pair it with simple flats and handbag and no jewellery, letting the dress speak for itself

*dress by balenciaga, shoes by coccinelle, clutch by karma, all available at yoox.com*

option 3: ravishing at the ritz
a black-tie invitation doesn't necessarily mean you need to wear black - rather, it's a perfect opportunity to sparkle in a subdued version of this season's metallics

*dress by julie haus, shoes by cynthia vincent, bracelets by bing bang, all available at shopbop.com*

red carpet report: golden globes top 5

the one good thing about having my flight back to london cancelled (don't ask...) is that i got to play fashion police during the golden globes red carpet pre-show.

no major surprises in terms of what people were wearing...lots of white, lots of marchesa, lots of gratuitous draping. however, there were a couple of looks that really stood out for me, with my top five below:

1. angelina jolie in st. john: even though i personally think dove grey is a fantastic colour to wear, and even though it is one of the ubiquitous colours of this season, it still seems to get a perpetually bad rep - and in most cases, it's perfectly justified, as the wrong shade of grey does tend to wash out even the most glowing of complexions. angelina gets it perfectly right here, and has given me faith that, despite all the bad press it's been getting, the right grey IS really flattering. the dress itself is nothing special, but its colour, paired really well with gold jewellery, was for me one of the highlights of the night

2. jada pinkett smith in...??: another fantastic example of how colour can totally make an outfit. the shade of salmon pink is so unexpected for this time of year, and just works so well with jada's complexion - her stylist clearly knows her stuff. again, in any other colour this dress would be mediocre, but the colour really makes it - and, yet again, am loving the gold vine necklace.

3. cameron diaz in what appears to be chanel?: on anyone else this dress would border on the ridiculous, but cameron has the confidence and joie de vivre to pull it off while still looking like class incarnate. it's quite unusual to see her in something long, so this is a nice departure for her - and a fantastic choice for the first big night out after a breakup when she knows she's going to see her ex. bet he's absolutely DYING right now. love, love, love it.

4. chloe sevigny in ysl: ok, ignore the fact that she looks like a caveman in this picture and hear me out...now, i may be a bit biased because chloe is my personal style icon and i would probably continue to rave about her even if she turned up wearing cowboy boots and a peasant skirt, but think about it: how often do you see prints on the red carpet? i probably would have picked different shoes, but that's besides the point - she's daring to be different in an age where stylists take all of the risks and fun out of red carpet dressing - and for that, i salute her.

5. cate blanchett in alexander mcqueen: a perfect example of how to stand out in a little black dress. this gothic lace gown looks stunning against cate's fair hair and skin, and i love the exaggerated hips - so directional, dahling!

honourable mention goes to america ferrera for wearing brian reyes when she must have been inundated with dresses from more 'established' designers - even though it is not my taste at all, is great that she's working with emerging talent.

try as i might, i couldn't find anyone who looked particularly shameful - with the exception of vanessa williams' faux-fro and jennifer love hewett's muddy poo coloured merangue, everyone else was quite non-offensive. which is cause for concern in itself, if you ask me...

**all pictures courtesy of people.com and e! online**