The ultimate investment shoes

Great shoes are a woman’s best friend. They lift any outfit, they make you feel taller, and best of all – if they fit you once they’ll fit you for life. The best shoes – designer shoes – can be prohibitively expensive. But choose the right pair and they will more than earn their worth. That’s why we like to call them ‘investment shoes’.

Here are five iconic pairs that you won’t regret investing in.

1. Gucci Jordaan loafers

You’ll likely be familiar with Gucci’s iconic Horsebit loafer. But Alessandro Michele’s arrival at the helm of Gucci in January 2015 signalled a renaissance for the style. Reworked with a slimmer shape to create the Jordaan style (pictured above), the horsebit-adorned loafer is once again a must-have.

Whether you go for the classic loafer or the ever-popular backless version, it’s a buy you will never regret.

From £410.

2. Chanel two-tone slingbacks

First created by Coco Chanel in 1957, there’s more to Chanel’s two-tone slingbacks than meets the eye; the nude upper lengthens the leg, while the black toe shortens the foot. Genius.

If you can’t find a pair for love nor money, Chanel’s two-tone flat ballet pumps are just as iconic and the colour-way has the exact same effect, even without a heel.

From £540.

3. Christian Louboutin Pigalle pumps

With it’s pointed toe and pencil-straight 120mm heel, the shoe is loved for it’s posture-correcting and leg-lengthening abilities. Kate Moss has countless pairs, and you’ll rarely see her on the red carpet wearing any other shoe.

Black patent is the signature fabrication but due to their popularity they are available in a plethora of fabrics and treatments.

From £475.

4. Chloé Susanna boots

These studded ankle boots, featuring three buckles and a subtle floral motif, captured the zeitgeist with their rock and roll vibe. Eight years after their launch, they still sell like proverbial hot cakes, and they are available in a range pf luxurious fabrics such as calf skin and suede.

Approx. £850.

5. Manolo Blahnik Hangisi pumps

When Carrie Bradshaw chose Manolo Blahnik’s jewel blue Hangisi pumps as her ‘something blue’ when she (finally) married Big in the first Sex and The City film, she unwittingly (or perhaps not) bestowed icon status upon the shoe.

Satin-covered with a 105mm heel, the Hangisi was inspired Napoleon I, Josephine and Pauline Bonaparte. The signature Swarovski-embellished buckle on the toe, meanwhile, was inspired by a vintage piece found by Blahnik, a lover of accessories, in Italy.

From £745.

OK, so just one pair of these shoes might be the equivalent of your whole year’s fashion budget, but that’s why you have to treat them as an investment. Investment shoes are shoes that have already proven their fashion kudos, and they are made to last. Spend a few hundred pounds and you will feel like a million dollars every time you wear them. Now that’s just good maths…

Functional fashion for your post-pregnancy body

Maternity style is great. Clothes are roomy, comfortable and stylish, allowing you to show off your bump with pride. But when it comes to finding fashion for your post-pregnancy body, the options narrow. Your maternity clothes are too big, while your pre-pregnancy clothes probably won’t fit for at least another few months. What’s more, your needs will have changed – you may need clothes that won’t irritate caesarean scars (goodbye jeans), or outfits that are compatible with breast feeding, and that’s before you factor in the unavoidable presence of your baby’s bodily fluids on everything you own.

So what can you wear?

The key here is to put functionality first. You need clothes that are easy to get on and off, and easy to wash. That might sound boring, but there are actually plenty of options if you know what you’re looking for. Loose-fitting fabrics such as jersey or cotton are flattering and comfortable, while button-down shirts, blouses and shirt-dresses are easily layered, and breast-feeding friendly.

If you are self-conscious about your post-baby belly, go for slightly longer tops that reach the thigh rather than the hip. You could also try getting back into the habit of wearing modest heels. Even a two inch lift can improve your posture and make you appear slimmer, while the very act of wearing shoes that aren’t slippers will make you feel positively sophisticated!

Draping is also a must-have for fashion-conscious mums. Wrap dresses and Grecian-style ruching will skim over your midriff and highlight your cleavage.

And what can’t you wear?

As a general rule, if it makes you feel frumpy, uncomfortable or anxious, don’t wear it. You have enough on your plate with a new baby to look after, so your clothing needs to complement your busy lifestyle, not add extra stress. Keep it simple and enjoy this precious time with your new baby, without any fashion-related distractions.

Alexa Chung’s style rules

Alexa Chung is one of our favourite fashion icons. Over the years, she has created her own look and stuck to that winning formula, inspiring countless High Street collections and street style looks. Alexa Chung’s style rules range from the grungy (denim hot pants and wellies at Glastonbury) to the glam (an androgynous tux or a vintage gown on the red carpet). But no matter what she wears, you can be sure that millions of women will be following her lead.

So here they are – in her own words – Alexa Chung’s style rules…

On her style crush…

“Nobody ever made high-waisted trousers and a tie look as good as Annie Hall. Her femininity, mixed with tomboyish silhouettes and scruffy thrown-together looks, is something I still reference heavily now.”

On hot pants…

“My relationship with my denim hot pants is incredibly special.”

On her most important possession…

“A navy blue jumper is potentially the most boring item anyone could design and yet it’s my most important possession.”

On androgyny…

“Thank you, Jane Birkin, for providing me with infinite outfit ideas and the confidence to dress like a boy but act like a girl.”

On Wednesday Addams…

“Wednesday Addams was probably the first character I saw to wear the Peter Pan collar. Match that with pigtails and gothy pale skin and she’s pretty much my favourite style icon.”

On her favourite silhouette…

“I think I was interested in ponies and all the relevant paraphernalia because of the fashion as much as the animals. That silhouette of skinny trousers, ankle boots and an oversized sweatshirt is one I never managed to get away from.”

On practicality…

“Practicality is high on my list… I’ll always prefer a girl in an oversized t-shirt as opposed to an undersized boob tube but that’s because I’m a girl, or a tomboy, and not a boy.”

On fashion throwbacks…

“Most of the things I wear today are a throwback to items I owned as a child, minus the multi-coloured harem trousers. You know what you like, so follow your gut.”

Vintage throwbacks, classic silhouettes and boyish ensembles – these are the core style rules that have made Alexa Chung into the icon that she is today. Follow these rules or make your own, and  fashion icon status may one day be yours!

Finding your perfect wedding dress on a budget

Finding your perfect wedding dress is a once-in-a-lifetime challenge. But finding your perfect wedding dress on a budget? That’s a whole other story. The average wedding dress costs upwards of £1000, and designer brands such as Vera Wang can easily charge five figures for their one-off confections.

However, there are more options than ever before for thrifty brides, from vintage finds to the high street. Here are a few tried and tested ways in which you can find your perfect wedding dress on a budget.

High Street Collections

The past few years have seen the launch of a slew of affordable bridal collections in high street stores such as Monsoon, Debenhams, H&M, Coast and ASOS, to name just a few. These dresses allow you to tap into the latest bridal trends without spending a fortune, or customise a plain white gown with your own accessories. Plus, with a range of sizes available, you can be sure to find your perfect fit.

Discount Couture

For many brides, your wedding dress is the first time you get to wear a bespoke designer gown. And you don’t have to sacrifice that experience just because you’re on a budget. ASOS and Debenhams both offer bridal diffusion lines by designers such as Ted Baker and Matthew Williamson, while outlet stores are a great place to scout for designer bargains and couture gowns.

Vintage Classics

If you love the 40s pin-up look, 20s flapper style, or frothy Victoriana, vintage may be your best bet. You will find a massive selection in vintage boutiques and through online dealers, and you may even pick up a bargain on eBay or Etsy if you’re lucky. If all else fails, ask your mum or grandma if they still have their wedding dress, and simply alter it to fit.

Thrift Store Chic

Oxfam has made a small fortune from selling second-hand wedding dresses and suits. So much so that there are now dedicated Oxfam Bridal stores across the UK! You can buy a wedding dress for as little as £20 if you go down the charity shop route, although you may be in for a long search. Focus for key things such as the cut, fit and colour of the dress, as you can always alter it to your own style later.

The new rules of layering

Unlike most fashion rules, the rules of layering frequently change. In fact, you can probably date an outfit by the style of layering on show. Dresses over trousers? Mid-90s. Shirt and sweater? Early 00s. Floral dress and oversized knit? So 2014.

But no matter what the current layering trends are, there are a few wardrobe staples that will always come in handy. And a handy Telegraph article reveals what they are…

Tunic top

The tunic top is versatile, flattering and ideal for layering. It can be worn with anything from cropped flares to pleated midi skirts, over your favourite breton or long sleeved jumper dress.

How to make it work…

  • Keep tones similar from head to toe.
  • Side-split knits look best over crisp tailoring below.
  • Don’t be afraid to play with proportions.
  • Mid-calf skirts and ankle-length trousers are ideal with thigh-skimming tunics.

Slim-fit roll neck

It’s cosy, cool and can be worn with pretty much every item in your current wardrobe – the roll neck knit is the ultimate layering staple. It’s likely you’ll own a fair few styles already, but the key to getting the look just right is all in the fit. Go for a slim style to avoid any bulk – a body is the perfect choice – and team with A-Line dresses, button-up shirts and ’90s-style slip dresses.

What to look for…

  • Fine knits and jerseys are a great way to avoid bulky midriffs.
  • Sleeveless styles will give you the look without the risk of overheating.

The shirt and knit combo

One of the most popular rules of layering is the shirt and knit. Once deemed preppy and unflattering, the look has made an unexpected return, and when styled carefully, can look effortlessly chic. Choose a fine knit jumper and a shirt that’s not too stiff. Finish the look with a tailored cropped trouser and flats.

How to get it right…

  • A-Line knits will create a flattering silhouette over your button-up blouse.
  • Wear your shirt untucked with just the right amount of cuff on show.
  • A hybrid shirt and knit number is well worth the spend

A classic shirt

Want to get more mileage from your dress collection? Pair them up with a classic shirt. Take your cue from Alexa Chung who artfully styled hers with a plunging LBD for the ultimate monochrome layered outfit. This aesthetic works for all occasions, and with all dress styles. Summer denim, midis, the A-Line mini – just add a statement shirt and you’re good to go.

Be sure to…

  • Keep dress cuts simple: they’ll be great with bare legs now and tights later.
  • Go for shirts and blouses with stripes, ruffles, bows and punchy colours to liven up even the plainest of shift dresses.
  • Avoid dresses that are figure-hugging or have a tendency to ride up – a bulge is not a good look!

Make sure your wardrobe is always stocked with these four classics and you will be ready for the new rules of layering, whatever they may be…

(Photo credit: Idhren via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA)

How to nail the pantsuit trend

Hillary Clinton may have lost the US election, but her fashion legacy is set to continue for at least four more years, thanks to the pantsuit trend.

Trouser suits have been worn by powerful women since the 1980s, and they have evolved from oversized, masculine cuts, to slim-cut feminine styles. There is a pantsuit for every occasion – from the red carpet to the boardroom. Solange Knowles even wore one to her 2014 wedding!

Here are our top tips on how to nail the pantsuit trend…

Know your shape

If you have a curvy shape, make sure you choose a pantsuit that focuses on the waist. That means high-waisted trousers, single-breast jackets and V-neck shirts.

If you’re under 5’5”, for 7/8 trousers or cigarette pants, and if you are over 5’9” you will look amazing in wide-legged trousers or flares.

Invest in tailoring

Every man knows that there is nothing more flattering than a well-cut suit – and that is doubly true for women. We come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s crazy to expect an off-the rack suit to do your figure justice. Proper tailoring is expensive, but you can fake it by buying a suit in your usual size and asking a tailor to alter it to fit.

Choose the right footwear

Heels always look great with well-cut trousers, but they aren’t the only option. Channel the Annie Hall look with a pair of patent penny loafers worn with a slouchy suit. Or dress down in warm weather with bare feet and a pair of plimsolls.

Accessorise sparingly

A great suit should speak for itself, and too many accessories can weight down the overall look. Keep it simple with a great bag and just one piece of jewellery.

Don’t be afraid of colour

Suits don’t have to be grey or black. In fact, the current crop of pantsuits come in a rainbow of couloirs, from pastel blue, to vintage florals, and deep burgundy. Don’t be afraid to stand out!

The five spring coats that every woman needs

The British weather can challenge the most dedicated fashionista – especially in the spring time. With drizzly weather and occasional sunshine, it is hard to know what coat to choose before you leave the door. That’s why spring coats are an essential part of every British woman’s wardrobe. Whether you favour a blazer or a biker, here are five classic spring coats that will help you survive the season in style.

A boxy jacket

On the catwalk, short boxy jackets are leading the way right now. If retro styling is your thing, we suggest considering a tan-coloured suede version.

A blazer

Looking for something smart that won’t date? A versatile blazer is the way to go. Layer over a white shirt dress for a day at the office or pair with cigarette pants and pointed pumps at the weekend.

A utilitarian jacket

Utilitarian styles have been spotted at various high street stores this season. Think khaki lightweight jackets and military-inspired cover-ups. We’re styling ours with distressed boyfriend jeans, a fitted white shirt and a pair of killer heels.

A leather biker jacket

A leather biker is a perfect spring jacket for anyone looking to toughen up feminine outfits. Go for classic black or mix things up with a bright colour that will turn a few heads.

A denim jacket

And of course no compilation of the best spring jackets would be complete without a couple of denim designs. A garment that will go with pretty much any outfit, we believe they are something every girl should make space for in her warm-weather wardrobe.

These spring coats have two things in common – they are relatively short in length, and they are light enough to throw into a tote bag if the weather picks up. Choose the right one and your spring coat will be a wardrobe saviour year after year – come rain or shine!

(Photo credit: katiecooperx via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA)

Fashion’s favourite trainers

Box up your stilettos, archive your flatforms, and bin your blister cream – trainers are back in style. Finally – our feet can breathe again! But this being fashion, you won’t get away with wearing any old trainers. A glance across this year’s front row feet tells us everything we need to know about the most fashionable trainers of 2016.

Here are the five frontrunners (if you’ll pardon the pun).

1. New Balance

New Balance has had a sterling season. Designer Gosha Rubchinskiy has been wearing them; the fashion editor of L’Uomo Vogue, Robert Rabensteiner has been seen in various NB styles; while Junya Watanabe put them on his catwalk, worn with jeans sporting a 90s-style deep turn-up.

2. Eytys

For a high-end trainer, look no further than this Stockholm-based brand. The luxe brand is causing a stir with its signature Mother shoe, which comes in suede, leather, linen, and cotton. The minimalist design is stylishly lo-fi and can be dressed up or down.

3. Nike Air Jordans

The original and best – this big and bouncy trainer was first created for basketball star Michael Jordan way back in 1984. More recently, it has been spotted on Louis Vuitton artistic director Kim Jones, and celebrities such as Jay-Z, Rihanna and Drake.

4. Adidas by Raf Simons

When the former creative director of Christian Dior designs his own range of trainers, the fashion world takes notice.
A simple black canvas pump with a red logo and red line running through the sole, these shoes will suit a cropped swingy trouser – very much a thing – come next season.

5. Converse All Stars

A celebrity favourite for more than 20 years – simple hi-tops are having another moment (Marni used hi-tops on a recent runway), particularly when teamed with hacked-off jeans. Complete the look by leaving the top couple of eyelets empty, a la Kristen Stewart.

Dress shapes that look awesome on fuller figures

Sometimes it feels like the fashion industry just hates curves. Not all of us can wear a delicate slip dress, or a fine mesh bodycon number – and we certainly don’t want to hide our assets in a shapeless black number or a dowdy skirt and top combo.

Fashion shouldn’t be exclusive to one set body type – it should be for all of us. That’s why we love this Cosmopolitan article which celebrates these popular dress shapes that look amazing on fuller figures.

1. A-line embellishments

Embellishments (e.g. beads or applique details) are a clever way of drawing the eye towards your best features…and away from the areas you want to disguise. Balance out a pear shaped figure with a smock or A-line top paired with a statement necklace or jewelled bodice, or show off a tiny waist with a big, bold belt.

2. Fit and flare

The classic LBD is a must for every wardrobe, and for curvy girls, the best LBDs have a flared skirt and fitted waist.

This dress shape looks feminine and sexy and it will stand the test of time. Dress it up or down with carefully chosen accessories.

3. Maxi dresses

Hourglass shapes look incredible in floor-length gowns with a cinched in waist and a daring split at the front – just look at Marilyn Monroe (size 16) if you need to be convinced.

Maxi dresses are dramatic just as they are, so stay away from bold patterns or elaborate designs – it’s all about creating a stunning silhouette.

4. Draped fabric

A bit of clever draping can hide a multitude of sins, plus it channels that Grecian goddess vibe that every girl deserves. Velvet is very on-trend this year, and it just so happens to look amazing when its draped – just choose dark colours as light-coloured velvet can look a bit shiny after a few washes and wears.

Style winners of the awards season

Forget Christmas; forget birthdays – awards season is our favourite time of the year. This is when the world’s most stylish women debut the looks that we will spend the rest of the year trying to emulate. And maybe, just maybe, a few new fashion icons will be born…

After several hundred hours spent studying this year’s red carpet looks, we feel confident to declare these four incredible women as the style winners of the awards season. Now that’s way better than an Oscar…

Alicia Vikander

The Swedish actress has made a big impact during her first ever awards season – from a stunning crystal-studded Mary Katrantzou number at the Critics Choice Awards, to modern white at the Golden Globes. No matter what she wears, she always focuses on the silhouette, and keeps accessories to a minimum – if she sticks with this formula, she’ll be ruling the red carpet for years to come.

Brie Larson

Gucci famously only dresses one actress at the Academy Awards, and this year it was Brie Larson. She looked regal in midnight blue as she collected her Oscar, capping off an awards season which was full of stunning jewel colours and metallics.

Jenny Beaven

When Stephen Fry jokingly referred to her as a ‘baglady’ at the Baftas, he sent Twitter into meltdown. But Oscar-winning costume designer Jenny Beaven shrugged off the controversy, claiming that she just doesn’t suit a dress – and as one of the world’s leading costume designers, she would know!

We love a woman who knows her own mind, and doesn’t feel the need to conform to Hollywood standards. And for the record, we also love the customised leather bomber and chunky gold jewellery that she wore to the Oscars a few weeks later.

Gina Rodriguez

The Jane the Virgin star was a stand-out in navy blue at the Golden Globes, but she really won us over when she offered to send her 2015 gown to a fan so she could have her dream prom. There is nothing more beautiful than kindness, and Gina just radiates joy in everything she wears.