Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fashion Blog : High Street Luxe Find : Vegan Leather Chloe-Esque Shoes, Flattering Ballet Flats And More.

Relaxing in the sun (with a hat and without sunscreen) iPad in paw, I padded across two high street luxe finds and an essential cardigan with a good fit.

1. Vegan Leather Chloe-Esque Block Heels
£19.99 from New Look

The first thing I noticed about this pair was the finish around the sole edges and the super soft bar of faux leather across the toes where there isn't a stitch in sight, just a look of sumptuous "leather". Minimal stiching around the ankle strap is neat and fine and the block heel has that bit extra that makes you take notice, styled with a surprising twist.

The deep red is a modern neutral, as compatible as tan with so many looks with a balance between colour and natural tones just right. I think it's the finish (inside and out) and sumptuous look that makes this pair a Luxe Find. Fit: these are narrow shoes, if your foot is medium width maybe go one size up, the position of the bar across the front is low so may not suit a foot that is wide at the toes. These aren't super comfortable but they are wearable as the faux leather is soft.

2. Vegan Suede Ballet Flats
(Man Made Materials) £19.99 from New Look.

There are some nice finishing touches like a gold layer in the "flat heel" and the all over mini studs that give a cheaper shoe material a super luxe finish to look at both close and from afar.

Love the flattering shape of the shoes too. The statement styling would make these flats a perfect partner to any dress or for evening slim cigarette pants. Fit: These will take some softening up with wear, but they do feel good in their shape and build and fit true to size.

3. Warm White Essential Crew Neck Cardigan
 (82% Cotton, 18% Nylon) £9.99 from New Look

A great proportional fit and nice fine fabric with a feel of soft cotton/wool. It is knitted rather than a woven fabric which gives it a more expensive look, I will add that it is delicate so will require careful washing on a delicate wash in a net bag.

Dress Intelligently, Dress Beautifully and Love What You Wear, Ms CN x
(Buying leather and wool free since June 2013).

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fashion Blog : High Street Luxe Find : Vegan Leather Dress £22.99 UPDATED

This vegan leather dress at New Look is chic and perfect for the transition between winter and spring, it looks great with opaque tights and ankle boots, finished with a nice chunky knitted scarf. The simplicity of the no fuss design lends itself perfectly for day wear.

The hems are unfinished. I would leave the neckline and sleeves unfinished, but I would use some fabric glue and add a neat single hem on the bottom. The fabric is thin and may stretch oddly at the bottom when you are sitting down without the extra strength of the bottom hem. The bust area has a shape sewn in at the sides by means of darts, this means that this dress will only hang correctly on a smaller bust size a - c.

I am not expecting this dress to last as many years as a dress priced at 20x £22.99, but with regular wear with care I would expect to get a good year from this piece.

New Look Leather Look Dress UK UK £22.99 / Europe €29.99 .
New Look ships worldwide and offers free delivery options.

New Look Vegan Leather Dress 2014
This dress is similar to the Rag & Bone NY dress I posted about a couple of years ago (pic below). A true classic in a very different price bracket (£650) to this New Look cheap & chic alternative.

Rag & Bone NY Leather Dress Circa. 2012

Why I now choose vegan leather

In June 2013 I made the decision not to buy anymore real leather clothing. I had researched extensively where leather comes from today. It's not a fashionably pretty or happy story.

Years ago leather came as a by product of the meat industry where cows and other animals were raised naturally outdoors, fed well and treated well as living beings with most of the leather coming from the UK, Europe and USA. Leather clothing was not sold everywhere and if it was for sale you would only see a few pieces per season. Leather was carefully purchased and cherished for years.

Now leather is available cheaply and excessively in most high street stores. Cheap leather comes from India and China where animals are bred solely for this purpose and lead a life of extreme cruelty, sadness and deprivation before being slaughtered in the worst conditions (more info here). Some leather still comes as a by product of the meat industry but again the way the animals are raised in factory environments and intensively without seeing the light of day, effectively being raised in a concrete prison environment is not something any intelligent person would wish to buy into at any stage of the chain.

Sign the PETA petition here, it's free and only takes a minute to help stop this unnecessary cruelty.

Vegan leather has improved significantly since the plastic-like PVC of the 1980's and 90's. Today vegan leather or faux leather is soft, wearable most importantly looks like leather.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fashion Blog : Investment Piece : Black Chloe Boots at £165 & More Chloe

I have refrained from writing about the January sales as I imagine that everyone is in receipt of the same bombardment of promises of up to 75% off filling one's inbox each day that I am. You don't need anyone to tell you that there are some good deals out there.

I find that really good pieces don't often make it to the sales usually selling out during high season. Trawling the rails of from a comfy armchair I gazed across a couple of real gems worth buying at great prices.

CHLOÉ Tucson metal-cuffed leather ankle boots.
Original price £550. NOW £165. 70% OFF.

CHLOÉ Wool-gabardine black straight-leg pants.
Original price £300. NOW £120. 60% OFF.

Anyone who reads here regularly will know that I am Chloe biased, it's the one label where I can find great wearable pieces each season that travel well and look polished, the styles carry well from season to season without looking dated.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Fashion Blog : Christmas Gift To Me! : Chloe Navy Tailored City Shorts From

Two of the Fall 2013 trends I have welcomed with open arms are 1. Navy and 2. Structured, volume-ous designs. I have really yearned for some nice navy tailoring to add to my wardrobe, but with navy blue care must be taken to keep the style of the entire outfit correct to avoid looking like your best friend's mum from the 80s.
Luckily there is plenty of stylish navy to choose from this season. City shorts are a cool change from trousers and not so dressy as a skirt (and you can tackle tall steps easily in shorts!) I spotted these Chloe Navy City Shorts Was £355. Now £106. In navy blue wool suiting type fabric and needed them instantly, I clicked away and they were a Christmas Gift To Me! I got them from

This pair are a classic tailored style with belt loops and subtle front pleats. A design that will not date. The quality and build are outstanding with every seam perfect and the interior looking just as divine as the outside.

Buying good quality tailoring has it's rewards, the fabric does not age quickly with wear and dry cleaning, most importantly the fabric drapes and falls perfectly. The absolute worst feature of badly made trousers with unsuitable fabrics are the pleats at the front not sitting flat but instead bulging like two extra breasts under the waistband. Today with the abundance of outlets selling fashion worldwide it is possible to get good tailoring at discounted prices, these Chloe shorts were 70% off and are very wearable.

City shorts are the ultimate ageless style piece, navy is kinda neutral when it comes to adding hosiery, tan is great and a classic, black tights for a Dior look with navy and any bright hosiery for a stronger vibrant look.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Time Out : Christmas Decor : Decorating The Tree & More Decorations

When Christmas is so close you can almost hear sleigh bells, the final week is filled with festive gatherings and the last few preparations here at Couturenet HQ - my rural home. This week is "especially special" (can you say that in good grammar?) in England as often on Christmas Eve or even Christmas Day I can be on a flight to somewhere snowy in the States for a week of cosy festivities ensconced away in the mountains.

One of the best parts of Christmas is putting up the decorations. There's something about filling the house with sparkly lights, candles, garlands, winter greenery and shiny gold that makes the darker evenings so much more cheery. I have just put the finishing touches to the tree. I have a faux tree for two reasons 1. I don't like the idea of chopping down trees, I want to see them growing in nature especially when skiing in the mountains and 2. I am often away for the main festive week or so.

I wanted to really saturate the tree with gold this year, I did this by hanging lots of different shaped gold baubles from virtually every bough. I contrasted the really modern and smooth baubles with Victorian style ornate shaped with sparkle. The red frilled garland is what I use in place of tinsel which I have never been keen on. It's more understated and the perfect background for the flame coloured lights and gold balls. The only other decoration is the collection of peppermint candy canes scattered around the tree which are super pretty and fun.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Time Out : Christmas Decor : Liberty Print Christmas Napkins

After some blissful browsing in the Liberty of London fabrics department I was drawn to the Mitsi Valeria in red. I mused how cheery and stylish it would be to have some napkins from this fabric for a more modern take on the traditional Christmas table setting.

I purchased 1 metre of Tana Lawn Mitsi Valeria at £22 per metre. This made 4 napkins at 50x50cm (slightly smaller after the hem has been sewn) with a reasonable sized piece of left over fabric 37cm x 1m for something creative.

To make: I removed the surplus 37cm of fabric to leave a square 1m x 1m. This was cut into four equal squares 50 x 50cm. Using an iron I pressed the edged into double hems and then sewed them with red thread. Two hours of fun later, the result was four very fetching napkins ready for my annual pre-travel, pre-Christmas dinner with friends. The invitations have already been sent!

The perfect accompaniment...

Place Card Stamp Kit £19.95 from Liberty (Ships Worldwide).
From a formal dinner party to an intimate gathering, personalise your table setting with this stamp set. In waterproof, permanent ink, you can even decorate table cloths and tea towels with the design.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Time Out : Couturenet Picks : Another 12 Stylish Gifts For Under £20 2013

With just one week to go until Christmas Day, Couturenet picks...
Another 12 stylish gifts for under £20 2013

Vegan Leather Box Clutch £19.99 from Zara (Stores Worldwide, Online Selected Countries)

Kinto Mugtail Cat £15.75 from Occa Home (Ships Worldwide).

Philippi Grip Handyhalter Mobile Holder £17 from Occa Home (Ships Worldwide).

Mulberry Home Mini Tartan Votive Orange & Clove £19.50 from Occa Home (Ships Worldwide).

Set of 2 Water Hyacinth Baskets. Was £40. Now £20 from Laura Ashley.

Summer Meadow Candle. Was £14. Now £9.80 from Laura Ashley.

Lene Bjerre Bellara Candle Holder £18 from Occa Home (Ships Worldwide)

Kara Ross Gold Plated Ring. Was £135. Now £20 at (Ships Worldwide).

How to Tie A Scarf 33 Styles £8.25 / $13 from (Ships Worldwide)

Adia Kibur Statement Gemstone Drop Earrings £19.03 / $30 from (Ships Worldwide)

YSL : Pret-A-Porter Fun Activity Book £12.05 / $19 from (Ships Worldwide)

*Extra Couturenet Favourite*
Place Card Stamp Kit £19.95 from Liberty (Ships Worldwide).
From a formal dinner party to an intimate gathering, personalise your table setting with this stamp set. In waterproof, permanent ink, you can even decorate table cloths and tea towels with the design.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Time Out : Christmas Decor : Cute & Stylish Christmas Stockings For All Budgets

There is something very homely yet very exciting about Christmas stockings, they look cute and there is the anticipation to see what is inside on Christmas morning.

Couturenet picks cute Christmas stockings...

Felt & Hessian Christmas Stockings
Aren't these cosy with their tactile finish £5 each from

Knitted Nordic Christmas Stockings
Understated and homely £6 each from Matalan.

Traditional Wool Christmas Stockings
Made from the softest lambs' wool, which is spun in Yorkshire and woven in Scotland, created in collaboration with the award-winning designer Donna Wilson. It's big! £30 each exclusive to Fortnum & Mason.

Alpine Christmas Stockings
A little embroidered fabric stocking filled with chocolate coins, squares and shapes, sugar mice and sticky lollies. £19.95 each from Fortnum & Mason.

See all Couturenet's Stylish Christmas picks on Pinterest.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Time Out : Christmas Decor : Re-Purposing Neal's Yard Remedies' Pretty Wrap

As a devotee of chemical free living I am a huge fan of Neal's Yard Remedies and all the treasures they offer from beauty products and bathroom delights to their clever, natural remedies.

Ordering online is easy and the website is such a pleasure to browse (bookmarking objects of desire as I go!). The deliveries arrive so nicely wrapped in bespoke floral tissue and blue ribbon which is just too pretty to throw away. I carefully store it away in a drawer ready to re-purpose and wrap a gift beautifully. It's a pretty twist on the usual Christmas wrap, this year I have saved enough to wrap a few of my presents to loved ones. I added 10 metres of navy blue ribbon at 23p per metre for a nice finish - who doesn't like a ribbon wrapped around a present!


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