Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fashion Blog: The Net-A-Porter Sale Has Started

The sale has started today in the UK, in the USA it has been in full swing for a good few weeks now. It must be long awaited, as the site has been busy all day, I have had a few sneak peeks in-between the "busy" sign, it looks good! I am pleased that quality stores have reverted back to the traditional Boxing day sale this year rather than a pre-Christmas sale. It just seems right!

Cheap 'n' Chic Alternative...
If you're a bit short of cash after Christmas, you can send off a beloved designer handbag that requires some TLC to The Handbag Spa (part of the Furniture Clinic) where the super skilled team will refurbish your bag, remove stains, restore the handles and much more! You can even send pictures of your bag via email to receive an estimated refurbishment price.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Fashion Blog: Investment Piece... Chloe Classic Necktie Silk Crepe De Chine Blouse

A couple of years ago I was on the fence as the whether to buy a Chloe silk blouse with a slim self coloured tie neck detail in white. I viewed it quite a few times at, it was chic and sophisticated worn with a brown skinny belt. In the end I opted for a Zara imitation of this shirt in white silk at £39.99 (similar here).

Today the Zara shirt is still going strong in my wardrobe although the silk is a little lack lustre after quite a few "delicate machine washes" on the silk setting with Ecover Delicate. I had decided to replace this Zara piece this year, I have certainly had my moneys worth out of it it has been worn regularly.

I took delivery (very excitedly) of this Chloe Silk Blouse a couple of months ago, it looks great with the Rag and Bone NY wool city shorts I blogged about a few months ago teamed with some ankle boots (this trio is what I am wearing Christmas Eve with thermal opaque tights for some post flight Christmas cocktails). The Chloe Necktie silk crepe de chine blouse is available at £600 UK / USA $995.

The cut is a semi fitted design and the neck tie is not too bulky. It has pretty, but understated "diamondy" buttons on the cuffs and the sleeve fit is good.

A great investment piece that will be loved, worn and dry cleaned for amy years to come.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Time Out: Simple Pre-Christmas Dinner Table Setting

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I will be on a flight. Today I am hosting a pre-Christmas dinner for a few friends. Getting a group together for chat and smiles is one of the big bonuses of the festive season, everyone feels jolly enough to make the time in their hectic schedules.

Knowing I would be here today, gone tomorrow! I wanted to set up an attractive but Christmas-sy table setting trying to use as much tableware I already had, to avoid waste of perishable items.

All I purchased for the table setting was:
1. A Bag of Fresh Cranberries £2.49
2. 6 Giant Gold Chocolate Coins @ £1.49 each
All from

I strategically only used Italian glass tumblers on the table, leaving the wine glasses in the kitchen to serve wine as the guests arrived.
I used ribbon as napkin rings around starched linen napkins and garnished the "whiteness" of the plate setting with a gold bauble.
I like layering up a table setting, 1. Red raffia mat, 2, Gold Charger,  3.White bone china dinner late, 4. Porcelain heart shaped bowl all finished off with softer looking gold touches.
I decorated the desk in the dining room with a very large, chunky, porcelain bowl filled with fur cones (usually meant for the fire!) and red nutmegs.
The cake is a celebration cake ordered in advance from Entertaining, Vanilla Sponge Celebration Cake 25cm £16.00 (a light sponge sandwich with a buttercream and jam centre, covered with smooth white icing). The Christmas decorations are from my store cupboard purchased a few years ago and re-used each year. The other items (Liberty snow globe, crystal jug, glass ice bucket etc. were gifts given to me in years gone by that I love and re-use each Christmas.
Giant gold chocolate coins are fun as coasters and party favours for guests to take home.
I purchased these fab hallmark crackers in the sale last year with 75% off!
The centre piece layered from the bottom up 1. A piece of slate, 2. A red raffia mat, 3. Lots of gold baubles, 4. A hurricane lamp, 5. A candle & 6. A bag of fresh cranberries.
I love to combine red and white at Christmas. This raisied white porcelain dish looks very festive with Lindor shiney red truffles in an enticing pile.
And by candlelight...

Including gold glittery elements to the table setting added a glisten here and there when the candles were lit.
I kept the food simple too, I wanted to spend time with my guests. I roasted a turkey crown - made easy by - I ordered it online a couple of weeks ago, it was £23.19. Not only was the collection in-store seamless from handing over my order number to seeing the bird arrive on a tray in the lift! for me to take away, but I was overjoyed to see the turkey crown had been pre-weighed, the cooking time calculated and printed on the front, and it was supplied in a handy roasting bag! I proudly made Delia Smith's Pork, Sage & Onion Stuffing, with roast potatoes, a selection steamed vegetables and gravy of course.

Knowing that all guests would be pretty stuffed after the main course, we spent some time chatting. Then I then served a small piece of cake with coffee and cream instead of a rich Christmas pudding.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fashion Blog: Easy Pieces... T By Alexander Wang Silk Shirt Dress

Everyone wishes to have a section of their closet full of "easy pieces" ie. items that you can put on and they just look great what ever you are doing that day, from work and dashing about to lunch or checking out a gallery or museum (what ever the weather!). Pieces you can add layers to for warmth or just wear as they are without loss of style.

The top half of this dress is a delicate silk, the bottom half is a double layer silk crepe de chine.
I spotted this sleek T By Alexander Wang silk-georgette and crepe de chine dress on Was £205. Now £92.50 55% off. UK only, not available in the USA. The Outnet is my "go to" place for great quality pieces at the right price, you get more than what you pay for. Each time I have looked there has been an enticing range of easy pieces that you can literally slip on a go out looking smart and polished, even when opting for a more relaxed look.

I feel very satisfied when I find a beautiful piece of clothing that is not only cut well, finished well and of a quality fabric. I just know if it fits right it will be worn again and again.

I added my camel cashmere coat to the dress ...
I have already worn this dress to a relaxed party with friends that was partly outdoors and partly inside, it began in the afternoon and continued well into the evening.

I pulled the outfit together with a pair of Chloe dark brown leather boots.
The textured leather, prominent stitching and chunky hardware adds a tough edge to a delicate fabrics.
The versatility of this dress resulted in a smart look with Chloe dark brown leather boots from a few years ago (buy similar at Past Season Site and my cherished New York Industrie camel cashmere coat (buy similar here) purchased 14 years ago. The coat could be slipped on and off without loosing the polished look I had planned, the boots kept my legs warm and added a relaxed element to the outfit as well as a nice tough texture against the luxe silk and cashmere.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fashion Blog: Investment Piece... My favourite 14 Year Old Camel Coat

Good investment pieces are like old friends, you cherish them and you're always pleased to see them. I've had this camel overcoat for 14 years. I've worn it religiously each winter, it's dry-cleaned twice during the season and then again at the end of the biting winter months ready for next year.

Whilst I am careful not to snag or scrunch this coat up, to care for the cashmere and wool mix (cashmere bruises easily), I do wear it regularly. Two or three times as week, on and off trains, planes and automobiles. It picks up the usual travel pollution (dark black soot type marks around the hem). The dry cleaning process with my usual, exceptionally good, dry cleaner renders this coat as good as the day I bought it.

The other way I keep this coat good as new is to hang it on a smooth wooden hanger after each wear and brush the wool finish with a clothes brush to remove lint. I never use a sticky roller to remove fluff from a fine fabric such as wool or cashmere, it visibly ages the fabric leaving it looking worn. Save the sticky roller for smooth cottons and denims.

Shown with a T By Alexander Wang Silk Dress
Thinking back to when I bought this coat… I wanted a classic, yet modern well-cut overcoat. The other criteria was it has to be a good wool fabric, be fully lined and single breasted. Also, it had to be an inch or two longer than the dresses it could be worn with that were already part of my personal collection. The answer came in this cashmere and wool mix, single breasted, silk lined Crombie style coat from New York Industrie, quite expensive 14 years ago at £350.

A true investment piece, to date cost per wear has been around £25 per year, plus the cost of dry cleaning. It hasn't lost it's luxe appeal to me over the years, I still feel like a million dollars when I slip it on.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Time Out : Happy Halloween To You On This Spooky Day

A blissful evening spent carving pumpkin Jack O Lanterns has really made me feel Autumn is well and truly here... I spotted the striped candy canes in a candy store window, they were too pretty to resist and smell so minty! I hope the trick or treaters will love them as much as I do!

It's rather windy outside today so I made this hurricane lamp from an old clip top jar and a part used candle ready to position outside in the evening with the Jack O Lanterns, candles alone would just blow out!
Top tip for making your Jack O Lantern last longer - rub Vaseline / petroleum jelly around all the fleshy parts. I also put a glass tea light holder inside so that the hot wax from the candle does not make the base hot and any breeze does not blow the candle out.

There is a super bat template on the Martha Stewart Website, simple to draw, cut out and fold on black card or sugar paper. They can be hung in a porch or attached to a wall.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fashion Blog: Yves Saint Laurent Couture Dress for a fraction of the cost

On seeing the 2011 Fall Winter Collections I fell in love with the silk crepe pussy bow 70's style dresses offered by Gucci and Chloe, stunning, effortless chic. The price tags were as stunning as the dresses at around £1300. After a very rare trip to the cinema I saw Michelle Pfeiffer in Tim Burton's Dark Shadows and was under the spell of the seventies dress again. In 2012 I saw the 70's shirt dress return in the Spring Summer collections from Chloe and Gucci. I still really wanted one but could not see this piece as being enough of an investment item to spend £1300 as I wished to add a piece like this to general daywear, rather an occasion wear. I wanted to spend upto £350, for silk crepe and good workmanship.

Image Copyright Gucci 2011
So I started looking… and I came across a bygone gem, the Vogue designer sewing pattern. Up until the 1990s high end designers produced patterns for Vogue which were sold in stores. The earlier years saw the Vogue Couturier Design Patterns from the likes of Valentino, Lanvin and so many more. Then came Vogue Paris Originals, again with great designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Chloe and Donna Karan to name a few. Today there are still a very small quantity new designer patterns sold from brands such as DKNY, but nothing like the choice of those available from the 1920s - 1990s.

So the only way to buy an original pattern is to seek out vintage pattern, online is the best source. I like and for this.

I found this Vogue Paris Originals Yves Saint Laurent dress pattern on ebay and bought it for £1.04. Bargain. I then sought out the fabric, I wanted good quality medium weight silk crepe. At the time I was drooling over the Gucci Cornflower Blue Dress (culottes actually) from the Pre Fall 2011 Collection so I was looking for that particular shade of blue. I requested some fabric samples from, the online store has the best range of colours for silk crepe. The two samples arrived a few days later, Silk Crepe De Chine in Ultramarine and Bluebonnet (Cornflower Blue). Great Quality. The Silk Crepe De Chine fabric is $28.49 per yard and $1.99 for a sample swatch. sends regular holiday offers and coupon codes if you register for emails.

The Cost Breakdown:

Vogue Paris Originals Yves Saint Laurent Vintage Dress Pattern £1.04 / $1.63 approx.
Postage £1.50 / $2.35 approx.
3 yards Silk Crepe De Chine in Blue Bonnet $85.47 / £54.60 approx.
Shipping extra based on the weight and destination.
Dressmaker charge was quoted at £100 / $156.00 approx.

Total £157.14 / $245.45

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fashion Blog: Beautiful Billowy Chloe Pre Fall 2012 Dress

In September a beautiful package landed in my lap. I was fashion-weary after weeks seeing the relentless stream of summer sales advertising backed up by umpteen emails per day, so the perfectly wrapped parcel was a welcome and refreshing surprise.

Image Copyright Chloe 2012
The box contained a stunning Chloe Pre Fall 2012 Dress. Completely out of my comfort zone this dress was tomato orange red, always a little afraid that such vibrant colours would look less than sophisticated I have avoided even trying pieces on. But... the quality build and feel of the fabric was so luxurious and structured... and watching the swayths of crepe fabric take on the form of a dress as I removed it from the box, my heart skipped a beat and I was little breathless, suddenly I couldn't wait to try it on.

I set the scene for a "successful try-on" by slipping on my perfect and beloved Dark Brown Chloe Knee Length Boots (an investment buy from years past) and then put on the dress. Instantly I was transformed into the best possible version of myself with the feared tomato orange red colour lighting up my skin tone and contrasting with my dark hair.

I have since worn this dress for two outdoor daytime events during September, meetings on sunny days and an early evening dinner with friends. It works perfectly for all day time events where a polished look is required with a less formal feel. This gem of a dress looks wonderful in the sun due to the deep but bright colour but will also look super in Autumn worn with darker shades such as adding a burgundy chunky cropped knit or boxy leather jacket.

The proportions are just right on this piece, the top part is a nicely fitted cut with smaller pleats and a simple neck tie, the bottom half billowy, pleated and oversized. Just perfect.

Mentioning the quality again. The dress is a semi stiff fabric that is structured and lined/interlined properly to provide a clean, sharp, meaningful edge to the sleeves, nekcline and hemline. The zip is hidden under the arm. The pleats are set correctly - the dress hangs just right without looking bulky but billows beautifully when you walk. The interior is as imaculatley tailored at the outside with each stitch in place, there is also a nude coloured slip underlining the skirt. The quality makes this dress a real stand alone piece that makes it easy to wear, with just a chunky cuff if you wish to add an accessory.

The Chloe Pleated Pre Fall Dress £1.935 / $3,445 (Made in France) is available at

The Chloe Pre Fall Collection 2012 can be seen at

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fashion Blog: It's In The Stars! Buy Something Beautiful Today!

"Purchase something that makes you feel attractive now that the lovely Libra Moon is traveling through your 2nd House of Self-Worth. Or spend a little money to improve your image, because showing your best side enables you to feel good too. These actions may seem like superficial indulgences, but when you see yourself in a more flattering light, you're likely to be more confident on every level. "

Thats what my horoscope said today! I don't read my horoscope everyday, but occasionally I will have a curious peek on if it lands in my inbox. It really is curiosity, i wish to know if the things that are predicted really do ring true and if the mood depicted really is the same as mine that day!

I was going to buy these super Mango Touch Wooden Wedge Sandals anyway, but now I know it was meant to be!

They are currently in the sale. Mango Touch Wooden Wedge Sandals. Leather uppers. Wooden wedge. Rubber sole. Was £79.99. Now £49.99 Star Price. I chose the black pair after falling in love with the Chanel pair in a similar style I saw on Laura Bailey here. They are also available in red or light tan.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fashion Blog: UPDATE The Net-a-Porter Sale has now started in the UK

I recently posted about the sale in the USA, always beginning weeks before the UK site launches it's sale. This week the UK sale has started too. There are lots of wearable pieces and good quality items with huge discounts. The items are relevant too, as it all just seems like yesterday the new Spring Summer 2012 collections were fully stocked into the market place and now they are on sale!

Although tough, I am ignoring the slow infiltration of the Autumn/Fall 2012 pieces appearing online and in-stores! I still want to see and immerse myself in these beautiful summer colours, the corals, tans and whites that are so uplifting.

I am still continuing my longstanding and wholly devoted love affair with Chloe. I recently jotted a note about the quality of my Spring Summer 2012 Chloe Silk Dress.

There are some great Chloe items here with 50% off.

This Chloe Brushed Silk Shirt (Was £495. Now £247.50. 50% OFF) is a great buy, the peachy colour is already thinking ahead to the 2012 Fall Autumn Winter Collections which see the summer corals and oranges dulled down onto duskier softer shades. This Chloe shirt is a wear now with shorts and wear later with pants piece, to create two very different looks.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fashion Blog: It's Nice To Be Appreciated… Especially With A Chloe Dress!

I really wanted to highlight the quality of this Chloe Tonal Pleated Dress. It's the part of high end fashion that you never really see unless you actually wear something or go and have "a good look with your hands" in a boutique. The breathtaking looks that glide down a catwalk are the just the beginning of the whole "quality experience". The fabric, the cut, the detail and the interior are often never seen. You simply can't experience this from a show or a magazine.

1. The first thing you notice about this dress is the perfect pleats that will stay in place, they hold their blunt shape at the bottom beautifully. They are also the correct size (width) pleats, to flatter, hang flat and not look bulky. The dress is 100% silk on the outside.

2. The next thing you notice are the tan tones with just the right amount of white and coral. This proportion of colour and the hues chosen by the designers at Chloe are a big part of what will keep this piece a wearable item for the future that will always look special.

3. The sleeves are just the correct length, perfect stitching, perfect colour proportion again with just the right hint of coral. The shoulders are a good width and structured too.

4. Hidden buttons, with the correct weight of fabric and stitching around the button holes to ensure when fastened the front of the dress looks flat and doesn't sag.

5. Structured collar. The collar looks just as delicate as the rest of the dress, but careful construction ensures it maintains is structured shape, it's not floppy. This adds to a polished look.

6. Designed interfacing, structural elements and lining. Again the quality here is outstanding with every stitch perfectly performed even though these parts of the dress will not actually be seen.

7. The feel of the dress when it is worn. It's a feeling of walking on air, a weightlessness. You don't don't have to make it work. I guess thats why it would be called effortless chic.

To sum up… the fabric, the cut and the colour palette make this dress something unique, this is down to the bits you can see and the bits you can't! Never underestimate the hours of design and development that goes into each piece that you see in a runway show to make the items look the way they do.

This dress is elegant, it's stylish and the perfect piece for summer from outdoor events, weddings and drinks evenings. It's the perfect investment piece as the coral and tan subtle hughes will out live the acid tones offered this season. There is tan in the Autumn collections, so will carry through well.

I was very overwhelmed and honoured to be given this dress as a gift. It's nice to be appreciated... especially with a Chloe Dress!

Please forgive the creases in the dress in the photos, I wore it, packed it, it's travelled and then unpacked again, so not too bad considering so much action! It's now on it's way to have the creases gently steamed away.

This dress in the SS 2012 Chloe RTW Collection, a runway piece.

Available to buy at
SS 2012 Chloe Colour Block, Tonal Pleated Dress.
Europe € 3,101.00
UK £ 2,740.00
USA $ 4,373.00
Made in France.

For A Cheap 'n' Chic Alternative…
Look for items with coral and tan tones (even if you have to buy two separate pieces to achieve this) and avoid shiny fabrics. I spotted this Vanessa Bruno Dress (Original price £445. Now £155.75. 65% off.) 100% silk with cotton trim on, the dress has the same tonal and draping qualities of the Chloe dress and would look perfect with a coral jacket and a dash of white.


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