Sunday, 28 February 2010

Shop of the Week: ASOS

As it's raining and I'm looking after the dog, I didn't fancy venturing out to the shops today in search of my Brooke Meyers inspired dress. No matter, for I have ASOS. 

I chose three slim, tailored dresses in order to make my purchases add up to £100 and thus qualify for free next day delivery. Hopefully one of them will be just the ticket! 

The option to view each item of clothing on a model walking the catwalk has saved me from many an inappropriate purchase. This, and the fact that they offer free returns, makes ASOS more appealing than most online retailers in my opinion. After all, if delivery and returns were always free, wouldn't you buy a lot of your clothes and makeup online? I certainly would. 

Friday, 26 February 2010

Love her Look: Brooke Meyers

You know when you have a really specific idea of something you need, like a particular dress? I always do this. I visualise certain stuff; usually classics that will make the rest of my wardrobe go further. Whether I can actually find these things in the shops is another matter. 

With a few meetings coming up, I've got my heart set on a perfectly tailored, classic shift dress. The one I'm imagining is something like the one Jennifer Aniston's character, Brooke Meyers, wears in The Break-up. 

I love the cut-out in the back; although it wouldn't work with a bra, so that's out. It's blatantly Calvin Klein; mine will be Zara at best. I couldn't find any pictures so, geek that I am, I did (dodgy) screenshots.

It's probably Aniston's hot bod and wicked tan that make it look so good. The effect on a big-busted, pasty blonde will no doubt be somewhat different. We will see if I manage to find anything! (This is an exception to the shopping ban for work purposes.)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Winter Nails in Berlin

When shopping's banned, you know what really cheers me up? Shopping. For smaller stuff.

I'm really sick of my sad little nail varnish selection, so I trundled off to the Mavala counter at my local beauticians in search of an update.

Being a small sort of place, they didn't exactly have the best selection. In fact I might be tempted to use the word 'naff'.

Pearlised everything, and almost all red, pink or suspicious brown. Luckily I managed to unearth a gem. Standing on its own, unworthy of an allocated spot on the naffstand, was a pot of 'Berlin' – a pale, grey shade (far left, below). 

I already have a grey polish by Bourjois but this looked lighter. I was hoping for that 'dove grey' look I saw on the catwalks last year. So far I've only painted my thumb (my 'tester' nail), and it's over the bright pink I already had on. It looks a little darker than I wanted. Maybe I should add a drop of white? 

I love Mavala Minis; they come in millions of colours, and are small and cheap (under £4.00 each). After all, has anyone ever actually finished a nail varnish? Mine turn into weird, gelatinous gloop long before I reach the bottom of the pot. 

I've got a couple of meetings next week that definitely require chic Lauren Conrad nails: now I need to put together a suitably chic outfit. 

This was a thinly veiled excuse to post some more pictures of LC.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Kate the Great

love Kate Moss: some may say she's overrated, or past-it. I say, look at what a wicked time she's having! 

In this era of colonics, wheatgrass shots and oxygen facials, it's refreshing to see a fashion icon whose main dietary intake obviously consists of vodka and cigarettes. So much more interesting than poncing around, banging on about drinking 57 gallons of water per day. 

I'm not saying she's a good role model, but then I'm 26, I don't need her to be. That's what I have Joanna Lumley for. 

Last night Miss Moss attended The Love Ball; an event hosted by fellow super, Natalia Vodianova, to raise money for the Naked Heart Foundation, which builds playgrounds for children in Russia. 

She wore a fabulous nude and pink outfit, elements of which I am coveting furiously today. Those pale pink leopard spot Louboutins are to die for! 

Kate's matching coat and clutch combo was also very elegant. Of course she got pissed and ruined the effect, leaving a trail of unflattering photographs for today's papers to criticise. Whatever. Did you see her shoes?!  

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Shopping the New Nude

Seeing as I have no money, I have taken to shopping on behalf of friends. Desperate I know, but people often ask me for recommendations on products, clothes, accessories etc; so now I'm purchasing by proxy. 

I'm quite taken with this leather bag from ASOS. The soft, nude leather will work perfectly with this season's neutrals. You could also pair it with a black outfit for the nude-with-black trend I spotted surfacing at LFW.

In the summer it'll look elegant with matching tan heels; instant leg lengtheners and something every woman should own. In fact I can't think of any outfit this bag wouldn't go with. 

It costs £65 and is available on ASOS now. 

Monday, 22 February 2010

A Cupcake a Day...

On my daily twitter travels I come across many people doing, making, writing and saying interesting things. However, few are quite so interesting, nor indeed so appealing, as Ms Louise Land, for she is responsible for the delectable Cirencester Cupcakes

I'm absolutely in love with the look of her buttercream-topped, fancy schmancy, fairytale cupcakes. She has incredible attention to detail, not to mention creativity and skill, and will custom-make cupcakes to suit your requirements and occasion. They are 100% nut free and made from quality local ingredients. 

I had to tell her how impressed I was with her Muppet cupcakes: look at them! Serious little works of art. 

Louise is opening a shop in Cirencester in March and I for one intend to pay her a visit.

If you live in Gloucestershire, you can have your cupcakes hand delivered for free within a 15 mile radius. If, for some strange reason, you choose to live outside of The Shire, Louise can post your cupcakes. 

If you're thinking I must know Louise and am therefore biased, I don't. She was very sweet in accommodating a recent (very last minute) order of mine, and I wish her luck in her new business. Looking at these beauties, I can't see her having any problems! The mini terracotta pot is a special cupcake for Mother's Day. Look away now Mummy Wheat...

Sunday, 21 February 2010

In the Pink

Reading the March issue of ELLE Magazine, and specifically the 'front row faces' page (about the celebs frequenting the most fashion shows this year), I was drawn to the images of Alexa Chung. At every show she was sporting the same bright pink nail varnish. Me likey! 

I hardly ever do my nails: I do not own base coat, or top coat. I don't file and I don't orange stick. Pretty nails are nice though, occasionally. And I read somewhere that if you paint your nails last thing before bed, you're less likely to get smudges. Grabbing the brightest pink in my collection I painted my nails in bed; two coats, none of that other jazz.  

Not sure how I feel about these Barbie nails, and the colour isn't great with my skin tone, but they'll amuse me for a few days. 

The polish is an Orly Manicure Miniature, which I got in a set of four. The colour is fittingly called 'Basket Case' and you can find it in their
permanent collection, should you wish to (which I doubt). Apologies in advance to all the hardcore nail stanners, scrunching up their faces at my shoddy application. 

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Fashion & Celeb Spotting at LFW

On Friday I made my first foray into the swirling cauldron of creative loveliness that is London Fashion Week. Mayah Riaz, editor at DEEN Magazine, showed me the ropes as we took in the first show of the week: Paul Costelloe. 

After being seated in the second row, directly behind GMTV stylist Mark Heyes, and opposite Hilary Alexander, Telegraph fashion director, Mayah tweeted, and I fidgeted in anticipation. 

The lights dimmed and the models began to stalk down the catwalk, the music a quiet lullaby, rapidly changing to a thumping beat. Heels were very high (and bending scarily), models legs were wrapped in opaque black tights with tight rubber legwarmers worn thigh to ankle. 

Themes included woven metallic fabrics, both plain and brocade, pompadour crimped and backcombed hair, heavy wool tailoring, highlander-style full-length coats, neutrals worn with black, high waists and exaggerated poof skirts. My favourite pieces were the 7/8th copper trousers, the pale half-length belted coat, and the dark metallic brocade dress. 

After coffee to refuel, we made our way over to The Waldorf Hilton Hotel for Maria Grachvogel, where we met Katie Antoniou of London PlinthAs Yasmin Le Bon and Erin O'Connor scooted past, my excitement peaked. 

The collection consisted largely of beautifully cut dresses in aquatic hues, melding into bright chartreuse, jade green, and black, sometimes within one piece; creating an impression of a stormy sea and jagged rocks. The occasional pop of red added contrast. 
Every dress, top or trouser shared the same expert draping and gorgeous fluid silk finish. The only distractions from the soft, molten lines of the clothes were the models' hip bones jutting through the fabric. Intentional juxtaposition of spiky and soft? I didn't really care: you could tell they were all tiny-boned and naturally miniscule. However, I couldn't forgive the blonde-haired model for not getting her roots done. That dark stripe on her parting was distracting me from one of my favourite dresses of the show. 

With thanks to Mayah for her kind generosity and to Katie for the photos of Mayah and I, and Yasmin Le Bon and Erin O'Connor. 

Thursday, 18 February 2010

So Far, So Unchic Video Blog!

I went ahead and made a little video blog of me talking about stuff: it's top-notch guys, you're really going to come away (from your computer screens) feeling like you've had a little glimpse into my soul. It's deep.

At the end I show you the dog. Make sure you stay tuned for that. Don't be one of those people who leaves the cinema the second the credits roll, and misses the cast hi jinx. And trust me, you won't know when the end's coming; this bad boy is abrupt!

PS In real life, I swear I'm a lot less beige coloured.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Calm Yourself

I know several people who swear by the immediate calming and reassuring effects of Bach Rescue Remedy. My mum always used to pop a few drops on my tongue before exams when I was at school, and to me it seemed to do the trick.

Now Rescue Remedy have launched several new products to sit alongside their classics: Rescue Balm and Rescue Chewing Gum.

The gum provides an instant hit of Rescue's signature flower essences via an orange and elderflower-flavoured shell with a liquid centre. As chewing gum is sometimes a good distraction from stressful situations, this seems to be the perfect combo. My friend's driving instructor even told her to chew gum on her test; once she eventually passed this tip on to me (about five tests too late) I finally passed! Obviously it was my driving skills in the main that were responsible, but the gum definitely gave me something to concentrate on besides my abject terror!

The gum has a mild, fruity taste and pleasant texture. My only complaint is how quickly the flavour goes; it's more of taste hit, than a good ol' chew! Find it at Boots and Holland & Barrett for £3.95.

The Rescue Balm has a lovely creamy texture, the same orange/elderflower flavour as the gum and feels light and nourishing. I also love the fact the pot says 'Rescue' on the lid, but maybe I'm just a bit simple! You can soothe your stressed lips for £5.75.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Skin Saviour Cometh

As you all know, my usually clear(ish) skin has recently been beset by a bout of spots and dryness. I tried everything I could think of to improve it but nothing worked. Old spots were replaced by new spots (often in an efficient 'layering' technique), and my skin continued to be dry and temperamental.

Liz Earle have been sending products out to a few bloggers recently, and I was lucky enough to be contacted by their PR.

What I received was essentially a care package for my skin. I could have wept as I caressed the mint green tubes and bottles, whispering to my spotty chin, 'everything's going to be ok now'.

I immediately set about using all of the products, and I will review the range in more detail in a few weeks. What I can tell you is that my skin looked better within two days.

The award winning Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser is the absolute star of the range: the combination of gentle, cream cleansing and the exfoliating muslin cloth really buffs and stimulates the skin. I used this cleanser in my third year at university, some six years ago. I liked it then, but my skin was so bad at the time, a course of Roaccutane courtesy of the dermatologist was the only thing to eventually sort it out.

The Superskin Moisturiser has also been a godsend; moisturising like nothing else. I love the fact it includes rosehip oil, known for its scar-fading and healing properties, as this will help to repair the damage from my recent outbreak.

Other products that have been nurturing and caressing my skin back to life are Chantecaille's Jasmine & Lily Healing Mask and Biodynamic Lifting Mask; both of which were given to me by the very lovely Katy at Make-Up by Katy. I'm going to be writing reviews for her site soon, but in the mean time I must tell you how much I'm loving these masks.

The Healing Mask feels super soothing and hydrating. My skin drinks it up so thoroughly there's virtually nothing left for me to remove. The Lifting Mask really perks up my complexion and, according to the Chantecaille website, 'increases skin's hydration by 50% within six hours'. It certainly feels like it works.

After using these products for only six days, my skin has already improved remarkably. Dryness is less, no new spots have appeared and the marks from the old ones are beginning to fade. Hallelujah!

I'm seeing Lowri Turner in London today for my fortnightly meeting: I'll be asking her whether the myriad of supplements I'm taking, combined with my new diet, would be having an effect on my skin after two weeks. I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Smell like Pete's Woman

Having received a press release from Selfridges announcing that Peter Andre will be signing bottles of his new fragrance, Unconditional, on 13th February, I'm having a bit of a moment.

I know he's become strangely attractive since he got thin and shed the nightmare ex, but since when did women want to buy perfumes designed by Peter Andre?

He seems like a lovely chap, but if someone complements me on my delectable aroma, the last thing I want to be responding is 'Thanks, it's Peter Andre'.

I find all celebrity fragrances embarrassing to the point of shameful, but for some reason the thought of this one has tickled me. Are women who fancy Andre going to buy it on the premise of smelling like the kind of lady he would want to sniff? Please tell me this isn't the case!

You may also be intrigued to know that The Perfume Shop are describing the fragrance as 'proactive, sensuous and exciting'. I think this means that it will put the washing on, naked, while using a pogo stick. Exciting indeed. It's available from today: don't all rush at once!

Shop of the Week: Kate Kanzier

I've wanted a pair of gorgeous Kate Kanzier ballet pumps ever since I saw them in a magazine months ago. I bookmarked the page and contemplated which pair to buy.

My laptop promptly broke (HP, two years old, they refused to mend or replace), I lost all of my bookmarks and I couldn't remember the name of the shop with the beautiful shoes.

I finally spotted a pair in another magazine this week and we're back in business! Kate Kanzier sells a delectable range of shoes and bags; from boots, to brogues, heels to clutch bags. Many are made of leather and all are very reasonably priced (ballet pumps are £20-£25).

There's a sale on at the website until 14th February. This means awesome bargains such as these pink patent buckle ballet flats (below) for £8, but also limited sizes and some out-of-stock bags. It's a transitional time of the year, so I expect once the sale is finished, more stock will be available.

I'm so tempted to order some shoes in the sale, but I think I might force myself to wait until I'm in London next week and visit their shop on Leather Lane. I fear I might get overexcited and develop a 'trolley dash' technique of trying on and buying far too many pairs. And then there's the bags! Oye!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

News Flash!

Chloe Sevigny's had the chop! What? In my world this is news! 

I'm intrigued by this girl: she is perhaps what the French would call a jolie laide. Not that she is remotely 'ugly', but rather she sometimes 'uglifies' herself through the things she wears and her style. Most women who do this, such as Alexa Chung, just irritate me. 'Those shoes ruin that outfit!' etc. Chloe usually looks insouciant and charming. 

I quite like this new hairstyle. It's kind of tomboyish and cool. Maybe I should get mine lopped off at the shoulders, although past experience tells me this is a very difficult length to maintain; flicking in different directions like Peppermint Patty's in Charlie Brown. 

There are lots of cool girls rocking long bobs lately: Kate Bosworth, Rose Byrne and my particular hair heroine, Leigh Lezark. Maybe it's because she's so freaking beautiful, but her angular-sliced black hair is something to behold. 

No way would my unruly, blonde fluff ever behave in this manner. In fact, if I cut it off it would probably poof up even more. I'll have to wait until conditions improve. 

Last Chance Saloon

I was lured onto YouTube yesterday when Lisa Eldridge tweeted about the new video she'd just added regarding her favourite skincare products. Firstly, I should tell you that I'm crazy about these sorts of videos! I love seeing which products people recommend, especially when they have a wealth of knowledge like Lisa obviously does. For some reason I also find them very relaxing!

Afterwards I watched Lisa's video on primer. I found it very helpful in answering my queries on product layering: do you need moisturiser, SPF, primer AND foundation? Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of what suits your skin because you're caught up in a long list of products you're being told to use.

One product Lisa recommended enthusiastically was Clarins Beauty Flash Balm – the old classic. Now, I've tried this before, several times, never with much success. When I put it on as a primer it caused 'piling', where your makeup comes off in tiny little 'rolls'. When I experimented with adding a tiny bit on top of makeup, it gave a good dewy effect, but didn't really last. 

Lisa explained that this balm has a 'film former' and needs to be applied in a pea-sized amount and smoothed in delicately without much rubbing. I've got an old tube of this lying around so I'm going to give it one last try! 

Are there any products with rave reviews, which you just can't get on with? How about those  you'd discounted at first but later came to love?

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Day Five: Diet and Detox

Dieting on the weekend is hard. Especially when you've got to stay in and dogsit, with nothing to do but think of all the lovely food in the cupboards, none of which you can eat.

Last night I had to go to the supermarket, foraging for a bean salad. It wasn't pretty. I'd been crying my eyes out watching Steel Magnolias. Do diets make you extra-emotional? I thought I was going to hyperventilate after Shelby's funeral.

The checkout man looked worried and started asking me if I'd had a bad day. I couldn't bear to tell him I was on a very restrictive diet and hadn't eaten anything apart from a smoothie and a bowl of miso soup. I bought some salted popcorn because I figured it wasn't really a grain. Turns out it is. A sweetcorn cob is basically a massive wheat sheaf. I haven't eaten any.

Lowri's due to phone me on Tuesday. I'm not sure which food she'll suggest reintroducing, but I'm hoping it will be good with butter on it.

Oh yes, and one of my supplements definitely has asparagus in it. I've not eaten any asparagus, yet my pee tells me I have. You're welcome for that detail. I'm in a very giving mood today.

On the upside, prior to this weekend lull I was managing quite well and particularly enjoying the hypnotherapy cds I've been given to listen to at bedtime. Super relaxing: I can barely slam the lid of my laptop shut when one finishes. Lowri says the people who're most successful on the programme are those that do the most hypnotherapy. If that's the case, I'm going to be thin, clear-skinned and healthy-bodied in no time.

With two days to go on week one, I've not cheated once. It's been a tough weekend but I know I won't crack. Next weekend promises to be trickier: I've got a massive night out for my friend's birthday and the permitted two vodka lime and sodas are not going to cut it. I'm also very concerned about the thought of dieting on a hangover. Surely that's against the law? I'll see what Lowri says and report back.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Love her Look: Poppy Delevigne

As I did my daily scout from site to site, looking at celeb news, fashion and beauty looks, I came across these pictures of Brit model (and Chanel brand ambassador) Poppy Delevigne; all chic stripes and modern red lips.

There's nothing controversial here, I just like the combination. I've always wanted to find the perfect lipstick to give me a fresh, casual red lip.

The thing is, red on me looks dramatic. I've never found the right orangey/red shade to complement my pale but warm skin tone. If anyone has any suggestions I'd be happy to hear them. This is all for when my nutritious new diet kicks in and my skin's amazing, because one thing's for sure: red lipstick does wonders for highlighting spots! 

I found some other pictures of Poppy and I think she has great style. Not that it's hard when you work for Chanel, have your pick of designers, and a perfect model figure to boot. I'm not bitter.