Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Give and make up

If you haven't heard of Give and Make up yet, it's about time you did. 

Give and Make up is a non-profit initiative which supports refuge and women's aid projects by getting everyday essentials to women and children in need. But this is a charity with a difference: to donate, all you need to do is clear out your cupboards.

All those unused bath sets, make up you bought and never tried, even those pyjamas your nan bought you for Christmas - pack them up, send them off and just help make that little bit of difference. All the details on what you can send and where to send it are available on the Give and Make up website

I'm off to sort out my beauty box!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Lana del love affair

Lana Del Rey
Mulberry named after you? Check. Song blasted at tons of shows during fashion week? Check. Vogue cover? Check. 

Lana Del Rey's been on the fast track to high fashion stardom since she burst onto the scene late last year with 'Video Games'. Now the iconic singer is about to take the high street too: she's just been announced as the face of H&M's autumn 2012 campaign.

Lana del Rey for H&M, autumn 2012
Her sultry looks teamed with a vintage Americana wardrobe have made Lana's look one of the most coveted to copy this year. And the good news for us is that it's pretty easy to emulate.

1.Vivienne Westwood Anglomania dress, £315, NET-A-PORTER
3. Jewel bralet, £45, Topshop
4. Whistles Iris blouse, £95, House of Fraser
5. Serena palm dress, £38, Fat Face 
7. Heart sunglasses, £5, Dorothy Perkins
8. Cleo Ferin aviator print scarf, £65,
9. DuWop lip venom plumping gloss, £15, Debenhams
10. Tatty Divine claddagh ring, £24, Selfridges

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Four new ways to wear neon

Neons are just so awkward, aren't they? Unless you're some mega cool fashion follower, chances are you'll struggle to fit these brights into your wardrobe.

Now I've tried all kinds of combinations and, until recently, I thought getting fluros to work with my pale skin was a bit of a futile effort. That was, of course, until I discovered you don't necessarily have to rock the brightness of the sun to still be wearing neons. So, to carry on this weekend's colourful posts, here's some tips and tricks I've picked up on how to add a bit of a warmth to your style.

1. Bling it up
Contrast the colour with a bit of sparkle for a, dare I say it, classy touch.

2. Wash it out
Acid wash, faded or bleached, there are some great lighter shades which are a lot easier to wear than traditional neons. Try coral or mint chinos for a retro feel.

3. Tone it down
White and beige are great here, especially when it comes to matching orange or pink. Rather than sticking to the big pop of colour, you can soften the shades and make your look more feminine.

4. Compare and contrast
Don't just look to white or black as your staple with neons, opt for navy-blues or grey marl to keep it fresh.

Shopping list
Left: Bracelet, £15, Butterfly by Matthew Williamson; Marni earrings, £200, NET-A-PORTER; Necklace, £17.50, Butterfly by Matthew Williamson
Right image: Organza prom dress (top), £60, Topshop; Melissa Galactic flats, £30, ASOS; Lace tank, £154, Marc by Marc Jacobs; Sally stripe dress (bottom), £75, Boutique by Jaeger

Friday, 13 July 2012

Midsummer +1: the new colour collective

Hey girl, clouds got you down? 

Life is just so bland at the moment so, to perk everyone up a bit, I've put together a weekend of colour focused posts: first up comes newly launched accessories brand, Midsummer +1.

Midsummer +1 purse, £14
Handcrafted by artisans in Kolkata, India, each of the clutches and purses are made using the traditional Bengali technique of Shantiniketan: bold patterns are embossed onto supple leather and then finished by hand-painting bright colours onto it.

Midsummer +1's first collection 'Dazzle' features bright colours and bold patterns, complimented with simple forms and refined hardware. In fact, it was inspired by the futuristic style camouflage painted on WWI warships - the geometric shapes were intended to distract enemies, rather than disguise the ships.

SS Empress of Russia
The line has a great social ethos too: each design is produced by a fair trade co-operative, established in 1977 to ensure artisans are given fair salaries and good working conditions - and support several community schemes along the way.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

How to cope with a bad haircut

I've recently made two hair mistakes. The first comes in the form of a bad haircut. I mean it's not can't go out in public awful or anything but it is going to take a while to grow back into anything resembling a style. My hairdresser was, er, shall we say misguided, when chopping my lovely locks off. She managed to mistake one inch for two and gave me my worst hair nightmare: a mini fringe *queue wolf howling, shutters banging, wind blowing etc*.

Don't worry it's not this bad!
The second mistake was, in fairness, entirely my fault. I accidentally dyed my hair a weird purgatory stage between brunette and blonde. For some bizarre reason .3 of a shade's difference in my box dye provider of choice's range turned out to be a whole different colour altogether when applied to my hair.

Now I know this all sounds rather vapid to the uninformed eye but honestly this isn't just a post about me being supremely vain. The thing with hair is that it really can be a girl's crowning glory. Having nice hair makes you feel good about yourself and this funny little look I'm rocking just makes me a bit blah.

But, it's at times like these I remember two things: one is Sabrina the Teenage Witch telling her mate Jenny, "hair grows" when she chops off her mega curly locks; the other is a quote from my favourite fictional character of all time: Elle Woods.

Elle Woods speaks hairspiration
"You see there’s this salon in Beverly Hills. It’s really fancy and beautiful but it’s impossible to get an appointment. I mean unless you’re Julia Roberts or one of the girls from Friends you can just forget it. But one day, they called me. They had an opening. So I was finally going to get the chance to sit in one of those sacred beauty chairs. I was so excited. 

Then the colourist gave me Brassy Brigitte instead of Harlow Honey. The shampoo girl washed my hair with spiral perm solution instead of colour intensive moisturising conditioning shampoo. Finally, the stylist gave me a bob, with bangs. Suffice to say it was just wrong, all wrong, for me, you know? 

First I was angry and then I realised my anger was completely misdirected. I mean this wasn’t the salon’s fault. I had sat there and witnessed this injustice and I had just let it happen. I didn’t get involved in the process. I forgot to use my voice. I forgot to believe in myself but now I know better. I know that one honest voice can be louder than a crowd. I know that if we lose our voice or let those who speak on our behalf, compromise our voice then this country, this country is in for a really bad haircut."

So if you're suffering at the hands of a bad haircut (or mustering up the energy to change US legislation), just remember Elle's words. You may be rocking some dodgy locks for a few weeks but it's really not the end of the world.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Vivienne Westwood's London inspiration

Vivienne Westwood at Tate Britain
Ever wondered what inspires Vivienne Westwood? The queen of the British fashion scene has been responsible for some of the biggest trends to hit the country, but, as they should be, this designer's inspirations are often a closely guarded secret. This intimate new interview, however, gives a sneaky peek into the art of London and how it has and continues to inspire her.

The film sees Vivienne exploring one of my favourite places in the big smoke - Tate Britain - and discussing two paintings which are of a great personal significance to her: Frank Auberach's Oxford Street Building Site (1959/1960) and JM Whistler's Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Cremorne Lights (1872).

"The great thing about London for me - the wonderful, wonderful thing - is the culture, the museums," says Vivienne. "I couldn't do any of my work without this source."

The film has been released as part of the This is Britain campaign, promoting Tate Britain's wonderful free to view collections.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Trends to regret?

I apologise for posting this image...*shudder*
Remember about five years ago when we had that whole mini 80s revival thing? Remember the neon, the ra-ra dresses and the hideous footless tights? Anything referencing that decade should have been locked away in the style vaults the first time around, not brought back for a naughties revival.

Flicking through Vogue today got me thinking: there's so much 'out there' fashion at the moment that we are bound to regret some of it a few years down the line. Now I'm not talking Snooki-style here (although scouse brows, going out in curlers and wearing fake tan thicker than your own skin are top of my fashion crimes list), there are genuine trends out there that I am 100% sure we are going to shudder at soon enough - or at least I will anyway.

Prada flatforms
1. Flatforms
Want extra height while rocking a stumpy leg look? Then just wear flatforms. These Spice Girl referencing horrors would be the first thing in my Room 101. Seriously ladies, just choose either flats or wedges. Unless you're a serious fashion follower, these look out of place, clumpy and just wrong on your local high street.

2. Bodies
Now if you're super toned, with a photoshopped figure, by all means go ahead and wear a cotton swimsuit with your jeans. If you've got an ounce of pudge on your body however, please, for the sake of your fellow human beings, don't. Just don't.

Follow me for print success!
3. Bralets
See above.

4. Clashing print
Yes, those girls in the magazines do it well but let's be honest with ourselves here: unless you can get catwalk level prints (even if they are at budget prices), this is a trend to tread carefully around. Too many florals and you could end up looking more Mary Poppins's carpet bag than Mary Katrantzou. Tone it down for subtle success with this tricky trend.

5. Saggy leggings
Less of a trend, more a phenomenon in this case. It looks like this faithful garment will be sticking around on the high street for another few seasons yet. But with every good staple comes a bad trend; here it's of the over-washed, bum stretched kind.

Just ask yourself: WWVBD? Would Victoria Beckham be seen in baggy kneed leg sacks? Would she wear glitzy poppers on her ankles? Would she put leggings in her wardrobe at all? No, no and I think that was always more Scary's get up.

6. Slogans referencing bad TV
I was in Topshop the other day and found myself looking at a bracelet saying 'bang tidy'. What does this mean, I found myself thinking. Then I realised I was acting like a 45 year old mum who had wandered into Claire's Accessories by accident. Ergh.

My age issues aside (although while we're on the matter when did 12 year olds start being able to afford the latest Topshop? I barely can myself!), slogans are never a brilliant idea to begin with. Your 30 year old self will look back on it and cringe. Trust me.

Now, let's be clear, I'm not talking iconic 'Frankie says relax' prints, more Henry Holland's visually offensive sayings about being so excited about the jubilee you could wee. Call me an old lady but I just don't think the Queen would approve.

*Insert fake tan joke here*
7. Miscellaneous beauty things
Webbed nails, extremely short fringes (why, oh why, oh why?) massive side fringes, raccoon hair, encasing yourself in fake tan, over straightened hair (set to become as notorious as the perm) and one I am guilty of: 10 week long roots on very blonde hair.

8. Very high waist knicker shorts
If you want to go out Bridget Jones style in big pants, just go out in big pants. The denim isn't fooling anyone.

9. Skin tight jumpsuits
Another one that may look great on celebs with personal trainers but going down the chippy in a leopard print wonder may not get you the attention you're after. Unless you really did want people to start calling you cat woman and start giving you extra cod for your dinner.

So what do you think? Am I right or completely off the mark? Are there any other trends we'll regret?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Skin care solution for humid weather

One of the, ahem, "perks" of having a warm, damp summer in the UK, is getting to frantically solve new beauty problems by mixing together some of the products in my old beauty box.

Because it's been so humid lately, I've found that my usual moisturiser just won't cut it. It sits on top of my skin, unwilling to be absorbed, no matter how thin a layer I apply. So, after trying various serums, creams and primers under my make-up, I stumbled upon what has turned out to be the brilliant concoction of Body Shop's vitamin E moisture serum (30ml, £10, The Body Shop) and Sanctuary's Therapists facial oil (30ml, £17.35, Boots).

Simply add one pump of the serum to a few drops of the oil and mix on the back of your hand. Apply the thin solution to your face, et voila! You'll have a new moisturising treat which will leave your skin hydrated with no room for oiliness. Perfect for coping with humiditiy or for a quick nourishing fix.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Bargain of the week: L'Oreal Paris lumi magique primer

This primer is my new best friend. No word of a lie, it's the best thing I've ever owned for my face.

I was having a bit of a midweek slump the other day so decided to pop into Boots on my lunch break for a new nail varnish. Upon discovering I own all the colours (seriously), I turned my attention to the make-up stands and this caught my eye. I was seduced into the world of proper cover up by L'Oreal's BB cream a few months ago (side bar: another amazing product you really should try - especially if you have quite fair skin like me, it's one of the best colours I've found), I figured I'd give it a go.

On the back of my hand it kind of looked like a light moisturiser with a bit of shimmer, nothing spectacular. But on my face: oh my god. It's like some kind of miracle cream. My dry patches are hydrated, my oily patches are de-oiled. I look like I live a fabulously healthy lifestyle in a country which sees sunshine at least every now and then.

The lovely dewy effect lasted pretty much my whole working day under some light powder and I felt like a radiant goddess by the time I took my make-up off. It may be worth your while knowing that I’d had a glass or two of Zinfandel by that point, but really, it still rings true.

At £9.99, this is such a bargain for a good primer - especially when you compare it to the likes of Mac and NARS.
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