Tag Archives: Topshop

Uniform Fashion

It’s the start of a new school year and girls around the country are donning their crisp white shirts, pleated skirts and shiny new shoes for the first day of term. I was thinking how easy it was to put on the clothes that were dictated to me day after day for 11 long school years before flying the nest for nonconformist college where, for the first time I faced the dilemma of what to wear? If I’d have known this drama would raise its ugly head on a daily basis I would have opted for sixth form and the safety of the monochrome clothing rule.

I decided to study a HND in Fashion & Textiles at college, I thought that by taking this creative route I would be allowed the freedom to portray my artistic flair in my clothing without prejudice and I was thanks to my fellow wannabe designers. I was so lucky to share my workspace with some seriously talented people who were so self-confident their enthusiasm to shock rubbed off on me instantly. My friend Andrew would wear chaps fashioned from old curtains over Calvin Klein boxers and saunter down to the cafeteria for a bacon butty among the open-mouthed non-fashion students (sadly I don’t have picture evidence) We would make skirts from bubble wrap, wear towering heels with grubby overalls from the workshops and screen print as many foul swear words as you can name onto t-shirts to wear when we went charity shop browsing. I absolutely loved that time at college and I learned that while we were ridiculed for our random/daring/silly fashion choices, thanks to safety in numbers I felt it was okay to be different.

Image: Twoflatwhites.com

Clothing rules have relaxed so much in the last decade, my daughters infant teacher wears Converse and A&F for school, she always looks smart but its such a long way from the full pleat floral skirt and blouse combo that my primary teacher wore. When I was at high school (not that long ago) there was a teacher who wore Mango tops, Topshop jeans and knee length boots for work and was the envy of a lot of girls in my year. She certainly stood out from the sea of brown skirt suits and black patent kitten heels favoured by the languages department. I wonder if the women who wear a uniform everyday yearn for the freedom to make their own clothing choice in the mornings or are they happier to not have to check the weather, think about feet hurting in heels or remember to put extra tights in their handbag in case of a ladder emergency? Plus if the guys are in uniform too they don’t have to contend with Disney ties, days of the week socks or patterned waistcoats. Guys in uniform equals a win…every time.

To all the teenagers who are already manipulating their boring school uniform into something more fashionable, enjoy the monotony of looking like everyone else because it wont be long before you’re up at 6am dragging everything you own out of your wardrobe trying to find a suitably chic outfit for yet another day at work.

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A Tall Story

I want to talk about height.

According to Wiki and Yahoo Answers (which admittedly aren’t the most reliable sources of information) the average height for women in the UK is 5ft 5″. I’m 5ft 10″ and have been since the age of 14, add a pair of decent heels to the equation and I’m topping 6ft 1″ when I’m at work or a night out.

Tall Story

Tall Story (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There have been lots of occasions over the years where my height has been a major grievance, yet I’m constantly hearing others moaning ‘Oh I wish I was tall’. Do you have any idea how hard it is to buy jeans, maxi dresses or tailoring off the rack on the high street? I’ve resorted to wearing ballet flats more often since they burst into the scene a few years ago which in turn has expanded my wardrobe choices considerably but being tall isn’t just about leg length. I want to wear heels because they make me feel more feminine, but wearing a shoe with a 3-4″ heel puts me at eye level with most guys and instantly quashes my sex appeal. Stupid genetics.

At school I hated being tall, I was the same height as most of the boys in my class which, as I’m sure you can imagine was a big barrel of fun. Sport was my saving grace though, I was good at athletics and netball which I firmly believe saved me from a few hidings and bought me much-needed popularity points to get through those horrible teenager years. I learned to embrace my ‘Athletic‘ body shape. I’ll never forget being on my hen night in ‘Funny Girls‘ transvestite club in Blackpool, I should have danced the night away, instead I was more concerned that other revellers were wondering if I was a guy or a girl given that I was as tall as the performers.

Being tall became a slight advantage when I got to around 17, started going out with my mates to town and getting noticed a bit more. I’d love nothing more than slipping into a little black dress, donning a huge pair of heels and sauntering into the pubs and clubs in the city turning a few heads with my 44″ of leg on show. The only downfall is once you’re in a jam-packed bar, at shoulder height with all the cute guys, they don’t see your legs! But you do tend to get served quickly. I have only ever dated one guy shorter than me and it was weird. It lasted all of three dates and I made up some lame excuse as to why I couldn’t see him again but being taller than your man is strange right? I love the illustration from Tall Story with Jane Fonda and Anthony Perkins where the girl loves the tall guys. That’s how it’s always gone down with Disney too. Yet Sophie Dahl and Jamie Cullum are still going strong…..aren’t they?

Where clothes are concerned, being tall is only great if you are also very slim. I’m carrying a little more weight than I’d like so I tend to stick to one or two stores that cater for taller women. New Look and H&M are my current favourites and with Summer on the way (we hope) I can delve back into TopShop and Hollister for capri pants and cropped joggers, which I have really missed over the Winter months. Do you know of any hidden gems for ladies with long pins? Whatever happened to Long Tall Sally?

My height has thrown me challenges over the years, from wedding dresses to buggies. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with my height, but as long as I keep the cellulite at bay, my legs will remain my best feature……after two kids they’re my only feature!!

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Forever Young

All my life I’ve been 9 years and 5 months older than my sister which has never been more grieving than now as I am rapidly approaching 30. I met her in town the other day for coffee and was taken aback by how trendy she looked. Now don’t get me wrong, she’s a gorgeous looking girl, had more hair colours than I’ve had jobs and looks good in a bin bag. But, never has she shown such a passion for all things bang on trend. I was……don’t tell her…..Jealous!

When I was a teenager and she was still getting excited about Pokémon and light-up scooters I used to take her to town with me shopping pretty much every Saturday, which I like to tell myself is where her current burst of enthusiasm for Topshop originated. However I’m pretty sure its got more to do with being at uni and having control of her own money. I used to make my little sister model my textile creations during my time at college, she spent many an afternoon standing on my mum’s dining room chairs while I pinned, nipped and tucked at couture creations. She spent most of the time whining because I would accidentally stick her with my inexperienced tailoring. That’s not the worst of it, I would let her put her hands on the sun beds while I tanned, I got brushes stuck in her hair trying to volumise it and made her leaflet the local neighbourhood with me so I could afford a new Kookai dress for a night out. She was like a sponge, taking it all in, scouring through magazines with me and my school friends. She probably should have been more concerned with the adventures of Scooby Doo, but was instead forming opinions on Daphne’s purple and green dress combo.

The biggest mistake I made at this time was to fall into debt. My obsession with all things on trend lead to a store card, which led to a credit card, and wearing an outfit once and once only. We’re talking ten years ago here so I wasn’t paying Primark prices. The only thing I ever saved up for was a pair of Vivienne Westwood pirate boots, I wore them once and sold them on Ebay for a quarter of the price. I would think nothing of spending a couple of hundred quid on clothes that would probably never see the light of day. As long as the minimum payments were manageable then…yeah I will have that Karen Millen dress thank you very much.

Whilst I would never attempt to take real credit for my little sister becoming a fashionista, I’d like to think there is a bit of a legacy there. She has definitely learned from my mistakes and hasn’t fallen into debt for the sake of a pair of sandals or maxi dress. I’m sure she’ll buy the odd item, wear it once and bin it, but if she’s not paying for it in ten years time like I am, then the legacy lives on. I’m just taking a little longer than expected to get my head around borrowing clothes from her and not the other way around. Not sure I can still get away with Nike high-tops and a Back to the Future T-shirt?

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One of my favourite memories of us growing up together is of buying a Posh Spice (Victoria Beckham for those who are post-Spice Girls) inspired little black dress, which now I think about it was actually dark blue and made from hideous fabric. It was a fashion no-no, boobs and legs dress and it barely covered either. I stuck it on, threw back the curtain and invited her critique. With wisdom far beyond her 9 years and 5 tender months her words were….

‘Mum’s going to kill you’

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Who’s That Girl?

I have lost my identity, possibly forever. From graduating as an aspiring fashionista, 3 years later I am worrying if ‘I’m too old to be wearing that now?’ I am 29 years old, no longer a preppy teen or a funky young twenty-something, I’m almost 30 and I feel as if my fashion sense is no longer tingling. Did I put it down somewhere when I tried on that black silk playsuit in Reiss? Or perhaps I stacked one too many shoe boxes on top of it at Dune? Do I still shop in trendy places? Yeah I think so. My recent favourite is H&M as I always manage to find something in there at the last minute. I adore TopShop for denim and their Tall section as well River Island for accessories and Kurt Geiger for heels. Okay so it’s not exactly Jimmy Choo’s and D&G but as far as the high street goes, that’s pretty cool, right?

It must be the ensemble stage of dressing in which I am going wrong? Let’s take today for instance, to set the scene, I work for a high street retailer, often travelling from north to south and running down train platforms with an oversized bag and Costa latte. A typical outfit of choice is a pair of bright blue skinny jeans with ankle zips, a black silk shell top, suit jacket and suede and patent leather shoe boots. I’m also a massive fan of hats, I have short hair and find that a baker boy or trilby finishes off my outfit perfectly. . When I think about it, I always favoured the tailored classics. Shift dresses, pinstripe trousers and men’s blazers were all wardrobe staples during my teens and early twenties. Black has also been a major player, along with khaki, white and grey. Maybe I missed my calling in life as a GAP model. I could wear their entire range season after    season without as much as a thought for colour!

On further investigation into my wardrobe it would seem that I do in fact own some very beautiful clothes. The preoccupation with what one ‘Should’ wear as opposed to what one ‘Wants’ to wear has indeed had an impact on my day-to-day choices. Thanks Trinny and Suzannah for ruining what fun there was left in just throwing an outfit together!

I decided  following this self-analysis. That is to make sure that all the items of clothing at the back of my wardrobe are worn at least once in the coming weeks, including the silk knee-length a-line skirt that my boyfriend brought me back from Dubai. I will of course be teaming these random pieces with black tights and knitwear of some description. (Due to the subzero temperatures) I intend to make a huge effort to recapture that ‘who-cares’ attitude of my earlier years.

What’s the worst that can happen?

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The Maternity Section

I recently discovered that I am pregnant and seeing as I am having an autumn baby I am going to be heavily pregnant during what little summer mother nature is going to bless my poor, pasty skin with this year.  I love a bit of online shopping as much as the next girl, and am a regular at ASOS, Conde Nast, YOOX and Topshop, however, when you simply do not know what size you are due to an ever-expanding waist line surely it’s better to hit the high street?

I spent some time trawling through the various maternity sections of my favourite sites, as well as some of the specialist independent retailers such as Isabella Oliver and Lulu Arver and whilst the clothes are beautifully designed there isn’t much choice and can be very pricey. My quandary is this, if I’m definitely only going to be pregnant for 9-ish months, and of that I will only be rather large for approximately 5 months, can I justify spending £70 on one top or £50 on a maternity Tankini?

On further investigation it would seem that the high street has a better array of fashionable items on offer. Next have put together a maternity capsule work wardrobe plus denim and leisure wear which I could easily use throughout my pregnancy. Plus being able to stay on trend with cropped slim leg trousers and woven jump suits throughout the summer is a definite advantage.

Marks & Spencer and John Lewis appear to appeal more to a slightly older market with their maternity collections. Basic T-shirts and jeans are likely to be good quality and would no doubt last multiple pregnancies, however on the trend front, they have missed the mark for my 20 something taste.

New Look surprised me with their varied range of pretty tops in light cotton and a vast array of formal trousers which are ideal separates for work. However, they are somewhat over shadowed by the comedy t-shirts with slogans such as ‘One in the Oven’ printed on them, hmm not really my cup of tea!

Without a doubt my favourite high street maternity range is by H&M. The saviour of ‘Oh my God I have nothing to wear’ moments in my former partying years, never a weekend went by without scoring a hot little black dress for less than £25! So I guess it’s natural that I turn to this high street legend during my time of bigger needs

The current maternity collection features soft pink, white, khaki and black key pieces to see me through a (hopefully) warm summer. Jumpsuits, cotton vests, light knit cardigans and tribal accessories make for an exciting assembly that is versatile enough for work and play.

Well done H&M,  bump and I salute you!

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The New Who’s Who

I have been an avid collector of British Vogue for 12 years now, never missed a single copy. My most prised possession in life is my 1982 November edition which is my birth related copy; it is framed and sits on my bedside table with the pride and devotion it deserves. I also have a Vogue bookcase in my living room, which a-la Karl Largerfeld, stores my entire catalogue beautifully, and is not to be touched by family, friends or visitors!

Whilst I adore my paper copy collection, I have warmed more recently to online branches of the Vogue Empire and in particular to daily updated articles such as Street Chic and SPY. This type of article pounces on random, fashionable members of the public with a stop, snap and interview reporting style.

A lot of publications are granting more and more column space to both star-studded and local events aiding this new fascination with Who’s Wearing What? From Hello! covering various weddings and red carpet events to the free Metro paper snapping Jo Public on her morning commute to work, we’re all so interested in what everyone is wearing.

What fascinates me are the smaller local articles featuring shoppers, workers and tourists alike who are totally unfamiliar with being stopped in the street and asked to pose for a picture. I love the attitude towards individualism and standing out from the crowd at least that seems to be the idea. Where so many young Kate Moss wannabe’s appear to be going wrong is with the interview. When your photo clearly shows you wearing an outfit straight from the Topshop store window, don’t answer like this;

Q. Who influences your style?

A. No one really, I like to stand out from the crowd and wear unusual items from vintage shops.

I know Topshop has been trading for a long time, but it’s not classed as Vintage just yet. And as for styling your own look, then at least mix it up with different accessories than what the merchandiser selected to put in the store window! You have to laugh at the naivety.

I don’t know if it’s a regional thing, but most of the young women who appear in my local paper all give the same answers and are all wearing the same AW10 trends. On the other hand, I do think it’s quite amusing to give Jo Public a soap box to tell the world how much of an individual she is compared to tomorrow’s individual in the same outfit.

If you are one of the lucky fashionista’s who gets snapped in the street, try to say something original, or at least something that doesn’t completely contradict your chosen outfit.  I’m just nipping out to get the paper…..

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