AS Men’s Fashion Week establishes itself across the globe, the first outing of 2012 was granted by the British Fashion Council in the nation’s capital. Instead of one very hectic, jam packed day tagged on to the end of London Fashion Week that clashes with Milan, the three day fashion festival, LONDON COLLECTIONS: MEN was star-studded affair attended by celebrities from the worlds of music, the silver screen, sport as well as fashion, and hailed a resounding success.
"It was brilliant, really slick and well organised. It was so good to see British designers having the opportunity to show their collections - the standard was super high. It makes sense that we have a menswear week - this is where the heritage of menswear comes from." ~ Francesca Burns: Vogue
Take a look at our highlights from the catwalk…
Spencer Hart, founded by designer Nick Hart impressed us tremendously with his classic pieces and signature styles of stylish suits on Day One. A brand synonymous with Savile Row for the last decade, knowingly or otherwise you will no doubt have seen at every serious red carpet extravaganza the world over, recently sported by P Diddy, William Dafoe, John Legend, Benedict Cumberbatch, Damian Lewis, Rufus Sewell, Kate Bosworth and Mrs Robbie Williams. “Mood and attitude are what Nick Hart works within, channelling iconic individuals and culture into savvy menswear” it says in the Spencer Hart story, precisely what he has achieved in this latest collection with immensely wearable pieces which hark back to old school Hollywood Glamour.
But it’s not all just Hollywood glitz and glamour. Our very own rugby star, England and British Lion Rugby World Cup Winner, Lawrence Dallaglio walked the runway for Spencer Hart at LONDON COLLECTIONS, as did Cumberbatch who is pictured strutting his stuff just over Lol’s shoulder. Earlier this year, Spencer Hart teamed up with the Dallaglio Foundation to launch a pop up store raising money for the Lawrence’s Foundation which supports rugby and cancer charities.
Another collection that instantly caught our eye was from Coventry designer Oliver Spencer. Oli says his inspiration is from hunting and the military. He adapts bits of Americana and ideas from Japan into his cool, English aesthetic. This Spring/Summer 2013 collection featured bold colour pops like a canvas by Mondrian, and stylised tailoring. We particularly the burgundy blazer paired with soft suede colour trousers, and the red, white and blue, very British sweater, terribly appropriate during this Jubilee month.
Hardy Amies continued the sharp tailoring with his luxury British menswear collection. Inspired directly by the quintessential elegance of Sir Edwin Hardy Amies himself, who established the Savile Row brand in 1946, the bespoke tailor continues to create designs for the modern British gentleman, but SS13 is a diffusion line showing off classic dinner suits, tuxedos, day suits and Macs, right through to heavy knit sweaters, tees and casual shirts all ready-to-wear – staple items for every aspect of a man’s lifestyle.
So there you have it, our choice of a few of the top designers from LONDON COLLECTION: MEN. What Milan and Paris will offer, we will have to wait with baited breath to see over the next fortnight...
SINCE the ladies have been attended to last month, tis time to turn my attention to the gentlemen. Many of you may already have a tux from previous black tie events, but if not, or it is simply time for something new, then take a look here...
As BOSS like to say themselves, ‘BOSS Black stands for contemporary elegance and unique tailoring,’ and that is exactly what we have here. This Dress Suit ‘The Stars/Glamour1’ by BOSS Black at Hugo Boss, shows off a single breasted elegant tuxedo in pure shorn wool, with an elaborate silk trim on the collar, pockets and trouser waistband. Add this Seta silk bow tie also by BOSS Black, for a high quality finish.
Or opt for this stylish and timeless Hackett Chelsea Single Breasted Dinner Jacket from Hackett London. This luxury dinner jacket comes in sizes up to 48R (XXL) with a matt finish, offset by ribbed silk, peak lapels and is also fully lined. ‘A classic look for a special occasion or Black Tie Event, Hackett’s fine occasion wear echoes the spirit of bespoke showcasing our signature style.’ Hackett London.
If you have yet to find a dress shirt, then try this Custom-Fit Formal Estate by Polo Ralph Lauren. It is expertly tailored in silky cotton for a modern fit and polished look.
And if you decide to try this Covent Garden Black Satin Edge Shawl Collar Dress Jacket and Flat Front with Ribbon Trim Trousers from Moss, it will ensure you look that every bit dapper at your End of Season Awards Dinner this year, and will carry you through the summer and winter seasons too.
We love the sleek design on these Richies Derby Shoes by Paul Smith, and paired with the sophistication of these Lanvin Crystal cufflinks, the crystal/black diamond will add a touch of refinement to any outfit.
You will look the picture of sartorial elegance at every event carrying off such finesse.
And just one last thing - baffled by how to hand tie that bow tie? Pop over to Dress Etiquette and follow the video courtesy of Thomas Pink...
THE end of the season is nigh in the north and you know what that means….the End of Season Awards black tie events are fast approaching. And if you didn’t know already, it is such a great opportunity to join and support your squad, coaches and staff away from the pitch and to take a look back over the season. Along with the champagne reception and the fabulous three course meal, a number of awards are presented, including Supporter’s Player of the Season, Try of the Season and Player’s Player of the season, to name but a few.
The event is a glamorous occasion with black ties and gorgeous dresses in abundance, so if you are have yet to find your outfit for the evening take a look at this two part feature on how to dress for the End of Season Awards. First off are the ladies…
If you want to look and feel like a million dollars, and let’s face it, who doesn’t?! Then opt for this fabulous fifties Cleopatra Dress from Hobbs. Available in Dark Crimson (as shown here) or in black, style it up with simple black patent heels and a black clutch. With the odd sparkle coming from your ears and neckline – like this Elsa Peretti Continuous Diamond pendant from Tiffany & Co.
This Signature Stretch Satin Dress from Karen Millen is both flattering and glamorous and would fit beautifully on someone with an hourglass figure. We love this deep purple shade, however the dress is also available in green. To complete this look we recommend some silver jewelled heels and matching clutch, like this Samara Sequins Clutch from French Connection.
You cannot go wrong with a simple LBD and this Lace Boat Neck Dress from Burberry is effortless but incredibly elegant. With a fitted waist, lace three-quarter length arms and a metal zip back you have no option but to look extremely glam – perfect for an End of Season Awards Dinner. Wear with these classic Minted court black suede heels from Office and dress to impress.
AS fashion month slows down, take a look at the highlights of Paris Fashion Week – it has been a delight!
To be a Valentino woman is to be ultra feminine and classically chic, but throw in some masculine designs and you have an Autumn/Winter 2012-13 collection for Paris Fashion Week.
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have toughened up but they have not taken away that soft feminine charm from their brand. With a high waist leather skirt and a long leather cape, Valentino remains true to their roots by adding a sheer white blouse to soften the look.
There are also powerful red and leather jumpsuits and tailored suit trousers in the collection but the real beauties are the striking but very pretty dresses. With floral designs and sequins to match, these have to be our top highlight within the collection. Another favourite is the classic A-line white coat with tailored white suit trousers to match – very chichi and very Valentino.
And it is not just Valentino with the ultra feminine designs - Christian Dior has gone all ballerina chic and we love it.
There are cinched in waists, gorgeous full, flowing pleated skirts and wraparound knits – that take us back to the good old days of ballet practice, where it was all about ‘good toes and naughty toes’. Dior has even made reference to the classic ballet pointe shoe, with a nude wedge finishing it off with a cute ballet bow.
To end it all, Elie Saab finished of Paris Fashion Week and a fabulous month of fashion with a stunning collection of evening wear.
The collection began with array of trousers suits, coats and casual dresses but the real highlight was the beautiful set of long evening gowns. With gorgeous plunge necks and thigh high splits (Angelina Jolie would love these), the long flowing gowns swept down the catwalk celebrating the marvellous female form – something that Elie Saab is widely known for. It is all about showing off those curves in this collection, by nipping in the waist and emphasising the figure. The sequinned dresses stole the parade, which we expect to see at some fabulously glamorous event – they are well worthy of a red carpet or two.
Bravo New York, London, Milan and Paris – we are suitably impressed.
SO at this year’s Oscars we saw, fabulous red dresses to match the legendary carpet, glowing gold gowns to match the Oscars awards themselves and the hottest couples you have ever seen.
As Cameron Diaz was labelled one of the worst dressed by new! Magazine, we think she looks beautiful in this strapless Gucci Gown – she just doesn’t age, does she! The actress teamed up with Jennifer Lopez to present the Academy Award for the Best Costume Designer, which went to The Artist.
Another belle of the ball was The Help's Jessica Chastain, she looked simply divine and the picture of elegance in a black and gold embossed Alexander McQueen creation.
Milla Jovovich made a stunning first appearance to the Hollywood event. The star of Resident Evil: Retribution (due for release in September), wore a one shouldered shimmery white gown by Elie Saab. She may have been playing it safe for her first time at the legendary event but she looked both beautiful and elegant.
Silent film The Artist dominated this year’s Oscars picking up five awards including: Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture. The very handsome Frenchman Jean Dujardin won Best Actor, Beating George Clooney and Brad Pitt. The 39-year-old actor looked very dapper in his suit as he revealed: “I love your country”, as he took to the stage to collect his award.
As for the hot couples...in third place are Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied. Natalie Portman wore a beautiful vintage Haute Couture Christian Dior scarlet gown with polka dots.
In second place are George Clooney and Stacy Keibler. As always, Mr Clooney looked incredibly dapper in his suit as he turned up on the red carpet with a life-sized Oscar award...oh no sorry, it was his extremely beautiful girlfriend, Stacy Keibler (we loved her dress really – she looked stunning).
And the winner is...Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt...or shall we just say Angelina Jolie’s right leg! Angelina was the talk of the night (and pretty much since) when she turned up to the 84th Academy Awards in a black velvet Atelier Versace gown with a high thigh slit. She looked unbelievably gorgeous, vamp, seductive...the list really does go on!
To see what Rugby Unplugged made of the movies from this year's Oscars as awarded by the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, head over to our movie review section...
ARE you ready to step over to the dark side? Well, take a look here at all the highlights from Milan Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2012-13... it's going to be a dusky season.
Beautiful, classic and oh so very Italian, Dolce & Gabbana showcased a stunning A/W 2012-13 collection that melted everybody's hearts.
The romantic pieces showed off a mass of black which was then embroidered with an exquisite gold design. Along with shift dresses, corsets, velvet hot pants, statement jewellery, black lace, capes and some gorgeously feminine rose garlands.
Italian fashion house Gucci also went for the dark and dramatic theme. Littered with deep and rich colours, the A/W collection showcased long black capes with high black leather boots, black chiffon blouses with dark but playful skirts with pops of yellows and greens. The beautiful and glamorous evening wear was the absolute highlight to the collection - this black chiffon halter neck gown with leaves scattered around the bodice was a firm favourite of ours.
Frida Giannini, the director of the legendary brand, told Italian newspaper La Repubblica: "I was thinking about a certain type of romanticism... It's about the dual of the Gucci woman - she can be very feminine and sensual, but at the same time very tough and powerful." And that is exactly what it was.
Fendi caused a mass of controversy, with animal fur used heavily throughout the collection. The Autumn/Winter 2012-13 designs were created by the famous Karl Lagerfeld, and used a mixture of antelope, goat, mink, crocodile... the list goes on. But this comes as no secret - the Italian brand are widely known for using fur in many of their collections. However, it is baffling some as designers such as Vivenne Westwood, Stella McCartney and Calvin Klein all refuse to use fur within their designs.
Keeping up with the sultry theme, Versace went for a Gothic chic look at this year's Milan Fashion Week. The models look fierce as they strutted down the catwalk with their high blunt fringes in the collection of dresses.
With a number of black dresses, a few bright colour pops and some classic white dresses, covered in crosses and fishnet high boots, Donatella Versace made sure she created the much wanted hourglass figure in every piece of the collection. The latter could well have been to hide the models’ skinny frames, as the fashion brand also caused controversy as three females protested against fashion week using anorexic models.
As we leave Milan Fashion Week behind, we wonder what Paris has in store for us - make sure you come back for all the highlights and our fashion favourites.
LONDON FASHION WEEK was a pure delight this year, with collections inspired by the military, the English countryside and a big emphasise on the hip. However, it was Stella McCartney who wowed us all by taking it one step further, with Vogue labelling her, ‘one of the most influential designers in the world.’
The British designer chose to hold an elaborate dinner at Somerset House, London to show off just a taste of her fabulous designs. A range of A-Listers turned up to see her feminine evening wear pieces including Rihanna and Kate Moss, ahead of her main collection, which will be shown at Paris Fashion Week. The most stunning piece of all was this optical illusion dress, wore by Kate Moss.
Another pleasure was Burberry Prorsum, where this year they took us to the countryside.
With a very English country feel to it, Burberry showed us tweeds caps, cord skirts, big bags, lace up stiletto boots, tweed jackets, woollen skirts, white cotton shirts, cute bow belts, leather gloves and umbrellas...phew! This collection by Christopher Bailey is absolutely perfect for Autumn/Winter 2012-13.
Pencils skirts are back on trend (did they ever really go away?!), with huge pockets and ruffles emphasising the hip, which we have seen all throughout London Fashion Week. The collection is also fascinated by owls, as they appear on many of the jumpers and cotton shirts. This is such a cute and playful touch that we are very impressed with.
And as for the menswear...well they look very dapper indeed. With stylish grey and velvet suits teamed with the classic brogue, Christopher Bailey you have done well!
As womenswear came to an end, the menswear collection finished off London Fashion Week very nicely.
The most impressive collection has to be the Autumn/Winter 2012-13 Ready To Wear pieces by Lou Dalton.
Again we see a touch of the military inspired look here, which is looking like it is going to be a huge trend in Autumn/Winter 2012-13. We love the fierce lace up black boots, military styled caps, smarts suits, fur collars and classic leather gloves. But our favourite piece by Lou Dalton has to be this very cool, very comfy knit jumper, which also is bang on trend.
But come June, menswear will not just have one day to showcase their collections, shoved at the end of days and days celebrating womenswear, they will have their own fashion week to show off all the worthy designs. Well... we simply cannot wait!
THE BAFTAs are primarily held to support and honour those who have made the highest achievements within the film and television industry over the last 12 months. The subject of who will win is on everybody’s lips; however the subject of what they will wear, runs in great parallel.
The BAFTAs are always such a glamorous event with all eyes on the celebrities from the moment they appear on that legendary red carpet. Although this year some celebs have received some stick for being too boring, opting for black or a black and white combination. We wonder if the Oscars will be a brighter affair?!
Meryl Streep, who won Best Actress for her lead role in The Iron Lady, may have chosen ‘boring black’ but she looked wonderfully elegant in Vivienne Westwood.
Michelle Williams stunned many as she swept down the red carpet in an H&M bespoke dress which was perfectly set off by Forever Mark jewellery. Nominated for Best Actress in My Week With Marilyn, Williams looked far from boring.
Someone who stood out from the crowd and was the picture of elegance was Fearne Cotton, the quirky Radio One DJ. She wore a gorgeous rose Moschino dress, as she hosted E!’s red carpet coverage with The X Factor’s Dermot O’Leary, who wore a suit by Tom Sweeney.
Despite the mass of black/black and white combo, all the ladies looked stunning (expect maybe for Helena Bonham Carter, who seemed to resemble her Harry Potter character, Bellatrix Lestrange a little too much).
And as for the gentlemen...well, they were as dashing as ever!
Brad Pitt looked simply divine as he wore Gucci with a Dolce & Gabbana overcoat and received the most attention from the crowds, understandably! Pitt was nominated for Best Actor for his role in Moneyball.
Pitt, alongside Clooney, Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Michael Fassbender for Shame, all lost out to Jean Dujardin in the The Artist, who was the epitome of Parisian sophistication in his classic black tuxedo.
Mr George Clooney also looked very handsome sporting Giorgio Armani.
But there was someone else who caught our eye even more so...and that was Douglas Booth. The British bright young thing and Burberry model looked perfectly gorgeous in his velvet bow tie. He is definitely one to watch out for!
To see what Rugby Unplugged made of the movies from this year's BAFTAs as awarded by the prestigious British Academy Of Film And Television Arts, head over to our movie review section...
FASHION month is officially here and what a week it has been over at New York Fashion Week.
We told you that we were excited to see Victoria by Victoria Beckham and our high hopes were most certainly met. Victoria amazed many as she showcased her second line, focusing her Ready To Wear Autumn/Winter 12-13 collection mainly on dresses.
The military inspired collection saw gold buttons, trench coats, khaki and even beanie hats – that were inspired by hubby David Beckham. In fact the whole collection was inspired by her family, with a baseball reference from her son Brooklyn, and three suede totes inspired and named after her seven-month-old Harper. If they are anything like Mrs B’s 2010 Ready To Wear collection, which sold out on Net-a-porter.com within the hour – these are going to be big!
Whilst mother showcased her designs inspired by her family, baby Harper was asleep backstage – we give it say about 16 years before she is wide awake with excitement back stage at NYFW. Becks was also there supporting his wife, as he sat on the front row next to US Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour, whilst Victoria was directing behind the scenes.
It is all about the collars in this collection, with some figure hugging dresses, playful skater dresses and the odd trench coat – with the theme in mainly black and khaki, Victoria has made sure there some colour pops in there as well.
Oscar de le Renta, the legendary 79-year-old top designer wowed all with his classic designs. It is clear he is a man of great passion as his Autumn/Winter 2012-13 collection is more than stunning!
With embellished cardigans, cashmere sweaters, plenty of sparkles and jewellery designs, along ice blues and light pinks (THE colours right now in New York), de la Renta has seriously impressed.
Along with the stunning collections from all the fabulous designers, there has been a bit controversy at New York Fashion Week.
Top designer Marc Jacobs hired two underage models to go down the catwalk with his autumn/winter 2012-12 collection. This goes against the Council of Fashion Designers of America list of guidelines made by the chairman, Diane von Furstenberg. All models are meant be given healthy meals, professional help to those struggling with eating disorders and are to have their IDs checkers – as models have to be over 16-years-old.
Brazilian model Thairina Garcia and the star of Winter 2011 Prada campaign, Ondira Hardin were sent down the runway on Monday, 13th February by Marc Jacobs. The girls are reportedly only 14-years-old.
Although it seems that the designer is not worried at all about goings against these regulations, as he told the New York Times, "I do the show the way I think it should be and not the way somebody tells me it should be."
New York Fashion Week has been inspirational, vibrant and controversial but it’s not over yet as us Brits set to wow the world in London Fashion Week – make sure you head back here for The Round Up.
HOT on the heels of New York Fashion Week, the Spring/Summer 2012 juggernaut rolled onto the gritty streets of London last week and proudly showed off its wares. If New York was about making a bold statement, London was about making the same statement without anyone knowing about your austerity budget.
This meant that High Street fashion got just as much attention as haute couture, which meant that the Top Shop Freedom and NewGen events were the hottest ticket of the week. Danielle Scutt, designing clothes and jewellery for the Freedom range used structural embellishments, mismatched seams and shabby-chic prints to evoke a somewhat 90s feel that managed to go against the grain yet slot right in against next year’s 60s and 70s feel.
One of the stand outs of the TopShop NewGen designers this year is James Long, whose collection of menswear is at once subtly distinctive and infinitely wearable. He has teamed light knits and animal prints with leather and daring city shorts.
Aquascutum may not be the first brand you think of when you hear ‘austerity wardrobe’ but their collection for SS12 brings form and style to functional and coordinated pieces that can be teamed together to dress up and down for a high end capsule wardrobe whose muted shades will allow you to carry through many seasons. For the guys, they have taken the Mad Men look that shows no signs of losing momentum and given it a little bit of a James dean twist. These 50s style macs and suits have an edge to their timeless sensibility.
Don’t tell anyone we told you, but House of Holland has grown up a bit. Gone are the T-shirts and in come Summer’s ice cream colours, teamed with oversized animal prints and asymmetry and, like Danielle Scutt’s collection, there’s something unmistakably 90s about it, but then Henry Holland cites the film classic Leon as his inspiration.
It wouldn’t be London Fashion Week without Vivienne Westwood and as ever she does not disappoint. Her Red Label collection is all encompassing, from office wear with a twist to ball gowns and she has catered to every one of SS12’s trends on one collection, from golds and reds to ice cream colours and big prints, it’s all here.
On the whole, the collections from London Fashion week were the slightly sensible, grown up but still infinitely cool cousin to New York. The shades may have been a bit more muted, the lines a little less clean but it’s still sharp as a tack.
EVEN the most fashion-forward residents of the northern hemisphere are still having problems coming to terms with the fact that Autumn/Winter has hit with aplomb. However, the Fashion World does not stand around shivering, and this week saw New York showcase the cream of their designing talents’ Spring-Summer 2012 collections.
From Michael Kors’ explosion in a Leopard print factory to the feminine lines of Carolina Herrera’s collection there truly was something for every taste.
Bold and blocky 60s inspired prints were the most common theme and the aforementioned Herrera collection probably used these most effectively, with green and yellow splashes that looked almost like magnified graphics rolling along the catwalk to make way for red white and black designs that had their roots firmly in art deco and the work of De Stijl.
Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. label offered a few surprises, the label, which usually aimed at a young and less affluent audience has grown up.
Though it’s punky roots are still showing, this collection embodied all of Spring-Summer’s trends and made them wearable, with a collection of complimentary bags that complete the looks from the coolest parties to the office.
Though more known for her bridal wear, Vera Wang’s collection stood out from the crowd. Abandoning the animal and blocky prints of many other collections, Wang chose to make her statement with fabric, using embellished panels, cutouts and collar structuring to make a range of angular yet feminine looks.
If you’re looking to get a jump start on your holiday wardrobe, look no further than Rachel Comey’s collection. Maxi dresses with a twist, slouchy trousers and the look of chunky knits with the cooling nature of chiffon all mix together to form a capsule wardrobe that would leave plenty of space in her accompanying beach bags for your factor 30.
For when you’re feeling more feminine, you cannot go far wrong with Cynthia Rowley’s collection. Floral prints and floaty texturing mix together with satin sheen and futuristic embellishments that add a bit of bling to the first half of next year.
For the ultra-femmes out there, Jenny Packham has gone even further, with lace and jewels adorning most of her collection of feather light dresses perfect for those days running over moors looking for one’s Heathcliffe.
By the time we come to restock our wardrobes for the new year, the 60s trend will have been around for a good while, Milly by Michelle Smith has put a timely fresh spin on it in her collection Gone are the clean lines and Mad Men refinement of Autumn-Winter, and in come bright, warm colours, pop prints and a range of accessories that turn even the more preppy looks an edge without compromising their homespun nature.
Going against the grain, as ever, is Betsey Johnson; continuing the burlesque looks of 2011, Betsey has gone all out to create a collection that makes a massive impact. Polaroid print dresses, basque tops and shorts dresses almost to the hip fight for supremacy with oversized earrings and junkyard chokers that are a little bit dirty, a little bit rock and roll but extremely cool.
Whatever your style, there will be plenty of options come next March, from the romantic to the ridiculous, you can find your fit.
AS I walk through the hotel lobby towards the double doors, the music starts in my head and slowly builds to a crescendo – as the doorman opens the door, the music in my head goes crazy as I walk out onto the sidewalk and say thanks to the doorman. The song playing in my head? Empire State Of Mind by Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys. And though you would be forgiven for thinking I had just described one of the opening scenes of Sex And The City 2, this was how every morning began in New York for me.
New York is many things to many people – for food lovers, cuisines of the world compete for your taste buds, for culture vultures, there is never enough time to see all the exhibitions and theatre that the city has to offer and for the fashionista, New York is a dream come true; every sidewalk becomes a runway/catwalk and people strut (not walk!) about on their daily business, harnessing that elusive quality known as New York style.
What is New York style? I continually asked myself this question as I marvelled at yet another well-dressed woman who sauntered past me at a road crossing. Similar to the style of other fashion capitals like London, Paris and Milan, it is not just one element such as wearing certain garments but a combination of factors that applied to both men and women that make up New York style. Like a scientist in a laboratory working out how things are put together, in my view, there were three main components to New York style (or NY style as we shall now call it):
One thing I noticed was that whatever the look might be – preppy, grunge, glam or casual, every piece of the outfit was coordinated. There were very few occasions of clashing prints or colours but even then, this was done in a harmonious way as opposed to going for broke as one might see in parts of London or Berlin. Even people with a very individual look (I’m thinking of the man dressed in a red tartan suit and Mohican haircut) made sure their bags and shoes and glasses all shared the same vein of thought. The result? A polished and smart veneer that was flattering, expressed personal style and in general, looked damn good.
What really floored me was how versatile New York style is. Well it floored me but didn’t surprise me – in an amazing city where you have literally anything at your fingertips, it becomes crucial for one’s outfit to be able to match up to all sorts of happenings. Never knowingly overdressed or underdressed, I saw women wearing dresses that would take them from work to cocktails in one easy swoop, or relaxed ensembles that would be totally brunch appropriate and then move onto a spot of shopping and errands straight after. The mantra appears to be to dress for anything and NY style embraces this with aplomb.
This is attitude in the positive sense – I loved the NY style attitude which was a full commitment to the “look” and then on top of that, an unassailable confidence in what one was wearing and the knowledge that they were going to rock the sidewalk come what may. I felt this was perhaps the most crucial element of NY style – not only was the person sporting the look buying into it but because of the vibes they were projecting, the passer by does too by default. To be able to bring that strength and drive into everyday life is quite impressive and inspiring is something that is simply not available in stores!
One other important point I noted in NY style was the high standard of grooming. Watching women hail a cab, one could not help but notice their manicures and pedicures, with polish in a bright orange or coral pink or the blow dried hair to perfection which seemed weather proof and created just as much impact as the amazing clothes that some of these women wore. The men were not far behind boasting glowing skin, trimmed beards and it has to be said, neat eyebrows! What’s more the super groomed look was in action all day and all night – despite the relentless pace of city life, NY style keeps grooming as a priority.
Needless to say, I really wanted to grab a piece of NY style but realised that it is not actually that simple – it seemed that any attempt to impersonate the style would come off as amateur and lame. That is not to say that one cannot be inspired by elements of NY style but to totally capture the look takes time, effort and guidance. Instead, I decided to borrow elements of NY style to supplement my own look and adapt it to suit me, which is pretty much a default guide on how to incorporate a style you like into your everyday wardrobe. With this in mind, here are a few of my favourite American designers and shops which I think are worth a visit to create your own take on NY style…
With a name like that, of course Fashion at Rugby Unplugged is going to love the apparel but even without the name, there is a lot of cool stuff to be had here – this Boyfriend Jacket for the ladies is perfect for summer whilst for gents,this Plaid Jacket is a summer staple which I had to resist trying on in store as my maxed out credit cards would not have been able to take it…
When I first went to New York in 2006, I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about premium denim until I picked up my first pair of 7FAM (as they are known!) and now have a collection of five (and growing!) The Slim fit for men is my favourite though the Standard come a close second – in any case, an essential jean!
I first heard of Michael Kors as a judge on the reality show Project Runway but it was only when I saw his work first hand that I realised exactly why he was my favourite judge – his clothes all have luxury, class and glamour stamped all over them. I loved his sequin dresses – this chocolate racerback is a steal for the amount of wear you will get from it...
Having worked in a popular US chain store when I was younger, nearly all the stock was influenced by this man. I love the Yellow Hobo bag for women which will brighten up any outfit whilst for men, I have a major man bag crush on this Tote…
A cheeky fast fashion addition but I find myself popping in here almost on a daily basis when in the US and buying up half the store. For women, I love this Open Back Dress which is a gorgeous colour whilst for the men, this shirt is perfect for barbecues, drinks at the pub or for everyday wear.
THERE is a certain point every year when I wake up in the morning, open my curtains and am greeted with streaming sunshine through the window (temporarily blinding me at the same time) which only means one thing: SUMMER! Living in the UK, the effect of summer cannot be underestimated – finally, the time of the year arrives where one can leave the house without a coat, look forward to lazy days spent in the park or finally be able to sit at the tables outside a coffee shop without shivering away.
In terms of fashion, as we put away our warm coats and sweaters, we also change our modus operandi of dressing; no more hiding under cosy layers of clothing or clever concealing with oversized scarves - instead we now have a smaller range of clothing to work with but in no way does this limit the sartorial possibilities of summer. Although it may be less frantic the world over in rugby, the world doesn’t stop turning – we have Summer Sevens and warm-up matches for the Rugby World Cup in addition to all those promises of meeting up for drinks at the pub, barbecues, birthdays and garden parties finally coming to fruition…
So, we come to the crux; how does one dress for summer? Aside from the obvious (comfortably!) the word that springs (no pun intended) to mind is appropriately. Although summer is meant to be warm and rain free, recent weather patterns have proven that this time of the year can be just as volatile as other seasons. So it always pays to keep an eye on the weather forecast, even if there is not a cloud in the sky – if anything, if the temperature is going to fluctuate, it will be good to know whether to leave the house with something waterproof or warm. Then there is also the question of how much to reveal (which is equally applicable to men as it is to women). Quite frankly, if you feel self conscious or exposed, then you are probably showing too much. Erring on the side of caution is well advised, as not only will it prevent wardrobe malfunctions but the last thing you want to do is upset others with what you are wearing (aside from prudes – if anything, one should dress provocatively just to upset these types!)
Appropriate really is the keyword here – being under dressed is just as bad as being overdressed and you’ll want to strike a balance between effortless and simple whilst creating maximum impact. Also, personality as always is a key factor – if you carry off what you are wearing with confidence, you can expect an admiring reception. In addition, though your thick rugby jersey may not be suitable for the heat, this doesn’t mean you can’t express your love for rugby in other ways:
This gorgeous light scarf with Eden Park’s logo subtly placed on it can be used to dress up any T-shirt or added to a Nehru collared shirt for a sophisticated look.
DUMPTACKLE ASH SPLASH T SHIRT
Rugby Unplugged just cannot get enough of dumpTackle t-shirts – an indispensable part of your summer wardrobe. Why not try a bright shade for summer?
FIRST FIVE EIGHT POLO T SHIRT
You can’t go wrong with this First Five Eight polo T-shirt which will look just as good at a family barbecue as it would at a smart garden party.
ASIDE from staple pieces (shorts, t-shirts, dresses, trousers), one of the key elements of summer is your accessory – you could go with the fail proof formula of adding a splash of colour to a muted palette, or even building an outfit around a spectacular accessory.
Ladies, as always, this is your time to shine – literally. A gorgeous necklace added to a pair of city shorts and a plain top will take you through the day with ease and look good. Better still, large earrings give off a boho chic vibe, will constantly attract compliments and jazz up any summer ensemble. For extra style credit, why not stack up bangles and bracelets of different sizes (but complimentary genres and colours) – not only will this mean you get to show off lots of gorgeous arm candy but it also looks effortlessly stylish allowing you to soak up the sun and the envy of others around you (also known as fashion envy).
For an instant update to your wardrobe, consider the following:
CROSS BODY BAG
No one wants to lug a large tote with the kitchen sink inside everywhere – save that for running errands and pick up a hands free cross body bag in a bright colour.
A flat sandal is a girl’s best friend – lengthens the leg, comfortable, can be teamed with jeans and dresses with ease, shows off a pedicure in all its glory and there is a style for everyone.
Toughen up that floral maxi dress or add mystique to a plain chiffon top with a statement cuff. Co-ordinate or clash with your ensemble according to taste and bring forth the fierce!
AND gents, there is no excuse for you not to shop too - here are a few accessories that are worth investing in:
A good pair of sunglasses cannot be underestimated. Not only for posing purposes but practical too. Furthermore, the right pair will make you look and feel fantastic as well as add a touch of glamour to your ensemble.
Summer is the time to liberate your feet and give them some air. For a smarter occasion, swap the flip-flops for a leather sandal, which is equally comfortable and stylish. (Note: If your feet are not the prettiest, a pedicure is an absolute must, for men too!)
OK, so even if you are allergic to man bags in general, you do need somewhere to stash your things and pockets will just not do – a shoulder bag is unobtrusive, practical and quite simply, a must have
Finally, one accessory you cannot be without all year round but especially in summer is sunscreen. It’s all very well to flash the flesh but walking around without SPF is asking for trouble and will simply undo all the hard work you have put into looking fantastic. So, slap on some sunscreen, style yourself up and enjoy the sunshine!
ALTHOUGH one would think that sales would be a natural and obvious place to find the discerning fashion lover, the truth is that you would be hard pressed to find any fashionista entering into the scrum with the hoi polloi and tackling their frenemy (that is your friend who is also an enemy) for that cut price must have. For sale time is perhaps the worst time to shop (aside from Christmas which has its own rules), as all the things that the world hates about shopping – the rows of merchandise packed in like sheep, the crowds baying for blood, the stressed out sales associates– all these negative qualities suddenly come to the fore to become the norm and the once fairly civil shop floor suddenly becomes a battlefield where common sense is an Achilles heel and the worst of human nature reveals itself in all its full priced glory.
The simple fact is that most people who shop at sales are not regular shoppers. There are specific types of shoppers who emerge at the sales, almost from nowhere and plunder the rails with a bloodthirsty viciousness, leaving destruction and anarchy in their wake. First is the dedicated bargain hunter who simply must buy something in the sale so they can boast at their next coffee morning the fleece monstrosity they are sporting was “bought in the sale”. Then we have the reluctant shopper, often dragged by a spouse or friend and forced to act as a concierge, assistant and wing man/woman, when they would rather be at the pub or the cinema or anywhere else but the sales. Then we have the stressed out shopper who begins with good intentions (for instance, they will buy all their Christmas presents and birthday presents for friends and family in one swoop at reduced prices – genius!) but then is distracted by something that would look quite nice on them – before they know it, they lose focus and a short while later, stressed shopper can be found in a heap on the floor in tears, crushed with indecision and buried by the all the purchases which they may or may not buy.
Like a magician breaking the trust of the magician’s circle, BK Talley is about to reveal a very important truth – the secret to sale shopping is all in the planning. With a little research, military style discipline and razor sharp focus, sale shopping quickly becomes a try that is converted without the need for a goal kick. So here are a few tips to bear in mind when sale shopping:
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT...
Sounds obvious but seriously, so many people ignore this crucial rule and waste their time browsing for something that will never be found, and then say they hate shopping (much like complaining of muscle injury when not warming up and cooling down before a game). It is also prudent to prioritise need over want at this stage (see Cost per Wear below). Browse the websites of your favourite shop (if you get the chance, pop into the shop before the madness begins) so you are familiar with sizes and colours available (unless you are lucky enough to find a knowledgeable sales associate, you can guarantee you will know more than they do thanks to your research) so that you at least have an idea of what you are looking for. Once you know what to look for and where to find it, you will instantly enter into a higher tier of shopper…
COST PER WEAR...
Once you have decided on what you would like, here comes the time to apply the science/maths bit. Buying something cheap that you will only wear once is actually more expensive than buying something more expensive that you wear many times. So that neon pink T-shirt with a logo emblazoned on the front and back might seem like a bargain but when it ends up at the back of the wardrobe to be rediscovered ten years later in a “what was I thinking moment”, you will be poorer and stuck with a neon pink T-shirt that can never be worn again. But that classy evening shirt which cost a little more that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion will fast become a wardrobe staple and the more you wear it, not only does it make it a sensible purchase but the sense of vindication to be derived from a seemingly unthreatening formation and then winning is unrivalled and never to be found on sale anywhere…
ON THE BATTLEGROUND...
Once you know what you want (or at least have some idea) and where to get it, it is time to prepare for battle. If you can, try and get to the shop early so that you can hunt down the item of your desire, and make it to Nando’s for a congratulatory lunch whilst watching others run around getting stressed. On the shop floor, try to stay focused and keep calm – everyone else may have lost common sense, which is why it is important to retain yours. If you can, try on the garment to make sure the size is right (some shops may not offer a refund so taking it home and trying it on might not always be the best option). Should the queue for the fitting room be too long, depending on your confidence, don’t hesitate to try it on the item on the shop floor. Gents – This is not the time to show off your torso and is exactly the kind of thing that will distract from your focus. Ladies – ONLY do this if you can be certain that you can retain your dignity – sales can be dangerous and judgemental places and flashing the shop floor whilst your head is stuck in a sweater is not fun if you are not watching it happen to someone else or the lead actress in a Hollywood rom com. If you can’t find what you are looking for, depending on whether you can find a helpful sales assistant, ask for help, otherwise it might be time to cut loose and head to another branch or check the website to see if they have it in stock.
DRESS FOR BATTLE...
It is no good dressing up in an elaborate get up that you then need to unravel when trying something on. Dress for comfort and style when sale shopping – it is no good wearing lots of layers and then getting hot and bothered whilst running about. Military and urban themed clothes are often good choices that flatter, are compatible with most other genres of clothes and easy to remove/wear things over/under. If you are shopping somewhere you don’t normally shop (read as somewhere more expensive than usual), keep it basic and smart and ignore the glaring staff who may seem to have been born precisely to make those with a pulse feel inferior (As for settling a score with an arrogant sales person, save it for non-sale periods; after all, you are there to shop – belittling smug types is much more fun when they have to be nice to you. During sales time, all decorum is suspended…).
As some of the other points have mentioned, one of the most crucial weapons in the sales is the website for the shop. For those who have done their homework early (you know who you are), they will have tried on the items before the sales, know exactly what they want and can avoid the horror of the frontline by ordering for the comfort of home. Even if you aren’t one of these mythical creatures, the website is a useful tool to order something you may have seen but couldn’t find in your size in the shop and also for gathering opinions from friends/well-wishers/stylists in waiting.
Essentially, the right product bought at the right time on sale can give a one a good feeling that includes bragging rights and a reminder of how smart you are, behaving more like an elite shopper rather than the hoi polloi. Unless you really fall in love with an item that is hard to find, it really is not worth torturing oneself if you go to a sale and emerge empty handed – if anything, exercising restraint is to be applauded and all funds saved can go towards investing in a key piece for the following season (which if you buy at the right time, you will get plenty of wear out of and will be a better bargain than something picked up in a sale for the sake of it).
As we go to press, many sales will be about to begin or already in full flow. Here are the sales we think are worth checking out. Unfortunately, many stores are notoriously secretive about when sales start and finish but in the UK, as a general rule of thumb, the last two weeks of June see the high street kick off whilst higher end designers start in the middle of June:
ALTHOUGH we may only be half way through 2011, the fashion event of the decade has already taken place. From Cape Town to Canberra, there has only been one topic of conversation amongst fashionistas and that was who would be designing Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress for her wedding to Prince William.
Unfortunately, I missed the actual moment of fashion history when Catherine emerged from the car and we saw THAT dress in all its glory (as I thought I would be able to quickly shower and dress whilst the car drove from the Goering to Westminster Abbey – unfortunately, there was no traffic or roadworks to hold Catherine up!) so the first time I saw the dress was when Catherine was standing next to William.
Designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, the dress was a triumph in every way. Whether it was the lace appliqué detail, the gorgeous corset, the wonderful way in which the dress merged modern with traditional whilst maintaining that McQueen signature style or just how it made Catherine look absolutely beautiful, it goes without saying the dress had a significance beyond the wedding and mastered the art of speaking volumes without saying a word – a skill Catherine must now learn to master…
Perhaps (wisely) Zara didn’t want to attract too much attention but with fashionistas craving all things royal after the dress speculation frenzy, all eyes will be on Zara’s choice of dress this summer. My prediction? She will surprise us all with maximum impact, minimum effort – a signature style that when it works, is unbeatable. For this wedding though, Zara wore a silver bespoke Paul Costelloe number teamed with a large black Phillip Treacy hat. Though it steered clear of the trying too hard (Bea and Eugenie bless them) or hitting the wrong note (sorry Chelsy Davies) it wasn’t exactly the fashion high one would have hoped for from the next royal bride but it did subscribe to Zara’s understated style mantra and was certainly event appropriate.
Personally, I would have loved to have seen her in a more daring look and slightly out of her comfort zone – note her looks at equestrian events where she wears bright prints and colours or even her off duty glamour look when supporting hubby to be Mike Tindall at matches and soirees. Also spotted was the Crusaders’ Gareth Thomas in an Anderson and Sheppard suit and Christian Louboutin shoes whilst Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw were both invited but couldn’t attend to due to club commitments. All in all, Catherine and William’s wedding certainly set the stage for Zara’s wedding this summer and I for one, can’t wait to see what everyone chooses to wear, having had a chance for a dress rehearsal…
WHEN it comes to sartorial challenges in real life situations (so not a movie premiere or fashion show) weddings are right at the top of the list as a stressful occasion. Whilst bride and groom have the additional pressure of organising the events of the day on top of looking the best they have ever looked, life is not exactly a catwalk for guests either – striking the balance between feeling comfortable, looking stylish and trying not to upstage the golden couple can drive a sane person to paranoia as out of nowhere, an innocent and slightly plunging neckline screams harlot or that suit worn for every occasion suddenly gives off the impression that one is “phoning it in”.
There will always be real cynical types who really couldn’t care less about what they wear to a wedding; the one suit for interviews and christenings will suffice, borrowing any old dress from a friend will do - after all, its only one day and all eyes will be on the bride and groom so why should you bother to dress up, right? Wrong.
Not only is it a massive insult to those who have invited you to share in their big day to not make some effort in your appearance but also weddings are also a wonderful time to show off yourself at your best and have it captured for posterity – the right wedding outfit will not only ensure you make a silent yet significant contribution to a friend’s big day but in years to come, those wedding photos will see you remembered as a style icon waiting in the wings – or at the very least, draw comment from the viewer (for it is better to be noticed than ignored!)
Ideally, planning an outfit for a wedding should begin as soon as that invitation hits your doormat – even if you are not purchasing anything new, you can bet your suit will need a dry clean or that dress may need slight altering before the happy occasion. The most important factor dictating your wardrobe will be the dress code – more and more couples are choosing to put this on the invitation and a good summary of those codes can be found here:. But if a dress code is not specified, then it puts the guest in a quite a quandary – go overboard in your choice and you’ll feel silly when others are more relaxed or go for too informal and you’ll feel uncomfortable.
So when you are presented with a vague dress code (such as Black Tie optional), what should you wear? Here a few pointers to remember (and apply across the board):
Just because you don’t have to wear coat tails or a posh frock, this does not mean you should not dress smartly. Even if you are attending a beach wedding, opt for tailored pieces rather than casual to ensure you look polished and event appropriate.
In terms of colours, steer clear of white and black – guys should stick to shades of blues and greys or if you feel adventurous or have the personality for it, an unusual muted shade such as mustard or green or even a tailored printed suit would also be acceptable – though make sure the ensemble does not go overboard by keeping everything else (shirt, tie, shoes) understated so that the uniqueness of the suit can be fully appreciated.
For ladies, the sky is the limit with coral pink, cobalt blue and emerald green making for flattering and assured choices alongside discreet prints but really, there is a rainbow of colours to choose from that will show you off at your best and choosing from a similar palette will elevate your look further. The more fashion forward could even try colour blocking though as always, if in doubt, keep it simple and don’t use the wedding as the first time to road test a totally different look that you have not publicly attempted before.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL
Clothes should be CLEAN and neatly pressed (unless you are going for a creased look, in which case make it obvious the creases are intentional!), shoes polished and tie and shirt coordinated. Girls, the same applies – its Sunday best all the way.
These can make or break an outfit – if in doubt, follow the indispensable advice given by Coco Chanel; “when accessorising, always take off the last thing you put on” – quite simply, less is more. Try to keep jewellery discreet and not too overdone (otherwise you’ll look like you are wearing all the contents of your jewellery box).
Bags should be an appropriate size (now’s not the time to lug about that five ton bucket bag – impractical clutches are encouraged though good luck getting your essentials into it) and have fun with fascinators and pashminas, making sure that they tie in with the rest of your ensemble thematically. Cuff links and handkerchiefs should be subtle in their design as should ties. Novelty items have no place in a wedding outfit – overindulge at the stag/hen do if you must but keep it classy for the wedding.
Weddings are not the time to show the world your bosoms – well, not at the start of the day anyway. Bear in mind that if a neckline/hemline feels too low/high, then the dress isn’t right. It is also important in places of worship to ensure you are covered up and this is where our dear friends the bolero/the pashmina/the cropped jacket come into their own – perfect for wearing over shoulderless dresses, this then allows the inner strumpet to emerge in the reception where once the alcohol is flowing, anything but modesty prevails! Gents, we don’t get out of this scot-free – if someone is giving away the farm, whatever you do, DON’T point this out to your female companion and most importantly, DON’T stare – you can be sure that you will get caught looking and earn the ire of all the females in the vicinity – it is for the ladies alone to stare, evaluate and judge such a dress and person – the male is required to shake his head disapprovingly and look the other way or if spoken to by the offender, make eye contact with the said person and sustain for duration of the conversation. You have been warned…
Blooming obvious but still people turn up at weddings with chewed nails, chipped nail polish, greasy hair or unshaven faces (and other parts – legs come to mind…). Cleanliness is next to godliness and nowhere is this more apparent than at a wedding. What’s more, a little effort will go a long way – just having nice nails, good hair and well applied make up will make you look sophisticated and polished and will elicit compliments and a superiority complex that is not to be underestimated at such occasions. Gents, this rule applies to you equally – there is no shame in getting a manicure/pedicure and back/neck wax in addition to a haircut and shave – male grooming is now so mainstream it is probably more shameful not to keep oneself looking dapper and neat at such an occasion. And if that fails to motivate you, just imagine you have been invited to a nudist wedding – obviously, with nothing to hide behind, you would ensure you were well groomed all over [er…] so at a clothed wedding, things should be no different – look your best whether you are wearing a suit or your birthday suit…
Finally, if you are lucky enough to be invited to wedding that involves ethnic/cultural dress, a little research goes a long way – the key is to find a garment that represents your personality (this could be through a favourite colour or particular cut or detail) and feels comfortable. Extra points are up for grabs here with successful fusion looks which will not only go down a storm but up your fashion prowess amongst your friendship circle within a zip up of a moment. Just remember to be sensitive that certain garments may hold a certain significance in a different culture and may need to be worn in a particular way so if in doubt, seek advice but by no means let that put you off – chances to learn and experience another culture should always be embraced and an open and tolerant attitude never goes out of style…