Winning style – fashion on the tennis court

Rita Hayworth photographed by Peter Stackpole, 1941.Check out the nails!

My problem with tennis is that I can’t just watch a little bit. It’s like Melrose & Mortgage’s cherry madeira cake and not being able to stop at one slice. Watching tennis might be better for me than eating cake, but playing tennis is even better.  I am rubbish, but I love it. You will not see a more eager beaver on the court on a summer’s day. I look exactly like this.

I’ll get to the sartorial bit in a minute, but first I have to tell you that a drop-in session at Will To Win at the Regent’s Park Tennis Club will be the best £10 you’ve spent in London. An hour’s (group) coaching, followed by an hour’s doubles, a coffee and a bloody good laugh.

Maybe I’ll see you there, sporting one of these.

Top tennis looks

1. 70’s cool

Nobody rocked a tennis outfit quite like Farrah Fawcett. An oversized shirt or polo shirt (long sleeved) tucked into a simple skirt or skort and a 70’s blow dry is what you need.

Or just wear your old kit with towelling sweat bands and a bandana tied around your neck in that oh so casual way.

You’ll have to hunt for the good ones, but Ebay and Etsy have original tennis dresses and t-shirts – look for Adidas, Lacoste or Fred Perry.

Fred Perry vintage tennis dress. Image courtesy of Ebay.co.uk

2. Classic white

I love whites for sport and this is where new beats vintage. This skort by Sweaty Betty gets my vote for being feminine, cute and functional. They sell out fast, which is how I ended up having to settle for the grey/peach version last year. The built in shorts are just the right length and the skirt fulfils my ra-ra skirt fantasy a bit too. The ball pocket is a nice surprise and makes you feel like a pro.

Sweaty Betty white tennis skort

Me in Sweaty Betty tennis skort. I did warn you about the grin.

3. One-piece

The ‘I have really got my shit together’ tennis dress comes courtesy of Stella McCartney for Adidas at Matchesfashion.com. Throw this on and in doing so you’re also wearing a sports bra and shorts. A clever person would wear this.

Tennis dress by Stella McCartney. Image courtesy of matchesfashion.com

4. Make your own

For something really original, find an old pattern and get out your sewing machine.

5. Cool feet

Tennis shoes need to have more ankle support than your average trainer. Stan Smiths won’t cut it. Beware also, that some courts insist upon white-soled shoes. These New Balance court shoes are just about perfect.

New Balance 1296v2 tennis shoes

6. New brands, please.

Personally, I am waiting for Laain (my athleisure brand of choice) to do a killer tennis outfit – or if Zimmermann decided to make tennis gear we would all be wearing exceptionally pretty pieces like this.

In the meantime, I hope you have a good weekend. I will mostly not be playing tennis and not moving from my spot in front of the TV, which I will be screaming at. Enjoy Wimbledon.

 

 

 

Top 5 rugs to make your house a home – and up to 75% off at The Rug Company Sample Sale

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Alexander McQueen rug, image courtesy of The Rug Company

An invitation from The Rug Company popped into my inbox and I thought I’d share it with you. A short & sweet blog post. But it seems I am incapable of short & sweet. Thanks to their email, I am now in full rug mode. Which goes to show that unsolicited marketing does work.

At my house we are fully rugged up – I have no business surfing for prospective purchases. But I love rugs, since they are to a home what shoes are to an outfit – they can make or break it.  So as my blog is an excuse to share my many aesthetic obsessions, here I am with my top 5 rugs to make your house a home.

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My prized Kelly Wearstler ‘Tracery’ rug. Image Penelope Meredith

Tracery by Kelly Wearstler, The Rug Company

No prizes for innovative naming but The Rug Company does what it says on the tin. Check out the ‘gallery’ on their website for amazing room inspiration. They will bring rugs to your home so you can live with them before you buy. Rightly so – it’s a big investment. But a great service nonetheless, so make sure you ask for it.

The Tracery is the one we have in our lounge at home, hand-knotted from Tibetan cream wool and olive-coloured silk. Yep, totally impractical. My children have been programmed (I mean programmed) to walk around it (I do know how ridiculous this is) and it’s the sole reason for us not having a dog.

Tracery rug by Kelly Wearstler at The Rug Company, from £1,170 per square metre. Shop it here.

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Flat Iron building on Manhattan rug by Luke Irwin. Image courtesy of Luke Irwin

Luke Irwin’s Manhattan rug

I love all of Luke Irwin‘s rugs because they are so damn luxurious. To feel silk underfoot is pure heaven. My favourite is the Manhattan rug (above) and there’s a Paris version. Beautiful & romantic photographic depictions of two of my favourite cities.

Luke Irwin Manhattan rug, made to order, price on application. Shop it here

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HAY

If modernism is more your thing, you can’t go wrong with the HAY range of rugs in pure New Zealand wool. I love this brand – and these rugs remind me of Richard Diebenkorn’s ‘Ocean Park’ series of paintings which he painted in Venice, California. The rugs will lend a bright, breezy feel to your home for a fraction of the price of a painting, though the painting’s probably a better investment.

Colour by Design rug by HAY. From £619 at Nest. Shop it here

Scion Fox rug. Image courtesy of John Lewis.

Scion Fox Rug

A great bet for kids rugs – this range by Scion is more graphic and subtle than sickly pinks and spots.  Mr Fox makes a nice change from fairies & cars – and I think even the little people would choose it.

Mr Fox rug by Scion from John Lewis,  from £180. Shop it here.

Ikea stockholm rug

Ikea

How could I not mention the Ikea Stockholm rug? Its modern, sharp, black & white design makes it an undeniable winner. Coupled with a Mies Van Der Rohe chair and a nice mid-century cabinet it will look a million dollars.

Ikea Stockholm rug, £100. Shop it here.

Sample Sale

Savings of up to 75% at The Rug Company Sample Sale, from 10am-6pm until 8th March, at Carousel Next Door, 35 Baker Street, London W1U 8EN. Tel: 020 3141 3040.

Not for dogs or children.

 

 

How to get the formidable style of Loulou de la Falaise

Inspiration can strike me anytime, anywhere (the inside of a piece of fruit, a building, a feeling) but also there can be no doubt of the influence certain women have had on my style over the years – those I have been fortunate enough to meet and those I haven’t, like Louise Vava Lucia Henriette Le Bailly de la Falaise. (I know!).

Loulou photographed by Eric Malanga in 1971

A style icon

Loulou was probably best known as Yves Saint Laurent’s muse. Such was her influence that people would speak of ‘Yves Saint Loulou’, when discussing his latter collections for the fashion house. Loulou shone – with an interesting mix of French elegance, bohemian eccentricity and worldly exoticism. She was a true original, with a playfulness and humour that explains how she maintained a style that was whimsical and youthful, even in her later years. She died in 2011, aged 63, but her style still speaks to me and I’m seeing her in fashion everywhere right now.

Loulou and Yves Saint Laurent. Le Monde

8 top tips for getting the Loulou look

Loulou would have loved the folkloric essence of Dodo Bar Or and Vita Kin, the bold cottons at Fendi and interesting, crisp shirting at Palmer Harding. These are my picks though:

1. White and oversized.

For the elegant, easy Riviera vibe that Loulou did so well, you can’t beat a white dress. My favourite of the spring summer 2017 collections is this one by Rochas, coming soon to Matchesfashion.com.

Rochas backless dress. Image courtesy of matchesfashion.com

Your whites don’t have to be new. Vintage cotton has a wonderful, starchy feel that looks even better with a bit of a crumple. Grab a man’s vintage dress shirt (I’ve found good ones at The Old Electric Shop in Hay On Wye, the Es Canar market in Ibiza…you might even get lucky in Oxfam). Wear over a bikini for a cool alternative to a floaty cover-up.

Loulou at sea. Image courtesy of NY Times.

2. Scarves

An old french bed sheet, torn (not cut) into a large strip, looks great. Refer to Liberty’s handy box of scarf styling cards to help you perfect your headscarf tying (below, £15. A great gift). Of course, the look works all the better for being on a yacht in the Med.

3. Get your folk on

Loulou outside the original Rive Gauche boutique, Elle Magazine.

For one, fun, folky piece look to Vita Kin, who has made traditional Ukraine style a fashion statement. Her influence has filtered down onto the high street but the real deal is beautifully embroidered and worth every penny.

Pandora Sykes wearing Vita Kin. Image courtesy of pandorasykes.com

Vita Kin dress, around £1100 at Farfetch.com. Image courtesy of The Sunday Times

Dodo Bar Or‘s collection has the same bohemian feel, slightly cheaper and made from ultra soft cotton.

Nathaniel top by Dodo Bar Or. Around £250. Image courtesy of Nawo.com

4. Colour burst.

MSGM has made me happy this season with a brilliant, machine washable top in the perfect shade of red. For something more slinky, Stella McCartney has an orange silk shirt (£395, at net-a-porter). For both, just add jeans.

MSGM top, £240 at matchesfashion.com.

5. Vintage denim vibe.

Speaking of jeans, I can’t think of anyone who would have rocked these better than Loulou. A high waist, a 70’s leg and a vintage wash. How fitting that they are from the new Saint Laurent collection. £420 at Matchesfashion.com

Saint Laurent mid-rise flared jeans. Image courtesy of matchesfashion.com

6. Load up on gems.

Loulou de La Falaise was famed for her accessories. For Loulou-inspired bling, check out Vestiaire or Re-See, where you can find exceptional vintage pieces from prestigious brands. It’s also worth scouring antique markets (such as Alfie’s in London). Don’t save big, bold jewellery for special occasions.

Loulou at home in Paris. Image by Pascal Chevalier, courtesy of Vogue Espana.

Chanel purple resin bangle set, 250 euros at Re-See.com

Christian Lacroix vintage couture necklace, 590 euros at Re-See.com

7. Clutch

How about a bistrot-chair turned clutch bag to perk up your summer look? This one gets my vote, not just because you can practically wash sticky fingers and sand off it. Balenciaga woven bistrot clutch, £765 at Browns.

Balenciaga clutch, £765 at brownsfashion.com

8. Loulou on a budget

The headscarf again – this time look on Ebay for a lungi dhoti sarong. Mirrored shades can be found at Camden Market for around £5. Add Nars lipstick in Niagara for a perfect, peachy lip – it’s the coral that suits everyone.

Loulou photographed by Eric Bowman, 1972.

If I haven’t given you enough, you can read/see more in this book. I admit I bought it for the cover (I’m a sucker for anything by Rizzoli) but it’s as readable as it is beautiful.

My well-thumbed book, published by Rizzoli

In the meantime, I’m off to Lanzarote. To channel Loulou. See you next week.

 

The secret to finding a bra that fits: Hire an expert

I don’t cry often, but one thing that’s guaranteed to bring me to tears is bra shopping.

I mean, how hard can it be? I’m fairly in proportion and, after a multitude of disasters – not very fussy. But I don’t have much meat on my ribs and so under-wires dig in and non-wired bras ride up and practically fly off into the distance, without any weight of breast to keep them in place.

I tend to throw money at the equation (La Perla, Myla) but even then there’s no guarantee I’ll find anything that works. And the older I get, the harder it becomes.

Lingerie at Keturah Brown – image Penelope Meredith

The expert

Lingerie stylist and ‘fit expert’ Monica Harrington has been a life-changer for me. Her credentials are impressive – she’s been in the lingerie business for over 30 years, working for major brands in product development, fitting and training, styling lingerie on shoots for prestigious campaigns and helping breast cancer patients, post surgery. She has private clients too. I wanted to find out what she could do for me.

Let’s just say that this lady has not only transformed my underwear drawer but also my approach to dressing. So I am writing about her. She should not be a secret.

Monica Harrington. Image Alex Taibel

The underwear edit

Monica arrived at my home with a selection of underwear, Irish warmth…and a sense of humour, which helped, given the sad state of my boobs (Monica says it’s common for women to lose the fullness in the top half of the cup after breastfeeding). She guessed my size immediately then declared my bras too big across the back and too flimsy to give any real form.

The lingerie selection. Image Alex Taibel

Getting the perfect shape

I’ve always favoured quite racy bras (what I lack in boob I like to think I make up for in style) but Monica also showed me that t-shirt bras don’t have to be bulky and boring. I’m probably the only woman on the planet who doesn’t own a t-shirt bra. It’s a big moment for me.

Fitting the Triumph Amourette. Image Alex Taibel

The Triumph Amourette spotlight underwire bra she brought along was not only a perfect fit but a snip at £32 and so comfortable I now have to force myself to wear anything else. My boobs are so good in t-shirts that I keep asking my friends to have a feel. I bet everyone who’s been Monica’d does this.

The right underwear for the right outfit

Another predicament is matching the right underwear for each piece of clothing. I quickly realise that Monica has this down to a fine art. First up – my off the shoulder dress by Saloni that I wear without a bra. I didn’t think I minded going bra-less, until I was helped into a Simone Perele plunge bra and saw the dress take on a different shape altogether.

Monica explained that when the boobs are lifted properly it creates more length in the body and thus more definition to the waist. I saw the difference immediately. And I’m not sure how I lived without this bra, which is a secure, seamless fit, with ‘lotion touch’ microfibre and straps that can be worn 8 different ways (or not at all). It is absolutely perfect for the current one-shoulder/off-shoulder trend. Priced at £56.

Some Spanx high waisted shorts (shapewear, as Monica calls it) were 100% invisible under the bottom half of the dress and also rescued my Adam Lippes cream jumpsuit – a beautiful piece of clothing in a notoriously unforgiving colour and the only unworn item in my wardrobe (due to the underwear/knickerline dilemma).

I suspect he designed this jumpsuit for someone with a cleavage, but Monica quickly gave me one, thanks to a Triumph magic boost bra and a bit of hoisting and tweaking. My breasts looked majestic, but not over the top (I’m not sure they ever could). A Triumph indeed.

Shopping for lingerie

We ventured out – to Keturah Brown, a little independent boutique in Primrose Hill. It’s an aladdin’s cave, bursting at the seams with every conceivable lingerie item you could wish for. I wouldn’t have known where to start, but Monica got stuck in and by the time we’d finished I had bought four different sets of beautiful lingerie, with some altered to fit.

Monica in action at Keturah Brown. Image Penelope Meredith

Keturah Brown’s owner will literally cut a chunk out of the back of your bra (eek) and re-position the fastening, for a closer fit. It’s reassuring that she’s a lingerie maker by trade but still you’ll be glad it’s over before you can blink or indeed question whether you actually want someone to take scissors to your new expensive bra.

Bra alterations at Keturah Brown. Image Penelope Meredith

It’s an amazing alteration service. Hashtag shop local. You don’t get that in a department store.

Now it’s a perfect fit. Image Alex Taibel

Here’s what I learned

  1. How to put on a bra. No, you do not fasten it in front of you and then twist it around. (This was the only time I heard Monica get cross). Arms go in first, then bend over and shimmy yourself into the cups before you fasten behind you. It is not something I am going to show you a photo of.
  2. Every size has a sister size. So my 30B is also the equivalent to a 32C. Me! A C cup!
  3. The lifespan of a bra is 6 months, if you wear it often. Oops.
  4. My right boob is my fuller boob – apparently we all have one side bigger than the other. Compensate for this by adjusting one strap slightly looser (on the ‘full boob’ side) than the other.
  5. Lingerie shopping can be fun.
  6. Bras can be comfortable.
  7. Triumph is not an old lady brand.
  8. The right underwear can transform an outfit.
  9. I am not a freak.
  10. Hire an expert.

 

Visit Monica Harrington’s website for more information or to book a private visit.

All photography by Alex Taibel unless otherwise stated. With thanks.

 

For great style, you need great hair

There’s nothing quite like a good haircut. You can literally feel the magic happen. You bounce out of the salon and glide down the street, feeling quite marvellous and unstoppable. Everything you try on looks good. Your boring old clothes suddenly look super-stylish. You want to go out for lunch, dinner, drinks, more drinks…oh to never have to go home and sleep on it.

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Darren and I in NYC.

There are few people who can work that magic. Darren Smalley is one of them. I met him at Fourth Floor and went to him for years until he abandoned me to go and live in New York, where I continued to go for my haircuts – ridiculous, perhaps, but such is the Darren effect.

One time, after a new cut, we went for cocktails in the East Village (Darren is also a dear friend and bloody good company) and our server kept raving about my hair. I laughed along, assuming they knew each other, but after a night of her begging for my hairdresser’s number I came to realise she had no idea he was sitting next to me. She genuinely thought my hair was fantastic. It was.

You need to know that I don’t have easy hair. It’s curly (when it chooses to be), frizzy, untameable, uncool. Anyone can give it a trim and use tongs to make it look pretty, but I hate the tonged, one-look-fits-all and I’m certainly not going to spend more than about 3 minutes on it, post-salon. So I need someone who can really cut. Darren has given me short crops, long waves, heavy fringes (bangs, depending on where you come from). I’ve loved them all. Everyone I’ve sent to him has fallen for him too.

So onto the main reason for my post. Darren is coming to town. He might as well be Santa Claus. Call him. See him. Let him do whatever he wants to do to you. Trust me (and him).

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Darren is coming to London

I have to credit my other hair stylist here, who I see in Darren’s long absences (he now lives in San Francisco, sees clients in New York every so often, and LA too, but it’s not easy for us to coincide). So, “j’ai deux amours…par eux toujours, mon coeur est ravi” as the song goes. The other man is Billi Currie, who owns a super-friendly urban salon of the same name in Chiltern Street. He has innate talent and years of expertise (25 years at Vidal Sassoon). I begged for his number from a stranger I spotted with great hair. She warned me that he was expensive, but worth every penny.

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Billi Currie on Chiltern Street, Marylebone

Think of a good haircut in cost-per-wear terms (it makes it an absolute bargain). Go see one of my boys – and then tell me you don’t feel like your christmases have all come at once.

Darren Smalley, in London now – until 10th August 2016. For appointments tel (UK) 07842 821052 or (USA) 646 670 0660. email darsmalley@me.com

Billi Currie, 47 Chiltern Street, W1U 6LX. Tel 020 7486 9016. www.billicurrie.com

 

 

Stylish luggage for special travels

I’m sure I’m not the only person who is thinking of escaping to sunnier climes right now. I’m daydreaming about travel, and remembering my trips away with my eldest daughter. We go away together for one weekend every year – just the two of us. I like to think these little trips expand her mind and cement our bond but I think for her it’s more about the shopping.

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Me with my daughter Mabel. Photo: Patrick Cadell

Once we were shopping at Merci in Paris, where she found a little old-fashioned suitcase in a pretty Liberty print. She then spotted one with cartoon shapes to colour in, at which point all her dreams came true. Virgo mum, on the other hand, began to panic about how awful it would look when she took a felt-tip to it. But years later, in spite of her allowing anyone to have a go, or perhaps because of that, it has become the perfect little piece of nostalgia that sparks luggage envy, even in me.

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Liberty print case. Image courtesy of Merci, Paris.

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Mabel’s case.

I recently came across the grown-up case to rival my daughter’s. It might have been the pop of pink that caught my eye, but all of the Steamline Luggage colours are heavenly – and not all of them are sickly sweet. These vintage style cases are handcrafted, with the latest functionality (silent wheels, extendable handles) and give a lot of style for your money (the carry-on starts at around £300).

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Steamline Luggage. Image courtesy of SteamlineLuggage.com

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Steamline luggage. Image courtesy of cashandrocket.com

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REISS X Steamline Luggage. Image courtesy of anouska.net

If money is no object, my luggage of choice would be Goyard, a French house with exquisite craftsmanship that dates back to the 1800s. A Goyard trunk will become an heirloom – it looks better with wear and age (how great is that) and looks just as good in the home, when not in use.

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Vintage Goyard trunk. Image courtesy of plinth.com

The ‘personalisation’ section of the Goyard website is a wonderful way to waste time – enter your initials and select your colours from the endless combinations. They will hand-paint them onto your purchase, the same way they did more than 160 years ago for the aristocracy. My coated canvas Goyard bag has proved to be a fantastic chuck-everything-in travel bag, and the fact that it is emblazoned with my initials makes me think that nobody will ever steal it.

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In France, with my girls and my Goyard

The pieces I have talked about here are all extravagant, but they’re classic. And if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, you could try Vestiaire (for pre-owned Goyard that you can be sure is authentic), or Ebay and Etsy – for antique travel trunks. Either way, a great piece of luggage makes a perfect gift. What special god-son or daughter wouldn’t love something that comes with style and the promise of adventure?

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Image courtesy of Steamlineluggage.com

I will probably have to keep carrying my little grey Eastpack for the time being, especially as I wouldn’t trust any of these pieces near the hold of a sleazyjet flight, but one day I will take great delight in handing my Goyard suitcase to my gloved driver who will place it carefully in the back of my yellow e-Type and drive me to the South of France.

Travel is the stuff that dreams are made of, after all.

3.8 E-Type Roadster (1961-1964)

3.8 E-Type Jaguar. Image courtesy of hemmings.com

 

Steamline Luggage is based in New York and Dublin and ships internationally. www.steamlineluggage.com

Merci is a concept & lifestyle store in Paris that donates all its profits to charity. 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris. www.merci-merci.com.

Goyard, ‘malletier’ (maker of luggage and suitcases), is a French company based at 233 and 352 Rue St Honoré, 75001 Paris. www.goyard.com

 

Buy My Wardrobe blitz

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Image by Andrew Morrell

A quick post to celebrate the fact that in two days’ time my home will be tidy and my cupboards bare.

Well, not quite, but I am clearing out my closet. I do it for my clients – help them to get rid of the things that once worked beautifully but don’t anymore – and now it’s my turn.

I invest in clothes for the long-term, so my cherished pieces are things I bought many seasons (or decades) ago. I hope to still be wearing those in my old age, if my girls haven’t wrestled them from me (they are already deciding who gets what when I die). However, I also own lots of random things I was given when I was working as a stylist on shoots. Add to that designer samples, vintage pieces that I buy for research and things I’ve bought to ‘beef up’ my wardrobe each year – and it amounts to a mountain of quite wonderful stuff – that I am selling this Saturday (17th October 2015) at the Buy My Wardrobe event at The Roof Gardens in Kensington.

It’s a ticket-only event (tickets available from www.buymywardrobe.com). There are lots of lovely sellers with lovely things and a percentage of the money generated goes to the Syrian Refugees.

On my stand you’ll find brands including Acne, Isabel Marant, Christopher Kane, Preen, Theory, J Brand, Marni and Manolo Blahnik, along with me – blindfolded and tied to my seat so I don’t buy someone else’s wardrobe.

Hope to see you there,

Penelope

 

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Shoes made for walkin’. My top 5 flats for winter.

As I write this, the rain is pounding on my window and shows no sign of letting up. I have been in denial about the onset of autumn and steadfastly wearing my sneakers. Digging my heels in, as it were. It’s still warm, so I’m not giving up on bare legs just yet, but the time has come to trade my summer shoes for something more sturdy. So off my red satin Manolo flats go to the menders (or should I say miracle-workers, in the case of KG Shoes on Eversholt Street in Camden) for a new sole, a new heel and some tlc. I do this with all my summer shoes so they are good as new when I unpack them next spring.

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Image courtesy of Who What Wear

Anyway, back to rainy October. I’ve lived through 42 British winters (save for a few years in Paris and Vancouver, but it rained there too) so you’d think I’d be ready for it. But no. It always takes me by surprise and somehow leaves me wondering what on earth I wore this time last year.

It could have been my cherished, beaten up pair of python cowboy boots, bought from R Soles on the King’s Road some fifteen years ago. They are great with most things, but the water seeps into the leather sole so they’re definite dry-day shoes. Or my Le Chameau fleece-lined wellies, a lovely gift from my husband who got fed up of me moaning about cold, wet feet. They certainly do the job, but more for the Welsh mountains than a meeting at a silk-carpeted designer boutique. I do have other options, so of course I can make do. But if I were to upgrade, here’s where I’d go.

My selection of top 5 flats for winter.

1. Francesco Russo box leather loafers (below), £595. matchesfashion.com 

Even as recently as last year, the only places you could get your hands on a pair of Francesco Russo‘s shoes was at his boutique in Paris or Bergdorf Goodman in New York. He’s best-known known for his incredibly glamourous, sexy heels, so imagine my surprise – and delight – at finding these sturdy, elegant, winter flats. They are gorgeous with a bare foot (I know, not for long), a sock or thick tights. They give a modern edge to pretty dresses too.

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Francesco Russo boutique, Paris. Image courtesy of Francesco Russo

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Francesco Russo box shoes. Image courtesy of matches fashion.com

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Francesco Russo box shoes. Image courtesy of Matchesfashion.com

2. Dries Van Noten Flatform oxford shoes (below), £495. Selfridges

I really, really dislike platform soles. But with these I’m eating my words. Ok, so they’re only 1.5″ high but they have a definite platform sole and are the first pair of big bad guys that I would actually wear. I have always liked chunky shoes on other people, but on me they feel ridiculous. These, however, feel quite swish (the leather is shiny, not quite patent) and the extended sole has the effect of making the foot seem more slender, so they’re not like wearing bricks. They’re lightweight, super-comfy, with a practical rubber sole. Playful, grown-up fashion.

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Dries Van Noten Flatform shoes. Image courtesy of Selfridges.com

3. Saint Laurent signature jodhpur ankle boot (below), £620. Selfridges

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Saint Laurent signature jodhpur ankle boot. Image courtesy of modesens.com

Just enough heel, not too much. Just enough point, not too much. How does Saint Laurent do it every season? (I know how…but her name is sacred…and she’s wanted by all of the top fashion houses, unsurprisingly). I’d style these with any old jean and any old jumper, because that’s all you’d need.

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Not Saint Laurent boots. But they’d work well with this look. Image courtesy of girlsinspo

4. Spice by C Doux – 7201 (below). £249. Spice Shoes

If you like the Saint Laurent look but your shoe budget won’t stretch that far, these are a fine alternative. The last is really good, so they’re flattering and comfy. The leather is beautiful (the photo doesn’t do them justice). These are available at Spice’s lovely little boutique in Primrose Hill – where I have been going for years, specifically for C Doux (their own line). Now available online too.

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5. Prada lace-ups in orchid pink (below), £730. Prada

How I love to end a post on something pink. Not only pink, but orchid pink, if you please. And patent. With colour-matched laces. And an illustration of a daffodil on the toe. They might take a bit more thought on the styling front, but if these don’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will.

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Prada lace-ups in orchid pink. Image courtesy of Prada.com

 

Why I love pre-loved

I realised this week that some of the things in my wardrobe I wear the most, cost the least. Not all (take my eye-wateringly expensive Louis Vuitton heels, the price of a small car), but a lot. And these items weren’t cheap because they’re cheaply made or mass-produced – far from it. They were cheap because (while I’m on the car theme) they’d had one or more previous owners.

As a stylist I am always on the job – in constant scanning mode – hunting out interesting, cool pieces for my clients and occasionally for myself. I’ve bought some absolute gems from Buy My Wardrobe over the years, with such success that the cost per wear of these items is now in the pennies rather than the pounds.

Buy My Wardrobe is a friendly London boutique where fashion lovers sell and buy designer clothing. Some of the items have never been worn – and those that have are immaculate (they won’t sell anything tarnished or dated). They currently have a cute, corner pop-up site in Notting Hill’s Portobello Road, where I picked out my favourite pieces and took to the streets.

Here’s what I found and loved…

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Valentino Red black prom dress, £160. (Pictured above and below, with Alaia wool biker jacket, £495). An evening dress where your armpits can breathe is so useful. Plus it will last longer, since dry cleaning doesn’t always remove odour or deodorant marks. These things are important! This cute lbd feels so free & easy. It gives good shape. The taffeta is swishy and fun. At 40 plus, it’s sometimes nice to feel girly again.

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Valentino Red dress, Alaia biker jacket (over arm), from Buy My Wardrobe. Rupert Sanderson heels and Celine sunglasses, my own.

Chanel scallop-edge cardigan, £650. (Pictured below, with Sophie Hulme nude oversized clutch, £195). One hundred percent delicious, luxury cashmere, with a scooped hem, like a tail coat. This is my definition of lounge-luxury. Crawl out of bed, add any jeans, any t-shirt, any shoes – and this. A sumptuous, easy throwover piece that you will never want to take off.

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Both pictures: Chanel cardi-coat, Sophie Hulme clutch, from Buy My Wardrobe. Uniqlo jeans, Rupert Sanderson shoes and Celine sunglasses, my own.

Alaia knitted top and skirt set, £400. Acne silver shoes, £150. Saint Laurent jacket, £895. Chanel bag, £690. (Pictured below). First time around this outfit would have cost just shy of £5k. Each piece is as good as new – and can be styled individually as well as worn together. Wear the silver shoes with jeans, the lace jacket with smart crepe evening trousers, and of course the Chanel bag with everything.

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Saint Laurent jacket, Alaia skirt and top, Acne shoes, Chanel bag, all from Buy My Wardrobe. Celine sunglasses, my own.

Valentino dress, £1495. (Pictured below). More Valentino, this time from the mainline collection. What a dress this is. If I owned it I would be going out all the time. It ticks all my boxes – it shows just the right amount of flesh, it’s classic but unusual, looks elegant and sophisticated and feels AMAZING to wear. Most of the photos are of this dress because I didn’t want to take it off. Who cares if it’s not my size?

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Chanel jacket, £1150. (Pictured below). I sometimes wonder how people buy Chanel first time around when you can go on an exotic holiday for the price of a jacket. (But that’s only my current mood. Usually I’d go for the jacket). This one has the soft, relaxed feel of slipping on an old cardigan with the structure of something more serious. I love the cut of this. It has removable sleeves so can be worn as a gilet too, though I’m not sure I ever would. But if you would, you’re getting two jackets in one. With almost enough left over for a holiday.

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Chanel jacket, from Buy My Wardrobe. Uniqlo jeans and Celine sunglasses, my own.

Ralph Lauren silk chiffon blouse, £60. Celine bag, £550. Chanel jacket, £895. (Pictured below). More Chanel. A cute and easy black jacket with nude-pink fringe detail. A really good, simple piece with just enough detail. I’ve put it with a silk chiffon blouse here, a bargain by Ralph Lauren at £60 (with a camisole to go underneath), but I’d also wear it with an plain white t-shirt, jeans and sneakers.

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Both pictures: Chanel jacket, Ralph Lauren blouse, Celine bag, all from Buy My Wardrobe. Uniqlo jeans, Rupert Sanderson shoes and Celine sunglasses, my own.

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Be quick – the Buy My Wardrobe pop-up store is at 199 Portobello Road until Saturday 4th October 2015. After that you can visit them at their usual residence on Seymour Place, W1.

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You’ll also find find them – and me (selling my wares) – at the Roof Gardens designer sale on 17 October 2015. It’s a ticket-only event. I’ll post more info next week. Hope to see you there!

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Inside the Buy My Wardrobe pop-up shop, 199 Portobello Rd

Buy My Wardrobe, 17 Seymour Place, London W1H 5BF. Tel: +44 (0)20 7258 7548

www.buymywardrobe.com

 

Photography: All photographs by Catherine Naylor-Leyland unless stated otherwise.

Please note: I take no responsibility for availability of any of the items featured or the prices quoted. I am always interested to hear your views on my selections and suggestions. If you like what you see here, please feel free to share it and credit me as the source. Thank you!

Love thy neighbourhood – PRESS of Primrose Hill

There is much to love about Primrose Hill. It has exquisite, battenberg coloured houses, beautiful green spaces and endless street cafés – plus it’s a cheap cab ride into town if you can’t be bothered to walk across the magnificent Regent’s Park to get there. But what I love most is the fact that the high street doesn’t (yet) look like every other high street in the country. Here you can find some genuinely independent, interesting boutiques with passionate owners who remain at the heart of this rather special neighbourhood.

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Chalcot Square, NW1. Image courtesy of relocatemagazine.com

One such place is PRESS, a small but perfectly formed womenswear store run by Melanie Press, who cleverly combines ultra-wearable basics with new designers and vintage finds. It was here, 8 years ago, that I bought my first high-waisted jeans (by Nobody…I have yet to find a pair I like better), here that I discovered R13 (the most I have ever spent on a t-shirt…and the most-worn item in my wardrobe) and where I recently stumbled across NLST (more about that later).

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Melanie Press outside her Primrose Hill boutique

This lady has her eye on the ball and her team are great (don’t let the buzzer at the door put you off – just ring the bell and a friendly face will let you in). Melanie, Amelia, Charlie and Laura all have their own distinct style which means they can all give you a different intepretation on a piece. The people I shop for are all different, but I can find something for each of them here.

This week I went to PRESS to see their autumn-winter collections. Here’s what I found…

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Wearing R13 wax joggers, Mr Start shirt and vintage bag, all from PRESS. Nike trainers, my own.

R13 skinny boy jogger. £319 (above and below). I’ve always loved the R13 brand for its lived-in, cool vibe and these luxury joggers do not disappoint. They’re subtly waxed to look a little bit like an old pair of leather trousers, they’re warm, slouchy and narrow on the leg so the shape is refined enough to wear with heels. They have a non-bulky drawstring waist, great for hiding winter comfort food. And since I have yet to find any interesting jeans this season, these will be a great substitute.

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R13 wax joggers, Mr Start shirt and vintage bag, all at PRESS. Nike trainers, my own.

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Mr Start belle pique shirt. £149. (Above). A terrific cut. Oversized but flattering, in crisp,  white poplin. The most perfect white shirt.

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Gat Rimon navy sweater. £120. (Above and below). Unless you want to spend a small fortune on a Proenza or Barrie knit, winter woollies are usually pretty dull. So I was thrilled to find this chic sweater which happens to be a great basic with a bit of detail. It’s 100% merino wool (the soft type, not the itchy type), it’s washable (by hand) and the sleeves are lovely and long to cover part of the hand when you’re hugging that hot mug of tea. It’s fitted enough to tuck into a midi-skirt, loose enough to wear over jeans. Also available in grey and black.

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NLST sleeveless coat and navy Gat Rimon sweater at PRESS. Golden Goose jeans and white Gianvito Rossi stilettos, my own.

NLST sleeveless peacoat. £989. (Above and below). I can already hear you saying ‘I’d at least want sleeves for that price’, but the beauty of this is that you can throw it on over anything in your wardrobe and feel instantly cool. The heavy Japanese wool makes it warm (honestly) and snug, it has muff-type pockets lined in ultra soft corduroy and it’s got slits at the side so you can get in and out of the car without it all bunching up. I never want to see a cardigan again.

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NLST sleeveless coat and Gat Rimon navy sweater at PRESS.

NLST stripy T-shirt. £140. (Below). My NLST obsession continues with this t-shirt. It’s relaxed and oversized but you still wear it rather than it wearing you. It feels light and soft (the fabric is a cashmere blend, hence the hefty price tag) and it’s just so easy.

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NLST stripy t-shirt and Vanessa Bruno leather skirt, both at PRESS. Worn with Louis Vuitton shoes, my own.

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Vanessa Bruno danaid black leather skirt. £380. (Above). Squidgy-soft leather, with pockets (another obsession of mine) and endless possibilities for styling: A chunky aran sweater, tights and ankle boots – a sexy silk blouse, bare legs and heels – or a simple vest and flip flops in summer. Plus, the elasticated waist means it can be worn on the waist or the hips, depending on how much leg you want to reveal.

Speaking of revealing a bit of leg…

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Gat Rimon kimono and vintage leather belt at PRESS. Balenciaga shoes, my own.

Gat Rimon Ruth kimono. £195. (Above). Sex this up by turning it into a dress (belt at the waist, add heels and you have the quickest, easiest evening outfit of all time). It’s short but the fringing adds just enough length and stops it looking like a dressing-gown. It could also be worn dressed-down, to liven up a pair of skinny jeans and a simple white t-shirt, with scruffy old Converse or some cute flats. Christmas party? Summer festival? A year-round, throw-on party piece that comes in solid colours too, if the print is a bit much for you.

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Citizens of Humanity jumpsuit at PRESS. Saint Laurent shoes, my own.

Citizens of Humanity stereo jumpsuit. £365. (Above and below). I am still not bored of onesies and boiler suits. This one is soft, slouchy and feminine. It has buttons at the back so you can adjust the boy-fit and the fabric is lovely and light with just the right amount of distressing. I like that it can be worn with sandals in summer or layered over a polo-neck for warmth in winter. Another year-round piece. If you’re indecisive, this is your outfit. One cool item, add shoes. You’re done.

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Citizens of Humanity jumpsuit at PRESS. Saint Laurent shoes, my own.

A final word about neighbourhood shopping in general. Remember these are smaller stores that don’t carry vast amounts of stock, so if you find your size in something you like you gotta be quick!

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Image courtesy of modemusthaves.com

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Sweet things at PRESS. 3 Erskine Road, London NW3 3AG.

+44 (0)20 7449 0081

www.pressprimrosehill.com

 

 

Photography: All photographs by Catherine Naylor-Leyland unless stated otherwise.

Please note: I take no responsibility for availability of any of the items featured or the prices quoted. I am always interested to hear your views on my selections and suggestions. If you like what you see here, please feel free to share it and credit me as the source. Thank you!