How to Shop Stylishly on a Red Stripe Budget

I really need to stop keeping up with the Kardashians. With more consistency than I’d like to admit, I always keep up to date with the who/what/wear of the Kardashian clan.  Kylie and Kendall have undoubtedly upped the family’s fashion A-game (or K-game as I guess they’d prefer) with  eighteen year old Kendall  recently seen walking in Paris Couture week and dripping in designer garms for Givenchy’s latest ads, while I sit at home, a recent graduate the wrong side of twenty two, shopping low to high on bargain sites.

For now, it seems that my budget is more Red Stripe than Raf Simons but does that mean I’ll be going cold turkey on the fashion front? Hell no, couldn’t even if I wanted to. And although some girls are able to work thrift store finds, I have neither the patience nor the ounce of hipster authenticity that this pursuit requires. So for now it’s just about being sensible rather than stupidly ignoring the inevitable lure of the shops. Here’s what I’ve learned from being poor and and having a savings account that affords little more than a Red Stripe, never mind new Topshop’s new red sandals:

You are never too fancy for Argos.

Okay now, don’t roll your eyes fashion snob. I’m not advocating that you go all Jeremy Kyle and get your engagement ring here, but for low priced (real) gold you really can’t beat the big A and it’s gigantic catalogue. My new favorite guilty pleasure Niykee Heaton layers up her ghetto fab gold necklaces which she herself declares are from ‘ratchet malls’ and I can’t wait to follow suit and splurge in Argos guilt free. No maxed out credit card, no green fingers and no one needs to know.

H&M is a good as designer

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Everytime I go into H&M I practically sprint past everything and head straight to H&M Trend, or what me and my friends affectionately refer to as Pink Label, the Holy Grail of High Street Fashion or just, em, Pink Label. It really is amazing stuff that looks like it was designed entirely for fashion fanatics and street style bloggers. I usually woose out and buy the safe stuff rather than the off the wall stuff that I really, really want but it’s all good, and most importantly, it’s all cheap.

You can do the Whistles look on an ASOS budget

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As mentioned above premium lines from high street brands are your new best friend. ASOS White essentially rips of Whistles (in a really, really good way) and like H&M, it’s slightly more expensive than the regular ASOS stuff but is still cheap enough to add to your online basket with only minor pangs of anxiety.

Do some investigating, like a shopping Sherlock.

Superga is great. When I first started buying them they were only £25 – now you’d be lucky to get them for under £45 – buying trainers is daylight robbery these days. While Superga sales are great for bargains (£17!) their range of sizes isn’t always great. Don’t be afraid to look them up on Ebay. Just don’t make the same mistake as my friend did – if they are NWT and only £6 they are pretty much guaranteed to be children’s size, even if that’s not made explicit. ASOS Marketplace, similarly, is a great place to find what you want for less. I’ve picked up a few American Apparel pieces for next to nothing while my friend found a new season men’s Cos coat for 20 quid.

Unineed is my latest find. Admittedly a rubbish name for a site that sells heavily discounted beauty and fashion buys, but it’s pretty much like shopping duty free. While their fashion side of things is a bit dodgy, their beauty bargains are amazing – with everything from YSL Touche Eclat to Benefit brow kits being sold at a fraction of their usual price.

I’ve also been recommended to try Lyst – a comparison site that promises to be the shopping equivalent of Skyscanner.

Aspirational footwear in unlikely places

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Zara and New Look are undoubtedly the reigning Queens of fast fashion footwear. Each season you can buy a couple of on trend shoes without feeling too guilty and/or strapped for cash. But may I also recommend shock contender River Island? A seriously cool girl was rocking silver flatform sandals under her robes at graduation and I was deeply jealous until I found them in the sale days later along with a few other gems.

The ultimate footwear surprise however has to the suburban mum superstore Next – I got some pretty great strappy heels from there – very Rhianna- that have taken me from nights out, to graduation, and then out to work the next day. Despite having a fair few cringe chiropractic looking shoes on offer, they also stock dead ringers for Birkenstocks (in a cool navy suede) , fashion forward clogs and a pair of low heels that would make Olivia Palermo squeal with jealousy.

M&S does it best.

So much more than the home of Two for Ten, national treasure Marks and Spencer have been trying to up their fashion ante for a while now. Despite pulling in the big celebs for the campaigns and an even bigger supermodel to design lingerie, Marks recently admitted to yet another slump in sales. Every time they announce a slump it honestly pierces my heart but shopping there goes far beyond my sense of british duty. Their stuff is actually really good. I’ve bought my ‘comfy’ jeans there for ages, you can’t beat their snazzy indigo denim jeans for only £17 a pop in the sale. Right now they are also absolutely nailing the humble jumper. These two remind me slightly of Hannah Reid’s enviable style and I reckon they’d look great with some high waisted vintage jeans when winter finally creeps in. Also worth mentioning is their cheap as chips cashmere (not really cheap as chips, but you know what I mean.) Spot a cashmere jumper on Net a Porter and it will cost you upwards of £300, in Markey’s you can get them for £30. Try the men’s section for oversized knits with a round neck and grab them in navy or grey. Perfect for wearing with a statement skirt.

The Ultimate Guide to Budapest for Every Budget

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The city, divided into Buda and Pest, has a history as dark as it is diverse. Occupied by both the Nazis and the Soviets and only becoming a free republic in 1989, Budapest has transformed itself into a bohemian playground full of wine bars, hip restaurants and outstanding architecture. The city itself is full of juxtapositions – standing hillside, Eden-like Buda casts a magnificent shadow over the gritty and urban Pest, while much of the impressive neoclassical architecture, is in fact only 50 years old, rebuilt following the destruction of the Second World War. Yet the contradictions are what make it one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities in the world, where the new and the old are perfectly entwined to create an idyllic city and an atmosphere that is second to none.

When to go

Bargain airlines offer cheap flights out all year round and the destination is fast becoming the only city break worth bragging about. In the summer months the heat soars to 90 degrees, making it the perfect time to enjoy all the outdoor baths and walk the city streets. Saying that, tourists may also wish to return in the winter months, when the entire city will be coated in snow and boasts one of the largest outdoor ice rinks in the world as well as countless winter markets and festivals.

Where to stay

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The blogosphere has gone mad for Brody House – a B&B with a twist. Radio One DJ Gemma Cairney, labels this place ‘the best hotel in the world’ and it’s not hard to see why. Each one of the 11 rooms has been decorated and designed by different artists who have all spent time at Brody Studios. As a result, the hotel boasts an eclectic mix of designs celebrating Budapest’s emerging art scene. The vintage antiques and stripped back brick walls give it a twenties speak-easy vibe yet the staff strives to offer the ultimate modern hotel experience. You can borrow CDs and DVDS for your room and take advantage of their honesty bar- making it the perfect home away from home. A truly unique experience, far better than any Air bnb you could find. Prices starting at 70 euros a night.

If you are looking for something a little cheaper but still want a private room and a central location, look no further than Pal’s Hostel. Unlike most hostels you can actually rent an apartment space, perfect if you are travelling with friends. Situated near the Chain Bridge, around the corner from popular bars and restaurants, you are also located by the intersection of all three metro lines. Prices start at just 12 Euros a night.

According to the locals there are two types of people in Budapest: the ones that stay in Buda and the ones that want to stay in Buda. While there is a lot more accommodation on offer in Pest, see what all the fuss is about over in Buda by staying at the hillside Hilton resort. The Hilton is perched right in the centre of the castle district in Buda; neighbouring buildings include the Royal Palace and the Fishermen’s Bastion. Built on the request of Golden Hollywood star Zsa Zsa Gabor, this hotel used to be one of the only places Westerners could stay during Cold War and the Soviets had wires and bugs in every room. These days, the hotel offers a lot more privacy and promises panoramic views of the entire city. Prices start from 130 euros.

Where to drink

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Hip, unpretentious and just a little bit grungy, Budapest’s nightlife is what would happen if Glasgow and Leeds met and shared a dirty pint.  With an unmistakable retro vibe, Budapest’s party scene is littered with hipster hangouts, ruin pubs and wine bars celebrating all that the local vineyards have to offer.

A must see is the Jewish district, the undisputable nightlife hub. Start on Dob street and wind your way round all the quirky bars and clubs this area has to offer. One of the best picks is Doblo wine bar (Dob Utca). This little bar is all exposed brick and smoky settings with staff more than willing to educate you on the local wine. Sit under vintage chandeliers and enjoy a glass of Hungarian red or white wine for the perfect evening treat.  Just around the corner sits the infamous Király Utca, a cluster of restaurants and bars including Koral and Lokal, great for a late night drink. But it’s Spiler that really stands out. The mix is pure downtown New York with a hint of Hungarian edginess and is great for those looking for something more familiar (steak, pizza burgers) but still want a magical setting. Fairylights included natch.

Then head to Kazinczy Utca (dubbed as the street of culture) and visit one of the spectacular open-air garden pubs  that are considered the best party spots in Budapest, try Szimpla, 400 Bar or Ellátó. For clubbing it’s best to head out later, most clubs don’t get going until midnight and stay open till sunrise. For a night of good music and plenty of dancing work your way round any of the clubs on Dob, Wesselenyi Utcas and Kiraly. These warehouse clubs split music and bars over various floors and offer everything from techno-house to electro-pop.

Where to go

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No beach I hear you cry! No problem – Budapest’s Baths are world famous, offering the chance to lounge in mineral water that promises to cure all your aches and pains. At the Gellért Thermal Bath, they have both outdoor and indoor pools as well as every spa facility you could imagine. But ladies be warned, it’s not uncommon to have male masseuses. Come in the morning when it’s less busy and once you are done, head straight uphill to the Statue of Liberty (and one of the best views in the city). If you fancy some sunbathing and beach fun outside the baths however, head to Margaret Island. At the weekend this place is buzzing with locals and tourist taking advantage of the amazing outdoor pools, flumes and bars (see above image). Plus there is also quieter corners for those wishing to chill out in the shade or enjoy a run, cycle or walk around the island.

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If lounging around isn’t for you, there is still plenty sites to see. In fact, you’ll be doing well to fit them all into a short weekend break. For lovers of history, the spectacular House of Terror is a must see. This unsuspecting townhouse was the headquarters for the Nazis, and later the Soviets, earning its name from the horrible crimes that went on inside until 1989. The whole house has been fully renovated into an ultra modern and slick museum – apart from the basement where the killings took place, which remains chillingly untouched.

How to get around

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The transport system of Budapest has to be one of the best in Europe. The first underground in Europe (so the Hungarians claim, the first was actually in London) and trams that offer panoramic view of the city operate frequently across the whole city well into the night, and are much better value than hopping into an overpriced street cab.  That said, the best way to see Budapest is by foot, that way you can wind your way round the various squares, gape at the outstanding architecture and soak up the electric atmosphere of the various districts. Well worth doing is going on one of the fantastic bike tours on offer, try Yellow Zebra Bikes. Their tour last just over three hours taking you from the Opera House on Andrássy Avenue and all the way up to the Castle District in Buda, passing all the must see sights along the way. With the guide’s fantastic knowledge of the destinations and history, and a pit stop at a slick bar to sample some local delicacies, this tour is a must if you want to catch all of Budapest’s highlights.

Where to shop

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Perhaps the reason why Budapest hasn’t gathered as much acclaim as other European cities is that fashion hasn’t really arrived in Budapest. Aside from a couple Zara’s and  H&M’s, the style here is definitively Eastern European so you’re not likely to spot any cutting edge fashionistas or upcoming trends here. Aside from the overpriced designer stores on Andrassy Avenue, high fashion shops are few and far between. Save your well-earned forint for the duty free.

What to pack

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In the summer, temperatures reach an almighty 90 degree, so pack light. Airy dresses and comfy sandals for all the walking. Dressing is very casual –  locals here tend to wear as little as possible and as mentioned already, aren’t at all fussed with the latest trends.

Handy phrases

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Hungarians pride themselves on having a language that is near impossible to master. Alongside Russian and Mandarin, the Hungarian language is one of the trickiest in the world so don’t feel deflated if those phrases you learnt from your guidebook are received with blank faces or confusion.  That said, the locals really appreciate it if you try. The most useful then, is köszönöm (coo-sey-nom), their word for thank you. Basic English is spoken where needed – hotels, restaurants and airports -otherwise you’re pretty much on you own (aside from the mandatory tourist hand gestures obviously).

Beyonce and Solange Festival Fashion

Move over Olsens, fashion has a new ultra talented twin set in town.

As if their gorgeous looks and amazing vocals were’t enough, Beyonce and Solange have the wardrobe every girl wants to have this summer. Beyonce may have burst on to the Grammy stage earlier this year in little more than gaffer tape, some BeDazzled tights and a very elegant thong (and a vegan body to die for) but Queen Bey looked like she was taking style tips from sister Solange this weekend. Beyonce jumped on to the stage and joined her little sis in an impromptu dance off at Coachella, and both sisters rocked it out wearing clashing prints and matching wild curls.

Bold prints, crop tops and citrus colours – these sisters really know how to nail festival dressing. Look below and see how you can get the girls’ ultra stylish summer look and check out the video of them dancing along to ‘Losing You’ together at the bottom of the post.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 22.12.501. T-shirt, £85 by Lulu & Co  |2. Top, £30 by Zara |3. Sunglasses, £25 by Quay Charlie at ASOS |4. Earrings, £78 by J.Crew |5. Trousers, £26 by Zara    |6. Skirt, £30 by Zara |7. Shoes, £40 by ASOS

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 22.18.18|8. Sweatshirt, £19 by TWINTIP (zalando.co.uk) |9. Skirt, £38 by Topshop |10. Rucksack, £30 by Herschel (coogles.com) |11. Bra, £17 and briefs £7 by Other Stories |12. Sunglasses, £165 by Karen Walker |13. Suede clutch, £30 by ASOS  |14. Heels, £35 by Topshop

 

 

Made in Chelsea Wardrobe Make Over

Why is everyone obsessed with Made in Chelsea?

I say everyone but  I’m really referring to twenty-something uni girls, who grab their flatmates and sit down every Monday night to scream at twits on TV. Really, I’m talking about me.

But why do we love to hate it so much? We’re getting degrees in Biomedicine, Engineering and Law but week after week, we tune in to watch the lives of the uber privileged people who believe that genius is spelt with a J.

 We live off cup-a-soups and tetley, can’t afford our roots to be done and spend our life in onesies and/or dingy sportswear yet we judge people with weekly holidays, champagne on tap and who dress like they just popped into Harvey Nicks and rolled around a bit.

Wait a sec, that’s exactly why they judge them – the way the dress. Yes they are all stuck up, selfish, ignorant bimbos – they cheat, they lie (they don’t steal – far too rich for that) but all in all, without a shadow of a doubt, they are bad people.

But in my eyes all is fair in love and bitching as long as they have a good blow dry. Remember way back at the start of MIC when the storylines were far more tame and the love lives far less incestuous? They still cheated (Hugo and Millie) and lied (all of them) but I could overlook all of their flaws if they wore a nice top. It was as simple as that. Yes its petty and superficial – but you have to remember I am the student living off beans, toast and Primark knock offs, I just want something nice to look at and some unrealistic dream (aside for a graduate job) to swoon over.

Back in the days, a perfect tan, highlights and a strong statement necklace was all it took for me to overlook their bad behaviour. We had Millie’s statement wardrobe, Caggie’s pout and Amber’s knuckleduster rings.The fashion was almost a cast member in its own right and certainly more exciting than Cheska.

But suddenly everything went downhill – the cast started to look more like TOWIE expats than SW3 chic. The tans got deeper and the extensions got longer (Binky I’m looking at you). Now it all feels a bit more Sauchiehall St and a lot less Savile Row.

Monday, its back and I think a make over is long overdue. Here is how I would re-style the leading ladies.

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Soap and Glory

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There is a brand that seems to be making quite an impact with bloggers and beauty editors in the know. The Soap and Glory line, created by Marcia Kilgore who founded Bliss Spa, is all witty puns, kitsch pin up girls and surprisingly effective products.

Despite the kooky retro packaging, Soap and Glory’s products deliver results twice as good as other brands but at half the price – almost all their products score an impressive 5 stars on Boots.com. Even my sensitive and eczema prone skin loves it!

Here is the must have list from the brand everyone is talking about…

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Time for Tee

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Last season saw celebs, street style queens and humble fashion citizens alike all buying into the slogan tee trend. For a new spin on the statement fashion t-shirt, forgo fashion parodies and designer tributes and look for T-shirts that will stand out among the crowds.

Filles a Papa is the brand to buy into this year, Rita Ora and Jourdan Dunn are already fans. This T-Shirt will secure your place in any fashion crowd.

This Être Cécile tee is perfect for some New Year motivation. Wear with ripped boyfriend jeans or at the gym for fashion credit on the treadmill.

Finally this tee by model Eve Delf is the perfect fashion bargain, and if you still can’t get away from fashion’s love of an ironic slogan, head to Topshop and get your hands on this Nasa T-shirt.