In the year 2000 I was eight. That is a very vulnerable age to deal with the start of a very bad fashion decade. I spent my time ordering from the children’s section of the Next catalogue before progressing somewhat to the ‘bad girl’ looks at Kylie and Tammy. Mainly I was just running around in a Bench hoodie that could zip over my head and pining for every piece of Juicy Couture inspired velour I set my eyes on. Belts were low slug, skirts were peasant and these trousers happened. For some reason there was also a lot of crochet. It was a dark, dark time. Admittedly things picked up circa 2004 when a branch of Zara opened up in my hometown and Sienna Miller hopped onto the scene and showed us how boho chic was really done. Still, it was uphill struggle and WAGs and It bags continued to dominate the pages of every trashy tabloid and fashion magazine. Even the current Queen of Chic Victoria Beckham fell victim to the botched boob jobs, dodgy hair extensions and Cavalli dresses – a look currently being revived by the ladies of Towie, but desperately being forgotten by the rest of humanity In the midst of Lizzie McGuire’s hairclips and Marissa Cooper’s polo shirts there was one saving grace throughout the whole shoddy decade. Her name, of course, was Kate Moss. Her confidence never wavered and her style never flailed. She didn’t even wear Cavalli ironically. While everyone else wore a horrific combination of ponchos, Uggs and cargo trousers, she brought us the yellow dress, the David Bowie Vogue cover and her Coco Chanel ads. Even now, her noughties rock ‘n’ roll chic remains the epitome of modern style and her classic blazer, skinny jean and boot combo is still the go to look of most Made and Chelsea girls. In the words of ultimate noughties queen Lauren ‘LC’ Conrad: 2000s, we want to forgive you but we also want to forget you. Except for you Kate, we should have blocked out the charms of All Saints’ Black Coffee and listened to you all along.
What to wear to a flat party? The age old question and the text millions of girls will be sending across the world to their friends on a Friday night. Jeans or a dress? Heels or flats? And are we going out afterwards? Will you take a bag? A jacket? Some serious planning goes in to a night that usually ends barefoot with a stain down the top you so carefully picked out your flatmate’s wardrobe.
The problem starts with some smart ass telling you the dress code is ‘smart casual’. Seriously, who came up with this term and what does it even mean? People seem to have pretty wide interpretations of the term, so even when you think you’ve nailed it; they’ll always be someone at the party wearing an ultra-fitting co-ords outfit with a body so good you immediately regret the crisps you had with your getting-ready-drink. Or vice versa, someone in an achingly cool pair of jeans and great boots, who’ll shrug off all complements with a ‘aw I just came straight from work’ and a slug of their beer. At least you won’t be the girl that interprets ‘smart casual’ as wearing a bindi.
Personally I always get a little too excited, especially if I’m hosting, and always fall way more to the smart side of the dreaded smart casual dress code. Being in your last year at uni where most of your evenings consist of pounding the Red Bull and late night visits to the vending machine, all I ever wanted was a flat party where I could wear lipstick, down some tequila and have a late night visit to the chippy.
But the struggle is over. Reformation, the American eco-clothing label, has total nailed the flat-party dress code. Though the clothes, made from recycled vintage fabrics, are a little more expensive than your average Topshop number, the cool fabrics and slick designs are sure to make zero effort dressing look easy, regardless of how many texts you’ve sent begging your friends to ‘bring more options’. Unfortunately until ASOS get on the case and start stocking these amazing dresses pronto us poor brit girls are left pining for them online. Stock up during sale time (now: http://www.refomation.com/sale) or make fast friends with that weird American second cousin you have.
These dresses are best matched with a low slug pony tail, barely there makeup, statement earrings and an incredible pair of shoes. Pick one of these and you’re ready for a night that ends down the pub, in a club or reclining on a sofa in a deep conversation about cheese with a bunch of art students. Now getting ready for that party can be as ready as A, B, C. No muss, no fuss and most importantly, no questioning what ‘smart casual’ really is as you stare drunkenly at yourself in the mirror as another party-goer pounds on the bathroom door.
As a recent graduate things are always changing quickly. Friends are packing their bags and leaving to chase their dreams in far flung continents, getting new jobs, new friends and new flats. Today, I lose one of my closest friends to France for a year, where she is going to au pair, get a tan and probably find a ridiculously good looking Frenchman. It’s crazy to think that four years ago we were days away from meeting for the first time in an overcrowded student flat where I would also meet my boyfriend, my future flatmates, and a girl from Hungary that enjoyed stripping on celebratory occasions such as birthdays and Christmas.
This week I was also asked to write an article for Source Magazine, sharing a letter I would write to my eighteen year old self about to embark on Fresher’s Week. To coincide with the launch of my new graduate blog http://callyourgradfriend.wordpress.com/ I thought I would share the letter on TASTE today as a kind of send off to my friend Josie and to all that I’ve learnt in the last four years. Here’s to the next chapter in my life, and to the eighteen year old me, that thought she knew it all (when really she didn’t.)
Just pause Gossip Girl for one second would you; I have something to say. I know you’re awful with confrontation (you’ll get over that mostly) but this is important. You’re about to go to uni (yay!) and not to sound too much like Mum or anything, but you’ve got a lot to learn.
You’re nervous, that’s okay. In fact it’s GREAT. You are about to be thrown completely out your comfort zone and meet tonnes of people from all over the world, from all sorts of backgrounds and they’re going to force your eyes wide open. Speak to everyone but only surround yourself with people that make you feel totally at ease: you’ll trust them wholly, the jokes will come easily and they’ll happily call you out for being an idiot. If people disappoint you or break your heart, it’s okay to walk away, but give people chances. Have an open mind; be fast to listen and slow to talk (I’m still working on that for us). See those girls in the picture up there? Four years later they’re still going to be your best friends, biggest cheerleaders and ill-advised advisers. Nine times out of ten when you think you are having a full on mental breakdown, you really just need to sit down with them for a pot of tea. Sometimes you’ll need something stronger. You’ll always need biscuits.
Don’t fight with Mum and call her at least once a week, even if it’s for ten minutes. She wants to hear that you’re okay and looking after yourself now she’s not there. She has great taste in wine and is usually right about most things. Listen to her next time she tells you not to buy that jumper. It really is hideous.
Go to the gym and don’t eat what you want just because you can. Admitting that 50 orange Jaffacakes doesn’t cover your 5 a day will be a big learning curve for you. Surprisingly, so will the challenge of making cheese sauce. Don’t exist on toast, potato wedges and mug cakes even though they’re easy to make. By the time you graduate you’ll be making full roasts and ripping recipes out of magazines but for now, cook some stir-fries and big batches of chilli that you can freeze. When in doubt, buy eggs – scramble them, poach them and omelette them. This will be a big thing for you.
Don’t do all-nighters or drink three Red Bulls before an exam – you’ll see spots and your grade will be rubbish. Go to class even when it’s boring, even when you’re behind and ESPECIALLY when you’re confused. Speak up, ask questions and don’t be afraid to be wrong, that’s how you’ll learn. Hundreds of people will be smarter than you; they’ll know about fishing tariffs and java script but you can tell them which pizza place serves the peperoni under the cheese.
Get on Twitter (it’s going to be big) but don’t obsess about it. Ditto Facebook and Instagram. Use it for keeping in touch with friends and for procrastination, but don’t let likes dictate your life. Change your profile picture only when you look deliriously happy, not when you find one that has a weird angle that makes you look slim-ish.
Never make excuses for what you like or what you want. People are going to say that FOMO is a thing but it’s not – you’re smart enough to know when you need to catch up on sleep, save some money or work on that deadline. That said, don’t be scared to take some chances, go to parties in strange flats and join sports teams and obscure societies. Do work experience, as much as you can– you’re going to love it. And when people tell you there are no jobs left in the industry smile to yourself and think ‘That’s fine, I’m coming after your job.’ Be kind to yourself and others, experiment and take chances. And one last thing: please, please don’t get that fringe you’ve been thinking about.
Don’t forget to keep up to date with my new blog here and learn all the best job, flat and life advice for students and graduates that I’m learning along the way!
As the summer draws to a close and September creeps around the corner, TASTE asks, did you avoid becoming a summer stereotype? Read below to find out which summer holiday tribe you belong to.
The Couple on the Verge
You went to Paris to prove to the world (and all your Facebook friends) that you are both in love with a capital L. Pictures show you kissing beneath the Eiffel Tour, wearing matching mouse ears overlooking the Disneyland castle and looking edgy (and in love) outside the Louvre. The reality is that you split up on the first day, spent you trip crying into complex carbs from the local patisserie and got kicked out of Disney for having a screaming match Solange style on the teacups.
Single Girls Holiday
Basing their annual trip on the WWMICCG motto (Where Would Made In Chelsea’s Cast Go) these twenty-something uni grads channel Millie Mackintosh-come-Moss while lounging in a Croatian villa they found on Airbnb. While they wish they could turn off their iPhones, send postcards and ‘connect’ with one another, instead the day includes hangovers by the pool sipping cheap rose, throwing shade behind a dog-eared Grazia and uploading a constant stream of perfectly executed cliff jumping shots to Twitter/Instagram/Facebook. By night they’re even heavier on the filters and the fake tan application, playing international Tinder and Never Have I Ever. Pass out before midnight on their pool lilo.
Since going to uni you’ve managed shed all evidence of the Gilet glad and Abercrombie obsessed persona you so carefully curated at your private all-girls school. You’ve bagged a boyfriend that does ket and a friend that sells her own ‘garms’ on ASOS Marketplace and now it’s time to up the ante, don your extensive bindi collection and head to some off the wall festival with repetitive music and too many floral headbands. You pay £150 in the hopes that you’ll ‘discover’ the next Klingande. Instead you get drunk on Aperol spritz by noon, unable to leave the tepee that is playing Pharrell’s Happy for the 197th time.
The Long term Lovers
Dream of joining friends in Berlin but end up alone together in Cornwall B&B (again). Pretend to rather have a holiday that includes egg sandwiches, surfing and Breaking Bad over late night kebabs and warehouse raves. Imagine the weekend will also involve sun, sex and some questionable surfing and connecting as a couple. Instead you pretend to have diarrhoea just so you can dart into a pub and use the wifi for 30 blissfully uninterrupted minutes.
The Yoga Bore
Reformed wild child who can’t stop telling people how ‘centred’ they are since taking up the stretchy stuff this summer. Longs for Jennifer Anniston arms and the clarity of Hilary Clinton. When not discussing the downward dog to anyone that will listen, Yoga Bore waxes lyrical about the damaging effects of refined sugar and how important it is to ‘eat clean’. By ‘eating clean’ they are referring to spending three hours and roughly £50 on making ‘healthy’ kale and avocado cheesecake that still contains 99% of their daily fat intake and tastes like burnt grass.
The Gap Yah
You just finished your last year in school or uni, panicked and booked an overpriced 11 month trip to Australia/ Thailand / Bali to avoid your parents questioning and the threat of pending adult responsibility. You wear those ‘alternative’ trousers you bought last year in Zara but never had the balls to wear and organise the rest of your clothes according to day and activity, fantasizing about zip slides, hot boys and rainforest raves. Instead you spend the first month stranded and broke in rural Oz working as a sheep farmer trying to save up enough to hitchhike to the nearest city so you can email your parents for more cash. You’re not so hopefully about the next ten months.
They say Paris is for lovers – so can the romantically inclined please hop back over the channel and leave Edinburgh alone? It bemuses me that the city of Edinburgh has been voted one of the world’s top romantic places and eighth best city break in the world by Wanderlust travel magazine this year. That means despite the rain, the cold and the grumpy locals roughly 6 million couples visit Edinburgh every year.
Loved up tourists, you have been lied to. If we locals can’t stand half the commotion that goes on during the Fringe then we certainly can’t abide your excessive PDA in front of the castle, blocking our way to the bus stop. In general Edinburgers are reserved, rude, rich and in a rush. We become quickly frustrated with tourists over the festival months, particularly when they come in loved up pairs. We really are not interested in the Jim Carey impersonation show you saw – please don’t give us a flyer. We will not wait for you to get your picture rubbing Greyfiars Bobby’s nose because we are fairly sure that dog, and his lucky nose, is an urban myth solely told to take the piss out of gullible tourists. No talking to us on the trams. No talking about the trams. And certainly no eye contact.
No Edinburgh is not the place to be in a couple abroad– we hate you here. Nor is it the place to be single – yet somewhere along the way pop culture created a terrible, terrible myth: that, Edinburgh, like New York City, is a town of great romance. As a result hundreds of girls every night are lured out of George St clubs by over confident rugby buggers and into overpriced taxis. It’s an epidemic.
The problem with Edinburgh boys is that they have no charm but plenty money; hoping to lure you into bed with a vodka and fresh orange and a story nearly always beginning with ‘when I was lifting…’. Exactly the opposite is true in Glasgow – here the boy will spend the taxi money on a chippy for two and bum a cigarette off you in exchange for walking you home safe. See? Pure romance.
Glasgwegians have manners, spontaneity and, more often than not, a pint in their system. They are friendly, sentimental and best of all they have beards which I am sure you’ll agree is pretty attractive.
Thank goodness then, that Glasgow was voted most romantic city last year by the Royal Mail who noted a 11.7% increase in mail from Glaswegians on the 13 February- an 8% rise over the national average.
But of course, love is (geographically) blind. Whether you are flirting, dating, Tindering or traveling together, there are plenty places to look deep and longingly in to each other eyes, regardless of your location. I guess what I’m trying to say is there will always be sex in the city, whatever the city and all you really need is a good sense of humour, a willingness to try new things and, just for good measure, TASTE’s official guide to the best date spots in Scotland. So here it is: this one’s for the lovers.
Eat: Under the Stairs. Tucked under George IV Bridge this unpretentious hide away is the perfect place for a date. Low ceilings and cosy tables – illuminated by flickering candles – provide the atmosphere of what can only be described as a sexual business meeting. In a really good way.
See: The Dalmeny Estate. Just a twenty minute bike ride from the centre of Edinburgh sits the incredible Dalmeny estate owned by the Earl of Rosebury and the grounds are open to the public. The sprawling 19th century gothic mansion will lead you right to foot of the Fourth Road bridge where you can stop and enjoy a bottle of wine and some fish fresh from the sea. Very Downton.
Do: You know you’ve got a keeper when a boy suggests a date that doesn’t revolve around drinking or eating. So for the ultimate activity- led date, head up Arthur Seat for spectacular views of the city.
Eat: Hanoi Bike Club is the ultimate date restaurant – all giant lanterns, flickering lights and snug tables. The place is always stuffed full with young couples enjoying the best Vietnamese food the West End has to offer and the staffs are more than happy to help guide you through the menu. Dishes are best shared – you just know you’re going to make it if you are prepared to split prawn crackers.
See: Kelvingrove museum. In my opinion the ultimate date – where better to get lost than among the shadows of Picasso’s masterpieces and the luring figures of taxidermy? Plus across the road Orlando’s offers out of this world fish and chips which are definitely worth a try.
Do: Now that Glasgow have their very own version of ‘Boris Bikes’ there is no excuse no to get out and explore your city. Head down Kelvin walkway and finish with the Botanics where you can explore the beautiful greenhouses or enjoy an ice cream on the grass.
The ultimate dilemma when choosing where to spend you summer holiday: city break or beach retreat? Lucky for you the incredible city of Barcelona offers the best of both worlds: lazy days on sandy beaches, late dinners, even later drinks and more culture than you can shake a stick at. The city is undoubtedly the cultural hub of Spain where an exuberant, young party atmosphere meets some of the twentieth century’s greatest achievements in art and design. It is also 50 quid return on Ryan Air with cheap booze and a beach. With so many dimensions to the city, Barcelona is exactly what you make it – here are TASTE’s top tips for traveling to the iconic city.
Where to stay
Barcelona is the perfect city break, whatever you bank account and there are plenty great places to be found on Airbnb – just make sure you read the reviews carefully and don’t get caught out by hefty deposit fees. Not ready to take the Airbnb leap of faith? You can still do Barcelona on a budget.
If you are really strapped for cash, look in to staying at the university accommodation over the summer. Stick to Residencia Universitaria C. R. Bonanovain in El Puxtet, a great location just a little further out the city but full of great bars and cafés that are popular with the Spanish locals and a little more authentic than what’s going on in the centre. The accommodation, broken up into small student flats, is extremely basic – we’re talking singles beds, no towels and a shared bathroom, shower and kitchen.
If you are looking for something a little more luxurious but are still on a budget, its worth looking at Secret Escapes and Lastminute.com where you can find great deals on four star hotels. On my last trip I upgraded from the student halls to stay in Expo Hotel which boasted a roof top pool and terrace and clean modern accommodation located right next to the Barcelona Sants Station train station.
Where to eat
Barcelona is absolutely bursting with bars and restaurants but the standards and prices throughout the city can vary dramatically. It’s always best to have a place in mind rather than being sucked into an overpriced tapas bar on La Rablas. Lucky for you, TASTE has plenty suggestions.
First up Bar Lobo, the perfect metropolitan den, tucked in a corner just off Las Ramblas. The ultra-modern space is large and airy complete with oversized Chinese lanterns and dramatic oak décor. While it’s well worth a visit for the design alone, the cuisine on offer is equally impressive. Come in the afternoon and enjoy a bottle of wine on the terrace or join the city’s young crowd in the evening to try a range of classic tapas dishes.
If Bar Lobo is all about the atmosphere, La Maladrina is all about the food – specifically it’s world class steaks for less than the price of your metro ticket. The best steak dinner I’ve ever had was topped off with a five euro bottle of wine, and shots were offered with the bill as a parting gift – what more could you ask for? Down by the pier, this place is a little off the beaten track, but don’t be misled by its humble interior or lack of tourists. La Malandrina is one of the locals’ best kept secrets so it’s best to get here a little early. The Spanish don’t typically eat till nine or ten so beat the rush and get there for around eight.
Not to be missed are the fabulous bars and well-priced cafes in the EL Puxtet area. Hop on a subway to the north of the city and wander round this quieter neighbourhood filled with bakeries, tapas bars and, best of all, plenty of locals. You can always tell how good a place is by how many Spaniards choose to eat and drink there – and this is especially true in El Puxtet. In the evening, weave through the streets and follow the natives to the most packed out bar and order a goblet of gin and tonic. By day you can’t beat Doctor Coffee – order a café latte and a delicious pastry. For a light afternoon snack or a delicious meal on the cheap, head to the local focaccia joint where you can enjoy beautifully made bread topped with fresh ingredients, all made on site.
What to see
Thanks to Barcelona’s amazing metro system you can pack in all the sites in just a few days. While of course the beach is the highlight of the holiday for many Easyjetters heading out to Barcelona, the atmosphere within the city centre is equally electric and not to be left out.
Start your break with a visit to La Sagrada Familia, a vast Basilica designed by Catalan architect Gaudi, that has remained under construction since 1882. Avoid the swarms of tourists and visit early in the day, where you will experience the beauty of the morning light flooding in through the stained glass windows – an unmissable photo opportunity. Even better, do as I did and use your last metro card of the trip, pitch up several shots the merrier and enjoy a full on midnight photofest.
As I’ve already mentioned, one of the best things about Barcelona is that it’s a city with a beach. Tourists tend to head for Barceloneta, but why not try local favourite Bogatell beach- it’s cleaner, safer and a lot less crowded.
Any true nineties kid will remember the episode of Friends (The One with the Video Tapes) in which Joey tells the elusive seduction story of him backpacking through Europe ‘hiking in the foothills of mount Tibidabo’. While visiting the real Mount Tibabdabo might not bring you the luck it brought Joey, it is certainly a sight to see. Standing at 512 meters, it’s the tallest of all of the Collserola mountains and marks the frontier of the Barcelona’s county. It also houses Barcelona’s only theme park with 25 rides, a telecommunications tower and an imposing neo-gothic style Catholic Church. Natch. It’s well worth the walk up from Mount Tibabdo metro station and the dizzying height of the funicular to find the best panoramic view of Barcelona (as well as the best candy floss). For something a little closer to sea level, the Barcelona Bunkers offer a full 360º view of the city, revealing everything from the spiralling city street to the glorious beaches. Built in 1937 and used during the air raids in the Civil War, the site has come to be regarded as Barcelona’s most popular secret space.
No visit in Barcelona would be complete without paying a visit to the legendary Parc Guell. The park is a breath-taking space overlooking the city filled with Gaudi’s remarkable architecture and signature mosaics. While general entry to the park is free, unfortunately they now charges for entry to the Monumental zone, the space where all of Gaudi’s work can be found. Depending on how badly you want a picture with a mosaicked lizard, these tickets can be booked online for seven euros, though it is probably worth mentioning that the average supermarket rose here is a mere two euros. My tip? Take a peek through the gates and some well angled pictures and head to the nearest supermarket with seven euros in your pocket and sense of smug superiority in your heart.
Where to party
Razzmatazz is probably one of the best known clubs in Barcelona – and for good reason. This gigantic warehouse club caters for a huge variety of events and tastes, hosting everything from tech house to electro pop. It’s a little off from the centre but revellers can hop on buses straight to the club from outside Corte Ingles in the city centre and often tickets for events can be bought on the beach from Razzmatazz young PR staff.
What to wear (aka how not to look like a tourist)
The local girls are naturally dripping in the latest finds from sexy Spanish labels Mango and Zara (and unfortunately the less sexy but equally popular Desigual) and while this is undoubtedly a stylish city, shopping is bound to be your last priority when in Barcelona. Instead pack casual but party ready outfits – heels are a no-no here – the look is one part boho one part raver. By day wear Supergas and cat eyed sunnies with a bag that fits snuggly under your arm or across your body (in other words, don’t let the pickpockets immediately target you.)A snazzy leotard or swimming costume paired with shorts is sure to keep you cool when you’re fighting you way through sweaty ravers in the wee small hours. If sightseeing is more your thing, stack some delicate bracelets and pair them with a floaty skirt and a top that let’s the sun bronze your shoulders.
The local lingo
Catalonians, in general, are a feisty lot. With a history of fighting for their traditions, culture and lately, their independence, the people of Catalonia are no pushovers– add this to a mix of clueless British stag dos on packed out metro and things might get a little heated. The best way to win them over is to speak their language – no matter how feeble your grasp of Catalan. Pronunciation is fairly straightforward and of course, is very similar to Spanish. Still no clue? When in doubt, always praise Messi.
Hello Buenos días
Thank you (very much) (Muchas) gracias
You’re welcome De nada
Please Por favor
Excuse me Perdóneme
Do you speak English? ¿Habla inglés?
I’m sorry Lo siento/Perdone
I don’t know No lo sé
I’ve already mentioned how suburban mum favourite Next has recently upped is shoegame. At the risk of sounding like a Next groupie (is there even such a thing?) I’m going to tell you all over again.
These shoes remind me of the kind that Carrie Bradshaw would lose it over, buy and then declare that she was broke for a month. Unlike those shoes however, these babies won’t set you back more than £60 so you don’t have to running around saying rubbish like ‘I bought the shoes because I felt they will feed me more.’ *
So treat yourself to a few new pairs – not to sound cliché but these heels will take you from boardroom to bar and everything else in between. They’re pretty snazzy and grown up, with just a hint of LK Bennett, but they’ll look good with everything from distressed denim to flippy skirts. Go forth and shop, after all it’s what Carrie would do.
Black Mule £55 |Laced Sandal £60 |Black Point Mule £30 |Monochrome Strap Point Toe Shoe £32 |Strap Detail Shoes £35 |Nude Metal T-bar Shoes £36
*To paraphrase CB. In all seriousness the more I watch Sex and the City as I get older the more I question it. Yesterday I watched the one where Carrie literally asks Miranda if she is turned on by a man dressed as a hot dog. Seriously, what was that about?
Let’s talk about Lauren Bacall. Continue reading
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
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
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
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.