Monday, 13 December 2010

Festive Fashion: Turn Heads This Party Season

Never is there a more apt time for socializing and merriment with friends and family than over the festive period, yet somehow there is never a time when you feel more like snuggling up in some old pyjamas in front of the TV with a mug of hot chocolate. Although getting dressed is an integral part of the ‘going out’ process, it can often feel like a chore, especially on a student budget. Thankfully our high street is the best in the world, making it easy to achieve a high-end look at a fraction of the catwalk cost. To save you from any pre-party meltdowns, I have scoured it in search of the best festive outfit ideas that the shops have to offer.

If your social calendar takes you somewhere presentable, dresses tend to be the failsafe option. Lace and baroque opulence are the biggest evening trends this season, seen on the catwalks at Giles, Balmain and Paul Costelloe to name a few. Think gold, silver, and shades of red in luxuriously textured fabrics. Go to Asos for lace shifts and River Island for scarlet cocktail dresses, but best for the student budget is H&M’s shimmering brocade strapless dress, which at £19.99 captures the decadence trend perfectly. If you’re bold enough, make a statement by going for H&M’s lace midi. Longer lengths are so on trend and give the wearer a mixture of sophistication and insouciance.

 Strapless dress, £19.99, H&M

They’ve been around for a while but statement tights are a simple way to create different looks with one dress. Patterned with polka dots, suspenders and even tattoos, for around £8 a pop they’re an easy outfit lifter. Sheer tights look particularly glamorous peaking out from under a faux fur coat, perfect for dashing out in the bitter frost between parties, but try to avoid the high street and go for something vintage - it's usually around the same price or cheaper and a lot more authentic.

Sheer tights, £8, Topshop

If you don’t want to buy a new dress it's easy to create the same textured look with accessories. Leopard print accessories are all over the high street; you can’t walk anywhere without seeing someone wearing a now ubiquitous scarf. Translate this into belts, clutch bags and shoes for evening to liven up any old LBD. Towering heels are always a must but towering leopard print heels can take an outfit to a whole new level of chic. Top of every fashion editor’s wish list are the amazing leopard print stilettos from Lanvin for H&M. At £79.99 they aren’t pocket money cheap but if you can afford it, I highly advise investing. In fact, the whole collection is a master class in colourful cocktail party dressing, and you’re not going to get Lanvin for the price of Topshop again anytime soon. If your budget can’t quite make the stretch however, New Look usually tend to have a good selection of party shoes at student friendly prices.

Leopard stilettos, £79.99, Lanvin for H&M

If dresses aren’t your thing definitely try shorts in an interesting fabric, leather or sequins for example. Wear with aforementioned statement tights for a variety of outfits from one pair. Confident party go-ers might consider sequin hotpants – so wrong, yet somehow so right. Paired with a sheer silk shirt and cropped tuxedo jacket they are less Truffle Shuffle and more Sienna Miller in her Factory Girl days, or Kate Moss out on the town in all her glory. Cheeky bowtie optional.  You can usually pick up a pair for under £15 from Primark or H&M around Christmas, but I’m also loving this fantastic gold pair with pink chiffon overlay from Topshop, £55. For the jacket, Primark are doing a great version for £19.99, but you’ll have to be quick.

Skirt with hotpant, £55, Topshop
Tuxedo jacket, £19.99, Primark

As always the most important rule for stylish winter dressing is don’t take yourself too seriously and be comfortable in what you’re wearing, but particularly in a season of minimalistic daywear one must look to night time as a chance to escape from camel and chunky knits and throw on something with a bit of interest and sparkle.

By Rachel Cragg

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

How To Look Good This Winter

With snow encroaching upon our doorsteps there is a tendency to get those studded hiker boots, thermal triple layered socks and balaclava out alongside a hot water bottle strapped to your body, but there is a way to keep just as warm whilst still looking impeccable with a few lovely gems that the high street has to offer. After all you never know when the next love of your life will run into you on Waterloo Bridge, so as the boy scouts say ‘always be prepared’ to ensure that you look fantastic for any eventualities.

So let’s starts with the hair. On those windy days when it takes a shield to protect you from the ice cold winds, keeping your hair in place can seem like an impossible task but it is possible to do more than scrunch it uninspiringly back. One product that works really well is James Brown’s London Hairspray: not only does it smell incredible, but due to the ultrafine mist it keeps your hair in place and also allows movement. So whilst the wind is blowing your hair, not only will it retain hold but it will also create volume and movement unlike heavy duty hairsprays that keep your hair static. Also good news, James Brown products have been reintroduced into both Boots and Superdrug! And if you do meet that certain someone you can be assured that your hair will smell delicious.

However if you have a long walk in and your hair doesn’t take well to the dampness that the winter weather air is prone to, and serums or hairspray aren’t great in your hair, then the high streets offerings of hats are brilliant this season. If you have a fringe or shorter hair then Topshop’s faux fur pompom beanies (£16) are perfect to keep you warm this winter, and available in four colours there is range enough for all hair colours.

However if your hair is a bit longer then a faux fur headband is great for keeping your ears warm whilst keeping up with this winter’s style! Try ASOS’s pieces headband for only £10.

Right, now a good foundation is every girl’s lifesaver and in order for that extra coverage in the winter months it can be useful to go for a slightly heavier one. One that fits that all important student budget is Rimmel’s Lasting Finish 16h foundation which is a tad thicker than most which, alongside its lasting quality, assures you some peace of mind for enduring coverage if any last minute cocktail invitations turn up. In winter to balance out red complexion why not opt for a brown blush on the cheek with a bronzer on top to give a glow. Try Mac’s Bronzing powder in Bronze for a subtle finish...

Now to keep those toes as toasty as a marshmallow the key is insulation; however, insulation does not mean granny style thermals. Oh no, style does not have to be sacrificed and with shearling key on trend, and cropping up in any high street shop on top of this season's style, it means that your feet can be as fashionable as possible without relinquishing toes to frostbite. The perfect boot out there at the moment is one that can be worn with casual jeans and a jumper and transformed into a perfect night-time shoe when paired with a leather jacket and a chiffon dress. One which is incredible value is River Island’s black leather multi strap buckle boots. Although £75 this price tag will repay itself with the endless styling opportunities that these boots present. And trust me they are incredibly comfortable.

Finally a staple every winter is that all important coat. Whilst there is a seduction in buying a classic trench coat this season to keep you warm, something a bit more adventurous can make more a statement whilst being classic and keeping you toasty. One coat that is perfect for this is ASOS’s exaggerated ruffle coat in black and now with £30 off there’s no better time to get purchasing. This coat is perfect as it retains a classic silhouette but with its detailing around the collar it makes it more interesting and is perfect for any outfit. Pair it with some skinny jeans, a pair of heeled ankle boots and thick ribbed cream tights to keep you snug and looking great.

So there are the essential accessories and make up to completing your winter wardrobe. As the snow has hit London and threatens to send the city into chaos, with these hidden gems, all affordable, appropriate and fashionable you can be assured that you will look and feel confident in the battle against the winter roughs and ensure that you stay warm and snug whilst looking fabulous.

By Coryn Brisbane