Essential - Womens' Brogues

Marlene Dietrich

Believe it or not, there was a time when women wore heels every single day.  Even in the house - on days when they stayed inside.  Then came the revolutions - the brogues for women. Marlene Dietrich, the woman responsible for most things mannish on the catwalk in the 1920s made headlines with her outfits. She wore tuxedos, cut her hair short and strutted around town in a pair of dapper brogues, spearheading a trend for androgyny that has never disappeared. 

Now we have a whole wave of people who wouldn't even think twice about wearing them - Alexa Chung, Sienna Miller, Leighton Meister, Blake Lively and normal people like you and me.  At first, I wasn't too keen - 'Why would I want to wear boys' work shoes?'  Well, I'll tell you - because they are so effing comfy (if you buy a good pair).  They are the smarter and more comfortable take on trainers, and far more 'any-time acceptable.'

For those of you who really can splash the cash - go no further than Church's.  Their flapship store is on Jermyn Street off Piccadilly, and it really is a treat.  Their brogues will stand the tests of time.  Founded in 1873 by Thomas Church, the brand is the epitome of British heritage wear.  For those of you not in London, check out the link above to seee Net a Porter's selection.  I've found a gorgeous pair of summer brogues, for £240.  Eeek.  But if you think of the old age excuse to buy - price vs number of wears - then they will probably work out at less than a pound a time:

and wear them like this:

For a more price conscious pair, go to the usual shoe homes: Office, Topshop, Russell and Bromley.  Remember though; these are worth investing in - you'll wear them every day and the whole point of brogues is that you can walk in them.  Otherwise you'd be in heels, right?  To get an idea of the different styles, I've found a few high street ones for you:

and my favourites:

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Look for SS11: Safari Shirt Dresses

The Sloane Ranger term now takes a very different meaning, as all Londoners seem to wearing a safari-themed dress down the streets of Central London.  What with animal print taking a leap of it's own last year, it is with no surprise than safari followed shortly afterwards.  It also fits quite nicely into the tribal trend quite nicely too. 

Everyone from DVF to Barbour have brought out their own versions of the idea - but the most infamous piece so far is Reiss' piece (makes me laugh/hungry whenever I say that!) which Olivia Palermo wore during AW11 fashion week...

This is gorgeous, and with it being in a warmer caramel colour I think it could roll into the winter too - so if you have £159 spare, buy it here!  I've tried to find a few different takes on the look - not just the simple beige one.  There are some really nice alternative colours and fittings that can still be worn in the same way you'd wear the above.

Get the look:

Really like this electric-blue version, I've definitely got the summer vibe now after 1 day of average sun in London!  Think it's quite versatile as it's effectively a blank canvas for you to add funky pieces to (like a printed bag and ballerina flats as above) or you could wear with a sharp tailored jacket and wear it to work. For a totally different take on it (mixing the with lace trend) - delicate as opposed to bold, have a look at the Halston Heritage version above.  At £175 its not cheap, but equally versatile.  Probably the one I'd buy actually...

Great to see a traditional British brand bringing out such a good trend piece - adding a military aspect to the shirt dress idea - so good it could easily become a staple.  As it's Barbour, it's going to last you a long, long time - and at £90 its a little bit more reasonable.  Navy (in my opinion) will never be unfashionable - so this could become a solid investment piece.

For a totally different look, try a denim one.  Denim on your top half goes really in, and then really out of fashion - so don't spend too much money on the look as soon enough you'll be considered to look like a red neck in it.  Not that there is anything wrong with that... (apologies to any red necks).  So I've found a cheap one, £40 from Reiss (above).

Love this dress, and at £25 from Vera Moda you can't go too far wrong!  Wear with big sunglasses and some wedges - cute!  Anyway, enough from me - go and buy a shirt dress now!

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High Street: Zara Floral Tea Skirt

I know I blog way too much about floral stuff, but I really don't care.  I am obsessed with this new skirt, it follows me.  Firstly, I walk past 3 stores on my way to work - and its in the window in every one.  Then I just met a client and she has it on.  I need it in my life - it's like someone got Christopher Kane and Erdem and put them together and made a piece of beauty...

Buy it here - £29 (yes, only £29)

Ah I just need it in my life, will pay day hurry the hell up?!  I'd wear it exactly as the model is above, and probably strut around stupidly showing myself off and looking like a twit.

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High Street: Primark Seaside Print Dress

Remember when Carey Mulligan wowed the crowds in her dainty littl Prada number?  What was special about it?  It was sharply tailored, it was a shift dress (all others at the time had arms), it was painted and it was a beach scene.  Now, take a look at the below dress and explain to me why you wouldn't spend £11 on it? 

Oh, and the Prada one was £8,000.

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Look for SS11 - Monochrome Tuxedo Jacket

Look at the lovely Katie Holmes in Stella McCartney for the premiere of her John Frieda video last week.  Very simple look to work - and she's also wearing what I consider to be a complete wardrobe staple - a tuxedo jacket.  Monochrome versions are fantastic, as the colours won't ever really go out of trend.  I have had a look around, and ended coming back to good, old Zara.  I have a couple of their jackets too, and and honestly say they last very well and keep their shape for ages.

These 2 are £89 and can be found here: Zara Website.  I have the AW10 camel coloured/black one of the second style and it fits like a glove (I have relatively ordinary measurements, and boobs which can sometimes be an issue with jackets!).  For the braver of you, or those who haven't yet bankrupted themselves bright colour buying, this Zara version is £119.

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High Street: H&M Market Bag

Every year there is one little piece of ridiculous on the catwalk.  And this year it was somewhere quite unexpected - the Jil Sander catwalk.  Amongst the genius skirts, tees and jackets was this, the market bag (below).  The blogs went crazy, followed by the press - 'Must have: The Plastic Bag.'  The world went mad.

Even madder it seems, when the price is revealed at £90.  That's £89.95 more expensive than the Sainsburys equivalent.  As supermarket chains try and stop you from buying too many bags, Jil Sander is encouraging you to go crazy and purchase a bank busting one.  It was only going to be a matter of time before the high street made an equivalent - and the guys at H&M have done it.

H&M - £15

It's less stupid, it's actually quite nice - and most importantly - I wouldn't think you were an idiot for buying it.

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Designer: Victoria Beckham

If someone had said to be when I was the biggest Spice Girls fan of all time, aged 12, that Victoria Adams (now Beckham) would a) marry David Beckham, or b) become a well respected fashion designer - I would have laughed smack in their face. 

Behind the Scenes at Victoria Beckham Show AW11

However, Victoria has found her niche (which wasn't singing, ironically enough) - she's quite good at making new dresses these days.  Her 5 fifth collection for AW11 (above) had one of fashion week's most prestigeous audiences this year.

Victoria's collections always stick to the same priciples, which is probably why her dresses are so distinctive: one colour, sharply tailored and slick.  Very similar to her look with the Spice Girls when you think about it - at least once they had cashed in the royalties to the first album (those florescent cargo pants and the bleached blonde hair remind us that even the most refined fashionistas can make huge errors of judgement at times).  Her clothes has been worn on many of the red carpet trend setters; from Cameron Diaz to Michelle Obama.  Her pieces work for all shapes - as above shows.

Get the look:

This SS11 Retina dress has been on the front pages of most of the magazines over the last few weeks.  Victoria isn't afraid of colour, and reminds us of the importance of tailoring when you are wearing something that stands out as much as this.  This mustard looks great on so many skin tones too, and is one of the colours that will be carried over to AW11.  However, at £1460 on Net a Porter - some of you might need to find an alternative, like me. 

I came across the above number at Closet, which is stocked in most Dorothy Perkins stores.  Closet looks like the kind of thing you shouldn't go and look at - it has lots of pieces covered in cheap glitter and tassles.  However, they do have a couple of gorgeous pieces every year - and make them all in several colours.  This dress is £42 pounds - looks great on (I have tried it).  It also has the same cut across the torso that the Beckham dress does.

Here is another piece which looks really similar to the VB version - very similar colour too!  Closet stuff is actually great, completely changed my view on it last year when I found a great white structured top from there that I have worn to death.  Or sticking with the structured theme, Reiss' Leah dress is £159 and in keeping with the Beckham style.

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Boutique: NFD Black Shirt Dress

I've been really naughty - I'm supposed to be saving for our pending house move (next week, eek) and instead I just bought this little gem from Never Fully Dressed through Pret a Portobello.  It was only £50 - and in this weather it's perfect.  And it's black, historically if something is black I will wear it more often.

Another classic yet original dress from Spitalfields and Portobello favourite Never Fully Dressed. So easy to wear, this shirt dress will give you style and confidence wherever you wear it.

Buy yours here: Pret A Portobello

Also, we've had a re-jig on the site and tidied up our Looks, Trend Pieces and Essentials pages.  Have a look and let us know what you think!

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High Street: Zara Coloured Mini

I know I've harped on about the bold colour trend - but having walked around London all weekend, you really cannot escape from the Prada and Jil Sander led phenomenon.  I've given you some ground rules so that you don't go too crazy buying pieces (even though it is incredibly tempting) - and have also stumbled across a little gem.

Zara - Coloured Mini

Zara has brought out a great little mini in various brights, for a brilliant £22.99 ($38 USD I believe).  This is fantastic as you can wear it to work, wear it to play - but only if you haven't already bought yourself a bottom half bright... behave!

It fits very nicely, and flatters quite well as it flares outwards and doesn't stretch across your skin.  I treated myself to the blue one, and it looks brilliant with my magenta tee and essential cream jacket from Topshop last year.  Thought I'd share the treat.

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Look for SS11: Florals

Erdem SS11

It's sunnyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!  Ish.  So happy to put away all the black stuff and bust out some brights and patterns and florals - which are everywhere.  These floral prints are quite tricky to master - very important that you pick one that is dainty rather than outright-grandma.  I'm really not liking the idea of mixing up more than one print at a time, sorry, so I've tried to find statement pieces to wear with block colour instead. 

D&G SS11

It's easy to work this look cheaply as the whole high street have some fab takes on the look.  I've already done a posting on a great Dorothy Perkins top that mirrors the Erdem look (incase you missed it, click here) so I won't ramble on about his AMAZING stuff (above) - so here are some other great pieces.

I love the poppies - really nice way to wear a bold colour without it being too much.  Also, this is quite a subtle print as it's all one colour.  Really want it, but as I have said before, my arms need some serious work before I can get them out - Spain in 6 weeks - stress!  Saying that, the weather isn't really ready for all out summerwear so you could team it with a neutral cardi?  Sticking with the same theme, Look at this lovely skirt from River Island:

And I absolutely love these little shorts - as soon as it gets that bit warmer everyone should have them.  Florals are also great for those people who aren't particularly keen on their legs as the patterns distracts from any bits you don't want people to focus on... (be it in your head, or in your actual size). Also, they are £15.  Yup, FIFTEEN.

H&M have some really pretty stuff at the moment, a few of their Gisele pieces are very cute.  You really have to physically see stuff rather than browse online with them because they do have a tendency to use cheap fabric.  However, a client who came in today had the below top on and it was really pretty:

Another piece that I think could last you a while (as the oriental stuff starts to come through more and more) is also from Topshop - lovely colour than would work on most skin tones.  Turquoise and red always looks fab together.  Team this with some skinnies and heels and you'll look the nuts.

Also, I stumbled across a floral print that would be great for the colour shy.  French Connection always has good practical takes on trends, and here is another. 

However this is my all time favourite piece for this trend, Warehouse is so good sometimes!

Also, head to your closest Topshop and check out their accessories, flowers in the hair are really popular at the moment.  However, here is one piece I just cannot understand - even the model looks pretty p*ssed off about it:

ASOS - you beauties!

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