All in the name of charity

Ah January! A time when we are traditionally cajoled (or perhaps even coerced) into making resolutions. I have never been one for strict rules and in reality I find resolutions an endless disappointment. I mean, why torture yourself by testing your weak will & risk hideous self loathing before the year has even really begun?

However, the New Year cleanse that often comes with others’ good intentions is something I can get on board with. And before you get confused I am not talking 6 veg juices or superfood salads here, but clothes, glorious clothes. Also I hasten to add that I myself will not be performing a wardrobe edit. Not a chance! I am a prolific hoarder and have been known to keep jumpers from my University years just in case I should ‘need’ to wear them again. What pleases me however is the quality of the stock in all the charity shops after others have performed their post Christmas/January wardrobe cull. I have never been one for fighting through Boxing Day sales but from 27th December onwards I love to get elbow deep in other people’s castaways.

Recently I had a particularly successful shopping trip at some of my favourite charity shops. These are located in Maidenhead in Berkshire, near my parents and I always try to pop in whenever I am visiting. There is a parade of approximately 6 charity shops that would satisfy any thrift store addict and over the years I have spent more time and money than I care to dwell on in these stores. However the beauty of purchasing from charity shops is that not only does it satisfy your shopping desires (and at a time when funds are usually precariously low) but also you are actually donating to charity whilst filling your wardrobe. Plus there are some real bargains to be found. Surely that’s win, win, win by anyone’s standards.

So this Jan why not try your local Oxfam, Age UK or even the more upmarket Fara. One man’s trash is another person’s treasure after all. And I can assure you there are a lot of treasures to be found. Here are the results of my post Christmas expedition to inspire you.

image

I TOTALLY ADORE THIS SKIRT!

Leather patent snakeskin skirt, £4.00, originally Patsy Seddon for Phase Eight.

Black poloneck, Gap; Necklace, Accessorize.

image

Green checked dress, £6.00, originally from AX Paris.

Brogues, Clarks; Necklace, Joy.

image

White print blouse, £4.00, originally St Michael at Marks & Spencer.

Black jeans, Uniqlo; Necklace, Hobbs.

image

Floral top, £3.99, originally Next.

Jeans, Uniqlo; Necklace, gift.

image

Leather desert boots, £7.50, originally Seed (a gift for a little boy)

Advertisements

While away an hour at Liberty London

This week I found myself with an hour to kill between appointments in central London and rather than opting for the classic time filler (a whip around Topshop’s flagship store) I popped into Liberty’s. Eschewing the usual choice of the second floor fashion department, I decided to ride those gorgeous wooden lifts up one extra floor. And I am so pleased I did. The third floor houses all manor of fabulous things from adorable childrenswear to stylish gifts, trendy tomes to colourful fabrics. I loved it so much I spent most my hour taking pictures so that I could share it all with you. Here’s a little guided tour of what caught my eye…

image

image

image

image

It’s a Taschen fashion haven in the book department. The hilarious illustrated ‘Man Meets Woman’ by Yang Lin (£10) makes a great little gift.

image

image

image

image

image

Frames and crockery – from the colourful to the kitsch.

image

image

image

image

Fabulous retro phones and kooky clocks (Milk Bottle clock, £40)

image

image

Add colour and print to a games room with these classic sets.

image

image

image

Rory Dobner’s macabre letter tiles would bring gothic drama to a bathroom or kitchen (tiles, £39.50 each). I love the use of neon lighting in the store too.

image

image

image

image

image

Ditsy florals – the famous Liberty print adorns plates, aprons and kitchenware. Also check out the paper floral installation by Zoe Bradley (zoebradley.com)

image

Everybody loves rhubard and custard (Sweets, £6.95 a jar, Flowers of Liberty)

image

image

image

Get inspiration for this season’s 70s trend in the fabric department – a printed paradise. I love how colour co-ordinated these bold textiles are.

image

image

image

And finally (if you’re feeling generous) a little designer childrenswear to treat a mini one

So next time you have an hour to spare in central London or need to buy a unique gift for that difficult to please friend (we all have one) then you really should pop to Liberty London. What’s most amazing is the grand setting and stunning wooden interior. As a fellow shopper merrily remarked in the lift, ‘Ah Liberty’s! Couldn’t you just live here’. Yes, indeed I could!

image

Liberty, Regent Street, London, W1B 5AH. http://www.liberty.co.uk

Get Christmas all wrapped up

It’s only a week until Christmas and the final countdown is on. The tree is up, the turkey has been ordered and most of you will have got your gifts sorted – unless you’re the type that runs around on the 24th in which case good luck! One of my favourite activities is wrapping presents and I love to go all out with colour co-ordinated tags and ribbons. For the last few years I have opted for the stylish tried-and-tested brown paper and black ribbon theme, but this year I have decided to up my wrapping game. If like me you spend hours perusing the aisles of Paperchase and get giddy with excitement at stylish bargain basement Tiger then Hema is the new store for you.

image

 image

image

This summer saw the launch of its first three UK stores with branches in London Victoria, Kingston and Bromley, as well as online for those outside the M25. And what a colourful treat it is. Stacked high with stamps, stickers, wooden toys, quirky snacks, beauty products and more, this popular Dutch import has been a huge hit in the UK. It is perfect for gifts and stocking fillers and with prices starting at 75p, it is also kind on the purse strings (but be warned, you’ll end up buying far more than you planned to). This week I popped to the Kingston store to take a look and my inner stationery geek fell in love. Here’s what I found…

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

And in case you fancy some inspiration for your gift wrapping this year I have put together some combinations that will get everyone excited about their presents. I bought all the items in the below image for £20 – I got a little carried away, but this stash will last me well into 2015. Sticky tape at the ready, set, wrap!

image

image

Understated chic: Brown star wrap (£1 for multipack of 3) with jute twine (£0.75) , gold glitter ribbon (£3 for multipack of 3) and printed brown luggage tag (tags £1, stamp £3 for set of 2, ink pads £2.50 for set of 2)

image

Sparkly silver: Silver wrap (£1 for 3 rolls) with sparkly ribbons (£3 for multipack of 3) and ‘With Love’ labels and tags (stickers £1.50 for multipack, stamps £3 for set of 2, glitter ink pad £2.50 for set of 2)

image

Colourful combos: Candy stripes or polka dot wrap with contrasting stickers (£1 for multipack) and sparkly ribbon (£3 for multipack of 3)

image

Print and pink: Triangle print wrap (£1 for multipack of 3) with zig-zag ribbon (£2.50 for 3 colour set) and stickers and stamps (stickers £1.50 for multipack, stamps £3 for set of 2, ink pad £2.50 for set of 2)

image

Colour clash: Star print wrap (£1 for multipack of 3) with zig-zag ribbon (£2.50 for 3 colour set) and ‘Special Delivery’ stickers (stamps £3 for set of 2, labels £1.50 for multipack, ink pad £2.50 for set of 2)

Hema, 24 Clarence Street, Kingston-upon-Thames, KT1 1NX. T: 020 3764 7118. http://www.hemashop.com 

Label watch: Ruby Rocks

From floral to tribal and abstract to geometric, colourful prints have been making a strong summer statement for several seasons and the trend shows no sign of abating. For SS14 Alexander McQueen, Celine and Mary Kantrantzou all championed the trophy print, with many opting for the matchy-matchy approach of head-to-toe pattern.

Alexander McQueen SS14-Look 21

Alexander McQueen SS14 

Celine SS14 Look 7

Celine SS14

Mary Katrantzou SS14 Look 19

Mary Katrantzou SS14 Look 11

Mary Kantrantzou SS14

Valentino SS14 Look 12

Valentino SS14

All above images: http://www.style.com

This is all music to my fashion ears as I have long had a predilection for bold prints (much to the dismay of previous boyfriends I might add). So I was delighted when I was recently introduced to British label Ruby Rocks. Stepping into their showroom is like walking into a vibrant fashion jungle with rails of garments featuring tropical florals, bold peacock feather prints and geometric Aztec patterns. Set up in 2006, the label has been five times nominated by fashion insider Drapers for their Young Fashion Brand of the Year award.

image (5)

image (6)

 image (2)

Head designer Izzy regularly flies to Bali to design all their unique prints and create their fabrics. Cute jumpsuits and Hawaiian print shirtdresses will satisfy vintage fans, whilst those who prefer trainers to pin curls will love their crop tops, bombers and printed trousers -which all tap into the hugely popular sports-luxe trend.

 RR940 LEXI 80'S SHIRT DRESS TROPICAL DAZE BLUE GREEN

RR729 JUNGLE JUMPSUIT AMAZON GREEN   copy

RR844 LUSH BOMBER EASTERN PEACOCK BUBBLEGUM copy

RR873 RUBY CREW EASTERN PEACOCK ELECTRIC BLUE  copy

RR912 KIMONO JACKET MINI TIMOR IKAT HOT PINK (2)

RR865 GO TO DRESS MINI TIMOR IKAT JADE

All above pieces from Ruby Rocks current collection

Price points are very accessible with jackets and sweaters retailing at under £40 and jumpsuits and maxi-dresses coming in at £55. With the May bank holiday on our doorstep and vacation season fast approaching these pieces will inject some summer vibrancy into your wardrobe whatever the weather.

Ruby Rocks showroom can be found at: 59 Great Portland St, London, W1W 7LJ. T: 020 7436 1817. www.rubyrocks.com Also available at www.debenhams.com, www.stylistpick.com and www.surfdome.com as well as independent stockists.

A diet’s always worth breaking for a roast

Ah January… The month of new beginnings, optimistic resolutions and unbridled expectation. If December’s excesses have driven you to a new fitness regime and stringent diet (and you have thus far managed to keep on track) then I salute you. However, on this bleak Sunday, if all you crave is a generous roast dinner with a side of style then I think I may have just the pub for you.

IMG00268-20130915-1300

image

Located in SW19 (don’t be fooled by the glamorous Wimbledon postcode) the recently revamped Charles Holden pub sits just the wrong side of Tooting. But don’t let that put you off. With it’s generous portions of fresh food, spacious interior and a surprisingly good vegetarian nut roast, this is a funky little pub that’s perfect for drowning your January sorrows (yes I know it’s only the 5th, but why make life harder in the gloomiest month of the year).

Situated opposite Colliers Wood station – previously famed only for its Wacky Warehouse and an unsightly black tower block (once voted London’s most hated building) – The Charles Holden defies it’s surroundings with boldly coloured printed wallpaper, kooky artwork, pretty fireplaces and a great selection of real ales for pint lovers.

IMG00263-20130915-1258

IMG00265-20130915-1259

And, as I say, the Sunday roast is very good with meat and not two but three veg, plus roast potatoes, red wine gravy and a generous Yorkshire pudding. All for between £10-£13. Staff are friendly, the service is great and we didn’t have to wait too long for our food (one of my biggest bugbears with a Sunday lunch). And whilst most of my table opted for a roast, the beer battered fish and twice-cooked chips were equally delicious. As is often the norm, it’s advisable to book if you’re in a large party, but the venue is sizable so this shouldn’t be a problem. I am also told that come the summer (which currently feels like a life-time away) the beer garden is quite fabulous. So what are you waiting for? Surely a good roast doesn’t count as breaking your New Year diet? After all it’s at least 3 of your 5 a day…

image (3)

image (4)

IMG00273-20130915-1337

A selection of their dishes including roast pork belly with all the trimmings, falafel with cous cous salad, and beer-battered fish & chips

The Charles Holden, 198 High Street, Colliers Wood, London, SW19 2BH. T: 0208 540 1918 http://thecharlesholden.co.uk/