Currently Coveting #18: Stripes for Spring

Stride into spring wearing classic, crisp Breton stripes. Teamed with skinny jeans, colourful flats and a touch of sparkly jewellery, it is the perfect outfit for channeling that particularly French brand of effortless daytime style. Did you know that the Breton stripe has been a sartorial staple of chic Parisians since 1917 when Coco Chanel famously transformed a fisherman’s top into the iconic piece?

Stripes Collage

{Skinny jeans by Current/Elliott at Asos; Amelie Sparkle Bracelet by Stella & Dot; Colorblock Breton Stripe Cashmere Sweater by Vince; Ballet pumps from H&M}

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Here is some more inspiration from my Pinterest board, appropriately entitled ‘Stripes for Spring’!

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Currently Coveting #17: The Many Shoes of Carrie Bradshaw’s Closet

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As soon as I saw this poster on the fabulous Stalking Beauty blog, I knew I HAD to have it. As any Sex and the City obsessive will know, Carrie Bradshaw’s amazing shoe collection played almost as big a role in the series as the star herself. To me, nothing has replaced Carrie and her gang for pure fashion indulgence (Gossip Girl came close, but still not a patch on the weekly sartorial feast that was SATC) and I still regularly watch my favourite episodes on the box set.

In an ideal world, this poster would hang in my own spacious walk-in closet complete with shelves heaving with Manolos and Jimmy Choos. Sadly, that is but a dream (for the moment at least!) so I will have to find another place for it when it arrives. Wherever it goes I am sure it will provide me with daily inspiration…

Currently Coveting #16: The Nars NARSissist Eye Palette

In the last month or so I’ve gone from being a girl who doesn’t spend a great deal of time on eye makeup – save for a quick flick of eyeliner and lashings of mascara- to being somewhat obsessed with eye shadows. I think it must be all those great beauty blogs out there, inspiring me (a couple of my faves are Joanna Loves, Chic Avenue Daily and Mirifique Beauty) to think that I too could, with a bit practice, become a dab hand at applying my own eye makeup. It started with the Nars At First Sight Palette which I bought just before Christmas – managing to nab the very last one in Space NK’s online store. I then received the much-hyped Naked palette by Urban Decay for Christmas – I know that Naked 3 was just released last month but I still think the original palette has the edge when it comes to creating neutral day-time looks. The latest palette to catch my eye (pardon the pun!) is the soon-to-be-launched NARSissist palette by Nars. Rumour has it that the palette, which forms part of a range to celebrate the brand’s 15th anniversary, will be released in the UK on January 20. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be stocked by the Nars counters in Space NK so I get a chance to use the vouchers my parents gave me for Christmas. Then I’ll just have to read some more blog posts to figure out how to create the perfect smoky eye…

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Currently Coveting #15: The Perfect New Year’s Eve Dress

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A dense blanket of fog has covered our part of the world all day, making driving difficult and halting some flights in and out of London. It has been cold, damp, grey and miserable so I’ve cheered myself up by looking online for the perfect New Year’s Eve dress. I don’t actually know what we’re doing for New Year yet – we have been invited to a 1920s themed party, which sounds fun, but it’s grown-ups only and finding a babysitter is proving rather tricky…

Last year we had some friends and their children over for a three-course dinner and it was one of the best New Year’s Eves I’ve had for a long time (I’m almost ashamed to admit it but since having children I’ve been known to go to bed before midnight on December 31st…) But I think that even if you’re ringing in the new year in the comfort of your own home it is nice to dress up and wear something special. I would be more than happy to step into 2014 in any of these little numbers.

{All dresses from Anthropologie. Clockwise from top left: Eclat dress, £178; Honeyed Lace dress, £178; Cabled Garonne dress, £138; Orla Kiely Oasis Hearts Dress, £348; Amalie dress, £198; Glissade dress, £128}

Currently Coveting #14: Vivienne Westwood x The Cambridge Satchel Company

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I’ve been looking for a bag that is both practical and stylish – and, most importantl, not black – for quite a while now. A couple of days ago I stumbled across this beautiful satchel by The Cambridge Satchel Company and I think the search is officially over. To celebrate its fifth birthday, the brand has collaborated with iconic British designer Vivienne Westwood to produce a limited edition range that combines the classic satchel with the queen of punk’s infamous squiggle print. The design also incorporates the pale tan straps and buckles which first featured in Westwood’s Pirate collection from 1981.

The bags, which come in two sizes and three colourways: yellow and black, white and red, and brown and black, retail at £195 for the 14″ size and £165 for the 11″ version. They are sold exclusively at Vivienne Westwood standalone boutiques and The Cambridge Satchel Company stores in central London, so I think a trip up to town is on the cards for me if I want to get my hands on one before they sell out.

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Currently Coveting #13: The Perfect Advent Candle Holder

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With just over two weeks to go until the first Sunday of Advent, the search is on for the perfect Advent candlestick to take pride of place on our dining table. It needs to hold four candles as each Sunday until Christmas a candle will be lit until, on December 22, all four are alight. Last year I bought four chunky white candles from Ikea with the numbers 1-4 stamped on them in red. I tied a piece of red and white gingham ribbon around the base of each candle  and placed them on a silver tray in the centre of the table. It was a cheap and very pretty arrangement but with no trip to Ikea on the cards in the next couple of weeks, I need to find another solution fast.

I’m drawn to the understated elegance and simplicity of this wrought iron Advent candle holder by Finnish brand Iittala. At the moment Royal Design are offering £5 off the original price so it would be a good time to invest in a candlestick that we could carry on using for many, many years. It also comes in a bigger version that can hold six candles, which I would be very tempted by if my requirements weren’t so specific. I like the idea of using different coloured candles to jazz it up a bit – Christmassy red or sparkly silver would look stunning.

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Currently Coveting #12: Ali MacGraw’s Classic Preppy Style

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One style crush that I never tire of is Ali MacGraw in Love Story and I find myself turning to the 1970 movie for style inspiration every time Fall rolls around. The actress exemplified all-American preppiness in her turtlenecks, knitted scarves, plaid miniskirts, knit caps, and peacoats, creating a look that is both chic and timeless. Even though the film is over 40 years old,  every outfit could be worn today without blinking an eye and in today’s fast moving fashion world where trends come and go at lightning speed, that’s really saying something.

{In the picture above (clockwise from top left): Herringbone Tweed Jersey Skirt, £125 from Karen Millen; Cambridge Cable Turtleneck Sweater, £98 from J.Crew; Check Cashmere Scarf, £295 from Burberry; Sam Edelman Loren Heeled Riding Boots, £235 from Asos; Lexi Faux Fur Collar Coat, £250 from Whistles}

 

Currently Coveting #11: French Chic

From Catherine Deneuve and Emmanuelle Beart to Josephine de la Baume and Lou Doillon, French women have captivated the fashion world for decades with their unending chic and seemingly effortless style.

A new book out this month entitled ‘Forever Chic: Frenchwomen’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance’ promises to reveal how our Gallic counterparts acquire (and maintain) that certain je ne sais quoi that doesn’t seem to diminish with age. Fashion journalist Tish Jett who also writes the blog A Femme d’Un Certain Age has lived among the French for years and studied them to learn the secrets behind their wardrobe, beauty, diet, and hair rituals.

While I’m mulling over whether or not to buy the book, I’m happy to get my French style kicks from the new A/W 13 collection by Comptoir des Cotonniers. Under new creative director Amelie Gillier, the label has been given a more modern feel, whilst still retaining an urban twist and feminine edge. The result is a contemporary rock ‘n’ roll inspired collection that bears more than a passing resemblance to Zadig & Voltaire, the cult fashion label that Gillier co-founded when she was just 21.

Here are some of my favourite looks:

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Currently Coveting #10: Isabel Marant for H&M

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I realise that this is my second Currently Coveting post in as many days (how will my bank balance keep up?) but, with the excitement building over the forthcoming H&M and Isabel Marant collaboration, I just had to put the spotlight on my favourite pieces. Photos from the lookbook – with its impressive cast of models, including Lou Doillon, Alek Wek and Milla Jovovich – leaked online yesterday, plunging most of the fashion world into yet another frenzy over this hotly anticipated collection.

Those who, like me, lust after the inimitable Mme Marant’s ready-to-wear collection but whose budgets don’t quite stretch that far, will not be disappointed. The French designer’s bohemian aesthetic runs through the entire range, which encompasses not only womenswear but also menswear and accessories.

Some fashion commentators have criticized H&M for putting the price points too high (the most expensive piece is a jacket for £199.99) but, while the collection is dearer than the high street chain’s own brand, in my view the prices are justified as it is a collaboration with a designer whose brand of effortless chic is practically a uniform for off-duty models and movie stars in the know. In any case, the prices are still only a fraction of Marant’s mainline collection (and lower than her diffusion line Etoile Isabel Marant).

The collaboration will hit stores (and online) on November 14 so start drawing up your wishlist now as it’s bound to be a sell-out. If I can’t get my hands on the H&M version of last year’s embellished tie-dye jacket (in the main picture) I would happily settle for any of these pieces:

Marant Collage

Currently Coveting #10: Victoria Pendleton Somerby Bike

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Yes that’s right, not clothes, not makeup, not even a new sofa – the current object of desire on my radar is a bicycle. The cycle craze in the UK has gone off the scale since the Olympics and Bradley Wiggins’ triumphs last summer and, while I don’t see myself donning the Lycra and breaking a sweat while racing around Surrey Downs on the weekends (or any other time for that matter), I have recently rediscovered the joys of cycling. In fact, until a couple of months ago I hadn’t even ridden a bike since I was 17 and had a summer job on a pick-your-own farm a couple of miles from my parents’ house. But then in June I went to an outdoor concert with some friends and, as the weather was nice, it was decided that we would cycle to the venue. My husband was dispatched to my parents house to pick up my old bike, which had been sitting in their garage for the last 20 odd years, and bring it home to pump up the tyres and oil the chain. The old saying is true – ‘you never forget how to ride a bike’ – and after a slightly wobbly start I quickly got the hang of it again. Since then I’ve been on bike rides with my son, cycled to the shops and also found that a bike is particularly handy for nights out with friends when you don’t want to fork out for a taxi home.

But while my bike still works, and is now so retro that it actually looks kind of cool, it does feel slightly rickety and also needs new lights. So I’ve got my eye on this Victoria Pendleton Somerby bike (£279.99 from Halfords) – it’s not a racing bike exactly but perfect for the kind of cycling that I want to do. In my mind I see myself cycling along, Parisian style, with a fresh baguette and some organic veg in the basket, wearing a cute pair of capris and ballerinas with a scarf tied nonchalantly around my head. And that, of course, is where the fantasy stops because to stay safe on our heavily trafficked roads and to set a good example to my kids (how can I expect them to wear one if I won’t?) I’ll have to wear a helmet. As we all know bicycle helmets aren’t exactly renowned for their stylishness, but after surfing around the net I discovered that they’ve come a long way in the last couple of decades. Here are three brain protectors that I would be happy to be seen in:

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Sawaka Furuno Ribbon Rose helmet from Cyclechic

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Powder Pedals from Nutcase Store

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Gold sparkle helmet from Nutcase Store