Tag Archives: velvet

Velvet, Polka Dots and Peplums

M&S velvet polka dot peplum dress

M&S velvet polka dot peplum dress

M&S velvet polka dot peplum dress

M&S velvet polka dot peplum dress

M&S velvet polka dot peplum dress

M&S velvet polka dot peplum dress

Here’s another festive ensemble, this time some shots of the dress I wore for the office Christmas party and then for Hogmanay in Edinburgh! I thought I’d fit one last Christmassy outfit in seeing as it’s Twelfth Night tonight – where has the time gone?! Not to toot my own horn, but this dress received several compliments when I wore it, and everyone asked where it was from. Lots of them were surprised when I said Marks & Spencer.

M&S is one of my style secrets. The British high street stalwart is best known for its famous food hall and of course its unbeatable undies, but I find it’s brilliant for tailored dresses for work with a fashionable twist (mainly from their Woman range) and high quality but reasonably priced trend-focused pieces from the Limited Collection. Lots of my style staples for work are from M&S – a grey, structured leather detail dress, ‘sixties graphic print collared dress, polka dot shift dress, berry hued fit and flare dress… I could go on! Everyone is always surprised at where they are from – but I think M&S is seriously underrated style-wise.

When I spotted this perfectly festive frock way back in October I snapped it up and (very restrained) didn’t take it out my wardrobe again until two weeks ago in order to save it for these special occasions. As longstanding blog readers will know, I can’t resist a bit of seasonal velvet and polka dots certainly aren’t a stranger to my wardrobe either. Add a peplum and it’s my dream dress! I love the sheer polka dot fabric covering the décolletage and elegant long sleeves. It reminds me of one of my favourite Stella McCartney collections (autumn/winter 11), which used sheer polka dot panels to reveal and conceal. The fitted, bodycon shape flatters an hourglass figure, and the peplum emphasises the waist. The dress is quite structured too and it really makes me feel feminine and confident when I wear it.

With gems like these, M&S is well worth a browse – you never know what you might find! And with their recent appointment of new style director Belinda Earl, formerly chief executive of Jaegar and Debenhams, M&S will be one to watch on the high street this coming season.

M&S velvet polka dot peplum dress

M&S velvet polka dot peplum dress

M&S velvet polka dot peplum dress

M&S velvet polka dot peplum dress

M&S velvet polka dot peplum dress

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair









I love the Great British High Street as much as the next girl, but sometimes you crave something a little different. There’s no denying that they offer high fashion at an affordable price but sometimes you need an antidote to disposable trends and that irritating we’re-wearing-the-same-Topshop-dress moment. Normally I combat this by putting my own spin on garments via styling and accessories but even so at times I suffer from High Street fatigue.

Vintage seems to be the perfect cure for mass-produced banality. The allure of an individual piece, imbued with heritage and the imagined histories of the once owner are something the High Street can’t offer. Vintage now means anything from the 20s to the 90s (my birth decade… no comment) so there are plenty of styles to suit all tastes. Fashion’s tendency to reference past eras also means you can be on trend with your seventies midi skirt, but instead of a High Street knock off everyone and their aunt will wear for the next six months before consigning it to the scrap heap, you can be safe in the knowledge yours is the “real deal”.

I love vintage shopping, but there are two things that put me off: the effort and the price. Everyone knows that vintage-hunting can be a bit of a trawl, some of you may be blessed with an eye for charity shop thrifting, but I never seem to have the instinct or the patience. Since vintage has been en vogue, many specialist shops have sprung up. There’s nothing I love better than having a browse in Armstrong’s for instance and I appreciate how the objects have been lovingly collected and displayed. However, on a student budget vintage shops aren’t too realistic as my clothing allowance just won’t stretch that far. Much as I’d love to invest in these pieces I know my own tastes change and it’s a lot to spend on something that the more cynical among you would allege is essentially second hand.

The solution was presented to me today – Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair which visited St Andrews for the afternoon. Founded in 2005 by former Selfridges personal shopper Judy Berger, the fair is the largest of its kind, serving 23 UK cities and dubbed a ‘shopping phenomenon’ by the national press. The brand knows its niche – visiting many student towns and prices checked to ensure they are around 75% less than the High Street, they’re appealing to the younger generation with prices much less than Topshop et al.

There’s a market stall vibe to the fair with different tradesmen showcasing vintage, re-worked and hand made items. All pieces are hand-picked, Judy herself vets the products saying “I make money out of my hobby, what person doesn’t ever want to do that?” The “just here for a day” vibe also added to the exclusive allure and the community of traders offered alternative fashion spanning the decades. What better way to be individual, without breaking the bank?

Having read about the fair and the praise it’s received from press, fashion insiders and celebrities alike, I was excited to see what all the fuss was about. At first I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clothing that had been packed into the Union, a venue that’s more used to vomiting than vintage. However, with a systematic approach (wait for a bit to get money out, don’t buy the first thing you want, try not to lose your friend for that all-important second opinion) I soon got into my stride.

I’m still learning about vintage and what would suit me, so to avoid impulse buys my bank account wouldn’t thank me for, I thought this time I would stick to accessories. I’ll show you them in the next couple of posts as I’m totally besotted with my bargain finds that I can’t wait to share with you all. I’m still regretting not buying some things but as I said, it was a bit overwhelming and also I had to go to work a few hours before the fair ended, so there wasn’t as much time as I’d have liked.

The fair was absolutely perfect for retro accessories, bags and jewellery. I was drawn to the table at the back, crowded with vintage jewels and ladylike bags. As you know I love anything sparkly so spent a great deal of time in this area. I loved the slightly oversized jumpers (my friend was deliberating over four different cream arran jumpers in ever-so-slightly varying shades and weaves), the heavily embellished dresses, velvet tops, leather shorts (great for that worn-in vibe) and floral tea dresses. I wish I’d had time to try things on because there were some real gems I’d have liked to see on, such as a cropped velvet top and floral pleated dress. I urge you if you’re going to the Fair to clear your day and spend time perusing purchases and taking in the atmosphere; these tradesmen are passionate about their wares and can dig you out a hidden gem if you tell them what you’re looking for – whether its the perfect frame bag or a paisley silk scarf. They’ll keep your picks aside for fifteen minutes too, and it’s these personal touches that add to the experience.

In a time where your dress is out of fashion as soon as you’ve put it on, the otherworldly glamour of vintage is the perfect antidote. Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair makes vintage shopping into a whole new experience.

DIY turban






Sorry for the long cyber silence, but I’ve just had exams for two weeks. I know- after Christmas! Urgh. Stressful times as it all counts in Honours – no pressure! Over now though so I have a wee break before results and start of second semester.

Here’s a recent DIY project! I’ve seen a fair few turbans or “semi” turbans (kind of more wide headbands) in my favourite shops and a couple of them I toyed about buying. However, I thought “really these are just strips of material… hey, I could do that!” so I did. I had this spare bit of red velvet in my material bag from a design project from a few months ago. It’s such a gorgeous texture and a sumptuous burgundy colour that it was crying to be used! It was hard to capture the colour in the photos- hence it looks a different shade in every one!

It’s pretty simple really. I took a 10 cm wide strip of material, wrapped round twice and tied it at the back. I’m wearing a bow headband underneath and poking through (if that makes sense) that I also made myself by tying a rectangular piece of material in the middle with another small strip of material and attaching it to a plain hairband. Sounds more complicated than it is!

So there you have it. A bit fiddly but worth it compared to a £12 one from Topshop or elsewhere.

I’m wearing a sale find from UO- £10 from £35! It’s a great piece for layering and I love its sheer floatiness and dipped hem. It’s made of a very fine material and I’ve already had to repair a few would-be holes but it was so “me” I had to have it. I wore it here over a plain black bodycon dress to save my modesty, and paired it with my velvet leggings. I accessorised with my favourite charm necklaces, the “R” and bird-claw gem necklaces.

I wore this outfit to see “The King’s Speech” with Al, which I really loved. It’s so moving but really funny, Colin Firth is amazing in it! If you haven’t seen it yet, I urge you to do so.