Downton Abbey Series Three Costumes

Tonight the finale of Series Three of Downton Abbey graces our TV screens (sob). I have to be honest – drama, plot twists and turns and the genius of Maggie Smith aside, one of the things I enjoy most about Downton is the beautiful costumes. The current series sees action unfold in the 1920s, as uptight Edwardian dress gave way to relaxed fits, dropped waists and rising hemlines.

There’s a reason ‘costume’ dramas get their name. The costumes are the convincer – they’re what contributes to the suspension of reality. With high quality costumes we can forget we’re watching a period piece and in fact more easily relate to the human stories behind the façade.

When you think of the 1920s, the Jazz Age, flapper girls and The Great Gatsby immediately come to mind. But apart from the bold Lady Rose (played by the lovely Lily James, who I interviewed during the Olympics for the Omega House Times), 1920s Downton is altogether more subdued and romantic in mood. We are after all still talking about an English aristocratic family in the early twentieth century. Emmy award-winning costume designer Caroline McCall captured Downton’s ethereal aesthetic by creating soft silhouettes in feminine hues.

The definite highlight of the series has been the two stunning wedding dresses worn by Lady Mary and Lady Edith. For Lady Mary (played by Michelle Dockery) McCall created an elegant high-necked gown with long sleeves, V-back and a long train at the back. This is the most expensive Downton costume ever made (at £4000!), trimmed with lace and embellished with rice pearls and Swarovski Elements. Lady Mary’s romantic gown will surely go down in costume drama history – particularly the moment the dress is revealed when Mary descends the staircase at Downton with Lord Grantham looking proudly on.

Lady Edith (played by Laura Carmichael) had her moment in the spotlight too, although with a very different outcome. Her gown was rather Grecian in style, made from softly draped satin with delicate embroidery at the shoulder and hip, adorned with subtle crystals. Her beautiful wedding tiara was a period piece sourced by McCall which echoed the embroidery motif. This costume was another ‘wow’ moment and a genuine departure from Edith’s usually awkward demeanour, making her imminent jilting all the more poignant.

With party season almost upon us, I’m sure the high street will be taking inspiration from everyone’s favourite period drama.

Chanel’s Little Black Jacket

Chanel Little Black Jacket

‘Fashion fades, only style remains the same.’

Echoing the sentiment of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s famous words, the Little Black Jacket itself has transcended the whims of fads and fashion to become a true style classic. A new exhibition now at the Saatchi Gallery celebrates the humble design in all its glory.

The stars of Chanel’s Little Black Jacket exhibition – 113 in total – all don the same black tweed jacket. From children to pensioners, musicians to models, every one of them makes the look completely their own. The collection of images styled by fashion editrix Carine Roitfeld and photographed by Karl Lagerfeld highlights the sheer versatility of the jacket, which defies age, gender, size and era.

When Chanel first pioneered the Little Black Jacket in the 1950s, it went against the popular post-war New Look style of full, feminine skirts and nipped-in waists. The boxy shaped design featured a silk lining, functioning pockets and was weighted to hang just right. Not one other item of clothing so succinctly encapsulates a designer’s aesthetic; the Little Black Jacket is the masculine way of dress simultaneously rooted in femininity, which is Chanel’s enduring appeal.

Since Karl Lagerfeld took over the brand in 1982 he has remained true to the roots of the fashion house. He has reinvented the timeless classic again and again – from power shoulders in the ‘80s to cropped, frayed and jewel-coloured styles in more recent seasons. In Coco’s day fashion icons including Jackie Kennedy made a Chanel jacket covetable and current. Nowadays Karl has harnessed fashion’s tastemakers such as Alexa Chung and Poppy Delevigne as Chanel ambassadors, heralding a new generation of style followers lusting after a Little Black Jacket of their own.

‘The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s Classic Revisited by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld’ has been touring the world and is in London from 12-28 October. If you’re in any way interested in fashion, I urge you to catch it before it goes! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book – our new coffee table is looking a little lonely after all… The exhibition builds up the cumulative effect of the images – something that can only really be achieved in a gallery environment. Whilst I thought the presentation could have been a bit more substantial, I actually think this lent something to the images’ raw, pared-back style.

Here’s a wee selection of some of my favourite images…

Chanel Little Black Jacket

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Fashion News Round-Up (2-9 September)

The week in fashion in 100 words

Fashion Month kicked off on Thursday with New York Fashion Week. Highlights so far: Alexander Wang’s glow-in-the-dark finale, peplums at Monique Lhuillier (here to stay!), leather and lace at Jason Wu and Thakoon’s bird motif.

Thursday also saw the return of global shopping event Vogue’s Fashion Night Out. We spotted crowds flocking to Topshop for Delilah’s performance, and Mulberry’s bash was the most star-studded of the night.

On Tuesday, Somerset by Alice Temperley became the fastest selling brand in John Lewis’ history. Temperley’s sfirst ever full range of accessories and signature elegant dresses drew shoppers. Just one of several exciting high street collections to look forward to this month…

The lights dim at the end of Alexander Wang’s SS13 show to reveal models’ white clothes glow in the dark

Image via

The Sunday Strut – Part Two

As I said in my previous post about the Sunday Strut, everyone had made a real effort with their outfits and looked so glamorous, even though it was one of the hottest days of the year and we had a long way to walk in the heat! Here are some street style shots I took…

This was one of the standout outfits for me. This stylish Sunday strutter wore a vintage Biba dress with metallic detailing, co-ordinating metallic YSL clutch and sky-high wooden platforms. Along with Ossie Clark, Biba has to be one of the most sought-after vintage labels. This dress has a really unique print and cut and is in perfect condition – it immediately caught my eye. I love the retro styling of the dress too.

This retro-inspired outfit caught my eye, especially the use of print and colour. Extra style points for clashing horizontal and vertical stripes, and I applaud the use of contrasting primary colours – tricky to pull off! I loved the gorgeous stacked bangles too.

This outfit balances girly and grunge to perfection – rock ‘n’ roll cut-off shorts are given the girly treatment with a delicate crochet crop top. I especially loved the (much coveted) studded boots from Zara and this lucky Sunday strutter even had the red version in her bag!

This gorgeous green jumpsuit caught my eye – I love the colour and the ‘seventies-style cut. The deep V-neck, wrap cut and floaty sleeves are really flattering and this Sunday strutter look effortlessly chic and summery.

Tie-die prints are a big trend this summer. This one is given a bit of an edge with stud detailing and a spiked necklace. I love how this Strutter has paired her elegant maxi dress with casual Converse. Comfy and stylish!

Sunday strutter and fellow-blogger Gem looked gorgeous in a bright blue dip-hem maxi dress. The vibrant hue really suits her skin tone and hair colour. I love how she has paired her dress with a pair of chic metallic sandals and a statement beaded necklace for a really summery look. A pop of red lipstick is the perfect finishing touch.

What would you wear for the Sunday Strut?

We Are The Champions (Part Two)

One of my favourite things about vintage fairs, markets and festivals is the people watching. I love to see the different ways people re-interpret vintage influences or channel retro elements in their style. Hopefully I’ve demonstrated the eclectic mix of styles at Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair this weekend as I made a conscious effort to record a diverse selection of outfits! Part one of my Judy’s at Spitalfields street style post had a great response – thank you! Here are the rest of the prize-winning outfits…

This was one of my favourite outfits, particularly as the more I looked, the more styling surprises were revealed! For example, these gorgeous pink daisy print trousers are actually a jumpsuit fashioned into a pair of high waisted trousers – two outfits for the price of one! I made a mental note to try that tip, I think it looks really cool with the bralet especially with the clashing floral patterns. I really like the way a ladylike blouse has been knotted at the waist and used as a chic cover-up too. I also loved these tweed detail brogues, but then we all know I’m a sucker for a good brogue…

This lovely retro ’70s style paisley print initially caught my eye. A little unusual for a men’s shirt and I liked the combination of a casual untucked shirt with tapered chino trousers too, cleverly styled with a vintage scarf as a belt. John Lennon glasses finished a casual but put-together outfit.

More polka dots! This time mini ones on a retro midi-length tea dress, very 1940s. The dress was styled simply with mainly black pieces, a black cardigan, cross-body bag and mid heel that let the print do the talking. Accessories let the wearer’s personality shine through – a ladylike headpiece, lace print glasses and a slick of red lipstick.

Scarf print shirts are big news this summer and I saw several vintage versions at the fair. This green and blue Versace-esque style makes a bold statement and can be dressed down for day, as it is here with skinny jeans, aviator jacket and brogues, or dressed up for a night out with a pencil skirt and heels.

I love the way this fair-goer has used volume in her ensemble, balancing a voluminous blouse with skinny tailored trousers. The kitsch vintage print and button detail on the oversized blouse are really cute, but skinny trousers and patterned ‘brothel creepers’ toughen up the look considerably. Extra points here for the most striking haircut!

Even more polka dots! Ok, I may have a slight obsession… However, I couldn’t not take this girl’s picture. I love the oversized spots and the shape of this dress, a really unusual, ’80s-style double-breasted cut. The way this stylish shopper played with proportions by layering also stood out for me; the cropped trousers and bracelet-length sleeves under the dress add an extra dimension to the look.

The weather may have been rainy outside but this summery look brought a touch of sunshine to Spitalfields. I like the way an overtly girly pleated net skirt has been paired with a fun printed top in coordinating colour; the mushroom colour of the skirt is picked up in the print of the T-shirt. The straw trilby completes the easy breezy holiday vibe of this look – now where’s the sun?!

Some great use of colour here too: the block colours of the bright blue colour pop trousers and clashing peach converse and handbag are picked up in the colours of this ’80s-tastic stylised floral print top. I like the reflective aviator glasses and pink toy watch too.

I liked the use of neutrals in this lovely feminine outfit. Neutrals can be really hard to pull off, especially when several shades are involved, but this vintage shopper gives a lesson in how to work them. It’s all about contrasting textures to break up the look, such as floaty chiffon with a crisp cotton shirt in the above outfit, and choosing complementary hues: here the blouse is pink-toned and the beige skirt also has a touch of pink.

This has to be the most striking outfit of the day – WOW! This bold all-in-one is really ’80s, I love the unusual pattern and bright yellow hue. I enjoy the use of proportion here too; the exaggerated shoulders of the jacket balance out the skintight lower half of the outfit. The bag has to be one of the most impressive I saw at the fair and those platforms were definitely the highest heels! Kudos! What I liked most about this outfit was the way it perfectly summed up this shopper’s confident, bubbly personality.

Final outfit! I’m a real magpie for patterned shirts and this one really caught my eye. It’s from the vintage shop that the girl in the previous picture works in (these two are friends and probably the most stylish duo at the fair!). I like the oversized collar and unusual print – its owner described it as her “tetris shirt” which I thought was very apt – and the way it’s been styled with the cropped jumper and red leather pencil skirt. Fabulous loafer-style platforms and vintage bag too, and I love all the rings.

Thanks again to Kieran for asking me along, and to Sophie who managed the fair on Saturday and scouted some outfits with me in the latter half of the fair! I officially can’t wait until the next one. See you there!

Fashion News Round-Up (30 July – 5 August 2012)

The week in fashion in 100 words

This week there’s one thing everyone in fashion is talking about: the Valentino retrospective at Somerset House. Valentino: Master of Couture will feature 130 of Valentino Garavani’s gowns with a 60 meter catwalk displaying hand-crafted dresses worn by the likes of Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

Red carpet looks such as Julia Roberts’ 2001 black Oscars dress, one-off custom-made commissions and catwalk creations will be shown alongside films showing the designer at work and photos and mementoes from Valentino’s personal archive.

This incredible celebration of couture offers a unique opportunity to see such handiwork at close quarters. To get in the mood, here’s a clip from “Valentino: The Last Emperor” (2008):

The exhibition will run from 29 November to 3 March. In the meantime you can check out the designer’s virtual museum.

We Are The Champions (Part One)

As I mentioned in my post on Thursday, today I was at Spitalfields to shoot street style pictures and award £200 of vouchers to the 20 most stylish vintage shoppers! It may have been Super Saturday at the Games today, but at Judy’s it was Super Style Saturday! Here are the results…

I loved this Sandy from Grease meets nineties grunge look. This stylish shopper balanced glamourous skintight trousers (American Apparel’s ‘disco pants’ I think) with a simple printed T-shirt, mannish, oversized denim jacket and black patent Dr. Martens. Look carefully and you will see the Olympic rings printed in her undercut hairstyle style – now that’s commitment to sporting style. Love the vintage doctor’s bag too!

Military influences were all over the catwalks for A/W ’12. A military style jacket gives a feminine lacy dress such as this one a tough edge. Nineties references are everywhere too, so this jacket ticks two trends in one. I spotted plenty of similar style nineties camouflage jackets on the retro-filled rails today so get down to the Affordable Vintage Fair if you want to snap one up! Top marks for the white Converse and sporty backpack too – practical and stylish.

This retro ensemble was a stand-out for me because of the sheer attention to detail. From the top of her beehive to the tips of her Mary-Janes, you have to reward this girl’s commitment to vintage. The chic printed shift dress and matching retro red accessories could give Betty Draper a run for her money in the ladylike stakes.

Clever accessorising adds personality to a simple black-skirt-with-white-blouse-combination. Pops of burgundy stand out against the monochrome base and chunky metal jewellery toughens up a school chic, girlish outfit. I absolutely love the attention-to-detail of this outfit, which carefully balances girlyness and masculine touches, for example the way chunky shoes are paired with cute ankle socks. I absolutely love the hat – especially with the co-ordinating pink streak in the hair!

The classic trench is hard to beat, and this gorgeous leather-trim trench gives a quintessential design a modern update. I loved how this stylish shopper paired hers with tailored shorts and a feminine floral shirt. Note the gold Western-style detail too – it’s all about the collar for next season. The neon belt gives a pop of colour and round retro frames top a winning look.

This ’60s style ensemble caught my eye – the anorak and skinny trousers are Mod perfection. I love the combination of khaki and dusky pink too, and the way the jacket balances the softness of the pink trousers and ditsy print shirt. I loved the brogues too!

The mixture of a gorgeously girly retro print floral dress with chunky boots is always a winner in my book, giving an edge to an otherwise feminine look. I like the cycling shorts underneath the dress too – a great way to increase the everyday wearability of shorter flirty frocks.

Polka dots have to be one of my all time favourite prints. This slouchy jumpsuit is a fun and gorgeously retro way to wear the pattern. I really like the pared back styling too – simple charm necklaces and classic Converse let the jumpsuit do the talking.

This chic vintage fair-goer told me her unusual dress was a Belgian vintage shop find. The slouchy shape and striped pattern are a retro take on this season’s pyjama trend. What I liked most about this outfit was the clever use of colour and prints. The green and grey stripe of the dress are picked up in the accessories: mint and green polka dot tights, mint floral tote and those gorgeous mint brogues. The subtle mixing of prints works because of the complementary colour palette.

Paisley was all over the catwalks for S/S ’12; from Stella to Céline, designers were championing the retro print. This colourful paisley print paired with the voluminous smock shape nods to seventies style, whilst masculine brogue boots keep the look fresh and modern.

Keep your eyes pealed for part two tomorrow!

Fashion News Round-Up (June 11th-17th)

The week in fashion in 100 words 

It’s been a whirlwind in the fashion world this week, from the high standard of design exhibited by Graduate Fashion Week’s 1,000 Fashion students, to the Scottish Fashion Awards (where Christopher Kane won Designer of the Year), to the announcement of the Queen’s Birthday Honours: Emma Hill of Mulberry (MBE) and Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen (OBE).

London kicked off the Menswear calendar this week with London Collections: Men. Men’s Day usually takes place outwith the traditional show schedule; developing a mini-week puts the spotlight on London’s menswear designers, offering a platform for British brands and businesses to showcase their creative talent and attract buyers and editors to London.

A-Z of Spring/ Summer 2012 Trends

Last season I wrote a sartorial A-Z of Autumn/Winter trends. Here’s a summary of the top new season trends for Spring/ Summer 2012.

Alexander McQueen S/S '12

A – Aquatic

Oceanic influences were rife on the catwalks; mermaid-esque gowns, conch clutches, pearl detailing and metallic fabrics sounded fashion’s siren call. Delicate trapeze dresses swam down the catwalk and undulating ruffled gowns resembled jellyfish at Alexander McQueen. Karl Lagerfeld’s nymph-like models were clad in light pastel tweeds and mille-feuille pleats at the magical underwater world of Chanel, complete with a Venus-like Florence Welch emerging from a giant shell.

B – Big lace

This season lace has gone oversized. Louis Vuitton’s pastel hued super-sized Broderie Anglaise was sweetly feminine and Dolce & Gabbana’s flesh flashing peekaboo lace creations were a flirty take on the trend.

C – Crop tops

Banish all thoughts of a ‘90s style croptop-combats combo and welcome this season’s chic crops into your wardrobe. Dolce & Gabbana paired longline bras with flared ‘50s skirts and ruched bandeaus were worn with pencil skirts at Prada. Best get working on those abs…

Gucci S/S '12

D – Deco dream

The roaring Twenties are back! Baz Luhrman’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is due for release in December and fashion channeled the trend with flapper dresses as the eveningwear of choice at Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Etro. Drop waists, embellishments, tassels and Art Deco prints ooze Jazz Age glamour.

E – Eccentric

Fun fashion is having a moment. Meadham Kirchoff’s balloon-adorned catwalk and dancing doll-like models (with a grungy twist) showed fashion with a sense of humour (and a large dose of talented design too).

F- futuristic florals

Florals are back with a vengeance: bold, clashing colours and contrasting prints are the way to wear blooms this season. Mary Katrantzou’s cult digital prints and Christopher Kane’s appliquéd floral offerings put a distinctly modern stamp on spring’s favourite print.

Mary Katrantzou S/S '12

G – Grids

Grids and checkerboards are a new print to add to this season’s myriad of pattern. Gareth Pugh paired the graphic print with sheer panels and his trademark dark colour palette, but the print was rendered with ladylike silhouettes and retro styling at Dior.

H – Headwear

Hats are still a trend that’s simmering away. Oversized hats will look stylish and protect from the sun, but beaded skullcaps and more ornate retro-inspired headwear are a glamorous addition this season.

I – Iridescent

An offshoot of the aquatic trend, mermaid-esque metallics added shimmer and shine to the catwalks. Make a Summer statement in shimmering satin and cellophane fabrics or pair metallic separates with neutral basics for a more relaxed take on the trend.

Elie Saab S/S '12

J – Jeans in colour

This season denim has had a colourful makeover. The skinny silhouette doesn’t seem to be shifting, and pastel hued 7/8th length jeans are a key trend. If pastels aren’t your thing then acid denim brights are the way forward, such as Christopher Kane’s covetable J Brand collaboration.

K – Killer collars

Fashion is still having a bit of a love-in with neckwear and a buttoned-up shirt paired with a statement necklace, cuff or collar tips is still a huge blogging trend.

L – Light leather

Butter soft biker jackets in light or neutral shades are the cover-up of the season, with Acne’s blue version a particular favourite. The fashion world has gone mad for J Brand’s white leather jeans too, the perfect partner of peplum tops and bright summer lace.

M – Mix and Match

This season it’s all about mixing and matching the myriad of prints on the catwalk. There aren’t any rules, but more is more! Clashing florals is one way to tick two trends in one.

N – Neon

Acid brights are still stylish for Spring, with bold pinks, aqua, tangerine, yellow and lime taking centre stage. Neons and neutrals are the freshest way to wear the look for summer, and neon accents from bold accessories nod to the trend.

Rag & Bone S/S '12

O – Olympic Obsession

With Olympics hype reaching fever pitch in the run-up to the 2012 Games, the catwalks had a distinctly sporty vibe, from athletic silhouettes at Alexander Wang to Stella McCartney’s sportswear-inspired details.

P – Peplums

The Spring/ Summer catwalks celebrated a womanly silhouette, with the peplum as one of the most prolific trends on the catwalk. All eyes are on the hips with bold statements at Jason Wu and Cushnie et Ochs and softer shapes at Acne and Céline.

Jason Wu S/S '12

Q – Quintessentially British

This season many editors agreed that the UK’s capital had the hottest ticket shows; the attention of the world was drawn to London Fashion Week and our city’s hub of creative talent.

R – Rucksacks

The chicest bag around this season is the rucksack: sling metallic leather or translucent plastic textured bags over the shoulder nonchalantly, and choose between a myriad of hues or stylish neutrals (Topshop seems to have a good offering!)

S – Sugared almonds

Sugar sweet pastel hues have to be one of the biggest trends this season: the catwalks were awash with shades of soft pink, parma violet, muted apricot, lemon curd, baby blue and icy mint. The coolest way to wear ice cream colours is head to toe, clashing pastels or combining hints of sugar with Summery neutrals.

Louis Vuitton S/S '12

T – Traveller

Fashion took inspiration from around the world; Bottega Veneta and Burberry lead the pack. Bold tribal prints and textures ruled, leather and suede combined with various embellishments: beading, feathers, tassels and suede.


Designers lived the American Dream this season: retro-Americana, cowgirl influences, T-shirts emblazoned with the stars and stripes, retro diner styles, and prairie girl patchwork all had a moment.

V – Va va vroom

Prada’s kitsch car print suited their retro ‘50s American-inspired collection to a tee; the pattern formed the background of sweet pastel blouses and adorned leather pencil skirts. Prada’s automobile-influenced flame heels are the most coveted shoes of the season.

W – Wow heels

This season’s heels are ultra ladylike. Spiky stilettos with pointed heels and contrasting toecaps are the order of the day, as seen at Louis Vuitton. Neutral hued heels are the perfect partner to pastel ensembles.

Richard Nicoll S/S '12

X- X-ray

Sheer fabrics were the texture of the day, with many shows favouring romantic chiffon. Richard Nicoll’s clear plastic skirts were a futuristic take on the trend. Just make sure your underwear is up to scratch.

Y – Yellow

Every shade of yellow under the sun adorned the catwalks, from banana brights to baby yellow pastels. The perfect sunshine shade was a popular choice for summery dresses, as seen at Mulberry, Nicole Farhi and Preen.

Z – Zzzz

Pyjamas aren’t just for the bedroom this season. Nightwear was given a chic twist with pyjama-style trouser suits adorning the catwalks at Stella McCartney, Jonathan Saunders and Haider Ackermann. So wrong it’s right.

Stella McCartney S/S '12

All images:

Spring/ Summer 2012 Trends: Fashion’s Siren Call

Oceanic influences were prevalent on the Spring/ Summer ’12 catwalks. At Chanel, the Grande Palais was transformed into a magical underwater world, complete with a Venus-like Florence Welch who emerged from a giant shell and sang “What the Water Gave Me”. The collection had a lightness and iridescent shimmer to it, with Lagerfeld’s nymph-like models clad in light pastel tweeds and mille-feuille pleats, complete with pearls strung round the waist and threaded in the models’ hair. Sarah Burton also used a pretty, almost translucent shell-inspired colour palette at Alexander McQueen and the very movement of the clothes was mesmerising: delicate trapeze dresses swam down the catwalk and undulating ruffled gowns resembled jellyfish.

Mermaid-esque gowns also shone at Armani, and Theyskens’ Theory gave the trend a directional, utilitarian twist. Elements of the trend emerged elsewhere, with abundant aquatic-inspired detailing and softly hued metallic pieces gave the look a modern feel. 

This trend might seem tricky to pull-off in an everyday context, but a simple metallic separate can be surprisingly versatile. I saw this stunning metallic leather skirt in Topshop before Christmas and almost asked Santa for it, but was put off by the £95 pricetag. However, I spotted it in the January sale and it was reduced to about £40 (plus student discount) so I snapped it up – an absolute bargain considering it’s real leather! 

This is certainly a skirt that requires quite pared-back styling. Whilst the weather’s still cold, I’ve been wearing it with oversized knits; here I wore the skirt with Al’s much-loved cashmere jumper for a really slouchy silhouette, I love the contrast between the leather and the knitted texture and the grey complements the metallic hue of the skirt. I kept it simple with flats and a chunky statement necklace to add a bit of interest to the neckline (I’ve been wearing so many shirts under jumpers at the moment so I felt a bit naked!)

When the weather is warmer, I can’t wait to pair it with a simple plain white T-shirt or denim shirt, sandals and sunglasses. It’s one of those pieces that’s great to wear as it really does all the talking for you. 

Will you be embracing the metallics trend?