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Personal Style

Personal Style

Inside the Wardrobe and Mind of ‘The Queen of High Street Style’

As much as I love taking note of what people are wearing on the streets, at events and so on.  There is a particular, indescribable pleasure and pride I get when my friends’ ensembles teach me a thing or two.  For years now, a very good friend of mine’s various stylish and unique outfits have had me asking repeatedly, ‘where did you get that?’  And after a while, I realised that more often than not,  the response was from a High Street store.  In fact I think she could give High Street ambassador, Gok Wan, a run for his money in picking up the best looks on the High Street. 

This is a lady who is up to date with all the various High End and High Street collaborations and is so dedicated to possess them that she will queue for two hours to get the limited garments and accessories.  Not content with the more obvious finds in High Street stores, the pieces in her wardrobe hail from interesting finds in her local charity shop, Oxfam all the way to secretly hidden boutiques in Argentina.

This ‘High Street Style Queen’ goes by the name Fayola Saunders and on a recent trip to her house, I convinced her to wade through her boxes, rails and even more boxes of clothes and accessories to come up with four main looks-  work wear, day wear, date wear and evening wear And as if that wasn’t enough, I also decided to pick her brains at the end of it all to get some tips for girls and women out there who are still trying to work out how High Street stores can work for them

Faye’s Work Wear

 

Faye’s work outfit- Grey jacket and shift dress -M&S, black pair of shoes- Primark, black bag- H&M

Faye’s Day Look

 

 How print-tastic is this skirt?

 Faye’s day outfit- Bead necklace-Oxfam, bangle Oasis, Navy blue blouse- Primark, skirt- Asos.com, sandals-boutique in Argentina, leather fringe bag- Primark, silver and blue ring- Asos.com

Faye’s Date Look- This is not a ‘First Date’ look, but rather a look for when you have been on X amount of dates and it’s more ‘acceptable’ to start looking like you made an effort

Faye’s ‘It’s now ok to look like I made an effort for this date’ look- Blue cardigan- Primark, blue feather earrings- Primark, peacock print dress- New Look, turquoise blue and aqua green bag-Matthew Williams for H&M, blue,silver and diamante ring- Asos.com, blue suede stilettos-Primark

Faye’s Evening Look

 

Faye’s evening outfit- Dress -Lanvin for H&M, snakeskin stilettos Kate Kanzier, gold snake bracelet- Roberto Cavalli for H&M, snake ring- Roberto Cavalli for H&M, gold earrings- Topshop, black leather bag- Primark

 Interview

My Fashion S/ash Life- Talk me through why you chose this particular work outfit?

Faye-It’s my favourite suit dress, I don’t normally shop in M&S but I saw it in the shop window and I loved the ruffle detail and initially I just wanted the dress, but when I tried it with the jacket, I loved the combination and decided to get the whole outfit.

My Fashion S/ash Life- I absolutely love the structure, shape and print of your Asos African batik-print skirt.  Talk me through your day ensemble.

Faye- I love African print and when I saw this skirt I knew I had to have it.  I also happen to have a lot of blue accessories and a top from Primark which complimented the skirt, so I went for it.

My Fashion S/ash Life- And why this dress for your evening look?

Faye- A year or so ago, I wanted a nice, classy dress for New Years Eve and when I heard Lanvin was collaborating with H&M,  I knew that would mean chic, timeless dresses at an affordable price.  So I went down there and queued for two hours before the shop opened and it was worth it.  As soon as I saw it, I knew it was for me- I loved the asymmetrical detailing, the ruffled detail and I love the fact it has a deep purple tone and is not black.

My Fashion S/ash Life- And why this outfit for your date?

Faye-I love peacocks and the colour blue, so when I saw this dress in New Look, I knew I had to have it.

MyFashion S/ash Life- From looking at your jewellery I can see you are one for statement pieces, is that a fair assessment?

Faye- When it comes to accessories, I’m an all or nothing kind of gal.  I can quite happily wear an outfit with no accessories but when I do decide to, they are very much in your face.

My Fashion S/ash Life- How would you describe your personal style?

Faye- It’s a bit of a mixture- for work my style is classic and simple and I tend to wear a lot of blacks and greys, but when I’m going out at night, I’m much bolder and adventurous in the way I wear my prints, colours and cuts of garments.   So like I am with my accessories, I don’t have much middle ground- I’m either classic or I’m wacky.

My Fashion S/ash Life- What do you mean by wacky? In this day and age, we associate wacky style with personalities like Nicky Minaj and Lady Gaga.

Faye- Well I’m not wacky by those standards but when I dress up outside work, I like to use detailing, colour and print to make me stand out in the crowd.

My Fashion S/ash Life- High Street or High End?

Faye- High Street

My Fashion S/ash Life-  Which is your favourite shop to shop in and why?

Faye- Primark, because if you have the right eye and you know what suits you, you can find good pieces that are priced cheaply.  Also with the vast selection, you can buy pieces to spice up an outfit as well as the basic essentials.  So I tend to mix and match my brands by donning an expensive bag and then balancing it with a fab piece from Primark.

My Fashion S/ash Life- How often do you edit your wardrobe?

Faye- I don’t edit, I just add!

My Fashion S/ash Life- Who are your style icons?

Faye- I don’t have any.

My Fashion S/ash Life- That’s interesting, most people tend to have one.

Faye- To be honest, I am not that influenced by people, I know that everyone is to a certain extent but for me, I either like something or I don’t.

My Fashion S/ash Life- What skeletons are hanging in your wardrobe?

Faye- Ah there are so many…

My Fashion S/ash Life- Indeed there are, I remember from our uni days! 

Faye (laughs)- Well I do have a pair of purple satin, skin-tight flares.

My Fashion S/ash Life- Ooooooh Boogie Nights! How has your fashion sense changed through the years?

Faye- As I’ve grown up and become more confident, I’ve got a lot more experimental with my fashion picks which shows through the range of colours and prints in my wardrobe.

My Fashion S/ash Life- How has the fashion press by way of mags, blogs and TV shows influenced your way of dressing?

Faye- I’m a ‘Look’ mag girl as opposed to a ‘Vogue’ girl, reason being, I like the way Look mag has carried the trend of making the High Street more chic and trendy.  So I’m influenced by fashion mags who have picked up on that tend.

My Fashion S/ash Life- And how exactly how have you been influenced by Look magazine?

Faye- Well sometimes, I’ll read mags like Look or Grazia and not buy it (laughs), yes I know, classical cheap! Anyway I’ll do that, see what the High Steet stores have in stock and if I see a piece in a mag I like, I will go to the store to try on the piece and if it fits right, I will buy it.  So I use the mags like a catalogue.

MyFashion S/ash Life- Oh I love it, that’s exactly what fashion mags want you to do!  Good to know, it still works.  Now, if you won a prize where you got to have a free consultation with an image consultant, which area would you say you needed help with the most?

Faye- I definitely need help streamlining my wardrobe.

My Fashion S/ash Life- I can help you with that, at a friendly fee of course!  And finally, Carrie Bradshaw or Cheryl Cole?

Faye- Definitely Carrie Bradshaw!

 My Fashion S/ash Life- Good girl.

I would like to give a big thank you to Faye for making this article possible.  You wouldn’t tell from the pictures and how forthcoming she was during her interview, but Faye wasn’t feeling well whilst I took these shots and grilled her, but she was ever the professional and amazing friend and let me poke, prod and prim her to my heart’s content.

Personal Style

Colour Trend for A/W 2011- Camel Brown

Fashion is all grown up this A/w 2011, gone are the days when she skipped through the city in dazzlying, attention-seeking fluro brights like neon pink and canary yellow.  Now she is favouring more subdued, elegant hues as the nights get longer and the days get shorter.  One of the earthier shades she will be experimenting with this Autumn/Winter season is camel brown.

London girl about town, Madeleine Glatz illustrates how work this colour tone into your ensemble-

Madeleine’s short jacket, oversized bag and shoe boots are  from Mango.  Her  top and leggings are from Primark.  Her pashmina was a gift from India.

Personal Style

The Style of ‘Men Who Lunch’

High Street clothing for men has come a long way.  I remember shopping in the women’s departments of stores like Topshop, H & M and Zara, and upon entering their men’s department, wondering why their design team had pulled the short straw.  Case in point, in Topshop I would see vintage-inspired pieces from independent designers like Oh My Love, then there is their boutique section which stocks experimental brands like Kokon To Zai.  But in Topman, I would always feel like I had wandered into the changing room of a very try-hard, really bad boy band.

So during lunch the other day, after admiring the ensembles of my male friends and asking them where they got their outfits from, I was very surprised to hear the list of High Street stores that came tumbling out of their mouths.

Tio’s (aka Mr Cheekbones) jeans and trenchcoat are from Zara, his cardigan is from COS, the statement frames hail from Mykita and his bag is Gucci darlings.

I adore Tio’s pimp,’ Hugh Hefner-esque’ navy blue velvet slippers which he purchased from H&M.  Accessories like this give his ensemble a chic, effortless vibe.

When dressing up men (unless they dress in drag) don’t have a lot to play with, so to me one of the secrets of how to look stylish for a man, is  knowing how to play the balancing act with your body proportions.  Tio does this by wearing slim fit jeans while he leaves his loose-fitting trench coat open, and with his body proportions, this style works for him.  Below Guan plays with his proportions by wearing a functional loose-fitted jacket over his slim-fitted slate-grey jeans.  The tucking of his jeans into his rounded-toe leather boots toughens up his look. 

Guan’s boots and jacket are from Zara, his cashmere jumper and t-shirt are from H & M.  My favourite piece from Guan’s ensemble are his slate-gray wax jeans, or as I like to call them ‘S&M jeans’.  I call them that because when the wax catches the light, the jeans adopt a sheen that creates a sexy,  leather-like appearance.

Personal Style

Remembering Amy Winehouse through Images and Song

With Amy Winehouse passing away on Saturday, 23rd July 2011, the world lost a true icon who in her tragically short 27 years, managed to surpass her field of music to become a cultural tour de force.

It is hard to believe that Amy received worldwide fame and numerous prestigious awards, when she only released two albums- ‘Frank’ (2003) and ‘Back to Black’ (2006).  I must confess that it was the latter album that made me aware of who she was as an artist.  And I feel very lucky that I got to see her perform live in Camden.  Living in London at the time, it was so refreshing to see a British artist whose sound was as memorable and unique as their visual appearance. 

When doing research on Amy Winehouse on the Web, it is amazing how the negative press far outweighs the positive.  We live in an era where the media and public build you up, only to wrench you back down and grind your reputation to a pulp.  Unfortunately, due to the demons Amy was fighting and her out-spoken nature, she was an easy target for the press.  I don’t feel the need to delve further into the personal battles that Amy fought, as that was not what fascinated me about her. Furthermore, all one has to do is to google ‘Amy Winehouse’ to read the lurid details and speculations.

I am far more interested in the songs she sang with that voice and the memorable visual journey she took moulding her personal image.  The below images are my favourite Amy Winehouse pictures and how I want the world to remember her, and whilst you are looking at them, I’d like you to listen to that voice.

True fashion icons always have a journey and never just fall into the looks that make them become ‘fashion icons’.  At the start of Amy Winehouse’s career, she looked much different-

Here we see a much more voluptuous -looking Amy with no tattoos, beehive and cat’s-eye makeup.  Her choice of pastel colours, floral print and plastic jewellery are also interesting, ‘edge-free’ and almost ‘child-like’.  However, there is still the trademark Amy ‘bosom doth overfloweth’ look.

The release of ‘Back to Black’ unleashed Amy’s new image, like her music she had matured and used her visual appearance to give the world an insight into her personality and her musical influences-

I absolutely adore her ensemble in this image- she managed to carry of so many cultural references at once- the ratty oversized beehive hair-do, cat’s eye makeup and tight, short outfits were an ode to the girl groups of the 60’s (like The Ronettes).  Amy was definitely a champion of the ‘underwear worn as outerwear’ trend, and the titillating showing of her cleavage and push-up bra is offset with her cartoonish (child-like) hand bag.  Her red patent ‘heart’ bag, looks like something Bettie Boop or Minnie Mouse would kill to get their sketched mitts on.  And then her overtly feminine image is juxtaposed with an assortment of very masculine ‘in your face’ sailor tattoos.  That is what I love about Amy, you couldn’t put her in a box.

I also found it interesting to learn that Amy had an emotional approach to her styling, as she once confessed, ‘The more insecure I feel, the bigger my beehive gets’.  This explains why sometimes it looked like her slight weight would topple under the weight of her exaggerated coiffure.

Fashion houses are always quick to ride the shirt-tails of the new ‘It-thing’ and in 2007, Karl Lagerfied sent the models in his 2007 London Chanel pre-fall show down the catwalk with high hair and dramatic eyes in her honor. “She is a beautiful, gifted artist,” Lagerfeld said at the time. “And I very much like her hairdo. I took it as an inspiration. Because, in fact, it was also Brigitte Bardot’s hairdo in the late fifties and sixties. And now Amy has made it her own style. For me, it was a double clin d’oeil. It is Brigitte Bardot and Amy Winehouse.” Fast forward a few seasons later, he had crowned another young British artist as his muse-Lily Allen.  Such are the transient tastes of fashion and all it holds dear.

After her award-winning album ‘Back to Black’ was released, Rehab became the most popular track at fashion shows. The track played at Comme des Garcons and Dior – two wholly different brands with different target audiences-showing how special the song really was.

I haven’t done the research but I’m sure with the release of the album, black eye-liner sales soared.  After all I remember going to the MAC counters and insisting they give me the necessary war paint to create ‘Amy Winehouse eyes’.  That’s when you know a music artist has made it, when they can command sales in record stores, make-up stores, vintage shops and the like.

I was also a fan of Amy’s colourful use of headscarves.

Amy also like to show her softer side by wearing essentially ‘cute summer dresses’.  But she always made the look her own by donning heavy statement, gold, rap jewellery.

In 2010, Amy was enlisted by, one of her favourite brands- Fred Perry– to design a collection inspired by her style.  The collection sported her signature look including polo shirts, skinny pencil skirts, capri pants, mini dresses and twin sets.

She was also photographed by some of the most renowned photographers in the world, including Bruce Weber– 

Unfortunately in the last few years, the world got accustomed to seeing Amy Winehouse in unfavourable situations (which were made public by the press) like- in various state of undress, clutching onto blood-stained ballet shoes and with various bruises.  But she could also look like this-

And the final image is my favourite ‘retro made  modern’ Amy Winehouse ensemble I’ve seen so far.  It shows that she didn’t always wear revealing short, tight clothing.  When she felt like it, she could ‘fix up, look sharp’ like the best of them.  I can’t tell you how much I love that 50’s leather circle skirt

Which is your favourite Amy Winehouse image and song?

My Fashion S/ash Life credits- startrip.tv, dazzlingdivas.blogspot.com, delastar.com and couchsessions.com

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