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
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.