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Saturday, 28 January 2012

Getting the look: The Artist

This week I went to see The Artist at the cinema after having it on my to-do list since I read about it a few months ago. I loved it from the opening scene, the film was full of humour, tragedy and triumph (and one hilarious dog). Being set in Hollywood's heyday of the roaring 1920's & 30's it was also a goldmine of vintage style. The outfits, created for The Artist, by seasoned movie costume designer Mark Bridges, were the icing on the cake.  Mr Bridges really managed to nail the decadent glamour of Hollywoodland. As a fan of all (well, most) things retro, I took a look at how to recreate the style depicted in The Artist for this blog post.

Let's start from the top and work our way down - beginning with hair. In the movie, leading lady Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) - along with several other females in the film - sports a short bob with tight marcel waves. Learn how to recreate retro waves at home with Belinda Hay's easy to follow hairstyle guide Style Me Vintage.

Cute flapper girl dresses with shimmying tassells and embellishment are a must for any vintage vamp and French Connection have a great selection. This Fringed Freya dress is a good starting point AND currently in the FC sale:

Fringed Freya dress, £37 (was £150) by French Connection

 Antik Batik's Embellished dress (£172 at ASOS) mixes sparkling retro glamour with light fabric - perfect for dancing (Lindy Hop, anyone?), and would look great teamed with some vintage-style stockings.

When it comes to footwear, modest heels are key to this look so leave the YSL Tribute platforms at home. Give your feet a rest in lower-heeled mary-jane styles or peeptoes while still rocking this glam look. Remember, the Hollywood vixens in films like The Artist were spending their days running around town going to auditions, and they wouldn't have got very far in teetering six-inch heels. Metallic shades or black compliment the dresses well, and Schuh have an excellent range of sweet lower-heeled shoes. My pick are these silver Forest Side Bow low  heels would go great with a flapper style dress:

Silver Forest Side Bow low  heels, £60 at Schuh

 Finally, no darling of the silver screen would be caught dead without her 'face on'. The finishing touch to really getting this look right is some retro style make-up. I looked to vintage style guru Dita Von Teese for her take on how to create a 1920's look. In her book Burlesque and the Art of the Teese, Dita explains that skin should be very pale ivory, eyes should be dark with smokey greys & blacks, lips should be rouged with wine or plum shades and nails should be worn short and painted deep crimson or deep burgundy.

To help achieve this look, I would firstly recommend a good foundation that suits your (natural) skin tone. Put down the bronzer - after all, they never had Fake Bake back in those days. A smokey eyes eyeshadow palate will give you a selection of greys and blacks - my favourites are Benefit's Smokin' Eyes (which although priced a little steeper at £28.50, will give you everything you need to create a dark, smouldering eye look, including extras like instructions, eyeliner and tweezers), and Soap & Glory's Lid Stuff palate in Smokey Dokey (a reasonably priced eyeshadow kit with 4 rich colours to play with). For lips, we are truly spoiled for choice with the vast range of dark reds available to suit all budgets - I would suggest going to department stores and high street beauty retailers and playing around with different shades/ brands until you find one that you like (for me, MAC are my go-to guys for red lippy).

Finally, I always break out my OPI nail polish in We'll Always Have Paris - a deep, dark crimson shade - when I want to unleash my inner vamp. Its rich colour is the perfect finishing touch to a vintage style look:


OPI nail polish in We'll Always Have Paris, RRP £10.50 at salons & selected stockists

Will you be trying out 'The Artist' look? 

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Sale-ing through January

Shortly after Christmas (or, in the last few years, shortly before Christmas), people start to get excited about the sales. You would think that due to the shopping frenzy in the run-up to Christmas, people would be sick of the sight of shops and want to avoid them for a while. Of course we don't. It's just like that quote from The Godfather, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in".

It's amazing how huge red signs in shop windows can convince people that getting out of bed at 7AM (and that's if you're not planning on hitting the Next sale) is a good idea. I do enjoy a good sale, but I enjoy my bed too and this year I was especially enjoying spending time with our families. Which is why I didn't even consider hitting any sales until 29th of December. By then, most hardened sale veterans will argue that "most of the good stuff is gone", and that may be true for the most part but I still did OK. 

I wasn't looking for much this year, I wanted a cape and managed to get it, anything else was a bonus. So now  I am here writing the "here's what I got in the sales" blog.

In October 2010 I blogged about capes having a fashion moment and have fancied one ever since. Last year I had my eye on a little fur-trimmed H! By Henry Holland number, but sadly never got round to buying it. In the long run, I'm quite glad I didn't now, as I would have had less scope to buy this beauty by Monsoon in their sale:

Leo hooded cape, £42.50 (was £85) by Monsoon 

 I had spotted this cape while it was full price. With its buckle fastenings and fuzzy leopard-lined hood, it was everything I wanted in a cape. As soon as it went in the sale, I was declaring (in full Wayne Campbell mode) "it will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine". Slashed at 50% off, this was my main sale purchase.

Next up was a trip to Topshop. A quick scan of the clothes rails and my interest wasn't really piqued enough to keep rummaging. There was no chance of me squeezing into a size 6 and that's always what's left in the things I like when I go to Topshop sales, however I notoriously do much better shopping for accessories in Toppers. This year was no exception: I managed to get £54 worth of swag for a mere £11. Not bad at all!

I am a huge fan of cute slipper-style flats, Topshop has really produced an excellent line in them (currently in love with Topshop's Vectra3 studded slippers). I managed to bag these bad boys for a fiver (reduced from £20):

 Wink slipper-style flats, £5 (were £20) by Topshop

I love them, but with their velvety finish I will need to wait until this horrible weather dries up to wear them. I also stocked up on 3 pairs of Topshop's colour pop cotton mix tights in green, blue and pumpkin colours. These were all reduced from £8 each to £1 each, hurrah!

The Topshop haul concluded with a little bit of homeware. I picked up this little guy; he is a candle, but I won't be lighting him. After you give them a name it's much too painful to see them melt, and he goes with my Ben de Lisi dog table lamp anyway:

 Bulldog candle, £3 (was £10) at Topshop

I managed to get some bargainous candles elsewhere that I was quite happy to light (Yankee Candles reduced to 59p and 89p in Clinton Cards of all places). Finally, not one to be outdone, The Boy managed to do pretty well himself in the sales too! He scored a denim victory over at Urban Outfitters, after scoring two pairs of jeans - one pair of Levi's and one pair of Lee jeans - for an impressive £40 all in. Both pairs would have cost £150 total at full price so it was high-fives all round.

I will no doubt pick up one or two other bits and pieces over the next few weeks. Even though I kept my sale shopping to a minimum this year, I'm still pretty happy with what I got.

What did you get in the sales? 

Monday, 2 January 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Oh, I wish it could be Christmas everyday... It's true. I do love a bit of Christmas (or, as The Boy would argue, a whole lot of Christmas). This year has been no exception, Christmas has been brilliant and spent gleefully in the company of friends and family. Am I the only one that still considers it to be Christmas (or at least 'the festive period') until they go back to work in the New Year? Probably not, I suspect there are more people that like to stretch out the season a bit longer too.

I didn't want to do a blog just about what I got for Christmas - that would be a bit OTT for me, but I still want to give some of my presents a mention as they were really thoughtful and incredibly generous. I love giving people presents, wrapping them up and watching people open them (this is why I am always the last person to open theirs on Christmas day, I'm too busy watching everyone else). I even like giving people cards, and I was quite disappointed at the amount of people this year that simply said "oh, I'm not doing cards this year" with a wave of their hand. Er, OK then Scrooge.

We put the tree up in early December and that action, along with the Coca-cola advert (you know the one, 'holidays are coming') signifies to me that it is officially Christmas and I have the green light to put on VH1's Christmas countdowns (the same 50 songs, just in slightly different orders depending on who is presenting..."you only learn that by having it on constantly", The Boy will testify with a groan) and get in the festive mood. Decorating our lovely new flat for Christmas was great, and the place was soon looking the part with decorations old and new.

I also managed to watch lots of Christmas films over the last few weeks - some well-known and watched several times (Elf, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Christmas with the Kranks, Fred Claus & Four Christmasses. Still to watch Scrooged), others not so well-known (Santa Baby 2, The Dog Who Saved Christmas and anything else that Christmas 24 were showing) and my all-time favourite, Home Alone 2. You know it's Christmas when Macaulay Culkin is on the loose in The Big Apple.

On Christmas morning*, I was surprised with lots of awesome presents - firstly from The Boy (I mean, Santa) and then our families. Highlights included gorgeous goodies from Disney Couture, Hello Kitty, Vivienne Westwood, ASOS and Skull Candy, chocolate (chocolate, and more chocolate), perfume, the coveted New Look bird dress (thanks, Santa) and more Lush / Soap & Glory delights than you could shake a loofah at:

My Christmas Bath & Beauty haul - I'm well-stocked for toiletries & make-up now. Me: "people know me so well", The Boy: "people must think you reek". I like to think it's the first statement!!

The last thing I opened was in a small parcel, but inside was a beautiful pair of Tarina Tarintino skull earrings (again, thanks Santa!):

I was feeling well and truly spoiled at this point and the following two days spent with our families were spent in a giddy, happy blur. Copious amounts of food were consumed until I felt like I would pop (Pringles, shortbread & After Eights were the main culprits) but it's nothing a few sessions on the Wii won't sort out (I hope). We didn't get a White Christmas this year but we did get it last year and it wouldn't be a magical as it happened all of the time.

New Year came and went as it normally does, I had a lovely time with The Boy and enjoyed having the time together. So here we are, now at 2012. I hope everyone had a wonderful & stylish Christmas and New Year. 2011 was a blast, I really don't know how I will top it, but I'm willing to give it a good go!

 How did you spend the festive season?

*Christmas Morning was technically Christmas Eve, or as I like to think of it, Christmas Day Part 1. We had to start Christmas early in order to see both the families. Start Christmas early? I, of course, was only too happy to oblige.