Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Winter seems so interminable in London that I can hardly remember the last time I wasn't all rugged up in layer upon layer of black, like a woolly Matryoshka doll.

But now the thermometer is making a concerted effort to stay above zero, I start to long for new clothes. I want something that shows I've cottoned onto the season's new themes and trends, without being achingly fashion forward. I’m also not temperamentally disposed to buying an entire new wardrobe of clothes each season, even if I had the money to do it, which I don’t.

I won’t be able to face the vogue for bright colours until the summer – the spring light feels too weak to take it. Nor will the white thing work for me, since I travel everywhere by tube and bus and have skin the colour of skimmed milk. But I do rather love the way that designers have re-interpreted stark white by way of a Dulux ‘Natural Hints’ colour chart. I like white when it strays as far as buttermilk, or blush or a very pale camel. One might suspect it of not being white at all, but – whatever – fashion is all about the nuance.

The purchase of the scarlet dress pre-Christmas has turned me into something of a Bastyan zealot. Now in its third season, it’s an incredibly wearable label - I love the way the designs are cut for real women: if you have great legs but are less than keen on your tummy, there are lovely skinny trousers to team with embellished tops, and empire line dresses which work as well over trousers as with opaques and a great pair of heels. Or if, like me, you’re a pear rather than an apple, the dresses are incredibly flattering, with signature draping in just the right places.

Anyway, here are a few of the things which I’ve been admiring lately because they combine my kind of shape with a nod at the colours and trends of the early spring season.

Blonde leather dress £395
This butter-soft leather dress is a bit of an investment piece, but looks so beautiful.

Zip belt dress £220
I love the versatility of this dress: it's a cool update on the LBD, and is exactly the kind of thing that could take one from work to something more interesting in the evening just by adjusting the front zip at the neckline. I know we're supposed to move away from black for the S/S 11 season, but it's just so easy to wear.
Fine leather jacket £395
This jacket would be tremendous over the dress - its skillful cut gives one a nod to rock-chick chic without going the full Joan Jett.

Twisted drape jumper £130

I'm more inclined to knitwear than tailored jackets over dresses - and this is soft and modern without being too informal. Our office is so incredibly cold on a Monday morning, I'm always on the hunt for a chic cover-up.

However, the bottom line for me is that, when it comes to new clothes, a party dress trumps work-wear everytime. Esquire's 20th Birthday party at The Berkeley's Blue Bar was the perfect setting for this rather sophisticated navy Bastyan dress. Although it's very fitted (bless you, Spanx), the front of the dress is designed to gather and drape in a way that manages to conceal rather than reveal, thankfully, and the underwired camisole you can see is a separate piece, which adds some structure. Mind you, people did keep whispering that they could see my bra, so either they were fashion ignoramuses, or I need to work harder on how the dress drapes over the camisole.

The bangles I wore with it are actually coral rather than red, and were an impulse buy from Marks and Spencers (I think they were £8).

Bastyan Cowl-neck lace-cami dress £195

NOTA BENE: I've just noticed that Bastyan is offering a 20% discount on the S/S11 collection on their website - good news for my wardrobe, bad news for my bank balance....


Lisa-Marie said...

Mrs T, you have brilliant taste. If I were less curvy, I would want ever one of these dresses!

I am generally a black/grey/red/purple/teal girl. This season all of the pale peachy blush colours and navy blue are seducing me. I am so pale I don't know if I can get away with it, but I am going to try!

Penny Dreadful Vintage said...

Oooh, don't you look lovely! I think I like the draped jumper the best, that is something that would suti evry body shape you could think of.

Alison Cross said...

You look wonderful in that dress, Mrs T.

I too am pale - a peculiarly Northern shade of light blue with orange joints that seems to be the default setting for a very cold Scottish person.

It will be some time before I'm out of my fleece and jeans, I suspect. But if I was going to splurge on anything it might be that leather dress...... :-)

Ali xxx

Francesca said...

Forget the dress (lovely, by the way), I just want to know what mascara/eye liner you're wearing. Looks great.

Helen Brocklebank said...

Lisa-Marie - I love your colours - purple and teal are ace! The navy blues and the blush-colours are fabulous - i bet they'd look amazing on you with your colouring.

Penny Dreadful - I am so longing for that cardigany jumper thing - doesn't it look like exactly the kind of thing that one's wardrobe is missing? I'm imagining it over jeans, with a dress, with just about anything really.

Alison Cross - Thank you so much for the completely lovely compliment - I am feeling incredibly chirpy now. I am also pale blue and i really resent the coming of May when the application of fake tan becomes inevitable, lest one start to reflect the sunlight back at people. Tiresome. That leather dress is dreamy. I wonder if it would be easy to wear? I'd definitely want to wear it with an apron at mealtimes, and a full body overall anywhere near the children ;)

Francesca - the eyes are mostly an old Dior 5 couleurs palette, which I've had a look for but I think it's discontinued. However, I used a pale pink matt base all over, and then a dark parma violet coloured eyeshadow with a slight shimmer in the socket, and a navy shadow close to the lashline on top of a bobby brown gel liner in Denim ink (powder shadow on top of the gel liner makes it last and last. Then, lots and lots of mascara (Dior Extase, which is amazing, and gives you vast lashes) and the fab Clinique bottom lash mascara on the bottom. Thank you so much for saying you liked it - you made me feel lovely. :))

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear Mrs T, what a beautiful dress. You look fabulous. Bastyan stuff is great and I admired your scarlet dress.

Not meaning to big myself up here but when I first saw your photo I thought it was me! It must be the hair!

Here's a couple of pics I took last week:


K.Line said...

I completely agree that knits on top of dresses work better than jackets most of the time - chic and cozy (and not overstructured). You look fantastic in that dress. I really have to look more into the skinny trousers. I've got that stomach you're talking about :-)

Unknown said...

Lovely pic, you are owning that dress! I had a dreamy half hour in Liberty stationary room last week thanks to your tip off...

Jewelry said...

It's an amazing blog.This was a very well-written and enjoyable post to read.Thanks for the info sharing with us.The way you have described all the things are superb.

Sarah said...

Your dress looks great. I love the look of the leather jacket, too - I just got a black leather biker jacket but am worried it's a little 'mutton...'. My 8yr old son says it's 'rock-hard weird' which is not helping.
Enjoying your blog. All best Sarah

Unknown said...

Oh gosh - I'm almost afraid to look at the prices, but I shall overcome my trepidation. That jacket is just perfect.

And you look absolutely great. I'm always on the lookout for navy, as I feel like it's black for less youthful skin.

Unknown said...

Oh my gosh - so gorgeous and they don't deliver to France (sniff!)

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