Friday, 27 January 2012

Arm candy - Revisited!

There are lots of gorgeous handbags out there at the moment, and with pay day coming this week, gloomy January is nearly's time to shop!  Here are some that I'm loving...

Biba is one of my favourite brands, and although it's quite pricey you know you will look good!
Gretal Flap Over Shoulder Bag - £165.00Value of purchase £13.75 per month for a year!

This a is gorgeous red option to stand out from the crowd!  Red perforated bag with canvas crossbody strap, and twist lock fastening from Topshop for £32.00

I'm really loving this beautiful Dune number for £65.00 & the colour will get you ready for Spring!

H&M have this lovely imitation brown leather bag, great for both work & the weekend, only £14.99

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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Mary Quant - Part 2

...and so we continue!

An image of the book Quant by Quant

I love watching programmes like The Apprentice.  I'm also a huge fan of Mary Portas and her work on supporting independent businesses.  By reading Quant by Quant again, I have found some great extracts about 'setting up shop'.  I've been in Marketing and developed products for nearly 15 years - and I find it fascinating that the issues that I have today are so similar to what these guys had when setting up Bazaar.  For those of you who get involved with Sales & Marketing or even run a business, I'm sure you will enjoy some of the following extracts.

One of the biggest challenges a product manager faces is what price to sell their product at?  If you price to low, yes you may sell lots, but it's a lot of work for very little return.  Price too high, and your stock may not sell, and that costs you dearly!

Here's a pricing mistake the guys made when opening Bazaar...

"Alexander made inquiries and discovered that the normal gross profit was 33 1/3 per cent.  What we didn't realize was that to get a return on 33 1/3 per cent you have to put 50 per cent on cost.  By marking up our stuff one-third we were actually only getting something like 25 per cent and underselling every other shop in London.  As a result, when we did open, we were gunned at by all the local tradespeople.  Obviously they complained to the wholesalers who promptly telephoned us.  'You can't buy from us any more' they said 'You are under-selling our fixed retail prices'
It was no wonder we did such a roaring trade the moment we opened.  We found out - too late - that on some things we were actually losing money.  We had estimated that we might - with luck - expect to take about a hundred pounds a week."

I think this was fate.  As a result of the wholesalers not willing to sell to them anymore, the guys found that they had to make a lot of their product themselves.  So Mary set to work designing and creating originally pieces with the help of another seamstress.  Without this happening Bazaar could have become just another clothes shop, Mary was left we no choice but to start designing.    But this brings more problems, Mary found that they were continuously running out of stock.

"One day when we had hardly a dress left in the shop, I dashed along to the flat to collect one which I knew was being finished and, running back to Bazaar with a dress over my arm, I was stopped by a customer who grabbed the dress from me and said, 'That's the one I want; I'll have it.' She came into Bazaar with me and paid for it without trying it on.

We realised that we had to start thinking of expanding.  Archie lent us the sitting-room of his house and became the additional workroom"

"It is impossible to predict which one of the dresses in a new collection will be the one the fashion girls will pick on.  In fact you can never count on any publicity at all.  And - if it comes - it can be a double-edged weapon.
Undoubtedly publicity makes a difference to sales...they shoot up right away...but it also makes the look, the line and the design known all over the country so you have got to finish it quickly before the cheap copies in inferior material are all over the place.
The problem always is that if you start a distinctive trend in fashion, you are also digging its grave right from the beginning because the more people are converted to your way of dress, the less exclusive it becomes and a uniform is born."

One of my favourite parts of my job, is merchandising.  I get a real buzz out of creating a display for customers, enticing them to purchase.  In fact I love window displays full stop!  Selfridges is clearly world class at doing this, and most big department stores have huge budgets to create fantastic displays - but I also really love small shops having a go.

When I was in Macy's in New York, I made my hubby take a picture of this.  I loved this the minute I walked into the store.  It says to me 'feminine', 'beauty', 'you can be gorgeous' and 'you can buy it all in this store!'
Macy's New York - September 2010

Back to Mary - it sounds like her displays really created a stir!  The older generation didn't know what to make of it - a start of something new.

"We had to be arrogant then.  We had to make a sharp, shocking statement at the beginning to be noticed at all.  Now that we are accepted, we don't have to shock any more.  People say we do crazy things but we have never done anything just to be outrageous or because we wanted to do the opposite to what most people do; not on principle; and certainly never out of aggressiveness.
Dressing the window on a Saturday night was something we really look forward to.  We had enormous fun.  Once we used the model of a photographer strung up by his feet to the ceiling and with the most enormous old-fashioned camera focused on a bird (Bird is Mary's word for female model) also suspended at the most incredible angle.  We wanted to give the impression that here was a dress so outstanding that it was worth while getting into any position to have a good look at it.  We wanted people to say, 'Why is this man upside down?' And we wanted them to feel that it was because the dress was so exciting.  We wanted them to feel a little of the excitement we ourselves felt"

And that to me sums up a lot of what designers are trying to say with their displays - 'Hey, come take a look at me and if you like it, buy me' - Its as simple as that!

I've enjoyed re-reading this book and back to the cupboard it will go.  There is a shop in Chelsea which sells her cosmetics - but from what I can see this business is now owned by a Japanese firm - no doubt I shall take a look next time I'm in Town. 

Mary Quant

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Saturday, 21 January 2012

Mary Quant - Part 1

Why is it then when you are desperately searching for something, you come across items you have not seen for years and then end up getting distracted by them!

This happened to me just last week - I found my Quant by Quant book, my edition is published in 1967.  I cannot believe one of my favourite books that I own, is now 45 years old.  I purchased this book about 20 years ago.  I used to skive school with my best friend Nikki and occasionally we would head into London town.  I can still remember being in an old book shop and discovering this diamond - I was a huge fan of Mary Quant.  If my memory serves me right, I think back then her shop was on Neal Street in Covent Garden right next door to Red or Dead.

For those of you not so familiar with Mary Quant OBE, she was born 11th February 1934, and at age 77 she is retired living in Britian.  She was not only a huge British Fashion Designer she is an icon to our Fashion heritage, best known for introducing the mini skirt to British fashion in the 60's.  She opened a controversal boutique in the 60's called Bazaar on King's Road with her husband Alexander Plunkett-Green - her window displays caused quite a stir with the older generation.  Whilst I'm pleased to see that her products are still available, it does sadden me that this is now owned by a Japanese firm.

Her logo was quite simply, but yet modern for the time that she introduced it.

Mary was all about breaking the rules and offering young women a chance to explore their own creativity by introducing colour & design into every day clothes - a break away from "dressing like your mother".

In her book, Mary says:
"As far back as I can remember, I loved sewing.  And I was always tremendously interested in what people wore.  As a child, it used to worry me why grown-ups always insisted on wearing gloves.  I couldn't understand why they always put on high heels for dancing and made such a thing of matching shoes and handbag.

I think one of my current fashion hates grew out of this.  I can't bear over-accessorization...a white hat worn with white gloves, white shoes and a white umbrella.  I used to be told, over and over again, that a redhead - as I was then - should always wear green.  I used to ask why? No one ever gave me a satisfactory answer.  Eventually I decided that such rules were totally irrelevant to modern-day living.  Rules are invented for lazy people who don't want to think for themselves."

She later goes on to about how fashion plays a huge part in a woman's confidence.  Here is another extract from her book about how clothes are important to a woman.

"To me a fashionable woman is one who is ahead of the current rage.  She must have a personal style, be aware of it and wear those clothes that emphasize it.  A fashionable woman wears clothes; the clothes don't wear her.  Clothes are tremendously important.  A woman knows instinctively if she is wearing the right thing.  If she is, she immediately becomes poised, more confident, more in control of the situation."

I'm a firm believer in this too.  Especially clothes for work; how you look plays a part in how you feel, if you look good, you feel great and this can build confidence for a woman.

She goes on to say,

"Clothes should live, breathe, and move with the wearer.  I hope I never lose track of their dress a woman and make her look her best.  There is nothing so extravagant as buying something that no one notices.  I am absolutely against what I call negative clothes...the sort that do nothing, seem nothing,and sometimes cost a lot of money.

Fashion should be important to woman.  If she thinks about the appearance of her house, her husband's car, her friends, the theatre, then she must think about her clothes."

Part 2 will follow, I've found some great extracts from the book about setting up shop - for those of you who love watching the Apprentice or a fan of Mary Portas - I think you will find these really interesting.  To be continued...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Spring trend - Peplum

A trend that was embraced in the 1940s and ’50s by Christian Dior, seen again in the 80's, is now back for Spring 2012.   This feminine look, defined by a little overskirt that flares from the waist, gives us ladies lots of glam!

Just be careful, if you like me, hourglass shape, where your waist is a lot slimmer than your hips, avoid any that are really fussy or heavy on the amount of fabric.  For those of you who are athletic slim, I would opt for a larger peplum shirt, to give you more shape around the hips, avoiding lightweight fabrics, as that will just hang.

Another way of achieving the look without investing in a new garment, is to use a thick waisted belt around a jacket, creating ruffles under the belt.

Here are some of my favourites:

If you have cash to splash, then Net-A-Porter have this bargain...
Sass & bide - The birthday project
Was £620 now £248

These two would be great for work...

Miss Selfridges
Also available in purple

ASOS for £85.00
Peplum dress by Hybrid, designed with a tailored fit.
Also available in black

ASOS also do this lovely lacy skirt for those girlie nights out at only £28.00

If you would prefer just a top, try Oasis for £30.00 this is a subtle way of wearing peplum and you have a choice of fuchsia pink too.

Maybe you can buy vintage?  I can't resist looking at original designs!  Misses two-piece 1950's peplum dress illustrations:

Just Glamourous!

Whether you choose to do something simple with a belt, buy from the high street or even explore Sadie's advice on vintage, make sure to keep peplum on your radar for Spring.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Sadie's blogpost: Why not opt for VINTAGE

Today's blog post has been written by Sadie, you can follow her on Twitter at @sadiebp

It’s happened to all of us.  You plan your outfit for that event, you pick something you love, you get to the venue feeling and looking amazing and then BANG!  Another lady has the same frock on.  Even if you look best in it, you can’t help feeling disappointed and it can ruin the whole event.

There are, however a couple of ways you can guarantee that this won’t happen.  The first is to have all of your clothes made for you exclusively by a band of top designers.  The other more accessible thing is to wear vintage.

Vintage clothing is a great way to express your individuality and there’s an era out there for everyone.  From the straight boyish lines of the 20’s and 30’s to the curvy New Look of the 50s through to the colourful madness of the 60s and 70s there’s something for everyone.  I’m personally not a fan of the 80s but someone once told me if you can remember it the first time round, it’s probably not for you!

So where can you buy vintage clothing?  
Well many towns have some great specialist vintage shops.  They’re staffed by people with heaps of knowledge that are dedicated to vintage fashion and can give you loads of advice.  If you have something specific in mind they can even try and get it for you sometimes.    There are also excellent online stores, a quick google of 'vintage clothing' throws up a plethora of online boutiques.  Another place to buy is eBay, this can however be a bit of a minefield.  When you buy from a specialist online boutique you can generally trust the seller.  They are run by brilliant people who have sourced the clothing, and know what they’re talking about.  On eBay, although there are specialists who know exactly what they’re selling there are a lot of people who know very little about vintage fashion and although they may not be deliberately trying to mislead you, it can happen.

There are however, a few tips that can help steer you.  Firstly read the description carefully.  Many people will list something in the vintage section but when you read the description the item is in fact ‘vintage style’.  This means the 1950s dress you thought you were buying is simply a modern frock with a cinched in waist and a full skirt.  That’s fine it that’s all you were after but if you wanted genuine vintage it can be very disappointing.  It’s also worth looking out for the word ‘retro’.  This often means ‘looks vintage but isn’t’.  People will also sometimes list items as ‘80s does 50s’ .  This generally means it’s a 1980s dress that was done in a 1950 style.

One of the most important things to remember when buying vintage is that sizes have changed a huge amount in the past 50 years.  A vintage dress marked size 10 on the label will not necessarily be a size 10 as we know it today.  Consequently it’s important to read the actual measurements which most people will list.  That way you will know for certain that the dress will fit. 

Two of my favourite online vintage sellers are:
Love Miss Daisy does a great range of vintage wedding dresses
Natasha Bailie also has a great blog and sells vintage style dresses which are just beautiful

There’s a lot to be said for vintage.  Apart from the fact you’ll nearly always be the only one wearing the garment it’s fantastically green!    You’re recycling clothing  and in today’s disposable society it’s a great feeling to know that you’re doing your bit to save the world and looking fabulous at the same time!

You can follow Sadie on Twitter at @sadiebp

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Wedding thoughts: Dress

At new year I start to think about weddings.  Who's getting married this year? What's the venue? How long have they got? etc etc.  Weddings are one of the most exciting times in peoples lives, and I think the whole planning stage should be enjoyed as much as possible - not always easy with some families, say no more!

I was a bride in 2010 - One of my greatest enjoyments was finding my dress.  I love dresses, and naturally assumed that I would opt for a really big meringue, where else can a girl get a way with wearing a big dress? But it was not to be!

In previous years, as a bridesmaid, I chose not to try on wedding dresses whilst helping girlfriends to find theirs - YES I truly believed that if you were to try one on without being engaged - IT would never happen!  

Now on my quest to find my dress, I started with a new boutique in Milton Keynes called "Once upon a time" - I went with my mum the first time, as it's one of those Mum & Daughter moments. I was booked in for a two hour appointment - I couldn't believe how much time they were going to give me - oh how you need it!  Trying on these dresses is a mammoth task, it probably takes a good 20 mins to get in it, flaunt about, discuss and then get out of it!  You also find that standing around in just your knickers is how you will spend about 50% of your appointment (be warned!).

I was also lucky to have a friend who offered to open up a wedding shop that she helps out in, on a Sunday when it is closed.  My bridesmaid & I were there before she could change her mind! We must have been in there for hours....I think I tried on about 10-15 dresses!  Now whilst I didn't find "the one" it gave me a good idea of what I liked and also the designer I would pick.

When you get engaged, every woman you meet who is/has been married will say to you "you'll know when you've found it" - what a cliche I thought....but how true!

So I found my designer, I then found the dress, an art deco style mermaid dress with a brooch. The nearest stockist to me was The Bridal House in Aston Clinton.  I made my appointment.  I tried on, I loved, I purchased and my dress was on order!

About 8 weeks before my wedding, I had to go to The Bridal House to collect my headwear.  As I approached the shop they always have a dress in their window - so naturally I take a look. My heart sinks, I get in all of a panic, the dress I'm looking at is GORGEOUS.  I can't quite explain but in those few moments I thought "I've got the wrong dress - I need this one!".  I take a closer look and then start to laugh - it's my dress in the window!  The dress I've picked for me - I then thought - they were right!

My advice to you girls who are looking for your wedding dress - take your time! Try them all on - even the ones you think you may not like, you might surprise yourself!  Enjoy the experience and have lots of fun with your girlfriends.  You never have this special time again!

One more thing...."you'll know when you've found it!"

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Travel in style - City break chic

There is nothing more exciting than planning a trip away, with a loved one, a friend or even going solo!  Living in Europe makes travelling so easy, I love the fact that you don't have to travel far to discover a whole new culture - a new language, lots of different foods to try and a different approach to living.  It's entertaining spending time in cafes, just watching people going about there daily routine.

I find you have the added adventure of getting there too  - planes, trains & automobiles will have nothing on you by the time you have reached your hotel room!  A few days away can be all the medicine you need to feel revitalised - you will feel you have achieved so much simply by being there.  

Each time I travel, what to pack and what to carry it all in is just as important.  I have some really gorgeous weekend bags, bright colours so that every one knows it's mine and quite often not practical at all.  Well what can I say, style should always come first!

I've been looking to see what's new for weekend bags to help you stand out from the crowd!

ASOS Oversized Punchout Holdall
This gorgeous yellow oversized holdall features an oversized main, zip through fastening with twin grab handles to the top, perforated design around the middle, and a detachable shoulder strap. And only £40.00

BRICS - Missoni limited edition from Selfridges
I'm absolutely loving this travel bag!  Featuring the unmistakable zigzag pattern and vibrant colour pallette of Missoni, this stylish holdall is given a bold edge. 
£345.00 - Value of purchase £43 assuming that you will use it four times a year for two years!

Marks & Spencer - Marcel Wanders Small Nosé Suitcase
This is gorgeous and I think a lovely mix of style without really having to stretch the budget!  A quirky, yet stylish design of the iconic Marcel Wanders Nosé design makes this perfect for those weekend breaks and adds a little practicality for travelling.

A little note to my fabulous girlfriends that get my posts direct into their inbox - why not check out the changes to the Loved by Lizzi site & for those of you reading this little note that don't get my posts direct to your inbox - why not sign up to "follow by e-mail" - thank you!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A whole new you!

You will be reading this post a few days after New Year - but I'm writing this post on New Year's Eve - how is the whole new you getting on?

Over the last couple of days I've been reading lots of tweets about how people are going to change things in 2012 - that's what I love about New Year!  Forget what has happened, look ahead to a whole new year, new beginnings - great fun to be had!

Some people use this as a time to give things up - I no longer do this.  One reason is because just under three years ago I gave up smoking, after many many years!  That's me now done for life - giving up an addiction is not a one off, it's a daily commitment.

So I now use New Year to change things - nothing big, just simple small changes that I know I will be able to maintain.  Hubby & I have been discussing what changes we want to make, and getting fitter is high on the agenda for the both of us.  

Sadly British winters are never a good time to kick start something like this!  But seeing the girls at Zumba on a Tuesday night and having a giggle with them (Lucie - you need to help me get my backside there weekly!!), 5 miles walks with my girlfriend Tasha (go on - let's start doing this again!)  and getting a new hybrid bike early Spring will be a good starting point for me!

Well I'm starting my fitter ME enthusaitically - let's see if I'm still excited about this by 1st February! 

I'd love to hear what "new you" you are aiming to go for - why not add a comment on my Facebook page and keep me updated with how you are getting on.  Or for you Tweeters....I'll know anyway!

Happy New You!

Love Lizzi x

Monday, 2 January 2012

Swarovski Crystallized

I came across some great jewellery in the Designer Collection for Swarovski Crystallized last year through a feature in a Sunday fashion magazine, modelled by Helena Christensen.  Now whilst I love jewellery, I rarely get wowed simply by a photo, but I really loved the way they had styled Helena, and so I checked out their website.

The Designer Collection offers a diverse selection of best-loved fashion names plus less well-known designers from across the world, covering a huge variety of styles so there is something for everyone.  Pricing too can vary - so pick your designer to suit your budget.  

Some of my favourite Swarovski designers are, Ted Rossi from New York, his gorgeous black cuffs are stylish yet I think you could get away with wearing them during the day - especially if you have an all-black mood going on.  Gian Paolo Maria from Paris has some beautiful creations, I especially love the rings.  But my favourite designer is Hely Rotbard from Israel with her gorgeous bracelets.

Hely Rotbard designs cutting-edge jewelry, belts, and other accessories that are exported all over the world, each item is handmade using the highest quality materials. I found it really hard to pick which one I was going to treat myself too, but I finally settled on an Infinity bracelet in a blue that I thought would be lovely to wear during the summer months, especially whilst on holiday.

If you love our Supermodels, then you are going to love this next bit.  Four of the five supermodels who teamed up to produce a film transforming them into Duran Duran - are wearing some of the the designer's Swarovski jewellery.

The five supermodels Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Yasmin Le Bon, Cindy Crawford and Eva Herzigova - you can view the film on Loved by Lizzi Facebook page.

"Girl Panic!" is Harper's Bazaar and Duran Duran's exclusive film and magazine project in association with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS.