Thursday, 5 February 2009

New season!

Although struggling stores may keep reducing out of desperation, we've definitely heard the last holler for the January sales. So I thought I'd have a a look over the coming days and weeks at what we can expect from the high street, and any items that look particularly good for various body shapes.

I'm going to start with Monsoon. I have a love/hate relationship with Monsoon, and I know I'm not alone. On the one hand their designers enjoy colour, but on the other hand they make some odd-looking clothes. I find the fit of their tops to be extremely ungenerous, and there's no denying that their prices simply don't compete with most of the rest of the high street. On the other hand, they give great sale - walking into a branch of Monsoon just after Xmas is like being a kid in the proverbial sweet shop.

The trio of dresses above all feature a rather 'Jackie O' neckline - it's a fresh twist on the fifties prom frock, and much more sophisticated. Only really flattering if you have small boobs, this neckline is dying for a simple short string of pearls and an updo. Very Holly Golightly. The purple dress (£95 - silk satin), is just lovely for a wedding, and will forgive a shorter stature and a pear shaped figure - unlike the black and white number (£95 - silk/cotton mix) which is going to need either height or streamlining to carry it off. The third frock is the same shape as the first, and has a particularly vintage feel to the print. Had I the figure and the money (£65) I'd wear it to work with a neat little cardigan.

There are slimmer pickings for the well endowed. I love the tropical colour riot of the dress with the orange bow (£95), but the wide band of turquoise at the hem doesn't work for me: it looks tacked on, and at any rate, will make legs look shorter and wider. I love the shape of the blue silk dress (£95) and its flattering sleeves, but the insipid blue will do nothing for most skintones (pale redheads excluded). I really like the kimono-inspired dress (a great height for shorter girls) but for £85, I'd want something that looks less like a beach cover-up.

If it seems like I'm focusing on 'occasion wear', it's because I think that's Monsoon's niche. Their trousers are nothing special, and their tops are sometimes lovely, but overpriced. The top above is very similar, in cut and fabric, to a long-sleeved dress I bought for work in the sales. When all's said and done, it's pretty, but it's just a jersey top, and it's £40. What one can justify spending on a frock is, for me at least, far removed from the extravagance I can justify for separates. They do some well-designed knitwear though, and the shrug at the very top of this post is a gorgeous, colourful, practical item - well-cut for hourglass girls - which I might consider spending £50 on if I needed a cover up for a special frock.

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