Tuesday, 25 May 2010

First Friday Frocks Gallery of Glam

Oh-so-many of you loved the idea of Friday frocks - and the world was a more fabulous place for it last Friday.  I know too, that some forgot... but that's the glory of Fridays, there's always another one along soon.  To whet your appetite for next week, here's a round up of last week's Friday frockers.

First out of the gate was Twitter's gorgeous @_idioteque rocking a high-contrast, retro look.  Love that eyemakeup.

My DJ mate (@nipsla) Tweeted me this gorgeous photo taken in the loos at her day job.  How wonderfully summery do those white lace leggings look?

This wonderfully summery orange frock was also snapped at work - this time in the mirrors of a lift - but we get the idea: those lovely loose sleeves look deliciously cool.

Of course, Friday frocks needn't mean a dress.  My colleagues sported some splendid separates and accessories.  This lady is always well-groomed, but this emerald satin blouse was just breath-taking.

This vest-top is easy-wear, but the super-feminine ruffles are enhanced by the girly pearls-and-bow necklace, and the whole thing brings out her peachy complexion.

Another pretty pink look - the floral pattern in the summer top is given punch with the lovely raspberry-pink cardie, matched perfectly by large, intricate pink earrings (perhaps hard to see - but take my word for it, they were lovely).

You know my love for polka dots... and this dress demonstrates that yellow can not only be flattering to pale skin, but elegant too.

Of course, not only are not all Friday frockers wearing dresses, they aren't all ladies.  @mikedixon Tweeted this picture of a deeply natty hat.  Exactly in the spirit of Friday frocks.

Another friday frocker here wearing a dress over leggings.  It's a practical, wearable way to feel comfortable in a dress.  Great belt action, too.

This gorgeous woman bought her frock especially for Friday! Hopefully she'll get lots of wear out of it, though - it's a classic, flattering style and I love that bow at the waist.  Great necklace too.

Lastly, me.  Red gingham seersucker (needed an iron, though - whoops).  The dress had pointless ties at the back when I bought it, so I cut them off, and was inspired to tie one in my hair.  I think it's that bow in the hair that gives this look the retro Fifties/Dorothy feel. 

I hope those of you who did join in with Friday frocks loved the day - I certainly got lots of compliments (but I do work in a girls' school and kids can be effusive), and I hope you did too.  Regardless, I really hope you got a 'zing' from knowing you looked extra fabulous, and that you're already planning your outfit for this week.

Friday frocks will happen every week - and if you guys send me photos I promise to post them up here so everyone can see how great you look.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Nude Shoes

The number one way to make your legs look longer is to trick the eye into seeing your foot as being a continuation of its length.  Conversely, a bold colour difference between leg and footwear leads to a shortening effect.  In summer, when bare legs are much more the order of the day, then, it makes sense to banish winter black and opt for skintone shades as the go-to neutral.  Obviously skin colour is a varied palette - I apologise that the shoes I've selected for this post are caucasian in hue - clearly summer shoes are available to suit all shades of skin from ivory to ebony - but buying shoes in brown tones is somehow less of a departure, less radical - it's beiges and peaches that I think often go ignored on the shoeshop shelves, and so I'm featuring them here.

My first selection are these peep-toe, ankle strap wedges from Apepazza at Yoox. (£69)  What's great about these shoes, other than that gentle, wearable wedge heel, is the way they marry smart, durable leather with a summery espadrille sole.  Normally an ankle strap is a no-no for elongating the look of your legs, but because this one is skin-toned, from a distance, it won't be obvious.  Lovely, too is the peep-toe styling.  Perfect for a glimpse of polished toenail, and because it allows a certain degree of vertical movement for the toes, it's actually more comfortable too.

Does it have to be plain beige? Yes and no.  Lots of beige shoes have a darker strap, heel, sole, or even toe section - and while these might be stylish in their own way, they won't have the effect of elongating the leg because they create a horizontal line on the foot.  The shoes above, however (Vic Mattie at Yoox - £98), use colour as an accent - a splash that enlivens but doesn't break up the flattering monochromatic line. Another open toe, too - these shoes are unashamedly dressy and quite grown up. Imagine them with an iris coloured dress for a special occasion.  Love the sexy curve of that heel, too.

Can beige be young and sexy? Absolutely.  Look at these fabulously eighties-vixen stilettos from Love Label at Very.  They're a steal at £32, and beautifully detailed with tiny gold studs and a chunky concealed platform to make that heel more wearable.  These are enough of a statement to hold their own against a sexy short skirt, but are the right tone to flatter this season's fashionably pale pins.  (No really, tans are 'out' - you can thank the vampires all over our screens).


Lastly, not really leg-lengtheners, but something more casual-glam? These jewel-encrusted sandals from Boden are steep at £59 if you think of them as flip-flops, but would be perfect and flattering for a more bohemian look at a summer wedding, or if you're lucky enough to be going somewhere luxurious this year - comfortable too, having no toe-post.  The colours here are key: that metallic strap and footbed is subtle, but the warm peachy crystals add glamour without contrasting with your skin - call it 'sophisticated glitz'.

Oh - and if you're Friday Frocking tomorrow, don't forget to let the swelegencia know - and let the compliments flow.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

A Manifesto - Look forward to Friday.

While I've been away, I've been trying something out - and I've come to the conclusion that it's such a good idea it could change the world for the better.  And as with all revolutionary ideas, it needs a manifesto...

  • Dressing up lifts the spirits - compliments may come; the day feels special.
  • One day a week is a realistic goal to aim to dress more swelegantly.
  • For most of us, Friday is already an optimistic day, and for many, a day that might end socially.
  • A frocktastic Friday will bring sparkle to the week - and is something to look forward to.
  • Sharing the positivity of Friday Frocks with your friends and colleagues, even your family, will increase the levels of happy around you.
 So - we all have our own day-to-day balance of style, comfort and ease of dressing.  Different ages, bodies, occupations and inclinations put us all in different starting places, but I believe we can all make that little extra effort with our outfit to make it look a bit special. That's what Friday Frocks is all about. Normally at work (I'm a Drama teacher) I wear wide-leg trousers and some kind of tunic or top, plus flat ankle boots in winter and birkenstocks in summer... But for the past few weeks I've made that little extra effort of a Friday.  Now for me, that's meant putting on a frock (or dress, for my lovely overseas readers), and some prettier footwear - and checking my lipstick during the day so I can reapply it when it wears off (something a rarely bother to do).

Friday Frocks doesn't have to be about dresses - if you don't wear frocks you might join in with fabulous statement jewellery, or a pair of heels, or taking more time with your hair.  Boys might go for a gorgeous vintage Liberty tie, or a stylish shirt (my husband now has three red-wine coloured work shirts - I keep buying them for him because they are smart but striking - the very essence of Friday Frocks).  On the other hand, you may already be the picture of everyday classy dressing - but I'm sure you could bring something extra to Fridays: witty accessories, brighter colour accents, finer footwear...

Lastly, I like the idea of people sharing this new habit, and therein spreading the little bit of pleasure that comes with knowing you look like a slightly better version of yourself.  My colleagues were mostly really positive when I mentioned it to them last week and I reckon some will join in this week - and of course, I'm sharing it with you...  but if you like the idea, spread it (and the compliments) around.  If you're among the Twitterati, tell us all what you're wearing or better - link to a photo - and add the #FridayFrocks hashtag.  Link to this post on Facebook or elsewhere on the net, and above all, tell people.  This idea may die on it's arse - but it's so positive I don't think it deserves to.

I particularly welcome your comments on this one, lovely readers, and if after Friday you'd like to send me a link or photo of your Friday Frocks outfit, via the comments box or email, I'll happily share your fabulousness with the rest of the swelegencia ...

Get Cutie - frocks with style and substance.

Right - I've been quiet again, for which I apologise. Imagine personal matters daring to take precedence over matters sartorial! I have, in fact, received a mission from a reader, but I suspect I'm too late to help her. However, it's a common request, and the shop I've found to solve her problem is so fabulous that I can't possibly not share it with you.


I just found your blog tonight and I'm loving it!
Looking at the pics of your frocks and the advice you've given to others has inspired me and I was hoping you might be able to help me find a fab dress for a wedding at the end of May. I'm singing at the wedding so all eyes will be on me at some point and I would like to look good! (well amazing if possible!). So far all my searches for the right dress have ended with me hitting a brick wall and I am getting a bit desperate!

I am a size 22/24 on top (and an F cup so large bust) and a 24/26 on the bottom. I have a long upper body and tend to wear dresses that are more empire line style and usually with a v-neck front.  I don't mind my upper arms showing too much but would rather have a bit of a sleeve or something to cover at some point.

I usually shop at evans, simplybe etc and ocassionally Monsoon depending on the style of the dress (i.e. if there is a bit of give then I can get into their size 22) but there is nothing inspiring me at the moment. I have had a look at some of the sites on your blog such as collectif but none of them seem to go above a size 20.

I have ordered this dress in purple as a possibility but I feel a bit meh about it:

I'm blonde with fairly pale skin (at the moment!) and love the retro/pinup look although sometimes the tailoring doesn't work well with my bust. I love bright colours and patterns too.

Can you help a lady in distress please?!



One of the best parts of writing this blog is that it leads me to discover new purveyors of stylish schmutter for my own wardrobe, and rarely have I been more excited than when I discovered Brighton boutique Get Cutie.  Their pitch is this: limited range of well-designed styles (four skirts, nine dresses, two men's shirts and a small range of assorted sundries), available in a large range of sizes (up to a 24) and critically, an unbeatably chic range of almost 100 print fabrics.

click for larger

For Amy, I recommend two styles.  First is the long, cap-sleeved dress (above). The shape is so flattering to Amy: draws attention to her great boobs (she can easily add a camisole or vest top underneath if the effect is too boobalicious for a wedding), but the diagonal lines actually help to make them look less bulky. The bodice does the same job as Amy's generally favoured empire-line - on a long body it helps to accentuate the difference between boobs and waist - here, though it is tailored for a more pronounced effect.  I'd wear some high-waisted control undies with this to aid the slimming effect.  Finally, the A-line skirt will flare out over heavier hips, thighs and bums.  The length is spot on for our girl, too - although there is a shorter version (top), more suited to less tall bodies.  Unlike the photos, though, I'd wear a summery style like this with a lightweight wedge sandal or espadrille, tied elegantly at the ankle.  The dress is £99.50 - which considering the dress will be made to order if they don't have it in stock is excellent value.

The second option (the half-sleeve dress) is perhaps less summery, and offers more arm coverage. The shape is more or less the same, but those longer-than-normal short sleeves are flattering, drawing the horizontal line at a thinner part of the arm.  This dress also feels more formal (I think it's the turned-back cuffs) and is therefore possibly more suitable for a formal 'do', as well as being more wearable year-round.  This one is £105.

I really recommend having a look through the Get Cutie site no matter what body shape you are.  There are halternecks and strapless numbers, pencil silhouettes...  frocks for all.