Saturday, 31 July 2010

Apologies for this interruption in service...

... I'm actually really under the weather at the moment.  When I feel better I'll be back with two Fridays worth of frocks, plus one or two other things.



Friday, 23 July 2010

Friday Frocks - Nine Time

Another week - another round of fabulous Friday frocks.

First some apologies...  I now have Friday frock pictures coming at me from so many sources that I occasionally lose track.  If you want to be really certain of making the roundup, I advise emailing your picture to me at the address to the left of the page.  Otherwise, I will do my best. So, Lesley here is wearing the most gorgeous vintage frock - very 1965 - and looks very cool and summery on that very hot Friday from two weeks ago.  Adore these pleats, especially in contrast to the fitted bodice.

Then I also overlooked Naomi, who teaches food technology, and so made her Friday frocks effort with this striking, graphic-print apron, set off beautifully by stylish, neutral black.  Making an extra effort beyond what you'd normally wear to work is absolutely a Friday frocks thing, and this is so smart and stylish... I wish she worked at my school - the kids would be learning swelegance as well as cookery.

ScifiSam plumped for gorgeously flattering shades of blue and green, which she even picked out in a fabulously fun manicure.  Punky nail colours like this work best on short nails - the same shade and combination on long nails would look a little discordant.  I can't see much of the frock, here - but I do love the way Sam poses - it always raises a smile.

The last of my omissions was beautiful Bonita in a red dress with white polka dots.  I have this dress myself, and don't look anywhere near as stunning.  Notice again (as we saw last week) how good a rounded necklace line looks inside a deep V neck.  Glamour all the way.

First for this week is the delightful Trudi who eschewed a dress in favour of this utterly fabulous shirt and tie combination.  The black and purple work together in a very dramatic way, and I bet she turned heads all day long with this striking look.  I do love a bit of creativity - and this really is thinking outside the frock-box.

It's another doozy from 'wayward bob' this week, and rather than regurgitate her excellent description, I'll post it for you here. 
She says "i wasn't in a frocky mood this morning, so i resorted to my oldest favouritest dress, in a comfy old slipper kind of way. you can't really see the details, but the polka dots are actually tiny hearts, it has pintucks down the front and it's a laura lees dress so it has all that embroidery she does dotted around. but it's in need of a good iron, and that combined with the flipflops doesn't really do the whole friday frock thing of making some kind of effort so i put on a petticoat. i'm glad i did, it always cheers me up to have swishy skirts."And doesn't it look lovely? I love Bob's dresses - they have such a sweet, vintage feel to them. Almost Enid Blyton Chic?

Next lets see what the boys are doing @mikedixson, whose Twitter name I've been spelling wrong for weeks - sorry - was inspired towards these boots because someone at work apparently made a comment about his personal protective clothing not being up to scratch.  Well, maybe... but they're also really cool.  The current trend in menswear to tuck jeans into heavy ankle boots makes the legs look stockier and as such is pretty manly.  Styled with the hip-slung braces and the plaid shirt the look is cohesive and slightly retro - but of course, you know my feelings about having only one button open...

 This sharp dressed fella (the eleven year old son of Twitter's @donnabrookes) is dressed for an occasion - so it isn't quite Friday frocks, but given his age, and the fact that he chose the outfit himself, I'm including him anyway.  He's dressed for a formal dinner and dance to celebrate the end of primary school, and I think he looks absolutely dapper, but not too much like a mini adult.  The hair is styled and he looks surprisingly at ease in his finery.

This week saw another junior frocker - but this one I think qualifies unreservedly. It's Bonita's daughter, and she has taken an interest in what her mum's been doing over the last few weeks and has quite admirably decided that she wants a part of it.  So - for no other reason than the love of Friday, she chose this fabulous outfit to dress up in - and declared she wants to do it every week.  I don't know how many frocks a small girl has, but I look forward to seeing other looks she puts together.  You may notice that she's wearing one of the butterfly hairclips from Now, Voyager I wrote about the other week.

So if that was Mini-Bonita, what was her mum wearing?  Bon says she's not sure about this dress, but I'm sure you'll all agree with me that she looks red hot: sexy but also classy - she's played that up with structured heels and richly-coloured but restrained accessories.  Perhaps it's not very summery, but when you're having fun and looking delicious, who on earth cares?

Also rocking a flower in her hair is @BeBelongy.  The red is echoed in her necklace, and then in the pattern on her skirt.

and I'm so glad she sent me this closeup of the fabric because it's absolutely brilliant and really makes the outfit special.  The colour palette reminds me of prints from the fifties, but the style of the line drawing is freer and more expressively abstract. When you have a pattern like this, obviously it needs to take centre stage - as it does here with a plain, neutral top and the aforementioned red accents to tie in the colours.

Right up to date with Edie's 2 in 1 dress: the slouchy shaping and fabric is very much prevalent in the shops this season.  It's very flattering to Edie's long, lean shape, in the same-but-opposite way that structured shapes and tailoring suit those of us with more 'freeform' bodies.  I love the open neckline here, inviting that sexy flash of bra strap... an example of how you don't need to show too much of anything to excite the imagination.  The flash of firey orange red, too, is fun and enticing. Grey might be 'on trend', but few of us look good in sober neutrals from head to toe.

How fabulous does @hayleyjgreen look? She's had her hair done, but the star here is that fabulous green dress.  See how the empire line defines her fabulous boobs, and that deep V neckline gives balance and proportion of colour. I like the interesting criss-cross of her sandals, too.  I don't like to wear anything between my toes, but if I did I'd like these.

We've already seen how Lesley loves striking vintage and retro looks, and here she's taken the current trend for maxi dresses and ramped it up to it's most glamorous, 1980-style pinnacle.  The silk sheen of the fabric lends an opulence to the rich colour palette of royal purple and old gold, and then the presence of sleeves give it a graceful, excessive, Isadora Duncan feel.

A few weeks ago Maeve said that she didn't normally wear skirts or dresses.  Frankly, looking at these pics I'm beginning to think she might be a bit of a fibber.  It's a wonderfully colour coordinated look, which we've come to expect form Maeve, but the dress itself is really fabulous.  I don't know if it's vintage, but that solid matt fabric has a real retro feel, which helps make the petticoat feel 'right'.  The V neck and ruching over the bust is flattering and allows the hard horizontal line of the belt to create an attractive cinching of the waist without creating a widening illusion.  The tea-length is right for Maeve's frame, and showing some petticoat wouldn't usually work, but where you have the contrasting colour it looks amazing. Va-va-voom!

Queen of Goths this week has accentuated her curves by the use of this full skirt, balanced above the waist with this paler, knotted shrug.  The effect of the shrug is to make the boobs look more generous, so they can hold their own against the width of the skirt, while emphasising the neat little waist. I love the colours here, too.  It's like chocolate cake with cream.

The swelegencia love a retro look, have you noticed?  Miss-Shelf is rocking my favourite polka-dots, which are all over the place again this summer, but which do suggest a fifties aesthetic... however, it's the scarf knotted at the neck that really gives that vintage feel.  Friday frocks is about special touches, and wearing a scarf in this way gives an outfit just that extra something.  But the real pizzazz here is the hair accessory, and I have to tell you, Miss-Shelf made it herself!  How clever is that?

@Girl_In_A_Box has honoured us with another bright floral frock, and I love this one.  The combination of colours here is rich as well as fresh: dark pinks and purples tend to be very flattering to brunettes.  The black belt and cardigan work because they're in a limited area, and close-fitting - which suits the tailored style of the dress.  The cardigan also breaks what would otherwise be a very high neckline for someone as buxom as madam, here.

Much more simple, but 'spark' is wearing a beautiful summer frock that states another case in support of summer black.  In it's favour is the amount of bare limb that is still exposed to the sunshine, but also the lightweight fabric.  The detailing at the neckline (and also the sleeves and hemline) is subtle but makes the design feminine and special.  I love the vertical line created by the buttons too.

I love the shape of this dress, but what strikes me is how perfectly 'temper_tantrum' has teamed it with sexy sheer black stockings.  The rule of thumb with hosiery is to match your legs to your hem - and although all rules can be happily broken, the dark band at the bottom of this frock paves the way for sexy dark legwear.  The shoes are fabulous too: the dark bow works with the stockings, and the white upper refers back to the white body of the dress.

As is traditional, lastly here's me.  This full skirt I hope demonstrates what I said in my last post about full skirts not necessarily being retro.  It's not quite a circle skirt, but it's nearly there: I certainly have to watch it blowing up in the breeze!  I love the colours here - the purple is rich and berry-like, which works well in both summer and winter. I've styled it without emphasising the waist as I normally would, and I think the effect makes my boobs look slightly higher than normal, so I'll try that again...

Monday, 19 July 2010

Full Circle - Skirts for Fun and Frolics and Flattery

I was asked months ago by a friend to have a look at circle skirts, but I confess I forgot.  Still, she has reminded me, and so here we are.  Circle skirts flatter most hourglass and pearshaped women, but actually give the impression of curves to anyone with boobs bigger than their waist - and they're forgiving of bums, hips and thighs, and tummies too, if like me you bulge out primarily below your natural waist.  They're a fun, lighthearted sort of shape, often - but not always - evocative of a retro 1950s look, and as the Autumn Winter collections reassured us, they're going to be around more and more over the coming months.

The retro look of the circle skirt is fairly obvious - they're much beloved for giving incomparable swirl and movement when dancing, and you need a lot of skirt to top a net petticoat.  The skirts above and top are by Hellbunny, cost less than £20, but come in a terribly limited range of sizes: only going up to a 14.  I include them because they're fun, but for similar skirts you could also try Wagtails Dancewear, who have a good range of sizes and patterns in a slightly longer length.

Length then.  Most circle skirts fall between 'just above the knee' to 'tea length' (upper calf), and certainly it's worth bearing in mind that most retro petticoats are designed to fall just below the knee if you're average height.  But the full circle skirt has many incarnations. Taken shorter it becomes a skater skirt, and these are huge fun if you're confident showing your legs (be aware that circle skirts of any length have a tendency to get caught by the slightest gust of wind and expose more leg than you'd planned) - ASOS have a good range of these up to a size 22.  Taken longer than calf length, and without a petticoat to create the shape, all that extra volume becomes quite blowsy.  They are around - the example above is by fashion brand American Apparel, and you'll find a lot of them in 'hippy' shops, but it's not a flattering look.  As a rule of thumb, the longer a skirt is, the stronger silhouette it needs.

What about a modern look? Well, a circle skirt doesn't need to be dressed up in retro trappings to be a flattering option.  The skirt above is by catalogue company Very, and with its net overlayer looks very contemporary and clean-lined.  It's available up to a size 24 and costs a reasonable £32.  To avoid echoes of the fifties, don't overplay the waist with a cinched belt, and whereas you would wear a more retro look with ballet pumps, wedge heeled espadrilles or curvy high heels, here you'd keep things modern with some more modern lines as above, or perhaps a tomboyish pair of flat, heavy-soled boots.

In most cases, circle skirts look best with a close fitted top, to give definition to the waist, but of course if you opt for a dress you don't have to think about what to wear with it. Obviously purveyors of fine retro frocks Vivien of Holloway and Collectif, amongst others, will cater perfectly to your vintage-look needs, but contemporary fashion also provides.  The dress above is silk, by Great Plains at Oli, and it breaks my heart to say it only goes up to a size sixteen, because it truly is gorgeous. £59 reduced from £85.  For other full skirted frocks, look for anything called a 'prom dress'.  Odd terminology (have you seen what is generally worn to proms?), but the silhouette is usually right.

Lastly, an apology and a request. My friend did ask me to find a particular skirt that she saw, once upon a time in some long-lost corner of the internet. I couldn't track it down, but maybe the swelegencia can? We're looking for a circle skirt with flames appliques or embroidered around the hem. Please pass the information on via the comments box or email if you happen across it on your travels.

Edit - one suggestion from the lovely people at Biscuit Boutique: This gauzy number from Mode Merr - handmade and with a breathtaking price to reflect all the work involved.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Friday Frocks - Super Eight

It was another hot, hot Friday last week, and the swelegencia measured up in the scorching stakes.

Proving the point is 'Queen of Goths', who has turned a simple maxi dress in to something theatrical and elegant through the addition of a shrug.  The tight cover-up looks like it's part of the frock, and creates a sexy, flattering neckline, and the lace trimming makes it look more opulent.  Then the fabulous purple corsage picks out the colour bands at the hemline, and is tonally matched by the flatteringly large pendant.  All those bangles make the wrists look delicate, and the empire line (with the shrug nicely out of the way) enhances hourglass curves.  Brava!

A similar look from Ruby but I wanted to draw attention to how cleverly she's reworked this dress.  Originally the dress had sequin banding, but she's removed that and replaced it with this pretty braid detail.  It's a simple bit of needlework which requires a couple of things: motivation and vision.  To see something you almost love and realise what needs to be done to make it the piece you really want is really creative style shopping.  I love those cute little dolly shoes too.

The last of this week's trio of maxi dresses is from drag0n, and this frock is really flattering.  It makes her boobs look fabulous, and the horizontal seaming on the skirt is pretty, but unobtrusive enough not to interrupt the vertical line.  The washed-out blue works well with the plaid shirt and slouchy bag to create a pretty spin on the early-nineties 'grunge' revival.

So now onto a trio of tunics.  Tunics are a fabulous option for apple shapes, as they glide over your tummy.  Many apples have great legs, like gorgeous 'aqua' here, who has finally decided to take the plunge with leggings... and doesn't she look amazing in them?  The tunic itself gets a way with such a large floral pattern because of its muted colour palette, allowing those peacock tones in aqua's hair.  If you do have striking hair colours you have to be careful with clothes - choosing tones to enhance or to provide a backdrop.  It's the latter here, and it looks great.

Preserving her anonymity with a headless shot, and her modesty with a leggings and vest combo 'cesare' looks really cool in this short kaftan.  The translucent fabric makes for lots of flattering colour without the 'in-your-face' impact of a more solid cloth.  The translucent patterned fabric also creates a flattering diaphanous effect, softening the clean black outlines with floaty vertical stripes and feminine frill detailing.

My last tunic is from Fran, who I know would dearly have loved to wear a more dressy frock, but she's finding it tricky to find one to fit both her and her tummy-residing daughter.  This tunic is lovely, though - it emphasises her fabulous rack, makes her bump look gorgeously blooming and rounded, while finishing at a good length to ensure that someone so petite (and Fran is under five feet tall) still looks quite long-legged (that's also the empire line at work). Fabulous.

Rozi has been on her school's winter holidays this week but still frocked up in this utterly wonderful skirt.  When you have a feature piece like this, you obviously need to keep everything else very simple, but I'm glad she's picked out the turquoise from the skirt for her top, rather than sticking to safe black - colours near the face are brightening and flattering.

Charlotte also went for separates with these cool linen oxford bags providing the foundation for a bright strappy top and feature necklace.  There's nothing complicated or hard to wear here - but the overall look is elegant and put together.  Try choosing a more complicated piece of jewellery and then putting together a simple outfit behind it, paying attention to the colours that flatter you, but keeping things plain.

Jewellery really can be the making of an outfit, particularly in a dressing-up, Friday frocks context.  This lovely, full maxi skirt doesn't need much, and the simple white vest is perfect - but imagine if 'geminisnake' hadn't added the necklace.  The broad bands of rich colour at the bottom would dominate, dragging the eye down.  By picking up the colour again at the throat, our eyes focus on the outfit as a whole.  It's a wonderful photo too, no?  There's something about it.

Back to the frocks.  I love Cloo's dress here.  There's something a bit Brideshead Revisited meets Wimbledon, and it's utterly flattering.  Cloo is really slim and petite, and the length and restrained full skirt of this dress suits her proportions.  She has pale colouring too, and would be in danger of the white washing out her complexion, but the clever black piping gives definition. Hurrah, too for nude shoes.

@BeBelongy's two-in-one nautical dress is right up to the minute.  The horizontal lines at the bust make her look utterly boobalicious, while the A line skirt skims to the knee flatteringly.  She's softened the harsh monochrome with a soft ochre corsage, allowing her to finish the look with fabulous matching mary-janes.  Beautiful - her hair looks great, too.

Tribal prints are absolutely everywhere this summer, so 'temper_tantrum' is right 'on-trend', but it's more than that.  This sundress may be simple but the cut is so flattering.  The close fitting, deep scoop-necked bodice accentuates the bust, while the pretty, full skirt hides any imperfections while keeping your legs cool.  Expect to see more of this shape in Autumn/Winter - it was very big in lots of the catwalk shows. Hurrah!

A similar shape, from 'wayward bob', but the high neckline here does two things.  Firstly, it's more flattering for a smaller bust, and secondly, it evokes a more retro feel.  That, combined with the simple print and the slightly shorter length (plus the bare feet) makes this look quite beautifully childlike... in a womanly kind of way.  Perfect for a summer day in the garden, picking daisies in the shiny weather.

All womanly swelegance, however, is Maeve, who this week decided to go for simple, classy pearls to finish off her look.  She tells me that the pearls made the outfit look almost forties-style, and I know what she means: it's also because of the scale of the print - you could imagine that fabric making up a tea-dress fit for a siren of the Blitz.  The black leggings, cardie and shoes make this a restrained, elegant look for Maeve.  Really lovely.

 Have I said enough, yet, how much I love this style of dress.  This week it's Trashy's turn to be sporting the 'deep-V-neck-tailored-bodice-wider-than-A-line-but-not-quite-full-skirted' frock.  If you have boobs over a C cup and a smaller waist, this dress will flatter you - get one while they're in the shops.  I love the double string of beads here: the colour lends warmth to the face and the curve sits perfectly in the angular neckline.

The curve and V effect is also used here by Miss-Shelf, but that's not what I love most.  Look at that brilliant, bold raspberry pick cardigan.  It turns an elegant, grown up dress into something fun and flirty and fabulous.  The cropped length of the cardi allows Miss-Shelf's neat waist to feature, somthing she's accentuated with a cinching, chunky belt.  The flip flops coordinate perfectly too. Very 'put together'.

I'm aware that I often point out who shouldn't be wearing white and light colours, but Sophie here demonstrates that if you have some colour in your skin, and warmth in your hair shade, pale clothes can look breathtakingly pretty.  The sprigged floral pattern and feminine styling is a little bit 'Little House on the Prairie' - but I imagine Sophie's too young to get that reference...  I adore the white flower - it increases the cute, romantic feel, while the wedges are simple and retro but high enough to be womanly and sexy.

I recieved lots of pictures of accessories this week - which I love to feature because some people still think that Friday frocks can't work with their life... but everyone can accessorise with something a little bit special.  Beautiful 'Moose' actually did put together a whole Friday frocks outfit, but could only get a pic of the head and shoulders.  We'll have to use our imaginations for the rest of the top and the three quarter length jeans, but it's creating a pretty picture in my head.  What we can see is the fabulous necklace from Retro Jewellery UK - sadly the cherries are out of stock, but let the website and Moose inspire you to jazz up your friday with an inexpensive piece of fun.

@Melanie_jane sent me this picture of her fantastic Friday footwear.  How Fabulous are these feet of flame?  The rich orangey red platforms are wonderfully late seventies retro, and the different textures create a sculpural look - I love those kind of design details. The manicure is perfect, and the whole look sets off her ice-blue tattoo.

I know that Pootle did a whole Friday frocks outfit last week, because she told me all about the compliments she was getting the whole day long.  Sadly, she only got it togther to photograph her handbag - but it's a beauty.  Proof that elegant doesn't have to mean boring, Pootle swapped her usual courier bag for this gorgeous vintage-style coach bag. The pale tan leather is timeless, and the external purse pocket both makes the piece interesting, and evidently is a practical solution for mp3 player storage.

The always-glamorous @Girl_in_A_Box spent all day on Friday travelling, so focused her swelegance on one finger.  She calls this her 'Ring of Power' - I love it.  The pretty lilac stones coordinate with her hot pink nails, and the asymmetric circles design looks both organic and playful. I must. not. covet.

No picture of me this week - I did do Friday frocks, but I wasn't happy with it. Let nobody ever feel under tyranny to share with the world what they know looks rough.  I'll do better next week...