Cool in camo

It’s festival season and for those of us who are preparing for a cold weekend of camping in the delightful british countryside, a lot of the preparation for suitably warm, yet stylish clothing is already underway.

I’ve been obsessing over all things khaki / army-themed. Camouflage is back this season with a vengeance, but instead of the 90s multi-coloured monstrosities synonymous with Girls Aloud (the early years) and Tammy Girl, it’s all about authentic gear and so I’ve spent the week hunting down the perfect jacket which will not only be warm, but also look great with my various outfits over the weekend.

Ecote Classic Surplus Jacket, Urban Outfitters, £75

However, if you’re not keen to splurge at Topshop or Urban Outfitters why don’t you try Amazon for something half the price?! I found this very affordable cotton jacket which will be great layered up with a black / grey American Apparel hoodie when the sun goes down.

Surplus Lightweight Military Style BDU Mens Cotton Jacket Washed Woodland Camo, Amazon, £26.99

Alternatively, if none of these are for you – do what I did and hit up eBay. I found a fab vintage Superdry jacket for less than £20 and I’m pretty sure it does the trick.

Stay classy with Mint Velvet

Today, I want to share with you a brand I love which has been on the scene since 2009, but which (in my opinion) still remains rather an undiscovered secret for the 20-something market. Mint Velvet markets itself as ‘relaxed glamour’, and with a collection comprised of elegant pieces in neutral tones with quality lace, bead and button detailing, it does just that.

Stone embellished top, £69 and mink battered sequin skirt, £149

Set up by three ex-Arcadia employees with backgrounds in establishing Principles and Topshop as leading brands, it is evident that these ladies know their target market inside-out and with highly desirable butter-soft leather jackets and on-trend shell tops, they tick all the boxes.

Foundation lace dress, £129 and Caitlyn print dress, £89

Available both online, at a number of standalone stores as well as being stocked at John Lewis and House of Fraser, Mint Velvet is slowly taking over the world. Prices start from a very reasonable £29 for a silk-front top and top off at around £249 for a leather jacket, so get involved and get classy now!

Mink sequin, £89 and bead top and sorbet cropped jeans, £59

Visit the Mint Velvet website.

Be the ice cream

This weekend, I decided to get my pastel groove on.

Having purchased yet another mint-coloured item of clothing – (the 3rd in as many months – read my post from March), I decided that instead of using them to brighten up my usual black or navy jeans, I would pair them with my new sugar-pink jeans.

And just like that, ice-cream heaven was born!

The reception from my friends was generally positive, but with some inquisitive looks, scratching of heads and finally some practical questions. How can one virtually dress like an ice-cream? The answer is – like this..

Peach + Lemon

Peach Topshop Blouse and Carven Lemon TrousersPeach & white striped casual shirt, £28, Topshop
Carven yellow casual skinny chino, £160, Farfetch

Mint + Choc Chip

Mint Dorothy Perkins blouse and Mole spot skirt H&MMole spotted skirt, £19.99, H&M
Mint sleeveless blouse, £24, Dorothy Perkins

Raspberry ripple!

Spot cami, £25, Topshop
Pink jeans, £30,  River Island

And finally, if you can’t find a combo which works, you can always take things literally and wear it as a print! Eat me.

Sugarhill Boutique Shirt Dress in Ice Cream Print, £50, ASOS

The return of Jaeger

Jaeger – some of us may be more familiar with the potent alcoholic connotations this word conjures up, while others of us simply know it as the classic clothing brand which is back with a vengeance and some rather fantastic clothes!

Growing up, Jaeger was the go-to brand for my mum and aunt when there was a special occasion to attend. I remember each season, a particular trip would be made down to House of Fraser to meet with Gilly – the ever-present sales assistant who would send the family home kitted out head to toe in their latest.

(Edie silk skater dress, Jaeger, £199)

The late 90s however saw Jaeger go completely out of fashion and out of our wardrobes. I wore cast-off jumpers from my mum’s closet when I was at uni – not really appreciating this was a bit of a cult-classic about to make a return…anyway, return it did. Now Jaeger has reinstated itself as the leader of classic british style. It has a particular appeal to those of us in our 20s, not only because our mums were all wearing it once upon a time, but because it’s now serving up cutting-edge style!

If you’re not already a Jaeger officionado, here’s what you need to know. The first store started trading in 1884. Set up by Dr Gustav Jaeger, it was based loosely on his theories that humans were happiest dressed in animal hair only. (I know, weird!) Anyway, this paid off as the brand was soon attributed with the introduction of new wools such as camel hair and cashmere. Celebrities then followed suit – take Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe in the 50s. The rest – as they say, is history.

Anyway, since the brand returned with its flagship store on Regents Street, it’s gone from strength to strength. Now stocked by the likes of and regularly featured in trendy fashion magazines such as Grazia you cannot help, but be wooed by the quality items. What I like are the quirks such as interesting prints, buttons and cuts which set them apart from the rest.

(Washed silk shirt, Jaeger, £140)

Note to the discerning shopper – sign up for the newsletter – there is almost always a 20% off deal on something or other of their range. Also, check the sales – the prices are insanely affordable – i.e. great time to pick up a winter coat. It makes similarly priced brands such as Whistles and Reiss seem over-priced. Jaegers all round please!!

Do the mono

Confusing seasonal weather? Check. Frizzy hair and skitzophrenic wardrobe choices? Check. It can only mean one thing – March is here. I still can’t wear the delightful ice-cream shades which are in the shops as it’s raining outside, but going full-on Winter seems wrong.

(Tyler jumpsuit [available in black or white], Reiss, £245)

So, what to do? Go mono. By which I mean colour combos such as black and white or navy and cream. These great, interchangeable options will lift your look considerably and work as an excellent trans-seasonal choice.

Check out my thrifty find – the tipped cardigan. This is the easiest look to pull off. Throw this over a cream cami and slip on some navy/black skinny jeans and you are good to go! A classic and timeless look. To avoid looking frumpy, pair with statement jewellery and kick-ass boots. Done!

(Cream Long Sleeve Textured Tipped Cardigan, Awear, £35)

The highstreet is awash with fabulous mono dresses. I have chosen this French Connection jersey version below as I love the stripe detailing and the mid-length will be great with biker boots or sandals come summer. Try Oasis or Principles by Ben de Lisi @ Debenhams for more glamorous alternatives. Sorted.

(Matelot stripe vest dress, French Connection, £47)

To the Aztec zone!

I grew up in the 90s in the UK. This may explain my love of prawn cocktail (rife on many a restaurant menu circa 1990) and cheesy gameshows (the only thing to watch if you wanted to be cool at school.) Anyway, my gameshow of choice was The Crystal Maze. A hugely creative concept with 4 different game areas, I spent most Saturday nights wishing I could go to the Aztec Zone.

(The highly authentic Aztec Zone from The Crystal Maze)

Almost 20 years on and I still want to visit the Aztec Zone, but instead have settled for a more realistic alternative – I will be channeling it through my fashion sense. As such, I’ve found this graphic, sequinned skirt from Zara. It has a real exotic luxe feel to it and is the perfect example of Aztec styling in an elegant form. I can see it looking fabulous with a peachy vest and gold sandals come Summer..

(Printed sequinned skirt, Zara, £79.99)

For a casual weekend look, I’m rather taken with this cotton waterfall jacket in a vibrant black, white, red and orange ikat-style print. Be sure to steer clear of traveller / hippy territory by pairing with a chunky necklace (see All Saints or Marni’s new range for H&M – out mid-March) and some chunky Hudson boots. Hot!

(Free People Ikat Print Cardigan, ASOS, £43.50)

Everyone needs a leopard or a snake

Leopard, snake and even dalmation..animal prints, you ought to have at least a few of these items in your wardrobe.

(Annie D Double Bow Mock Snake Print Court Shoe, Dune, £85)

While back in the 90s, leopard print was associated with the Pat Butchers and Dorians from Birds of a Feather of the world, things have significantly moved on since then. These days shops are rife with tasteful, chic animal-print accessories and feature on anything from printed jeans through to coats.

So, where to start? Admittedly animal print isn’t always easy. Your first stop should be a pair of shoes or a handbag as you can keep your outfit simple and add interest with these. But be sure to check your print – the more authentic ‘animal’ the better – there is nothing worse than a shiny, leopard-tribute shoe. I think those which have a texture akin with the animal they are trying to imitate are the best. Plus, you’ll avoid falling into the cheap-and-nasty category.

(J.Crew Edie leopard-print calf hair bag, Net-A-Porter, £450)

If you’re looking to make a statement, pick up a pair of printed trousers (very S/S 2012) or a dress in a tasteful animal print. Look for good tailoring and fabrics as this will again keep you out of market-stall cast-off territory. For cocktails and dinner with the girls, I think this jersey dress from Coast below hits the nail on the head. This could even fit into a working wardrobe if paired with simple accessories and a blazer. Just give it a go – you may be pleasantly surprised!

(Jules Snake print Dress, Coast, £95)

♥ for Equipment shirts

Anyone who has ever hunted for the perfect shirt/blouse hybrid will have inevitably stumbled across the french brand Equipment.

(Sophie transparent stripe blouse,, £104)

Originally set up in the 70s by Christian Restoin, his focus was introducing the classic tailoring of the mens shirt to a female audience. Taking inspiration from 50s movie stars such as Lauren Bacall, combined with french sophistication, Equipment shirts became a firm fashion staple in the wardrobes of stylish women in the 80s. Having disappeared from our conscience somewhat, the brand resurfaced back in 2010, bringing a whole new generation the joy of their signature silk blouses in a wide range of colours!

My current favourites are the patterned shirts they have released for Spring – with spots, stripes and flowers. However the original block colour shirts continue to be bestsellers due to the diverse combinations of outfits they can be paired with. This is great when you need to be on form for an important business lunch or just look the part on a date. No other shirts compare – they have completely nailed the stylish, understated french look which every woman wants to achieve. Génial!

(Signature Two Pocket Square Print Shirt, ASOS, £275)

Stocked in most good online shops, you can also pick them up in person from Selfridges and Browns. Sales highly recommended!