Archive for February, 2009

Fashion weak

Is it  just me, or does everyone else wish that this fashion week nonsense was done and dusted now?


Photo: dominicvine

As you might expect from the writer of a blog that prides itself on promoting simple and inexpensive style, I really can’t be doing with the ridiculousness these events bring out in people. Just look at the sort of thing conjured up by the fashion arm of supposedly mainstream high street brand Topman – pajamas, exposed legs and skirts? I mean, really?

I’m not sure it’s even the fact that the clothes are so overblown and detached from reality that bothers me. I think it’s that everyone writing about fashion knows this full well, yet bangs on breathlessly about the whole thing regardless.

The standard response is that what appears on the catwalk inevitably influences what ends up on high street rails. But I would say that – if journalists stop paying attention to all the rubbish, so will the shops. Even an ounce of common sense tells you that well-made, wearable clothes at affordable prices are the way to go, so I think the time has come for the fashionistas to start focusing their energies a little more wisely.

February 28, 2009 at 9:40 pm 1 comment

In training

I guess there will always be adverse comments when a politician tries to come across as being ‘down with the kids’, especially when the politician in question is Britain’s privately-educated opposition leader David Cameron (pictured here in standard politician mode) and he makes a public appearance wearing trainers.


Photo: Screaming Bertha

It’s not really my place to say whether wearing trainers to a children’s TV show premiere is morally dubious, as The Daily Mail has suggested, but one thing’s for certain: when the trainers worn lack even a hint of style and clash with the rest of the outfit, reason dictates that they should be left at home.

If DC wants to be comfortable, ethical and stylish, he could do worse than pick up a pair of Jinga Shoes – sporting simple colours which are easy to match up, along with a price tag to keep anyone happy.

February 18, 2009 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

Not surplus to requirements

I think it’s great to see Details Magazine recommending the local Army and Navy surplus store as the place to pick up some great pieces at low prices.

As you would expect from clothes that were designed to be taken into a war zone, surplus gear is very hardwearing and as such pretty well put together. This is a great comfort to those of us who want to breathe life back into second-hand clothing but are worried about them falling to bits straight away.

But where there are upsides, there are inevitably also downsides.


Photo: Gerhard Höllisch

The fit is pointed as being something primarily to watch out for, but I would draw your attention to the second warning – that the vast majority of items will be covered in camo prints, which should be not-so-subtle code for ‘leave it alone’. Stick to the classic peacoats or a sturdy pair of leather boots and you can’t go wrong.

February 17, 2009 at 6:47 pm Leave a comment

A concession for the recession

I have finally found a piece on the internet discussing the upcoming Uniqlo menswear tailoring range – a concept which even devoid of detail has had me salivating for weeks.

If jackets, waistcoats, shirts and formal trousers “in a palette of both formal darks and ice-cream lights” do in fact appear at the “incredibly affordable” prices reported in the article, I predict all manner of stylish chaos will erupt at the new concession Uniqlo are opening soon in Selfridges to launch the range (said to on 23 February, but the Uniqlo site has it down as 21 February).

My hope is that this will signal a breakout for Uniqlo’s fantastic clothing to a wider audience – but it is also possible to detect in the launch a more fundamental retailing shift? Traditionally, Selfridges have prided themselves on stocking some of the most expensive fashion items known to man (the Topman concession being a rare exception), so it is at the very least unusual for them to be giving over so much space to such a resolutely inexpensive label.

Perhaps (and we can only hope) the downturn is beginning to prompt department stores into re-assessing where the bulk of their business lies and focusing more on providing quality products at affordable prices. I guess only time will tell…

February 10, 2009 at 6:01 pm Leave a comment

Get shirty

If you have ever wondered whether it’s really worth splashing the cash on designer clothes then this may give you food for thought.

The Observer recruited Paul Smith to give its readers tips on how to create their own ‘designer’ pieces, and here he provides a step-by-step guide to customising inexpensive vintage shirts in order to create something with a more stylish modern cut.


Photo: Emily MacInnes

This kind of advice is great for those of us who want to put our own skills to the test and create a wearable piece out of cheap, recycled clothing. But it seems to me that the article is also suggesting that the only extras you get from a designer shirt is superior fabric and a superior cut – both of which appear not to require the usual costs associated with such items.

Paul Smith himself accepts that the vintage shirts you can pick up cheaply are so well-made that even he “spends hours each season looking into the construction details”. And if the patterns he has given away are as good as they purport to be, then improving the shape of an otherwise baggy shirt should also be within the average person’s reach.

Of course I accept that designers like Smith need to invest in the type of technology he describes to come up with original designs for shirts, and it is this whole process you are paying for when you buy his clothes. But if, with a bit of effort, anyone can have a crack at producing something of similar quality without all this expense, you do have to wonder what the point of going designer really is.

February 9, 2009 at 6:43 pm 2 comments

Bag it up

I’ve just come across this – it looks like charity shops are doing well out of our current money troubles, at least in terms of selling clothes. I think it’s great that people have thought about the savings they can make, both in their wallets and to the clothes mountain recent consumerism has created – but one problem is that it appears to have led to a run on the shops themselves.

So, if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to sort out that bulging wardrobe, have a quick look at my Sharpen Up page and make sure that any unwanted items don’t end up out in the cold, but instead safe and warm in your local Oxfam (or similar).

February 3, 2009 at 4:53 pm Leave a comment

Failings in launch

The online shopping community appears to be cock-a-hoop this week (and not just because the snow covering Britain at the moment is preventing people from getting to any real shops) following the launch of the menswear collection at

I have to say, I’m struggling to get excited about it. Despite all economic indications to the contrary, the people who run the site obviously think that men are crying out for a new place to spend ridiculous amounts of money on clothes. Although the list of brands available include reasonably-priced favourites of mine like Lyle & Scott and Superga, the majority listed fall into the super-luxury category and (unlike similarly themed site ASOS) betray a distinct lack of originality in the selection. I can’t be the only one wondering what the rationale behind it is.

I would like to think that there will eventually come a time when online retailers wake up and realise that what we’re really looking for is a site that brings together affordable, everyday items – the marketplace model is, after all, savvy and higly user-friendly. But if not even the deepest recession we’ve seen for decades can open their eyes to it, perhaps the sensible money  is on the view that nothing ever will.

February 3, 2009 at 12:22 pm 1 comment

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February 2009