Closing doors on The Clothes Show Live

After 27 years of glitz and glamour, Birmingham has finally drawn the curtains on the ever-successful Clothes Show Live and passed the baton over to Liverpool to host ‘The British Style Collective’ in 2017. Determined to finish in style, all who had a part to play pulled out all the stops to ensure this year’s show went down in fashion history – and it certainly did. I went along to the show to see what all the fuss is about and even managed to grab a quick snap with Made in Chelsea’s star and heir to McVities, Jamie Laing.

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After outgrowing London’s Olympia in the late 80s, organisers of the long-standing fashion show decided to pack up and move into a much bigger home, Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC). Since then, the show has grown from strength to strength – spreading itself over the arena’s biggest halls – and continued to welcome some of the biggest names in the fashion industry. But, the fashion show has been much more than just the clothes and rented stalls, it has been the place where the likes of Vernon Kay, Holly Willoughby and Cat Deeley started their careers after being scouted out by modelling agency, Select Model Management. Desperate to tread in the footsteps of the rich and famous, hundreds of girls have flocked to the show over the years hoping to picked up.

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Technically creative staging, X factor star performances and insider tips from This Morning’s fashion guru, Mark Heyes were among this year’s highlights. Laura Whitmore, who was dressed in this season’s floral print two-piece, presented the live fashion show with help from a long-list of celebrities including reality TV star, Joey Essex. Remarkable catwalks, imaginative staging and faultless choreography, the final fashion show was definitely one not be missed. Despite 2016’s doom and gloom, AW/16 has been a season of vibrant colours and texture with puffer jackets, iridescent two piece suits and lace bodices stealing this year’s runway.

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But it’s not all over for the four day fashion event yet. In fact, it’s only the beginning. Moving just a hundreds miles up the motorway, next year’s show will dispersing itself  across a number of venues in Liverpool – including The Baltic Triangle, Liverpool Cathedral and St George’s Hall. Expected to be bigger and better than ever before, the show will be re-branded ‘The British Style Collective’ and promises to provide the ultimate shopping experience.

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November fashion

My favourite time of the year; dark colours, layers and dark tone lipsticks. The month when it is socially acceptable to wear black – Gah, I’ve waited so long. Saying that, I’ve just purchased a sexy ass sky blue leather jacket from Zara – 20 quid in the sale. Winner. A month jammed-packed with stuff going on. Hello, when did I become such a social butterfly. So it’s been the perfect excuse to spend the well-earned pennies – lol. Bonobo in London. Catfish in Manchester. Courteeners in Liverpool. Xmas markets in Hamburg – I know don’t hate me too much. So here’s a few of my fav outfits from this month.

This is England ’86

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Top; Fred Perry (£49.99)  Jeans; Zara (£25.99) Shoes; Doc Martens (£82) Lipstick; Sleek ‘Vamp’ (£8)

The days when The Stone Roses’ Sally Cinnamon was the greatest love story, when the budget-skinhead-cut was in and trusty Doc Martens were the ultimate go to. But the best thing – it was the don’t-give-a-flying-fuck-era. Man I wish I grew up in that era. Like every other man, I proper love This is England. The clothes. The Culture. The music. Gah, Toots and The Matyals ’54 -46 Was My Number – What a jam. Anyways before I get too carried away and start harping on about my crush on Woody (Joe Gilden for all the film virgins) I’ll get back to the outfit. In case you haven’t guessed I love patterns. I love black. I fackin’ love Dr Martens. Oh and I’m all about matching my shoes with my lip colour – I know well edgy right!?

Wide-Fit

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Trousers; Zara (£19.99) Top; Primark (£6) Shoes; Doc Martens (£82) Lipstick; Sleek ‘Vamp’ (£8)

Wide leg trousers – gahhhh, slap my ass and call me Sally. I have enough wide leg trousers to last a lifetime. Ok, slight over exaggeration, but you get my drift. They’re so comfy – like hello let’s do some yoga. But the real reason I wear them? Count yourself lucky, I’m letting you in on a secret here. I wear them cos they make me feel like Kim K. Ok, Kim K may be a bit extreme – but they give me some sort of booty. I need all the help I can get with my little pancake ass. Hell0 mum, you blessed two of your daughters with a peachy bum – did you forget about the other two? Well, at least Zara understands my daily struggles – thanks hun. I just ‘happened’ to have my docs on when I tried these heavenly trousers on – and I don’t think I could have chosen a better shoe if I tried. I like to play around with patterns and textures and dressed it with a velvet/cord top which I think works really well. Ok, and we can’t forget the dark lipstick – It’s Sleek ‘Vamp’ for anyone wondering.

A-line.

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Skirt; Primark (£12) Top; Primark (£6) Shoes; New Look (£22.99) Lipstick; Sleek ‘Vamp’ (£8)

Do I leave the secret to last or let you know now? OK, I give it – I’ll do it now. Primark. The skirt is Primark. Yes I was as shocked as you are. When I saw it in the distance in Oxford Street’s Primark – I ran. Yes I ran to grab it. I was scared someone was going to get there first and steal the last size – this was one of those gems. I fell in love as soon as I touched it. I wanted to cradle it forever and never let it go. But this wasn’t the best discovery. Oh no, prepare yourself for this one. I got the matching jacket. I had a Clueless fan girl moment. I felt like all my dreams had come true – I could finally have a sexy co-ord like Cher. All I need now is to get my hands on her tartan one – it’s to DIE for. Remember when I said I chose Primark over Topshop any day? – Yeah well they had the EXACT same skirt in Topshop – just add a few more quid onto it.

Until next time.

The Mad Grad 

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The fours for thought.

When it comes to fashion, there’s four gals who’ve got my back. For the I-refuse-to-wear-real-clothes Sundays, the shit-i’ve-got-an-hour-to-get-ready Saturdays and the I-refuse-to-get-up-earlier weekdays. These girls have got it sorted.

Megan Ellaby

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She’s a northern lass. She’s quirky. She has the best hair. So, I guess she’s an all round winner. She’s not afraid to experiment – but then again only she would be able to pull off sparkly shiver ankle boots with star print jeans. I’d just look like a massive dickhead. Everything just seems to work for her – jammy so and so. The moment I discovered her – when she went under the name asos_meg – my then waitrose wages started to dwindle. If she had it, I wanted it. Albeit she was a good 5″ taller than me, had sky scraper legs and locks to die for – I was convinced I could make whatever she wore work. Lol, wrong every time. She’s a grounded kinda gal. Prada sunglasses? Sure. But, I doubt she’s a stranger to Primark. Esp Manchester Primark. Like Alexa Chung, she likes to give two fingers up to everything which tries to get in her way. And she gave me a kick up the back-side to start blogging, play around with wacky pants and to pursue a career in something I love. Oh and we’re both a sucker for an artisan latte and a wardrobe full of Zara garms.

Alexa Chung

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Ok every girl has wanted to be Alexa Chung some time or another – don’t try to deny it. First off, she made up half of the sexiest celeb couple – gah, I need to find a boy who sends me love letters like Alex Turner. Although a boy at school used to do that and it was weird. I decided I wasn’t one for love poems after that. She’s been the face of the dreamiest magazine in the world, … actually planet, no scrap that… the universe – Vogue. I dream every day about working in their office. Ok, there might be a handful of people that think she’s a dickhead – but she means well. Gals, be grateful she is a feminist. I remember being asked the make or break question in an interview earlier this year, who is your biggest icon? The girl to my left said some woman president another said some random french author from about a million years ago. I must’ve looked like a right twat when I said Alexa Chung. Safe to say, I never got the job. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that – and I stand by my decision. She stands for a lot more than just fashion. She’s got a bit of fire – something I like to think I have every now and then.

Jenna Rink – 13 Going on 30 (aka Jennifer Garner)

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She perfected the god awful ‘spikey’ buns of the 90s (complete with the silver spiral twist clips) and bright blue eye-shadow. Out of all the films I’ve managed to watch right until the end – which has been few and far between – Jennifer Rink is the gal I can most relate to. Like me, She’s always dreamt of working for a fashion magazine. She had an obsession with dancing around her room to Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. Ok we didn’t exactly have the same music taste. And she owed one of those hideous-off-the-shoulder-gem-encrusted-blue-top accessorised with two whole rolls of toilet paper. The one thing I haven’t done yet is wear my silky nightdress to work.. but I guess there is still time.

Felicity Jones

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Absolute hair goals – THE sweeping bangs girl. *quick fan girl moment* And boy does she knows how to don the peter pan collar. Ok she donned it went peter pan collars were in fashion. As much as I’m all for wacky patterns and quirky pants – she screams simple. But she makes simple so sophisticated. High neck jumpers and a polite-past-the-knee-skirt… Miss Jones nails it. Fav pic of all time has to be from her shoot with Vogue in 2014 – proper sixties. Baby blue coat with a dusty pink collar finished off with a Mary Quant-esk skirt. The outfit which dreams are made of. Icing on the cake? She’s a born and bred brummie – so there’s hope for us all. No matter how slow and stupid we sound.

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How to dress your way into a job.

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Eat, sleep, job hunt – repeat. That’s life post-grad. So, if you’re lucky enough to bag yourself an interview – fix up and look sharp. You can bet your bottom dollar your choice of shoe will say much more than 12 GCSE’s (… what are they again?)

Here’s a few tips to get you on your way:

Keep it Conservative.

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Scrap your CV, Linkedin and over-compensated cover letter – it’s all about first impressions. It’s like X Factor (the difference is you only get one shot). Keep it conservative, classy and clean (Of Course). Remember, you’re applying for a job not a position on Take Me Out. You may be £27,000 in debt, have a non-existent social life and be living at home, but the last thing you want is to look desperate – keep it subtle. A simple, flattering shirt coupled with a tailored pair of trousers can work wonders. You’ve got one chance to make your mark – so use your accessories to make a statement.

 

Put some spring in your step

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Tried and tested; vibrant colours, patterned pants and petite peep toes are the passport to a second interview. Dress like you don’t want to be forgotten and left on the shelf. For Pete’s sake – get creative, be original and inject a bit of life into your outfit. After all,  you’ve probably got under half an hour to sell yourself (no, not in that way). So, let your outfit do the intro. Black, ill-fitted, nylon trousers are so ten years ago. Unconventional, extremely comfortable and only-to-be-worn-with-white-knickers, these patterned pants are definitely the way forward. Chuck in a bold top and you’ll be onto a winner (S’alright, just thank us later).

 

The LBD

IMG_2121A girl’s best friend – Little Black Dress. Like a Maccies after a night out – it never disappoints. It’s an item which completes every woman’s wardrobe. Believe me. Simple, sophisticated and stylish, the LBD is the interview outfit. I bet you never thought you could look so professional. Karen Brady, watch your back girl. Perfectly complimented with a pair of mid-heel court shoes and a classy watch, you’ll be more than ready to get down to business. So, get in there and show them who is boss!

Happy hunting.

The Mad Grad

 

 

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March fashion

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The struggle is real. It’s the end of the month, pay day is still two days away and the shops are rife with gorgeous clothes. It’s torture. Haunted by a hefty credit card bill that needs to be paid off next week; all I can do it wander aimlessly, touch every luring piece of clothing and create outfits in my head. Spring has arrived and the all the shops have undergone a complete revamp. It’s out with the old, dark and dismal colours and in with the new, bright and vibrant. Hang on a minute, let me just wipe my mouth.

Call me a drama queen, but shopping is an addiction. It’s an expensive habit and I get withdrawal symptoms – as you’ve just found out – yet it gives a buzz like no other.  Screw Alcoholics Anonymous, I think I need some kind of retail therapy (… just not in the way I know it.)

March has been mayhem. My feet haven’t touched the ground after tearing up and down the country for various reasons. Unfortunately, these required new outfits. Ok, I guess required isn’t quite the right word to use here.

Here’s a couple of this month’s outfits:

Pinny Prinny.

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Top; H&M (£14.99), Dungaree Dress; Primark (£12.99), Earrings; New Look (£2.99)

The 90’s is making an almighty comeback; the era of oversized dungarees, high ponytails and garish tartan co-ords. Alexa Chung – the queen of fashion – has brought dungarees back in a way we’ve never seen before. She’s gone chic. Comfy, versatile and down-right trendy, the dungaree dress is definitely an investment. Like an irreversible coat – except nowhere near as ugly – you’ll get more than one look from it. Easily jazzed up with a patterned blouse or dressed down with a casual top, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be in a fashion dilemma again. A sucker for turtle-necks, the bright number from H&M adds a pop of colour to what could have been a very dark and dull outfit.

Spring Chicken

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Top; Topshop (£36), Trousers; Topshop (£40), Watch; Olivia Burton (£70)

Patterns, patterns, patterns. Never underestimate them – they speak volumes. I’d rather stand out than fit in – that’s boring – hence why I chose this outfit for an interview. Creative, colourful and classy; I let my outfits do the talking. Dressed to impress, I put on a pair of nude court heels to compliment the dusty pink in the blouse and finished the outfit off with a classy, suede mac coat. Of course, that’s not a practical look for everyday. Alternatively, the outfit can be made more casual by swapping the mac and heels for a denim jacket and pumps.

Photography – @emilyalicephotography

The Mad Grad.

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Feb fashion.

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Food, fashion and festivals are my forte. I ain’t going to pretend that I’m an avid follower of London Fashion Week, neither am I going to confess that I religiously purchase editions of Vogue. More to the point, I wouldn’t even say I have an ‘eye’ for fashion. I just like nice clothes – simples.

Ok, like might be an understatement. I’ve got one little confession – I spend nearly every penny I earn in Zara. Just call me Isla Fisher. Quirky shoes (or, undertaker shoes which I often refer to them as), modish coats and drool-at-the-mouth bags. Zara wins me over every time. I’m not obsessed,  I just thrive on being well-dressed.

Far from a fashion snob, Primark is definitely my next go to. The majority of the time when people ask me where my clothes are from, I say Primark. Approximately 9 times out of 10, no-one believes me. Disgusted by Topshop’s extortionate prices and irritating staff, I refuse to spend any of my hard-earned cash in there. Don’t get me wrong, I do really like some of their stuff, but I can almost guarantee that Primark are going to release some sort of replica in a few weeks. So, my word of advice is always to hold fire.

January and February are meant to be lull periods for going out. Apparently, I’m the exception to that rule. The past few weeks, I’ve been fully booked every weekend. That’s very unlike me – I don’t even own a diary because my plans are usually few and far between. Let me get one thing straight, I don’t buy a new outfit every time I go out – I wish I could. Luckily, I have four sisters who have the same size clothes and feet  (winner winner, chicken dinner). Well, it’s all fun and games until your favourite clothes go missing. I’m not mentioning any names (Cough, Caitlin, Cough).

So, here’s a few of my favourite garments:

70’s chic.

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Top; Forever 21 (£10.99), Trousers (or pants if you’re from t’north); Zara (£29.99), Shoes; New Look (£14.99),  Belt; New Look (£2.99)

A 70’s inspired look; the era of retro prints, flamboyant flares and the hippie look. It’s all making a comeback and at a fighting force too. Not only echoed through fashion, the music scene is increasingly becoming infiltrated with 70’s vibes. You only have to listen to the 1975’s new album to know that. So, just as you thought the days of Mods, Hippies and Teddy Boys were long gone, it might be time to rummage in your parents old boxes. Back to the outfit,  for little 5’3 me it’s very rare that I can find an outfit that accentuates my legs and can make me look incredibly taller. These bell-bottom pants were the answer to all my prayers and made me feel like a giant the whole night. Fi-Fi-Fo-Fum, pass me that gin and pass me that rum.

 

Jumpin’ Jack.

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Jumpsuit; New Look (£22.99),   Belt; New Look (£2.99),   Shoes; Next (£35)

Resembling a jumping jack, you’d think I was auditioning for a part in the circus. Invented in the early 1900’s, the jumpsuit is far from a new kid on the block. Equally as classy yet a little more conservative than a dress, the jumpsuit is ideal for a casual or plush night out. Sometimes time isn’t always on our side and tanning your legs isn’t on your day’s agenda,  so it’s always a bonus to find a gorgeous outfit that requires such minimal effort. Although the New Look jumpsuit comes with a tie belt, I’m a huge fan of top and trouser compilations, so I added my own leather belt to create that illusion. Psst… these shoes are the comfiest ones I’ve worn to date.

Formal Finery.

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Dress; Zara (£24.99),  Coat; Topshop Outlet (£7),  Shoes; Zara (£19.99)

They say it’s always about first impressions. I always think if you can present yourself well, then it shows you’re serious. Oh yeah, I’m also a firm believer that shoes are an imperative part of any outfit. If you’re anything like me, shoes are the first thing I notice about a person. If they are shiny, little bit wacky and little out of the ordinary, you can be sure you’ll have my attention. Purchased in Zara’s Boxing day sales (Of Course…), these shiny patent brogues go everywhere with me. Often worn with a casual pair of black skinny jeans, these shoes can spruce a dull outfit up in a matter of seconds. Oversized boyfriend coats are literally the yin to my yang and I wouldn’t be without them – surprisingly they never let me down.

Until next time…

The Mad Grad.

 

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