The Hat Society

Ladies! Am I the only one who didn't know about this gem of a shop tucked in behind the Luas Stop in Dundrum? 

I can't believe I didn't find it sooner. Got so many questions about this hat. 

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As a big fan of hats at weddings (and the races obviously) I've spent a fortune over the years when rental would have been an equally stylish much more sensible option. 

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The hats are made on site by talented milliner Sarah Stevens and they are available to rent for three days. It's the widest selection of rental hats and headpieces I've ever come across (and I'm always on the look out!) Each piece is unique and the styles vary from traditional (floral and straw fascinators) to modern mesh crowns.  

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This isn't an ad lovelies. I paid for my much admired turban style fascinator. I live nearby and I couldn't believe that this treasure trove was on my doorstep all this time! The shop is well loved; a steady stream of ladies traipsed in and out returning glamorous looking hexagonal hatboxes as I collected mine. 

Well worth a browse if you've an occasion to wear a hat. 

I'm in love! Could be an alternative choice for a very stylish wedding...

I'm in love! Could be an alternative choice for a very stylish wedding...

Shoe Clips

DIY dancing shoes? Read on...

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I haven't seen shoe clips since the eighties! Bit naff you say? I'd have agreed until I saw these babies in Aldo. I'm not looking for new shoes; as you know I've lost my appetite for fast fashion and I'm trying to consume less clothing (but a girl can always window shop!)

I found these unexpectedly in Aldo Dundrum and at €18 (Made in China) they're an inexpensive shot of sparkle. Ideal for sprucing up any plain shoe like these black suede Carvela sling-backs, which I mostly wear to work but which can now double as dancing shoes!

Yes the shoe clips were an impulse purchase but they've basically doubled my shoe count meaning I'll need to buy less in the future (and they're so pretty!) Win. 

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Aren't they deceptively expensive looking?!  

Let me know if you pick them up. I'd love to see pictures of your revamped shoes! 

Why Ethical Fashion? Abandoning Fast Fashion for Good

If you love a good Penneys haul then maybe look away now...🙊 But hopefully you'll read on and see why I'm abandoning fast fashion for good.

Thanks to Sarah Lazarovic for permission to use this image.

Thanks to Sarah Lazarovic for permission to use this image.

My style posts from now on will be focused on slow fashion; exploring what that means to me, why it's so important and how I am adapting it to fit my lifestyle. I was never one for the ''hauls'' but I'm definitely guilty of running out last minute to buy a holiday wardrobe and coming home with half of H&M in my bag. I'm still finding t-shirts and skirts bought for honeymoon but left rolled up unworn in the back of my wardrobe.  

However this is a no judgment zone!

What you choose to wear and where you spend your hard earned cash is your own business. I'm just hoping that you'll read along as I start my own personal journey towards more sustainable style and that perhaps you'll be tempted to give slowing down a go.

So let's start with the why.

Did you know that the fast fashion industry is the second most harmful to our environment, trumped only by the oil trade? I didn't. 

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More importantly, I didn't realise the human cost of our obsession with cheap clothes. I'm not stupid; I knew that someone somewhere in Asia made much of my wardrobe but I pushed away any mildly uncomfortable thoughts about that. I'm embarrassed at how long it's taken me to stop and question how a garment (say, a pair of jeans for €11 or an embroidered shirt for €6) can be produced, shipped from across the world, marketed in Ireland and yet cost us so very little. 

If, like me, you're new to the concept of slow fashion and wondering what the fuss is all about then I'd recommend watching The True Cost on Netflix.

One of the most hard-hitting parts of The True Cost is when Shima Akhter (who is 23 and moved to Dhaka, Bangladesh at age 12 to work in the factories) cries and says: "I believe [the clothing] is made with our blood. I don't want anyone to wear anything produced by our blood." After the Rana Plaza disaster (where over 1000 people died in a badly run garment factory) Akhter started a union in her own factory, for which she was violently assaulted and beaten by her bosses. 

I can't ignore my creeping discomfort anymore. Much like some people will not eat animals in good conscience, I will not wear clothes made from the blood of another human. I now cringe when I see Facebook and Instagram posts about a fast fashion item for a fiver being a "steal" or a "bargain" because I know it's neither of those things.  It's just that someone else paid the price.

I'll be researching the brands I buy from now on and asking #WHOMADEMYCLOTHES

That said, I'm not advocating a wardrobe cull where you dump your Primark and hit up Prada because: a) that's not what slow fashion is about and b) a conscious wardrobe does not mean only buying designer.  It means respecting the clothes you buy and the human capital involved in their production. It means wearing something more than a handful of times and not throwing out clothes as if they are consumable. 

Do I own fast fashion? Of course I do. I wear some River Island jeans and I even have a Boohoo top I like for nights out. I'm not a Penneys fan so I don't shop there but I've spent a fortune over the years in Uniqlo and H&M. But that's all about to change! 

My mission now is to only buy clothes that I love, that fit with the rest of my capsule wardrobe and not to treat them as disposable. When I buy new clothes I'll buy ethically and I'll be investigating the possibility of second hand items. I'll still wear the Boohoo top because throwing it out is the opposite of what I'm trying to achieve (and I really like it!). It's a shape that suits me and although it's cheap fabric, I'm looking after it so that I can continue to wear it. That, to me, is a way of respecting the garment and wearing it ethically even though it was mass produced cheaply. Will I buy another Boohoo top to replace it in due course? Probably not. 

So this is my first baby step in the right direction. It'll be a challenge but I'm determined to revolutionise how I shop for and style my clothes! 

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Some tips if you are starting to think more about the provenance of your clothing and you want to make a difference:*

1. Start slowly by shopping in your wardrobe. No need to throw anything out or buy anything new; just do a wardrobe appraisal and surprise yourself with how many outfits you already have in there. It's a cliche but a scroll through Pinterest can inspire you to style some old pieces differently. 

2. Don't beat yourself up about the fast fashion you already own. You bought it. Now wear it! 

3. Rethink the mindset of wearing an outfit only once. This is the curse of Instagram and Snapchat. Sometimes it's easy to feel everyone has seen your look before and that you need something new. I don't subscribe to this theory. If it looked great on you last week at brunch it'll look great again in a week's time with different shoes or jewellery. 

4. The controversial one...spend a little bit more when you can. If you spend €50 on a t-shirt (I know, I know - easier said than done) but it's good quality, washes well and lasts for ages, then it was a better investment than ten similar tops for a fiver each that stretch and fade. And you'll have saved those other t-shirts from landfill. (Much of what we donate simply gets dumped anyway so shoving old Primark into a clothes bank doesn't solve the problem). 

5. Try pre-loved. Admittedly this isn't for everyone but I LOVE digging around in second hand designer shops in Dublin and when I'm abroad. It's like poking through someone's wardrobe but it's been nicely curated and organised by size! I've bought silk scarves, bags, and cashmere from designer consignment shops in the past (at amazing prices!) and I'll do a post soon of my favourites in Dublin. 

So, there it is. I tried my best not to be too preachy and I'm looking forward to the challenge...let me know what you think! 

*Yes you are just one person but by voting with your money and how you to choose to spend it you will be making a difference. 

Images courtesy of Fashionrevolution.org

Authentic Shoes Paris

What a find by my French friend! A small shoe shop specialising in high quality all leather ballerina pumps, including these Chanel-esque beauties! She called me to tell me about them and I dispatched her to get me a pair! They're so soft and comfortable and so so so chic!

I'll be stocking up next time I'm there because their site only offers a limited selection of their shoes, mostly their two toned 'ballerines.'

Happy Shopping! 

Everything's coming up Rose

** UPDATE: The KarJenners sacked her and apparently Khloe K is considering suing her...what happened here?! **

 

Cropped. Neutral. Clingy, 90s Style. Chokers. Long line coats in suede and leather. 

Pic credit MonicaRose.com

Pic credit MonicaRose.com

You may not know her name but you know her style and it's probably already crept into your wardrobe. How does Kendall look so polished in cropped tees and frayed grey hoodies with silly sleeves, pulled together by a Givenchy bowling bag? Monica Rose.

Why are Gigi and Kylie wearing oversized t-shirts or jumpers with thigh high suede boots (and making it look good)? Monica Rose. How did Kimmy K manage her unlikely ascent to the heights of high fashion? You guessed it. Monica Rose. 

(And don't pretend you haven't noticed how hot Kourtney Kardashian has been looking lately...?!)

An instagram-friendly minimalist palette of nudes and greys (punctuated by an occasional pop of colour) is Monica Rose's signature style and it's spawned a wave of copy-cat styling in the chain stores. You'll recognise it in Zara, H&M, River Island, Forever 21 and lots of the others.

Monica Rose herself favours a lower key look. In an interview with Harper's Bazaar she claimed to be "such a tomboy," adding "Maybe that's why I style my clients so sexy—because I live vicariously through them." 

So now that the look has been diluted and downgraded to street style for us mere mortals (she claims to be flattered but non-plussed about the imitation of her style) what's next? Rose's already planning her next sartorial step on her clients' behalf and she says we should expect the unexpected. She wants to change it up precisely because we've all come to recognise her stamp on a celebrity's street or red carpet style. The real test of her influencer status will be whether the instagroupies follow this next direction.

Of course her best known "girls" (as she calls them) are the likes of the Kardashian/Jenners, Hadid sisters, Chrissy Teigan and Kaia Gerber (aka Cindy Crawford junior) and their lives are basically one long, leggy advert for whatever they wear. Every pap, snap or insta promotes her aesthetic and her brand. She should probably be paying them and not the other way around...!

Either way, it's inevitable that we'll all incorporate elements of her styling each season given that she favours pretty wearable, luxe casual basics in neutral shades, even if you aren't five eleven and a social media star. She also mixes designer with mid range and low cost basics, so it's an achievable look to recreate on most budgets. 

I believed that I was immune to celebrity stylists and their whims (given that I have a classic style that I consciously update each year with a couple of pieces so that it never really changes, it just gets better in quality) but I headed into town with Pearl last week in charcoal skinnies, a long grey marl tee, my new Gerard Darel black moto jacket, tan Vince Camuto heeled boots and a long silk scarf. Just call me Gigi.*  Exhibit B: I rooted out my ancient Karl Donoghue shearling recently for no particular reason. I then look at Monica Rose's instagram and see shearling and fur jackets; it can't be merely coincidence...I'm seriously not that stylish on my own. I was subliminally Monica Rose-d. But it shows that you can riff on the Rose theme without shredded denim (which I can't bear!) or kinky boots from the set of Pretty Woman. 

Will she parlay the momentum into a Rachel Zoe style lifestyle brand? I don't think so. Not yet anyway. Her look is so entwined with Kim et al who already have that niche covered (maybe even saturated) that she'd essentially be competing against her clients, who also happen to be the greatest champions of -  and adverts for - her look.  

Have you been Monica Rose-d or have you resisted?! 

*(No seriously, please do - I love that name! And my given name starts with G so it's perfect!)

 

 

Couture dreams

I've been converted to couture.

It started when I had my wedding dress designed and made for me by Edel Tuite. At our first meeting we sketched it and she assured me she could make the dress exactly as I saw it in my mind. It took a certain leap of faith because I only had my imagination and my faith in Edel as a guide. There was no trying on my dream dress; there was no dress to say yes to but I was committing to spending a lot of money.

 

But the process was a lovely part of my wedding preparations and it felt special. I decided on the shape and feel of the dress as well as where the detailing went. I decided the neckline and the cleavage exposure (lots, as ever). I decided on all embellishment and where to put it. It was worth every penny and they altered it right up to a couple of days before my wedding to make sure it fit like a glove, even sewing in a bra for me. 

There's no point arguing cost per wear here because I wore it once and I'll never wear it again.*

When it became apparent that we would have to have a separate civil wedding as well as the big white wedding, I researched Irish designers and asked Sean Byrne Couture to design and make a dress for my civil ceremony. I had nothing in mind except that it had to be pink. Again, the process was fabulous. Sean and I met and a few days later he sketched some designs for me to choose from. I really need to find those because I want to frame them! We agreed on a mixture of two styles he had suggested and decided it would be a deep pink crepe. We had weekly fittings to get it right. Sean initially made a cotton mock-up then tweaked the design before making the dress itself in thin wool crepe. Sean delivered a bespoke deep pink dress (with pockets!) which I have worn to two other weddings as well as two black tie work functions. 

So the cost per wear argument works here. It cost about €1,000. I could afford it at the time because I considered it an extension of my wedding dress and I spent allocated wedding money on it, seeing as I would get legally married wearing it. I promise I don't usually drop a grand on a dress. I wish I could! It's had five days out so far. So that's €200 a pop. Still a lot of money but many girls will spend that and more for an outfit for the races or a wedding or other formal party. I know I'll wear it again, further reducing the cost per wear. 

A colleague actually complimented me on the dress and said that it looked like it had been made for me. I literally beamed and said that it was!

But then I went mad...the story of the couture cashmere coat is for another day... 

But when couture isn't an option (like now with a baby, a mortgage etc...and no lotto win in sight) tailoring is the next best thing. I mentally factor in the cost of alterations when I buy clothes. Inevitably skirts are too long or jacket shoulders fit while the back gapes. Sometimes I'll fall in love with a dress that's only available in a bigger size than I need and I'll buy it anyway, knowing that inches can always be taken off.

The Stitch Shop in Ranelagh did a great job altering and repurposing a couple of plain work dresses that needed to become cocktail dresses just after I had Pearl and nothing fit me except those dresses. They lowered necklines, raised hemlines and gave princess length sleeves so that I had something to wear to a wedding and a few parties about 10 weeks post-partum after a C-section. 

My newest project is a classic vintage Burberry trench I found but which needs alterations (it's way too long) and a little updating. I'm trying the Zip Yard and I can't wait to see how it turns out. Proper post soon!

Leaving my gem of a vintage find in for sprucing up

Leaving my gem of a vintage find in for sprucing up

If it works out, I'm going to entrust them with helping me to make a cocktail dress for a particularly posh thirtieth birthday party. I've seen what I want but I can't find it anywhere in real life...so I'll have to improvise! It's not quite couture but if it works it could be fab. Will post if it does!

 

*Except around the house vacuuming obviously. Everyone does that. 

You know you love me xoxo

Spotted, Blair Waldorf at New York Fashion Week*. Well in spirit anyway.

Blair Waldorf remains a style icon for many of us. If you were a fan of the Gossip Girl anti-heroine's sartorial choices, then you will love some of the trends emerging from NY Fashion Week.

I loved Gossip Girl. I devoured a season every two days while doing my professional exams back in 2008. I would be awake at 3am searching the legally questionable streaming sites looking for another fix. But if we're honest, it was Blair's wardrobe that had me hooked and not the rich kid angst. 

I have a preppy streak even when it's not on fashion's radar. I wear capes, silk scarves and pearls and I'm still in the very (very very) early part of my fourth decade. I'd wear stripes and plaid if I wasn't 4ft 11 and if I didn't know that I would look like an ottoman in them.

So the return of everyone's favourite Upper East Sider is fine by me. Lela Rose showed a wearable collection of her classic feminine flounce, which included mink Peter Pan collars and frilly headbands. It's wearable but not necessarily affordable so I'll be doing a post soon on pulling this look off on a normal budget. 

Altuzarra riffed on the theme too. Hairbands and pearls lent a traditionally feminine feel to an otherwise tough looking collection. 

But if you liked those preppy references, you will love Tory Burch's collection for A/W 2017. I'm not usually a fan of Tory Burch. I put her in the same basket as that other aspirational and ubiquitous label, Michael Kors. This collection is gorgeous though. You had me at monogram Tory. 

The collection was ostensibly inspired by the aristocratic character Katharine Hepburn played in The Philadelphia Story. But whether she admits it or not, the bows, the plaid, the MONOGRAMS (swoon) are all Queen Bee and will appeal to legions of loyal Upper East Siders. 

I updated my coat collection for next Winter this week. I needed a black coat and I wanted a new cape so this Kate Spade cape was perfect. Granted, it wasn't straight off the runway at NYFW (it was from the less distinctly less glamorous Kildare Village) but I like to think I'm in the fashion week frame of mind by buying my clothes a season or two in advance!

It was also greatly reduced to just under €200 so it was a good buy. I'll be posting about some serious Kildare Village finds shortly too so keep your eyes peeled. 

Kate Spade black cape with bow fastening.

Kate Spade black cape with bow fastening.

*I can still only hear this in Kristen Bell's voice.

A Fashion Fairy Tulle

There's been an explosion of fairytale tulle skirts in the last 18 months. What started as an engagement shoot staple in the States has become the go to fashion blogger look. Some important points to note though: no matter what Pinterest tells you, you will not see anyone in Paris wearing them! Save a handful of American tourists, tutus are not everyday wear in the French capital. Cute and princessy...yes. Parisian style? Non. 

 

But that's not to disparage them. I own two of these babies. How? In my bridal haze of 2014 I ordered a blush cream and a black version from Alexandra Grecco in New York and I honestly have no idea where to wear either! Suggestions on a postcard? Perhaps I'll take inspiration from fab Irish blogger Haute so Fabulous and wear one to the races (though hers was a Helen Cody design and a little more whimsical than most designs). One thing is for certain, when I style it right and wear it out and about, I'll be posting some serious #ootd! 

The blush version has had a few days out courtesy of my sister, who styled it with a beaded Coast crop top and sparkly Jimmy Choo slingbacks for a Christmas wedding and for her role as baby Pearl's godmother on Pearl's christening.

 

But the black one hasn't seen the light of day yet. If someone could be so kind as to throw a Winter black tie event and invite me please...? 

Can't wait to wear it but not sure I could rock it so casually...

Can't wait to wear it but not sure I could rock it so casually...

 

 

Springtime in the trenches

A perennial classic and wearable at any age* and in any colour.

I have a black one, a navy one, a red one (on long loan to my mum's wardrobe...) and as expected, a leopard one (I've said it before and I'll say it again, leopard is a neutral). 

Our temperate climate means that a light trench is a useful buy in any season. Perfect for milder Autumn days and cooler Summer ones too. I wear a Winter trench (a hard wearing beige-grey in thick gaberdine and cotton bought in Paris years ago) and a Summer trench (a short peachy nude Zara number) and they finish off everything from work outfits to brunch dates. Here's some good options out there now in case you're in the market. Please let me know if you buy the hot pink trench I keep seeing in magazines. I'll be very jealous.

Of course THE trench is by Burberry. But I can't justify upwards of a thousand Euro for a trench coat. So I'm trying something new...I've bought a vintage classic double breasted Burberry trench and I'm having it shortened and altered... I'm dying to see how it turns out and whether the experiment was a success. I'll report back. 

In the meantime you could splurge on this baby if you're feeling daring and flush with cash. I love that Burberry describe the colour as natural. They're obviously with me on the leopard as a neutral front. 

Or if it MUST be Burberry and you're open to consignment designer shopping then Number 38 Dunville Avenue has a couple of options including a beautiful bejewelled black version: 

 

Failing that, Zara tends to produce a couple of versions each season and they're well priced if not particularly long lasting. The best chain store trenches I've bought are from the Gap - they're soft and comfortable and they seem to wear well. I got mine on sale for under €30. Bargain. 

Online for €79.99 

Online for €79.99 

 

*I almost bought a miniature red Burberry trench for the baby before she was born. Almost. I came to my senses before I paid for it. It was on sale! I see that little coat in my dreams. 

 

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