To soften the blow of leaving my eventful twenties behind, I did what every thirty-something woman wants to do. I followed in the Manolo Blahnik-loving footsteps of Carrie Bradshaw and (kind of) lived it up in Manhattan.

As cliched as it sounds, New York’s most famous fictional sex columnist turned fashion icon is (partly) the reason I type this on a MacBook as I sit in my apartment (ahem, flat), surrounded by stacks of Vogue magazines and a closet full of (mostly unworn and crumpled) clothes.

When I was 17 and I realised that Carrie and Co shared my problems, albeit on a better budget, I couldn’t wait to visit New York. Like most girls, I hoped I could emulate that oh-so-glamourous lifestyle where Cosmopolitans cured heartbreaks and designer wardrobes were paid for by weekly musings/moaning about men.

Although I’ve developed a real taste for Cosmos over the years, I’ve never quite managed to turn my mishaps with men into a source of income. Maybe one day…

So off to NYC I went with high hopes and wishful thinking that at 30 I would finally be able to afford to treat myself to a designer splurge that Carrie would be proud of. After spending a week in the city that literally does never sleep, I’ve come to a few conclusions…

The Big Apple’s not so Big
It’s funny how everything on TV looks so enormous. From Sex and the City to Gossip Girl, I’ve been fascinated by the size of the skyscrapers and the seemingly endless streets filled with cool cocktail bars and designer stores. In reality though, the buildings aren’t half as intimidating (I almost missed the Empire State Building, no joke!) and the bars not nearly as glamorous as I’d pictured (more Irish pubs than hip hangouts). But maybe I need to revisit the Upper East Side on my next trip…

And don’t even get me started on the men – if you’re looking for Mr Big, I’d suggest steering clear of Times Square, as the only men likely to hit on you are those intent on selling you ‘free’ tickets to a comedy show or a city bus tour. Swap suited and booted for hooded and deluded and you’re halfway to picturing the type of men that you’re really likely to bump into on the sidewalk.


There’s no such thing as the high street
Just a succession of H&Ms, Gaps and Banana Republics. I rarely set foot in those stores in the UK so I wasn’t exactly thrilled by their overwhelming presence in New York. But I now understand why there’s such a fuss about Topshop opening a store in Soho.

Big dreams come in gift-wrapped little blue boxes
I really did feel like a way less glamorous Audrey Hepburn when I visited Tiffany & Co. This was the one shop that surpassed my expectations, from the building itself to the way that the staff inside treated you less like a tourist and more like a customer than I expected. And so what if they knew I was heading for the ‘cheap’ floor (Level 3 FYI)? I bought into the little blue box of happiness and treated myself to a Tiffany silver horseshoe charm necklace. Don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t feel special to open the ribbon-wrapped box (even if it was a present to yourself!).

Tiffany Horseshoe Charm, £80/$100, Tiffany &Co

‘No one has breakfast at Tiffany’s and no one has affairs to remember’ Carrie Bradshaw


The department store rules
I didn’t visit all the department stores that New York has to offer, so I can’t give a true opinion on what the offer is but the ones I spent most time in were poles apart.

Macy’s was such a disappointment (though I had been pre-warned about this). I appreciate that it was undergoing renovations at the time of my visit but it was like Debenhams in the middle of a blue cross sale, with temporary signage and partitions as added unattractive extras.

The designer offering was poor – Louis Vuitton aside, the bag boutique was disappointing and there really is only so much Michael Kors you can look at before your eyes glaze over with disinterest. I did, however, appreciate the 10% off given to visitors when you flashed your passport so I treated myself to a Marc Jacobs watch.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Amy Two-Tone Stainless Steel and Rose Gold Watch
US – $200, Macy’s
UK – £185, Harvey Nichols

Barney’s was almost clinical in appearance and it felt less like a shop, more like an installation. So I didn’t spend much time browsing in there for fear of contaminating the goods with my obvious window-shopper look.

Saks Fifth Avenue was by far my favourite store and not just because it’s where I (finally!) found the Marc Jacobs bag of my dreams. From the inviting cosmetics hall to the endlessly appealing floors filled with contemporary and high end labels, this was like shopping heaven. The service was great and I happily parted with my dollars after being treated to a full run through of this season’s Marc by Marc Jacobs lines by the friendly and knowledgable sales assistant on the floor.

I was happy to take Fran and the Wingman, as they’re affectionately known, back home with me, happy in the knowledge that I had at least saved a bit of money on UK prices.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Fran Tote Bag, $448, Saks Fifth Avenue

Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Wingman Zip-Around Wallet,  $148, Saks Fifth Avenue

I didn’t make the pilgrimage to Carrie’s pseudo-Upper East Side apartment in the West Village, but if I do return to New York one day to do so, I’ll be wearing my downtown purchases proudly. When will that be? I couldn’t help but wonder…

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

For as long as I’ve loved fashion, I’ve wanted a Smythson fashion diary. Complete with fashion show listings and stamped with the gold seal of Smythson approval, it is, for me, a statement of total luxury. After all, there’s not really a need for a £200 diary, especially in an age where fashion and event info exists at the click of a smartphone.

But still… As modern as I am with my love of technology and Apple products in general, there’s something quite appealing about good old-fashioned stationery. You know, the kind that makes you want to write everything and anything in it because you love the paper. Especially when you also have a pen that writes well. Maybe that’s just me…

Anyway, with my twenties almost over and the dirty thirties fast-approaching, some of my lovely colleagues decided to indulge my luxurious wishes and presented me with this season’s Smythson fashion diary as an early birthday treat!

From the Mara Collection, the 2013 fashion diary comes wrapped in glossy purple crocodile-printed calf leather with an enamelled slide that slips out to open the gilt-edged light blue paper pages of the diary.

I can’t put into words how beautiful it is so here’s some images of my new favourite accessory:

Smythson 2013 Fashion Diary, Mara Collection, £200 from Smythson of Bond Street

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

When Coast announced a collaboration with Scottish Fashion Awards’ Accessory Designer of the Year William Chambers way back last summer, I was quite excited. High street/designer collaborations are ten a penny these days but this is one that actually makes sense to me.

All too often I’m perplexed by high street stores’ decisions to launch a collaboration with a designer or celebrity that has no resonance with what they stand for. There are exceptions of course – Roksanda Ilincic for Whistles and JW Anderson for Topshop spring to mind – but I can’t have been the only one to wonder what on earth H&M were thinking with 50% of the Versace collaboration and 100% of the Madonna tie-up. And does anyone even remember the less than successful Lily Allen for New Look range? Thought not.
Rant aside, William Chambers for Coast is a collaboration that complements both parties. Coast often bridges the gap between designer and high street with its own range, offering affordable designs that are just special enough for the occasion but not so one-off that you can’t wear again. Each season they do have a few ‘wow’ pieces that are often more expensive than buying, say, a Marc Jacobs or Diane von Furstenburg dress – hardly high street pricetags, but it does appeal to those that want something special without visiting the often intimidating environment that is the designer boutique.
William Chambers’ pieces are designed for the occasion, so really it’s a match made in fashion heaven. What I like about William’s collections is that he doesn’t do subtle. Every piece makes a statement, so if it’s a few feathers and a delicate piece of net you’re after, forget it. But if you’re looking for a headpiece that’s unique and dramatic, look no further than this masterful milliner.

William Chambers for Coast Side Bow Hat, £100

William Chambers for Coast Bunton Teardrop Hat, £100

William Chambers for Coast Double Disc Hat, £160

William Chambers for Coast Floral Veiled Hat, £130

William Chambers for Coast Ostrich Pom Pom Hat, £150

William Chambers for Coast Ostrich Pom Pom Hat, £150

William Chambers for Coast is available online at www.coast-stores.com and in selected Coast stores now

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

This is the most I’ve ever got involved in London Fashion Week thanks to brands and designers embracing the lovely digital world with live video streams. It meant I could watch all (or most) of the action from the comfort of my own bed. It was fashion heaven!

So here’s what I learned from the autumn/winter ’13 shows…

THINK PINK

After watching the Topshop Unique show, I had a complete craving for candyfloss. Show after show, my sugar craving intensified as a procession of designers displayed this seasonally-inappropriate shade in all its girly glory. From blushing baby pinks to fruity watermelon, pink seems to be the colour of choice when it comes to turning heads next season.

Topshop Unique AW13
Michael van der Ham AW13
Richard Nicoll AW13
Jonathan Saunders AW13

JUMPERS + SKIRTS = COOL

I probably haven’t worn a jumper over a skirt since school but it’s probably not been acceptable to do so since the late ’90s. I’m sure there’s a knack to it – like most fashion things, proportions are probably key when you’re not built like a giant skelf. But I will attempt to find a jumper that doesn’t hang, shelf-like, from my bust and add curves where there really doesn’t need to be any more.

Richard Nicoll AW13
Burberry Prorsum AW13
Topshop Unique AW13
Jonathan Saunders AW13

CAMOUFLAGE COMES OUT OF HIDING

From Michael van der Ham’s war-torn minimalist prints to Christopher Kane’s colourful take on military style, camouflage showed no mercy on the autumn/winter catwalks.

Louise Gray AW13
Christopher Kane AW13

Whistles AW13
Michael van der Ham AW13

RED ALERT

If pink was the darling of the designers at LFW, then red was its louder, bolder sister, screaming for attention in a sea of out-of-place pastels. Winter was made for red and designers brandished fire engine reds like they were going out of fashion – they’re not, just so you know.

Topshop Unique AW13
Richard Nicoll AW13
Holly Fulton AW13
Burberry Prorsum AW13

WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE

When Louise Gray teamed tinfoil metallics with plastic she may not have been far off the mark in summing up next season’s fashion forecast. From shimmering metallics and sparkly sequins to rich glossy patent, we’re all going to be like magpies flocking round the shiniest fabrics come winter.

Richard Nicoll AW13
Topshop Unique AW13
Jonathan Saunders AW13
Burberry Prorsum AW13
Topshop Unique AW13
Louise Gray AW13

THE BAG SCOOP

There’s a new way to carry our oversized bags next season and it doesn’t involve handles or straps.

Topshop Unique AW13
Burberry Prorsum AW13

THE FACE: CARA DELEVINGNE

There’s no doubt she’s the model of the moment, from this month’s Vogue cover to dates with Jake Bugg, Cara and her superstrong eyebrows stole almost every designer’s show. How she managed to dash from catwalk to catwalk and remain as fresh-faced as ever, we’ll never know. But one thing’s for sure – good eyebrows, good look.

Burberry Prorsum AW13
Topshop Unique AW13

MONOCHROME ACCESSORIES FOREVER

It’s good to know that this season’s bags and shoes will still look shiny and new next season.

Louise Gray AW13

Burberry Prorsum AW13

Whistles AW13



HIGH STREET = HIGH FASHION

Two of my favourite shows from London Fashion week were Topshop Unique and Whistles.

There’s something special about seeing designs you can just about afford strutting their stuff in a high fashion setting.

Yes, the high glamour of Burberry and the out-there outlandishness of Meadham Kirchoff is exciting and aspirational, and to an extent what fashion is all about.

But realistically I’ll only be waiting for the high street copies, not pre-ordering my custom-designed Burberry trench as I watch the show.

From the sequins and sheepskin at Topshop Unique to the covetable prints and accessories on show at Whistles, there’s plenty I’ll be adding to my autumn/winter wishlist that’s going to be within budget and on the high street.

Too. Exciting.

Whistles AW13
Topshop Unique AW13

FAVOURITE SHOWS
Richard Nicoll
Topshop Unique
Whistles
Holly Fulton
Burberry Prorsum

Let me know what your favourite show was at London Fashion Week…

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

Fed up of glittery candy pink hearts and flowers? Thought so. But since it’s the one day of the year where love makes the world go round, I might as well get into the spirit of things by checking out all the Valentine’s-inspired lust-haves that don’t make me want to puke (except, perhaps, at the price tag).

Personal favourite? The not-so-subtle Hugs and Drugs T-shirt from Urban Outfitters.

1 – Pamela Mann Big Heart Opaque Tights, £9.99, Motel Rocks //  2 – Diane von Furstenburg Phima Knit, £171, Matches // 3 – No Star Hugs and Drugs T-shirt, £28, Urban Outfitters // 4 – River Island Heart and Skull Earrings, £10, ASOS //
5 – Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Colour in Hot, £18, Harrods // 6 – Alias Theo Fennell Horny ‘Art Stud Earrings, £150, Harrods // 7 – Charlotte Olympia Delphine Platforms, £595, net-a-porter // 8 – Mulberry Valentine Textured Leather Coin Purse, £125, net-a-porter

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

I’m so annoyed with myself for missing the first two episodes of this e4 series, but how good is it??

For a 90s kid, this is TV heaven and allows me to relive my youth without actually having to go back there.

With plenty of Oasis on the soundtrack, parent-free house parties and embarrassing diary-worthy moments involving boys we should not, but so obviously do, fancy, it pretty much takes me back to my teens.

And before you think I’m looking back, not so much with anger, but with Lennon-esque round rose-tinted glasses, I can assure you I’m not.

The one thing the show does highlight is how appalling some 90s fashion truly was. How did we ever expect to pull a Finn lookalike wearing a checked shirt and ill-fitting jeans combo?

And hair before ghds/highlights/extensions plainly just sucked. Though not as much as lilac eyeshadow and bushy eyebrows – words fail me on why we thought this was a good look.

Bless lead character Rae Earl and her backpack – we really didn’t know the science that smaller bags = larger bodies in the 90s. If only someone had pointed out that it’s all about proportions (cue The Olsens), we wouldn’t have been so eager to strap one of those things to our backs.

But alas, they seem to be having a revival now that the 90s is considered retro/vintage/waybackwhen.

If you really must channel Raemundo in a backpack, make sure it’s one of these – perfect for carrying your padlocked diary entries and mix tapes.

1 – Imogen Leopard Rucksack, £25, Boohoo.com // 2 – Vivienne Westwood Cobalt Blue Leather Backpack, £550, Coggles.com // 3 – Studded Denim Backpack, £35, Topshop // 4 – Italian Leather Backpack, £49, M&Co // 5 – Moschino Quilted Backpack, £1118.33, farfetch.com // 6 – Studded Acid Wash Denim Backpack, £24.99, New Look

My Mad Fat Diary, e4, Mondays at 10pm

 

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

I’m a little bit in love with Anaid. Pointed black suede court shoes, embellished with metallic star-shape sequins that were made for sparkling under a spotlight. At 4 inches, these Isabel Marant shoes may be too high for me to walk in but I will point and stare in awe. And wait for the onslaught of slightly smaller-heeled and more affordable high street copies.

Isabel Marant Anaid Embellished Court Shoe, £465, Selfridges

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.