Save your cash! Restyle, restyle restyle!

Simple black tulip skirt bought for £5.00 in a charity shop. Teamed with Adidas jacket and Alexander McQueen scarf for a sports luxe designer look

Simple black tulip skirt bought for £5.00 in a charity shop. Teamed with Adidas jacket and Alexander McQueen scarf for a sports luxe designer look

With Christmas just 9 weeks away many of us have begun putting money aside or in fact some have already begun their Christmas shopping. I however am one of those last minute Christmas shoppers and it’s usually a struggle trying to get things sorted in the last remaining weeks running up to the Festive season.

Having recently bought a house, a new neice or nephew on the way, Christmas just around the corner and a wedding to pay for I have had to tighten my belt in recent weeks. Before becoming a home owner I would have shopped around for bargains and was reasonably careful with my money but if there was something I wanted I would just go out and buy it. The latest hot trend had to be mine (although I would always go for a unique alternative) and I never really felt guilty about my frequent shopping .

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Same skirt different look. This time teamed with vintage shirt and vintage bolero jacket. The entire look was less than £20.00

These days I very rarely go shopping  but when I do I always have to choose between outfits. On a recent shopping trip I had about four dresses, three tops, two skirt and several jumpers but on a tight budget naturally I couldn’t buy them all. It was a difficult decision but in the end I chose items that I knew could easily be teamed with other separates so I would get much more versatility and therefore better value for money.

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A dressier look using the same skirt. Again this look was just over £15.00

As well as supporting our local boutiques and our high street I am also a big fan of our local charity shops. Many people are put off by rows and rows of similar colours crammed together and minimal visual merchandising but you can find some really great things in charity shops, you just have to look for them and see the potential in things.

The power of restyling. Same skirt again!

The power of restyling. Same skirt again!

If you have a weakness for clothes like me but your cash flow is restricted my advice is as follows. If you need a new outfit go for items that you can mix and match. Take my black skirt as an example I purchased this for just £5.00 in a local charity shop and it has been my secret weapon.  I have worn it casual to work, on nights out with heels, as part of a fancy dress costume and to a wedding evening party dressed up with a black top statement necklace, cashmere wrap and heels.  This has been the best fiver I have ever spent. If you have time shop around and always take a look in the charity shops as you never know what you might find. Most dresses can be worn casual so if you are choosing between a dress and a skirt; although the skirt can be used to create a broader spectrum of outfits you can still create a wide selection of outfits with a dress if you just use your imagination. With careful consideration and thinking about what you already have at home while shopping you can most definitely make your money go further.

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One dress 2 looks. Add a jumper for a skirt jumper combo and you’ll have endless outfit possibilitiessDSC_0836

Stay chic in the rain

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I don’t think anyone  hopes for wet and cold weather however with all the stylish outerwear and accessories around at the moment we may not mind wrapping up and braving the elements. If like me you spend quite a few Saturday afternoons either watching the local football or hitting the high street at least you will be wrapped up in style.

Being well accustomed to wet and windy weather all through the year means that we Fermanagh folk have a vast selection of coats, umbrellas, hats and waterproof attire and despite having many coats already I may just have a weakness for a nice coat. There is certainly no shortage of rain friendly chic outerwear for us to choose from and with all the perfect rainy day outfits available there is no chance of us having a bad outfit day.

The timeless trench

A trench coat has a timeless classic look that will never go out of style. For a dressed down casual look team with skinny jeans and boots or for a more dressed up pair with a pencil skirt and heels.

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Leather

Although a leather jacket isn’t really me I do think they are incredibly cool. For a punky going out look stay dry with a leather jacket shift dress and sky high heels.

Country Girl

I am not a fan of the quilted jacket as it just reminds me of school but I do think they look good, are very cosy and especially good in our cold winter days. They are associated with a country look but are also practical in this wet and cold climate. For a dressed down look team with a shirt tunic, skinny jeans or leggings and Hunter wellies.

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The Oversized coat

This can be anything from a stylish camel coat to the more modern cocoon coat. You will certainly never feel the elements in one of these blanket like creations. For a cool street style look try teaming with a pair of bright trainers and jeans.

Fur

Although it won’t keep you particularly dry it will definitely keep you warm. Fur is a big deal this season particularly if it’s in bright colours, patterned or shaggy style. It’s not just fur coats either it’s everything from fur snoods to boleros and Russian hats.

Whatever way you choose to stay waterproof, warm and cosy this winter with all the varieties and styles of coats and accessories on the high street this autumn you will most certainly do it in style. Even if the typical Fermanagh wind and rain makes you feel as though you want to stay indoors you have no excuses for not having a great winter wardrobe.

 

Ladies in Leather

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On a recent shopping trip I noticed quite a lot of leather and leather look items in our local stores. I often wonder how the ladies will take to certain trends and leather is one trend in particular that I have never managed to get into myself, perhaps because the thought of trying to squeeze into a pair of leather trousers does not appeal to me or the thought of how uncomfortable they might be. I also like the look of leather jackets on other people but for some reason have, as yet, been unable to find one that suits me.

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Although the 1960s are a big trend at the moment, leather is a trend that very much stems from the 1970s and was revolutionised by glam rock and female rock stars such as Suzi Quatro. I watched a programme recently about how until artists like Suzi Quatro emerged in the mid-1970s female style was very much feminine despite how modern and open minded women had become throughout the sixties. Quatro was this breath of fresh air who almost looked like a boy but was still very feminine in her own right. Her look was completely unique and, at the time, very radical.

To this day many still have their misconceptions about leather clothing, don’t get me wrong there are some really nice leather dresses and fab leather biker jackets in our local stores at the moment but there is just something wrong about a short leather skirt. Even if dressed down with a knitted jumper and a pair of ankle boots the leather skirt will always draw you in and it just makes me think of Kat Slater from EastEnders.

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Although it’s a trend that keeps coming back it seems to be on overload at the moment, yet I haven’t actually seen that many people out and about here in Fermanagh in their leather skirts or leather trousers. To be perfectly honest I feel this is a trend that needs to be dressed down rather than worn on a night out on the town, particularly the leather skirt and heel combination (except if it’s a pencil skirt). I am not trying to offend anyone or put anyone off buying leather however I do feel it should be worn with caution.  Teaming leather with the correct items is vital and can only go one way or the other. If you pair everything together correctly it can look really good but if you get it wrong it can be oh so wrong. Try to stick with a happy medium, don’t put too much black together, try to avoid loud  leopard prints, don’t pile leather on leather and where possible try to keep the whole look very much toned down, therefore  thigh high boots with a short leather skirt are a huge a no go area.

Yummy Mummies

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With another Royal baby on the way and my sister and good friend both due in the coming weeks it’s baby boom all round. In a recent conversation with my sister she complained about how difficult it is to get trendy maternity wear here in Fermanagh and that anything she has tried to purchase online just hasn’t looked right and had to be sent back.

Believe it or not maternity wear has come a long way from the frumpy, unflattering smocks, dresses and bin bag like tunics that maternity departments used to pass off as fashion. I cannot begin to imagine what it feels like to no longer fit into your favourite skinny jeans due to a rapidly expanding bump. However don’t get rid of all your favourite clothes keep them at the back of your wardrobe to give yourself the motivation to get back into them again post baby. In this article dedicated to mums I have gone through all the latest Autumn Winter trends and adapted them to suit your bump. Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t wear this season’s hottest trends, you just need to adapt things slightly.

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Although many of the shorter lengths in dresses wouldn’t really suit your bump you can still find many sixties style dresses in knee length. Peter pan collars look really cute with a neat little bump in the early months of pregnancy and shift style dresses with bold patterns will draw attention away from your bump. Wear with tights in the cooler days of autumn, which will also give extra support for your legs.

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Capes and kimonos

Blanket capes as seen on the Burberry catwalk are now everywhere on the high street and these along with kimono style jackets are a great way to wrap up during winter and give a very flattering drape effect on your bump.

Maxi dresses

No matter what the season you can always rely on a maxi dress to get you through all eventualities especially when pregnant. Whether it’s a shopping trip with the girls or a wedding you can up style or down play any maxi dress to fit the occasion and the great thing is it will always make you look slim. Try a pop of colour for a more trend setting look.

Cosy Knits

Although some of the bulkier knitted jumpers and fur coats will probably do nothing but make you feel frumpy there are some great longer length knitted cardigans on the high street at the moment that will look flattering against your bump. As well as this if you want to look on trend this season yet don’t like the idea of a bulky fur jacket why not opt for a much more flattering longer length tweed jacket  or long line blazer, which will elongate your torso and give you a neater looking figure.

Blogs – a fashion forward outlook for Fermanagh

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Social media has taken the world by storm and has taken over our lives in the space of just a few years. Many of you will have Facebook or Twitter accounts or both but these days it’s not enough to simply be on Twitter and Facebook. You’ve got Snap Chat, What’s App, Instagram and my personal favourite Pinterest and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Nowadays people use and rely on social media for everything from organising a birthday party to selling a suite of furniture and whether we like it or not this is the way forward. Even here in Fermanagh, which can at times be pretty behind when it comes to gadgets, fashion and forward thinking Social media is an everyday tool to people of all ages and backgrounds and is used in countless ways.

As a fashion journalist I use social media a lot for research mainly for staying up to date with all the latest fashion news, trends and cutting edge fashion that you don’t see anywhere else. Social media enables me to go places and see things without even having to leave Fermanagh. For my research I often find blogs (a web log or regularly updated web page, written in an informal style as a diary or report of certain interests or goings on) incredibly useful and in fact I use my own blog as a way of reaching a wider audience beyond Fermanagh. Even though Fermanagh is quite a small place I know social media is widely used here so I put a call out using Facebook to see if I could find any local fashion and lifestyle bloggers and just as I suspected I got talking to several interesting people.

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Printed Skull Ink

I was already aware of Donna McCabe’s strong local social media presence through her Blog ‘Printed Skull Ink’. She came up with the name through her background in fashion and textile design and love of skulls. Her blog www.printedskullink.blogspot.co.uk is a review of local fashion and lifestyle businesses and events. Donna strongly believes in promoting and supporting local businesses to ensure their survival. In the upcoming weeks she will be covering Belfast Fashion week and organising a charity photo shoot for breast cancer awareness.

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Allis Vintage

Allis Vintage is my blog (www.allisvintage.wordpress.com) in which I talk about all things unique, one of a kind and the weird and wonderful fashion world around us. In my blog I do like to discuss local fashion matters but I also like to explore the world around me as well as bringing a little bit of Fermanagh to the outside world. I have had great comments from as far away as New Zealand and India so its great to promote local fashion to people across the globe.

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Secrets of a Twenty Something

Lisbellaw’s Victoria Stokes’ blog and website, secretsofatwentysomething.com, explores everything from beauty and fashion to dating disasters and celebrity gossip. Although it is aimed at twenty somethings it is a good read for all ages as her regular blogs discuss topics that effect women of all ages.

Man oh man!

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I must admit on nights out I always have a good look around to see what people are wearing and it does really impress me when a guy makes an effort to look good, choose his outfits well and try to be a little different from your average.

At a recent event I attended it was almost as if the guys there were in uniform because nearly every man in the place was wearing a checked shirt, jeans and brown shoes. The one or two guys who did stand out were the ones who weren’t wearing checked shirts and jeans and it just made me think that although all of those men made an effort to put on their best going out gear they obviously don’t mind looking like every other man in the place.

If a girl went out and spotted another girl in the same outfit as her she would most definitely be mortified but if a man does it he doesn’t seem to care. Maybe we women care too much about our appearance or about what others think of us.

For those Fermanagh men out there who are interested in fashion, take pride in your appearance or if you’re just sick of the check shirt jeans combination and fancy a change here are some of the trends that will feature on the high street here in Fermanagh.

Gentlemen wear checks

So far we’ve seen it on local celebrities such as Rory McIlroy and Steven Nolan and this look is set to be a popular alternative in terms of tailoring. By checks I am not talking about checked shirts but checked suits although I have noticed a few guys teaming checks with tweed suits which made a welcome change.

Military Vs Marine

Autumn winter will see a mix of military inspired looks including military jackets, utility shirts, bomber jackets and parka coats and also a marine inspired look. Although marine may seem like more of a summer trend it works well for winter with heavy duffle coats and woven knitwear.

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1960s

You will usually find at least one menswear trend that corresponds with women’s wear and in this case it’s the 1960s trend. In the case of menswear it’s all about the ‘stovepipe slacks’, polo necks, shirts with slim ties and a clean cut appearance. For style inspiration check out the Beatles circa 1964.

Animal magic

Animal print was featured on the London and Milan menswear shows however in terms of high street fashion in Fermanagh I don’t know if some of the looks will be such a hit. Any Joey Essex wannabes will love this trend as much as he does. For this trend you don’t necessarily have to go the whole hog but perhaps just a t-shirt or shirt to experiment a little with a different print.

Autumn Winter Wardrobe reshuffle

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I highly recommend that everyone does a wardrobe clear out at least once a year. You never realise how much stuff you stash away until you start to sort through it all. As I write this I am in the middle of moving house and until now I never realised how out of control my wardrobe is. I am sure I am not the only person in Fermanagh currently moving house and this article will probably be very relevant to a lot of students who are moving out of Fermanagh to start their new life at University.

If you are anything like me and find it difficult to part with your clothes doing a clear out can be a daunting task. My golden rule is if you haven’t worn it in the last year then it’s not worth keeping. If you have time to sort through properly you should make three piles, one for keeping, one for charity shops and one for recycling. I usually separate the things I keep into autumn winter and spring summer piles so that I can store one away in another room to make more space in my wardrobe (though this is probably why I convince myself that I have less than I actually do).

Usually when I am doing a wardrobe clear out I will hold on to items that I think I can alter or fix and put them in an ‘alterations pile’ however because Im moving house and my alteration pile is getting beyond a joke I have had to be ruthless and just get rid of a lot of it. Items that are either in need of or beyond repair can be bagged up and brought to a local ‘cash for clothes’ outlet. It will surprise you how much you can get for a load of junk that you might otherwise just have thrown in the bin. At least in this case the clothes are recycled and not added to landfill.

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When it comes to my current wardrobe I will always keep things that are in season and on trend. Although it is not technically autumn yet it certainly feels like it so I feel now is as good a time as any to prepare for autumn winter and say goodbye to my summer wardrobe. You may think this means saying goodbye to bright colours and prints however this is not the case for the coming season. Striking colours such as hot pinks, electric blue, zingy oranges and lemons will stay with us well into the winter months. Also hold onto anything with a 60s vibe as this will be big news for autumn winter.

An obvious thing for autumn winter is knitwear but in particular layering. Make extra room in your wardrobe for thick cable knits, gillets and faux fur and if you have coloured fur or shearling coats most definitely hold on to these.

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An autumn winter wardrobe can often be a problem because it takes up so much space. Not only do you have bulkier clothes to contend with but also coats, scarves and boots and it’s difficult to find space for it all. One important thing to remember is that one good investment not only takes up much less space than three or four poor quality items but will also last much longer.

Have fun with fashion

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As you all know Fermanagh people are renowned for being happy however many of us don’t exactly dress the part. For many getting dressed in the morning can be a struggle and many either don’t care or don’t take any notice of what they put on. Many will say they are too busy to think about what they wear or in fact don’t actually care about fashion but in reality we all make a choice to part with our hard earned money to purchase the clothes we wear so every single one of us makes a choice to purchase what we wear.

Fashion is a serious multi million pound industry which employs countless people all over the globe from seamstresses to designers and models to magazine editors and right down to the shop sales assistants here in Fermanagh. Many will say they’re just clothes and ridiculous amounts of money are spent every day on designer goods when the people who actually put these clothes together are earning the least. It may interest you to know that the designers themselves don’t earn a huge wage especially new designers and in fact when a designer first starts out many don’t make it. Without financial backing many designers remain in debt for the majority of their career.

This time of year is always most worrying for a designer as they finish off their collections for the season ahead. They rely on public opinion therefor if a fashion critic gives a bad review they may face a financially quiet year. A designer’s work all comes from ideas, musings and artistic flair and they put everything into their work for us to wear and enjoy.

Everyone has their role to play within the industry even you and me. It all begins on a page, the items are made, displayed by models, styled and photographed for magazines, written about by fashion journalists, promoted by advertisers, bought by fashion buyers, displayed in shop windows by visual merchandisers sold by shop assistants and worn by you and I.

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So as you can see fashion is a serious industry with many designers being known for being very deep thinkers. Autumn Winter is a particularly dark month for designers as they cater for the cold, wet and dark months ahead, particularly if you think of Fermanagh. However, Autumn Winter 2014 seems to have brought a change as fashion becomes fun.

Chanel had fun with food, models danced down the runway, gave high fives and were actually smiling and laughing. They were taking selfies with the crowd and the clothes were slightly off the wall. Sponge Bob square pants and McDonalds were the inspiration behind Moschino, 1960s style space dresses at Ashish, Chanel took grocery shopping to a whole new fashion dimension and Anya Hindmarch was thinking of breakfast when she designed her collection of Tony the Tiger and Kellogg’s cockerel handbags.

Although I can’t see many Fermanagh folk dressing in Sponge Bob trousers, I have already seen one or two with the Moschino McDonalds chained handbag (although I am guessing not the real deal). I think this winter could really be fun here in Fermanagh with lots of exciting prints and bright colours making a welcome appearance in our local stores.

Support your local high street

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I often wonder about the future and despite Fermanagh being quite far behind much of the UK we have come a long way in terms of fashion and technology. I often laugh at old pictures of me and my friends from school and the fashion we used to wear. We didn’t have much selection of shops here in Fermanagh when I was growing up and even less when my parents were growing up.  I am thankful for the great selection we have now and although some people moan about the fact that there are certain shops that we don’t have we should be thankful for what we do have and support our local businesses.

Studies show that a staggering 80% of us are shopping online rather than supporting our local high street for even the simplest of things. Many will say this is due to price, ease of access, choice and variety and modern technology. You could say that this is a natural progression in the modern world; however I find it very sad to see stores closing and our high street half empty.

Despite the ease of access of internet stores you can always argue that a high street store has its advantages. Firstly we are known here in Fermanagh for our excellent customer service and friendly approach. You just don’t get the same customer service, if any at all, from an internet store. Think about it, if you compare how many times you have been let down by an internet store and how many times you have been let down by a local store I would say the majority of us have been let down more times by an internet store. I for one have been let down more times than I can remember by different internet stores mainly due to the wrong product being sent, something being broken or damaged or the wrong size. In many cases when getting a refund or exchange you have to wait for a long time and this is after having sent several emails. How much easier is it to just walk into a shop, explain the situation and either get your refund or exchange there and then.

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With an internet store you can’t actually see, touch or try on what you are buying. You are taking a bit of a risk especially if you need it in a hurry. Yes it is easy to power up your laptop or tablet or even your phone and just click to buy however it is also easy to just pop into town try on and hand over your card and you have it instantly.

Although many internet stores have reviews, tips and advice on the products you are buying there is something a little more reassuring about speaking to a local expert about a product face to face and them actually demonstrating or showing you how the product works before you commit to buy.

Although I feel at the moment there is no immediate danger of the internet taking over in Fermanagh, it is likely to happen if more and more of us continue to ignore our local stores and shop online. I am not saying never shop on the internet, let’s face it there are certain items we simply can’t get at home, however instead consider shopping locally instead if you know you can get it locally. I think we would all agree that it would be a very sad sight to see empty towns and villages and no nice shop windows to look at.

There’s no place like home

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Back in July I had the most amazing and unforgettable holiday in Dubai where I enjoyed lots of sun, relaxation, luxury dining, amazing fashion and to top it all off I also got engaged in the 7 Star Burj Al Arab hotel, an evening I will never forget. However despite the amazing experiences I had I was soon to discover that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Throughout the entire holiday I felt like a celebrity. The shopping malls were huge with everything from high end designers like Dolce and Gabbana and Chanel to high street stores like River Island, H&M and also privately owned boutiques. The main thing I noticed about Dubai was that the locals use the Mall as an escape from the harsh temperatures outside. For this reason the malls in Dubai are more than just a shopping trip they are a whole different experience. In the ‘Mall of the Emirates’ for example as well as picking up your groceries and a wedding outfit you can also go skiing in the huge indoor ski centre with real snow.

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Dubai really is a fashion paradise however for such a forward thinking, multicultural and ambitious state it can be very reserved and backward. I knew before I went that Dubai had strict Muslim values however I wasn’t prepared for just how strict they actually were. I was there during Ramadan, which is the Islamic month of fasting but unlike some other countries the UAE also expect tourists to observe and respect their holy month. For us this meant no leisurely ice creams or milkshakes in the mall while shopping in fact the only place we could get anything to eat during daylight hours was in our hotel.

I can respect them for being so serious about their religion to fast all day however they rely on tourists and many of their religious values can actually make tourists feel uneasy. For example I was shocked to find that many of the malls have rules of conduct such as no public displays of affection, no short trousers or skirts and no exposed shoulders (I found this out as I was walking through the mall in a strapless dress).

On one shopping excursion to one of the Souks (traditional shopping stalls) I felt so uncomfortable as though I was being stared at and there were no women to be seen, I had to buy a shawl to cover my head and shoulders. I felt a bit sorry for the local women especially when I saw one trying to make her way down an escalator in sky high heels covered completely from head to toe in black robes and a veil completely covering her face, not even cut out for her eyes (the traditional burqa).

It made me appreciate where I come from and being able to have the right to choose what I wear and being treated as an equal in society. At one stage I was having a look at the Arabian section in River Island and two girls came along dressed in niqabs (black robes with only their eyes showing). I couldn’t understand what they were saying but I knew they were excited about a short skirt they were both looking at. I felt a bit sad for them because although they could probably wear it in the privacy of their own home in public it would be covered up in their robes so no one could ever see how good it might look on them.

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Although Dubai is a fashionista’s dream and I will always treasure the memories there really is no place like home. In Fermanagh I have the freedom to walk down the street in whatever I choose, I can let my hair down, wear makeup, say hello to a stranger on the street and most importantly I am not treated as a subordinate to any man.