January Sale Shopping: The Good, the Bad and the Basic

The Good:

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Whistles crepe top

You know how fashion magazines always tell you to “highlight your assets”? Like, if you love your legs, wear a belt-skirt and 6-inch heels; if you love your boobs, wear a push-up bra and pop a few buttons; if you love your clavicles, wear a Flashdance sweater and LED earrings shaped like downward-pointing arrows? Well, I’m most enamoured of the 2 inches of skin directly above my navel (the faux abs) so this top is perfect for me. Apparently it’s a “great alternative to shirting”* which is good as I’m tired of being mistaken for a cater waiter or pharmaceutical rep at business-casual functions.

The Bad:

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Cobbling Christmas Gifts

After some mild panic, whimpering and foetal rocking in the corners of various stores in Oxford and London, here’s what I ended up getting some of my family & friends for Christmas:

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Williamson elephant tea caddies and Urban Outfitters socks

My Dad once attended a conference in the US where a beverage station was laid out every morning, including a coffee machine, tea bags, sugar…and an industrial-sized vat of Skippy Peanut Butter. For the first few mornings he thought it was mislaid, and would helpfully cart it back over to the toast table. On the 3rd morning, he was halted in his tracks. “Here in the States,” the beefy-necked hotel chef drawled, “we stir a couple tablespoons of PB into our cawfee. Makes it bulletproof.” If your friends are similarly barbaric (eg. my old housemate refused to drink ‘leaf liquid’ and insisted on triple-shot espressos with a dollop of coconut butter), they probably won’t appreciate Williamson’s ‘well-balanced and aromatic’ and ‘unusually delicate’ tea blends. But for everyone else, tea is a pretty failsafe gift.

I chose the elephant caddies because they’re whimsical, super pretty AND useful. After you’re done with the tea, you could use the jar to store cookies, pushpins, slips of paper with your hopes and dreams…endless possibilities! Personally, I’d be happy to have my cremated ashes stored in one (at least until my heartbroken next of kin could throw my desiccated remains into the wind across a Nordic fjord).

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Jack Wills

When I first visited the UK 3 years ago I stumbled upon this cute little shop called Jack Wills. Tweed blazers, cosy knits, a logo of a pheasant with a top hat and a walking stick (which is even classier than Mr. Peanut and his monocle)…their tagline was spot on; it was ‘Fabulously British’! Over the next week I kept happening upon this Jack Wills, and soon realised that it was not some wee 7th generation-run boutique, but a transnational megabrand. With no products actually made in Britain.

When I mentioned it to my friend Tori who studied in Scotland, her face scrunched up like I’d just offered her a blueberry (her avowed enemy. Not even blueberry muffins pass her muster). Apparently she and her friends would never actually shop there – it’s basically the British Abercrombie & Fitch (they even have ‘Seasonnaires’ which are their version of the infamous A&F model). But, said Tori, “I kind of get how you would like it”. This wasn’t meant as an insult; Tori knows that I’m a sucker for branded stuff – with every teen birthday present she enabled my Emily the Strange and Paul Frank addictions. She also knows how enamoured I am of cute things (if it’s pink, patterned, emblazoned with critters or redolent of Sloane life, I’m sold). Jack Wills totally fits my bill – it has the British prep feel without the moss/dung-heavy colour palette of Barbour, the youthful whimsy of Anthropologie (seriously, mittens and snoods with names like Austwick and Wilbur? Adorbs), and is mid-range price-wise.

Here are my picks of their current collection:

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The Bleakley dress £89.50

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