FASHION Haute Couture and Millennials

Haute Couture and Millennials

As the key buying force of the world, Millennials have been a target demographic for all fashion brands, high and low, for quite some time now. Their innovative spirit paired with the fact that their lives are intertwined with technology delivers a mixed bunch of shoppers who were once thought to never ever dip their fingers in the beauty that is haute couture. 

And yet, designers have found a way into the minds and hearts of Millennials, and their ever so complex relationship is still growing and developing. Brands have changed their catwalk ways to meet halfway with Millennials, who truly know what they want both from fashion as an industry and trends and their style preferences. Clearly, there has been an impact on both ends, helping reshape this bond into a new stage we have yet to experience.

Luxury embraces sustainability



Photo by Caleb Lucas on Unsplash

So much buzz has been created around some of the most recent Earth-friendly movements, that even the highest-ranking fashion labels were bound to take notice sooner or later. Those who have responded to this Millennial need and call sooner have earned perhaps the most coveted spot as the top names Millennials will gladly wear. They see it as an investment, both into their look and authentic expression, and into the future of our planet, so the price tag is not a concern.

Although Millennials firmly believe that sustainability should not be a luxury in the modern world, they appreciate that it’s necessary for these labels to take a stand for others to follow in their footsteps. For example, names such as Stella McCartney are doing their part by introducing new sustainable policies. 

Trends that tend to last

Where does true luxury of fashion shine the brightest? At the fashion shows in the capitals of the globe, where the runways every season are brimming with new designer ideas waiting to conquer the world. And yet, luxury brands are looking to introduce a more durable way of making their seasonal outfits, so that they can be worn for years on end, both in terms of quality and trend-wise.

It’s no wonder then that luxury labels that make long-lasting items with timeless design in mind are much more appealing to Millennials than those who behave like a typical fad diet: they are exciting for a while, only to be replaced by another temporary mix. 

Emerging brand collaborations


head in hands.jpeg

Photo by Hanna Postova on Unsplash

Utility paired with authenticity is something every Millennial dreams of in their wardrobe. When you examine a typical designer runway, you’ll see a plethora of garments not a single living soul would wear in real life. More luxury brands are switching to the more purpose-driven side of fashion, where wear-ability actually plays a significant role in design without sacrificing design ingenuity in the process.

Unconventional brand names such as Junya Watanabe join forces with utility and lifestyle brands such as the North Face to deliver a slew of products that are so much more than gorgeous. They perfectly reflect the values of every modern Millennial who strives to lead a healthy, fit life, explore nature and stay comfortable while doing so. These wonderful pieces belong both in your capsule wardrobe and in a collection of real-life wears that can never go out of style, as they are made to serve a purpose. 

Minimalist in nature

Millennials have reinvented minimalism to suit their innovative needs and style preferences. To put it in perspective, this fashion direction is no longer constricted into a predetermined set of garments that are rarely ever seen on runways. On the contrary, haute couture is finally letting the spirit of a true Millennial infuse their collections with rebellion and simplicity – without depriving them of flair, of course.

Although Rihanna’s Fenty Puma collection scream anything but minimalism, they have somehow become the staple of not only athleisure, but of essential statement fashion almost every closet will own sooner or later. Streetwear paired with high-end names delivers items such as simple black leggings, clean white sneakers that can be worn anywhere and anytime, but also a wide range of colorful heels, printed hoodies, and the like. 

Modernization of the oldest brands


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Photo by Dmitriy Ilkevich on Unsplash

On a final note, old brands have been stuck with their old ways for a very long time. They have persisted with their luxurious brick-and-mortar businesses, fashion shows, and a limited online presence, until the era of Millennials. 

Now, even some of the oldest stars of haute couture such as Gucci have embraced the changing digital landscape to accommodate their Millennial customers. Suddenly, you see them strutting their models and brilliant outfits on Instagram, boasting celebrity collaborations, and pursuing online engagement on many social networks out there. 




BUSTY AND BAFFLED: Style Tips for Big Boobs

Blessed in the boob department? Chances are you’ll be aware of the typical advice for us booby girls, but I’m so over all the big-bust-style-advice which tells you to cinch in your waist or use minimizer bras. 8 out of 10 ladies with big busts these days are no longer the natural hourglass figure, they’re more apple shapes, and so cinching in of a waist that doesn’t exist is just non-advice! And some of those reading the advice won’t actually want to wear a minimizer, they want to celebrate their bosoms – and rightly so!

However, having a big bust shouldn’t mean a compromise in confidence or style. If you’re reading this because you’re busty and baffled, then bear with me and read on. I can’t say I have every solution, but I have seen enough to help me create my own set of rules and regulations which help optimise my ‘girls’ instead of them getting in fashion’s way.

Full disclosure: I totally love my boobs in the bedroom (or bathroom, or wherever I am naked) as they are pretty nice and pert it has to be said, but I have to admit that I don’t love them when I am choosing fashion. Big boobs and most fashion – in my opinion – are not great bedfellows. I mean, even in the 90s when boobs were what asses are today (thanks to the Kardashians), the only thing boobs really suited in high fashion was the original Hervé Leger bandage dress and the odd crop top with ultra low rise boot cut jeans – but these styles also required taut tummies, something which I, for one, no longer possess.

So I’m coming from a place of not really embracing my boobs if we’re honest, and I know that when I try to ‘hide’ my boobs, they look their worst – (peek-a-boob from a cool shirt or blouse anyone?) and so do the clothes I’m trying to use as camouflage tools; however I also know LOADS of ladies who are generously proportioned in the chest area, who embrace their boobies and dress them with pride and joy, so I will try to recognise the gripes & boasts of both types of big boob dresser in my TOP TEN TIPS for big boob dressing. Enjoy!


Let’s go back to basics and acknowledge that we can’t talk about dressing for a busty frame without addressing bras. But finding the right one — one that’s comfortable, supportive, and flattering — is half the battle. I mostly live in plain black or nude T shirt bras with NO EXTRA PADDING (why do so many brands ADD PADDING to bras for big boobs?!) It’s not like we NEED any more!  

A good bra should be one that covers the whole breast and gives your chest shape without giving it an additional boost (unless that's your preference). It’s important to invest in at least a few full-coverage options that will provide the most supportive base beneath all your outfits. Even if you are certain what size you are, it’s always a good idea to get measured by a fitting expert every time you purchase a new bra.

Thankfully, this doesn't require backpack-size straps and bland colours only. I got measured up at Boux Avenue in Victoria Square and went from wearing a 34DD to a 34F(!) after being measured properly.




One of the original rules for busty girls was always ‘V neck good, round neck bad’. But whilst V necks are super flattering on larger busts, (because of the triangulation from shoulders and the elongated line down towards the waist), I refute the claims that round necks are all bad. If you hove toned arms à la Michelle Obama and a slim enough waist line/obliques silhouette, then a fitted, round neck t shirt can be perfect, especially if you have big hips as well and you’re choosing to go wide or baggy on your skirt or trouser silhouette.

That said, we’re all for ‘if you’ve got it, FLAUNT it’ here at the F Words (FLAUNT does begin with an F after all) so we believe that displaying a bit of your well-endowed cleavage is every busty girl's right – and V necks definitely do it better.  But if you think a V neck is too severe, go for a scoop neckline, which is always flattering when it hits your chest at just the right places.

The same can be said of turtle necks and polo necks. If you’re busty with an hour glass figure, a polo neck over big boobs with a high waisted trouser or pencil skirt is classic and cool.

In eveningwear, a sweetheart, off-the-shoulder neckline a la Susan Sarandon creates the ultimate time to shine while swimwear in a plunge cut to suit your shape and size is also flattering.


3.    WRAP IT UP!

Whether in the form of a dress or jacket, a wrap silhouette complements every body type and bust size, and the natural V created from the wrapping is always super flattering, plus the tie belt goes just under your bust, usually the slimmest part of your upper waist. (Thanks, Diane Von Furstenburg!) Again, I’d suggest that you think of your overall figure before choosing the skirt shape in a wrap dress. If you’re short and apple shaped, I wouldn’t advise an A line or full skirted wrap dress, go for something straighter but a little bit shorter in the hem line and in the arm, to show off those slim limbs.  

Double breasted jackets fall most definitely OUTSIDE of this rule and can look really frumpy on busty figures as they tend to cross over right across the bust and not under it like a well fitted wrap dress. Plus, they move funnily when you and/or your boobs move to articulate your speech - or raise hands for any gesture. (Sleeveless tuxedo jackets are a good alternative if you want to feel suit-y).

           4.    PUSSY GALORE – Try a Pussy Bow Blouse

A high-neck pussy bow blouse makes for a flattering cut to style with high-waisted pants or a skirt—especially for those moments you want to hide your cleavage. Because of the elongated neck and the focus up there, this is an occasion when you can afford to go bulbuous on the blouse shape and not look pregnant, even if you drop your skirt/trouser waistline a little. I would also suggest shorter sleeves on the blouse, above the watch & bracelet line, to show off slim wrists & bring the focus to nice jewellery. (Don’t be afraid to use your local tailor or amendments shop to do this – sleeve length can make such a difference and I am forever asking my guys at The Zipyard to alter everything!)


On the subject of necklines, be careful to steer clear of too much detail – especially frills and ruffles - because they can make the bust look even bigger. It’s better to stick with simple colour combinations and clean lines.



If you have a waist, or the semblance of one, then take note from Ashley Graham and cinch your look at the waist with a corset, kimono wrap belt or a wide buckled belt. Instant hourglass! Every woman with a shapely figure has probably received a recommendation to cinch her waist as it accents the bust and creates a pinup-worthy frame instantly. I’m kind of tired of this advice, though; it feels overdone, plus a significant proportion of the female population is more likely to be apple shape these days, so cinching in a waist which doesn’t exist will create muffin tops – not hourglass shapes!

6.    USING YOUR WAIST #2 - Have A Bare Midriff Moment

Much like a corset belt, a hint of a bare midriff helps to create that hourglass figure—and draws attention to your waist if you have a slim enough one to bare it. I only discovered this trick in my forties and a cropped top which is cut just below the bust but above the slimmest part of the waist will create a trompe d’oeil – drawing attention to the waist and away from the bust. I don’t actually expose any flesh personally (not intentionally anyway!) but I team a cropped top with a high waisted pencil skirt to very good effect.



The Peek-A-Boob is real. Yes, that occasion when your button-boob combo fails you and your shirt buttons gape (or pop out entirely) to reveal your boobs and/or bra (not always your prettiest). Of course with Sod’s Law, it’s usually when you’re speaking to a stranger. Or presenting at work. Or out with a new date. Often we’re told to go up a size in the blouse to avoid this, but that just creates extra fabric elsewhere and adds to a silhouette which (on me anyway) doesn’t need extra inches added by loose fabric. If I do have to do that, I end up getting the blouse altered. But here’s my advice – get the blouse that fits and take it to your local alterations store (I use The Zipyard) and ask them to add in a couple of strategic popper buttons between the regular ones. IT WORKS! It takes a bit of a pull to pop the popper buttons and they reinforce your own buttons, however pretty or practical they are.


A more subtle way to create a similar effect is to use dark colours as belt equivalents.  A dark shade across the torso will give the impression of diminishing a body part's size, while light or bright hues draw attention to an area. Colour blocking is a clever way to balance out proportions. With a black top half and colour block hem, a two-tone dress will minimize a larger chest and draw attention to your bottom half. Colourful seaming and piping can also help, so remember that colours and wide stripe prints can completely define your shape without any additional buckles and belts. But on that note – another tip is to learn to STRIPE RIGHT:  Wearing vertical stripes on your top half will lengthen your upper body and slim your torso therefore making your chest appear smaller.

Prints are by no means out of bounds - opt for smaller style patterns or, if you want to go bold, a black background to florals, polka dots etc will stop you looking heavier up top. Use a strategic placement formula here too – if you want to distract from your chest, wear them on the bottom, if you want to flaunt your bust, vice versa.


If you’re boobie, you’ll know that changing room feeling of trying on a dress and experiencing relief when the zip glides up past your waist AND bust without a struggle. Stretchy fabrics can be flattering because they fit a greater range of body shapes, but if you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard, or you’re an extra at a hen party in Vegas, so choose fabrics and sleeves/necklines to suit too.

We often need to go up a size to accommodate our widest measurement which can create a bit of a potato sack syndrome where the dress is tight at the bust and hanging loose and smock-like all over. Unless I’m pre-menstrual and bloated or going for an eight-course tasting menu and need the extra room, I dislike this shape. But on those few occasions, this kind of loose, hanging style is actually liberating and, if you choose the right fabric/shape, you can totally rock an androgynous look, (a look which usually looks much better on women with a straight-lined frame) especially when you’re no longer worrying about defining your waistline.

Choosing to choose separates over a dress allows you to accommodate different sizes on top and bottom. It also allows you to play with print and pattern. (see Point * above). A nifty trick is to create the illusion of a dress with co-ordinated block colour tops and bottoms. When choosing tops for a big bust, make sure they’re sufficiently long, as having a big bust can shorten the length, and pop any buttons. And if you’re a T shirt kinda gal, I hear ya! Anyone with big boobs knows that T-shirts are hard — the slightest V-neck can give you cleavage overload, and anything baggy looks like you're wearing a tent. But the solution is all about what you pair it with — a loose, crew-neck T-shirt still looks cool when it's tucked into a slim skirt. Remember length and fit is important too, so crop it or knot it if you have to/want to!

One of my go-to dresses for work in summer is the shirtdress, which will nip you in at the waist before flaring out to balance out your bust, but I often get extra buttons added (see point 7 above). Unbuttoning it as low as you can go is another option. As is adding a statement belt. Just remember, it’s important to highlight your waist, more so if you are petite.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to play with playsuits and jumpsuits. I have found that they are one of the most flattering and easy-to-wear silhouettes for me and my boobs - but not every style, so it pays to play with shapes and styles here too.



Biker style jackets are brilliant for big busts because the lapel design ensures the jacket actually lies over your boobs when open instead of just falling off to either side. This cleverly makes your chest area appear smaller. And don’t worry about being able to zip it up - we guarantee you’ll rarely want to wear it that way. Also, the cropped length of most motorbike jackets helps make your top half look smaller and more proportional, especially when you're not super tall.  The same ‘wear it open’ rule applies to blazers – don't worry about buttoning up. Wear them open with crop tops and high waisted bottoms or wear wide belts over clean-line tops underneath for best effect. In short, when it comes to most jacket styles for big boobs, remember one thing: single breasted and slightly open is your friend.






We know it’s the colour of our blog here at the F Words, but YELLOW is also the hottest (and happiest) colour to wear this summer. Whether you are a lemonade and lime punch type, or you're a more full-bodied colour kinda girl, and prefer a rich egg-yolk hue, there is a shade of yellow for all skin types.

This week, I tasked our German intern Nikolina Baulch with finding her faves, from bananas to buttercups and sunflowers to sweetcorn. Here are her top picks of the bright cheery colour that sweeping insta with sunshine


Rhianna who sets the yellow trend wearing a yellow twinset by Oscar de la Renta.

Here are some of our fave yellow items right now… Click on the pict




Wonderful One-Piece

Bikini be gone, I have moved on. Gosh, that rhymes and I didn’t even expect it to!

I’m not sure if it’s my age, or the fact that I am more often than not running after little ones on beaches or by pools, or the fact that I dislike my tummy (it’s my body part nemesis, the bit I dislike the most - and I know as a #bodyimage ambassador I shouldn’t say that, but it’s the truth!) or indeed the fact that the choice is now SO GOOD… that I have fallen out of love with itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny bikinis of all kinds and totally in love with one piece swimsuits. I mean, they’re just so much more handy and I truly believe they look super elegant when compared to bikinis. On me anyway.


I went looking for some the other night for my forthcoming holiday and didn’t go much past, which, I must say, had the most comprehensive selection anywhere - and from brands right across all price ranges and for various body shapes. This blog post is pretty much a summary of all my faves, and faves that I would pick if I had various different body shapes. I hope you like them and I hope you can manage to buy some of the best ones before they sell out (because I missed a few myself!!)


The BAFTA TV awards in London saw the stars of Britain’s glittering small screen come out in force and grace the runway – and they did not disappoint! The evening saw the likes of Peaky Blinders winning Best Drama Series, Molly Windsor and Sean Bean winning Best Leading Actress & Actor and Love Island winning Reality and Constructed Factual.
And whilst the awards are exciting, here at the F Words, we looked to the red carpet and we have rounded up some of our favourite looks from the evening. With summer well and truly here, we saw the stars wear romantic silhouettes, bold colours and dynamic floral prints.

 Thandie Newton - Richard Quinn

Thandie Newton - Richard Quinn

 Lucy Mecklenburgh - Rami Al Ali

Lucy Mecklenburgh - Rami Al Ali

 Anna Passey - Zeynep Kartal

Anna Passey - Zeynep Kartal

Jodie Whittaker -.jpeg
Joely Richardson.jpeg
Lucy Watson - Aiden by AM.jpeg

Jewel tones of blue were popular across the carpet with stars like Jodie Whittaker, Joely Richardson, Lucy Watson (wearing Aiden by AM) and Molly Windsor (wearing Huishan Zhang) all looking dazzling in the shade. Yellow was another popular colour choice, as seen on Laura Whitmore (wearing Sophia Kah), Michelle Keegan (wearing Suzanne Neville) and Amy Jackson (wearing Elisabetta Franchi).

Laura Whitmore - Sophia Kah.jpeg
Michelle Keegan - Suzanne Neville.jpeg
Amy Jackson -  Elisabetta Franchi.jpg
Amanda Holden - La Mania.jpeg

By far the most popular shade seen on the red carpet was pink in all shades, from blush to deep magenta.  With Amanda Holden in La Mania, Caroline Flack in Costarellos and Lucy Mecklenburgh in Rami Al Ali, showing us how it’s done.

Vanessa Kirby - Dior.jpg

Some honourable mentions have to go to Anna Passey, who wore a simple white gown from Zaynep Kartal, accessorised with a bold gold belT; Vanessa Kirby who wowed in a champagne Dior gown and Thandie Newton who pulled off a bold floral print Richard Quinn design.

Georgia 'Toff' Toffolo - Costarellos.jpeg


However, here at the F Words, we think the best dressed of the evening has to go to Toff! Wearing a beautiful blush floral dress with red detailing by Costarellos, this is a gown that not everyone could pull off but one that is super girly, pretty and bang on trend for the season!




“Miss, I forgot my trainers.” We all cried. Every week. Until…

Well, until the teachers caught on and we were swiftly pointed in the direction of the sweaty, old shoes that made up the lost property pile. The bulky, unwanted, UNCOOL shoes that hadn’t in fact been lost but strategically disowned by teenagers mortified by their parents’ idea of suitable gym footwear.

Fast forward to 2018 and we’re willing to join lengthy (and rapidly growing) waiting lists and fork out hundreds of pounds to get our hands on the same trainers. This time calling it fashion.

These appropriately named “ugly trainers” are still making the rounds with at least one season under their belt and given their meteoric rise, constant controversy and ability to sell out in under an hour, I suspect they’ve got several more seasons in them. And yet, I’m still not entirely sold.

Dissect the street style shots and you’re met with supermodels off-duty and of course, the coolest of the cool kids roaming the streets of London and New York. While I can appreciate that the best fashion trends are usually the most divisive and that all trends are subjective, just how ‘user friendly’ is this trend? How does it translate for day to day wear and why on earth has something so conventionally hideous caught and held on to our attention?

Figuring out why the shoes are ugly certainly isn’t the challenge here. The colour combinations explain the “dad trainers” reference and bulbous soles and oversized tongues scream invasive.

 Acne Studios Manhattan leather, suede and mesh sneakers - £360

Acne Studios Manhattan leather, suede and mesh sneakers - £360

 Balenciaga TRIPLE S TRAINERS - £595

Balenciaga TRIPLE S TRAINERS - £595

 NIKE Air Max 95 leather sneakers - £150

NIKE Air Max 95 leather sneakers - £150



 Prada Cloud Burst

Prada Cloud Burst



 Stella McCartney Eclypse Trainer £450

Stella McCartney Eclypse Trainer £450





However, something about these ugly trainers draws you in, an undeniable air of intrigue surrounds the trend. When you take a closer look and appreciate the fact that Louis Vuitton’s, Nicholas Ghesqière spent 4 years designing Archlight (a top contender for leader of the ugly trainer pack) and acknowledge the statistics from Stylebop that reveal Balenciaga’s Triple S as the fastest selling item of 2017, a statistic echoed among those at where the Triple S sellout was closely followed by Stella McCartney’s Eclypse and Acne Studio’s Manhattan trainers, you can’t help but feel you’re missing something. High street interpretations of the trend have continuously cropped up, bringing trends from the fashion elite to the masses - usually a pretty clear sign that a trend is here to stay and with both Zara and Nike making a case for the ugly trainer, my opinion could be swayed on the user friendly front.

Man Repeller went so far as to link our love of the ugly trainer to the current political climate, describing them as tools introduced to help ground us during times of unrest. With those thick, sturdy soles, we certainly can’t argue with their ability to ground us.

Refinery29 argue the popularity of the trend has risen in response to society’s growing demand for authenticity with writer Lisa Trautman claiming, “I’m at a point where I prefer something real to all of the selfies, avocados and minimalist apartments on Instagram.”

She’s got a point.

Clearly there’s a lot more to this trend than meets the eye and while I may remain skeptical, I’ll try most trends once.

The survival guide to the ugly trainer revolves around subtle feminine touches. Strike the balance with elegant accessories and dainty earrings. Embrace the clashing nature of a feminine, floaty dress against the masculinity of the shoe. If you dare, wear them after dark - LBD, low denier tights, chunky trainers and ankle socks worn proudly pulled up for all to see.

We won’t let this trend get the better of us. 


The Met Gala, the charity event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, is considered the highlight of the global fashion social season, attracting the biggest stars and fashion designers from across the world. It is known for its expensive tickets, ultra exclusive guest list and most of all, extravagant couture outfits that are based around a different theme each year.

This year, the theme was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, which showcases how Catholicism has influenced fashion throughout history.


Celebrities hit the cream carpet sporting everything from papal-inspired gowns to religious prisoner-inspired chainmail gowns and, in Katy Perry's case, oversized angel wings - by Versace of course.

Every year there are massive hits and terrible misses, but here at the F words, we have looked at all of last night’s sartorial offerings and these are some of our most interesting picks.


Anna Wintour (who hosts the event each year) looked ever-elegant and Holy Communion style white/silver by Chanel, but Versace was a popular designer of the night, with Blake Lively, Kim Kardashian West and Gigi Hadid all sparkling in the Italian house’s creations. Jennifer Lopez has showed she still can rock a thigh high split in a stunning Balmain gown.

Some more literal takes on the theme were from Stella Maxwell in a Virgin Mary adorned garment from Moschino, Rihanna arrived in her own “pope-mobile” in an jaw dropping outfit from Maison Margiela and, never to be out-done, Sarah Jessica Parker aced the theme with her stunning dress and headpiece from Dolce and Gabanna.


Some honourable mentions have to go to Olivia Munn in H&M, Priyanka Chopra in Ralph Lauren and Kate Bosworth who was breath taking in Oscar de la Renta.


Share your faves with us in the comments here or on our Instagram!




Despite living in one of the wettest (and therefore potentially muddy) countries in Europe, I have this thing for white shoes. My First Holy Communion shoes were my first ever pair of really special shoes that I got to help choose myself and, looking back, wearing them that day was probably the first time I felt that now-common feeling with shoe purchases, ie, that they changed how I felt and looked at myself, in the way that a great pair of shoes can give confidence or a wee ‘I-can-do-anything’ boost to anyone, aged 8 or 80. So perhaps there is some deep link back to those wünder schuhe, or perhaps I just like white? I mean I wore white skinny jeans à la Elizabeth Hurley for pretty much all of the 90s...  Either way, these are my latest obsessions. 


I hope you like… (Click on the pics to buy) 

Snakeskin Cowboy Boots, £299, Gestuz at
DETAIL SHOT (Snakeskin Cowboy Boots, £299, Gestuz at


1. Snakeskin Cowboy Boots, £229, Gestuz at -


If staying ahead of the fast pack is your end goal, let Western inspired cowboy boots be your weapon of choice this season. The subtle stud detailing of this Gestuz pair, show the world that you mean business while the ankle grazing nature of the shoe wins points for versatility - we’re talking worn with jeans, blouses, maxi dresses or leather. However, cowboy hats are reserved for fancy dress only. 


PRODUCT SHOT (Dxn Vintage Trainers, £75, Saucony at

2. Dxn Vintage Trainers, £75, Saucony at -


Stan Smiths set the standard high for the white trainer trend. So high that almost everybody has a pair and while they remain a classic, individuality is the driving force that keeps personal style alive, making saying no to these Saucony trainers increasingly difficult. I’m ready to reboot the ever-present white trainer trend with muted tones and retro runners. 



3. Nike Air Max 95 Trainers, £120, Nike at -


The Dad trainer, the ugly trainer, the ‘I really need to have those’ trainers - whatever you want to call them, there’s no doubt that the overblown silhouette trainer is taking the street style world by storm. Balenciaga and Gucci have given their two cents on the matter and as for the Louis Vuitton Turbo trainer - that’s a whole other matter. Nineties nostalgia is here to stay, especially when it comes to our footwear. 


Styling tip: Wear with an oversized hoodie, straight leg jeans, trench and these trainers - done and done. 


PRODUCT SHOT Multi Buckle Heeled Western Boots, £45, Miss Selfridge at

4. Multi Buckle Heeled Western Boots, Miss Selfridge at -


Fendi, Ganni, Armani and Calvin Klein all looked to the wild west as inspiration for their recent collections so it was only a matter of time before the high street followed suit and thank goodness they did. These purse string friendly pair of western boots serve as the perfect gateway to a trend everyone wants in on. Not far from the classic Chloé Susanna boots, these will allow you to subtly tap into the trend and create timeless looks season after season. 


Leather Cowboy Ankle Boots, £99.99 at Zara.jpeg
Leather Cowboy Ankle Boots, £99.99 at Zara 2.jpeg

5. Leather Cowboy Ankle Boots, £99.99 at Zara -


No one does designer dupes quite like Zara so it’s no surprise that these beauties look familiar. Reminiscent of Phoebe Philo’s SS16 collection for Céline and at a fraction of the price, the angular features and sleek finish of these Zara boots make it hard to resist that infamous ‘Add To Basket’button. Whether leather or denim is more your vibe. there’s no deny thing that these boots were made for walking. 


It’s rare that fashion flips on its head and mummies are genuinely coveting kids’ clothes, but looking at the latest swimwear collection from M&S for girls, I am wishing I was 30 years younger right now. (And on a beach with lots of ice cream and sunshine it’s fair to say). 

Read on for my fave picks from this brights-done-right collection from one of the nation’s favourite stores. They look super cool for girls and I am pretty sure, having spoken to a few mummies this weekend, that the size 6 and 8 adults among them are definitely going to be trying to squeeze into the age 16 sizes.
Just click on the pics to buy - plus, remember there’s no VAT on kids’ clothes, so it’s a double whammy, win-win situation if you can fit into them!

Last Spring I worked on a fashion show for MaxMara, which had a tropicana theme with lots of palm leaves across printed fabrics throughout the collection. The theme was evident across a few international fashion houses and made it to some high street stores, notably Zara, for grown ups, by about September.  But it hasn’t gone away, and our recent weather makes dreamy tropical prints all the more attractive (along with aforementioned beach). I can just imagine these two swimsuit options with tanned limbs and tan sandals and an oversized hat plus shades. What’s not to love?!

And if I didn’t know that the M&S garment production lead time took longer than a few months, I’d be easily duped to think that their collection of rainbow swimwear came straight off Christopher Bailey’s AW18 final collection for Burberry. The stripes are bold, bright, sassy and strong and will make a statement on any beach or by any pool - and I cant help imagining myself in that stripe raincoat at a summer festival.  

  Striped Swimsuit £7 - £9

 Striped Swimsuit £7 - £9

  Rainbow Striped Swimsuit £9 - £11

 Rainbow Striped Swimsuit £9 - £11

One last style which would look super cute on a kid, but just as nice on a grown-up, is this Audrey Hepburn inspired sailor bow swimsuit. A classic style with handy pelmet peplum frills to avert attention from the hips, which little girls rarely have like we do of course, so we absolutely demand this style is replicated for us mummies!


Last night saw the stars of the silver screen out en masse for the Academy Awards 2018 in Los Angeles. Millions watched around the world as The Shape of Water was the biggest winner of the night. We were obsessed with some of the sartorial choices and spent ages choosing our faves, so without further ado, here are our pick of the best!

Margot Robbie stunningly channelled Grecian glamour in this custom Chanel piece. The dress had gorgeous beaded straps  and a crisscross skirt and Margot completed her look with a clear Chanel clutch and Chanel Fine Jewellery.

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Alison Williams went old Hollywood glam, stepping out in a gorgeous nude Armani Prive couture gown with a long train. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich, the actress wore her hair in a wavy, deep side-parted 'do for her first-ever Oscars. 

Lupita Nyong'o stole the show at the 2018 Oscars wearing a fierce gold Versace dress that was custom made for her. The designer number featured a slit up one leg and chain-ink details across the bodice. Lupita topped off her regal outfit with a Versace clutch, Alexandre Birman heels, and Niwaka fine jewllery. 

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Saoirse Ronan graced the red carpet in this pretty pink dress by Calvin Klein. The dress featured a strapless silhouette and gorgeous bow detailing. The talented  actress completed her look with court shoes by Christian Louboutin in the same pale pink hue. 

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Jane Fonda dazzled at the 2018 Oscars in a white gown by designer Olivier Rousteing with beautiful pearl detail. The Coming Home legend and two times Acedemy Award winner showed of her amazing physique in a figure-hugging dress with elegant sleeves and dramtic shoulder pads. 

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She has dazzled at over a dozen Oscar ceremonies in the past and this year was no exception as Nicole Kidman stunned in one of the most memorable gowns of the night. The strapless form-fitting navy Armani  Privé gown featured a dramatic sweetheart neckline and a thigh-high slit.

Emily Blunt's 2018 Oscars look was so good it deserved a golden statuette of its own! The actress wore a fabulous Schiaparelli confection that was sweeter than a spoonful of sugar. As she prepares to remake the beloved Mary Poppins film, the Victorian neckline perfectly channelled the prim and proper icon. The dress featured some delicate applique around the torso and bow-like sleeves and was presented in a soft blue-tinged grey tulled. The actress completed her look with delicate crystal blue chandelier earrings. 

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Picking up the gong for Best Support Actress, Allison Janney stunned at the 2018 Oscars in a gorgeous red Reem Acra dress. 

The show-stopping gown featured a plunging v-neckline complete with flowing, floor-length sleeves and had a dramatic train. Allison completed her look with a matching Roger Vivier clutch and Jimmy Choo heels, although perhaps the most attention-grabbing part of her ensemble was her sparkly jewellery which cost over $4 million dollars! Wowzer

What did you think of the looks on the red carpet? Who was your favourite? We can't believe #awardsseason is over!


As Holywood (and millions at home) prepare for the biggest awards night of the year, I decided to take a look back at some of the most memorable dresses to ever grace The Oscars' famous redcarpet. From Gwyneth Paltrow in that Ralph Lauren to Lupita Nyong’o in Prada here are my faves... 

First up, in the 1999 awards Gwyneth Paltrow chose this beautiful soft pink taffeta gown by Ralph Lauren. Paltrow picked up the award for Best Actress for her role in ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and accessorised her look with stunning Harry Winston jewels. The look divided commentators but it was so perfect for her WASP-y shape and personality at the time. And here at The F Words it will always be a classic.


1999 - Gwyneth Paltrow in Ralph Lauren

The 1954 Academy Awards saw Audrey Hepburn shine in this stunning gown by Hubert de Givenchy - who went on to dress the talented actress for seven of her later films. The dress featured a gorgeous floral pattern finished with a skinny belt. Hepburn won ‘Best Actress’ for her role in ‘Roman Holiday’.



1954 - Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy

Beautiful Spanish actress Penelope Cruz wowed in her dazzling, blush feathered Versace gown in 2007. She looked absolutely flawless in this dress which oozed opulence and immediately earned a place as one of the most iconic dresses to ever grace the Oscars' red carpet.



Emma Stone slayed in this dramatic Giambattista Valli gown back in 2012. The strawberry red/fuchsia colour against her skin and hair colour was bold, add to that a statement bow, a perfect updo and a Louis Vuitton clutch and, voila! There is nothing we don’t love about Emma’s look!


Also making a statement was Halle Berry in her dress for the 2002 Academy Awards, where she took away the gong for Best Actress, and wrote history by being the first black woman to do so. I loved this Ellie Saab dress at the time, but not so much now - however I thought I would include it here anyway, because it was so of its time. With hindsight, the dress was super daring and wowed onloookers;  plus she deserved all the attention that night in this show-stopping gown with its satin train, sheer top and some modesty-covering embroidery. 


Cate Blanchett looked every inch the Holywood Queen as she stepped onto the 2014 Academy Awards' red carpet. She paired the beautifully embellished gown by Armani Prive with subtle makeup and tousled waves; creating some super styling waves of her own. 


Rachel Weisz looked simply beautiful wearing Vera Wang at the 2007 Oscars. The year before she had won a Best Supporting Actress Award for her role in The Constant Gardener and this time she returned to the red carpet to present an award. 
Her champagne coloured dress was beautifully embellished with diamante detailing on the bust and a short train embellished with plaited satin and tulle. She completed her look with a loosely-waved updo and berry-stained lip. With its figure-hugging cut and draped bodice the new mum looked every inch the glamorous Holywood star. 

Back to red again - and the year 2013 when Jennifer Anniston wore the colour of love as she stepped onto the red carpet with then beau Justin Theroux.  The strapless Valentino creation was simple yet glamorous with its romantic red hue and full bodied skirt.



The world fell in love with relatively new actress Jennifer Lawrence back in 2013 (lucky for some!) when she tripped and fell in this stunning Dior gown; (shame some are falling out of love with her of late, for showing off a bit of leg, but hey - that's a whole other blog).  The intricate design and daring silhouette looked incredible on her beautiful, youthful and athletic frame, so it was no surprise that her Oscar gown knocked her right to the top of all the best dressed lists - and lists of actresses that designers wanted to dress. She stuck with Dior for 2014 though (when she fell AGAIN!)... 



I have saved my (so far) all-time favourite Oscars look for the 2014 awards and Lupita Nyong’o's powder blue PRADA dress, which totally stole the show at her first time nomination for her role in Twelve Years a Slave. The gown, with its stunning floaty fabric, soft tone and plunging neckline will go down in red carpet history. And PS - her green dress at the Cannes Film Festival is one of my favourites on that red carpet too. Girl got style! 

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Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fan of late night browsing - and some of the fab finds from this month include these beauties. Take a look - tell me what you think!

1. Forever 21 Ruffle Jacket

While remaining Forever 21 may be something left to our daydreams, the youthful brand definitely knows how to keep feminine fashion super sophisticated. There’s no doubt in my mind that denim days have only just begun now that this denim jacket has entered the game. 

Take this otherwise “cutesy” item up a notch with leather trousers and stiletto boots. The leather will toughen up the look while the shoes remind everyone who’s boss.

 Ruffle Trim Denim Jacket, £55, Forever21. Available at

Ruffle Trim Denim Jacket, £55, Forever21. Available at

2. Chloé Rylee Cutout Leather Boots

Never can a girl go wrong with anything Chloé.

Former creative director, Claire Waight Keller broke many a fashion heart upon her departure from the brand last year. Thankfully, her replacement, Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s killer collections since have definitely softened the blow. These cutout leather boots played a starring role in the French designer’s debut SS18 collection for the brand. 

The thing about this brand is that it just makes sense. As Ramsay-Levi explains, “You don’t need to be a fashion person to get it.” It only takes one look at these boots to recognise that they’re the standout shoe of the season. Tell me you can’t already imagine the rails of outfits to be styled alongside these boots? Take the look straight from the runway with blouses and mini skirts or experiment by pairing them with floral maxi dresses. The contrast between feminine florals and tougher leather boots brings serious style points your way. 

Oh and that cutout feature you see at the sides and ankles? Incredible with bare legs (if you dare). 

 Rylee Cutout Leather Boots, £995, Chloe at Net-a-Porter. Available at

Rylee Cutout Leather Boots, £995, Chloe at Net-a-Porter. Available at

3. Bauble Earrings

Warning: May provoke unnecessary Dad/boyfriend/most males uninterested in fashion jokes. 
You know the drill. You also know you’ll always beat them in a best dressed competition. So let them laugh, you’re the real winner here. Plus they’re not actually baubles… 

The key to this modern day ear candy trend is avoiding pieces reminiscent of “Do your ears hang low?” chants of childhoods gone by. Instead opt for more gravity friendly, glam pieces. These Bauble Bar earrings tick all of the boxes. Black is always in style and the chic film noir vibes both of these earrings are giving off make them the perfect entry into a trend some may be nervous about trying. 

For a simple day time look, try a plain white t-shirt, straight leg jeans complete with a red lip and slick low ponytail to really show off the earrings. As for the evening, you best believe it’s time to slip on that LBD and those killer heels. These earrings were made for the dance floor. 

 Floretta Sequin Hoop Earrings, $38 dollars; Maraca drop earrings, $34 both Bauble Bar. Available at  and

Floretta Sequin Hoop Earrings, $38 dollars; Maraca drop earrings, $34 both Bauble Bar. Available at and

4. Pink Jumper

Q: How many trends can one jumper tick off? 
A: Pink. Check.
    Stripes. Check.
    Ruffles. Check.
    Sporty elements. Check.
    Instagrammable. Check.
    Enough to make me want to purchase. Check.

While spring is (thankfully) inching its way closer and closer, buying knitwear doesn’t seem the most logical sartorial move right now but between the unpredictable nature of UK weather and the increasing mention of magenta as the AW18 trend reports roll in, how could you possibly resist this investment buy?

Embrace the clashes of red and pink incorporated in this knit, pair with red wide leg trousers and pointed white boots to give this jumper the moment to shine that it truly deserves.  

 Cropped striped jumper, £305, Maggie Marilyyn at Net-a-Porter. Available at -

Cropped striped jumper, £305, Maggie Marilyyn at Net-a-Porter. Available at -

5. The Chair

What’s one thing all fashionable females need in their dressing room? 

Incredible lighting for one. And for another, an adorable chair. 

To the outside world it may seem totally impractical but to the style squad in the know, this chair is a must. Add a blush cushion (heavy on the fluffy texture) and you’re ready to go. Now someone pass me a camera while I upload it to Instagram #interiorgoals

 The Emily & Meritt Bow Chair, $269 available at

The Emily & Meritt Bow Chair, $269 available at


Our guest contributor Amy Goldsmith talks us through her top picks for #ValentinesDay in this week’s fashion story…

Whether you and your darling have been together for a while or it’s a relationship that’s just starting to bud, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to indulge in some romance. What will you be doing this year? Are you and your partner going out to a simple dinner? Will there be roses, chocolate, and grand romantic gestures?

However you decide to celebrate your love, one thing’s for sure –there’s a sweet date waiting for you in the future and you’ve got to be ready for it! Sexy, cute, elegant, you’ve got options to take this date anywhere you want, and we’re here with some cool suggestions to help you put together the perfect outfit.


The way to a man’s heart? Velvet. It’s lush, smooth, and it will engage his senses as his hand brushes over your waist – it simply gives a tactile dimension to your outfit that’ll make him want to sit closer. A soft velvet dress paired with six-inch heels and a cheeky little smirk that promises a hot night ahead will make his mind spin. We recommend the Zara Printed Velvet Crossover Dress because it’ll show off your sexy legs and hug your figure just right; pair it with some burgundy heels and maybe a long coat over it so you can experience that moment of hearing him gasp as you unbutton the coat and slide it off your shoulders...


Demure, sweet, with just a dash of naughty, another great outfit idea is pastel-colored or white lace, preferably something that makes you look delicate, feminine, and still absolutely sexy. This Newlook sheer lilac frill trim top is a gorgeous choice, especially if you pair it with a nude undershirt and slim jeans or trousers. Wear ballet flats and let your hair fall down your shoulders in loose curls and you’ve got a nice, romantic look on your hands that’s so innocently sexy.


Feminine, mysterious, and luxuriously sophisticated, maybe you want a look that will have the guy sweating as he tries to impress you. Enjoy his open-mouthed stare as he sees you in a tight little pencil skirt and something like this Rockmans Elbow Sleeve Ruffle Blouse and black pumps. Pin your hair in a sleek chignon, paint your lips with some wet, nude lip gloss, and give him a smile girl – you’re an elegant goddess and you need to own it! Confidence is an essential part of this look, so enjoy your own beauty!


Maybe you’re an edgy gal who likes to make the head turn wherever she goes, who breaks social conventions and likes to get a little dangerous with her fashion. In that case, leather pants are your friend, baby! Slim leather pants, this satin wrap top, and the magical ingredient – over the knee boots! Throw on a leather jacket, wear bright red lipstick, and rock this bold look! If you want to dial it down a notch you can pick high-waisted skinny jeans instead of leather pants, and maybe switch the shoewear to high-heeled ankle boots


Let’s not forget the most important part – lingerie. Red is almost traditional for Valentine’s Day, but hey, it works. Nothing makes a gal feel sexier than red lingerie, but if you prefer, you can also go for the more mysterious-looking black or charmingly sexy white or pink. However, we’d like to encourage you to take it a step further and wear a corset (we know you always wanted one), because there’s nothing like a little burlesque moment to bring some fantasy and sexy romance to the date (or rather, what comes after it). Imagine yourself in a burgundy corset and black stockings with garters, then imagine your man as he sees you in it. Hot, hot, hot!

Excited about your date? Well there’s nothing like a little shopping session to keep you going until Valentine’s Day is here, so get creative and put together an outfit that will knock his socks off and make you feel sexy and stunning!


From high -flying aviators to dodgy dealers at 1970s market stalls, the shearling coat has seen many fan clubs over  the years, mostly male. But this season sees female fans embrace it in a big way, with an array of colours and varying textures. This style is a sure fire hit for the coldest season of the year. Editor Cathy Martin looks at some of the most popular….



The colour of this fleecy number has got me all sheepish. And it’s available in TALL and PETITE also

Price: £79


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This one is channeling GOOSE in 1980s movie Top Gun and we love it for that.

Price: £89.99



I’m not overly sold on the colour and exterior pockets of this one, but the team here love it, so, it stays.

Price: £65



Simple, chic and not too bulky (if you don’t like the extra inches that a big shearling coat brings). Plus, the length is advantageous for cold kidney types, like me!

Price: £69.99

Urban Outfitters

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I’m not one for zip fastenings on wool or cotton coats, but this is so cosy and would be fab on a park walkabout. Four legged friend optional.

Price: £75

MM6 Maison Margeila

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I have a feeling this would drown me. But do I care? Not in the slightest!

Price: £1,830 


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This is definitely reminding me of old men in background of the Only Fools and Horses re-runs. But in a cool way.

Price: £79



Aaah black, the fashionista’s favourite. This beauty is super soft to touch and dreamy to wear.

Price: £895



A bit on the light side for me – both in colour and in silhouette. But pretty for just a taste of shearling.

Price: £49.99

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Much prefer this option from New Look – better shape, much more interesting take on the original flying jacket silhouettes.

Price: £49.99

Michael Kors

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The colour is a wee bit ‘meh’ for me, but I know plenty of peeps who adore these greeny-browns. I do love the fluffier fleece on the collar though.

Price: £295

Louis Vuitton


Well hello there super luxe! This coat is unpriced, which probably means I cannot (and will not) ever afford it. But, wow!

Stella McCartney

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This is beautiful and luxurious – the perfect coat for a country weekend with plenty of walks and stop offs and gourmet pubs.

Price: £1435

Saks Potts

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Now this baby is cute! I would most definkitely save my pennies and purchase this princess

Price: £980

Yves Salmon

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Super rich colour and texture – exactly how this kind of coat should look and feel. Boom! 

Price: £1890



Almost velvety in texture – and super feminine in colour. We love!

Price: £680



This baby has definitely got our engines running.

Price: £3305

Stella McCartney

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Not super keen on the hooded part of this jacket, but it looks super cosy none the less!

Price: £945

Saint Laurent


Love this. But what is with the REALLY long arms?

Is it me or is this coat made for Mr Tickle?




Totally boho and 1970s. This is one of my faves…



If you’re gonna wear white, you gotta do it right. And this kinda does it.

Thick and full of style – I love this jacket!


Victoria Beckham


VB doesn’t disappoint with this cropped number.  Is it weird that I would like to see her and David in matching versions?




I normally love Belstaff, but my school report comment back to this one is a bit ‘could’ve done better’. Sorry! Nice trims though.




This is a beauty, but its colour has been so widely copied on the high street that I am finding it hard to appreciate the price




Yes, yes, yes, yes! I’m having a total When Harry Met Sally moment here. And it’s not fake!


Isabel Marant


I think this would look super cool on one of those understated French gals.

Cold Brit or Irish lass? Not so much.



Is this a bit too Rodeo? For me, I’m sorry, but it is.


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Sandy Liang

Love this colour and the collar too.

Coveting one right now





This Kenzo coat is amazing – and perfect to clash with red for the ultimate AW17 look




Totally beaut coat – just like something out of In the Name of the Father movie.




This baby is right up there with the Coach number. One of my faves this season, but unfortunately sold out about 20 mins after release.




Love the red collar and cuff – definitely a hit this season.




This beauty from Whistles is something you could wear to herd sheep and get lost in the herd. We’re thinking, Donegal, New Year’s Eve, and a pint of Guinness. Slainte!



Born at Burberry for soldiers in the damp and dirty trenches of WWI, the traditional #trenchcoat has made a major comeback for AW17. From Celine to Max Mara , this stylish classic is enjoying a renaissance, and offers a convenient way to tackle the transitional period from the warm summer days to cooler Autumn evenings – and there are both modern and traditional variations now available on the high street too.

Check out my faves to suit every budget and style here:

& Other Stories

 £165 online at   & Other Stories

£165 online at & Other Stories

Marks & Spencer

 £99 at Marks & Spencer

£99 at Marks & Spencer


 £119 online at  Zara

£119 online at Zara

 £69.99 online at Zara

£69.99 online at Zara


 £160 from  Topshop

£160 from Topshop


 £49.99 from Mango

£49.99 from Mango


 £1,495 from  Burberry

£1,495 from Burberry

Michael Kors

 £350 online at  Michael Kors

£350 online at Michael Kors


 $1,033 at  Matches

$1,033 at Matches

Stella McCartney

 £1,795 at  Net-A-Porter

£1,795 at Net-A-Porter


 £252.30 at Shop Bop

£252.30 at Shop Bop

Max Mara

 £545 at  Max Mara  or call into Max Mara on the Lisburn Road, Belfast

£545 at Max Mara or call into Max Mara on the Lisburn Road, Belfast

Just Cavalli

 £834.99 available at  Zalando

£834.99 available at Zalando


It’s quite unbelievable that M&S has been part of the shopping landscape in Belfast for fifty years. But then, I find it hard to believe that I am not a decade off fifty myself – eeks!

This month, the iconic retail brand celebrated the landmark with loads of instore activity and a lovely nod to the past with an archive exhibition at the Donegall Place store. And whilst I found it amazing to look back in awe and wonder at some really fab pieces, I fell totally love with the new collection’s coats on my last visit. 

Having worked in the textiles industry in the past, I am a stickler for fabric quality and thankfully, M&S consistently delivers with pieces which work in terms of both form and function – they fit and flatter. Coats are thoughtfully and thoroughly designed – and they last at least a few winters, while blouses retain their pizazz even after a whole season’s outings.

This season, heritage fabrics and rich earthy colours set the Autumnal tone in the brand’s AW17 collection, as traditional looks are reworked with a contemporary twist. Checks, sumptuous velvets and statement knits are given a chic update; because classics never go out of style.

The softer side of luxury is explored as cosy furs meet pastel florals and a warmth of metallic. Daywear is elevated; blurring the conventional day to night mood and making the everyday, extra special.

The colour rules are redefined, as head to toe hues take centre stage. (And this, I love – been doing it for ever now!) The M&S AW17 collection encourages women to stride into the new season with bold colour combinations; deep red, rich fuchsia, inky navy and warm caramel, and pave the way for a daring new direction. I’m in!

Modern Heritage

Classics with a contemporary twist

 Autograph Trench £89, Top £45 &, Skirt £49.50

Autograph Trench £89, Top £45 &, Skirt £49.50

Soft Touch

A little luxury everyday

 Per Una Coat £89

Per Una Coat £89

Colour Code

The bold and the beautiful

 M&S Collection Coat £99, Jumper £17.50, Trouser £35, Bag £79 & Shoe £45

M&S Collection Coat £99, Jumper £17.50, Trouser £35, Bag £79 & Shoe £45

Light After Dark

Shine out in the crowd

 Autograph Coat £99, Belt £12.50 & Boot £49.50

Autograph Coat £99, Belt £12.50 & Boot £49.50


You know the summer is coming to a close when the Autumn West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK invitation comes in, and who better to pick the best dressed from this season’s press launch than the fierce female behind FASHIONWEEK herself, none other than Belfast Times columnist/blogger Cathy Martin?

Each and every season the FASHIONWEEK shows and events come around so quickly, and in between the organisation of the events, I field questions and comments from show goers and fashion fans alike - and ‘what should I wear?’ is one of the most common questions! The truth is that these days, most things go, as long as they’re worn with sass and confidence. And another truth is, I often have no idea what I will wear myself to host the shows until about an hour before!

I’m always inspired by our guests and audience members though, and very often they pull out all the stops to up the ante on the style stakes. At our recent press launch in Bullitt, I hardly got chatting to anyone - the event flew by in just an hour and we had over 150 guests, so I missed catch ups with about 149 of them! I did take some time afterwards to pore over our photographers’ pictures, and have whittled the city’s style mavens down to my top ten (ok, eleven) fave looks from the day - in no particular order I might add!


First up, the navy ladies. I loved blogger Louise Vance and ASDA PR Fiona Anderson’s navy looks. It was the colour I chose to sport myself, so it definitely got a thumbs up from me as a chic alternative to the typical fashionista favourite, black.


There were two woodland green looks that I loved also - my chum Claudia Brown, who was with me this summer for my VOGUE intensive experience, came over for the launch and helped me style up some looks. While there, she raided my styling rail and wore In Chlomo on top and Pimkie green velvet flares on the bottom. The look was topped off with some William Morris frames from our official eyewear partner, and the overall effect was very cool.  Teenager Lucy Watson looked super sophisticated and beyond her years in an AKANI dress with elegant arm detail - sure to be a hit on the runway in October.


Looking all white was blogger Emily Hancock in a backless LWD, studded shoes and a cool pair of Sixties-inspired glasses. Siobhan Murphy from Shiv on Style blog wore a white based floral dress with just enough trim to get you guessing if it was Gucci or Gabbana. Whatever it was, it was totally of-the-moment for the balmy late August afternoon that was in it.


Also sporting florals, and rarely one to miss my top ten style watch, is friend and designer Katie Larmour, who wore a black mesh skirt with a richly coloured Jacquard-weave jacket peppered with the colours of an autumnal bouquet. She’s a massive Balenciaga fan, so I’d put my money on that for this jacket, while the studs on her bag suggest Valentino, and on her feet, those are unmistakeably Louboutins.


Vloggers Melissa Riddell and Niamh Cunningham were almost twinning at the launch with their super tight black skinnies and pops of this season’s fave colour - red - as well as the obvious similarities in their fab wavy/curly blonde hair. I loved Melissa’s red fringe earrings and Niamh’s wrap top fringing. Actually, there was definitely a fringe earring memo out there, because at one point I saw bloggers Aisling Gallagher, Katie Andrew, Lauren Foley, Danielle Donohoe and Emma Jane Mooney all lined up together for a selfie, and all wearing them (if only I had that shot here!)


Melissa also nodded to Dior with her slogan tee and she topped off her look with some amazing eyewear by William Morris. In fact she loved her new frames so much she has since had her prescription lenses put into them.

Finally - the ladies in black included make up artist and blogger Rosie Kirk who daringly added metalics to her look with a sexy fishtail skirt; and lastly two of my F Words speakers Tiffany Brien and Kim Constable looked just the business for two of the hardest working people online here. Kim was spectacularly dressed by Peel on Bloomfield Avenue while Tiffany wore a fab M&S dress that I also have - and one that I could live in, every day!  

So that’s a wrap - for more details on the BFW shows, you can always contact me directly from the links on


If you’re a massive Vogue fan like me who had the famous ‘supermodel’ cover on her bedroom wall at 16 years old, then an opportunity to work and learn at the very heart of the nation’s (nay, the world’s) fashion bible is something to jump at - to jump ridiculously high and excitedly at. So when, last December, I got word back from Conde Nast College that, at 43 years old, I had been admitted to their Vogue Intensive summer intake, I was beaming.

Why did I want to go back to school and be at the bottom end of the chain when I had reached relatively great heights back here at home?

Well, to continue formal learning at any age has a disruptor effect. One is forced to rethink how things are done and to use the time for introspection to discover a better way. I had an overwhelming desire to learn more, to experience new kinds of creativity and to mix with exciting people full of fresh ideas and global influences.

For a few reasons, childcare being the most important one, I kept my summer plans quite low key and told only 4-5 people until about May, when I had accommodation and travel arrangements all sorted for myself and my five year old daughter Valentina, who I had planned to bring along with me for the ride. Being a single mum is not easy. Being a single mum and having to go home every night to do bathtime and prep packed lunches for camp the next day, then spend the evening on a laptop catching up on the day job when your twentysomething colleagues hit London town is, I found out, really quite hard. I come from a large family and like feeling part of a pack, so I suffered big doses of FOMO.  

Practicalities out of the way, I then planned my wardrobe. Of course! I needed to streamline packing but choose clothes which were interesting enough yet practical for the summer heatwave and the rain which followed, plus allthe walking required in London meant that my usual Jimmy Choo Anouks just weren’t going to cut it over there.

I actually kept a photo diary of some things that my colleagues were wearing for the first three weeks and I cant wait to look back on that in weeks and months ahead to see what we all wore with the benefit of perspective. One colleague, Ari Peralta, wins my fashion award. He dressed en pointe each and every day.

On arrival I met with colleagues from over 20 nationalities and we discovered that our common passion ensured that the flames of fashion were well and truly ignited. After a fun initiation day (which included a fashion pub quiz - an idea for FASHIONWEEK maybe?) we got stuck in and learnt about fashion history from Suzanne Lussier, then fashion futures from Katie Friedlander, among others.


Among my favourite characters while there were Vogue editor-at-large Fiona Golfar who was funny and fascinating in equal measure; and John the doorman at Vogue House, who seemed to have an uncanny knack of knowing where every one of the 750 Conde Nast staff were at any given time. In fact, there were quite a few interesting characters it has to be said.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see Edward Enninful, the incoming editor, who hit the news recently with his alleged ‘purge of the posh’ after former editor Alexandra Schulman’s departure, but I did enjoy an insightful carrot juice with one incoming editor from back home who was welcoming and warm in equal measure.

Day to day, we were mostly learning, but also working on practical projects and even pitched October edition ideas for critique, which was scary - and that’s saying something considering I’ve been public speaking for almost two decades - doing my TED talk in 2015 was less nerve-wracking!


During  my time there I shot a still life for Manolo Blahnik, and although I did a team shoot with a grey fur boot, I had personally fallen in love with a green, egg-shaped clutch bag with a Swarovski handle at the brief. On seeing it, I immediately thought of a greedy magpie, who would steal the sparkle for her nest. So the night before I set about collecting branches, feathers and twigs in nearby Battersea Park and then built a nest from scratch, twisting and binding the wood and blades of hay together, then spray painting it white to show off the bag’s colour and to give a Christmassy appeal. If we had time, I would shoot it as well as our group shot. Thankfully, we did, and I was able to use a magpie feather borrowed from milliner and friend Grainne Maher on a trip home placing it nonchalantly beside the nest when shooting it. Our photographer loved it. I was delighted to get fab feedback afterwards, for both my own extra shot and our team shoot, but the biggest pleasure came when I opened the September edition of Vogue a few weeks later and saw the bag in the Manolo ad campaign, with a magpie silhouette beside it. Not bad, eh? I was on the same track as the brand team. Beaming again!

As well as the still life shoot, I worked with an American-Swiss-Irish-Australian group of fab ladies on a portfolio fashion classics shoot including a biker jacket and a body suit which was a really fun project. I sourced a red skirt from Belfast designer Gordon Donaldson and picked up a sexy red swimsuit in TopShop to style it up. The team paired the look with my colleague Sofia’s Balenciaga boots and another colleague Scarlett’s Moschino bag as well as some earrings I’d bought but not yet worn. We had so much fun directing our beautiful model Gardelina to run and jump in front of the lens.


My least favourite part was using photoshop and InDesign. I felt really out of my comfort zone as I had previously always outsourced all elements of design, however having identified this as a weakness, I have now invested in these programmes and aim to practice more so I can produce my own artwork or blog content when I want to.

When Valentina wasn’t around (she didn’t stay the full four weeks), I managed to visit the Balenciaga exhibition at the V&A, the Tate Modern, The Saatchi Gallery (Self Expression to Selfie is a fantastic exhibition), the Fashion & Textiles Museum, the amazing Grayson Perry exhibition at the Serpentine and many more artistic experiences. I lounged on the rooftop pool at the Ned, ate in Sushi Samba, SoHo House, the Soho Hotel, J Sheeky’s, Bob Bob Ricard’s, The Ivy, Sketch, Bluebird and quite a few other awesome eateries. I watched Jez Butterworth’s amazing play The Ferryman (and took Valentina to see School of Rock also) then I sank a couple of cosmos at Dean Street Townhouse with my former BBC colleague Ceire Deery, who produced the BRITs for 15 years and is about to produce the MTV EMAs in London in November. I also caught up with Michaela Weir, now super senior in House of Fraser as well as many other NI alumni doing great things in London at Little House and Morton’s in Mayfair and joined the Christmas press launches for Selfridges, Debenhams and House of Fraser, among others.

The city is as vibrant and inspiring as ever and, despite a jam-packed schedule, the experience of spending a month there has left me refreshed, re-energised and ready to tackle the next few months (years) with gusto. My colleagues - young and old - taught me as much as the training team did - I learnt from them in so many ways, and made some nice friendships along the way, in spite of my initial FOMO.  

This feature first appeared in Northern Woman magazine, September 2017.



This weekend I ventured to London’s Olympia to soak up the trends for SS18 at PURE. I was educated, enriched and inspired.

Pure London is the UK’s leading trade show for fashion buyers, but even as an observer industry visitor, I learnt so much as the show boasted a global offering championing new feature areas, emerging brands, an unrivalled education programme and seminar content. It combined serious business with creative and inspirational experiential content initiatives including keynote speeches from fashion designers Dr Pam Hogg and Henry Holland as well as the trends shows and buyer briefings from WGSN - which I loved.

Catwalk @ Pure London - Kinship.jpg

WGSN isthe bible of trend forecasting and, during her Buyer’s Briefing, Sara Maggioni, (Director Retail and Buying at WGSN) stated that consumers will be buying less but buying better. Sustainability and versatility is key; with season-less and dual-function items offering value for money and the blurring of genres and categories opening up cross merchandising opportunities. Here are her key predictions for SS18. You heard it here first!  

A new category to watch out for, and an extension of the growing Athleisure trend, is Sloungewear – based on statistics stating that by 2020 45% of Americans will work from home, Sloungewear offers a merging of active, sleep and loungewear. 

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Dresses, in particular midi styles, continue to be the biggest category but there is an increasing indication that we’re seeing a return to separates, as well as multi-functional items such as the two-piece dress - an item that can be deconstructed into three items. Drawstring tops are a new take on volume and ruffle tops for SS18, and Angel sleeves offer a new alternative to the cold-shoulder styles.

Colourways see the continued influence of prints. Pink now becomes a core shade not just a fashion shade but sees a move away from dusty soft pinks to more daring Magenta and Fuchsia tones with a high octane 1980s feel, while Rose Terracotta offers soft neutral pinks with reddish hues. Pale Sage brings a new alternative to pastel mints and utility greens which are set to be key for swimwear.

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Other key colourways include Lilac, Bold Red, Summer Wine, and Solid Neons used as detail features to contemporise utility and military looks. Textures and materials for SS18 include sheer and luxe Soft Glitter, modern Contemporary Lace on boxy shapes, Feminine Sheers to give a flowing feminine feel to contemporary shapes, exaggerated Bows, Ruching and Drawstring as an update to the familiar gathering silhouette, and Lace Up details especially coming through on denim. Prints and Patterns in the form of florals, stripes and placement prints are still growing, and Tie-Dye becomes less hippy and moves into more contemporary territory on denim and wovens. Slogans continue but become more inclusive – eyecatching, Instagrammable, and featuring messages of inclusivity, non -gender and against discrimination. And the use of World Fonts indicates the move towards Globalisation over Westernisation.

To help with S/S 18 planning, WGSN’s four overarching Vision themes were mapped across six key retail drops, providing clear insight into which Vision trend will be most relevant for which parts of the season, enabling effective planning for product development across all seasonal ranges. 

The season opens with Slow Futures, focusing on practical and functional product that crosses over from winter into the Spring Transitional drop. 

Slow Futures focuses on the importance of basics, but with a more luxurious approach. As demand grows for long-lasting essentials, fabric assumes a new importance. In this trend, basic no longer means ordinary. Quite the contrary: wardrobe staples are becoming more lavish and desirable. 

Pure London catwalk - Youth Tonic.jpg

Minimalism is a key influence in the Slow Futures trend, but moves away from its purist roots to embrace strong silhouettes, clever cuts and added texture. The trend for raw edges becomes more tactile with all-over finishes, and slubbed fabrics use silks and jerseys, adding interest to simple designs with elevated details. Shapes become more structured, as sharp edges and circular silhouettes become more important in tailored and volume items.

Kinship has two drops: Spring which centres around lighter layers, and Mid-Spring & Festival, which explores new festival essentials

Kinship is a trend focused on adventure and travel, driven by cross-cultural connections in a globalised world, and the pioneering spirit of ancient Silk Road trading. This trend offers pick-and-mix influences that take us on a journey from sea voyage to souk, including swashbuckling nautical looks, Islamic geometrics and updated rodeo styles. 

Kinship offers a layered approach to dressing, both in terms of design details and cultural references, which makes it perfect for Spring and Mid-Spring & Festival retail drops. Craft is fused with clever pattern cutting in this trend, and historical and cross-cultural details are key. Romantic and bohemian styles take on a tougher look, and casual looks are elevated with a focus on refined fabrics, raw-edge layering, intricate embellishment and surface texture.

Psychotropical also has two drops: Summer which targets both casual and resort, and High-Summer, which focuses on beach looks, with an emphasis on print and pattern.

Psychotropical sees lush botanical themes take on a heightened, almost synthetic form, with motifs that have a hallucinogenic quality. Colours are deep and saturated, and the juxtaposition of the natural and the man-made creates an unusual tension that feels new for the season. 

Pure London catwalk -Emerging designers.jpg

Swim and beachwear is a key reference this trend, which plays perfectly into the Summer and High Summer retail drops. Beautiful constructions and patterns traditionally seen on swimwear translate to apparel here, as beach-to-bar items evolve into everyday dressing, much the same way loungewear and pyjama dressing has. Silhouettes are simple and fluid, rather than restrictive, and materials offer a sense of refinement and luxury

Youth Tonic has an expressive urban attitude that works for the Summer Transitional drop, as the season moves towards autumn.

Youth Tonic embodies the exuberance of youth, but also appeals to older consumers in a market where age distinctions are more amorphous. It's a rebellious direction driven by a new wave of young designers, which defies categorisation and moves gender-fluid styling into the mainstream. 

The Youth Tonic trend takes place against a backdrop of bleak news and social upheaval, which is giving rise to a more outspoken, socially aware generation. Accepted norms are being challenged by young creatives, who are channelling their energy through fashion, clubbing, music and politics. The result is an eclectic clash of styles with a dash of neo- nostalgia, where 1990s clubwear and street style assume a new relevance.

PURE is a great show to visit for anyone in retail or fashion, whether you’re buying or not. There was a genuine buzz in the aisles and it looked like the buying experience was most definitely meeting the needs of the ever-changing customer and audience.  I was happy to see NI buyers like Aileen Wilson from Blush, Brenda Part from Diamond Dolls and Clodagh Shortt from Honey, plus the My Sister’s Closet girls who were there selling their own label to what looked like hordes of hungry buyers. We have a strong independent retail sector in NI/Ireland, and I hope for the customer and our towns’ streetscapes’ sakes, that this continues.