Thursday, 30 December 2010

Tough Cookie

All the greatest writers combined styles. Chaucer combined high and low styles in a way no one had attempted before. Shakespeare combined the gaudy with the romantic, and even more modern playwrights like Edward Albee took to combining expressionism, absurdism and naturalism to make their plays all the more powerful. ('Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' might just be my favourite play of all time.)

But what's my point? I forget sometimes. I get on the subject of Albee and all I want to do is analyse the bejeebus out of him. I'm pretty sure my point was that the same applies to fashion - sometimes combining unexpected elements is the best way to get an awesome outfit.

I tend to have a very girlie, feminine style. My wardrobe is literally full of silk, lace, nude tones, jewel tones, cashmere, florals, cameos, pearls, dresses and skirts.

You get the idea. But I don't like to look sickly-sweet so I like to use little elements to subtly toughen up my looks.

Here are some of my favourite ways to do it, using items from ASOS, because their sale is amazing. 

These various stud-earrings with either faux or real leather coverings toughen up a potentially cutesy look, whilst the leather bra-let would look great under a see-through floaty, chiffon or lace top.

ASOS Leatherette Rose Studs ASOS Leather Look Bow Stud Earrings ASOS Genuine Leather Covered Heart Stud Earrings

ASOS Boudoir Leather Look Multiway Bra

ASOS Leatherette Rose Studs, £4
ASOS Leather look Bow Stud Earrings, £6
ASOS Genuine Leather Covered Heart Stud Earrings, £8
ASOS Boudoir Leather Look Multiway Bra, £8

brogues, boots and shoe-boots
Masculine up your footwear! Swap ballet shoes for brogues or court shoes for heeled shoe-boots and your outfit will be much more suited to the mean city streets than to meadows and flowery fields.

ASOS MORTIMER Lace Detail Shoe ASOS MARKY Leather Traditional Brogues

ASOS GEORGIE Leather Knee High Boots

ASOS TEASE ME Peep Toe Shoe Boot River Island Shutter Mid Fur Boots

ASOS Mortimer Lace Detail Shoe, £20
ASOS MARKY Leather Traditional Brogues, £32
ASOS Georgie Leather Knee High Boots, £60
ASOS Tease Me Peep Toe Shoe Boot, £60
River Island Shutter Mid Fur Boots @ ASOS, £74.99

Blazers are a great way to immediately add some city chic to an outfit (more on that here), or think about swapping your skirt (I'm a skirt-fanatic) for tailored shorts or trousers, very 'in' this season.

One Teaspoon Piccadilly Blazer Oasis Lace Back Blazer Mango Tailored Blazer

Mango Tailored Shorts Vero Moda Loose Tailored Trousers

One Teaspoon Piccadilly Blazer @ ASOS, £38
Oasis Lace Back Blazer @ ASOS, £32
Mango Tailored Blazer @ ASOS, £34.90
Mango Tailored Shorts @ ASOS, £19.90
Vero Moda Loose Tailored Trousers @ ASOS, £32

animal print
A fashion stalwart, animal print spices up any outfit. These dresses and accessories in particular have feminine silhouettes, toughened up by print. Wear with a big old dose of confidence.

Motel Leopard Print Swing Dress TFNC Dress Animal Print Chiffon One Shoulder

Karen Millen Weekend Luxe Leopard Print Pony Shoe ASOS Leopard Patent Frame Clutch Bag

Motel Leopard Print Swing Dress @ ASOS, £45
TFNC Dress Animal Print Chiffon One Shoulder @ ASOS, £21.50
Karen Millen Weekend Luxe Leopard Print Pony Shoe @ ASOS, £95
ASOS Leopard Patent Frame Clutch Bag, £11

add a belt
Along the same lines as tailoring, adding a belt (be it skinny or wide) will give definition to floaty, feminine outlines and automatically update the look. Especially great with last seasons full-skirted looks.

ASOS Double Wrap Super Skinny Waist Belt Paul Smith Wide Elastic Belt ASOS Double Buckle Leather Wide Belt 

ASOS Double Wrap Super Skinny Waist Belt, £12
Paul Smith Wide Elastic Belt @ ASOS, £64
ASOS Double Buckle Leather Wide Belt, £28

Injury has never looked so good. Not only is the bandage look extremely flattering, showing off all your curves whilst simultaneously keeping them where they belong, it toughens up evening wear no end.

ASOS Pleated Wrap Strap Top Whistles Selena Skater Bandage Dress Whistles Imogen Print Bandage Skirt

ASOS Pleated Wrap Strap Top, £26
Whistles Selena Skater Bandage Dress @ ASOS, £195
Whistles Imogen Print Bandage Skirt @ ASOS, £41

colour accents and contrasts
Be a bit bolder and wear brights you might otherwise avoid, or stark monochrome contrasts. I'm in love with this pink Ringspun dress, even though it's not something I'd normally wear.

Ringspun Dress With Contrast Panels Rare Contrast Stripe Bandeau Dress Boutique By Jaeger Sweater With Contrast Lurex Trim

Ringspun Dress with Contrast Panels @ ASOS, £70
Rare Contrast Stripe Bandeau Dress @ ASOS, £28.50
Boutique by Jaeger Sweater with Contrast Lurex Trim @ ASOS, £85

chunky jewellery
Big jewellery = Big impact. And not necessarily big bucks. Enough said.

ASOS Chunky Ethnic Style Studded Bangle ASOS Chunky Hematite Stone Encrusted Ring ASOS Vintage Style Chunky Ridged Stud Earrings
ASOS Chunky Ethnic Style Studded Bangle, £7
ASOS Chunky Hematite Stone Encrusted Ring, £8
ASOS Vintage Style Chunky Ridged Stud Earrings, 8

 (images from

Just a few little tricks you could team with an ultra-feminine outfit to stop it looking sickly-sweet:

Smoky Eyes
(Image from

Eyeliner Flick
(Image from

Red Lips

So when you're getting ready to go out and look fabulous, stick on your favourite rock anthems and be brave enough to toughen up your look.

Ciao for now,


  1. I like this post a lot:) You are so right about combining contrasting styles. It can really add interest to any outfit! I really like menswear-inspried shoes.

  2. ohhhh thank you. you can tell i've been studying a lot more lately, i keep creeping literature into my posts - no matter how tenuous the links are :)