Chanel
New Ribbon
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FASHION FILMS TO FEATURE AT ASFF

The BAFTA qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) has teamed up with London College of Fashion to establish a new fashion film strand at this year’s event, showcasing READ MORE...
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PPQ DOES THE MODERN DAY TIARA

For spring/summer 2015, PPQ presented clothes to wear to 'the coolest party of the fashion season', finished with high gloss hair taken to a creative extreme READ MORE...
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'KNITTING FOR JULIET' COMPETITION LAUNCHES IN ITALY

Knitwear designers studying in Italy are invited to enter the Knitting for Juliet competition launched by Fashion Ground Academy of Italian Design READ MORE...
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NICHOLAS ROSE'S FULL COLOUR LIVING

It was not possible to walk past Nicholas Rose's luminous, contoured lamp shades at 100% Design the other week, I felt like a moth drawn to a flame. READ MORE...
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LFW: BACKSTAGE AND BEYOND AT PAUL COSTELLOE

think we could all use a dose of soft, pretty and innocent right now. Paul Costelloe brought his unabashed femininity to the runway READ MORE...
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CARMEN DELL'OREFICE TO OPEN SINGAPORE FASHION WEEK

Carmen Dell’Orefice...if this is what being in your 80s looks like then I'm looking forward to it! The legendary model, who once declared to Vanity Fair, “If I die, it will be with my high heels on”, is set READ MORE...
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#UNLOCK ART FILM SERIES ENDS ON A HUMOROUS NOTE

The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll READ MORE...
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September 25, 2014

My Perfect Cozy Autumn Sunday Brunch

Brunch-table

While I love the idea of going out to eat and catching up with friends, and having everything taken care of for you, there's nothing more enjoyable than creating your own wonderful Sunday brunch at home, just the way you like it.

Sundays are meant for relaxing. So, while it can be a nice thing to prepare an elaborate brunch for guests, when it's for yourself or a couple friends or family, you want it to be simple and quick so you can sit down and enjoy it. But that doesn't mean you have to compromise on the menu! I've chosen my favourite at-home Sunday brunch recipes (from Sweet Paul), with the autumn season in mind, that are delicious, healthy and easy to make.

ParmesanfrenchtoastSavoury Parmesan French Toast with Spinach 

 

Serves 4

6 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan + extra for serving
pepper
8 thick slices of good crusty country style bread
butter for frying
fresh spinach
olive oil

1. In a bowl beat together eggs, milk, parmesan and pepper.
2. Pour the batter onto a plate and dip the bread on each side.
3. Sprinkle a little extra parmesan on each side.
4. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and fry the bread on both sides until golden.
5. Place on plates and serve with spinach, extra parmesan and an olive oil drizzle on top.

I like using this recipe to make a decadent sandwich for lunch sometimes. Add parma ham and rocket between two slices of the parmesan french toast with a smear of dijon for a posh ham and cheese toastie!

 

Breakfast bowl

Breakfast Bowl with Ramps, Asparagus & Lemon Herb Sauce

Serves 4

4 thick slices of country style bread, cubed (or substitute with cherry tomatoes like I do for a healthier dish)

12 stalks mini asparagus, cut in 3
12 ramps (leeks or spring onions can be substituted)
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 bunch fresh mint
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts + extra for serving
juice from 1 lemon
grated zest from 1 lemon
pinch of red chili flakes
1/2 cup Olive oil
4 eggs
vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 380F.
2. Place the bread (or tomatoes), asparagus and ramps on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. (While waiting you can start dessert, see below.)
4. Place herbs, pine nuts, lemon, chili and oil in a blender and blend until smooth. If it's too thick just add a little more oil.
5. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add a little vinegar, poach the eggs for 3 minutes.
6. In a bowl start with the bread, then asparagus and ramps, then the egg, pine nuts and finish off with the lemon herb sauce.


Ricotta-honeyRicotta & Honey

Serves 4

2 cups of fresh ricotta
1 honeycomb or regular honey
flowering herbs to garnish

1. Place a large scoop of fresh ricotta in a bowl and top with a piece of honeycomb.
2. Sprinkle with flowering herbs.

I like to add fresh berries and mint if I have them. Lately I've been grabbing a few blackberries off the neighbour's bush that is growing through our fence - no complaints here!

If you want to make your own ricotta in advance, it's not difficult at all. In fact, it's practically fool-proof. All you need is whole milk, heavy cream, fresh lemon juice or white vinegar, a large pan (a preserving pan is ideal), a candy thermometer, cheesecloth, a sieve and bowl. Curious? You can get the recipe here. If you want a lighter version, you can make cottage cheese by using 2% milk and leaving out the cream, and using the vinegar instead of lemon juice. 

Brew yourself some great coffee or get your pots of tea ready and your brunch is served! 

But what are you wearing? For me, the best match for a comfort meal is a comfortable outfit. However, I still want to feel put together, and the perfect place for clothes that feel as good as they look is Hush. I'm all about easy pieces that move with you (especially after an indulgent brunch!) so I've chosen layers because I love that look, and it's also a very wise way to dress when you live on the coast of the North Sea (or the UK in general, really, as chills seem to be always looming around the corner). I kept with a mostly monochromatic look because there's something serene about greys, while whites feel clean and black is just the most versatile when it comes to accessories. But I do love this cosy cardigan in pinks and purples to brighten things up, and it works beautifully with the grey panelled t-shirt dress. The zip leggings are the ideal Sunday choice as they're super comfy but far more stylish than your standard pair.

Hush-layers

The day is not yet over - it's only early afternoon! A nice thing to do after your lovely Sunday brunch is to take a walk. Not only will you feel a bit lighter in the tummy but it will clear your head as well and prepare you for the week ahead. All ready in my layered outfit, all I'd have to do to go from comfy to cool (but still comfy!) is pull on some biker ankle boots and a hat, (yes, I'm a hat girl but I have to be sure it's not too windy before I step out with one of my favourites), a messenger bag and something for my neck which is almost a must-have for a walk by the sea at this time of year - I love this black and white twisted snood with the mixed cardi for a fun complement to the blacks and greys. 

Hush-accessories

I hope my perfect autumn cozy Sunday brunch ideas inspire you to make a great day for yourself. Or add a little something here and there during the week to make ordinary days a bit more special, too!

August 27, 2014

Design and Craft: Made London Returns to One Marylebone

 

The Design and Craft Fair, MADE LONDON, returns to One Marylebone 24-26 October to present the very best in contemporary craft and design. Showcasing over 120 highly original makers and designers from the UK and Europe, the show offers visitors the opportunity to view and buy unique hand crafted pieces in a friendly, informal and beautiful atmosphere. Long established and well known makers mix with emerging makers to offer a selection of works that are truly varied and exciting.

At the fair you'll find a vast range of expertly crafted items including colourful glassware, soft knitted textiles, functional ceramics, beautiful jewellery, classic furniture as well as great fashion. A full list of exhibitors can be seen here.

One Marylebone is a stunning church conversion in central London near Regents Park. MADE LONDON will occupy all three floors, including the double height crypt and mezzanine.  Be sure to stop by the cafe in the crypt to relax with a drink and a treat!

For more information you can visit www.madelondon.org

August 09, 2014

Transseasonal Dressing: The Asymmetric T-Shirt Dress

Asymmetric-dip-dye-t-shirt-dress

As mentioned many times, I like to fill my wardrobe with pieces I can wear beyond a season, especially in the UK where you're never really sure what season it's supposed to be. And storage is at a premium for most of us. It's just smart. So no, I don't have a rainbow selection of cut-offs filling my drawers. (For various reasons.)

My newest favourite that fits the bill is this asymmetric t-shirt dress in blue dip-dye jersey from Label Lab. House of Fraser invited me to select a piece from their womenswear range, and I almost went for a tank maxi in orange to wear for my summer in Canada. Then I saw this dress, and knew it was the one. I could wear it all year round for all kinds of things. I don't dress up much and tend to be on the casual side but never want to look like I don't care. (The actual look of me really not caring is frightening. I could never go out like that!) Extreme asymmetric hems can look outdated, but cut on a slight angle across the knees and in a fitted, t-shirt style, it just always seems current for some reason. Kind of edgy. The body is cut so that the waist gathers on one side which is much more flattering than the straight t-shirt dress which doesn't transfer from warm to cool seasons, but this one does. The jersey has a bit of weight to it which is important. A trans seasonal style means nothing if the fabric is so sheer and delicate that it looks like Tinkerbell's tissue.

Wear the asymmetric t-shirt dress with sandals or flip-flops for summer; ankle boots, tights and a biker or bomber jacket for autumn and winter. Done! Those cool blue are season neutral, and ombre doesn't seem to ever go away - it always looks good if the colours are rich. At just £34.30 (regular price £49), this dress offers a lot of long-term options without breaking the bank. 

April 28, 2014

Online Galleries: The New Way to Discover and Buy Art

Wylder-FlettWylder Flett's photographs of midcentury vignettes from every day, family life, using dollhouse furniture and figurines to set the scene. Clockwise from top right: Earl, being a housewife is work too!; Jan awaits her punishment; So Peg says to me... and Francine has something to tell Earl. Prints start at $112.

We can buy every other luxury item online, so why not art? For the past several years, galleries have been curating online collections to extend their brand to a broader audience and make art more accessible. These online art platforms cultivate a new community of collectors and raise profile for artists who may not otherwise be discovered beyond their local galleries. It's also the quickest and easiest way to discover new artists, wherever you are.

Recently, we looked at Scream Editions which sells affordable prints online and caters to new collectors on a budget. For a broader offering, one of my favourite online galleries to browse - and hopefully one day buy from - is Saatchi Art. You can consider traditional art such as paintings, drawings, photography, collage and sculpture, as well as more innovative forms such as installation and video. I'm drawn to abstraction in paintings, especially when it's textural, contrasted and coloured, but I also have a thing for lines, and the amount of art that fits the bill on this site is almost overwhelming; it's such a treat. One of my favourite subjects is midcentury iconography, so I searched the term and my favourite find of the Saatchi Art site thus far came up; Wylder Flett's vignettes of family life from the era, modelled with vintage dollhouse furniture and plastic figurines (as seen above). His focussed use of light highlights the figurines with an almost translucent effect, and when contrasted with shadow creates a rather dramatic, poignant scene which pings our own childhood memories and makes this plastic family feel very real. 

If you're wondering how to determine whether a particular piece might work in your home, there's a feature that shows you what the work looks like in a room, such as a painting or drawing over a sofa, so you can get a sense of scale and shape. 

Here are some other works I like from artists I didn't know before visiting the site. I noticed when taking the names that all but one are women artists (we talked about the lack of recognition of women in art as part of the Unlock Art film series not too long ago, but there is no shortage here):

Maren-wirths

The midcentury modern series of 7 - number 1, Marén Wirths. Photograph.

Saatchi-Melinda-MatyasThe Barricade. Melinda Matyas. Oil painting. 

Saatchi-Jiyen-Lee

Cloud 9, Jiyen Lee. Photograph.

Saatchi-Tom-Henderson

A6 Wandering Line 1, Tom Henderson. Plexiglass, aluminium, paint. 

Saatchi-Ieva-Baklane

Windy Day, Ieva Baklane. Acrylic. 

Saatchi-Yangyang-Pan

Abstract Landscape #20. Yangyang Pan. Oil painting. 

Saatchi-Jennis Cheng Tien LiJennis Cheng Tien Li. Paintings (four separate works shown here) and an installation of mixed media called Counterforce:

Jennis-cheng-tien-li

Have a browse and see what great new artists you discover!

April 13, 2014

Me.By Me.: Celebrating Our Unique, Individual Style

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Last month I was treated to a preview of the new Me. By Me. campaign for TK Maxx in their Covent Garden store in London. It was a really colourful, upbeat party with smiling faces everywhere, the vibe reflecting the positive, sunny energy of the campaign. Have you seen the TV adverts? They feature real people, actual TK Maxx customers who are not professional models. An endearing self-consciousness is detectable and the message promoting unique personal style rings true. It's a refreshing concept as it's just so rare. Models act like models, they're never meant to come off as real people, and the Me.by.Me. campaign shows that some genuine character over the copycat, aspirational approach to selling fashion can be very motivating. Rather than seeing a model who has impossible legs, and impossible skin, and impossible hair and buying the clothes or bag she's wearing as a means of trying to get closer to that image, Me. By Me. gives us people of all ages whose personalities shine through the outfits and make us feel that we can look great as we are, that we've already got the whole package and hey, a few new bits will help us express ourselves and make us feel really good. 

This is the full advert for the TK Maxx Me. By Me. campaign: 

It holds your attention all the way through, doesn't it? I love it. 

So who are these real people? TK Maxx chose eight UK shoppers to help represent the brand and inspire others to celebrate the wonderful things that make them unique. They joined a diverse group of 12 TK Maxx real-life customers plucked from obscurity whilst browsing in stores spanning the UK, Ireland, Poland and Germany. They were taken on a trip of a lifetime to Cape Town, South Africa, where for 10 days they were encouraged to experiment with style and take part in a series of fun and experimental activities to help unlock their Me. By Me. mind-set. With no scripts or storyboards, the cast were given free rein to shape the direction of the campaign and experiment with a wide choice of clothing and accessories from stores to create their defining looks. 

Below are some of the TK Maxx customers from the advert, all from the UK. From top left is 82-year-old photographer Martin Gordon from London who doesn’t plan to ever retire; Pia Sarkar, a 25-year-old student and lover of 50s music and bright lipstick from Brixton; 62-year-old Olga spotted in London, who fabulously models TK Maxx’s swimwear; and Justina Bailey, a 28-year-old a graphic designer and self-confessed creative nerd with a quirky dress sense from London: 

TK-Maxx-Me-by-Me

In the spirit of uniqueness, some of the great food and drink we were treated to at the Me. By Me. party at the Covent Garden TK Maxx:

TheSwelleLife_TK-Maxx-Me-by-Me

You might be wondering why I have such a rabid enthusiasm for the project. Yes, the advert is a joy to watch and puts a feeling of summer in my head. But I'm so excited about it all because it's not empty marketing smoke and mirrors; the concept of celebrating individual style follows through into real life in my own city of Newcastle. At the event for the opening of the campaign, we were given gift cards so we could pick out some clothes and put together outfits we like for ourselves. I had to run off for my train so I didn't have time to look through the Covent Garden store and would have to do my shopping locally when I got back. I'll be honest, I was a bit deflated not being able to do it in London, assuming that the selection at home would pale in comparison. Little did I know that the TK Maxx in Newcastle had moved amidst renovations to the mall where it was originally located, to a massive new space on Northumberland Street which now had a whole new look and a serious commitment to fashion. I found the new store and when I came off the escalator I noticed on my right a section marked 'Gold Label', and I was hoping this was what I thought it was. And yes, it was a high-end designer section and I couldn't believe what was there. I'm not going to name names because each store varies in what they receive - and therefore worth checking regularly - but I'm talking 'fashion week' brands. Big ones. You know them and you want them, and here were those otherwise unattainable items - at massive discounts!  The pile on my arm started to grow higher and higher, and then on my way to the fitting rooms I found a ton of really cool plaid flannels - I love how they were grouped together and required no rummaging - and I barely made it on in without my arms collapsing.

Most importantly, the shopping experience at TK Maxx is one that really does leave your choices up to you. As you walk into the store you may notice, or not, that there are no styled mannequins in the window or on the floor. No signage showing willowy young models in dreamy fashionland to unwittingly emulate. No dictating how you should look this season, no obvious trends packaged up to lead you into buy something that's not really you. The racks are quite electic yet cohesive as they are grouped by type of garment while representing a vast array of brands and - current - styles, and what stands out and comes into the fitting room with you will be something you already know you like. I looked through the racks for all the 'me' clothes and found tons. See - Me. By Me. It works!

Theswellelife_39 (1 of 1)

Theswellelife_45 (1 of 1)

At the Me. By Me. launch we were treated to a chat with Carolyn Mair (right), a renowned cognitive psychologist in the UK. With a keen interest in fashion psychology, she is developing the first MA Psychology in the Fashion Industries and MSc Psychology in the Fashion Industries programmes which will run at The London College of Fashion from September 2014. Carolyn will focus on the importance of psychology in fashion and help students to gain an understanding of human behaviour in a fashion context. We had a fascinating discussion about the impact our clothes have on how we feel about ourselves and I would have loved to talk to her all night, she's so lovely and insightful. 

Theswellelife_37 (1 of 1)

Theswellelife_59 (1 of 1) 
I found success with most of the clothes I took into the fitting room (we had to separate my bounty into two groupings) but decided to take home a pair of jeans from one of today's most popular jean brands, they're skinny and a turquoisy teal (I cannot have enough blue skinny jeans); I'm wearing them as I write this, they're so comfortable and fit perfectly. I also got two 'going out' tops because although I'm not out constantly I do find I'm lacking in clothes that are suitable for a night on the 'toon' (that's Geordie speak). But as I'm Canadian and not a Geordie I'm much more casual (ok that's not fair, there are casual Geordies, my friends don't even own sparkly tops and dresses); however, you don't want to be so casual that you look like you're not out for fun. These two tops are perfect for my subtle going out style. I was just under the amout of the gift card when I made my way to the cash with my three items, and then I saw some high-end designer activewear and my eyes fixated on a really great jacket in shades of grey and a mix of fabrics, it was right in line with the activewear I've been oggling from New York Fashion Week. I scooped one up and tried it on in the queue and added it to the pile. (I'm also wearing that right now, it's so comfy and will come in handy for a lot more than going to the gym.)

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In the end, my four items totalled £128. The RRP was several times that so I was totally thrilled, a big bonus on top of having new clothes that I really loved and work for me. 

I'm so glad I was asked to be a part of this with TK Maxx. I do almost 100% of my clothes shopping online because of convenience and selection, but after this experience I knew I'd be checking back in regularly to see what gems have arrived before I do any clicking - a typical store has over 50,000 in stock and receives 10,000 new pieces every week. That's another thing - TK Maxx has brought in brands we wouldn't otherwise have in Newcastle. We only have a few high end shops, I think you could actually count them all on one hand (and maybe even have a thumb left over), and they only carry certain brands. But it's not just about finding high-end gems; the entire floor is stocked with desirable clothes from all price points. I love the surprise of finding which designers will appear next, and discovering new labels in other areas of the store. And not forgetting the cherry on top - saving money! And I have to mention that the racks were very neat (no mess like you tend to find on the high street) and the fitting rooms were very clean as well, not strewn with discarded clothes and hangers. And the selection was simply fantastic. Newcastle needed this. Did I mention I'm impressed and I can't wait to get back? (Well since originally writing this draft I have been back. Last weekend I took a friend who was visiting and needed jeans, and she found the perfect pair plus some tops. And I found the perfect replacement to a raincoat I no longer like because my style has changed - my old one has a bow in the back and I don't do those anymore. My new find is more utilitarian and just so cool that I actually don't mind if it rains now. Almost.) 

You know what? I've yet to make my way to the second level to browse the housewares. This adventure is just beginning....

March 17, 2014

Vinyl Love at 'Record Store Day' on Berwick Street

Record Shop Shot

Long live vinyl. The independent record stores of Berwick Street Soho are joining forces this Easter weekend to celebrate Record Store Day on Saturday, April 19.  The free outdoor gig will see seven artists perform on the Berwick Street main stage, with retailers hosting in-store activities throughout the day. The event promises some rare finds with limited edition vinyl and CDs to be released exclusively on this day, and many will only be available in Berwick Street’s record stores.  

And with great music goes good food. The traditional fruit & veg market will be open as usual with a variety of world street food traders, including Napoli style pizzas served by Pizza Pilgrims from the back of a converted Piaggio van, and freshly made falafel wraps from Jerusalem Falafel. 

For more information you can visit the Berwick Street website, or check for updates at #RecordStoreDay and @berwickstlondon.

December 09, 2013

Three Shades of Grey

CavellsDifferent ways to add grey to your outfit from cavells.co.uk - it doesn't have to be dull!

Light, medium and dark. Ok, there are many more shades of grey than that, maybe even 50, but I'm not touching that one; these clothes are staying on. I'm such a colour freak, yet I've always gravitated toward grey. I think it's the softness of the colour that appeals, in the same way a pastel would, but in a warmer and cosier way. Who can resist a chunky-knit heather grey jumper or a charcoal cashmere winter hat? And grey makes for one of the most versatile neutrals. Unlike beige which can register as well, nothing, grey has a quiet presence that complements any other colour, works for all clothing, footwear and accessories, and is a great alternative for committed lovers of black when they want to mix things up a bit without abandoning their signature look. 

Grey is probably the best colour for layering; wear a range of shades at once for a smart, tonal look. And if you want to introduce colour yet stay with the monochromatic scheme, greys with a blue or lilac tint will subtlely brighten your outfit. These styled looks illustrate the appeal of layering with grey - who wouldn't want to slip into any of these outfits?

Cavells_grey

December 02, 2013

Little Mistress Wins Drapers Young Fashion Brand of the Year

Little_Mistress

You can't help but have noticed the massive marketing push of online fashion retailers this year, geared toward teens and young women, for dresses made for a night out at a price point this demographic can actually afford. One such site is Little Mistress who were recently recognised, for a second year in a row, as a standout when they were awarded Draper's Young Fashion Brand of the Year. No small feat, considering the judging criteria includes strong design and trend awareness, good pricing architecture and the offer of something different to the market. 

Through their online shop the brand offers the full spectrum of fashion categories, though their offering is focussed on an extensive range of dresses, from daywear to special occasion, priced between £25 - £200. There's also a Curvy category that offers a decent selection of dresses in sizes 18-24, and a collection of sweetly feminine party dresses for little girls ages 5 - 12. Incentives to order include a 15% discount for students and free UK returns. 

November 22, 2013

New Look Holiday Wish List

New_Look

I did a little window shopping online at New Look after a friend lamented not having anything 'glamorous' for the holidays, but didn't want to break the bank right before Christmas.  It's a conundrum for most of us, I think, trying to shop for some new looks for parties and family events when we're meant to be focussing on others. And all on a budget!

I like to choose pieces that are easy to wear and versatile. Comfort equals confidence, and with so many styles of clothing available it makes good sense to go with something that can work for lots of different occasions without being too middle of the road. So I went with a dress that pops in cobalt blue and works well for both day and evening. The shape is my favourite body-con style, it hugs the figure yet sits on the modest side, the short sleeves balancing the mid-thigh length to create a more subtle kind of sexy.

A great coat is essential for looking polished and put together as you get yourself from place to place. I went with a style that is a mix of classic in burgundy boucle, practical with its warm mid-length, and cool with zips and a biker style lapel. This coat can be worn for anything, with the exception of sledging and snowball fight!

Sometimes a tired outfit can be revived with clever accessorising. Take the the silver and white stone cuff. It's a festive piece that would instantly lift an all-black outfit, and add some extra icy winter sparkle to a white silk top or dress. The clutch is an essential party piece and should complement your outfit. This box clutch in black and gold geometric cut-outs is a stand-out item yet will go with just about any outfit in solid colours and maybe even some prints. And a sharp belt is another must-have for finishing a special outfit. The gold chain detail of this belt gives a touch of refined texture and will raise the style factor of black trousers or a form-fitting dress. 

And for a little cuteness and humour at home, I included a pair of New Look brown knitted mouse slippers which will keep feet warm on a chilly Christmas and New Year morning whilst being adorable. I think these will help make my friend's festivities a little more fun and exciting!

October 18, 2013

Swelle Review: Uniqlo's Ultra Light Down Jacket

Uniqlo_Ultra_Light_Down

Already have a piece from the Uniqlo Ultra Light Down range? Upload a photo of yourself wearing it to Twitter or Instagram using #ULD by 20th October and you could win £300 to spend at Uniqlo (that will buy a lot of winter clothes!) One winner will be selected at random from UK entries and one will be selected from French entries. For more details see Uniqlo's competition page

I'm a huge fan of Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo, so I was thrilled when I was asked to review an item from their autumn/winter range. I have a few pairs of their trouser leggings, a dress and scarf from the Orla Kiely collaboration, one of the new cashmere sweaters, a bunch of vests, and their underwear and socks are fantastic as well. The quality/price ratio is rivalled by no one and proves that you can actually have good design and  high quality - consistently! - at an affordable price ('affordable' meaning actually accessible to everyone, I've seen some interesting interpretations of what is affordable). Most importantly, the clothes endure. They wash well, keep their colour and shape, and I haven't lost a button or had a hole pop up in anything - even the socks. The styles work together and lend well to layering which is especially useful in the cooler months - or UK life in general. We can see three types of weather in five minutes here on the coast and watch it repeat as if on a loop from morning to night, so this kind of dressing is especially important for this girl who hates to be cold or too hot (well, who doesn't?). But then what do you do with the layers when you have to peel one off? This factor plays into my choice. 

I wanted to review something from their Ultra Light Down range having not tried it before and being curious and in need of a new coat. After much deliberation and weighing style, practicality and colour choices, I chose the Ultra Light Down jacket in 62 Blue (£59.90), which is exactly the one shown in the first header photo. The promise with the items in the range, which includes jackets, vests, parkas and coats for women, men and children in various styles, is that it provides super lightweight warmth that's 'portable and pocketable', fitting snugly in its own travel bag. The lightness is achieved by inserting the down (90% down and 10% feathers) directly into the outer shell made of a super thin nylon which is coated with a special ciré (wax). The process provides breathable warmth. The product features note that a high quality down must exceed a fill power of 550, and Uniqlo's Ultra Light Down is in excess of 640. 

Uniqlo_portability

When I received the jacket I first noticed the beautiful colour; it's a duck egg shade with a subtle sheen. The second and third things that struck me when I picked up the jacket were how incredibly light it is, like air, and how lovely and soft the material felt. I put it on and it fit like a glove. I ordered a small and the proportions were perfect if you like a close fit, which you would with this style as it has panels for shaping and is meant to follow the lines of the body. It feels like wearing a silky summer duvet, and it made me wish I actually had a duvet version of it for sleeping. Already I've brought it to Sweden and London (twice) including a dinner in a Hackney warehouse, and because of unseasonably warm weather didn't need it the first two times, but the beauty of it is that it's so light and compact - practically non-existent in your luggage - that having it and not using it is inconsequential; when packing you don't have to make a guess and risk needing something you didn't bring or cursing something you brought but didn't need. 

Here are more uses and features for the Ultra Light Down range:

  • Travel. On planes, trains and automobiles, it provides warmth without bulk so you can move around a remain comfortable, and if you don't need it any longer it can literally be folded up and shoved into its travel bag and tucked into your own bag, or pocket. It's especially handy for airports which tend to be hot and stuffy - I find Heathrow brutal for that - and the last thing you want is to have to carry a heavy coat on top of your bag and carry-on. 
  • Pockets galore. You get two invisible outside pockets which open with a sleek zip sewn into the side seam, and two large internal pockets, all of which are incredibly handy for keeping keys, change, cards and phones. I was especially grateful for mine while in London's underground this week, I was able to zip in my Oyster card securely and then get it quickly when exiting the station - the mob behind you won't wait while you search for it!
  • Retains its looks. When you pull it out again it goes back to its new condition and shows no sign of having been scrunched up.
  • Great for layering. Pile it on top of a couple inner layers without getting sweaty or looking like the Michelin Man, and put it in your bag or pocket if you don't need it for the time being. 
  • Indoor warmth. Trying to keep your heating costs down but freezing in your house? Wear the jacket inside without feeling too weird about it! 

In case it's not overwhelmingly obvious, I love my Ultra Light Down jacket, it does everything they promise at an unbelievable price, and yes does keep you warm in chilly weather. I'm looking at getting at least one more, probably the jacket with the hood. I've also bought my daughter the Light Poly Fill Down coat from the Kids's range (£29.90) in the same colour as I have because it's so pretty, though we now look like we coordinated our outfits when we go out of the house! 

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