The Collective

The Sales


I know, I know. You’re thinking, who needs the sales right? The sun is (finally) shining and the thought of going into town….are they really worth the hassle? To be harangued, cajoled and elbowed down Oxford street.

Although I’ll hazard a guess that sooner or later, you’ll take a sneaky peak and, being human after all, this will lead to another sneaky peak and before you know it, you’ll be struggling home with armfuls of carrier bags, mumbling to yourself that the hot pink skirt with a lace trim you’ve just bagged is clearly a timeless classic in a post modern, ironic sort of way, and with about a metre lopped off (or one eye shut), it could pass for a vintage Christopher Kane wonder. Well sort of.

Which is why I think you need a sales strategy. One, where you are focused and unfazed …even by the inconsistencies of a size 12. I’m writing about the sales because I LOVE them. And this from a fashion editor who, over the years has been lucky enough to receive designer discounts and more than her fair share of invites to sample sales. True, I am Chinese and therefore genetically disposed to consume, but the reason I love the sales is that they are the opportunity to buy considered items for your wardrobe that you would never normally be able to afford otherwise. I love how if you have a plan, you not only make enormous savings but find clothes that will have true staying power in your wardrobe.
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Occasion Wear Dressing


Of the many style conundrums I get asked to solve, possibly the most popular besides, ‘which pair of black trousers won’t make my bottom resemble Kim Kardashian’s’, is what on earth to wear to a wedding or Ascot?

It’s not the British way to attend a Big Day Out in a sensible dress and mid-height heels. The catwalks may be awash with midi-skirts, comfy looking brogues and slim, prim skirt suits but on Planet Corporate Hospitality or a marquee sitting in a water-logged field, it’s a moot point how open to interpretation the modest “ day dress” code has become in recent years. If ever there was a lesson to be learnt from Ascots past  – when outfits reached such a low that the Duke of Devonshire was hauled in by the Queen to remind race-goers that knickers must be worn yet not seen – it’s surely not to trowel on more but go for the make-under.

Also, if you’ve already had to fork out for the hen “festivities” aka spending several hundreds of pounds for the privilege of wearing L-plates and falling into a Brighton gutter, you will understandably want to invest wisely when you attend the wedding. Read More…

The Only Things You Need To Know About Fashion Wise This Spring


What can I tell you about fashion this spring? Worried that I might cajole you into a pair of Seventies 70s denim flares or will promise you that a pair of white jeans will do wonders for your bum (no it won’t unless you’re French Vogue editor, Emmanuel Alt). If I haven’t already alienated the 99% of you who might actually want to buy something in the next few weeks, the good news is that are plenty of items out there that will add some vim to your wardrobe. Are you taking notes? Here is all you need to know about this spring.

Which bag – DIY monogramming or fringing?

Every so often a trend comes along — last year it was fluoro trainers — that might not seem the most age-appropriate but that you should nevertheless embrace. There is no good reason on earth why a grown woman might want to tote around a bag covered in stickered-on slogans but sometimes, just sometimes, the feel-good factor far outweighs reason. Look on it as the bit of fun in your otherwise monotone (and possibly monochrome) wardrobe. It will put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. It is a lot less hassle than a facelift. Anya Hindmarch kick-started the trend, but there’s always the haberdashery department at John Lewis. Read More…

The Things I’m Glad My Mother Told Me

The Things I'm glad My Mother Told Me

I never got round to writing either of my daughters a baby journal, celebrating their first smile, steps or words. As a full-time, working mother, I am lucky to rarely feel “the guilt,” but oddly, not having found the time to fill in those books has always niggled. I have no hope of trying to remember it all, and possibly, to make amends, I decided that far more useful than recording a six month old’s milestones would be to give each child a book of life maxims: tales from their mother’s lessons learned the hard way.

While my own mother has been able to impart first hand her natty Chinese pearls of wisdom, meted out at regular intervals – apparently earrings really do finish off your face – I sadly never knew my father. He died in a car crash when I was 15 months and my sister was a newborn, barely 36 hours old. He had just returned from visiting my mother and sister in hospital. It was a cruel twist of fate for a couple that had spent many years trying to conceive and who had finally been blessed with two children. The enormity of his death didn’t really register until I had my own children, but I’ve often wondered what he thought: what would he have told me to do, believe in, forget about, learn from.

And so, a year ago, I decided to start a sort of love letter to my girls. Read More…

The Holy Grail of Style


Over a decade covering fashion for a national newspaper has taught me many things: the importance of a winter coat wardrobe (more of which later), that no-one on the FROW does blow-dried hair and bizarrely enough, how most fashion folk competitively underdress for the swankiest of parties. But as for the endlessly dissected, elusive quality which marks someone out as truly stylish, well, let’s just say I’m still trying to figure out the exact formula.

I like to think I’m a whole lot closer to understanding what constitutes the “otherness” of real style. Why do we covet what Alexa Chung wears, how does Helen Mirren rarely put a foot wrong on the red carpet and why does Ines de la Fressange look so insanely chic. ALWAYS.

Are you born with style? Or can you buy it? Can you still look stylish when you’re 70? Thankfully Linda Rodin or Joan Didon in Celine’s ad campaign prove that looking stylish needn’t rely on the first flush of youth and endlessly long legs (although as a five foot shortie and the knackered mother of two young kids, there are mornings when I would be grateful for either). Read More…

Wardrobe Detoxing


Here’s a little known but perhaps unsurprising fact: most women only wear one tenth of the clothes in their wardrobe. Ponder for a minute that woeful percentage. While few of us will ever muster a convincing challenge to Poliform’s world of orderliness you have to wonder what all those clothes are doing there. And worse still, why we are buying duplicate items of unworn clothing.

I hit a personal low once when, confused by the never-ending clutter, I managed to buy the same top twice — but I am not alone. The average UK woman spends £13,000 in a lifetime on clothes she will never wear.

Presumably because we’re far too busy whining about clothes that hold sentimental value, tops that were just too expensive to throw out and items that would fit perfectly if only we lost half a stone/were a foot taller or resembled –with one eye shut – Rosie Huntington Whiteley. Clothes tumble forth, and yet still we complain of nothing to wear. Read More…