Belle Beans – how to get from the beach to the pub without changing shoes

You wouldn’t think it, judging from Melbourne’s crappy weather right now, but yes, summer IS just around the corner. Which makes you think of heading to the beach and how to spend those lazy long hot holidays using the least amount of energy possible.

Popping in to one of my fave local shops lately, I spied a fabulously comfy looking summer shoe option – aptly named after the store that sells them – Belle and Beans.

Belle & Beans, Martin Street - Gardenvale

Belle & Beans, Martin Street – Brighton

Nova Healy, Belle and Beans owner

Nova Healy, Belle and Beans owner

 

Take out the word ‘and’, and there you have it – Belle Beans – the idea for which designer and shop owner Nova Healy says sprang from one of life’s major dilemmas. Basically, Nova loves wearing thongs (flip-flops is the term for overseas readers) to the beach, but hates having to go have and change footwear to then head to a bar or the pub. How could she solve this heinous difficulty? Where could she find something suitable to wear on her feet that would suit both beach AND the bar?

 

Belle Beans shoes

Belle Beans shoes

 

The solution was simple. MAKE THEM YOURSELF! ‘I wanted something for comfort and for style. Something that was fun for summer,’ she said. ‘We’ve got eight colours, including  green, orange, pink, navy, black, and red and it comes in eight sizes.’

 

 

Nova says the design caters for both teenagers and more mature women. Best of all is the PVC, which is incredibly soft to wear. ‘We tested lots of plastics to find the right substance. It took a while to get it right but these are just as comfy as slipping on a pair of thongs and they don’t ‘sweat’,’ she said.

Red or navy?

Red or navy?

Belle Beans are also affordable with the retail price being just $39.95. Already they’re being snapped up by stores across Australia. If you’d like to find out where you can pick up a pair, go to Nova’s website at www.belleandbeansshoes.com.au or pop in to her store at 142c Martin Street, Brighton, Victoria. Your feet will be glad you did!

 

 

The Best in Stylish-Casual from De Nimes…

With so many women working from home these days, stylish casual clothes are becoming more and more popular. I mean, who wants to work from home in a business suit?

De Nimes at 877 Burke Road, Camberwell

De Nimes at 877 Burke Road, Camberwell

A great find for the best collection of ‘stylish casual’ in Melbourne is De Nimes boutique in fashionable Burke Road, Camberwell. Owned by Julie Gaudion and Rebecca Smith, the duo have developed a store that stocks an eclectic mix of both high-end and modestly priced ranges to suit all budgets.

 

 

Julie Gaudion and Rebecca Smith of De Nimes

Julie Gaudion and Rebecca Smith of De Nimes

Julie, who also works as a model, jumped at the chance to go into business with Bec. ‘The opportunity came up about a year and a half ago, so I said “yes” straight away. It’s going really well. We’ve got the stock right now. We used to be more expensive but now have a lot more stock that is more affordable.’

Their target market is women aged between 30 and 50 – a lot of young mums and women working from home. ‘They like a more casual wardrobe with jeans, boots, tops, scarves and jackets. Things they can wear from school drop-off to work.’

 

De Nimes interior

De Nimes interior

 

The boutique’s interior is modern and minimalist, with a few retro touches that I fell in love with – including the giant Farrah Fawcett poster on the walls of the dressing room…

 

 

Farrah Fawcett poster

Farrah Fawcett poster

Luckily my beautiful Blogging model and buddy Rochelle was free to come along when I visited so she road tested a sample of their wares. Here’s some of what De Nimes has in store for the coming season:

Viktoria and Woods Infinity jacket $399, Viktoria and Woods sleeveless black top $199, Angie Mac necklace $49

Viktoria and Woods Infinity jacket $399, Viktoria and Woods sleeveless black top $199, Angie Mac necklace $49

Sundry heart top $119

Sundry heart top $119

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ilse Jacobsen white shirt $129 and Tiger Tree scarf, $49

Ilse Jacobsen white shirt $129 and Tiger Tree scarf, $49

Sophie Moran long sleeve top $179

Sophie Moran long sleeve top $179

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ilse Jacobsen royal blue top $99 with Sadie basic tank $19

Ilse Jacobsen royal blue top $99 with Sadie basic tank $19

Fate Popsicle knit $89 with Fate Khaki pants $99

Fate Popsicle knit $89 with Fate Khaki pants $99

Viktoria and Woods white Caspian shirt $259, Fate black:white pants $99.95 and Angie Mac necklace $49

Viktoria and Woods white Caspian shirt $259, Fate black/white pants $99.95 and Angie Mac necklace $49

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Denim is a big part of De Nimes offering and it’s a testament to their dedication that Julie and Rebecca have even used the French definition of the store name as part of the boutique’s decor.

The meaning behind the name of the store...

The meaning behind the name of the store…

De Nimes specialises in a wide range of denim

De Nimes specialises in a wide range of denim

So what are the most popular denim labels with customers? ‘Hudson jeans and Mavi are really big sellers and people also love LTB which has a bit of detailing that customers want. Out most popular high-end fashion brand though would definitely be Viktoria and Woods,’ said Julie.

The brands stocked by De Nimes

The brands stocked by De Nimes

 

Here’s a look at all the brands stocked in De Nimes – an easy way for passers-by to see how many labels one boutique has the capacity to stock.

Perhaps that’s one reason De Nimes isn’t feeling the bite from Internet shopping. Rebecca thinks it’s also because of the personal service they offer. ‘We still have a very loyal customer who loves to come in for the experience. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and we can help with styling. We like to help coordinate with other pieces in the store.’

 

Yep, that’s one thing the Internet can’t compete with – good old-fashioned hands-on service from REAL PEOPLE with a sense of style.

If you’d like to visit De Nimes, head to 877 Burke Road Camberwell. For enquiries, phone (03) 9882 9335.

 

 

Kitch Fashion – another reason to love REAL LIFE shopping

Kitch at 401 Hampton Street

Kitch at 401 Hampton Street

There’s a host of reasons why I prefer REAL LIFE shopping to on-line shopping, but let’s deal with that in another story. But the focus of today’s FRIDAY FASHION FEATURE, a wonderful boutique called KITCH, really does reinforce that preference. You’ll see why…

 

 

Inside Kitch

Inside Kitch

Let’s take a trip down south of Melbourne, where KITCH lives, right in the heart of the Hampton shopping centre. There’s so much to love about this store, but let’s start with its cheerful and inviting interior design. Bright prints and light fittings, with everything from handbags and scarves to fashion and jewellery, laid out within easy range for curious shoppers.

 

Kitch Director Melina Scriva

Kitch Director Melina Scriva

Kitch Director Melina Scriva has run KITCH for eight years. Although with FIVE children of her own, including triplets, I’m gob smacked as to how she does it…

Melina says her shop was inspired by her grandmother. She wanted to create a space that made customers feel comfortable the instant they walked in. ‘I want them to feel at home,’ she said. ‘To be relaxed, like you’re at your grandmother’s. To try things on and have fun!’

 

State of Mind top - $79, Chrissy L pendant - $85, Refuge Jeans - $109 and Santini boots - $189

State of Mind top – $79, Chrissy L pendant – $85, Refuge Jeans – $109 and Santini boots – $189

 

I was lucky enough to have my buddy, Rochelle Nolan, come along today and model for us, and yes, we had heaps of fun putting outfits together. That’s what’s so wonderful about REAL shopping – you can make a day of it with a girlfriend – which is so much more enjoyable than pushing buttons on a computer. We both loved the boots she tried on – great for daywear and the versatile colour goes with everything.

Santini boots - $189

Santini boots – $189

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melina offers a free styling service for her clients

Melina offers a free styling service for her clients

Melina also offers a special styling service to her clients. ‘We focus on styling and that’s why we’re still here. Our customers come in, knowing we can dress them and get them looking ready for the new season ahead.’

Melina is also keen to keep her stock well priced to suit all budgets. ‘I’m not into labels,’ she said. ‘Just good designs and fabrics, Things also that inspire memories and emotions, like some of our current stock where the knits remind me of fashion from the seventies.’

 

 

Sunny Girl dress - $89, Luscious leggings $39

Sunny Girl dress – $89, Luscious leggings $39

Contrast shoulder top - $59, Silence and Noise pants - $89, Kitch faux fur vest - $129, Chain belt - $35

Contrast shoulder top – $59, Silence and Noise pants – $89, Kitch faux fur vest – $129, Chain belt – $35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And while Melina stocks a range of dresses, her primary focus is dressing women for casual daywear. So there’s plenty of cosy knitwear to choose from, and Melina has a great knack for layering too. ‘Eighty per cent of our stock is casual, but we call it funky casual,’ Melina said.

Kitch jumper $99 and Kitch scarf $39

Kitch jumper $99 and Kitch scarf $39

Navy Blue Bear knit - $89, Ajoy Chinos - $109

Navy Blue Bear knit – $89, Ajoy Chinos – $109

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kitch Snowflake cardigan - $109 and Tony Bianco boots - $189

Kitch Snowflake cardigan – $109 and Tony Bianco boots – $189

 

And I have to ask. How does she do it with FIVE kids? ‘I don’t know,’ she said, laughing. ‘It’s a juggling act, but I do this because I love what I do. I think you just do what you have to do. I started in fashion when I was fifteen, working at Benetton and Sportsgirl and then I had children. But I’ve always loved fashion.’

If you’d like to visit Kitch or phone the store to enquire about any of the pieces featured today, KITCH is located at:

401 Hampton Street, Hampton
Ph: 9521 9008

 

 

 

Cool jeans for REAL WOMEN – how New London Jeans found a gap in the market

I love discovering a new fashion find and sharing. With winter edging around the corner, I was looking at my wardrobe and thinking it needed a refresh – particularly in the jeans department – when lo and behold, I stumbled across this FAB brand that fitted the bill (and bum) in more ways than one.

The iconic look for a pair of New London Jeans involves studs and stitching. Tres cool and probably a bit pricey, right? Well, here’s the bonus. They DON’T carry a ridiculous price tag like some of their competitors. And the reason they sell so well is that they’re designed for real women BY real women.

Statement stitching is a hallmark of London Jeans

Statement stitching is a hallmark of New London Jeans

Sales and Design Director at Chris Alexander Agency, Claire Alexander, has worked in fashion ever since she left school and has helped run the Chris Alexander Agency with her husband for the past 15 years. About three years ago, they decided there was a gap in the market that needed filling – that women (about 30-years +) wanted jeans which were comfortable, affordable and looked cool.

After a bit of research, they came across New London Jeans, which was originally launched by a French designer. Along with some Chinese partners, their agency now supplies the Australasia region and business is booming.

Sales and Design Director Claire Alexander

Sales and Design Director Claire Alexander

‘We now work with Anthony, the designer, to broaden the range to suit our market here,’ said Claire. ‘Each range is different and we’ve been developing it largely based on customer and store feedback. We now have a strong loyalty base which is great, because women really love it’

One of Claire’s largest clients is Eco-D, which has twelve stores around Australia. ‘The managers give me fantastic feedback on fit. That has really helped with the success of the brand.’

 

Claire speaks from personal experience when she describes what women want. ‘We’re giving something to women who are not necessarily brand devotees. I mean, I don’t want to wear what my nieces in their 20s are wearing and I don’t want to spend $300 on a designer-label pair of jeans. We want a good product with a bit of a fashion statement that’s comfortable too.’

With a median price of around $150, Claire says a lot of their customers will buy two pairs – one as a fashion statement and another for day-to-day wear. ‘And the quality of fabrics we use stacks up well against the more expensive labels,’ she added.

Winter colour range in London Jeans new four-way stretch fabric

Winter colour range in New London Jeans new four-way stretch fabric

Here’s another bonus with New London Jeans. They’ve just been released in a new fabric that is exclusive to the brand. It’s a four-way stretch denim, making it super comfy.

‘It’s like wearing trakky pants but they look like jeans,’ said Claire. ‘And they don’t go baggy around the bum plus they wash well. It’s one that all the retailers say is performing really well. It comes in five colours this season – the turmeric colour is our key fashion statement for winter.’

 

 

I reckon the real key to the success of the brand is because they make each style in three different ‘types’. Claire says they classify them as a taper fit, a pipe fit, and a pole fit. ‘ A taper is like a skinny jean – it’s a mid-rise jean and it tapers off down the leg, but it’s not as tight fitting as a skinny jean,’ she said.

Vicki models the Hyde velvet style

Vicki models the Hyde velvet style

‘A pipe fit is similar to a trouser leg – more like a cigarette leg – straight all the way down. And the pole fit is a bigger fitting jean with a higher rise and a fuller leg and better suited to bigger girls. So for instance, with clients like Eco-D, they’ll mostly want the taper fit. Then other stores who cater to more mature customers but also want a cool look, go for the other two styles.’

Yep, it’s all about the FIT. Claire says they work and work and WORK on the re-fitting and shape of these denims until they get it exactly right.

This season there are several ‘trends’. Colour is huge – as seen in the new four-way stretch design. Then there’s animal print and velvet, which Vicki, who works with Claire, kindly agreed to model for me.

Grey jean with stitching is a signature look

Grey jean with stitching is a signature look

 

The STATEMENT piece this season, which features on the New London Jeans stylebook cover, harks back to the brand’s core look – with studding and stitching.

Claire says they never rest on their laurels. ‘We don’t want to keep on doing the same old thing. We want each range to be fresh and to offer our customer different styles each season. We’re constantly working on ways to improve.’

 

 

And while New London Jeans has a website, you can’t buy these babies on-line. Claire says it’s best with jeans to try them on to get the ‘right’ fit. ‘All our styles are on-line so people an browse and see what they like and then find a store that sells it. That way they get the right fit. We also try and help our stores become ‘jean specialists’, with direct advice and a style guide, which works really well.’

London Jeans coated black denim skirt

New London Jeans coated black denim skirt

AND THERE’S MORE!! Great to see that as well as jeans, Claire has included a denim skirt in this season’s range. Not just any old skirt, either. This one’s a bit classier than the rest, sporting a ‘coating’ which gives the black denim a very smart finish. In fact, it’s even proven a hit with – believe it or not – GOLFERS.

‘Next summer we’re bringing in bleached denim skirts and coloured denim skirts and some are even in sateen, because we’ve found this style is really popular with golfers. It’s hard to find a non-daggy golf skirt, so this has been a big hit.’

Whooda thunk?

And here’s proof of the brand’s success. Last summer, New London Jeans had twenty-five pieces in the range. Next summer, that number will be double to meet demand, with more than FIFTY styles. Go, Claire!

If you’d like to see more of the New London Jeans range, and to find your nearest stockist, visit the website at www.newlondon.com.au

 

 

Sometimes leggings CAN be pants…

 

The WRONG way to wear leggings...

The WRONG way to wear leggings…

There’s many a fashion guru out there who scoff at that old wardrobe essential – leggings. I’ve been known to join them in that catch-cry you scream in your head when you see someone down the street, wearing leggings the WRONG way.

‘Leggings AREN’T pants!!’

 

Threadbare ain't good either...

Threadbare ain’t good either…

 

 

Honestly, some people just have no idea… If you can see the crutch area, you’ve got it wrong. And threadbare? SERIOUSLY wrong.

 

 

 

The RIGHT way to wear leggings

The RIGHT way to wear leggings

 

 

But leggings ARE great when you realise that mini-dress you used to wear is now WAY too short, but could be a nice top if worn over leggings. And what about the long-jumper-with-boots-look over leggings? That can look pretty cool, worn the right way…

 

 

 

All Saints

All Saints

 

Raffi leggings - £40.00

Raffi leggings – £40.00

Then I came across this look the other day, from one of my favourite overseas stores, All Saints.( It’s one of those seriously cool stores you imagine someone like Johnny Depp might stroll into.) They’ve managed to incorporate a skirt into the legging – making it an all-in-one piece – the perfect solution for those of us concerned we might commit a fashion sin. These are foolproof! You CAN’T go wrong!!

 

 

Raffi Cropped leggings - £25.00

Raffi Cropped leggings – £25.00

There’s even a cropped version, although I think I prefer the full length style, myself.

Sadly, All Saints hasn’t opened a store in Australia yet, but you can order on-line at http://www.allsaints.com

A warning – it’s dangerous, as I just know you’ll be tempted to buy more than just the leggings. And don’t forget the price tag is in POUNDS – so it’s almost double in Aussie dollars.

 

Blaize jumper dress - £118.00

Blaize jumper dress – £118.00

 

This was another piece I fell in love with – the Blaize jumper dress – so simple and versatile, yet uber stylish. Not to mention that necklace… Love it!

 

Happy shopping.

Tilkah bags and accessories – a bejewelled and lush winter ahead

 

I was contemplating which fashion label to focus on next, when Rochelle, who often kindly models for this Blog, suggested we take a look at accessories instead. A brilliant idea, I thought, so we headed off to Chadstone to see what Tilkah has in store for the coming season. A timely decision too, given the Aussie brand is celebrating a milestone ten year birthday.

Tilkah at Chadstone

Tilkah at Chadstone

To survive in the highly competitive world of bags and accessories is no mean feat. I think Tilkah’s success comes from targeting a mid-range market – somewhere in-between the uber high-end labels and the cheaper, fast-turnover chain stores like Diva and Colette.

Heading into the winter season, the jewellery designs lean towards a glamourous olde-world Hollywood theme, with lots of sparkle and bling. The bags, meanwhile, come in earthy tones in lush suede with studding and leather.

Here’s a sample of some of our favourite picks in store right now:

Eden Satchel  - $229

Eden Satchel – $229

Hearts and Daggers necklace - $89.00

Hearts and Daggers necklace – $89.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rochelle wearing Ripple Effect necklace, $79 with Black Theodora studded tote, $279

Rochelle wearing Ripple Effect necklace, $79 with Black Theodora studded tote, $279

 

Joplin tote (Sahara) - $399

Joplin tote (Sahara) – $399

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ripple effect necklace - $79.00

A closer look at the Ripple effect necklace – $79.00

Alana, who works at Tilkah, wore the Ripple Effect necklace in mint - $79

Alana, who works at Tilkah, wore the Ripple Effect necklace in mint – $79.00

 

 

 

Jenna also works in store and teamed the Entangelemt necklace in Sherbet - $89 - nicely with her coral cardigan

Jenna also works in store and teamed the Entangelemt necklace in Sherbet – $89 – nicely with her coral cardigan

 

 

Big on bling, the Silken Whisper Pendant - $79

Big on bling, the Silken Whisper Pendant – $79

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daughter Ronnie helps out, modelling the Princeton Tote - $269

Daughter Ronnie helps out, modelling the Princeton Tote – $269

 

 

 

Ronnie also pounced on these Hearts and Daggers ear-rings - $79

Ronnie also pounced on these Hearts and Daggers ear-rings – $79

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ALL loved this bag, the Sienna Sling - $229

We ALL loved this bag, the Sienna Sling – $229

After buying my new baby yesterday, I’m on a strict budget… But if I could, I would LOVE to snap up Tilkah’s signature Veruka bag. (below) So versatile – either over-the-shoulder or a short-handle bag. But seriously, which colour? Black or yellow?

We couldn't decide which colour… yellow or black? This is Tilkah's signature bag, Veruka Soft Tote - $299

Tilkah’s signature bag, Veruka Soft Tote – $299

If you can’t get out to Chadstone to check out Tilkah in person, then you can always shop on-line at http://www.tilkah.com.au/shop-now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Something to remember me by’, whispered my holiday to my purse… and “poof” – it sprang open!

 

Have you just finished your first week back at work? Or are you starting back on Monday?  It’s around this time, a large portion of the population packs up their holiday gear and heads home – holidays over for another year. Ahhh…. I can hear a huge collective sigh as we fold up the beach towels and shake the sand out of our hair. Forget those sleep-ins and hours basking in the sun – time to grab that briefcase and toe the line.

Like you, I have to put my head down and bottom up, if I’m going to make a fist of this blogging caper. My holiday is over now too. No mid-week coffees or lunches with pals, so don’t even phone me okay? But I do have one last holiday story I want to share with you.   There is a treasure I will be wearing around my neck as I tap away at my laptop. It’s a special necklace that I SHOULD NOT have bought (but did!!) and I am now going to offer a perfectly acceptable rationale as to how it came to be a part of my life.

Allison Heyes

Alison Heyes

 

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, several girlfriends happened to be in Lorne at the same time as us, and one night Allison (we call her Al…) organised a gathering at her family home, high up in the hills. She wasn’t just being hospitable. This was a business evening. Al used to be a schoolteacher. Now she designs and sells jewellery. After twenty years in the teaching game, she and a girlfriend, Sue, decided they needed a change and set up the Missie line of accessories.

 

And how could you say ‘No’ to a party that offers the best view in Lorne? Check this out.

Party with a view - Lorne

Party with a view – Lorne

Not bad, huh? And the jewellery, clothes and accessories Al sells are quite special. Not that cheap, landfill crap you buy at chain stores – rather, serious silver and gold pieces that are built to last. Likewise, all the handbags are made from beautiful quality leather.

When they set up the Missie business more than five years ago, Al and Sue flew to Hong Kong to meet with a family friend who had ran a diamond and pearl company. He gave them some expert advice on how to get started. Now they sell on-line, as well as stocking boutiques across Australia. Occasionally, they also hold jewellery parties like this one that I attended last week.

Al says the best part about the Missie range is that it appeals to all age ranges. ‘We pride ourselves on being able to match a piece of jewellery to anybody. It’s upmarket, but in a very good price range. We have some bracelets that sell from $20, and our most expensive piece is $250,’ she said.

Here’s just some of what Al had on display when she invited me and about twenty other women to visit, have a wine or two and try on her wares.

A table of treasure

A table of treasure

Pretty in pink

Pretty in pink – long pink coin necklace $80

 

Silver cross bracelet - $150

Silver cross bracelet – $150

 

Green cluster necklace $65

Green cluster necklace $65 (Also comes in pink or black)

 

 

 

 

 

Bone cross $80

Bone cross $80

 

 

 

Genuine pearl necklace  or bracelet - large $190

Genuine pearl necklace or bracelet – large $190

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was very clever of Al to rope hubby Michael in, to help serve drinks. And a fine job he did too. Always with a broad smile and a full bottle on hand, like a boy in a candy store – being the only bloke among the chicks. It’s amazing how much more open one feels about spending after a glass of wine. Or two.

Michael the diligent waiter

Michael the diligent waiter

Silver disc necklace - $220

Silver disc necklace – $220

 

There was one particular necklace that caught my eye – sparkling in the sunlight. Al’s business partner, Sue, was wearing it with a simple black shift dress and the combination worked a treat. I enquired about the price and yes, of course, I had picked the second most expensive piece in the range! The most expensive is a gold cuff that sells for $250.

 

 

Summer dresses - patterned $90, Plain $80.

Summer dresses – patterned $90, Plain $80.

 

The dresses are fun and floaty – perfect for summer. The shift worn by Sue comes in a range of colours and is perfect for dressing UP at a party or DOWN at the beach.

 

 

Al and girlfriends

Al Heyes and girlfriends

 

By the end of the evening, the patterned dress was proving popular, snapped up and worn on the spot by several guests – probably because Al proved such an excellent model.

 

 

Grey zip bag - $180

Grey zip bag – $180

 

Then I spied the handbags… A denim suede number was begging me to buy it, but I had to consider the silver necklace. At $180, I couldn’t buy both. Love the zips, and that colour would work with just about anything… hmmm, what to do?

 

I went back to the necklaces to reconsider. Emma tried on a lovely silver ball necklet that was another option worth considering… and more economical.

Silver ball necklace $60

Silver ball necklace – $60

Other silver options: Multi-heart strand $220 or a single heart, $210

Other silver options: Multi-heart strand $220 or a single heart, $210

 

 

 

 

 

 

And THEN I spied one of the most original handbags I’d ever come across! Check this out. An evening bag that doubles as a bracelet accessory. The bangles are solid silver and it hangs from the wrist, meaning you don’t have to do that awkward juggle at a cocktail party, trying to balance a champagne glass and clutch bag while grabbing at finger food. How inventive! AND just the right size. I was sold. But I opted for black – thought it would be more versatile, although the silver was tempting…

Bracelet bag - $90

Bracelet bag – $90

Bracelet bag in silver - $90

Bracelet bag in silver – $90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of the evening, I was obsessed with practically every item Al was selling, but I knew I had to make a choice. It would be rude to turn up, drink her wine and leave after only buying one teeny, weenie handbag, wouldn’t it? I should at least buy ONE more piece. The chatter and laughter among the women was reaching fever pitch, as more and more pieces started disappearing, being sold fast. All I wanted was to take home that silver necklace with the discs sparkling in the evening sunlight… How to justify buying a bracelet bag AND a necklace? Ah ha! The answer sprang to mind like the popping of a champagne cork. I had enjoyed SUCH a wonderful holiday at Lorne, I needed something to remember this perfect holiday by. Surely that was a good enough reason?

My new necklace

My new necklace

 

I peered at the necklace ONE MORE TIME through the wine glasses and knew it had to be mine. SOLD. And that is the story of how I came to own a beautiful new silver necklace as a memory of a very special holiday in Lorne. Justification, ladies. Works every time.

 

 

 

If you’d like to check out more of the Missie Jewellery range, or to book your own jewellery party, go to http://missie.com.au

 

 

Hidden Treasure – Where to buy FAB fashion AND paper mache pigs

Every now and then, you come across a shop that truly is an Aladdin’s Cave full of hidden treasure. The sort of store you can circle for hours, continually discovering prized booty you didn’t spy the first time around.

Belle and Beans is exactly that. Nestled under the railway bridge along the Gardenvale shopping strip, it’s also a double-purpose shop – filled with great ideas for gifts AND colourful clothing. For me, this means I can visit – ostensibly on a Christmas shopping mission – but if I happen to be diverted by a new party frock I absolutely MUST buy for myself, then that’s completely justifiable – right? After all, I went there, purely motivated by the need to ‘give’…. Plus everything is SO reasonably priced, you could hardly be accused of over-spending.

Belle & Beans, Martin Street - Gardenvale

Belle & Beans, 142 Martin Street – Gardenvale

Owner Nova Healy started up her first Belle and Beans store in Highett three years ago, then came across a vacant space in Gardenvale that captured her imagination. ‘I really fell in love with this store because of the location and space and I really wanted it,’ she said. ‘It’s really visual.’ Her new Gardenvale store opened just over six weeks ago.

Belle and Beans interior

Belle and Beans interior

With two connecting rooms, Nova has made the most of the space, filling it with ingenious feature pieces  – including a tee-pee – and displays of bright clothing, jewellery and shoes. She’s had so much fun decorating her new store, it’s inspired her to relaunch her original Highett shop with similarly bright, funky decor.

 

Belle and Nova Healy

Belle and Nova Healy

 

A mother of three, Nova says the name of her store came from a combination of her daughter’s names – Belle, being the eldest who also works there part-time, and, her youngest daughter, nicknamed ‘Beans’.

She says the playful spirit of the interior design evolved organically. ‘It’s evolved naturally because I travel overseas and have been going to Indonesia and Bali for years, so I’ve got friends over there with furniture factories and businesses so that’s how it’s come about.’

 

Fortunately for me, my friend Rochelle was back in Melbourne, on a break from her TV Production Assistant job, and was able to model for me once more. So let’s take a look at our favourite outfits that are in Belle and Beans right now and then I’ll show you a few fab present ideas:

Inzagi black lace top $49.95 with Spy Clothing silver pencil skirt $69.95

Inzagi black lace top $49.95 with Spy Clothing silver pencil skirt $69.95

Lime 'Pink Stitch' maxi dress $89.95 with Buddha necklace $49.95

Lime ‘Pink Stitch’ maxi dress $89.95 with Buddha necklace $49.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belle and Beans 'State' slate grey dress $99.95

Belle and Beans ‘State’ slate grey dress $99.95

Belle and Beans aqua dress $79.95, Feather sandals $139.95 and Belle and Beans beaded belt $29.95

Belle and Beans aqua dress $79.95, Feather sandals $139.95 and beaded belt $29.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the clothes are sourced through agencies, but an increasing number are designed by Nova herself, under her Belle and Beans label. ‘I design and screen print and obviously have staff who help do that. I’ve been designing for about three years now. I like bright – I love colour! Some people go whoa… but it works.’

Bellini black top $59.95 and Caroline Morgan pants $49.95

Bellini black top $59.95 and Caroline Morgan pants $49.95

Spicy Sugar maxi dress $89.95

Spicy Sugar maxi dress $89.95

 

Sadie scarf print dress $79.95 with Belle and Bean sandals $99.95

Sadie scarf print dress $79.95 with Belle and Bean sandals $99.95

My Direction studded skirt $59.95

My Direction studded skirt $59.95

 

Best of all, the prices on some of these pieces are unbelievably cheap. Can you believe this gorgeous studded skirt is just under sixty dollars???? Nova says that’s part of her strategy for the stores, making them particularly attractive for her younger clientele who might not have huge wallets but have an enormous passion for high-turnover fashion.

 

 

Another reason to feel ‘guilt-free’ when shopping at Belle and Beans, is that Nova sources most of her gifts through a company called Tractor, run by a local Melbourne girl. ‘It’s a bit like Oxfam,’ said Nova. ‘She goes travelling all over the world and they employ villagers to make things which gives them an income.’ Fantastic – ethical AND original! So let’s look at some of my favourite gift ideas:

First up, HAND-BAGS!

Skull bags $189.95

Skull bags $189.95

Pink Lion bag $350

Pink Lion bag $350

Pink stud bag $29.95
Pink stud bag $29.95

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t wait to show you this – my favourite item in Belle and Beans and one of the most quirky presents I’ve seen. Where else could you find a PAPER MACHE PIG?? An ideal gift for the man in your life. Tell him he looks like George Clooney and explain that you’ve bought him just the right pet to perfect the image – but he won’t have to clean up after this little porky. (more masculine colours available too!)

Paper macho pigs $150

Paper macho pigs $150

 

Paper mache Bulldogs $150

Paper mache Bulldogs $150

Nova’s a big fan of the pigs too. ‘I fell in love with the pigs in Bali. That’s where they’re made. They make them out of paper mache and you can order them in any colour or style paper you like. They’re good fun. So many people fall in love with them too.’ Although dog lovers may prefer these perky little bulldogs instead…

 

Antelope heads $150

Antelope heads $150

 

 

For something a bit more ‘Christmassy’, the Antelope heads are also a popular choice for children’s bedrooms.

 

 

 

Tee Pee $120

Tee Pee $120

 

 

 

But Nova’s biggest seller for kids is this magical Tee-Pee, which comes complete with detachable ‘dress-ups’, velcro-ed to the side of the tent!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diamente tea-candle cups $10.95 each

Diamente tea-candle cups $10.95 each

 

And if you need to buy me a gift, I’d happily settle for half a dozen of these sparkly diamente the-candle cups – a steal at just $10.95 each.

Happy shopping!

EFFORTLESS AND LUXURIOUS – KEY STYLING TIPS FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON

T.L.Wood at 216 Chapel Street, Prahran

T.L.Wood at 216 Chapel Street, Prahran

 

With the clothing industry dominated by land-fill fashion and high-turnover trends, it’s refreshing to be reminded that some designers still hold true to ideals that got them in to the business to start with. I’m talking about designers who treasure beautiful fabrics, quality manufacture and attention to detail. Their clothes may cost more, but you’re purchasing something you can cherish and that will usually last until your daughter wants to wear it to a retro-party.

 

 

Teresa Liano, creator of the label T.L.Wood, is exactly what I’m talking about. She’s also proud to call herself a veteran in the world of fashion, having designed clothes for more than twenty years and kept her Chapel Street store in Prahran flourishing for more than fourteen of those.

Fashion designer Teresa Liano

Fashion designer Teresa Liano

This season’s range caught my eye, not only because of its superb quality, but it features many pieces that are perfect for lounging about a pool party or glamorous BBQ over the summer holiday break. And that’s precisely  what Teresa had in mind when designing this collection. ‘One of our philosophies is “everyday luxury and effortless beauty” and that really sums up the summer collection particularly well,’ she said.

‘I do follow trends, but I also like to make sure the clothes are wearable and really useful. I want people to wear the clothes. I don’t want them to just admire them. I want to feel like they’ve got something beautiful on. That sums up where the summer collection is coming from.

‘When I’m designing, I look at every piece and if it doesn’t follow our philosophy of everyday luxury and effortless beauty, then I won’t go ahead with it. I want that divine feeling of summer, where there’s a sense of ease and being relaxed.’

‘The pieces are floaty but sporting at the same time,’ she said, warming up to her subject. I was glad I was taping the interview because my pen couldn’t have kept up with her delightful enthusiasm. ‘I’ve got a few characters in my head when I’m designing and one of the characters is a tomboy, even though the pieces are ultra-feminine. I like that sort of attitude. A bit 1940s elegance, a bit Katherine Hepburn, although I’m loathe to use her name because everyone uses her as a fashion icon, but she is, so what can you do about it?’

Let’s take a look at some of my favourite pieces from the range that are in store right now. With a bit of arm-twisting, I managed to persuade Bonnie, the Chapel Street store manager, to model for us and doesn’t she look stunning?

Pipa Shirt Dress $325 with White Malibu Skirt $265

Pipa Shirt Dress $325 with White Malibu Skirt $265

Kingston Bomber Jacket $355, Panama Trouser $295 and Abella Singlet $165

Kingston Bomber Jacket $355, Panama Trouser $295 and Abella Singlet $165

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teresa explained more about the T.L.Wood range between outfit changes. ‘If girls have a sporting edge to their style, there’s something very cool about it. It’s almost aspirational when they’ve got that sporty, tomboy relaxed look. If you can go to an event and feel stylish but like you haven’t tried too hard, that’s when you have the best time. And we’re obsessed with the cut of our pants, so they’re really well-shaped and flattering. They’re comfortable but look great.’

Laguna Lace Sea Foam Top $365

Laguna Lace Sea Foam Top $365

Beautiful fabrics are critical for Teresa, who says all her pieces are made in Australia. ‘They’re not mass-produced,’ she explained. ‘Which is fantastic because it gives me lots of scope to re-invent the collection the way I want to. It means I can experiment and play, because I’m not limited like a lot of designers who manufacture overseas.’

I asked Teresa whether her ‘relaxed’ style was one of the secrets to her survival in the competitive fashion industry. ‘I think I’ve always been very relaxed,’ she said, smiling. ‘That’s because designing feels very natural to me. It isn’t an effort.’

 

‘And I spend a lot of time on the shop floor, so I’m very close to my clientele. Because I’m close to them, (and I’m probably T.L. Wood’s biggest customer – I wear it ALL the time) I actually enjoy dressing them and that inspires me to move ahead with the next collection. Our commitment to fit and quality are the key elements to T.L. Wood and I think that’s why we have a loyal customer base.’

Pink Malo Slip Dress $295

Pink Malo Slip Dress $295

Isla Navy Zip dress - also doubles as a jacket - $420

Isla Navy Zip dress – also doubles as a jacket – $420

And while T.L.Wood has a website, Teresa says they no longer sell on-line.  ‘I prefer shopping in-store myself and when customers come here, we help them put outfits together. There’s a lot of styling advice which you can’t get on-line. We’re really in to service.’

 

Florian jacket $385, Nantucket top $220 and Navy Salvatore Skirt $255

Florian jacket $385, Nantucket top $220 and Navy Salvatore Skirt $255

 

Luckily, the impact of internet shopping has had little effect on T.L.Wood’s sales figures. Teresa says there was an impact though at the time of the GFC. ‘People were being more careful with their money. I stopped being so frivolous with designs and made sure everything was really wearable and versatile. I shifted my thinking more towards what is real. But my customers have grown up with me. A lot of them bought their school dance dress from me!’

And here’s something REALLY important to note about Teresa’s clothes. Following on from my whinging blog last week about the exorbitant cost of dry-cleaning, 99% of T.L.Wood clothes are washable!!! How cool is that!

 

SPECIAL OFFFER TO BLOG READERS: Plus if you visit the store this week and mention you’ve read this Blog, you’ll receive a THIRTY PER CENT DISCOUNT storewide. A huge bonus! Happy shopping. 🙂

 

You can visit T.L. Wood at 216 Chapel Street, Prahran.
For enquiries, call (03) 9510 6700
http://www.tlwoodaustralia.com

How you can try Sleep ‘N Round and not cheat…

 

I like a bit of variety when it comes to blogging a weekly fashion post, and Sleep ‘N Round is just what I feel like right now. The clothes that is – what were you thinking?? Yes, it’s a label, silly! Given how much time we actually spend in sleepwear, it’s surprising how little focus it’s given. Even more surprising that more entrepreneurs haven’t tried to jump on the bandwagon and sell pyjamas, given the very public and much-heralded success of Australian pyjama king Peter Alexander.

Sleep N Around store in Chapel Street, South Yarra

Sleep N Round store at 389 Chapel Street, South Yarra

 

I’m sure I thought about doing something very similar a couple of years ago but didn’t do anything about it, and now, lo and behold, someone else has. Three young men have opened a flagship store on Melbourne’s prime strip shopping location, Chapel Street, to mark their rising success in the sleepwear trade.

There are so many reasons to love this brand, but before I start raving, let me re-iterate (although I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record) that I have not been paid to write this nor have accepted any freebies. (But if they’d offered, it would have been hard to say no…)

 

 

Laura with Sleep N Around mascot, Jeffrey the bear

Laura wearing LOGO Leggings $45.00 and Scoop singlet Loveheart Girl $39.95, with Sleep N Around mascot, Jeffrey the bear

 

First and foremost, in the appeal stakes is that Sleep ‘N Round’s primary concept is to make sleepwear that doubles as clothes. That’s right – you sleep in it, wake up in it then wear it. Yep, that’s a huge plus. Think of the time you’ll save on washing clothes, getting dressed and choosing what to wear. All you have to do is jump out of bed and put on sneakers instead of slippers and ‘hey presto’, you can head on down to the local coffee shop or to a picnic at the beach without getting changed, For us lazy folk, it’s a dreamy concept.

Then there’s the actual designs of the sleepwear itself. It’s a pretty edgy look – on trend patterned pants, stylish t-shirts and funky shorts – all in a contemporary colour palette that oozes cool. Most of the range is easily interchangeable too, giving it a versatility that has broad appeal to customers with varying design tastes. Thirdly, I love the brand mascot – Jeffrey the bear. Apparently he’s well-travelled, with promo shots taken of him sleeping his way around the world, and there’s plans for further celebrity appearances as he becomes increasingly famous.

Sleep N Around gift items

Sleep N Around gift items

And the fourth reason to love, is that Christmas is on our doorstep. That means shopping for presents and its affordable price range makes Sleep ‘N Round sleepwear a perfect gift option with each piece costing between about $40 and $70. Not only does the store sell sleepwear, it has a range of gifts which all fit the ‘relaxation theme’ – heat pillows, ugg boots, decorative pillows, specialty teas and candles. Gift cards too, making it a one-stop present shop.

Hawthorn footballer Michael Osborn being interviewed...

Hawthorn footballer Michael Osborn being interviewed…

 

It’s a timely business move for Michael Osborne. The Hawthorn footballer is currently de-listed due to an injury, but regardless of his AFL career, Osborne is setting himself up for a financially secure future.

 

And he’s fully committed to the whole relaxation theme of the brand. In the centre of the South Yarra store is a double bed, so we thought we’d do our interview horizontal, Why not? With a name like Sleep ‘N Round, you can’t help but have fun with all the cheeky double entendres it naturally brings.

Michael modelling Red drawstring pants $55.00 and V-neck Tee-X $45.00

Michael modelling Red drawstring pants $55.00 and V-neck Tee-X $45.00

 

For Michael, his foray into fashion is more than clothes – it’s a lifestyle. ‘With Sleep N Round, we don’t want it to be “just a fashion label”. We want it to encapsulate everything to do with sleep and the recovering side of your day. So we’ve got the comfy clothes you can relax in, the pillows for your bed or couch, tea, candles… And the clothes are really versatile. You can just chuck your jeans on with the tees, or wear it down the beach. I also wear the stuff to the gym,’ he said.

The three directors of the company include Michael, Andrew Prowse and Sean Cummins. Originally they started out selling on-line two and half years ago, and were then taken on by Myer.

 

‘Andrew came up with the idea,’ said Michael. ‘He was at Uni doing a business degree and saw a niche in the market and thought we’d get on with it.’ After a while, they began to feel their product was getting lost in the vastness of a large department store, so to ensure their customers could get a real feel for the brand, they decided to open their own store in Chapel Street.

I couldn’t help asking how they would compare their range to that of their major competitor, Peter Alexander. ‘I think it’s a bit more on-trend and has a bit more edge,’ MIchael said. ‘There’s also more options for male customers. And we have new styles in the store each month. It’s good for people to know there’s an alternative.’

Cheeky advertising is part of the brand

Cheeky advertising is part of the brand

 

Their fabrics are carefully chosen – most designs are 100% cotton, because they want fabrics that allow the skin to breathe at night. Viscose is another choice because of its silky texture.

Michael is also fond of the brand name. ‘It’s a bit cheeky and you can read into it what you like. It appeals to people in different ways. Some people have a dirty mind and like it because it’s a bit suggestive. It matches well with sleepwear.’ And it makes for a good sandwich board advertising!

 

 

 

Here’s some more of my favourite styles that are in-store now:

Frilly strap dress $65

Frilly strap dress $65

Green retro boxers $39.95 and singlet $39.95

Green retro boxers $39.95 and singlet $39.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culture Cross T-shirt dress $55.00

Culture Cross T-shirt dress $55.00

Floral boxer shorts $39.95 and Green Scoop Tee - Outdoors Type $45.00

Floral boxer shorts $39.95 and Green Scoop Tee – Outdoors Type $45.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep ‘N Round is located at 389 Chapel Street, South Yarra or you can check out their website at http://www.sleepnround.com