Finding that something that's a little different
Dare I say it - a smidge boho? Which, to be honest, isn't that off piste anymore. Thanks to the likes of Isabel Marant, Zimmerman et al this is a much more mainstream look that is easy to embrace and mix in with a more corporate look. There's no need to go head to toe in full on bohemian swag - a nod to the theme is more than adequate. In fact, I would go so far as to say, there is some full on boho today but a lot is just what I'd call alternative. (I can hear the husband now.. "so basically you mean weird"... errr NO. Ok..ish.)
There's a website - a company I first came across in New York last year - that epitomise the boho and the alternative (ok, tad weird). To be honest, I've no idea how long they've been around (clear lack of research here) but it was one of those typical things. You've never heard of a company and suddenly they're everywhere. They even stock them at Selfridges (again, this probably isn't news to anyone but it was to me. Every now and again I do come out from under my home counties rock..) and at ASOS. And someone the other day in the comments, mentioned them and that got me to perusing the website at great length (seriously - great great length.. warning, you can get lost in it for hours).
There's more than a hint of Anthropologie about them. Something deliciously decadent and fresh. I was going to say "free" but then duh - clearly that's the intention as the name is Free People.
Like Anthropologie, there is a vague cohesion in the entire collection but there really is something for everyone (yes you can prove me wrong on this). "Different" is the name of the game.
It's not even that it's all on trend. It's just all unusual and you will either love some of it or hate some of it. There are things on the site that are not for me at all but there is so so much that is like nothing you'll find elsewhere (except maybe Anthropologie) - those gems that are simply aesthetically pleasing. They are the perfect pieces to add that individual personality to a more mainstream wardrobe.
Maybe it's the Aquarian in me but I love wearing the odd thing that isn't necessarily the height of fashion and won't be universally popular but is just a quirk that pleases me every time I look at it.
So I am taking full advantage of having a poorly 9yr old, an 11yr old who is insistent on finishing her homework this weekend so she hasn't any for the rest of the week (clearly not therefore related to Little Miss Procrastination moi) and a day of washing (yes, all the glamour) and having a lovely peruse of the Free People website and making up a wish list.
Two things I should warn you of. Firstly, it's not cheap. It's not expensive either - again, think Anthropologie price tags. Plus some things are much more affordable than others - I would go so far as to say, there is something for almost every budget.
And secondly, when looking at dresses, you may have to use your imagination as the models have (in my opinion) a hugely irritating habit of lifting up skirts in a coquettish (some might say.. personally I have another adjective for it..) fashion. Which, as an old moaning bag, makes it really hard to see what the dress would look like on a mere mortal (aka "not a model" 43 yr old). However if you scroll down to the bottom of each product page, there is a useful gallery of pics of normal people wearing the item. What isn't so useful is that they too usually indulge in similar skirt swirling antics.
But starting with shoes. Oh hello deliciously unusual footwear. There are some amazing and truly different shoes.
Starting with these which I love. They do remind me of a pair I have from Kurt Geiger that I bought about five years ago and I get them out every year and adore them.
Jeffrey Campbell Minimal lace up heel £148
In the grey suede £148 - also available in blue, black, berry and lots of other shades.
However these just pip it for me - I have a blog up my sleeve with regards to peep toe boots (marmite I appreciate) but I love them and these are perfection. High but not too high. Great with trousers, jeans, dress, chinos - sublime.
Golden Road Heeled Boots £148
In the khaki (they do look grey to me... I think I might need my eyes tested as this is probably the fourth time recently I've thought a khaki looked like grey.... - these have more than a hint of All Saints to me. (but cheaper and not as vertiginous of heel)
And the natural
And another version of a peep toe boot with the DayDream Heel Boot in washed grey £128.
And the black
Staying with a bit of a heel but moving into a more summery zone with a sandal wedge.
Again, good old Jeffrey Campbell. Serena Wedge £128
The Boulevard Block Flat by Jeffrey Campbell exclusively for Free People £148 in purple suede.
And in the black suede
Yet another exclusive collab between Jeffrey Campbell and Free People with the Desert Flat at £118.
But my two favourite favourite pairs. It sounds bonkers but these look expensive. Ok so they are pretty expensive but I think they look really expensive.
The Royal Flat I love. Simple, elegant but just that little bit different. £168
And in the black. These are the perfect flat for pared back chic whilst adding that bit of interest that is so hard these days to find on the high street. Alas, it does come at a price, but the great thing about these sorts of shoes is that they're not "in fashion". You will wear them for years and years - they transcend trend and are just a different take on a classic pump.
And the sandal version which is called the Mont Blanc £148 in the natural
And the effortlessly elegant black.
Or the super summery dove grey I think I have these trousers...
Moving onto dresses now. You have to have a sober head when looking at these as there is more than a touch of the Helena Bonham Carters to some of them. And a whiff of the Jordans to others.
But this, which comes in I think five different print versions. Lots of great other styling ideas by normal people at the bottom of the product page.
First Kiss Dress £128
I mean - what is she doing here with her leg? *rolls eyes and adjusts cardi over bosom*
First Kiss Dress in the Tangerine Dream £128
Much less hippy, in fact, this you could as easily wear for work as you could out for dinner in the evening.
Free People Printed Melody Dress in navy floral £128
Modern Muse Tie Front Top £78 - again a great selection of colours, this is what they call deep navy (clearly that's their version of navy.. I'm going with cobalt blue)
This is what they call Petal. The back detail is gorgeous as is the shape of the cuff. Such an effortlessly chic top that would look amazing untucked over skinnies, perfect under dungarees and divine tucked into all sorts of high waisted trousers, be them peg leg, flares, cropped boot cut or whatever shape floats your boat. I'm trying to ignore the belt which, I'm not going to lie, I think is hideous. Dear Free People, Shakira's called, she wants her accessories back.
They do also have this in a black which is sublime and eminently useful.
Now here's an idea... jegging flares. Ok so that's not what they call them but in a nutshell, that's what they are. These are genius. Perfect for those loose tops, be them boho or a loose manly shirt. And.. they do them in different leg lengths and the Long is properly long, Tall people - 37inches. WHOOP.
FP Pull on Kick Flare jeans £68 In lots of different washes too. No personally I wouldn't be tucking anything into these but being able to have a clean snug waistband is ideal for those tops that you want to either lie smoothly over or have looser. How comfortable do these look? And yes, how geriatric do I sound?
More trousers in one of my favourite, easily wearable shapes. Loose. And yes, how amazing are these shoes?
Dickies Wyatt Carpenter Pants £88 in moss
I have to say I also love these in the washed black - a great alternative to black denim jeans.
And I could go on and on and on as there are accessories, knitwear, coats, home items - seriously it's a complete treasure trove of gems. Well, some gems. Some things that you wouldn't touch with a barge pole but that's the nature of a site that offers such different and off piste items.
I also have absolutely no idea about delivery either. After my recent hideous experience of returns (and delivery which took TEN DAYS) from & Other Stories (and don't even start on the balls ache of the returns), I am slightly reticent about waxing lyrical with regards to postage from a US company being amazing. On the other hand it may be great. Now having said all of that, it does say that postage will be between five and eight days and is free over £75. Alternatively you can use DHL which is apparently faster for £7... Doesn't sound too shabby to me to be fair.
Returns...now it seems you can actually return to the UK and returns are free. So that doesn't sound too arduous does it? I'm sure I recall someone mentioning it being an absolute pain in the behind but maybe they've changed it.
Do you have any experience of Free People? Good or bad, give it to us. I have absolutely no contact with them at all so can't answer any specific queries or complaints but am intrigued. Usually am a fan of British companies but I think they're a great alternative to our more classic way of dressing. (and I need those Mont Blanc sandals..)
So I've had a lovely peruse and it inspired me to go off piste with a pair of ancient sneakers that I've had for about four years now. I love them. Elena Iachi at Russell & Bromley. So so comfortable. Perfect for hanging around at home (and a quick nip to the supermarket).
With my new (well it's last season actually but I snagged one a couple of weeks ago when they came back into stock) jumpsuit and (yes new season) biker jacket. It arrived yesterday so had to give it a whirl to Waitrose.
Black jumpsuit - hush
Black biker jacket - hush
Black wedge sneakers - Elena Iachi at Russell & Bromley.
So it's the start of the holidays and we're having our first ever takeaway as a family tonight. I am far more excited about it than the children (when I was young, a takeaway was seriously the biggest treat ever) but blimey, they're blasé these days. Ungrateful gits. Well I'm determined to enjoy it. I'd love Chinese but due to coeliac constraints we're going with Indian. I can live with that.. The exercise regime starts tomorrow...
What also starts tomorrow is a couple of days of "disgraceful" elements we can add to our wardrobes. Ok so one of them is only slightly "disgraceful" (and that's hardly going to make your eyes bleed), but the other was around last year and I think has become much more acceptable this year. Any guesses....?
And do let me know if there are any goodies I didn't manage to spot at Free People.