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  • Laura and Petro's

    Dressing-room diaries

    Laura and Petro descend upon London’s Oxford Street armed with cameras to unveil the high-street gems worth your money.  

    Laura and Petro

    We’ve all been there – you are trawling the internet and spot something on your favourite high-street website that looks just gorgeous. “Will it be like that in real life?” you wonder. You hope for the best, but once then you receive it the fabric on that dress looks a bit cheap, the cut of that jacket isn’t quite right and that plastic on the heel really gives it away – so they get returned. “Ah,” you think – “If only someone I trust could try things on for me and recommend my next buy.” So, for this special issue of The ICONS Update, we thought we would save you a trip to town and headed to Oxford Circus to do a little ‘quality check’ and see what gems we could discover. Of course we managed to squeeze in a few changing-room selfies on the way…

    High-Street Buys

    “This leather jacket was amazing – the leather was super-supple and the detail on it incredible. Hundreds of silver studs and colourful beads on the sleeves and back make up a beautiful, whimsical floral design. You would never know it was a Topshop steal.”


    “This wrap dress was a little shiny on the hanger, but once on I couldn’t help but fall for its vintage charm. It comes up a bit big, so opt for a size down. The net bag makes this an all-occasion outfit – and great for the upcoming wedding season.”


    “When it comes to fun/statement accessories, I don’t mind pleather and even a  bit of plastic as long as the item itself is still wholly chic. I loved these metallic summer bags to wear on holiday and the beach and couldn’t make up my mind on the gold or the silver.”


    “Structured bags like this one are very ‘now’ – I think there is longevity in this trend so I would probably invest in something a little more upmarket, but if you’re not completely sold on it this bag is a great way in at an affordable price. I also loved the block heel and square toe on these slingback shoes – very flattering on the ankle and a go-with-anything staple.” 


    “I adore statement sunnies and these grabbed my attention the moment I entered the store. They are a bit OTT, but they’re an outfit game-changer that will transform any look from classic to wow.”


    “There is a huge amount of cheaper statement earrings on the high street, but very few look expensive. I looked at these very closely and firstly the hue of red is on the right side (it’s a fine line with red!) and secondly the beads are neatly put together, so they got my stamp of approval.”


    “I loved these Topshop sandals and the embroidery on the back of the shoe and heel was really quite astounding. It’s a great colour combination and a subtle floral design. However what you wear a cheaper shoe with is key. I would wear these with denim and chinos with a classic shirt or top, to tone down the look and height of the heel.”


    “A great little dress for anything from a summer party to a wedding and even to the office if paired with smart flats and a navy blazer. The fabric is not amazing but good enough; what I loved was the subtle pink and terracotta colour combination. They also nailed the cross-over straps at the back – to me, that’s what made it look more expensive.”


    “This hat hat an enormous brim and is a bit crazy, but I was immediately drawn to it. It is excellent quality and so flattering on. I would have bought it if I had a few weddings or social events that required me to wear a one – very Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral.”

    High-Street Buys

    “Trying on high-street shoes is paramount, as the fit can be terrible. The raffia ones were divine, but so scratchy. The black tasselled ones were also fab, but the tassels not great quality and they would have frayed. I loved the pink satin ones, so much so that they came home with me!”


    “Just when I thought I had enough of peasant blouses I spotted this chambray version on my way out the door. Always check that the embroidery goes all the way through the fabric and isn’t just on patches, which makes the fabric hang all wrong. This one was soft and billowy and the colours ever-so wearable.”


    “We have had this skirt on the site for a while and it is such a good buy. Lovely thick cotton and the stitching is pure quality – it is one of those pieces we can see you wearing again and again.”


    “From time to time Marks & Spencer will come up with some brilliant shoes, and a good thing to know is that they do half sizes. We loved both these block-heel mustard mules and black sling-backs. Both will go with the majority of your summer wardrobe and they’re easy to walk in.”


    “I have a short torso and short-ish legs, so sadly this gorgeous denim boiler suit didn’t hang right on me. But given the right body proportions I highly recommend trying this one because of the quality of the denim and cut. I would have loved to wear it this summer with a girlie sandal.”


    “Every woman should own a good trench. This & Other Stories version is one of the best I found on the high street. Thick, waxy material with quality details, the fit was also super-flattering and I liked the fact that it was a longer length, so it is a lot more elegant on someone tall.”


    “These heels were one of my favourite pieces I found on our trip. Not only are they super-comfortable, but they are cut in such a way that is flattering on the foot. I also like the sage green – I think they will go with lots in my wardrobe and make a nice change to tan or black.”


    “Accessorize always do fab statement earrings. These come in a variety of shades and will be the kind of transformer that will update your holiday outfits and will make them instantly more fun to wear.”


    “The Z for Accessorize premium range is one of my favourite places to buy little presents and the odd piece of jewellery to mix in with my investment pieces. This diamanté bracelet will add a bit of sparkle to your wrist this summer when added to an arm of friendship bracelets.”


    “Normally I tend to avoid jumpsuits as my body is too short and my bum is too big. However this Whistles jumpsuit was so flattering on. It had a deep v but not one that I would worry about what underwear to wear. The belt cinched my waist, but there weren’t any unflattering lines on my hips and stomach – definitely a best buy.”


    “Another Whistles gem. This canvas jacket would be a great alternative to a denim jacket and I loved the star embroidery – it made it a bit more fun to wear. It was super-lightweight and so easy to move in, with a nice square boxy finish. It’s the kind of jacket you will wear all summer long with everything.”


    “I’m always on the lookout for casual trousers on the high street, yet it’s surprisingly hard to find a pair that come in a quality fabric and have a flattering cut. These drawstring cotton chinos were a good find – I would suggest going a size up for a more relaxed look.”


    “These are about as girlie as I get, but I do love the delicate bows and stack heel. They look like a designer pair and all the detailing is spot on. They come in a cute pink and red version, but the black is the chicer and more expensive looking of the two. A great summer-party heel you can wear with everything from dresses to chinos.”


    “J Crew does really good jewellery, especially statement earrings, and I have never been disappointed by their quality, so to me they are a sure bet. I love how each style often comes in different colours, meaning that there is something for everyone.”


    “J Crew also do great summer blouses. This monochrome number is exactly what I have been looking for. Not too see-through but still breathable and lightweight. The embroidery is subtle but well done – it comes in a white and red version too.”


    “These are the perfect statement trousers. Dress them up or down with flats or a heel. The polka-dot print shouldn’t date, and you can roll them to whatever length you need. They come up a little small for those of us with wide hips, so go a size up.”


    “These are such elegant slides, perfect for an urban summer. They are chic enough to wear to work despite being open-toe, and they look and feel high-quality. They come in a fun red and mustard shade too, but I think the black is timeless.”


    “If, like me, you have been hankering after the Hermès slides, these are a great alternative. They will never be as good as the real thing, but you will wear them just as much. They are lightweight too, so they won’t tire out your feet even if you wear them all day.”



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