Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Here's to 2008

Well it's been a year since I have been blogging, six months on Yahoo 360 and six months here on Blogger. I have had a ball; I have met some interesting people, made some good friends, read some wonderful and interesting blogs and learnt a lot. To think two years ago I didn't even know what a blog was and now it is a huge part of my life. I would like to thank everyone for stopping by my page and leaving great comments. More of all I would like to thank all my blogger mates for creating such wonderful blogs that are rich with creativity, originality and passion. That is what is so great with this genre that people are free to create a space where they can express themselves. I hope you had a fantastic Xmas and here to a wonderful 2008.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

How to be a Budget Fashionista

2007 has most certainly been the year of the fashion/style book. This year we have seen countless titles hit the bookshelves written by celebrities, journos, fashionistas and general Joe Bloggs that cover the experience of fashion. One book that caught the imagination of the public is How to be a Budget Fashionista, written by Kathryn Finney. You could say this book is very fitting considering the recycling craze that the nation has succumb to. Kathryn is a series fashionista who dies for her art and after moving to the East Coast to study she found herself flat broke. This experience inspired her to launch a blog in 2003 called The Budget Fashionista which gave women tips on how to look fabulous for less while learning a few things herself in the process. The success of her blog led to her getting a book deal and How to be a Budget Fashionista was born. This title has created a name for Kathryn Finney as she is now regarded as an expert savvy shopping and has appeared on shows such as Martha Stewart, NBC’s Today’s Show and Good Morning America. I set to task to ask Kathryn a few questions.

Describe the concept of The Budget Fashionista (TBF) in a nutshell?
The Budget Fashionista teaches women how to be fabulous for less. It's not about how much you pay, or your clothing size, or where you live, but it's truly about how you wear it.

So what made you decide to create the blog?
TBF was created out of a love of fashion, but a lack of cash. It was one of the first fashion blogs on the net.

We live now in a buy now pay today society, how do you think people can be more savvy with money?
Think before you buy. Ask yourself, is there at least three places I can wear this to? If you can' think at least three places then leave it on the rack. Look at clothes as more of an investment that just something you buy.

What advice would you have for someone who is in debt and does not know where to turn?
1. Stop spending
2. Take a deep breathe
3. Get your bank statement and record everything that you spent so you can have a complete picture of what's coming in and what's going out.
4. Take stock of what you can cut out (do you really need cable? Or that morning latte?)
5. Take stock of what you can sell
6. Look at other ways to make money - like a second job

Fashion blogging is huge now; fashion bloggers are even getting invites to Chanel headquarters. Name some of your favourite blogs.
Well definitely The Budget Fashionista. I'm also a big fan of The Fashion Bomb, because she really writes well for women of color, on the tech side I like Tech Crunch, and on the design side I like the Oh Joy blog because it's so beautiful.

Describe a typical day for you?
There isn't a typical day. This month I spent everyday inside, working 16 hours a day to get our Simply Good network up. Next month, I'm in LA working on a TV project.

What authors do you admire and why?
So many. I am a big reader... I love Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Amy Tan, Toni Morrison, and so many more. I have a lot of books and I loan them out to my friends.

Where did you do most of your writing? Garden, desk, coffee shop?
At my desk, while jamming to my iTunes.

What advice would you give to a budding author?
Don't talk about it, be about it. Start to write, even if it's in a journal.

What other projects do you work on?
Working on a TV show, my next book, and partnership deals with other internet companies...

Before you leave give me three tips on how to be fashionable on a budget.
1. Know thyself. Be honest with yourself and where you're at in your life. Don't buy a 16, if you really wear an 18. Don't buy a pair of uncomfortable shoes, if you're on your feet all day
2. Leave the credit cards and debit cards at home. you would be amazed about how much money you save when you do that.
3. Follow the cost per wear. The cost per wear is the cost of an item divided by the number of times you think you'll wear it in a given period. So if something costs $100 and you think you’ll wear it 20times, then your cost per wear is $5 everytime you wear it. Try and shoot for a cost per wear of less than $3.

How to be a Budget Fashionista is out now!

The Fashionista Diaries coming to the UK

2008 looks like being a very hot year in terms of TV entertainment. Not only have ITV 2 snapped up the rights to screen the fabulous, Gossip Girl. Rumour has it that Five are to broadcast a UK version of The Fashionista Diaries. Set in New York, the slick reality show followed the lives of six twenty something fashionistas taking on traineeships in companies such as CosmoGirl, Flirt Cosmetics and Seventh House PR. Roll on the New Year!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Love is Not Enough

Christmas is upon us where the nation eats and drinks to galore with no thought for tomorrow. People bombard the shops like they are possessed in search of the wonderful Christmas present for their loved ones. Then comes January when the credit card bills hit the carpet and people become aware of how much they have indulged themselves. With interests rates sky high and increasing number of home owners defaulting on mortgage repayment, it looks like 2008 will be a rocky year. If you are a woman then it is even more imperative that you get your finances under the control. More and more women are living alone and taking out mortgages in their name. There are also thousands of single mothers out there who are working hard to support their children. This means that women need to be on top of their game when it comes to their cold cash and a new book that has just been released has just the formula to do it. Love is Not Enough is a guide to personal finance written specifically for women, topics that are covered are how to reduce debt, invest with confidence and get onto the property ladder. Merryn Somerset Webb is the Editor of MoneyWeek and she writes this book with flair, imagination and with lots of chutzpah. By the time you have read the book, you will be so clued up on finances that you will also be able to write a book about it. I caught up with Merryn so she could give me some inside tips on money.

What inspired you to write the book?
I found that I was becoming increasing worried by the lack of thought women give to their long term finances. We are good at earning our own money these days but bad at leveraging our earnings into long term financial independence. I wanted to show in less than 200 pages just how easy it is. The financial industry has a huge vested interest in making money seem complicated and difficult (the more confused we are the more they can charge us) but it isn’t. It is very simple and the sooner we all understand that the better. I was also concerned about the connections we make between money and happiness. Lack of money can make us very unhappy but having money can’t actually make us happy – this was a theme I wanted to look at in more detail.

Why do you think some women are reluctant to talk about money easily like men do?
Education and upbringing. Fathers don’t talk to daughters about money and nor do mothers. Financial sections of the papers are generally written by men for men.

Your book is very frank and cuts to chase, which I find refreshing.
The title is very emotive, did you come up with it?
Thank you! Too many women – subconsciously I think (I hope) - are relying on a man to finance their long term future. They can manage the here and now but in most of their fantasy worlds a man is financing them as a family. But you can’t rely on this.. Men aren’t always all that with money and even if you find a good one you’ve a 40% chance of divorcing and being alone anyway. Love is not enough.

Ok I am a woman in my 30s who has gotten to grips with my finances but I want to go to the next level of stocks and shares. What would be your advice on getting into this area?
There’s a chapter in the book on it – read that and you should know pretty much all you need to know!

You did an MA in Japanese studies, how did you get into finance?
I was hired by a stockbroker in Tokyo when I finished my Japanese course there and things moved on from that.

Give me five tips on investment.
I have to refer you back to the chapter on investing in the book for this one but the key is to recognise that it is not complicated and to not be scared of markets.

How did you land your book deal?
My agent Rupert Heath contacted me after he read some of my columns in the Sunday Times and asked it there was a book I wanted to write. There was. I wrote a proposal and he sold the idea to Harper Collins. Simple as that.

What authors do you admire and why?
I have almost no time for leisure reading, any more which is awful.

The life of a writer must be a busy one. Can you describe a typical day?
My day job is editing
Moneyweek magazine so most of my time is spent in my office there. I get the baby up and leave home at 8. Into the office for 8 hours of talking, writing and editing and then home at 6 to give the baby her bath and reading before bed. No glamour I’m afraid!

Where do you do most of your writing, desk, garden, coffee shop?
Garden and coffee shop sound lovely but sadly not. My freelance columns are written in my tiny study at home after the baby has gone to sleep and the rest is done in the office at Moneyweek. That said I did write the book at my mother’s house in the South of France just after the baby was born so that was rather better!

What other projects do you have in the pipeline?
I’m pretty busy. I’ve got Moneyweek to do plus columns in the Sunday Times, the Evening Standard, The Sunday Post and Saga and a few other bits and bobs. I’m also doing increasing amounts of radio and TV work which I love. But I am hoping to do another book in the next year or so – I’ll keep you posted.

Harper Collins have given me five copies of Love is Not Enough for five lucky readers. All you have to do is email me your details and you will get a copy in the post.

The paperback issue of Love in Not Enough is available in January. You can check out Merryn Somerset Webb's website here.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Eric Bompard

Well it is icy out there and cold enough for snow, so it is time for me to stop being vain and put on a woolly hat. More than 30% of your body heat is lost from the head so it makes sense to keep it nice and snuggly. Out on the streets of London I have seem many a chic gal and guy sporting cool wool hats in all shapes and colours. There is the peaked beanie, the rope button baker hat, the trilby, the cable knit with a cute rose and of course there is the beret. I received a cashmere hat and matching gloves through the mail this week from cashmere brand, Eric Bompard and I admit I felt very privileged. I have never experienced cashmere first hand and I was interested to find out if it was as luxurious and indulgent as everyone said it was. I was not disappointed because the material was lush and as soft as a baby’s bottom and felt oh so good against my skin. Eric Bompard is one of the big boys of French cashmere; to some they are linked to figure skating as the company sponsors Trophie Eric Bompard, a skating competition that takes place every year. How do I know this? well I am a complete and utter skating buff. Eric Bompard also have numerous boutiques including one on the Champs Elysee; the brand caters for the crème a la crème. The company has been trading for over 20 years after its founder, the one and only Eric Bompard traveled to Mongolia and discovered the concept of global cashmere production. "So Cashmere, So French" is their cool slogan and as far as I am concerned, so appropriate.

Eric Bompard is offering readers who like to indulge 20% off on 20 scarves, stoles and hats as long as you place an order before 24th December. Shipping to the UK is free.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Life Style: How to Pin Down the Pin-up Within You

Ok I find this book very confusing. Glamour girl cum TV presenter cum Actress, Kelly Brook has penned a new book simply called, Life Style: How to Pin Down the Pin-up Within You. First of all I am getting a tad bit bored of all these super long titles that dominate style books. We have Victoria Beckham's, That Extra Half Inch: High Heels and Everything in Between, fashion journo, Hadley Freeman's, The Meaning of Sunglasses: A Guide to Almost All Fashionable and countless others. What's up with that?! Can't style writers just conjure up a simple title that sells the book? Anyway back to Kelly, Life Style tells us all about her life and displays all the influences that has played a part on her childhood and career. The book is divided into two sections; Part one is Life and Part two is Style. The first part depicts her experience at stage school, Italia Conti, her short stint at The Big Breakfast and her entry into Hollywood. The style aspect comes in shape of features on Kelly's Hollywood heroines such as Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe. None of the names here are surprising as they are all buxom beauties like Kelly herself.

This book seems to be a bit of a jack of all trades but master of none. It can't seem to make up it's mind as to whether it is an auto biography or a style book. In the initial part we have Kelly harping on about being demonised by the press on The Big Breakfast and then she is talking about her outfits on Celebrity Love Island. I think the main problem is that Kelly, as popular and pretty as she is has not quite had the sort of career that warrents a riveting bio but at the same time she is not up in the style echelons to be taken seriously in the fashion stakes.

As noted in the press release it is pointed out that the book is 'packed with stunning, never-before-seen photographs.' Hmm well that is indeed true, although I cannot comment on the 'never seen before' aspect as I do not follow Kelly's career much. Rest assured that the publicist is true to her word about the photography, most of it is amazing and contains a lot of pictures of Kelly posing in skimpy attire. However while reading the book these images did make me feel like a bit of predator. No doubt there are plenty of males who would give their right arm to swap places with me. I think this book would make a great Xmas pressie for someone who is a huge Kelly Brook fan and I mean huge!!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

The Tokyo Look Book

I have only been to Japan twice that is if you can call a four hour haul at Osaka airport and an overnight stay in Tokyo a Japanese trip. I have always been fascinated by the place because to me it epitomizes the best in technology and total consumerism. Fashion in Japan is not something that I know a lot about but thanks to The Tokyo Look Book, you could say that I am now something of an expert on Japanese haiku style. This vibrant book is a pictorial account of fashion and fashionistas in Japan’s capital city. It is written by Philomeena Keet, a Brit writer, researcher and anthropologist who went to Japan at the age of 18 and totally fell in love with the place. “I have always loved clothes and fashion,” she tells us at a talk. “I went to Japan and become hooked.” The book is similar to the New York Look Book (which I blogged about here)in its approach but goes one step further by featuring the boutiques that the Tokyoites descend upon as well as speaking to fashion designers.

Reading the book is like taking a stroll through Tokyo’s stylish areas while stopping to speak to the inhabitants. You have cool and wonderful colour photography courtesy of Yuri Manabe, one of Tokyo's top photographers. The title is divided into five chapters; Shibuya Girls and Guys - the trendy teens of Tokyo, Spectacular and Subcultural – outlandish attired young people, Youth Street Fashion – daring street fashion, The Stylish Female – young ladies about town who lunch or work and Young Men at Work – working men in suits. This book is glorious and I was hooked from the first page. Even the introduction is banging – Phliomeena’s passion for fashion jumps out at every page. If you are a fashionista beware – this book is to die for.

It is so good that the publisher Kodansha Europe Limited has given me five copies to giveaway. All you have to do is drop me an email at and The Tokyo Look Book will be yours.

If you find yourself so obsessed with the book and craving for more then you will be delighted to know that there is a Tokyo Look Book blog.

The Tokyo Look Book is out now!