Wednesday, 28 November 2012

5 Days with L.K.Bennett

Every girl dreams of Fairies and Princess or dare I say it Fairy Princesses. Every woman dreams of that, “Vogue” moment in The Devil Wears Prada when Stanley Tucci gives Anne Hathaway a makeover involving “The Chanel Boots”! Even if you are not willing to admit it we know you do. It is OK to come out and say it. The reality is that most of us are not going to get a job at “Runway” magazine and have designer clothing thrown at our feet. For us everyday women there is the High Street Shops. Someone who has come out to the world and, shown us that one can look good without going to a personal tailor is The Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton). With her collection of Reiss and Whistles she has shown that although, Alexander McQueen is perfect for a formal event you don’t have to wear high-end designers twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week! One particular brand that the Duchess has put on the map ... (with a capital M) is L.K.Bennett. There is not a woman alive who does not know about the L.K. Bennett Signature Sledge Pump after seeing the Duchess wear them over and over and over again. They were the must have item on everyones shopping list in 2011, 2012 and I predict 2013 also! ... I hear what you are saying, not all of us lead a glamorous life like Duchess Catherine! We don’t daily christen boats, or drink tea with the Queen-so why should we pay attention to L.K. Bennett? I am going to tell you why. L.K. Bennett, IS the brand you want to spend twenty-four hours a day in seven days a week. I did and I am not a Duchess. I am your average, broke, Oxford University Masters Student spending her days rotating between college, library, coffee shops and college again. For one glorious week I stepped out of my sweatpants and into L.K Bennett’s fall/winter look-book and, I did not look back. 

Day One:
Shoes: “CAMI,” Patent Leather.
Skirt: “ENA,” Wool.
Bag: “HILTON” Patent Leather.

I am going to emphasize what many fashion writers tend to emphasize: Basics with Signature Pieces. Buying a £125 skirt and pairing it with a £150 blouse for most people is not an option. Investing in a signature piece, like this skirt is a great idea because it is easily paired with something less expensive and looks just as good. For example, I paired this skirt with a Mavi Jeans wool scarf, and a Gap long-sleeve tee-shirt. I love L.K.Bennett for this reason. She churns out these beautiful, timeless pieces that create a signature and are well paired with pretty much anything-probably clothing you already have in your wardrobe. That is what you need to look for when investing in a signature piece: What will it go with? Will I wear this next year? For this skirt the answer was a definite yes. 
As a student comfort is really important to me. I sit in libraries and lectures for most of the day everyday plus, I have to walk all over Oxford, (which is renowned for its cobbled streets) to different events. I need to be comfortable from head to toe. I mean that literally. Regarding this statement heels and a skirt are usually something I will skip over in my wardrobe. This outfit changed my mind. Day one of the experiment and I am addicted to heels and a skirt! This particular skirt has a thin satin lining which stops it from doing the annoying climb up the static of your stockings. It was not tight so I could walk normally, which is very important when carrying a pile of books in one hand and a hot coffee in the other. It was also not too short which meant I could sit in the library or lounge in the common room without being paranoid that the guy opposite could see my knickers! As for the shoes. I was able to walk through the gravel and cobbled Bodlean Courtyards and up many flights of stairs to the Radcliffe Camera’s upper reading room without a stumble, which for a clumsy person in heels is probably a record. The fatter heel makes the shoe a lot more sturdy so it takes a huge amount for you to go over on your ankle. It is also the perfect shaped heel for walking in Oxford as it will not get stuck in the crevices of the cobbled pavements. 
I like to think of myself as a woman seated well in her belief and support of feminism but, I really feel I have to come out and say that there is something really empowering about wearing a skirt and heels. I had gotten used to slumping around Oxford in sweatpants and uggs but ever since this experiment I have been making a real effort in picking outfits before I head out the door. When you feel good, as I did when in these clothes it makes your day better! It sounds cliche I know. I did see an improvement in the work I was doing over this week and the more I did in the week. I wouldn’t turn down drinks after class because I wasn’t “dressed right.” I did come back to my room only to go back out again after, dump my books and go out for a quick coffee and some girly gossip because I felt good and able to just go as I was. It’s hard to believe that a set of clothes can change someone's outlook but I really felt that way with these garments. 

Day Two:
Shoe: “SORELLA” Leather.
Shirt: “GINA” Crepe Long-Sleeve Shirt.
Dress: “FREIDA” Wool V-neck Dress.
Bag: “COWAN” Snake Print Leather. 
OFW Bag: “HEXDEN” Patent Leather. 

This was perhaps my most favourite outfit of the week. I went on to wear the dress and shoes again at the “Elysium Concept Show” during Oxford Fashion Week. The dress was a great fit for a day-night outfit. By taking the shirt off it transformed from a regular V-neck semi-conservative dress into a plunging neckline for an evening look! I, like so many other women have a muffin top. What is great about this dress is the fit-it hugs where it is supposed to hug and drapes where it is supposed to drape making the most of a woman’s curves. I felt sexy in this dress. The wool and colour combination worked nicely in Oxford with the setting of a countryside town! The trend of equestrianism was represented in the combination. The trend may change but this dress would still be workable at is the fit that makes it a timeless piece. The V-neck is semi-conservative as in it does not have the disastrous affect, (think January Jones in Versace at the Golden Globes) even when the undershirt is not on. Although I chose to wear it with an L.K, Bennett silk crepe shirt the colour and cut would work with a simple Gap long-sleeve tee, or a Banana Republic button down. The earthy tones work with a large colour pallet that one can go daring or simplistic without taking away from the classic silhouette. The shirt itself is incredible. One of the things that drives me crazy here in Oxford is layering. I will head off for a class freezing cold and about half way there realize I am pouring sweat because I am rushing and carrying too much stuff over a great distance. I never felt that with this shirt the fabric was incredible to touch and even better to wear. It was breathable which is fantastic for weather which is so it hot or cold? I am madly in love with these shoes! Many celebrities have said that there is something about L.K.Bennett shoes. They are incredibly comfortable. These shoes are no different. A little wobbly on cobblestones and one has to take the stairs with caution but, concerning comfort you really cannot fault them. I wore these shoes from my college to the fashion show which is a good twenty minute walk, included a few cobbled areas without spraining anything. I arrived in comfort! Slippers with a heel...that is all I am going to say about them!


Day Three:
Boots: “STANLEY” Leather. 
Skirt: “RHEA” Wool Plaid.
Bag: “ANNINA” Shearling.

By the third day most people in my college were questioning my new look as I rolled up in another skirt! After the last two days I just could not go back to pants! I have never been a plaid person. I have no Scottish or Irish roots so the idea of plaid never came into my wardrobe. Now I am saving up my student pennies to buy this skirt. My wardrobe is officially missing this plaid! What I like about this plaid is it is not prejudice. There are so many colours woven in that it does not limit the things you can match with it. Going back to the original idea of statement piece with basic. There are so many things to do with this skirt and so many pairings. I picked the white out of the pattern but, there are blues, greens and even pinks woven in. No matter what your usual colour palette is this skirt should easily slip into place. The statement part of this skirt has to be the side detail with the leather buckle straps. It is unexpected and really cute! In the look-book this skirt is partnered with a long sweater which hides the detailing. I chose to tuck in a Gap long-sleeve tee to really expose this added dimension. As I have already said on Day Two when you invest in L.K.Bennett you are choosing the label because of its commitment to perfection. The dress was perfectly tailored. The skirt is made with the finest fabric. I love wool. Coming from Canada you like the feel of something warm and snugly. That was this skirt. My thighs were so toasty on this day it was great! One thing I hate about wool is the itchiness. I really couldn’t complain about this one. I don’t know what L.K.Bennett did but I did not find this wool scratchy at all. I was really nervous about wearing it because I was going into London on the train that afternoon and there was no possibility of changing. I was extremely pleased coming home that night knowing my legs would not have red scratch marks where I had been itching because the wool of this skirt was warm but not itchy! The boots were incredible but, not on me. I had many compliments on them from various people and I loved the look of them. The feel however, was a different matter. I am a horse rider so my calves are perhaps a little bigger than most peoples but, the boots themselves were a shoe size too big which I hoped would compensate for my larger calves. I was wrong.  They pinched. About three-quarters of the way up the calf the boot was pinching. Although I was able to walk around the entire day without too much pain there were marks when I took the boots off and all-in-all they were not as comfortable as I the other shoes I had been wearing. If you are interested in buying these boots I strongly recommend trying them on to make sure the fit works on you. 

Day Four:
Jumper: “AMANDA” Wool Sweater.

I don’t know what it is about Thursday but it is always a ‘bum-around’ day here at Oxford University. I think it is because the weekend is so close and yet so far. Even though this week I had been feeling really good in my skirts I decided to opt for pants. I mean you can’t wear skirts everyday right! With my regular skinny jeans I wore a woolen blush sweater by L.K.Bennett. At first I really didn’t know what to pair the sweater with. It has a baggy feel to it and combined with the wool it could very easily go from Chic to Shabby. Eventually the skinny jeans were pulled out and the sweater looked right. Remember what I said about wool applies to this sweater. I was originally going to wear it with a tank top underneath but, after enduring a rather itchy breakfast I ended up pulling on a long-sleeve tee underneath it to save my skin! Having said that I really love this sweater. It has two adorable pockets on the front at the bottom of the garment and, the colour is fabulous. Just enough pink. It is also incredibly cozy for obvious reasons! I have to add a warning here. I have really sensitive skin which reacts terrible with wool so my opinion of the itchiness could be an exaggeration to everyone else's opinion.

Day Five ~ Part 1:
Boots: “ZIANNA” Suede.
Coat: “JOHANNA” Wool Belted Coat.

Friday kept me in jeans again. This time they were tucked into my favourite footwear of the week these suede wedge boots. These boots did not pinch! They were absolutely gorgeous. The wedge made them easy to walk in especially over the cobbles and up and down stairs!  (A feature on these boots coming soon.)  I wore these boots for five days straight and they go great with anything. Under jeans, with skinnies tucked in, with skirts and with evening dresses. They are incredibly versatile. There was rhyme behind my reasoning to go with the pants today and it was the weather. A rather freezing cold day here in Oxford I hoped to keep snugly with jeans tucked into boots and topped off with the wool coat. It worked. This coat is delicious. I chose that word specifically. It is like being wrapped up in a blanket. It is cozy, soft and warm. I had to pry it off my body when I made it into my lecture. I was so snugly I didn’t want to part with it! Perfection personified in a coat!

Day Five ~ Part 2:
Dress: “LORY” Silk Jersey.
Belt: “GENEVRA” Calf Hair.
Shoes: “BRIDGET” Suede.
OFW Bag: “FROME” Calf Hair. 

I am a student which involves attending many parties, which in turn involves many dresses. This weekend I graced the local bops with this gorgeous outfit. The dress was the perfect fit, the jersey slipping over all the right places. My favourite thing about the dress though was its unusual shape and detailing. The point on the bottom hits on the middle of the legs not to the side which is unique and really funky looking. Also the top half of the dress looks like something from Mad Men as it creates an ovalish shaping around the chest area before meeting in a deep V. It was sexy without loosing the class. The belt helps taper the jersey and its colour masks in perfectly with the dark brown of the dress. Finally the shoes...WOW! Can I leave it at that? They speak for themselves. Comfortable and unbelievably gorgeous. The detailing on the heel had me saying, “They're L.K.Bennett” all night long! I loved this look so much I wore it to the “Cosmopolitan Show” at Oxford Fashion Week.

So why write this article? “The Cosmopolitan Show”  at Oxford Fashion Week focussed on the idea of wearability for the average person. For Oxford, the average person nine times out of ten is a student just like me. L.K.Bennett were featured in “The Cosmopolitan Show”-was this a realistic portrayal of fashion in Oxford? This is what I wanted to find out with this five day experiment and the result is clear. L.K.Bennett is fit for the Duchess and fit for the Commoner too. A few signature pieces from the look-book can create a student wardrobe that is both sensible and stunning. Spending money on countless cheap items breaks the bank. True, so can buying a pair of L.K.Bennett boots. Look at the outcome. A cheap piece of clothing needs to be replaced in a month. L.K. Bennett’s signature pieces last season after season. That is what every student needs to think about when they hunt for their wardrobe. You need to have pieces that can last. Pieces that can take you out of a degree and into ‘the real world.' On top of that all these pieces must be wearable. I hope my experiment has shown that L.K.Bennett is a collection that should be considered by all Duchess-through-to-Student. It contains garments that will remain chic and stylish for however long you need them to be. Next time you are looking for Matriculation Shoes, or a Formal Hall Skirt I say go to L.K.Bennett you will not be disappointed. 

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