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Street Style: Paris

Strong women, stunning style.

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What We Wore: vintage British street styles – in pictures

The What We Wore blog collects old photos of people snapped wearing their coolest gear. As a book is published of its best submissions, we remember the days before technology changed fashion and photography for ever

What We Wore (Prestel £22.50) is out now. To order it for £16.88 go to or call 0330 333 6846

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Fashion rocked as warm weather cools footfall on the high street

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British street style before the age of the selfie

Before I meet Nina Manandhar, the founder of the blog What We Wore, I’m determined to dig out a picture of myself as a teenager, so she might add an image of my own highly flammable hairstyle to her growing archive of street style. Only then I remember: no such image exists. That miraculous moment when my carefully constructed look – the frosted lips and the shimmering eyelids, the scratchy winklepickers and the ankle-flapping duster coat – finally came together was never going to be captured for posterity in my case. Even if any of my friends had owned a camera, they were hardly going to lug it with them to Barry Noble’s Roxy Nite Spot.

Manandhar, a Shoreditch-based photographer, laughs. This isn’t the first time she’s heard a story like this. In the days before camera phones, photographs were relatively rare: film was expensive, flashbulbs unreliable. Plus, people seemed to live for the moment, rather than for the moment when they could stick the moment on Instagram. “Selfies are such a part of our lives now,” she says. “It’s as if we feel we don’t exist unless we’re constantly documenting ourselves. But go back a bit and it gets harder and harder to find pictures of street style. People will often say, ‘I didn’t think about getting my photo taken; I was too busy enjoying myself.’”

The images she has gathered in the two years since she established What We Wore – they cover the period 1950 to 2000 – are, then, both precious and touching. They are precious because they’re not the kind of thing you see every day. They are touching because, before digital, we had to take people as they came, the pose not always being just so.

Manandhar’s new book of the blog, a kind of greatest hits, reminds the reader how pragmatic and cobbled together street fashion used to be. Turning its pages leaves you feeling wistful and nostalgic. Brands were not yet dominant; the statement handbag, whether real or knockoff, was still far in the future; the insidious link between celebrity and fashion was not yet fully established; the only people whose style we wanted to ape were pop stars, and not a single one the product of a TV talent show; Primark and Zara, so cheap and ridiculously speedy, did not yet exist.

“There used to be an element of quest involved in style,” she says. “You had to really go out and find the things you wanted.” Manandhar is 33. Her appearance as a teenager, part goth and part punk, owed a lot to London’s long-dismantled Kensington Market and was about both difference and belonging. She and her friends hated the idea of looking like everyone else, but wanted to look the same as each other.

For a few moments, we leaf through the book in search of our favourite pictures (What We Wore relies on submissions from the public, which always rise after Christmas, when people go home and raid their parents’ attics). I’m drawn to a photograph of Jerina Philips, a retired PA, taken in Birmingham in 1975, who is showing off her flares as wide as sails. It’s impossible not to smile at the exuberant kick she’s performing for the camera.

Manandhar picks out a photograph from 1983 of an artist, Paul Dyson, who was then deeply into Tik and Tok, the robotic mime duo. It’s the inadvertent contrast between his Steve Strange makeup and the shiny Formica of his parents’ kitchen that she cherishes, the one so earnestly futuristic, the other so irredeemably homely.

But look more closely. Perhaps this wasn’t unintentional. Perhaps Dyson chose this backdrop quite deliberately. It’s an undeniable fact that next to his mother’s flowery tiles and cluttered cupboard tops, his carefully shaded cheekbones look all the sharper, his painted lips all the more startlingly black.

What We Wore is published by Prestel (£22.50) on 3 Nov. Click here to order it for £16.88

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Paris Street Style

From the adorable Eddie Redmayne to the gorgeous Jessica Chastain.

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Men’s Fashion: Street meets suit

With their choice of adjectives, fashion insiders pushed the distinctive look to the side. It was the purview of black kids, Latino teens and other young folks who commuted through their world. Though the aesthetic had been born on America’s vibrant streets and among its aspiring youth, it was not deemed “Americana.” That term was reserved for field jackets and buffalo plaid shirts.

Times have changed. The country is more diverse. Cities are ascendant. Washington, above them all, is a magnet for a new generation seeking density, walkability, vibrancy. And in response, designers are redefining the rules of dress so that the old ways and old terms no longer apply. Or at least their meaning has drastically changed. “Street” and “urban” “were bad words to use,” says designer Maxwell Osborne. Today, however, “street” simply means “it’s made for a big city.”

The direct descendants of that earlier aesthetic are more luxurious and higher priced — much higher. For fall 2014, Givenchy created printed sweatshirts that sell for well over $1,000. Sneakers modeled after classic Vans, which are about $55, are reimagined by Givenchy in embossed leather and carry a $750 price tag. High-top sneakers that, at a glance by the uninitiated, might be mistaken for old-school Air Jordans, are instead by Saint Laurent and will set a shopper back $675.

What’s the logic in this? A generation of men, who are excelling professionally and have significant financial resources, have no desire to spend their money on $6,000 Brioni suits because they simply do not wear suits, explained Jim Gold, president and chief merchandising officer of Neiman Marcus. Nonetheless, they want to express their prosperity through their clothes. What they love and what they wear are sneakers, sweats and other casual gear. So they seek out the most luxurious versions of their favorites.

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Street fashion: Tweed Ride style


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Liverpool Fashion Week showcases the High Street

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Purple Revolver attended The Childsplay Clothing Liverpool Fashion Week’s midweek show featuring the high street’s take on Autumn/Winter trends.

Top day to day style trends highlighted in tonight’s show were plaid, pastels and dark tones.

No longer just for the jolly farmers and wolf-whistling builders, red plaid is a prominent trend as seen throughout the showcase. Both masculine and feminine cuts were worn by the models. Peacocks, Blue Inc and Burton were obvious fans of the autumnal colour and seasonal material.

In contrast to popular belief that Autumn and Winter should be a time of deadly darkness, high street stores have produced designs in pastel pinks and blues to add a subtle dose of colour on statement pieces.

Pastel coloured jumpers and skirt suits were among the pieces that were striking despite the pale tinge. Shoppers can find these soft-coloured garments in high street favourites Peacocks and Dorothy Perkins.

Stereotypically, darker days mean darker clothes as seen with some of the quality daywear from Blue Inc, Slaters and Burton Menswear. Plum, navy and dark were popular for the men as seen on polo neck jumpers, hooded jackets and chunky cardigans.

For the ladies, Dorothy Perkins presented an edgier look with leather jackets, skin-tight leggings and jeans that are the components for the classic rock star style. Sky high heels were also worn to add more femininity.

Evening staples consisted of the classic LBD, Victoriana and spot of celebrity style for the ladies alongside darker shades of grey, navy and brown for the suited and booted gents.

Ladies first.

John Lewis and Oh Polly went in two different directions with the concept of evening wear.

John Lewis is more classic whereas Oh Polly screams celebrity style.

Victoriana with a modern twist has made a comeback to high street stores, especially John Lewis. Perhaps it’s because they are celebrating 150 years of classic style.

It is a beautiful way to mark the anniversary and the designers have done it justice.

Floor length black dresses with lace detail look like they were made for Morticia Addams. One particular dress was fitted to the ankles, proving a slight difficulty of walking normally. Another dress flowed as the model walked the runway. Its sleeves were to the elbows and solely made of lace in a floral pattern.

Shorter dresses in this style were also made knee length to provide a variation to the dramatic maxi.

Celebrity style is more popular than ever. Cue Oh Polly, a fast fashion brand that takes inspiration from what the celebs are wearing to provide women with a bit of star quality.

Fitted is the right word to use as there was no frumpiness about the designs: everything fit the model perfectly.

Two-pieces of the same style and colour were popular in this showcase. Black, red and White were the favoured colours.

High splits and deep V-necks were another common characteristic to add extra glamour too.

LBDs – Little Black Dresses – are back. Do they ever leave the world of fashion? From tight bodycons to A-Line skirts; from sleeveless to long sleeves; from studded pieces to lace garments, the high street has a large variety for everyone.

Onto the men.

Suits as ever always make a man look like the best version of himself. Slaters is the perfect place to go to when looking for a smart jacket or waistcoat – or both!

Navy blue with silver pinstripe was particularly memorable alongside the darker grey jacket and waistcoat combination.

Flourishes of purple were seen through the inner lining of a jacket and a bow tie to add the extra quality of the garments.

All in all a range of fantastic new pieces on the high street that will be here in time for Christmas. Get writing to Santa!


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High Street clothing sales take a battering as Indian summer leaves coats on …

Rupert Steiner And Hugo Duncan


Clothing sales at Marks Spencer and Next look set to be the latest casualty of the Indian summer as new data shows a record low in High Street fashion.

Footwear and clothing were the worst performing categories in September, according to the BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor.

It reports today record declines since April 2012 and March 2013 respectively, casting a pall of gloom over the embattled clothing retailers.

Fashion faux pas: The warm September weather, which has prompted shoppers to delay buying winter coats and boots

Fashion faux pas: The warm September weather, which has prompted shoppers to delay buying winter coats and boots

Marc Bolland, chief executive of Marks Spencer, has been under intense pressure to show a raft of initiatives have kick-started growth in his troubled clothing arm.

The warm September weather, which has prompted shoppers to delay buying winter coats and boots, will not be a welcome development.

Lord Wolfson, chief executive of Next, widely seen as the strongest performer on the High Street, has already warned sales are below expectations.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: ‘After a bumper summer, this is a disappointing outcome for retailers and has undoubtedly reversed some of the sales gains made in August.

‘However, if temperatures drop to a more seasonal level this cooler weather will quickly turnaround retailers’ fortunes and help them to sell their autumn-winter ranges.’

MS shares fell 3.2p yesterday, closing at 383.9p, while Next dropped 50p to 6390p.

Overall UK retail sales were down 2.1 per cent on an underlying basis from September 2013. On a total basis, sales were down 0.8 per cent, against a 2.4 per cent rise in September 2013.

This is the weakest performance since December 2008.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said the disappointing data ‘can be attributed to a number of factors including the continuing decline in food sales’.

Supermarkets have been embroiled in a costly price war as the Big Four battle to win back customers from the German discounters Aldi and Lidl. 

Official figures published today are likely to show the impact of lower grocery prices on living costs with inflation set to fall to a new five-year low.

The Office for National Statistics is expected to report that the consumer prices index measure of inflation dipped from 1.5 per cent in August to 1.4 per cent in September.

That would be the ninth month in a row that inflation has been below the 2pc target – giving the Bank of England more space to leave interest rates at record lows.

Rates have been frozen at 0.5pc since March 2009 but Governor Mark Carney has warned that an increase is ‘getting closer’.

It is thought the Bank will raise rates early next year, although weak wage growth could persuade members of the monetary policy committee to wait even longer.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said inflation is likely to have fallen to 1.4 per cent last month. 

‘There is a realistic possibility that inflation could have fallen back even further given lower petrol prices and food prices being held down by the ongoing supermarket pricing war,’ he added.

‘This is good news for consumers’ purchasing power and gives the Bank of England extra scope to hold off from raising interest rates in the near term if it is worried about downside risks to growth or ongoing weak pay.

‘However, earnings growth is likely to have seen only a modest pick-up in August, thereby remaining a constraint on consumers.’

Scotiabank’s Alan Clarke expects inflation to have remained stable at 1.5 per cent in September but said it would be the ‘calm before the storm’ with CPI heading towards 1 per cent in December.


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Make room, food trucks. Mobile fashion stores have hit the streets

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    3min 6sec

It might be easy to mistake Lia Lee’s business — a big, light-pink vehicle — for a food truck specializing in sugary treats. But it’s something entirely different.

Owner Lia Lee sells trendy clothing and accessories in the Washington, D.C., area out of the truck she calls Street Boutique. Wherever she parks and opens her doors, the store’s open.

Street Boutique represents a new type of business popping up around the country. In the past few years, hundreds of women — and some men — from fashion students to longtime retail workers who want to open their own stores, have launched trucks to sell clothing in every region of the U.S.

These shops mimic the food truck craze, but there are no tacos or hot dogs. Think of them as rolling boutiques.

She offers jewelry, bags, scarves, sweaters and other clothing, and shoes up to size 10. With such a small space to work with, Lee changes her inventory regularly, but right now, skinny jeans are going for $35, a kimono sweater is $40, and stackable bracelets are $12 each.

“It’s like a mini-store — we have departments and everything,” Lee says.

Every “department” in the truck is packed. The shoe department is just a shelf, and the dashboard becomes storage for unused mannequins and a bin of hangers.

Lee’s “store” is small, but that seems to work to her advantage. She can be up close with her customers in just a few steps. And despite the small space, the truck is comfortable inside. It feels like the kind of store people are used to shopping in.

But if you’re standing outside on the sidewalk, it’s unclear exactly what the truck is. Lee props her back doors open with mannequins, she says, so people don’t think she’s selling cupcakes.

Stacy Frazier, a Washington-area resident, strolls by on a recent afternoon when Lee is parked in Arlington, Va. Frazier stops and walks up, curious, and then goes inside.

“Oh my God, this is bigger than my New York apartment when I lived up there,” Frazier says. “I’m a big fan!”

Two years ago, Lee’s financial adviser told her that Lee didn’t have enough money to open a traditional brick-and-mortar store. She told Lee that she had three options.

“A, get creative. B, wait till you have the capital to do this or C, just get a job in retail if you really want to work in it so bad,” Lee recalls.

Lee chose the first option, and for her it was a smart economic move to open a mobile retail store. Her original business plan for a brick-and-mortar shop required about $80,000 to $105,000, but she bought the used truck and remodeled it for just $20,000.

“It’s been really amazing, and I’ve been blessed to be able to be profitable within the first three months of opening,” Lee says.

In addition to running her truck, Lee updates her website directory, It’s an international directory with several hundred listings, and Lee says she adds about 20 to 30 trucks every month. She launched the site in December, she says, because she constantly was asked, “How can I find you?”

Lee helps her customers find her own truck by tweeting when she’ll be in a specific area. Once she’s parked and set up, she tweets again with her precise location.

Finding a good spot isn’t always easy, she says: Cities and counties have different zoning laws about where, and for how long, retail trucks can park.

Lee created the DC Fashion Truck Association earlier this year to advocate for changes in regulations, such as increasing the number of allowed locations and lengthening the time a truck can stay open.

Lee’s also become very skilled at parallel parking. Being a part-time mechanic also comes with the territory.

Now, a year after hitting the street, Lee says the best part about owning a mobile boutique is that everything’s flexible.

The shop goes where you go, she says, and closes up when you want. She just shuts the pink doors, pulls out of her parking spot, and she’s done.

Copyright 2014 NPR.

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