My thoughts exactly. Well, that was until I read about an event at the mighty Westfield shopping centre which took this age-old concept of selling from a car boot, and gave it a stylish spin. For the fantastically named 'Car Bootique', associated with Mercedes Benz, stores in Westfield took the wheel and set up shop in the Atrium with specially decorated cars ranging from a scattering of kitsch ruby love hearts at River Island to a striking yellow cab at DKNY Jeans. Each delightful section has been sprinkled with A/W11's latest delights to turn the dull car boot into a chic treasure trove.
What I particularly loved about Car Bootique, however, wasn't necessarily the opportunity for discounts or competition draws- surprising, given that I am a thrifty (cheap?) student- and nor was it the prospect of the weekend's catwalk shows, followed by blogger tutorials from some industry experts. No. What really struck me was the concept of taking something so ordinary and so staid as a car boot sale, and blending that with the totally contrasting frivolity of fashion.
AW11 collections, I feel this has never been more relevant than it is this season. "What's she on about?..." You're probably thinking, but this season's trends are all so eclectic that there really is something for everyone! But how do you know what will work for you? How do you approach the retail Mecca that is Westfield, in pursuit of a new Winter look, knowing exactly which trend is made for you? Well fear not ladies, SW Fashion is here to help.
We can call this a little Q&A, or Q&A/W if you will, which will help you decide which trends you should be wearing this season and how Westfield's fabulous boutiques can seamlessly translate that into your wardrobe. I'd get on it fast, though, some of these pieces are pretty irresistible!
Androgyny vs. Opulent Glamour
While an androgynous look can be very sexy, some of us just can't seem to get our head round the edgy boy meets girl look. We want to look pretty! However, for AW11 there is little alternative- the gods at Dolce and Gabbana have spoken with their collection where it was all about boys and girls: girls as boys in tuxes and brogues, and girls as girls in sequins and lace. So which one is made for you?
When shopping, what are you drawn to?
A- Beautiful tailoring in interesting trouser shapes, sharp jackets. It's all about clean lines.
B- Shirts and blouses in traditional shapes but pretty fabrics, tailored skirts and shorts, boxy bags.
C- Anything sparkly, or pretty, with pleats or lace. Anything glamourous, really!
D- Luxe fabrics, sexy dress shapes, embellishment and rich, plush colours.
What high street store could you not live without?
A- Reiss. The tailoring and cuts are fantastic!
B- H&M for an accessible version of edgy trends.
C- Topshop always offer something sparkly and opulent!
D- French Connection do the dresses of my dreams!
Describe your style in three words?
A- Slick. Sharp. Minimal.
B- Feminine with edge.
C- Over. The. Top.
D- Luxurious, expensive, glamourous.
Mostly A's and B's? Looks like you're cut out for dabbling with androgyny this season. Let's get this into context: i'm not saying dress like your boyfriend. No, no. We are talking influences like Marlene Dietrich, Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, old Helmut Newton photography where the sensuality of an androgynous look is undeniable. This season it was everywhere on the catwalk, be it in a tux-inspired blouse or a full-length mannish coat. Naturally, it's filtered right down to the high street and here I have the best from the Car Bootiques which were laden with sharp jackets and shiny brogues.
Mostly C's and D's? Maybe androgyny isn't for you, but fear not because luxurious embellishment and pretty details are still very much on trend for AW11, particularly the party season. Think plush velvet, chiffon pleats, pearls, lace, luxe prints and a more than a sprinkling of sequins. This look was probably the most prevalent at the Car Bootique, so you glam girls are in luck.
Textural temptation vs. Minimal Chic
Call it the Celiné effect, but minimalism just is not going anywhere. We're talking simple shapes, expertly cut to make up a timeless, exquisite wardrobe with a fashionable slant. Still, for some of us minimal just translates to BORING and this season there is the perfect antidote in the form of all things feathery, furry and even python-y. Which will you opt for?
How would you describe your favourite winter coat?
A: Simple and single-breasted in navy/grey/black. Beautifully cut, natch.
B: A beige trench/mac with a tie waist.
C: When I wear it i'm mistaken for a polar bear...
D: Soft, strokeable, neutral toned fur.
"A feathered jacket is..."
A: The stuff of nightmares... Who wants to look like an ostrich?
B: A little too novelty for my tastes.
C: My wardrobe staple.
D: Intriguing... With simple styling it could work!
Who's style inspires you most?
A: Phoebe Philo obviously.
B: Probably Clemence Poesy or Ines de la Fressange.
C: Iris Apfel with a splash of Anna Dello Russo.
D: I love Olivia Palermo's style, but adore Daphne Guinness' couture wardrobe.
Mostly A's and B's? Whether you do full-on simplicity, no frills and no fuss, or just fancy the clean and stylish look favoured by labels like Stella McCartney and Hakaan, there is a way to do minimalism for you. The key buys this season are the slick jacket, the grey marl sweater (the perfect backdrop for prints and colour) the prim pencil skirt and a perfectly tailored dress. This grey FCUK one has Stella-inspired panelling which creates a gorgeous hourglass shape.
Mostly C's and D's? The serious, chic look on many of the catwalks was balanced with some eclectic and fun shows like Prada's 1960s inspired spectacle. Now you can try it out via Westfield's selection of fabulous fur coats and fluffy handbags. Snakeskin is also a massive trend, be it on handbags or even blouses (as at Chloé and FCUK). Remember, more is definitely more. Who wants to be a wallflower anyway?
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably noticed the high street is awash with variations of one massive trend: leather. It's being going on for a few seasons, and judging by the SS12 catwalks it's not going anywhere! For AW11, however, it was very much influenced by fetish and this strictness was seen at countless shows, led by Marc Jacobs. For some of us though, even a little leather is daunting, but there is an equally hot trend sans severity! The season was something of a history lesson with retro influences from the 40s at Miu Miu to the 70s at Gucci. This retro prettiness is a great antidote to harsh leather- leave that to Lady Gaga perhaps! So will you be raiding Westfield for leather or for chiffon?
Your most worn summer piece was?...
A: My floral maxi dress- if only I could still wear it!
B: A vintage tea-dress.
C: A cut-out LBD obviously.
D: My leather shorts.
Over the knee boots are...
A: Ever so slightly scary... Pass me the ballet pumps!
B: Vile... So tacky.
C: Right up my street... Even better if they lace-up like at Louis Vuitton!
D: Tricky to pull off, but very cool.
What beauty item could you not live without?
A: My hair mousse! How else would I get 1970s volume?!
B: Red lipstick. It makes everything look so polished!
C: Hair spray and lots of it... I can't handle flyaways in my slick ponytail.
D: Smudgy eyeliner or dry shampoo. I love a Bardot look.
Mostly A's and B's? Sounds like your style is clearly influenced by bygone eras, and for AW11 you are in luck! There's everything from 1930s style gowns to 1960s shifts, but the main influences I noticed at the Westfield event were 1940s and 1970s. It's all very feminine and stylish and perfect if you like a softer, more subtle wardrobe update.
Mostly C's and D's? So your sense of style is probably a little cooler, and the leathers that have been all over the catwalks this season are made for you! It's so easy to work leather into your wardrobe without taking the cowards way out in the form of a biker jacket. If this stunning Reiss dress isn't to your taste, head to Firetrap for blogger Sunday Girl's range which combines hand drawn tattoo prints with a dosage of leather detailing. Also, we are took (another) trip to Westfield on Saturday 1st for a special instore event with Sunday Girl DJing and complimentary nails by Sophy Robson of Nailporn (and free cupcakes, dontcha know?).
That wasn't so tricky now, was it? All you have to do is head down to Westfield and stock up on some new season loveliness, regardless of whether or not you got to check out the fantastic Car Bootique.
I suggest keeping up to date with Westfield's events by liking them on Facebook or following @westfieldlondon on Twitter, or simply regulating the fantastic website.
This blog post is for an entry to a competition, hunting for a guest blogger for Westfield, so obviously I hope you all enjoyed it and wish me luck! ♥
Head to Reiss, Firetrap, French Connection, Biba at House of Fraser, River Island, Twenty8Twelve, DKNY Jeans and Next to get your hands on the pieces featured in this post- all available at Westfield!
Thanks to everyone who helped me out on the day, and thanks for reading!