Showing posts with label Mulberry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mulberry. Show all posts

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Satchels, blazers and ties - what's the point of school uniform?

The fixation with school uniform is a mystery to me. Education secretary Michael Gove clearly believes blazers and ties are the key to success in schools while lots of commentators reckon uniform improves students’ behaviour, encourages loyalty and belonging and means pupils don’t compete to look cool. But as I’ve written in a previous blog, I don’t see why children can’t wear what they like – as long as it isn’t inappropriate, too revealing or covered in offensive slogans.

I vividly remember the dramatic moment when my daughter stopped wearing uniform and started wearing exactly what she wanted.

Just before her GCSEs, in a bid to mark the last school uniform day in style, she and her pals set about customising their outfits. Even Stella McCartney would have been impressed by their efforts.  Some girls accessorised their school clothes with fuchsia-coloured tights and towering platforms while others wore Ninja Turtle shells they’d constructed from cardboard.

My daughter made a typically bold decision. First she chopped up her navy school polo shirt, closely followed by the kick-pleat skirt she’d worn every day for five years. She then hit on the bright idea of sewing all the ripped-up bits of her uniform back together again and transforming them into a fetching halter-neck and hair-tie. With a final flourish, she painted shiny white stars all over her skirt and wore the whole outfit to her school’s traditional “muck-up” celebrations – the last uniform day before exams began.

When my son arrived home that night, he was far from impressed. He took one appalled look at his big sister and declared: “That’s the silliest school uniform I’ve ever seen...”

As I watched my daughter rip her school uniform to ribbons (it was falling to bits anyway), I couldn’t believe that 12 years had flown by since her first day at primary school. It seemed no time at all since she was excitedly setting out for her reception class in a grey pinafore, purple jumper and matching socks. At four, she was so proud of her old-fashioned leather satchel that she insisted on taking it everywhere she went – even on Saturdays and Sundays. It made a brief reappearance a couple of years ago when, thanks to Alexa Chung and Mulberry, satchels came back into fashion again. Now sadly, it’s been consigned to the depths of the cupboard once more.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Bicester Village - like Bond Street in the country

When I moved to Oxfordshire a few years back I was amazed to discover we had the out-of-town equivalent of Bond Street on our doorstep.

Bicester Village looks like a quaint New England street, all white clapboard shop-fronts and tasteful landscaping, but in reality it’s a shoppers’ paradise just two miles off the M40. The 130 or so shops include all the names fashionistas worth their salt dream about, from Vivienne Westwood and Anya Hindmarch (above) to Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. They stock clothes, bags, shoes, you name it, from last season at knock-down prices - perfect for these tough economic times. Reductions range between 33 and 60 per cent but eagle-eyed shoppers make a point of watching out for “further reduction” periods, when some prices drop by a staggering 70 or 80 per cent.

The place attracts more than four million bargain-hunters a year from all over the world and is virtually always packed – so much so that a couple of years back they had to build a vast second car park.

If you want to take a break from shopping and treat yourself to lunch there are loads of tempting restaurants, including Carluccio’s, Villandry and Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts, while at Christmas the Bicester Village staff organise late night shopping evenings, complete with carol singers, mince pies and mulled wine.

Armani, Gucci and Superdry have all arrived in the last couple of years but my favourite shops are Mulberry, where I bought a gorgeous Bayswater bag at half price, Jack Wills (my stylish 19-year-old daughter says it’s too preppy for her but the staff are delightful), All Saints and L’Occitane for heavenly lavender bath foam that reminds me of Provence.
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