Monthly Archives: April 2017

Shopping with Style

If shopping tops the list of your favourite pastimes, then Aberdeen City and Shire won’t disappoint.

From designer boutiques to a host of high street names, you’ll find all the labels and top quality outlets you’d expect from a major city.

The city has for centuries been the main shopping destination for a huge catchment area, and a popular destination for European shoppers taking a weekend break. With its striking skyline, historical old town and impressive granite buildings this is a prosperous, cosmopolitan city.

The great range of excellent shopping centres ensures that you’ll always be able to find exactly what you’re looking for and if it’s something more exclusive or a little quirky that you’re after, one of Aberdeen’s independent retailers will be able to provide that too.

At a mile long, Aberdeen’s Union Street is Britain’s longest high street and is jam packed with a host of household names and high street favourites. At the upper end you’ll find the newly opened Hugo Boss, G -Star Raw and Cruise, along with premium stores like Jaeger and Jones the Bootmaker.

Cruise, which opened in the autumn of 2007, is one of the UK’s leading independent luxury retailers with a fantastic reputation not only for designer brands, but as a showcase for fresh cutting edge fashion. Brands currently available at Cruise include Gucci, Prada, Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Dior, Hugo Boss, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Fendi, Chloe and Jimmy Choo to name a few.

At the bottom end of Union Street, just before it meets the historic Castlegate, is The Bon Accord St Nicholas Shopping Centre.

Right in the heart of the city it has a fabulous range of stores and is the prime retailing area in Aberdeen. The biggest shopping centre in the city, it is split into two buildings and has three floors extending to 630,000 sq ft over two levels. Built in a serpentine shape to maximise shop unit frontage, it is covered by a barrel vaulted glazed roof with a 90-ft high glazed dome.

Flagship stores include New Look and Monsoon, one of the largest in Scotland, a large Boots and Woolworths and shops such as The Body Shop, River Island, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Ortak and Oasis. A new Costa Coffee will revive the most weary shopper, while the restaurants within the Upper Mall, John Lewis and Marks and Spencer, located at either end of the Centre, remain a poplar rendezvous for a casual lunch and a catch-up with friends. And of course, there’s a Starbucks, with an outdoor sitting area, if you fancy a spot of cafe culture.
Just across from the city’s Union Terrace Gardens, The Mall Trinity is a great, one floor shopping centre with around 27 stores including Debenhams, Argos Extra, T-Mobile, HMV, Superdrug, Waterstones and a large Primark.

Cobbled Belmont Street, known for its trendy bars, cafes, and art house cinema, is also the location for The Academy shopping centre. Surrounding an Italianate style piazza, it has an excellent range of upmarket brands and individual shops, coffee shops, bars and restaurants, and the open-air piazza is often a focus for live entertainment throughout the summer months. Here the style conscious will find independent shops such as Attic, AB10 and Concept, which specialises in casual designer-ware for men. A true style leader in Aberdeen, Attic is constantly introducing new collections including U.A.R.M, Green Apple Tree and Six Pack. AB10 has everything from footwear to accessories, with many main stream brands including G-Star, Ted Baker, Miss Sixty, Replay, Firetrap and Gio-Goi.

Nicknamed ‘Little Chelsea’, the Thistle Street area of the city is the acknowledged style quarter of Aberdeen with a range of independent shops stocking everything from clothes, shoes and accessories, in addition to gift shops, delicatessens, French bakers, florists and art galleries. Bellino and Hamish Munro both have excellent ranges of shoes by continental designers, and if you need a dress for a big night out, try Frox – with everything from funky to formal, it’s evening wear with attitude. Esslemonts and Esslemonts 2 stock a stylish choice of menswear and women’s fashion from leading brands such as Camel Active, Tommy Hilfiger, Remus, Hobbs and Turnover.

Verdict, also on Thistle Street, stocks a wide range of really unusual designer clothing and accessories that are both wearable and glamorous. From contemporary evening wear and associated accessories through to casual jeans and edgy tops, Verdict was named by style guru Caryn Franklin as one of the top ten independents in Scotland.

For stylish, classic designs Kafka, just around the corner in Alford Place, has the latest from Armani, Burberry and Prada, while Kafka for men can be found on Rosemount Viaduct.

Aberdeen’s up and coming area, The Green, is home to a range of first class bistros and fine dining, and a number of trendsetting shops have also opened in the area, including Coco Violet, designs for the cool and trendy. It houses an eclectic collection of fashion for the woman that wants to stand out from the crowd, with stunning items you won’t find anywhere else in Aberdeen, let alone the UK. For shoes with a difference take a look at Fenner and Coburn at Netherkirkgate with an impressive collection of distinctive designs.

Meanwhile Zoomp, tucked away in Jopps Lane behind John Lewis, has a wide range of clothing covering everyday casual to Jimmy Choo and Matthew Williamson.

If it’s a retro feel you’re after, head to The Closet in Jopps Lane for quirky, vintage retro – an Aladdin’s cave of retro finds and one off pieces , or nearby Retrospect, which was recently featured in Vogue magazine, while Vintage Phoenix in Chattan Place will tailor your finds to fit.

Jewellery, art and antiques

Aberdeen is not known as the Silver City for nothing – the sparkling granite buildings that make up much of the city are testament to that – however the city is also the home of some independent jewellers who can design that signature piece to celebrate a very special occasion.

Family-owned Finnies the jewellers, has Scotland’s largest stock of diamond jewellery – and biggest collection of grandfather clocks. As well as over 26 watch brands, you’ll find unusual gifts including silver snooker chalk holders. Jamieson and Carry is another family firm, established in 1733. From pearls to pendants it’s a firm favourite with jewellery lovers. You can even commission a special piece to be individually designed and made in-house. Sandy Menzies Designer Jewellers present a constantly evolving range of contemporary jewellery. The design and production of commissioned pieces in precious metals and gemstones is also available, while George Kite on Holburn Street features a range of modern Scottish designers.

For antiques, head for the city’s West End, where you’ll find Elizabeth Watt on Thistle Street, specialising in ceramics, silver and jewellery while Rendezvous, on Forest Avenue, has great art deco finds as well as contemporary art. Thistle Antiques on Esslemont Avenue is the place to go for gorgeous antique mirrors and lamps, and Atholl Antiques on Great Western Road has quality furniture and paintings. For antique maps, go to Colin Wood on Rose Street, who carries a very fine range.

Gallery Heinzel specialises in contemporary Scottish art from its base in Aberdeen’s Thistle Street. The gallery hosts up to 10 exhibitions a year showcasing the work of established and emerging Scottish artists. The Carby Art Gallery, in a contemporary art space, offers a unique gallery experience. Resident artist Ian Carby, famed for his vibrant landscapes and shoreline scenes, exhibits alongside international and local artists with sculptures, ceramics, jewellery and photography

If you’re searching for that special gift that’s a little bit different from the run of the mill, Nova on Chapel Street has long been a favourite with Aberdonians. Its comprehensive gift selection ranges from the cool and funky to the classic while Annie Mo’s, on Holburn Street and the bottom end of Union Street, also stocks an unusual range of gifts along with some beautiful furniture.

Markets

Aberdeen’s Country Fair is a monthly market with over 30 stalls of fresh farm produce, local crafts, home-baking, food and drink. The main market takes place on the last Saturday of every month and there’s a smaller weekly version every Saturday at the Academy Shopping Centre. One of the largest markets in Scotland, it provides local farmers and crafters the opportunity to showcase their quality home-grown and handcrafted products. A typical Aberdeen Country Fair will feature everything from Aberdeen Angus beef, fish landed at Aberdeen and Peterhead Harbours, local fruit and vegetables, baking, cheeses, confectionary, Scottish whisky, wines and handmade
crafts.

Three or four times throughout the year, and in the weeks leading up to Christmas, you’ll find Aberdeen’s popular International Market, one of the largest and most successful of its kind. The annual three-day event offers a wide range of European and British foods with 70 stalls including fresh French fruit and vegetables, French, Dutch, Scottish and English cheeses, hams from Spain, biscuits from Brittany, and a variety of French breads. You’ll also find an array of fine textiles, accessories, and arts and crafts on offer.

Shopping in the Shire

You don’t always need to visit the City for shopping, as Aberdeenshire also has a great range of shops. Quirky craft shops abound, and there are a number of stylish clothes shops that are well worth a visit. In Inverurie try Altro Designer Wear on North Street for D&G, Versace, Armani, Guess, Hugo Boss, and G-star. B’s Knees Too (and original B’s Knees in Oldmeldrum) carries a fabulous range of clothing and accessories from casual wear to exclusive evening wear and a wide range of bags, shoes and jewellery. A branch of Attic has recently opened in the town too.

Thirty minutes drive from Aberdeen City centre, Royal Deeside is a treasure trove of galleries, craft shops and exclusive outlets, many of them with Royal Warrants.
The royal village of Ballater has a good selection of individual shops and boutiques, many carrying the Royal seal of approval. There are a few surprises too, such as the Chocolate Box, which also sells Lulu Guinness handbags, and Foxy for an eclectic range of clothes, jewellery and furniture.

Shop For Style Online

Surely it’s considered a major fashion faux pas – turning up somewhere in the same outfit as someone else. If the current crop of high street shops are anything to go by, however, you’d be forgiven for thinking that clothing conformity is something we’re all striving towards.

Let’s face it, for those of us looking for something a little bit ‘different’, high street shopping can be a pretty dreary and dispiriting experience. Just imagine that you’re blindfolded and parachuted into a UK city’s shopping street – your blindfold is removed – do you know where you are? The answer is that there will probably be very few clues, as you will find exactly the same shops wherever you go. The ‘usual suspects’ will be side by side, churning out similar-styled garments and cashing in on the latest ‘celebrity style’ craze with cheap copies of couture pieces.

To those who crave individualism and want to dress with a bit of flair and originality, this copycat culture is depressing. Kate Moss only has to appear looking stunning dressed in her own inimi

ur hard earned cash on faked fashion which isn’t going to make us look a million dollars, and won’t make us look like Kate in a million years. When it comes to mock fashion the real mockery is the one we make of ourselves.

Don’t despair! The internet is a fantastic resource for anyone seeking their own unique style. There are plenty of places to shop online offering distinctive, desirable apparel and accessories which will set you apart from the ‘clothing clones’ without breaking the bank. The benefits of buying online are many; no more trooping round town elbowing others out of the way, no queues, and no last minute buying because the shop’s about to shut, only to get home and discover your panic purchase looks terrible on or has traces of cosmetics on the collar. Instead you can shop from the comfort of your home, browsing and buying at your leisure.

Small businesses and solo fashion designers use the web to showcase their products, and because their overheads are lower (no huge retail premises to maintain or large staff to pay) you have a real opportunity to purchase gorgeous garments and attractive accessories which won’t cost the earth. There are also sites selling quality second-hand and vintage fashion pieces, allowing you to track down your own style statement for a fraction of the price of buying new. If something is described as ‘hand made’ don’t let memories of Auntie Dot’s amazing asymmetrical unravelling knitwear cloud your judgment – handmade usually means lovingly crafted with great attention to quality and detail, and can definitely denote a one-off, original clothing item which will be the envy of others and a fashion favourite for years to come.

If you’re more concerned about the look you want than the designer label you’re wearing, there are a few points to consider when buying over the internet. Search for sites with decent product photographs and detailed descriptions, not tiny little ‘thumbnail’ images. After all, you wouldn’t buy a product from a catalogue unless you had a good idea what it looked like. Use careful keywords to narrow and speed your internet searches. For example, if you’d prefer a product in a quality fibre, include ‘wool’ or a more specific term such as ‘mohair’ as one of your search words to find precisely what you want faster. Vague, all-encompassing search terms will only drag the high street to your desktop, and you’ll end up ploughing through ‘virtual’ polyester! Make sure sites offer secure checkouts that encrypt your credit-card details; safe and trusted payment methods include PayPal, WorldPay and NoChex, although there are plenty of others.

Finally, enjoy the experience! The internet gives you a great choice, and buying online from a smaller supplier often means you’ll receive a much higher quality product and level of service than you’d find in a vast anonymous ‘bricks and mortar’ store. Independent online retailers are keen to involve their customers in a real relationship, and you’ll find yourself returning regularly to your favourite fashion sites. Shopping to suit yourself can be very rewarding, and not just financially.

Men’s Fashion

Although it would be nice if the first impression people took from us was our personality, the fact remains that our exteriors are, naturally, the first thing people consider when they look at us. This is not necessarily style-related; our wardrobes may be perceptions of what our bank accounts or personalities are. Even the smallest details of our dress send messages about ourselves that can be misinterpreted. Men tend to fall victim to this unfair scrutiny often as they tend to be unaware of the silent messages their ensembles are sending. We have provided some simple tips to help you avoid this situation and become more aware of the message you may be sending.

At one time, over-sized clothing was undoubtedly in style. However, that time has come and gone. Now, clothing that hangs on your frame and bags and sags is unattractive and presents an image of untidiness to people who see you. Choose clothing that is tailored to your frame without being too tight, and that provides comfort without being too baggy.

Often men also make another mistake, they do not think about their foot wear choices. It may seem easiest just to grab some tennis shoes out of the closet, but you have to think of what impression this is giving other people. It may not be comfortable for some men to wear anything but tennis shoes, but these men should make sure that their shoes are clean and not too worn.

A good hairstyle is also important to project and image of cleanliness and style. Find one that looks great and is easy to replicate by any stylist. You should have to spend a little extra the first time on a good haircut, but going to a professional, trusted stylist will be well worth the expense.

Try something new. Too often we get stuck in our “comfort zone” and then our style becomes stale. Try spicing things up once and a while, buy that electric blue shirt instead of the pale blue you normally would. Ask your friends, family members or coworkers for their style ideas. Resist that urge to go to the store and purchase the same clothes. Take those few moments and look at what is available, colors, textures, fit of the clothes, try something new.

Movie Fashion Style

Whenever I need an inspiration for color in fashion, I always revisit my beloved movie ‘Down with Love’. This frivolously delicious and hilarious movie, starring Rennee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor, has itself become a bit of a vintage movie. It is a spoof on the Doris Day and Rock Hudson comedies of the 60s.

The bubbly blonde and the dark, handsome guy, with the ‘girl trying to work hard to get somewhere’ kind of story line. It certainly makes a very deserving ‘chick flick’, perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon. However, the main attractions for me are the costumes. Make no mistake, this is certainly forward thinking in terms of the whole vintage thing. I guess the craze about ‘Mad Men’ really started with this movie.

The costumes were designed by Daniel Orlandi. I am extremely impressed with the fact that it had no real vintage clothing at all. All of the costumes were complete re-designs, fitted and turned into the funny colorful feast of a movie. The whole movie is a nonstop extravaganza of fashion display, overloaded with rainbow colors, beautiful fabrics, and matching outfits. I adore the ensemble of a pink and white wool jacket, over a super-fitted wool dress, matching the color of the jacket and topped with a pair of white gloves for style.

Daniel Orlandi must have read all the magazines from the years 62-67 to draw his inspirations for the movie. “We didn’t want to use vintage clothes on Renee, or any of the other principals, because we didn’t want it to look shabby,” says Orlandi, who instead used vintage fabric for many of his designs. “We wanted the clothes to seem fun and surprising, not campy.”

It definitely does not look ‘thrift shop’, in fact the cut and fit for both actors are simply amazing. Apparently, he intentionally designed the garments with lots of vibrant colors, even though they were not traditional colors for a blonde. I think the bright colors agreed with Renee very well, reflecting on her character and the comedy plot. The riot of colors, lavender, lime, fuchsia, snow-white, magenta and ice blue are certainly a feast for the eyes.