Monthly Archives: April 2010

When Ship-Shape met… ELLE’s Natalie Wansborough-Jones

Natalie Wansborough-Jones

As promised, here is my interview with ELLE’s Senior Fashion Editor Natalie Wansborough-Jones, who was in Bristol on Thursday to promote ELLE’s new competition, Shopgirl to Stylist.

Nestled in the corner of French Connection in Quakers Friars, we chatted about the influence of shop assistants, the must-read fashion blogs of the moment and style tips for S/S 2010…

SSBF: So Natalie, could you tell us a bit more about the concept behind the Shopgirl to Stylist competition?

NW-J: Our editor, Lorraine, went to New York and basically in New York there’s this whole big thing with shop assistants there – they are almost like celebrities there so she absorbed this kind of power.

The high street is very important to Elle. It’s all very well us shooting high-end designers like YSL, which I don’t actually think is affordable to everyone at the moment, but there are really strong mid-range and high street brands out there so its important to us to push that. I guess that all kind of mixed together to inspire us to find a great shop girl on the high street that wants to be a stylist and give them the opportunity to do that.

SSBF: There is so much information and inspiration available to consumers now, such as window displays, magazine spreads etc. How do you think shopgirls and guys have an influence in the way people dress?

NW-J: I think its not just in the shop either, I think that what is fantastic now is that, and I’m already starting to see developments having only been to French Connection in Bristol and Whistles in London so far, is that the people that work in these shops already have their own identity.

The Whistles girls all looked so incredibly chic, obviously dressed in Whistles, and the French Connection gang here are really, really cool, and they all have this identity, almost like its affiliated to their shop. Whether we find that regionally, I’m not too sure yet but seeing them out on the streets, they are almost setting a trend – I think that’s very true of the Topshop staff in London, they’re all almost part of a little gang in a way and they’re literally pioneering what [clothes] they have in the shop by simply being out and about in it themselves.

I’m constantly impressed by young people that I see on the street that put together high street in a really intelligent and cool way. I look at them and think ‘that’s amazing’, and I absorb that information and it influences me. I think as an outside thing it draws people into the store that can take inspiration from [the shop staff].

French Connection style-challenge

Above: Natalie critiques an outfit put together by French Connection staff

SSBF: There are many websites and blogs out there, such as and The Satorialist, which focus on street style and real people. What do you think of those kinds of blogs, ‘cause to me it feels like a revolution, making people a lot more aware what they put on their backs…

NW-J: I think you’re totally right, I think its fantastic. I actually just did a shoot with Garance Doré, who I think is a fantastic blogger and not only was she really cool to shoot with because her perspective, the way she looks at things is really new to us in a sense: its not a very controlled studio environment necessarily, it’s a bit more free, a bit more natural. We had many, many chats about fashion and she’s looking at it from a really intelligent point of view, not necessarily having this enormous background, she almost fell into it in a way and she’s and incredibly talented illustrator.

She has all of this going about and I think actually yeah you’re right – [bloggers] are pioneering a new moment in fashion for us and I think that’s why people are really recognising them and giving them a fashion status so to speak; Dolce & Gabbana putting them in the front row at their show for example. ELLE actually used Scott (Schuman, of The Satorialist) for a photo shoot a few years ago, before my time there, but this has been happening for a while and now its suddenly exploded and its almost like they have a certain amount of respectability.

SSBF: I guess that ties in with the Shopgirl to Stylist competition in that very few of the numerous fashion and style bloggers out there are in the business – they might have previously been in the business or are aspiring to get into the business but many of them have just fallen into it because they love fashion and now they’re seen themselves as fashion icons in a way. Do you have any particular websites or blogs that you like reading?

NW-J: Garance’s blog, I love her blog, Scott’s blog – I love his work too… I have to say I love the Purple blog by Olivier Zahm – I get huge pleasure out of looking at that – those are the three that my main focus is on.

SSBF: Do you have any favourite stylists?

NW-J: I do, I think that Melanie Ward is a fantastic, hugely influential stylist, I think Jane Howe was a massive stylist when I started assisting, I mean, she was the one who I found huge inspiration from. I think there are some amazing, hugely iconic stylists out there.

SSBF: Thanks to two universities Bristol has a huge population of students, many of whom will be graduating this year – do you have any tips on how they can break into the fashion industry?

NW-J: Perseverance; do as much work experience as you can. Every job for me, climbing the ladder to where I am now, has been through working for free and being in the right place at the right time but doing as much work experience as possible I know its hard when you’re not always being paid but do as much experience as you can and hopefully you’ll just get that moment when someone wants to employ you then it all sort of goes from there.

SSBF: So, so much of it can come down to timing then?

NW-J: It does, and that’s why this competition is so fantastic actually because to give you an indication, I will probably start to get CVs and applications on my desk around January from people asking me for internships and we don’t even start to look at anything till July. So you can imagine the amount of applications we get and a lot of them just get filed away unless there’s something like ‘friend of a friend’ situation, which does happen.

So with this competition the winner is being fast-tracked right to the front of that enormous queue and even if you enter and don’t necessarily win, you still get the chance to come and be with us in the office and spend some time with us. So to have that connection – if people come back to us in two years we’ll know who you are – and I think its simply being able to put a face to a name is really helpful and not just reading a CV that gets filed away somewhere.

SSBF: One final question: what would your best tip for Spring/Summer 2010 be for ELLE girls on a budget? Is there one particular piece or trend that they should look out for?

NW-J: I think keep it simple and keep it chic. There’s definitely a sort of French feel in the air so I’d have to say a really great trench coat.

Thanks so much to Natalie for the interview, the lovely staff at French Connection and Arabella from Talk PR for contributing to this interview.


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Filed under blogs, Elle, fashion magazines, French Connection

Bristol launch for ELLE’s Shopgirl to Stylist competition


The winning team: French Connection staff with judge and Senior Fashion Editor Natalie Wansborough-Jones

Ship-Shape had an early start this morning, arriving at French Connection in Quakers Friars at 9am for the launch of ELLE magazine’s styling competition Shopgirl to Stylist.

‘Fashion’s answer to the x-Factor’ was launched at the beginning of March but over the next four weeks the ELLE team are hitting the high streets of the UK to promote the competition, which would see the winner receiving a coveted six month internship at ELLE HQ in London. This morning was a chance for Bristol to flex it’s fashion muscles as French Connection staff were given the challenge of styling a mannequin in a S/S 10 trend using items from the shop floor.

The team’s efforts were judged by ELLE’s Senior Fashion Editor Natalie Wansborough-Jones, who was on hand to offer style tips and to encourage shopgirls – and boys – to enter the unique competition. Today the three teams came up with festival, floral and city chic looks and speaking of the winning team, pictured above, Wansborough-Jones applauded the use of accessories and said the look was “very ELLE”.

Wannabe stylists have until 4th June 2010 to send in their entries to the website, where readers can comment on and ‘love’ their favourite looks. After that the finalists will have the opportunity to be mentored by by ELLE’s infamous Fashion Director, Anne-Marie Curtis before the winner is announced in the October 25th anniversary issue of ELLE. So what are you waiting for? If you’re aged 18 or over and currently work for a fashion retailer then send in your entries and represent Bristol while you’re at it! For more details on how to apply and to see all the entries click here.

Ship-Shape was lucky enough to interview Natalie Wansborough-Jones about this competition, life as a stylist and the fashion blogs she can’t live without so keep your eyes peeled for the post, coming shortly.

French Connection in Quakers Friars, where the event took place

French Connection in Quakers Friars, where the event took place

Staff team up to put together a S/S 10 look for the styling competition

A team dresses their mannequin in a bid to win an ELLE subscription for a year

 Senior Fashion Editor Natalie Wansborough-Jones tweeting from the store

Senior Fashion Editor Natalie Wansborough-Jones tweeting from the store

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Filed under Elle, fashion magazines, French Connection

A load of Cox & Baloney


This afternoon I paid a visit to Whiteladies Road to investigate a vintage boutique that has been on my brain for weeks. I first picked up a Cox & Baloney flyer at a launch party for Crack magazine, then when M and I went out for dinner with some friends last night the name cropped up again on a flyer for a vintage event at the Thali Cafe. Despite the boutique having been up and running for five months I never quite got round to visiting but I simply couldn’t wait any longer so went to take a peek at the store, located inside Woolies Indoor Market.

This bizarre market used to be a Woolworths (RIP) so I was surprised that inside it was full of entrepreneurs selling everything from pies and coffee to soft furnishings and books. Wandering towards the back of the market a sign helpfully pointed me towards the stairs which took me to Cox & Baloney, and I felt like I had stumbled back in time.

Leather trunks, retro lampshades, tweed jackets and geometric 70s prints were just some of the gems I noticed as I ventured in to the boutique which had been lovingly decorated with kitch flower garlands and grand gold framed mirrors. I fell in love with some ‘reworked’ Laura Ashley dresses and a carpet bag but sensibly, perhaps somewhat too sensibly, left my credit card at home.

Co-owner and vintage enthusiast Joney Lyons mans the till

Co-owner and vintage enthusiast Joney Lyons mans the till

However this did give me the opportunity to chat to shop gal on duty and co-owner of Cox & Baloney, Joney Lyons, above. Joney was kind enough to fill be in on her transition from working in the production office of the BBC to running her own vintage empire, along with friend Amy Cox. Tired of working on projects such as Lark Rise To Candleford and Hollyoaks, the girls teamed up to create Cox & Baloney, a vintage boutique focused on recycling and “putting something back” into the community.

Cox & Baloney source many of their vintage finds locally, encouraging customers to bring in unwanted garments in exchange for a share of the profits. “People bring stuff in and sometimes we buy it from them or otherwise we’ll split the profit, or give [the item] back if we can’t sell it” says Joney, “this way locals get to make some money and recycle their old clothes”.

As a customer comes up to the counter to pay for her black suede fringe boots I finger through the rail of vintage dresses and soak up the charming atmosphere. Soon Joney and I are back to chatting about fashion in general and how trends look to the past for inspiration. “Why go out and buy brand new when there are so many fantastic originals? We’re giving granny clothes a new life again.”

With all the vintage treasures on offer I’m inclined to agree – every piece in this boutique no doubt has a story behind it which is more than can be said for a brand new Topshop denim jacket. The clothes and accessories in Cox & Baloney are competitively priced, even cheaper than what some high street retailers charge so this hidden gem is worth checking out. The lovely ladies also attend regular vintage fairs such as Gimme Shelter at The Lanes and for a list of all upcoming events check out their Facebook page.


Trunks, suitcases and hat stands all help to display gorgeous vintage treasures

Table linens and cloths have been carefully folded and displayed


A display of shoes, fabric scraps and vintage buttons: swoon!

A deliciously tacky carpet bag - Mary Poppins and River Island would be proud...

Funky furniture creates a cosy space within which to rummage

Vintage dresses from the last four decades

Vintage dresses from the last four decades


The indoor market boasts more than just boutiques, including cafes, book stalls and a Pieminister!


Filed under Clifton, Cox and Baloney, granny fashion, vintage

Calling All Students!

Cabot Circus student nightThe loans are in, exams are looming and Spring/Summer trends have hit the high street so take a break from the books and head down to Cabot Circus for this Thursday’s student evening.

Ah, university. The three year ride of discounts, student nights and blagging as much stuff for free as possible. Yes, I do remember staying up till 6am to finish a project, high on Pro Plus and surviving on chocolate digestives, but come on – all the parties, discounts and shopping sprees made it worthwhile. Come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t have been up until 6am, high on Pro Plus and surviving on chocolate digestives if I hadn’t gone to all the parties, or used my discounts on numerous shopping sprees but that’s another matter…

Cabot Circus was still a building site when I was at uni and although this meant missing out on events like these, I think my bank manager was pretty grateful! But now Bristol’s most fashionable footpaths are becoming student paradise from 4-8pm on the 28th as discounts, goodie bags, nibbles and live music take over Cabot Circus and Quaker’s Friar.

Participating stores include A Wear, American Apparel, Warehouse and Urban Outfitters so just bring along your student ID and enjoy. If you’re

strapped for cash then look out for plenty of freebies from Rituals, Tampopo and and G Star.

Cabot Circus Student Night, Thursday 28th April, 4-8pm.

Click here for more information.

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Filed under Cabot Circus, high street, student

Knock-Off Fashion


Today I finally met The Magazine Man. I don’t want to get him in trouble, but for those that don’t know, Magazine Man loiterers around the Bear Pit at the bottom of Stokes Croft, selling magazines at suspiciously cheap prices to passers by.

Previously only a rumor and subject of speculation, I was skeptical as to whether or not such a man existed. M and some other friends have told me about this vendor, as they are well aware of how magazines, fashion magazines in particular, are like crack to me. At the moment I’m forced to buy various publications on rotation each month, but if I had my way I would hold subscriptions to just about every glossy going.

So, when I heard about this mythical creature selling discounted magazines I was curious to say the least. And sure enough, alongside the likes of More and Reveal, there they were; Marie Claire, Grazia, Look and Elle. But Magazine Man was not the man I had pictured in my fantasies – no top hat, no jolly expression, no shouting ‘roll up, roll up!’ or handing out balloons to small children. In his place was a scruffy, shifty eyed tramp, who was obviously not selling these magazines because he was morally outraged at their RRP.

My eyes lingered over the titles as he slid up to me to let me know his latest deals. I didn’t have any cash on me but decided to walk away anyway, unable to get my head around why I hadn’t pounced on those glossy fashion bibles. He wasn’t there when I came back after meeting S and when I mentioned my reluctance to purchase, she came out with a surprisingly truthful comment; “We buy knock-off fashion all the time” she said, “buying a cheap fashion magazine is no different from shopping for cheap fashion at Primark”.


Like most girls I know my wardrobe is 50% cheap-as-chips fashion, 50% God-bless-the-credit-card fashion

This got me thinking about knock-off fashion and it’s place in society. Knowingly buying fake designer goods is different from a splurge in shops like Primark but while not exactly a taboo any more, cheap clothes still come with a hefty price tag. Mass production, dodgy labour and production, excessive spending and increased textile waste are all a result of our desire to have the latest catwalk imitation right now.

In recent years documentaries such as Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts have highlighted how little most British consumers know about where their cheap-as-chips fashion comes from. Thanks to the spotlight on climate change retailers are starting to introduce ethically friendly policies and the recession has almost certainly been a factor in the increase of attendance at sewing workshops and vintage fairs. But there is still an obsession with catwalk copies at knock-off prices and I don’t see this changing any time soon.

So how can you look achingly on trend without breaking the bank or contributing to child labour? Simple: do your research, make do and mend instead of throwing away perfectly good clothes, shop at vintage stores/jumble sales/charity shops and have a go at making your own clothes – you might be surprised at how satisfying it is once you get past managing to thread a needle without pricking yourself to death.

For more information about ethical fashion on the high street check out the Ethical Fashion Forum and for details of Primark’s ethical trading initiative click here.


Filed under ethical fashion, fashion magazines, Primark, Stokes Croft

Cabot Circus Spring/Summer Show pt. 2

Here are a few more snaps from the Spring/Summer fashion show at Cabot Circus yesterday, take on my Canon 450D and the good old point and shoot Olympus Tough, thanks to Amy B.

'Boho Chic' is no longer about floaty skirts and earth colours, as Urban Outfitters shows.

polka-nautical-James Lakeland dress

A white polka dot dress from James Lakeland is perfect for summer. Image courtesy of Amy B.

Denim shorts are updated with boyfriend blazers and boater hats.

The sun and blue skies accessorise the 'Mid America' line dancing. Image courtesy of Amy B.

Nautical looks from River Island and Wallis

Ship-Shape loves nautical from River Island and Wallis. Image courtesy of Amy B.

Military vogue from House of Fraser.

Strike a pose: Military vogue from House of Fraser.

A model dances her way through the double denim look. Image courtesy of Amy B.

 Towering heels and short hemlines courtesy of A Wear, Ted Baker and Jones.

Towering heels and short hemlines courtesy of A Wear, Ted Baker and Jones.

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Filed under A Wear, Cabot Circus, catwalk show, Ted Baker

Cabot Circus Spring/Summer pt. 1

Ted Baker geek chic

The fashion season has well and truly hit Bristol and this weekend is the turn of Cabot Circus to show us what we should be wearing this Spring. And Spring has well and truly sprung as shoppers crowed into the sunlit centre of Cabot – with a ceiling of blue skies lighting up the bright white catwalk outside House of Fraser.

After the success of their anniversary catwalk show in September, the fashionable brains at Cabot enlisted the help of stylist Ricky Partner to create the two shows that will rotate across the next two days, while choreographer Vicki Jackson ensured the models had the necessary moves to wow the crowds.

With scenes such as ‘floral’, ‘mid America’ and ‘Italian Riviera’ there were many trends to get through to what perhaps could have been one hour long show was split into two shorter segments, advertised as Show A and Show B. My stylish stallholder chum Amy accompanied me to Show A and we were treated to the best nautical, floral and boho chic looks from the likes of Ted Baker, A Wear, Urban Outfitters and River Island.

Men, women and kids were catered for, as were the diverse clientele of shoppers. I’m a bit of a sucker for the nautical trend which ticked all the boxes but I was pleasantly surprised at the ‘Boho Chic’ scene from Urban Outfitters, New Look and Dorothy Perkins. I was expecting the maxi skirts and off-shoulder tops circa 2004 but this new take on Sienna Miller’s favourite fallback was refreshingly modern, with plenty of denim and boyfriend blazers thrown in for good measure.

The ‘Mid America’ and denim scenes were rather bland and could have benefited from more diversity and accessories but the geek chic scene was spot on, with heavy, black rimmed glasses and nervous, awkward expressions to compliment the buttoned up shirts and prim blouses.

This season Cabot Circus have gone for quality over quantity and while merging both shows might have been a little too long for the average shopper, it would have been great to see more trends per show without having to come back at a later time. However this did give us the opportunity to explore more of the offers and talks within the ‘fashion and beauty playground’ in neighbouring Quakers Friars.

If you want to be part of the action then head down today or tomorrow for catwalk shows, competitions and talks – all for free! For more info and show times, click here.

Nautical but nice: models show of their moves in this season's cream and navy combo

'Mid America' look from Guess, Republic and Urban Outfitters

The men were kept in the loop with the 'Mid America' look from Guess, Republic and Urban Outfitters

Monsoon and Ted Baker

Bold colours and patterns characterise the floral trend, courtesy of Monsoon and Ted Baker

Clear blue skies provide the perfect accompaniment to the florals scene

Urban Outfitters show how to do the new 'Boho Chic'

Urban Outfitters show how to do the new 'Boho Chic' with cut-off denim, floral prints and leather ankle boots

Double denim from Zara, Next, Reiss and Dorothy Perkins

Models get the double denim treatment from Zara, Next, Reiss and Dorothy Perkins

'Beauty and the Geek' fashion for guys and girls

Peaches and cream: 'Beauty and the Geek' for guys and girls. Accessorise with heavy black rimmed glasses

Ted Baker, Fred Perry and A Wear tackle geek chic

Ted Baker, Fred Perry and A Wear tackle geek chic with checked shirts and demure blouses

Military looks by House of Fraser

Military looks by House of Fraser


Filed under A Wear, Cabot Circus, catwalk show, River Island, Ted Baker, Urban Outfitters

>When Ship-Shape Met Sketchbook…

>I’ve just come back from a fantastically sunny day trip to London, and have managed to fit in plenty of stylish sightseeing in, as well as enjoying a girls day out with some old friends. Sights to see included a trip to Selfridges for the The Girls, Paper Eaters exhibition and the ‘for sale’ wall by Supermarket Sarah.

First stop though, was a visit to the pop-up ‘shop’ by Sketchbook Magazine for a talk by Amelia Gregory. Amelia is the creator of the visual feast that is Amelia’s Magazine, a bi-annual publication that ran in print from 2004 to 2009, and now takes the form of a website and blog.

Sketchbook are in week three of a four week run of lectures, workshops, sample sales and exhibitions, in their shop just off Carnaby Street. This week the exhibition was the cover illustrations by the gifted John-Paul Thurlow, whose work featured on the most recent cover of Sketchbook – The Fashion Blogger Issue.

As we were ushered downstairs to take our seats I felt all eyes were assessing the competition: the young, fashionable elite have been attending talks like this and with our leather jackets and chunky knit jumpers, we are all competing for a place in the fashion magazine industry.

After everyone had taken their seats Amelia introduced herself and talked at length and speed about the history of Amelia’s Magazine and her ideas for the future. She provided tips on how to get ahead within the magazine and business industries and inspired everyone with the answers to her questions (though unfortunately it seems well placed connections are the be-all and end-all in this industry).

After wondering around Carnaby Street and taking an obligatory trip to the haberdashery department in Libertys, I took a trip to Selefridges to see the Paper Eaters exhibition. Andrea Blood and Zoe Sinclair are The Girls, the artistic duo behind the exhibition, The Paper Eaters: Long Live The Photo-Story! and they have covered Selfridges Ultralounge in homage to paper. Old typewriters, paper lanterns, neon pink netting and paper dolls adorned the the walls and as I wondered through the maze of magazines and hanging installations an editorial meeting was taking place.

It felt like the whole city was alive with creativity and style today and as we rounded the trip off with a trip to Portobello Market I couldn’t help craving one of the little coloured terraced houses to call home. The quirky jewelery, vintage and antique shops could easily swallow up a month’s wages and the chilled out vibe was the perfect accompaniment to a summery afternoon. I wish my trips to London were so few and far between but know that now I’m home I’ll have to take solace in the colourful terraced houses of Bristol, and of course the cider, which really is the perfect accompaniment to a sunny afternoon!

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Filed under fashion magazines, Liberty London Girl, Selfridges, Supermarket Sarah

>Something for the weekend…

This weekend sees the return of the Cabot Circus Fashion Show which I had the fortune of attending last September. The host of events taking place throughout Cabot and Quakers Friar are free to all visitors, with competitions, makeovers and catwalk shows taking place across Friday 16th and Saturday 17th April.

Cabot Circus has only been open for 18 months but it has already made its mark on the South West fashion scene, with high profile stores such as Harvey Nichols, American Apparel and Kurt Geiger taking their place alongside the usual high street suspects such as Oasis, Next, Topshop and House of Fraser.

The A/W anniversary show was fantastic fun and I’ll be taking my new camera down to capture the action. If you’re still unsure of what you should be wearing this Spring or just fancy a fun afternoon and lots of discounts and goodies then check out the Cabot Circus website for show times and details. To read the Ship-Shape post on the last Cabot Circus show then click here.

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Filed under Cabot Circus, catwalk show, high street

>Birthday Treat

>My 25th birthday is coming up and this Saturday I’m going to a electro-swing/jazz/circus/burlesque night at The Island which, once upon a time, used to be an old fire station in Broadmead. The night promises to be full of fishnets and top hats and as an early birthday present M has treated me to a new dress for the occasion.

This cream lace shift dress comes from A Wear, a fantastic brand that started in Ireland and is now at Cabot Circus. Some items can be a bit hit and miss but there are some hidden gems such as this dress, that always draw me in to the store.

As well as black fishnet stockings and gold tap shoes, I’ll be pairing the dress with an over-sized black bow necklace from American brand Hot Topic, and a black tux with tails from Topshop Boutique, circa 2008.

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Filed under A Wear, Broadmead, Cabot Circus, Hot Topic, Topshop