Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Trends on Wednesday: First Resort

A Chic Cheat first look at the treats and trends that await from the 2014 Resort crop, and what a promising confection it is!  Handicrafts, crocheting and needlepoint are tipped to be particularly DIY-friendly highlights. Nautical chic is among the returning key looks of the season, while crop tops are to be reinvented with clever layering and a loose drape. Your new luxury material of the season will be suede (faux or otherwise - we won't tell if you don't!) and floral prints will be big and tropical. This list leaves me with one last look: The netting trend, which sees 3.1 Phillip Lim and Stella McCartney giving sumptuous fabrics a new dimension with mesh panelling and lace, respectively.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Trends on Wednesday: Wear are they now?

In fashion, keeping ahead of the curve is paramount; it doesn't take a fashion insider from the clandestine depths of Dolce's atelier to tell you that fashion is frenetically paced and in constant flux. Trends are the prerogative of fashion's intellectuals to theorise on its meaning, its visual language and the paradigms that culminate therein, while the financiers are surely just happy to see them keep the tills ringing. Here at Chic Cheat, however, I take a different view. I don't dispose, move on and restart, I adapt. First of all, my clothes are of sentimental value and I can't bring myself to throw away a single one, despite the fact that my wardrobe probably will explode some day. Secondly, I thought that in case you're wondering what to do with last year's neon satchel or a scarf print dress, I'd offer a money and conscience saving solution. I've taken three of last year's biggest trends and thrown in some tasty tricks for taking them into 2013.

Scarf Prints

Update your scarf by: If you fancy your chances as a seamstress you could attempt some bang-on-trend harem pants, shorts or a one-shoulder top. If the thought of cranking out one of those intimidates you and/or you just want something a bit more distinctive than its 2012 predecessors create some illusions by wrapping your scarf around a maxi dress or sew it across the shoulders of a top.

Bold Food Prints

Update your foodie fashion by: Teaming it with bright colours and fruit motifs. This is a vibrant, fun trend so think quirky accessories and clever use of colour to set it apart from the Class Of 2012.


Make them Bright On Trend by: Colour combinations are key here. Last year it was about pops of brilliant fluorescent tones whereas this year it's about depth of palate, which is achievable by mixing similar colours (neon yellow with lemon; orange with coral; pink with berry hues; green with peppermint) and enhancing it with a single contrasting colour, such as black, for a striking, considered look.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Trends on Thursday: Pyramid styling

As the polygon jewellery trend started in 2012, so it goes on with triangular earrings. It's logical enough as the next juncture on a theme which includes symmetrical geometric photo collages and runic spiky lettering. It's also dead easy to copy with my homespun favourite that is picture hanging wire. You can coat it with polymer clay and paint it with Fimo's gold powder it you want it to look like the real McCoy; you can detail it with tiny diamantés by super gluing them in place; you can glue some pyramid studs to some earring fastenings. I'll probably run a few basic tutorials in the not-too-distant future to give you the specifics but, until then, let this collage inspire you to spike up your life with some pretty pyramid details.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Bedroom Bonuses: 2 Sticky Tape

Part two of our hidden DIY treasures series takes you to the stationery drawer with the multi purpose essential that is sticky tape. With statement sunglasses a summer staple for 2013, it was Ray Ban’s Mondrian-esque take on their trademark square shades that captured my imagination and inspired the tutorial for this entry.
Henry Holland astutely pointed out that sunglasses cost a fraction of the price of shoes and handbags, yet make as big an impression. Of course, the Chic Cheat approach is to do everything on the cheap but it works out even cheaper to use and recycle items you already own, as is the case with this DIY exercise. So, how can the lazy repairer’s adhesive of choice create a meticulous masterpiece? Read on…


Pretty Easy

I’d say this tutorial required care rather than skill. Rush it and it won’t work but take care and it will pay off. Mistakes are also generally easy to rectify.


1 ½ - 2 hours (tops).

Total Cost

If you don’t already own clear sunglasses and the right coloured nail polish, I found the former at H&M for £4.99. The latter you can get for as little as £1 per colour but you may need to sniff around markets and look at kits from cheap shops to get the best deals.

They're unlikely to set you back £70 like the originals do – on sale!

You will need

Nifty shades of Ray Ban

Cut your sticky tape to cover up the lenses and areas on the frames that you don’t want to paint.

Paint your orange and yellow areas (or whichever other colours you want to use if you’re making a different version).

After the nail polish has dried, remove the sticky tape from your frames but not from the lenses just yet. Outline your orange and yellow areas in black, applying your nail polish with a cocktail stick.

Once the black outlines have become tacky, use your fingernails to tidy them up along the outside edges.

Fix your design by applying a protective coat of clear nail polish all over the frames. When it has dried, remove the sticky tape from your lenses.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Trends on Wednesday: Having it collage

Get in the mix (& match) with colour clash and contrasting fabrics.

Extending on last autumn's huge contrasting sleeved jacket trend, designers are experimentally combining fabrics as well as pattern, with scarf prints on tweed at Roberto Cavalli and tartan with leather at Preen, to name but two. The lesson? Think before you throw those clothes away; mix up the sleeves of an old biker jacket with a denim one; bondaweb a vintage scarf to a pencil skirt, for an artistic edge; cut similarly sized pairs of trousers apart at the seams and fix up a new design of kaleidoscopic colour clash. As with the celebrated culinary principle that the best, most creative chefs mix experimental combinations, just the nature of the looks you choose to combine can create a unique, stand-out statement. Be warned, however, that it takes a degree of experience and aesthetic sense to make sure your new garment is more fabulous and less Frankenstein!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Art in a Cage: How to DIY Dolce & Gabbana's Rose Cage Sandals

A DIY proving that a pair of customised gold sandals luxe the part!

You will need...


Gold enamel paint

A palette knife

A scalpel

Long-nosed pliers

Masking tape

  • Your sandals need to have narrow heels, and the separate heel tips you use need to be substantially wider.
  • You can either use red, white and green polymer clay (about £2 each - prices may vary)

You can buy rose beads here and green trim here - and paint some of the beads red with nail polish which still makes it a massive time-saver compared with sculpting

You're welcome but don't thank me, thank my own (slightly bitter) experience. Trust me, it all makes sense in context...


Pretty easy until the end

All will be revealed if you read on. The most straightforward way of putting it at this stage would be to say that it's all about sticking things together with a fiddly bit right at the end, as it all comes together.


Mine took about 5 hours but in this entry I'll be suggesting some time-saving alternatives that should cut that right down and possibly even halve it. I did learn a lot from making the shoes and the awesome thing about being an experienced DIY blogger is that something doesn't have to go completely pear-shaped for you to learn something!

Total cost

Hard to say, bearing in mind all the alternatives I've given, but if you were to use the beads and trim it would come to about £21 (not including the tools) and slightly more if you were to use the polymer clay. I say slightly more, it'd still be a substantial saving - the originals come to exactly £1485 but there's free shipping so, you know, every cloud...

Cage the elegance...

Referring closely to the instructions provided, as I'm sure you will, mix up some body filler. The set comes with a tube of filler and a small sachet of hardener with a screw top. Mix a drop of hardener - by which I mean literally a drop, about the size of a sewing pin head - with a blob of filler about as wide as a £2 coin. Those sort of proportions should give you an idea of how powerful and highly concentrated the hardener is but don't mix too much as it dries within minutes.

Make sure both your sandal heels are right in the middle of your heel tips and use the body filler to secure them in place.


Use your polymer clay and scalpel to sculpt some roses, curled stems and leaves...


...Cut your trim into 2 thin strips with a few "leaves," cut two more green "leaf" clusters, paint some of your roses with red nail polish and attach a few of them to your trim like the examples above, again, using the body filler. Just to reiterate, use it sparingly because it dries extremely quickly. Paint all your body filler gold.

Wind your "stems and leaves" around the heels and attach them, plus the rest of your roses to your heels and toes (mostly the heels - the toes just need small clusters).

Attach your wire at the heels, starting at the bottom, bending it towards the centre and securing it in place. Curl your wires at the top and stick them in place with masking tape as you go along.

After you have stuck your pieces in place, stick your top pieces in place.

From Dolcis to Dolce

Who said the '90s didn't leave us plenty for the future!?

Friday, 5 July 2013

Bedroom Bonuses: 1 Nail Polish

I just thought I'd write this entry as a friendly acknowledgement that you may or may not own certain of my favourite DIY staples, such as a patternmaster, professional tailoring scissors and wood carving knives, which tend to add a fair bit more money to the total cost; I thought I'd surprise you by letting you know that the black nail polish you've got idly kicking around and a pair of clear sunglasses (available online here and here at the time of publication) are all you need. It also helps to have some clear nail varnish as a protector and fixative.

Chic Cheat is currently coveting:

A clear yellow pair is recommended for this one. Simply paint on some black leopard spots and fix with some clear nail polish.

Chic Cheat's Ray Ban vision: Take a pair of plain sunglasses, paint some thin stripes in red and yellow so that they're translucent, add some opaque black borders and finish them with a coat of transparent nail polish.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Trends on Wednesday: Africa Remixed

L'Afrique c'est chic!

In fashion, there are trends, stand-out moments and statements which go on to become iconic of their native decade and then there are fads - recurring sartorial themes which resonate fairly blatantly throughout the lookbooks of the high street retailers, and of designers to some extent. Tribal prints, for instance, have become a staple of the summer holiday season in recent years, as well as colour clash and those ever-recurring animal prints. So then, what to do to make 2013's tribal and animal patterned offerings stand out? Throw in some acid brights, of course! And to get in the contemporary tribal mix? Be clear and strategic as to how you can pull of clashing prints in a stylish way - which colours go well together and which patterns intertwine without confusing the eye. Also, put a typically 2013 stamp on your look by finishing it with a shock of brilliant neon.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Make your Marc – How to DIY a Marc Jacobs Stardust iPad Case

A case of Branding 101 for crafty technophiles


Not wanting to give the ending away, the acquisition of a new tablet coupled with a need to celebrate the pleasure and convenience of using one inspired me to create a glamorous new home for it. The Marc Jacobs Stardust iPad case took the cake and not just because the brilliant neon and soft, squishy shapes meant it looked good enough to eat! No, it was the dandy digital-look logo pattern that recalled perhaps the only key 90s trend that 2013 fashion hasn’t yet referenced: The art of conspicuous branding.

The best example of the decade that I can remember? Once upon a time Victoria Beckham was seen as “Quiet, Aloof Spice” in the background (commonly shortened to “Posh”), while Mel “Sporty Spice” C ruled the roost in terms of fashion influence; she inspired a ubiquitous teen and pre-teen uniform of Adidas tracksuit bottoms – in particular, the ones with the random panelling across the mid-calves that made them look as if they had been shoddily lengthened rather than aesthetically intended. Their respective means of sartorial influence were completely different: People dress “Posh” now because of the clothes she is photographed wearing, people dressed sportily then because they already had been for the past half-decade or so. It was an auspicious time for Ms. C because it was all about the logos!

As a less nouveau riche, more sane person I would say label fetishes are among the fads best left in the past (along with cheesy, formulaic pop bands, but that’s another story!) unless they entail rewriting the logo in a novel, artistic way. Then, the logo doesn’t become the sole, stand-out design feature, rather a new design is incorporated into the branding, rendering the final product a bit less naff (yes, that’s a good 90s word, too!).

So, while that concludes my presentation on why I just kinda felt like replicating the Marc by Marc Jacobs Stardust case, keep the word “branding” in mind…

You will need

Also, all-purpose scissors and some means of tracing onto faux leather are a must, like a gel pen and…

A thin tea towel for ironing

The adhesive letters I used can be purchased here


Very Easy

That’s all there is to say. Also, it helps if you like ironing.


Okay, confession time: After 8 exhausting hours of trial and error, I finally came up with the solution. It then emerged that I didn’t have enough faux leather to complete the cover so this tutorial’s all about the tried-and-tested process.

I’d estimate it as being about 1- 1 ½ hours and easily doable in an evening.

Press on…

Use your iPad/tablet/laptop case to trace out the area needed to cover each side. Cut your pieces out.

Arrange your design using the letters M,A,R,C,B,Y,J, O and S. You might want to throw some star shapes into the mix if you have any appropriately-sized ones. Above is a single letter for demonstration purposes (see “Time” section).

Completely cover your material with your tea towel and iron over it for about 1 ½ - 2 minutes, pressing as hard as you can. The temperature can be a delicate balance to strike - synthetic fabrics burn and melt very easily but too low a heat won’t do the job properly. I’d recommend a two-dot setting on your iron or an equivalent setting (about ¾ of the way along) but I’d also strongly advise experimenting on some scrap first to avoid accidents. This technique fixes your letters in place permanently, even after the material cools down. It's also the reason you need to use faux and not real leather.

If you’re not lucky enough to find some faux leather in the colour you want, use some fabric paint (I used Pebeo fluorescent orange which is about £4 per pot). Make sure you use opaque paint for dark material.

Your paint will probably become tacky after it has dried so use a quick spritz of clear lacquer for a smooth, protective finish.

Repeat this process with the other side and craft mount your pieces in place.