Tuesday 23 February 2010


So, this is my final post before the bi-annual holy grail of all things fabulous that is Fashion Week - or rather, before it's over, and Chic Cheat begins its foray into all the new trends.  Worry not, dear readers, for I'm not too far out to sea to know it's already started...and this time, with a new twist in the tale of fashion's ever-unfolding story.  As The Global Herald...erm... heralded, on Saturday in its Google-search-topping article, the "New Digital Era Spells Trouble for Fashion Bloggers". Now far be it for me -being but a humble fashion blogger, myself - to embark on a debate regarding the finer points of semantics, but read the article and I think you'll agree it's not the bloggers facing said trouble, but the journalists and editors who find themselves competing with them.  Hundreds of them.  Thus, the resounding sentiment felt by all those from the official, printed press, was one of concern.   And with the sheer amount, and pace, of media available, it has every reason to be - though I could only guffaw when the author wrote "quite clearly, we can’t go on running out of Danish pastries as a result of the presence of hundreds of bloggers " as if those are going to be the only pies their new-found competitors will be trying to dip their fingers in!

Needless to say, I can't wait to give LFW's gems (whether or not of the Swarovski variety) the Chic Cheat treatment.  But first, as promised, I must hie with haste to my Chic Cheat ode to Balmain's Spring/Summer '10 collection - on the double!



Think I'm going to put this one down as so-so, where level of difficulty is concerned.  It's generally straightforward, but has its moments, namely when it comes to assembling and attaching the epaulettes.


A day or two's work, most of which can involves idle gluing and stitching, and can therefore be done in front of the telly!  Good times!

You will need

The following customising ingredients, available from all good haberdashers.  Here's what I paid for mine, and therefore round about what you should expect to pay for yours.  Prices may vary and could well be significantly more in London:

  • Olive green military-style jacket.  I got mine from H&M, at a cost of £25, and struggled to find anything cheaper.  However, I came across black and navy jackets for about £10 at Primark, so it's worth a look to see if your local branch has one in green.

  • Bead and fabric glue - £1.75 bottle, Creative Beadcraft (www.creativebeadcraft.co.uk , 1 Marshall Street, London W1F 9BA , Tel: 020 7734 1982)

  • Needle and golden brown thread to match gold trims and adornments.

  • 1metre of black fringing, with a drop of 10-15cm

  • Scissors.

  • Sewing machine (optional).

Total Cost

Mine worked out pricey by Chic Cheat standards, owing to how elusive the style of jacket proved to be.  I think it came to about £44, however...

Save It!

...It's better than parting with $9000 (about £5844 if my computer's currency converter is to be believed!) the approximate asking price for one of the originals.  That's a saving of £5800!

And now, to soldier on...

First of all, you need to get the quasi-braided look along the neckline and about 26cm along the middle of each sleeve, starting at the cuff. Glue your gold braided trim to your fabric in the pattern below.  Make your pattern about 4cm wide and copy the following steps:

Now, for the epaulettes.  Cut out two of the following shape in your flat foam wadding and four of the following in gold lamé.

Place your wadding on top of a piece of lamé, in the centre, so that you have 1cm's seam allowance all round.  Then place another piece of lamé on top, mirroring the first, so that the wadding is in the centre.

Stitch the two layers of lamé together, 1cm from the edge, ideally by machine.  You can do it by hand, but make sure it's tight and secure.

Repeat this process with the remaining piece of wadding and two pieces of lamé.

Cut away some of the excess fabric around the edge.

Cut out two sets of 40cm of your fringing and fold them back on each other, so that you have two double-thickness sets of fringe 20cm in length.

Cut out as many 15cm pieces as possible out of your gold and brown leather string. Glue or stitch down at fairly regular intervals along your fringing.

When your glue has dried, stitch the top of your decorated fringing along the wide, round end of each of your epaulettes.

Stitch your gold trim around the edge of each of your epaulettes and over the side of the fringing.

Stitch your epaulettes along the shoulders of your jacket, with the fringing covering the top of the sleeves.

Left-right-left- right- left-and pose-and strut-and exude- and sparkle for the camera, darling- because there's no daily battle you won't be able to face in this simply chic solution!

Charley's Final Thought

Check out Balmain's whole collection, and you'll notice they brought Napoleonic wartime finery into the 21st century with a new take on epaulettes, straying, in some of their catwalk creations, from the confines of bristle and fringe normality to incorporate leather and chains.

Why don't you try....


No need to spend way into the double digits on a whole skin, rather trawl your local leather and suede-monger for gold, bronze or brown offcuts.  Then, simply, patch the leather pieces around your wadding, to cover it, and dangle some strips from the round part.

If you're lucky enough to call London your stomping ground, good places to look are:

JT Batchelor, 9-10 Culford Mews, London, Tel: 020 7254 2962

Alma Leather, 12-14 Greatorex Street, London E1 5NF,Tel: 020 7377 0762

Borovick Fabrics, 16 Berwick Street, London W1F 0HP, Tel: 020-7437-2180

Walter Reginald, Unit 6, 100 the highway, London E1 W2BX. Tel: 020 7481 2233


Even more straightforward, this one.  Invest in a pair of shoulder pads from Klein's for £2.50 (www.kleins.co.uk, 5 Noel Street (in London's Soho)  W1F 8GD , Tel 020 7437 6162 ).

Cover your pads in gold lamé, or leather - you can even use fake leather for this one - and simply stitch some chains to the edge.

You can buy chains in gold and silver by the metre at Hobbycraft.  Find your local store at www.hobbycraft.co.uk

Wednesday 10 February 2010

A Mac Job

Image: Marcio Madeira for Style.com

Your new Burberry-flavoured Chic Cheat tribute, as promised, in my last entry.  A few words I never thought I’d say, and much as I enjoy taking on styles and labels I wouldn’t normally think to choose (namely which don’t entail roses, snakes, studs, skulls, a black and red colour palette and motorbike imagery) Burberry’s new puff-sleeved coat was something of an awakening for me.   The label’s public image took something of a battering when the chavs adopted their trademark check and emblazoned it across their baseball caps - a look we all have Posh (I don’t think so) Spice to thank for!  Ah, cherished memories indeed, but it would appear that bygone era is well and truly over and the label has emerged victorious with a sumptuous line of puff-sleeved coats and macs - and a key look for this season.


I’d call this one medium, myself.  It’s straightforward and reasonably self-explanatory, but putting the various pieces together on the sleeve can be a little on the fiddly side.


About 1-2 days.

Total Cost

Mine set me back about £33.  Veering into the territory of pricey by Chic Cheat standards, but not bad for a mac and…

Save It!

…better than forking out £2,395 for the original!  In fact, that’s more than 70 times the price of the Chic Cheat solution, so you’d be saving yourself a respectable £2,362!

You will Need

  • A coat or mac in beige, that mysterious (-ly sexy) colour also known as buff - or nude, as it’s described on the Burberry original…so  insert your own gag.  For my Chic cheat equivalent I used New Look’s Belted Roll-Sleeve Mac (product number 1812028) priced £30 … and she’s a belter!

  • 1 Metre of matching  beige coated cotton. I was apprehensive about finding this one, but it was Barry’s Fabrics to the rescue (1 Moseley Street, Birmingham, B5 6JX tel: 0121 622 6102)Where I found some for £2.95 per metre.  Good times.

  • Matching thread

  • Ruler

  • Pencil

  • Pins

  • Sewing machine

  • Iron and ironing board

And now, for the ‘Berry thing…

Fold your fabric back and forth on itself, as shown in the diagram, pinning it in place as you go along, until you’ve got a crinkled area 15cm into your fabric.

Cut your crinkled fabric out and repeat this process again.

You should have two areas of crinkled fabric 1m x 15cm.

Tack stitch your crinkles in place several times along your strip of fabric and take the pins out.

Cut along your fabric strips at 33cm intervals, so that you have 6 strips of crinkled fabric, 33cm x 15 cm.

Cut out 6 rectangles of flat fabric, also 33cm by 15cm.

Stitch each of the 6 flat pieces to 6 of the crinkled pieces.  Stitch 1cm from three of the four edges and then trim back the edges.

Press the crinkles in place on your newly sewn rectangular pieces with an iron on maximum heat (unless your fabric is synthetic, in which case you should iron on a much lower heat or with a layer of calico over)

Take your tack stitching out.

Turn your strips inside out so that no raw edges are visible except the unstitched ones.  Don’t worry about these, they will be folded eventually when they are attached to the mac.  Press the edges flat.

Now to attach them to your mac.  I find it helps to put something under the tops of the sleeves, like a hanger, mannequin or a cushion, so that it is easier to construct a three-dimensional shape on top of them.

Look at the following sleeve detail on the original.

Notice the deeply folded strip underneath the two fabric bulges at the back and front. Do this one first.  Place your strip of fabric along the top of the sleeve, as shown in the diagram:

Bend your fabric slightly and pin it about 10cm down the mac sleeve.  Cut away the excess fabric and fold it back on itself at the bottom.  Pin the bottom in place.

Slip-stitch your fabric to the mac along the top and bottom of your strip.

Now for the back piece.  Attach another of your strips of fabric to the top side of your sleeve, again, along the folded edge of your strip of crinkled fabric.

Scrunch the piece of fabric down so that it only comes about 10cm down your sleeve, and bend it around the side of the sleeve as shown in the picture below.  The scrunching should cause it to bulge upwards at the top of the sleeve, too, like it does on the Burberry original.

Finally, the front piece.  Attach another of your strips of fabric to the top side of your sleeve at the front, again, along the folded edge of your strip of crinkled fabric.

Scrunch the piece of fabric down so that it only comes about 10cm down your sleeve, and bend it around the side of the sleeve as before.

Repeat these last three processes on the other side of the garment with the remaining three crinkled strips of fabric.

…And you should be left with something like this:

Who would know you were not stepping out in New Bond Street’s finest?  Only instead, you’ve saved your pennies - now all you need is a rainy day!

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Jacket In!

Spring fashion: What’s got my attention… and what’s got my goat

I’m 25, a quarter of a century, and I’ve only six weeks left before my next birthday which I’m not looking forward to.  Quite aside from the pain of reminding myself that it’s a case of one more year wasted, I’m officially a year older and I've still made less progress in my worthless, paltry existence than a monkey sitting a driving test, my main issue is how out of my control it all is.  Rather than the milestone or rite of passage people credit it to be, age just sort of becomes me, and there’s nothing I can do about it – I wasn’t ready to be a 16-year-old when I turned 16, I wasn’t ready to be a 21-year-old when I turned 21 and now the impending shock of hitting 26 is one that can only be equalled by immersing myself in a vat of freezing water as a 6”rusty nail is jammed into my head, coupled with an electric current of 5000 volts whilst enduring a drip-torturous soundtrack of UK Garage.

Further insult was added to injury when I came across an article called What not to Wear Beyond your Teens , which asserts that anyone aged 20 or older has no sartorial rights to skimpy shorts, midriff-baring tops, miniskirts, “loud” hair accessories, oversized handbags, neon or plastic jewellery, low-cut jeans, slogan t-shirts, high stiletto heels, cleavage on show, sequins and glitter or – my favourite sanction – “dramatic” patterns, lest they should look like mutton dressed as lamb.  Yes, that’s right, kids – stop the press immediately, get Anna Wintour for me on line 1 and send out a red alert to the British Fashion Council.  All these years they have, in fact, been quite mistaken in gearing celebrity-tinged directional trends towards the young professional woman… news reaches us that they’re meant only for those on a minimum wage of £3.60 an hour, who barely even qualify for a basic student debit card and only half of whom are over the age of consent… you heard here first.

With the tone of a pre-menstrual authoritarian headmistress, and a choice of words like; “Enough is enough,” and “tone down the sparkle for more demure attire” this article really is a great read for anyone who wants to dress so far down they make Ann Widdecombe look like Lady Gaga!  My personal howler of choice would be: “(Avoid) Message (and) Slogan T-shirts: Let the teens communicate their angst through slogans, phrases and coloured drawings on their t-shirts. Wearing ‘Kiss Me I’m Irish’ or ‘Blondes Have More Fun’ can err on the side of tacky in your twenties.” …Personally, I wouldn’t agree – I’ve seen guys knocking 40 at rock clubs in T-shirts reading “Dead Girls Don’t Say No” and I think it rather gives the place character!  As regards the article, both narrow and contrived in the choice of examples, how I revel in the irony that the author neglected to mention my Tee slogan of choice: “I’m sorry.  You must think I value your opinion!”

I love my wardrobe full of printed hearts, skulls, tattoos, roses and motorbikes, insane heels, studs, rhinestones, miniskirts, costume jewellery, half shirts, hipsters… and steel cap-toed New Rocks just in case I should have the misfortune of meeting that evil writer!  (Honestly, I’m not violent *adjusts straitjacket*)  I’ve still got one remaining issue with its content, though – my lack of winter clothes…

I’m not short of jeans, long-sleeved tops or jackets, yet I always find myself shivering to the point of convulsion from November through to March without fail, and feeling like the darkest, outer-most reaches of Antarctica are small game in comparison to the science-defying lows of my freezing body temperature!  So I have to wear my coat indoors, which always makes my mum stare in disbelief before adding: “Put on something snug – like a fleece!”  I hate fleeces with a passion.  Fleeces are dull, shapeless and add about 3 stone to your shape.  Fleeces are what ramblers wear with cagoules and wellies to trawl the Outer Hebrides in conditions mankind wasn’t evolved to withstand, or what your mum wears to do the gardening in because she doesn’t want to ruin anything nice!  I wouldn’t de seen dead in one, let alone choose to own one…

…But I definitely would like to get my paws on Balmain’s military jacket and Burberry’s new trench coat (Below)

As if by magic, these hot hot houses have come up with designs which are not only suitable for all ages, but for all weather conditions.  I’d even be prepared to compromise and wear a revolting fleece underneath, so I can brave the winter cold and yet still look spring fabulous.  So, coming to an IP address near you, the Chic Cheat solutions for both.  Stay tuned… and stay beautiful.  Ciao, darlings!

Coming Up: A Mac Job - get the look of the new Burberry Trench Coat!