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STYLE FILE Bristol stylist Harriet de Winton talks wedding outfits


he ‘wedding season’ is less of a season, more of an all year, all weather pursuit. Venues have taken to luring couples in their cooler months with (slightly) more reasonable prices, and this has thrown the wedding guest wardrobe conundrum wide open: the fail safe sun dress won’t cut it for a winter wonderland wedding. The average UK wedding guest spends an eye watering £350 per wedding, on their outfit, travel, accommodation, gift, and at the bar on the day. Yet some of the best weddings I have been to have been on a tight budget and brilliantly creative, so why shouldn't a guest also take this approach? With this in mind, I decided my Style File wedding outfit needed to be high quality, unique and, most importantly, affordable. To add pressure to the brief I decided to find something for my mum, Barbara, too. Bristol is home to a new breed of retailer: the pre-loved designerwear boutique. A favourite of mine is Rag Trade on Upper Maudlin Street near the Christmas Steps. Owner Alison tells me Rag Trade is “a treasure chest of preloved fashion clothing and accessories. With the option to buy, sell and trade it’s a great opportunity to recycle items – guilt free free retail therapy.” The cut, the stitching and fabrics of Rag Trade’s garments well exceed their price tag, and I find that the donated one-of-a-kind items fulfill my brief of finding pieces that no other guest will have. But there is a limit on size and styles. Fortunately Mum and I, both averaging size 10/12, had lots of choice and in the end I settled on an orange Full Circle dress. Mum completely stole the show with a stunning black Masato dress, unworn with original shop tags intact. She also got some beautiful black patent Jigsaw shoes. The shop stocks, clothes, handbags, shoes and accessories including hats, scarves and jewellery,

so there is a high probability of buying a complete outfit there. “I get a real mixture of customers,” says Alison. “We keep a cross section of clothes, so you can shop for everyday wear and also for events such as weddings, proms and the races. I have well over 2000 clients recycling with me now so I get a great selection of items… and one of the things I love is never knowing quite what is going to come out of the next bag. One item that sticks in my mind was an amazing ball dress that a client had bought to wear to a ball at Highgrove, then brought it in to Rag Trade to allow someone else to love it and wear to an event. It was with a rainbow of colours and a huge netted skirt, and it actually stopped traffic when it was in the shop window.” And why not sort spring clean your wardrobe in the process of looking for a new outfit? “Anyone can sell in the shop, but they do need to book an appointment to drop their items off,” says Alison, “so either ring or email to book a slot.” For more information, have a look at the web site: As Mum and I had both chosen relatively simple dresses, we could dress them up and down with accessories to give a different look for a variety of occasions. But a wedding outfit wouldn’t be complete without a hat, so we took a quick walk to the Milliner’s Guild in St James’ Arcade to pick out two Tamsyn Brocks designs. Mum chose the iconic Foxglove Button, and I opted for a saucer style with details that matched my orange dress. Admittedly hats are more of an initial expense, but both of these designs can work on any number of simple outfits, bringing the cost per wear right down. I don't know about you but I already have five weddings in the diary for this year, all with a different congregation of guests so I’ll be able to wear my amazing hat to each one!

HARRIET’S TOP TIPS FOR WEDDINGS 1. Choose shoes that you can wear all day and night, or take some flats with you. And remember: stilettos not only sink into grass but are also banned at stately homes, forcing you to wear ugly plastic heel covers. 2. Going vintage is a good way of avoiding that awkward ‘same-dress’ situation. As well as rummaging through a variety of vintage and charity shops on the high street, there are also a number of good online retailers. 3. Clutch bags are pretty and look elegant, but always get one with a shoulder strap so that you can

hold it during the day, then put it over your shoulder to dance the night away later on. This way you can keep it out of the way without having to dance around it.

with your accessories instead, whether it’s a bright hat, clutch or jewellery. You’ll feel comfortable and look slimmer, which never hurts after a sizeable wedding breakfast.

4. It’s not always possible, but if you can find out what colour the bridesmaids are wearing – nothing will make you feel more awkward than looking like you are trying to be one of them but didn’t get asked!

For behind the scenes pictures of the shoot and to find some of Harriet’s popular Fashion Fixes, visit:

5. Be cautious when accessorising. Weddings are a great opportunity to work a statement piece like a hat, but let that take centre stage and hold back in other areas. You don’t need a necklace, earrings and bracelet too. 6. Don’t rule out black for a wedding. The LBD is a girl’s best friend and it is easy to add colour



1. Abigale Dress, £49 from Hobbs, Cabot Circus. 2. Rosario Pretty Ballerinas, £108 from Maze, Clifton Village. 3. Rivington Chain Clutch, £75 from Whistles, Cabot Circus. 4. Fiorella feather fascinator, £29 from Accessorize.




Do you have a wardrobe worry that Harriet could help with?

Email her at, and we might publish her answer MAY 2015



Profile for MC Publishing Limited

The Bristol Magazine May 2015  

The Bristol Magazine May 2015  

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