Equa Blog - News, Views and Ethical Styling...

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Style Tips - 2009's top Christmas party dress trend!

It's nearly November ladies, and that means only one thing - Christmas! Yay. We love this time of year. Of course, it's a season all about giving and we love planning the perfect gifts to buy for everyone. But there's definitely one self-indulgent highlight in the season - finding the perfect Christmas party dress of course! We don't know about you, but we're seeing Christmas party banners up in bars and restaurants already and we're dying to get glammed up.

2009 has been a fashion homage to the opulent Eighties, with the comeback of numerous Eighties trends, from outsized bows to towering platform heels to sequins scattered over everything we can get away with. Keep fashion's current penchant for excessive details, playful silhouettes and vivid colours in mind when picking out your dress for the season's Christmas celebrations. It's definitely the hottest look of the year.

Pair overly-girly Eighties-style dresses with tough ankle boots to epitomise this season's catwalk looks. Go body-con and channel Christophe Decarnin's models at Balmain, or choose a prom shape in a mini length like ones seen at Luella. Either way, check the dress from every angle, and think what accessories you would complement it with; there's nothing worse than buying a great dress and discovering that nothing in your wardrobe goes with it.

Equa has a host of ethically-made party dresses to pick from. New in is a capsule collection of one-off prom dresses by designer Tara Starlet, who recently starred in BBC3's Blood, Sweat And T-Shirts, exclusively created by Tara just for us. Tufts of taffeta jut out from structured waistlines in perfect party fashion. The feminine, sweetheart, strapless neckline is a modest way to show off some decolletage. The plaid print version of this dress (pictured above) will make an unexpected, yet darling choice for any Christmas party. Play on the dress's femininity by adding some elegant peep toe stilettos or, as suggested above, contrast the dress with some heavy ankle boots.

Blue is not an obvious choice to wear for the festive season, which is usually filled with reds, golds and LBDs. So, why not go against the grain and wow with this electric blue parachute dress by Debbi Little (pictured right)? The recycled parachute silk falls to the knee and comes with a separate net petticoat for masses of volume. In addition to getting our vote, this dress has the celebrity stamp of approval after being worn by style icon Daisy Lowe in The Observer Magazine Ethical Issue.

This bow dress by Sika wouldn't look out of place on Lady Gaga thanks to the huge bow on the shoulder. The amazing detail is balanced out by the simplicity of the rest of the dress, resulting in an offbeat LBD with a twist. This is ideal for those who want to stand out whilst staying true to something classical and elegant. It's available at Equa right now in black or green. By Amiee Mann

See all party dresses at Equa
More from Debbi Little
More from Sika
More from Tara Starlet
The perfect Christmas party shoes
Christmas party clutch bags
More Style Tips

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The ethical Christmas gifts we'd love to get (and give!) this year

Behind the scenes at Equa we're getting ready for the Christmas season. We love creating our festive shop window, coming up with our instore treats (mulled wine, anyone?) and displaying our top ethical gift picks. Islington looks so magical at Christmas, especially Camden Passage where we're located.

We make a special effort to capture that Christmas magic online too, at both our online shop and on this blog, where we will be highlighting our best gift ideas and running a special Christmas competition (watch this space). We couldn't help ourselves this week, what with so many lovely new season pieces arriving on the shop floor. We just had to pick the ethical gifts we'd love to find under our eco trees!

Penny Dowling, founder & director
I love the Saffron Winds wash bag made from recycled rice and fish bags from Cambodia. I have an old wash bag that I think was a freebie from a magazine, so I think I deserve a new one! This one has been catching my eye ever since they arrived in store and I'm hoping that I've dropped enough hubbie hints!!

If I don't get that (or maybe even if I do), then my Eternal Creation slippers that I bought three years ago at one of the Fashion Made Fair sample sales are now so threadbare that I don't think they will last much longer. A great classic Christmas gift of a pair of slippers wouldn't go amiss and these Po-Zu Peasy slippers fit the bill for me.

Eva Phillips, sales assistant
Hmm, it's tricky to pick just one as I would love pretty much anything! But I guess if I'd been a very good girl I'd love to receive the Edun Morain sweater. But then again, I would also love any of the Ila candles as I adore scented candles, especially such pretty ones. I can never justify buying them for myself!

Christina Harnois, sales assistant
I would love to receive the Cecilia Hammarborg Mandarin coat because every girl should have a red coat to brighten up those crisp Winter days! This piece would be in my wardrobe for years to come, the quality and elegance of the fabric makes it timeless and the whimsical design would make me feel like a character in a fairytale. Now, who will I find to give it to me...?

Marta Krsteva, sales assistant
Top of my Christmas gift wish list is Kuyichi's Magic dress. I love everything about this dress: the colour, the fabric, the style, the length and the detailing. I'd wear it as a dress and as a top too, with skinny jeans or leggings. Electric blue is such a powerful colour and is my favourite!

Thalia Warren, sales and marketing assistant
Beyond Skin Hendrix vegan ankle boots: This is the kind of gift I would give because I really want them for myself! A vegan friend of mine says she missed leather far more than she misses any food items but I know she would love these gorgeous boots. They are super sexy and very chic. The flash of purple lining gives them a fun edge too. I think the fact they are hemp rather than all over plastic, as many vegan shoes often are, would be appreciated too.

Friday, 16 October 2009

An early Christmas gift from Equa to you - free postage on all orders

Are you bored by the postal strike? Us too. Waiting for goodies to arrive in the post is like waiting for Christmas to happen as a child; agonisingly painful, though worth the wait of course when those gorgeous parcels arrive.

To take a little pain out of shopping online we're offering free delivery worldwide on all items until the end of October. Now at least you're not footing the postage bill for those new on-season purple Monkey Genes sateen skinny trousers, best-selling Veja volley trainers or delectable Made Hayley Mardon Rhombus necklace. Or on any items that you just have to have right now, for that matter!

We know you love to save the pennies too, where you can, without skimping on the quality of what goes in your wardrobe or course. Free delivery on all orders is one perfect way to help you do that. Consider it an early Christmas gift from Equa to you!

In store right now, our stylists are going ga-ga for winter warmers. It must be the nip in the air this week. The conversation has turned to coats and knitwear (check out People Tree's snuggly cable cowl jumper), especially with the arrival this week of this glorious Mandarin coat in a striking red from young designer Cecilia Hammarborg's capsule Black River Falls collection, launched at London Fashion Week. Against a grey autumn day, it can't help to lift the spirits.

Made in London using Italian wool, this swing coat has a high collar and puff shoulders and is fully lined. With front seam pockets the coat fastens at the front with four covered buttons. But here's the most gorgeous touch; the tailored front is offset with wide pleats at the back, so beautifully made that we just had to show you in the picture here. The whole coat has a Sixties feel to it, don't you think? It's a great quality investment piece, at £245, that will last for many winter seasons to come.

Cecilia Hammarborg is a new talent to watch. Her signature style is the combination of sharp tailoring and immaculate cutting with slightly unexpected feminine fluidity, such as sharply waisted coats with full skirts for example. It's a blend of sharp and soft. Hammarborg's 'birdgun' logo is a case in point - cute little birdie with a revolver head. Need we say more!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Jeans alert! £50 Monkee Genes arrive, plus how to find a pair to flatter your shape

Great news for fans of good old faithful jeans this week - and doesn't that just about include all of us?! We've taken our first delivery of Monkee Genes, the ethical jeans brand that won't bust the bank. A pair of Monkee Genes jeans is comparable in price to Topshop or Gap jeans, retailing at about £50, but the cut and quality of the fabric suggests a far more expensive pair. Hurrah!

If you haven't heard of Monkee Genes, they're a UK brand, born in 2006 out of a desire to perk up the jeans market and bring more fashion-forward styling to ethical denim especially. Now carrying the Soil Association organic standard, which ensures that no pesticides or chemicals are used in the making of the cotton, Monkee Genes are made in factories where working standards are vetted.

We're stocking two Monkee Genes styles; the organic cotton sateen trouser in purple or slate (black will be arriving soon), and the super skinny high-rise organic cotton jean in inky blue. The Monkee Genes brand patch that you see on the picture here, on the back of the jean, is detachable.

Perhaps the best news, apart from each pair retailing at just £50, is that Monkee Genes contain Lycra, which makes for a great fit. The number one style tip for choosing jeans is to find a pair that flatters your shape, rather than slavishly following a jeans trend that just doesn't work for you. A little bit of Lycra certainly makes for a better fitting, and more comfortable jean.

To celebrate the arrival of Monkee Genes, and help you find a pair that flatters, we've asked GreenmyLIFEstyle fashion stylist Zoe Robinson for her top tips. Zoe says:

1. Cut
Don't hide your figure buy wearing over-sized, baggy jeans - they will only make you appear larger than you really are. If you're conscious of your hips or thighs wear boot-cut or slightly flared jeans to create balance. If you really want to wear skinny jeans, team with heeled knee-high boots to create a longer, leaner look. If you're worried about your tummy, opt for a mid or high-rise jean with stretch rather than a true hipster. Go for a cut that suits your shape and not what's in fashion this week.

2. Length
Make sure jeans are the right length - too long and they'll bunch up and look scruffy, too short and you'll look dated and your legs will appear shorter (which may have the effect of broadening your bum). Take your favourite boots or shoes with you when you try your jeans to find the perfect length - they should sit on your foot. If jeans are always too long for you and you can't get your size, have them taken up - it will only cost a few pounds but will make a big difference

3. Pockets
The eyes focus on them so well-placed pockets on the back of jeans can be very flattering. Large pockets will make your bum and hips appear narrower but if they're too small they will make your bottom look broader. Make sure pockets sit high enough on your bum, if they are too low your bottom will appear to sag. Also check the direction of the pockets - if the bottom of the pocket is angled out towards the hips this will accentuate the curve of your hip - great if your hips are narrow there but if you want to streamline your curves go for pockets that point slightly inwards.

4. Colour
It's an obvious one that dark denim has a slimming effect. Whatever the colour the jeans are, if they are lighter in certain areas, that will highlight those areas on you. If you are sensitive about large thighs or bottom, don't go for jeans that are lighter or bleached out in those areas, but if you have a tiny bottom and want to create the illusion of curves go for it!

5. Cost
Jeans are an investment so it's worth spending a little extra to find the perfect pair. They'll be a key piece in your wardrobe and should last for years.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Fashion Focus: Outsider launches at Equa

A key fashion story for Autumn / Winter 2009 is flexible dressing, or in other words, items that are as lovely to wear both day and night, styled modestly or glammed to the max.

At Equa, we like to think that this trend is a response to smart, style-savvy women no longer wanting to build a clothes mountain at home, much of which will rarely get worn. Instead, seriously stylish women would rather invest in fewer pieces that are more versatile and better quality.

It's no longer stylish to splash the cash on disposable fast fashion. Buying something so high fashion it's out of fashion before its out of the bag, and poorly made in an exploitative way, is not something to brag about amongst friends!

More and more of our customers have been coming to us looking for simple, chic separates that they can wear to the office or to an evening event and that will transcend the seasons. We think we've found the perfect wardrobe solution in Outsider, a brand new collection just arrived at our Islington boutique and online this month.

The designer behind Outsider is Noorin Khamisani. Noorin has worked for big fashion brands and has seen first-hand what happens to quality and ethics when ranges are mass-produced and slavish to fashion fads.

For Autumn / Winter 09, her first season, Noorin has created pieces which are elegant and timelessly stylish, from the divinely sculpted pencil skirt with drape pockets (pictured) to the delicate circle pleat neck dress.

Fabrics are environmentally-friendly, mainly organic cotton, linen and hemp/silk, where possible sourced locally to the factory in which the garments are made. The largely monochrome colour palette makes mix-and-matching a doddle, and keeps the pieces relevant into the evening.

Noorin says: “For AW09 we have been studying icy landscapes, the simplicity of line and colour. We have created a collection of new classics. Pleated detailing and shiny hemp/silk fabrics come together to make a range of versatile feminine apparel. Focusing on using sustainable fabrics with great drape and hand-feel – we know you will feel even better wearing our garments safe in the knowledge that these are fashion, people and planet conscious.

"Our designs are inspired by clothes that have been in our wardrobes for years - because true style is timeless, not transient and throwaway. We design versatile day-to-evening pieces that are made to the highest quality and designed to last and be loved. They are simple pieces that fit in easily, but they can also be styled to look individual."

Outsider manufactures its collection in India at a factory which the team has visited on several occasions and they have a trusted and open relationship with the factory owner. Working conditions are very important and they ensure the working hours and conditions are of a fair and high standard. There is no child or slave labour.

We can see from the interest in the Outsider range in its first days with us that it's hitting the spot for you. Our advice, if you see a piece you love, snap it up quickly!

Shop the current Outsider collection at Equa now