Monthly Archives: April 2012

Is it time to rent your next dress?

Ever had the feeling when you delve through your wardrobe before a night out and can’t find anything that feels right or fits the occasion? Of course you have and us women (and I’m sure men feel the same) seem to be in a continual search for the perfect outfit, hairstyle or look.

Luckily for us if your bank balance isn’t set up to pay for a new dress every time you feel indecisive there is an answer on hand, and that’s to borrow. Of course if you’ve got willing housemates or friends they are a good place to start but if you’re not the same size as those around you and want something a little different and a little more designer then why not hire from an agency?

One such place is That-Dress which promises to take the stress out of shopping and end the eternal question of “What should I wear?” And from the surface it looks like an easy solution for the time short and fashion hungry. Whether it’s a wedding, drinks reception or a special Birthday – if you’re not prepared to cough up for a brand new label then it’s worth trying out.

Although it’s not been around for long, That-Dress has an impressive range of outfits to choose from. At the moment most are Italian-inspired and there are all the names you’d expect – Versace, D&G, Diane Von Furstenburg – and several new designers such as Ophelia is Lost and Narciss. Prices start from around £28 per dress and seeing as most of these dresses cost at least £300 to buy new, it’s a brilliant way to always be wearing something different without running up massive debts in the process.

So you pick a dress from the website, pay for it, and in no time at all (around 12 hours) it’ll be couriered over to your desk. The day after you can pop it back in the enclosed pre-paid packaging and return. If it arrives and it doesn’t fit you’ll be refunded the price and there’s instant help – via phone, email or instant messenger – if you need any advice about sizes and what to wear.

As well as an impressive range of dresses there’s also all the extras you know you’ll need – such as fashion tape, ballet pumps, handmade jewellery and tights – so you’re all set for the perfect outfit.

That-Dress is not the only site around for dress hire but it’s quite an easy one to navigate through and most of the dresses on offer come in sizes 8-14. It’s up to you how you use the site – either through renting a one-off dress or if you get into it, becoming a member and renting a few a month (which works out cheaper per dress).

There are also a lot of extras, such as discounts and points to collect for renting which can be redeemed off the price. Jon Hammond, the director, has also arranged events for members to meet new designers, including an evening with Alise Trautmane who recently won the Baltic Fashion Federation designer of the year for the second consecutive year.

Hammond says renting is the “ultimate recession chic” and an answer for all those people in search of something new to wear without the endless budget to do so. You can also get £15 off the first dress you hire with the code ‘welcome’ at the checkout.

“For the same price as a dress from H&M or Topshop you can have a Versace cocktail dress for the night, it’s no secret celebrities ‘borrow’ designer dresses for big events, and men hire dinner suits and morning suits, so why shouldn’t women be doing the same thing?” argues Hammond.

“This way you have access to a constantly evolving wardrobe of beautiful designer dresses to hire, at a fraction of the retail cost. It’s ‘our little secret’ and there’s one for every occasion,” he adds.

This article was originally written for Who’s Jack.

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The Jugged Hare

The line between gastropub, plain old pub and fancy restaurant has become very blurred lately. Attaching the ‘gastropub’ label onto an ordinary looking pub usually means an excuse to rack up the prices while luring in unassuming diners who were looking for some pub grub.

Well pub grub is certainly not what you’ll find at The Jugged Hare and despite the slightly haughty atmosphere and higher-than-average prices the food is well-presented and most importantly it tastes good.

This is the 10th in a line of gastropubs owned by Tom and Ed Martin and it’s clear to see they know what they’re doing. Walk in through the main entrance and you’ll be met by crowds of local workers enjoying the impressive drinks menu. It’s got its own ‘by the glass’ machine creating seasonal wines from local producers and if you’re indecisive, go for the wine flight – you get three glasses of seasonally picked out wines for £10. If wine’s not your thing try the Jugged Hare pale ale, brewed in conjunction with Sambrook’s brewery in Battersea.

If you’re peckish, or you’ve booked a table (recommended for most evenings), walk through the crowds towards the smell of meat and you’ll reach the restaurant area where an open kitchen takes centre stage. For those of you who enjoy watching cookery programs you’ve come to the right place. Here you can stare at the chefs to your heart’s content and watch them popping out intricate looking meals, but a warning – it’s no fun for fellow diners if you spend the meal commenting on events in the kitchen which they can’t see.

For people who find it hard to say no to a starter (like me) you won’t be disappointed and I went for the honey roast kiln salmon (£8) while my friend had the diver king scallops gratin (£9.50) with a creamy sauce to melt any fish-haters heart.

The food available is all local, organically sourced (fish from Billingsgate Market) and what you might expect really and there’s a different meat available everyday from the spit roast and some hefty steaks on offer. Most of the main meals are around £17 but you do pay for what you get and the meals are fresh, delicious and perfectly matched with the sides (although you have to pay extra for these).

Greedily I also tucked into a pudding and despite being a bit of a connoisseur in this sector, the lemon junket (light mouse) with blood orange jelly is one of the best fruity treats I’ve ever eaten – and an ideal way to end a heavy meal. It’s light, airy and sweet enough to make you feel light you’ve been transported to some kind of magical land but doesn’t leave you feeling like you need a root canal.

Downstairs there are more tables and it would be a good place for a group meal such as a birthday and once you’ve gorged on the meaty feast the bar is perfectly situated to finish off your night.

This review was originally written for Who’s Jack.

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