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Five things that need to change to improve Bedford High Street

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Bedford High Street sign post

There is simply no denying that Bedford High Street is not the shopping destination that it once was. This is not a problem unique to Bedford. Many high streets across Bedfordshire have suffered in the past decade as shopping habits have changed. But of all the high streets across Bedfordshire, Bedford High Street can easily turn the tide of decreasing shoppers. We visited Bedford High Street last week and looked at five things that need to change.

1. A clean street is a happy street

The quote is actually ‘A clean home is a happy home‘ but the sentiment still applies. Granted, our visit was in the middle of a pandemic but nonetheless, this has been a common complaint from locals and shoppers. Bedford’s high street, in general, is pretty clean and the vast majority of local shoppers do their bit. There are a few however who don’t understand that cleanliness is next to godliness; such as the residents living above the entrance to The Arcade.

The Arcade in Bedford is home to some amazing independent stores such as Boutique Planet and Arcadia Sweet Shop. The last thing they need in the current climate is unthoughtful local residents using the window ledge over the entrance as a dump.

The Arcade on Bedford High Street

2. Cover empty stores

Store closures happen. They happen everywhere from The Avenue des Champs-Élysées to the West End’s Oxford Street. Many high streets have seen closures with the likes of Next and Monsoon closing their doors. Empty shops are not just eyesores; they suck the life out of high streets. Other towns have been very proactive in turning long term empty shops into art galleries, startup hubs, and even libraries.

Closed retailer Beales on Bedford High Street

Closed retailer Beales on Bedford High Street

Bedford has its fair share of empty stores and they need to be utilised. At the very least, the windows should be used to promote positive messaging about Bedford and the local community. Beales in Bedford has been closed for some time after falling into administration. This is prime advertising space that could be proactively put to good use. Marlowes in Hemel Hempstead has utilised this closed retail unit to promote local amenities. It makes a world of difference.

Hemel Hempstead Marlowes vinyl wrap

3. Focus on fashion, food, and fun

Post-Covid, Bedford High Street will change forever. Whether it is for good or bad is dependent on the high street’s stakeholders. Many fashion outlets are planning on using smaller stores as collection points. Increasing fulfillment costs and high returns are taking the shine off online shopping. Modern bars, quality street vendors and a focus on child-friendly fun/entertainment should be the top priorities.

4. Close traffic to the High Street

Slightly controversial but the entire high street should be pedestrianised during peak shopping hours. Quality street vendors, places to sit, and safe areas for kids to roam will start to entice shoppers back. As previously mentioned, empty stores can be used to offer unique shopping experiences. With a temporary car-free zone, our suggestion of a focus on fashion, food, and fun could be a reality.

Would Bedford benefit from being pedestrianised?

5. Diverse family restaurants

Bedford has a diverse community that should be represented on the high street. Opening on Saturday 1st August, CaRumBar will offer authentic Jamaican cuisine in a family-friendly setting. Independent restaurants offering a different dining experience will help shape the outlook for Bedford’s high street.


What would you like to see change? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Sylvia Balnaves

    20th July 2020 at 11:50 am

    High Streets are dead. Use the shops to creat homes for young people who do not need cars as they are close to station shops and buses.

  2. Helen

    20th July 2020 at 1:31 pm

    Sell off the huge amount of storage above shops to be turned into apartments. Encourage the opening of restaurants in the centre, instead of just shops ( ie where M&S was, etc). At night when the shops are shut, there needs to be life there, not just the High Street. Having people living in the new apartments there will generate restaurant business.

  3. Lee Hall

    20th July 2020 at 1:48 pm

    Totally agree with bringing back the nightlife. People will need entertainment post-covid19.

  4. Kathryn

    20th July 2020 at 2:43 pm

    These are some fantastic suggestions, and I totally agree with apartment blocks in the old big store units. Have these ideas been put to, or considered by the council?

  5. Lee Hall

    20th July 2020 at 3:06 pm

    I don’t know if they have been considered but I do know the mayor and others read feedback on our website. The bigger question is do they have the same objectives?

  6. Stuart Odell

    20th July 2020 at 4:10 pm

    Move the shops in the High St. inside the large closed shops in the centre .Beales,M&S.Make them into miniature shopping malls

  7. Theresa Saunders

    21st July 2020 at 8:35 pm

    I think one of the big shops needs to be a community centre/information/ medical centre/ cafe/ exercise hub, where people can go everyday to socialise and exercise.
    Loneliness was a huge problem before covid, so it has probably hit a new massive high now.
    Such a centre can really positively impact the community as older people have a reason to leave the house and younger people can learn new skills from interaction with them by serving them in the cafe and actually talking to the clients. They could cook together, knit etc. Senior people could bring something to a younger persons life to make them still feel valuable by passing on knowledge.
    Bedford is a decent place to live and we should lead on looking after the older generation rather than leaving them isolated in their homes, bored and lonely. Bridge the generation gap! A lot of youngers love spending time with to their grandparents and that generation so let’s use the opportunity to make this happen.

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Fashion

TrendLife Presents: Three Fabulous Fashion Stylists To Follow

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TrendLife Presents : Three Stylists to follow

When it comes to fashion, we generally know what we like. We have our preferred colours, patterns, and fabrics for example. The problem is that knowing what you like doesn’t equate to knowing what actually looks good on you and projects you in the right way. This is why the Gods created Fashion Stylists.

Fashion Stylists, Personal Dressers, Style Coaches, or Personal Stylists, take your pick. The job titles may vary depending on the individual’s viewpoint but Fashion Stylists have become increasingly influential in shaping fashion and style choices in our social-media orientated world.

Once reserved for celebrities and the well-heeled, Fashion Stylists have moved from the backstage to be on par with Fashion Designers thanks in part to the un-measurable benefits they bring to the equation, image + confidence = happiness. And to celebrate these wonderful individuals keeping us looking and feeling great, we have handpicked three fabulous individuals for you to follow.

TrendLife Presents: Three Fabulous Fashion Stylists To Follow

Do your Instagram feed a favour and follow these three fabulous individuals creating amazing fashion and style content on social media. In no particular order, here are the reasons why we recommend you hit the follow and like button for these fashion stylists.

1. @OwnYourStyleUK

” Personal Stylist helping women confidently look good & feel good every day.”

Three Fabulous Fashion Stylists To Follow - OwnYourStyle

Reasons to follow: When it comes to style advice content, you will be hard-pressed to find a better personal stylist who also doubles as a Content Queen than Janine of OwnYourStyleUK. Having recently launched her insightful Instagram Live Style Talk, Janine manages to juggle clients, events, and online style courses whilst creating amazing social media content.

If that was not enough, Janine also gives tips and inspiration on skincare and makeup application. All of which is further testimony to why you should be following @OwnYourStyleuk.

Five questions for @OwnYourStyleUK

1. When and how did your love for fashion begin?

My love of fashion began as a child. My Aunt owned a very successful ladies boutique stocking beautiful designer brands and I was hooked – she was my mentor in fashion. My mother was a dressmaker and made a lot of our clothes when I was young too so – It’s really in my blood!  I’ve always had an eye to search out great pieces of clothing in shops and always loved to stay ahead of the trends from a young age.  I am a creative person and I am in my element when I am styling my clients.

2. What is the most rewarding part of being a stylist?

The most rewarding part of being a stylist is the transformation of confidence in my clients when they truly understand their own style.  The newfound confidence means they look great and feel great and I literally watch them develop as they discover their signature style, find out the colours that suit them, and learn the secrets of styling with fabrics and proportions to enhance their body shape.

They learn how to make their wardrobes work for their lifestyle plus we identify any gaps that they may need to fill when we go shopping. They also discover it doesn’t all need to be new! In fact, it’s so rewarding to hear clients say they actually save money after working with me as they no longer make the same mistakes when out shopping.  Confidence is the key to styling and watching my client’s confidence grow truly is the most rewarding part of what I do.

3. Where is your favourite place to shop in the Three Counties (Beds, Bucks, and Herts)?

I love shopping in Milton Keynes, it’s right on my doorstep and we have a great shopping centre. My favourite High Street brands currently are Zara, HM, and Jigsaw.  I also love Hush which is available in John Lewis.

4. Favourite designer/fashion house?

My favourite designer has to be Chanel – after all, it was Coco Chanel who popularised the little black dress and the Chanel boucle style jacket has to be one of the most iconic pieces which can nowadays be dressed up or down so easily too!

5. If there was one person in the world you could style, who would it be and why?

Wow, that is a question, there are many but it would have to be The Duchess of Cambridge – I mean how memorable would it be to have the honour of styling the future Queen of England for an event! I would also totally love to style Holly Willoughby too, oh and Claudia Winkelman, she would be so much fun!

2. @StyleWithWisdom

“Personal stylist & shopper passionate about clients feeling great and confident”

Three Fabulous Fashion Stylists To Follow - Style With Wisdom

Reasons to follow: With over 20 years of professional experience in the fashion industry, Hertfordshire based Lisa of @StyleWithWisdom has some of the most entertaining fashion-based posts you will see. We don’t know how much more fun & fashion you can squeeze into a single post but Lisa seems to be on a mission to find out.

We love the “local’ feel to @StyleWithWisdom posts & stories – in particular, the updates on St Albans fashion retailers during these testing times. For all these reasons and more, we highly recommend you follow @StyleWithWisdom.

Five questions for @StyleWithWisdom

1) When and how did your love for fashion begin?

Wow, this was years ago when I was addicted to playing with my Fashion Wheel as a child, endlessly creating new and innovative designs to colour! It kept me occupied for days and my Great Aunt would always say I would end up in fashion. She wasn’t wrong. I then went on to never miss a single edition of The Clothes Show on a Sunday evening, so you can imagine my delight when whilst working as an Assistant Buyer for Debenhams I got to work with Jeff Banks – the man himself.
I was watching a half-term feature on “This Morning” when I was about 15 when I discovered the career I eventually went into. They were running a “day in the life of a …..” slot each day and one of those was “A day in the life of a Fashion Buyer” and I instantly knew it was the job for me! I went on to be a Senior Fashion Buyer at Debenhams but more recently set up my Styling business ‘Style with Wisdom’ 8 years ago.

2) What is the most rewarding part of being a Stylist?

This is so easy to answer – it is when I see my client’s confidence build in their style and body confidence as we work together. I literally see the body posture and facial expressions of my clients change when I put them in the clothes that suit them and make them feel fabulous. That is the first reward, but it is always even more exciting when my clients get in touch telling me about the outfits they have worn that has resulted in them receive compliments from not only friends and family but total strangers too. I not only find this so gratifying but is amazing to hear the confidence boost it gives them! I love it!

3. Where is your favourite place to shop in the Three Counties (Beds, Bucks, and Herts)?

I am a huge fan of my local shopping town St Albans, Hertfordshire. It has the perfect mixture of high street and local independents, as well as small businesses online that I like to include in my look books for both my style subscription clients and full virtual style clients too. It means there is a great variety of style options, brands, and price points to make the most of shopping for both myself and my clients.

4) Favourite designer/fashion house?

My complete treat and regular wish list would have to be Essentiel Antwerp, a Belgium brand. It is always has a beautiful collection of classic silhouettes yet bold, edgy, and funky prints. They are the sort of pieces that if you invest in them, they will live on forever in your wardrobe! I am lucky enough to own a few pieces that I have collected over time and was even lucky to recently find an Essentiel Antwerp skirt in a charity shop!!!
I feel that no high street retailer can replicate the beautiful pieces created by Essentiel Antwerp so the collection remains completely unique.

5) If there was one person in the World you could style, who would it be and why?

My absolute dream would be to get a fashion slot on This Morning styling real women. It has always been my ultimate goal and is firmly on my vision board and I continue to strive towards itl! The real reward here is that I’d hope by styling say 4 real women on the show I would in turn be styling the millions of watchers that tune in.
I love to inspire women in everyday life to try new styles, new colours, and be bolder and more confident in their shopping decisions. I always say that styles have no age, size, or budget limits and when you are excited to get up and get dressed in the morning, it can make for the start of a great day!

3. @TheWardrobeEdit

“Stylist and fashion writer with a passion to help other women re-discover their style and exude a new confidence”

Three Fabulous Fashion Stylists To Follow - @thewardrobeedit

Reasons to follow: If you have a passion for fashion and like scrolling to see stylish ensembles, you could spend hours looking at and taking notes from @thewardrobeedit posts. Stylist & Fashion Writer Isabel is who we have to thank for the visually wonderful grid that goes on and on and on. Having styled for a variety of brands and businesses including Intu, TopShop, H&M, Wallis, and Zara, Isabel has an unbelievable eye for coordinating. Her stunningly modelled ensembles are matched with amazing statement accessories and shoes.

Five questions for @TheWardrobeEdit

1) When and how did your love for fashion begin?

Growing up in the 80’s I was hugely influenced by music and the incredible fashion in teen magazines like Mizz or Just17 – think batwing jumpers and puffball skirts! I loved Neneh Cherry, Bananarama, and so many others, and that 80’s style is still something I often refer back to, for my own outfits.

2) What is the most rewarding part of being a Stylist?

Typically, most clients are coming to me because they’re reached a milestone – marriage, babies, retirement, menopause, and often in those instances their body may have changed. While to many people, it may feel like it’s just clothes that a stylist selects, it’s so much more than that. Helping someone to feel good about their body again (or sometimes, for the first time ever!) by sharing advice that works for their shape, is a hugely rewarding part of the job.

3. Where is your favourite place to shop in the Three Counties (Beds, Bucks, and Herts)?

I have lots! I love independents in Bedford like Anorak Shop and Boutique Planet – they stock some brilliant Scandi brands. The Dressing Room in St Albans is a must-visit, and again they have a great range of brands. For High Street pieces, I always head to Milton Keynes.

4) Favourite designer/fashion house?

Anine Bing for day-to-day, effortless style. Elie Saab for couture. Jimmy Choo or Christian Louboutin for heels. Bottega Veneta for bags.

5) If there was one person in the World you could style, who would it be and why?

Michelle Obama. I’m a huge fan and as she really doesn’t need my styling advice, we could spend the time chatting about politics instead!

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Accessories

Layoners review: On trend sunglasses for all occasion

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Layoners Sunglasses Review

Sunglasses are a fashion essential for both men and women. But like many accessories, they are often overpriced. Fashion houses for many years have used sunglasses as a way to add profitable lines to their portfolio. Times have changed and there are a number of good quality, low priced sunglasses brands that do not compromise on style.

Layoners are a European brand based in Slovenia with a wide range of sunglasses for both men and women. Prices range from £30 up to £90 across all the collections. It’s clear to see that many of their designs are inspired by the classic Wayfarer and aviator styles but they also have many unique sunglasses in their collections.

Layoners for Men

The men’s offering consists of seven unique collections:

  • Alameda
  • Avalon
  • Averill
  • Color
  • Tropic
  • Wooden
  • Windy

Layoners for Women

The women’s offering consists of seven unique collections:

  • Aviator
  • Alameda
  • Color
  • Chic
  • Mago
  • Uma
  • Unique

Tequila_Sunrise_sunglasses

Layoners Review

Style: We reviewed two different styles from the Layers collection – Tequila Sunrise (Womens) and Alcatraz Dark (Mens).

Tequila Sunrise is an oversized aviator featuring a stunning two-toned mirror effect. The golden yellow frame on the Tequila Sunrise complements the two-tone resulting in an extremely stylish look for all face shapes.
The Alcatraz Dark is my personal favourite of the collection. The detailing on the unique wooden frame obviously has obviously pushed the price up but these vintage-inspired sunglasses offer amazing value at £55.

Value for money: With an average cost of about £35, Layoners are much cheaper than designer brands that tend to start at the £200 mark. Layoners sunglasses offer great value for money given their entire range is on-trend and very stylish.

Layoners offer an easy 30 day returns from the delivery date. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, you can return or exchange the goods within 30 days after receiving the goods. If you are looking at this price range, chances are your purchase will be to match a particular outfit. You could buy three and still spend less than £100.

UV Protection: All sunglasses sold within the UK (and EU) should have a CE marked on them – typically on one of the arms. This indicates that it complies with EU standards and will block out 95% of all UV rays below 380 nanometres (the scale on which light is measured). Layoners sunglasses also offer extra durability and glare reduction across their entire range.

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Beauty

Next replaces closed Debenhams at intu Watford & intu Milton Keynes

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The Future of Beauty? The Beauty Hall from Next

Fashion retailer Next have announced they will be opening a new beauty store in the former Debenhams units in intu Watford and intu Milton Keynes.

Called ‘The Beauty Hall from Next’, the new concept store will open in units formerly occupied by Debenhams in both intu Watford and intu Milton Keynes. Next currently sells more than 200 beauty brands, including Estée Lauder, Clinique, Benefit, Elemis, Burberry, By Terry, Rituals, on its website, Next.co.uk, and additionally premium brands such as Bobbi Brown, YSL, Lancôme and Nars on sister site Fabled.com, which it bought from Ocado last year.

Many retailers are looking at ways to enter the lucrative beauty industry which is estimated to be £30 billion this year alone. The recent lockdown saw a rise in the demand for beauty products as beauticians and make-up artists downed tools.

Next already had plans to launch the new concept stores in five former Debenhams locations: the Bullring in Birmingham, The Oracle in Reading, Highcross in Leicester, Silverburn in Glasgow and Centrale in Croydon.

Debenhams in Milton Keynes

Next said it recognised the opportunity to develop an extensive premium beauty business after a successful online collaboration with Fabled by Marie Claire, which launched beauty on the retailer’s ecommerce site in October 2018.

More information on potential opening dates and more to come.

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