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Five things that need to change to improve Bedford High Street

Lee Hall

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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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Lockdown Leads to Local Luxury Sustainable Business Now It’s Mine

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Lockdown Leads to Local Luxury Sustainable Business Now It’s Mine

Hertfordshire Mother and Daughter Bernie and Rosie Montague decided to capitalise on Rosie’s expertise as an experienced handbag specialist and authenticator to create a local sustainable fashion business.  After leaving a prestigious auction house in London, it seemed the right time to create a business and pursue her passion for handbags and accessories.

Now It’s Mine is an exciting new venture established in lockdown. Their philosophy is `Resale not Retail’. It encapsulates their commitment to sustainability by rejecting fast fashion. Not only can people buy the likes of Classic Chanel flap bags and Louis Vuitton monogram classics, people can also consign their preloved designer handbags and accessories AND in the coming weeks there will be a rental service where you can rent any of the beautiful items on the website from 1 day upwards.

Ethical Fashion is the Now It’s Mine Model

Fashion represents 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions. It’s incredible but many items are disposed of within a year of purchase, and with the Instagram culture may only be worn once. Wearing one item of clothing for 9 months longer reduces our carbon footprint by 30%. It takes 2,700 litres of water to make a T-shirt, enough for one person to drink for 900 days. The Luxury second-hand market is worth £19bn and is set to grow to £40bn by 2023.

They are currently selling via the website and through Instagram and Facebook. Now It’s Mine will also be launching pop-up shops in St Albans and surrounding areas.

Whilst the website allows them to distribute throughout the UK, they are very much a local St Albans and Hertfordshire business. Now It’s Mine is looking to build a network of luxury fashion lovers who understand the importance of the circular economy.

100% authentic preloved luxury designer bags and accessories

With a plethora of websites selling luxury designer items the risk of buying a ‘Super Fake’ has never been greater. Now It’s Mine offers a solution by guaranteeing to sell only 100% authentic goods.  This is demonstrated in their commitment to provide a multilayer formal authentication process and a money-back guarantee.

Visit the website, follow them on Instagram, their Facebook page, and Facebook group.  Sign up for their newsletter to hear about the upcoming local pop-up shops and handbag rental service.

`It just makes sense’ said Rosie `we must all be more committed to sustainability. Fast fashion has got out of hand and the quality of the handbags and accessories that we are selling lend themselves to be recycled rather than discarded, by nature they have longevity – they are timeless’

Now It’s Mine can be found at 116 Old London Road, St Albans AL1 1PU

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Winter fashion trends: How to stay stylish & comfy this Christmas

Janine Style Coach™

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Janine Style Coach™ explains How to stay stylish & comfy this Christmas

It’s certain to say that 2020 changed things in fashion, the forecasted trends were overtaken by the demand and popularity for loungewear as the nation worked and played from home. It seemed that everyone turned to online buying of athleisure wear and comfy indoor loungewear as the online stores repeatedly sold out of the favourites!

And as we transition from Autumn into Winter the demand for comfort hasn’t decreased, in fact, the colder, darker nights have seen us reaching for our ‘comfies’ earlier in the evening whilst we settle down indoors with a takeaway and Netflix!

But getting dressed and feeling good even if it is just for indoors or going on an online video call can make us feel lifted, we feel like ourselves again and it gives us that extra touch of self-confidence.  Sitting around for a day or so in loungewear is OK, we’ve all done that, right? But any more than a day and well – we don’t feel productive!

I love the well-known quote “Get Up, Dress Up and Don’t Give Up”.  I feel so much better when I have made that extra effort to style my hair, wear something I feel good in, and put some makeup on ready for work or an online video call, just as I would if meeting someone in person!

So, what are we all looking to wear this Winter season, and how can we look good and be comfortable too, as I know comfort really is key right now.

Janine Style Coach™ explains How to stay stylish & comfy this Christmas

Here are my top 5 favourite wearable trends for the 20/21 Winter season ahead:

Joggers – now I know what you are thinking here, but hear me out!  There are some really great joggers that give a more elevated look than the traditional gym style jogging bottoms we are all used to.  Look out for soft jogging trousers or those with a side stripe (very elongating). Wear them with a blouse, a sweat or a T-shirt and an oversized blazer – add a heel, a chunky or long boot or wear with the trusty trainer.

Blazers – nothing new here I know but a great blazer will take you through day to night, year after year. You can be sat at home in a t-shirt and joggers, throw on a blazer, amp up the lipstick and you are video call ready! Simply one of the most versatile pieces you can add to your wardrobe.  Keep it classic in a neutral tone and you will be wearing it for years to come.  The trend is for oversized, but this needs to work for you! If fitted is more your style, then go for that instead!  Use a belt to cinch in the waist – another key trend this season!

Checks – One of the easiest to wear trends of the season.  Look for tartans, ginghams and houndstooth.  Clash them or team them with simple basics.  Check coats, check shackets (a cross between a jacket and a shirt), check blazers, check trousers …. Or just take a nod to the trend with an oversized check blanket scarf!

Leather / Pleather – the great news is pleather has moved on so far in such a short space of time, so no longer do you feel like you will literally ‘boil in the bag’.  Look out for soft buttery feeling pleathers and leathers in the neutral tones this season.

Winter fashion trends

The warm rich beiges and browns are definitely trending, are easy to co-ordinate with other items in your wardrobe, and won’t date! Wear with a warm cashmere knit, a silk blouse or a tee for a more dressed down look.

Winter fashion trends - Super cosy knit

Super cosy knit – It wouldn’t be a winter edit without a cosy knit.  You can never have too many and with so many great styles to choose from, they can take you from daytime into the evening in total comfort.  This season I am loving the chunky cable knits, vest tops and cardigans with exaggerated sleeves.  Wear with thick leggings, boots and a warm coat!

Style confidence comes from being authentically you from the inside out so take a trend, make it work, and own your style. Stay cosy and stylish.

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TrendLife Presents: Three Fabulous Fashion Stylists To Follow

Lee Hall

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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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