Monday, 18 September 2017

Red Boots. As simple as that!

Topshop boots (£59)

As we all know, red is THE colour of the season. Walk around any clothes shop and items of red clothing will literally jump off the rails and grab you.  It's impossible not to notice them. 

And red boots are having a moment too. Many a friendship has started with a discussion over shoes (well in my case at least) and a bright red pair of boots with black trousers and a blazer is a sure conversation starter in any meeting on a cold and wet winter's day. 

True, red boots won't be for everyone and the practical amongst you may wonder quite how various ensembles are going to work in the colder months. The answer is that I'm not sure yet. But they will.

Maybe the boots will be worn just with trousers, or maybe they will be worn with a full length skirt (or dress) with leggings underneath. We're not there yet though so we don't need to bother ourselves with such icicle inducing thoughts. Oooh actually I do have the answer. Since I've had a bad back I've pretty much had a hot water bottle surgically attached to myself and even though I don't really need it for my back anymore, I still love having one near me. So that's it. A hot water bottle up my skirt. People may well talk - I could look like Kim Kardashian if I place it right - or slightly odd, if I don't. 

But I digress....for a change. These are some of the red boots that are out and about on the High Street at the moment. There's a selection of ones for wide feet, suede ones, a sock style and a patent style. So hopefully there's something for everyone. I've just concentrated on kitten heel boots but there are plenty with block heels too. 

These are the wide fit M&S red boots  £69.99. The heel is a good height and they are leather. I'm thinking floral midi dress with these. They're not too taxing in any department - colour, brightness, shininess, heel etc so they are a fairly accessible option. Assuming that they haven't all sold out by now.

The red kitten heel sock boot Next (£38) are a firm favourite. They have had great reviews with comfort being mentioned quite a few times. They are also a good price and as they are a sock style boot, they will have a neat fit around the ankle, which is great for those ladies on whom lots of boots slosh around their ankles like wellies. Not being particularly svelte of ankle I do not have that issue but I do sympathise with ladies who have very slender ankles. Really I do. Actually I'm lying. I don't at all. But I am very envious.

Of course we all knew that Zara would be paving the way on the red boots front and here they are with the Zara Red ankle boot (£25.99). Nice. Very nice indeed. In fact there are lots of amazing shoes in Zara at the moment and the price tag of these is very attractive too. 

And these are the Topshop hot toddy pointed boots (£59), which are the ones I have. No doubt too shiny for some but I like a bit of shine in the winter and they are the perfect shade of red for me - hot chilli red. I have a few outfits in mind to wear these with but I'll save those ideas for another post.

I realise that non of these boots are "stomping across the field" type boots so perhaps we need to think of them more as car to bar type boots, or short school run type boots, or even a trip around the shop type boots. Do you get where I'm coming from? And has a red boot type gap suddenly just appeared in your wardrobe?

Sunday, 17 September 2017

What Red Magazine's Fashion Director, and Red's Executive Beauty & Fashion Director, wore to Bicester

As part of my new (school) year's resolutions to get out and about more, last week I went to Bicester Village to attend an event run by Red Magazine. It was a trend presentation held by Red's Fashion Director Oonagh Brennan and Red's Executive Fashion and Beauty Director, Kim Parker.  

In preparation for the event, Oonagh and Kim had "shopped" Bicester, choosing pieces to illustrate the trends for the season. The talk was accompanied with a power point presentation. It was a great event from the venue, which was the Farmshop Restaurant, to the presentation and to the people that I met there - plus the subsequent shopping of course.    

But one of the things that I absolutely loved were the outfits that Oonagh and Kim wore. They had gone for a co-ordinated kimono over jeans look which wasn't try hard, or over fashiony, alienating or inaccessible. And of course one might argue that they were bound to get it right but I think that it would have been easy to choose something that was hugely pricey and alienating to most people in that it could have been super skinny fitting, or the shoes could have had incredibly high heels or it could have been just be too out there for an everyday look.  

Printed kimono with faux fur from Zara (£79.99) - a very glamourous winter styled kimono

So I thought that I would bring you a few ideas for the "kimono" part of the look, plus a couple of shoe ideas too because it's an easy look to re-create and it's so versatile too. On colder days a black skinny turtle neck could be worn under the kimono. For a smarter look the jeans could be swapped for leather leggings. And when it's really freezing, the shoes could be swapped for kitten heel boots. 

Patchwork is a huge trend for the season (as I now know) so this Zara patchwork kimono (£79.99) nails two trends in one. The colours are beautifully rich for the winter and the side slits are really flattering for those on the petite side.

For those who prefer something a little less "busy", the flower print maxi kimono from Topshop (£69.99) has enough detail to keep it interesting but it's not overpowering. Belts are also a huge trend for the season so this could be belted with a wide belt for a neater silhouette.

If the full on kimono look is a little too much, then I would definitely try a midi dress over jeans. I think that the frill trimmed dress from H&M (£39.99) would enable the look to be re-created without the need to invest in a kimono, which some may feel may be slightly less versatile. If the dress doesn't button all the way down the front (and therefore can't be worn open) I would suggest finding a dress which doesn't have too much volume in the skirt.

Or the Cherry draped dress H&M (£49.99) is another great option for re-creating the look but with a dress. The clever off centre ruching detail is also really flattering, creating a lovely silhouette.

Another idea would be to try a Wrap dress such this one which again, is from H&M (£39.99). I really like this look and if you've got a curvier bust, the wrap dress neckline will (as you will all have sussed by now) work really well for your shape. 

When it comes to the shoes, Oonagh was wearing some mules. The Darci pointed toe mule from John Lewis (£59.99) is a really good option and as you can see below, it also comes in red....

And Kim volunteered that the shoes that she was wearing were these red Velvet sling back shoes from Mango (£59.99), which also come in black. Both styles were gorgeous - kitten heels with a little bit of texture. And who can say fairer than Mango for a pair of fab shoes?

This photograph gives a little more of an idea as to Oonagh's and Kim's outfits.  

I first put this Zara dress over jeans way back in April but it was for a weekend away at the beach so it didn't really work that well. Today though I used skinnier jeans and heels and I preferred it. I think that it's a look that will be forming the basis of my wardrobe over the next few months. I used to love wearing dresses over jeans a while back, so it's time to re-visit an old favourite look.

I would love to know what you think. Do you fancy embracing this look for a bit of a feminine but practical look....or is it not for you?

Friday, 15 September 2017

A Hush maxi dress

The eagled eyed amongst you will know from my Instagram posts that I've worn this dress quite a lot recently. I've been road testing it and now I thought that I would share it as I think that it will become a firm favourite.

It first came out last Friday when I went to a launch of a new A/W '17 collection in Hampshire with some other bloggers. I wore it again earlier this week when I went to a trend presentation by Red Magazine at Bicester and then again today. When I love something I wear it a lot and if I'm paying a little more for something, I especially want to wear it a lot. That, for me, is real life!

Yasmin dress from Hush (£99 - currently available for pre-order on the Hush site)

I first saw the dress in our local John Lewis (I can't currently see it on the site) before I went to Guernsey and I fell in love with it because it was a) navy and b) it had a metallic print on it.  I am nothing if not utterly and totally predictable. Sparkles would have had me too.

When I held it up I thought that it might be too long for me so I left it. Too many other things to think about! But it played on my mind so I re-visited it when I returned and hey presto, it was the perfect length for my 5ft 6" height.  I tried on both the 8 and 10 several times but there wasn't much in it, so I went for the 10 on the basis that it might just be slightly looser on the waist, which is quite fitted.

As you can see, the split is quite high. I don't know what I will do when it gets colder. Wear long johns probably for a very stylish look. Or grin and bear it. Or maybe wear it over trousers. I'll find a way for sure! Oooh how about a petticoat? Do they do thermal ones? Even better, a thermal, maxi petticoat? Yes, that's the answer for sure.

So far I've worn it with trainers (yes, Mrs Predictable strikes again) and gold boots plus I've also got some new red patent boots to wear with it...oh and some suede kitten heel knee high boots from Jigsaw which I bought about 5,000 years ago and have worn precisely once. Or maybe twice. But having been confined to the fashion wilderness for the last 4999 years, they are now good to be worn again so they may make an appearance.

I like a dress. You just stick it on, add some fancy pants earrings a bit more jewellery and a pair of shoes and off you go. And in my case, quite possible a thermal maxi petticoat too. Stunning.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Pearls of wisdom

It was earlier this year that I first noticed that pearls were adorning (nearly) everything in Zara and I was going to write about them then. But I thought that the trend might just be a one minute wonder. How wrong was I? Now they are all over everything. Literally, everything. Whether it's a slogan T, a striped or checked top, jeans, a parka, shoes, bags, jumpsuits, jumpers, skirts, blouses - wherever you turn in Zara you come face to face with a pearl (or two). So here's just a snapshot of the 169 - I kid you not - pearl pieces in Zara Woman.

First of there's a hooded pearl sweatshirt (£39.99) - I love the juxtaposition of the relaxed hooded sweatshirt shape, with something that we associate more closely with the Queen.

Then there's a sweater with pearly cuffs (£19.99) which also comes in black, navy, grey and mustard. This is a really easy way to tap into the trend without making a huge financial commitment to it. 

For anyone who is looking to make a jeans update for the winter, the mid rise jeans with pearl beads (£29.99) could be just the thing. 

...or for work, or at the weekend with jeans (probably not pearl ones though!) how about a navy shirt with pearls on the shoulder (£25.99)?

There's also a slogan t-shirt with pearls (£15.99)

And I'm quite a fan of this long pearly cardigan (£69.99) which is both practical and stylish. Is it all right if I ignore the rest of the outfit - which will no doubt become uber cool very soon but which for now, I think, is pretty terrible. 

Or how about a pearly hat (£9.99)? Great for the colder winter mornings with a parka or a smarter work coat. 

I also think that the turn ups on these skinny mid rise jeans (£29.99) are rather cool....

For something a little smarter, there's this jumpsuit with pearls (£69.99) which I think would look great with a striped top underneath, or a white shirt. 

For a little jacket, there's the pearly jacket (£29.99) - which looks a little more like a cardigan to me but there we go. It also comes in grey and is quite a neat fitted look as an alternative to the oversized baggy look in the winter.

I've seen other pearled items in M&S but so far they don't seem to have spread much further than that - unless anyone wants to tell me otherwise!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

A few dress gems from LK Bennett

It's a while since I've taken a good look around LK Bennett as our store isn't in the City Centre. However I was in the Mailbox today having my haircut, and where LK Bennett happens to be, so I thought that I would go for a little look around.

Apologies for the selfie - really I should have asked one of the girls in the shop to take a photo for me but I always feel a bit self conscious having my photo taken - unless it's one of the children doing it and then it's just my way of annoying them - so then I don't mind.

This is the Dakota Animal Print Dress (£225) which was really lovely to wear. This dress is a great style in so far as it has sleeves, it falls at a good length, the print is fresh and modern and the best bit?.....

.....the waist ties, which can be done up as tightly as you like - or not at all, which is great for those days when you're feeling less than svelte or for when you fancy ringing the changes with the style. 

I love the neutral print too which is just so easy to wear and, as each year, leopard style prints are huge so it's not going to date. The sleeves also have a little nod to the 70s so they're not going to date either. I love it with boots but it would be great with caged heels or with smarter shoes for work. Or you know me....with trainers too.

The Celeste blue leopard dress from LK Bennett (£250) is also a real gem. I'm like my Mum and I don't like collars on dresses so much but I love them on other people. And for the right dress I can always be persuaded!

And although the Roe black printed silk dress LK Bennett (£425) is not really your every day dress price wise, the reviews are really good and for a special occasion, or if you're deserving of a treat (aren't we all, always?!) or if you know that you're going to wear it to death, this could be worth taking a closer look at. 

I think that there may well be a discount voucher lurking somewhere so let's see what we can find shall we? And if you haven't had a chance to suss out the new season at LK Bennett yet, now may well be a good time to take a look, especially if you feel in need of a snazzy new dress.  

Monday, 4 September 2017

September, I'm coming for you!

September can be a funny month. The start of a new term, children moving onwards and upwards, a chill in the air meaning that autumn is on its way and most of all, change. I've concluded that humans don't like change very much.

Don't make me go home!

During our last few days in Guernsey I was sort of dreading the return home, to life and a daily routine. And then I re-visited the "roundabout" as per my earlier post and I decided that either September could rule me, or I could get my schizzle together and tackle it head on. So before I left Guernsey I started to get my act together and I sent just one or two emails of things that I knew needed doing around the house, just to get the ball rolling. Little steps and all that.

So in no particular order these are things that I'm going to tackle and this is what I have in mind to do - a list of New (school) Year Resolutions - if you like.

Stuff around the house:

I've contacted a local handy man. The tap in our downstairs loo needs fixing, plus I have pictures to go up. I'd like to re-grout the bathroom floor and buy a new blind for the bathroom too. Even knowing that those things are in hand have made me feel better.

The girls have both tidied their bedrooms and the car is full of stuff for the charity shops. I've been through my wardrobe and sorted my clothes out, meaning that I now have a better idea of what I have and what I'd like to add. That too is a weight lifted.

There's a chair I'd like re-covering, and I'd like to replace the blind in the spare room as well as get a new sheepskin rug for it - so those things are now in hand. 

I've booked the decorator to come at the end of October to paint one of the bedrooms and also the bathroom. We've been in this house for nearly 13 years now and neither room has been decorated since we arrived. How bad is that?!

So that's it for the house for now, other than needing a new desk chair. It's GCSE year for our son and he will be sitting at his desk a lot. Oh yes, he will! 

Stuff to do for me:

Get a hair cut. I purposefully haven't had my hair cut for ages but now is the time to go for the chop. That will make me feel a whole lot better. 

Think about having a spot of botox. I've never really seriously contemplated it before now but I might just investigate it. It may not go any further than that but there's no harm in looking. 

Get back to eating 3 proper meals a day rather than summer type food. I love home made soups and stews and with the marathon coming up, I need to keep on top of my nutrition game even more. 

Plan my winter wardrobe - but that's worthy of a blog post in its own right!

Back from holiday and contemplating the jobs (and washing!) to be done

Stuff to do for work:

Say "yes" to more things that I'm invited to do. Historically I've felt that every minute of my working day should be accounted for - it stems from having time sheets as a lawyer. But I need to get out and have more fun at events, socials, networking and just in general.

Manage my work streams better. Being freelance I have lots of different "arms" to my work from personal styling, to fashion and commercial styling, TV work, blogging, working with brands and running style events. I'm never quite sure that I'm top of all of them at all times.  Any tips would be gratefully received! 

Get on top of my social media. My profile pics need updating, my Pinterest link doesn't work on my blog and there are a million and other one little things that need attending to. 

Get back in the shops pronto so I that I can fully suss out the new season's collections in preparation for all the personal shopping I have coming up. 

Sort out all my paperwork and maybe do my tax return before the end of October, rather than waiting until the end of January. 

First day back at work - judging the Midlands Media Awards. Excuse the knackered plant pots. I'm going to go and move them RIGHT NOW! 

Stuff to do for the children:

With Flo heading off to University, there are a lot of things that I need to do with her. We need to shop for bits and bobs, get her meningitis C vaccination organised and I need to help her with her bank accounts and finances. 

So that's my list of tasks for the month ahead. Does anyone else have anything that they want to add? Is there anything that you routinely do in September? (Please don't mention Christmas!!!) and which makes you feel a whole lot better. Oh but of course I forgot the most important thing. September traditionally means new school a new pair of shoes must feature in there somewhere! 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Can you see my bunions in these?

Sock boots - the boot style of the season....

"A pointed toe!" I hear you cry. "A kitten heel?" I hear you ask in astonishment. And fabric - what's going on? Have we stepped right back into the 1980s? Well these are where it's at right now. You need look no further for your winter boot inspiration than the Zara fabric high heel ankle boot (£59.99) - or a variation thereof - of which there will be many. Although whether "Winter" is the right term or not I'm not quite sure. Let's go for a fancy "trans-seasonal" term instead shall we? Because really, I'm not so sure how these would fare in the rain.

I, on the other hand, potentially need to look a lot further than these boots. Because the question on my lips is this? "Will you be able to see bunions through the fabric - and will the boots stop, just where my varicose veins start?"  (Neither of which are a good look.)

These and other serious life questions will be answered.....hopefully by someone else.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

A Pop Up comes to Birmingham!

For a long time now I've wanted to do something at home, with brands that I love. And now, it's finally going to happen! I'm holding a "Pop Up Shop" on Friday 15th September between 11am and 3pm. I would really like to make it a huge success for the brands involved, many of whom are travelling a long way to come (not that I'm feeling the pressure or anything!) so if you would like to drop in, or come for the day, please just let me know and I'll let you have my address. It might even give me the impetus to get the tap in the downstairs loo fixed.

Hmmm. Not really a way to welcome your guests now is it? [image from Gallery]

I love working with niche brands and supporting other women (and men) in business.  Over the years  my styling and blogging work has enabled me to meet lots of wonderful people who have set up their own businesses. And whilst of course I love our High Street, I love smaller brands even more. The brands who are coming along reflect my love of shoes, interiors, furniture, jewellery and gifts so hopefully there will be something for everyone. Here's a bit of inside info as to who is coming along...

Claire from Air & Grace London who make THE most comfortable shoes I have ever come across. Plus Claire designs her shoes with leopard print, metallics, glitter, pom poms, frills and flouro. Claire has well and truly found her niche with Air & Grace, so if you fancy trying on a pair of shoes which make you feel like you're walking on air, you know where to come.

Then there's Avie & Oak which is run by a husband and wife team, Nat and Joe, who together make the most beautiful Scandanavian inspired furniture, which can also be bespoke.

Or there's this beautiful bench for the children.

Nat also runs another business, the Norm where she designs prints, greeting cards and products that make you smile. Many are inspirational and motivational. I particularly like this one....because we're all Superwomen aren't we?!

I love this card of Nat's too...

I'm really hoping that the weather holds so that Anna, from Anna Cox Cushions can adorn our garden and outside space with these stunningly beautiful cushions which are handmade in Morocco...

I bought a few of Anna's cushions earlier in the summer and I LOVE them. Great for a treat for yourself, or for a room that needs a new lease of life - or indeed a new room.

Oh and girls there's going to be lots of brightly coloured things in our house on September 15th - how could there not be, with the inclusion of neon beach club?

Again we're talking tassels, pom poms, sequins, neon, stars, pineapples, flamingos....

...and maybe even a little bit of cashmere from Cove Cashmere, another favourite brand of mine which is stocked by Neon Beach Club.

And as Birmingham is famous for its Jewellery Quarter, what better brand to invite along than Gemma from House of Solus, which is located in the heart of our wonderful Jewellery Quarter.

Gemma designs beautiful, individual pieces, such as wedding rings and engagement rings. She also restores pieces which are in need of a little TLC and she makes really modern, edgy pieces which can be personalised and which are really well priced. I have two of Gemma's pendants which I wear on rotation, they are so gorgeous.

If I know you're coming I might bake a cake...or two (but don't let me make your coffee or tea - I'm hopeless at those.) And if you're struggling for childcare, I'm sure that we can squeeze the odd baby or two in.  Oh and don't be put off by the location - we're quite nice in Birmingham and you really don't need a passport to come up from the south. It's less than an hour and a half from Euston and train tickets can be very reasonable :)