Friday, 22 July 2016

Frills, personalised bags and pom poms!

Today was the day for a picnic in the park and for a round of crazy golf with the lean, mean, hole in one eight year old golfing machine, and her friend.  The irony of playing a game with the word "crazy" in it with those two was not lost on me.

But I took solace :) in my new personalised tote bag from SWYC which I first saw on Fran of thefashionlift - although obviously she had her own initials on her bag, and not mine.

In addition to loving the style, colour and the fact that this bag is personalised, it was also utterly brilliant for crazy golf; I could get everything in it plus the strap was just the right length - not so short that it cut me in half when I put it across my body but not so long that it fell forwards every time I reached down to pick the ball up, half strangling me and making me fall over at the same time (which has happened on more than one occasion. Dignity lost!)

It was also time to give this Marks and Spencer broderie bardot top (£29.50) its first outing. The reviews are right in that it is quite voluminous but I liked that. If it's hot enough to wear a top like this I like it if the air can circulate! It's just one of those tops that needs to be paired with a fairly fitted bottom half for the proportions to work properly.

And I think that it would be remiss of me if I finished this post without drawing everyone's attention to this amazing Pom Pom Clutch (£18) also from saywhatyouc. Well I promised that I was going to use more print and colour in my outfits!

Hope that you are all still enjoying the sun and that you have something super planned for the weekend. x

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Wearing print and colour....

For a baking hot day at the (paddling) pool, you can't beat a printed silk dress. OK so the problem might be that I've had this Warehouse dress for so long now that I can't actually find anything particularly similar - which some might think is a good thing - but having not worn it in a very long time, it was good to get it out again.

(Dress: Warehouse, Flip flops: Jack Wills, Basket: Boutique in Guernsey)

I think that's the thing with full on "summer" clothes - I don't buy that many of them, largely because it's rarely warm enough to wear them and so I have them for quite a few years. But then when the chance arises, it's like spending the day with an old friend. Unlike my winter clothes which I rotate so often it's like spending the day with your arch enemy.

Wearing this dress has also made me realise how little print and colour I now wear, compared to a few years ago, but how much I like wearing them. So there's a big note to self... Does anyone else have any "notes to self" when it comes to clothes (or anything for that matter)?

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Off the shoulder in French Connection...

It's been a while since I've worn this dress but with the weather being as hot as it has, I felt that it was time for it to earn its keep. I bought it from French Connection many years ago now and with all things shoulder related being such a big trend right now, it fitted the bill.  With heels and a clutch it could make an evening outfit.

For those who like this style, I've found a similar dress in the Baukjen Birkdale dress, which is down from £95 to £38 and which is available in sizes 6 to 16. The skirt isn't as full as the one on my dress and it has an extra strap but that could easily be removed, or tucked in.

After heading off down the smarter route with this dress, I then pulled it back and went for something more casual with some sparkly Aldi shoes and this fabulous animal print tote which a friend gave to me for Christmas. I'd held on to it until now so this was its first proper outing and you know, we all got on really well on our trip on the swan pedalos followed by a ride on a roller coaster (I hate those things but a certain small person loves to watch my terrified face.)

The sunglasses are Oscar de la Renta and they are from TK Maxx. They're not actually mine....our eldest bought them for £15 but she's tottered off for a month so they sort of just tottered into my wardrobe for a while in exactly the same way that things of mine seem to totter into hers from time to time (largely never to be seen again.)

Hope that you are all enjoying this glorious weather! 

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Slip of a thing...

And at last the sun came....

..which gave me a chance to wear this slip dress from Marks and Spencer Limited Edition (now £14 in the sale)...

...whilst we went for a birthday tea at a lovely friend's house...

...where we ate lots of delicious cake! 


Saturday, 16 July 2016

Chopping wide legged jeans into culottes

Last spring I bought a pair of wide legged jeans in the Whistles sale (I'm having a feeling of deja vu here after yesterday's post!) I liked them but only wore them a couple of times so over the winter I decided that come the spring I would get them chopped down to ankle length culottes. Not relying on myself to do the job even remotely properly, I took them to a local tailors who did the job for me and since having them chopped I've worn them much more.

When having them taken up, I took along another pair of culottes, the length of which I liked, so that we got them right. Here I'm wearing them with Topshop shoes (similar here) and a Cos shirt

My bag was a birthday present from a lovely friend and the cuff is from Tory Burch at Bicester. 

If in doubt, do the chop (not the snip. That's a whole different ball game on many levels.)

Friday, 15 July 2016

A navy striped midi and tan heels...

I haven't had nearly enough wear out of this Whistles navy midi skirt that I bought in the sale a couple of summers ago and now with the work on the house nearly complete, I'm trying to think a little more in outfits and a little less in terms of "let's just re-wear what I chucked on the chair the night before." Now in fairness it is an approach that works for the totally stylish Jenna Lyons of J. Crew so I'm not dissing it but when it means that there's a whole stack of clothes that aren't getting an airing - well then that's not so good. So, for the last day of term, out the striped midi skirt came.

There is also another whole stack of clothes that don't get worn because they are lurking in the very large ironing pile that I currently own. Said very large ironing pile was one thing that I took out of the old conservatory before it was demolished and the one thing I promised myself that I wouldn't return to the new utility room. Ahem. Actually it is a bit smaller. I think that I've had the ironing pile for so long that the children have grown out of some of the clothes and others have now gone right out of fashion. So there's a top tip for making your ironing pile smaller.

It's not that I don't love ironing - I do. But only really when there's tennis on or when it's really hot. Oh and also when there aren't about 20 builder in the house who think that I've nothing better to do. Anyway, I digress, the sparkly jumper that I'm wearing was one of the items that I did iron in my recent marathon ironing session, so that too had an outing.

My shoes are from Jigsaw last year. I know of quite a few of you who missed out on them so as an alternative, there are these two options...

The Tan Billie Studded Sandal from Mint Velvet (£129)

...or the Hope Sandal in natural (£49 down from £129) - they also come in black

Oh and I saw these in Topshop - the Rococo embroidered shoe in navy (£56). Although I don't need a pair I did rather fall in love with them. You know the drill, jeans and a leather jacket, green utility trousers and a cream frilly blouse/off the shoulder top, tailored culottes and a white shirt, fairly "prim" midi length dress - they could work in so many scenarios, provided that heels aren't an issue.

....and they also come in beige too. What a brilliant way to give your wardrobe (a kick up the butt) an injection of style.

Have a super weekend everyone. May the sun shine! 

Thursday, 14 July 2016

It had me at pom pom...

I'd had my eye on this pom pom throw from Marks & Spencer for about a year - and now I've finally got my mitts on one. I wanted to hold off until first I'd chosen the paint colours for the new room. Then I decided to wait until the furniture came back too see how it all looked and then it went in and out of stock. And then finally I got my butt into the Birmingham store with about 20 minutes to go until the schools broke up and knowing that would most likely be September before I got another chance to look around, I took the plunge and FINALLY bought one.

So I've tried the throw in about 563 different locations so far and this evening it's been moved again. But I felt that this showed it in all its pom pom glory! Probably not great for anyone who has a cat...or a young child....but other than that it's very practical. Honestly.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

On the Rise Sweatshirts

Last week I was contacted by Jay, the founder of On the Rise and asked if I would like to feature one of their sweatshirts on Instagram. Would I ever?! I've loved On the Rise for a good while now, first seeing one of their sweatshirts on Erica Davis of The Edited almost a year ago now - you can read her post here.

Quite often sweatshirts can look great from the outside but can be scratchy on the inside. The first thing that I felt when I opened the sweatshirt was its inside. This one is soft and fluffy and if anyone is anything like me, comfort and snuggly things reign supreme. Plus, they have well and truly been put through their paces on the washing and tumble drying front and they come out with top marks.

A Father of four girls, Jay initially started by sourcing a one off sweatshirt with "Kensal" on the front, for one of his daughter's to wear to her gym class. The concept quickly took off and On the Rise's "Love Thy Neighbourhood" sweatshirts now feature the names of different areas within London including Dulwich, Primrose, Muswell, Highgate and Camden as well as featuring areas of New York and Paris.

In addition to featuring suburbs of various cities, On the Rise also makes Big Letter Initial Sweatshirts... personalised baseball jackets with an initial on the front, and name on the back.

The sweatshirt that I am wearing is the star sweatshirt plus there is also this gorgeous heart sweatshirt

...and who could resist the flamingo love sweatshirt?

The great thing about the On the Rise sweatshirts is that, in the words of Jay, "they can be thrown on for going down the boozer, or if you've not washed your hair for 3 days and you're on the school run the flouro lifts you" and of course there's the whole idea of dressing something glitzy down with a sweatshirt - so I'll be wearing mine with my silky pleated skirt too. 

I love a good story - the idea that someone comes up with an idea which takes off in a very organic way which the creator never planned. And that's the beauty about On the Rise - their sweatshirts somehow cleverly hit the spot by tapping into people's affinity to the area in which they live (or into their love for their initials...or hearts/starts/flamingos) - which I think, having watched closely what people buy over the last few years, is quite a few of us. 

Monday, 4 July 2016

Painting a room the organic (OK, totally random) way...

Lots of people have asked me which paint colours we have used in our new room and as there are quite a few, I thought that I would do a post about them. 

It's fair to say that other than one colour that we  knew we wanted to use, I totally and utterly made it up as I went along. In theory I was meant to have chosen the paint colours way in advance but I just couldn't envisage how the room would look, what the light and space would be like and so on. 

All that I had managed to do when everything was exposed to the elements, was to paint lots of different shades of greys, blues and stone colours together on a pillar which very shortly afterwards was knocked down. However I did like how they maybe that sowed the seeds of total and utter randomness! Once one colour was on the wall I decided on the next until we had gone around the whole room. I'm not sure that anyone was convinced about my method but I think that it turned out OK and at least I made a whole load of new friends in Homebase. 

We're still waiting for one skylight and hopefully we won't have a plywood covering forever but.....Anyway, I really liked the Hemsley paint range which, my friend's husband, who is a guru on all things paint related, especially the Farrow & Ball colours, told me was a Homebase own range (so basically a Farrow & Ball copy!) The reason that I like the range is because each colour comes in four different shades from light to dark, which I found really helpful.

The dark blue colour is called Yenston Tide and I used it twice - once on the large "TV" wall and once on an archway. The only thing that I did do with my random colours was to make sure that each colour faced the same direction (as per the dark blue). The lighter colour above is Whiston Shade, also from the Hemsley range. 

This lighter grey/blue is called Bone China Blue and is from Little Greene Paint Co. This colour is used a lot in Watergate Bay hotel and it was a colour that both Mr SG and I really liked when we visited a couple of months ago, so it was always going to feature somewhere. I bought a sample pot from our local John Lewis and then ordered the paint direct from Little Greene and it was delivered a couple of days later. 

This is a closer shot of the Bone China Blue  and Yenston Tide closer together. Whether they go or not I have no idea but I think that the aim it to "tone" rather than "go". (Whilst on the issue of toning, I did a legs work out yesterday and now I can barely walk. My bum is so sore but at least the youngest now knows what glutes are as I had to explain why I was wincing when walking up the hill to school today.)

The above shows another wall with Bone China Blue on it. It is in a slightly darker part of the build, so it takes on a different shade. The (possibly slightly wonky) picture was painted by the youngest at school last year and I loved the colours in it so much that I had it mounted and framed for my birthday - much to the irritation of the older two whose artwork never featured on our walls (largely because it was rubbish). Sorry older children - you may have many talents but art isn't one of them. I blame myself.

This wall is painted in another shade from the Hemsley range, this time Whiston Shadow. I looked at the Farrow & Ball greys but couldn't find one that I liked. I know, I must be the only person on earth who couldn't find a Farrow & Ball grey that they liked!

 And this was the only Farrow & Ball colour that I used - Purbeck Stone. It has been used on two walls, again both of which face the same direction. The Hemsley range didn't come up trumps on a stone colour but I really liked Purbeck Stone, so up in went. This was the last wall and by this stage I'd given up on testers, going straight for the kill with the whole 2.5 litre tin - extreme paint buying at its best.

The choice of paint colour in the utility room has caused some debate.  One of the builders has said how much he hates it and my husband messaged me when I was away to ask if the decorator had put the wrong colour paint on the wall. But I'll save that for another day...

Sunday, 3 July 2016

A table for two? (or ten!)

We're almost coming to the end of this part of the renovation of the house and I always knew that the dining table was going to be a key piece. I started looking at tables a long time ago and had trawled John Lewis, Habitat, Loaf, Cox and Cox, Graham & Green, M&S, Heals, Ikea - you name it and I'd taken a look.

With a big space to fill it needed to be substantial in size, plus we wanted it to seat 10. I actually came across this table in a magazine when I was putting my mood boards together (which just means cutting things out and pinning them on to canvasses that I bought from Home Bargains - rudimentary but it worked!) What I loved about it was its colour, the fact that it was handmade (from old scaffold planks. I know, some will think that I'm crazy!) and the way that it looks like it's levitating.

The table was from John Osborn Design and given that it was in an interiors magazine I thought that it would be ridiculously expensive - a little like the wall mounted TV unit that I liked from elsewhere which turned out to be £7000! As it turned out, it was no more than a table from most of the stores that I've mentioned above and probably considerably less expensive given its 3 metre size. Obviously we still have to get chairs but I wanted to see it in situ before going ahead with those.

Mr SG's initial reaction was "It looks like a load of old planks put together." Well, he was right on that one. But really he likes it. Not quite as much as I do - but he does like it. The great thing is that it's really easy to take the acrylic and wires off, meaning that the table can be stored should the space be required for something else.

The bowl on the table is from Cox and Cox (£35) and the vase was a wedding present to us from my lovely Mum!

So that's the table dealt with. There will be more to follow. Oh and anyone is very welcome to come over - it's just that no-one will be able to sit down :(

Saturday, 2 July 2016

A quick OOTD of Stripes and Lace...

Jumper: Whistles (current but in the sale); Skirt (Jigsaw last summer); Whistles (sale last summer); Adidas trainers (Schuh just after Christmas.)

Last week I had a little peek in the Whistles sale. It's a long time since I bought a striped jumper and the ones that I owned were looking a little tatty so when this cropped jumper came onto my radar, I knew that it was worth a try. The jumper doesn't appear to be on line but Whistles are fab at tracking things down so for anyone interested, this is the striped split hem cropped knit and it costs £60 in the sale.

We all know that a bit of lace and a stripe can work well together so I dug out this Jigsaw skirt from last year. As others who own it will know only too well, it's snug beyond snug on the waist so I just didn't bother in doing the hook and eye up. And luckily it didn't fall down.

I hope to be back shortly and I will start to blog about the house which is so very, very nearly finished. I have a million ideas for posts (lightweight Sheila Made anyone?) Oh the glamour! But seriously I have lots of lovely things to write about too. Hope that you are all having a lovely weekend.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Being part of the "Styled By You" campaign for the Fort Shopping Centre...

I was really excited way back in April to be asked to be one of the faces of the "Styled By You" spring/summer campaign for the Fort Shopping Park in Birmingham. The idea behind the campaign was that three fashion specialists would be chosen to form the Fort Style Squad, to help inform and inspire Fort Shoppers to update their look for the summer months.  

My Partners in crime were model Tom King (you may recognise him from the TV) and local blogger Sophie Neal, who edits the blog Sophie etc . In my role as an Ambassador, I will be hosting a twitter take over one Friday lunchtime in July, as well as contributing to features for the media. 

I've written about the outfit that I wore previously but looking back now all that I feel when I think about the day that I chose it, is pain! It was the day after the London Marathon and the only way that I could walk down the stairs in the marketing suite was to use the handrails and pretty much swing down them like a monkey. But the walking around the Fort was good for me and I loved the outfit that I got to wear for the photo shoot a couple of days later - the Culotte Jumpsuit from Warehouse (£59) and Adidas Stan Smith trainers from Schuh (£56.99). 

The latest news and style tips from "the Style Squad" can be found on the Fort's social platforms  - twitter and facebook, so do drop by for a look sometime. 

Wishing you all a fabulous start to your week!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Blushing with M&S

"Blush" is a big trend for both clothing and interiors right now and for my second day working with M&S last week, I chose an outfit in blush tones. Both the sprig printed blouse (£35) and the trousers (£45) were from Per Una. I wore a short length in the trousers so that I got the slightly cropped look that I was after. The shoes were from Autograph (£55) and they were incredibly comfortable. They were made of a very soft suede and also had insolia padding, so they weren't hurting even after 7 hours or so of wearing them.

I don't know if you can see but the shirt is made up of lots of tiny pleats around the torso so it has a nice fit to it. No ballooning but no clinging either!

Apologies for not blogging more regularly at the moment. My usual 9 pm slot for blogging seems to have been swallowed up with other activities of late - although I must admit I'm not really sure what. The work on the house is due to finish on Friday so it's been a bit of a whirl of last minute decisions but I think that we are getting there. I've got lots to share for anyone who is interested once it's all done - from paint colours to flooring, furniture, lighting and accessories so do keep a look out.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

M&S Summer Style Event

Faux leather wrap skirt (£35), Autograph platform sandals (£45), Limited Edition curved bar collar necklace (£18), M&S Collection abstract print top (£22.50)

Today I was working with Marks and Spencer in their Torbay store, presenting their Summer Style Event. The days are long but fun - eight presentations during the day but as ever the crowds, the staff and the tech and events team were lovely (as was the cheesecake that was available to sample!)

There's a very similar skirt in Autograph which is leather but the one that I'm wearing is a brilliant alternative price wise. The shoes were surprisingly comfortable and I kept them on all day which is unusual for me as I normally change into trainers in between presentations. I liked the unusual colours in the top too and the outfit felt right for me and for what I was doing - I'm not very good with floral, floaty summer type outfits especially when I'm working, much preferring the structure of "proper" clothes (if that makes sense!)

Friday sees me in the Exeter store so hopefully I will see some of you there. In the meantime, keep dry!

Sunday, 12 June 2016

It's pleats and bling all the way....

Skirt Topshop, Blouse Topshop (many years old), Adidas trainers no longer available but similar here

The girls went for it on Friday. It was a case of pleats, blouses and bling all the way for me and my 8 year old photographer, who was appearing in her school assembly as a beauty queen. Did she have a lot to say? No. Did she mind? Hec no - for she was dressed in bling head to toe. That's my girl!