Monday, 24 November 2014

An idea for a Christmas outfit and a very old (and very pink) coat!


Benetton coat, GAP high waisted jeans, Topshop belt, Cos jumper, Zara boots (breaking all the rules of taking decent photos by wearing a coat the same colour as the background. Ho hum.)
It has taken me many years but the penny has finally dropped that when Mr SG says that he gets stressed about choosing Christmas presents for me, he really means it. It's not that he's just mildly concerned, or unsure, he's genuinely worried. Given that it's one problem in life that I am able to resolve, today I assisted him with it and he has now bought me a lovely ring from Links and some Bobbi Brown make-up. When I rang him at work to tell him what a productive morning he'd had, he was most impressed AND he was chuffed with himself for saving 20% in Links. Just a few more bits to get and then he's done. How easy was that?
Today I finished shopping for the event that I'll be at on Thursday. For once I will aim to take photos of the outfits before heading out with them all. Otherwise I pack them up after the event and take them back to the shops before getting a chance to share them. Hopefully they may give some ideas for outfits in the run up to Christmas. This year I will, once again, be doing my 12 outfits of Christmas so if anyone fancies joining me by letting me have photos of their outfits, or posting them on facebook, please feel free to do so. I hope to kick off on 13 December, or thereabouts.
So, just one idea for a slightly different style jacket in the run up to Christmas - the kimono jacket. They've been around for a while but it seems that they're here to stay and with a pair of straight or skinny jeans and some heels, they make a nice alternative to a leggings/tunic outfit which can all too often be a default position.  They aren't too fitted, or too tailored, so they have that nice relaxed feel about them.  They work well with a looser vest style top underneath which again avoids the overly clingy/tailored look which isn't always appealing from a comfort, point of view.  They also come in lots of prints, colours and textures so there should be something for everyone. Anyway, I'll leave that one with you to ponder. The ones below are from Oasis but they are everywhere and M&S, in particular, has a good selection.
Cherry blossom kimono jacket Oasis (£42)
Sequin kimono Oasis (£45)

Lace Kimono jacket Oasis (£50)

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Designer blog quick!

Earlier in the year my Sister in Law was lucky enough to get herself invited to the Net a Porter sale. There she bought a number of pieces which she has asked me to see if any of you lovely ladies would like via the blog.
I think that we'll go down the same route as the last blog sale, as that seemed to work well. Just email me at if you are interested in anything putting the name of the dress/shoes in the email header and we'll take it from there, on a first come first served basis. Once I'm in cleared funds I will send the item out, although I can't promise to do it the very next day!  Postage for each item will be £3 unless anyone wants to do it any other way. All items are non returnable and sold as seen. So here goes...
Nicole Farhi grey mink narrow striped knee length dress, size 12. It is made from 45% wool, 36% polyester and 19% cotton. It has a black exposed zip at the back, has pockets and is dry clean only. The RRP is £220 but it's being sold for £80.
Iris and Ink green 100% lamb leather knee length dress, with a polyester lining. It has an exposed silver zip at the back and it also has pockets. It's a Size 14 (dry clean only by a leather cleaning expert). The RRP would originally have been in the region of £600 and it has more recently been sold on the Outnet for £220 but it's being sold for £135.

There are a few "splash marks" in three small areas on the dress but they are not very noticeable.

Alice by Temperley blue mini rose tunic style dress. It's 100% silk and is dry clean only (but then apparently it's OK to give it a cool iron!) It's a size 12 with a RRP of £288 but is being sold for £110.
Black lace and ribbon Alice by Temperley Vanessa dress, size 8. It's 100% silk and is dry clean only (but it can take a cool iron on the reverse). Its RRP is £420 but it's being sold for £180. It doesn't have its ribbon belt but that will be easy enough to replace.

Pour La Victoire shoes, UK size 6. The RRP is £285 but they are being sold for £50.

The shoes are brand new but they are marked in a couple of places, hence the great price.

Good luck!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Something furry from Zara for a chilly morning...


Coat: Zara, jeans: Whistles Maya; Boots; Dune, Bag: Kate Spade
So after yesterday's post, I've raided the Birmingham Oasis and relieved it of many of its striped jumpers. Ooops!
Today saw the inaugural outing of the Zara fur coat (£69.99), which I have had sitting in my wardrobe for about 6 weeks now. The timing had to be right and today was the day. It may have had something to do with the fact that I saw the much lusted after Shrimp coats in Selfridges yesterday which, on closer inspection, didn't feel any different at all in texture to this considerably less expensive Zara one. Or it could have been that because it was a Friday I was feeling frivolous. I know, living life on the edge or what? Or maybe it was just because, at long last, I felt brave enough to venture out in it, despite the reservations of the six year old as to its shape which I get, although not to its colour which is what was I expecting. Having said that, she did keep on stroking it as I walked her in to school.
I have spent more hours in the shops this week than I can count. Next week I'm working at an event at the children's school. We're holding a glamour night and we will have a talk from a skincare and make up brand, there will be a hairdresser there doing up dos, along with someone doing eyebrows. I have a teacher, parents and friends modelling for me. We're doing a metaphorical walk through the Christmas calendar together with the outfits that you may want for those events and I'm having a ball indulging my inner glam (which doesn't often make an appearance) buying all things silk, satin and sequinned. I can't really share any photos yet of the things that I bought but I hope to do so after the event. We only have about ten tickets left and if anyone would like one, please just drop me an email. I am soooo excited about it!
Look forward to catching up next week!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Anyone who loves stripes, come with me.....

I keep repeating to myself the mantra "I do not need it and I will not buy it. I do not need it and I will not buy it. I do not need it and I will not buy it." Except sod it, yes I do and yes I will. I'm going into town first thing tomorrow. Anyone want me to get them one?! (Oasis jumper £42)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A whizz around the High Street for a dress, some boots, jewellery, jeans and most importantly, chocolate!

Boden coat, Nike trainers, Kate Spade bag, Gap trousers, Topshop jumper

There are a few very non specific things that I would like to share with you today. Things that keep on popping in to my head that I keep meaning to write about and then I forget. So here goes

These GAP skinny high rise jeans (£44.95) are a must have in the run up to Christmas. Once they're on they don't shift. There's no hoiking them up, needing a belt or wriggling around. And if you do happen to have been left a little extra flesh curtesy of a baby, you can tuck it right in. Mine aren't as loose as this on the leg but I guess that's models for you!

Upselling is really annoying. After Clarks tried to flog us wellies and slippers that we didn't need, today BHS tried to flog me a teddy bear that I didn't need, or want. In fact it was impossible to move at the till for flippin' Teddy Bears. And they were hideously ugly. Chocolate, maybe (in fact come to think of it, that often works in WH Smiths) but a Teddy Bear. Really?

This Phase Eight dress (£79) is a really great dress for lots of different occasions. The sleeve length is flattering as is the length of the hem. It has some texture to it so it's slightly broken up and the ruching works. It's a great "dress up - dress down" type of dress - create the illusion of a V-neck with a long pendant, wear with bright shoes, metallics will work well as will sparkles, dress it down with knee boots and a long line cardi, layer a striped top underneath it and wear with flat pointy shoes. The option are endless!

This Kate Spade bag (£245) is a real beauty. I was looking at it in Selfridges today and was intrigued to know whether a bottle of Diet Coke would fit into it. So I took a quick look inside and thought about it. Then I concluded that there was quite a strong chance that they wouldn't really appreciate me shoving a bottle of coke into a brand new bag, especially given that I'm not always that great at putting the lid on securely. So I'll put it on my Christmas list and ask Mr SG to check out that very point instead.  Te-he.

Can anyone please tell me why it is that I like these Adirondack boots by Ugg (£220)? They are so not me but they just look so sturdy and warm and comfortable and they are sheepskin lined (I copped a feel earlier). I can see that I'm going to have to drag our son kicking and screaming to more rugby training just so that I have an excuse to buy them and wear them. Although I must admit that standing on a rugby pitch, just so that I can wear a particular pair of boots is a little extreme, even by my standards.

This range of jewellery by Z for Accessorize is really lovely. Not everyone is a glitter bunny or a statement necklace queen and there are some lovely delicate pieces in this collection which could be layered together or worn on their own. It's reasonably priced too so would make a lovely Christmas present. Worth a look despite the shocking images!
Bracelet (£15)
Galaxy trio pendant (£15)

Hope that everyone's week is going well. I've made a great start to Christmas - a pink sequin tree decoration and a huge chocolate Christmas tree from Hotel Chocolate. Well, I figured that some families spend a fortune on joints (of the meat variety) at Christmas but we'll just spend it on chocolate instead. Oh and if children of mine are reading this, hands off, you're having Cadburys.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Running gear for when the temperature drops...

It was suggested to me by some readers that it might be a good idea to write a post about what to wear when running in the cold winter months, so I rose to the challenge and asked some running friends of mine for their tips and, together with my own tips, hopefully we have come up with some useful suggestions.

Between us we must have run thousands and thousands of mile. The friends that I spoke to have run marathons which include London, New York and soon to be Florence, along with half marathons which include Birmingham, the Great Parks, Stratford, Bath, Long Marston and no doubt several others.

Aside from what clothes to wear I would say that good trainers are a must. Generally trainers come up small so it's good to try them on before buying them. Running clothing can be picked up for a snip at Primark and until you get into longer distances, really great wicking fabrics aren't that important but from day one (I would say) that everyone needs decent trainers - not of the standards of Olympic athletes, but decent.

So what was the advice and what were the suggestions?

One friend always runs in compression clothing and in winter, that includes thermal compression clothing. She sometimes wears the leggings the day after a long run too. Her favourite brand is Skins. Beware, apparently the clothes can be tricky to get off though, particularly the tops!  Having never tried them I can't really comment but if I decided to train for a marathon I would definitely give them a go. With longer distances and colder weather, everything helps.
I wear capri length running bottoms all year round and I have a couple of GAP pairs that I really like. Something like these from GAP (£15.99) work fine for me, although I do like a splash of colour on them somewhere if possible.

Another friend said that she felt that the winter was all about layering. She has a thermal Nike Dri fit top which she loves as it's really soft.

I always start off with a very fitted running vest top, just to keep everything in place and snug - maybe something like this from GAP (£22.95)

On top of that I wear a long sleeved lightweight running top - maybe something like this from H&M (£24.99) or the Helly Hansen range of base layers is really good.

On top of that I wear a waterproof/windproof jacket, maybe something like this Gore windstopper jacket (£112.49) which one of my friends absolutely swears by. I have a Reebok one bought from an outlet in Brighton about 9 years ago now for £10 and it's brilliant. Another friend loves a jacket with detachable sleeves so that she can turn it into a gilet for those days when only core warmth is needed.

For less expensive options, H&M and as I mentioned earlier Primark, have a good selection of running gear as does Decathlon. Sports Direct has a huge choice of Karrimor running gear, which not surprisingly is made of great fabric.

As to hats, most of the girls find that they make them too hot when running but the neoprene or fleece bands are useful for adding some warmth and keeping unruly, curly, hair under control.

Lightweight gloves were suggested for looking after hands. When it's really cold I run in leather gloves. The pain on a cold day when the feeling comes back to your fingers can be excruciating so anything that can prevent that level of cold in the first place is a must.

Oddly none of us seemed to have different socks for summer or winter running but there again the most comfortable ones are padded and quite thick anyway. One of the girls preferred the double layered ones as they prevent blisters. I picked up four pairs of running socks in GAP when they were reduced to £1.99 each and they have been just as good as some running socks which have cost me £12. After wearing proper running socks there's no way that I could run in anything else. They are one piece of kit that, for relatively little investment, can make a huge difference. 

We didn't seem to chat about bras. I think it very much comes down to the level of support required. Some vest tops have a built in bra which will be sufficient for some.  I always wear a bra too, although not a sports bra which I know I should. However I've never found one that I'm comfortable with. I must investigate them again but frankly I'm not sure that they're going to rescue anything anymore! Here's a link to technical running socks and bras for those interested.

I have one friend who is a real ninja in the Sweaty Betty sale and she picks up some great running pieces. They are really stylish and look great. I haven't quite made it to the lofty height of SB yet, only having bought my first set of "matching" running gear last year, despite having been running on and off since the age of 15.

And one friend swears by leaving layers on her route and collecting them on her way back. Apparently no one ever steals anything from allotments!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Not quite 50 shades of grey...but there are definitely a few!

 "Click." That was the sound of the heating being clicked on to constant as Mr SG left the house for the day for his annual conference. The house is totally toasty now!

Today I took the youngest on her first shopping trip. Generally either I have chosen her clothes for her, or she's worn her sister's hand me downs but now that she has reached the grand old age of 6 (nearly 7) she liked the idea of choosing a few bits of her own.

She was so excited and I know that she loves it when I wear a skirt or dress so I wore this Whistles skirt from last year, with a Topshop jumper, flat Whistles shoes and a Reiss leather jacket that I bought in the sales at the end of the summer. It's the first time that I have worn it and it felt really lovely. I've always loved Reiss leather jackets and as my Oasis one was looking shabby it needed replacing but at about £450 a shot I didn't think that it would ever happen. And then, right at the end of the sale I came across this one for about £180 - not an insignificant amount I realise but I knew that it was now or never, so I took the plunge.
We did a one stop trip to M&S which came up trumps with some lovely pieces in the sale. The Autograph range was great and it's definitely worth a look, with some really pretty, age appropriate clothes. I loved this Autograph floral skirt (£16 to £18) - it's very Ted Baker - but I kept quiet and we came home with a skirt with cats on instead.

And this Autograph organza skirt (£12 to £13) is so ethereal...

I have just come across the silver Autograph boots (£40) online. They go up to a size 6, for anyone tempted with some silver Chelsea boots.

Next we went to Clarks for some shoes, where we were told that they didn't actually make any shoes in the size that our daughter had been measured as needing (12D), which kind of threw me, but would we like some wellies or slippers that we didn't actually go in for and which wouldn't have really fitted her anyway but which we might need because it was getting colder. Eh? That would be a no then.

This was one of our other projects for the day. Replacing the covers on the left hand chair with the new sausage dog oil cloth print which is available at John Lewis. You cannot imagine how much fun, and how satisfying it is, using a staple gun. It's much better than trying to build a gingerbread house. I shall be changing my name Linda Barker.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The fail safe anytime, anywhere, going out outfit...

Today I received an SOS email from a reader whose husband had sprung a weekend away on her. Lovely as the surprise was, she wasn't quite sure what to wear to the champagne bar her husband was taking her to.

For me there's always one fail safe outfit which I have tried and tested many times over so, if you don't have a huge amount of time to shop, to suss out the latest styles, fashions and trends, this won't let you down....I promise.

So, take one pair of fitted black trousers such as the Jigsaw woven jersey riding legging (£85)...

if they are a bit tight and scary, instead go for the GAP slim cropped pants (£34.95)...

Nip to Oasis and pick up this leather trim long line ponte jacket or something similar - there are plenty to choose from..

Work in a plain top - either silky, or a vest top or a fine knit. Just nip to M&S if necessary and pick up a fancy vest! This slinky mesh trim vest for £5 should do the trick. Tweak it as necessary depending on your shape and size. Something less clingy or with more bust support may work better for some but you get the idea.
Then work in the fun bits. Trawl through your wardrobe and see what you can find - the sparkly shoes, the statement necklace or finer necklaces layered together, the cocktail ring, the chunky bracelet, the painted nails, the lippy and a clutch. And believe me, you're ready to go. Whether it's to a cocktail bar, a gastro pub for a meal out, a night with the girls at one of their houses you won't feel out of place. Stylish and simple with a bit of colour or sparkle as a talking point is all that you need. As they say on the Apprentice "it's not rocket surgery" (I know, the mind boggles) but it works.
If you need to add a few bits in, here are my tips...
Hit New Look for a clutch. Whether it's yellow, sparkly, embellished or plain, they have a great choice. This box clutch for £15.99 will work with lots of things. Just turn it on its side if needs be!
Dune has some great shoes for the party season. I love the Alina (£69) which comes in 11 styles to include sparkly ones, bright colours, suede, metallic snake skin and leopard. They are a mid height court, so not massively high but of course places like NEXT and Oasis have some great styles for this time of year too.
Alina leopard print...

Alina bright pink...

Alina sparkle...
And then for a necklace.  I love this one from Oasis (£10). It's not too much but it's got nice sharp lines about it.
For something a little more statement like, nip over to Alice's Wonders for some serious bling! This star necklace is £14. But equally you may prefer ear-rings and a cocktail ring to a necklace, or a chunky bracelet instead. Just go with what feels comfortable.
Don't worry about mixing silver and gold or black and navy and don't worry about getting exactly the right "shades" of black together. It's about wearing things with confidence and giving the impression that every part of your outfit is well thought out and intentional even if it's all been put together at the last minute. Seriously, if ever anyone came up to me and told me that they thought that my navy and black didn't quite go or that I'd mixed silver and gold, I quite possibly think that I would tell them to go and get a life (in a nice way of course.)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Yeeee-haaa! Slappa my thigh in my knee high burgundy boots!


Although I've been writing Style Guile for over four years now, I think that you would be hard pressed to find any outfits where I've worn knee high boots. For the last few years I haven't really been a fan of them - not on me at least - but slowly the tide is turning. I guess that ankle boots just took over for a while but then I came across this La Redoute pair of heeled/slightly slouchy boots that were gifted to me by them last year. I always loved the colour of them and with burgundy/ox-blood being a big trend this season it prompted me to give them a whirl. In theory (or in my head at least!) they should also work with my striped navy and white Whistles skirt - time will tell!

For similar try these from La Redoute (£169)...

Or there's this pair, also from La Redoute which at £44.50 are half price.

Let me know what you think and how you get on!