Thursday, 17 April 2014

A Girls' night out in Jigsaw, GAP and Dune sparkles...

A couple of nights ago I was out with the girls at a local pub. It wasn't a fancy pants place and anything goes really but I think it's nice to make a bit of an effort when going out.

I love a nice cream jumper for the spring - or for the winter too for that matter - and this Jigsaw jumper (£59) offered me just what I was after. I like the boat neckline, the vertical ribbing, the batwing sleeve and the shape of it as, unusually, it's quite fitted around the waist whereas a lot of the knitwear at the moment is quite square and baggy (otherwise known as relaxed, slouchy or comfort fit!)

Sometimes I like to wear a combination of casual trousers and sparkly heels too, so these super skinny khakis from GAP (£27.99) worked fine for me, together with these Dune heels, which I wear all year round, from Christmas parties to the height of the summer. I'm not sure that many women go to the pub with trainers in their bag but I did, just in case I decided to run home (I didn't!)

Jigsaw jumper (£59) - I thought that it was quite brave (or daft) of me to wear it when going out for dinner!

GAP super super skinny khakis (£27.99) - these were a more sensible choice if it was the case that was going to throw things down myself.
Unlike the middle of winter, when we all know that we need to wear a lot of clothes, or the height of summer when we all know that we don't (within reason), I've realised that this is one of those times of year when it's possible to spend far too long deciding what to wear. It's largely because there can be such a wide range in temperature during the day. So, to save myself, my sanity and to avoid annoying the family over the holiday period, I'm going to spend a bit of time pulling a few outfits together which deal with the "Oh it was 6 degrees and now it's 16 degrees" issue. It's not hard but it just takes a bit of thought. I hope to share them with you as I go along...
Oh and of course, knowing that she's such a big fan of the blog, I can't sign off without wishing VB a very Happy 40th Birthday. Much as I love her current refined and sophisticated style, I'm hoping that one day she will re-visit the outfits of her Baden Baden WAG days, or her POB or the boobs under the chin look. Sadly I fear that I will be disappointed. Happy Birthday Mrs B!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Gray & Osbourn - an alternative to the High Street with pieces to fit and flatter (and we could all do with a bit of that!)


In today's post, I'm wearing clothes by Gray & Osbourn, specifically a striped jacket by Betty Barclay (£150) and cobalt blue slim leg jeans by NYDJ (£140) which I chose from their current collection.  I'm also wearing Dune leopard print shoes, an H&M T-shirt and a cream Warehouse bag. Before telling you about the clothes though, I want to tell you a little about Gray & Osbourn.

Gray & Osbourn is an online business described as "a stylish designer clothing boutique for women who love confident timeless fashion."

I work with many women of differing shapes, sizes and preferences, for whom the High Street doesn't always deliver. Finding a brand that has the potential to do just that always makes me gleeful and I file it away for future reference.  It's also nice to see different pieces which not every one will be wearing to the same event.

The great thing about Gray & Osbourn is that they stock clothes for those women who can't just walk into Zara and pick up a pair of jeans, or go to Topshop for a neat little fitted blazer - or perhaps they can but would rather choose not to because of quality or comfort issues. Really it's a bit like Atterley Road but for a slightly different market. Some of the occasion wear is lovely and for me they are particularly strong on trousers, stocking brands such as Michele jeans, which come in three different leg lengths. I've also had a lot of success with  my ladies with Michele trousers, which they also stock and which are great for those ladies with more of a tum and with less on the hips and bottom.

As to the NYDJ which I am wearing, they are designed to lift the bottom and flatter the tummy. I can really vouch for their comfort and the cobalt blue, I felt, were a nice change from indigo denim and just a little more modern. You can see from the photos that they are slightly big on me and their claim that you need to go down a size is true. Sadly for me they don't go down any further, otherwise I would try them.

As to the jacket, it's lovely to wear. Just my kind of thing - striped with a bit of coral, comfortable and not too trussed up!

There's also a good selection of flattering swimwear which uses ruching and support where it's needed most. Plus, there are some lovely pieces in the occasionwear which include dresses with sleeves, such as this navy beaded dress (£250).

There are also some lovely sparkly pieces, such as this beautiful silver maxi dress (£350).

Additionally there's this lovely black and neon layered jersey dress (£190).

So next time you're on the hunt for a pair of jeans that truly fits, a swimsuit that flatters in all the right places or a piece of occasionwear that not everyone else will be wearing, it may be a good idea to check Gray & Osbourn out.

Disclaimer: I haven't been paid to write this post and I don't know whether the clothes are intended for me to keep or whether they are to be returned - sometimes I just don't get around to sorting those things out until after I have posted. But if anyone really wants me to let them know once I know, I'm very happy to do so!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Women helping women! A plea for votes for Shinerock London, makers of luxury printed scarves - thank you in advance!

It's not often that I use the blog to ask for help but I felt that on this occasion I wanted to, so I hope that no-one minds. I should just say that whilst I received a scarf to feature in this post, I will be sending it back. To do otherwise just wouldn't feel right.

Last week I received an email from Catherine Shinerock, who introduced me to her first collection of luxury, digitally printed scarves. In her words "The collection takes inspiration from nature and fantasy, offering luxurious, contemporary design with a touch of magic." It has been snapped up by Fortnum & Mason and some quirky boutiques. However the reason that Catherine contacted me was to ask for a little help.

Catherine is currently working on a second collection and hoping to win some funding and support from Triumph's "Women in Making" competition, which supports women with start up companies take their business to the next level. However what she needs are votes!

The winner will receive £10k in funding and a year long mentorship, which would allow Catherine to fund a second collection. She told me that the mentorship would be invaluable to help her navigate the tricky waters ahead. The competition also offers the winner the opportunity to be stocked in Fenwick which would be a dream come true for her.

Catherine has a fantastic selection of scarves which you can see at Shinerock London. Sadly this shark scarf has sold out but, as someone who has a morbid fear of being eaten alive whenever I am in the water (even the local swimming pool)  I wanted to include it anyway - it's just brilliant.

If you could spare a moment of your time to vote, I know that Catherine would really, really appreciate it. You can vote here and it only take a minute - less than that even - and can be done via your twitter or fb account. Even I managed it. So, if you do have the time, and inclination, to vote thank you!

For info purposes, the scarf that I am wearing costs £100 and is called Roses and Rings


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Something other than jeans - please! Thank goodness for Jigsaw stripes and a Whistles blazer


Today when I got up I decided that I needed a change. No more jeans! Anything for a change! BUT, as ever, it still needed to be warm and comfortable.

With the sun shining, I convinced myself that it was much warmer than it was. This Jersey stripe dress from Jigsaw (£79) has been sitting looking at me since I bought it a few weeks ago so I decided that today it would be my victim, together with the  Lena Jersey blazer from Whistles (£95) which too has been sitting quietly on the sidelines hoping that it wouldn't be picked. Ha! I can report that the dress is really comfortable. It's 99% cotton and 1% elastane and it's really thick and supportive too. The same goes for the blazer.

I tried several pairs of shoes including leopard heels (bit tarty for a daytime trip to the Bullring with the 6 year old. The face didn't match the outfit!) Block heeled leopard print shoes - ditto but on a slightly lesser scale. Patent navy loafers from Hobbs - nice but a bit safe so I threw caution to the wind and put these cream Linford brogues from Dune (£65) with navy tights. Radical!

What I liked was even though the items were new, I felt happy to keep the whole outfit on for the whole day just as it was, even when shaping my bread dough and taking Matilda out on her roller blades.

The fact that the photographer is vertically challenged, together with the weird effect of the stripes when photographed, doesn't make for the best of photos but I think that you can get the gist. Sometimes when I read blogs which talk about how to take amazing photos I cringe and hide in the corner. Unedited snaps would be a more accurate description of my photos, rather than works of art but hey ho, nothing is about to change on that front, hence the eye bags/shadows/blemishes and double chin. Super!

Monday, 7 April 2014

A cropped top? Seriously? Why yes. Don't look away just yet!

If I said that I was going to get a cropped top, I would imagine that everyone would think that I had lost my marbles because (surely) a cropped top equates to an exposed midriff. However a cropped top which doesn't show any midriff? Well there's a thought.

The silhouette of a fuller style skirt is often disadvantaged by the length of the top worn with it. The waistband gets covered, hiding the narrowest part of both the skirt and its wearer. So, for anyone with a fuller styled skirt in their wardrobe, I'm offering a different solution this season which will both update your wardrobe and make the skirt more flattering to wear. A little bit of imagination may be involved, that's all!

As to a couple of examples of this style of skirt, the palm tree skirt from Karen Millen (£99) is a nice option. It has a good length and the print, whilst pretty, isn't too girly.

For a more neutral option, the midi denim skirt Karen Millen (£129) is almost like the jeans equivalent of a skirt and therefore quite a safe option for anyone embracing the concept of a cropped top for the first time.

So as to tops.  Because the skirts are high waisted the cropped T-shirt Mango (£17.99) won't expose any tum but it will create a lovely silhouette and it's just a little bit different.

The cropped lace Tee Warehouse (£45), which also comes in white, is really pretty too. I have worked with this top (and very pleasant it was too) and it is definitely on the right side of cropped.

The palm leaf top Warehouse (£38) would work really well with a white midi length skirt although, as with the lace top above, both have a skirt to go with them which are worth taking a look at.

As to shoes, heels are always a great choice and I have to admit to being a little bit taken by these Glory High Shoes from Topshop (£58). If I chose to go with the denim skirt and white Mango lace T, these would be the shoes for me. Perhaps less so with the paint splatter skirt and/or palm print top - unless I was feeling very brave.

For those who may prefer something more subtle, they also come in this lovely mint  colour.

Luckily, Iva at Falling In Style has already paved the way for me by wearing this lovely outfit, in which she looks stunning. When the sun comes out, I will be happy to bear all but for now it's the parka and boots all the way for me.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Boden Serrana Sandals - Something sparkly for your spring Wardrobe on a non-sunny Sunday!


With our son having been poorly, I have spent quite a lot of time recently watching survival programmes, together with programmes about sharks, crocodiles, snakes and "Bakery Boss." With our daughter, I have watched many bridal, and toddler and tiara, type programmes. Enjoyable as it has all been, I am so grateful that they are both now better. 

It was during one of these many TV sessions that I decided to try on my new Serrana sandals from Boden (£52.51 to £61.41) which come in a variety of colours including gold, aqua, black, hibiscus, navy glitter, tan and zebra. I didn't like the shots against the carpet but thought that the ceiling made quite a good backdrop, which explains the spotlights. It must be gravity that makes the sandals look slightly too big - but they are fine when my feet are where they're meant to be i.e. on the ground!

I can't wait to wear them and this is exactly where I would like to take them with me - Shell Beach on Herm - my favourite beach in the world.

Friday, 4 April 2014

How to look good naked...but I think that I prefer these ladies with clothes on! (From Warehouse, Coast, Karen Millen, Dune, Ted Baker, Jaeger)


Yesterday evening I was working with the Solihull BID  at the Mell Square Shopping Centre and specifically, with House of Fraser. The photo above shows the seating area where I sat and chatted to my ladies. Put together by the interiors team, I would quite liked to have picked it all up and taken it home with me.

These were part of the team with whom I was working.  Boy were they heavy (sorry ladies). Dressing these models was so tricky - their arms kept falling off, they wouldn't bend or move in the way that I wanted them too, I kept groping their boobs (and apologising to them)!  I have so much respect for the VMs who work with them on a daily basis in the confined space of shop windows.

The models were to be dressed in work wear so I wanted to include a dress option and a trouser option, print on the top half, print on the bottom half, colour, texture, matching bag and shoes, clashing bag and shoes, open shoes and closed shoes, together with classic, and more on trend, pieces.

Model 1 wore printed trousers and a pale blue lace top from Warehouse to reference the pale blue in the trousers, a Ted Baker mac with Dune shoes and bag - very matchy, matchy - but they could easily be separated out.

I love Dune for their range of inexpensive but stylish bags. They have a lovely coral one plus some nice tan and black ones too.

The great thing about these trousers is that there are so many colours with which to work. I felt that the print of the trouser and the texture of the top demanded a simple, classic shape in a coat.

The shoes are black at the back. I like the closed toe for those who don't feel that open toed shoes are appropriate at work. Love the leopard print lining in the coat too!

Model 2 sported a little neon and black number from Coast -which almost looks like a skirt and top option - together with a softly tailored jacket, also from Coast.

The leopard print bag is from Biba. I fancied introducing a print as a black bag, whilst safe, was a bit too predictable. The patent shoes were from Kurt Geiger.

I wanted to break the neon pink up, so chose this large linked necklace from Karen Millen. I like this necklace for work. It's really versatile and has a good weight to it, with just a little bit of bling in the smaller links.

Model 3 wore a printed kimono style jacket from Yumi, a cream Warehouse top, Episode trousers, Dune shoes and a Jaeger bag.

I love the colours in this softly tailored jacket as there are so many different ones that could be picked up elsewhere in an outfit. It would also be great with jeans at the weekend. The Warehouse top has a slight texture to it and the necklace, which picks up the brown shades in the jacket, is from Ted Baker.

I love this Jaeger bag! It's as near as it needs to be to the shade of blue in the jacket and the shoes pick up the coral in the jacket. The shoes may be a bit high for work but maybe not. The trousers are a lovely fabric - nice and drapey with just the right amount of room in the leg.

Ladies, it was lovely working with you - even the ones that were rigid and not very chatty!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Double denim - with a touch of sparkle from Zara (and Boden) and hot pink from Alice's Wonders


After my terrible admission yesterday, today I had to wear something different. Not too different of course, we're still talking jeans but I put them with a Breton top, a denim top from GAP (£29.95) which I bought a couple of weeks ago and a fabulous bright pink solitaire necklace from Alice's Wonders (£8). The silver shoes were from Zara a few seasons ago now.

I'm sure that I will get a huge amount of wear out of this top. It provides a great backdrop to a statement necklace and it's such a versatile top to wear with casual, non-denim, trousers - or jeans too, if you don't mind a bit of the old "DD" going on.

Here's a closer shot of the lovely necklace which arrived out of the blue from Cathy, who runs Alice's Wonders.

For anyone after a flat glittery sandal for the summer, these Serrana sandals by Boden (£59) could be a perfect match. I have a pair on the way and I can see them being hugely versatile with jeans, khakis plus dresses and skirts. The reviews say that they come up narrow so for anyone who finds that lots of sandals are too wide, these may be worth investigating. They come in lots of colours so if looking like a Christmas tree isn't your thing, don't fret!

When I was looking at Cathy's site, this pink crystal necklace Alice's Wonders (£13) leapt out at me so I just thought that I would share it with you - it's just so lovely!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Embracing the warmer weather, little by little....

OK, I'm going to come clean - I've been wearing pretty much the same outfit every day for two weeks, as it's that long since no.1 child started with a horrendous virus. The day that she went back to school, no. 2 child was struck down.  No. 3 has a nasty cold so she too could be off and no. 1 has also picked it up - so we're a pretty grubby infected household at the moment. You know that things are bad when you get the time to put all the aprons and running stuff on a hot wash, just to get them super clean. And when you get around to getting up the step ladder to clean out the top of your husband's wardrobe - well, that says it all!
Today's outfit was positively haute couture! Being slightly warmer, when I went to get the youngest from school, I wore my All Saint's trench plus an animal scarf which is graded in colour and which a lovely friend gave me for Christmas - both for the first time. I had been saving the silk scarf for a warmer day - and today was the day. Warmer weather allowed me to go sockless too. Despite everything, the warm sunshine made me really happy!

I thought that I would share with you this Mother's Day present from our eldest. As soon as she started to feel slightly better, she started to make these origami flowers, which took her hours and hours. On each piece of paper she wrote the same word over and over again before making it into a flower. A pressie that costs so little in terms of money but which is priceless. I know that it's a bit late in coming but I hope that everyone had a lovely Mother's Day - or just a lovely sunny Sunday.


Monday, 31 March 2014

Some lovely pieces from the High Street - sparkles, stripes, spots, sheer, denim and neon brights. Take your pick!

After my weekend working with the Touchwood Shopping Centre, I thought that I would bring you some photos of some of my favourite pieces, which I put together in (loose) themes in between presentations. Some of the clothes moved around in the breeze so I had to keep dashing to straighten them before running back to photograph them - so please excuse any wonkiness! I haven't linked to each piece but from left to right, I've listed the brands.
The QR code above was amazing. It was able to be scanned and went straight through to the Touchwood Look book. A really innovative piece of PR!
Pretty in (shades of ) pink
Next, French Connection (x2), Hobbs, Bravissimo, Office, River Island (bag)

Soft Citrus Sparkles

River Island, French Connection x3 and French Connection mules.

A type of monochrome

Next, Hobbs, French Connection x2, Bravissimo, French Connection mules

True Blue

French Connection, Hobbs, River Island, French Connection, Bravissimo, River Island (hat and bag) Office (cobalt shoes) Next (striped slippers)

Pale and interesting

GAP, French Connection, Hobbs, Next, River Island

Nineties throwback

All GAP other than jumper (French Connection) shoes and trainers (both Office)

Working Girl

Hobbs, French Connection, Phase Eight (dress and shoes underneath), Hobbs, Next, Office (blue and pink shoes), River Island (bag)

 Tropical prints

River Island, French Connection, River Island x2, Next, Office (pink, blue and green shoes) French Connection (mules)

Chic in White

Hobbs suit, River Island top and bag, Office shoes

I am hoping that there may be one or two pieces there to get you thinking about your spring/summer wardrobe, now that we finally have some sun. Ooh and there's a competition running at the moment, the prize being £250 to spend in Touchwood, which you can enter via their website. Don't let a small thing like distance put you off!