The brief was that, in return for a £150 Gift Card to spend at the Fort, I would be styled in a Christmas outfit - chosen by my children. Initially I came out in a cold sweat at the suggestion but then I thought about it and figured that it couldn't be too bad. Could it?
So I set to work, asking them what they would put me in if they could choose. (Luckily two of them were still at school so they couldn't attend in person). But they come up with the following:
Comfortable but stylish
Sparkly, shiny, cool
Great flamingo impression huh?
But first, a little more about the Fort. It's located a few miles outside of Birmingham along the A38 near to that great Birmingham landmark - the Dunlop factory. Parking is free (big bonus), it's all on one level (again, big bonus) plus there's plenty of space to move about as it's outside. Sometimes I like shopping where I can see what the weather is doing, rather than being cooped up inside without any idea as to what is going on. There's a huge Primark, Boots, Debenhams, River Island, Next, New Look, H&M, Oasis and plenty of Sports Shops as well as places to eat.
So as to the shopping trip, I was accompanied by our youngest and her friend. Both started off quite enthusiastically looking at the jewellery in H&M but their interest soon waned so I knew that I had to be quick.
I didn't tick the Christmas jumper box but I did tick the "bright jumper" box instead, with this gorgeous fuchsia pink jumper from River Island which was £38 - similar here. How that was going to work as part of a Christmas party outfit I wasn't quite sure - but that's the fun of making things up as you go along (and with having two 8 year olds in tow, one of whom was very grumpy - and it wasn't the friend!)
Then, in a totally random "these don't really work together at all but I like them" kind of way, I spotted this gorgeous pink faux fur bag, also from River Island, for £20. As a furry bag was on the list and as our daughter's friend stroked everything in sight that was furry, it was a done deal. But with a fuchsia pink jumper and a salmon pink bag, where next to take the outfit?
Well the answer was in the question. The next place to take the outfit was to NEXT where I came across this gorgeous black dipped hem skirt for £65. It's beautifully embellished, which you can see more clearly in the picture below. I liked it because a statement skirt is a fabulous addition to your wardrobe, it ticked the "comfortable" box and hopefully the "stylish" box too. Also I've never had a dipped hem skirt before and I liked this one because the front, although shorter, wasn't too short.
Then we came to the shoe part. I was definitely intending on ticking the "sparkly" box with these but everyone else had obviously had the same idea and there weren't any left in my size, so instead, having chucked fuchsia pink, salmon pink and fur at the skirt, I went the whole hog and threw some velvet and leopard at it too, in the form of these velvet leopard print shoes from River Island, (£35). I have to say that being velvet they are really soft and incredibly comfortable which if heels generally kill your feet after a few minutes, like they do mine, is a good thing.
So by now I was at £158 - ooops! But given that I still hadn't managed to fulfill the sparkly element of the brief, now wasn't the time to quit, despite the pleas of the eight year olds. So whilst buying the shoes, I also grabbed a pair of sparkly, frilly, ankle socks, similar here or here (£4). They're all the rage this year and I thought that it might be fun to see what they looked like with the whole outfit. So here they are!
So, there we go. One outfit for a Christmas party with input from the children but with the overall styling left to me and two eight year olds. At £162 I was £12 over my budget but I know that I will get a huge amount of wear out of everything that I chose, so I'm happy! I just need a Christmas party to go to now.