Showing posts with label French Connection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French Connection. Show all posts

Sunday, 11 March 2018

The only heels that you will ever need....

Belted utility jacket with lace detail GAP (£64.95*) | Gold acid pony hair belt Bricks & Stitches (£36) | silk blouse old but similar here from French Connection (£69) | Jeans Mango previous season but similar here from Hush (£79) 

I can guarantee that every time I wear these leopard print heels from River Island (which are sadly no longer available), people will ask me where they're from. In fact, as I was putting this post together, someone messaged me on Instagram to ask me that very question.

So a few weeks ago it got me thinking that it was about time that I put a blog post together on where to find the best leopard print courts. Having done the ground work, I can confirm that there aren't that many leopard courts around. My searches at Clarks, Selfridges, House of Fraser. Next, M&S, Hush, Hobbs, Jigsaw, Other Stories, New Look, Zara, Warehouse, Oasis and Topshop lay testament to that. 
There are plenty of flats, trainers, block heels and sandals - and if anyone requests me to do so, I'll do a post on those too. But for now I wanted to keep it to a classic style, leopard print court shoe. 

These are, for now, the best three options:

Boden  courts (£110)

My first thoughts on these were that they looked a bit fussy but the "wiggle" is a really nice look when on the foot. The reviews as far as comfort goes are really good. The heel doesn't appear to be too high and people say that they have worn them all day without any problems. Someone commented that they were cut quite low at the front and someone else found them uncomfortable because they had a bunion but other than that (and one issue relating to quality control) the reviews were really positive.  

How to style them? 

We all know that leopard is the new neutral. Think of it as you would plain black shoes. Chances are that there will be a whole lot of leg, or black trousers, or denim (for example!) above them, so even if you've got print or pattern or other colours going on elsewhere in your outfit, it really doesn't matter as it's broken up. And if not? Even better! 

I style mine with everything from jeans, as above, to my gold pleated skirt, black coated skinnies, navy wide leg culottes, silky joggers and side stripe pants - anything and everything really - which is what makes them the only heels that you will ever need. 

Leopard print mid heel courts Dune (£70)

This Dune style is a fabulous one. No doubt many of you are familiar with it as it comes in lots of different colours - fifteen to be precise. The shoes have five star reviews so I think that's a pretty good indication as to their comfort and design. These shoes are described as a "mid heel" and also come in a wide fit. To be fair, I think that these would be my starting point if I was on the hunt for some now. 

Karen Millen leopard heels (£145)

With a 9.5cm heel, these shoes have an extra 1cm to their heel height compared to the Dune shoes, which for some will be a deal breaker and for others, not so much. Unlike the other two styles these have a black heel and are also they are also pricier. But if they fit perfectly and do the job well, they will be a better investment long term, so they may be worth trying. 

My "photographer" told me to strike a pose for Mother's Day. So this was it. She even showed me what to do. And who am I to argue?

If anyone comes across any more leopard print courts out there and if you would like to share them with me, please do so. Or if you'd like a post on flatter leopard print shoes, just say the word. In the meantime, I hope that you all have a great start to the week. xx

Friday, 3 November 2017

House of Fraser - but not as you know it!

When I've shopped at House of Fraser in the past, I'm not entirely sure that I've thought of it as a shopping "experience". Generally it's more of a functional and box ticking experience - which is fine, that's what lots of department stores are about and in fairness, I wouldn't necessarily expect much more than that.  

So when I was asked to pop along to the newly refurbished Gracechurch store in Sutton Coldfield, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. But, and I know that some might think that I'm bound to say this, I absolutely loved it. So I'll explain why - but obviously as many of you quite possibly don't live close to Sutton Coldfield, I've included images of some of my favourite pieces that I think might appeal, irrespective of where you live.  

Luckily I arrived just in time for "elevensies" or really "half-past ninesies" but let's not split hairs. As Caffe Botanico was situated on the ground floor (like your thinking there House of Fraser) I thought that it was a very good place to start. In my humble opinion you can always tell a lot about a place from its café - and if at the same time you can get interiors inspo, even better. I've definitely got a thing for herringbone at the moment, so I loved this area.  And if it's grey herringbone with a splash of bright yellow, even better.

And as well as the gorgeous cakes on offer, I loved the grey metro tiles, which is handy as we're having our bathroom re-done next year so that's two lots of tile ideas that I now have. 

Now this is one mighty cake display. I must admit to having a couple of Italian pastries but I kind of accidentally ate them before photographing them. You will obviously be pleased to hear that they were delicious though.

And although I am absolutely not a coffee fan, I do love a frothy milk - the frothier the better because actually I don't really like warm milk - just the froth. This one was spot on and the girl brought it over to me which I thought was a really nice touch, particularly for elderly customers or for those struggling with children and pushchairs. And the girl was lovely "You're having a cappuccino without the cappuccino aren't you?" 

What a great display courtesy of Dune!

In keeping with other House of Frasers stores the shoe department is  now situated on the ground floor along with bags and beauty which is refreshing for the staff as previously they were located in a dark corner upstairs.

I chatted to the staff in the shoe department and they explained how the store was so much better organised now with all womenswear together, rather than over two floors. The menswear is no longer on the same floor as womenswear and everything is just better organised. In fact the store was buzzing with excitement - everyone seemed to love the open plan feel of the store, the new wooden floor as opposed to the traditional carpet and also how light it is. And importantly, there were plenty of staff around.

Can you imagine my distress, albeit short lived, at Whistles being cordoned off with red and white tape whilst they set up? I was almost as distressed as if I'd witnessed a scene out of Casualty. It was fantastic to see Whistles in a smaller West Midlands town. Whilst it happens in the south of the country, our Whistles' are generally located in the major cities, so this is a real coup. 

It wasn't long before things were definitely starting to take shape in the Whistles department. Plus the store also stocks Joules, Mint Velvet, French Connection, Oasis, Warehouse, Phase Eight and Barbour along with their own house brands, which are really strong.

What I really liked about this store was the size and shape of it. It's very symmetrical and because it's now open plan, it's possible to see from one side to the other. Plus the modern styling of the concessions and the lovely pale grey wood flooring (more interiors inspo) make the womenswear department feel like a large boutique, as opposed to a department store.

There is also a menswear department stocking Hugo Boss and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as a children's department with brands such as Barbour, Ralph Lauren and Joules.

I love this jumper from Mint Velvet (above) and this sweatshirt (below) from Maison de Nimes (£39)

Below you can see a little bit of Joules. I always love Joules for some jolly wellies and their general bright and cheery colour palette is always welcoming on a dark wintery day.

Plus there's quite a lot of sparkle at Biba. I love a bit of Biba - you always know where you are with it and there's nothing shy and retiring about Biba.

Ooooh and with all things "floral maxi dress" being so big at the moment, I thought that I'd share this lovely one from French Connection.

After having a good look at womenswear, I headed up to the second floor, which houses another café and the interiors section. I've always rated the homewear at House of Fraser as it has such a great selection of well established brands. Plus Linea always has something exciting to offer.

I have a bit of a thing for coloured glasses and I thought that this set from LSA (£32) were just lovely for when friends come round for drinks - or even when they don't. I have some displayed on a shelf in the kitchen and they make me smile every time I look at them.

There was also a great selection of fake fur cushions and throws. I've been after a grey sheepskin rug for a long time now and they had just what I was after here, so I snapped that up with 20% off at £36.

And there's just something so lovely about new dinnerwear. Again Biba comes up trumps with this range of Biba Starburst Dinnerwear which would look fabulous on a Christmas lunch table.

And this was the other dinner set that I really thought was really rather special. It's the deco peacock range, again from Biba. I realise that my shots aren't quite as good as those on the site but I keep reading that life is all about celebrating the imperfect, so I'm going to run with that. And there was a danger that I may well have had a Calamity Jane moment and knocked everything over, had I moved things too much.

I was also really excited to come across this range which is a collaboration between Ellen de Generes and Royal Doulton. The assistant there was proudly dusting the range, which we had a good old chat about for quite a while.

This has to be my favourite's just all about the message really. We all love giving, and receiving, a bit of kindness don't we? (Kindness mug £10) but equally the "Joy" and "Be Amazing" mugs are stunning too.

And I can't help but love this "Love" range, also from Ellen DeGeneres and Royal Doulton (£35). The tablewear collection is "inspired by both Ellen and Royal Doulton's love for artisanal, yet simple designs." Hello Santa are you listening?

Now some of you may think that this is ever so slightly odd but before I left the store I went and checked out the bathroom. Now I have specifically used the word "bathroom" because, as I mentioned earlier, I am gathering bathroom inspiration. And it sounds better than saying that I decided to go and check out the loos. Anyway, that aside, they're lovely aren't they?

The official launch event takes place on Thursday 9th November and if you're anywhere near to Sutton Coldfield I would really encourage you to go along for a spot of retail therapy in the nicest possible setting.

Just so that everyone is aware, this post was written in conjunction with House of Fraser but all words and thoughts are my own. I wasn't given a brief as to what, or what not, to include. Which they may well be regretting now....

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! 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

One white Cos skirt worn two different ways...

Finding the right skirt for summer can be tricky but when I spied this one across the shop floor, it was love at first sight. Thick, white, cotton with a good length, pockets and a paper bag waist, I knew that this was the one for me.

Admittedly not all tops work with this skirt - they need to be the right length but that can be achieved either by tucking in, or tucking under, or just by getting one that sits on the waistband.

I don't think that I would look out of place at a jubilee party here - bring on the red, white and blue!

And here is the Cos tie waist skirt (£59)...

The other good thing about this skirt is that I can take big, proper, strides in it without it appearing too voluminous. I'm not good with skirts that restrict my movement. I take too big a stride, they pull me back, I fall over, the the skirt and I fall out and off to the charity shop it goes.

In this outfit I wore a cropped French Connection tencel shirt, M&S platform sandals and a pink Mulberry bag. Providing that I don't wreck it by chucking things down it - although it seems pretty hardy so it could probably take chemicals and a good scrub - it should serve me well over the next few months with breton t-shirts, vest tops, brighter bits and bobs or black for a monochrome look. I think that the thing now is just to wear it - lots.

I'm away for the next couple of days working with M&S so if I'm silent for a while, that's why - but I look forward to being back soon. In the meantime, have a lovely week all of you. x

Thursday, 14 May 2015

A metaphorical walk through the summer season at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens...

(Outfit: Gap trousers, French Connection shirt £45, Stan Smith trainers - all current)

Yesterday I styled and presented a charity lunch for 200 ladies at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens - a place which is dear to my heart and which will probably be known to many of you. The glass in the glasshouses is 100 years old and desperately needs replacing, so the aim of the lunch was to help to raise money towards the £1m target. I was invited by the Trustees and the Gardens' PR Company to style the event way back in February and it was lovely to see everything come to fruition at last.

I always start such busy days in really casual, practical clothes because there is a huge amount of running around to do before an event starts. I usually end up getting changed in a cupboard about two minutes before we start, which was exactly the case yesterday.

The function rooms at the Botanical Gardens have recently been re-furbished and they looked amazing. It's a great venue for a wedding or function and the gardens are so beautiful that you can be sure of fantastic photographs. So much thought and effort went in to making everything look fantastic which was no mean feat for small but very dedicated team.

The clothes for the event were lent to me by House of Fraser, Reiss, Jigsaw and Karen Millen, with bits and bobs bought from other brands.

This is a very grainy shot of the ladies in their "Ascot" look but I like the relaxed feel to it. We had a couple of press photographers so I will share some more photos at a later date. During the event we took a metaphorical walk through the summer season, covering looks for a wedding, Henley, a trip to the tennis plus a festival or picnic. Some of the hats for the Ascot look were provided by Sally from Sharper Millinery. For anyone who needs a hat for a special event, Sally is the lady to contact!

Although I had been doing the groundwork for several weeks, the clothes and shoes were finally collected on Monday, taken home to be hung up and organised, packed and taken to the event on Wednesday, packed and returned home Wednesday night and re-packed to be returned to the stores today. This is how I was looking this morning - a little wrung out I think - and still wearing trainers, albeit different ones, for more dashing around town.

(Outfit: GAP trousers, Jigsaw coatigan £149, Whistles scarf  £45, (all current) Nike trainers, Kate Spade bag - older)

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

There's one bag that we all seem to love....but it's proving pretty difficult to find

Over the last few summers I've watched the basket frenzy grow. A few years ago I'm not sure that any of us would have really hankered after anything remotely basket like but now when a good one appears it's greeted with "oohs, aaahs" and whoops of delight (or is that just me?!)  I suppose that along with sparkly flats, lightweight fabrics, pretty dresses, floral prints and boho tops, a lovely basket signals the arrival of that one thing that we all look forward to with great anticipation - summer - and everything that goes with it, from picnics to trips to the beach.

I came across this Topshop pom pom straw tote (£25) in town last week and I could tell straight away from the response on Instagram that we were all feeling the basket love. I think that everyone is just so ready to embrace "basket season".

Pineapples seem to be having a moment right now, appearing on everything from tops in M&S and Hush, to jewellery (again Hush) and also on this Topshop tote (£28). I put pineapples in the same category as flamingos - something that I'm really drawn to but I'm not quite sure why - hence my taking a second look at the M&S T-shirt that I've just mentioned, before suggesting to myself that I stepped away from it.

I also came across this woven beach bag from French Connection (£75) whilst in Selfridges today and, predictably, was attracted to its colour. In my view all baskets need a good "handle test" as some can be quite uncomfortable, particularly if they are weighed down with all manner of sneaky picnic type treats.

I've listed below the brands that I checked out and which don't seem to have any baskets at the moment and instead I headed over to Etsy, thinking that some resourceful person over there would have tapped into the basket market. And I wasn't disappointed. I love these beach baskets (from the seller Mini Market Bristol) on Etsy $35.75 with the all so important star/heart motif, which again fall in the same, ever growing category, as pineapples and flamingos. (Don't be put off  by the price being in US $ - they are UK based).

Oh and of course tassels also fall into that category too! The colours of the baskets are just fabulous and they can be obtained from Marizoli on Etsy ($41.98)

So now all I need is a basket with a pineapple, a flamingo, a heart, a star and a tassel on it and all will be well with the world.

Brands I hunted through but with no basket luck....

Hush, River Island, New Look, Atterley Road, Jigsaw, Phase Eight, Hobbs, Cath Kidston, John Lewis, Accessorise, Next, Debenhams.

PS Primark on the other hand tend to do a few each summer so they may be a good starting point.

So, are any of you feeling the basket love?!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

A question to ponder - will stripes ever have had their day?

It's been a day of four outfits today: first thing I wore running gear, then there was (another) shower followed by an outfit that I had to photograph for a brand, then into yoga stuff followed by another shower and my final outfit of the day, which was this one.

By this stage I was pretty much past the point of anything really - a long run followed by a three hour yoga workshop run by the most amazingly strong, supple, former Birmingham Royal Ballet Dancer left me wondering which was was up. Literally.

In addition to wondering which way was up, I also wondered whether stripes will ever become a victim of their own success. I do love stripes and I am eternally attracted to them like a moth to a flame. As with navy I would wear stripes head to toe day in day out but I'm just wondering whether there is a little "it's spring let's wear stripes" overload going on at the moment. Anyway, that's obviously as far as I got because here I'm wearing stripes, albeit pale blue ones rather than the ubiquitous navy ones. Such a rebel. (As she goes to bed at 10 pm with her mint tea with everything aching!!)

Outfit deets: Whistles jeans, French Connection jumper, Jigsaw necklace, Aldo shoes

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Jigsaw sunnies and a French Connection shirt because the sun is continuing to shine (yippeeee!)...

" I liked your recent blog post." said Mr SG when he came home from work the other day. "You called me the lovely Mr SG. Except the Jigsaw gift card that this lovely Mr SG gave you for Valentine's day was for £100 but the Jigsaw shoes you bought were £149." Okaaaay.  Anyway, all it took was a little bit of explaining and Mr SG got the top or a piece of knitwear for £100 which I would probably trash in one season, or £149 on a pair of shoes that would last me for 10 years? (I have plenty of evidence to back this up.) You see, I was doing the family finances a favour after all.

Now I don't know about anyone else but it takes more than just the first sign of sun before I can even contemplate getting anything out - but today, after the second or third day, I braved it and out came the ankles and a forearm (or two). And as for accessories? Time for the espadrilles - I know, steady on - and the sunnies. Oh there was so much flesh on display in Birmingham today that it would have been easy to mistake it for Rio carnival.

I'm wearing the Jigsaw Imogen sunglasses (£55) above which I liked just because they were a little different. They're not too dark so I can keep them on all of the time. For some reason darker lenses disorientate me slightly. No idea why!

I'm also wearing this French Connection cropped shirt (£50) which felt about right for today. It's made of tencel so it's soft and a little bit draped but it has some weight to it too. For me it's an easy no brainer type of shirt.

Before it got too warm I wore a khaki Kew jacket. This one is very old now but if I was starting from scratch I would probably go for the Mango one that I featured on my last post or the Hush military jacket  (£65) below.

I hope that the sun continues, or starts, to shine wherever you may be!