Showing posts with label Mint Velvet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mint Velvet. Show all posts

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....

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Cross Body Bags - the gem of a handbag collection

Since I went to Bicester a few weeks ago and bought an LK Mariel cross body bag, I've barely taken it off....

The thing that really works about this bag is that it has two compartments to it, which means that it's big enough for a purse, credit card holder, keys, lipstick, phone AND some spare plastic bags for my bits and bobs. And that's all it needs to be capable of carrying, making it perfect. Oh and of course having two hands free and not having to keep hoiking your bag onto your shoulder is also a real bonus.

This is this season Mariel bag from LK Bennett (£175), which comes in animal print, black studded, grey, red, black, oxblood and there's a sunshine yellow one for £77.

Another of my favourites is the Fifi bag from Hush (£99), which comes in grey and black. It's width from front to back is substantial so although it doesn't have the two separate compartments, it can still hold plenty. And (predictably) I love the star.

The Wren cross body bag from Jigsaw (£99) comes in navy, black, Nordic orange and wine. It's a real gem and again has the two separate compartments gig going on. I like the idea of a small bag - it's chic and elegant and makes it look as though I have my schizzle together. Plus I can't gather too much rubbish in a small bag so it makes me keep on top of my receipt/tissue/chocolate wrapper game. Is that possibly one of the best (or worst) excuses ever for a purchase?!

The Esme camera bag from Mint Velvet (£109) also made it onto my list. Obviously the Gucci one would too, but for it's price tag - but this would do nicely instead. I love the studded tassel which is just a little bit rock chick. But of course it would be easy enough to find a tassel and put it on a similar bag to create the same look. 

For a relatively inexpensive option, there's the M&S faux leather cross body bag (£29.50). I love the mixture of navy and black with the silver hardware and it's a great place to start for anyone who feels that a more streamlined bag maybe a little too "studio flat" for them, rather than their usual mansion style bag. 

And of course we might expect Boden to be in on the act, which they are with this Lyon cross body bag (Boden £77 to £110). The great thing is that it is available in five colours, so there should be something for everyone. 

Oh and just by way of an update, thank you so much to everyone for your marathon good luck wishes and also for responding to my last post. I will get back to you soon, I promise! I came in with a respectable (but not fantastic) time of 4:10. The first 19/20 miles were great and I loved them but the last 6/7 weren't a particularly pleasant experience. It wasn't that I hit the wall, or that I hadn't hydrated well enough, or that I was in pain. It's just a flipping long way, my music was a bit rubbish by then, there weren't that many people and I'd had enough. Plus it was a really hilly course. And whoever thought that it was a good idea to put in a steep hill at mile 25 was an absolute numpty. I'm three toe nails down with a slightly sore hip (which didn't start until about Wednesday) but oddly my back and my slightly sore hamstring stood the test and feel much better for it. Isn't the body a weird thing?! So thank you again - and to my lovely friends and family plus anyone else who came out to support - it makes such a difference, especially when you've resorted to counting the white lines down the middle of the road to make sure that you keep putting one foot in front of the other! 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Kicking an outfit into touch with one of these...

For me, apart from a pair of shoes, there's nothing that can give an outfit a kick up the bum in quite the same way a a lovely shirt or blouse. It can take a pair of plain black work trousers into something which is quite kick-ass (sorry for all the derriere references tonight.) With a pair of ripped jeans and heels, a black metallic blouse can make the perfect outfit for a night out - and who doesn't love a bit of Victoriana?

So this is my run down of some gorgeous blouses that I've seen out and about on my travels recently....

Mint Velvet tie neck blouse (£69) - this is perfect with a pencil style skirt for work or with fitted trousers for a dressier look. Blouses are really great tops for curvier figures as they tend to skim without clinging, unlike jersey tops which can show every little trace of muffin consumption and muffin top.  The lighter  weight fabrics are brilliant as they don't add bulk, plus the ones with pussy bows have a v-neck line, which is so flattering on a larger bust. With a print to keep the eye on the move, they are absolute winners.

For those of you with curvier busts, you will know the problem with shirts and blouses and buttons that  pull. This Somerset blouse by Alice Temperley at John Lewis (£79) though is fantastic doesn't have any buttons. Perfect! There is plenty of stock in store although not in this colour on line. It also comes in a lovely sage colour too which makes a nice change.

There are a lot of metallic shirts around this season. They can be scratchy so it's worth having a good feel of them on the inside if you don't have time to try them on as no-one likes to feel as though they are wearing a brillo pad. Marks and Spencer has this metallic effect textured blouse (£45). There's also one at Reiss (£145).

For something a little bit pretty and Victoriana, Limited Edition has this lovely lace trim blouse (£29.50). Zara also has a good selection too.

I was working with this M&S  Autograph satin blouse (£35) last week. Again it's really good because it doesn't have any buttons and it's silky fabric elevates it to being a little bit more special, despite its simple design.

Marks and Spencer also has this Autograph animal print blouse (£35) which again has a flattering shape, fit and fabric. It's the type of blouse that could be worn all year round and with leopard print being one of those prints that never disappears, for years to come as well.

Ah, now the Whistles lace shirt (£145) ticks many boxes. The colour is vibrant and great on many skin tones. The fact that it is lace makes it that little bit special and with a shorter length it will sit perfectly with a skirt - just like the one in the above photograph. In fact as time goes by, I veer further away from a "party" type dress, which just sits in the wardrobe until it needs to be squidged on for a night out - and more towards stylish separates which can be worn for many different events.

For sequins, I love this Zara sequinned blouse (£25.99). I would look an utter plonky head in it but I do really like it nonetheless. Particularly on other people.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Does anyone else dislike slippers as much as I do? If so, how about these as an alternative?

Slippers? Yuck. Don't shoot me down in flames but nope, I am not a slipper fan. I think that it comes from feeling "undressed" if I'm wearing slippers - as if I'm about to go to bed and that's not good, especially if it's part way through the day. They don't really finish an outfit off.  If anything they kill it off. Huge socks are preferable to slippers in my view but they lower the tone of your outfit too. Did you know that there's an equation for slippers? Well there is and I really didn't just make it up:

OK outfit + slippers = totally ruined outfit PLUS you're wearing slippers  

I do have a pair of ankle height Uggs that I wear indoors but it's not quite cold enough for those yet. So currently I'm wearing my Stan Smiths inside and really that's not so good, largely because they come outside with me too. No, what is needed is a "house shoe". And skater style trainers make the perfect slipper alternative with my Topshop pure cashmere tracksuit bottoms (£250) that you will find me wearing about 90% of the time in the evenings*.

*Did I say pure cashmere tracksuit bottoms? In my dreams! Crikey I'd trash those before I'd managed to tuck my tummy in them. No, what I mean is these Topshop neppy joggers (£25), which I do wear a lot when I've done for the day. Interestingly the 3 reviews on the site all give them 5 out of 5. They are lovely - warm and fleecy inside plus they come in different colours and also in the petite and tall ranges too.

Anyway, until the time comes that I need to resort to the Uggs, I may well be heading towards the Marks and Spencer children's department for these slip on shoes (£18) which will work really well with my (non-cashmere) joggers and a chunky polo neck jumper. This style will also make a jumpsuit work inside the house, as well as tapered style trousers and jeans. So whilst they may not be your first choice of footwear with these clothes when going outside, they're a whole tonne better than slippers inside.

I know that these Clarks glove candy shoes (£30 in the sale) will be a real marmite item but I really like the combination of the colours. They tap into my obsession with grey felt and they just feel a bit Scandi. I'm going to nip into town tomorrow and try them on. They may not work at all but that's all part of the fun.

And surprise, surprise, I really like these Mint Velvet charcoal glitter Alice trainers (£89), also available at John Lewis. It's all in the sparkle of course, rather than the price - but perhaps they could be one for the sale. 

Some of you may already have skater trainers from the summer which you could revive as a slipper alternative. But for now, I'm off to investigate....

PS By the way, did I tell you that I don't like slippers?

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Livto - the go to jewellery brand for personalised, hand made jewellery at a great price.


When I was styling the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter Lifestyle event, I came across the jewellery brand Livto which I immediately fell in love with.  

Not only do I like their jewellery but the Livto story is lovely too. It's amazing how many businesses start out with best friends from school getting together and making "their own rules" and it was the same with Kate and Gemma, the creators of Livto. Taking simple coins, they stamp words or phrases on them - there's a selection of twelve quotes, or it's possible to choose your own quote of 17 letters for £5 extra (different criteria apply to different items).  I love the fact that the business is made of only a tiny team and that everything is made by hand and individually wrapped by the girls.

I'm wearing the double rose gold necklace (£27.99) together with the tan leather bracelet (£20). Livto also make silver bangles which can be personalised and with Rose gold being so popular at the moment, this Rose gold bracelet (£25) is a real winner and makes a fab Christmas present.

There's a huge trend at the moment for personalised things - from monogrammed luggage, to notebooks with quotes on them, to gifts bearing your children's name or indeed your own name. There's something so special about receiving a personalised gift and the Livto jewellery is brilliantly priced.

In addition to Livto jewellery and the Mint Velvet top and Boden coated jeans that I'm wearing (neither of which seem to be available any more which is a bit rubbish!) I'm wearing  the Carter boots from the Reiss outlet (£95). I whipped them off the feet of my sister in law when she was here. Apparently she was after some Reiss boots and the staff in her local store directed her towards the Reiss outlet (online) which has a great selection of past season pieces at a reduced price - so another little gem to peruse when you have a spare five mins.

Monday, 27 October 2014

A wardrobe staple to take you from daytime to dinner out....

Outfit: Adidas trainers, Cos jeans, Mint Velvet top

Most of my wardrobe is made up of staples with a few other bits and bobs added in each season. Cream is a neutral colour that I can wear without it draining the life out of me and I'm always on the look out for a versatile cream top. Throw in some lace too and it's got my name written all over it. Stripes, sequins, neon, navy, cashmere and denim have also been known to do it for me on occasion!

I first saw this Ivory lace top Mint Velvet back at the end of the summer but at £79 it was more than I had in mind to pay. And then in John Lewis last week I came across it in the sale, reduced to £55. I had a good think about it and came to the conclusion that it was worth the investment. It's slightly longer than some tops I have which means that it offers a bit more bottom coverage (always useful) and although I like a white shirt, on occasion I feel much more comfortable in something like this - it's just a little less trussed up and formal. 

I would offer some alternatives but we're on holiday in Wales this week, without wi-fi, so I'm keeping it brief. Sorry!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Never, ever again will I wear these.....and looks what's opening tomorrow!

Never, ever again will I wear these flippin' skinny jeans. Although I love the feel of them, they constantly fall down and there's nothing more annoying than having to keep pulling your jeans up. Fortunately my top was long enough not to worry about flashing anything that I shouldn't when bending over - although I had to keep on checking as it felt as though I was. Having said that, they did only cost £10 from Primark which I was happy to pay as I wasn't sure whether they were something out of which I would get a lot of wear. However now that they've proved's time to ditch them. How bad is that? It's a good job that clothes don't have feelings.

However, they will soon be replaced. First on my hit list are the waxed skinny jeans from Boden £69. The reviews of these are brilliant and I am very much looking forward to getting a pair of legs that don't look anything like my own! I have to say that the main attraction is the high rise on them - belly warmers here we come!

Alternatively I may give the Mint Velvet coated skinny jeans (£79) a try but to be honest, I never really feel like stripping off to try on jeans when I am out shopping, so perhaps I'll wait and see what the Boden ones are like.

And as for the Primark skinnies - we've had some good times but I will happily wave them farewell.

Now, I should add that I spent hours in the shops today and I have a million ideas for blog posts and even more things to show you all but there just isn't time tonight. However hopefully I will soon be able to do a round up of what's out and about and what caught my eye. I'm gathering from your emails that lots of you have been on shopping missions of your own, so please do feel free to share any gems that you have come across on your travels. Ooooh and our new Whistles opens tomorrow. Look how exciting is this?!!! (It's not a bad pic of the coat either, for anyone who wanted a closer look).