Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Mum on the Run - the Marie Claire Blog and Twitter awards

So today was the day - the Marie Claire blog and twitter awards 2012!  It was a fabulous day, I met some lovely people and the change in routine was a real treat.  However, at the end of it all I couldn't wait to get home and do you know why?  To take my flippin' skirt off. Much as I liked it, I'm a bit more of a climb the stairs two by two kind of girl, rather than a standing on the escalators kind of girl. Not today though. I was so frustrated with how fast I was moving my legs but with how little progress I was making that I was tempted to take my skirt off whilst walking down the street.  Had I been wearing a long coat I probably would have done.  But I didn't fancy getting arrested today so I stuck with it.  The advantage (for the bank balance at least) of not being able to walk very fast or very far was that after the awards were over, rather than going to Selfridges, which was in my sight, I headed home on an earlier train - OK so I looked in Maje and Sandro en route but they were on my tottering way back to the tube.

As to the awards themselves - there was nothing coming my way today but I was so happy to have made it to the last ten that I honestly didn't mind.  Seeing my blog come up on four screens around the room was amazing and suddenly made it very real! Monica, from the Elgin Avenue, who did win, was lovely and I hope that the award really helps with her developing career. Here's a photo of me with Monica (middle) and Wendy from Thank FiFi  who was also short listed for the same award as me.

The photo below is of me with Amanda Start  - the Online Stylist, who was highly commended in the fashion twitter awards.  It was Amanda who inspired me to start a blog in the first place when I saw an article on her in Woman & Home magazine in 2010 - so I owe her a big thank you. Instead I bought her a coffee, which I am not quite sure is thanks enough but I can't afford to get her a Michael Kors bag - which I know she would love!

So meeting Amanda and the others was great, getting a free Marie Claire mag and lots of pastries was great but the best bit?  Getting home, taking my skirt off, putting my jeans on and leaping down the stairs - that and our eldest coming home with two certificates for getting full marks in a school project.  Now that was a happy face worth seeing!  

Monday, 30 January 2012

Mum on the Run - Thank you!

For once, I don't know where to start. I wanted to blog before the school run started but given that it starts in 20 minutes and I still have the dinner to finish and the ballet things to sort out, I think it's unlikely.

I was going to tell you about the new contraption that we have in our house which was rigged up by our eldest on a pulley system when she couldn't be bothered to come downstairs to deliver a glue stick to her brother.  The fact that she had to come downstairs to rig up the contraption in the first place, seemed to escape her.

I was also going to tell you about how I managed to mention my husband on the radio this morning. He  complains that he never  gets a mention but the perfect opportunity arose today when the BBC called and asked me to talk on air about GQ's list of best dressed men. I managed to get in how shiny shoes are a must for men when wearing a suit and how my husband always polishes his on a Sunday night.  So now he's had his mention!

I was also going to tell you how I still need to prepare myself for tomorrow's Marie Claire blog award ceremony - specifically how my handbag needs to be emptied of all the detritus that it carries, which currently includes a lindt chocolate egg, a button, a yellow pen lid, a peppa pig hair clip and an emergency packet of paper chains which I have had in there since I attended all the various carol concerts with the then three year old in tow. 

However, there really isn't time for any of that so for now, I just wanted to thank everyone at Marie Claire for liking StyleGuile enough to long list it in the first place and to everyone who voted for me, together with everyone at Marie Claire (again) for helping it on its way to the short list. I am eternally grateful to you all and thank you so much for all of your support.  Tomorrow will be an amazing day I am excited beyond belief - in much the same way as I looked forward to collecting my first ever car - a 1.9 diesel Peugeot 205 Style - so cool!  Beth x

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Mum on the Run - Sunday Best

I'm not really flouncing around in a fancy dress today - in fact I am sitting here in my jeans and cable knit jumper (again).  However, there are a few pieces in my wardrobe which I like and which I don't get a chance to wear very much, so I thought that over the next few Sundays I would share them with you in my "Sunday Best" feature.   Also, there are only so many times that I can wear jeans and a jumper before you all go "yep, got that look, now let's go and find a blog where she actually has a life and wears something a little more interesting."

This dress was from Hobbs a few seasons ago.  I had my eye on it when it was full price but I waited until it went into the sale and managed to get it for £50.  It's a great shape for all ladies who are a little smaller on the top half than the bottom half - and whose bottom half is a little curvier than they may perhaps ideally like!  The frill on the front adds volume over the bust but the skirt skims rather than clings.  Whilst it is a fuller skirt, there isn't a lot of fabric, so it doesn't add bulk.  I sometimes change the belt to alter the look but all it really requires are some heels - LK Bennett Sledge heels in this case.

I put a Kew chunky bracelet and Stella & Dot ring with it and had I actually been off out I would have been good to go! Whilst in my dreams I may be somewhere more glamourous, instead, I think that the Chipmunks may be on the agenda for the day. Oh help!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Mum on the Run - New Jigsaw shoe boots, peg trousers and a sparkly jumper

Our son was given a mention in assembly this week in recognition of his work in taking the photos for the blog. Apparently his IT teacher wants to take a look at it to check it out from a technical perspective.  I'd rather he didn't.  There's so much technology out there that it's difficult to know where to start.  There's instagram for photos, pinterest and tumblr (or in my case fumblr or bumblr).  One blogger told how her husband sits on the settee next to her of an evening designing her blog for her.  My husband doesn't really have much of an idea of how any of this works but he makes a mean chocolate ice-cream, so I'll let him off.

Meanwhile, the four year old is continuing in her quest to become the biggest ladette in history.  This evening at the dinner table she said how she needed to do a "bottom woof" so she leant to one side and let out a trumpet.  None of us has any idea where she gets it from.  I don't think that she gets if from Barbie of Swan Lake but now that she knows how to use the remote control, I wonder whether she watches re-runs of Men Behaving Badly in between episodes of Peppa Pig.

Following on from yesterday's blog, today I was talking to a lady who went to Donna Ida for some jeans.  She had tried every style known to man without any luck - but refused to give up.  She wanted some skinny jeans to tuck into boots but if they fitted her curves they were too baggy on the knees and around her legs.  Anyway, the fourth pair that she tried on in Donna Ida fit her like a glove and she loves them.  Despite the fact she paid far more for a pair of jeans than she ever dreamt, she says that they are worth every penny.  In her words "I am a forty year old woman and I didn't want a pair of jeans that slid down when I sat down." I get where she's coming from!

As to today's outfit, I was off to a gym competition today and decided to wear my new (sale) Jigsaw shoe boots in as I may wear them to the blog awards on Tuesday.  Having realised that there is a place in my Wardrobe for some shoe boots, I decided to invest in a better quality pair and put the £17 from Florence & Fred at Tesco into semi-retirement.  Not that there's anything wrong with them - they were a great foray into shoe boots whilst deciding whether they really were for me or not but the heel looks like it might become unhinged at any moment.  I also wore my Topshop peg trousers,  Warehouse sparkly jumper and green Zara scarf.  I really should have had the photos taken again but I was late leaving for the competition so this Mum had to run before I missed my opportunity to impress the judges with my full twisting Yurchenko. Ouch!


Friday, 27 January 2012

Mum on the Run - wearing jeans and info about jeans!

I have worn this combination a few times since Christmas, so forgive me! Today I put my Cos shirt dress with a gold Reiss skinny belt, shoe boots and a pink Next cardi.  I went running this morning and I am always cold afterwards so I snuggled up in this combo, under which I had also layered a vest and a striped long sleeve top.

Yesterday I said that I would do a post about jeans.  The biggest trends for jeans at the moment are printed (animal, flower, spots - take your pick!) coloured and waxed. 

Trends aside, the most common problem I come across is jeans that gape at the back.  Lots of ladies have a slim waist and curvier hips and thighs - which means that if they want jeans to accommodate their hips and thighs, they are huge on the waist. 

The best jeans that I have found to deal with this problem are as follows:

In terms of shape, boot cut are probably the best shape to wear if you have curvier thighs and bottom as they address the slight imbalance in proportions.

Gap curvy - cut to deal with this very problem.  They come in different finishes, different leg lengths and they are a great price.  If you sign up for their discounts it is often possible to get 30% off.  They also do trousers in the same cut which is great.  Try the real straight if you fancy something other than than a boot cut.

Oasis Scarlett - amazingly these are cut for curvy ladies.  They come in different finishes (indigo, black and lighter blue) and in three different lengths too. At £40 ish they are a great buy and they deal with this problem really well.  For a straight leg try the Oasis cherry.

Hobbs - they have a fairly high rise and are also great at dealing with this problem.  A high rise is also fantastic for dealing with a bit of a "mummy tummy", "mummy thighs" and anything else that those baby blighters throw at us!  They are a dark indigo, so slimming and with a boot flare too.  Not necessarily the most trendy but definitely the most flattering for those with curves and a good style staple.

Topshop - Jessie.  Again a boot cut with a higher rise so great for closing the gap at the back. 

Armani - These are on the more expensive side but probably have the highest rise out of all of the jeans.

Warehouse and Cos both do skinny jeans with a higher rise and boy they feel lovely!

If you have the opposite problem - that being very narrow hips and thighs but with more of tummy, it can be hard to find good jeans on the High Street.  Many of them are too baggy around the bottom and thighs and too low in the rise.   The more expensive brands J-Brand, Seven, James all have styles which are great at dealing with this issue - and whilst I am not necessarily an advocate of expensive jeans for the sake of a label, if the fit is great it's better to have one pair of great fitting jeans than four pairs of poorly fitting ones. A way to avoid paying the full price is to find out your size and have them shipped in from the States. They will be much cheaper that way.

Hope that helps you get on the road to the perfect jeans!

Mum on the Run - the Sandwich Generation

Like many other women, I am part of the “Sandwich Generation” in that in terms of age, I am sandwiched equally between my mother and my daughter.  I am exactly twenty eight years younger than my mother and exactly twenty eight years older than my daughter.  Some sandwich!
The whole Sandwich Generation phenomenon is fascinating.  Gone are the days when, at forty, women were happy to accept that they no longer played a role in the world of fashion and were happy to retreat in to the background, to become invisible, wearing a box pleated skirt, twin set, pearls and “sensible” shoes.

That doesn’t mean that those women weren’t well groomed or that they no longer took pride in their appearance.  On the contrary. I doubt that you would have seen them with a scruffy hemline or a bobbly knit. 
The message was clear – “I am slipping into middle age, gracefully with dignity and no, I am no longer interested in anything remotely outrageous or saucy!” However at least back then it was simple, uncomplicated and everyone knew where they stood.
So what lies ahead for us, the current sandwich generation?  To be honest, it’s a fashion minefield.  I remember hearing Toyah Wilcox say that people wolf whistled at her from the back and screamed from the front.  There she was, from the back, petite with long blonde hair, probably passing as someone between the ages of 16 and 25 -   and there she was from the front – someone whose face, shall we say, just didn’t quite match the rear view. 

With celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Elle MacPherson paving the way and keeping us fashionable well into our forties and beyond, the lines of what we should be wearing are blurred, in some cases to the point that they are almost non-existent.  And that can, on occasion, be troubling. 
I come across ladies on a daily basis who face the difficulty of knowing how to dress, given that, sartorially speaking, they are squidged between adolescence and old age.   I breathe a sigh of relief when they say that they are afraid of looking like mutton dressed as lamb, for if it has crossed their radar, it is unlikely ever to become an issue. 

Some decisions, and trends, are tough ones but, if in doubt, steer clear. The trend for revealing one’s midriff is fine on those bodies which have not been ravaged by time and multiple pregnancies.  However even those celebrities who, despite these “afflictions”, can pull it off through sheer hard work, food deprivation and lots of crunches still look wrong - somehow desperate, too try hard, too contrived.  Furthermore, it only takes one wrong move, for that flesh to crease in a way which shows its true age, and bang – that celebrity has gone from lamb to mutton in one fell swoop.

So, what’s a girl, I mean woman, to do if she doesn’t want to embarrass her daughter in the playground, nor look like her mother, however well groomed she may be?

My advice can be summed up with the anacronym - L.A.M.B

Learn about the trends - knowledge is power so, at the start of each season, research the February and September issues of the magazines and swot up on the trends. Then edit ruthlessly!  Pull images out of magazines and create a file of looks that you like for future reference. You may be left with only a handful which work each season and the rest – forget them.  Generally anything with heavy overtones of another culture – Navajo, Thai Dye, African – are not going to work on anyone beyond their early 20’s.  Anything overly short, body con or perhaps which you embraced full on in a different era of your life should not be re-visited;

Accessorise – use your accessories to given a “nod” to the trends that you like, rather than embracing them from head to toe.  This gives the message “I am up on my trends but I am not a slave to fashion.”

Make a good hard-working capsule Wardrobe your priority. It need not be expensive but it does need to contain those items that suit your shape and your lifestyle - from a blazer to a day dress, trousers to knitwear and winter boots to a party shoe.  This is the backbone of your wardrobe if you like, the on trend accessories being the flesh and bones.  
Beware of the frump factor.  Be aware of the heel shape and the length of hems. Nothing dates a look more than these being out of date.  If in doubt stick to what never dates – wedges and stack heels for summer shoes, dress and skirt length just below the knee, trouser shape will largely remain the same as to what suits your body shape but a wide leg trouser will always be stylish. Be aware of how different prints look on you and always steer clear of polyester and elasticated waists!

Most of all remember, fashion has been described as fleeting pleasure, whereas style is like an enduring affair with someone who loves you back.

So, if as a sandwich you would rather belong to the parma ham and mozzarella genre, as opposed to the luncheon meat or chocolate spread genre follow L.A.M.B and you will be frolicking through that fashion minefield, no problem!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Mum on the Run - boyfriend jeans and patent pumps

I had a brilliant hair do this morning.  Although I don't have long hair, I do have a lot of it. I think that I get it from my Mum. She has been known to be walking through her local town, where there are some interesting genetic mixes, and for someone to shout to her  "OOOh, look at her in her wig!" This morning my hair looked like a cross between a Dynasty hair do and Ken Dodd's. It was big, very big and vertical.  It caused much amusement amongst the children - which was a nice way to start the day.

In the name of fashion, I feel that it is important to read a variety of magazines, from the glossy monthlies, to the quality weeklies to the dire weeklies - the ones with the "spot the difference" and "Guess the celeb" puzzles in the back.  The one I was reading today was brilliant.  I have never seen so many orange faces, false eyelashes and fake boobs all in one place.  Lots of young girls seem to be sporting fake tans, hair extensions and those hideous false lashes.  Whilst a few strategically placed false eyelashes can look great, those awful "you could sweep the floor with them" kind of false eyelashes, caked in mascara are just revolting. They look so stiff and spidery and they must feel awful.

And then there are the stories - these are two of my favourite: the 60 year old mother who is training her 16 year old daugter to become a glamour model and follow in her footsteps (she should jolly well turn and run as fast as possible in the opposite direction) and wait for this....Michelle Heaton has asked Jordan to be the godmother to her baby daughter, Faith.  Can you imagine it - a bible and a cross at the christening? I don't think so.  Would you ever send your teenage daughter to Jordan for moral and spiritual guidance?  Now whilst I admire Jordan for her work ethic, she has made some interesting life choices and I am not sure that she would be the first person to whom I would send my teenage daughter for advice.

As an alternative to skinny, bootleg or straight jeans, today I am wearing Topshop boyfriend jeans, my Reiss pea coat, Cath Kidston cross body bag and patent pumps.  They kind of work, kind of don't but it's good to ring the changes and see where it gets you. They are better in the summer with converse but I just fancied a change and there's always tomorrow! It's also given me the idea to write a post tomorrow about jeans - the problems they cause and how to fix them!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Mum on the Run - Printed day dress

This is just a short post to show you what I was wearing today.  After yesterday I thought that I had better make a bit of an effort! So, in honour of the fact that Christmas was a month ago today, I wore the dress that I wore on Christmas day.  I still like the print and the fact that it is a nice easy dress to wear - decent length, nice sleeves and roomy enough to accommodate an extra layer or two underneath it.  I put it with my black ankle boots, Reiss biker jacket and Cos scarf for a bit of colour.

Unfortunately for some reason I can't load today's photo so I have had to re-use the photo from Christmas day - an advantage of not having a never ending wardrobe and having to re-cycle my outfits!

Mum on the Run - A beautiful blue bag and a Selfridges display

I saw this display when I was in Selfridges a few days ago and I had to take a picture of it. You can see the scale of the scrabble pieces next to the dresses - I love it!

I have also included a picture of my new love - a pale blue handbag which was also in Selfridges - it's actually a much prettier blue than in the picture.  I picked it up from the stand and because it was situated next to a pair of Kurt Geiger shoes I was hopeful that it wouldn't be in the Mulberry price bracket.  However, try as I might, I could not make the three figures involved (£315) read £135 - although I was sure that really they should.  There was also a beautiful Balenciaga bag in pale blue but I didn't even look at the tag on that one!

Last night I was looking at some of the other fashion blogs which have been short listed for the Marie Claire award.  Some of them are really professionally designed with beautiful, arty shots.  One lovely lady had taken photos of herself outside a London cafe, which she was visiting with her boyfriend one Sunday morning.  She was wearing a pretty flippy dress and soft layers, immaculately groomed and looking beautiful. This was followed by a shot of the natural history museum where they whiled away the afternoon.  So romantic! Oh flip! Compare that to yesterday's anaemic shot of me in a car park in the pouring rain, about to go to the post office.  OK, let's not.

I've never been arty.  The only, and I mean, only, picture that I ever had on the wall at school was a painting of......wait for it....a jelly fish!  How little skill do you need to have to be able to paint a jelly fish?  No one can argue with the shape (a blob) the colour (colourless) or the scale (they come in all different shapes and sizes - and constantly move as well.) I was so proud of that picture.  I was 8 at the time and I had been at school for 4 years by that stage.  Tragic.

I am trying to help our youngest learn to read at the moment.  When reading to her the other night she spotted a word that she recognised - it being "I".  They are obviously taught at school to put the word into a sentence such as "I go to sleep, I like milk" etc.  So what does she come out with? "I burp."  Yep, and I give up! On that note, I shall go and continue to scrabble around the floor putting the rest of the Boden returns back together.  I so know how to have a good time!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Mum on the Run - Knackered jeans and well, just knackered in general!

Some days you know that it's not worth trying to rescue your outfit - and today was one of them!  I had spent most of the afternoon on the kitchen floor re-packing, boxing and sorting out the paperwork for the returns for the 8 boxes of Boden clothes that I had had delivered a couple of weeks ago. 

Glamourous it was not but I quite enjoyed it in a "I like matching things up and filling in forms" kind of way. This photo was taken just as I was about to go to the post office to return some of the boxes so frankly I knew that I should just write the day off outfit wise and wait to start again another day.

My thoughts have turned to what I will wear next Tuesday to the Marie Claire blog awards.  I have realised that I really need to get my butt in to gear so I have booked a hair appointment - but that is all.  There's no time for the tummy tuck or breast implants so they will have to wait although I might manage to squeeze in getting my nails done. Our four year old told me tonight that she likes my teeth (random) so at least they can stay as they are for now too.

The lovely people at Stella & Dot have offered to let me choose some jewellery, which is nice of them - but I can't really do that until I have decided what to wear.  I have a couple of options in mind but I need to factor in the following:
  • getting dressed in the dark as I will be leaving the house at about 5.30am;
  • sitting on a train;
  • walking;
  • sitting in a cab;
  • the weather - wet/cold/snowy/warmish
  • what's appropriate for the event
  • what's age appropriate 
  • what time I have left to shop for something new (not much as it transpires)
So, what's a girl to do?  Having far more nerve in writing than I do in person, I sent the lovely people at Victoria Beckham an email entitled "don't laugh" asking them if I could borrow a dress.  Can you imagine what they will make of that? I concluded that they can only say no, so I have nothing to lose - and I find their likely response on reading my email vaguely amusing.  So than I rang H&M instead (let's get real) to try and track down the dress version of the brocade skirt that I bought last week. They are on the case but may not be able to get one to me in time.  So that option might be out too.  So ultimately it may be a case of doing a bit of a "Kate".  If it's good enough for the Duchess of Cambridge to do a bit of re-cycling, then it sure is good enough for me  - I'm sure that I have a Reiss dress somewhere.....

Monday, 23 January 2012

Mum on the Run - one dress, two very different outfits

So there we were - my goggle marked eyes and I, sitting in the kitchen finalising the details for my tax return when one of the best excuses I could imagine for not doing it came along to distract me.  It was brilliant - I didn't even have to make it up, or resort to the washing/ironing/cooking to get me away.  It came in the form of a text from a friend which read "Well done! Have just seen the short list for Marie Claire." And there it was - a pathway to freedom from numbers.

Actually, that's all a bit dramatic as I only had about five queries to answer but it was great for a while - until I realised that I really needed to get back to the tax return but then found that I couldn't because I was so excited.  I had to force myself to knuckle down though as I wasn't totally confident that the tax man would think that my excuse was as good as I seemed to think it was. Taxman - clothes/fashion/magazines/blogging?  Not the most obvious combination.

I don't know about being shortlisted for a fashion blog award, how about being the winner of a bad mother of the year award? Today I managed to turn up to ballet without our daughter's ballet skirt and with only one ballet shoe.  Her graciousness in accepting my error was touching. She said "Don't worry Mummy, it's not your fault."  The trouble is that it was, utterly and totally my fault.  Hope she's as forgiving in the years to come.

Today I thought that I would show you the same dress styled in two different ways.  The dress is a Gap A-line jersey dress with a slight 1960's feel.  This morning I took it further down the 1960's route and put it with a pink Boden coat and pink pied a terre shoes which reference the 60's themselves, as above. 

This afternoon I styled it differently - with a leather jacket and biker boots and I accessorised it with a long necklace and small child who is doing an impersonation of a triffid (nb a small child is not compulsory to accessorise this look. However, whilst I would condone breaking many rules for the sake of fashion - if you did decide that you wanted one, it is probably best not to borrow one without asking)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Mum on the Run - What I wear at home (on a very bad day!)

I thought that it would be an idea to post a picture of what I wear on a typical day at home - except that I look like a freak on this photo as everything is so out of proportion.  It made me laugh though so I decided to post it anyway - knowing that I don't really have size 13 feet and that it is just my "Ugglies" throwing me off balance.  Now you can see why I don't wear them out! I would cause people to scream in the street and run.

I am getting so excited about London Fashion Week - not just for the obvious reasons but because I love spotting the fashionistas wearing totally inappropriate clothing for February.  That always makes me smile - flimsy tops, no coat, bare legs and so on and grinning despite the cold through chattering teeth. However, at least they are wearing the latest collection from designer X - so that's all right!

I am looking forward to next week - getting my teeth into some styling and promoting projects that are coming up.  Now that Christmas is over, both girls have had their birthdays and the Marie Claire voting has closed it's time to knuckle down again.  That's if I make it to next week. Our eldest is being really annoying today - on purpose.  She keeps saying "Go on, tell me to stop doing that."  So I ask her to stop and then she says: "You can't say that, it's my birthday."  Sounds like she has the annoying teenager routine licked on day one. Fabulous!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Mum on the Run - Cos knit and A line skirt

Today was one of those days where there was so much to do that I didn't really know where to start.  So I went to a coffee shop with our son and spent far too long doing maths homework with him and also learning what the collective noun was for monkeys.

There's still a birthday cake and birthday biscuits to be baked, beds to be made for guests and all manor of other things that my brain can't process - so I have decided to procrastinate, delegate and generally ignore all tasks until they become time urgent.  The plans for our eldest's birthday tomorrow are constantly changing and slightly overwhelming so I am going to sit back and wait and see what happens. 

It has only taken me thirteen years but I have finally learnt the most important rule of parenting - just chill.  Relinquish control and let others be in charge.  That's what I did this year with our Christmas tree.  I gave complete control of the aesthetics of the tree to our eldest and half an hour later she had her head in her hands wailing "I can't cope with the stress of it.  All the ball balls are on the lower branches. I can't cope."  Result.

We were quite late getting up as we were catching up on sleep after our eventful night at the Children's Hospital.  As there wasn't much time to think about my outfit (is there ever?!)I chose my warm Cos jumper, Cos A line skirt and red shoes for a bit of colour. The high waist on the skirt is comfortable, the length is good and the fact that the jumper shrank a little means that the length of it works well with this skirt.  Every cloud....

Friday, 20 January 2012

Mum on the Run - Some spots, some pastels, some silk and a big dollop of wishful thinking!

Vote for me button

Last night I decided that I needed to share my Cath Kidston pyjamas and "Ugglies" with a wider audience so at just past mid-night, I took them for an outing to the Birmingham Children's Hospital - where they stayed with me until 4am. I took a child along too - just for good measure.  I think that the hospital staff appreciated my sartorially elegant self at that time in the morning.  I have to say that they did an amazing job of curing our poorly girl. By 4am though I was starting to get a little worried that I would still be there at 6am - ie day time, waiting for a taxi to get me home in said PJ's as hubby would have had to go on ahead to deal with the older two.  Fortuntately we snook back before daylight and oddly enough, I declined my husband's very kind offer to take a photograph of me for this post. 

Our eldest is thirteen on Sunday and we shared a typically teen type conversation the other morning which I thought I would share - Me "I'm struggling with my tights this morning" (For some reason I couldn't get them on even though we were the right size for one another) Her: "I'm struggling with my eyelids." Oh the taste of things to come.

I really couldn't inflict a photo on you today - the one above, which was taken yesterday, is bad enough (no criticism of the photographer - just me). If I had worked out how to crop the photo I would have chopped my head off to save you all but as it is, I don't know how to so apologies for that.  I am wearing some spotted trousers that I bought in Topshop yesterday.  They are tailored so smart, but spotty at the same time. You can probably zoom in on the trousers if you would like a closer look but a word of warning - stay away from the face! I put them with a coral top which I also got in Topshop.  It was in the sale, reduced from £42 to £12.  I had my eye on it before Christmas so I was chuffed.

I also bought this lovely silk shirt from H and M.  It is Kingfisher blue so really vibrant and it cost £35 ish - which is quite a lot for H and M but not for silk.  It also comes in cream.  I have decided that silk shirts are the way forward for me this summer.  I have never really liked T shirts and some of the tops are too strappy/revealing so shirts could be a good alternative.

Finally, I bought this pencil skirt.  There is a shift dress in the same fabric which featured in Grazia this week but I could only get hold of the skirt for now.  It's a great fit - very high waisted and taps into the trend of all things pastel, pretty and ladylike. I quite like the idea of wearing this skirt to an awards ceremony so if anyone knows of one which is due to take place and they would like to invite me along, please just let me know. I promise to wear something else with it - not just the skirt on its own.

Voting closes today for the Marie Claire best fashion blog of the year award.  Thank you to all of you who have followed what I have been up to and who have voted for me and thank you to the new followers that I have gained along the way.  I am keeping everything crossed (which is a little uncomfortable) and will let you know how I get on.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Mum on the Run - A pink wool coat and a navy wool dress

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Today was a v. exciting day. First off, the TV programme Doctors was being filmed at our house. I had to nip back as I had forgotten my phone and I got chatting to one of the actresses, who was lovely. I am not entirely sure what the story line was for today but in the past we have had a murder, STD's, an affair and I think that this one might have something to do with a gay son and a trans-sexual Dad. It all goes on in our house I can tell you.

After that I headed to town where I found out that Birmingham is finally getting its own stand alone Whistles store. Yippeee! It's been a long time coming. On the subject of Whistles I noticed that this new season dress is in the sale, down from £135 to £60 - so one to keep an eye out for!  There are lots of spots on the High Street.

Big Spot Print Dress

I then decided that I would treat our son to a new pencil case today with all the trimmings. I realised that his sister would be on at least her fourth by this point in the term (two weeks in) so I headed to WH Smith where I soon realised that it would be very easy for me to become a stationery geek. Anyway, I took great delight in choosing a Bart Simpson pencil case which said "Underachiever and proud of it man" Bet the school will love that one!  

Having chosen all of the stationery I then found that I had to serve myself at the till. So much for shop "assistants!" I loved playing shops when I was little and as for playing post offices - even better. Imagine my delight when, as a student I had a job in the Xmas holidays at the sorting office. I was even on TV! I loved all that stamping and chucking the parcels in the right bag for the right area. Knowing my Bognor from my Bangor helped - that's what comes from being a geography nerd! However now? No thank you, I don't really want to be playing shops any more. The time when I am being served is when I plan my next move in the game of "how to buy as many clothes as possible whilst spending as little as possible."

On to the outfit. I knew that I would have my coat on for most of the day if I was in the shops, so I was happy to wear this navy River Island dress which is shorter than something I would usually wear. Since handing my legs over to Tracy Anderson to sort out for me last summer I don't mind wearing slightly shorter things - but only in the winter and with thick tights. When Tracy handed my legs back I think that I noticed a bit of an improvement although I did find the intervening weeks a bit tricky.

My shopping trip concluded with a whizz around Jigsaw, Reiss, Topshop, Selfridges and H and M where I picked up some sale bargains and some new season pieces too - which I will show you tomorrow!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Mum on the Run - A printed dress and a chunky knit

From a styling perspective, life would be so much easier if I lived in LA or somewhere warm and sunny.  Imagine the options available if walking far wasn't an issue - or chasing after a delinquent on a scooter.  Think of those endless outfit options - shorts, short skirts, different fabrics, all types of shoes.  Actually, forget the short skirts and shorts - the ravages of three pregnancies have knocked the bare leg look on the head for me. 

As it is, I feel a little limited at the moment.  The need for warmth trumps (don't you love that word?) all other style considerations. I could of course cheat and waft around in a pretty dress for a photo and then immediately get changed into jeans - but that would not be in the spirit of Mum on the Run and anyway I haven't got time to keep getting changed.  Once that body butter is sealed in with a vest there's no way I'm letting the body heat back out!

Today's shot was taken at some unearthly hour.  You'll have to excuse the bleary eyed look - I have a stinking cold.  I was tempted to wear jeans but decided to make an effort on the basis that it might make me feel better.  I am wearing an M&S Limited collection printed dress, Oasis chunky knit and Coast belt. It really all needed straightening out and pulling together a bit more but getting the three muskerhounds and myself out by 7.50am left little time for faffing!

I'm really hoping that the voting is going well for the Marie Claire blog awards.  I fear that the children are leaving me behind. Even our youngest has secured herself an award in the form of a swimming badge - although she wasn't impressed with the blue whale on it and promptly gave it to her older sis.  Apparently it wasn't pink enough.

I have had a number of you ask where you might find a shoe boot.  M&S is always great for shoe boots and I love this pair from Jigsaw, which are currently in the sale, reduced from £129  to £89.  Because they are fairly low cut around the ankle they will be more flattering than some which come higher up the leg.  
Leather Shoe Boot - Jigsaw Women's, Sale Shoes and Boots

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Mum on the Run - 80's throwback (BananaRama look out!)

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I nearly crashed the car tonight on the way home as a result of a conversation that I had with our eldest which went like this:

"Mum, for our Physics homework tonight we need to take a plug apart, put it back together and plug the item in." 

This from the girl who swore to her teacher the other day that the school bell had rung - only for the school bell to ring.  From the girl who assured her teacher that she was wearing her own lab coat to which the teacher responded "So why has it got D Goyal written on the pocket in big letters." [Which is not our daughter's name.] From the girl who chucked hot chocolate over her entire uniform yesterday...and that of her friends - you get the picture.  Don't get me wrong - in certain circumstances I would trust her with my life - just not these.

So to the outfit - oh the outfit.  Today I went to a couple of meetings to discuss new projects that are in the pipeline and due to the low temperature, I needed to be warm - which is where the thick cardi and warm trousers combo came in.  The boots are actually very comfortable and served me well when I had to walk to school and back as the traffice was gridlocked.

 It wasn't intended to be 80's inspired but that's how it ended up - an outfit not to be repeated! Individually I like all of the items, from the Zara trousers to the Whistles cardi, the Topshop belt and the Oasis boots - but not together.  I could just have hidden away and pretended that it hadn't happened but it has - so in the name of honesty I have to share it with you.  One friend told me that she liked it - but I think that she was just being kind!

Onwards and upwards......

Monday, 16 January 2012

Mum on the the end of a long day

Just a quick one tonight as I want to go and watch the second Coronation Street. The script writers have excelled themselves tonight - a chopped off finger being put in a slush puppy to save it - genius!

I was feeling rather guilty about our four year old watching Barbie dvds but I have reached the conclusion that it is not a bad thing after all.  For a start, she is learning the music to all of the ballets (tick) she is learning lots about mythical creatures (Griffins, Pegasus etc) and she has picked up some top phrases which make me laugh "Mum, [insert name of sibling] is ruining my life..."  She is also becoming au fait with how the dvd operates and understands how to select the dvd in English, rather than German - so not bad all in all. Phew, move on to the next issue which induces parental guilt.

So this is one pretty poor photo of me looking tired and without any make up on - all that domesticity - it really takes it out of me! Added to that, our son, understandably was more interested in going and opening another pack of his Star Wars Force Attack cards than taking (even more) photos of his Mum. Poor chap, he deserves a medal!

I am wearing grey skinny Cos jeans, shoe boots, Cos shirt dress, Reiss skinny belt, Oasis long cardi and pink coat - and if you can see any of that I am impressed.

Mum on the Run - An industrial warmth jumper for a cold day plus a tip on how to keep warm!

So today I am trying to be a really good wife/Mum.  There's a chicken roasting in the oven and the breadmaker is on.  I am going to make a stew and the iron is sitting next to me, ready to be plugged in and used. The washing is on and the dryer too.  Great Mum but not so green eh?  If I had one of those things to tell me how much energy I was using, it would be whizzing it's little socks off.  Oh and the radio and lap top are on too, plus the heating.

From where I'm sitting I think that it's a common mis-conception that going shopping is worse for the bank balance. Staying at home costs much more so, I think that it's time to ditch the "holier than thou" attitude and head to the Bull Ring. My good intentions can only last for so long anway.  There's nothing wrong with sandwiches for dinner and slightly less-than-clean-but-not-quite-dirty clothes can always be turned inside out and given a shake.

I am not performing too well on the good mother stakes either.  This week our youngest was meant to take in an item for the sound table which began with the letter "J" so naturally I found it hard for our Rabbit that we had taken in, to fit the theme.  Oh flip. "R" is next week.  I did think about trying to pass little bunny off as Jugged hare but thought that might be a bit cruel.

I wore this outfit yesterday.  It was a beautiful but very cold and crispy morning.  I dug out my Jessie jeans from Topshop and put them with my fail safe and very warm cable knit jumper from Warehouse, striped Gap top and Hobbs biker boots plus my favourite Jigsaw necklace.  Having said that, by 4pm I had taken the lot off and put on my Cath Kidston PJ's that I had for Christmas - oh how I love them!

I have found that on a cold day, if I lather myself in bodyshop body butter when I get out of the shower, then put my clothes on, I sort of seal my body heat in and cook slowly, retaining the heat for the day - a bit like the chicken that I have just taken out of the oven. I have been known on occasion to over do it and to go a bit pink but on the whole, it's not a bad tip.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Mum on the Run - Stylist's Own - pieces to "lift" your Wardrobe

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Earlier in the week I said that I would write a post about the items in my wardrobe which make an outfit. These are the ones to which I turn when I need to style things up a bit! They aren't necessarily wardrobe basics but that extra layer - the icing on the cake if you like - which take an outfit from being OK to great, or (on occasion) from being great to fab.  These items are collected over time and are immune to trends and fads and they generally work either due to their style, scale or colour. 

I don't know about you but often when I am reading magazines something will jump off the page at me so I scan the outfit details only to find that the necklace/bag/shoes are listed as "Stylist's Own".  So these are my "Stylist's Own" pieces.


Bright shoes! For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you will have seen these feature on numerous occasions.  They were from Kurt Geiger last year and whenever I wear them, people always comment.  They also make me smile! In the summer I look to converse for colourful, practical shoes which are really good for running around in with the children.

Sparkly shoes - reserved for an evening out where they take a simple black dress or trousers to another level!

The classic LK Bennett Sledge shoe as worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.  I often wear these for style events.  I actually don't have a huge amount of going out shoes.  Once I had these in my wardrobe, I found that I didn't need much else.


A bright bag.  This is a Mulberry one which I was lucky enough to have for my 40th birthday but it's not the sort of thing that I have lots of in my Wardrobe.  There are lots of coloured bags around on the High Street from Primark to Oasis and Warehouse to River Island.

A coloured evening bag - I have a beautiful black Liberty one which I love as it has a great texture but I also love this one - a great buy from Reiss in the sale many moons ago. 


Belts aren't for everyone but if they are for you, they are a great way of adding interest to an outfit. These are some of my favourites;

This wide blue belt from Reiss is a real favourite and as I was photographing it today my daughter came up and said "Oh, I love that belt."  Lucky!

This again is another Reiss sale purchase - this time a skinny belt which is a classic item and which really lifts navy or black trousers or a black dress.

Another Reiss sale purchase - may favourite go to place for belts, although I haven't bought one in a while. This is a grey leather moc croc belt which again livens up a dark outfit.  I quite often wear this one back to front!


I love this Jigsaw necklace probably more than any other accessory in my wardrobe.  It is also probably the only thing for which I paid full price.  The LK Bennett shoes, Mulberry bag and all of the belts were sale items. 

This, when I saw it though - it was one of those moments and I bought it.  I love the shell as it reminds me of the ormer shells my sis and I used to collect as children and the other bits were just pretty and unusual.  I had a ball that evening and it gave a bit of a trendy edge to my classic Ted Baker dress.

This one sits quite close to the neck so is great for adding interest to plain tops.  Again it was a sale purchase, this time from Hobbs.  It sat in my wardrobe for a while but once I started wearing it I realised how versatile and pretty it was and so I put it with lots of things from my cable jumper to LBD's.  Yes, this one works hard for me!

It's the scale of these babies that make an outfit - they are big, very big and when wearing these I have to be mindful not to bend down too quickly as I get whacked in the face.  I still love them though - they were a Topshop purchase.


This is my favourite Jigsaw chunky coral scarf which again I bought in the sale quite a long time ago.  It's great for brightening up darker winter coats which can really drain me, if I haven't had time to put my lippy on!

This is a long skinny sparkly scarf from Oasis which I often take to style events with me and which I could have sold 50 times over! It must be at least 8 years old now but it still does a great job.  Now I need to work on collecting some other scarves - big printed ones. I have quite a few but they are starting to look a bit tatty.  I quite like the look of the new Hobbs NW3 cat scarf....


I have several pairs of leather gloves which really smarten up an outfit, from pink M&S ones to navy ones from H&M with a gold zip on them which I bought on Oxford Street this year.  These cause great amusement though - huge furry gloves from Miss Selfridge which my sister's dog likes to attack.  I left them at our daughter's school the other day after dropping her off.  Another little boy tried to claim them as his Mum's but our youngest was having none of it!

So, I hope that the above gives you some ideas/inspiration for bits and bobs that you can pick up throughout the year and which you can use to style your outfits and make them more versatile.  Next on my list is a yellow bag.  Yellow will be huge next season and I think that for me, a bag may be the best option.  Karen Millen and Boden have nice ones but I will keep my eyes open for more....