Monday, 30 April 2012

On the Run - Wedding Dresses

As well as blowing bubbles with bubblegum on our way home from Wales yesterday, I decided to take a look at the J. Crew website.

As you may well know, J. Crew is an American brand which has been in existence for many years but thanks to the skill of Jenna Lyons, its President and Creative Director, its fortunes have been turned around and it is now favoured by the likes of Michelle Obama.  Its prices are on a par with top end high street brands, such as Whistles and Reiss and its style of clothing is a combination of Gap and Banana Republic but with a stronger trend element.

Anyway, what really grabbed my attention was J.Crew's range of Wedding Dresses. For some brides, their dress is the most important thing in/at/about their wedding day and they spend hours, many tears and a not inconsiderable fortune in sourcing the right dress. 

Corrina gown

[This Corrina gown is £403.47 - very simple and straight up and down but very elegant]

It is fair to say, however, for those who don't have a huge budget to spend, or who leave it until the last minute to choose their dress, or who just decide to get married at short notice, the choice is very limited.  Short of a quick whizz around Monsoon or getting a sample, there is not much choice at all.... and that is where J. Crew may just come to the rescue.

Feather dress

[Feather dress £729.50 - for those who fancy something a little bit quirky].

Although there isn't a store in the UK, the dresses can be ordered on-line and for today at least, post, packaging and returns are free.  The prices range from about £400 up to £2000 but there is definitely a good selection within that £400-£500 price bracket. (The prices quoted look slightly odd because of the conversion rates.)

Mirabelle gown

[A wedding dress with a v-neck - a rarity! This Mirabelle gown costs £509.43]

Sophie gown

[A wedding dress with sleeves - something even more rare! This Sophie gown is £2119.22]

This medallion jewelled sash (£203.77) is one of a number of accessories on the site so it may be worth dropping by to have a look if you are after something a little different

Medallion jeweled sash

I know that many of us are past that wedding phase but for those who aren't, I hope that you enjoy the post - and your day.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

On the Run - An outfit for a Rib Ride

There's nothing I hate more than feeling in completely the "wrong" oufit. It even makes me feel uncomfortable when I see others in something which just looks wrong for the occasion - not in a judgmental way - but when I see VB wearing a fitted shift and 5" heels to carry Harper, I just think that she would be so much happier in jeans and flats - all that effort involved in staying upright must be such hard work.

So that accounts for the above oufit yesterday. As part of my hubby's birthday present, I had arranged for us all to go on a Rib Ride along the Menai Straits. All that I knew was that it would be cold, very cold, windy and potentially wet. So reinforcements were required in the ever faithful parka, jeans, wellies, a multitude of scarves and woolly layers etc. The wellies were an emergency purchase from Tesco a while ago when I realised that mine had perished - and although not sporting any kind of trendy label, I find them really comfortable. I was pleased to have grabbed both my scarf and my snood on the way out because, as in typical fashion, I had remembered to pack hats for everyone except myself, so a little improvisation was necessary....

The sunglasses weren't even mine either - blimey, if I couldn't remember a hat there was no way I would remember sunnies.  I pinched these from my hubby momentarily before he whipped them back for the ride.  I could have done with some sunglasses and could, infact, have worn the cinema 3D specs which we keep in they car, as the eldest two did - but you have to draw the line somewhere! And anyway, I was more concerned with holding on to the youngest to stop her from catapaulting out of the boat as we were travelling the equivalent of more than 110mph. Scary!

Later on we headed into our local town where my hubby treated me to this £2.50 printed leather cuff from Fat Face (apparently he will be deducting the cost from my b'day present allowance. He thinks he's so funny.)  I am a sucker for anything which remotely resembles a Liberty/Cath Kidston print and the soft leather means that it is great for weekends as it won't catch on our youngest when she dives in for her cuddles. They also come in a couple of other prints and I think that a few of them together would look great.

I think by that stage I was wearing green wellies - having left mine at home. That's the great thing about having a daughter whose feet are the same size as mine and a husband with feet only half a size bigger - there's always an emergency pair of wellies handy (or his cashmere jumpers but we don't tell him that!)

I also spotted this lovely striped maxi dress in Fat Face. Because I have enlarged the photo, the image is not as clear as I would like but I have attached the link below if you would like to take a closer look.  So many maxi dresses are strappy and/or are very voluminous that not only does it make the bra issue tricky but they also add bulk, drowning a smaller frame. This one has a nice neat silhouette so it will suit those on the more petite side.

Lizzy Maxi Dress

There's also an old fashioned sweet shop in our local town in Wales which the children love to visit. We found some of the bubble gum that I used to chew as a kid. Blowing bubbles on the way home was a great way to pass the time - although the children did accuse me of looking like a chav. Excellent - embarrassing them is such sweet revenge for all the times they have done it to me.

Outfit - Jigsaw parka, Lola Rose Scarf, H&M snood, Tesco Wellies, Longchamps bag

Friday, 27 April 2012

On the Run - The one that got away!

Some times you've just got to laugh. I had high hopes (in my head) for this outfit but it just didn't tranlsate into reality. I thought that the combination of the green trousers, white top and sparkly scarf would be a nice look. This photo shows them in their best light - look to the one at the bottom of the page for a bad one!

I really liked these Zara trousers when I saw them.  The green was a nice shade of green and I could see how the trousers would offer a practical alternative to jeans/leggings/wide leg linen trousers for the summer.

When I saw the cuff around the bottom I wasn't sure but went with them anyway on the basis that  they could be versatile, being dressed up with heels for the evening or down with flats for the day.

I still think all of that is true, if only they weren't such a funny shape! I swear that I could have got me and my Mum in them around the waist, yet the legs were fine. Whilst wearing a belt meant that they didn't fall down around my ankles, the material bunched up above the belt and there was enough to make a parachute.  I went back to Zara to try a smaller size but I couldn't get them up past my calves. 

On this photo you can get more of an idea of the amount of loose fabric around my hips/waist. I look like a right baggy Bertha!

Anyway, I may keep my eyes out for an alternative because I still reckon that the outfit might work, if the trousers looked like they belonged to me and not someone else.

Mr SG and I had a great night away for his birthday, with the celebrations continuing on into the weekend. I realised, half way through scoffing our cream tea that, in true blog style I should have taken a photo of it in all it's glory to post today. However, by that stage it wasn't looking too pretty so you will be pleased to know that I refrained. The scones were delicious but crumbly and we made a hasty retreat like a couple of school kids when we realised it looked as though a couple of chimps had been attacking the tea, rather than two, supposedly competent, adults.

I can't get a signal where will be over the weekend, even with my dongle(!) so I will be back on Sunday. Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Mum on the Run - On a day off!

Mr SG is a big one for celebraing his birthday. Not only do we have birthday "day", we have birthday "eve", birthday "week" and birthday "month". Given that it is his birthday today, the 26th of the month, this can all be quite painful at times.

Anyway, in the true spirit of being a good wife, I won't be blogging today as I think that he deserves all of my attention. Hopefully we will be engaged in eating a lovely meal somewhere and generally having a little bit time off from life.

So, please forgive me. I plan to return tomorrow full of vigour!

Whilst I'm off though, I wonder if I might ask a favour? I have been fortunate enough to have been short listed for a blog award by Britmums, in the style category. If you felt able to vote for me clicking here I should be really grateful.

Thank you in advance. Voting closes on 30th April so I don't have much time left to ask for help. Thank you in advance - as I say, I am very grateful!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

On the Run -More outfits from last week's Style Event

Yesterday I promised to bring you some more outfits from the style event that I was running last week. The clothes weren't in my size, which is why they are being modelled on "Grace."

Before I start though, a few ladies have left messages for me highlighting the difficulties they have finding fashionable clothes on the High Street, given that they are so tall. With that in mind, I left a message on the Boden fb page asking them if they were likely to do a "tall" range. I selected Boden as their customer service is brilliant and they are good at catering to a wide market.   Their clothes go from a 6 to a 22, they do a maternity range, a petite range and a longer length in clothes - although the trouser leg length, at least, is not long enough for the ladies who left me messages. 

Boden's response was that if there was sufficient demand, they would certainly look into it. So I would like to urge all ladies out there, tall or otherwise, to leave a message on the Boden fb page asking that they look into this further.  Having worked with lots of tall ladies, I have concluded that they are probably the least well catered for on the High Street out of everybody.  I realise that if Boden did develop a tall range, it would still only be available by mail order but it would be a start.  Anyway, here's the link to the page where you can leave your comment, if you felt so inclined. 

Things won't change unless the brands are aware that they need to make changes so if you feel strongly about something, let them know. Facebook is a great forum for this because it's so public and the brands have to be seen to be responding. [Lecture over.]

Anyway, on to the outfits.

This first outfit comprises a broderie anglaise navy jacket from M&S, a yellow knit from Limited Collection at M&S and some palazzo pants from Per Una - I know, Per Una! Actually they are great.

You can see from the picture below that they are flat over the tummy but supportive too. They have small pleats which start a little lower down and they are really flattering for any ladies who carry more weight on their hips/thighs.

Said outfit minus the jacket but with the H&M yellow bag (I have now seen another yellow bag in Zara which has replaced this one as my favourite yellow bag of the season.)

Here's a closer picture of the navy broderie anglaise jacket from M&S. A lovely alternative to a corporate style jacket in a flattering style. It could be worn equally well with jeans and a breton top as to the office over a plain shift dress.

Yellow knit from Limited Collection at M&S which has little buttons down the back. It's quite a creamy yellow so not too difficult to wear.

The Per Una Palazzo pants - very flattering!

This too is from Per Una. I came across it the other day when I was doing some work with M&S and had to review their Per Una range. I love the print on it as it reminds me of Orla Kiely or the Scandinavian fabric brand, Marimekko.

This dress has a real 1950's feel about it and again, is good for anyone with heavier hips and legs. A fitted bolero would work well over it, keeping the silhouette neat.

Do any of you remember the furore caused by the "Carrie" skirt at Whistles last summer? It sold out nationwide, although Birmingham has since confessed to me that they told everyone who enquired over the phone that they didn't have it when they did! This pleated skirt, which is very similar (largely because it too is a pleated skirt) is from GAP and comes in this lovely vibrant red and also navy. The sizing is a little out though - you may well need to go down a size or two in it.

I put it with this cute cardi from Oasis which obviously has a nautical theme about it. It would also look great with jeans, chinos, cigarette pants and over dresses. I like the addition of the turquoise to it - rather than it being just red, white and navy.

This pink skirt is from GAP.  Casual skirts can be tricky. They can either feel quite dressy, as the pleated one above, a bit too work like - as in a pencil skirt, or too denim, short, and teenagerish (if there is such a word!)

I liked this one because of its softness, the vertical row of buttons down the front which is flattering, the bright colour and the fact that it isn't too short. I have styled it with a white shirt and the navy blazer with the sleeves rolled up, a Topshop belt plus some gold wedges. It would look equally good though with ballet flats or converse. (I haven't put a scarf with it - that's just the model.)

Tailored shirts are great for ladies with a curvier bust as the neckline is flattering and the darts mean that you still get a neat silhouette. Pepperberry is a good brand to try as they do shirts and tops in three bust fittings - meaning that it's not necessary to go up a size just to get a top to fit your bust.

Here I have put some coloured jeans (Gap jeggings) with a M&S Limited Collection bird print top.  The jeans are really comfortable and a lovely colour.

The top is likely to suit ladies with a small to medium sized bust but hey - there are plenty of us around!

Lastly, another M&S Limited Collection top, this time with seagulls on it. It is a pretty 1950's style top with a pink trim on the collar.

This is just a small selection of the pieces that I chose for the event and I hope that you like them.

Mum on the Run - On a day off!

Mr SG is a big one for celebraing his birthday. Not only do we have birthday "day", we have birthday "eve", birthday "week" and birthday "month". Given that it is his birthday today, the 26th of the month, this can all be quite painful at times.

Anyway, in the true spirit of being a good wife, I won't be blogging today as I think that he deserves all of my attention. Hopefully we will be engaged in eating a lovely meal somewhere and generally having a little bit time off from life.

So, please forgive me. I plan to return tomorrow full of vigour!

Whilst I'm off though, I wonder if I might ask a favour? I have been fortunate enough to have been short listed for blog award by Britmums, in the style category. If you felt able to vote for me by followint this link, I should be really grateful -

Thank you in advance. Voting closes on 30th April so I don't have much time left to ask for help. Thank you in advance - I am very grateful!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

On the Run-One dress, four different belts and a mint green silk shirt

I hope that you like the new blog header for Style Guile.  For those who have been following me for a while, or who know me well, you will probably recognise a lot of the images on the header.  It was drawn for me by Kristina, a Swedish girl who grew up in America but who has now moved back to Sweden.  You can take a look at her website here but I warn you, it may be dangerous. Very dangerous! Her illustrations and scarves are beautiful.

I have had requests for a closer look at some of  the pieces that were on my rail last week in preparation for the Style Event I was running. I think that one of the requests related to this dress which I am wearing and which cost £175 from Whistles. Actually, I am lying - it cost £14.99 from H&M. 

This is the dress in its simplest form. Whilst the black tights and dark shoes aren't terribly spring like, I couldn't face revealing my legs to the world. Ordinarily I would dig out my knee length M&S vest (sounds sexy huh?!) to layer under a dress like this but I think it's currently residing at the back of a cupboard somewhere so, in the spirit of keeping the photographer happy, I let the shots be taken even though there is a very clear line where my shorter vest ends but hey, it doesn't matter, we're not talking Vogue photography here.

Now I know that this dress won't suit all bodyshapes but in actual fact with it having a sleeve, a decent length and some room in the skirt, it is actually not as limiting as it first seems, particularly if you can get over the fact that it is 100% polyester, which to be honest I can because lots of things are these days - but I know that others can't.

I quite like this dress as a general "every day and it doesn't need too much accessorising" kind of dress. At the start of the summer it could be put with a blazer and dressed up a little for work.   As the summer progresses, and depending on how it wears, it can be relegated further down the fashion foodchain to a weekend dress, ending up as a beach cover up. Having said that, it could wear really well. After all, people have been known to pay a lot more for a polyester dress!

On the photograph below I have added in a wide blue Reiss belt. I quite like it for the colour but you can see how the addition of a contrasting colour breaks up the line of the dress.

For this look I have added a cream moc croc leather belt, also from Reiss.  The width of the belt is probably better for my proportions and it would look nice paired with some nude shoes for the summer.

For this last shot I have put it with a Hobbs skinny coral belt - narrower again it's just a nice alternative to any of the above if I fancy ringing the changes.

I am also bringing you a picture of this 100% silk shirt, which too is from H&M and costs £34.99. I bought the turquoise version earlier in the season and they have now brought it out in mint green.

Thanks to Louis Vuitton, pastels are huge this season and I think that this shirt, which isn't too girly, is a nice way of tapping into that trend. I am taking the mick on the first shot, in tucking it in on one side - as per the fashionistas....

....which is why it is all creased up on this shot!

I have some other outfits to show you from the event which I styled on my mannequin and which I will bring to you tomorrow.

We seem to have had a mini Hugh Heffner move into our house in the shape of a four year old wearing a dressing gown and sporting sunglasses. She has taken to putting on her dressing gown when she gets in from school and has also decided that she can't see unless she is wearing a pair of very glitzy (sun)glasses which used to be her sister's. In fact she goes as far as walking into things if she's not wearing them, just to prove the point. The whole ensemble, together with the straw from her smoothie which uses cigar style, completes the look and I have to say that I find it very funny.

I spoke to a photographer from the Daily Mail today.  He was arranging to come and take photos of me for an article which will be in the Femail section next Thursday and in which I will feature. When it came to the clothes I should be wearing his instructions were no black, no denim, possibly a block colour shift dress and nothing frumpy. NOTHING FRUMPY.  Cheeky whatsit. No comment.

Monday, 23 April 2012

On the Run - An oufit for a girls' night out

I know.  There's a bit of a colour clash going on here! This outfit could be worn for lots of different occasions but I thought it quite nice for a girls' night out.

When I was in Zara today I spotted this blazer which I thought would do a great job of livening up lots of outfits. It will go with black, navy, grey - all the base colours - so I decided to give it a whirl.

I have laid the outfit here for you to see...

Here's a closer look at the blazer. It's 100% linen with a single button fastening and four buttons on the cuff...

At £49.99 I thought it great value for a linen blazer.  I know some prefer to steer clear of linen because of its crumple factor and it's true that a linen mix will crease less - however, the colour is so vibrant that I think that has to be put into the equation too.

I have taken a shot of the label, just in case you fancied taking a look at it online - there are so many different Zara blazers that it can be hard to find what you are after without a code.

These are the trousers that I am wearing.  They are a neat fit with zips at the ankles and a sort of lacy/cobweb finish - sounds attractive huh?!

Here's a close up of the trousers which also come in other colours - white, cream and black...

I also added this Stella & Dot necklace which has recently been used in a Vogue shoot. It has that real 1920's feel about it which is so big right now.

And finally these Pied a Terre shoes which I bought a few seasons ago in the sale.  They throw another colour into the mix.  I felt that navy or black would be too heavy against the light trousers so you could add in a shoe in coral, gold, green - whatever takes your fancy really. I should add that I also put in a Zara basic T in a linen mix - a bit slouchy, it keeps the look relaxed. If it was swapped for a tailored white shirt, the outfit would take on a whole new look.

Zara is a bit of hit with me at the moment. I bought this coat last week, which I think will look better on a real body - but it's one of those that you need to use your imagination for.  I think that it would look fantastic for a wedding, styled with the above trousers but perhaps in cream together with some high heels.  It would just be a little different to the usual combinations we might head for.

As to the terrible trio, our youngest is having a tough time at the moment. She fell down the stairs this morning as her eldest sister told her that "bum head" was after her and she panicked. This comes not long after she locked herself into the toilet at school and became hysterical.  Never mind, all was well tonight when she chose a new toothbrush from my "magic box" which contains lots of toiletries and which she loves.  So how did she carry it down the landing and back to the bathroom  - down the back of her pants of course. How else?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Sunday Best - A perfect outfit for a perfect sunny day!

I just love everything about this picture - the sun, the beach, the colours and Kathy's fab outfit.

Kathy has nailed stylish but practical laid back chic perfectly, putting a Boden striped tunic with M&S turned up jeans, a pendant necklace and some converse. She looks so happy and comfortable in her outfit and she demonstrates that stripes do work with curves.

Kathy is off on a jeans mission next week. During a trip to London she will be trying on lots of pairs of jeans and reporting back to me on style, fit, comfort and age appropriateness.  Naturally I will share the results with you all.

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

One dress - four different ways

I couldn't decide what to bring you today - I have too many ideas buzzing around. So I thought that I would keep it simple and show you how to style one dress in four different ways.

This dress formed one of the "figure fixes" pieces which I showed at the event that I ran on Thursday night.  It is such a flattering shape, particularly for the curvier figure as it skims without clinging.  It also has a v neck and draping in all of the right places!  It is from Coast, costs £85 and is called the Minda Jersey Dress D in Purple.  Whilst it doesn't have sleeves, Coast do similar styles all year round and I am fairly certain that they will do a similar style for A/W '12 which will have sleeves.

I should say before we start that my model, Grace, had a slight accident and she isn't quite vertical.  However, Grace was named after my lovely Grandma who was partial to a G&T which meant that she too, on occasion, wasn't always entirely vertical - so it's quite fitting really.

I also used the flash on this occasion which with hindsight was an error, so please forgive me!

The dress!

Outfit 1

The first look is a smart/casual look -  Fine for some at work, for going out for lunch or for a day shopping. I have put the dress with a trench coat (ideally the dress shouldn't show under the trench but for today's purposes I used my own trench, so it did), a cream slouchy bag from Warehouse and cream stacked heel shoes from M&S;

Here is a closer look at the Stella & Dot necklace which I also put with the dress.  This necklace was used in Vogue recently in a feature about the Great Gatsby look which is so big this season.

This necklace wouldn't necessarily be right for anyone with a very curvy bust but otherwise it is a flattering length, with the contrasting cream against the purple background giving greater definition to the V - shaped neckline and elongating it. The detail on the end of the necklace also draws the eye in to the centre of the body.

Outfit 2

This is more of a work outfit. I have styled it with a silk scarf from Monsoon which reflects the traditional Paul Smith print but in a different colourway, a bolero from Hobbs and LK Bennett court shoes (Sledge). 

Note how the bolero nips in at the waist, emphasising the shape of the dress, rather than hiding it which is so often the case with longer more square cut cardigans. The sleeves are also a flattering length, finishing just below the elbow which allow a pretty cuff or bracelet to be shown off  (I think that the scarf has undone itself between me tying it and taking the shot but you get the gist.)

Outift 3

Here the dress is styled as if going for an evening out, with a sequinned scarf from Oasis which I have probably had for ten years now.  Zara has some sparkly ones, which you can find here - they come in three different colours and at £9.99 are really good value.

Here's a closer look at the sparkly scarf - these are full on sparkles, which I love!

And these are some grey patent wedge shoes from Reiss with a hint of snake print on them..

Outfit 4

A slightly more modern look. I have styled the dress with a cream leather jacket, Zara scarf with greys and purples in it and the Hobbs Georgia slingback.

Here's a closer shot of the jacket and scarf...

and the shoes.....

My fifth outfit was going to be with a white shirt underneath and a black blazer with it but I ran out of time.  Equally the white shirt could be swapped for a printed silk blouse and the black blazer for a grey or navy one, depending on the colour palette.

I suppose the point is, irrespective of whether you like the above outfits or not, the aim when buying an item is to imagine how versatile it is.  Think about what you can layer under an item (a coloured cami, a shirt, a printed blouse, a breton top), or over an item (a knit, a jacket, a trench, a blazer etc) and how you can accessorise it - so think about which shoes will work with it and which pieces of jewellery - can it carry a necklace or is the neckline too fussy? If so, what about a cuff instead, or a cocktail ring, or some statement ear-rings. Thinking through these items when buying will help you build a versatile wardrobe and when you have done that, that's the time to chuck in something which doesn't really go with anything but which you love anyway!