Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Mum on the Run - in a sparkly knit, utility trousers and wedge desert boots

I know! Impressively scruffy eh? By the time the rain stopped it was nearly the end of the day.
It was really chilly here this morning, hence the layers of shirt and jumper. I haven't worn my GAP utility trousers for ages, so thought that I would dig them out - but I will be burying them again soon as I have other black trousers that I prefer.
Days like today are quite good for trying out things to see whether you still like them - all in the comfort of your own home and without anyone seeing you - until you go and do something daft like post them on a blog for the world to see.
I do like wedge desert boots with skinny jeans/trousers though. I can't bring myself to wear "proper" boots yet but it was too cold for wedge sandals or any other kind of summer heels, so they fitted the bill.
I have a hectic two days coming up.  Tomorrow I am on a mammoth shop, choosing outfits for a photo shoot, with the shoot taking place all day on Friday.  So if I don't get a chance to blog, it's because I am buried under an avalanche of clothes!
Today's outfit: Warehouse jumper, GAP trousers and shirt, Jigsaw necklace, New Look boots.


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Style Guile Finds - Something to keep you warm as September approaches

I must admit that I had a little panic yesterday.  When I finally braved the outdoors, somewhere in the middle of the afternoon, it was cold - really cold - which made me think that the summer had gone for good.

Now as you all know, I hate being cold. It makes me really miserable.  So, I wondered whether it was time to reach for the jumpers - and that's where my second (mini) panic came in.  You see, I can't bring myself to even take a look at my jumpers because I keep finding moths in the house - and I fear that they will have devoured my knitwear.

So, my plan is to buy a couple of jumpers, both to deal with the drop in temperature - although it's been boiling today so perhaps I am a little premature in my fear - and also because it will soften the blow if my others have been scoffed by the moths.

"Why don't you just take a look at them now?" I hear you ask. Well, in all honesty I don't have that many pieces of knitwear that I truly love so I could do with adding one or two new bits - and anyway, I'm a wimp.

I'm not looking for anything run of the mill - I have your usual round neck, v-neck and cropped jumpers and cardis. I also have a couple of sparkly pieces, another one with spots on and several striped jumpers too.

There are lots of weird and whacky jumpers out there for the season. Novelty jumpers, for want of a better phrase, have had a bit of a revival. But I think I am the wrong side of 30 to go around with batman shouting "kerpow" splattered across my chest. 

Or indeed have a pair of eyes staring out from it, as per this Markus Lupfer sequined wool jumper £280

Animals are also big - owls in particular thanks to Burberry but also foxes, dogs and perhaps lions too, if you live in Clacton.

Colour blocking will be a big trend for the season and I love this Gap boat neck sweater £29.95 which also comes in bright turquoise with grey, and yellow with grey. It really packs a punch on the colour stakes and will look great with those dark bottoms we all love to wear - or even some bright floral ones for those feeling brave.

Animals are also big - owls in particular thanks to Burberry but also foxes, dogs and perhaps lions too, if you live in Clacton. And unlike seasons gone by, jumpers aren't just going to be part of an outfit, they will be the centre piece of the outfit.

The Burberry owl cashmere sweater £795 has already sold out at Net a Porter - so I am showing you the t-shirt - but the jumper isn't hugely different in design. Owls are going to be huge this season and Next has many pieces which are subject to the owl influence!

So, here are a couple of pieces that I think walk that fine line between run of the mill and screaming "Look at me, I'm wearing a jumper of the season." (You wait - bet I will be sporting an owl in a few months - just not a burberry one!)

First off the white company rib hem sweater £85.  The White Company has great knitwear and there's always an offer to be had, so what may appear quite expensive at first glance can sometimes become more reasonable. I love this style jumper with skinny jeans, khakis or cords together with chunky boots and a long pendant for an off duty chic look.

This White company navy poncho £85 is a great way of adding interest to the silhouette of your outfit without adding too much bulk. I like the fact that it is different from the usual jumper/cardi styles and because this one isn't too voluminous, or brown, or crocheted, it doesn't have those negative 1970's associations, which so many ponchos have!

It's worth taking a closer look at this Boden skye jumper £69.  It is a relaxed fit, comes in different colours and is slightly lower at the back than the front - great for filling that breezy gap when bending over.  The reviews of it are really good too.

I love this Mango buttons flecked jumper £34.99, especially with the denim shirt styled underneath it.  It is also longer at the back and the buttons are down the back, which again makes it a little more interesting. The fleck in it makes it really versatile and I love it as styled on the Mango website, with wide cords and heels with the sleeves rolled up. Again, a laid back but stylish look.
A post on jumpers wouldn't be complete without a sequinned jumper and surprisingly, there are a lot around already.  Usually they appear nearer to Christmas but I have noticed a lot in the stores already.  This Mango sequin wool jumper £44.99 also comes in grey and would be great as an evening update to jeans.
And if you do decide to embrace the whole jumper trend head on, what better place to look than Topshop? Over the years I have had some great knits from Topshop and this year they have paisley, Union Jacks, drums, skulls, army print, as well  as pretty lace and pastel coloured jumpers. For anyone feeling romantic, how about this Topshop hearts jumper £36? It can soon be toughened up with leather, spikes and denim!

And finally, you know I mentioned an alternative to the Burberry owl jumper - well here she is, the French Connection lady owl jumper £67 - what's not to love?!

Monday, 27 August 2012

On the Run - Running away from away from the 11+ books in brogues

You know me - I love a good brogue, and a navy top, and a pair of jeans and oh look, here they are all  together!
I haven't worn this navy Cos top for a while but it has a little Peter Pan collar on it which is really cute.
Yesterday our son and I were hitting the books in preparation for his 11 plus exam in a couple of weeks. I though it only fair that I sat with him whilst he was doing the questions and I wanted to feel a bit "put together". For some reason - brogues do that for me. When I wear them I mean business!  
I think he learnt a lot - his vocabulary has certainly been broadened - mainly as a result of choice words and phrases on my part. 
The maths, english and verbal reasoning I get - that all makes sense and is useful in every day life. The non-verbal reasoning - what a total and utter waste of time. I would rather clean the windows than work out whether a whole load of shapes have been roated through 45 or 90 degrees in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction whilst shaded in a different way from the shapes next to them. We did have some laughs though!

This photo was taken on a trip to the newsagents as part of one of our "breaks". Having sat on a bench in the sun for a few minutes, I was encouraged by our son to return to the books - and I somewhat reluctantly followed. I love a bit of reverse psychology!

Here are a closer shot of the bag and cuff that I wore - the bag is the Orla Kiely (Bicester) one that I had from my husband for my birthday and the cuff is Hobbs NW3.

I can feel a whole brogue post coming on but thought that I had better give the shoes a rest for a while as I have been talking about them quite a lot recently!
Outfit: Gap high rise skinny jeans, Cos top, Dune cream brogues, bag and cuff as listed.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Style Guile Tip - One of the colours of the season: Cobalt blue

Each season there are a few colours which dominate the high street and this season, cobalt blue is one of them. 

So, if you are looking for another quick update to your wardrobe, buying a piece in one of the colours of the season is a great way of doing it.

I was in Harvey Nichols today, collecting a pair of trousers that I bought online on the last day of the sale. They were sent to my local HN free of charge - which I thought was a great service.

There they were, in the personal shopping changing rooms waiting to be tried on - together with these Christian Louboutin lady peep spike shoes, which I was given for the purpose of checking the length of the trousers. At £825 I can safely say that they are the most expensive shoes I have ever worn and with a 150mm heel, probably the highest too. Apparently a lot of WAGs are buying them. Sadly the heels were still too low for the trousers - but the trousers can soon be fixed with a quick trip to the tailors. More details of those to follow in a later post!

Getting back to the point of the post, whilst in there, I saw this Michael Kors fine knit cashmere sweater £290. I loved the shape of it - and obviously the colour and could well keep my eye open for something similar. 

Michael Michael Kors - Fine knit cashmere jumper

Sticking with the cobalt theme, I also really like this Tegan  classy coating coat £240 - not only for the colour but also for the styling. Although it is double breasted, the absence of detail around the neckline and the bust could make it a great style for ladies who have a curvy bust.

Classy Coating Coat

This lovely Hobbs peggy blouse £69 would make a nice addition to your work wardrobe and will go with black, navy or camel.  It would look great tucked into a pencil skirt and would add some interest to a corporate style suit. If you work in the kind of environment where one of this season's printed trouser suits is an option, it could look great under one of them.

These Whistles nelly tapered peg trousers are now £50 in the sale - reduced from £125. I bought them at the start of the summer and haven't worn them yet but the fabric is heavy enough that I should be able to wear them well into the autumn.

Nelly Tapered Peg Trouser

For a dress option, this Warehouse feature back crepe dress £80 is really pretty.  Demure from the front, it has a low back which is a lovely detail if you are not one for showing off your legs. If you are tempted, remember to make the most of the the offer of 20% off with InStyle magazine.

  • Feature back crepe dress.

    As a nod to the trend you could go for this Zara suede city bag with chain handles £49.99


    And finally one more coat - the M&S wool coat with cashmere £99. I so wish that M&S would sort out their styling on their website. This coat could look so much better than it does here. Once I have seen it in the flesh I will report back!

    Autograph Wool Rich Zip Through Coat with Cashmere

    For further items in this colour, there's a blue mac in Hobbs, Barbour has a great blue jacket and Mango a blue suede biker style one.

    No doubt there will be cobalt blue pieces everywhere this season at all different price ranges - so keep your eyes open for those gems for an instant update to your wardrobe.

    Saturday, 25 August 2012

    Style Guile Saturday Round-Up

    Quite often after I have posted, things crop up or come to my attention which I think it might be good to share.  So, I am going to start doing a "Saturday Round Up" - where I will fill in the gaps and let you know what other gems SG readers have shared with me during the week.

    You may remember a while ago that I posted about the Sea Folly swimming costume that I had received, and about which I gave rave reviews. As I said at the time, that particular swimming costume made me feel like I was wearing clothes, rather than underwear!

    This week I have come across another fantastic swimming costume courtesy of Grazia - which is very similar in style.  With a 1950's boy leg and halter neck, it comes with tummy support and goes up to a 44F in cup size. It's from Very and costs £29.  The contrast between the print on the side panels and the torso, make it really flattering. Not only that, but there is a video on the site. OK so it may be on a model but at least you can see it from all angles. It also comes in black.

    Sorry to those of you have already read about this on my facebook page, which is where I first featured it.  To anyone who hasn't already, "Liking" my page will ensure that you are kept up to speed on anything that I find.

                                                                   Resort Shapewear Playsuit

    Following on from my post a couple of days ago about the Zara Doctor's Bag, according to the October edition of In Style magazine "If there is ONE thing that defines the new season, it's the humble doctor's bag.  Sleek, practical and utterly fabulous." So for anyone looking to make a quick update, that could be the piece for you. And if you were undecided about the Zara bag, it may be worth securing one pronto.

    In Style featured this utterly gorgeous polished leather bag from Miu Miu, which costs £1,350...


    ...and also this Tan Doctor's Tote from Matalan which, at £14, is a great buy. 

                                                          Tan Doctors Tote

    They also stated that the slipper trend wasn't going anywhere fast so again, for those looking to make a quick update on the flat shoe front, if you hadn't already done so, these might be worth considering.

    Earlier in the week I mentioned that Boden was coming to Birmingham, in the form of a pop up shop in the Bullring.  Well, here's the evidence! For those of you who know the Bullring, it's opposite the Clarks store.  It opens on 31st August.  I am working the entire day on a photo shoot, so if anyone gets there before me, please let me know what it's like!

    In yesterday's post I talked about jewel coloured jeans and showed a couple of designer pairs, with some cheaper GAP alternatives.  Thanks to those who left comments letting me know about alternatives.  Warehouse may have some wine coloured ones in their sale (£10) and surprise, surprise, Primark have them in a variety of different colours. 

    Finally, some discounts:

    Warehouse are offering 20% off new season stock with In Style - just quote 20INSTYLE at the checkout or take the pull out brochure along with you to the store (the October edition should be on the shelves in about a week or so).

    Baukjen are offering 15% off plys free delivery and returns when you spend over £49. Just quote INSTYLE12

    Happy shopping!

    Friday, 24 August 2012

    On the Run - an overview of GAP jewel coloured jeans - a must have for the season!

    Jewel tones are going to be big for A/W '12 and we know that because....they are big every A/W! 

    A change from the pastel coloured, and floral printed jeans of the summer months, and the darker florals and animal prints of the winter months, jewel coloured jeans also offer an alternative to black or grey.

    The great thing about them is that they work well with base colours such as black, navy, grey, camel or cream - so the chances are that you will have plenty to go with them already - and that includes a coat.

    In my quest for wine/burgundy/mulberry (call them what you will) and other jewel toned jeans, I headed to GAP.  They are always good for a first look at such items. 

    I also had a quick look at Net a Porter for designer jeans, by way of a comparison, which is where I found these Victoria Beckham mid rise skinny jeans at £170

                                                                       Victoria Beckham Denim Power mid-rise skinny jeans

    ....or for £44.95 you could have thes GAP mulberry ankle zip leggings.  

    Now, you know that I prefer it if I have seen/felt/worn pieces myself before bringing them to you - all in the name of research of course! Well, these come in a variety of colours and I love the ankle zip detail. The only trouble was that my usual size was about half a size too small - and I know this for a fact because I wore them for five minutes or so to test them out, whilst hanging out the washing - (which is a really good activity for testing jeans because of the bending and stretching involved.) Anyway, at the end of it they still felt too snug so they had to go back.  However, being half a size too small it meant that the next size was half a size too big. So for me they are a no - but I am working on it!

    So, who's up for a pair of Cords?  No longer to be worn only by those stuck in the 70', here are the J Brand 511 corduroy skinny jeans £205

                                                                 J Brand Denim 511 mid-rise corduroy skinny jeans

    and here are the GAP 1969 purple wine cord leggings, which at  £44.95 are a teeny bit cheaper than the J Brand ones and which, in real life, are much closer in colour to them. The cord is so fine that they don't really look like cords in all honesty and they are really soft - but quite low on the rise.

    Having also tried these on, what I can say about them is that they came up a whole size too small on me, which was great as I just went up a size and that solved the problem.  With 30% off at GAP at the moment too, the price of them was really good.

    If you don't feel particularly inclined to go around with wine coloured legs, these clear lake blue legging cords are just different enough from the colour of jeans to be worth the investment, without being too radical a departure to feel self conscious in them. 
    GAP also has other coloured cords and jeans (more autumnal tones) in a boyfriend fit, if the skinny look isn't quite for you.  Last winter Warehouse did some great coloured jeans with a much higher rise - so they too could be worth investigating.
    I have no doubt that many of you will also have found some great coloured jeans so if that's the case, please let us all know about them!

    Thursday, 23 August 2012

    Style Guile Finds - Primark Pretties

    I had a bit of an embarrassing incident today. I was at the opticians and there the optician was, staring into my eyes with the assistance of one of his implements - when he promptly dropped it right into my lap.
    Given it was his piece of equipment, I didn't feel comfortable recovering it. But given it was in my lap, it would have been inappropriate for him to recover it. So we both sort of hovered over it - looking at it - neither of us quite being sure who had "right of way" when I think we both realised at the same time what was going on. He quickly withdrew his hand from my lap region and I grabbed it and handed it back to him. Disaster averted. Just.  
    Anyway, yesterday I had 10 minutes in Primark - and I spotted these two pieces which found their way into my basket.  First of all, this navy blouse with black trim and pearl collar.

    This is a closer look at the collar, which is really pretty. I bought a size 8 but am going to size up to a 10 as it is a bit snug. At £12 it's a great piece.

    Dipping my toe in the water with the printed theme, I picked up this blazer, which cost £15.

    This is a closer shot of the print - which contains navy, teal and white. There are going to be so many prints around this season that it may be a little early for me to commit all my eggs to this particular basket and I need to try it on with something other than my tracksuit bottoms before I reach a conclusion on it!

    Now, these were my reason for going into Primark in the first place - navy brocade trousers.  Last year I bought some black jacquard Zara trousers and some spotty Topshop trousers - but this year its the turn of brocade.

    So, armed with my clipping from a magazine, I went to the store to track them down for a closer look.  They weren't there but that didn't stop me! A call to Primark customer services resulted in a return call (impressive!) to tell me that they would be in stores from 1st October.  So, for anyone hunting these down - you may need to wait for a while - unless anyone wants to tell me differently!

    And finally, moving away from Primarni and on to Chanel, this new colour "Suspicious" will be released tomorrow and it is billed as the plum/fuschia colour of the season.  Whilst I have received Chanel nail varnish as gifts (and would be very happy to give one as a gift) I don't think that I have ever bought any myself. Not that that would stop me from painting a little dab from a tester pot onto my nail and going to another counter to match it up.

    Well if, as they say it's going to sell out, they don't need my pennies do they?!


    Wednesday, 22 August 2012

    An alternative to the Tory Burch Robinson Satchel (courtesy of Zara) and some exciting Boden news


    I was uber excited to find out today that there is a pop up Boden store opening in Birmingham at the end of the month. I have one or two Boden vouchers to my name at the moment and I can't wait to go and see and feel the new collection.  Having been to the press day earlier in the year, it will be great to be surrounded by Boden again - in all its various prints and guises.
    On another note, this Tory Burch Robinson Satchel is something I first spotted in Selfridges in Birmingham a few months ago. I was smitten with it then - as I am now. I loved the shape and the size of it but the price tag of £495 didn't sit too well with me. 
    It was the navy one I first fell for, but it has now been withdrawn as it was faulty - so obviously that price tag was a sign that it wasn't meant to be. However, the shape of the bag - half bowling bag, half doctor's style, stayed with me and I was looking for an alternative, which I have now found - and it's navy! 
    This is the Antik leather combined bowling bag from Zara, which costs £59.99
    I suspect that the fabric panelling in the side is a cost cutting exercise (it's 25% cow leather and 75% polyurethene) - but I can live with that - or at least I am prepared to explore it.

    I took a look in our local Zara this morning but they didn't have any in.  One of the assistants there suggested that I order it online to be delivered to the store free of charge - which I have done in the past. As she pointed out, that way I could be sure of a brand new, perfect one, which wasn't in the least shop soiled - which I thought was a top tip - and so that's what I will be doing.
    Once I have given it the once over, I will report back on the results!


    Tuesday, 21 August 2012

    An outfit for a meeting with a media company - plain basics plus a new Whistles scarf and an Orla Kiely bag

    Well, we managed not to sink the boat when we were away, which was a relief. I returned with bites, bruises and having worn the same clothes for more days than I should - hence the lack of photos - but we had a brilliant time on our (very narrow) narrow boat.

    On the first morning that we were away, I had to be dropped off at the side of the canal to do another Radio interview. So there I was, giving my view on some research which concluded that men no longer cared how they looked after they reached 37, when the boat went by with 6 children hanging out of the windows and on the roof shouting "hi Mum, hello, coooeee" and me gesticulating wildly for them to BE QUIET!

    So, today I had a meeting with a media company about an up and coming project which I will tell you more about when I am allowed.  I think that I had been walking around in my Next chinos and a vest up until that point, so had to do a quick change before dashing out of the door.

    I relied on my usual trick of a simple colour scheme - in this case grey and pale blue - and wore plain basics (Cos grey jeans, NW3 top) and then added in some nice accessories for print, colour and texture.

    My accessories were grey patent Reiss wedges with snake print detail, Whistles scarf (as featured on my last post) - this was its first outing, Orla Kiely bag - also its first outing, pale blue snake print Reiss cuff and nude Coccinelle cuff.

    The meeting was great and on returning home, I cast aside all of my glad rags in favour of my Next chinos once more. Bliss!

    Thursday, 16 August 2012

    Style Tip - How to choose and wear prints - and boy, what a selection there is this season!

    I was talking on the Radio yesterday about gifts.  One of my aims was to persuade men to buy great gifts for their wife/girlfriend/partner.  My suggestions were a) Mulberry handbags, b) shopping days with me, c) to get them to ask their wife/partner/girlfriend what they would like, rather than guessing and getting it wrong, d) giving them gift vouchers so they could choose their own presents.

    Hopefully the men of the West Midlands will now have a better idea of how about going to buy their other halves decent presents! Naturally I should qualify this by saying that Mr SG doesn't need any guidance on this subject (as I am sure is the case of many men out there).

    The presenter was brilliant - very funny.  Anyway, if you would like to take a listen, you can do so here - my feature was on at 1.05 hours into the programme.

    I am getting ready for our long weekend away - the final short trip of our "Portfolio Holiday".   This trip is taking place on a barge, along with another family of five. I think as I mentioned in another post, the boat we were meant to go on sank. I am still not quite sure how that happened, given that the water in a canal is only about 4ft deep and that there isn't any tide, wind or waves. Anyway, a replacement has been found and we will be heading off tomorrow so I will be taking a mini blogging holiday until we return on Monday.

    So today's post is all about prints. From Jacquard at Miu Miu, to Chinoiserie at Proenza Schuler, to Houndstooth, Brocade, Animal, Winter Floral, Digital prints and Geometric prints at Prada and Jonathan Saunders - prints graced skirts, trousers, shirts, jackets, shoes and bags on the catwalks for A/W '12, as they will the High Street too.

    I could easily spend a week or more writing about the different prints - but I shall aim to keep it brief. 

    I spotted this woven print front cardi £40 at Warehouse in John Lewis.  I loved the pretty colours in it.                                              
                                                            woven print front cardi
    Here is a closer shot of the print. It would be easy to pick up any of the colours in the print - or to just team it with jeans if this was a first foray into prints.


    Not dis-similar to the print above, these Printed Silk Trousers by Malene Birger £225 would work well with a plain knit or cream blouse.  Wearing print on your bottom half can take some getting your head around - and they can require more styling with heels etc - but they can make a great change from plain coloured bottoms.

        BY MALENE BIRGER - Printed silk trousers

    These Sub Zero slim fit trouser £82 from French Connection are lovely in real life. There's a closer shot of the print on the site, so it might be worth following the link. Neither floral, nor animal print, they are just something slightly different - with a great colour palette to them.

    Sub Zero Slim Fit Trouser

    This Gita V neck flare dress £179 from Reiss is really flattering - with a navy background, v-neck, nipped in waist and slight flare to the skirt.  The lighter print in the centre of the dress draws the eye inwards and the positoning of the stripes is really flattering.  So all in all, from a styling perspective, it's a winner.
    Reiss Gita Dresses

    This printed blouse with applique around neckline £29.99 is from Zara. The darker background makes it a really stylish, and subtle, option.

    Leopard print has been around for seasons and will continue to be for many more no doubt, so this Zara leopard print sweater  at £25.99  should stand you in good stead for many winters to come.

                           LEOPARD PRINT SWEATER

    People can be unsure as to how to wear prints and clients of mine will often ask me for advice. So here are my top tips for buying, and wearing, prints:

    • Our reactions to prints are individual and instinctive - often because they remind us of something from our past - a dress when we were young, a fabric print in our Grandma's house, something we wore in our teens etc.  Only buy something with a print if you really love it;
    • Be prepared for others to comment on the prints that you are wearing - it often happens, so be confident in your choices and don't be put off by what others say -  otherwise, you may find yourself only wearing something once!
    • If unsure about wearing prints, start off tentatively with a scarf, belt or bag;
    • A light print on a dark background is more flattering than in reverse;
    • A large, bold print can drown a smaller frame but equally it can be very dramatic. A low grade print which contains several shades of the same colour is much easier to wear;
    • Print will draw attention to the areas on which it is worn. Digital printed pencil skirts are stunning on those apple shaped ladies who have narrow hips and long, slim legs (Karen Millen is great for these). Conversely, a bold floral print is stunning on blouse on a pear shaped lady;
    • Unlike a floral print, it is difficult for a digital or geometric print to be "grannyish".
    The topics of prints could go on for ever and ever - as could the prints that I could feature - so if you have any queries, please just drop me a line via FB, email or twitter.