Thursday, 31 January 2013

If I could buy three things...

There I was at my ice-skating lesson, barely off the barrier and requiring support on each side when a thought struck me. I looked at the Russian coach who has competed in the world championships four times and thought to myself "Is this really how you planned your life? Did you really think that you would be spending your time holding up some totally hopeless person who can't even stand on the ice and who, on a scale of 1 to 10, is a -64?" Funny how life turns out isn't it? Anyway, enough deep and meaningful thoughts for the day, let's move on to clothes...

A few of the shops have their new collections in and for those who don't, the sale stock should be on its way out now.

Out of the new collections I have seen so far, these are three of my favourite pieces:

Orchid print pencil skirt from Ted Baker (£109). It's so pretty and such a lovely contrast to the dark pieces of the winter collections. It just needs that sweatshirt top and those heels and I'll be done (well, apart from the fact that it will never be mine because it's so expensive but that aside...) and anyhow I'm sure that there will be a cheaper alternative out there soon.

Then there's the Whistles ophelia sequin stripe knit (£110). In the flesh the sequins are a much brighter yellow.  I am currently loving the grey/yellow combo and if it were mine, which again it won't be but I'm not complaining, it would do a great job of lifting some of my darker pieces. 

And finally there's the Whistles Mattie intarsia knit sweater (£95) again, grey and yellow, I know and to some not particularly wowzer but I would be happy if it snuck itself into my wardrobe and hid amongst the slightly tired, slightly bobbly (I nearly wrote "boobly" but that's for another post) jumpers until one day, when it was slightly warmer, it jumped out at me and said "wear me, wear me."

Yes, these pieces would definitely get me on my way - well these and the coral blouse and taupe and coral printed trousers that I also have my eye on in Cos. Oh, and the grey and white top in Hollister (yes, I was dragged in their again today - fortunately it wasn't quite so noisy or so stinky) and a new dress by a brand I was introduced to at an event this evening - Cecily - hence the late post. But that will all have to wait until another day.  

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Mum on the Run - Another outfit for the school runway - and a little rant about Hollister

I don't know what happens when I walk into Hollister but there are definitely some physiological changes which take place as a result of which I turn into a petulant teenager. I last wrote about Hollister  here  and nothing has changed much since then. I should add that I wasn't really in there through choice but to try and get a skirt for the eldest. Although they didn't have the skirt, I did come away with a t-shirt - so it wasn't all bad.

It's not so much being greeted by a "dude" in shorts and flip-flops, or the fact that he asks me whether I am having a great day. In Birmingham in the cold and rain? Oh yes, it's postively LA. It's the smell. I have no idea why they have to pump the place full of body spray or why the staff have to spray bottles of body spray, with body spray - but they do. It's also the fact that it's so loud that it makes my head hurt and that it's so dark I can't actually see anything. Anyway, it obviously works for them but it brings out the worst in me. Sorry Hollister.

Now that Easy Living have selected the outfit for the School Runway feature in the March edition of the Magazine, I can show you one or two others. Each winner of the school runway compeition had to submit four (I think) outfits and the magazine chose one.

The outfits had to be bright - hence the bright pink coat. I also wore Jigsaw trousers, Rockport shoes and a Marc Jacobs bag...

...together with a New Look denim shirt, Mango scarf, Hobbs necklace

...and gloves from Miss Selfridge - which I will be the first to admit are slightly ridiculous but very warm.

I'll post another outfit tomorrow, that is unless I've burst a blood vessel due to excessive ranting!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Mum on the Run - Introducing Dote London: Devoted to the art of sleep

When I am approached by a new brand, I am always interested to learn about how it came into existence. Who is behind the brand?  What is the gap in the market that they are trying to fill? What was it that they were after that couldn't find elswhere?  And of course, what is so special about their product?
Dote London was set up by Sheena Abbot - Davies, a Mum of three boys with no previous experience in any sector of the business. (Now I'm thinking how brave and how did she have the time?!)
When Sheena couldn't find affordable luxury nighties and pyjamas that she wanted to buy, she decided she could do better herself and that's how Dote was born.  The range is designed for relaxing at home and the designs are simple, with many being based on vintage samples or inspired by classic cinema. They reference a glamourous past, where sleepwear exuded grown up elegance and sophistication.
Designed with family in mind, Dote is for women who have children and who want to maintain a little mystique and glamour but who don't want to be in anything too revealing.

Using a selection of silks, cotton, cashmere, wool and jersey in different colours and prints, Sheena has created a covetable range of pieces. From talking to her it is clear that she left no stone unturned when searching for the right fabrics, the right dyes, the right designs and the right places for her pieces to be made. The fabrics are carefully chosen for softness and quality and natural fabrics promote temperature regulation and comfort whilst sleeping. Sheena has eagle like eyes for attention to detail and has tried and tested things herself many times over, so that they are just right.

Dote already has a celebrity following in Kate Moss, India Hicks and Jackie Dixon and they have been featured in Grazia and Stella Magazine.

On being invited to an event where nightwear and loungewear were key, I was ever so slightly nervous.  The words "January"  "pale winter skin" and "HELP" sprang to mind. However I was reassured that I wouldn't be required to wear shorts, so that was a start at least. On reflection we concluded that having to make an effort to get ourselves ship shape in January wasn't such a bad thing after all.

There are lots of beautiful pieces in the collection - some are more of a special purchase perhaps for an anniversary or a birthday, others are more of an everyday kind of purchase - all are lovely!

Here is Zahra from Lyla loves Fashion looking gorgeous in these fantastic silk twill tuxedo style pyjamas (£236). I love the colour of them on her. These are very glamourous but in a subtle and understated way.

This is Lorna from Style Isle wearing the Garbo dress (£125) and the Geisha silk kimono (£220). I could tell from the way that she moved that she used to be a model. Isn't she beautiful? There's no denying that this outfit exudes full on glamour.

Rachel from Lady M Presents  is wearing the Talitha print cotton silk nightie (£115). These printed silk cottons make a global reference and subtle touches of Arabia, India and the Far East will be creeping into the collection.

Here I am clearly looking for something that I have lost along the way! This silk kimono is really beautiful to wear. It is unlike anything I have worn before! It also comes in a jersey fabric in charcoal, taupe and grey and costs £75. I have no idea what the postman would make of me answering the door in this little number, as opposed to my usual "scruffyness."
Here I am wearing the beautiful silk Garbo nightie in grey (featured in Grazia as a dress) together with the hand knit boyfriend cardi in a wool and cashmere mix (£175). I loved the combination of the lighter silk and heavier wool and would have quite happily stayed that way for the rest of the day, had I not had to get the train home.  

Victoria from Feathers and Frills wore the same hand knit boyfriend cardi, together with the Tuxedo twill jammies (£295) in white. I think that Victoria looks very Helena Christensen like, especially with the camera nearby! This is a great outfit for relaxing at home, reading the Sunday papers.

I'm not sure that the bed was too happy about us all sitting on it!
There are also some lovely top and short sets in liberty prints, elegant jersey modal nighties from £65 and long sleeved column nighties from £55. There is a growing range of sleep related accessories from lavender soaps to pure silk pillowcases.  Along with being available on-line, the pieces can also be purchased from the Dorchester hotel - so do take a look next time you are passing! 



Saturday, 26 January 2013

Mum on the Run - Partying (or being asked to leave one) in double Primark, All Saints and Jigsaw

I fear it's going to be a long night. "The party" is still in full swing and I'm not allowed in the kitchen so here I am, consigned to the living room hungry and cold, because the pilot light has gone out on the fire.
The candles on the birthday cake are about to be lit. Would I ever normally let calamity Jane and a box of matches share the same space? Would I hec but tonight, to avoid embarrassing her in front of her friends, I will leave her be. Perhaps I won't be cold for much longer. Perhaps the West Midlands fire brigade will soon be on their way. I am concerned that the Percy Pig cake is about to become bacon.

Anyway, the good thing about having a party is that furniture gets moved, areas that don't normally see the hoover get hoovered and new photo opportunities open themselves up - which is why I am surrounded by flamingoes today.

As to the outfit, my husband asked if I was wearing leather trousers today and could he touch them. "Leather?" I said. "These cost me £10 from Primark." The jumper, also from Primark, cost even less and for today at least, I liked them both.

The statement necklace was a present from my Mum (thanks Mum), the long grey ruched top is from Jigsaw (great for covering the slight excess of zips on the jeans) the boots are my new All Saints ones and the Longines watch I pinched from my husband - partly because he no longer wears it and partly because I like the size and style of it, plus it went with the outfit.
So a little bit of info about the boots for anyone interested - the tarnished gold ones that I have are available in all sizes (3 to 8) in All Saints in the Mailbox, Birmingham. The black ones are available in sizes 5,6 and 7 in the All Saints in the Bullring. If anyone would like some just email me at and I will see what I can do to help.
A little bit of exciting news too! The March edition my of Easy Living magazine arrived today and there, on page 80, (along with some other lovely ladies) was a shot of me as a winner of their "school runway" competition. The magazine won't be on the shelves yet but it should be in the next week or so for anyone who fancies a giggle .  The day that the photo was taken, I felt utterly rubbish with a hideous headache, so all credit to my friend, Libby, who managed to hide my biscuit coloured palour!
Hope that you are all having a lovely weekend!  

Friday, 25 January 2013

Mum on the Run - The 5:2 diet approach to dressing

Tonight's post is going to be uber brief! There's a party for 24 fourteen year olds to be organised, beds for 8 to be sorted and a house to be tidied in preparation! Like all good (mother's of the) host we have read Pippa Middleton's book from cover to cover and have ensured that we have put the chilled things in the fridge so that they don't go off and that we have enough toilet roll for all of our guests.       
I haven't taken a photo in the mirror for some time now because a) it feels even more ridiculous than asking someone else to do it, which makes me feel ridiculous enough as it is and b) but it seems unfair to ask anyone else to do it it in freezing temperatures.
I had lots to do at home today  - both work and party preparations (tip from Pippa: do what you can in advance. Thanks for that Pip, I would never have thought of that) so wore my warmest Hobbs Ashdown dress (still available in a size 14) - not sure how it was classified on their site as a dress, Have you seen the length of it?!!! GAP high waisted skinny jeans - which I see are back on their website - definitely worth trying if you prefer a higher rise, Bumper boots as per yesterday and a creamy/yellow scarf from Zara which picks out the gold in the jumper (dress).
Frankly, during the last week I have paid very little attention to what I have put on in the mornings. As long as it has been clean and warm - actually scrap the clean bit - warm, warm or warm, that has been fine. Although given that I have been running to school pulling the smallest one on a sledge, I have frequently arrived disgustingly hot and sweaty.
I can hear the rain. Thank heavens for that. Perhaps the snow is about to go - which means a whole new load of wardrobe opportunities opening up to me. On some fronts that's quite exciting but on the other hand I've quite enjoyed this week's approach to dressing. Which gives me an idea - I could implement the 5:2 diet but to clothes. Five days I make an effort, two days I don't. Or the other way around. Now there's a thought.  

PS I love Pip really and would very much like to have her bottom.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Mum on the Run - In the best waterproof, warm and "vertical keeping" boots there are!

I remember vividly the day I bought my Bumper boots. I had been in Ludlow Christmas shopping with a friend and had missed several phone calls from our daughter's school, telling me that she was in hospital having her lip stitched after she had flown over the head of a boy in the playground. As one who was heavily pregnant, and with the other two fairly young at the time, I rarely left Birmingham so typically, it was sod's law.
The school were more worried about my husband who took one look at her and nearly fainted. So there was I, 38 weeks pregnant balancing on a hospital trolley whilst a doctor stitched her lip and my husband sat outside, an odd shade of green.
Anyway, back to the boots. For several years I wondered whether I had made a mistake pregnancy purchase. Leopard print wasn't then what it is now and the sole is chunky but they did a great job so each time the snow came down, out they came - retrieved from the back of the wardrobe where they sat for the other 50 weeks of the year.
But now - I love them! Why? Wait for this utterly fickle story!!!
Today I was responding to an email from someone asking me about boots which were stylish and which would keep her warm, dry and upright in the snow. As she wasn't a skiier, she didn't have snow boots, her wellies weren't warm enough and her suede boots got soggy.

Realising that my Bumper boots had never let me down, either in terms of comfort, keeping me upright or keeping me dry, I decided to check them out online to see whether they still even existed.

Not only did I discover that they are an Italian brand, leather lined and really well made but to my shock (and here's where the fickle bit comes in) I discovered that the boots I bought in the sale for £70 now retail at £249 - which probably, no definitely, makes them the most expensive pair of boots (or shoes) that I own. Not only that but according to something else I read, Kate Moss wears them too. What's not to love?!

So, if you want to take a closer look, you can do so here. Some things it's worth paying  a bit more and for me, it's these. I am the world's worst at walking on the ice  - which makes me wonder why I have chosen to taken up ice-skating - but some things are just beyond explanation.

(And no I'm not serious about loving them just because Kate Moss wears them, or because they are expensive - but I might think to appreciate them a bit more and stop storing them at the back of the wardrobe underneath my swimming kit.)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Fancy trying this little trend? You can do so here for £6.99

I'm loving this new trend of two tone trousers. It's time that something came along to give skinnies a a run for their money! They're not so far "out there" that you couldn't wear them out and about without feeling a numpty. OK, so maybe not in the snow but definitely when it warms up.

I'd had my eye on them for a while when they made an appearance in this week's Grazia...

...and then today when I was doing some research, I came across these Gap two tone trousers which are in the sale for £6.99. Will they be added to my shopping basket soon? For that price you bet they will! See above for ideas on how to style them - heels and a silk shirt - or a sweatshirt. See, now I have another reason to buy a sweatshirt!

Like I need another reason? Yeah right!

Monday, 21 January 2013

A little bit of spring on a snowy day...maybe a trend to try?

I fear that many will roll their eyes on reading this post and wonder what on earth I am going on about but I sometimes wonder that about myself too, so not to worry.

I last owned a sweatshirt when I was at University. It was grey and horrible and I wore it with equally horrible leggings. I have no idea why I bought it and I haven't bought one since.

However just before Christmas, sweatshirts came back on to my radar when I noticed them in New Look and slowly but surely since then they have been wheedling their way back into my consciousness.

The ones in New Look weren't quite right - a few too many studs and a few too many skulls - but I liked the idea. Unlike before, now it's all about the styling of them. No longer are they something to chuck on with only your jeans (or horrible leggings). Rather they are to be worn as you may once have worn a silk shirt - or how you may now wear a denim shirt - to dress quite a dressy outfit, down.

Think tweed pencil skirt and heels (see below) and you'll be on the right track. Sweatshirts need to be a relaxed fit but not too loose - which is good or else the striped one that my husband was wearing yesterday would have been pinched quick smart.

So I have hunted around to see what I could find and this is the best of the bunch so far...

There's this button back sweatshirt (£29) from Esprit which comes in a variety of colours. The buttons down the back add that extra style element to what is, let's face it, essentially a plain long sleeved top but only thicker.

                                                sweatshirt + button placket

There's also this finely mottled sweatshirt (£39), which too is from Esprit and which comes in a selection of colours. The little triangle at the neckline is classic sweatshirt detailing and it gives it more of a utilitarian look.

                                                     finely mottled sweatshirt                                                         
I have also included this Gap sunkissed pullover (£24.95) which comes in a myriad of colours and which, on close inspection, is more sweatshirt like than jumper like.

Sunkissed pullover

And here's how to complete the look - Pencil skirt from J Crew in clover tweed...

No. 2 pencil skirt in clover tweed

...and ASOS hometown heeled sandals (£40), because block heels will be all the range come the spring. Play with the colours, play with the texture, push the sleeves up on the sweatshirt and add a stack of cuffs/bangles/bracelets - you get the idea.

ASOS HOMETOWN Heeled Sandals

I can imagine wearing this when something a little "fashiony" is called for. With a decent length to the skirt and covered arms, it is all very respectable and age appropriate for someone whose daughter turns 14 tomorrow!


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Rollers - Dare to wear in public?

I find the ever changing rules of fashion fascinating and none more so than the current trend of being seen out and about in rollers. Having short "prickly hair", as mine was described by a little girl when I was on the train the other day, this is not a look I will be rocking any time soon but for some, rollers are the ultimate fashion statement.  
All sorts of assumptions used to be made about women who were seen out and about in their rollers - probably most of them by their peers and probably most of them relating to class. This image of the lovely Hilda Ogden probably best summarises the stereo-typical "roller wearer" of years gone by.  
Moving on a few decades, haven't people's views changed?  These are our current "roller wearers". So, what does the message of wearing rollers in public say to us now?

Although I had heard from our local florist, who also owns a shop in Liverpool, of women being seen in the supermarket and on the school run in rollers, I hadn't actually witnessed it until I went up to Newcastle at New Year. I should say at this point that I would be the last person to be passing judgment on anyone wearing rollers in public. You should have seen what I had on my head when I went running yesterday. It wasn't pretty.

Wearing rollers in public is now a sort of status symbol and the ultimate accessory. As for the girl that I saw, her rollers were like a neon sign flashing above her head saying "I'm getting ready for a big night out tonight." This particular roller wearer was also sporting a beautifully made up face, manicured nails, a fake tan and a velour tracksuit. Again, no judgment being made on that front - it's just a fact. If I had the hair to pull it off maybe I would try but there again maybe I would just look like Hilda Ogden. I certainly sing like her.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Mum on the Run - Taking it slowly....

Sometimes I think that we feel compelled to carry on living life at a frenetic pace, even when there's a chance to kick back and relax.
With a couple of hours to spare when I arrived in London last week, I had the choice of dashing around the bigger and better versions of the stores that we have here in Birmingham - just to see what else they had in stock - battling with the crowds on Oxford Street to get to Selfridges, or heading to my favourite store - Liberty. Liberty won. I've loved Liberty for more years than I can remember and I  used to wear their scrunchies at 6th form college. Apparently scrunchies are making a come back - I know, can you believe that? However I think that mine are long gone.
After a quick look around the Jigsaw on Argyll Street and a mid-morning refuel in a cafe, I went in to Liberty, via the chocolate section of course.  

Such a beautiful display and one of only many. I was intrigued by all the different sorts of chocolate on offer, particularly the "pudding" bars but continued on my journey through into cosmetics and stationery, via the hats with this lovely display by Christys and where there's a gorgeous straw trilby with a liberty print band around it which has my name on it.

...and these lovely displays of scarves. The colours were so beautiful and a gentle reminder that spring is somewhere on its way...soon.

I love Liberty for the building (I can almost convince myself that I have indulged in something historical and cultural when I have been in there, which is a bonus) the fact that it stocks brands that I don't get to see at home but also for the fact that it is done in a really un-pretentious way. Simplicity is key.

Chinti & Parker jumpers are great to wear (I am told!) and they are lovely to touch.

The same is true of Equipment shirts, which also feel gorgeous to touch.

On I went, looking at Isabel Marant Etoile, Rag and Bone, Carven and other brands before going to the sale room (how I wish I had left more time to look there. They had some amazing savings) before heading back downstairs for a quick look at the bags, a hunt for something with "Liberty" written on it for our eldest who also loves the store, before leaving via the main entrance with the beautiful flowers.

Wandering around a store is obviously not everyone's idea of switching off, even one as beautiful as Liberty - in fact my own sister would find the idea positively ridiculous! However for me it was lovely to be able to step off the world for a little while and was I glad to have left Oxford Street to the masses? Oh yes indeed. At least I am putting one of my New Year's resolutions into play. The one about remembering to take plastic bags back to the supermarket to re-use? Not so good.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Mum on the Run - Dashing around London in GAP and All Saints plus a little gem for you from J Crew

Yesterday saw me taking a trip to London to work with a new brand - more about that another time!
It was an early start and with snow forecast for home on my return, I needed to be practical - which is why, having taken the p*** out of Jessica Biel for not wearing any socks with her All Saints shoe boots, I did the same - except my socks were in my bag just in case I needed them! Oddly, despite the cold, my ankles weren't cold at all, which is good to know for future reference - given that I am such a wimp.
Jeans seemed the most practical option, so I wore GAP (sexy!) boyfriend jeans, which were very comfortable, Zara jumper with a silky front, French Connection scarf, Cocinelle cuff, La La Rocks bracelet, Topshop necklace and All Saints shoe boots. They were so comfortable! I traipsed around London, minus socks and there wasn't a blister in sight!

I thought that it might be helpful to show the accessories at close quarters so here they are: French Connection scarf bought in the sale.  You know the other day when I said that the All Saints shoe boots were the only thing that I bought in the sale? Well I was wrong. I usually am.  Cocinelle cuff and La La Rocks braclet - bottom left and right - and pirate lariat necklace (Topshop £12).

Had I known the necklace was called that I am not sure that I would have bought it but on closer inspection there's nothing remotely pirate like about it, which is good. I only bought the necklace on Wednesday and really like it because although it's long, due to the way that it is fixed quite high up, it's not a swinger (if you will excuse the phrase) so it doesn't get caught in the dishwasher.

Given the cold snap, and the fact that I know that there are lots of tall (and petite) ladies out there who have difficulty finding a coat to fit, I thought that I would show you this down filled Puffa Jacket from J Crew (£214.60 reduced to £166.34) which comes in both tall and petite sizings. The taller size is aimed at women 5ft 9" to 6ft and the small one is designed for women 5ft to 5ft 4" - and has a slightly lower price too.
Tall wintress puffer
I know how hard it can be to find good quality coats, especially for taller ladies so, if you are on the look out for something to keep the cold at bay, this just might be it. Happy snowballing!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Mum on the Run - An alternative to the Acne pistol boot? Thanks to All Saints, possibly.

Both the Acne Pistol (left) and the Acne Star (right) have been a popular choice of boot for A-listers and yummy mummies in recent seasons. An ankle boot with a chunky heel, they are both practical and stylish - but with a bit of a hefty price tag.
                               ACNE - 'Pistol short' bootACNE - 'Star' ankle boot

When I was in town yesterday doing some "research" I came across some boots in All Saints.  Lower than the pistol boot both in terms of ankle height, heel height (and price!) I thought that they would be really a practical addition to my wardrobe.

It would appear from today's Grazia that Jessica Biel has been paying All Saints a visit too. Although if she paid the full price for her boots she was diddled!

I decided to go for the tarnished gold version, rather than the black. Obviously the flash on the camera makes them look much shinier than they are but I liked the tarnished look for a change. They will take on the colour of whatever it is that I am wearing, making them super versatile.

This is them from the side. I am planning on wearing them with skirts and dresses too but if they don't work as I hope, given that I practically live in trousers they will still get plenty of wear. I don't have a dog to take with me when wearing mine but I'm sure that a small child will be a good substitute.

For anyone hunting for a pair, here are the details. I know that both the All Saints store and Selfridges in Birmingham still have some (in black too) and they come up pretty true to size. Reduced to £87.50 from £175, they counted as a proper saving in my eyes.

Unless I am mistaken, these have been my only sale purchase.  As I said at the start of the sales, I like to wait to the end as that's when the real bargains are to be found. I really hope that the end of the sales result in some great savings for you all too.

Monday, 14 January 2013

A style of dress from Whistles which suits lots of ladies - a real gem!

Yesterday I was invited to a friend's birthday afternoon tea, which was lovely and very civilised for a Sunday afternoon. Another friend was wearing the Bella style dress from Whistles - and she looked amazing in it.
I thought that it was worth writing about this particular dress because it's not often that a style of dress comes along which suits lots of ladies - however this one does.  Not only that but it is a lovely style of dress - one of those styles that you might choose to wear because you love it, rather than just because it works for your shape. It's 100% stretch silk and can be dressed up or down and worn for work, for going out in, to a wedding or with a chunky knit and ankle boots. With sleeves, a longer length in some styles and with clever ruching to define the waist and disguise the tummy, it's a style worth investigating if you are after something special.
Whistles generally do two or three Bella dresses each season in different fabrics - usually one plain, one floral and one animal print inspired. I have found that they have worked for ladies of different sizes and although they do limited runs, the company is good at helping you to locate your size if it's not available locally.
This is the bodycon version which comes in a size 6 to 16 and which costs £115.

The Bella glazed floral print dress which costs £155, is available in both a longer length 96cm (back neck to hem) and a shorter length of 92cm.

This is the Bella Abstract animal print dress which again costs £155.

I don't work on a commission basis as I think that it's important to maintain my integrity and to do the very best for my clients without any personal benefit but if there's a particular style out there which I think you should know about, I'm very happy to share it. You can quite often find this style in the sales and Grazia usually runs a discount with Whistles each season, which is honoured in the concessions too. Hope you have all had a good start to the week.