Sunday, 31 March 2013

Mum on the Run - Testing out the new Nike trainers

With the other three due back from ski-ing today, I knew I was in for a busy morning as I had to try and make it look as though I was on top of my game. I had a lemon cake to make (I find that making a cake always makes it look as though you are in control), shirts to iron, washing to do and a stew to make. I also had to empty out my husband's car, which he keeps immaculate but which was slightly less so after I had used it - but then we are talking a weekly hoover and clean, a special leather cleaning kit, no food or drinks allowed - you get the gist.
Despite the foot of snow in the back garden, I just couldn't face any more thick socks and sheepskin boots around the house. I figured that I had to make some kind of bid for freedom from the shackles of the winter weather and having taken delivery of a pair of these some time ago now...

...I thought that it was time to wear them. I wasn't sure how I would get on with them but having put them to the test, I found them really comfortable and I liked the slightly over the top bright fuchsia and yellow combo. For their first outing I broke  myself in gently, purposefully keeping the rest of the outfit plain, with a Warehouse sequinned jumper, H&M breton top and Gap skinny jeans. Maybe next time I'll slip in another colour.

So that's another recent purchase shared. More to follow tomorrow... 

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Mum on the Run - Boden Beauties!

Some of you may have noticed that I've been away for a while. With the eldest two and my husband off ski-ing, the youngest and I paid my Dad a visit in Guernsey. I decided not to put the gale force winds, rain and cold to a "fash off" knowing that I would lose. There's no point pretending it's spring when it's 2 degrees outside. No instead our luggage, which weighed in at 19.6kg (our allowance was 20kg - that could have been embarrassing), contained jeans, the warmest jumpers I own, fur gillets, wellies, coats, hats, scarves and gloves.  The youngest wore it well. Whilst down there, I did a radio interview and wrote an article for W&H Magazine. Having done that I felt that it would have been rude to blog - but it's good to be back.
Before I went away, I received a few parcels. I shared the contents of the Ash one but didn't get a chance to open the Boden one. I like to do these things when I have time to enjoy them, which wasn't the case before we all went away. Whilst getting ready to go away, does anyone else get the urge to wash all of the bed linen, the bath towels and the kitchen towels too - just because it would be  nice to come back to everything clean? Why do we do that to ourselves?!!!
This was one of the items. A Johnnie B jacket which I wrote about a few posts ago. I've given it a quick try on and, so far so good. This one is an age 15/16 and it's quite roomy. The sleeves are also long enough for me which was a bonus. It's much warmer than the Zara and Anthropologie ones I have tried, which wouldn't work for everyone but for me that's good.

I also have this cashmere jumper to try on. I really liked it in the lemon and grey colour way too, so it may yet get exchanged. I liked the detail at the neckline and it will definitely do a great job of moving my jeans and darker trousers towards spring. And when I get the coral gap trousers on that I've just bought - well, it will definitely be time to reach for those sunnies.

Whilst at Guernsey airport this morning, I saw a lady looking really beautiful in this Guernsey style jumper (£41.40 to £48.30), which I recognised as being from Boden. She wore it with a navy scarf and navy trousers (I think), together with a the Boden rainy day mac. We got chatting and it transpired that she loved Boden and had lots of pieces from them. So, hello to Maggie from Northampton, who also had the Boden pouch bag (below) but in yellow, which looked great with the jumper - it was lovely to chat to about one of my favourite brands on one of my favourite islands.

My Dad is a bit of a fashionista on the quiet and has just bought a really cool camouflage jacket from an army store. He also has an Osprey man bag for all his flying bit and bobs, a Barbour and yesterday when we went out he wore an amazing hand made jacket with a peacock blue lining, which the youngest commented on several times.

Anyway, I spotted this shirt in his bedroom and said that we had to get a photo of him in it, so yesterday we went down to the harbour and had a mini photo shoot on his boat. When he was working on the boat a while ago, he was approached by a photographer and two models who used it to take a whole stack of photos and he was told that the photos being taken were for the new catalogue. There's definitely some joke in there somewhere about Fat Face/Fat bellies etc but I can't quite extract it right now!

I think that the shirt is very similar to a liberty print. It's not this season's which is a shame but to be honest I was just relieved that it wasn't Boden's "Italian Stallion" shirt because no-one should write that about their father, whatever the context. Dad is also wearing the Boden chino trousers too.

Here he is wearing the Bloomsbury printed shirt which is this season's. When I did the photo shoot with the Boden staff there was one lady who regularly wore the men's shirts, even though she was quite petite. So for anyone looking for a printed shirt this could definitely be worth taking a look at. In fact, taking a look through lots of the prints, I have to say that I am quite tempted to give them a whirl.

This was just one of those magical moments that doesn't arrive very often but I thought that I would share it with you. High above the clouds, the sun shone!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Mum on the Run - Shappos hats - one to keep your eye on

 You know the Remington advert "I liked the shaver so much I bought the Company" well this is a case of "I liked the brand so much I decided to write about it."

Shappos makes fantastic hats. From bright trilbys to berets, to retro style hats and occasion wear too.  Hats were once such an important part of a woman's outfit but that's no longer the case and many of us feel self conscious wearing hats.

There's a great story behind the brand too, which was set up by Tom who grew up in the back room of his parent's hat shop in Covent Garden. When looking into going into retail many years later, he decided that he wanted to fill the gap in the market between cheaply made imports and couture pieces and so created Shappos. This hat retails at £58.

I would love to wear more hats and as I mentioned in a post many months ago, I have my eye on a straw trilby for the summer, so perhaps I'm about to start branching off in a slightly new direction.

I would like to photograph this hat on a few different people to see how it works with different hair colours and lengths (I fear that I am slightly lacking in the length department) - but I am afraid of dropping it in the snow at the moment! It would also be good to style it in different ways but again the snow has its limitations when it comes to outfits.

Only today I was talking with a friend about how tired we are of wearing the same jumpers, so with the endless cold still hanging around, a trilby could be a great way of adding a little spice to your spring - OK full on winter (still) - wardrobe.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Mum on the Run - A few High Street Heros - including a sharp trouser suit

Trouser suits have been hailed as one of "the" new looks of the season yet on the High Street they are actually few and far between.

Most of the trouser suits featured in the magazines easily come in at £350 plus and that's not a small amount to pay. So I was excited to see this trouser suit when I was in Mango today.  It's made in a lovely fabric and is very different to the traditional suiting prints/fabrics that are out there. Not a pin stripe, fleck or check in sight!

This is the Mango Blazer which at £59.99 is a fantastic price. It could easily have walked off the rails at Whistles. I love the panelling which makes it striking but still smart enough for work.

These are the Tapered suit trousers (£49.99) which go with the jacket. They are a great shape - really modern and as the name suggests, they taper in to the ankle, finishing at a flattering length. They make such a great change from either bootcut or wide trousers, which are the shapes of most trouser suit trousers.

With these Leather ankle strap sandals (£59.99) - I know that I featured them earlier in the week but they really are great - this is a really sharp and smart outfit for work.

Whilst in Mango I saw this Ethnic fabric jacket (£79.99) which again looks great with the above sandals. What I really l liked about this jacket, aside from its print and colour, is the fact that it has a really great weight to it, such that it could be worn as a coat in its own right some time soon.

Finally I wanted to show you this Pleat back shirt dress (£55) from Warehouse (apols for the grainy picture, Warehouse ones are never great). It's a lovely style because unlike shift dresses which are fairly square, straight up and down and a little work like and prom style dresses, which have lots of pleating around the tummy area, this one has a slight fullness to the skirt but is nipped in at the waist with a belt, giving it a lovely shape.  I find this style of collar works with lots of different bust sizes and the top few buttons can be undone to create the illusion of a v-shape neckline, which is more flattering on a curvier bust. The sheer fabric at the top of the dress also helps to break up the chest area.  The dress skims without clinging and is slightly longer at the back than at the front, giving it a modern shape. The pleating down the back is really pretty too.

I would probably change the belt to a slim tan leather one or a bright skinny one and wear it with block or wedge heels, or classic courts for work.  Anyway, it's just an idea for anyone who is looking for a dress which can be styled up or down and which needs to work very hard for them.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Mum on the Run: Note to self. Don't commit all your thoughts to print and then change your mind a few months later. The Bowie Ash Wedge trainer. What else?

"What's wrong Mum?" the eldest asked as she found me sitting on the sofa, head in my hands, shoe box at my feet. "Are you all right?"

"I can't believe it. I just can't believe it." I responded. "I like them. I actually like them. In fact I really like them. And I've spent all this time hating them. I've even written about how much I hate them. Sometimes I drive myself mad, let alone everyone else."

Talk about the biggest volte face in the history of mankind. Well, that and the one that I did on the smoking slippers too. So here they are, in all their glory, the Ash Bowie wedge trainers, bought from the Outnet in a mad moment last Saturday, as much because I thought that it would be fun to try the "real" thing (Marants aside but that's a whole different ball game) as much as anything else. And also because with no sign of spring on its way anytime soon - anyone else got snow forecast for tonight? - and with sandals not being an option just yet, a girl has to think outside the box. Box! See below - get it? I know, it's poor.

So, this is what an Ash box looks like, just in case anyone cares. I do because I like branding and boxes. Sad, I know but it's the anticipation of what boxes contain that does it for me.

"Yuk!" I hear some of you cry. "Hmmmm. Interesting" others may muse.

At this point I have to say that there was absolutely no styling involved in terms of jeans, jeans length etc. The photos were taken in between clearing up one lot of cooking utensils and starting on the next meal.

Front view sitting down  with my legs out in front - a very stylish pose!

I found them true to size, very soft and comfortable too. Oh flippety flip flip. This was not the plan. Not at all. But there's no way they are going back.  I am relying on these to breathe life back into my wardrobe until the sun finally decides to show its face.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Mum on the Run - one pair of jeans, one pair of shoes, four tops - your spring wardrobe sorted!

Take one pair of Gap sexy boyfriend jeans (£49.95) - if you don't like the finish there are other options...

add in one pair of Mango leather strap ankle sandals (£59.99) (Mum you can wear your new Hotters)...

...if these are too high or you don't like the ankle strap look my earlier post on Clarks shoes for alternative non ankle strap/lower block heel options, which as we all know is where it's at right now.

Work in one of the tops below for an outfit which you should be able to wear on a day coming to you, sometime soon!!! Not jumpers, not skimpy vest like tops, these are tops that you could wear with the above two pieces to take you from day to night, into the weekend and beyond (I wrote the "beyond" bit because I wasn't sure how to describe where you would wear the spotty shirt! Cheat.)

Option 1 - the lace blouse

This is a little Zara number. With very pretty detailing around the neckline, it's not too figure hugging and is more skimming than clinging. Although it has a fairly high neck, which in general doesn't flatter curvier busts, the fact that it is sheer towards the top makes it more flattering than it might first appear. Zara has a great selection of lace tops so if this one isn't for you, there may be others that are. Lace and denim, especially beaten up denim, offers that nice contrast in the same way that leather and lace, or sequins and denim, do.

Option 2

Spots tend to be a love or hate thing. Personally, as with stripes, I love them. They signify to me all things spring like. This pink spotted Gap shirt would look great layered under either a fitted crew or v- neck jumper for a preppy look, or under a looser slouchier style knit for a more relaxed look. I think that I will try it with both. It could also be tied at the waist as another option. This shirt currently has 20% off in the GAP sale.

The non-cardi, cardi

I was shopping with a lady on Friday who was banned by her husband from buying cardigans. Whether this cardi/jacket from Mint Velvet would have passed his non-cardi test I don't know but what really appealed to me was its shape.

Bomber jackets are a big look this season but many of them are to OTT - too silk, too printed, too much. I like that this references the bomber jacket shape but that it isn't a bomber jacket at all. Right. Because that really makes sense doesn't it? No, really it does. It doesn't mean that everyone will like it and in fact some will hate it but to me it was exciting because it's a little bit different - slightly trendier (for want of a better word) than the spotty shirt option but less "going out" like than the lace top. With a cami underneath it would be great for those outings that require more than a cardi in terms of style but not the full on silk bomber jacket treatment.  

And finally, the top of the season - the sweatshirt! Worn here with a neon bird print scarf from GAP, this too would look great with the jeans/block heels combination.

One pair of jeans, one pair of shoes and several tops should hopefully kick start your spring wardrobe nicely. Obviously a striped top should be worked into the above and I have one in a box which is sitting very close to me. A Boden box in fact. But that's tomorrow's treat....

Monday, 18 March 2013

Mum on the Run - To chop or not to chop, that is the question?

Our hair. It can be our crowning glory, or responsible for everything that goes wrong in our lives, from not getting that job to a horrendous night out. So often we refer to people's hair when describing them - "You know who she is, she's the one with the very long/short/blonde/shiny/dark/curly hair."
When I was last at the hairdressers, we were chatting about how it often seemed to be the case that women who experimented with short hair quickly decided that it wasn't for them and grew it again.  A straw poll in the salon drew a consensus that Halle Berry, as beautiful as she is, suited short hair better than long hair.
Long hair means so much to so many women, whether they use it as protection, for seduction, because it suits them or because they (or their other halves) can't imagine life without it.
I can't imagine how awful it must be to lose one's hair as a result of illness and I don't feel qualified to go there - so this is all about preference and in some cases hysteria when a cm too much is chopped off. We've all been there! 
With Jessie J agreeing to have her head shaved for comic relief (how amazing does she look?) I thought now might be a prudent time to look at those stars who had had their hair cropped and who, in some cases, had grown it again.

I know that she's paid millions, and I know that it grows back, but I thought that Anne Hathaway was brave in having her hair cut for Les Miserables.  I don't think that she's planning on keeping it short. It seems to be getting a little longer each time I see it which is a shame (if I may be so bold as to express an opinion) as it really suits her.

Ah, the lovely Michelle Williams. Her short hair is so much a part of her style which is chic, elegant, a little bit 1950's and very Miu Miu. I read that she kept her hair short as someone to whom she had once been close loved it so much. I assume by this that she meant Heath Ledger, the father of her child who sadly died.

Carey Mulligan is apparently unable to grow her hair long as it has been so damaged by extensive colouring. Whether it is true or not who knows but she's another (cropped) blonde bombshell.

Danii Minogue is a bit of a chameleon when it comes to hair in that it always seems to look different. Perhaps that just comes from having a good hairdresser and enough length to it to style it in many ways. I don't really think of Danii as a true "shortie" - just a visiting one!

After being contractually bound for so many years not to cut her hair, when Emma Watson finished filming Harry Potter, it's one of the first things that she did. This was a growing up/rebellious chop as much as anything else but not one that lasted - although again I think that it suited her.

Sienna Miller, she who epitomised the boho look for so long, was never a convincing shortie and as much as it suited her, it was only a matter of time before she grew her crop out again. It was great whilst it lasted!

Halle Berry did more for short hair and orange bikins in "Die Another Day" than anyone could have done for either, in anything else, ever. She just looked stunning.

VB's crop was the start of her transformation from the WAG of the Baden Baden days, to the fashion designer that she is today. Whilst she didn't keep her short hair, losing those long curly extensions was probably the best thing that VB could have done for her style credentials. Having said that, I love her hair now.

For a long time Winona Ryder had short hair but she is wearing it long again now. In some ways the look of long hair which is tied back is not that dis-similar to cropped hair. Everything is exposed and there's nowhere to hide. Again, I think that it suits her but maybe I'm biased.

In fact, I can't think of many stars who have had their hair cropped and who it hasn't really suited - and anyway that would be unfair to say so. On the other hand, I guess most of them think long and hard about it before braving the hairdresser's chair. So, what do you think. Would you? Wouldn't you? Have you? What would your other half think and would you ever do a Jessie J for charity?

Here are some girls who probably have enough hair for all of us!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Mum on the Run - Spring is definitely on its way - in my wardrobe at least

There's nothing like sorting out other people's wardrobes to get you thinking about your own.  Having done three Wardrobe Consultations this week, it was inevitable that mine was going to be well and truly in for it.
More than anything I have had enough of the weather dictating that the same jeans and jumpers are the best things to be wearing when not working, so I have taken matters into my own hands and had a little swap around.
In addition to my wardrobe(s) - if you include my husband's and daughter's into which my clothes creep (no idea how that happens) - I find it useful to have a separate rail on which I hang things. I put them there either because I've neglected them, or because they're on last chance saloon before being culled or because they're new and I like looking at them - which is slightly sad I know but it's cheaper than buying new artwork.  

The aim of the rail at the moment is solely to bring some colour into my life - and also because knowing the UK weather, we will suddenly wake up to temperatures of 20 degrees and I will be totally ill-prepared for the warmth (which could of course be the only warm day of the year.) I have to say, it also makes the room look a hec of a lot better too.

In addition to a little re-arranging, I've also got a few parcels on their way to me - all of course in the name of research, naturally. I figured that it was about time to kick start the spring wardrobe and it's quite nice to have the expectation of something lovely waiting at home after a long day, even if it doesn't ever actually become mine.
As and when they arrive, I will share the pieces with you because you never know, they could be just right for someone else too. (I think I'm doing a good job of convincing myself that this exercise is for the greater good. What do you think?)
There's a top from Whistles which I bought with a 25% off voucher. There are a few bits from Boden on their way, some trousers from Cos, some Ash wedge trainers (I know, I'm so shallow) a pair of the Next trousers I wrote about on Friday and of course there's a list in my head with one or two pieces on it, including a Topshop coat, some Mango shoes and some cobalt blue jeans. As I always remind myself, and others, it doesn't count until you decide to keep it so with the sun on its way (surely?) now is the time to shop with gay abandon and without any guilt. I'm such a generous soul aren't I?!!!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Mum on the Run - An outfit for the weekend which is a welcome alternative to skinny jeans

At £18, these jersey tapered trousers from Next are just what I need to update my wardrobe.  Lovely and soft, they are not too loose but not too fitted either. Not quite black, but not quite grey or navy, they will go with lots of things. Don't be put off by the label on them which says "harem" - they're not, believe me, because frankly if they were, I wouldn't be writing about them.

Unless you are super leggy this style trouser looks better with heels, although given that they aren't too voluminous they are definitely more flattering than some styles.

I like the idea of them for an evening out and below I have given you a top, jacket and a couple of pairs of shoes from which to choose to go with them.

On the top half, the Chanel inspired tweed jacket could be swapped for a leather or a biker style jacket. The white silky T could be swapped for a simple vest style, or linen top and H&M has a great selection of tops with a bit of ruching over the tummy area.

Anyway, just an idea for the weekend - something a little bit sports luxe, not too far out there but a welcome change from skinny jeans - and surprisingly comfortable and flattering too. I just need somewhere to go now!

Tapered jersey trousers  from Next (£18)
M&S sandals (silver £45, blue £25)
Lurex tweed jacket (Warehouse £46)

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Cecily - a collection of eight elegant dresses. Loving them!

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to an event held by new brand, Cecily. The designers, Sarah and Louise, have known each other since they were at school together. Having pursued independent careers, they have recently launched Cecily and have created a capsule collection of eight beautiful dresses.
Here is Sarah, looking stunning in Cecily's Caroline dress. Who needs models?! Louise and Sarah are the best ambassadors possible for their brand.

When designing the dresses, Sarah and Louise take great care to ensure that the length is just right, that some designs have full length sleeves in them and that whilst they are fitted, there is enough stretch in the fabric to keep the dresses feeling comfortable all day long.

These shots were taken at an event which Cecily held at Coutts in London. The dresses are perfect for days in the office in that they are simple, stylish and elegant.

This setting looks perfect for showcasing Cecily dresses - just look at that decor. The chandelier is incredible!

The Cecily Helen dress (left) is cut with a little more flare to the skirt, whilst the Anastasia (right) is really elegant, with a striking collar. All of the toiles are fitted on Louise, who is a size 12, as it's really important to Louise and Sarah that their dresses are flattering on everyone. I love the addition of the statement earrings to the Helen dress, which takes it from day to evening brilliantly.

This is Cecily's Josephine dress, which comes in both black and navy. It is the perfect LBD, or LND. I can imagine really feeling the part at work in one of these dresses - especially if you need to kick some ass!

The lovely open neckline of the Sophia style (left) flashes just enough clavicle to be subtley sexy and there's a great design detail on the sleeves.

Here's a closer shot of the Anastasia, which has a pencil style skirt and a narrow waistband to it to give extra shape.

And here's the Anastasia again as worn by Lucy Kite on ITV on Tuesday. It featured on TV several times during the day and was well and truly put to the test. Lucy loved the comfort and fit of it, in particular its length. From what I gather it caused quite a stir on twitter and in the emails that she received, asking where it was from.

The dresses are made in Portugal, in the same factory as the Victoria Beckham collection. In fact, Louise and Sarah were quite excited to see the collection of uber long zips that go into her dresses.

For those women who are desperate for smart, elegant dresses which are designed by ladies who understand what women want from their dresses in terms of length, comfort and design, Cecily is definitely a brand to watch.