Friday, 29 November 2013

And the final outfit for the West Midlands Women of the Year Awards was.....


The Topshop jumpsuit!

You may remember from my last post, that I was trying (and failing miserably) to decide what to wear to last night's West Midlands Women of the Year Awards, which Justice Williams MBE had invited me to co-host with her. Having discounted several options, I decided to give up. Also I had spent so long writing about it, I had run out of time. Luckily for my husband he was away overnight - in fact I haven't really seen him all week so I couldn't ask for his opinion. Hmmm, I'm starting to smell a rat.

Then, when I woke up yesterday morning, I'd received a facebook message from a friend saying that she liked the Topshop jumpsuit. So, after getting out of the shower, with a towel still wrapped round my head and minus any lighting because I didn't want to wake our youngest who had crept into bed with me, I pulled it back on, glanced in a very dark mirror and thought "Yep, that will do" before pulling it back off again, getting dressed and leaving the house at 7.15am to take our son to the station. So in the end it was a pretty quick decision after all.

The awards ceremony was a lovely affair. It was fantastic to see some familiar faces and to meet new people too. Some of the recipients of the awards had had amazing and emotional journeys, suffering great personal tragedy along the way. Needless to say, as well as much joy, there were also a lot of tears. Veronica Kumeta of Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer was awarded the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award and Georgina Moseley of Help Harry Help Others was awarded the West Midlands Woman of the Year Award.  
Justice Williams MBE, who is the founder of the awards, is a truly inspirational woman with a huge amount of energy, passion and integrity. In her own words, "Instead of getting a law degree, I got myself a criminal record".  Whilst in her early twenties, Justice was sentenced to a short time in prison and whilst there, she spent time in the library, looking for jobs so that she could make something of herself when she got out. On her release she volunteered at a local youth group and in 2004 she set up her own initiative to help disadvantaged youths set up their own businesses. In 2008 she became the youngest black woman to get an MBE.  After becoming a Red Magazine's Hot Woman of 2010, she felt that the women of the West Midlands deserved an awards ceremony of their own, hence last night's event.
Emma from fashionmommy also deserves a special mention. She was awarded the Fashion Blogger of the year award, which was a fantastic achievement. Unfortunately due to her young son being poorly she wasn't able to make it to collect her award, however it will no doubt be winging its way to her soon.
And of course no awards ceremony, which honoured women, would be complete without cakes!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Options for a night out....(there are quite a few!)

Tomorrow night I am co-hosting the West Midlands Women of the Year Awards at a fabulous hotel in the centre of Birmingham. It promises to be a glamourous affair and having the role that I do, I felt that I wanted to give some thought to my outfit.

I narrowed my options down to the following:
  • Black jumpsuit and short, bright jacket;
  • Long dress;
  • Printed trousers and top.
My initial research on the jumpsuit front revealed a nice one in Reiss but that was nearly £200...

I had the idea of wearing it with this Ted Baker jacket, albeit in the hot pink, but with that being £179 it was going to amount to a pretty expensive outfit.

I also came across a jersey jumpsuit in French Connection (£125) but that was very low at the front, so it wasn't really an option. So that idea was temporarily parked.

Moving on to a full length dress, I really liked the style and shaping on this sequinned dress from French Connection which shaves inches from the waist. However,  at £180 it was more expensive than I wanted to pay for an outfit for one night.

 Next I moved on to the Ted Baker sparkle maxi dress (£179), which I liked in the shop but which I wasn't entirely sure about, given the poor lighting.

I brought it home and showed it to my husband on Sunday morning. Ordinarily I wouldn't ask his opinion on what I'm wearing but he does have a really good eye and so for a special event, I will ask what he thinks.

As I appeared in the kitchen he looked up from cleaning the fish (chubby, fudge and cola cube - don't ask!) and a look of terror went across his face. It wasn't so much because of what I was wearing but rather more because he was going to be put on the spot and his opinion requested.  His conclusion was that it was it was OK but possibly a bit cheap looking so, given the price, that was a "no". Having not come up trumps on the full length dress front, it was time to move on.

Next I moved on to the Ted Baker oil painting top (£89)...

and the Ted Baker oil painting trousers (£109)...

Now actually this outfit got a really positive response from Mr SG and despite the fact that it could, and really was, print overload, I really liked them together too. All was going well and he said...."it's different, fun, bright, yes I like that outfit, that will do. And then he uttered the fatal words  "It looks like a CLOWN OUTFIT." A clown outfit? I gently (after throttling him) pointed out that perhaps it wouldn't be a good idea to go out dressed in something described by someone else as a clown outfit. So that went back. As an aside, Ted Baker has over 30 items with this print and as much as I like it, now that it comes in skirts, trousers, tops, dresses, jackets, umbrellas and wellies, I'm slightly concerned about it - in a Daniella Westbrook/Burberry overkill kind of way.

So really that left me back to square one until today when I paid closer attention to this Topshop jumpsuit (£48) which I had seen last week. Not quite feeling up to stripping off and trying it on, I brought one home to try. Now what I will say about this is that it has potential. My only slight concern is that the waist it quite high, so the distance at the back from the waist, to the bottom of one's bottom, is quite big - which can make one's bottom look, well, quite big. So I'm not entirely sure on that. Actually yes I am - it's a no. I think.

In Topshop I also came across these luxe shine joggers (£42), which I have to say are a total winner. I think that I may devote a whole post to them at some point. They also come in a lovely blue and this is what I like about them - they're not thigh clinging or calf clinging for anyone who suffers from either of those problems - but they are tapered. The fabric is quite heavy too which I like for a bit of support.

I also came across this Forever 21 sequin bomber jacket (£32) and I think that the trousers would look fantastic with it - not necessarily for what I'm up to tomorrow night but for an evening out over Christmas.
I like the style of these metallic heels by Dune at Topshop (£85) to go with the above trousers. There will be less expensive options at Primark or New Look but I've included them to give you an idea.

Whilst on my travels I also picked up this Topshop navy taffeta skirt (£48). Actually mine is bright pink but it isn't showing on line, although the pale blue one is. It featured in the Sunday Times Style Magazine so I wanted to see it in the flesh. Again this isn't one for tomorrow's event but just something to try because I wanted to suss it out with a cami style top.

So where have I reached for tomorrow night's outfit? Nowhere really, which isn't great given that I'm busy all day tomorrow. Had I not faffed around for the last hour and half telling you all about the things I had discounted, maybe I would have moved things forward. As it stands I've drawn a big fat blank - although I did buy a Parka today because, of course, that will work perfectly tomorrow night.

As an aside, although I discounted some of these things, I hope to have given you some ideas for pieces out because they may just be right for what you're after.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

It's grey, jersey and drapey - the Whistles Selma bodycon dress (without too much of the bodycon - fortunately)

This evening I've been running a Style Event at a firm of Accountants in the City Centre. I thought that I would finish the evening by showing everyone a really sexy piece of clothing - my new padded (and unworn) socks from M&S. I know, how stylish can you get? I love them - once you've had the benefit of padding in your socks, other socks just won't do. Well, it reinforces the point that I am a very "feet on the ground" kind of stylist.

For the event I wore the Selma jersey bodycon dress from Whistles (£125) which is really comfortable, not to mention a good "blank canvas" kind of dress to accessorise. I also wore a resin necklace from Hobbs and I pinched my husband's watch to wear, just so that I could keep an eye on the time and to stop me from talking all night!  My LK Bennett grey Sledge shoes had another outing. They were an expensive purchase at the time but I don't have many pairs of heels and they go with everything, so I've got my head around that one now.

I hope that everyone's week is going well so far. I am co-hosting an awards ceremony in Birmingham on Thursday night and am just hoping that the children avoid all sickness bugs and colds that are doing the rounds until then. You know that feeling when you're hanging on by a thread and just keeping your fingers crossed? That's where we're at!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Introducing my new find.....The All Saints Pia Dress


My new favourite find is the All Saints Pia Jersey dress (£98) which I am wearing in ink. It also comes in charcoal and khaki marl.

Now, a word of warning about this dress - on the hanger it looks like a big piece of wonky material with arm holes at different heights and a sloping hem. On a person it looks like insert the words! No, the thing is I hunted high and low for it in store, not quite believing that the wonky tube that I was being shown was the dress that I was after, but it was.

As to my second word of warning, this dress needs to be played with - a lot! I tried on the 6 then the 8, pulled it up, pulled it down, turned it around and upside down.

I like the fact that it can be worn at any length you choose, from just below the knee to mid thigh, depending on where you make it sit on the waist. This is definitely one that I will wear out with friends, to work and all of the way through the summer, at a longer length than I am wearing it here.

This dress will go with anything from a leather jacket to a blazer or a sparkly jacket. A long cardi layered over the top will work well as does a top layered underneath. Heeled boots, wedge trainers, smoking slippers, courts or dressier heels will all go with the dress - and I plan on doing the lot. Although possibly not all at the same time because in doing so I could fall over and whilst falling over from excessive consumption of bubbly stuff is fine, falling over from trying to get too many shoes on one's feet is just stupid.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Pink coats part 2 - let's see what's still left out there!


For anyone still on the look out for a pink coat (I know that there are some of you out there!) here's  a round up of some styles that should still be in the stores. With Boden, Jigsaw, Warehouse and M&S having sold out, stocks are quickly drying up.

First off, there's this fluffy swing boyfriend coat by Topshop (£85), which is a deeper pink, similar to the exceptionally old Benetton one that I am wearing above.

Then there's the Coast Maeve coat (£195) which comes up pretty short, so it's good for anyone on the petite side.

Moving on to paler pink coats, there's the Ted Baker Vivaine peplum hem coat (£299), which is a dressier option.  I saw this in the Ted Baker store today and I suspect that it was a web return as it was a one off. It's very pretty, with lovely buttons but probably not for everyday.

There's also the pale pink version of the Topshop coat above (£85). If I'm honest, I'm not entirely sure about the quality of the Topshop coats - the fabric and the lining both feel a bit "nylon" - but don't let me put you off. They are worth a look just to see.

Now this pink coat by Betty Jackson black at Debenhams (£111.75 reduced from £149) is a cashmere mix and it's definitely one that has come up on the inside - or is it the outside? Anyway, you know what I mean.

The web isn't showing a great range of sizes but there are lots in our local store, which had a replen last night. All sizes were available today. It's a great boyfriend style coat - straight lines, concealed buttons - very simple - definitely a winner.

Finally there's the pink wool boyfriend coat from Miss Selfridge (£85). It's slightly shorter and more fitted than the Topshop one but I think that it's a better quality and is 50% wool, so the price point is good.
I fear that time may  be running out on the pink coat front, so if you're still tempted, I'd hurry whilst stocks last (I've always wanted to say that. It sounds very television like!)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

An outfit of sparkle, fur, snake print, crystals and heels.

I really like simple outfits. Quite often if I am only using one or two basic colours, I will add interest through texture - hence the sparkle, fur, snake print and crystals. It sounds overload but really it's not. 

I had a long, long car journey today in preparation for the work that I am doing at the Clothes Show this year. So with that in mind I wanted to be warm in the car but not bulked out, hence the Zara fur waistcoat. My Topshop lurex pencil skirt is stretchy, so really comfortable plus it doesn't crease. I also wore a grey marl jumper from Topshop, navy snake print LK Bennett bag and Jigsaw shoe boots.

Take a look below to find the pieces...

Grey marl crystal stud jumper from Topshop (£48). I love it in the pale pink too - plus the dark grey and the burgundy colour. In fact it is lovely in all colours.

Topshop lurex pencil skirt (£38) - I started off with this in a size 10 but the sizing is generous so I went for my usual size 8, which is just right. As I say, it's stretchy and comfortable - perfect for daytime or evening. It comes to just above the knee on me.

 The Zara fur waistcoat isn't on line anymore -well at least I can't find it! However...

... I think that they have updated it with this studio long vest (£129) which is lovely and a very acceptable alternative. I styled a client in it last week and it looked amazing on her. Very sharp!

I bought my shoe boots a couple of years ago now but Jigsaw currently have this updated version available (£159)

If you haven't tried mixing your textures up before, give it a go. It's a simple but effective trick to make outfits more interesting.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Have a handbag which needs a little TLC? You need to meet the Handbag Clinic!

Remember the bag from yesterday's outfit?
A few weeks ago I was contacted by Handbag Clinic. They invited me to send a handbag of my choice to them for treatment so that they could restore it, hopefully, to its former glory. I left my handbag outside for collection and when the treatment had been completed, they called me and delivered it back, all without any cost.
So as to put Handbag Clinic to the test, I chose a very much loved but very damaged pale duck egg blue handbag from Jigsaw. It had reached the point that it could no longer be used but equally I couldn't bear to part with it, so there it sat in the wardrobe - loved but neglected in equal measure.
Handbag Clinic officially launched in August 2013, however its sister company Furniture Clinic has been offering handbag repairs for several years. Managing Director Ben Staerck decided that a company devoted exclusively to handbag repair would be of more benefit to customers who owned high value pieces demanding the greatest levels of care and dedication. They work on all types of bags from designer names such as Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Hermes and Mulberry and every day thousands of pounds worth of bags arrive in need of help. At anyone time they have over £150,000 worth of handbags in the department.
Aside from the repairs and restoration service offered, they also offer Stain Cover. This is a so called ‘Handbag Insurance’ which starts from £4.95 a month. Should your handbag become stained, they will collect it, remove the stain and protect it for the future before sending it back. This is such a great idea for anyone with a Calamity Jane type personality, or for anyone who has lots of beautiful but delicate bags, which they would like to use without worrying about them.
Here are some before shots of the handbag. I know, it's in a sorry state. I think that I tried to clean it myself some years back but clearly it didn't work!

And here are the after shots. It is totally amazing! I can't quite believe that it's the same bag.

All of the stains are gone and it has been restored to its original beautiful colour.

Without sounding totally dramatic and hysterical about these things, I'm really happy that it has been restored and it's a weight off my mind to know that it is no longer just sitting there unable to be used. It's a bit like when you have those niggly jobs that bug you but you don't quite know what to do about them and it's only when they're fixed that you realise how much they have been bugging you. Or is that just me?!

The bag was  given a colour restoration, which involved thoroughly cleaning it. The stains were removed and the colour was matched from the inside (where it hadn’t faded and it was the original colour). A full coat of colour was applied to the entire outside, which was sealed in with a clear lacquer. The cost of a similar treatment would be around £150.

Handbag Clinic has extended to readers of Style Guile, a half price Age Defying Protection, reducing the cost from £30 to £15. The Age Defying Protection is an invisible cream which is applied to the handbag and which repels staining by providing a barrier between the handbag and anything with which it comes into contact. Should it become stained, it can easily be wiped clean.
Please just quote ‘BG50’ at the checkout or via email. The offer is available until January 31st. I dealt with Charlotte at the Handbag Clinic and she was lovely, so if you have any queries, do give her a call on 01207 279963.
So for anyone with a beautiful handbag languishing at the back of a cupboard unable to be used, Handbag Clinic may just be able to come to your rescue.
I should just add at this point that this is probably the one and only time that I will be in total agreement with anything that Liz Jones from the Daily Mail says. She too had a handbag treated by Handbag Clinic and loved the results. Actually, that's not entirely fair. She did say nice things about fashion bloggers. Once...


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

With a cold spell on the way let's take a look at some fur coats to keep us warm

As you know I like a bit of a fur jacket/gilet. This one I bought from H&M kids many years ago now, when there weren't that many of them round. This season however it's a completely different story and you can't move in the stores for fake fur jackets (and leather leggings.) I generally wear mine with skinnies and boots but they can be worn over dresses for an evening out, with leggings and a longer line top or over a jersey day dress.

Have you noticed how children quite often comment on clothes? Sometimes our youngest will approach someone and say "Excuse me...." at which I point I steel myself for having to quickly back track/apologise/hope that the ground will open up and swallow us both. Invariably though she tells someone that she likes the colour of their coat, their bright shiny shoes or their pretty dress. Whilst I was at school today, I had three 5 year old girls come up and stroke my jacket. All of them liked it because of how soft it was.

I've taken a look around the High Street and identified these as some of my favourites:

Alfine fur jacket from Coast (£125) - Coast always has a range of fake fur coats each winter. Quite often the preference for a fur coat will come down to colour, so this is a good choice for those who prefer the brown colour palette, as opposed to creams or greys. It's also a good length for anyone on the petite side as it's not too long.

H&M has a good selection of fake furs too and I like the grey colour of this fake fur jacket (£29.99). Depending on what is in your wardrobe, it may be more versatile than the one above.

This slightly longer cream fake fur jacket from H&M £29.99 has a more laid back feel than the shorter, boxy, one from Coast. This is definitely one to wear with skinny jeans and biker boots.

Sorry about the tiny images of the New Look pieces! This black faux fur jacket from New Look (£44.99) has a really good shine to it, making it look much more expensive than it is. Using interesting textures, such as fur, leather and suede can alleviate the dullness of an all black outfit.

 Obviously fake fur can add bulk to the frame but with its open collar and shaping at the waist, this nude faux fur jacket from New Look (£34.99) is more flattering than some.

For anyone who doesn't like the idea of fur because of it being too animal like in colour, this duck egg blue bomber jacket from Topshop (£68) could just get you over that particular hurdle. Some will love it, some will hate it - but anything that is different has to have potential! (Whether it delivers or not is of course an entirely different matter!) It would go really well with the duck-egg blue bag I was using today - but more about that tomorrow....

This Lux fur shrug from Topshop (£79) is really cute. Again it's quite short but with a very high strokability factor!

With a cold spell promised, perhaps now would be a good time to wrap up in something stylish to keep the chill at bay.

Monday, 18 November 2013

What makes a dress the perfect everyday dress?

Quite often it can be tricky to find a dress that is as versatile as we might like it to be - and sometimes whether it truly is or not, only becomes apparent once we've got it home and worn it a few times.
There's never going to be a "one size fits all" in that department as we are all different shapes and sizes and have different lifestyles and requirements - but for me this fluoro animal print shift from Warehouse (£50) which I featured last week, fits the bill. I've worn it to a friend's house for a birthday tea, out for dinner, to work and out for lunch.  
I've given it some thought and this is why I think it works for me;
  • Whilst the style is fitted, it's not bodycon so I can still get in and out of the car, put the washing machine on and work in the shops and generally do what I need to do;
  • There's enough room in it for me to layer a thin cotton H&M long sleeved top underneath, meaning that I don't have to cover it up with a cardi - which can totally ruin the look of a dress;
  • The fact that it has sleeves also means that I don't have to cover up too much with additional layers, making it a "throw it on and go" type of dress;
  • It's the right length to wear with heels or flats. I find that some dresses which are just about OK with flats can be way too short with heels;
  • It wasn't so expensive that I'm worried every time that I wear it;
  • I like the print and so I'm more encouraged to wear it. On the other hand, the fact that it is printed means that it's pretty obvious if I wear the same dress a lot - but I can live with that;
  • The print contains both black and navy so it's easy when it comes to which coloured shoes/tights to wear with it (ie whatever comes to hand first!)

Here I'm wearing it with my favourite coral H&M necklace and my All Saints cocoon coat, plus Zara boots. Let me know if you have any thoughts on what makes your perfect everyday dress.