Wednesday, 30 April 2014

I think that we're finally nearly there with the pale pink GAP trousers....

At the third attempt of wearing these trousers I was finally happy with they way that they looked (in the loosest sense of the word). Look 1, I shared a while ago, look 2, I abandoned as it just didn't work but this look worked better, I felt, because the boots are a similar colour to the trousers. This had the effect of lessening the shortening/sausage widening effect on the legs of flesh colour trousers. Who in their right mind eh????

For anyone out there after some trousers which will make their legs shorter and more sausage like (which probably no one will after I described them like that) the chino slim leg trouser from Jigaw (£75) in vintage pink will do a good job. In all seriousness, I do like them and the shape of these is really good for anyone who doesn't want anything too skinny. For info, they also come in navy, pale blue and dove grey.  I never did find on the GAP site the ones that I am wearing. Perhaps they withdrew them for crimes against fashion.

For a similar top, which I know is being worn a lot right now, I linked to some from Oasis the other day, but I also saw this denim look jersey top in Cos (£45) which I really liked for it's softness.

The boots that I am wearing are really beyond their sell by date and I will replace them when I find another pair that I like and which don't cost the earth. These were bought in a Zara sale one summer and I have since seen some that I like in All Saints and Reiss, Bicester. But there are other more important purchases to make first....

On another note, are there any other households out there still singing the songs from "Frozen"? I have realised that we get through about one track a month, so having done "Do you wanna build a snowman", "Let it go" and one other that I can't bear to think of or it will stick in my mind again, we are now on "Love is an open door." The trouble is that the eldest two have found on YouTube, alternative versions full of expletives, which are equally addictive and which I too, now find myself singing. I  have had to ban them in front of the six year old for fear of the inevitable phone call from the school asking me to explain her recently extended vocabulary....

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Primark printed dress - the one that got away - plus some other printed pieces and a round up of what's in the shops

Today I was back in the shops, checking out the new stock. The stores are at a lovely stage now with lots of bright colours and prints, on clothing that we can actually imagine ourselves wearing, unlike when it all first started to arrive back in February. Because there aren't any sales on, the shops are neat, tidy and a pleasant place to be. Which was lucky as I was there for a few hours, starting with Cos before moving on to Karen Millen, Reiss, Zara, Next, Mango, Warehouse, Oasis, Topshop and finally Selfridges.

One of the good things about Selfridges is that they have a decent amount of floor space devoted to Primark - all of which is stocked with the Selfridges' customer in mind. Had this printed shift dress been 3 inches longer it would definitely be staying at the house with the pink front door. As it is, it took one look at itself on me in the mirror and legged it out of the door as quick as it could. However, for anyone who is on the petite side (and who likes the print - all v. personal I know) it's a great buy. It's 100% cotton, lovely quality and costs £13. Primark also has a selection of shell style tops in about 4 prints - not this one sadly so far - and they are £8.

Having decided to write about the printed Primark dress, I thought that it would be nice to include a few other printed pieces - although I must admit that I left M&S for another day, so I haven't actually seen these in the flesh - but I do like the look of these high block heeled shoes from the  M&S Limited Collection (£35). Personally I would have to keep everything else in the outfit really plain.

The Ellie print top from Reiss (£89) was something else that I spent quite a lot of time looking at. It's just a really pretty and versatile top, great for work or for a trip to the pub too.

And these Olivia trousers from Reiss (£95) also caught my eye. Predictably because of the grey and yellowy/green combination I would imagine. Again they are easy to wear with a simple white top, a grey marl jumper (crew or slouchy V-neck) or sweatshirt style top.

Cos wasn't so hot on  prints but was good on colour. Oasis was full of printed pieces and Warehouse was close behind with Karen Millen having a couple of nice sweatshirt tops with neon detailing. Some of the other things that I really liked were pretty lace tops (Reiss and Karen Millen), printed jersey trousers and the huge amount of denim that there is around at the moment. A girl can dream!

Monday, 28 April 2014

The M&S printed, pointy, block shoes get an outing....

Saturday was the perfect day to give my pointed, printed, M&S shoes their first outing. I wasn't sure quite what the weather had in store, hence the cuffed black Jigsaw trousers and the Topshop embellished jumper. However, it all felt in need of a little pick me up so the shoes, with their cheeky print and pink block heel, were called to action.  Do you remember when we were all horrified at the idea of block heeled shoes, instantly thinking of the Queen Mother? And now? They are definitely the way forward, certainly in terms of comfort and practicality. 
As I mentioned yesterday, it was Mr SG's birthday on Saturday, so that saw a combination of cake baking, a quick trip to town and several visits to car dealerships to see whether it was possible to squash three children across the back seat of the car of his dreams (it wasn't). In resignation of the inevitable, that is unless he either wants an MPV (he doesn't) or to lose a child (hmmm, vaguely more preferable in his book to driving an MPV), we went to the pub.
Anyway, the point of all of this is that the shoes dealt with whatever was thrown at them on that day - although I was happy to revert to trackies and converse on Sunday.  
For info, I sized up half a size to a 6. I have just double checked the M&S site and can't see that they are back in stock but then again that site is totally infuriating and I may have missed them. The shoes are Limited Collection and cost £29.50.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

A couple more spring time outfits - with lots of Jigsaw and Gap in them it would seem!

Before the weekend is out, I thought that I would bring you the last couple of outfits that I wore whilst away last week - then I can start the week afresh.  I've had a few days off from blogging - hubby's birthday and such like - and it's amazing what can be achieved in the amount of time that it takes to write a blog post. I think that I ought to get back into the blogging habit before I start to realise the benefits of a more ordered existence!
In the outfit above I'm all in navy - by far and away my favourite colour. I could live head to toe in navy every day and never tire of it. I've mixed a striped navy top and deck shoes, both from Jigsaw, with  camouflage print trousers and a denim top, both from GAP. I'm also wearing a leather cuff from Atterley Road and the Kate Spade yellow bag, which I've been using a lot.

For another day out and about I'm wearing the same Jigsaw deck shoes and a Jigsaw jumper with a bright pink top underneath plus New Look jeans. I'm also using a Jigsaw bag which I have owned for many years and which was given a new lease of life by Handbag Clinic.  They did a brilliant job on the bag which really couldn't be used as it was so tired looking.  A friend also used Handbag Clinic to repair a Mulberry which, Mulberry themselves said couldn't be fixed. So if you have a poorly handbag, they may be worth a call.

Here's hoping to a good start to the week for everyone....

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Dinner out in a dress by Jaeger Boutiqe and a Kate Spade bag

We're now back from our time away in Brighton and boy did it rock! We did crazy golf, the big wheel, pitch and putt, we went on rides on the pier, ate ice-creams, visited choccywoccydoodah and did lots of walking along the sea front. I love pitch and putt and play it in much the same way as pool - whack the ball as hard as you can and see what happens. Most of the time it's a disaster but other times the results are spectacular - far and away above one's true skill.

Anyway, on the first night I decided to wear a dress for dinner. After that it was all downhill and in fact for most of the days I wore my running trainers with my outfits - and not even in a remotely cool or trendy way either - just in a nerdy comfortable way.

The dress I am wearing is by Jaeger Boutique, the shoes by Dune and I bought the Kate Spade handbag on my recent trip to Bicester. It comes in lots of colours and was either £68 or £69. There's clearly a direct correlation between the age of your children and the size of your bag - the older the children the smaller the bag. Obviously our children are growing up. It's nice to be past that stage of having to carry colouring things, sticker books and snacks wherever we go.

And at crazy golf the next day (I managed to get a hole in one, although not in the particular hole we were aiming at) there was a ball to match my bag. It was a sign, I was sure.  Of what, I am less sure but it was definitely a sign....

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Spring time outfits for chilly days - denim, denim and a little more denim!


In continuing with the theme of how to keep the chill at bay, whilst looking fresh for spring, fabrics are often key. I really like this denim top from GAP (sold out online but I have found some alternatives below) as it's great for layering things underneath, or indeed over, as in the case of this jacket from Boden which I'm wearing (also sold out from what I can gather). I would try and find an alternative but I'm doing this in a hurry - so sorry! I also layered a vest and a short sleeved T under the denim top so in total I had four layers on but hopefully the yellow jacket kept it the right side of spring like.

As I mentioned, I've found some alternatives to the GAP top as follows:

Zip back denim T from Oasis (£30)

Madison T by Oasis (£30)

Hayley denim T Oasis (£30)

We're having a break at the moment in Brighton where today it was sunny! I'm living out of a capsule wardrobe which, so far has worked out fine. When we're back I'll bring you some photos but in the meantime, I thought that this article in the Telegraph was fantastic and I would encourage everyone to read it. It's about the Return of the Classics to our wardrobes and makes for an interesting and reassuring read!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Shades of grey in cashmere and a silver cardi/jacket to keep the cold at bay.


Happy Easter to everyone! I hope that you have managed to consume sufficient quantities of chocolate to make it feel like Easter, rather than just a normal chocolate type day.

A brief, but fruitful, shopping trip to Bicester distracted me from the usual Easter activity of chocolate for breakfast (well, when I was 9), lunch and dinner but there's plenty of time over the next few days to make up for it. 

As you know, I have been concentrating on outfits that offer warmth but which aren't too winter like in appearance. Some fabrics, such as denim and leather, aren't particularly warm in their own right but they act as a good barrier between you and the cold.

Today's combination centres around cashmere and a cardi (actually it's a soft cardi style jacket but I like alliteration!) the two of which together offer some real warmth. I love cashmere for it's warmth and softness although not to the exclusion of all other fabrics in an "Oh darling I only ever wear cashmere" type way but it is nice for a treat. Worn with jeans and these slip on plimsolls from Jigsaw (£59), which were really comfortable given it was their first outing, I was good to dodge the rain at Bicester. Normally I would add a statement necklace for colour but at the moment I quite like layering a couple of special silver necklaces that I own.

Now this was a lovely surprise from the children - a selection of my favourite chocolates, and crisps, for me to munch my way through. Can't imagine that will be a problem!

Mr SG and I were clearly singing from the same hymn sheet when it came to choosing Easter Eggs for one another. What I can't work out is whether we each chose that particular egg because we thought that the other would like to receive it, or because we would have liked to have received one ourselves. Either way, I can confirm that it is very tasty. (Well, his is. I haven't opened mine yet!)

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Keeping the warmth in on chilly days with a leather jacket...

Continuing with the theme of keeping warm but spring like, it wasn't until a few years ago that I first had a leather jacket but I can totally see why cows wear them. They're so warm and one in a lighter colour for spring can work a treat for keeping the chill at bay.

Leather jackets look great worn with anything from jeans, to an evening dress, so they're really versatile and worth their, sometimes, not inconsiderable investment.

I wore mine simply with turned up jeans and converse for a weekend look at home with the family, followed by a night out to see Gary Barlow - one of my other loves in life besides Gary Lineker, Toblerone, fizz and running.

Having just returned, I can confirm that Gary was amazing. I last saw him in London in the early 90's when he was in Take That.  The only problem that I encountered was that one of his songs has the word "Frozen" in it, which immediately made me think of the words "Do you wanna build a snowman?" from a song in the Disney film, Frozen. A song which has plagued me every day since the New Year. And the one time when I think that I'm safe from it, there it is popping into my head yet again.  Oh and the one and only, slightly gleeful, comment that Mr SG made during the whole thing was "Gary's got a bald spot you know." Just to confirm. He hasn't.

Anyway, back to leather jackets. Below I've featured a few of my favourites which are out there are the moment.

Mint Velvet is always a good starting point for leather. The styles are great and the prices are more reasonable than many other brands. This pearl zip leather biker jacket from Mint Velvet (£259) also comes in black, mink and ink.

The Nanette leather biker jacket from Whistles (£325) is obviously more expensive but it's a really good option for those who prefer very clean lines and who don't want the fuss of a collar, buckles, pockets and so on. On some frames and figures those things can all be just a bit too much.

 The Jenn biker jacket from Reiss in grey (£375) is one of my favourites. Personally I like the combination of the mandarin collar and the open neckline, plus the pockets follow the line of the shaping at the waist, keeping it clean and uncluttered.

Given that leather jackets by their very nature are expensive, I think that it's worth considering a faux leather jacket instead - particularly if it's not something you are likely to wear a lot. The faux ones can look really authentic and I really like this faux leather biker jacket from Oasis (£58). It's also a good starting point for anyone unsure as to whether they are likely to get the wear out of a leather biker or not.

I wish everyone a really Happy Easter. I'm simply hoping for a day where every moment isn't filled with the words "Do you wanna build a snowman" or some of my other favourite lyrics from the song "Let it go." For anyone who hasn't seen Frozen I warn you not to!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Springtime outfits for warmer (and cooler) days....


In yesterday's post I was talking about how difficult it can be to decide what to wear when there's such a wide range in temperature during the day. The thing is, when it gets to this time of the year, we're all worn out with dark, heavy, winter clothes so it's about finding things that are a little bit more spring like but which still keep the chill at bay.

One of the first things to think about is wearing slightly lighter coloured jeans and, as soon as the temperature permits, swapping heavy boots for shoes which can be worn without tights.  One tip is to use a little bit of spray tan on your feet and ankles, just to take the blueness away. I like the Rimmel spray  in golden brown. What I don't like is the smell, which can give me a migraine, so I spray it on before I shower and as it's water resistant it's still there, minus the smell, when I've finished. It works for me!

As to clothing, it's about working with fabrics and layers to get a lighter, brighter, springtime look which is still warm.  I am wearing a long sleeved top from the GAP, together with this eyelet-trim sweatshirt top, also from GAP (£24.95) which whilst not mega-weight, is a lot thicker than a regular top or T-shirt. Predictably I liked the sweat style, the fact that it was navy, plus the lacy trim. The jeans are from New Look and the shoes, M&S.

When it's warm enough I will abandon the coral top and maybe the vest underneath too - such a rebel!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A Girls' night out in Jigsaw, GAP and Dune sparkles...

A couple of nights ago I was out with the girls at a local pub. It wasn't a fancy pants place and anything goes really but I think it's nice to make a bit of an effort when going out.

I love a nice cream jumper for the spring - or for the winter too for that matter - and this Jigsaw jumper (£59) offered me just what I was after. I like the boat neckline, the vertical ribbing, the batwing sleeve and the shape of it as, unusually, it's quite fitted around the waist whereas a lot of the knitwear at the moment is quite square and baggy (otherwise known as relaxed, slouchy or comfort fit!)

Sometimes I like to wear a combination of casual trousers and sparkly heels too, so these super skinny khakis from GAP (£27.99) worked fine for me, together with these Dune heels, which I wear all year round, from Christmas parties to the height of the summer. I'm not sure that many women go to the pub with trainers in their bag but I did, just in case I decided to run home (I didn't!)

Jigsaw jumper (£59) - I thought that it was quite brave (or daft) of me to wear it when going out for dinner!

GAP super super skinny khakis (£27.99) - these were a more sensible choice if it was the case that was going to throw things down myself.
Unlike the middle of winter, when we all know that we need to wear a lot of clothes, or the height of summer when we all know that we don't (within reason), I've realised that this is one of those times of year when it's possible to spend far too long deciding what to wear. It's largely because there can be such a wide range in temperature during the day. So, to save myself, my sanity and to avoid annoying the family over the holiday period, I'm going to spend a bit of time pulling a few outfits together which deal with the "Oh it was 6 degrees and now it's 16 degrees" issue. It's not hard but it just takes a bit of thought. I hope to share them with you as I go along...
Oh and of course, knowing that she's such a big fan of the blog, I can't sign off without wishing VB a very Happy 40th Birthday. Much as I love her current refined and sophisticated style, I'm hoping that one day she will re-visit the outfits of her Baden Baden WAG days, or her POB or the boobs under the chin look. Sadly I fear that I will be disappointed. Happy Birthday Mrs B!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Gray & Osbourn - an alternative to the High Street with pieces to fit and flatter (and we could all do with a bit of that!)


In today's post, I'm wearing clothes by Gray & Osbourn, specifically a striped jacket by Betty Barclay (£150) and cobalt blue slim leg jeans by NYDJ (£140) which I chose from their current collection.  I'm also wearing Dune leopard print shoes, an H&M T-shirt and a cream Warehouse bag. Before telling you about the clothes though, I want to tell you a little about Gray & Osbourn.

Gray & Osbourn is an online business described as "a stylish designer clothing boutique for women who love confident timeless fashion."

I work with many women of differing shapes, sizes and preferences, for whom the High Street doesn't always deliver. Finding a brand that has the potential to do just that always makes me gleeful and I file it away for future reference.  It's also nice to see different pieces which not every one will be wearing to the same event.

The great thing about Gray & Osbourn is that they stock clothes for those women who can't just walk into Zara and pick up a pair of jeans, or go to Topshop for a neat little fitted blazer - or perhaps they can but would rather choose not to because of quality or comfort issues. Really it's a bit like Atterley Road but for a slightly different market. Some of the occasion wear is lovely and for me they are particularly strong on trousers, stocking brands such as Michele jeans, which come in three different leg lengths. I've also had a lot of success with  my ladies with Michele trousers, which they also stock and which are great for those ladies with more of a tum and with less on the hips and bottom.

As to the NYDJ which I am wearing, they are designed to lift the bottom and flatter the tummy. I can really vouch for their comfort and the cobalt blue, I felt, were a nice change from indigo denim and just a little more modern. You can see from the photos that they are slightly big on me and their claim that you need to go down a size is true. Sadly for me they don't go down any further, otherwise I would try them.

As to the jacket, it's lovely to wear. Just my kind of thing - striped with a bit of coral, comfortable and not too trussed up!

There's also a good selection of flattering swimwear which uses ruching and support where it's needed most. Plus, there are some lovely pieces in the occasionwear which include dresses with sleeves, such as this navy beaded dress (£250).

There are also some lovely sparkly pieces, such as this beautiful silver maxi dress (£350).

Additionally there's this lovely black and neon layered jersey dress (£190).

So next time you're on the hunt for a pair of jeans that truly fits, a swimsuit that flatters in all the right places or a piece of occasionwear that not everyone else will be wearing, it may be a good idea to check Gray & Osbourn out.

Disclaimer: I haven't been paid to write this post and I don't know whether the clothes are intended for me to keep or whether they are to be returned - sometimes I just don't get around to sorting those things out until after I have posted. But if anyone really wants me to let them know once I know, I'm very happy to do so!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Women helping women! A plea for votes for Shinerock London, makers of luxury printed scarves - thank you in advance!

It's not often that I use the blog to ask for help but I felt that on this occasion I wanted to, so I hope that no-one minds. I should just say that whilst I received a scarf to feature in this post, I will be sending it back. To do otherwise just wouldn't feel right.

Last week I received an email from Catherine Shinerock, who introduced me to her first collection of luxury, digitally printed scarves. In her words "The collection takes inspiration from nature and fantasy, offering luxurious, contemporary design with a touch of magic." It has been snapped up by Fortnum & Mason and some quirky boutiques. However the reason that Catherine contacted me was to ask for a little help.

Catherine is currently working on a second collection and hoping to win some funding and support from Triumph's "Women in Making" competition, which supports women with start up companies take their business to the next level. However what she needs are votes!

The winner will receive £10k in funding and a year long mentorship, which would allow Catherine to fund a second collection. She told me that the mentorship would be invaluable to help her navigate the tricky waters ahead. The competition also offers the winner the opportunity to be stocked in Fenwick which would be a dream come true for her.

Catherine has a fantastic selection of scarves which you can see at Shinerock London. Sadly this shark scarf has sold out but, as someone who has a morbid fear of being eaten alive whenever I am in the water (even the local swimming pool)  I wanted to include it anyway - it's just brilliant.

If you could spare a moment of your time to vote, I know that Catherine would really, really appreciate it. You can vote here and it only take a minute - less than that even - and can be done via your twitter or fb account. Even I managed it. So, if you do have the time, and inclination, to vote thank you!

For info purposes, the scarf that I am wearing costs £100 and is called Roses and Rings


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Something other than jeans - please! Thank goodness for Jigsaw stripes and a Whistles blazer


Today when I got up I decided that I needed a change. No more jeans! Anything for a change! BUT, as ever, it still needed to be warm and comfortable.

With the sun shining, I convinced myself that it was much warmer than it was. This Jersey stripe dress from Jigsaw (£79) has been sitting looking at me since I bought it a few weeks ago so I decided that today it would be my victim, together with the  Lena Jersey blazer from Whistles (£95) which too has been sitting quietly on the sidelines hoping that it wouldn't be picked. Ha! I can report that the dress is really comfortable. It's 99% cotton and 1% elastane and it's really thick and supportive too. The same goes for the blazer.

I tried several pairs of shoes including leopard heels (bit tarty for a daytime trip to the Bullring with the 6 year old. The face didn't match the outfit!) Block heeled leopard print shoes - ditto but on a slightly lesser scale. Patent navy loafers from Hobbs - nice but a bit safe so I threw caution to the wind and put these cream Linford brogues from Dune (£65) with navy tights. Radical!

What I liked was even though the items were new, I felt happy to keep the whole outfit on for the whole day just as it was, even when shaping my bread dough and taking Matilda out on her roller blades.

The fact that the photographer is vertically challenged, together with the weird effect of the stripes when photographed, doesn't make for the best of photos but I think that you can get the gist. Sometimes when I read blogs which talk about how to take amazing photos I cringe and hide in the corner. Unedited snaps would be a more accurate description of my photos, rather than works of art but hey ho, nothing is about to change on that front, hence the eye bags/shadows/blemishes and double chin. Super!

Monday, 7 April 2014

A cropped top? Seriously? Why yes. Don't look away just yet!

If I said that I was going to get a cropped top, I would imagine that everyone would think that I had lost my marbles because (surely) a cropped top equates to an exposed midriff. However a cropped top which doesn't show any midriff? Well there's a thought.

The silhouette of a fuller style skirt is often disadvantaged by the length of the top worn with it. The waistband gets covered, hiding the narrowest part of both the skirt and its wearer. So, for anyone with a fuller styled skirt in their wardrobe, I'm offering a different solution this season which will both update your wardrobe and make the skirt more flattering to wear. A little bit of imagination may be involved, that's all!

As to a couple of examples of this style of skirt, the palm tree skirt from Karen Millen (£99) is a nice option. It has a good length and the print, whilst pretty, isn't too girly.

For a more neutral option, the midi denim skirt Karen Millen (£129) is almost like the jeans equivalent of a skirt and therefore quite a safe option for anyone embracing the concept of a cropped top for the first time.

So as to tops.  Because the skirts are high waisted the cropped T-shirt Mango (£17.99) won't expose any tum but it will create a lovely silhouette and it's just a little bit different.

The cropped lace Tee Warehouse (£45), which also comes in white, is really pretty too. I have worked with this top (and very pleasant it was too) and it is definitely on the right side of cropped.

The palm leaf top Warehouse (£38) would work really well with a white midi length skirt although, as with the lace top above, both have a skirt to go with them which are worth taking a look at.

As to shoes, heels are always a great choice and I have to admit to being a little bit taken by these Glory High Shoes from Topshop (£58). If I chose to go with the denim skirt and white Mango lace T, these would be the shoes for me. Perhaps less so with the paint splatter skirt and/or palm print top - unless I was feeling very brave.

For those who may prefer something more subtle, they also come in this lovely mint  colour.

Luckily, Iva at Falling In Style has already paved the way for me by wearing this lovely outfit, in which she looks stunning. When the sun comes out, I will be happy to bear all but for now it's the parka and boots all the way for me.