Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The two most important questions to get your head around if you want to exercise for life....

It's always a bit scary doing something for the first time and for me, writing a post about exercise is no exception. I'm concerned that there's a danger that I might come across as smug or patronising and I would hate that. The written word doesn't allow for the communication of the sub-text and facial expressions that talking to someone face to face does but I hope that the gist of what I mean comes through enough! 

I know that not everyone is born to run but I'm pretty sure that we were all born to move. In some way, shape or form, we feel better and our bodies respond well to getting a bit out of breath and a bit hot and sweaty a few times a week.

The problem for many is first, finding out what we might like doing and secondly, working out how to fit it in to a busy life. I believe that they are the two main obstacles and that once they are overcome, the key to exercising for life is answered (subject to a bit of strapping down of things that bounce around, of course) so I thought that might be a good place to start

Re the first question, if you want to stick to any form of exercise, you have to enjoy it. Maybe not at first but it has to have legs. (OK, so it took me 30 years to really love running but I think that's at the very furthest end of end of the spectrum.)

So what did you do when you were younger that you loved? Were you good at team sports, athletics, dancing, gym or cross country? What made you feel good and what did you have fun doing? If you want something new take a look on YouTube - Kettlebells. zumba, HIIT training, ballet based exercises, yoga - it's all there for the taking and in the comfort of you own home (so perhaps no strapping down of things that bounce around would be required after all, which is a bonus). Pair up with a friend and go for a power walk a few times a week or sign up for a mud run. They're brilliant - more like being a kid than exercise.

Re the second question, how do you find time to do it when life is so busy? Well there is no magic answer, exercise is just one of those things that you have to prioritse or else it won't happen. After the essentials of working and taking care of whomever you need to take care of, exercise has to come first. So if that means that a couple of nights a week you don't all eat together as a family, so be it. If it means sneaking out early on a Saturday morning, so be it. If it means foregoing a favourite TV programme, so be it. If it means that a particular cupboard stays messy or you sit on a bit of the washing rather than ironing it, so be it. That's not being selfish as everyone around you will benefit from you being fit and healthy.

Everyone feels weary at the end of a long day but there's a difference between that and being literally too exhausted to exercise. Exercise, without a doubt, energises you. A friend who works nights, weekends and on calls and who earlier this year started out with the "Couch to 5k" App has said that paradoxically her 5.30am (5.30am I know!) runs make her feel more energised. A barrister friend runs then too. They both make me look like a wimp!

So I hope that's given a little food for thought. Do you have any exercise aims or goals for this coming year? However small they seem, however scary it may all seem, everything is a step in the right direction and I already think you're amazing for it.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Five outfit ideas for New Year's Eve...sparkles, pleather, lace, bright trousers and spotty shoes, though maybe not all together

With New Year's Eve only around the corner, I thought that I would post some outfit ideas for "the big night".  These outfits are all made up of things that I already have in my wardrobe. Bits and bobs could be mixed around - shoes swapped with other shoes, tops swapped with other tops - you get the idea. I'm hoping that this post may provide a light bulb moment - for me too!  If there's anything that you like the look of, have a think and see if there's anything that you have in your wardrobe that you could use to create something similar.

The 1970's shoes and midi skirt

I liked the idea of wearing these M&S 1970's inspired shoes in the winter but I haven't got around to it yet. However a party, or something based largely indoors, would be the perfect opportunity to give them a whirl. Because they are quite chunky they can hold their own against the heavier pleather fabric of the pleated skirt. For me the skirt needs to be midi length to avoid the whole "mutton" look. I chose the top because I really like the sleeve shape but plenty of other top options would work with this skirt.

The PJ top

Wearing PJs for evening wear has been a huge trend for a while now. Whilst my trousers aren't PJs they are probably the nearest thing in terms of comfort - satin joggers from Topshop. The top is a PJ top though. It's by Rosie at Autograph and I really like it irrespective of whether it's a PJ top or not - and it's probably the comfiest evening out outfit going. The spotty shoes are from Aldo. I love their shoes for their reasonable prices and half sizes.

The fun shoes and sparkly skirt

I bought these shoes this year and they always make me laugh as they definitely verge on the slightly ridiculous. The skirt is a Whistles one that I bought in the sale last year and didn't ever wear. There's a closer shot of its sparkle and "fluffiness" below. The silver ribbed top from Primark doesn't come through very well in the photos. A strappy silky top would work well with this outfit - just not on me! As would sparkly trainers - if I could find any in my size :( I love a big floral midi length skirt too for an evening out. If it's chilly, wear it with a short chunky jumper for a modern take on evening wear.

Full on sparkle and ripped jeans

I've been photo bombed! Sometimes all you need is jeans, a pair of heels and a sparkly top, especially for a trip to the pub. The jeans could be swapped for cigarette pants to make the outfit that bit smarter for a restaurant trip/house party where you're not quite sure of the dress code.

The top is H&M, the jeans are Zara and the shoes Dune. 

The bright trousers

For this look you could go with brocade trousers, or sequin trousers, instead of coloured trousers.  A black silk shirt would work well with a louder bottom half, or the lace black top from the first outfit would work with these too, or again, a strappy silk top. Whatever its style, I prefer a plainer top when wearing "shouty" bottoms. I like how the addition of a pair of heels can make an outfit party worthy - so if you're not a fan of full on sparkle/evening wear, they are a good investment to give a bit of a life to an otherwise plain outfit.

You will note the absence of any dresses. I think that it's because I don't have any midi length dresses and a shorter one would need tights and they then present shoe difficulties and anyway the 16 year old needed a lift as she was going out for the night because she has a better social life than I do and now I'm just a taxi driver.....(but I do love being a taxi driver really).

Thank you to everyone for your kind words following yesterday's post. I really appreciate you all taking time out of your busy lives to drop me a line and offer your words of wisdom.  Beth x

Monday, 28 December 2015

What the future holds for Style Guile - and flashing the ankles whilst the tan remains!

Trying to keep the ankles out whilst they are still vaguely tanned...  

Trousers and knitted jacket: Boden, Blouse: & Other Stories, Shoes: Topshop, Bag: Whistles

During our return flight home I spent some time going through all of the photos on my phone. It's amazing the story that they tell, a lot of them relating to Style Guile.

I think that it's fair to say that recently I've been grappling with where to take the blog next. During the time that I've been blogging I've been so fortunate; I've been invited to some wonderful events, met amazing people, worked with some iconic brands and received some fantastic gifts - all of which makes me feel ever so slightly guilty.

Also, there are so many fantastic bloggers out there now and I do wonder what (if anything) I add to the blogosphere. I'm not very good at planning posts in advance, or covering the sales, or trawling sites for the perfect whatever it may be. Style Guile has always been a little more instinctive - a sort of "oooh, what do I fancy writing about today?" kind of approach, rather than a structured approach - a bit of an antidote to both work and life if you like (both of which I adore, of course.)

And then I thought about why I started Style Guile in the first place and sort of came full circle. I love writing and sharing my finds and I find it fun and rewarding. None of that has changed and I'm so, so grateful to all of you who have stayed with me over the years.

So, Style Guile won't be going anywhere but I feel that it's important that it evolves to reflect interests in other areas of my life as well as fashion. We will be having our house knocked around next year and from time to time I hope to write about that, sharing the progress and interiors that we choose. (This is my very rudimentary image board!)

I am also going to (hope to?) run the London Marathon, so I would like to write about the training involved and the nutrition side of things. Exercise is a big part of my life and over the years people have asked me about my training so I hope to share details of that too. There are lots of balls that us mid 40 year olds have to juggle so it will be good to write about those balls too as well as the fashion ones of course.

And as for beauty, that's not really my thing for now but if anyone wants to let me know about any wonder creams that stop your eyes from disappearing into your head, please do let me know!

I'm looking forward to fun times ahead and I hope that you will come along for the journey. If there's anything in particular that you would like me to cover, please do let me know. Beth x

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Christmas fun in the sun but it's GREAT to be back!

Top: J Crew/ Shorts: Home made Topshop cut offs/ Sandals: Aldo/ Sunglasses: Jigsaw

Call me a bit of a bah humbug, but, pleased as I am for people when they're on holiday and I'm at home in the rain, there's a part of me that finds it mildly annoying. So I will try very hard not to be one of those annoying people!

I did try to post this when we were away but the wi-fi wasn't having any of it, so this is really a bit of a catch up post. Other than the odd shorts pic, I've tried to keep it relevant to what you might be thinking of wearing in the UK or perhaps buying in the sales. The evenings were slightly colder when we were away, so it gave me a chance to wear pieces which, with a tweak, could be worn at home.

It was great to wear my Topshop denim jumpsuit again. It has become a firm favourite for travelling in as it's so comfortable. If I'm too hot I just take the top down (yes I do wear a vest underneath!) tie the arms around my waist and I'm good to go. Really I could wear it at home but I quite like to keep a few things just for the warmer weather as it's always so nice to re-visit them when the season changes.

This outfit is made up of a pair of Boden sequin joggers (limited sizes available), which I recently bought plus a Zara jumper, and Banana Republic shoes, all of which were sale purchases. The Accessorize bag was a present from a friend for my birthday. Stick me in top toe navy with a bit of sparkle and all of it being comfortable and I'm as happy as Larry. And given that our holiday was all inclusive, the elasticated waistband (oooooh, sexy) didn't go a miss either! If I swapped my shoes for a pair of silver heels, this outfit could work equally well on New Year's Eve.

Here's another warm weather favourite - a Hush dress. It's probably not quite warm enough to wear this at home right now but I did wear it at the back end of the summer with pale grey suede Jigsaw ankle boots and a little knitted jacket, which put a nice spin on it.

This playsuit outfit is obviously one that is too chilly to wear just now but I've included it because I bought it in the Baukjen sale just after Christmas last year. Again, being all in one, it's one of those uber comfortable pieces which I can wear in the day, or dressed up a little for the evening.

And here's an outfit that no-one would ever want to be seen in - summer or winter, day or night, rain or shine. But when you're up a volcano and it's chilly, you just have to stick on whatever is to hand - and if that includes you son's (clean) socks with your sandals, so be it.

And moving on to a vaguely - OK so totally - ridiculous outfit. Here's another gem!  

 It was fantastic to be away but it's amazing to be home too, catching up with friends, getting back to my running and we had our own Christmas Day number two this afternoon which was fab.

I hope that you have all had a wonderful time and that you have plenty more exciting things lined up between now and the New Year. It's good to be back with you all. Beth x

Monday, 14 December 2015

Sparkles, more sparkles and a touch of pleather...

A lady I was once working with told me how I was the shop window for my business. Well let me tell you - this particular shop window has been driven into by joy riders, smashed and grabbed to within an inch of its life and ransacked all at the same time. I caught a sight of myself in the mirror today and it was far from good. I've picked up a stinking cough and cold and it shows.

But all is not lost, for the crack team of Ange the beautician and Luke the hairdresser will come to my rescue later in the week. Ange will sort out my eyebrows, do my nails and spray me a different colour - because on Saturday we are going away for some sun. And if I ask her nicely, she might remove my grey moustache too. Or should I just leave it there? I think that it might look quite good with a bikini.

We were out at friends on Saturday night. I wore my sequin turtleneck H&M top (£29.99) for the first time and it was fab. It's lined which stops it from being itchy, whilst at the same time making it warm, so it was a double win for me. Comfortable glamour - that's what its all about. Whoever said it was the hokey cokey was wrong.

I put a little video on instagram of me wearing the top, which you can see here. I'm wearing it with some semi busted Zara jeans and sparkly Dune shoes - as if there wasn't enough sparkle already.

And whilst we're about it, I thought that I would share another H&M purchase, being this "leather inspired" (OK, plastic) skirt which cost £19.99. I'd been on the semi look out for a pleather skirt for a while and then this one caught my eye last week. It was the asymmetric hem that got me. It comes up quite small so I have a size 10 and again, there's a little instagram video here where I'm wearing it.

I must like the skirt because I've worn it twice already. I have to say, it did catch me out though. When I sit on our kitchen stools I think that I perch on them on one bum cheek and then whizz across them to get on them fully. Let's just say that there wasn't so much whizzing with this little number on. More of an attempted whizz with a sudden stop as the pleather stuck to the seat. Not a good look.

Now usually by now I've started my "12 outfits of Christmas" feature but with us going away I haven't quite got that far this year. I wonder whether I might just irritate people showing pictures of sunny climes. Although knowing our luck with the weather it will chuck it down with rain and I'll just spend the whole week wearing the same one jumper and one pair of jeans. It's been done before.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Gold, (gold) always believe in your soul (sole) .....

You've got the power to know, 
You're indestructible...

Actually I can vouch for the fact that Adidas Superstars are indestructible. I've got a pair that are 12 years old now - they've got paint on them from where I painted a playhouse pink and one lace is shorter than the other where I chopped it off with the shears when gardening. 

Moving on though, the re-launch of Adidas Stan Smiths a while back now gave Adidas a new lease of life and Stan Smiths, together with Superstars, are the go to trainer of the moment. And right now gold trainers are definitely having a moment. Being the magpie that I am - and quite possibly a slight sheep too - I can see how a pair would work. 

I did several hours of Christmas shopping today and what better way to grab myself a ten minute sit down than by trying trainers on? Well I'm not really a coffee kind of girl and it's nice to "achieve" at the same time as resting. 

First up, Adidas Superstars in liquid copper (£69.99). Well they're definitely gold, that's for sure. I'm not quite sure what I think about the contrast between the gold and the white toe. Too much? Maybe. The jury is out for now. 

Moving on to the Adidas Stan Smith gold (£69.99) - I was surprised but I didn't like the look or feel of these, despite having a white and red pair that I love. They felt low to the ground, the leather didn't feel like leather and I thought that they looked a bit like Grandma type shoes. (Sorry Mum!) Stans don't have the three Adidas stripes on the side but instead they have the holes which on the gold ones, just don't quite do it.

I liked these Superstars in white and copper (£69.99). But the fit wasn't great. They kept slipping off at the back so they stayed in the shop. I also wondered whether they were a bit too subtle and perhaps not quite gold enough....

....whereas the same can't be said about these Adidas Superstar Gold (£80). I have one word - sort of. CP30. I just couldn't go there. Even at Christmas...

On the other hand, the Adidas Superstar gold and metallic white trainers (£65) which have gold sequins, (yippee, gold sequins) on them could be an entirely different matter.

So, what do we think? Yes or no to gold trainers? I'm a definite yes but they need to be the right pair. Let the hunt continue...

Sunday, 6 December 2015

What to wear when going to choose a Christmas tree...

Remember the Zara cardigan (similar here) that I featured on my You Tube vlog right at the start of the "winter"? Well it has definitely secured itself in my affections, together with these Boden Harper boots which seem to be glued to my feet right now. The price of these boots varies by colour and the black ones are £59.50 which is a pretty good price for a pair of boots that are so versatile.

Yesterday we went to buy our Christmas tree (I have deja vu each time I write this - I must have been blogging for far too many years now!) and as it was very windy I popped on my Topshop bobble hat which was a present from my Mum last year. I figure that you can never go wrong with a bit of denim and so this Whistles denim dress came along for the ride too.

I'm glad to report that the tree is now up and stylishly (!) decorated with all manner of things that we've collected over the years. From kitsch and slightly camp, to delicate and fairy tale like and from sequins to felt - all with a bit of tinsel mixed in, it's what one might call an eclectic mix - and not one that you would find in any interiors magazine.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Working with Fat Face on their Festive Jumper campaign...

When Fat Face asked me whether I would like to work with them on their Festive Jumper campaign of course there was only one answer. I genuinely love a good, full on, Christmas jumper as do the rest of the family - well either that or they just humour me. It's not something that I like to give only a "nod" to, nor do I want to wear a jumper "inspired" by Christmas. Nope, anything with a reindeer, sparkles, snowflakes, Santa or a Christmas tree gets my vote.  

So, unsurprisingly, out of the jumpers that I could have written about, I chose the Festive Deer Roll Neck Jumper (£45). Not only do I love the reindeers across the front - and back (nice touch Fat Face) but a roll neck is so cosy too.  Fat Face has a great range of Christmas jumpers and cardigans with snowflakes, fair isle patterns and reindeers all of which you can take a look at here

I was away with friends in Wales this weekend. The weather was wet and windy (as you can see above) but my "photographer" and "creative director" were brilliant. The former kept yelling "work it, work it, look the middle distance but stop smiling because your eyes disappear" (see below) whilst my creative director made me laugh hysterically with her antics.  I'll never make a proper blogger. 

Remember the "Last Christmas" video, with the wooden lodge, George Michael, a broken heart, Christmas and the snow? Well we thought about going down that route for inspiration but sadly George was busy so I'm bringing you his photo instead.

It was a shame that he couldn't make it as I'm sure he would have loved our toasty fire and he could have enjoyed a piece of chocolate biscuit cake (we could have offered carrot cake as an alternative) and a glass of fizz.  We certainly did....

Many thanks to Fat Face for asking me to work with them and for the lovely Festive jumper which I shall really enjoy wearing. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A room with a (much nicer) view now that I've been to John Lewis...

Sadly, last week Mr SG was poorly to such an extent that it was only fair that I let him have our room to himself. As an act of great selflessness and sacrifice* I took myself upstairs to the spare room, where I've hardly ever slept before and I have to say, I really loved it. It's really cosy with lovely sloping ceilings and you can hear the owl in the tree outside.

Up until now the room hasn't really had its own identity - varying as it has between the youngest's first bedroom and then a spare room/place to store things. But now? Well since my visit up there, which resulted in the hauling around of furniture followed by trips to the charity shop and today's visit to John Lewis - it is now part loft style, part Scandi spare room. Crikey, those germs caused Mr SG great expense in many ways.

*ie I didn't want his manky germs

The room is painted all white and apart from a striped Cath Kidston blind, that I'm happy to ignore for now, it was pretty much a blank canvas. I already had the table, the vase and the Roberts radio.

As I love to wear navy and grey, I figured that a room in those colours could work too and would be nice for a change. The yellow/citrine accent colour on the bedding was picked up in the lamp, vase, Mr Fox cushion and the picture.

The bedding and cushions...

The bed linen is Skyler Stripe in citrine. It also comes in a grey colour too which may be a good option for when this one is in the wash. The cushions are the Aztec patch cushion and the Scion Mr Fox cushion. On the bed is the plain lambswool throw in grey


The lamp is the Penelope Task Lamp in Quince.


I really fell in love with the Central Park Picture as I wandered through the store. It really reminded me of my trip to New York with Flo in the summer. So into the basket it went.

And now on to storage....

Storage was a bit of an issue too but I wasn't sure how it was going to all work out, so I bought this knitted basket in grey which I will use for towels for the spare room (for now at least). 

We have a couple of these Habitat storage units from about 1999 - as I suspect many others do too. It can be quite hard to find baskets and storage to go in the cubby holes. We have lots of things that the children have brought home from school that I can't bear to part with but which don't really need to be on display, plus photo albums which just needed streamlining.

So this is what I bought to fit... 

A set of three different sized felt storage baskets (below - this is the largest one) and a grey felt storage box (above). The knitted basket also fits though, just in case anyone is interested. 

The fire engine on top of the unit was made by my Grandad and Great Uncle just after the second world war, when toys were scarce. My Dad and his brother played with it as children and although it's a little worn, everything on it still works from the ladder to the bell. It doesn't go with the scheme but it's not going anywhere!

Right, so does anyone want to come and stay? 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Don't you just love a good jumper? And a GAP one? Even better!

On Friday afternoon I went home feeling very satisfied with myself. Why? Because I had resisted the temptation to buy this GAP fair isle sweater which I loved so much. "I don't need any more jumpers." I thought to myself. "It's similar to another one you have." I told myself. "You can't really justify it." I convinced myself. But clearly I didn't convince myself hard enough because where did I find myself at 9am on Saturday morning? Yes, buying the GAP jumper. So much for that particular resolve.

And on Saturday evening I wore it to a birthday party. Who in their right mind wears a fair isle sweater to a birthday party? In my defence it was in Leeds and it was cold. Which begs the question why then was I wearing open toed shoes? I really have no idea, other than the fact that I like them. Ho hum!

So here is the GAP jumper in its various different colour combinations...

And three of my other favourite GAP jumpers for those who may not quite be in the fair isle frame of mind but who fancy a little something different for Christmas, or just in general.

Don't you just love a good sweater, or pullover, or jumper, or knit, or whatever you want to call them?!