Saturday, 30 May 2015

The Topshop all in one utility suit - getting another outing!

This is a very quick ootd post from yesterday when, for ease, I decided to dress like one of our visitors - a toddler.

Boiler suits are great for comfort, warmth and practicality and they go with pretty much everything. I've layered an H&M breton top under this utility boiler suit from Topshop (which I'm sorry to say I can't find a link for any more) and put it with Next pointed loafers (£60) for an easy look.

Excuse the terrible photo and the awful light - great shadow of our son though who was taking the photo and pulling ridiculous faces, hence my ridiculous grin. Hope that you are all having a fabulous weekend.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Featuring the perfect shirt dress - the Claudette dress by Allium B in a bespoke Liberty print...

Many of you will be familiar with the brand Allium B which is run by sisters, Mary and Clare, both of whom previously had successful careers in fashion.

After being convinced that there was a gap in the market for dresses aimed at those ladies who wanted that all important extra length and close attention to detail, in September 2011, Clare and Mary started developing the range. Allium B was launched in March 2012 and has gone from strength to strength in the intervening years.  Nearly three years ago now I interviewed Mary and Clare, asking them about the philosophy behind the brand and for anyone interested, you can read that interview here.

Over the past few summers I have featured Allium B dresses on Style Guile and I have loved wearing them all. I wrote about the Eliza (£95) dress here , the Hannah dress here and the Audrey dress here and when I was asked to feature the Claudette shirt dress (£125), one of Allium B's new styles, I didn't hesitate in saying yes.  A shirt dress is one of those wardrobe workhorses that will serve you well over the years in so many different ways.

The Claudette shirt dress is particularly special because Liberty commissioned a bespoke print especially for Clare and Mary, which has the Allium B flower in the design. And their dresses are now available for sale in the Liberty store, which must be hugely exciting for them.

The Claudette shirt dress comes with a fabric tie belt, three quarter sleeves and lends itself to being styled in a number of ways. Although I have opted for the more obvious dress route, it would work really well as a beach cover up, or as a tunic style top over skinny jeans - either undone or done up.

For anyone who would like to treat themselves to a lovely dress from Allium B, there's a 25% discount available to readers of Style Guile, using the code BESPOKE, which is valid until 20th June.

In the above photos I have styled the dress with a thin gold Reiss belt, Topshop shoes and a Jigsaw bag and sunglasses for quite a modern "City" look. Below I have swapped the bag to a Kausar one and the sparkly sandals are from Aldo, which gives the outfit more of a laid back summer look.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Dare to flare? We're talking cropped kick flares here...

There was a time, not so many years ago, when there was only ONE style of jeans - and they were boot cut. Since then we've seen skinny, boyfriend, girlfriend, wide legged, busted, the return of flares and now, cropped flares.

First off we have Alexa Chung at London Fashion Week back in February  of this year. She's styled hers with the fashion staples of leopard print, sunglasses (in Feb?) and black boots. The look works on Alexa. As to whether many of mere mortals could pull it off, I'm not so sure.

Image taken courtesy of Grazia daily

Except that really she wasn't the first to wear them at all. No, that privilege (although I stand to be corrected) went to Jenna Lyons, who wore them at NY Fashion Week in September 2014. I love how Jenna has styled her kick flares with a cream leather jacket, aviators, a gold bag and courts. For me this is a really fresh and modern way to wear them.

 Image courtesy ofVanessa Jackman

Who What Wear have featured them on Pinterest, styled with a cable knit and converse which demonstrates their versatility. Here they look really laid back and cool.

Although these jeans are classed as cropped girlfriend jeans (Limited at Marks and Spencer £35) they have the same shape as those worn by Alexa and Jenna (note we're on first name terms!!)

Now when I saw them on me, the words "Worzel Gummidge" sprang to mind (it's the hem detail), which is a shame because I really like them but I know that when words spring to my mind, the same words are also likely to spring to Mr SGs mind - and then that would be the end of them.

I have to say that the cable jumper was a fluke and not a copy of the image above, which I found later. No, my inspiration in wearing this jumper was along the lines of "I'm not sure whether I like this. I think that I'll wear it today and then make a decision on it..."

When I was in town on Thursday, I also spotted the Topshop moto girlfriend jeans (£40). I didn't have time to try them but on the mannequin they looked like a cropped flare.

However I think that it's fair to say that they didn't quite translate into such in real life, although for a straight leg cropped jean they are a really good buy and they have a good rise to them.

Don't be put off by Topshop jeans. I don't find them any smaller than any other brand and they're not all low slung. Also, the denim is really thick and supportive - not like that fabric that looks like denim but which feels like a pair of tights when actually on (which Topshop also does in their Jamie jeans). They are great for a petite and taller range too.

And then I got to thinking. I knew that I had a whole stack of boot cut jeans which still fit me but which I don't wear, from two pairs of Seven jeans to Gap long and lean, Gap curvy, Topshop Bessie, Jigsaw and Diesel - any of which I was prepared to have as my victim! So, using the M&S jeans as a template, I measured all of my old pairs against the M&S ones to find the best shape....

Having decided that the GAP curvy were the best shape, I marked the length with chalk...

....and then I started to chop...

So this was the finished result in the first instance. But then I decided that I wanted to wash them and fray the bottom a little, which I planned on doing by putting them in a mesh bag and putting them on a gentle wash. BUT, bless him, Mr SG got there first and washed them and now they're a little more frayed than I thought. They're still drying so I have yet to try them but in the meantime, I also have these on order...

...cropped kick flares from Topshop £38 - just to see how they stack up to the other pairs. If ultimately my home made ones don't work, I'm not fussed at all. It was fun while it lasted!

Has anyone else dared to chop?!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

That Cos dress again - you've seen it styled up and now it's styled down plus a treat from & Other Stories...

It was only a few days ago that I featured this Cos dress styled up for a night out. But today looked like it had the potential to be warm and I'm just so desperate to wear a dress or skirt that I decided to brave the early morning cold in anticipation of the rays that were due later on in the day. I wanted to see whether the dress might work OK with flats. Being a longer length it can be tricky to pull flats off but I was prepared to sacrifice style for warmth and comfort.

At this point our eldest was sitting in the car looking at me and waiting for me to take her to her maths GCSE exam. You know when you have a smile on your face but inside your heart is breaking - just like when they go for their injections as babies and you would much rather go through it than putting them through it? Well that's how I felt. Not that I would have been that much use to her I hasten to add. Does anyone else find themselves cleaning the kitchen whilst waiting for the exams to finish? And don't ever let me go into town - I just buy random things that I don't need (although I do take them back!)

Anyway, here's another dress that may feature in the same category as the Cos one in that it has a good length to it, a little bit of a sleeve and it's nipped in at the waist - for those who like that style. You may have already come across it  but if not, this black pom pom dress from & Other Stories (£55), which has been re-styled slightly from last year, is worth taking a look at. It comes up a little on the small size so it may be necessary to size up.

So, has anyone got any gems up their sleeves on the summer dress front? I'm always on the look out for a go anywhere dress for these lovely sunny days that we seem to be having!!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A date for your diary with Jigsaw and me! (Thursday 4th June from 6.30pm)

After an event that I held with Jigsaw in Birmingham late last year, I am very excited to say that have been invited back to hold another event with the store. For anyone interested in coming along, I will be there chatting about the summer collection, identifying my top picks and offering style advice. It promises to be a great evening with drink, nibbles and gifts and most importantly lots of trying on of clothes, shoes and bags!

If you would like your name added to the guest list please either email me at or call the store on 0121 633 9475. Hope to see lots of you there!

And if anyone is interested in one of my top picks this season, it might just happen to be this pair of Jigsaw Monique City Sandals (£149) which as you have probably gathered, are getting a lot of wear by me this summer.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

An age old formula that works....and a couple of things for when the sun (finally) arrives...

 Whistles Jacket, jeans and scarf, Jigaw bag, Zara boots

You may think from this photo that I'm lacking in inspiration in what to wear, which isn't the case at all. I have lots of ideas of things that I want to show you but yesterday it was just soooooo cold that I had to resort to the age old formula of jeans, boots, a jacket and a scarf. I even put the heating on when I returned from town mid-morning but when Mr SG came back at lunchtime to work from home for the afternoon I was busted and off it went.  Mind you, things are looking up for Thursday and Friday so ladies, slap that fake tan on.

In the meantime here are a couple of things that I spied whilst out and about yesterday which will be great for when the sun finally arrives...

Topshop Slides (£40) - you can forget your Birkenstocks, furry or otherwise, and your lace up ballet pumps, these are where it's at right now. I had my first pair of these from my local Freeman Hardy and Willis (showing my age or what?!) and they were a size 13. They were a denim print and I loved them. I have a pink pair of Scholl ones in my wardrobe which I think may well make a re-appearance sometime soon.

You can't beat a good beach dress and this one from Topshop (£35) caught my eye as I passed it yesterday. There was a lovely Michael Kors one in the window of the MK shop but I couldn't bring myself to spend much on something that was only going to end up with sun-tan cream, ice-cream and all manner of splodgy stuff all over it.

This Accessorize beaded chevron clutch bag (£25) on the other hand? Well let's just say it might be wrapped up in tissue paper in a wardrobe not too far from here....

And talking about things in cupboards. I found this in our kitchen cupboard the other day. I should be embarrassed but I'm not - well, only for the fact that we even owned a tin of evaporated milk in the first place. Why would you do that? Condensed milk yes, I get that. That's what's needed for chocolate caramel shortbread but evaporated milk? I have no idea. However thinking about it I was pregnant at the time. Maybe that had something to do with it.

So what do you have lurking at the back of your cupboards - anything of the evaporated milk/scholl shoe variety, or perhaps a new little number for a sunny day? Go on, share them with me!

Monday, 18 May 2015

How to style wide legged trousers - and what to do if all else fails....

Whistles jeans and Topshop shoes (current), Topshop jumper and Orla Kiely bag (not so much)

So, let's talk about wide legged trousers. As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman "slippery little suckers." OK so she was talking about snails but the concept is the same - both can be tricky to deal with.

So how to deal with the fact that wide legged trousers do what they say on the tin - namely make us look wider, and quite often shorter too? The shoes can be problematic, unless the trousers are really long, in which case heels solve a whole host of leg shortening problems.

If like this pair of jeans from Whistles (which are now apparently back in stock) they don't require a heel, then a flat with a pointed toe helps to create a nicer silhouette. I still haven't worked out why that is but it works, trust me.

Secondly, a top works better if it's fairly short and fairly fitted. The best ones are generally listed under the term "cropped" on various sites such as Topshop, M&S Limited, ASOS etc but don't be put off by that, not all of them will be designed to flash one's midriff. Failing that, tuck a top in and pull it out a little, or tuck a shirt under and knot it at the front, or even tie a vest or t-shirt at the back. All of those options will give the silhouette that you need.

Thirdly, carry a huge bag, just like this Orla Kiely one. The effect will be twofold - it's something to hide behind and its scale makes you look smaller.

Fourthly, if all else fails, chop the bottom of the trousers off and turn them into something like these Karen Millen culottes which a friend of mine has and which look amazing. Seriously though, that way you can still get a little lower leg on display which helps with the silhouette, it means that you can wear heels too and it's a good use of a piece of clothing that could otherwise sit at the back of the wardrobe. Job done!

Oh dear, now I've convinced myself that I need these too. Perhaps I need to phone a friend.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Anyone for a dress with pockets - or even better, a dress with FOUR of them?!

Oasis Jacket, Cos dress, Jigsaw sandals, Accessorise flamingo bag

When looking for the perfect summer dress (which I seem to do constantly) to dress up or down, these are some of my requirements..

  • A good length - if it's too short, a dress can fall at the first hurdle;
  • A good colour - for some reason blue or white are my preferences for summer dresses - they just go so well with brighter accessories and other base colours, such as tan;
  • Possessing some shape but not too fitted - slightly fitted dresses work better for me than a lot of the oversized styles that are around at the moment which don't suit my frame;
  • 100% cotton;
  • Pockets are an added advantage;
  • Simple styling but with a little something about it.....and as luck would have it, I came across one in Cos last week, one of my favourite brands for their styling and quality. At the moment when I'm out and about I'm half shopping with a trip to New York in mind, that I have coming up later in June with our eldest once her GCSEs have finished. Even though I have a healthy luggage allowance, I would prefer to plan properly and pack fairly light, taking just a few outfits that I can work in different ways. And this dress, I thought, would fit the bill perfectly. 

Here I've styled it with Jigsaw tan sandals but I would be equally happy wearing it with trainers or my lace up ballet flats when walking around. In the heat, I actually prefer a little more coverage and with it being cotton it will probably give me the best chance that I could hope for of not melting into a puddle. A few flouro accessories won't go a miss with it, or equally gold or silver chunky necklaces for anything else that we might get up to whilst over there. For that little twist I really liked the side slits. And the pockets? Big patch pockets on the front and pockets at the sides too. For those who love pockets in a dress, you will be in pocket heaven!

This photo gives a better idea of the sleeve length, just for those who just like to check these things out.

One thing the eldest has been tasked with before we go is being able to run a decent distance because when we're out there I know I will want to see the sites whilst running and I can't leave her on her own...but for now it's back to the Romeo and Juliet and Pride and Prejudice quotes. Good luck to all others in the same position - whether they be the exam takers or the exam supporters!

These are the shots of the Cos dress (£59) from the site...

 So, for any other Cos fans out there, have you spotted any beauties lately? x

Thursday, 14 May 2015

A metaphorical walk through the summer season at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens...

(Outfit: Gap trousers, French Connection shirt £45, Stan Smith trainers - all current)

Yesterday I styled and presented a charity lunch for 200 ladies at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens - a place which is dear to my heart and which will probably be known to many of you. The glass in the glasshouses is 100 years old and desperately needs replacing, so the aim of the lunch was to help to raise money towards the £1m target. I was invited by the Trustees and the Gardens' PR Company to style the event way back in February and it was lovely to see everything come to fruition at last.

I always start such busy days in really casual, practical clothes because there is a huge amount of running around to do before an event starts. I usually end up getting changed in a cupboard about two minutes before we start, which was exactly the case yesterday.

The function rooms at the Botanical Gardens have recently been re-furbished and they looked amazing. It's a great venue for a wedding or function and the gardens are so beautiful that you can be sure of fantastic photographs. So much thought and effort went in to making everything look fantastic which was no mean feat for small but very dedicated team.

The clothes for the event were lent to me by House of Fraser, Reiss, Jigsaw and Karen Millen, with bits and bobs bought from other brands.

This is a very grainy shot of the ladies in their "Ascot" look but I like the relaxed feel to it. We had a couple of press photographers so I will share some more photos at a later date. During the event we took a metaphorical walk through the summer season, covering looks for a wedding, Henley, a trip to the tennis plus a festival or picnic. Some of the hats for the Ascot look were provided by Sally from Sharper Millinery. For anyone who needs a hat for a special event, Sally is the lady to contact!

Although I had been doing the groundwork for several weeks, the clothes and shoes were finally collected on Monday, taken home to be hung up and organised, packed and taken to the event on Wednesday, packed and returned home Wednesday night and re-packed to be returned to the stores today. This is how I was looking this morning - a little wrung out I think - and still wearing trainers, albeit different ones, for more dashing around town.

(Outfit: GAP trousers, Jigsaw coatigan £149, Whistles scarf  £45, (all current) Nike trainers, Kate Spade bag - older)

Monday, 11 May 2015

A new version of the Mango Martina Flares....some of my favourite flares...

The Martina flare in a style of jean that Mango have been stocking for a few years now. I have a denim pair but when I came across the same jeans but made from lyocell (£34.99) I was intrigued.

Apparently (so I've just read) Tencel is the brand name for lyocell, which makes me happy as I thought from their feel that they were tencel and that's what I had in mind that I was buying.

It's fair to say that when stationary they don't photograph that well - but they are much better on the move. I like that they are soft and draped and in the summer they will be much cooler than denim. The high waist is comfortable too and they hit the flared trend in an affordable way. I just don't understand the cost of jeans any more. I know that for some people a well priced pair of jeans is a good investment and truly worth it but it seems that all jeans that are featured in magazines at the moment are £180 plus - although the odd pair of Topshop ones are normally thrown in, just to keep people (like me) happy. I know, don't shout me down!!

Predictably with Mango jeans they come up really long, which is great if standard length jeans happen to be on the short side for you.

The jumper that I am wearing is new on but not new, having been sitting in the wardrobe for a while. I love a cream jumper in the summer and this one is an M&S Limited Edition one now - but it's no longer new enough to be on the site :(

Sunday, 10 May 2015

You shall go to the ball....

It's a long time since I've been to a school ball but last night was the night - and a fantastic night it was too. Normally it's Mr SG donning his tux for a black tie event (for work purposes of course, you understand) but for once I wasn't the babysitter and instead we got to go out together.

I really hadn't given any thought to what I was going to wear and it can be at times like that when a dress just happens to find you. I was in Coast a couple of weeks ago looking at outfits for an event that I'm styling on Wednesday and on my way out I saw this Coast Frankie Jacquard dress (£145).

In the flash of an eye I had tried it on, bagged it and I was on my way.  I think that it was the print that attracted me initially and I liked the overlay at the top too but had the length not been right, it would have gone straight back on the rack.

I have no idea why I went with the Aldo  spot shoe (£60) - other than because I liked them and because they were a slightly less obvious choice than silver or nude.

This is a back shot of the dress taken from the Coast site which I think may just well have a 20% discount on at the moment.

For information purposes, the dress comes up true to size. I'm wearing an 8 and whilst I could have got away with the 6 I wouldn't have been quite so comfortable around the waist. So comfort won out in the end!

And I got myself a new pal on the night. Just look at the sword on him!!!