Sunday, 28 February 2016

Finery - one year old and now in John Lewis!

I love this quote from Finery's brand book - it's so true!

Many of you will be familiar with the brand Finery which launched a little over a year ago now. The brainchild of three co-founders, Caron Downie (former Fashion Director of Asos and Buying Director of Topshop), together with her former colleagues Emma Farrow (former Design Director at Topshop) and Rachel Morgans (former Buying Director of Asos), the brand "caters for a category of stylish women who were becoming dis-illusioned with a High Street which provided quick turnover trends at budget prices."

Having come from backgrounds which specialised in High Fashion for a younger demographic, the co-founders of Finery wanted to place more emphasis on the product, which is something they felt was being overlooked.

To celebrate the launch of Finery going into six John Lewis stores (Oxford Street, Peter Jones, Cheadle, Trafford, Liverpool, Birmingham) I was invited along to meet the team in our local Birmingham John Lewis. It's the first time that the collection has been available in a bricks and mortar setting so it was exciting to get to touch and feel the clothes and it was lovely to meet Caron Downie who was so gentle and unassuming, despite her success.

The collection is relatively small and Finery intend to keep it that way. It's not desperately seasonal either, with the clothes designed to be worn all year round. Emphasis is placed on the cut, the finish, the feel and the comfort factor. I like that the clothes and shoes are a little bit quirky and that the brand has its own strong identity but with a good price point.

Sorry I can't link to this but it's navy and frilly so it had to be included!

Finery's shoes and boots are brilliant - very London/flat/chunky and stylish. My favourite are these Peep toe ankle boots (£125) - which clearly aren't flat, or chunky, at all!

Marks for ingenuity have to go to this striped jersey tee (£35) which, due to the zip at the back, can either be worn oversized, or fitted. Two in one - brilliant!

One thing that I do - oh yes I really DO - need to invest in, are some tailored trousers. I have jeans, coated skinnies, pleather leggings and wide legged trousers but I don't have a pair of smarter tailored trousers, which I feel are missing from my wardrobe. So I think that these pleated peg trousers (£49) could be a good option and I shall go back and try them on another day.

And finally, with all things frilled being such a big trend this season, I think that I may add this ruffle jersey top (£29) to my wardrobe. It's girliness will be great with ripped jeans, cut offs, or smarter wide legged trousers and trainers.

So if, despite having heard about Finery, they haven't quite made it on to your radar yet, now might be the time to take a closer look. I find that seeing a brand in the flesh always makes it easier to identify with and to start building a relationship with. It's not currently available at John Lewis on line but fingers crossed that may change at some point soon. Happy shopping and have a lovely week! x

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

One to make you laugh!

Super skier or about to crash and burn?

Crash and burn! Oh and right in front of a photographer too! I think I'll stick to running. 

Last week we were in Italy skiing. My husband has been skiing since he was five, the eldest two have been skiing since they were about seven and this was the youngest's second trip but she may as well have been born on skiis. I on the other hand? Well in all fairness given that it was only my second trip I did all right (ish). Apparently my technique was OK and I did manage the odd red but all that I got in lessons was "Faster Beth, Faster Beth. Don't be scared. Follow me. Faaaaaaaster Beth." Oh be quiet!  I mean, how natural is it to wear ridiculously heavy boots then strap your feet to two long things and whizz down a mountain? And therein lies the problem. I don't so much "whizz down" anything. It's more of a slow amble from side to side across the mountain with a few stops in between to admire the scenery (never, ever, to look down the slope).

My jacket, salopettes and gloves were all from Sports Direct last year, with my jacket and gloves being from Nevica and the trousers from Salomon. It's not cool, it's not trendy but then I pretty much ski like a dork so I'm happy looking like one. Imagine having all the gear and no idea and then falling off the ski lift like I did (more than once)! At least people don't have any expectations of me. But I will say that my ski gear is perfectly good - it keeps me warm and dry and I do love my Sweaty Betty neck warmer thingy (see, I don't even know what it's called.) So for anyone heading to the slopes for the first time, Sports Direct it a great place to start. And it means that we've all saved more for the clothes that we want to wear for the other 51 weeks of the year too. It's a win win all round! 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Marks & Spencer - leading the way with Limited Edition

Each season, you can always rely on Marks & Spencer Limited Edition to have a few on-trend gems at a good price. Whilst in there looking for your undies, or PJs for the children, or a frilly Per Una number for your Mum, it's always worth taking a wander through Limited Collection. 

Whilst in the store today, I came across this Marks & Spencer Limited Collection Bardot shirt (£29.50). Bardot style tops and shirts were a huge trend last spring/summer and they're back on the scene again - in an even bigger way.

I really like the shape of this one as whilst it's not too clingy, neither it is too voluminous. Some Bardot tops are very frilly and girly, whilst some of the peasant tops are very smock like and create the illusion of a pregnancy bump where there is none. Not a good look. This shirt though is fairly tailored and streamlined and just a little more sophisticated than some that I have seen.

Moving on to a Bomber jacket...

Again we saw lots of bomber jackets last season and they're still going strong for S/S'16. With its dark background and lighter floral print, this M&S floral bomber jacket (£49.50) is an easy and non-too challenging way to wear this trend. Good with kick flared cropped jeans, denim shorts or with smarter trousers for work, it definitely has a place in your wardrobe this summer.

There's also a massive trend this season for the slip dress, a la Kate Moss from the early 1990's. Hers were silk and cut on the bias but this M&S square neck midi slip dress (£29.50) is a much easier, and more forgiving, way to wear the trend. For a little coverage, wear with a denim jacket, a biker jacket, a bomber jacket or  a denim shirt tied at the waist to keep the silhouette neat. Johnny Depp isn't a compulsory accessory.

The other reason that M&S is a good place to suss out the more trend led items is that we all feel that we belong there. I know that some people are a little nervous of shops like River Island, Topshop or Zara but who doesn't feel comfortable going into good old M&S - if only for a prawn sarnie?!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Blues to lift the blues...

There's a certain blue that gets me every time. I just love it. Aegean blue conjures up images of beautiful sandy beaches and a crystal clear, deep, sea. Anything that reminds me of this image and I'm there. It's the reason that I watch Home & Away - honestly. The shots of the beach make me feel warm and happy when it's cold and raining outside. Given that the beach doesn't feature in Neighbours however, I'm not quite sure what my excuse is. The swimming pools maybe?

I think that it's fair to say that this particular shade of blue may feature in the colour scheme for our new room in the not too distant future. We are going to need three really big light fittings and I love this Kartell fly ceiling light from John Lewis (£171). I've looked around for a cheaper alternative but I haven't managed to find one so far, although Very had one a few seasons ago. So if you do happen to know of one, please feel free to whizz the details my way.

Price aside, I'm not sure whether this light will actually come off or not - the reviews aren't brilliant in that many of them seem to arrive scratched and we will need to check what kind of glow the lights give off when they're actually on. Blue maybe? I'm slightly concerned that we might look like the local cop shop and apparently they collect dust like a bugger which is a shame because they will be too high to reach to dust. But anyway it's a start - even if it's a slightly inauspicious one!

I've seen this rug many times in our local store and I still love it - although I have slight reservations about the orange dots and how they might fight with other colours in the room. It's the blue Tash rug from Habitat (£375). We've had two Habitat rugs for 17 years now and they have worn fantastically well, weathering everything that family life has to throw at them - so perhaps this would be a good buy if I can make it work.

And finally, there's the Dixie sofa by Loaf (£1395). All of Loaf's sofas and chairs can be made in this fabric (I say "all" but there's bound to be an exception somewhere along the way.) Much as I love this colour though and much as I've always loved it, I would be slightly more nervous about committing to a large piece of furniture in this colour, just in case I changed my mind. Not that I'm fickle or anything.

With a colour scheme of Scandi neutrals such as pale greys and creams, I think that this colour will add some real depth, plus interest, to the room. I've yet to persuade Mr SG as to my accent colour though. He's just not feeling the love for Turmeric. I can't imagine why not!

Dimple footstool from Loaf (£445) in turmeric.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

A dining table with a difference....

In the next couple of months, we will be in the market for a new dining table - I know, how exciting? (!) Actually it really is. I feel as though after 16 years of marriage it might be our first, proper, grown ups dining table. Not grown up in the sense of a traditional dark wood item but grown up because we're now past the stage of having to cover the seats in oilcloth and we no longer need to be sure that it can be wiped down after a child scribbles on it. So, fabulous as our Ikea table has been, I won't be sorry to say goodbye to it. Instead we can choose something that we actually like - now there's a revelation. It needs to seat 10 people and we fancy something industrial. And here's a selection of what I've come across so far.... 

The Arden table and bench set from Graham & Green (£1800) has a cement fibre top and is 240cm long, which is a pretty good size. My problem is that I'm not sure about benches. Mr SG likes the idea and whilst it's true that they do seat more people, they're a real pain unless everyone on the bench likes being the same distance away from the table. Which knowing our family will never be the case and I can imagine arguing throughout a whole meal - which on reflection is not much different to usual.  

Also from Graham & Green is this zinc table (£1200). It's 210cm long and its styling makes it less industrial than the one above. I think that this is a great compromise for those who still prefer a table which is more traditional in its styling, whilst using more modern materials. With so many of us having wooden floors, the zinc top makes a nice contrast and breaks things up a little, plus with this option it's possible to have a little more fun with the seating styles. I like the idea of having mis-matched chairs with this table. Sadly though Mr SG doesn't like the table at all so I don't think that chairs, either mis-matched or otherwise, will be featuring.  

Loaf has this gorgeous concrete conker table, which I went to take a look at when I was last in London. It comes in medium (160cm length £715), large (180cm length £755) and extra large (220cm length £855). The chairs/benches are extra but again I like that it offers a flexible approach to seating.

Made has this fawn dining table in zinc (£349). It's a more compact option than some of the other tables, being only 140cm in length, making it perfect for smaller spaces. It's designed to feel like a working table in an old manor house, or farmhouse, which is why zinc was used to top it.

For anyone who is now in the concrete mood - but not in the market for a new table - John Lewis has this concrete pendant light for £70...

Or for something even simpler to work into your d├ęcor without anyone else knowing for at least a couple of weeks (depending on how observant your husband/children/anyone else who is going to land you in it might be) a lamp is the perfect solution and John Lewis has this tall table lamp for £80 with other concrete bits and bobs here.


If any of you have come across any other industrial table sized gems then do feel free to let me know. I've also checked out Heals, M&S and John Lewis but there's nothing there. I haven't checked out proper "industrial" suppliers yet but I guess that might be the next step. We're only at the very first stages of mulling things over so nothing is set in stone yet - or in concrete. (Dire. Groan. I know.) 

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Block heels - a success or one for your room 101?

Is it just me, or do anyone else's feet hurt when they look at high heels? Without sounding like an old croc, many years ago I would walk to the tube in heels, walk from the tube to work, walk around all day including up Bond Street at lunchtime and then do it all in reverse to get home again - and I didn't even think twice about doing so. I still own the first pair of heels I ever did all of that in - Marilyn Anselm for Hobbs. Anyone remember her? 

These days? Not so much. If I'm not working, it's pretty much trainers or flat boots all the way for me but if it's a small heel that I'm after, I love a good block heel and I can always rely on Topshop to come up trumps. 

I ordered these Jolene mid buckle shoes from Topshop (£48) a couple of weeks ago but it's only really been today that I've managed to get around to trying them on. They're 100% leather and they also come in black and in this black and white print below. I like the idea of wearing them with cropped kick flares, with wide legged cropped trousers and also possibly to the wedding we're going to in early April. I'm conscious that the wedding is only a couple of weeks before the marathon and as well as abstaining from alcohol, I'm also abstaining from heels (it's fun, fun, fun all the way right now!) These are a great option though - enough height not to feel flat but no so much that my feet will hurt by the end of the day.

This Juno style (£59) is also massively popular at the moment. 100% leather, they come in grey, gold, white and red and your Granny would love them! As to my thoughts on them? Hmmm. Marmite. And personally I'm on the "don't like" side of the fence.  I like a block heel to be accompanied by a pointed toe, or leopard print, or something which stops them from looking too Granny-esque. And these are designed to be full on Granny-esque. Which is fine when you're really young and no where near being a granny but you know, as that age bracket creeps potentially closer? Let's just say they're not somewhere I plan on going.

Even on young feet I'm not convinced! 

For another option, Topshop has the Jensen buckle mid shoe (£49) which come in leopard, black and burgundy with a pale pink trim. The composition varies depending on the colour.

I know that many avoid block heels for the fear of looking granny like. Well having seen the Juno style, I totally understand that particular fear. However, there are plenty of other options which don't make you look as though you're going to be pushing a pram any time soon - and not as the baby's mother. So I would encourage anyone to given them a go. For work with slim trousers, or for casual with rolled up jeans, they're a really good option and more flattering and less dated than a kitten heel. What do you think? Have you had success with block heels or have they been consigned to your room 101?!