Monday, 30 January 2017

Re-working the 18th party outfit with a Topshop top and Boden heels

It's party party in this house at the moment! After last week's 18th birthday celebrations, this week we went to a friend's 40th birthday party, which was fabulous.

After buying the Belshaw fold A-line skirt from Finery (£75) for  Flo's 18th, I wanted to wear it again so at least the cost per wear went down to £37.50. Hmmm. I'm not selling that. Think that I might need to work on it.

However I swapped the top that I wore last week, for the tie back t-shirt from Topshop (£25), which is lovely - made even lovelier by the fact that I borrowed it from Flo's wardrobe (oh how I've longed for that particular moment to arrive!) 

Describing the top as a t-shirt doesn't do it justice as it's definitely a "blouse" or a "top" in my book. The back is really pretty too - I've put some more pictures of it below. I just wore a little bralette from M&S over the top of my bra, so that it covered the back strap - which wasn't particularly small, or lacy!

I also swapped last week's spotty shoes for the Tabitha heel from Boden (£51.60 down from £129). These were meant to arrive in time for last week's party but they didn't quite make it - but at least I could wear them this week. They are a little marmite - and have a slight equestrian feel about them one might argue but I like them and they are hugely comfortable.

So that's it really. One skirt worn two (slightly) different ways. This really is a lovely skirt and Finery have some great pieces so if you're on the look out for something that the world and his wife won't be wearing, it's really worth taking a look. Plus the price point is good too, which always makes me happy :)

The Topshop blouse from the back

The Topshop blouse from the front - the sleeves are really pretty

A close up of the Boden Tabitha shoes

Saturday, 28 January 2017

The Kitchen Refurb - Part 1

This is our kitchen (on a tidy day!) To put it into context, this Ikea kitchen had just been installed when we moved into our house 12 years ago now. When the house was renovated (which was just before we moved in) what had previously been a car port was turned into the kitchen, which runs the length of the house.

Having had the work done on the back of the house last year, we needed to do a bit of tweaking to the kitchen. The trouble was that most of the kitchen was still fine. We didn't want to replace the work surfaces as we liked them and I think they were quite pricey. Plus anything that we replaced them with would be of an inferior quality. Nor did we want to risk moving the huge surface over the island, as no-one could guarantee that it wouldn't crack.

Also, because of the shape of the kitchen, the design couldn't change hugely. All that we would have done would have been to swap the cupboards for drawers - but that would have made for a whole lot of very expensive drawers. So after going around the houses (and the streets, the town, the city and the country too) we decided on the following:
  • To have the tall bank of cupboards removed and replaced with different, equally tall cupboards, which would work better for us in terms of storage i.e. we would have a bigger fridge, an improved larder cupboard, a built in microwave and two extra cupboards on the end;
  • To replace the door fronts with handless doors, with the ones along the front of the island possibly being in a different colour to the rest;
  • To change the plinths for ones with led lights in them;
  • To remove the mdf splash back (which I painted exceptionally badly) and replace it with tiles;
  • To get the kitchen decorated.
Now you know what a fan I am of making things up as I go along. Well that's what's happening with the kitchen too - other than the design of the cupboards which clearly had to be decided upon in advance.

The things that are still up in the air are - the colour of the replacement kitchen doors, the colour of the paint and whether to paper one the big wall opposite the kitchen island or not.

The one thing that have been decided upon are the tiles. Remember the round the houses comment from earlier? Well that applies to the tiles too.

These are the sort of encaustic tiles that I really love. This photograph was taken in Guernsey last year at newly opened restaurant. So the search for something similar began, albeit for the walls.

Tiles are pricey! I loved the Fired Earth tiles (who doesn't)?

In particular the colours in the Toulouse range really appealed to me but at £168.53/metre they were probably more than we wanted to pay. Plus at only 20cm x 20cm there would have been a lot of tiles in quite a small space, which could have looked a little "bitty". And they failed to send a sample to me. Tut tut.

The other thought that I had (I had quite a few thoughts) was that if they were in a space that was relatively free from clutter, for example in a shower, they would be fine but once they had a toaster, a breadmaker, utensils, bottles of oil and all the other kitchen detritus in front of them, they might just look messy and put me on edge. But I still really like them.....

So then I looked to the Henley tile at Topps tiles. At £44.40 per metre they were a better price but at 45cm x 45 cm they were too large for the space and would have been taller than the stainless steel splash back behind the cooker - which could have been changed but (I couldn't be arsed!)

The Berkley also featured in my deliberations but as it too was 45cmx45cm, it was too tall for the space.

Then I read about the Laura Ashley tiles at tons of tiles but they weren't quite right. So then I thought about tiles laid in a Herringbone pattern (too much waste and difficult because of them not going to the top of the wall) then I liked the wild blossom tile from Topps (although in seagrass)...

..but the family gave them the thumbs down. However the shape of the tiles really appealed and at 20cm x 50cm they were the perfect size. So what to do? Keep on looking of course.

Well next I found another brand that I liked - Ca Pietre. I've linked to the patterned encaustic tiles because there are some great choices. These are some of my favourite designs (from top to bottom, mixed eye, Darcy, Lily pad and origami).

I didn't think that the samples would  reach me in time but with two bathrooms that need sorting, these are definitely on my list for future reference.

And then I finally went full circle and chose exactly the same tiles that I chose for our utility room in the summer. The tiles I first thought that I would go for but which I discounted because I thought that I ought to choose something different. And the reason that I chose them? Because they ticked the boxes of having a geometric print that I liked (and which the family didn't object to) of being textured, reflective, grey and the right size and price - just like they did when I chose them the first time around. (I am turning into my mother!)

This picture is from the Topps website and shows them in powder blue

The Attingham tiles come in three different colours (mist, seagrass, powder blue), they are 45cm x15cm, cost £45 per sq metre and there are five different designs in one box (or they can just be bought plain). Really I'm a commitment phobe when it comes to something too distinctive - unless, like wallpaper or paint, it can be changed pretty easily. So I get that these seem a bit boring compared to the encaustic ones but they are tried and tested.

I have to say that if I never see another tile in my life, I really won't mind. Maybe Mr SG can choose the bathroom ones instead.

Friday, 27 January 2017

A poem about getting older....

This post is a little different from usual! I started this "poem" in my head whilst driving down the motorway yesterday and I was so engrossed that I missed my turning (I probably shouldn't admit to that.)

Some of it is autobiographical but most is in anticipation of what is yet to come. I think that my point is that whatever is happening on the outside, it's what's on the inside that counts. The only real measures that I take against ageing are trying to eat well, to get plenty of exercise and sleep, to drink lots of water and not shut my mind to new possibilities. Other than that I don't do much but it is a debate that I do have with myself from time to time. Anyway, hopefully it make you smile (a little). Have a super weekend!

My hands aren’t my own
I don’t recognise my face
That “hair” lying across my forehead
Is actually a wrinkle I can’t erase

My thighs are going squashy
My chins are doubling
And soon my husband will be requesting
Some “conscious uncoupling”

Those stretch marks that seem from nowhere, to have appeared
cannot solely be attributed to those I have reared.
My hair is grey in every imaginable way
I think about not dying it. But I'm not ready for that…maybe one day.

My knees are wrinkly,
My bum’s heading south
“Are you sad?" The children ask
No, it’s just my droopy mouth.

Would botox make a difference
or laser or peels?
Or should I grow old gracefully?
I know how it feels…
To look around and wonder what to do
When others who are older, look younger than you
Because they’ve gone down that route that so far you’ve resisted
But they have persisted
In refusing to accept
That it’s over yet.

Why am I looking in the fridge? And why have I come up the stairs?
Why have I put the milk in the microwave and why do I stare
When I catch a glimpse in the mirror
of someone who sort of looks like me
But she has wrinkles and saggy eyes. Oh no! SERIOUSLY?

Your body stops producing the things that keep you young,
Less collagen, oestrogen and failing pelvic floors mean you have to run
To the loo when before you could take as long as you liked
And don’t get me started about the middle of the night

“You were snoring” says my husband when we make in the morning
But really it was him, which is why I’m still yawning
And he woke me at three
when he went for a wee
And for ever thereafter that was my nightly fate
All as a result of his dodgy prostate

My husband is talking about paying tax when I’m dead
I wasn’t expecting that whilst lying in bed
Because you see, in my head
I’m no older than when I had our son (Fred)

But it’s not all bad I have (a bit) more time than before
To go for a wax,
Or to sort out our tax (!)
To do a tough mudder
With some other crazy bugger

So what keeps you young?
It’s about having fun.
Go stand in a queue
if there’s something your children want to do;
And don’t say “ouch”
when you get up from the couch

It’s all about your spirit and all about your soul
It’s all about laughing at the prospect of getting old
For whilst outside things may sag and things may change
Inside our spirits remain the same

You can choose to be old or you can choose to be young
Age is only a number although for some
It’s a hindrance to excitement, exploration and fun

Move as much as you can (even if it hurts)
Dig out your sparkles and your mini skirts
Laugh with your mates
Go out on dates
(Unless you’re married when that’s probably not a good idea…)

Monday, 23 January 2017

My 18th birthday party outfit....

Well it wasn't strictly my 18th birthday party was it? No, of course it wasn't. That was nearly 29 years ago now. (Oh flip, can I swear a little please?) And the fact that it was our daughter's 18th birthday party only serves to reinforce just how old I feel. How can that have happened? How can she be 18? I can remember the cheese and ham sarnie that my husband made for me when I came home from the hospital with her so clearly. I swear that it was the best food I've ever tasted. No Michelin starred restaurant can ever compete with that.

So what to wear to a party with 50, 18 year olds in attendance? Well my first rule was a lot. As in a lot of coverage was required. No legs, no cleavage, no back or arms on display. And definitely no mid-riff.

Secondly, nothing from Topshop, H&M, Reiss etc. Nope, I had to head to a brand that no 18 year old would shop at. And any "fun" stuff had to be on the fringes - so nails, ear-rings, shoes etc, that was the place to have the fun stuff. Other than that I decided to keep things plain but with a bit of colour.  

Well this was an easy top given the name of our daughter - the Florence jersey top from Finery (£39). This is the most brilliant top if you fancy a fancy sleeve but you don't want to dip it in your soup or catch it in the dishwasher or end up with toothpaste all over it. The fancy bit is made of a fabric which is a) wipe clean and b) which you can fold back and it will stay there. Double result.

And I also wore this Belshaw skirt from Finery (£75). I'm a big fan of a statement skirt and a top as it's so versatile. And of course the pink had my name written all over it. I also ordered the zebra jacquard skirt which I loved but the colour against my bare legs wasn't great - so that will be going back. It's a great option though for anyone on the look out for a funky printed midi skirt.

Oh and I bought the bag in the Whistles sale and the shoes were a few seasons old from Aldo. There's a shoe story which I will save for another day!

The party was a success and the birthday girl was really happy. Happy Birthday sweetheart!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Sssshhhh don't tell anyone...

But I bought a new coat today. I had decided, in amongst my wardrobe musings (a post about which I started but which I have abandoned for now because it's going to take me too long) that  a "sharper" coat would be a good addition to my wardrobe. A longer coat, that would make a statement and do a good job of smartening up my go-to outfit of trousers (of some description) and a jumper (of some description) that I live in during the winter.

This coat first caught my eye in Topshop last week but we were on a mission to find the eldest a party dress for her 18th birthday so there was no time to stop. But then when I was back in town today it again caught my eye so I tried it on and really liked it.

In an ideal world I had decided that I could do with a couple of smarter coats - maybe one grey and one navy. I was going to trawl the end of the sales to see if I could find one, or buy one a year for the next couple of years. But this ticks the grey box and the navy box, with some lilac and yellow thrown in just for good measure.

I think that this is one of those marmite type of coats. Or one that people would steer clear of because they may think that it wouldn't go with everything. But I always think that if whatever is poking out from underneath your coat is - as mine tends to be in the winter - grey or navy, then on the whole most winter coats will work with anything and everything.

As I work in fashion, I sometimes wonder to what extent what is going on around me influences what I choose to wear. I also wonder what I (or any of us) would choose to wear, if left entirely to our own devices and if we weren't exposed to the likes of magazines, shows, press days, Instagram, blogs, photoshoots etc . I'm sure that, if left to my own volition, this coat would feature in my wardrobe and I haven't seen anyone wearing it yet. But then again maybe there's a reason for that!

N.B. I'm waiting for mine to arrive as they didn't have my size in store. I tried a 10 which was huge so I' hoping that the 8 will be OK, although as it comes in a 4 and a 6, maybe the 8 will be a bit roomy. Needless to say both the sleeves and the length were longer on me than on the model.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Is this the end of Style Guile?

Golly it's been a while. And I've missed you all. But I promised myself that I wouldn't start blogging again until I had finished my list of jobs. As you might expect, I haven't reached the bottom of the list..... Do we ever?

After the children went back to school, first of all there was the house to be sorted. I did a proper spring clean under the beds and on top of the cupboards. I sorted the linen cupboard, went through the children's bedrooms - and anything that got in my way went in a bin bag. Then it was the turn of the tax-return. Then trips to the charity shops, choosing tiles for the kitchen, "doing" the 9 year old's birthday, preparing for the soon-to-be-18's birthday party and with a work trip to London included for good measure, it's been hard to find a window of opportunity. But then today I received a comment asking "Is this the end of Style Guile?" Thank you to whoever left the comment because it has prompted me to get back in front of the laptop.

In all honesty I think that quite a few bloggers have taken a bit of a sabbatical. After Christmas the thought of spending money in the sales makes me feel slightly nauseous and writing about spring trends makes me feel slightly shivery. People get annoyed with exercise and healthy eating posts and I figure that sometimes it's good to just sit quietly in the corner and finish the Christmas chocolate whilst contemplating the New Year's Resolutions that I've made (and broken).

But with a living room to be decorated, a kitchen that's about to have work started on it, two bathrooms to replace, an outfit to be decided upon for both an 18th and a 40th birthday party, plus an offer to write about a new range of active wear, I won't be going anywhere far for a while.

And whilst this really isn't going to inspire many, as you know I do love a bit dash of pink and as it's "the" colour for s/s 2017 (although it's been in season for me for the past 46 years) and as it's been snowing today, I'm going to leave you with my new pink pom pom beanie from Topshop (£14)

Happy New Year to you all, have a super weekend and I'll be back soon! Beth x