Sunday, 11 March 2018

The only heels that you will ever need....

Belted utility jacket with lace detail GAP (£64.95*) | Gold acid pony hair belt Bricks & Stitches (£36) | silk blouse old but similar here from French Connection (£69) | Jeans Mango previous season but similar here from Hush (£79) 

I can guarantee that every time I wear these leopard print heels from River Island (which are sadly no longer available), people will ask me where they're from. In fact, as I was putting this post together, someone messaged me on Instagram to ask me that very question.

So a few weeks ago it got me thinking that it was about time that I put a blog post together on where to find the best leopard print courts. Having done the ground work, I can confirm that there aren't that many leopard courts around. My searches at Clarks, Selfridges, House of Fraser. Next, M&S, Hush, Hobbs, Jigsaw, Other Stories, New Look, Zara, Warehouse, Oasis and Topshop lay testament to that. 
There are plenty of flats, trainers, block heels and sandals - and if anyone requests me to do so, I'll do a post on those too. But for now I wanted to keep it to a classic style, leopard print court shoe. 

These are, for now, the best three options:

Boden  courts (£110)

My first thoughts on these were that they looked a bit fussy but the "wiggle" is a really nice look when on the foot. The reviews as far as comfort goes are really good. The heel doesn't appear to be too high and people say that they have worn them all day without any problems. Someone commented that they were cut quite low at the front and someone else found them uncomfortable because they had a bunion but other than that (and one issue relating to quality control) the reviews were really positive.  

How to style them? 

We all know that leopard is the new neutral. Think of it as you would plain black shoes. Chances are that there will be a whole lot of leg, or black trousers, or denim (for example!) above them, so even if you've got print or pattern or other colours going on elsewhere in your outfit, it really doesn't matter as it's broken up. And if not? Even better! 

I style mine with everything from jeans, as above, to my gold pleated skirt, black coated skinnies, navy wide leg culottes, silky joggers and side stripe pants - anything and everything really - which is what makes them the only heels that you will ever need. 

Leopard print mid heel courts Dune (£70)

This Dune style is a fabulous one. No doubt many of you are familiar with it as it comes in lots of different colours - fifteen to be precise. The shoes have five star reviews so I think that's a pretty good indication as to their comfort and design. These shoes are described as a "mid heel" and also come in a wide fit. To be fair, I think that these would be my starting point if I was on the hunt for some now. 

Karen Millen leopard heels (£145)

With a 9.5cm heel, these shoes have an extra 1cm to their heel height compared to the Dune shoes, which for some will be a deal breaker and for others, not so much. Unlike the other two styles these have a black heel and are also they are also pricier. But if they fit perfectly and do the job well, they will be a better investment long term, so they may be worth trying. 

My "photographer" told me to strike a pose for Mother's Day. So this was it. She even showed me what to do. And who am I to argue?

If anyone comes across any more leopard print courts out there and if you would like to share them with me, please do so. Or if you'd like a post on flatter leopard print shoes, just say the word. In the meantime, I hope that you all have a great start to the week. xx

Friday, 9 March 2018

7 summer outfits offering a little bit of coverage!

I get it, really I do. There's something vaguely irritating about someone going away somewhere warm when it's freezing here, sharing their snaps on Instagram, AND THEN writing about what they wore whilst away. Especially when quite a few of those clothes have been gifted. Maybe I should just stop right there!

Except that I love seeing other people's holiday snaps, especially if they're sunny. OK so maybe not the six albums of snaps that my Grandad would compile after each trip - but definitely snaps of outfits. And personally I love it when people bring me clothes that I like, as it saves me having to hunt them out for myself. It also saves me the time associated with a trip to the shops, not to mention the cost of parking and so on. So hopefully you won't all object too much to the fact that some of the clothes were gifted to me.

The Bright Sundress

Tassel tie maxi dress Whistles (£149)

Adding a few pieces into my summer wardrobe was never going to be a bad thing. Most of our holidays over the past 20 years have been in Guernsey, Cornwall or Wales, all of which we absolutely love, but it has involved lots of t-shirts and cut-offs rather than anything glam. 

So one of my first additions was this red dress (above). I loved the colour of it - it's so vibrant and fun and with a Whistles gift card that I thought I would probably lose if I didn't use it pronto, it gave me the perfect excuse. I don't think that this dress is available in stores but it is online. I can find red tricky to wear for some reason. I like the idea of red trousers - but I'm not sure that they would like me.  This dress somehow isn't too challenging and the length of the straps can be altered, depending on your height, which is good as some maxi dresses are super long. 

When the weather is slightly warmer, I'm going to layer a jumper and leather jacket over the top and turn it into a maxi skirt with trainers.

Just after this photograph was taken I nearly walked into a camel. I mean, it's not like they're huge or anything is it? 

The Shorts and Long Sleeved Top

I thought that you would all appreciate a good look up my nose! Well it was either that or seeing my legs in the all their glory with the sun shining right on them. Honestly, my nostrils were the lesser of the two evils! 

I bought these shorts from 2birds Dubai for about £10. 2birds is a fashion and accessories label run by Sue and Caroline, two Australian ladies. They have some great pieces - round baskets, cool  jewellery, lots of pom poms, neon and tassels. They are definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. The shorts are great - one size fits all, plenty of room in the leg so they are flattering and an elasticated waist. Even better. 

This fab neon bag was a gift from Charlie at Neon Beach Club. I met Charlie last year when she came to my first pop up and she has very kindly gifted some of her beautiful pieces to me since then. I like to think that she benefits from our friendship but thinking about it, I'm not entirely sure that she does. I think that I ought to do something about that! I bought the top last year from H&M and there are already similar popping up in stores.  

Neon Copelands from Air & Grace (£149)

Now you know me and a good pair of trainers. Trainers are never very far from my side, or indeed my feet, and Air and Grace trainers are just so comfortable. Seriously, if you're ever contemplating buying some trainers, do take a look. I walk for miles in mine so I'm not just saying that. 

Again, these trainers were gifted to me as a result of a friendship that developed at my first pop up. Claire, who runs Air & Grace, is such a lovely soul, has a great eye for design and knows all that there is about trainers, having worked in the footwear business for many years. 

As testament to these super comfortable trainers, I didn't even bother wearing socks with them the first time that I wore them as I knew that they wouldn't rub my feet. And they didn't. Now some may find not wearing socks with trainers gross but I just don't like the feel of trainer socks. Weird I know. 

The humungous building in the background is the Atlantis Hotel which is famous the world over. There's a bit of a debate as to whether it is the largest in the world or whether the one the Bahamas is bigger. Now with Dubai liking to have the biggest/fastest/tallest/largest/most expensive of everything in the world, this doesn't go down well. So they're building an even bigger hotel next door, just to be sure. Like you do. 

The Long Sleeved Midi Dress

Lola embroidered cotton kaftan Aspiga (£135) Sandals ASOS last year, similar here

I think that it was even before I'd planned our trip, that Aspiga asked me whether I would like to work with them this year. I knew of Aspiga, having seen the brochure drop through my door many times, but I suppose with not having really been in the market for super "hot holiday" type clothing, I hadn't really invested in them previously. But then I started to take a closer look and I saw some pieces that really appealed to me. 

What I really had in mind for this trip were pieces that offered me enough coverage to be culturally appropriate and which could be worn to the beach, but which weren't suitable only for the beach. I love beachwear but I prefer the versatility of being able to wear the clothing out and about too - and I wanted to feel a little bit glam and a bit less shorts and t-shirt (for this trip at least). So this lola embroidered cotton kaftan ticked the box perfectly plus (hello Mrs Predictable) it was blue and white. 

This style has been really popular and there's currently a waiting list for it but if you like the idea of one, just pop on over to the site where you can add your name to it.    

The Hi-Low Maxi Skirt and Vest

Frida skirt navy and white Aspiga (£125) vest Topshop many years ago, sandals Asos as before

Next up, and again from Aspiga, is the Frida skirt, which is an absolute joy to wear. It is so lightweight and floaty and its just feels really beautifully feminine. I loved wearing this skirt with a really simple, and exceptionally old, vest from Topshop. I can't wait for the weather to be warm enough to wear it here. 

The Maxi Dress in the Colour of the Season

Lenu Maxi Dress (£95) with previous season Air & Grace espadrilles

The Air and Grace espadrilles that I'm wearing above were the first pair of Air & Grace shoes that I bought. I should find out later on in the week whether they will be available again this summer - but hopefully they will. The maxi dress is again from Aspiga. It's got a great length to it so would be perfect for anyone who struggles to find dresses long enough plus it has plenty of volume in the skirt so it's not too close fitting and sweaty feeling. Oh and lilac is having a HUGE moment right now.

I had a bit of an earring splurge at Topshop before we went away. That's how I added the "glamour" part to my outfits. Original huh? Huge Perspex earrings. 

Perspex petal drop earring (£12.50) Topshop

The High Split Maxi Skirt and Sporty Tee

This skirt was one that I bought from Asos last summer. It has a huge split up it and a short lining underneath for modesty purposes. There's a (sort of) similar one here, also from ASOS and which is £25, so a really good price. I wanted to stop this outfit from being too floral and flouncy so I bought a bit of a "sporty spice" type t-shirt before I went away, just to add contrast. I love the blue in this skirt too and wanted to pick it up in a top.

The Silk Printed Maxi and Metallic Tee

Printed skirt Ridley London  and star T-shirt Hush (£35)

And last but not least, I borrowed this gorgeous silk printed skirt from Ridley London to photograph whilst I was away. Ridley make the most beautiful dresses, skirts and blouses out of a fabulous selection of liberty prints. If you can't see what you like in the fabric that you like on the website, just call the store and they can take an order over the 'phone.

Hush star T (£35)

So that's my somewhat lengthy outfit round up. I suspect that it may be a few weeks before I get a chance to wear any of these things again but when that warmer weather finally arrives, I'll be ready and waiting. And I hope that these bits and bobs have maybe given you some ideas too, even if it's a case of following the principles and tweaking them to your liking.

Oh and over on Instagram I've saved all the stories of me packing for our return to the UK. You may like to see the clothes in the "flesh" and I also thought that it was a good idea in case the suitcases went walk about. Until next time! xxx

Monday, 5 March 2018

A Style Challenge and Stepping Outside Our Comfort Zone

Hello everyone! Thank you all so much for your lovely comments on my last post. I realise how short of time everyone is so I really appreciate the time taken out of your busy days, to get in touch.

I think that wearing your heart on your sleeve from time to time can be a good thing. It encourages others to share their experiences and I've really appreciated the support and perspective offered. It's so much easier than soldiering on alone! It's also put me back in touch with some of my blogging friends from the very early days, which is lovely.

I've taken on board your comments, I'm processing them and more importantly, hopefully I will be bringing you more of what you would like to see on here. 

Vinyl trousers Mango (£35.99) shoes Aldo but similar here from Marks and Spencer (£19.50) similar shirt here Hush (£59) which comes in a star print here

So taking all of that into account, I thought that I'd bring you a pair of trousers that everyone will, quite probably, hate presented a little bit of a "style challenge". I thought it might be a nice feature to run from time to time and I already had these after the photoshoot last week.

So what is it about these trousers that present a "challenge?" Well I think that's pretty obvious to most of us - it's even in their name. "Vinyl." The word either makes me think of records (which are now super cool to listen to so I don't need to explain what they are - unlike about 8 years ago when no-one knew what they were unless they owned them) or flasher macs. Don't ask me why, it just does.

BUT there were things about these trousers that I could totally identify with. First, they're navy and I am very comfortable in anything navy. Had they been red, khaki or black, I perhaps wouldn't have gone there. Secondly, I'm happy wearing this style trouser, so again that wasn't too far out of my comfort zone. Given that it was only the fabric that was different, and that two out of the other three criteria were well within my comfort zone, I could imagine that I might like them. I might not - but I could. And that was enough for me.

The "one step outside of your comfort zone" is something I work on quite a lot when styling women. People are definitely creatures of habit - we all are (hello navy blue). And whilst it's my job to suggest new ideas, there's no point trying to take people too far out of their comfort zone. They may say "yes" on the day but there's a good chance that whatever we buy may well sit at the back of the wardrobe unworn - and I hate that idea.

I definitely couldn't do a vinyl mac - the connotations are too strong and there would also be too much vinyl for me - but I think that they can look great on others. The older we get, the more that memories of the past (particularly school uniform colours or Grandma's curtains!) inform what we are happy to wear, probably much more so than trends. But it's definitely good to keep pushing the boundaries, rather than getting in a rut. Pair more challenging pieces with things that you love already, ignore your family, take a photo and see what you think. Vinyl trousers may not be for you, or for me, but I do love a (style) challenge!

Friday, 2 March 2018

What goes on behind the scenes at a photoshoot?

The brochures that drop through our doors (that we want), the glossy magazines, the terrible magazines, the brochures that drop through our doors (that we don't want) - nearly all of them will contain images taken on photoshoots. 

Over the years I've been on both sides of the camera. There are shoots that I've appeared in - always great fun - and shoots that I've styled. Either way shoot days are always amazing - so much energy and so many idea fizzing around, new people to meet and their experiences to chat about. Photographers, make-up artists and models always have interesting tales to tell. 

Orwell + Austen new collection - the rail of dreams! 

Just before I went away, I was contacted by Jess, the founder of Orwell + Austen and she asked me if I would like to style their new lookbook. Would I ever?! Orwell + Austin make the coolest cashmere sweaters which I have coveted for a long time now. With only a small window of opportunity to prep before going away, Jess and I chatted, I took a brief from her and then I shopped - ninja style. 

Ivy in the red "LOVE sweater" 

A few days before the shoot a call sheet goes out, with details of all of those involved, timings and questions about dietary requirements. On one shoot (not this one) I met a lovely model who was a strict vegan. Well, until 3pm, when she had low blood sugar and only a hob nob would do. 

Jess had decided right from the first time that she saw Ivy on "Britain's Next Top Model" that she would like her to model in the shoot. Ivy was utterly beautiful and absolutely lovely with it and both she and Monet, Jess' other choice of model, were the ultimate professionals. 

Monet in the "Striped Sleeve" sweater 

As the lookbook was going to feature no more than a slight hint of what was being worn on the bottom half, shoes weren't necessary. It was chilly though, so the girls wore socks and at times had a heater blowing on their feet. Jessie, the Make Up Artist, was always on hand to touch up the models' hair and make-up if necessary and you can see her brushes in the bottom left of this shot.

Ivy in "Ca Plane Pour Moi"

My role on the day was to dash between the shoot area and where the next model was getting changed, line the outfits up, steam the jumpers, check the outfits for aesthetics and styling once in front of the camera and deal with those pesky things such as loose threads or sticky out pockets - as well as liaising with Jess and the photographer Jake, Jess' brother. It was a real family affair!

Ivy in "Je M'eleve"  

I didn't manage to capture all of the sweaters that we shot on the day but this one comes in the most beautiful green with pale blue writing, which had to be one of my favourites. I feel a green moment coming on. It's not a colour that I've worn hugely over the years but it's starting to have a real appeal to me now. 

Jess wanted some texture to the background, without detracting from the sweaters, which were the stars of the show. These frames were made and fitted with line upon line of thread, which photographed really well.  I think that it's fair to say that Jake did a fair bit of hoiking around of sets and frames on the day, just to get everything into position. Luckily no limbs were broken in the taking of these photographs. 

Monet in "Baby Bowie" 

The sweaters come in a variety of colours and they will be available later this month. Do keep your eyes open on the Orwell + Austen site and I'll give you the heads up once there's an official date. There are so many gorgeous colours and styles to chooses from that I think that the difficulty will be knowing which one to choose. Jess has a real way with colour, and colour combinations, which are just so appealing. 

Ivy in the Gold "Baby Bowie"

When I'm styling a shoot, or an individual, I like to include a couple of wild cards. Nothing too off the wall but something which maybe pushes the boundaries a little. We gave the vinyl trousers that I'd taken along a go and they photographed so well that, despite initial reservations, they passed the test. Ivy vouched for their comfort too. I think that we always think vinyl will be sweaty but these are really soft inside. 

Monet in "Baby Bowie" 

"Bowie" features quite a lot in Jess' designs, as does colour and quirky touches. There's a whole array of slogans, strategically placed stripes and small details. Jess showed me how she goes about designing on her Ipad and it's really great to see the designs in their most raw form. 

Ivy in "Bowie"

I love the colour combination in the sweater above. Blue with green, or green with blue, were some of my favourites. I can't quite believe that I'm saying that of myself. What's happened to my love of pink? Oooh and does anyone recognise the trousers?!

Monet in "Bowie"

Lunch is always a really big thing on shoot days. I really wanted to take a photograph of the lunch as it was spectacular - but then I thought that people might think that I was slightly odd. We were at Big Sky Studios in London and the home made chocolate cake, the salads and the healthy "looking" food  were another highlight of the day. Plus shoot days can be long so it's good to sit down with everyone, have a proper chat, and get to know people. 

Ivy in "Sporty"

This is a new design of Jess'. I'm not sure that it will ultimately be called "Sporty" but that title worked well on the day for purposes of identification. The navy with the pink and taupe were such a classic combination but the design of the jumper makes it feel really fresh and modern. It's also a great choice for those who prefer something a little less bright. 

Ivy in light grey "Striped Sleeves"

The aim of the photoshoot was primarily to show the sweaters at their best (obviously) but also to demonstrate how they could be worn. The brand is quite playful, not too high fashion but not plain classics either. So we used a combination of suit style trousers, silky joggers, velvet and silver pleated skirts, bright colours, checks and camouflage prints, as well as jeans, on the bottom half. So many different styles work well as a backdrop to these sweaters.

Monet in navy "Striped Sleeves"

There's no getting away from the fact that cashmere has a higher price point than merino, lambswool or sweaters that are made from man made fabrics. But they do feel amazing against the skin and they are incredibly soft. Combined with a great design, for me they are worth the investment and if you love them, they will love you back. But I totally appreciate that considered purchases need to be just that. 

Ivy in "Atomic"

This shot wouldn't ever make it to a final cut but I really love how informal - and slightly out of focus - it is. Plus I love these two colours together. If people look at the combination and go "That's not for me, I would prefer to wear it with black, navy or grey" then that's great. But if it gives someone an idea for a less obvious choice, or if it sparks their imagination to try something slightly different, then that's great too. 

Monet in "Atomic" 

I realised, particularly for the purposes of this shoot, that there's a benefit to being as old as I am! Over the years I have, ahem, "acquired" quite a few colourful pieces of clothing, and accessories, plus the odd pair of jeans, which suited the brief for this shoot.

Ivy in "Starburst"

I can see someone wearing this jumper when they need to kick some ass in a meeting. It's a real "Pow-wow, high kick, I mean business" type of graphic. That's how I see it anyway - but you may see it very differently. And that's the great thing about these sweaters - they can appeal to your mood on any given day. And for Mother's Day, what better present than the one below?! (Even if it is on advance order?)

Monet in "Love"

This "Love" jumper comes in several different colours. It was probably the trickiest to photograph but it will be one of the loveliest to wear.

How things were shaping up

From time to time the images were arranged on the screen, just to see how they were shaping up. This won't be the final look by far but it's really good to get a flavour of things as they progress. Watch this space for more details as the lookbook is finalised and for the launch date for the collection.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Five tips to get the career that you want!

Fashion will always be my first love! Frida skirt Aspiga (£125)

I often play my cards quite close to my chest on things of this nature. First and foremost I'm a Mum and that's where my efforts have, and always will, be. But there are definitely things that I want to achieve on the work front. This post is about my journey so far and the strategies I've used recently to push things in the direction that I would like them to go. 

How it all began.... 

 When I started as a Stylist 9 or so years ago now, it was very much about building the business. I was doing lots of personal styling appointments, organising events, presenting in store for brands such as M&S, as well as running fashion shows. The hours were long, physically it was exhausting and with three young children, I now look back and think that I was probably slightly crazy. But I had left the law behind and I wanted to prove that I could make a success of my new venture. 

Lenu maxi dress Aspiga (£95)

The blog was born!

Shortly after I started styling, I started the blog. It was a spur of the moment thing (as you can tell from the name!) largely because I love words and I missed writing but also because I thought that there was room for a blog run by someone over the age of 25, to post daily outfits. Many of you have been with me since the start and I am grateful to each and everyone of you who reads my posts. As the children were young, I could work in the day and blog in the evening. And it all seemed to work quite well.

The blog quickly took off - well as far as I could tell it did - because coming from a legal background I had no idea about google analytics. Monetising a blog wasn't really an option in the early days either. But Style Guile was shortlisted for an award and I got a trip to London where I met Trish Halpin, the then Editor in Chief of Marie Claire. Had I had even an ounce of nounce about me I would have capitalised on that  shortlisting big time. But I just didn't know how to so I failed. Miserably! 

Fitness - probably my second love after fashion - and my family of course

What happened next?

What happened next was that I became intimidated. New blogs popped up and I felt that they were all better than mine (probably because they were!) to the point that I couldn't read them. The Daily Mail took a pop at me and knocked my confidence. So I took the decision to forge my own path without looking around me - operating in a vacuum really. And that was probably a really silly thing to do. But in some ways it wasn't entirely surprising really - I mean we are talking about the girl who studied for, and took, her Law Society Final exams without ever opening the core materials that were given to her on day one. Scaredy pants!

Having said that, equally I had lots of balls to juggle with the styling, and the children, so it wasn't easy for me to raise my head above the parapet and engage, and nor was it easy to get down to London for the events and press days which really help when it comes to forging relationships with brands and meeting other bloggers. Equally as I was working on growing the styling business, my time for blogging was limited. 

Despite being able to get down to London only infrequently, interestingly I was once accused of being "Smug and London-centric" by someone on Mumsnet. The group that many of us know and love (!) I really would hate to think that I came across as smug but London centric? Even less likely when you live in Birmingham. I watched from afar what other bloggers had to tolerate  in terms of "abuse" and I really didn't want to have to go through that, so I just kept my head down. What I should have done was shrugged it off and laughed. 

I never really set out to make money from the blog, even when it became easier to do so. My intention was to only post, where possible, about things that I had seen in real life. I felt that it was important to be authentic and genuine, so that when I was recommending pieces, it was from a position of knowledge. So whilst I do use affiliate links, if I do earn any commission it's more a case of luck, rather than because I go hunting for pieces which will earn lots of commission for me. 

Styling the Orwell & Austin look book

So what changed?

Then in the late summer of last year I met several people, independently of one another, who just made me see things slightly differently.  It was as if the stars were starting to align. I started to re-assess what it was that I really love doing, where I wanted to get to and how to get there.

In all honesty, I'm not sure that I've totally figured it out but I think that I have a much clearer idea now and these are the strategies that I've used to help me along the way:

I started to engage more. The one thing that I should have been doing all along. I always felt that I wasn't witty enough, or worthy enough, or that anyone would want to hear what I had to say on Instagram or anywhere else for that matter. And maybe they still don't. But there are over 73 million people on Instagram so chances are that someone, somewhere, is likely to like what anyone says! You just have to start chatting. I was late to the Instagram party for sure - but, I kind of understand it (a little better) now.  

I started to accept invitations. Not a lot of invitations but ones that were intimate and appealed to me. I've always been the one to do the school run and have felt that it's "my job" to be here. But the children are older now and Mr SG seems to have a little more flexibility at work. Funny how that's coincided with them getting older (and therefore easier). I'm sure that he never appeared before 7.30pm when they were little. Hmmmm. Going to certain events enabled me to meet new people, to ask questions and to realise that the best way to learn was to talk to people who were doing the same things as me. How long did it take for that particular penny to drop then Beth? 

I reached out and asked for advice from individuals who I already knew before I crept into my hole. And guess what? They got back to me. They didn't tell me to go away, or say that I was boring or unworthy of a response. They answered my questions, gave me resources to follow up on and reminded me how nice how everyone out there really is. I mean thinking about it, who doesn't love being asked for advice? It makes us feel like we have something worthy to contribute. 

I followed up on the resources that were suggested to me I've listened to podcasts (sometimes several times over), read blogs to which I've been referred, read books and articles, looked at updating the blog and tried to arm myself with information. As they say, knowledge is power. And you know something? I've not come across anything which makes me think that what I want to achieve, isn't achievable. 

I've changed my mindset As a result of listening to inspiring women on podcasts, I've definitely changed my mindset. I've taken courage in both hands and set out exactly what it is that I would like to get out of a project. I've turned other projects down because they will take up too much of my time and stop me from focussing on what I want to focus on. I'm in the process of creating a second "office" area dedicated solely to blogging, I'm thinking about getting an assistant and you know something? I feel a whole lot better. Visualisation works. Writing down goals works. Reaching out, asking for  help, arming yourself with knowledge. It all helps to change your mindset.  

I know that lots of people thought - and probably still do think - that I was crazy to want to work at QVC. But I love it! The people are fabulous, we have some great brands coming on board and I always love seeing who's in the dressing rooms.

And this is where you lovely people come in. A few years ago I remember Laura from the blog Wearing It Today asking her readers what they would like to see more of. I was horrified - not because it wasn't a brilliant thing to do -  how can you really deliver what your readers want if you don't ask them what they want? But because it was so brave. What if they said that they didn't like what she wrote? What if they were mean? What if they said she was getting it all wrong? 

But I'm going to ask you all - what would you like to see more of on here? My plan is to have separate headings for fashion, fitness and lifestyle - all of which will have sub categories and to post on regular days, so that I manage expectations better. Instagram has taken over quite a lot from daily outfit posts but there's still plenty to write about. I do still think that there is a (miniscule) niche that I can fill in this saturated blogging market and I have a list as long as my arm of posts that I want to write. So, if you have a minute, do please let me know. And if no-one comments, so be it. I shall go about things in my own way - but this time I will engage with others first! 

Oh and there may just be the odd post about gin too. Wouldn't it be lovely one day if we could all share one together? 

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Mercy Delta - for all things silk, pink, handmade and ethical

Oooh, I love it when I come across a brand that makes my heart skip a beat! And we all know that a brand which sells very pink things, tends to do that to me.
I first came across Mercy Delta in a boutique Guernsey in the summer, where I bought two silk blouses - one with pink hearts and one with pink flamingos on it. I love wearing them as they're just so cheery and they add that all important splash of colour to otherwise dark winter outfits, whilst in the summer they are great with denim shorts and pleated skirts.  

Mercy Delta  Stanford Stars Rose (£210)
Mercy Delta is a British brand which was founded by its owner, Katie, seven years ago now, with the blouses being launched six years ago. Katie designs all of the original prints herself, with each piece being hand-printed on 100% silk and being made by artisans in ethical factories in India.  

Mercy Delta Stanford Unicorn
If you're someone who loves stars, hearts, flamingos, unicorns or animal prints, this could be a brand for you. It can be really hard to find prints that make your heart skip a beat but Katie's just seem to tap into something that makes me go "Ooooohhhhh!" And dare I say it but the older I get, the more I appreciate a silk blouse. I'm even able to wear mine in the winter - with suitable layers of course - and they seem so much warmer than cotton ones.
Parke metallic stars midnight Mercy Delta (£120)
And as well as loving the 100% silk,  the ethical considerations are also assuming more of a significance for me too. I've recently worked with a few brands who promote their ethical status and it's definitely something which is an attractive part of their brand ethos.
As well as blouses, Katie designs scarves such as this gorgeous watermelon scarf (£55)....
And the longer styled tops, such as this python print tunic dress (£160), would be perfect on the beach, or over shorts or skinny cropped trousers in the summer.
And with this stars enchanted eye mask (Mercy Delta £22) there's no reason why you can't be super stylish, even when snoozing.  Yes I like that because snoozing is good - very good!
I think that it's fair to say that Mercy Delta pieces are a considered purchase but given the way that are designed and made, that's not surprising. They give so much back that, if it's in any way possible to make the investment, they are so worth it and the cost per wear can be so  much less than a one hit wonder that sits at the back of your wardrobe.

For the sake of completeness and transparency, I came to work with Mercy Delta after I hunted them down on Instgram subsequent to finding their pieces in the Guernsey boutique. I couldn't believe that I hadn't found them before, especially given the "pinkness" of their prints! So we got chatting and they asked if I would like to receive a blouse as a gift, in return for featuring the blouse on Instagram  and writing about them on here - which I was delighted to do as I genuinely love their pieces.

Monday, 5 February 2018

The three oils I swear by...

A few years ago I would probably have balked at the idea of putting oil on my face or hair. The phrase "chip pan face" or "greasy hair"  would quite possibly have been ringing in my ears as I applied them. However I was given some cleansing oil as a gift by Elemis and since then I haven't looked back.

Elemis cleansing oil John Lewis (£31)

I've been grappling with the words to use to describe what it feels like when applying oil to one's face. At first I was totally confused as to what to do but then I realised that it was just the same as using a cleansing cream - although nicer. There's a sort of ritual about applying a face oil which has a calming effect, allowing you to take a moment at the start, or end, of a busy day. It just feels so lovely and this one washes off with water - so no need for cotton wool or wipes. 

Schwarzkopf miracle oil Amazon (£10.91)

If your hair feels in any way wiry, or not as silky as it once did, miracle oil could well be the answer. I've also used Moroccan Oil, which is also great. It just makes my hair feel like my own again, as opposed to the grey, wiry mass that lurks beneath. I wait about 10 minutes after I've come out of the shower before applying - so when my hair is still damp but not dripping - and then I use about the size of a 5p piece. It makes it so much easier to manage and it really does feel like it used to. 

And after discovering cleansing oil and hair oil, I then discovered face oil. I met Saira at QVC as we were sharing a dressing room. She was due to go on TV and talk about her anti-ageing face oil and she gave me a bottle of her oil to try. She explained how it was one of only a few face oils that were certified organic, plus it is also Halal and vegan. She told me how I should warm it in my hands before patting (not rubbing) it on to my face. I absolutely love this product and now that I've run out of it, I'm planning to get some more. It smells lovely and is so nice to put on your face at the end of a long day. There's a lot of information on Saira's website about her product and it's worth taking a look if you're looking for something that is natural, GM free and which isn't tested on animals. 

So yes, since I've got older, I've really started to see the benefit of using oils on my face and hair. Is anyone with me or are you still scarred by the associations of oil going hand in hand with greasy hair and skin as per our adolescent selves?!