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!!!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Diamonds in the (white) soles of her shoes...

Outfit: Jigsaw boyfriend jeans and Next mono point shoe, both current (although I can't find a link to the Next shoes right now), Mango jacket, LK Bennett bag, Whistles jumper (not so current)! 

I can't promise you diamonds in the soles of your shoes but I can promise you white soled shoes.

Each season there are the main trends and then there are the sub-trends and within those trends, the micro-trends. This season white soled shoes are everywhere. I've not read anything about them - not that I can recall anyway - so in that sense they're not a main trend but in the same way that a few seasons ago all dresses suddenly seemed to have exposed zips, many styles of shoes also come with white soles. I love them for their fresh, modern look.

If they haven't already, no doubt white soled shoes will now jump out at you wherever you are but for now, here are just a few examples of what's around at the moment...


I love a good brogue and the addition of a white sole has given them the update that they needed. Whistles has the Fayley shoe (£150) and there is a similar style at Dune (£69) which are peppered with holes - lovely and spring like!


Clarks has the Griffin Milly (£45) which comes in a few different colour ways. There are similar at Dune which come in a lovely shade of yellow. Again, a loafer is a very classic style and the white sole makes all the difference, making them fresher and lighter.

Skater trainers

Clarks have this Coll Beach shoe in pale yellow (£55). I tried them on earlier today (see below) and whilst they came up quite wide on me, they have the potential to be very comfortable. A real "go to" spring shoe if you're more of a casual, laid back, trouser kind of girl.


There's the Draedia from Aldo (£50), which I have and which I'm quite fond of but sadly the weather hasn't facilitated in the wearing of these. The style has been around for ages but more in a "buy them from a rack hanging on the beach front" type of way, rather than a silver, sparkly type of way. The great thing about Aldo is that they do a 4.5 and 5.5, which is handy.

Another example is the Dina sandal from Miss KG (£55) - again more white soles but this time mixed with a lovely bright pink.


Kurt Geiger has the Krypton style (£110) and I've seen others in Dune, Primark and Carvela.

So, there we go. Not a terribly obvious trend but something that seems to have slowly crept up on us. It's something that's very accessible to us all and a quick wardrobe update, plus a whole load of sensible looking shoes have suddenly started to look a whole lot more attractive and that's never a bad thing.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

There's one bag that we all seem to love....but it's proving pretty difficult to find

Over the last few summers I've watched the basket frenzy grow. A few years ago I'm not sure that any of us would have really hankered after anything remotely basket like but now when a good one appears it's greeted with "oohs, aaahs" and whoops of delight (or is that just me?!)  I suppose that along with sparkly flats, lightweight fabrics, pretty dresses, floral prints and boho tops, a lovely basket signals the arrival of that one thing that we all look forward to with great anticipation - summer - and everything that goes with it, from picnics to trips to the beach.

I came across this Topshop pom pom straw tote (£25) in town last week and I could tell straight away from the response on Instagram that we were all feeling the basket love. I think that everyone is just so ready to embrace "basket season".

Pineapples seem to be having a moment right now, appearing on everything from tops in M&S and Hush, to jewellery (again Hush) and also on this Topshop tote (£28). I put pineapples in the same category as flamingos - something that I'm really drawn to but I'm not quite sure why - hence my taking a second look at the M&S T-shirt that I've just mentioned, before suggesting to myself that I stepped away from it.

I also came across this woven beach bag from French Connection (£75) whilst in Selfridges today and, predictably, was attracted to its colour. In my view all baskets need a good "handle test" as some can be quite uncomfortable, particularly if they are weighed down with all manner of sneaky picnic type treats.

I've listed below the brands that I checked out and which don't seem to have any baskets at the moment and instead I headed over to Etsy, thinking that some resourceful person over there would have tapped into the basket market. And I wasn't disappointed. I love these beach baskets (from the seller Mini Market Bristol) on Etsy $35.75 with the all so important star/heart motif, which again fall in the same, ever growing category, as pineapples and flamingos. (Don't be put off  by the price being in US $ - they are UK based).

Oh and of course tassels also fall into that category too! The colours of the baskets are just fabulous and they can be obtained from Marizoli on Etsy ($41.98)

So now all I need is a basket with a pineapple, a flamingo, a heart, a star and a tassel on it and all will be well with the world.

Brands I hunted through but with no basket luck....

Hush, River Island, New Look, Atterley Road, Jigsaw, Phase Eight, Hobbs, Cath Kidston, John Lewis, Accessorise, Next, Debenhams.

PS Primark on the other hand tend to do a few each summer so they may be a good starting point.

So, are any of you feeling the basket love?!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

You know when you think that you will never go somewhere...and then you do?!

I know that I'm late to the party but lace up ballet flats are somewhere that I never thought that I would go. It's not because I didn't like them but just because I couldn't find any that worked on me and I concluded that I would rather not go there at all, than go there but not really like what I saw. 

I tried the New Look black ones but they were just too dark against my fair skin. I liked some dark grey snake print ones that Dune had but ditto re the colour and they came a long way up the back of the foot. I have seen the lovely red ones in Office worn by Jane at My Midlife Fashion and my friend has some from Russell & Bromley which she likes. The Lille lace ups from Boden have also been hugely popular this season too. Whilst I was in Topshop the other day I came across these snake print pointed shoes (£62) and it became a whole new ball game. 

I was concerned about feeling dumpy in these shoes but I think that the fairly pointed toe helps with that, as does just really liking them.

For anyone in a similar predicament to me - and what a predicament it was - these may well be worth a go. For some reason I'm particularly fond of the the little gold bits at on the end of the laces. It doesn't take much to keep me happy.

PS the Jack Wills bag was snaffled from our eldest as it's perfect for all of the mags that I needed on our very long journey to Dorset. Hope that you are all having a great bank holiday!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Printed trousers - love them or loathe them they have been around for a while and no doubt they are here to stay...

Trousers: Topshop, Sweatshirt: Dotty P, Jacket: Oasis, Bag: Oushka; Shoes: Next

From time to time it's quite refreshing to wear a pair of printed trousers. Like many things they can be styled up or down quite easily, depending on which shoes/jacket/jewellery they are put with.

Sometimes people can shy away from printed trousers for fear that they won't be terribly flattering but there is pretty much a print out there for everyone, whether it's floral, graphic, spotty or striped. Some have a subtle vertical print in them which can be elongating. A low grade print, where the difference between the darkest and lightest shades isn't that marked, can be easier to wear than very bright prints with lots of different colours in them. A print with a darker background can also be more flattering as can a smaller print, rather than a large bloom, plus of course a heel always helps. There are lots of printed trousers on the High Street at the moment but these are some of my favourite...

Reiss Olivia Trousers (£110) - prints are very personal things but I love this print that Reiss has this season. They also do a dress, skirt and top in this print - just in case the trousers don't appeal!

These French Connection drape trousers (£75) have a different feel to them than the Reiss ones, which are more tailored. For those who don't particularly like a floral print, this ripple effect pattern may be more appealing.

As a starting point, a monochrome look can work well and the Jigsaw tile print soft trousers (£98) are really versatile as they can be worn with brighter coral/raspberry/yellow/turquoise colours, which will also draw the attention to the top half.

Warehouse has a great selection of printed trousers, many of which are in the sale at he moment. The Warehouse Lily print trousers (£27) are a great neat style with a lovely colour palette.

And for any fans of cornflower blue, the Warehouse  Poppy print trousers (£28.50) are a real winner. Both of these Warehouse styles are fitted in the leg but not too skinny - a classic cigarette style.

So how do you feel about printed trousers? Do you love them or hate them? I agree that they can be a little bit marmite but I promise, there is something for everyone.