Monday, 21 July 2014

Packing like a pro (!!!)


So if I ran a blog where everything was perfect, including my packing, this is what it would look like. There would be a carefully selected number of pieces in a simple colour palette which could be worn in a multitude of different ways over two weeks, to create an endless supply of stylish outfits.  There would also be a stylish piece of hand luggage into which everything would fit, therefore avoiding the need to check a bag in, together with all that entails (particularly at the other end). 

As it is, this is the reality. A not insubstantial amount of different coloured clothes with varying prints. Knowing me the dread of having to wash everything when I get back will mean that I only wear a fraction of it so it will be more "Wear one dress to death" and "How to accessorise 50 different ways with loom bands" rather than anything else. My suitcase is just that - a suitcase plain and simple but note the use of the word "my". Having selflessly packed everyone else's clothes first, it just so happens that there's a whole suitcase left for me. Whoever would have thought it?! I like to think of it as packer's prerogative.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

A lovely Breton top - you may be surprised where it's from....


Now I bet that some of you are wondering why a trendy (!) young (!) thing such as myself (double !!) is wearing something from Damart - a brand historically associated with a customer base, I think it's fair to say, somewhat older than myself.

You may be surprised to know that I made my very first Damart purchase at the age of 21. It was a pair of thermal gloves which I wore for the entire winter (and several afterwards) whilst riding my bike to law school in Chester. Not only that but they were recommended to me by possibly one of the coolest girls in the year. How she came to find out about them I never did find out but to this day, despite having bought several other pairs of gloves for cycling/running since, they were by far and away the best. Incidentally whilst at Chester I was knocked off my bike as, it turned out, by a Lecturer in Road Traffic Law at Liverpool University. The irony wasn't lost on me! Fortunately both I, and the Damart gloves, survived unharmed.

So, when Katy from Damart asked me whether I would like to wear something from the collection, I was only too happy to help. Not only because I loved my gloves all those years ago but also because Katy obviously took the time to read Style Guile and to make some suggestions based on what she saw.

I chose this striped sailor neck t-shirt which is £19. It comes in a navy with red trim, or red with a navy trim and is 100% cotton. It's a really lovely quality and with my Jigsaw boyfriend jeans and Stan Smith Adidas trainers, it felt a really nice, casual outfit. You just can't beat a good Breton top and this is definitely up there with some of the best that I have tried.  I think that my approach to fashion and styling can be best summed up as follows: There isn't any one brand where I like everything, but for every brand that's out there, I like something!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

One of the best dresses for a hot day - the Eliza dress by Allium B


Ironing or blog post? Ironing or blog post? Oh hum the blog post won.

So, what to wear on one of the hottest days of the year? (Apologies to those of you for whom it's winter at the moment. Your turn to gloat will come!)

You all know what a fan of Liberty prints I am and this Eliza dress by Allium B (£95) is perfect on a hot day. The length is good but it's not too long, the skirt is slightly A-line, the straps are wide enough to accommodate bra straps and it's nicely nipped in at the waist without being too tight. I don't get to wear it a lot but when I do I really enjoy it because I know that the summer has well and truly arrived. My dress is from last summer but this season's blue one is very similar and for info purposes, I'm wearing a size 8.

I'd started to get a little freaked out by the fit of these red sandals because I usually slip them on and off without undoing them. However I've found it increasingly difficult to get them back on, which has led me to wondering whether my feet are swelling or something. The 15 year old denied wearing them so then I asked the 6 year old. She 'fessed up to wearing them because "they make me taller." When reporting this to the 15 year old she said "I've been meaning to talk to you about that...." and then too admitted to having worn them. So independently of one another, and without me knowing, there they both are trying on my shoes when I'm not looking - which I suppose is a compliment really. Anyway, at least it explains the swollen feet (or lack, of as it transpires.)


Friday, 18 July 2014

A printed Primark dress for £13

The next time that this dress appears on here it may well be as a top! It's a Primark dress which I bought for £13 from Selfridges many weeks ago now. I loved the print but when I got it home I decided that it was too short. I then made several unsuccessful attempt to return it, so finally decided that I would cut it down to a top. However, when the sun shone yesterday, I thought that I would try it on - and there it stayed. Well, for a few hours at least!

Dressed down with Jigsaw plimsolls (Now £29 instead of £59) and this bag from Oushka in silver ((£155) I can just about get away with it - but it's a close call! However being the hottest day of the year does allow a certain amount of leeway on these things, I think.

On Monday we're off to Watergate Bay in Cornwall, where I will celebrate my birthday. This will be followed by a week in Guernsey. With five of us, two destinations, temperatures potentially ranging quite a lot, you can only imagine the fun that's going on with the packing. I have images of the scene in Notting Hill applying to me - the one where Rhys Ifans is wearing a wetsuit complete with flippers and snorkel inside in the middle of the day because it's the only thing he can find that's clean. Watch this space!


Thursday, 17 July 2014

A day out in London and a tale (there's a surprise) about a dress

There's a story about the dress that I'm wearing at the bottom of this post which goes like this....

On Monday I was working in London. Being as hot as it was, I decided that I didn't want to travel in my fancy pants gear so instead I opted for GAP shorts and top, plus trainers.

On arriving in London, I decided to walk the 3.5 miles from the station to the venue, so I was pleased to be wearing these Nike trainers. I plugged myself into my ipod, set the sat nav on my phone and off I went.
On the way I passed the London eye....

The Shard...

Tower Bridge...

And the Tower of London

But most importantly, I saw a women wearing this dress, which I recognised as the GAP striped shift dress (£19.99 in store). So the very next day, when doing my returns in Birmingham, I bought one.

And here it is! Lovely cotton and fully lined, here I'm wearing it with my Jigsaw skater trainers, which oddly is also how the GAP lady is wearing it. I promise that I didn't copy her!

Thanks to everyone in London for such a great time and apologies for the lack of photographs from the event. Once I got there (having set the alarm off in the lift - oops!) it was time to set to work.

A little bit of Primark, Jigsaw and Kate Spade

There wasn't time to blog last night and with the weather being as beautiful as it is, I'm desperate to get to the shops to buy a picnic so that we can all go out. My Mum is coming today and I'm thinking of taking her to the Botanical Gardens and sticking her on one of the mobility scooters so that she can do her best impression of Gangsta Granny. That is until she has her new knees at which point she'll be doing the ironman.

Yesterday it was pretty warm but not boiling, so I took the opportunity to wear the type of outfit that most people can wear when it's 15 degrees but for me it needs to be 20 degrees! Primark coated trousers, Mango sandals, Jigsaw jumper and Kate Spade bag.

I can't wait to decide on today's outfit. It won't be anything glam but maybe, just for one day only, I'll drop below four layers!!!! Enjoy the sun.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Re-designing my Peter Pilotto sweatshirt....


This top started out as a sweatshirt i.e. it had sleeves. I bought it when the Peter Pilotto for Target collection was launched and although I loved the blue and white print, I really didn't like the print on the sleeves. With a trip to Cornwall and Guernsey coming up, and with its fleecy lining, I knew that it could have a place in my wardrobe but not in its current form. So today I made the decision to chop the sleeves off. And here's how it went:

Get one top and one pair of scissors....

Try on the top and get a rough idea of where you want the finished length of the sleeve to be, then cut a bit below that so that there's room for a turn up;

Use the chopped off sleeve as a measure against the second sleeve so that they end up pretty much the same length. Two minutes later, job done!

Kirsty flippin' Allsop, eat your heart out, you're not the only one who's good with a pair of scissors. (I wonder whether she would think of using the chopped off sleeves as leg warmers though? I feel  a Flashdance moment coming on!)

Sunday, 13 July 2014

A peasant style top in action and a weekend of friends, fizz, flowers, food and fires!


These are the weekends of which I dream when it's cold and dark outside. Hot afternoons followed by balmy evenings in the garden with friends, food, fizz, flowers and a fire (I didn't realise that I had a thing about "Fs" but with a "Freddie" and a "Flo" as children, maybe I should have done!) I love having all the windows and doors of the house open - just because it's warm enough to do so - and it seems to be at that point that the house comes into its own (particularly the new John Lewis cushions - got there in the end) and all is right with the world.

Anyway, enough of all of that pontificating. When it's a hot day, you need a new top don't you? Luckily the Lola Top from Boden (was £59, now £23.60) was in the Boden parcel that I received the other day and it fitted the bill nicely. It's still available in every size so clearly no-one else likes it but I do!

When it's hot enough for a top like this - minus a vest please note - then the temperature must be in the mid 20s, which means that it's also a day for shorts so apologies for the lack of a stylish bottom half to this outfit.

So this is where the fizz came in. The pink champagne was a present to my husband for his birthday in April but he kept it for when our friends from Brighton visited....

I have to admit to being a total and utter philistine when it comes to fizz - much more babycham than Bollinger - so I donated my glass to Mr SG (he was happy) and instead went for a drink made of prosecco, elderflower, mint, lemon and ice. Sweet and with lots of bubbles. I'm such a cheap date!

Then we moved on to flowers and alfresco dining. I love hydrangeas -  they have the same silhouette as my Mum's hair - although she hasn't quite reached the blue, pink, or lilac rinse stage yet.

Next came the fire, complete with wood foraged from the bottom of the garden....

After a night's sleep and a long morning walk (well, for two of us and one of us was sort of co-erced into it by me) we headed for brunch at our local. Mint tea, a jammy dodger and a tea pot with a woolly hat - what could be better?!

Please remind me when I'm complaining about the cold that sometimes, just occasionally, the weather plays ball and that everything comes together as it should.  
As an aside, the World Cup Final is on but the six year old isn't impressed with Argentina. Right at the start of the World Cup I told her all about Maradonna and "the hand of God" incident which was particularly relevant at the time as she was learning a song at school with the same words in it. Amazingly she remembered and has branded the whole team a bunch of cheats as a result of which she wants Germany to win. Maybe I'll cease with the history lessons...

Friday, 11 July 2014

Whizzing through my outfits over the past couple of days....

OK, so this is a quick dash through what I've been up to over the last couple of days.  First off, yesterday morning I had a  "meeting" (no, seriously it was) with a friend. Handily it was in a local pub across the road from school. The converse allowed me to run up to school alongside the quickest thing on two wheels (our six year old on her scooter) but at least it enabled me to test the elasticity of the Whistles tube skirt. It passed. I'm wearing it with a Jigsaw silk front top.

As soon as I was home, I ditched the skirt in favour of Topshop cut offs. Much better given it was such a warm day.  I can't remember what the eldest was doing to make me laugh - probably taking the mick in some way shape or form. After all that's what we're for isn't it?! The bruised legs are as a result of visiting "go ape" last weekend. I think it's fair to say that at times I was petrified but when there's no other way down than to cross those wires 30ft above the ground, you just have to get on with it.

I was out working last night but this arrived whilst I was out. A lovely surprise for today! I've had a quick look at some of the items in it. The trousers looked as if they were more suited to the six year old demon scooter girl, than me. I must try them later to see if I can get them past my calves.

We have three children all of whom break up for the holidays on different days. One finished at lunchtime today so I squidged in a quick run before I had to collect her.

Later on today, being short of time, I reached for the nearest thing - namely the Jigsaw tencel chinos that I wore the day before yesterday and the coral marl vest top from GAP. These trousers are good on a warm day. Admittedly they're not the most flattering but they're great because unlike skinny jeans, the air can circulate through them. Maybe tomorrow I will have a little more time for some outfit planning!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Non skinny drapey trousers from Jigsaw which can be dressed up or down....

As I think I may have mentioned a couple of days ago, I've been checking out the sales recently. Most of the stores have had their final markdowns so I have recently paid Jigsaw, Whistles and Reiss a visit.

I generally stock up on well thought out wardrobe basics in the sale - things that need updating or replacing or more modern shapes which I am confident will be around for seasons to come.  Most of them won't see the light of day until the winter but today it's the turn of the Jigsaw tencel chinos (reduced from £75 to £52).

I have a reasonable selection of jeans, utility trousers and printed trousers in my wardrobe but there was definitely a gap for a looser, slightly smarter style of trouser which I could dress up or down. From trainers to heels, or flats to flip flops, these should do the job on lots of levels. Having tried these Jigsaw trousers on earlier in the season, I knew what they were all about.

Because I wanted that extra bit of slouch and comfort (I'm thinking long car journeys to Cornwall) I went up to a size 10, which gave them a completely different look to the size 8. The image below probably gives a slightly better idea of how they look!

As to the rest of my outfit, I went for a bit of colour clash on the accessories with a grey and yellow belt and a coral necklace, plus printed shoes.

Although I have had instagram for a while now, I intend to start using it a way of putting flesh on the bones of Style Guile. I will bring you closer shots of my outfits, show you my accessories, shopping trips and daily life. If you would like to come along for the journey, you can find me here
I also have a Pinterest board entitled "Outfit of the Day" which is a gallery of my daily outfits. Take a look for ideas and inspiration or alternatively use it as a tool to decide what NOT to wear! Either way I'm easy!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

More summery outfits - Jigsaw wide leg trousers and a GAP tank...

In fairness to these somewhat creased Jigsaw (£89) trousers, I did demand quite a lot of them today. I went to see my Mum and her sister so they sat for a couple of hours in the car (the trousers that is, not my Mum and her sister) and I do seem to recall having done a little lounging in my Mum's conservatory. Tuesday is also the mother of all school runs! On the plus side, the creases do drop out relatively quickly. These trousers do come up quite large and also quite long, so that's something to bear in mind but they are really nice to wear for a change from skinnies - which clearly these are not!
Previously I have worn these trousers with a cream jumper but today I wore a marl coral vest top which I bought from the GAP last week for £4, although I can't now see it on the site.
M&S has a fine selection of wide trousers, a pair of which my Mum produced today (she's a trendy young thing). I will give you a style warning though - the shots on the site are pretty dire but don't let that put you off. The prices are good, they come in different leg lengths and so for a first foray into a wide leg trouser, M&S is as good a place as any to start.
There are a couple of styles which have a navy background with spots or flowers on them, some batik ones and some plain ones. One of my favourite pairs is the M&S floral wide leg trouser (£28)
For those interested in taking a further look, I've also included a link to all of the M&S  wide leg trousers. This style is great for hiding a multitude of sins and with a block heel or wedge, they are great for adding height in a way which still feels quite elegant without feeling as though you are teetering - if you know what I mean!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Tops of the bohemian, vintage, hippy, happy, peasant variety...

I started writing this post last night but then abandoned it when the photographs looked like they had been taken when the photographer was half cut (shame on you Monsoon - or me for being rubbish with technology). Also I couldn't find many examples of what I was after but the post was obviously meant to be because today, exactly the sort of thing I had in mind, kept coming at me out of nowhere.

I'm not a hippy chick at heart, nor a boho one but with my attention turning to packing for our summer holiday, I like the idea of wearing tops which give a nod to that particular vibe. I'm not a huge fan of t-shirts and only have two that I wear. Breton tops are lovely but samey, denim shirts I try and keep for the winter and strappy vests are just too chilly for me on all but the very warmest of days. 

Anything with the word neon in it is bound to attract my attention and the colours of this Monsoon neon tunic (£34.99) instantly appealed to me. With the detailing being placed where it is, all attention will be drawn up towards the face. The fit of this top will allow what's underneath it to have a little party all of its own without anyone else knowing. I currently have one of these to try in an XS so I will report back once I've tried it on.

The Accessorise lace insert tunic (£20) has a similar feel about it, although it's more toned down. "Subtle" might be the word that some would use!

I wasn't looking at Boden specifically for these style tops as, having looked under their "kaftan and tunic" section last night, I didn't think that they really had what I was after. However, it transpired that they did, albeit in a different section.

This Boden Cotswold top is a lovely shape, although sizes are sadly limited. Had it been available in my size, it would now be on its way to me! I love the coverage that these tops give, whilst at the same time being that little bit Ibiza rather than that little bit Ingoldmells*.

There's also this Boden Lola top (£29.50) which has quite a strong peasant/hippy theme going on. I'm not quite sure how it ended up in my basket but it did. I think that I was having a bit of a mad sale "in for a penny, in for a pound" moment. I'm thinking denim shorts, flip flops - anyway, we'll see.

The Boden Francesca top (priced variously £41.40 to £62.10) comes in several colour ways, as do most of the Boden tops. I like the neckline of all of these tops as they are unfussy and flattering. Classically style shirt collars can serve to shorten the neck, whereas this style top has the opposite effect.

The Boden Sicily top is really pretty. With the detail placed towards the centre of the top, it will draw the eye inwards, letting our possibly slightly lumpy, bumpy, silhouette pale into insignificance. In fact it too can join the party of what's going on underneath the top in the tummy area, leaving us feeling serene and stylish.

Now black isn't really a colour that I wear much at any time of the year but I saw this Jigsaw cotton embroidery shirt (£20) online and tried it on in the store today. It was really quite different for me but in a kind of "ooh, I haven't tried one of these before" type ways, so it gave me a little thrill and I bought it. I love Sophie in the Jigsaw in Birmingham. She's been there since about 2006 and we often have a little chat. She found this particular top uncomfortable on the waist and a bit too stiff, which made it unflattering over the bust area so you know, it's not going to work for everyone but then things rarely do. And for those with a defined waist it will emphasise it nicely.

So this whole "in for a penny in for a pound" sale thing that I had going on today turned into a bit of shopping session. But as we all know, it doesn't count until you decide to keep it, so that's fine. No, really it is. It's not a problem. Not at all. (Wipes sweat from forehead whilst having palpitations.)

*I haven't actually been to Ingoldmells since about 1978 so please, anyone who lives there, don't take offence to my comment. I'm sure it's lovely.

Friday, 4 July 2014

An easy summer outfit of chambray and stars from Topshop and GAP

Remember a couple of days ago I talked about how in the summer it is sometimes prudent for the hemline on a skirt to go down rather than up? Well this Topshop embroidered skirt (£38) has a good length to it so there's no danger of bending over and flashing your undies.

I realise that this length skirt is harder to wear and that, in an ideal world, shorter may be better but there's just something that comes with the passage of time that makes me want a little more length to my skirts and dresses. They can be quite tricky to find but Topshop has a whole section devoted to mid skirts, so that's quite handy.

I'm also wearing this red star tank from GAP (£14.95) which just really appealed to me. Along with spots and stripes, stars are fresh and fun without being too girly. I know that a lot of people aren't too fond of floral prints so this is a good alternative.

There's much more that I could say but we're off camping this weekend and so far all I have packed is some bunting, some jam jars with candles in and a huge chocolate Lindt bunny. I think that I had better dash as clearly a little more work is required!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Using colour as a HUGE distraction from what is going on elsewhere!

There's scraping the bottom of the barrel and then there's this little number but I know there are at least a few of you out there who wait to see my daily outfit - so here's one from which you can quickly move on!

Let me explain: Most of the day was spent in running things. Then there was a lot of dashing around to do which culminated in a visit to watch a play that our eldest was in. I thought (wrongly as it transpired) that my role was to sit in the dark drama studio, after which I could sneak off quietly. But no, other plans were a foot which involved doing a tour of the school to meet the teachers. Oh heck.

I don't really count leggings as proper clothing - in fact I pretty much hate them with a passion and although these Next trousers don't quite fall into that category, they are very much kicking around the house trousers. However, some delightful little insect has decided to nibble the back of my leg and it's swollen and sore (lovely) so dresses/skirts/tight trousers are out, which didn't leave much left to wear.

Looking on the bright side however, there's always something that we can take away from an outfit and in this case it is this: a bright t-shirt, a huge bright scarf and a bright bag serve as a great distraction from what it is going on elsewhere.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Whistles Jersey Tube Skirt....don't be put off by the fact it's like a big bandage...


Today I combined three of my favourite elements in one outfit - navy, leopard print and lace. For the first time I wore my jersey tube skirt by Whistles (£55). I bought it with the Grazia discount offer way back at the start of the spring but held on to it until now.

When the weather gets warmer, sometimes its prudent for the hem line to get a little longer, rather than a little shorter (although this skirt does also come in a shorter length). It is really thick and supportive, rather like a big bandage I suppose but it's nice to wear and it does keep everything in place. There's no wobble when wearing this little number!

I have seen alternatives in other stores and people have mentioned the Topshop one to me but I would be reluctant to recommend any others without having tried them, due to issues of VPL, quality, thickness and such like. However believe me, wriggling into one is enough so for now I'll hand this one over and I'll let others make the recommendations.

Next time I wear this skirt I promise to accessorise in the Whistles way. Many apologies for forgetting my white sunglasses. Please forgive me (see below).

And just to illustrate the point that the skirt is like a huge bandage, I've included an image of it. See, no zips, buttons or anything else. A bit like those maternity bump support things really, only longer. I'm making it sound such an attractive option aren't I?! But no seriously it is comfortable and despite being fitted in nature, it's one that could be dressed down with skater trainers or converse - or indeed up, with heels and sparkles for the evening.

As we all know, tummies have a mind of their own during the day going from flat(ish) in the morning to looking 4 months pregnant by the evening (or even after breakfast) so a top which has a little length to disguise that particular issue, whilst still showing your hips/bottom is always an option.

Oh, and following on from yesterday, when my eyes were scanning the kitchen this morning I decided that the goldfish just have to go. They simply don't match the new yellow colour scheme. They're just And the family are fine to eat as much fruit as they like, provided its lemons, melons or bananas. Other than that they're out of luck.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A zesty yellow and white outfit combination....


Although I work every day, I don't work with clients every day. Some days are spent planning and shopping for events, returning clothes, writing, responding to new enquiries and liaising with brands and companies. When those days arrive I don't need to dress in the same way that I do when working with clients, so that opens up a whole new wardrobe to me of dress down items.

Clearly today was one of those days and I looked to my favourite battered (not in the fish & chip sense) jeans, Topshop yellow T-shirt and white Zara jacket. I love a white and yellow combo as it's so fresh. In fact I'm such a fan of yellow at the moment that I'm trying to work a little more of it into our kitchen.  On raiding the cupboards I found a couple of storage tins from Selfridges which have the requisite yellow lids but other than that all I have come up with are a rubber duck and a tube of tennis balls. I don't think that I'm quite there yet.