Monday, 23 November 2015

Don't you just love a good jumper? And a GAP one? Even better!

On Friday afternoon I went home feeling very satisfied with myself. Why? Because I had resisted the temptation to buy this GAP fair isle sweater which I loved so much. "I don't need any more jumpers." I thought to myself. "It's similar to another one you have." I told myself. "You can't really justify it." I convinced myself. But clearly I didn't convince myself hard enough because where did I find myself at 9am on Saturday morning? Yes, buying the GAP jumper. So much for that particular resolve.

And on Saturday evening I wore it to a birthday party. Who in their right mind wears a fair isle sweater to a birthday party? In my defence it was in Leeds and it was cold. Which begs the question why then was I wearing open toed shoes? I really have no idea, other than the fact that I like them. Ho hum!

So here is the GAP jumper in its various different colour combinations...

And three of my other favourite GAP jumpers for those who may not quite be in the fair isle frame of mind but who fancy a little something different for Christmas, or just in general.

Don't you just love a good sweater, or pullover, or jumper, or knit, or whatever you want to call them?!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Kicking an outfit into touch with one of these...

For me, apart from a pair of shoes, there's nothing that can give an outfit a kick up the bum in quite the same way a a lovely shirt or blouse. It can take a pair of plain black work trousers into something which is quite kick-ass (sorry for all the derriere references tonight.) With a pair of ripped jeans and heels, a black metallic blouse can make the perfect outfit for a night out - and who doesn't love a bit of Victoriana?

So this is my run down of some gorgeous blouses that I've seen out and about on my travels recently....

Mint Velvet tie neck blouse (£69) - this is perfect with a pencil style skirt for work or with fitted trousers for a dressier look. Blouses are really great tops for curvier figures as they tend to skim without clinging, unlike jersey tops which can show every little trace of muffin consumption and muffin top.  The lighter  weight fabrics are brilliant as they don't add bulk, plus the ones with pussy bows have a v-neck line, which is so flattering on a larger bust. With a print to keep the eye on the move, they are absolute winners.

For those of you with curvier busts, you will know the problem with shirts and blouses and buttons that  pull. This Somerset blouse by Alice Temperley at John Lewis (£79) though is fantastic doesn't have any buttons. Perfect! There is plenty of stock in store although not in this colour on line. It also comes in a lovely sage colour too which makes a nice change.

There are a lot of metallic shirts around this season. They can be scratchy so it's worth having a good feel of them on the inside if you don't have time to try them on as no-one likes to feel as though they are wearing a brillo pad. Marks and Spencer has this metallic effect textured blouse (£45). There's also one at Reiss (£145).

For something a little bit pretty and Victoriana, Limited Edition has this lovely lace trim blouse (£29.50). Zara also has a good selection too.

I was working with this M&S  Autograph satin blouse (£35) last week. Again it's really good because it doesn't have any buttons and it's silky fabric elevates it to being a little bit more special, despite its simple design.

Marks and Spencer also has this Autograph animal print blouse (£35) which again has a flattering shape, fit and fabric. It's the type of blouse that could be worn all year round and with leopard print being one of those prints that never disappears, for years to come as well.

Ah, now the Whistles lace shirt (£145) ticks many boxes. The colour is vibrant and great on many skin tones. The fact that it is lace makes it that little bit special and with a shorter length it will sit perfectly with a skirt - just like the one in the above photograph. In fact as time goes by, I veer further away from a "party" type dress, which just sits in the wardrobe until it needs to be squidged on for a night out - and more towards stylish separates which can be worn for many different events.

For sequins, I love this Zara sequinned blouse (£25.99). I would look an utter plonky head in it but I do really like it nonetheless. Particularly on other people.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Blatantly pinching an idea from the Whistles website...

It's a long time since I've worn a dress over trousers. I used to wear outfits like this years ago and never really thought that I would do it again. But then the Jigsaw striped dress that I love suddenly seemed too short on its own and I saw a picture on the Whistles website of a similar outfit here.

I did feel a bit bad about my lack of originality but then the words of an elderly lady who came to one of my M&S presentations rang in my ears..."Nothing in fashion is new any more. It's all been done before. I didn't like pussy bows the first time around, or the second and I still don't like them the third time around" and then I didn't feel quite so bad about pinching the idea from Whistles. Plus it's always good to re-work some old favourites don't you think?

Oooh and before I forget, I published a new vlog today which you can see here. It's only fairly short but hopefully it will be of help to some of you. If not quite a few of you!

Until next time, have a good one. x

Sunday, 15 November 2015

An outfit for a lazy day....

You see that one step that I took outside of the front door? Well that's as far as it went today. After this photo was taken I turned around and hot footed it back inside as quick as I could.

But at least it meant that I can report back on the Clarks Glove Candy trainers which I've adopted as my slippers. My dislike of slippers is quite odd really because all that I ever wanted when I was a young girl was a pair of purple mule slippers with heels and a maribou fluffy bit on the front. Classy!

Anyway, the slipper/trainers and I are getting on really well. They're so comfortable and I like the blue on them. It just one of those things.

I'm also wearing the Boden off duty jumper which is perfect for when the rain is lashing the windows and the wind is howling outside.

In light of recent events in Paris, I'm not sure quite how to finish this post. It seems trite to finish with anything flippant or lighthearted so instead, I wish that you all keep safe this week. x

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Working in, and wearing, head to toe M&S...

I was working in M&S today (I'm back there on Saturday at Merry Hill so do come and say hi if you're around) and I had to choose an outfit to wear whilst I was presenting. The store that I was working in had wicked air conditioning so I knew that I needed to start with knitwear. And I only had about five minutes in which to choose - so I had to be quick.

So first off I chose this Autograph funnel neck tunic (all links are below). Then I picked this striped blouse to go with it. The blouse is exactly the same style as my & Other Stories one that I'm looking to replace, only thicker, so I figured it would work. And anyway, it had to - once in the changing rooms, I had no choice!

Next up it was the trousers. As I have to be quite smart, I couldn't opt for my usual skinny jeans/ponte trousers/M&S treggings type combo so instead I went for these Autograph trousers which have silk and merino wool in them. I found the fit to be fine and they were comfortable too, although the reviews are very mixed.

And finally, despite my initial reservations as to comfort, I wore these Autograph red heels and actually they were fine. I won't pretend that I wouldn't have been more comfortable in my trainers but when it came to take them off, my feet hadn't died on me. The reviews of these shoes, which also come in black and one other colour combination, are universally good.

I was almost waiting for the "Robin Hood/Are you an artist/Do you work for British Airways?" type comments. And then I realised that there weren't really any men around. So that didn't happen.

The best part of my day was when one customer who came to the presentation went on to buy the whole outfit. She came back to tell me how delighted she was to have her Christmas Day outfit sorted. I would be so happy if I could do that for all of the women in the country.

Just by way of info, the tunic and trousers were a size 8 and the blouse was a 10, because there weren't any size 8s - but it was fine. The shoes also came up true to size. For anyone who would like to see a quick video of the outfit, you can do so on Instagram here (warning: it might be a bit scary on a full screen!)

Autograph fitted funnel neck tunic (£59)

Autograph  bold striped blouse (£35)

Autograph trousers (£49.50)

Monday, 9 November 2015

An outfit for lounging around in....

Does anyone else have to force themselves to just STOP? Well yesterday afternoon I decided to do just that. It doesn't come easily but having done one very long run on Friday afternoon and two shorter ones on Saturday and Sunday morning, plus Christmas shopping, oodles of washing, cooking, food shopping and baking I decided that it was time to just sit down for a while.

The youngest and I made friendship bracelets for her to sell at school in aid of Children in Need. We sat in front of the fire and watched films and it was bliss. But then again sometimes the simplest things in life are, aren't they?

Obviously when it came to sitting down for the afternoon, comfort was paramount. Because they are pretty much the most comfortable trousers out, my Felsted print trousers from Baukjen were more than up to the job. Sparkles and animal print were, in truth, probably slight overload but no-one in the family said anything. I think that they're used to it by now. Comfortable trousers are always high on  my list of wardrobe essentials, so I would love to know if you've come across any gems recently.

Keep safe in the storms. Beth x

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Bruce by Bruce Oldfield for John Lewis - One to watch for your Winter Wardrobe

Last month I had the pleasure of working in our new John Lewis, selecting outfits for an upcoming Style Presentation. It gave me a chance to have a good furtle through the brands and one that caught my eye was the Bruce by Bruce Oldfield collection.

Its strap line is "A celebration of ageless style; this limited edition 60-piece collection exhibits attainable luxury, showcasing intricate fabrics and form-fitting silhouettes in amazing detail."

There was something about the collection that really appealed to me. When I look at a collection it's not always from the perspective of what I may choose to wear but what may appeal to my clients and what it offers in addition to what is already available on the High Street.

There are the usual suspects when it comes to something on the smarter side of casual, or party wear, such as Coast, Reiss, Karen Millen, Hobbs, Phase Eight  and so on but in some ways they can be ever so slightly predictable and there is always the chance that you will rock up somewhere feeling a million dollars, only to be dressed exactly the same as someone else. And that's that million dollar feeling RIGHT down the pan.

 Anyway, let me show you what I mean....

Starting with a fantastic wardrobe staple, this black bow dress by Bruce Oldfield (£99). The fabric has a lovely sheen to it and the shape is fabulous. It just seems to be designed for those ladies who often find it hard to find a dress in a shape that works for them and who look brilliant in a dress that really does work for them - the Nigellas of this world if you like. The sleeves finish at a great point on the arm, the v-neck flatters a curvy bust and it nips in brilliantly at the waist.

I saw this bronze pleated skirt by Bruce Oldfield (£99) when I was in John Lewis yesterday. I think that it's new to the collection and I really loved it. It's great for those who would like to avoid black and the fabric is fluid, making it really flattering.

It comes with a pleated top (£89) which is also in bronze. I'm less convinced about the two together as the top is quite long and hard to carry off unless you have the height of a model. Tucked in, it may work better or the skirt would look great with a more fitted top, such as this Bruce Oldfield metallic jumper (£59) which also comes in cream.

The Sunday Times Style Magazine featured a selection of pleated skirts, some with tassel or pom pom shoes and they looked fab, should anyone need any shoe inspiration.

This print foil skirt (£130) is a great shape for showing off a slim waist whilst at the same time skimming over the hips. Whether you like the foil detail or not I guess is a personal issue but personally, I like it.

For something a little more contemporary, I really like this Bruce Oldfield velvet panelled dress (£199). The length keeps it on the right side of what I would prefer to wear now but the shape, fabric and neckline keep it really modern. The horizontal lines across the hips won't make it the easiest dress to pull off for all shapes but for some, it will be perfect.

For a top to wear with skinny jeans, fitted trousers or smart jogger style pants (I love an elasticated waist band!) and heels, this pleated top is a great option. Again the sleeves are a nice addition for those who prefer a little bit of coverage and pleats are a good alternative for those who aren't a fan of lace, sparkles or brocade . For me the way to test whether a top is up to the job is to stand sideways in front of a mirror. Breathe in, then breathe out as much as you can. If it doesn't move over the tummy area, it's a winner.

So if you have any social events on the horizon and you're currently caught in the headlights, this collection may well be one that's worth investigating.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

It's chunky, it's grey and it comes from Zara....

Give me a chunky sweater with a turtle neck and a bell sleeve and I'm there! Just as I was with this Zara bell sleeved sweater (£29.99).

Yes I know that I look a bit fuzzy in the top pic and a bit dweeb like and nerdy in the bottom one. I have no idea what was going on but sometimes you've just got to go with the flow and roll with the punches (as they say). I think that it was the absence of a bag. I just don't know what to do with my arms. But then again frankly my biggest concern these days is not scaring you all to death with my wrinkles. The rest I can deal with.

I do like the jumper though. Its modern shape is good plus it's soft and snuggly and I seem to be wearing it a lot at the moment. The anthracite grey is also a good colour - it has depth without being black.

It also comes in a maroon colour which makes a pleasant change from the usual black/grey/navy/camel options at this time of year. For now I'm going to leave you with a lovely picture of a young girl wearing said maroon jumper, who really won't be scaring you with her face. I can feel your relief!

Friday, 6 November 2015

The fashion issues we face as the winter approaches - Part 1

Before the weather gets too cold, roll up your sleeves, flash your ankles and enjoy the autumn sunshine (says she as the rain batters the windows!)

When it starts to get colder I've found that as long as I stick to pieces in heavier fabrics, I can still put together a look that's not head to toe jumpers. Silkier tops in lighter fabrics have to go by the wayside for me come the start of September, unless they are layered underneath a whole host of jumpers. So the blouse is a heavy denim one from Zara, the jeans are pretty sturdy ones from Whistles and the knitted sleeveless waistcoat is from Warehouse. There may be a layer or two under the blouse too, just for good measure, which means that I can get away without a "proper" coat.

I would be interested to know what your tips are for keeping warm when the weather gets colder - without sacrificing style. And has anyone actually found any knee highs/pop socks which can be worn with ankle length fitted "work" trousers but which don't stick to them?  I was having this discussion with a friend yesterday as she had spent the previous day trying to run a presentation whilst surreptitiously trying to flick her leg so as to get her trousers down to their proper length as they had stuck to her pop socks. Oh the fashion issues we face as the winter approaches.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

How adding a new piece to your wardrobe can inject life into older items.

H&M jacket, Topshop jumper and skirt, Whistles shoes and bag

A few days ago I was in our local H&M and this Biker Jacket (£39.99) caught my eye. I love a biker jacket and I knew that this navy one would work with lots of pieces in my wardrobe. Having bought it, it gave me the impetus to dig out this sparkly Topshop skirt that I bought a couple of years ago now.

As well as wearing a biker jacket on its own, I also like wearing one layered under a sleeveless coat. Separately a biker and sleeveless coat would be too cold for me to wear in the winter but layered together, Bob's your Uncle - plus they make a nice alternative to a more traditional coat.

Here are a couple of other shots of the jacket - just for those who would like a closer inspection.

I love how a new piece can really inject some life back into older pieces in your wardrobe. Each time I buy something I try and do a quick mental, if not physical, whizz through what it might work with and how I can use it to pull new outfits together.

I hope that you're all having a fabulous week. Are there any new purchases coming your way and if so, do you have a few ideas of how they may work with some of your existing pieces?

Monday, 2 November 2015

A Statement Jacket - a must have item for your Christmas Party Wardrobe

Yesterday I was reading an article in the Sunday Times Style Magazine about statement jackets - the kind of jacket that you can throw on with your jeans, or over a work shift style dress or with just about anything so as to lift into different territory, whether it be pub, party or pantomime. (OK so pantomime isn't really what I had in mind but I ran out of "p" options.)

For me that these jackets can be categorised into beaded jackets, embroidered jackets, sequinned jackets and velvet jackets. Oh yes dig out that velvet this winter, for velvet is having a moment!

Quite a few of the jackets in the article were pretty pricey but here are a few which come in under the £80 mark. There are plenty out there to take a look at so these are really just to give you an idea and no doubt the likes of Primark. New Look and Forever 21 will have some beauties too.

This one from H&M (£79.99) falls into the beaded category. The gold discs around the hem give a slight nod to the boho trend but it does have sparkly bits too - so it ticks a couple of boxes.

For an embroidered jacket, Zara is the place to head. An embroidered jacket such as this one (£69.99) is a great option for anyone who doesn't really do sparkle at Christmas time (I know that some of you exist!)

On the other hand, if you want to talk sequins, Topshop has this fab sequin jacket (£60). AND it has matching shorts, which obviously all of us will be wearing.

Finally, let's talk velvet. Mango has this blazer for £69.99. I love the idea of this for a Christmas party, either with trousers or over a dress, for understated elegance. 

Many of us will have a vaguely decent pair of jeans, or some black trousers, a fairly plain top and a pair of heels in our wardrobe. Pull it all together with a statement jacket and your outfit is well and truly sorted. So if I was going to recommend one new item for your winter Christmas/Party (or even Pantomime) wardrobe, a statement jacket would be it. 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

M&S Limited Edition - Another one to add to your list of "ones to watch"?

I'm quite often asked by people where I buy my clothes. It's probably more to do with the fact that people know that I like clothes and spend a lot of time in the shops, rather than because they look all "designer-ish" or anything. However it has got me thinking recently and amongst my list of favourite brands is Marks ad Spencer and in particular, Limited Edition. I really liked it when it was first launched a few years ago. Then it went a bit too pink, pastel and polyesterish, even for my liking but now it seems to be finding its feet in a whole new way. Bear with me and I'll show you what I mean....

So first of all, taking a look at a few wardrobe basics. This Limited white shirt (£29) has three reviews and all give it a 5 star rating. It's sharp and chic, a little bit Cos, which is really a little bit Acne (see below) although at £220 the Acne shirt isn't a "little" bit anything but it is quite a lot to pay for white shirt.

The Acne shirt on which the M&S shirt is probably modelled. Or it could be the other way around. 

Now these Limited high waisted skinny jeans (£29.50) are super in many ways. The all over dark colour is slimming, they come in different leg lengths and because of the high waist, there's no gape at the back. If you've struggled to find a pair of flattering jeans that stay up and stay with you when you bend down, these are definitely some to try.

Knitwear is having more of a moment this winter than in winters past. Now I admit that this all sounds a bit ridiculous given that we're heading towards winter which is a time that we tend to wear...shock horror...knitwear! However there we go, that's fashion for you. Anyway, Limited has this longline cardigan with scarf (£45) which ticks all of the knitwear boxes for the season. It's grey, chunky and long with a big scarf for extra chunkiness. At £45 it's a great price and you could easily spend double or triple on that for a cardi that, come time this year, will in all likelihood wear exactly the same as this one. (My moto for knitwear is if it's not next to your skin and if it doesn't obviously have baked beans/chocolate down it, don't put it near a washing machine.)

Jumper dresses are another example of knitwear having its time in the spot light. Limited has this polo neck jumper dress (£45) which, although lighter than the one that I'm going to show you below is not dis-similar to this one....

...from Whistles, which at (£120) is nearly three times the price and although it's not a bad price by Whistles standards and it is very lovely, it's still pretty pricey.

This Limited denim dress (£45) is a cheeky little number for a daytime dress. It looks very short on the model and in truth it is quite short but not indecently so.

For an evening outfit, the Limited floral crop top (£35) is a cracking top, either on its own, or with the skirt shown below. Together they make a fabulous Christmas outfit or alone the top is great for pairing with anything high waisted - wide black trousers, a midi pleated skirt or high waisted skinny jeans. The fact that it is both black and blue makes it even more versatile.

The Limited lace pencil skirt (£45) works so well with the top or it could be dressed down slightly with a fitted knit, or even more so with a denim shirt and a biker jacket or a sweatshirt.

The above outfit would be a great substitute for this Whistles lace dress (£220) which whilst beautiful, and whilst it is one that I would happily own, does come with quite a big price tag.

For another idea for an evening out, this Limited sleeveless longline top (£35) offers something a little different. It would be great over skinny leather leggings or skinny jeans and as it's more of a "skimming without clinging" top it is really useful to have in your wardrobe, especially at Christmas time.

Now I think that to get the most out of Limited, it's wise to have a little patience with it. Often our store is not very well stocked and what's there can look a little less than attractive. However when it is stocked well it's a whole different ball game. An on line peruse can be a better option, as can finding out when your store is replenished. So, I hope that you like my selection and that it may offer an idea or two in the run up to Christmas. Beth x