Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Spring time outfits for chilly days - denim, denim and a little more denim!


In continuing with the theme of how to keep the chill at bay, whilst looking fresh for spring, fabrics are often key. I really like this denim top from GAP (sold out online but I have found some alternatives below) as it's great for layering things underneath, or indeed over, as in the case of this jacket from Boden which I'm wearing (also sold out from what I can gather). I would try and find an alternative but I'm doing this in a hurry - so sorry! I also layered a vest and a short sleeved T under the denim top so in total I had four layers on but hopefully the yellow jacket kept it the right side of spring like.

As I mentioned, I've found some alternatives to the GAP top as follows:

Zip back denim T from Oasis (£30)

Madison T by Oasis (£30)

Hayley denim T Oasis (£30)

We're having a break at the moment in Brighton where today it was sunny! I'm living out of a capsule wardrobe which, so far has worked out fine. When we're back I'll bring you some photos but in the meantime, I thought that this article in the Telegraph was fantastic and I would encourage everyone to read it. It's about the Return of the Classics to our wardrobes and makes for an interesting and reassuring read!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Shades of grey in cashmere and a silver cardi/jacket to keep the cold at bay.


Happy Easter to everyone! I hope that you have managed to consume sufficient quantities of chocolate to make it feel like Easter, rather than just a normal chocolate type day.

A brief, but fruitful, shopping trip to Bicester distracted me from the usual Easter activity of chocolate for breakfast (well, when I was 9), lunch and dinner but there's plenty of time over the next few days to make up for it. 

As you know, I have been concentrating on outfits that offer warmth but which aren't too winter like in appearance. Some fabrics, such as denim and leather, aren't particularly warm in their own right but they act as a good barrier between you and the cold.

Today's combination centres around cashmere and a cardi (actually it's a soft cardi style jacket but I like alliteration!) the two of which together offer some real warmth. I love cashmere for it's warmth and softness although not to the exclusion of all other fabrics in an "Oh darling I only ever wear cashmere" type way but it is nice for a treat. Worn with jeans and these slip on plimsolls from Jigsaw (£59), which were really comfortable given it was their first outing, I was good to dodge the rain at Bicester. Normally I would add a statement necklace for colour but at the moment I quite like layering a couple of special silver necklaces that I own.

Now this was a lovely surprise from the children - a selection of my favourite chocolates, and crisps, for me to munch my way through. Can't imagine that will be a problem!

Mr SG and I were clearly singing from the same hymn sheet when it came to choosing Easter Eggs for one another. What I can't work out is whether we each chose that particular egg because we thought that the other would like to receive it, or because we would have liked to have received one ourselves. Either way, I can confirm that it is very tasty. (Well, his is. I haven't opened mine yet!)

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Keeping the warmth in on chilly days with a leather jacket...

Continuing with the theme of keeping warm but spring like, it wasn't until a few years ago that I first had a leather jacket but I can totally see why cows wear them. They're so warm and one in a lighter colour for spring can work a treat for keeping the chill at bay.

Leather jackets look great worn with anything from jeans, to an evening dress, so they're really versatile and worth their, sometimes, not inconsiderable investment.

I wore mine simply with turned up jeans and converse for a weekend look at home with the family, followed by a night out to see Gary Barlow - one of my other loves in life besides Gary Lineker, Toblerone, fizz and running.

Having just returned, I can confirm that Gary was amazing. I last saw him in London in the early 90's when he was in Take That.  The only problem that I encountered was that one of his songs has the word "Frozen" in it, which immediately made me think of the words "Do you wanna build a snowman?" from a song in the Disney film, Frozen. A song which has plagued me every day since the New Year. And the one time when I think that I'm safe from it, there it is popping into my head yet again.  Oh and the one and only, slightly gleeful, comment that Mr SG made during the whole thing was "Gary's got a bald spot you know." Just to confirm. He hasn't.

Anyway, back to leather jackets. Below I've featured a few of my favourites which are out there are the moment.

Mint Velvet is always a good starting point for leather. The styles are great and the prices are more reasonable than many other brands. This pearl zip leather biker jacket from Mint Velvet (£259) also comes in black, mink and ink.

The Nanette leather biker jacket from Whistles (£325) is obviously more expensive but it's a really good option for those who prefer very clean lines and who don't want the fuss of a collar, buckles, pockets and so on. On some frames and figures those things can all be just a bit too much.

 The Jenn biker jacket from Reiss in grey (£375) is one of my favourites. Personally I like the combination of the mandarin collar and the open neckline, plus the pockets follow the line of the shaping at the waist, keeping it clean and uncluttered.

Given that leather jackets by their very nature are expensive, I think that it's worth considering a faux leather jacket instead - particularly if it's not something you are likely to wear a lot. The faux ones can look really authentic and I really like this faux leather biker jacket from Oasis (£58). It's also a good starting point for anyone unsure as to whether they are likely to get the wear out of a leather biker or not.

I wish everyone a really Happy Easter. I'm simply hoping for a day where every moment isn't filled with the words "Do you wanna build a snowman" or some of my other favourite lyrics from the song "Let it go." For anyone who hasn't seen Frozen I warn you not to!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Springtime outfits for warmer (and cooler) days....


In yesterday's post I was talking about how difficult it can be to decide what to wear when there's such a wide range in temperature during the day. The thing is, when it gets to this time of the year, we're all worn out with dark, heavy, winter clothes so it's about finding things that are a little bit more spring like but which still keep the chill at bay.

One of the first things to think about is wearing slightly lighter coloured jeans and, as soon as the temperature permits, swapping heavy boots for shoes which can be worn without tights.  One tip is to use a little bit of spray tan on your feet and ankles, just to take the blueness away. I like the Rimmel spray  in golden brown. What I don't like is the smell, which can give me a migraine, so I spray it on before I shower and as it's water resistant it's still there, minus the smell, when I've finished. It works for me!

As to clothing, it's about working with fabrics and layers to get a lighter, brighter, springtime look which is still warm.  I am wearing a long sleeved top from the GAP, together with this eyelet-trim sweatshirt top, also from GAP (£24.95) which whilst not mega-weight, is a lot thicker than a regular top or T-shirt. Predictably I liked the sweat style, the fact that it was navy, plus the lacy trim. The jeans are from New Look and the shoes, M&S.

When it's warm enough I will abandon the coral top and maybe the vest underneath too - such a rebel!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A Girls' night out in Jigsaw, GAP and Dune sparkles...

A couple of nights ago I was out with the girls at a local pub. It wasn't a fancy pants place and anything goes really but I think it's nice to make a bit of an effort when going out.

I love a nice cream jumper for the spring - or for the winter too for that matter - and this Jigsaw jumper (£59) offered me just what I was after. I like the boat neckline, the vertical ribbing, the batwing sleeve and the shape of it as, unusually, it's quite fitted around the waist whereas a lot of the knitwear at the moment is quite square and baggy (otherwise known as relaxed, slouchy or comfort fit!)

Sometimes I like to wear a combination of casual trousers and sparkly heels too, so these super skinny khakis from GAP (£27.99) worked fine for me, together with these Dune heels, which I wear all year round, from Christmas parties to the height of the summer. I'm not sure that many women go to the pub with trainers in their bag but I did, just in case I decided to run home (I didn't!)

Jigsaw jumper (£59) - I thought that it was quite brave (or daft) of me to wear it when going out for dinner!

GAP super super skinny khakis (£27.99) - these were a more sensible choice if it was the case that was going to throw things down myself.
Unlike the middle of winter, when we all know that we need to wear a lot of clothes, or the height of summer when we all know that we don't (within reason), I've realised that this is one of those times of year when it's possible to spend far too long deciding what to wear. It's largely because there can be such a wide range in temperature during the day. So, to save myself, my sanity and to avoid annoying the family over the holiday period, I'm going to spend a bit of time pulling a few outfits together which deal with the "Oh it was 6 degrees and now it's 16 degrees" issue. It's not hard but it just takes a bit of thought. I hope to share them with you as I go along...
Oh and of course, knowing that she's such a big fan of the blog, I can't sign off without wishing VB a very Happy 40th Birthday. Much as I love her current refined and sophisticated style, I'm hoping that one day she will re-visit the outfits of her Baden Baden WAG days, or her POB or the boobs under the chin look. Sadly I fear that I will be disappointed. Happy Birthday Mrs B!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Gray & Osbourn - an alternative to the High Street with pieces to fit and flatter (and we could all do with a bit of that!)


In today's post, I'm wearing clothes by Gray & Osbourn, specifically a striped jacket by Betty Barclay (£150) and cobalt blue slim leg jeans by NYDJ (£140) which I chose from their current collection.  I'm also wearing Dune leopard print shoes, an H&M T-shirt and a cream Warehouse bag. Before telling you about the clothes though, I want to tell you a little about Gray & Osbourn.

Gray & Osbourn is an online business described as "a stylish designer clothing boutique for women who love confident timeless fashion."

I work with many women of differing shapes, sizes and preferences, for whom the High Street doesn't always deliver. Finding a brand that has the potential to do just that always makes me gleeful and I file it away for future reference.  It's also nice to see different pieces which not every one will be wearing to the same event.

The great thing about Gray & Osbourn is that they stock clothes for those women who can't just walk into Zara and pick up a pair of jeans, or go to Topshop for a neat little fitted blazer - or perhaps they can but would rather choose not to because of quality or comfort issues. Really it's a bit like Atterley Road but for a slightly different market. Some of the occasion wear is lovely and for me they are particularly strong on trousers, stocking brands such as Michele jeans, which come in three different leg lengths. I've also had a lot of success with  my ladies with Michele trousers, which they also stock and which are great for those ladies with more of a tum and with less on the hips and bottom.

As to the NYDJ which I am wearing, they are designed to lift the bottom and flatter the tummy. I can really vouch for their comfort and the cobalt blue, I felt, were a nice change from indigo denim and just a little more modern. You can see from the photos that they are slightly big on me and their claim that you need to go down a size is true. Sadly for me they don't go down any further, otherwise I would try them.

As to the jacket, it's lovely to wear. Just my kind of thing - striped with a bit of coral, comfortable and not too trussed up!

There's also a good selection of flattering swimwear which uses ruching and support where it's needed most. Plus, there are some lovely pieces in the occasionwear which include dresses with sleeves, such as this navy beaded dress (£250).

There are also some lovely sparkly pieces, such as this beautiful silver maxi dress (£350).

Additionally there's this lovely black and neon layered jersey dress (£190).

So next time you're on the hunt for a pair of jeans that truly fits, a swimsuit that flatters in all the right places or a piece of occasionwear that not everyone else will be wearing, it may be a good idea to check Gray & Osbourn out.

Disclaimer: I haven't been paid to write this post and I don't know whether the clothes are intended for me to keep or whether they are to be returned - sometimes I just don't get around to sorting those things out until after I have posted. But if anyone really wants me to let them know once I know, I'm very happy to do so!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Women helping women! A plea for votes for Shinerock London, makers of luxury printed scarves - thank you in advance!

It's not often that I use the blog to ask for help but I felt that on this occasion I wanted to, so I hope that no-one minds. I should just say that whilst I received a scarf to feature in this post, I will be sending it back. To do otherwise just wouldn't feel right.

Last week I received an email from Catherine Shinerock, who introduced me to her first collection of luxury, digitally printed scarves. In her words "The collection takes inspiration from nature and fantasy, offering luxurious, contemporary design with a touch of magic." It has been snapped up by Fortnum & Mason and some quirky boutiques. However the reason that Catherine contacted me was to ask for a little help.

Catherine is currently working on a second collection and hoping to win some funding and support from Triumph's "Women in Making" competition, which supports women with start up companies take their business to the next level. However what she needs are votes!

The winner will receive £10k in funding and a year long mentorship, which would allow Catherine to fund a second collection. She told me that the mentorship would be invaluable to help her navigate the tricky waters ahead. The competition also offers the winner the opportunity to be stocked in Fenwick which would be a dream come true for her.

Catherine has a fantastic selection of scarves which you can see at Shinerock London. Sadly this shark scarf has sold out but, as someone who has a morbid fear of being eaten alive whenever I am in the water (even the local swimming pool)  I wanted to include it anyway - it's just brilliant.

If you could spare a moment of your time to vote, I know that Catherine would really, really appreciate it. You can vote here and it only take a minute - less than that even - and can be done via your twitter or fb account. Even I managed it. So, if you do have the time, and inclination, to vote thank you!

For info purposes, the scarf that I am wearing costs £100 and is called Roses and Rings


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Something other than jeans - please! Thank goodness for Jigsaw stripes and a Whistles blazer


Today when I got up I decided that I needed a change. No more jeans! Anything for a change! BUT, as ever, it still needed to be warm and comfortable.

With the sun shining, I convinced myself that it was much warmer than it was. This Jersey stripe dress from Jigsaw (£79) has been sitting looking at me since I bought it a few weeks ago so I decided that today it would be my victim, together with the  Lena Jersey blazer from Whistles (£95) which too has been sitting quietly on the sidelines hoping that it wouldn't be picked. Ha! I can report that the dress is really comfortable. It's 99% cotton and 1% elastane and it's really thick and supportive too. The same goes for the blazer.

I tried several pairs of shoes including leopard heels (bit tarty for a daytime trip to the Bullring with the 6 year old. The face didn't match the outfit!) Block heeled leopard print shoes - ditto but on a slightly lesser scale. Patent navy loafers from Hobbs - nice but a bit safe so I threw caution to the wind and put these cream Linford brogues from Dune (£65) with navy tights. Radical!

What I liked was even though the items were new, I felt happy to keep the whole outfit on for the whole day just as it was, even when shaping my bread dough and taking Matilda out on her roller blades.

The fact that the photographer is vertically challenged, together with the weird effect of the stripes when photographed, doesn't make for the best of photos but I think that you can get the gist. Sometimes when I read blogs which talk about how to take amazing photos I cringe and hide in the corner. Unedited snaps would be a more accurate description of my photos, rather than works of art but hey ho, nothing is about to change on that front, hence the eye bags/shadows/blemishes and double chin. Super!

Monday, 7 April 2014

A cropped top? Seriously? Why yes. Don't look away just yet!

If I said that I was going to get a cropped top, I would imagine that everyone would think that I had lost my marbles because (surely) a cropped top equates to an exposed midriff. However a cropped top which doesn't show any midriff? Well there's a thought.

The silhouette of a fuller style skirt is often disadvantaged by the length of the top worn with it. The waistband gets covered, hiding the narrowest part of both the skirt and its wearer. So, for anyone with a fuller styled skirt in their wardrobe, I'm offering a different solution this season which will both update your wardrobe and make the skirt more flattering to wear. A little bit of imagination may be involved, that's all!

As to a couple of examples of this style of skirt, the palm tree skirt from Karen Millen (£99) is a nice option. It has a good length and the print, whilst pretty, isn't too girly.

For a more neutral option, the midi denim skirt Karen Millen (£129) is almost like the jeans equivalent of a skirt and therefore quite a safe option for anyone embracing the concept of a cropped top for the first time.

So as to tops.  Because the skirts are high waisted the cropped T-shirt Mango (£17.99) won't expose any tum but it will create a lovely silhouette and it's just a little bit different.

The cropped lace Tee Warehouse (£45), which also comes in white, is really pretty too. I have worked with this top (and very pleasant it was too) and it is definitely on the right side of cropped.

The palm leaf top Warehouse (£38) would work really well with a white midi length skirt although, as with the lace top above, both have a skirt to go with them which are worth taking a look at.

As to shoes, heels are always a great choice and I have to admit to being a little bit taken by these Glory High Shoes from Topshop (£58). If I chose to go with the denim skirt and white Mango lace T, these would be the shoes for me. Perhaps less so with the paint splatter skirt and/or palm print top - unless I was feeling very brave.

For those who may prefer something more subtle, they also come in this lovely mint  colour.

Luckily, Iva at Falling In Style has already paved the way for me by wearing this lovely outfit, in which she looks stunning. When the sun comes out, I will be happy to bear all but for now it's the parka and boots all the way for me.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Boden Serrana Sandals - Something sparkly for your spring Wardrobe on a non-sunny Sunday!


With our son having been poorly, I have spent quite a lot of time recently watching survival programmes, together with programmes about sharks, crocodiles, snakes and "Bakery Boss." With our daughter, I have watched many bridal, and toddler and tiara, type programmes. Enjoyable as it has all been, I am so grateful that they are both now better. 

It was during one of these many TV sessions that I decided to try on my new Serrana sandals from Boden (£52.51 to £61.41) which come in a variety of colours including gold, aqua, black, hibiscus, navy glitter, tan and zebra. I didn't like the shots against the carpet but thought that the ceiling made quite a good backdrop, which explains the spotlights. It must be gravity that makes the sandals look slightly too big - but they are fine when my feet are where they're meant to be i.e. on the ground!

I can't wait to wear them and this is exactly where I would like to take them with me - Shell Beach on Herm - my favourite beach in the world.

Friday, 4 April 2014

How to look good naked...but I think that I prefer these ladies with clothes on! (From Warehouse, Coast, Karen Millen, Dune, Ted Baker, Jaeger)


Yesterday evening I was working with the Solihull BID  at the Mell Square Shopping Centre and specifically, with House of Fraser. The photo above shows the seating area where I sat and chatted to my ladies. Put together by the interiors team, I would quite liked to have picked it all up and taken it home with me.

These were part of the team with whom I was working.  Boy were they heavy (sorry ladies). Dressing these models was so tricky - their arms kept falling off, they wouldn't bend or move in the way that I wanted them too, I kept groping their boobs (and apologising to them)!  I have so much respect for the VMs who work with them on a daily basis in the confined space of shop windows.

The models were to be dressed in work wear so I wanted to include a dress option and a trouser option, print on the top half, print on the bottom half, colour, texture, matching bag and shoes, clashing bag and shoes, open shoes and closed shoes, together with classic, and more on trend, pieces.

Model 1 wore printed trousers and a pale blue lace top from Warehouse to reference the pale blue in the trousers, a Ted Baker mac with Dune shoes and bag - very matchy, matchy - but they could easily be separated out.

I love Dune for their range of inexpensive but stylish bags. They have a lovely coral one plus some nice tan and black ones too.

The great thing about these trousers is that there are so many colours with which to work. I felt that the print of the trouser and the texture of the top demanded a simple, classic shape in a coat.

The shoes are black at the back. I like the closed toe for those who don't feel that open toed shoes are appropriate at work. Love the leopard print lining in the coat too!

Model 2 sported a little neon and black number from Coast -which almost looks like a skirt and top option - together with a softly tailored jacket, also from Coast.

The leopard print bag is from Biba. I fancied introducing a print as a black bag, whilst safe, was a bit too predictable. The patent shoes were from Kurt Geiger.

I wanted to break the neon pink up, so chose this large linked necklace from Karen Millen. I like this necklace for work. It's really versatile and has a good weight to it, with just a little bit of bling in the smaller links.

Model 3 wore a printed kimono style jacket from Yumi, a cream Warehouse top, Episode trousers, Dune shoes and a Jaeger bag.

I love the colours in this softly tailored jacket as there are so many different ones that could be picked up elsewhere in an outfit. It would also be great with jeans at the weekend. The Warehouse top has a slight texture to it and the necklace, which picks up the brown shades in the jacket, is from Ted Baker.

I love this Jaeger bag! It's as near as it needs to be to the shade of blue in the jacket and the shoes pick up the coral in the jacket. The shoes may be a bit high for work but maybe not. The trousers are a lovely fabric - nice and drapey with just the right amount of room in the leg.

Ladies, it was lovely working with you - even the ones that were rigid and not very chatty!