Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Peasant tops and Kimonos, as an alternative to t-shirts, vests and fine knits

The last couple of days have been slightly cooler, which has required a bit of a re-think on the clothes front, particularly when it comes to tops. I like to use these "in between" days to wear those tops which might normally be hidden underneath a jacket or a cardi. The tops which I have featured below are also good for those who would prefer to keep covered up in the sun, whether for religious, cultural or medical reasons.
I bought the Gerard Darel silk shirt in the photos below from Bicester a few years ago now. It's a peasant style and being slightly looser, is one which I only really ever wear with jeans or shorts. It would also act as a great beach cover up or could be worn whilst wandering around a  European market (I'm thinking more of the Isle De Re rather than the Bullring in Birmingham but you know how it is....)

The Joules top below is very similar in style to the shirt above and does pretty much the same job, which is quite handy right now. This type of neckline suits most people and the fact that the style isn't meant to be too fitted makes it easy to wear.

Despite the new season's stock now arriving in the stores, there are still a couple of options around. Forever 21 has this peasant top for £16.75.

Whilst Warehouse has this embroidered smock top, which is £17 in the sale. With some coloured jeans or short, wedges or flip flops, a wide brimmed hat and gold ear-rings, you would be good to go. (Looking back at this picture I think that the model below needs a bit of tlc. Doesn't she look sad?)

A kimono also offers an alternative to the usual vest/t-shirt/shirt/kaftan option, either as a cover up from the heat, over a bikini on the beach, as an extra layer on a slightly cooler day, or worn out in the evening.

Top shop has this kimono jacket for £65, which also comes with matching shorts. Together they would make an amazing outfit for a late summer wedding, or worn separately they could offer a variety of styling options.

I also really like this Top shop bird print kimono (£55) again to wear with shorts, as in this shot, or with coloured jeans. Pretty, stylish and offering something a little bit different, they tick the boxes for me.

And finally for Helen at The Flaky Fashionista  here's a closer look at the Cath Kidston cross body bag (reduced to £28 from £40) which I featured a few days ago. Hope that you like it!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Mum on the Run - Bringing you my £4.99 bargain (OK it's a slight throw back to the 80's but it's not quite as bad as a scrunchie - which I also bought!)

If there's one thing I never imagined myself buying ever again it's a scrunchie but that's exactly what I found myself buying last week. Ahh, scrunchies - THE hair accessory of the 80's and early 90's. Consigned to room 101 of the fashion world ever since, they seem to be making a resurgence - at least in the world of trendy 14 year olds, H&M and Claire's accessories.
Equally - and I can't pretend that there's anything even remotely fashion forward about this - I don't think that I ever really imagined myself wearing a polo shirt again. I last wore one at the same time I wore a scrunchie - which says it all really.  I would imagine that at this point many of you will scroll away elsewhere because really a polo shirt is the staple of many women's wardrobes but not for me.

However that all changed last week. As is quite often the case with these things, one morning I woke up and thought "Hmmm, what I really need to acquire today is a polo shirt." Why it should happen on that particular day as opposed to any other day during the past 20 or so years I have no idea but who am I to question these things?

As it happened we were heading into town that day and I thought of the most obvious brands for polo shirts - Ralph LaurenJack Wills, Hollister, Lacoste, Fred Perry - all of which I decided were either a) to expensive or b) too far away from where we were.

The answer? H&M boys of course (sorry no link they don't seem to be online). I'd bought two from there for our son earlier in the summer and at £4.99 a pop I knew that one wouldn't break the bank. Whether one would go over my head (it did, just) or around me (it did, they are quite generous, mine is  age 10/12 and there's also a 12/14) was another matter.

Whilst obviously raving about a polo shirt isn't really going to cut it, for what it's worth, there is a good selection of colours (khaki, royal blue, mint green, navy, coral plus a couple more)  the fit is neat and they are 100% cotton. If I decide after I've worn it a couple of times that it's not for me, it can find its way into my son's wardrobe. Equally if I love it, he may find himself a couple of polo shirts short. How terrible is that? Stealing clothes from your children. Outrageous (but if I'm honest it wouldn't be the first time).

Friday, 26 July 2013

Mum on the Run - Birdies on our boobies and an outfit to scare a shark.

It's long been known that birds and animals are going to be a big trend for A/W '13. Whilst I don't feel quite ready to go there yet on the blog in too big a way, I must admit to really liking this Cath Kidston Blue Tit jumper (£65) which I saw the other day.

Despite being a jumper, it has a spring like twist to it. The lighter colours make it a trans-seasonal jumper, a jumper to wear before we get to the full on cable knits and roll necks. Now that's the kind of jumper that I will be able to deal with when the chillier mornings set in. Anything much more than that and I think that you might find me crying into my cornflakes.

Joules too have a Blue Tit jumper (£69.95) and with its nautical stripes, it still has a lighter note to it for when the no, I can't type the word. It's just too depressing to have to think about the (say it in a whisper) cold.

These jumpers are intarsia knits. The word intarsia didn't appear much in fashion lingo until a few seasons ago and last winter, I looked it up to see what it really meant. So for anyone interested, here goes:

"Intarsia is a technique used to create patterns with multiple colours.  Unlike other multicolour techniques such as Fair Isle, slip stitch colour and double knitting, there is only one active colour on any given stitch ..... Common examples of intarsia include jumpers with large, solid-colour features like fruits, flowers or geometric shapes." So there you go!

On a warmer note, how about this as a piece of swimwear for next summer? A friend sent the picture to me via twitter, possibly as a result of another word that I can only whisper. Shark.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Mum on the Run - In a birthday outfit (no, not suit)!

Yesterday I celebrated my 37th (plus 6) birthday. After reading an article in the Saturday Times about the 30 best Lidos in the UK, we headed off to Droitwich Spa Lido. I am now prepared to accept that the weather is properly hot - rather than just on the surface, pretend, hot - so even I braved the outdoor pool. I've never been to a Lido before and it was great. Loads of water hoses and fountains for the kids to play in plus a 40m pool to swim in, which was shallow at one end. I'm now on a mission to do the other 29.
Sadly there were no incidents of an embarrassing/wardrobe malfunction nature to report and everyone behaved. Crikey, what is the world coming to? Maybe it's because I enforced my "yes, you can have whatever you like today as long as it makes everyone happy" policy and the children were all too shocked to do anything other than behave.

Here's the Joules skirt that I showed to you a couple of days ago. I figured that it would work for what we were up to on the day and as you know, I am only able to wear one pair of shoes so that I don't spoil the neatly arranged (now spectacularly, messily, un-arranged) shoe basket in the hall. The t-shirt is H&M and the Cath Kidston bag was a present from our lovely eldest.

Here are a few photos from the day - I think that it's safe to say that it was a fairly pink/pastel affair....

From top left:

Pressie from a lovely friend
Droitwich Spa Lido
Macaroons (said in a Julie Walters, Mrs Overall, accent)
Flowers from hubby
Cake made by son (I'm training the boys well!)
Chocolates from hubby and children

There might be a Tory Burch cuff to show you sometime soon too - another sneaky little Bicester find.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Mum on the Run - Pictures of one or two Bicester purchases - although not the ones I'd hoped to bring you...

I can't believe it! My official (11 year old) photographer has deleted all of the photos that he took for me at Bicester. Funny how children can be so organised at editing some things isn't it but when it comes to editing other things - such as the detritus in their bedrooms - it's a whole different story. So it is with regret that there are no photos of fabulous ankle boots, handbags on so on. Oh well, better get myself back to Bicester pronto to rectify the situation.
So, as to the few bits that I bought whilst there, this printed top from Joules caught my eye. I'm on a bit of a nautical theme at the moment - which I know is a cliché, particularly in the summer holidays, but you can't beat a good cliché. It was reduced from £50 to £14 and I thought that it would work well with jeans and cut offs and generally when I was kicking around with the children.

The same goes for this skirt, which was also from Joules and which also cost £14. I seem to be spending a lot of time getting on and off the trampoline, complete with hose pipe in hand so that I can fill the paddling pool, before various small people jump into it (OK and on occasion various larger people, including me) and it's important for me that I can move around and not worry too much about my clothes taking a bit of a battering.

It comes to just above my knee and worn with flip flops or my pink scholl sandals and a vest top, I think that this will sort me out on a sunny day. I also found a nice denim skirt in Hobbs NW3 but for some reason denim skirts always seem to fit too high on the waist which results in them not being very flattering. I toyed with the idea but knew that if it was a case of choosing on any given day between the skirt above, or the Hobbs one, the one above would win. So the Hobbs one stayed in the store.

Finally I bought a sequinned cardigan from the White Company, which was reduced from £85 to £25. You know I think that you can never have too many sequins in your wardrobe! I will wear this in a very dressed down way over the summer, perhaps styling it in a slightly more formal way come the autumn.

And this is what I wore today. It was my second outfit of the day. The first one comprised a knee length dress with a navy and white spotty cagoul over it and navy and white spotty wellies with it. Talk about spot overload. I was taking my sis to the station this morning and it was throwing it down. She thought that I looked like I should be going to Glasto rather than B'ham New St. I found it quite impressive that the wellies gave me a blister when all I did was drive in them.

Later I changed into a pair of jeans that I found when trawling through my jeans the other day to find some to make into shorts. I also wore a silk Fat Face top, navy Mango bag and red Topshop shoes. Having tidied everything to within an inch of its life in the house I am resigned to wearing one pair of shoes for the rest of the summer or else I will spoil the look of the well organised shoe basket. I've said it before and I'll say it again - sometimes I despair of myself (but at least the shoe basket looks good).

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Mum on the Run - Being creative (!) with denim and a trip to Bicester Village

See, I knew that it wasn't safe to go in the water in Cornwall.  Apparently a blue shark has been spotted off the coast at Penzance. Whilst usually they are more likely to eat squid, they have been known to take the odd nibble at a human and what with me doing a very good impression of a seal the other night, I have no doubt that I would have been scoffed had a blue shark and I been in close proximity.  That would have been tragic - the wetsuit wasn't even mine. Safe to say I am now about as land-locked as it is possible to be.

I'm not sure what happens when I get home but all those things that I tolerated before I went away suddenly seem to irritate me - which is why I spent Friday night clearing out under the stairs, all Saturday afternoon touching up the walls with my roller and white emulsion, why today I emptied and sorted my entire wardrobe, why I went into the bowels of a huge cupboard to retrieve a light fitting that I decided we should have put up and why I persuaded my husband to help me move a chair downstairs and a chest upstairs, all because it would look better. The family know me well and my husband quietly takes over cooking the meals and bathing the youngest whilst the eldest two just keep out of my way, lest they are allocated a job. The problem is that because the house is now so tidy, everything really echoes, which is quite dis-concerting.

Along with all of the above, my husband and I had what he termed an "arts and crafts" day yesterday. It started when I woke up and decided that I needed to sort myself out with some denim cut-offs. A rifle through my wardrobe found the perfect pair of very old, and now slightly too short (not sure how that has happened as I haven't grown in the last five years) Topshop boyfriend jeans. They need to be a bit loose to start off with - skinny ones just don't work. Anyway, one pair of sharp scissors later and voila - a new pair of shorts (apologies - I thought that I'd cropped the finger out of the photo but apparently not). For what it's worth, I found the best way to make them was to cut up the centre front of the jeans to about mid-thigh, put them on and then decide where to start cutting horizontally - leaving a bit extra for a turn up. Not being an owl, or having a willing (or able) participant, I took them off before finishing the horizontal cutting but obviously it's a personal thing.

Our proudest arts and crafts moment came after visiting John Lewis and buying some fabric which we stapled over a canvas (pinched from the eldest). We like maps in our house - we're a bit nerdy like that.

And one outfit from the back end of the holiday - the Allium B Eliza dress, this time worn as a strapless dress. I quite fancied a strapless dress but didn't have one so I undid the buttons on the straps on this one, tucked the straps down the side and all was good - well apart from when I was giving the youngest a piggy back and I realised it has wriggled its way down slightly but it wasn't anything too outrageous.

Today we also squeezed in a trip to Bicester so I will bring you photos of what I bought later in the week. Sadly it wasn't what I bought that was the problem but more the potential for what I might buy in the future having visited the new Rag and Bone store and Sandro too. Dangerous. Very dangerous (but not as dangerous as a great white shark.)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Mum on the Run - A few outfits from Cornwall, a very sunny corner of the UK!

You know how sometimes in life you have those moments when you wonder to yourself what on earth you are doing? Well I had one of those last night.
It was 7pm and I was standing on the beach in Cornwall underneath Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant, wearing a wetsuit (complete with cracking VPL), looking upwards whilst fastening a strap on the helmet I was wearing before going for a "stand up" paddle surfing lesson.
Not only had I foregone my meal in the restaurant at the hotel to engage in this activity but the chandeliers from Fifteen were twinkling at me and I just wondered what had possessed me.
I have  fear of being eaten alive - by anything - and having just read about a girl who had been eaten by a shark in the Indian Ocean, and having recently watched a film where three people were eaten by sharks, I probably wasn't in the best frame of mind to go out to sea on a 12 ft board with only a paddle to use as a weapon against the 30ft great white which I was convinced was going to attack me. I feared that I was about to take the lead role in my own movie.
Clearly my fears were mis-placed as I lived to tell the tale. All that I encountered were a few jelly fish and a sore bottom where I fell off the paddle board and hit the sand. Blimey that stuff can be hard.  
Being on holiday and with the weather so warm, I have spent more time in the water than out of it over the last few days. Here are one or two outfits I have worn though.
Above (slightly grainy I know but it's the best of a bad bunch) I'm wearing a Jigsaw silk dress, with the one necklace that I bought with me and the same three bracelets that I have been wearing for days. I hadn't worn this dress for several years but have found it really useful whilst away. It could be dressed up but I always tend to dress it down with converse or flip flops.  

The Boden tunic has again made an appearance together with flip flops, habitat beach bag, Boden sunglasses and a hat from Asda which I bought on the way down. You know how you get a few miles from home and think "OK, so what have we forgotten?" Well that would be a toothbrush for the youngest then, extra sun tan cream, flip flops for the eldest and before you know it you've spent £50 on essential items like fruit pastels and Barbie dvds too, just because you're going on holiday.

I wore this on the one evening that I got changed for dinner. These are the whale coloured cuff/zip trousers from Hush, Carvela snake print wedges, Marc Jacobs clutch and a White Stuff top.
But this is largely what I've been wearing for the past few days, together with attractive surf shoes. Helpfully my husband placed himself at the furthest end of the bar/restaurant last night so that after my lesson finished at 9pm I had to walk all of the way through it to find him to get the card for the room. Thankfully though it's fairly relaxed here though. I even spotted a little boy "Bertie" relieving himself under a table. He would have got away with it had his Dad not shouted at him for being naughty. It's always so great when you find children naughtier than your own.


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Mum on the Run - It's still hot but the outfits still, are not!

It sometimes just so happens that everything in life falls into place and that you have a great time. This weekend was no exception with our camping trip away with other families from school. The sun shone, the kids got on, we had water fights, played rounders, had BBQs, sat round the camp fire and all was well with the world.
I can say that without thinking that anyone will think me smug because boy have we had some disasters in the past. Utter and total nightmares in fact. We've had trips cut short due to one or other of the children ending up in A&E, holidays where children haven't slept, children who have been frog marched up Mount Snowden as a punishment for bad behaviour, holidays abroad when it has done nothing but rain and swollen faces due to infected mosquito bites.
Being that camping (or in our case tipiing) was the case, clothes never were going to be the order of the day. The main requirement was that I would feel comfortable, by which I meant that anything that I took could take a bit of a hammering without it mattering.  
So, first off, a green Jigsaw dress which is probably 6 years old. The colour is great, the length good, the style isn't perfect but at least it means that I can tuck away a few hot dogs without it being obvious. Stick it with some converse or flip flops and that's the job done for me.

Yesterday I wore a Boden tunic that I have also had for years. I know that Boden gets a bad rap for its prints and its tunics - and this is fairly typical on both counts - but I love it nonetheless. I always think that prints are totally subjective and it's so true. One man's meat is another man's poison and all that, so if someone takes an instant dislike to a print when we are on a shopping day, I rarely try and persuade them otherwise - but occasionally I will sneak it in to the changing rooms nonetheless.

Anyway, with it having been so hot the day before, I felt that a little coverage on the shoulders was a good idea. Fortunately, with it being printed and of a decent fabric, it didn't go see through when the Mums engaged in a water fight with a bunch of 11 year old boys.

We are going to Cornwall tomorrow so it has been a quick turn around with lots of washing to get through before going.

I will aim to post whilst away but if anyone wants to take over the mantle and send me photos of outfits that aren't at least five years old and which aren't designed to take a battering from ice cream, sun cream or anything else, please do so. I won't be offended! If it helps to reassure you that I haven't completely taken leave of my senses, I should add that I have been busy purchasing a winter coat, a couple of jumpers and a new winter bag from the All Saints outlet store - but it's just too hot to go there right now.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Mum on the Run - 3 hot days, 3 not quite so hot outfits!!!

I was meant to post this last night but ran out of time - hopefully it will all make sense!

We're going camping tomorrow morning so I won't be writing again until Sunday. We're also going to a wedding reception tonight and I'm just starting to wonder whether I need to pack anything more for our camping trip than bunting, jam jars to put flowers in and insect repellent. Hmm, that could be an interesting blog post - strategically placed triangles of bunting. Then again, perhaps not.

So with that in mind, I'm bringing you a triple whammy of outfits - to include some disasters in the blue leg and frosted lipstick department.

This printed silk dress was from Jigsaw about three years ago now. These Mango block heeled nude sandals that I bought at the start of the summer have done a great job of freshening up lots of older (not even vintage, just older) pieces, making them look more modern. It's been the same with the red Topshop sandals that I bought and which I am wearing below - and by that I mean that for the cost of two pairs of shoes my wardrobe looks more up to date than it did - not that I am smug or clever!

As our eldest took these photos yesterday morning she said "You can't show those, you've got blue legs. It looks like you're lacking in oxygen." How right she is! The morning light is always slightly blue but knowing that I wouldn't have time or the opportunity later on the day, they had to do. The blog was never meant to be about perfection, which is lucky. This is the liberty print Eliza sundress from Allium B, which has been fantastic in this warm weather.

This H&M skirt is of a similar age and a great piece for its £7.99 price tag as it is fully lined.  I bought the coral neon T-shirt that I am wearing with it this summer, also from H&M and also £7.99.  The gold wedges were from Dune a few years ago now too and look, I've changed colour from the shots above - no more blue legs for me.  I'm so fair that at times it's painful! Sadly for me spray tans don't last that long either so I have to have two coats before I look anything more than remotely off white. For the first day it's a bit dark but it doesn't take long to calm down.

On the way out of the front door I shoved on some lipgloss that I found lurking at the bottom of my bag and look - it's a frosted number which takes me right back to the late 80's. Very bananarama! Ah, you've got to laugh.

Hope that you are all enjoying the sun and I will see you on Sunday.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Mum on the Run - A Reiss dress for a perfectly lovely party

I was invited to a friend's birthday party on Saturday night (complete with a visit from an ice cream van) and in keeping with my plan of showing you a dress a day, this is what I wore.
It was fantastic; a beautifully warm and balmy evening, perfect for pimms, fizz, a barbeque, live music and a cleverly re-worked Lily Allen song, which a close friend of hers sang brilliantly. I was so happy that the weather was good as I also share a July birthday and I know how often it can rain. Rubbish weather in January, that's a fair cop. In July? That's just not on. The warm weather meant that, for once, there was none of that pretending to be warm business, when really you're freezing your whatsits off.

I bought this dress from Reiss in Bicester just over a year ago, on a shopping trip during which our eldest daughter described me as a ninja shopper, due to the way I flick through the rails with a "no, no, no, no, no, yep - that might work" approach.
I bought the dress without an event in mind, knowing that one would crop up at some point in the future. I liked the colour, the emphasis at the waist, the fact that the horizontal lines around the hips were broken up by a stronger diagonal line, the asymmetric neckline, the shoulder flash and the coverage elsewhere. Clearly no-one else agreed with me, which is why it found itself unloved and unwanted on a rail in Bicester but then again that's also why it cost less than £65 - so I can live with that!
This was its second outing so it has plenty more life in it yet, although being quite distinctive it's not the sort of dress that can be styled in lots of different ways. I just wore it with my husband's watch and a bangle studded with diamonds and pink sapphires which my husband bought for me one Christmas when I was 39 weeks pregnant with our youngest. Not only a pretty present, it was a pity present. You should have seen the state of me. Never mind, that time has passed and I still have the bangle to show for it (and the child too!)

Realising that thin heels would be a ridiculous idea on grass, I wore 1940's style gold t-bar sandals with a stack heel from Carvela, bought for half price in Selfridges five years ago now. I bought them having seen Kate Moss wearing these gold sandals to Leah Wood's wedding at around the same time. I thought that it would be nice to own something similar and as I walked through Selfridges one day, they jumped out at me. OK, so I doubt that KM's cost £45 ish from Carvela but I prefer mine due to their grass levitating qualities. KM's would undoubtedly have sunk without a trace. Having said that though, I wouldn't mind a nosy through her wardrobe sometime, just to see what else is lurking there.    

Monday, 8 July 2013

Mum on the Run - A Reiss printed summer dress - heels or converse? I think either will do.

Those days when you can wear just three pieces of clothing are the ones that I dream of all year - bra, pants, dress - job done. No need for layers, scarves, coats, jumpers, or vests - bliss. Yes, today I am vest free. It's almost as historic a moment as a British man winning Wimbledon.

I don't think that any of the dresses that I am planning on wearing this week are new, so forgive me if you have seen them before. I think that this Reiss dress is now into its second or third summer but I like a bit of longevity when it comes to clothes, which I bond with in the same way as some men bond with their cars. Speaking of men, Mr SG did the deed today and went to buy the bikinis. I haven't tried them yet - that's for another day.

This dress is an easy style to wear, especially now that I have my fashion tape!  A print is a great way of confusing the eye and keeping it on the move so as to stop it focusing in on anyone area. Here I wore it with my nude mango sandals but I will shortly be putting it with pale blue converse whilst I walk to collect our son from his leaver's disco at school. How bad would it be of me to sneak in a bit early to see if I can catch any of the action??!!! Yep, bad, I know. Right, I'm off.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Mum on the Run - Running away from that tricky issue of bikini buying.

This weekend has found me in all sorts of surreal situations. It started off on Saturday when I was at a cheerleading competition in Bournemouth. Loud music, flashing lights and about 1000 screaming girls all before 9am was just a bit too much by way of sensory overload.  As our daughter wasn't competing until 11am I took myself off into the town where I found myself trying on bikinis, which frankly was even scarier than the cheerleading competition.

After that I headed to Claire's Accessories as I needed some "fashion" tape, so that I could stick my dress to myself to avoid flashing my assets to the world. The assistant in there looked at me like I was bonkers when I explained what I was after, despite having just served four men who were buying pink tutus, blonde wigs and fairy wings to wear to the beach without batting an eyelid. Anyway, I finally found what I was looking for in the lingerie department at M&S.

So, back to the bikinis. After baby number 3, I decided that a bikini would never be something that I would wear again, so I parted with all of mine. However I prefer a bikini under a wet suit and as we are off to Cornwall next Monday I thought I ought to at least investigate them.

Never one to spend hours on searching for something (unless it's for someone else) the Evita and Eva (blue) bikinis from White Stuff found me last week.

I felt that the shape of the bikini top could offer the requisite support and uplift required and I like a bit of a 1950's nod. The online reviews were good and so having located a top in our local store, my husband has kindly offered - OK agreed under duress, to make a trip there this week to collect it.

I have already secured the bottoms, which in fairness (to them) didn't look as bad as I thought that they would. Sometimes I think that the desire for additional coverage results in a granny pant kind of bikini bottom, whereas a briefer one is actually more flattering. No, it wasn't something I believed either but it's true. I'd draw the line at a thong - in fact I'd draw the line way before a thong. I'd probably draw the line at a string tie at the side but that's partly because I'd be worried that it would come undone.

Despite it having a different name, I am pretty sure that the Eva is the same style.

The only difficulty with this bikini top is that it doesn't come in a cup size, so unless your back and bust size are a standard size 10, 12 etc, the fit may not be right. Having tried the 8, I know that it's too small in the cup but the 10 may be too wide around my back - so I'm just waiting to see how it all comes together after Mr SG has been to collect the top this week. Bless him!

On my journey through Bournemouth trying to find my "fashion tape" I came across the Kelly Brook range in New Look. I had a quick peruse of the collection and thought that it came in a good range of cup sizes. The top below comes in a size 32B to 36F, although there is also a 34G, so it may be that there is a 36G too, which is pretty impressive, especially for its £16.99 price tag.  Being designed for a slightly younger market, I found the bottoms a bit too Betty Boo and frilly for my liking. In fact I could imagine the kids having a good old laugh if I turned out wearing the bikini bottoms designed to go with the top, so instead I matched the top with a plain pair of turquoise £3.99 bikini bottoms from New Look.

There are of course hundreds of brands that sell swimwear, with M&S, Boden, Bravissimo, Sea Folly and Speedo all having good ranges. It's very much a case of trying on and seeing how you feel on the day and of course the magazines are always awash at this time of year with guides as to which shape bikini suits which figure.  The comfort of trying on in your own home is always a good option, where at least you have control over the lighting/mirror/time of day that you try things on.  Whether my White Stuff bikini comes good remains to be seen. As for the New Look one, let's just say that there's a little issue of sizing to be resolved. And possibly shape. I think it's probably best if I leave it there for now!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Mum on the Run - Bringing you the perfect LBD - the Allium B Audrey dress

By a great little LBD I mean that this is both a great Little Black Dress and a great Little Blue Dress - take your pick!

OK, so let's get straight to the nitty gritty as to why the Audrey dress by Allium B (£110) is such a winner shall we?  First of all there's the length. It has that lovely length to it which means that there's not too much leg on show. Some ladies love showing their legs - which is fantastic - others less so. I definitely fall into the "less so" category.  Mary and Clare design all of their dresses to have just that little bit more length than lots of High Street brands.

Then there's the neckline, which is really pretty and delicate and negates the need for tricky necklace decisions! I also like the fact that this neckline would also work on ladies with a curvier bust, despite the fact that it has a fairly high neck. The pretty detail breaks up the chest area, the effect of which is to give it a lower neckline, without the cleavage flash.

The sleeves are a perfect length too, nipping in at the elbow and with enough fabric so that they aren't restrictive in any way. Sometimes dresses with sleeves can still be restrictive, especially if they are made of a jersey fabric but that's not the case with the fabric on this dress, which is Viscose Moss Crepe.

When it comes to fabric belts, I am normally the first to whip them off and replace them with something more structured and with a bit of colour. However, after trying a few different ones of my own, I went back to the original. The width of it was right and unlike introducing another colour, the all black belt gives a sleeker line - which doesn't mean to say that I wouldn't ring the changes at some point. Equally it can be worn without the belt for a different look.

As to other ways of styling the dress? With it being black, the possibilities are endless. Black and tan are always a great combination so here are some accessories that would work with it - a leopard print bag, animal print scarf, cream and tan shoes. Two of the three below, worn with either a black or tan blazer, would be a great look.

Pair it with either silver or gold for a night out. Here I've chosen silver shoes, a black snake print Liberty bag, a black glitter belt and a chunky diamante bracelet. The texture on all of the items prevents the outfit from being too flat and the black belt, despite its glitter, continues with the clean line theme.

A spot of colour is always nice against black, whether it's blue, pink, green, yellow or red it would give the dress a really different feel from the more sedate options above.

A contrasting belt and bag would work well, perhaps with a nude shoe. Or a contrasting shoe and bag with a black belt. A scarf is a good option when wearing a blazer, which can be removed to reveal the pretty neckline.
For me the perfect thing about the Audrey dress is its versatility which is, without doubt, a real wardrobe saviour. Now as to the trickiest decision of all. Black or blue?