Sunday, 29 September 2013

A masterclass in how to mix your prints.

With the other Mrs Goodrham visiting this weekend, it gave me an opportunity to feature someone else on the blog.  My sister in law, who is Venezuelan (half indigenous, half Trinidadian) had the pleasure of meeting my husband's brother 14 years ago now. What lucky ladies we are!
Yazury was wearing a fabulous outfit in which she had mixed the prints on her top half and on her bottom half. On her top half she had a pink leopard print F&F short sleeved blouse, whilst her Next jeans were a tonal damask print. Working in a trench, Office desert boots and a Jigsaw tote, she was the epitome of early autumn chic.

Apparently Yazury's outfit stemmed from the fact that when she was out with friends the other day, it was noted that she was wearing black, which wasn't like her. So she made up for it by introducing some colour and mixing her prints. Working from the same colour palette, and ensuring that the scale of the prints works together, is the best way of mixing prints successfully. I love how this outfit is interesting but also subtle.

With her Trinidadian heritage, Yazury has incredibly curly hair. About twice a year, she has a Brazilian Keratin treatment which makes her hair much easier to handle - especially during the damper winter months. It also reduces the time that it takes her to dry, and straighten her hair, from around an hour, to twenty minutes. The intricacies associated with long, curly hair, are clearly something with which I am not familiar - but for those who do have styling difficulties, I thought that this might be worth mentioning.

Friday, 27 September 2013

I'll stop wittering on about Whistles soon but first just let me show you this scarf....

Remember the Whistles terrazzo print scarf that I showed you yesterday? Well here I wore it for my final shopping day of the week. Whistles does some great prints each season and a scarf is a nice way to tap into those prints without having to spend a huge amount of money, whilst at the same time updating your wardrobe.

Often Whistles will do a shirt/top/skirt/dress and sometimes trousers in a print - so in a way the scarf is at the bottom of the food chain but that's fine with me. I'm not averse to scurrying around on the metaphorical sea bed of a brand! But it's hardly a hardship - I love scarves for the way that they can pull an outfit together in an instant.

I wore the scarf with a pale green cashmere All Saints jumper which I bought from an outlet store over the summer (which has now closed, boo!) navy Cos trousers, Zara boots and a Marc Jacobs bag. My husband bought the handbag for me as a present for our 10 year wedding anniversary which was nearly 4 years ago now. Now there's a thought - do you reckon 15 years deserves another handbag? I have nearly a year to plan. Heavens knows what he deserves....

Later on in the day I swapped the cashmere jumper for a pale pink Zara knit and the trousers for khaki green Next coated jeans - for a cooler (in the temperature sense) and slightly more relaxed look. Then I got into the school run, cooking dinner and doing the washing though so no snap of that outfit. Sorry!

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Making friends happy with clothes - thanks to Whistles, Gap and Boden

My "day off" today started with an hour long session with the personal trainer I have been seeing over the summer and finished with an 8.5 mile run. Somehow I seem to have inadvertently ended up training for a half marathon. I don't quite know how it happened, and how you can "inadvertently" train for a half marathon is beyond me - but anyway there it is.

In between those activities, I nipped into town for an hour. As I arrived in the car park, lots of car alarms were going off. It was as if there was some huge announcement that the Lita leather jacket had come back into stock in Whistles but sadly that was not the case. I think that the car alarm situation could have been caused by the loud music from the car in front. It was ridiculous. Didn't the young man inside realise that I wanted to listen to Woman's Hour for goodness sake?

I had a great time in town, picking up pieces that friends and clients were after and then dropping them off. I think I'm slightly odd as I get a real high from finding the "unfindable"!

Before any of that happened though the Boden Patsy heels were delivered for a friend of mine. They have a great heel height and as she last bought something similar when she was pregnant with her son who is now 8, she is delighted.

I picked up the Whistles terrazzo scarf for a friend who was at work. The 25% Grazia discount voucher came in very handy, reducing it from £45 to £33. The colours are actually much prettier in real life. It has a very pale pink and an icy blue in it.

Now there's a whole story behind getting hold of the Whistles Lita leather biker jacket in grey. In a nutshell it goes like this: A friend of mine was after one but it was sold out online and in store. Liking a challenge, I offered to try and track one down for her. Whistles customer services (who were brilliant) advised that it was out of stock but that 7 units (not quite sure what that means) were due to go on the website at some point.

After dinner this evening I checked the Whistles site and there it was. I quickly stuck it in my basket and after a flurry of phone calls and texts to said friend, during which she gave me the online Grazia discount code (my voucher with the details on it was long gone.....) it was mine. Or hers. Or mine until she has run the half marathon and then she's allowed to have it. However up until that time I will no doubt try it on and pretend it's mine, just as our eldest does with my shoes when I'm out and I come home and find them in random places around the house. 

These GAP skinny mini camo trousers which are sold out on line but which were in the sale in our local store, are on their way to Newcastle to a friend up there who couldn't get hold of a pair locally.

These GAP true straight pants will be dropped off tomorrow to a client who lives locally. They didn't have her size when we shopped yesterday but did so today. They are an absolute favourite of mine at the moment. They are amazing for anyone who is after a pair of smart trousers, which can also be worn at the weekend. They are machine washable, made of 95% cotton and 5% elastane, come in black, navy and grey, cost £34.95 and whilst slim fitting aren't skinny, which means they are more up to date than a boot cut trouser but they aren't too skinny for work. The rise is good too. Have I raved enough? One pair of trousers won't suit every shape but these are definitely worth a look and just as good as the Reiss Paris trousers which are considerably more expensive.

So all in all a good day. I like making people happy by finding them things that they like. Did I pick up anything for myself on my trip? Yes, I fear I may have done so. But more about those pieces another day...

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The last hurrah of the summer maybe? A Cos skirt, bare legs and nude sandals.

Submitting to opaque tights means that winter is on its way. My steadfast refusal to wear them whilst there is any chance of a warm day means that for the last few weeks I have been wearing a lot of trousers. However, with the unusually warm weather today, I wore a skirt with bare legs - quite possibly for the last time of the year.
My favourite high waisted Cos A-line skirt is useful all year round. The length is good for me with, our without, tights - and that's quite a rare skirt length to find. With nude shoes, a cream leather jacket and a Zara print blouse with gold skull buttons (subtle to the point that I didn't realise the buttons were skulls until after I had got it home) I was good for my day in the shops.
Skirts are finally taking centre stage this winter. After many seasons without a great choice of skirts in the shops, they are at last featuring more in the collections. Keep you eyes open for a post about the options available!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

"& Other Stories" - the sister company of Cos and H&M - and what a nice sister she is!

A couple of weeks ago the opportunity finally presented itself for me to take a good wander around & Other Stories in London. A sister company of H&M and Cos, it was so different from what I had expected I can't even begin to explain it.  
I don't know why but for some reason I imagined it to be dark, foreboding and full of gothic pieces. My mis-conceptions must have sprung, I think, from a few of the pieces that I had seen in the press when it launched last year. However if I'd thought about it a little more, logic would have dictated that, being Swedish, it would be sleek, chic and bright.
I suppose it's a little dangerous to over-egg the pudding because just in the same way that I was pleasantly surprised by what I found, if I rave too much people may be disappointed on visiting.
Anyway, so here are some snaps that I took as I wandered around (sorry for the lack of links to these pieces) together with images, plus links, to some others that I like. So here goes:
& Other Stories had a really large range of shoes, boots and trainers from the classic to the quirky so if you're on the hunt for some footwear, it's worth adding to your list. I liked these because of their rich colour and the fact that they were a little different but still very "do-able".
There was definitely more colour than I expected to find. I loved the vibrant coral colour of this bag.

Silver boots for anyone who fancies anything a little futuristic. I think that these are very cool in a pixie boot kind of way!

Textured jumpers are a huge trend this season and the light and pretty colours on this jumper make a nice change from black or navy. It has a slight 80's look about it but as lots of things are just a re-hash of what has gone before, if we were put off by anything that we had seen before we would soon reach the stage where we didn't wear anything - or everything that we did wear would be very boring.

Hmmm, I'm not entirely sure about the neoprene look (it reminds me slightly of a kids' Superman dressing up outfit with the extra six pack padding) but variety is a good thing...

I love the print on these shoes, which is similar to the jumper. The appeal lies in the fact that the shoes have different prints on them. These would update a plain navy or purple dress really well and would look equally good with rolled up boyfriend jeans.

I know I've featured a lot of quilting recently....but here's some more. This jumper also comes in grey and a taupe colour. This navy one is hanging in my wardrobe, patiently waiting for a chilly day.

I love the print on this pretty handbag/purse.  & Other Stories is a treasure trove for little bits and bobs like this, plus make-up, jewellery and smellies. In fact it would be quite easy to get lost in there for a few hours - it's a great place for Christmas shopping.

I tried these mid calf boots (£95) in the navy - and they also come in black and brown. I loved the stack heel, together with the lighter coloured heel and sole. Definitely one for the list!

This long sweater (£55) is beautifully thick and chunky with a huge roll neck. There was also a lovely, oversized cardigan in the store with rounded shoulders - massively huge and warm which I loved but which would have been too heavy to carry, which was probably a good thing really!

Due to its structure, this triangle pleat skirt (£45) reminded me of a Cos piece. It's just a little different from the norm without being inaccessible.

And finally I could be very tempted by this wool bomber jacket (£125). I didn't particularly like them in the summer and the varsity ones are definitely too much of a statement but this one is quite understated. Plus it's navy which is always a winner.

The fact that the store was new helped with the whole shopping experience, which reminded me more of Anthropologie than it did Cos or H&M. In fact it definitely wasn't H&M like at all, which is a good thing because although there are some gems in there, it definitely doesn't offer a shopping "experience".  Well perhaps it does - but just not the kind we might like, especially when a collaboration with a new designer has just been launched (hold on to your hats (and everything else) for the stampede that will ensue during the Isabel Marant November launch). It's also a little less stark than Cos - more colour and print and softer around the edges. So anyway, in a nutshell, if you're in London and have a while to spare, I'd definitely recommend taking a trip there.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

What to wear to a black tie "Out of Africa" party? Hec, I have no idea!

The minute I saw the invitation I knew that it wasn't going to be easy. What does one wear to a combined 50th and 21st black tie birthday party which is held by an eminent QC at a Manor house, the theme of which is "Out of Africa"?
The thoughts that went through my head were along the lines of: "Shorts might be nice but I'll be surrounded by 21 year olds so won't go there. It would be easier to be a man as I could just wear a printed bow tie. Does the "Out of Africa" reference mean as in the film or "Out of Africa" as in a cultural sense?" Not knowing any other guests, it wasn't as easy as making a quick call to try and get a handle on what others thought, so really I was flying solo. In essence this meant playing it safe, giving a nod to theme in something that I was happy to wear again and in which I wouldn't feel too conspicuous. Equally as Mr G has known the host for over 20 years, I felt that that it was important to embrace the theme.

After the invitation had arrived, I spent an evening trawling the internet to see what I could come up with for an "Out of Africa" (as in the film) outfit but it proved a little tricky to fit it in with the black tie theme and there was a danger of falling wide of the mark. Having decided to adopt the animal print approach, I concluded that Karen Millen was probably the "go to" brand for something animal print inspired. With a two hour slot at Bicester that weekend off I went.

Karen Millen certainly had a good choice of animal print inspired pieces and I picked up these black trousers, reduced from £120 to £30 within 10 minutes of arriving.  In all honesty I perhaps wouldn't have chosen these trousers had I not got the party to go to but I can see myself wearing them in the future with black winter boots and an oversized jumper. The fit was also good too - close but comfortable!

This little fella was an accessory I picked up having arrived at the party. Issues of animal cruelty aside, I kept having to push to one side thoughts of how he may look as a pair of shoes, or a handbag and wondering whether his skin might be big enough for both. Perhaps that would be a bit matchy matchy though.....

As to the shoes, these too were bought at Bicester, from LK Bennett in the sale. They were reduced from £295 to £95 so clearly not the cheapest shoes in the world but definitely ones that I will wear again.

Doing double print with the shoes and trousers was again not quite me - especially given that they were animal prints - but as it was all black and white and given that it was a themed party, albeit a smart one, I figured that it was OK and only mildly OTT.

The black blazer is a very old one from the GAP and I also wore a yellow and diamond cuff from Karen Millen and a Topshop necklace. With Mr G in his zebra print bow tie, we were quite well co-ordinated - not in a Posh and Becks matching leather trousers and leather jackets kind of way I hasten to add, nor in a Kate and Wills matching African headdress kind of way - but more in a George and Mildred kind of way.
As an aside, you know how at a Halloween party you might tell the children that you were serving witches eyeballs, frogs legs and bat wings to eat? Well when we were asked whether we wanted to eat zebra, springbok, python or crocodile, I thought they meant that it was all really chicken or steak. It wasn't. All I can say is that the Pavlova was delicious!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

A Dorothy Perkins grey quilted sweatshirt - just one way to wear it for now!

Earlier in the month I wrote about quilted sweatshirts which are everywhere at the moment. In fact quilted pieces in general are a big trend for A/W '13.
Despite the glorious sunshine when this photograph was taken, it was quite dull most of the day so I thought that my new quilt gem sweatshirt from Dorothy Perkins (£22) would be just the ticket. Here I am wearing it with GAP boyfriend jeans, Zara boots, yellow Karen Millen cuff (yellow and grey still remain a huge favourite colour combo of mine) and a Marc Jacobs handbag.

Here's a closer pic at the "gems" around the neckline which, predictably, increased its attraction to my magpie like personality.

My previous post about quilted pieces looked at quilted sweatshirts but for a couple of alternatives, there's this Hobbs  pearl skirt (£89), which I have seen in real life and it's really lovely....

And this quilted bomber jacket from Warehouse £48 which again I have seen in real life and that too is worth a closer inspection for anyone tempted to go down the quilted route.

Having a lot of grey in my wardrobe, and following on from my comment about liking grey and yellow together I have ordered the new Ingrid coat from Boden. For anyone still on the hunt for a pink coat, it also comes in pink too. I'll let you know how it all works out..... If anyone orders one I would love to see a picture!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

One way to style the GAP camouflage jeans....

Today it was time to give the Gap camo jeans their first outing. To make them more wearable, I kept the top half simple with a New Look denim shirt and a black Zara jumper. I must admit that initially I was slightly cautious about wearing them out (signs pointing to one's thighs aren't always a brilliant idea) but I think that I am going to get quite attached to them. One day I might swap the black jumper for a yellow one - but I'm not quite ready for that yet.

Part of the deal with trousers like these, I think, is to "style them out" with some kind of heels. Some items of clothing work very well as they are, whilst others need a little bit of assistance to bring out the best in them - especially if you're not Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. So, once again, the Zara boots came to the rescue. I feel that these are going to earn their keep this winter.

Here's a link to the GAP camo jeans. For anyone interested in getting hold of some, it might be helpful to know the sizing is very generous. I am wearing a UK size 4, whereas in most stores I am a UK size 8.

Here's also a link to the New Look denim shirt that I am wearing and which is currently in store. When I first saw it, I liked it for the fact that it had a great big sticker on it saying "soft wear", which it is. I also liked the mother of pearl studs and the fact that it isn't too cow girl in appearance. New Look is always my first stop for a denim shirt. They have a great range of styles and the prices are good - this one was £19.99.

Oh, and these are what I removed from my Zara boots this morning. Remember I said that they were uncomfortable after I had worn them for a day? These could have had something to do with it, although of course the lack of socks didn't help. I did wonder though why the boots were a bit rigid at the front when I walked down the stairs. Mystery solved!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

A current lust have - thanks to Ted Baker!

I think it's fair to say that as the colder weather approaches, I become slightly obsessed with knitwear. I'm a four layer kind of girl from September onwards. The layers take the form of:
 a vest;
a cotton long sleeved top;
a light knit;
a jacket, coat, or a chunky cardi.
This jumper, which I fell in love with today at Ted Baker would be perfect for the third, or "light knit" layer. I like that layer to have something interesting about it - whether it be its colour, the fact that it is striped, printed, has a sequin detail, or an interesting neckline. Chances are that some of it will be on display, either when you take your coat or jacket off, or when it peeps through the front of an open chunky cardi.
This jumper appealed to me for a number of reasons:
First, it has neon pink on it (always a bonus in my book);
It has grey on it which is a good wardrobe staple colour, which also goes well with the neon pink;
The colours remind me of angel cake, a version of neopolitan ice cream and battenburg cake (though you can keep the battenburg because I don't like marzipan) all of which remind me of the summer and WARM weather.

Will it be coming to a wardrobe near me anytime soon? Probably not because at £99 it's more than I feel that I could/should/ought to pay for a jumper but it's one to keep my eye on for later in the season when the sales are around. I  like having a few of those little numbers up my sleeve which I can track like a stockbroker tracks the market. When the time is right I will sell....or buy.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Super shiny Zara boots and a Zara fur sleeveless coat for a day out in London

Remember the blister inducing boots? Well let me introduce you to them. Black, shiny and with a block heel, I was seduced by them the minute that I saw them in Zara. I just felt (wait for the justification) that a smart shiny pair of boots were in order this winter, particularly when working. They will do a great job of making my trousers look smarter and with a block heel, will be comfortable enough (eventually) to wear for hours.
I think that the problems with the new boots/no socks/blisters (now there's a surprise) debacle started because I wanted to wear my sleeveless coat and being dark, it looked a bit odd with lighter coloured (comfortable) boots. Although the reality was such that it was so warm in London that I didn't need the sleeveless coat, so I could have got away with the lighter boots after all (and no blisters too).
I thought that it would be nice to give the pink Mulberry an outing and also due to its design I feel that its contents are pretty safe, so I like using when I'm in really busy places.  Also the pink of the bag picked up the pink in the Boden jumper which, as you have probably noticed, I haven't taken off since I bought it. It was the same with a navy roll neck from Cos which I bought this time last year. It's so soft and warm though. Predictably I'm in Liberty here, my favourite shop in London.
Here's another pic of the boots, taken whilst waiting for the train.  

And the "official" picture of the Zara fur long waistcoat, which I am hoping to get a lot of wear out of over the next few weeks and months.

On another note, has anyone else managed to run the colours on a brand new rugby shirt so that the red from the badge has coloured the white stripes, on the black and white rugby shirt, pink? And as for those iron on labels. They're rubbish.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

A Zatchels offer for London Fashion Week

Many of you will be familiar with Zatchels - perhaps you own one, perhaps you have been pestered for one by a teenage daughter, or maybe you've spotted them on the world and his wife. Not only do these lovely bags come in a satchel style but also in a saddle bag and rucksack style. Increasingly popular, they come in fabulous colours too.

To mark London Fashion Week, Zatchels have a promotion running up until midnight on Tuesday 17th September. So, for anyone who falls into the category of wishing that they owned one but not quite having got there yet, this may help you on your way. Just enter FASHIONWEEK at the checkout to receive 20% off you new Zatchels bag.

As it so happened, I was using my Zatchels yesterday. It's a lovely grey one which was gifted to me after I wrote about a different offer that Zatchels ran in April. Sadly I don't think that it will remain mine for long as I fear that I am about to "gift" it to another member of the family.

Trainers were definitely the order of the day yesterday as the previous day I had been in London (more about that later in the week). That wasn't so much the problem as the fact that I had decided to wear, for the first time, new Zara boots minus socks. Even before I shut the front door, I knew that it was a totally daft thing to do but did I go back and do anything to fix it? No, of course I didn't. I wanted to wear the new boots, for which I have paid the price!

Anyway, with the trainers I wore a navy Zara skirt, striped lilac French Connection jumper, All Saints mac and Gap scarf. As you can see, there was a bit of a purple/lilac theme going on.  The trainers did their trick for me yesterday but every time I look at the boots I can still feel the pain!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Cuddle up in something cosy with a fur gilet (handy if you don't have a cat or husband/partner to hand)

I hate to say it but the nights are definitely drawing in and the heating in our house may have been flicked on once or twice - just to check that it's working of course. As I looked down at my M&S fleecy dressing gown jacket that I was wearing the other day (whilst in the house I hasten to add and whilst over my daytime clothes) I couldn't believe that we were back there again.

Fortunately, this season there are all manner of fur coats and gilets out there. In fact they have been out there for many seasons but now that they are officially a "trend" they will be much better advertised, making it easier for us to find them.

Primark has always been my go to place for fur gilets. I bought two from there last year which wore well, kept me warm and looked more expensive than their price tag. Last week didn't reveal any such gems but I'm sure that it's only a question of time.

I often wear my gilet in the house for warmth, or layered under my Parka to make it look more attractive than it really is, or they can be layered over a trench to take what is a lightweight coat a bit further into the autumn.

Johnnie B has a fur gilet for £45 and their sizing is pretty generous too. Cream gilets are a good place to start - somehow they're less full on fake fur and challenging than other colours.

If however black is more your thing, French Connection has a faux fur gilet (£150). I like the texture of this one and it would look great with a grey marl jumper underneath it or, for those who are washed out by grey, a lovely bright pink, coral or yellow jumper. The length could be tricky on some though, so it's definitely one to try on.

If the idea of a coat featuring some fur on it appeals to you, French Connection has this black one for £220 - which isn't cheap for what may be more of a trend item than a wardrobe classic but then if you love it, why not? And sometimes things that start off as a bit of a flash in the pan turn into a well established wardrobe staple. Skinny jeans being the perfect example.

For a bit of grey number, there's this faux fur gilet from Mint Velvet for £109 which is a nice alternative to black or cream and grey works really well with berry and purple colours.

This is one of my favourite, the granite and cream fur gilet from Mint Velvet £99. It has more of a sheepskin finish rather than a furry one and would sit well under a winter coat - well, provided there was a bit of room to spare.

Taking in two trends in one, Zara has this navy sleeveless coat with fur on it for £129. I have to admit to falling in love with this last week and it is now sitting in my wardrobe waiting to be worn. I'm going to layer it up with a navy roll neck or bright cashmere jumper, skinny jeans and boots. And if I have to freeze, I'm happy to but actually I think that it might be good when I'm working in the shops and for when I'm in the car. I love a great excuse almost as much as I love a great piece of clothing.

Here's a link to the New Look fur gilets/pieces and River Island  has a very fluffy Mongolian gilet in different colours for £150. If you're not sure about the whole idea though, I would still hang on and wait to see what Primark has in within the next few weeks. On the other hand, if you have a good excuse.....