Thursday, 27 February 2014

Essential summer shopping from Jack Wills (and Liberty) with some Whistles and Jigsaw thrown in!

Show me clothes that are covered in sequins, leopard print or stripes, or clothes that are pink, navy or flouro and I'm there - throw in some Liberty print too and I can't resist! 

When I saw these pieces in  Jack Wills  on Monday I was virtually beside myself with glee. Jack Wills have raided the Liberty fabric archives and chosen one print, which they have used in two colour ways, in a whole range of pieces. I love, love, love the bomber jacket, partly because it makes what is quite a trendy style - and one which could easily look quite dodgy - very wearable.

Just off the top of my head, I'm seeing the jersey dress used as a bikini cover up with white converse and tanned legs (someone else's not mine), I'm seeing the hoody with cut off denim shorts and flip flops, the bomber can go into slightly more trendy territory, perhaps with a pencil skirt of some description and heeled sandals and the crew neck short sleeved top could be layered over a white shirt and worn with cigarette style trousers for a smart(ish) work look. There's also a top with a Peter Pan collar, another dress style and the fab trousers below. All pieces come in both colour ways and the link above will take you through to the page with all of them on.

Yesterday I mentioned that I had seen a couple of pairs of skater trainers/slip on trainers/deck shoes - call them what you will - that I liked. I wasn't expecting to find these in Whistles (£135) but I really like the texture on them and of course being navy, as opposed to the full on printed ones that I featured yesterday, they are very wearable.  They are pretty pricey though and there are much cheaper versions out there but if they are going to be your one new true love this summer, they may be worth holding out for (along with a 25% Grazia offer which must be due out anytime now.)

On the other hand, for less than half the price, these Jigsaw slip on plimsolls (£59) are a less spendy option. The upper is 100% leather, unlike the Whistles ones which are made of cotton, jute and raffia. On reflection I just have visions of the Whistles ones fraying and unravelling, to the point that all is left is the sole. Hmm, not a good look.

Anybody tempted? I fear that I may be paying Jack Wills another visit sometime soon and there's a 10% discount with Jigsaw today which you can take advantage of by entering SPRINGEVENT  at the checkout.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

My Peter Pilotto for Target order has appeared at last!

I'm sure that Net a Porter have very good reasons for instructing their couriers not to deliver on Saturdays, for refusing to let them leave a parcel with a neighbour, for not allowing a parcel to be re-directed to a work address and for insisting on a signature - but it doesn't half make life hard! I think that this parcel finally reached me on Thursday - which was 11 days after I ordered it and because life has been so busy, I didn't even open it until today.
Now I agree that it's vaguely ridiculous to show a picture of a black box - although arguably not quite as ridiculous as showing clothes which aren't even available any more - but I was trying to be positive after the whole delivery debacle. I have to admit that the Net a Porter black boxes are lovely and in this case, they probably cost more than the clothes in them. However they're so lovely that that if you're not careful you could end up being seduced into thinking that the contents are more desirable than they really are (if you're thinking what I think you're thinking, hold it right there!)   

This is what I ordered - from left to right, a printed sweatshirt and a printed long sleeved top... trainers in the same print as the top.

Dealing first with the quality, I felt that it was really good. Although available through Net a Porter, the Peter Pilotto range was a collaboration with the US store Target, which is probably equates more to our Primarni than anything else. The sweatshirt is thick though and has a slight fleecy lining which I always find welcome.
I love the bold, graphic print and the colours in it and with a white shirt layered underneath, this sweatshirt might just find itself getting a trip out on Friday night. 
The long sleeved top is also really good quality and I was surprised at how much I liked the print in real life.

It's slightly longer than the sweatshirt and perhaps a bit roomy on the torso so I'm going to have another play before I decide which way to jump with this one.  However it's substantial enough to be layered over a denim shirt so that's possibly an option and at times, a little bit of room can be a good thing.

Just imagine what you could achieve in life if you had four feet - and double of everything else too! I added the printed trainers to my order at the last minute, just for the hell of it really, to see what they were like.

And whilst I most probably wouldn't wear them with the top in real life, I didn't look at them and think urrrgh, hideous, they have to go back. They do have to go back (or go on ebay for some vastly inflated price but that goes against my principles somewhat) because they're a bit big for me - but I'm really pleased to have tried them and I will definitely be giving some more a go - which is handy because already I've spotted two pairs that I like elsewhere.

I find that tops, rather than dresses and trousers, are more successful as online purchases where things can't be felt or tried on and I know that others have had difficulties with the fit of dresses. I suppose in simple terms there's more to go wrong!  If PP and Target get another little thing going in the future, I wouldn't hesitate in seeing what was on offer - if only for the Net a Porter black box.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

An outfit for a day of shopping - trainers, knitted hat - bit of a bag lady look really!


Yesterday I spent many hours shopping, looking at all the lovely new spring collections and taking masses of photos of my favourite things.

Although it wasn't that cold, it was wet and there's no room for an umbrella when I'm dodging from store to store with arms full of bags, hence the GAP hat. As I'm also carrying a slight knee injury (which I'm trying to ignore) and knowing that I would be covering a lot of ground, I opted for trainers. The snood is less hassle than a scarf which can get caught in my headphones when I'm listening to my cool music (or would that really be Woman's Hour?) A cross body bag is so much easier than a shoulder bag and the hearts on my New Look jumper add a splash of clashing colour to my trainers.

So that was that - it was warm and comfortable and it gave a slight nod to that well known, and much coveted, "bag lady trend" I think.

There are some lovely things in the stores right now.....

Monday, 24 February 2014

Top tips on how to choose skirts for ladies with curves - Cos and Jigsaw are my favourites right now

A few posts ago now, I was asked to advise on which style skirts suit those with curvier hips. To my way of thinking, there are two way of looking at this: First, there's the Kim Kardashian way, which involves wearing body con skirts to show off those curves. I like this approach for its full on, two fingers in the air gesture to the "traditional" way of styling curvy hips - and in her case a curvy bottom too. It works really well for those who want to make the most of their assets and who have the attitude to carry it off. The only thing to make sure of is that you create the smoothest silhouette possible with the right underwear.

The second way, the more "traditional" way, for those who are less inclined to want their assets papped, is to use styling tricks to re-balance the proportions.

I'm not being prescriptive here, as it's always a matter of trial and error with these things, but rather I'm just putting tips out there so that your radar can pick them up, or not, as the case may be. In all honesty these type of posts scare the life out of me as I would hate for anyone to think that I am being critical/bossy so my advice is to take what you like and leave what you don't....

The theory is that to balance wider hips, a skirt needs to have some volume in it. The best way of establishing this is to look at the circumference of the hem. If it's teeny tiny and tube like, it's probably not for you - unless adopting the KK approach that is.

It's not quite as simple as that though because ideally you don't want the width to start from the waistband - as per skater skirts which just add further volume, or as per those with lots of tiny pleats/gathers which can just add bulk over the tummy as well as the hips. I think that it's best that I try and talk you through a few!

Cos is my favourite brand for a good selection of skirts which are made for those who have some decent hippage! The Cos photos aren't that great either in terms of size or styling, so I suggest that you follow the links and then click on the image to enlarge it.

This one is probably my favourite of all. This pleated skirt (£59) sits flat over the hips and tummy and then flares subtley further down to balance out the hips. Delicate fabrics are better than rigid ones as they skim. It's lined and has a laser cut hem - all of which I had a good look at today.  It's a really versatile skirt in that it could be worn with a chunky jumper, tights and ankle boots during the day, or really dressed up for the evening with sparkles and heels.

The panels in this panelled A-line skirt (£59) give it the width at the hem but it's still quite neat over the tummy and hips. The flat shoe styling never really helps though! It's a good price and also a versatile option too - it just need a bit of imagination in styling the top half. Dark colours can work really well on the bottom half for those with curvier hips, so one option is to play with texture, print and colour on the top half.

This flared panel skirt  (£69) is again neat over the tummy and hips with the flare starting from beneath the seam which is part way down the skirt. For some the flare may be too wide, for others it will work well. I would always recommend trying a skirt like this with dark tights and a heeled shoe or boot - not necessarily high ones but enough to give some lift - or else the danger is that the proportions won't look right and it will be taken straight off again.

This printed jacquard skirt (£69) has subtle A-line shape and the print too is fairly subtle. It would work well with navy, grey, black, purples or lilacs so it too is versatile in its own way. Those that are just above the knee work well on petite frames who don't want to be drowned by too much length.

For a more spring like option, this A-line skirt (£69) (which comes in cornflower blue and midnight blue) could be a real winner. Another tip for those with curvy hips - and who may also have heavier legs - is to tone the colour of hosiery to the colour of your shoes, rather than the skirt. In the spring however this could be worn with a bare leg and nude or tan shoes, to continue the lines which creates a slimming effect.

This wool cashmere skirt (£59) would suit those with a small frame. You can see that it has a slight A-line to it - just enough to re-balance the proportions.

For a splash of colour this orange skirt with front pleats (£55) is a bit quirky and unlike some colours, would still look OK with black tights and shoes or boots for now...

I also liked this lightweight melton skirt (£69) which I saw when shopping today. Sometimes you have to watch the pockets on A-line skirts - it just depends how they sit and they can always be stitched down. The vertical centre line is a good detail though as it draws the eye up and down creating an elongating effect.

Predictably I also loved the melton skirt (£69) in pink. This one is a different fabric to the one above - slightly heavier and a bit fluffy but again great with black, navy or grey so a versatile option despite being brighter.

I could go on but I think that you get the picture. The things to bear in mind when shopping for a skirt with a little more volume in it are:

Floaty fabrics are better than rigid ones, the use of panelling can work a treat, look for A-line shaped skirts, or for those that flip out half way down, tone tights to shoes rather than the skirt, wear heels if possible - substantial ones are better than delicate ones and direct shimmer, colour, print, horizontal stripes and texture to your top half. Phew, hope that helps! x

Friday, 21 February 2014

Not a skinny jean or oversized scarf in sight - but totally overdressed for the pub!

A couple of nights ago now I went out with a group of friends to the pub. My thought process as to what to wear for the night went like this (I was in the shower at the time) "It's half term so I've been wearing jeans a lot. It would be nice to wear a dress. Oh I know, I have that Jaeger Boutique dress that I didn't really mean to keep and haven't worn so I'll wear that whether it really works or not because otherwise it's a waste."

With only little time to spare, having put it on I then decided to go for a pretty full on lipstick in terms of colour and then I added into the mix leopard print shoes AND a fur coat. Which is how I came to be totally over dressed for a trip to the pub - to the point that I didn't stand up once all night in case I drew attention to myself. But you know what? I'm glad I did it anyway as at least I've worn the dress now and it was definitely a change from jeans!


Thursday, 20 February 2014

Alice's Wonders - A treasure trove of sweetie coloured statement jewellery

After writing a post about a lovely Kate Spade necklace I had seen, I was contacted by Cathy who runs Alice's Wonders, a website which sells lovely statement jewellery in a sweetie shop selection of colours.
Having taken a look at the site, I fell in love with a couple of pieces which Cathy sent through to me to try. First of all I chose the blue vintage style statement necklace from Alice's Wonders (£9.75) - seen above.
Now, I know that I look a bit peaky in this photo below but so would you if you had just arrived for a two hour birthday party in a soft play area at 4pm on a Saturday evening. What a ridiculous time for a party. What idiot would arrange a party for that time? Oh that would be me then.
I really enjoyed wearing the necklace though and lots of people commented on how they liked it too. It's a fantastic price, a good weight and compares really favourably to many other pieces of statement jewellery that I own, some of which were much more expensive.

I also chose this statement pink necklace (£9) because predictably I fell for its colour and also its scale - it's not too chunky but substantial enough to be the right side of not too dainty - which is probably the most convoluted term ever but it describes it well!

Here I'm wearing the necklace with a very simple outfit and it just adds that all important splash of colour to it.

By way of background, Cathy is an ex City worked turned stay at home Mum to three small children. She has an avid interest in fashion and is very keen on a necklace, or two, or three. She was always looking for something slightly different to the High Street and loved Shourouk, J Crew, Kate Spade, Stella & Dot but on a much smaller budget and eventually she found a source of statement jewellery that offered just that - and so Alice's Wonders was born.

I'm also loving these pieces which you can find here. I can definitely vouch for their quality and general yumminess (that well known fashion term).

You can find Cathy on twitter at Alice's Wonders or you can contact her via email at

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Would you wear a peplum skirt? If so ASOS is the place to go!

I know, I really need to train the 6 year old on how to take photos with this iPhone. It's funny because with most technology she is away ahead of me - Netflix (I don't even know how to get it on), the iPad (she managed to rack up a bill of £25 the other day buy buying extra bits and bobs I didn't know about) and TV remotes she can work like a dream. I'm starting to smell a rat - and it smells of reluctance!

Anyway, no doubt many of you will be aware of the trend for peplum skirts. As with any new trend, I think that it is definitely worth taking a closer look at. As we get older, the options do narrow down, so if something is not too short, too low cut or too covered in slogans (amongst other things) it's definitely worth considering, even if it is subsequently de-considered (not that that is a proper word!)

 Unlike peplum tops, I can get my head around these. I never saw the purpose of peplum tops (on me at least) - the peplum just looked too contrived and as if it would get in the way. Why it should be different with peplum skirts I have absolutely no idea because arguably I should view them in the same way, but for some reason I don't (not yet anyway)!

This Whistles dress that I am wearing has a peplum skirt to it, although because it has a drop waist, it's not particularly fitted.

I haven't seen many in the stores as yet but ASOS has a great selection if you're tempted. The length can be tricky so bear in mind that heels and a fairly fitted top will be needed to get the proportions right.  What do you think - tempted or not?!

yellow peplum skirt ASOS (£55)

black and white peplum skirt ASOS (£55)

pink peplum skirt ASOS (£55)

floral pink peplum skirt ASOS (£45)

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Diamonds really are a girl's best friend (especially if you win some)!

It's really weird because when I'm sitting at my kitchen table, or I'm sat on the floor on the landing whilst the youngest is in the bath, or perched with the laptop on my knee whilst watching TV - all whilst writing the blog, I never imagine that anyone actually reads it - ever! Well apart from my Mum and a few friends of mine. I didn't start it thinking that anyone would ever read it and until it was short listed by Marie Claire for its fashion blog of the year award two years ago now, only about 40 people a day did read it, even though I had been writing it for a while.

But that was fine.  I wrote it because I loved doing it and that was my sole motivation, which was just as well because most people would probably have given up by that stage!  I suppose I started in the relatively early days of blogging and naively I had no idea that PR companies would approach me, that I would get invited to press days and all sorts of exciting events and that I would get the opportunity to write for, and work with, different brands. But perhaps that was a good thing because it was unexpected and nice when it happened but had it not, that too would have been fine.

All of that sounds a bit odd because now that the opportunities which come the way of a "successful" blogger are more widely known about, a lot of blogs are started with the aim of getting them as big as possible as quickly as possible - and good on those bloggers for doing that and for taking advantage of those opportunities.

Sometimes I get frustrated that I don't have the time to use social media to its full advantage and I struggle with the fact that I don't get the time to read and comment on the fantastic blogs out there but (like all of us) I have to remember that there are lots of demands on my time so I just have to do the best that I can.

So, when I found out that I had won the competition which I was invited to enter by 77 diamonds about what makes a best friend so special - and even more so when I saw the photo on their blog of Tobias, the co-owner, reading my post (see above) - it all felt a bit surreal. At least now I know that one person read it - on one day at least! And I'm delighted that Tobias liked what I wrote about my friends, who do all mean so much to me.

As yet I haven't decided what to spend the £1000 prize on, or how best I might use it to benefit someone else but when I have, I will let you know.  If in the meantime any of you have great ideas as to how I could do that, I'd love to hear them.

For anyone who wants to read the post about the competition, you can find it on the 77 diamonds' blog here

Monday, 17 February 2014

How to wear a fur gilet for a trip to the pub!

With two of the family in Italy and one in Greece, the youngest and I are having a little party for two of our own this week. So far we've done a whistle stop tour of friends and family and we have some other exciting things lined up - to include seeing the film "Frozen". It won't be just any old version though - oh no, we're talking the all singing, all dancing, "sing along" version. How jealous are you all now huh?!  Who needs Italy and Greece when you've got sing along Frozen in Birmingham?

So last night, I had a sneaky trip to my old local, where I also once worked. The youngest can't quite grasp taking photos on my new phone - it's all a bit big for her little hand and my Mum would probably try to turn the TV on with it or something, hence me looking like a plonky head in front of the mirror again.

I wore a Cos oversized top, Whistles bag, Faith shoes, New Look jeans and fur Primark gilet. I quickly glanced at an article in the Sunday Times Style Mag yesterday about gilets but I need to have a closer look to see what inner secrets I have revealed about myself by wearing one. Maybe it reveals that....I get quite cold. Or perhaps that's just a cover for something else more sinister.

This is a closer shot minus the fur gilet. I'm also wearing an Atterley Road bracelet bought as a Christmas present by a friend. I love it and wear it all the time. It's the right shade of blue to add a bit of a kick to an outfit. I did cop a couple of stares from the locals at my leopard print shoes. I guess they were a bit OTT for a night out in my local - but then I don't get out that much!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine's Day Jumper!


In the end I went ahead and bought the "Love" jumper from New Look (which is now £14.99 in the sale rather than the £19.99 that I paid for it. Not that I am bitter or anything!)

Given that today is Valentine's Day, I thought that it was the perfect opportunity to give it its first outing. I had two meetings today but as I didn't need to be overly smart I wore Primark coated jeans, New Look denim shirt and Zara boots. Later on in the day when I was cold, I wore my Primark furry gilet over it.

I have to say that I'm also quite liking this love heart Valentine's sweater from New Look, also £14.99. I think that the heart is a little bit sparkly too, which makes it even more attractive. Heavens knows what would happen if you put an iron near to it - it would probably curl up and die. So really it's just a good excuse not to iron it.

Just in case....

Just for info, the jumper I am wearing is a size 8 and has plenty of room, so no need to size up and for those with long arms (like me) there's plenty of length in the sleeves. And despite the fact that it is 100% acrylic, it really feels quite nice.

Big Valentine Kisses! xx

Thursday, 13 February 2014

One of my favourite looks and how to recreate it for the spring....

I wanted to do a round up of the "luxury joggers" that are available at the moment - as opposed to the sweat pant variety. They are a really great trouser style, lending themselves to both a more dressed up look of a blazer and heels, or a casual look of trainers and a sweatshirt, or into the summer, sandals and a pretty blouse.

This style trouser is a really accessible trend to many and let's face it, there aren't that many variations on a trouser theme really are there?! The fact that they have some width in the leg makes them more flattering to those with curvier hips than, say, a skinny jean. However the fact that they nip back in at the ankle stops any of that wafting business and keeps them looking fresh.  So if you haven't considered them before now as an option, now might be a good time to do so. 

This is a photograph from December but it conveys the look fairly well and there's no point in reinventing the wheel.

I spotted these crepe joggers from Topshop (£40) earlier in the week. They are the same style as the ones that I am wearing above (and featured below) and what I like about them is the flat waistband at the front. Those with a gathered waist band can sometimes give the effect of a little pouching in the tummy area - where of course really there is none! They are a good, heavy fabric too, which I like.

I thought that I would also show you a rear view because, having a slightly higher waistband, they can give the impression of a larger bottom. The obvious thing to do is to have a top which comes half way down your bottom, effectively cutting it in half. So what I'm saying is, don't be put off if you just try them on with a vest. Get hold of a top with a bit of length at the back, grab some heels and have another go - or try them with a blazer.

For a top with some length at the back, something along the lines of this peony print jumper from Warehouse (£42)...

...or this floral print jumper from Warehouse (£42) would be a good bet, if you didn't want to go down the blazer route.

These are the tailored joggers from Topshop (£38). Again they are a good weight fabric and look much more expensive than their price tag. Being darker, they may work better for some than the lighter pair above. Also the bottom issue may be less of an issue in a darker colour!

For a printed version, there's these floral joggers Topshop (£35). They are great for those who prefer the attention to be directed towards their bottom half and again have the versatility of being able to be styled up or down.

The blurred neon print trousers Warehouse (£35) have a good splash of yellow in them, so they may be attractive to those who have a bit of a yellow thing going on at the moment. I've seen these in real life - not tried them on - but I am interested enough to go back for a closer look when I have the time.

These silk joggers The White Company (£120) are obviously a more expensive option but it's nice to know that they are there if there's a special event that you have in mind. I really think that they could make a nice option for a spring/summer wedding, just by way of a change.

This gives you an idea of how the White Company has styled them for a smarter look. I love it - it's simple, stylish, sophisticated and relaxed and it's such an easy look to re-create without being too try hard.

I think that this is one of those looks that's quite exciting in that you might look at and think: "I like it but I couldn't, could I? Or could I?" Well, the answer is yes, give it a go! It's one that could work for so many age groups and body shapes.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Time to dig out the hardcore "Bumper" leopard print boots

I don't normally dig out the Bumper Boots until it snows but oh how it rained today - and blew a gale - and when I looked out of the window just before starting the school run, I knew that it was time for them to make an appearance.

How I came to own a pair of boots which now retail for £265 is beyond me - and from that perspective I do feel a bit bad writing about them.  However I bought them over 6 years ago now in a sale in a boutique in Ludlow. I am sure that I wouldn't have spent more than £75 on them - but then again I was pregnant at the time so perhaps I was having a pregnancy moment!

Their cow hide finish would, I have thought, meant that they were rubbish in the snow and rain - although perhaps that's the very reason that they're so good in the snow and rain. Cows do tend to be waterproof after all. I partly put it down to the raised sole, which means that I almost levitate above the puddles!

Anyway, wear them in the wind and rain I did, with the New Look jeans and a striped Boden cashmere jumper.

Tomorrow I have an early start as I have to be in the studios of BBC Radio WM by 7am. I have been asked to talk about the announcement by Ofsted to overhaul inspections of teacher training, to include a focus on teachers' clothes. They're planning on making a bit of a feature on it with some filming and social media activity surrounding it. So, if any of you would like to tune in, you can do so on 95.6 FM and the feature will be on at about 7.15 to 7.20am.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Thanks to M&S, today I have a bit of a floral/graphic/neon/metallic thing going on....


Before I go any further, the only link that I can find on the M&S website to these shoes is at the very bottom of this page. I am guessing that they may have sold out but it could just be the weird and wonderful workings of the M&S site.

I didn't think that I was going to have time to post today - and this is going to be pretty brief (thank the Lord I hear you all sigh!) but an hour unexpectedly became available to me. You see on a Tuesday between 5.30pm and 6.30pm I am usually to be found watching the youngest do ballet. "Miss Siobhan" prefers that we stay and watch, which is lovely. However, after a complaint by a mother a couple of weeks ago over the quality of the choreography for their show, today the parents were asked to leave. I'm dead chuffed - I can't remember the last time I was asked to leave anything. Sadly I missed all the kerfuffle because I was in the newsagents next door at the time buying Grazia, some drumstick sweets and a fruit shoot for the youngest (sssh, don't tell anyone!)

Anyway, carrying on from my post the other day about block heels, last week I also bought these pointed block heeled shoes from Limited Collection at M&S. There are lots of pointed toe shoes around, from flat pumps (LK Bennett had some great ones in the sale) to high heeled ones at Whistles and Clarks (sorry, no time for links!) and these mid height heeled ones, which also come in royal blue and black.

In the dead of winter, these looked a bit scary on the shelves in M&S but on, I really liked them. They have that whole graphic/floral/neon/metallic thing going on - so talk about killing lots of birds with one stone. And they look so fresh too. For the purpose of this post I wore them with a sequinned jumper from Whistles but there's lots of playing around to be had with these little fellas.

Really hope that everyone is managing in this terrible weather. I think that we're getting off lightly by all accounts but for those who aren't, I hope that things improve soon. x