Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The quickest spring wardrobe update...

Just beware, in reading this post you might need to make friends with your ironing board!

They were everywhere last year and it's the same this season too. White shirts. Blue shirts. Blue and white shirts, with frills if you like and maybe a stripe too. I could buy them endlessly and wear them endlessly, to the point that I wouldn't need much else in my wardrobe. They are just so fresh and fun and well, spring like.

I'm not great with t-shirts, they just seem to drown me and look scruffy and some hippy style tops do the same. But a shirt or a blouse? Well it offers just the right level of "smartness" and "put togetherness" without me feeling too overdressed. Plus I can layer them up or down depending on the weather which is good because I don't want to spend a huge amount on tops that I can only wear on the four sunny days of the year.

But I don't want a corporate look - hence there needs to be a bit of fun, frill or frou-frou to get the balance right. There are so many in all of the usual Zara, Warehouse, Topshop and H&M type haunts but here are just a few.

I bought this NEXT blue ruffle shirt (£28) on a whim whilst out shopping for an event. I had my arms full of suiting at the time but it caught my eye and I managed to hang it off my little finger. I'm so pleased that I bought it. So far I've worn it with navy culottes for a promo shoot at QVC, under dungarees and with jeans. It currently needs ironing :(

I spotted this Karen Millen super frill shirt (£115) a few weeks ago and immediately put it on Instagram. I love the fact that it's so fitted. Jeans and a frilly shirt make a perfect outfit combo for me. A frilly shirt just takes the jeans up a notch and gives me that feminine feel that I like, whilst still being practical and comfortable.

I saw this white shirt in Whistles today. It's the Margo Broderie tasselled blouse (£87.50 in the sale) and was the only piece that I went back and looked at again. I can just see it working with so many things (OK jeans or denim cut offs) in the summer. But what else do you need, apart from some cool trainers or espies?

The one slightly different option that intrigues me is the cross over shirt Zara (£25.99). I've seen a few and am tempted to give one a go. I also like that this has a V-neck so it's more flattering for those who are ample of bosom. In addition, because the stripes aren't horizontal, they are also more flattering. Imagine the potential for dishwasher hazards if it not only had this long dangly crossover bit, but huge sleevage too. A recipe for dishwasher disaster methinks!

And then, just in case it does reach more than 17 degrees sometime between  now and next winter, there's the asymmetric striped shirt from Zara (£29.99) which I love. OK so some clever wit is going to ask you if you've lost a sleeve en route (probably your husband) but that's no reason not to indulge your inner glam mam!

And I've included this image because I like not only the bemused look but also the fact that it made it onto the Zara website. I think that if only she swapped her shirt for a blue or white one of the striped, frilly, off the shoulder, cross-over variety, life would suddenly all make a whole lot more sense.

Monday, 27 February 2017

There's definitely no sign of spring in these steps - but they are the perfect snow boots

These boots were my saviour whilst away last week. Not once did I have chilly toes, plus they're light with great support in the in-step. In fact they're so comfortable that I barely took them off.

I'd obviously heard about Sorel boots and how fabulous they were and for a few years I've been after an excuse to buy some. But not being a rugby or a football Mum and not having the need for them in everyday City life, they weren't about to make an appearance in my wardrobe. And signing your child up for a sport he doesn't really like just so that his Mum has an excuse to buy a pair of boots that she does like. Well, in his words, that would be a bit "peak."

But then? Then I saw via Instagram that Travelling Bazaar in Farnham had some in the sale and they caught - or more specifically the bright laces - caught my attention. And with a week away in the snow on the horizon. Well. Say no more.

I've linked to the Sorel page on the Travelling Bazaar website here but more specifically to the a3 Sorel Galaxy Explorer, which I am wearing, here. They are still available in sizes 37, 37.5, 38 and 38.5 for anyone who is contemplating a pair and they are reduced from £110 to £85.

Right, I had better be off as I have a very early start tomorrow. I'm doing 4 shows with QVC and have to be at the studios by 7am. But first I think that I might just take a closer look at the Travelling Bazaar website. I think that they may have a few gems. I love a good boutique and sadly we are pretty short on them around here...

Monday, 13 February 2017

Toasty whilst running in the snow, thanks to Cocobay

We awoke on Saturday morning to a sprinkling of snow, which I really love running in. It was so pretty out, although it didn't last long and by the time that we got home, the snow had nearly disappeared.

I was so toasty and comfortable in what I was wearing, thanks in part to these bodyglove leggings from Cocobay which are totally brilliant in this weather. They are made from moisture wicking fabric and one of the great things about them is that they kept me at a constant (warm) temperature for the entire run - and have done so on previous long runs too.

Somehow these leggings look so more exotic in the sun!

One of the other things that I love about them, is the waistband. When I first tried them I wondered whether they were a bit snug around the waist but in fact they're not. After a minute or two I'm totally unaware of the waistband, which is wide and fitted and it doesn't shift, not even a millimetre, on a really long run. So whereas before I was stopping and hoiking (I'm not sure if that's a proper word - but you know what I mean) my leggings up every few miles, there's no shifting with these whatsoever. And I know that they must be good because now when a long run is suggested, these pop into my mind as being the leggings that must be washed and ready for action.

I'm also wearing the Seafolly Flower Festival Windbreaker hoodie, also from Cocobay. I really love the print and styling of this jacket and the hood offered perfect protection from the elements without making my head over heat, which hats can do. There are toggles on the hood so that it can be pulled tight enough so that it doesn't fall off. It really is a most attractive look from the front!!! When the warmer weather comes I will be able to lose my heavier jacket but for now at least, I like to layer them up together.

I shall be interested to see how the leggings feel in the warmer months and whether they adjust to the heat. They will definitely be coming skiing with me next week as I think that they will be great under salopettes....that is if I get as far as the slopes. But if not, they will be great for running in (if the conditions permit) or for HIIT training (am I allowed to say whilst watching Joe Wicks without his top on - which is actually quite a pleasant sight)?!

Oh and don't forget that you can get 15% off Cocobay's new range of Activewear with the code BETHACTIVE

Saturday, 11 February 2017

A pretty layer

Oh golly we're all ready for the daffodils to start making their way through the ground aren't we? And the opportunity of casting the odd layer aside would be nice too. But until such time, I thought that I would show you a lovely layering top that just might make your winter jumpers seem a little less winter like. And this one comes in a daffodil colour too!

I bought this topshop long sleeve pie crust frill top (£19) in this green colour earlier in the week. It would great under a grey or navy crew neck jumper. Sometime I just want something a little bit pretty and a little less practical than my plain white long sleeved t-shirts that I layer under pretty much anything and everything throughout the winter months.

This Me & Em pleat trim collar layering shirt (£99) is a gorgeous top too and would do just the same job. Or it could be worn alone or layered underneath a biker or leather jacket.

And I'm a real sucker for a pussy bow, so this Me & Em frill detail layering shirt (£79) holds huge amounts of appeal.

If anyone has come across any dungarees recently that they really like, I would love to know. I've just tried the Boden ones but they are too loose and some H&M ones that I tried are way too tight - think of a cross between high waisted 1970's style Y-fronts and laderhosen. They did make me laugh though. The Topshop ones don't look quite right and I just can't bring myself to take my clothes off in town to try anything on at the moment - unless I think that I'm on to a winner. So all suggestions would be much appreciated. I've now decided that I would love some - even more so with one of the layering tops underneath. Thank you in advance!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

An easy new season trend that we can all give a go!

Ruffle hem ponte trousers from Topshop (£24)

We've all the seen the ruffled, fluted, dip them in your coffee, get them caught in the dishwasher, sleeves of the last few seasons. They are everywhere, they are lovely and they are here to stay - but it's also the turn of the ruffle hem.

As a concept I very much like the idea of them. A black trouser with a frill at the bottom? Yes I can definitely go there. And I won't get them caught in the dishwasher either. Well, unless I'm doing some kind of contortion whilst filling it. I shouldn't really trip over them either, which has been known to happen with wide trousers and pointy toed shoes. Plus I can go trainers and a blazer with a slogan t-shirt, or kitten heels and a sparkly jumper. So they tick the versatile box too.

Waffle mermaid trousers from Topshop (£39)

Topshop also have this pair too, which we should all buy just because of their name. Who doesn't want to be likened to a mermaid on a daily basis?
A closer view of the mermaid trousers

High waist circle flare trousers Topshop (£95)

You know what I just said about tripping up? I might fear for my safety in these but those who are loftier than I am could no doubt pull them off a treat. And don't be scared of the double ruffle or fluted hem. Here the ruffled sleeve and ruffled hem have been mixed with aplomb.  

I suspect that we will see these everywhere this season so keep an eye out and have a play. I have the first Topshop pair on order, so I'll give them a go when they arrive and let you know how I get on. My hopes are high!

Friday, 3 February 2017

My Charlotte Tilbury Make-Up experience

After Christmas, I created a list of things that I wanted to do this year - and one of them was to have my make-up done by Charlotte Tilbury. We have one in our local Selfridges and people always talk really positively about the experience, so yesterday I bit the bullet.

There are 10 Charlotte Tilbury "looks" to choose from ranging from - amongst others - "the Ingenue" to "the Sophisticate", "the Bombshell" and "the Rebel". You just go and choose the look you like, they make you up and then you can buy the make-up to re-create the look you've chosen.

As I was going to parents' evening, I decided not to go for the full on rock chick look but instead I opted for Uptown Girl, which is a pared back version of rock chic (and obviously I looked just like the model below!!!!)

All started off really well. First of all my make up was taken off - the lotion or cream used felt a bit gloopy but that's just one of those things. Then the make up was applied by the lovely Sharon in the following order:

Foundation, Eyebrow pencil, Eye shadow x4, Eye liner, Mascara, Concealer, Bronzer, Highlighter
Blusher, Lip liner, Lipstick, Lip gloss - now that's a lot of make-up! But Sharon was great, showing me in the mirror how she did things, talking me through why she was doing things and so on. The difference for me was the smoky eye with a pale lip look. I wasn't sure if it suited my colouring and wearing so much make up, I felt, made me look older. Sharon said to go home and see what my husband thought.

The Ingenue - Fresh faced and effortlessly cool

The problem came in my right eye, which quickly started to water. Which made my eye make-up run. And then my nose started to run too. I asked Sharon whether anyone had ever been allergic to the make-up and the answer was no. So I didn't think any more of it.

After I'd had my make-up done one of the girls on the counter kept looking at me. And then she came over. I was sure that she was going to say how lovely my make-up looked but instead she said:

"Did you know that your jacket is on inside out? It's a bit like when you have a leaf in your hair and no-one tells you and I couldn't let you walk around like that all day. "

Pride. Fall. Lesson learned.

The rock chic - she's the coolest girl around

And then I got home and my eye continued to water and my nose continued to run. And before parents' evening I had to wipe all the black marks off my face. By the time I got to parents' evening, I felt lousy. And then when I got home and looked in the mirror and I saw what the poor teachers had had to look at (plus all the parents I'd spoken to) I felt very sorry for them. Deep creased eyeshadow, a smudged face, watery eye and runny nose. Great.

And by the time my husband saw me? It was not a pretty sight. By that time not only was I all of the above but I was also tired, hungry and grumpy and rather than admiring my gorgeous new "Uptown Girl" make up look, everyone ran away from the runny eyed, runny nosed, grumpy person.

The Rebel - Brave, bold, beautiful

Do you want to hear the story of me trying to take it off? No? Well I'll share it anyway. After about 55 wipes my face was streaked with black from the industrial creosote type mascara. The lashes were spectacular, as was the mess the mascara made. Oh the relief in getting it all off. I felt like me again (warts and all!)

So would I go back? Absolutely. Fortunately the base make up that they used was out of stock as I'm sure that's what caused the reaction but I bought the eye palette, the blusher and the lipstick. The make up brushes and the lip liner was also out of stock which wasn't a great selling point but hey ho.

The Bombshell - Born gorgeous, empowered by make-up

I had to swallow a little before I paid for what I'd bought but I can't actually remember the last time that I bought any make up so I bit the bullet. And then when I got home? Luckily the tax man had refunded me the exact amount that I'd spent on the make up. I took that as a good sign.  

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Coco Bay launches its activewear range

Cocobay are already well known to many for their fabulous swimwear, beachwear and accessories. They stock brands such as Seafolly, Banana Moon and Baki. Part of their appeal to me is that they have a section dedicated to DD/E/F bra sizes plus a great choice of bikinis and swimming costumes which fit and flatter like other brands just can't. I have several happy clients who have used their service and who wouldn't now dream of shopping in a store for their swimwear.

The girls at Coco Bay also know their stock really well and give great customer service, to the point that recently they won Feefo's "Excellence in Customer Service Award".  On the back of all of that, they have recently expanded into activewear, with their philosophy being simple:

"Together with our award winning Customer Service, we aim to make buying activewear easy and totally un-intimidating for our customers. We are offering our own unique edit of products that all combine quality and innovation along with style that is aspirational yet approachable."

Loving Coco Bay as I do, I was really interested to see that they would be including activewear in their range and I couldn't wait to see their collection. When I discovered that it included Seafolly (many pieces of which are exclusive to Coco Bay), I knew that it would be great.  Being a bit of a runner and a lover of exercise, I was delighted to be able to try out a selection of their pieces

First off, the jacket. Oh this is so gorgeous. I'm wearing the Seafolly Activewear Flower Festival Windbreaker Hoodie I  love that it's both feminine and practical. With its pretty print and cropped style it's just lovely. It would also be a great piece for a festival, or a beach holiday so unlike some active wear jackets which have "sports gear" written all over them, this would be multi-functional.

On my bottom half, I'm wearing the Bodyglove Activewear Wonderland Tsunamui Capri Leggings  in multi. These have mesh inserts to assist with ventilation which is handy on a long run. They are also super stretchy so great for yoga or pilates and the fabric just feels a lovely quality.

Bodyglove (who make the above leggings) is a brand that I haven't come across before but it was started over 60 years ago by twin brothers in Missouri, who made the first practical wetsuit. It is still a family owned surf/dive brand and they have now expanded into beach and activewear. Given the fabric and fit of these leggings, the brand's history doesn't surprise me. As Coco Bay are the only UK stockists of Bodyglove, if you're not a fan of being seen in the same as everyone else, this could just be for you.

The long sleeved top that I am wearing is also by Bodyglove and it's the Chinook mesh hooded top in diva red. It's a looser fitting hoodie, which will have particular appeal to some as not everyone likes close fitting layers. It's made from a lightweight mesh, breathable fabric and I  have to say that the combination of this top and the jacket meant that I was warm but that the air was circulating - if you get my drift!

What really appeals to me is that the Coco Bay founder, Belinda Robinson found the concept of activewear completely alien and it was only when trying on the samples from Seafolly and Bodyglove that she appreciated what the fuss was all about. It's true what she says, the products really do feel amazing on (much nicer than most of the slightly shabby washed out stuff that I wear) and I am led to believe, by my friend, that the leggings are flattering.

And I think that all of the above is important for anyone just entering the activewear clothing arena, as well as those already well and truly in it. Like pyjamas and underwear and all of those things that we "make do" with because we don't feel that they really matter, sports wear often gets neglected. However I have to say, with particular reference to the leggings, wearing some that don't fall down, or ride up, or cut you in half, that breathe and stretch and make you look better than you do - well that's a revelation that has me jumping for joy.

Oh and just as a little enticement, there's a 15% discount off all of the lovely activewear with the code BETHACTIVE!