Sunday, 29 March 2015

A couple of M&S beauties (including some nightwear) and a compliment....or not?!

Following on from my last post, I didn't get an opportunity to get a photo of what I wore on Saturday whilst working with M&S but the only thing that I substituted was the top and I wore this Kimono top (£29.50). It's a lovely silky fabric, not too clingy, not too long, lovely wide sleeves and a pretty print. It also comes in the M&S blossom print (£29.50).

The top comes up on the generous side but I managed with the size 8. It's a great top to throw on to smarten up a pair of jeans or to wear to work without the need for a fussy blouse or the faff of ironing a shirt. If you feel that it might be limited in its appeal because of its wide sleeves, which might make wearing a jacket tricky, rest assured, you can get plenty of layers underneath it!

Whilst perusing the undies and nightwear section, I came across this lovely range of nightwear...

This is the M&S neon embroidered short set (£25) - which I might just have bought. I love shorts and a top for the summer and as this is 100% cotton it will keep me cool on those boiling hot summer nights, which are of course on the way now that the clocks have changed (!)

The range also contained this M&S neon embroidered chemise (£17.50), together with a wrap which doesn't appear on line but which is definitely in store.

This range also appealed to the navy fan in me...

M&S ikat print short (£12.50) - I didn't see a printed top in store or on-line but I recall that they were being sold with a navy vest top.

There's also the M&S Ikat print chemise (£16)

And the M&S Ikat print wrap (£19.50). It's easy to neglect our nightwear but one or two new pieces can make your wardrobe feel complete. Of course it's much easier when you find something that you would be happy to wear as outerwear too - either because of the print or colour - and for me these tick that box perfectly.

So, recently I've had a couple of conversations that have got me thinking about getting older - not that it bothers me I hasten to add, I just count myself lucky to still be around. Both conversations have made me smile. Both were meant to be compliments. But I think that one was slightly more successful than the other.

First conversation:

I was taking our eldest to an interview for a sixth form place at a local grammar school. On walking in, the receptionist looked at our daughter and asked her to sign in. She then looked at me and said: "Mom, it is Mom isn't it? I didn't like assume because you look too young to have a 16 year old daughter. Can you just wait here please?" Now that was a good compliment.

Second conversation:

This took place with someone who was working on the loyalty event with me at M&S this weekend. She told me how she had been for a casting with QVC to sell a range of clothing but that she hadn't been successful because she was too young and too glamourous. And then her exact words to me were: "You would be perfect for it though." Hmmm. The conversation then turned to my age and when I told her that I was 44, she commented that she really was surprised to hear that I was quite as old as that. Once again. Hmmmm.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Working with M&S and wearing their Autograph floral blouse and Limited Collection striped shoe (with just a little something between the two!)

I've been working with M&S in Birmingham today at their loyalty event, presenting hourly shows between 11am and 6pm and I'll be there again tomorrow for anyone who would like to drop by and say hi. As well as selecting the outfits and accessories to talk about, I have to choose something to wear myself. I usually end up leaving about 20 seconds flat to choose something and today this is what I ran with.....

...collared neck floral blouse Autograph (£35)

This sold out in store today, so tomorrow I think that I may have to swap it for something else. It's a really lovely shirt though and I also managed to layer a vest and long-sleeved top underneath for added warmth. Although the 8 fitted fine and would have worked with a skirt, because my trousers were so fitted I wanted a slightly looser silhouette on the top half so went I with a size 10.

I still cannot believe that I am about to say this but this pair of Treggings (£35) is quite possibly the most comfortable pair of trousers that I have ever worn. I had a microphone pack clipped to the back of them all day and they didn't move an inch. No gape, no moving when I bent down, thick supportive fabric and no bagging whatsoever. Everyone on the team was really impressed with them.

I've read the reviews just to see what others thought and it seems that people were unanimous in their love of the quality but reviews were mixed as to fit, which is understandable really given that we come in all different shapes and sizes. They come in black, navy and burgundy and different leg lengths too.

I also wore this Limited Edition striped shoe, which are sadly out of stock on line but there were still a few pairs in our store.

As to things that I have my eye on, a draped mac is steadily heading its way up my list of "items I would like to have in my spring wardrobe." I've been working with the one from M&S Collection (£75) all day, although I haven't had a chance to try it yet (there's always tomorrow) and there's also one at Autograph (£99). Personally I prefer them when they are un-done and a little more flappy!

I've also been working with these wedge loafers by Limited Edition (£23.60) today and I really like them but I must try them tomorrow to check them out for fit and comfort. I love a metallic shoe and these would look great with boyfriend jeans, a breton top and a mac like the one above.

I will be in the store early tomorrow so that I can suss out what has been delivered overnight, so that I can swap the outfits around a little and so that I can choose a different top to wear. Watch this space! Oh and one of the Managers was wearing the leather ponte leggings (£99) today and she swore by them - just in case anyone was tempted.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Can I per(suede) you to come along for the fringing ride?

I've never really been a fan of fringing and I'm thinking very much no to these....(Zara £99.99)

But on the other hand I could quite easily be persuaded by these - they are much more subtle. Love the suede - such a big fabric for the season - and I'm always a sucker for a wooden heel...

and as for these, well they're pretty much a done deal. Lovely with pretty white dresses, lovely with flares, great with a boho style dress...

and as for this. Well this would integrate itself easily and seamlessly into my wardrobe...

 ...and this is just fun, fun, fun - and all wardrobes need a little bit of that from time to time!

1. Leather fringe t-bar black sandals Next £58
2. Leather fringe t-bar tan sandals Next £58
3. Blue fringe hobo bag Next £34
4. Fringe cross body bag Next £30

Are you with me or running to the hills at the thought of a little bit of fringing. If I can't tempt you with fringing, how about a tassel - or two??!!

5. Blue tassel bracelet Next £10

You know the saying that the apple never falls far from the tree? Well our youngest has been invited to take part in gym competition but has refused on the basis that....she doesn't like the leotard. As I started to roll my eyes in despair, I was suddenly struck by a memory of a little girl who refused, point blank, to even consider joining brownies because she didn't like the horrible brown outfit that they had to wear and as for the yellow neck thing. Yuk. Hmmm. Wonder who that might have been? Time to un-roll those eyes, if that's possible.

Monday, 23 March 2015

A layered look from H&M and Jigsaw

You know me, I love a bit of layering. In this outfit I've layered tops of different lengths to create a bit of a "look" - rather than just layering lots of tops to keep me warm, which is what I spend quite a lot of my life doing. Unless you're on the leggy side, I think that it's better if the shirt layer isn't too long, or else it can make one's legs look shorter - and then to get a cropped outer layer.

The shirt is an H&M one that I bought a while ago. It was an alternative to a J Crew one which cost a fortune and which was never going to feature in my wardrobe. The sweatshirt is a Jigsaw one that I bought after Christmas in the sale.

I've received a few new things through the post recently which I hope to share with you shortly and I've also worked with some truly lovely ladies recently so there's a lot to share but for now I'm going to have to save that for another day....

Friday, 20 March 2015

Adding warmth to your outfit - this time in the style of a kimono shaped jacket

For a chilly wimp bag like myself, I have to come up with new ways and styles of keeping warm. Quite often I will wear a jersey blazer over a finer knit jumper, or a boucle style jacket, of which I have a couple. However just before Christmas I ordered the Barcelona cardigan from Boden (£44), which also comes in navy and charcoal.

Liking the fact that I could wrap it around myself to keep myself snug, I went on to order this Rye Kimono jacket from Baukjen (reduced from £169 to £84). So much of the knitwear available at the moment is oversized so if like me you can't carry it off, or if a bit of waist definition suits your shape better, these style jackets/cardis are a pretty good option.

I think that I look a bit like I'm off to do my karate. I'm not quite sure how you translate the sound of a karate chop into words but I'll try "Haaaaaa Yaaaaa." How did I do?

Speaking of going off to do things, tomorrow a friend and myself are going to do a 12km mud run. The words "lung busting, lung burning and waist deep water" feature in the literature. Sounds fun don't you think?

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

It may still be too cold for an ankle flash and I don't dare to bare my legs, so the only answer is to lighten the colour palette....

Zara coat, Boden jumper and jeans, Marc Jacobs bag, Whistles boots, Reiss scarf

I don't know about you but I'm looking forward to those days when it's warm enough to go without socks or, just imagine this, tights! The thought of losing a layer is bliss but for now, that's not going to happen. Despite today's sun it was still only 3 degrees (cue a 1970's pop song) so whilst in my head it was sunny enough to be in a floaty summer dress, in reality it was anything but.

However, lightening the colours can lift the spirits, so after choosing a lighter coloured jumper I followed the trend with a lighter coloured coat and a scarf too. I drew the line at a bag of the same colour. That would have been a Duchess of Cornwall step too far.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Just a little Mother's Day hello...

Jeans: Zara. boots and jacket: Whistles, Roll neck jumper: Boden. Coat: M&S, Bag: Kate Spade

I hope that you have all had a lovely Mother's Day and that you have been very spoiled. 

It's been fun here. It started with a very long run through some interesting areas of Birmingham. The "arse end" I think were the words that I used. "Victorian" was the description given by my slightly more refined friend but in any event it involved lots of canals, tunnels and industrial buildings. Naturally the day included a little bit of shopping, albeit of the online variety. 

When it came to the purchases, I was quite liberal with my finger on the button but I had the wise words of a friend ringing in my ears. "It's only like going to the changing room really isn't it?" Oh indeed it is. And if you're going to end up going to the sorting office to pick up a parcel, it may as be a big one.  

As to the outfit, a friend of mine always sizes up in a coat and it's a wise move to make as it allows for an extra jacket to be worn underneath, which on occasions can be handy. 

I wasn't sure whether I would wear my ripped jeans much but so far I think they've justified their expenditure and in fact they were nearly pilfered by our eldest for a party next week. I have to keep a close eye on things in this house, I can tell you. 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The five "go with everything" pieces for spring/summer that will last year after year...

There are a few things that come around each spring/summer that will go with pretty much everything and will come to your rescue on many occasions. Whilst that's also true of plain white T's and such like, I couldn't face a wardrobe full of them, so I wanted to bring you things that you would look at and really like - not only because they do a great job but because they are also lovely in their own right.

None of this is revolutionary and I'm slightly concerned that  it will come across as patronising but for those not in a position to start from scratch every season, these should last for years.  And going back to basics is never a bad thing. Sometimes it's about shopping smarter not harder and having a good plan of attack, rather than a random scatter gun approach. The pieces that I have suggested may need to be tweaked to suit your own shape but hopefully they should act as a guide....

1. The go with everything necklace...

This one is from Jigsaw and costs £49. I realise that's on the pricey side for an everyday necklace but with its neutral colour this one works with so many things and it will still look good in ten years time. It has a lovely sparkle about it which is just enough but not too much for those who don't like full on bling.

2. The go with everything top...

Remember I said this post wasn't revolutionary? Well this is one such top that is anything but revolutionary but it has stood the test of time and can be worn with anything from jeans to silky track pants and heels, to a printed skirt or with cut offs on the beach. It's one of those pieces that straddles the generations, social events and budget without blinking an eye. Over the years my favourite ones have come from H&M (£12.99 - top) and Jigsaw (£39 - bottom).

3. The other go with everything top...

Tops can be tricky little fellas. They may be OK for work but not for home, and vice versa, for wearing in the evening but not the day time and some are hugely expensive. So a lace top like this one from Warehouse (£36) (or something similar as the one I was after initially has sold out) transcends all of those beautifully. If you can think of something working with both cut-offs and also at a wedding, then you know that you're on to a winner.

4. The go with everything shoe...

A tan shoe is another great summer "go with everything" piece whether it's worn with rolled up boyfriend jeans or a pretty dress. With all things 70s being so huge, they're having even more of a moment than usual. I like tan because it works so well with lots of base colours and it's less harsh than black but a white shoe can work really well too.

I like these from Clarks (£65) which are very Hobbs NW3 looking in their appearance. Some prefer more of a covered sandal for work and these offer that. They are also heading slightly towards a peep toe boot style which we've seen more of over the past couple of summer seasons, so whilst it's a slightly different look to get one's head around, I think that this style will be here to stay.

For a white option, the Nancy sandal from Topshop (£45) are pretty good.  They also come in black - for those who can't be persuaded by tan or white.  

5. The go with everything jersey blazer

For my final item it was a bit tricky to know whether to go with a pair of trousers, a skirt, a dress or a blazer but in the end I've gone with a jersey blazer because it's good for in or out of work and it can do such a great job of lifting outfits, making them look that one notch smarter than what may lie beneath! Add in a printed scarf and some sunglasses and all will be well with the world.

I like this Whistles one (£95) but GAP and Next usually have some good jersey options too, which aren't too expensive. The Whistles 25% discount (WH25SS15) is still valid.

And I wanted to include this just because I love it. I saw it in Cos (£135) earlier in the week and loved it because of it's stripes and also because it has a pink stripe down the back which is so pretty. I thought that  I might be able to sneak it in as my "go with everything" coat but I know that some would baulk at a striped coat, so I'll leave it on the sidelines for now!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Denim, denim, denim....what is it all about? Well I (may) have the answer.

So, you may ask yourself, how can it be that denim is a trend this season? As we all know, denim is always all over the high street, so it's difficult to see how it can be new, fresh, or updated in anyway. Well it can and here I've done a whizz through how you might wear it slightly differently than you have done before.

When it comes to jeans, we've gone from bootleg, to skinnies, to boyfriend and mom and now (back) to flares but wide leg jeans haven't really had a moment of their own. However Whistles (£95) has this pair which are a lovely change from our usual suspects - and they are surprisingly flattering. Don't forget the 25% Grazia discount at Whistles until the 15th. Boden also has a pair too.

These GAP denim joggers (£34.95) are a nice soft, lightweight fabric for the summer and the shape is a refreshing change too. I love them with heels but they will look equally good with flats - either pointy, or lace-up ballerinas, maybe deck shoes, espadrilles or the nerdy sandals I wrote about the other day. Lots of options so have a play!

There are lots of dungarees around and with many brands sold out, people may want to take a look at these Whistles slim dungarees (£120). I like how they've styled them here - much more sophisticated than some takes on them (my own included!!)

I've been in two minds about denim jackets for many years now but I really like this Whistles frayed edge denim jacket (£95). I think that it's because it doesn't have a collar, which makes it look more up to date. Lovely with a white cotton dress and silver shoes in the spring.

Then there's the GAP bomber jacket (£44.95) - again a more modern shape than the traditional very boxy shape of the 90's. There's 40% off at GAP at the moment too (if you sign up for their emails) which makes their clothing a really good price.

I've been waiting for these Warehouse denim culottes (£42) to come into the stores for ages. They have just appeared on line. That length could be tricky, very tricky and most mere mortals may need heels to pull them off but I shall investigate further and let you all know!

OK so this isn't so much out there as a wardrobe staple. It's the Miss Selfridge shirt dress (£42) which seems to be in limited supply at the moment - probably for good reason. I like a shirt dress for the summer. It's great for lots of shapes and don't be put off by the pockets, even if you do have a curvier bust. Kirsty was wearing a shirt dress on Location only moments ago and it looked great on her and she's not lacking in the boobage department.

When it comes to a shirt or blouse, this French Connection denim shirt from John Lewis (£50) is a refreshing change from a more traditional style. Because it's quite short, it should work well with a higher waisted full style skirt as hopefully it won't cover the waistband - again I'll report back once I've tried it.

I felt that I needed to update my own home made denim cut offs and yesterday I bought these GAP boyfriend shorts (£29.95). I liked the colour, the slightly slouchy fit, the length and the price. I wasn't so sure about me in them and I found the ribbed marks around my legs from my socks slightly off putting but you can't have everything.

And finally for shoes, GAP have these denim sneakers (£29.95), which are an easy denim addition to make to your wardrobe.

There is so much denim out there at the moment and this is only the tip of the denim ice-berg but hopefully it will offer a flavour of what is available. There's also a great boiler suit/jumpsuit in GAP but I can't see it on line. Has anyone tried it? Would love to hear about it if so!

Monday, 9 March 2015

One to ponder - orthopaedic looking sandals - will you or won't you?

It started with the return of Birkenstocks last summer and since then things have gone from bad to worse. I think that there's a conspiracy in the fashion world. Their aim is to see how many suckers can be persuaded to wear their hideously ugly sandals, whilst thinking that they're stylish.

Well I, for one, am prepared to hold myself out as one such sucker because I really like (some of) them - although I'm not quite sure how it has happened. I'm always a fan of a comfortable shoe and somehow, the gentle exposure to them, the systematic de-sensitisation of ugly shoes in the same way that it is used as therapy to combat someone's fear of spiders, has worked.

Dresses that I previously though I was going to part with are now taking on a new lease of life (in my head at least) with the addition of a pair of sandals such as these. A tan and pedicure are mandatory I think to pull these off. Non hairy legs would help too. Urrgh. Now I'm coming back to thoughts of hairy spiders. Yuk.  So a quick whizz through what is out there reveals these beauties...

The topshop humidity sandal (£26) is a relatively inexpensive option for anyone first dipping their (perfectly pedicured) toe into this style of sandal.

The Holly velcro sandal Whistles (£140) is not an inexpensive option but I think that I may try them for research purposes only...

The New Look embellished ankle strap sandal (£15.99) comes in three different colours and is heading towards a flat form sandal - a style that has been trying for several years to take off in a major way but which hasn't quite managed yet. A bit like tofu really.

Whilst the top three styles are different to this silver Birkenstock (£44.95) these are really where it all began. Right now I've run out of things to say. It happens sometimes - not often - but these have left me speechless.

Good old Clarks have jumped on the comfy, ugly shoe, bandwagon with the Clarks moon sandal (£50) - which sounds like it should be worn around a camp fire whilst wearing cheese cloth - not that I'm dissing that. Sounds like fun to me, especially if marshmallows are involved.

The Clarks slider (£52) are slightly more fashion forward - really they are the Clarks take on the Birkenstock.

In all honesty I'm not sure where that leaves me. What do you all think? I like to be open minded because otherwise we get stuck in that big old fashion rut of "I can't, I won't, I did it before so I can't do it again, I'm too old, it's just not me" etc and before we know it we wear the same things year after year. On the other hand not every trend should be followed slavishly. Then again, comfortable shoes should never be sniffed at. So on balance I'm coming down in favour of the first three styles. As to the last three - maybe not. Until I go and buy some tomorrow of course....