Sunday, 25 September 2016

The best flat, comfortable, boots out!

A few weeks ago I treated myself to these grey suede boots from Zara. I'm still not quite sure what it was about them that appealed to me but I really liked them. Maybe it's because I haven't seen them around that much so they felt quite fresh - but I suspect in reality that it was the grey that got me. Plus the white soles - and the fact that I can walk in them.

Try as I might, I can't find them on the site but I've come to realise that I'm quite often rubbish at finding things online after I've bought them. If anyone likes them enough to hunt them down (with success) do let me know!

I appear to have a cow on my shoulder!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Dotty P floral midi dress...

We all know that the world was inundated with floral midi dresses during the summer - and it hasn't stopped there. They are everywhere but it's only really this Dorothy Perkins floral midi dress (was £45 now £34.20) that has made me want to commit. There are some great ones around and I'll share my favourites in another post but what sold this one to me was a) the colours b) the fabric (it feels like silk, not like nylon) c) the band around the neck which has that sporty nod to it and which stops it from feeling too "Grandma" like d) the fit - it's not like a nightie (or a maternity dress) to wear, which is always my slight concern.

I wore this dress last night to an event that I went to with the White Company and boy did I stand out - not only like a sore thumb but like an entire sore fist. Frankly I'm surprised that I wasn't asked to leave for spoiling the neutral aesthetic of the store. I'm off to London on Friday so it's coming with me there on a trip. I'm quite interested to see what mischief we can get up to together.  Have a great weekend, if I don't see you all again before then. x

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Three ways to style the "slip" trend into the Autumn...

[Layering up the M&S slip dress that I bought in the summer with a pussy bow shirt and a silk bomber jacket]

So you know how there was this whole slip thing going on in the summer? Well it's continued on into the autumn too. Slip dresses are great because it's easy enough to layer something underneath them, such as this black ribbed turtleneck from H&M (£24.99). I love a turtleneck, in fact I think a black ribbed turtleneck was the first thing that I ever bought from Jigsaw when I was 21. And as you get older, they're great because there's less for your chins to rest on, compared to a polo neck :)  Equally a chunkier jumper can be layered over the top of them, so they're pretty versatile little numbers.

Now, I currently have my eye on this Zara silk feel batik dress (£49.99). I first saw a couple of weeks ago and I had another look last week. Next week I might actually try it on. I like the idea of it with the black turtleneck underneath it on Christmas day. A bit dressy but not too dressy and with a pair of ankle boots or biker boots, it would be good for everyday too. Then when the spring comes I can wear it with a white t-shirt underneath, Stans and off we go again into another season with it.

Another option that might be a little easier to imagine wearing, is this M&S lace trim skirt (£35 but with code SEPT16A12 there's a 20 per cent discount). Again it would work with the black turtleneck, a chunkier short cream jumper, a blouse, or a cami top for an evening out. I think that I will be wearing mine with a denim shirt and leather jacket rather than more dressed up - but we'll see.

And then for those who prefer the idea of something "slip like" on the top half rather than as a dress or skirt, there's this M&S  sleeveless lace trim camisole top (£22.50 which again has a 20 per cent discount with the same code). It could be worn with boyfriend jeans, a white t-shirt and chunky loafers for a weekend feel, maybe with a chunky cardi thrown over. Or I fancy it with smarter navy tapered trousers, ankle boots and a navy t-shirt.

So, will anyone be slip sliding their way into the Autumn with me in something of the slip variety? 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

A cheeky little Zara knotted top

OK so I'll hold my hands up before anyone else comments. Those of you with eagle eyes will have noticed that there is some white vest on show in these photographs. In my defence it was cold this morning and as I hadn't worn the top before I didn't know how everything would hang together (or hang out?) Anyway, badly, would seem to be the answer. Now I've run, showered, and replaced the vest with a blue one I could re-do the photos but hec, I'm off to see Bridget Jones' Baby tonight and there's the dinner to be cooked, another school run to do and a gym trip to do before then, so white flashes of vest it is. Will you forgive me?!

I bought this Zara poplin top with knot (£29.99) a few weeks ago now but it's still available for anyone who likes it. It's one of those tops that falls into the "accessible fashion" category. It's easy to wear (unlike off the shoulder tops which ping all over the place and as soon as you move your arms your armpits get cut in half) it goes with lots, it's a simple style so it shouldn't date too quickly, plus when it gets chilly, I can layer a long sleeved top underneath.

Staying with the knot theme, there's also this striped top with knot from Zara, also £29.99. Blue and white stripes are still everywhere so this is a good option for anyone who wants to update their twingy, pingy, striped off the shoulder tops which dominated this summer.

Or for something a little different, there's this gingham blouse still with a knot and also from Zara, which is £25.99.

So, hopefully that's an easy update idea for your A/W wardrobe. Hope that you are all having a super weekend!

ps. I've now seen Bridget Jones' Baby and it was brilliant. If you're not sure, do go and see it. It's so funny. I haven't laughed so much in ages!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The M&S side striped trousers

As with each new season there are lots of different trends on the scene but as we all know, the quickest, most cost effective and most workable way to update a wardrobe is not to buy a "look" or a "trend" from head to toe - but to tap into a few pieces in the shape and style of the season and which work with what you own already.

Last A/W saw the arrival of side stripe trousers in some premium brands. This season they have filtered down to the High Street and so far I've seen them in Zara, H&M and M&S. The ones that I'm wearing above are from Marks and Spencer (£25) in navy with a black and white stripe. I have to say that I'm hugely impressed with them. The fabric is quite lightweight so if it's a full on winter trouser you're after, these might not fit the bill but for now and for the next couple of months I think that they will work fine. I find the cut and the shape really comfortable and the fabric drapes well so for £25 they absolutely get my vote. One thing though, they do come up unusually long and at 5 ft 6" I'm wearing a short length.*

I've never had a side stripe trouser before (well at least I don't remember them being around in the 80's but please correct me if I'm wrong!) and despite it only being a small detail, it's quite refreshing plus unlike some trends and looks, it's really accessible. Suddenly all of those plain tops and crew knits have been given a new lease of life.

For those who might be interested, these trousers also come in black with a sky blue stripe. 

On another note I just really wanted to thank you all for your good luck wishes and messages that you sent before I did the Great North Run. They meant a lot and when I found the going tough (about miles 2 to 13.1!) they kept me going. So a huge thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to get in touch. Also huge thanks to the locals who sprayed hosepipes over us and offered ice pops - only about 20 minutes or so after the end of the race did I find the one that I'd shoved down my bra. Oh and apologies to the family for taking the coke that they were offering, only to realise that it was Newcastle Brown Ale and throwing it away. I think that it might have just tipped me over the edge.

*since drafting the first part of the post, I wore the trousers on the school run where I got caught in the hugest rain/thunderstorm going. BUT I'm glad to report that not only do the trousers roll up to thigh height quite nicely but when they roll back down they're not in the slightest bit creased and they dry really quickly. A bonus if ever there was one.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

The Oasis Boyfriend Blazer

This is just a quickie because in a couple of hours we're heading up to Newcastle as tomorrow I'm running in the Great North Run.

Sad as I am, I'm really excited. I love the atmosphere, the crowds, listening to the bands as I run round, eating M&S chocolate flapjack and I can't wait to see the Red Arrows fly over.  Plus I'll get to see the sea, which is always exciting for someone who has always lived in the middle of the country. I'm making it sounds like a walk in the park aren't I? Did I mention that there is a the little matter of running 13 miles involved? Oh well, I deal with that only when I have to!

So I hope that everyone has had a good return to school/work/traffic jams after the summer holiday. I had a Style Event on Thursday night so on Wednesday I hit the stores with glee, scooping up armfuls of clothes in M&S (a current favourite for this season), Zara (ditto), H&M, New Look, Warehouse, Oasis, Mango and Dune.

I think that I've got a fairly good handle on what's out there at the moment and I'll bring you some of my favourite pieces a bit further down the line. But for now I wanted to talk about this boyfriend blazer (£45) which I saw on Alex of The Frugality on a huge photo on Oasis and which she was wearing as part of her Autumn by Alex campaign with them.

I'd identified a while ago that a boyfriend blazer was missing from my wardrobe and I'd taken a look at some but I wasn't feeling the love enough. Then when I saw (and tried on) this one which was navy (big plus), lined (big plus), £45 (super big plus) and felt as good as far more expensive makes (super, super big plus) - I was smitten. I'd always been concerned that a boyfriend blazer would shorten my legs but on first glance I don't think that as look as though I've shrunk too much and I'm looking forward to seeing how I can wear it. I think that it's just what my wardrobe needed to give at a new lease of life for the Autumn. Has else made a recent purchase for the Autumn which has turned things around and shaken things up a little? I would love to hear about them and in the meantime, have a super weekend.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Hush comes to John Lewis, Birmingham

We knew that Hush was on its way to John Lewis Birmingham and on Friday it arrived! And how fabulous was it to see it all laid out, to touch it, to see how it could all work together and to chat to the enthusiastic staff about it.

I had two smalls with me so my capacity for trying on was limited but tomorrow - well that's another story, as they return to school and I will be there like a shot!

For now, here are a few of my favourite pieces that I spotted on my travels...

Starburst t-shirt (£40) - This charcoal grey colour works better for me than a lighter grey colour. Throw in some stars, particularly gold ones, and I'm there. Although it's called a tee, unless I imagined it, it has long sleeves which are perfect as we head (slowly, hopefully) into the colder months.

Love jumper (£79) - Who doesn't love a "Love" jumper? I've had a New Look one for a very long time now and I've loved wearing it, so I know that this wouldn't just sit in the wardrobe looking pretty.

Rita printed shirt (£59) - Shirts can be tricky. Too formal or corporate and they don't always work but equally something too evening like can be limited in its versatility. This one however could be worn however and whenever, so it's on my list of Hush loves.

Claudia dress ditsy print (£99) - This dress comes in a knee length, or a full length option. The full length option has a deep side split, which makes it more edgy rather than more "Little House on the Prairie." I can't wait to try this one on.

Eskimo parka coat (£170) - There's something about the blue fur that got me as soon as I saw it. I also had a good feel of it as well though and it has a good weight and lots of warmth to it too.

C'est Si Bon jumper (£49) - Great for those who love a slogan sweatshirt. And see the leg in the background complete with pink sparkly trainers and Marshmallow the Build-A-Bear? That's one of the smalls I mentioned earlier.

Josie jumpsuit (£75) - I have the summer version of this jumpsuit but if I didn't, I would definitely buy this one. I've loved wearing mine as it's so versatile and comfortable too - (double whammy!) It's great for casual with trainers, for work or for an evening event. This is me wearing mine recently...

                                         Anyone fancy coming to Brum for a visit?!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Lipsticks and bracelets

Wearing: Franklin off the shoulder striped dress from Baukjen

A few weeks ago now I thought that I would use the service offered by Boots to find out which lipstick colour their colour match system suggested for me. I usually buy something with the word "Berry" in it, but I have veered across colours from paler nudes to hot pink, occasionally with a bit of red thrown in.

They start off by using their little machine to find out which colour foundation suits. When the machine came up with "warm ivory" I started to feel a little more confident about the whole process. Quite often I buy an ivory colour (it's normally the second palest!) and I know that I have a warm skin tone, so that all added up.

Having identified the foundation colour, the machine then suggests different colours of lipstick, from paler pink to brighter pink and red. In all honesty a lot of colours were suggested but I knew that I was after quite a bright pink and out of the 4 that were suggested, I liked the idea of rose berry moisture drench lipstick (£9.95). 

Having bought one, I have now gone on to buy 4 more as I'm terrified that they'll stop making it. However using various vouchers that were available, I only paid for two. I've been asked quite a few times on instagram which lipstick colour I'm wearing, so here it is. I wouldn't hesitate in going back to get some more colours and I would definitely recommend the service - but I would be interested to hear what others think too!

And for a really long time now I've been meaning to thank Annabel at Bella Jane Jewellery for the gorgeous bracelets that she sent to me this time last year to wear. I absolutely adore them and wear them day in day out. I've linked to the selection of bracelets here - which is huge! Annabel also does sells necklaces and rings as well as making bespoke pieces, just so everyone knows. They make a fabulous present!

So I hope that you have all had a fabulous bank holiday weekend and that the prospect of some more warm weather is keeping everyone happy :) x

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Coco Bay Beach Dress

Coco Bay embroidered maxi dress

I think that one of the lovely things about being properly "grown up" is having a few nice beach dresses to go over your swimwear. For me it was one of those things that arrived in my wardrobe later on in life (like about three years ago) along with decent swimwear, properly fitting bras and nice pjs, rather than an old t-shirt. These are the sort of thing that as a student you wouldn't think twice about but which now take on a much greater significance.  

This black and white embroidered maxi dress was kindly sent to me by Coco Bay to wear whilst on holiday. I wasn't sure whether the weather would warrant a beach cover up - other than a tent and a wind break - but we've been lucky and with the sun shining, I've had the chance to wear it.

This dress actually feels very glamourous for a day time dress, quite possibly because of its bandeau top, full length and because it is black - but it doesn't feel too OTT.  It could also quite easily be worn in the evening as well as the day with the addition of accessories. What I really like though is the fit of the dress. The gathered waist gives a little definition without being tight and it has a lovely column shape about it which is flattering without being restrictive, either in terms of movement or what you can eat when wearing it - which is always a bonus on holiday. I love the embroidery on the back too, which is so pretty and the cotton that it's made of is light and soft.

For anyone contemplating a last minute holiday or a winter cruise, I can definitely recommend this dress. I really love it and would have no hesitation in making it work really hard as part of a warm holiday wardrobe.

For anyone tempted, remember to quote BETH20 at the checkout for a 20% discount. The team at Coco Bay really do know the ins and outs of all of their stock and give a really personal service, so for swimwear or beachwear queries just give them a call. (I know that sounds like something from an advert but it really is true. And as I've said before, I hate swimwear shopping so I'm very happy to describe my requirements and for the team there to tell me what will work best for me!)

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

A sparkly flamingo t-shirt, shorts and a camo shacket...

Oh my golly it's been hot here today (as I think it has been in lots of places!) It was properly, swimming in the sea hot, like it hasn't been for ages. During the day it was bikinis all the way but in the evening Mr SG and I went for a walk along the south coast cliffs.

It was still warm so shorts and this new flamingo tee from H&M* seemed to fit the bill. I took the camo shacket for when the sun went down and wore trainers because the cliff paths are, unsurprisingly, high and a little uneven.  The Saywhatyouc bag held essentials, just in case we came across an ice-cream kiosk that was open. We didn't.

*I can't find the flamingo t-shirt on the UK site, even though I only bought it on Friday. It was a one off so I suspect that it is pretty old stock. It's probably not very helpful but I've linked to the US site for its composition, further details etc.

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Sea Folly Denim Block Bikini from Coco Bay

Last summer, the team at Coco Bay asked me whether I would like to wear, and write about, one of their bikinis. Having provided them with an idea of my individual requirements/issues, they suggested a bikini which seemed to fit the bill perfectly - and it did. For anyone who is interested, that post can be read here.

So when this year they asked me again whether I would like to review another bikini, I didn't hesitate in saying yes. Of course not only is it lovely to receive new swimwear but the hassle free option of sending through your sizes, the team knowing their stock and styles, advising on the best bikini and then sending it out in super quick time to try on at home, is hugely appealing. 

After checking their records from last year, Rosie at Coco Bay suggested that I might like to try the denim block bikini from Seafolly. It's new in and it is simple and un-fussy, with a sports luxe style. The bikini top has a little zip up the front which really appealed. Zips are starting to appear on sports bras too, so they are obviously becoming a bit of a "thing". I've linked to the whole range of denim block bikinis as there are a few options to choose from in terms of style but I'm wearing the bandeau bustier and the hipster bikini pant.

As to sizing, I wore a size 10  in both the bottoms and the top. The top is slightly padded and also underwired too, so it's great for anyone who needs a little more support in the bust area (I'll let you all read between the lines on that one!) It also has an optional strap. I wore the top today as a strapless bra under a dress and it didn't move an inch all day. In fact it's a much better fit than my "proper" strapless bra.

I remember when I used to read in magazines about spending more on swimwear and thinking how daft it was and that it couldn't possibly make a difference - but with these bikinis it does. True there isn't a lot of fabric in a bikini or a swimming costume but what there is, is firm, supportive and equally importantly, it stays in place. It's like there's some proper engineering that has gone into the bikini, especially the top with its padding and boning and the bandeau bustier top really does make a difference where other tops frankly, just fail (especially deep V shaped ones, which most seem to be). For anyone who spends a lot of time in swimming pools, the fabric also lasts better.

The cost of some clothing is extortionate. I never spend much on jeans but over the years I've come to the conclusion that I would definitely spend on swimwear. In fact to be honest it's just lovely to find a style that makes the best of what is left after three children!

In conjunction with Coco Bay I'm offering a 20% discount code.  Just enter the code  BETH20 at the checkout until the end of September and if you're even vaguely tempted I would say just try them. The returns are so easy and the team so helpful that it makes swimwear buying a really pleasant experience.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The H&M embroidered sweatshirt...

So today was the first full day of our Guernsey holiday and it was a little bit warm, a little bit rainy, a little bit sunny (from time to time) and VERY windy. 

After heading down to the beach for a spot of early morning exercise with the younger children, I changed into some old Topshop jeans that I chopped down into cut-offs and this sweatshirt that I picked up in H&M (£12.99) on Friday. I love a bit of embroidery - and a bit of navy - so for me it was a match made in heaven. 

If you were an 8 year old taking photos of your Mum, of course you too would keep quiet about a wave sneaking up on her wouldn't you? I know I would. 

Yes, we're talking cold! 

I think that all things embroidery related will be here for a few seasons yet and whilst we first have to deal with the upcoming season, next summer I will be investing in some embroidered shorts. For anyone who is about to embark on a late holiday, here's an idea of what is still on offer...

H&M embroidered shorts (£19.99)

H&M embroidered cotton shorts (£8.99)

H&M navy embroidered shorts (£9.99)

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Holiday packing in a hand luggage sized suitcase....

When packing for our holiday to Guernsey this year I thought that I would see if I could get everything that I needed into a suitcase that would qualify as hand luggage. Admittedly I did check this suitcase in, and I took a separate bag for my lap-top, books, purse etc - so I wasn't travelling on hand luggage only. But it wasn't far off.

 And, for anyone who is remotely interested, this is what I got into the suitcase - from left to right, top to bottom...

Left hand row top to bottom:

Khaki bag for the beach/day trips;
4 x clutch bags/purses
2 x swimwear

Next row along top to bottom:

Striped jumper;
Striped dress;
Striped long sleeve top;
Printed scarf;
Jersey dress (hidden from view)

Middle row top to bottom:

White sun top;
White Victorian style blouse;
Embroidered Topshop top;
Denim cut-offs;
Beach dress (hidden from view);
Printed trousers

Next row along top to bottom

Flamingo t-shirt;
Khaki trousers (hidden from view)
Camo shacket;
Denim shirt;
Black shorts;

End row top to bottom

Sports wear;
Fluoro t-shirt

In terms of my shoes, which aren't shown, I also packed two pairs of flip flops, one pair of sandals and I travelled in silver adidas trainers. The suitcase also held all my toiletries, jewellery, underwear, makeup, hairbrush and phone charger.

In a very loose way I worked on the basis of two of most things - jumpers, trousers, shorts, dresses, blouses, t-shirts, swimwear etc and then squeezed in a few more of what I could where I could.

So what didn't go in the small suitcase? Given that there were two additional huge suitcases going with us, the temptation to take lots of other things was great but all that went in there was the hand held blender (no longer for baby food, fortunately, but for smoothies), running trainers and a beach towel.

I wouldn't have been allowed to take this on as hand luggage as it was 11.5kg but I feel quite liberated and I'm interested to see how I get on for the week. It doesn't look like I have too little but let's see how I feel come Thursday. Anyone else tempted to give travelling on a hand luggage sized suitcase a go?

Actually I must dash. Mr SG has just announced that he's going to bed so I had better go and move this lot before he switches the light off or the only thing left for me to sleep in will be my hand luggage sized suitcase.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Baukjen Berwick off the shoulder jumper...

Berwick off the shoulder knit from Baukjen (£109)

As some of you will know, I've been doing a review of a few pieces from Baukjen's Pre-Fall collection and being such a chilly creature, I decided to include a piece of knitwear - albeit of the cold shoulder variety.

I'm fairly certain that you will find me reaching for knitwear before most people but I don't want a life lived in crew neck jumpers. And whilst having one's shoulders exposed is hardly snuggling up, I find that if my torso is warm, I can sometimes get away with having shorter sleeves, or exposed shoulders (I'll leave the exposed midriff to someone else!)

So I chose the Berwick off the shoulder knit from Baukjen (£109) in this gorgeous shade of blue.  When I put it on, I loved the wide neckline and the way that it moved. I'm sure that there's a "proper" way to wear it but I just liked pulling it this way and that to see how it sat. 

Now is it only me or does anyone else have visions of Christmas Day as soon as they start thinking about knitwear? I see myself wearing this jumper sat in front of the log burning stove with snow gently falling outside whilst watching "the Holiday" on TV. Of course the reality is always different - more like the smoke alarms going off with the windows wide open whilst watching re-runs of Only Fools and Horses - with everyone arguing just for good measure.

So whilst I would happily wear this jumper at this time of year, it will also head way on into the winter months for parties and family gatherings, when it's time to dig out the leather leggings.

And for when the sun really does stop shining and it's time to head outside, I will be wearing the Whitburn long line knit from Baukjen. I'm a big fan of a raglan sleeve and the baseball styling is right on the button for the upcoming season.

For anyone wishing to take a closer look, Baukjen's jumpers can be viewed here. And don't forget, with the code STYLEG15 there's 15% off new season clothes until midnight on 8th September.