Sunday, 23 October 2016

Fringed, flat and navy plus three great brands....

I used these Kin navy loafers (£79) at an event that I styled and presented last week and amongst all the sky high shoes, over the knee boots and soft leather ankle boots, these were the ones that I loved the most.

I styled them with this Finery full midi skirt (£65) a soft fitted pink cashmere jumper and jewellery from the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter. It was styled as a gorgeous, but practical, outfit for an evening out.

For similar, take a look at the Uterque methacrylate loafers (£145).  As we all know there are lots of fringed loafers around at the moment - many with square toes and more of a heel than these. But I like the pointed toe - and the patent (or high gloss as it's now known) is a huge trend for the season.

With kick flared ankle jeans, a midi skirt, coated leggings or a slip dress I really like them for a refreshing change and an instant update.  And whilst I can't pretend to need any more shoes of any description, if I was going to add to my collection, it would definitely be with these.

For those not familiar with Kin, it's a John Lewis own brand which is Scandinavian inspired, so it's a bit cutting edge, cool and quirky. I've linked to it and I think that it's definitely worth taking a look at. The price point in particular is good.

Uterque too is a great brand. It's Spanish and is known as Zara's sophisticated online sister.  With a definite edge it really offers something different to so many things that are out there at the moment.

And finally, Finery which I first wrote about a while ago now when it arrived in John Lewis, is a fabulous brand. Again, it's well cut with a quirky feel to some of its pieces. Most things can be worn all year round and it's designed by women who have a great track record in fashion and who have lived a little. And that appeals on many levels!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Loving a "Love" jumper

I love my "Love" jumper. Like me it's getting a little old now, is a bit frilly around the edges and has definitely seen better days - but I can't find it in my heart to get rid of it. 

However for those of you who might be on the look out for something a little smarter there are two options that I've come across. First, there's this one...

The Hush "Love" jumper (£79). It has great reviews but is only available in limited sizes online. Fear not though, Hush is now stocked in John Lewis where there are slightly more sizes available online and also in store.  For anyone interested, its composition is 55% merino wool, 45% cotton. I always like to know the composition of knitwear - more than anything to work out whether it's worth paying the extra for it.

As a less expensive, but equally lovely option, there's the GAP "Love" sweater (£27.99)  It's made of 30% merino wool, 45% nylon and 15% acrylic so it has quite a lot less wool in it but equally it's quite a lot less expensive. And it depends on how it's going to be worn as to whether that matters so much - next to the skin (in which case less wool may be preferable), as a layering piece (again the amount of wool may not be so relevant for warmth). only on odd occasions (again cost may be a factor). However if it's something that you're going to love, wear all the time and want for warmth rather than just because it says "love" on it - then maybe it's worth paying that bit more.

I would happily wear either of these jumpers with a pleated skirt, a fancy sparkly midi skirt at Christmas time or on a daily basis with jeans or coated skinnies. If the grey GAP one came in black, I would be there like a shot but the grey is a bit too pale for me - as is the one that I'm wearing really but again, I can't really bring myself to part with it.

Yesterday two friends and I ran the Birmingham half marathon. I don't think that any of us have ever had to work so hard for a nylon t-shirt, a foil cape and a double decker.....

Thursday, 13 October 2016

You've got to love a pink coat...

Each winter I bring out my Boden pink coat - and it always makes me smile. This season they have this Sally Coat (£97.30). It's a lovely soft rose colour and a bit less full on pink than the one that I'm wearing.

If you haven't tried a bright coat before, do give it some thought - it's a fantastic way of adding some interest to your winter wardrobe and putting a smile on your face on a cold day. 

Hope that everyone has had a good week - bring on the weekend - or maybe not. I've got a half marathon to run! 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Orla Kiely for QVC - and fluffy jumpers!

Girlfriend twill stripe chino from GAP (£22.99) leather sneaker boots Zara (£39.99) boyfriend jacket Oasis (£45) Topshop blouse (previous season) Orla Kiely bag similar here (£115)

Yesterday the youngest and I hit the shops by 9am to buy her a few new bits and bobs now that the weather is getting chillier. She has a thing for fluffy jumpers and I've promised her that even when she's as old as I am, each winter I will take her shopping for a new fluffy jumper. I have visions of Bella Freud and Wyse jumpers appearing somewhere along the way. Anyway, for now, this is what she chose...

M&S "Hello" jumper £18.  And this one...

M&S heart jumper (£16). I figured that you can't really argue with logos, sequins, pink fluffy hearts and grey. Hmmm, can't imagine why she likes those things. Plus they go up to an age 14 so for anyone who is on the petite side....

I went a bit slouchy on the bottom half in girlfriend chinos from GAP, which have a lovely fit about them - best described as your favourite jeans on a loose day - and Zara sneaker boots which are so comfortable for walking around town in. But then on my top half I went smarter with a Topshop shirt and Oasis boyfriend blazer, just to off set the slouchier trousers and flats.

The Orla Kiely bag that I'm using ties in nicely with my up and coming QVC shows. I promised to let everyone know when I was on again and tomorrow (Monday) at mid-night I'm doing my first Orla Kiely show, Then at 9am on Tuesday I'm presenting the morning show followed by three further shows at 2pm, 4pm and 5pm. During the 4pm show I will be launching Orla Kiely homewear on QVC which is hugely exciting. The other shows will be featuring bags and wallets plus I will also be launching Orla's watches and new jewellery range. So, for anyone who would like to, please do tune in!

I'm not sure when I'll be back but hopefully it will be soon - and I'll keep posting instagram updates of my Orla outfits. Have a super week everyone!

Sorry about the grey jumper appearing again. I have a new laptop and odd things keep happening!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

How to wear leopard print. Grrrrrrr!

(Wearing: Whistles striped jumper, Boden leopard print bag (both seasons past!) side striped trousers from M&S and Adidas Stan Smiths)

Leopard print is one of the huge trends of the season but if you're not sure how to wear it, here are a few easy ways, starting from a nod to a full on embrace...

First off, this H&M leopard print bracelet (£7.99) which is perfect as a starting point - or finishing point. Or any point really. Oh dear, I think that I've tempted myself with it....

Next up, how about a bag? This Boden bag (£179.10) is a real gem. It's showing as out of stock at the moment with a 7 week wait but I've never had to wait that long for anything from Boden. And good things are worth waiting for! The beauty of a handbag, or shoes, is that as they are not directly "on" us - like our clothing, so we feel less self conscious when wearing them - or when people look at them. That's why bags and shoes are such a good starting point if you feel like taking a little risk. Obviously this one isn't the cheapest out there but if the thought of a leopard print handbag appeals, you won't have to look too far to find one - try this one from H&M for £7.99.

A scarf is always a good starting point too. I like this jacquard weave shawl from H&M (£14.99) - it's substantial and not floppy. Why that matters I have no idea. And whilst it's definitely from the leopard family, it's not full on leopard - well that is unless there are leopards out there with a slight pink tinge to them. If so, I thoroughly approve.

So getting a little more full on fashiony, there's this leopard print blouse from H&M (£19.99) which has a little frilled stand up collar and a chiffon feel about it. This blouse would be fantastic for layering up a crew neck jumper, for wearing on a night out with a cami underneath or for generally giving any black trousers or denim a bit of a kick up the whatsit.

And my absolute favourite, the Hush printed leopard joggers (£45). Grrrrrr! Cold evening sitting by the fire, here we come!

I could go on. Everything comes in leopard print from running gear, to shoes, boots, coats, jumpers and for those feeling really brave this H&M leopard print costume (£14.99). What do you mean, not on your life?!

Apologies for the fact that this post is a bit H&M heavy. Unless I'm writing a post about a particular brand, I try and spread my shopping choices around but I think that my family would far rather that I spent that extra time preparing their dinner.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

So long skinnies!

Skinnies have reigned for a long time now. Raw hem, ripped, coated, patched, printed, patterned, coloured...we've seen them all. Both boyfriend and girlfriend jeans tried to give them a run for their money but nothing knocked them off their number one spot. But now? Well I'm starting to wonder.

I'm wearing the GAP Authentic 1969 vintage straight jeans which were in the process of being reduced to £14.99 when I bought them. Then with an added 30% off they probably became the cheapest jeans that I've ever bought. So I bought a pair in another colour too. Well, it would have been rude not to.

I like these jeans for a number of reasons. First, being straight they've got a bit more room in the leg. The button up fly reminds me of 501's - in fact the whole shape is a bit 501 ish. And as they're not quite full length, it's still possible to do a bit of ankle flash and when it's colder, it will be nice to see a bit of boot. They just feel fresher than my skinnies and have given things in my wardrobe a whole new lease of life. How is that a £14.99 pair of jeans (less 30% - can't do the maths whilst watching the Bake Off too) can do that?

For the avoidance of doubt, these straight legged jeans are really different to the real straight, which I've had for years. Funny that even a straight legged jean can change in style over time. How can that be?

As to the sizing - it's generous. I'm wearing a 25" whereas normally I would be a 26". I think that the GAP sizes have become even larger recently. The pair of jeans I bought before these were a 24" which is crazy because really, I don't have a 24"waist.

For those of you who have been following me for a long time, you may well recognise these shoes. I've had them since 2010 (the box was stamped when I bought them and I still keep them in it). They were a Kurt Geiger special which I loved for their red, shiny patent and frilly fringy bit on the front. Rather like lots of shoes that are out there now, over 6 years later. Isn't fashion a crazy thing?!

To give you an idea, this is what the jeans look like on the model. Give them a whirl and see what you think but be warned - try them with shoes. Mine looked really pants without! 

Monday, 3 October 2016

You're never too old to follow your dreams...(even in fashion!)

So I know that one or two of you saw me on TV on Friday night, presenting a new range of activewear on QVC.  Thank you, by the way, for your comments and words of encouragement that I read as I left the studios. I really didn't have a clue as to how it had gone, how it had sounded or anything else so something to anchor my thoughts to was really helpful and encouraging.

I hadn't really said too much to the wider world about what I was up to, just in case I fell flat on my face both literally and metaphorically but as people have been so kind and expressed an interest, I thought that it would be good to fill you all in.

I was first approached at the back end of the summer to see whether I would be interested in auditioning to join QVC as a guest presenter. It's something that I've wanted to do for a long time as I love the presenting work that I do with M&S, which is very similar, plus I love all the behind the scenes goings on. After several auditions, trips to London and meetings, I made it.

The brand that I was working with was Pure Lime, a Danish brand which was established in 1995 and which is inspired by the healthy, outdoor lifestyle of Scandanavia, with the range containing both leisurewear and activewear.  It was a little bit of a departure for QVC so it was great to be part of something new and exciting. Fingers crossed, if all goes to plan, next week I will be involved in the launch of another brand on QVC that many of you will have heard of. I will be doing about 5 or 6 shows over an 18 hour period so I'll keep you posted! (Note to children: now is not the right time for another one of you to go and break your ankle. ps Really I am very sympathetic.)

As you can see from the above photo which was snapped just before we went on air, I think that I am quite possibly wearing the brightest, loudest piece from the range. It's fair to say that the prospect of wearing bright, horizontal striped, skin tight, pink leggings on live TV (which is known to add pounds) scared me more than doing the show itself, especially as there was a risk that the camera would pan from the models, to me, Say no more!

In an effort to avoid the dreaded camel toe on live TV, I also had to pull the vest low, which shortened my legs too. But you know, I loved wearing the range which really is fab quality, plus presenting whilst wearing trainers was a dream come true!

If any of you should feel in need of a giggle and want to see clips of the show, you can do so by clicking on this Pure Lime link which will go through to a page of the pieces we featured. Click on any of the pieces and just under the image is a thumbnail which can be clicked on to start the clip. I've watched a few from behind a cushion!

Thank you again for all your comments. As with anything that's new and exciting, there's always a certain amount of trepidation so it's comforting to know that people are routing for you. I know that some of you have followed what I've been up to for quite a few years, so lots of love to you all in particular.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Bravo for Bravissimo - and a lovely discount too!

[Cleo breeze bra - lovely but not for me. I loved trying different styles though!]

Now of course we all KNOW that we should go and get our bras fitted regularly and we (well at least I) pretend to myself that I do, however nothing could be further from the truth. Partly I think that I feel guilty in spending the time doing it, as it always takes quite a chunk of time, and also in spending the money. Why that is I'm not quite sure, given how many hours we wear our bras, what they're required to do and what a difference they can make to our shape and how our clothes look. Crazy really!

Many years ago, just after I had finished feeding our now 8 year old, I found a bra that really was the best of a very bad job (even Selfridges in London gave up on me in despair) and since then I've just bought the same style on repeat. But when I was invited to go along to the new Bravissimo store in Birmingham for a bra fitting, I took courage in both hands and popped along.

Gossard super boost lace t-shirt bra (£30) - hey bingo, it fit!

So first off I met the lovely Kat who was absolutely brilliant. She was ample of bosom so understood what she was talking about, she knew her stock like the back of her hand and had a brilliant personality to boot. If anyone was even vaguely shy about having their bras fitted, she would put them at ease in a jiffy.

In a nutshell - and as I knew was the case - my bra was too big around my back, so obviously it wasn't doing much supporting round the front - and quite frankly that's not good. Bravissimo's bras start a 28" back, which can be almost impossible to find.

Refined glamour bra by Wonderbra (£30) - my second hit of the day!

Without even measuring me, Kat took me down from a 32" back to a 30" back, up a couple of cup sizes and hey presto, things definitely started looking up. I must easily have tried on 30 bras ("nope", Kat would say "Freya isn't for you, take it off ") and after an hour or so we had discounted all but two - but I'm delighted with those two and I will be ordering both in different colours now that I've worn them and know that they're comfortable. And I know that without Kat's help, I wouldn't have found those two as for me, finding a bra that fits is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

So the moral of this post is this: if you want your clothes to look better and for your boobs to be in the right place (or if you fancy a new, more voluptuous chest) go and get your bras fitted properly. It looks a whole lot more natural, and is a whole lot cheaper, than the surgery route. And if you're in Birmingham, do head to Bravissimo (next door to Jigsaw) and ask for Kat. She's a bra superstar!

Finally, just so that you know, I was gifted a bra and pants set as part of my invitation to see the new store, but irrespective of that I am genuinely delighted with my new acquisitions. Bravissimo have kindly offered a 10% discount in the Birmingham store which can be obtained by quoting "Love Brum", It's available until 16th October on full priced items. Happy shopping!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Warehouse midi printed dress...

Tonight I nipped out to a party to celebrate 50 issues, and 10 years, of "Style Birmingham" Magazine. And the great thing about a party? It's a fab chance to rock a new frock. I'm wearing the ink rose midi dress from Warehouse (£59) and LK Bennett zebra print shoes - plus a neon glow.

For a brighter take on the dress, see below....

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.