Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Ring in the new year in this Phase Eight jumpsuit

I bet many of you could not wait to hit the after Christmas sales. Some of you may have lined up in the early hours of Boxing Day to be the first into stores like Next while others couldn't wait to return those "unwanted" gifts - naughty naughty!!! Thank god for gift receipts!!! Though I can never bring myself to return any Christmas gifts as I think that it is the thought that counts and it's great to get a present that you would normally not buy for yourself. Not to mention I would hate to think of my family and friends returning gifts that I bought them.

If you are a woman with a calendar then the first item on your sale shopping list must be an outfit for that New Year's Eve party. So what type of event are you attending? Is it formal or informal, casual, dressy casual, is dinner involved because a girl has got to eat? Looking for that perfect outfit to ring in the new year isn't always that easy when you are distracted by so many cocktail dresses on sale.  Have fun trying on as many outfits as you like but in your gut you know what suits your fancy be it slinky, elegant or both. We ladies do like to glitter, shine and sparkle at this festive time of year. I'm always blinded by the shiny glitter ball dresses and outfits that light up the high streets when it comes to Christmas and New Year's Eve parties. 

Me, I'm keeping it understated this year though and sticking to the golden rule of less is more especially since I'm no teeny bopper. No doubt my conservative dress code this year is drawing me to this Phase Eight Amanda jumpsuit which oozes elegance and sophistication. As detailed in the description "it is a stunning alternative to an evening dress". Love the cummerbund effect which singes the waist and the wrap over neckline is always a favourite.   This Phase Eight jumpsuit is perfect for ringing in the new year with a little dinner and dancing and I can see myself wearing it for years to come - a very practical addition to any wardrobe. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Bodyshapes and outfits - defining your body shape

I'm sitting here at the car dealers waiting on a car service and MOT to be carried out.  I have opted to wait for my vehicle as the last time I used their courtesy same day pick up and return service I didn't get my car back the same day.  Instead they brought me a brand new courtesy stick shift Jute. Perhaps their way of encouraging me to part ways with over 3 year old Quashqai.   I remember it well, it was a Friday evening, I don't do gears and I had to ferry the kids to their million and one activites that evening and the next day.  The kids happily jumped in, all excited telling me how much they loved that new car smell.  I on the other hand was quite irritated and had no intention of fiddling with gears and getting used to new controls.  I couldn't even find the windscreen wipers and it was raining!!!!  Out we jumped to climb into my husband's very large (by UK standard) vehicle which I find impossible to park but at least is automatic.

So hear I am today waiting anxiously as the school pickup is looming near but still managing to put this look together on the boden outfit  maker which is quite fun really. The mechanic have emerged to say that the brake pads are flagged up and in need of changing soon as they are coming near to the legal worn limit - decisions decisions decisions!!!!  Since my car is outside warranty I feel I must shop around and thank goodness for the technology to do so on my iPad while I wait.  Here's a tip - did you know Kwikfit offers a life time guarantee on brake pads and will always replace your brake pads for free once you own the vehicle?  I hope there's no catch but I will certainly check it out.

Oh finally something worth watching on the telly as I glance up with tired eyes from the glare of the iPad screen  - "What not to wear" re-runs with Trini and Susannah is on.  One of these fashion wardrobe makeovers shows with good advice, I thought, to change the way women make decisions on the best fashion buys for their bodyshape.  The pair drastically reduces wardrobes to core essentials and buys a whole new wardrobe for (what they want us to believe is the unsuspecting participant who is blindsided by the whole affair) your newly defined body shape.  The advice on underwear (what to wear under your garments) in terms of suitable bras and panties I thought was invaluable.  I just love balconette bras now.  The difference in body shape between the two presenters was also genius to emphasize how bodyshape really determines what will highlight your best features and downplay the ones you wish you did not inherit.

I remember this episode specifically because their "fashion crisis victim" was a mid forties woman who dressed like a young teenager with lots of mini skirts and tight tee shirts.  As the fashion duo, Trinni and Susannah explain how to make your legs look longer - they announce that my car is ready.  Anyway the trick to making your legs look longer, other than heels of course, is to wear tights and shoes in the same colour and when wearing trousers aim for foot length trousers that are a couple inches longer than needed to give the illusion of a few more inches to your legs.  Going back to why this episode was memorable, I can recall that the fashion debutante in question ditched her new wardrobe, advice and all,   and reverted to her preferred regular style once the program was over.  The lesson being - it is one thing for your family and friends to think you need fashion tips on how to dress but you do have to buy into the whole idea and want to change your style.  Feeling comfortable in your new style is key to exhibiting that new found confidence.  

Putting looks together can be a matter of trial and error which is why this Boden Outfit Maker is so useful.  The key piece for me in this look was the straight artisan skirt made from soft wash velveteen.  I'm just bowled over by the embroidery which in my mind makes it special.  It's a simple principle really just find a signature piece and build your outfit around that.   I have gone for the colourblock cardigan and the hound bud print shirt with chunky knit berry tights and casual mahogany winter boots.   But that's just me.  I love colour.  I'm sure if you have a play around yourself you can develop your own style.  As to whether it suits your body shape, that's a whole different matter.  Click here to use a bodyshape finder to determine your body shape.  

Monday, 16 September 2013

fringed pashmina shawl wrap

With the drafts from the bedroom windows forcing me under the covers, memories of sitting on a park bench on one of the hottest day of the year, combating hay fever, taking in the summer fashion sense of passerbys while keeping an eye on the kids riding their bikes comes flooding back.  It seems like I'm always multi-tasking.   I remember it was not a day for wearing  much clothes though some ladies had opted for maxi dresses.  Nor was it a day for much physical activity though some were braving the weather and having a jog while others of all mixed abilities were having a go on the tennis courts - burning double calories that day.  I on the other hand just got very thirsty looking at them while passing judgement on those walking by munching on ice cream that they clearly could do without judging by their waist lines - even though I had already binged on my guilty pleasure and could lose a few pounds myself.  

I remember starring enviously at the bare back men, not that I was admiring their physique but I was jealous of their freedom to go topless without a murmur - a privilege only reserved for my bedroom I'm afraid. I had every intention of walking with a picnic basket or an insulated bag full of goodies and ice but could I find any ice to buy?  The cold shelves and refrigeration section of the supermarket near the park were simply raided not to mention the long queues.  Looking down into my co-shoppers baskets I could only imagine that their selections were the beginning of an impromptu barbecue.

"Earth to mummy" says my seven year old, jolting me out of my reminiscing.  She was all ready for bed.  No more battles to go to sleep as the nights are growing darker I thought , no more hay fever, no more sweat trickling down my neck.  I think I can safely put my summer wardrode into hibernation until next July and start sifting through my winter wardrobe for what to wear tomorrow.  My winterwear philosopy for this year is easy to wear and I don't think you will find anything easier to wear than this warm cosy poncho style fringed pashmina shawl wrap .

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Autumn blues or new looks?

Full of dread I am as I can feel summer suddenly slipping away as the crisp morning air of autumn creeps in.  Dark early nights, the bitter cold and worse the disruptive snow is not my idea of fun.  I had hoped for a few more weeks of glorious sunshine after such a brilliant summer but you can't deny that definite chill in the air which now penetrates your jeans : the same pair of jeans that made you boil from the heat in the car a few weeks earlier. Suddenly you don't need a weather forecast to tell you how to dress. 

Rather than lament though, lets celebrate our seasons which gives us ample excuse to reinvent ourselves and our look through fashion.  Imagine for a moment if we only had two seasons like tropical countries the rainy and sunny season and were prone to storms and hurricanes.  Would we then be wishing for snow and a white christmas?  I imagine we would and with only summer clothing to buy wouldn't we be longing to wear a trench coat, an anorak or a duffle coat like the models in the fashion mags?  It's a bit like our own bodies, don't you think?  There is always something we want to improve or wish we didn't have.  Be mindful of the old adage, "the grass is always greener on the other side" and be careful what you wish for.  

I may not always like the cold but I love the challenge of layering up and pairing up the right coat with the perfect jumper or cardigan -  What fun!!!  Yeah there are days when I drag clothes on just to keep warm with no care of appearance.  But looking spectacular and being warm in winter takes some doing if you don't wish to compromise one for the other.   

With the morning temperatures in the low teens, it's time to bring the cardigans and jumpers out.  Soon the temperature will drop and we will have to add the light outer jacket, then the outer coat, hat, scarves, gloves, boots, warmers etc and then find fashionably creative ways of including more layers as the sub zero temperatures set in.  This alpaca wool cowl neck is so easy to wear and can be layered up with tee or warmer underneath for extra warmth. Easy to wear clothes like  alpaca wool wraps just makes layering so straight forward and I like wool because it is absolutely warming.  At the same time, I saw some sheep recently on the drive to Scotland freshly sheared and felt so sorry - I'm such a hypocrite!!

Maxi dresses - last lap summer bargains

Last lap summer bargains are hard to pass up especially when you know that the style you're after will totally still be fashionably correct next summer.    Maxi dresses are always a summer favorite with the ladies and always on trend.  They are so easy to wear and require little effort to look effortlessly stylish and picture perfect on a bright summer day.  Just push your feet into some flat summer sandals or wedges, get your sunglasses on, pick up your tote bag and off you go. Look complete. 

For those of you taking that long deserved holiday abroad outside of the school holidays (naughty if you're yanking the kids out of school but hooray if you're child free) summer sales are perfect to get those much needed summer essentials for your trip.  Cruise holidays are the best and you can't have enough maxi dresses for that stroll on deck or relaxing pool side while you sip your pina coladas. 

There are massive bargains to be had if you are luckily the right size for what's available.  But don't allow summer sales to stress you out.  Finding a bargain should be fun, not an act of duress.  I know only too well how you can look longingly at a sale item on your computer screen, clicking on it several times hoping with all your might that it will magically appear in your size and say "in stock".

Never give in to the temptation of buying clothing and fashion accessories that are the incorrect size or body shape, or colour for you. While it's fine to try new things, it's pointless (and a bit daft really) if your desired sale item will simply sit in your wardrobe and take up valuable space.  Each year you pull it out, try it on and still it does not suit you or fit as the it's just wrong for your body shape or you have not lost the weight you swore you would lose.  Why put yourself through that!!!

Here's an idea though!! If you feel that need to have it then think birthday and christmas gifts.  Who would that item be perfect for?  Stocking up on christmas and birthday gifts can save you time and money and a much needed saving while you make that financial recovery from  expensive holidays and back to school uniforms.  According to "What not to Wear" experts Trinny and Susannah; styles that may not suit you may be perfect for a friend.  Just ensure that you are getting it right as returns may be tricky after the stipulated period.  

If you're shopping for gifts then clothing aren't the only bargains to be had, fashion accessories like belts, jewellery gift sets, are absolute great gifts ideas too. So get those christmas and birthday lists out and start shopping for your bargains now.  

Friday, 6 September 2013

Tartan and more tartan ...visit scotland

Enjoyed a delightfully breathtaking visit to Scotland's capital last week, Edinburgh, home of the infamous Mary Queen of Scots.  Missed the fringe festival unfortunately due to car trouble but got there in the end.  Not the worst thing missing The Fringe though as by reports it is normally bursting at the seams with visitors. 

No visit to Scotland is complete without a visit to Edinburgh's finest, the Castle, elegantly and royally poised at the top of the Royal Mile offering fabulously breathtaking  views!!!!! The castle is not the only place for great view. Camera Obscura close by and Nelson's Monument offer spectacular visuals of the city.  Whether you are up high or down low you simply have to love the city's architecture which is all around you in the historical buildings seemingly virtually untouched by modern refurbishment.   It is easy to see why so many films have been filmed in Scotland : Skyfall, The Fast and The Furious IV, New Tricks, Not Another Happy Ending, Snow White and Huntsman, The Dark Knight Rises, Cloud Atlas are just some of the popular film names capitalizing on the country's gorgeous invigorating views, coastlines, historical castle and houses.

For the fashion conscious like yourselves there's tartan and more tartan in many vivid and vibrant colours : who knew tartan wasn't limited to infamous Burberry colours.  Shopping in Edinburg is really decentralised as your main high street brands are located away from the Royal Mile with John Lewis department store closer to the Leith Walk side of the City.  The Royal Mile (for those who have never had the pleasure) is the road leading to the Castle which is said to measure a mile though some say it's really one and a quarter mile. There is the tendency for visitors to gravitate towards the upper part of the Royal Mile closer to the Castle where tartan memorabilia and tartan clothing and accessories are spilling out of baskets on the sidewalks. There is a trendy little Boutique called Ness with at least two shopfronts where you will find funky tartan accessories and a colourful collection of stylish clothing as well.  But for more shopping experiences or when you've reached your tartan saturation level, head down to the lower end for boutiques like Ragamuffin.  

Ragamuffin, which you will find on the lower half of the mile, offers a collection of clothes made by various designers from natural fibres  which is sure to appeal to those who celebrate the eclectic chic hippy folk fashion look.  What's her name from x factor 2012 finalists, Melanie Masson, would feel right at home in that store.  I personally loved it.  Though I have to confess bought nothing as it was not cheap and I'm  still recovering from purchasing complete new school uniforms for the kids.  My personal favourites though were coats and long cardigans by Nicky Thomson and John Branson which were very unusual and unique, good quality and would certainly be worth every penny.  Even if you are not into folk fashion you will be tempted to treat yourself to unusual and unique fashion accessories like scarves, hats etc. 

Having visited Scotland, I'm thinking what a fashion faux pas if like myself tartan have not yet found its way into your wardrobe. This can be easily remedied with the addition of this stylish trendsetting  tartan wool trousers which as I'm sure you would agree would be a timeless addition to your wardrobe as tartan never goes out of fashion.

Betty Barclay's charming colourful collection

Kids are back to school this week and finally I feel that I can exhale.  As a child I always loved the start of the Autumn school term with new everything for school : new uniform, shoes, school bag etc.  It's a term of beginnings either starting a new school or University, moving up a class, moving into 6th form.  It's all about progress.  The only difference for me now as a parent is the financial pinch of kitting out children for the new school year.  What an expense!! And don't even get me started on the school shop crowds.  

Exhausted from my previous 2 trips to the school wear shops and high street uniform retailers, I decided against putting myself though that nightmare and ordered online from John Lewis.  I ordered their school shirts, school bags, swimsuits, swim bags, back to school stationery and even needles (for sewing those annoyingly vital name tags).  Have to say John Lewis' order procedure is really quick and efficient and having opted to collect in store from one of their Waitrose outlets, I didn't have to wait around at home for delivery and I saved myself a few pounds.  My order was available for collection from 2 p.m. the very next day - really time saving 

Of course I had a little browse around for myself in the womenswear section as I always feel that I am owed a treat for just getting through the summer holidays with the constant "what are we doing today? where are we going? I'm bored!!! or the "don't book up my summer with too much activities".   The Betty Barclay Collection certainly caught my eye as there are certainly some very daring and colourful pieces in this collection like this Betty Barclay striped cowl neck top in 100% cotton - perfect to brighten up your autumn look.

This Betty Barclay animal print cardigan is reduced to clear at £19.50 and only available in sizes 12 and 14 so order now if you want your friends to be asking you "where did you get that". Animal print is always versatile,  never goes out of fashion and is always a fun way of expressing your wild side even if it is only by accessorising with an animal print bag

If you are looking for a new take on the denim jacket then this Betty Barclay floral multi print jacket is sure to brighten up with most outfits.   Again this floral print jacket is very popular and available in remaining sizes of 12, 14 and 22. Reduced to clear at £40.50

If you are feeling fashionably adventurous then the floral print trousers are available as well.  Personally I wouldn't wear them together but independently they will contrast superbly with white or any other block colour in the printed pattern.