Monday, 15 September 2014

A trip to London, a peruse around J. Crew and some cheaper alternatives.....

On Saturday I went to London to meet my friend who lives in Brighton. Whilst there, I tried on this Reiss quilted jumper in ivory (£79) (below). We both really liked it but, after thinking about it, I concluded that it was too much to spend on a top that I would probably wear in a really casual way and anyway, I already had a white sweatshirt  (above) which would do much the same job.

Roll on Sunday and I decided to wear my white sweatshirt just to see what I thought. As the end of the day was nearing, I concluded that the Reiss one would, in fact, be very handy to have and as it was a bit smarter than mine I could wear it in a slightly different way.

So we sat down to our evening meal of home made burgers, home made rolls, salad and home made ice-cream (all thanks to Mr SG), the latter of which I doused liberally with salted caramel sauce (the ice-cream that is, not Mr SG). The trouble was that before it even reached the ice cream, I doused myself in it - and what I mess a made. And then, in taking the sweatshirt off to give it the fairy liquid treatment, I managed to get the sauce everywhere - up the sleeves, down the back, on the inside. By the time I had finished with it the top looked like a baby had projectile vomited (and the other) simultaneously and it was at that point that I realised that for once, just for once in my life, I had actually made a very good decision in not buying the Reiss top for had I done so, I would most definitely have been wearing it at that point.

Obviously whilst in London, a visit to J. Crew had to be on the agenda. Now I don't want to be a party pooper, and more than anyone I understand the joy that clothes can bring, but we did enjoy our game of spotting where else we could find less expensive alternatives to what they had on offer. Banana Republic, GAP, Zara and Topshop featured. Of course some of the things are lovely and it's great to see a successful brand but as with anything that has such a strong brand identity, it's important not to get seduced by that, rather than the clothes on offer.

Now one of the items that has featured quite a lot recently is this J. Crew jewelled bib shirt (£495). It's pretty much sold out on line so there are obviously plenty of people who can get their heads around spending that much on a shirt and I have to say, not being one of them, I'm pretty impressed by that.

But for those who can't imagine spending that on a shirt, this H&M  embellished shirt (£29.99) would probably do just fine.

You could even sew a few more embellishments on it to make it sparkle a bit more AND, it would leave £465.01 to put towards this Dulcie coat from Shrimps (£595) which is very covetable.

Anyway, whilst in London I wanted to try this H&M beaded sweatshirt (£29.99) which I had seen in the window of our local store last week but which I hadn't had time to try. When I put it on my friend said "Oh my God, you look like you've been inflated." Which naturally left me very deflated but on looking in the mirror I couldn't argue. The fabric was stiff and the shape wide but on others I wouldn't rule it out - it just might work.

And whilst I'm on the subject of embellished bits and bobs, this H&M  grey beaded sweatshirt  (£24.99) could do a good job of adding a bit of bling as the nights draw in.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Now these Boden waxed jeans are a pair of jeans that I am very happy to wear again...


Outfit: Boden waxed jeans, Whistles jumper, La Redoute jacket, Oushka bag, Mango shoes

Subsequent to deciding that there was no way that I was ever going to wear my Primark coated skinnies again, I needed to find an alternative. I like coated jeans as a change from blue denim and being black, the coating adds that little bit of texture which stops them from being too "flat".

Yesterday the super skinny waxed jeans that I ordered from Boden arrived and today I tried them out. I've concluded that wrinkles in coated jeans are unavoidable but I've also concluded that there are more important things in life to worry about! So, moving to the jeans themselves, they are generous in the leg length and the rise on them is also good which means that they don't fall down (that's the Primark problem solved then!) I like the addition of the ankle zips and zipped pockets on my Primark ones but you know, sometimes you have to sacrifice a bit of zippage for comfort.

The reviews about this style of jean on the Boden site are really good and I have to say, so far so good. Of course the problem with jeans is that they don't always reveal their true selves until after you've spent a bit of time with them (a bit like boyfriends really - from recollection at least) by which time they can't be popped back on the shelf unless they are faulty (unlike boyfriends, which can quite easily be popped back on the shelf from which they've fallen).

I can't vouch for the other finishes in this style but for anyone who struggles with getting skinny jeans to fit, I would definitely consider giving them a go.  

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

My pick of the High Street prints

Outfit: Jigsaw jumper and printed trousers, Topshop shoes
Prints - we either love them or hate them, pretty much instantly. They can remind us of our grannies' curtains, outfits we wore as children, or something the cat brought up. But equally they can lift our spirits, change our look and give us a new lease of life.

Some shops are known for their prints - or indeed for their lack of them. Zara always has lots of different prints (although it's better not to go in there after 9.35am because it looks like a jumble sale). Warehouse is always strong on both print and colour - plus the quality is better than Zara too and walking in there is so refreshing, compared to some other stores. Both the Monsoon and Boden prints stand out a mile away - and not always for the right reasons. Whistles has great prints each season which they usually also do in a scarf for anyone who just fancies a touch of one. Sometimes it's just about giving them a go.

I always like Great Plains. The price point of the brand is good and they often do more than one piece in a particular print. The Hoxton top from Great Plains (£40) is a nice fit and is a non scary print type option. It also comes in a long sleeved knee length dress.

Despite being largely a dark print, the blue in it is really vibrant and it looks great on people with blue eyes.

The Great Plains City Scape trousers £60 are a good place to start for anyone tempted to try a print on their bottom half. The print has a dark background and can be worn with black, navy or grey. Also they're smart enough for work with a blazer, or relaxed enough for out of work with a jumper, so they're pretty versatile.

The French Connection wilderness bloom comes in both a pencil skirt (£75) and a fitted dress with a zip up the front. Made of cotton and with stretch in it, it also straddles the work/casual boundary really well. It's easy to pick up the navy, cream or burgundy in a top. The model used is 5ft 11" so on most people it will come up longer.

Generally known for its very plain and slightly more architectural pieces, each season Cos does a couple of prints. This one has been around for a while and Cos have done this print in both a bomber style jacket (£79) and a pencil skirt.

This Warehouse floral jersey tee (£28) is good for a first foray into the world of prints. It's plain grey on the back but with nice shaping down the side and the print is modern but subtle - it's the kind of top that could work its way into your wardrobe and sit their quite happily amongst those black and grey pieces until it's required to give the a bit of a lift. Do suss out Warehouse if you're after a printed top.

And whilst this isn't my favourite print of all, LK Bennett can always be relied on to do a couple of striking prints each season. The Joe Rose print full skirt (£195) has a graphic floral print which is great for a winter wedding.

At this time of the year the stores can start to look a little dark and flat and I think that can be true of our wardrobes too, so it's good to pick up a print every now and then, just to keep everything balanced.

Monday, 8 September 2014

A trend to try - a metallic, or leather, pleated skirt...and possibly the last knitted Jigsaw sheepskin jacket in the company

OK, so bear with me on this one.  As we, let's say, move on in life, the trends available to us start to narrow down slightly. Clothes may need to be a little more forgiving, less embellished perhaps. The hemlines may need to come down slightly and perhaps the neckline needs to go up. You know what I'm saying - unless we want to look like Liz from the Rovers Return, we need to tread with a certain amount of caution - without playing it too safe which can be a travesty in its own right.

When metallic and faux leather pleated skirts first hit the scene I didn't get them at all. The Daisy foil skirt from Whistles (see below) was one of the first around and I didn't see what all the fuss was about. But now that they have been around for a while, they're starting to grow on me. A pleated skirt is very much accessible to lots of different shapes. It is the equivalent skirt version of a boot cut jean, so it does a good job of balancing out curvier hips, broad shoulders or a curvy bust. It might be necessary to try a few different ones and (generally) the top needs to be fitted but there's definitely room to experiment. The length on them is good too - although inevitably some kind of heel makes them "swish" just that little bit better. Well, that is unless one has the height, or the legs, not to require the assistance of heels.

There are many pleated skirts available this season with pale pink or pale blue ones at Whistles and various styles at Zara, so if metallic or faux leather isn't your idea of fun, there are plenty of other options. Equally if a pleated skirt isn't your preferred choice but the length of one appeals, there are lots of full midi skirts in brocade (Monsoon), floral (LK Bennett) or stripes (Whistles).

So here's a quick whizz of the options out there:

Foil coated pleated skirt Jigsaw £139

Faux leather pleated skirt Whistles £135

Faux leather pleated skirt Zara £39.99 (I'm liking the Zara site now, much better with the additional use of pictures).

Faux Pleated skirt Zara £39.99

Daisy foil skirt Whistles £125

So we're not talking about an everyday shop to Morrisons to wear this - although far be it from me to dictate what anyone should wear at any given time. However for anyone with a winter wedding coming up, or a black tie event, I'm very much liking the idea. It's a bit different, a definite change from a Coast dress or a LBD, or something short and fitted. At an event such as that you could wear some great heels with it, maybe a short fur jacket and it would be a great outfit. On a more daily basis it could be worn with knee high boots and a fur gilet, or a chunky roll neck and flatter shoes. Anyway, the thought got my cogs whirring to the point that one of these is now definitely on my winter wish list.

Now, on another note, this knitted sheepskin jacket Jigsaw (£395) that I am wearing is quite possibly the last in the company. It has only been released for two weeks and has sold out everywhere, however this one in a M/L is currently in the Birmingham store. Clearly it's too big and I look very much like an overgrown chick but oh my goodness it was so lovely to wear. So for anyone coveting one (and there must be many for it to have sold out so quickly) the store is happy to do a postal sale for anyone who wants to give them a call.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

A lazy bottom (half) with a silk kimono style jacket and a great excuse to buy shoes....


Oufit: Jeans and belt GAP, shoes Aldo, vest Whistles, jacket Oasis, bag Indica, Guernsey

I'll admit it - I was a little lazy this weekend when it came to clothes as is evident from the jeans and espadrilles.  However, the silk kimono style jacket is one that I have had for a few years and never worn, so it was nice to wear it on what was a lovely late summer day when a little assistance in the warmth department was required. Also, earlier in the summer I bought a ribbed vest top in the sale from Whistles. Its full price was £35 (for a vest, seriously?) but it was £10 in the sale which seemed a whole lot more reasonable and in fairness to it, now that I've worn it, it is far more substantial than a vest of the variety that I usually wear.

The sparkly bag can only mean one thing - time to go swimming!

The design on the jacket is really pretty with what almost looks like hand painted flowers with a shot of silver through it. It may just become my new BF when it comes to jackets.

Now someone had a confession to make this morning when I found my new espadrilles under our daughter's desk. When questioned, she admitted that she likes to wear shoes which relate to the subject she's studying - apparently it helps her to identify with it. This morning it was latin and the espadrilles made her feel like a Roman. We've also had my winter boots with tracksuit bottoms tucked in so that she feels like a soldier when studying World War 2 and my high Hobbs lace up shoes to represent what the women of WW2 would have worn in the 1940's. There are some pretty big exams ahead this year so I'm intrigued to see what she will come up with. Obviously if a particular style is missing, it will be my duty to fill that gap....

Friday, 5 September 2014

Aldo espadrilles for the last days of summer...

I have half had my eyes out for some decent espadrilles since the start of the summer but had pretty much decided to park them for now and pick the search up again next season.

When they first appeared on the scene I couldn't get my head around them at all - too much like Cliff Richard in "Summer Holiday" for my liking. Well that and teenage boys in shorts and vest tops. I'm not quite sure where that image came from but it was one that I definitely couldn't shift.

Anyway, then I came across some Penelope Chilvers ones whilst on holiday in Guernsey and my view towards them started to change. The problem was that whilst they were pretty, they were hugely uncomfortable. They weren't lined on the inside, so it was like walking on a straw bale. They were also deathly flat and I don't really do deathly flat - there just too much cankle going on for that.  
But then when I was in House of Fraser the other day, I happened upon these espadrilles - the Aldo Fesien (£65). Initially I balked at the price but then I tried them on and I started to get it. They're made of leather so much harder wearing than the canvas or fabric ones that I have come across. But most of all they had a 3cm height sole, which stopped me from feeling as though my bum was scraping on the ground. And oddly, on researching espadrilles further, very few of the Dune, KG, Steve Madden or Bertie ones are in the sale, which is slightly odd.

They come in this black hair finish.... well as these gold snake print ones which I am wearing above.... 

....and these rather lovely leopard print ones...

Initially I was slightly concerned about the sizing. The size 5 was great on one foot but a little snug on the other, so I brought them home wore them around the house for a while, put some shoe trees them over night and today they were a great fit. Being such soft leather, they have given slightly so the risk paid off (this time). We've all had those occasions when it hasn't!

Anyway, I suspect that I won't get much wear out of them this summer but they will be ready and waiting for me next summer. I won't pretend that they will go with everything but they are probably more versatile than I might initially think. I'll pretty much wear them in the same way as converse - so with skinny jeans, shorts, wide jeans and possibly the right casual dresses and skirts.

And for those who don't need the assistance of a slightly built up heel a la Tom Cruise, there's these fab Enzo Angiolini alternatives on sale in House of Fraser, reduced from £60 to £15 - and they come in half sizes. If I had the legs I would so go for these! I've searched online and don't seem to be able to find them so perhaps they are in store only - or perhaps they've all been shipped to Birmingham but here's a link to a better pic for anyone who fancies taking up the search.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

How to wear wide legged trousers and trainers....


Wearing: Jigsaw trousers, Whistles top, Stan Smith Adidas trainers

I knew that today I would shopping for many hours, so I wanted to find a smartish way to wear my Adidas Stan Smith trainers.

Wide legged trousers with trainers were one option available to me. Wide trousers are a nice change from skinnies - definitely more forgiving on many shapes and with a high (ish) waist they can definitely serve to elongate the legs.  They also gave that smarter element that I was after.

The one thing about them that needs to be right though - in my humble opinion - is the fabric. Whilst suiting fabric can work (if any of you have some suit trousers from your more "corporate" days, dig them out and give them a go) I prefer a ponte jersey fabric. Apart from the fact that ponte is hardwearing and doesn't  crease easily, it is also quite thick, supportive, it has some stretch to it and it is also non scratchy (a very technical term I know!) Nor does it bag or stretch out of shape. Further, it bridges that gap between the corporate and non corporate world in a way that works with trainers.

The pair of trousers that I am wearing were bought from Jigsaw nearly five years ago now and for info, the composition of them is 71% viscose, 24% polyamide and 5% elastane.

It isn't that easy to find wide legged ponte trousers but I think that a good option would be the tailored man pant Me & Em (£118). They are made from "compact stretch ponte" (49% polyester, 48% viscose, 3% elastane) and according to the Me & Em site, they are "Cut to skim the silhouette.....these are the perfect leg elongators."  There are no dry cleaning bills with these either, as they can be washed at 30 degrees.

An alternative, is the man pant from Me & Em (£118) the composition of which is 64% viscose, 30% polyamide, 6% elastane. The product description states that "The trouser is cut to fit loosely off the bottom, to skim your silhouette and elongate your leg." These too can be washed at 30 degrees.
I realise that these trousers are at the more expensive end of the scale so I will keep my eyes open for less expensive alternatives. GAP normally has some great options for smartish trousers but they are all either skinny or straight at the moment.

Equally I appreciate that smarter trousers and trainers aren't for everyone but I've always worn trainers for reasons other than exercise and have no problem wearing them in all sorts of ways. In fact secretly, and not so secretly, I'm a huge fan of them for comfort because other than flip-flops or boots, there's not that much that I like to walk around in. Apart from crocs but I'm not sure that now is the time, or the place, to go there.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Never, ever again will I wear these.....and looks what's opening tomorrow!

Never, ever again will I wear these flippin' skinny jeans. Although I love the feel of them, they constantly fall down and there's nothing more annoying than having to keep pulling your jeans up. Fortunately my top was long enough not to worry about flashing anything that I shouldn't when bending over - although I had to keep on checking as it felt as though I was. Having said that, they did only cost £10 from Primark which I was happy to pay as I wasn't sure whether they were something out of which I would get a lot of wear. However now that they've proved's time to ditch them. How bad is that? It's a good job that clothes don't have feelings.

However, they will soon be replaced. First on my hit list are the waxed skinny jeans from Boden £69. The reviews of these are brilliant and I am very much looking forward to getting a pair of legs that don't look anything like my own! I have to say that the main attraction is the high rise on them - belly warmers here we come!

Alternatively I may give the Mint Velvet coated skinny jeans (£79) a try but to be honest, I never really feel like stripping off to try on jeans when I am out shopping, so perhaps I'll wait and see what the Boden ones are like.

And as for the Primark skinnies - we've had some good times but I will happily wave them farewell.

Now, I should add that I spent hours in the shops today and I have a million ideas for blog posts and even more things to show you all but there just isn't time tonight. However hopefully I will soon be able to do a round up of what's out and about and what caught my eye. I'm gathering from your emails that lots of you have been on shopping missions of your own, so please do feel free to share any gems that you have come across on your travels. Ooooh and our new Whistles opens tomorrow. Look how exciting is this?!!! (It's not a bad pic of the coat either, for anyone who wanted a closer look).

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

An outfit round up....


I seem to have so many different projects on the go at the moment that I haven't managed to blog for  a few days. So, I thought that I would bring you all up to date with a 3-in-1 type post.

Over the years I've realised that it doesn't matter how organised you are before the children go back to school, there are still lots of jobs that don't get done, so I purposefully left the labelling (of the iron on variety) until this evening. Happening upon the  cardi of our youngest stuffed in her PE bag and needing a wash wasn't so much part of the plan but not to worry. Oh and I've just been told that one of them needs a stitch in their blazer pocket. I think that a raised eyebrow conveyed my response adequately.

Some of you with eagle eyes may recognised the NW3 purple jumper from the blog sale. It wasn't snapped up so I decided to wear it. I didn't own the trainers, necklace or the t-shirt when I bought it but now they all worked together. So that was one new outfit sorted.

Keeping with the theme of boyfriend jeans, yesterday we took a trip into town to get the requisite school trainers and rugby boots. I think that the prospect of a visit to Sports Direct is what gave me my deathly pallor! Anyway, Stan Smith trainers (which are uber comfortable) with a lace Warehouse top and Boden jacket were fine for that particular little jaunt - which also involved a visit to the Build a Bear Workshop. No visiting the new Whistles store for me. Tomorrow however will be a different story!

And today I was photo bombed by an angel! Now, the top that I would ordinarily wear with this Jigsaw skirt is mine no more, so I wandered into shirt territory (GAP) for a change. Neither converse nor trainers seemed to work with it all so the Birkenstocks, which are now sadly on their last legs, stepped into the breach.
And as for tomorrow - who knows what it will bring in terms of an outfit. As for my activity for the day, it's shopping all the way. Yipppeeee!!

Friday, 29 August 2014

If you buy one thing this winter, make it furry! It's an instant wardrobe update.

I am so going to go there this year! Without a shadow of a doubt, fur, feathers, or sheepskin in muted shades is definitely the way forward. The High Street is going to be packed full of all things furry. Many haven't reached the stores yet so I would advise waiting for a few weeks, seeing what's out there and taking your time - unless of course you get that sudden beat of your heart and come out in a cold sweat because you've fallen in love with a particular coat. In that case, just buy it there and then - there's time for thinking (and possibly returning if needs be) at a later date and chances are, if you don't buy it someone else will. I predict a riot when the Whistles one is released! But for now, here's what's out and about...

Fur jacket from Warehouse (£65) - I love the colour and the length of this jacket. I've had a fur jacket a few years but it's a bit of an in between length, whereas this one is clearly a proper "jacket" length.

I love the simple styling of this Warehouse shot too. It's all very relaxed and not at all how fur coats used to be worn, which was all so glamourous. No, this is much more down to earth and accessible. Once we've got our heads around that idea and made the transition, everything else will fall into place. Skinny jeans, waxed jeans, chunky boots, trainers or skater trainers - that's the way to go with a fur coat.

Jigsaw sheepskin jacket (£395) - This is such a pretty, pale silver grey.  I'm going to road test it as against the man made fibres of the fur coat, for warmth. Jigsaw also do a sheepskin car coat for £995.

You won't be surprised to learn that Zara has a plethora of fur coats. This Zara blue fur coat (£69.99) is also on my list to be tried and twirled in.

You too can do your best Easter chick impression in this yellow Zara short fur coat £69.99. Hello to my friend out there who was after a yellow coat last year and didn't get one. Could this one be for you???

I'm aware that many will feel that a fur coat is just too bulky for their frame and that it risks throwing their proportions out. First of all, there will be some that are lighter weight and less furry than others and some will be more fitted than others, so don't rule them all out.

Secondly, there are also a variety of gilets (or vests as the Americans call them. A vest? I thought that was something you wore under your clothes) which work really well layered over a leather jacket, so you still get the warmth on your arms but without the bulk. I also quite often find that if my core is warm, it matters less what is going on with my arms.

If all of those options fail, look to accessories. This Zara furry clutch bag is a great winter wardrobe pep up and would work well against anything black or navy. There's also a variety of fur hats, scarves, gloves and skater trainers too, so it's still possible to work fur in somewhere along the way.

But back to the jackets. The Zara styling is soooo much better than it used to be. Previously the models looked like they wanted to pack up and go home. Now they may well have had good reason to look like that but it didn't really inspire people to shop in the way they perhaps would have done otherwise.

I like the simplicity of this Zara short fur jacket £69.99. I'll definitely be steering away from black. Maybe not quite to yellow but away from black. There's so much black around in the winter and this is such a great opportunity to break free from it, without looking like Joseph in his technicoloured dream coat. There are plenty of longer fur coats too - but for anyone taking a first foray into fur, the jackets are an easier option.

This what I mean by a vest. Actually it's not what I mean by a vest at all, it's what Zara  means by a vest. (Fur vest £59.99)

There's only one word to describe this coat from Marc Cain (£335). Marmite.

As to other options that will be appearing in the stores shortly, there's this coat from New Look for £64 and I've already mentioned the Whistles one which looks like a very pale lilac colour.

So will you or won't you? My instincts tell me that there are plenty who are going "no way" but as the season progresses I suspect that minds may be changed. And I only say that because I suffer from the affliction of being fickle when it come to fashion.