Warm Winter Boots & Merrell Bargains!

I've been asked by several people via email about boots to wear with the Merrell Ellenwood/Wakefield - boots that are warm, waterproof and resilient like the Merrell. After some online investigation (and thanks to my friend Sharon for the tip off), I headed to the Ecco shop in Belfast to check out their range. And I was impressed, not just by the furry, warm boots but by the range of regular shoes and boots too. But I kept my mind on the task at hand and here's a selection of winter boots on sale right now...
Furry Siberia & Suede Siberia

Ecco Laced Furry Siberia Boots
Ecco Hill Boots
Now, I know these boots don't look particularly trendy but with the right skinny jeans, a gorgeous scarf and your fabulous Merrell (or indeed a trendy parka), they are perfect school gate style during this cold, wet, snowy spell and will prevent damage to your regular boots and shoes. For me, the ones in the second photo above are the most wearable so I tried them on to show you what they look like with the Merrell. A sizing note here. Ecco shoes come up MASSIVE! I am wearing a 38 - I'm normally a 39.5-40.
While these are quite outdoorsy, from a distance, I don't think they are a whole lot different to an UGG boot - but they are a more supportive, waterproof, skid-proof UGG - and at the moment they are half the price in some stockists! And you will literally have these for years and years. I have never worn such a comfortable boot - I was bouncing around the shop!
In the Ecco shop in Belfast, these and all the ones above are reduced to £85. Online, I can't find them cheaper than £105. So it's worth checking out your local store if you have one or phoning about…or come see me in Belfast for a coffee and a shop!
Meanwhile, I'm continuously asked about best priced Merrell coats so here's an up to date list of the stockists and best prices for Ellenwoods (the newer version of my Wakefield). It's a great time to buy as we get close to the end of the season. But don't think you're too late buying - I wore mine many times during the lovely summer that was 2012!
Millet Sports - XS and S only
Insulated Merrell Ellenwood in Purple - £99.99
Gear For Girls - All Sizes Available
Insulated Ellenwood in Heather & Black - £99.95
Let's Hike - Lots of Sizes Available
Insulated Ellenwood in Ink Heather & Black - £109.99
I've had lots of emails from happy Merrell owners so I'd love to do a 'Styling You' post with photos of you wearing your Merrell. If you bought one this year or last, please take a picture of you wearing it to be in with a chance of winning a prize! I'll leave this open for a couple of weeks so that you've time to get your photo in. Tweet it to @schoolgatestyle, post it to the Facebook page or email it to me Thanks in anticipation! See you all tomorrow….I've been shopping again you see...


House of Deron Fur Gilet & Zara Spending Ban Fail...

Two lovely new additions to the wardrobe on today's post. I know, I know…spending ban has ended spectacularly. But only when the further reductions kicked in AND I've not spent more than £20 on any one item…trying too hard to justify so I'll stop now! 
Friday saw the launch of Belfast Fashion Week so this is what I wore to the fabulously floral brunch organised by the team at CMPR and held in the Ulster Museum. I'll share more about this on another post.
Fur Gilet - Room 31 (25% off with SGS25 at checkout!)
Cream blouse - M&S (last seen here)
Necklace - Promod (last seen here)
Further justifying the spending ban fail, this House of Deron fur gilet was actually gifted to me by Ruth at Room 31. It arrived along with an order I placed last week with her so was a lovely surprise. This is a size M which is a 10. House of Deron is in fact Beyonce's own clothing company that she runs with her mum and Room 31 stocks several items from the range but this is the most school-run friendly item. Super cosy but not really thick and heavy as its got a faux leather back (super on-trend!) so I was able to wear it easily under my mac all day.
Jeans - Gok for TU @ Sainsburys
Boots - Zara
So onto the boots, which I had been watching on the Zara site since the sale began but I couldn't justify them at the first reduction to £49.99. So I held on and kept checking back and last week, there they were at £19.99…it would have been rude not to (I say that a lot in these situations). In fact, they are now only £16.99 but have almost totally sold out.
They are black leather with elastic stitched sides (no zip) and a rubber wedge. Super super high - 11 centimetres in fact! Perfect for dancing in, no?
Yes in fact because after I took these photos, I ran out the door for my choir weekend which started with a choreographed session to The Timewarp. So I ended up dancing for an hour in the boots. My feet ached a bit but I was still walking after it so they've most definitely passed the night out test.
Before I go, don't forget that this Friday is Rock Up In Red day for the British Heart Foundation. Have your red clothing/nails/shoes etc to hand on Friday as I've another Radley London limited edition red bag to give away to one lucky Facebook fan! More details on Facebook on Friday


Green Jeans in the Snow

Fed up of dreary dark colours, I was inspired by The Online Stylist to get out in the snow with my bright spring-like jeans! Bargain alert - these jeans are just £7.50 in Room 31 if you use SGS25 at the check out! Actually, they're only £10 without the code which is just as good a bargain in my book!
Now as always, greens are tricky to capture properly on blog photos but these are more green than they appear in the photos, even though they are described as Harbour Blue on the website. This photo on Room 31's Facebook page is probably the best representation of the colour.
Loving the studded detail and they even come with a studded belt. For the price, the fit is good - I've not had to hoike them up as often as some other more expensive brands. I'm wearing a 10 so I'd say the fit is fairly spot on - perhaps slightly on the big size as I would wear a 12 in some brands.
It just felt so lovely and spring like to have a bright pair of trousers on. I wore them with my denim shirt from the other day, long sleeved top, River Island ankle boots and a Soaked in Luxury scarf (last seen here).
Looking forward to wearing these with taupe/browns and they will be great with metallic/white when the weather gets warmer. And they also come in red (just size 12 & 14 left). So well done Ruth on another great Room 31 find…I may have also purchased the red…it would be wrong not to really!
Have a great Monday - I'll be back soon with some photos of the choir weekend away. Need to sleep it off first..


My Danne DMK Wonder Facial (Warning - Close Up Photos!)

Ok, so the scientific name for it is a Danne Montague-King Enzyme Therapy Facial and I was lucky enough to be asked along to The Beauty Company in Belfast - the only Northern Ireland stockists - to try out this, their newest and most effective treatment. 

DMK Enzyme treatment addresses ageing, scarring, pigmentation, acne and rosacea and is effective on both men and women and on the face and the body, offering impressive results using the finest botanical ingredients.
To demonstrate the facial, you're going to see some rather interesting pictures of me throughout the process….my kids and husband were particularly alarmed at the very last picture before the treatment was removed…I'm warning you now - it ain't pretty!
But it all started out like a normal facial…a detailed pre-treatment assessment of my skin and lifestyle before I moved into one of the gorgeous treatment rooms in The Beauty Company's Montgomery Street premises where the Danne/DMK products were laid out ready for my treatment.

The lovely Fiona left me to get ready. I was asked to take off my top because the treatment goes right down to the lymph area at the armpits and the neck.
Once I was up on the treatment bed, Fiona commenced the treatment with a cleanse and an assessment of my skin. Apart from some ageing and acne scarring from my teens, all was looking good so the treatment began with a mask to remove toxins from the skin and prepare it for the enzyme mask. After applying to the skin, cling film is placed over the top and lower part of your face (not over the nose/mouth) and hot mitts are placed over. This was such a relaxing part of the facial and was done twice.
Then we moved onto the enzyme facial itself. It was applied with a brush all over my face, neck and décolletage. Here it is applied to my face - don't I look lovely? Keep scrolling… :)
This treatment uses a combination of enzymes to stimulate a deep contraction of the underlying facial muscles. The muscles passively constrict and contract increasing the flow of blood, lymph and oxygen to the tissue. This increases the flow of lactic acid which progressively strengthens the facial muscles with each treatment. 
Now this wasn't obvious at first but as the treatment dried onto the skin, I could really feel the pulsing action. It was an unusual sensation but strangely relaxing at the same time. Here I am about half way through - with the mask almost dry..told you it would get worse..
I promise, I'm not as miserable as I look in this photo. I was actually very chilled but the treatment was beginning to harden on my face - hence the funny expression! Also in this photo, you can see some bubbling appearing and these are areas where toxins are being drawn from the skin. And hopefully you can see wee lines developing along my décolletage. These are tracking the little veins close to the skin's surface - you'll see something really cool in this area when the mask comes off! 
And now, brace yourself for the final picture before the mask came off. It's kind of like something from a horror film but honestly, this was not painful or uncomfortable at all - just a bit like those mud masks we all used in the 90's that dried onto your face.
Scary Blogger!
Fiona then removed the mask gently, using hot mitts and once it was all off, it was time for the coolest bitlook at the veins on my décolletage..

How freaky is that! The treatment has stimulated the bloodflow to the top layer of the skin so all the veins were pumping new blood. This is a key action for healing and repairing skin that is scarred, discoloured or aged. Obviously, this effect wore away after a few minutes as the skin cooled.
Fiona then applied the Danne Direct Delivery Vitamin C Serum which encourages increased production of collagen and formation of elastin as del as the Danne sun block to protect my skin after the treatment. And here I was all clear skinned and glowing after my treatment..
Now there's a process here as obviously, you can't cure ageing, acne, scarring, pigmentation & rosacea in one treatment. During the initial treatment you will be patched tested with some of the stronger enzymes that will be used in subsequent treatments. For best results, 8-10 treatments are recommended to take place ideally once a week. Your therapist will monitor progress and recommend when to reduce frequency or strength of the enzyme. And the results speak for themselves - check out the before and after pictures on the link here. Stunning results indeed - I've never seen something work so amazingly well in just 8-10 treatments!
Treatments start at £60 and mine lasted about 2 hours including an initial consultation. Prices vary depending on your specific skin concern so give Fiona a call at The Beauty Company to discuss further. Also, do give The Beauty Company's Facebook page a like to be kept in the loop for special offers and competitions. There's a wonderful Shellac offer starting on the 31st January with Facebook fans being the first to hear about it!

Disclaimer - The Beauty Company offered this facial to me free of charge though it was my choice to blog about it and the review my own honest assessment.


Mink & Black Crampon Style!

Nothing animal related on the blog today, I promise! Instead, I've eaten all my words regarding a present the husband got me after the snow of 2010 - stretchy crampons for attaching to your shoes! I looked about as happy as the day he brought me home a new mop. And then of course, there was no snow last year so they gathered dust in the cupboard. However, after two days of wellie-wearing, I had enough and dug them out and WOW - no stylish woman should be without these. They are genius - fitted perfectly over my Hobbs boots and were surprisingly discreet. Can't find my exact ones online but the ones on this link are similar.

So as well as being able to wear my regular boots, the risk of going ass over head in public is completely removed…and you can stride past everyone else sliding about in their Uggs.
Lots of layering for another snowy day - 4 layers before I added my down coat. Vest, long sleeved white t-shirt, denim shirt and mink coloured cardigan. And not forgetting the thermal tights & socks under my jeans! This colour combo is one of my favourites.
White Top - New Look
Denim Shirt - Gerry Weber (similar on link - on sale!)
Mink Cardigan - F&F @ Tesco (similar on link)
Belt - Accessorize (similar)
Scarf - F&F @ Tesco (similar on sale)
Boots - Hobbs (old)
Jeans - Perfect Skinny by Gok 4 TU @ Sainsburys
Oppan Crampon Style :)
Hope you're all staying safe in the snow. Over here in Northern Ireland, ours is to thaw tomorrow, leaving us with wet weather. Just in time for my weekend away with the choir! But more about that on another post…


The Pheasant & Canadian Squirrel

I promise, this is not a nature or cookery related post! It all started with a family trip to a restaurant called The Pheasant about 10 miles away from where we live (where en-route funnily enough, I almost knocked down and killed a pheasant who was chasing a girl pheasant across the road…love is blind eh?)
We had a great meal - actually, how great is it to not have to cook Sunday lunch? Bliss to get a day off - thank you Granny for treating us! As we'd come straight from ten-pin bowling (thank you Tesco club card vouchers!), I was working a casual look...
Navy Wool Belted Coat - Dept. (old)
Jeans - Diesel from TK Maxx (last seen here)
Tan Suede Wedge Boots - Aldo (old)
Scarf - Spanish Market (older)
Raspberry Coloured Oversized Knit - Phase Eight (new but looks oldest) 
Now, I was going to talk more about this lovely lightweight knit from Phase Eight as it's a gorgeous fit and a lovely colour but I was gutted to notice on Sunday that it's all bobbled on the front after only 3 wears! And more annoyingly, over the bust so I have bobbly boobs when I wear it. Has anyone ever experienced this in a new purchase and have you any advice? I really couldn't wear it again - v disappointed.

So onto the mention of Canadian Squirrels. You see, Granny (with some trepidation) wore her real fur coat on Sunday. There's a lovely story behind it as she bought it many years ago in London with money she was left in an uncle's will. 
Of course, the kids wanted to know more about the coat and Granny told them it was made from Canadian Squirrel. Next thing, one of the girls pointed out a stuffed squirrel up on the fireplace beside us (random and hopefully fake!) so you can imagine the intense questioning that ensued...

I tried it on when we got back home and it is a gorgeous coat and incredibly warm..but as always the debate goes on in my head about real fur and indeed fake fur as I think that faux fur being so on-trend is partly responsible for driving demand for the real stuff. 
I do think it's a shame that Granny has this coat with great sentimental value that she never wears and in the charity shop at the moment, we have two stunning real furs gathering dust in the stock room….but as much as I love the warmth and feel of fur, I simply can't go real for a whole lot of reasons. Would love to hear your views or experiences though.


Snow Time & Les Mis

The snow where we live has been a bit pathetic really. After a mad looking Friday night blizzard, we got our hopes up but Saturday dawned bright and it's been thawing since. But we got to bum sledge down the hills in the park before the thaw set in and you've guessed what I wore…good old Merrell & wellies!
As you'd expect, it's all about the layers. I've got a full thermal base layer under my Still knitted cowl neck dress (last seen here) and Gok for TU at Sainsburys perfect skinnies in navy. Karrimor wellies, wellie socks from TK Maxx and my M&S sale bargain scarf (seen here) finish the outfit. Glad I got these photos before the sliding began as I was covered in snow and muck by the end of it. Turns out the 8 year old has a deadly aim! 
We got a late call babysitting offer so decided to go to see Les Miserables in the cinema. Mr SGS had already seen it with his sister & mum as I wasn't keen but he enjoyed it so much, he wanted to watch it again and talked me into going.
The snow was totally gone by then and it wasn't actually that cold so I gave my River Island boucle biker (from my sales haul - link here) a first wear. Photos are sepia as no matter what setting I tried, the jacket looked black and my (black) jumper looked bright blue - weird!

Boucle Biker Jacket - River Island
Wool V-neck long-line jumper - H&M
Necklace - Freedom @ Topshop
Jeans - Gok's black perfect skinny jeans from TU @ Sainsburys
Black Leather/Suede Ankle Boots - Moda In Pelle
will do a separate post on these - a fab Christmas present from husband!
Of course, I did wear a big warm black scarf, hat and gloves for extra warmth factor. And my verdict on the movie - amazing. I thought the singing throughout would be weird but it was perfect and epic and sad and wonderful. What amazing actors! If you're wavering as I was, I urge you to give it a try. 
Hope you had a great weekend…I've some shopping confessions to make on the blog this week. It appears giving up shopping AND wine for all of January was too much. And shopping is better for you than wine, isn't it?! I'll fill you in when it arrives...


#RockUpInRed Radley London Winner!

Well, when I put the call out for red photos to support the British Heart Foundation's Rock Up In Red day on 1st February, I was blown away by the response. The red pictures streamed in on Twitter, Facebook and via my email account. Thank you to everyone who entered…here's just a selection as my laptop is not letting me collage them all!

But you just want to know who won the bag…the limited edition Radley London cross body bag..
Well I was told to chose my favourite but how could I chose between your gorgeous children, pets, inspirational outfits and hilarious onesies (you know who you are Claire-Justine!). But then this entry came in and I just knew it was the one…for lots of reasons. It's a first time mum and we all know how fabulous cross body bags are when you've just had a baby. All your totes and shoulder bags go out the window. And I was blown away that after only 4 days, this first time mum took the time out of her busy tiring schedule to email me a photo of her new baby in his red & white hat and his red car seat & support a great cause. 
Congratulations Jacqueline Heasley from Edinburgh, 
your little boy Dexter has won you a handbag!
I cannot express my gratitude enough to everyone involved in this give-away. The British Heart Foundation for coming up with such a great idea, Radley London for donating the beautiful limited edition handbags and to all of my blog followers and other bloggers who got involved and made it such a success. Now get ordering your fundraising pack girls!
I wish I had a bag for everyone - the only consolation is that I will be doing something very special on February 1st for #RockUpInRed day and I will have another bag to give away that day!



It's your last chance to win a handbag!

My Rock Up In Red competition for a chance to win a limited edition Radley London cross-body closes at midnight tonight. Thank you to everyone who's entered so far and in doing so, helped promote The British Heart Foundation and their February 1st Rock Up In Red fundraising event. Thank you also to Radley London for the generous prize.
So today's the day to get some red on and send me a picture. You can email it to, post on the Facebook page or tweet to me @schoolgatestyle, using the hash tag #RockUpInRed. Also check out these other blogs for further chances to win - Avenue 57Style at Every Age & Does My Bum Look 40.
Here's a selection of the entries received so far - loving the creativity and thought that has gone into so many of them. You can check out all the photos in my Facebook album #RockUpInRed Radley Competition.



If You Want To Get Ahead...

In a further attempt to be warm yet stylish, I dug out my grey beanie hat to wear in the charity shop today. So cosy…I didn't want to take it off all day! Having a big head, I tend to avoid hats (or it's more the case, they never fit me) but this cashmere mix one from M&S was a great investment.
I wore it today with my Matalan stripy scarf (which Joanna over at Poppy's Style called her Dr Who scarf!). It's a fab one - last worn here - as it's so long and can be wound a few different ways to show off the colours.
Also wore a Primark blush coloured long sleeved top with a Dorothy Perkins navy sheer top over (last worn here). Gok's Perfect Skinny jeans and the French Connection flat tan ankle boots (seen here) finished the outfit off.

The other exciting news is that today sees my writing debut for Britmums, Britains biggest parent blogging network. Starting this month, I'll be editing the Britmums Style Blog Round-up, sharing a selection of the best fashion blog posts. Check out my first piece all about January sales on this link - next one will be published in mid-February. 




The Only Wine I'm Allowed...

Today's post features the only wine that I'm allowed to enjoy this month and is all about how to keep warm yet stylish in this freezing cold weather. We've had no snow yet in Belfast thankfully but it may hit before the weekend…cue excited kids! 
Today's outfit was inspired by the gorgeous, cosy and huge shawl style scarf from H&M that the Victoria Square Personal Stylist, Rebecca McKinney chose for me when I was with her in September. I wore it with an oversized burgundy jumper, also from H&M, navy skinny jeans from Gok @ TU for Sainsburys and my Mango suede ankle boots.

Next up, the warmth factor. Underneath my skinny jeans, I'm wearing Primark's wonderful thermal tights. These are fab…fleece lined and very warm. Then, underneath my jumper, I'm wearing my M&S cream thermal long sleeved top. Oh and I've got thermal socks on too - have I ever mentioned how much I feel the cold?
Finally, for heading out on the school run, there is nothing that keeps you warm like a proper down coat. My Merrell is warm too but when it's dry, I always wear one of my Vila Down coats from Room 31 - today it's the turn of the Camel coloured one, last seen here (black one last seen here). Unfortunately, they are sold out in R31 now.
Skyward blogger look coming up…
So tell me how you've been keeping warm this week? All hints and tips are welcomed!


The Best of What's Left in the Sales

Ok, I'll come clean now I'm half way there - I'm on a spending ban for January (and a drinking ban also but I'm finding that WAY easier to stick to). Apart from exchanging something bought before January for items of equal value, I've not bought myself a thing in 13 days. The tragic velvet jeggings have been returned (too short and most definitely not jeggings - more like granny trousers). And, for once, I'm not overdrawn! It's a good feeling but it's not easy resisting with all the sales getting to the 70% off stage. So I thought I'd share what I've been loving online with you and hopefully you'll all buy it and then I'll not be tortured! By the way, I've tried in all my selections to think ahead to spring rather than buying for the here and now.
Hobbs firstly, where I spotted this sleeveless top. This is a great shade of mauve and a perfect spring/summer piece from NW3. Wear with a cardigan now, and alone when the warmer weather comes..
Hobbs Maple Blouse
And I've always admired their Cambridge Court as I love a substantial heel on my shoes This colour would be amazing with black or navy now or with skinnies and tanned feet later in the year.
Hobbs Cambridge Court
Also available in Navy & Black Snakeskin effect
Gorgeous Ted Baker wallets are another sale essential. Beautifully made, they finally become attainable at half price:
Ted Baker Crystal Bobble Matinee Purse
And this leather sleeved jacket is simply stunning though a bit shiny in the picture so I would have to see in real life before deciding to part with my money..
Quilted Leather Sleeve Jacket
Karen Millen is another store I always check out at sale time. Their clothing is beautifully made and perfect for parties and weddings so I was surprised to find more casual pieces that I could wear on the school run like this draped cardigan..
Grey Draped Front Striped Cardigan
and this broderie top which is only £45
White Long Sleeved Woven Broderie Top
Boden next, where the sale has been going for about a month now. People have returned items so it's a good time to check for something you admired earlier in the sale and perhaps missed out on. This Moleskin blazer is a perfect transitional jacket in a great colour and just a smidgen over £30!
Moleskin Blazer in Deep Sea
and I do love the shape and colour of this dress..
Fringe Detail Dress
Next, it's a perfect little striped top for spring summer for just £11.60. Good selection of sizes available.
Guernsey Tee
Loving this classic Boden patterned jersey top - less than £20!
Wrap Jersey Top

Room 31 always have a great sale. I'm loving this gorgeous grey open knit jumper. Would look fab now with a denim shirt under but also during spring and summer with a white vest. 
Hallie Silver Open Knit Jumper
I also think this dress would be great over navy skinny jeans at the moment and then with bare legs or linen trousers in the summer - great colours
Yumi Dama Geo Print Dress
Finally, a couple of other smaller independent retailers that you may not know about. Me & Em is one of my favourites and I've been SO tempted by their sale and especially by this knitted coat. Three of my favourite colours and so wearable in-between seasons.
Knitted Triple Tone Coat (limited sizes)
If you're in the market for some roll waist lounge/travel trousers, they're in the sale also as is this fab two-tone scarf
Modal Two-Tone Scarf (two colour-ways)
Baukjen is the non-maternity range by Isabella Oliver. It's great for basic t-shirts and vests. My favourite item from the sale is this viscose/merino/cashmere mix scarf which can also be worn like a poncho
Zoe Square Scarf/Poncho
And of course, the sale is the perfect time to pick up a classic white shirt..
The Essential Shirt
Finally finally….I saw this necklace featured on another blog yesterday, the lovely A Life Less Ordinary. I'm not a big fan of Reiss clothing but I do love checking out their jewellery in the sale. Some gorgeous bracelets for less than £20 which are well worth buying for girlfriends' birthdays during the year. This is a bit pricier at £42 but is really stunning and can be worn day or night..
Chantal Gunmetal Chunky Tube Necklace by Reiss
Ok, it's a bit like therapy - I feel better having outed my shopping desires. I still can't buy any of them but at least they are documented for quick linking to on the 1st Feb, when, with a bit of luck, they may be further reduced!
Wishing you a fabulous week…and don't forget to wear some red this week and email me your picture. The draw for the Radley bag takes place on Friday x

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