Back to Basics - Orla Kiely Purpleness

So what with all my galavanting lately, I've not had a chance to do outfit posts every day. And while preparing all the posts about the gorgeous stuff I am often sent or days out with other bloggers, I'm conscious that this blog is about sharing what I wear each day on the school run. Hence the title of this post - today's a good old back to basics / what I wore post!
Purple Coat - Papaya @ Matalan (thrifted)
Scarf - Orla Kiely @ Uniqlo (still in stock!)
Navy Skinny Jeans - Gok @ Sainsburys
Boots - Mango
Sunglasses (yay!) - Gianfranco Ferre @ TK Maxx (£12 in the sale!!!)
This coat is actually purple...looks more of a cobalt blue on the photos for some reason. Anyway, I picked it up in the charity shop - attracted by the colour and the shape - it's got that slight tulip style shape about it (there is probably a proper fashion term for that but I don't know what it is). Here's a side view which might help my description?
And here's what was underneath and a better view of my new Orla Kiely scarf from Uniqlo.
OMG - loving this scarf! I first saw it on Emma from 'Adventures of An Unfit Mother', whom I met up with a few months ago and I loved the colours. Then when I was in London, I spied it in Uniqlo (a post to come on my time in Uniqlo!) and had to have it (sorry Emma - we shall have to co-ordinate scarves on our next meet up). And I'm also debuting my new Uniqlo heattech top (super cosy) AND my Cos necklace, both purchased at the weekend. Oh and the sunglasses - wow, what a bargain from TK Maxx. They have some amazing ones in the clearance department. These were originally £169! No case with them but for £12, I wasn't complaining.
Jersey Cardigan - Kaliko
Cream Heattech Top - Uniqlo
Necklace - Cos (another London purchase)
Ok, off now to do the sunny school run in my purpleness...enjoy the rest of your day!


London Part I - The Blogger Meet Up!

So if you've been following me on Twitter, you'll know that I'm just back from London after a wonderful weekend. The trip was a Christmas gift from my mother in law and the main reason for booking it was to allow me to meet up with some other fashion bloggers who have become great friends and wonderful supporters over the past year. 
Here's all who came : Joanna from Poppy's Style, Fiona from Avenue 57, Sue from Susie So So, Marlene from Chocolate Cookies, Kat from Does My Bum Look 40, Natalie from Glam Rosie, Beth from Style Guile and Helen from The Flaky Fashionista.
And here are some photos from the day..starting with some indoor ones. We met in the Mayfair Pizza Company which was the perfect venue. They gave us a part of the bar to ourselves and we stayed there for about 10 hours all told!
First photo is the only group one I got and the only one with Beth in it as she had to catch an early train. Sorry for the poor picture quality!
Joanna from Poppy's Style & Natalie from Glamrosie

Kat from Does My Bum Look 40Helen from The Flaky Fashionista & Joanna (again)
Fiona from Avenue 57
And some outdoor ones from earlier in the day when 4 of us took a break from the restaurant to shop! We went to Cos & Uniqlo where I took tons of photos that I'll share on another post. Both great stores that I wish had a presence in Belfast.
Sue from Susie So So & Marlene from Chocolate Cookies & Candies 
Natalie again (Glamrosie)'s what I wore. Thanks to Marlene for the photo:
Grey Wool Coat - Zara
Spotty Scarf - Marni @ H&M
Denim Shirt - Sainsburys
Scarf - Next
Boots - Moda in Pelle
Bag - Fossil @ Menarys

And underneath the scarf - the Accessorize statement necklace my sister in law got me for Christmas. All sold out online but this one is similar.

I never thought 10 hours could fly in like that and that I would be so sad leaving for the last train to Reading. It was one of those days where the conversation flowed without effort, where there were squeals of laughter, unrepeatable discussions (!!) but also some more serious debates and lots of hugs and kisses on departure. It was like meeting my bestest girlfriends for an unmissable night out...and I guess that is exactly what it was by the end of the day. How wonderful blogging is. Until next time lovely ladies...


Blush & Burgundy

I'm blogging from England tonight after a fabulous day in London yesterday meeting my blogging friends. It was rather surreal sitting in a restaurant looking around the table at 8 of my favourite bloggers! We had a great day together - just fantastic to meet up.
I had hoped to blog about it today but I am staying with my sister in law and have lots of catching up to do with her. Additionally, I'm completely exhausted so I promise you a blog on Tuesday with photos from Saturday. 
In the meantime, here's an outfit post from last week of the blush coloured sweatshirt I picked up in New Look. It's out of stock online now but you may be lucky and pick one up in your local store. I've avoided sweatshirts up to now as I don't normally like cuffs around the waistband of my tops but this one didn't have a tight cuff and I loved the bit of sparkle in it. 

Wearing here with a Kaleidoscope white long line vest, H&M dark blue skinny jeans, H&M tartan scarf & long burgundy boots from Bertie (old). Here's a close up of the sweatshirt:
And another posey shot...
Similar sweatshirts available all over the show at the moment. I saw a gorgeous grey one with embellishments in Primark yesterday - a bit like this one from Bank.
Sweatshirt - Bank
And I like this grey one with lace effect too.. 
Lace Panel Sweatshirt - Mango
Also this is a gorgeous colour for spring time..
Balgy Sweatshirt by Gwynedds
I think I'm won over to this look - provided the fit and colour/design is feminine. And I like how you can wear them in the summer time - a bit less heavy/wintery than knitwear.

I'll leave you with a wee gem I also spotted in Primark when I was in the other day. It's a short trench coat with pleather sleeves. Gorgeous fit, good detail and only £25! Sure to be a sell out - I saw a girl on my flight on Friday wearing it!

Hope you've had a great weekend too. See you Tuesday!


For the Chop at Keith Kane International

In the past two years, I've had my hair cut twice. After many years of trying to grow it long, it finally occurred to me that the only way to get longer hair is to stop having it cut! Sounds simple doesn't it? But in the past I have always given in too soon and gone for the chop and had to start all over again.Your hair only grows about half an inch a month so mostly I was cutting off all my growth. 
Now mine is down below shoulder level with noticeably tatty ends, I was ready for a trim but nervous of a scissor-happy hairdresser taking all my re-growth off. So when Keith Kane International was highly recommended to me by a friend, I decided to pay the main man there a visit.
The salon is based in Carryduff and is well known to many around Belfast. Keith is the most nominated Northern Ireland hairdresser of the year - 17 years and counting! And he's won the competition twice in that time, no mean feat given the number of new salons popping up in recent years. Oh, and well as being an award winning hairdresser, he's a milliner in his spare time, and a bit of a dab hand at dressmaking. A useful man to have in your life!
The exterior of Keith Kane International, Carryduff, Belfast
Keith at work - look at that girl's hair! Stunning
I had my hair washed and then sat with Keith to discuss my hair's health. Keith explained that long hair does need cut but if you look after it, it should only need done twice a year. Which led on nicely to my hair care routine, or lack of. Not having had long hair until my 30's, I have no idea how to look after it. I had come to the right man!  
Given I have coloured hair and use straighteners once a week, Keith recommended the System Professional Luxe Oil as an essential for my dry ends. He told me he has tried loads of different formulations in recent years with the big growth in hair oils and for him, he's not seen anything (including Moroccan oil) that comes close to the results he's getting from Luxe Oil. 
Keith also recommended the Wella System Professional range for shampoo and conditioner. It's interesting to hear about his longer term experience with these products. Keith explained that he has clients who have been coming to him for years and he can really see the improvement in their hair from using these products over time. Clearly the secret behind his high volume of returning clients.
So the bad news was that I needed about 2 inches off..mainly because of the way my hair was thinned out previously. Keith wanted to cut my hair straight across the end to give me a cleaner, healthier finish. But in fact, I've not missed these straggly ends at all and if anything my hair looks as long as it did.
Here is Keith making sure all the ends are even..I had the poor man tormented with mirror pictures!

I really enjoyed looking at Keith's creations for previous Hairdresser of the Year competitions. The planning starts now for the November British Hairdressing Awards. He told me it's a great motivation for the salon staff as it's a chance for them to use their creative sides.
Armed with a bottle of Wella Salon Professional Luxe Oil to test for a few weeks (will update you on the blog in a month or two), I headed home for some outside photos of the newer, slightly shorter but oh so shiny hair.

Black Quilted Jacket - Zara
White Vest - Kaleidoscope
Blush Jersey Cardigan - Linea @ House of Fraser
Skinny Jeans - H&M
Boots - Zara
Handbag - Fossil @ Menarys
A couple of days on, my hair is still looking glossy and it literally feels like silk! I haven't missed my 2 inches at all and just like my blogging buddy, Gemma Louise, over at That Belfast Girl, I'm converted to the fact that it's better to have shorter healthier hair than longer hair in poor condition.
So if you're in the market for a new hairdresser (and remember, Carryduff is only a few miles out of Belfast), I can highly recommend Keith and his friendly team. I have been to quite a few hairdressers in my time and for me, what stood out in this salon was the attitude of the team. They were so friendly and welcoming and clearly enjoy their jobs. Nothing worse than sitting in a salon where the staff look miserable - I think we've all been there.

And if you're not local but are looking for a new hair care range, Wella Salon Professional is available online and in good salons nationwide. Keith explained how different the formulation is in these products to what you would pick up in the chemist or supermarket and gave me a few great tips for washing my hair with them. 
  • Firstly, don't use too much - less is more and you will need less of these better quality products anyway 
  • Secondly, on your second shampoo comb through the hair while the product is on it. This will help ensure the length of your hair gets the benefit and should mean you use less conditioner and
  • Finally, for perfect condition on your hair ends use some Luxe Oil before drying & straightening and then a tiny bit for glossing effect after you've dried your hair.

Thanks to the team at Keith Kane International for looking after me so well. My new hair and I are off to London today for a Mummy Fashion Blogger get together in the City. Can't wait and don't worry, I'll be sure to share photos on the blog on Sunday or Monday - technology permitting! Have a great weekend!


New Look Shoes & The Telephone Dress

I was in M&S today to pick up my Telephone dress - the one I told you about yesterday. But while I was there, I nipped into the nearby New Look...check out these gorgeous studded pumps!
Black Spike Stud Slipper Shoes
I also tried on these flat black ankle boots - really comfy. The pic was a bit dark so I had to enhance to show them properly..
Black Stud Strap Slouch Biker Boot 
These wedge trainers were lovely too and very comfy. Jury's still out on them though...couldn't bring myself to take a picture!
Black Stud Strap Wedge Trainers

Looking back on the photos now I'm home, I have a feeling I will be back for the slipper shoes next month but this month's limit was up after paying for the M&S dress & a cute blush coloured sweatshirt that called to me from the New Look sale rail (blog to follow on this)
What about the dress then? I didn't have a photographer so more mirror shots follow..
The fit is gorgeous I have to say - the nipped in waist is a great shape on me but then again, I'm not that big on top. I think you would have to size up if you have generous norkage and then it's probable you would lose the benefit of the waist shape? Please let me know how you get on size wise if you try it also.
I tried it over jeans in these pictures (a bit too long on me as a tunic) and then I tried it with navy tights but I didn't have the right shoes for the latter look. So I'll save it for another blogpost when I've found said shoes! Any excuse for some shoe shopping eh?

And before I go today, be sure to drop by the Britmums Blog for my February Style Round Up. I'm featuring some of my favourite curvy blogs this month. I do hope you enjoy!


Essentials Magazine & The M&S Telephone Dress

Back in September, I shared a message on my Facebook page about Essentials Magazine who were looking for a women in her 40's willing to travel to London for a Christmas Party photoshoot. A few days later, Sue, who follows my blog (and is my inside track in M&S - more below!) got in touch to tell me that she'd been selected to take part and was willing to write a diary of her day. I hand you over to Sue...
When I saw Avril's message about Essential's Magazine, I dropped the magazine an email but honestly expected to hear nothing. Lo and behold, I was invited to attend a photo-shoot day in London. What to wear? I wanted to be comfortable, but also on-trend so I wore an M&S Limited Collection owl dress that I'd bought after seeing on Avril's blog.
Feeling slightly apprehensive I was greeted at my destination by Olivia and introduced to the make-up artists and asked to try on the outfit chosen for the shoot. In a corner of the room was a long rail full of clothing, a table full of accessories and jewellery and on the floor the most amazing selection of sky scraper killer heels. Heaven. My outfit consisted of an M&Co blouse, a Dorothy Perkins Chanel inspired jacket and a very sparkly Top Shop skirt. The skirt came up longer than the girls wanted, so a quick call was made to courier over a petite cut version. The biggest challenge was the shoes. It appears that your average model is more likely to wear a size 7 so finding something to fit my size 5 ½ feet which would complement the outfit was a headache. The solution was to pack the toes of the shoes with tissue paper. And so to make-up...
The make-up artist was a lovely lady named Charlotte who did my nails, make-up & lashes in preparation for the photos. When she handed me the mirror at the end, I was blown away! My eye make-up was dramatic and smoky - amazing to see the effects achieved by a professional.
Then it was over to Nick, the photographer. The backdrop for the shoot was a white wall positioned on a highly polished white floor. My job was to lean against the wall whilst Nick snapped away. Simples you say. Nick took numerous shots, changing the angle and direction of my body and Charlotte jumped in periodically to powder down those flushed areas. It was extremely hot under all the studio lights. For me the trickiest part was how to position my arms, clutching onto a chunky clutch bag in my small hands and balancing for half an hour or so in stilettos which were way too big. All credit to professional models - it is actually very tiring work.

The feature was for the Christmas December issue which was published on 1st November. It was quite surreal flicking through the copy to see a full page photograph of myself. 
Was I happy with the published photo? Yes, though not especially with the caption which read ‘I want to look fabulous – not frumpy’. The text quoted was not mine and I promptly told my friends I would never say that....I don’t do frumpy! 
I’ve subsequently taken out an annual subscription to Essentials and thoroughly recommend it as a magazine which contains an array of topical pieces covering lifestyle, fashion, beauty, recipes, crafts etc., but most importantly it contains REAL women and celebrates real women. Should the opportunity arise for anyone else to take part in a magazine shoot, I’d say don’t even think about. Go for it, embrace it and grab the opportunity. Life is for living!

Thanks Sue for writing this piece - I really enjoyed reading about your day and seeing the final photo. You look just like a pro.

I also have to thank Sue for being my inside line in M&S this week. Knowing how quickly the Owl dress sold out, she contacted me as soon as she saw this beauty come into stock.

You saw it here first - the M&S Limited Collection Telephone Print Dress! Mine is in the post so I'll share a photo when it arrives! 



Catching up...

I am guilty of a few days of blog neglect...sorry about that! Lots going on - two days in the charity shop, changing cars, Valentines, the nursery teddy visiting (again!) and my return to circuits classes after a long break. On top of all that, my choir concert was last night (Friday) so I was rehearsing and helping with arrangements during every spare minute.
The concert was a wardrobe dilemma. We were performing The Timewarp and I was hoping to dress up a bit but the only chance I got to look for something was on Valentine's Day, where I had all of 30 minutes in TK Maxx. I tried on some faux leather jeans (too big), studded hotpants (too small) and a sequin dress (too shapeless) and all too awful to share photos of. Instead I'll show you what I wore for my Valentine's lunch with Mr SGS
I was fed up of wearing jeans by Wednesday and as it was a lovely day, I decided to make an extra effort and wore my Zara snakeskin dress (old) with Moda in Pelle ankle boots, a cropped cardigan, belt & scarf.
After this frantic try on session, I made things easier for myself at the concert by opting to wear my Warehouse dress (last seen here) while time-warping. It has a bit of rock chick about it but has minimal risk of wardrobe malfunction while dancing & singing! I then changed into my Gok Red Peplum dress for the main part of the show. Hoping I can share some of the official concert photos on the blog soon as I don't think I've ever featured the Gok dress on here.

After a late night (took a long time to come down from the adrenaline rush of the concert), and a broken night's sleep because of a poorly little girl, today was spent entirely in my PJ's and it reminded me how lovely it is to take a day off life now and again. I got loads of housework & paperwork done in between calpol doses & cuddles and I'm hoping after a better night's sleep tonight, we'll be firing on all cylinders for the rest of half term. 

I'll finish with the sight that greeted me on Valentine's morning...what a way to start the day (nursery teddy included)!



Has Gok Outgrown Sainsburys?

Every season for a number of years now, I've waited with excitement to see the latest Gok collection for TU at Sainsburys. And every season, I've bought from it - sometimes up to 5 or 6 items and worn and enjoyed every one of these items.
Now some of his collections have been more successful than others but generally speaking, I think over time each one improved on the last, so it was with great excitement that I headed to my local Sainsburys to see the SS13 collection. The Look Book hadn't overly inspired me but I always like to see a range in the flesh (so to speak) before making a judgement. However, it transpired that the Look Book was spot on...Oh no Gok - what's going on boyfriend <wavy hand thing>
I think the word 'dull' best summarises it. There's nothing shocking or outside comfort zone - it's just so ordinary and overpriced. I stood for 20 minutes trying to work out what I could style in a good way and left with a beige top, a white top and a pair of navy jeggings. The two tops were so badly creased on getting home, I couldn't get photos for the blog and the jeggings, while a lovely soft material and a nice fit were too short. And I'm not tall at all - I'm very much an average height.
So it got me to thinking - has Gok outgrown Sainsburys? And on inspecting the rest of the TU clothing range, I wondered if Sainsburys actually needs Gok anymore?

I don't think they do because wow, was I seriously impressed by the non Gok collection. Whoever is doing the buying for TU has a great eye for detail, colour and cut. I photographed no less than 9 different scarf patterns that I loved..
I saw these Zara-style shoppers before Christmas and loved them too. They have been a great seller, according to my sources, so if you see one in your local store, don't hesitate as they sold out in AW12. The pink cut-out one is a new style and colour for this year.
I'm on a breton theme here with these next few photos. Seriously gorgeous and bargainous!

I did actually look at some non breton stuff too, I promise. This chiffon top was a real stand out item for me. It's a duck egg blue and has the most beautiful (and flattering) pleated sleeves. A bit more green and darker in shade than in the photo 
But my favourite item by far was this denim shirt...
I've been looking for a dark, fitted, flattering denim shirt for a few weeks now and was so pleased to find this one in Sainsburys for just £22. Another one to pick up before they sell out.
My other purchase was one of the scarves from the collage above. Perfect with my bobbly Phase Eight top (it is the same colour...honest!) as it hides the bobbles. And it's got taupe and black in it too so will come in handy for a few other outfits..
The final item I picked up were these floral jeans on the sale rail for £9! They are ankle skimmers so I'll save for later in spring but loving the navy, pink and grey in them, which makes them very wearable..
In conclusion, Sainsburys, ditch the don't need him anymore. You've clearly got a great buying team in touch with what's on trend and a poor Gok collection like this one can only damage the brand and cost money. Keep up what you're doing yourselves and the mums will come in their droves.
Do you agree with me? Interested to hear your views if you've been in your local Sainsbury's lately. Did you buy from this Gok collection?

© A Life To Style | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig