Belfast-based, style loving mum of 3. Fashion, Lifestyle, Food & Fitness

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Love Umbrellas in the Snow

The other week, I received the most gorgeous gift in the post - a customised, heart shaped metallic silver umbrella - from Klair at Love Umbrellas. Now I've followed Klair for a while on Twitter and Facebook and marvelled at the amazing umbrellas she creates for special occasions, mostly weddings. But I'd not realised that you could have one of her fabulous creations to use every day.
So I picked a particularly rubbish day to do a few photos showing off the umbrella...snow and gales. And what I immediately noticed about this umbrella is that it's not a delicate thing at all - it was well able to cope with the strong easterly wind that tried to blow us both away (they've even been weather tested by ITV's This Morning!) 
Klair customises these umbrellas herself and can work to one of her many creative designs on the website/Facebook albums or do something special just for you - as she's done with this - adding colour and detail to a plain heart shaped umbrella. 
I've had a compliment every time I've used it since it arrived (lots of times). I think the heart shape alone makes people smile and then the buttons are a beautiful bonus.
Customised Button Umbrella - Love Umbrellas
Grey Jeans - Primark
Navy Boots - M&S (sold out)
(Super Bobbly - don't buy one) Pink Jumper - Phase 8
Scarf (just seen) - Sainsburys
Necklace - Boots
I think one of these umbrellas would make an amazing present for a friend or indeed a teacher. They are so unique yet really practical. Here are some of my other favourites from Klair's site..
You can find out more and contact Klair via the Love Umbrellas Facebook Page. I know she'd love some new likes on there and that way, you will have access to her regular flash sales and competitions.
Speaking of competitions - have you entered mine yet? I'm giving away a gorgeous breton top from Hot Squash AND a styling book called Your Best You. Click here to enter. Only a few days left before I announce the winner!
(I was sent this umbrella free of charge but was not obliged to blog about it. All views my own!)


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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Navy Boots & Floral Jeans

Some of you may have seen on Instagram and Facebook, that last week, I popped into M&S for some milk and leopard heels (as you do) and spotted navy suede ankle boots (just like the taupe ones I'd been admiring on Natalie from Glamrosie earlier that day). Just one pair left, in my size, in the sale. It was like the ankle boot gods were speaking to me. 
Buying them then prompted a memory that on a similar mission a few months ago (for milk but not leopard heels), I bought these floral jeans in the Sainsbury's sale for about £5. I loved the pattern but they are a short leg so I had put them away until the weather warms up (ha!) to wear with pumps. Out they came as I knew they would be perfect with my new boots!
And here are the jeans a bit closer up
I partnered them with a Dorothy Perkins navy top, layered with a white vest and a white long sleeved top and popped on a contrasting striped scarf that picked up the grey from the floral pattern..
And here it is all together...
Add on a navy wool pea coat and I'm good to go!
Short Navy Wool Coat - Primark (old)
Navy Long Sleeved Top - Dorothy Perkins (seen here)
Floral Jeans - Sainsburys (new but old)
Navy Suede Boots - M&S (sold out)
Scarf - River Island (old)
Necklace - Autograph @ M&S (seen here)
Love when a plan comes together! And I also love getting some wear from winter items bought for a bargain price in the sales at this time of year. Husband thinks we should get a milkman.
As you can see, the white stuff lingers on. We had an avalanche from our roof this morning which took some of our down pipe with it. A slightly alarming start to the birthday celebrations for my son, now a big boy of 9. But we all cheered up when the cake and top hats came out...yum yum. Have a great day!
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Monday, 25 March 2013

Quilted Ballet Pumps - Spend vs Splurge

I just love getting emails from my friend Claire, whom I met via Mumsnet initially and then got to know really well via this blog, and although we've not ever met in real life, we are indeed kindred spirits. Of that there is no doubt.
Today's email from Claire was about her new Russel & Bromley nude pumps. She had scrimped and saved for these and was over the moon about finally owning them. Her budget didn't stretch to the same shoes in black but luckily for Claire, in her hunt for black ones, she spotted a familiar pair in Next and photos just had to be taken owing to the striking similarities between the two pairs...





Black Quilted Ballerinas - Next
Charming Nude Ballerina - Russell & Bromley 

  • Both shoes are leather and leather lined.
  • Both have double stitched quilting.
  • Both have flexible rubber soles.
  • The only visible difference is the gold tag.
  • The Next ones are £40, R&B ones are £155

Now before you state the obvious that one is black and one is nude, the point here is more about the fact that the look so similar on every other way. The R&B ones are available in black but the Next ones are not available in nude. If you are looking for less expensive nude ones, Claire found a different pair in Next at only £26..not as comparable to the R&B ones but not bad nonetheless.
Next Nude Leather Ballerinas
Claire's Spend vs Splurge Conclusion.......'if you can afford the R and B then great but I
struggle to see any difference between them and the Next ones...yes, time may tell....the leather must be a better quality. Here's hoping it's at least £100 better!' 

So, over to you...do you think it's worth paying for quality? Or would you rather have two or three less expensive things instead?

UPDATE: (3 weeks on) Claire admits to me that the Next ones are cutting her feet still but the R&B ones are like slippers... :)
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Saturday, 23 March 2013

Weekend Wishlist - Littlewoods Ireland

OK, this weather is really getting me down! Snow at the end of March? Sigh. In an effort to focus on better weather ahead, I was happy to take up the offer from Littlewoods to create a Pinterest Wishlist Board for sunnier days, based on items from the their website. Here's what I've pinned so far..

First up, a stunning 'Russian doll' print top? A great transitional piece as it will work well with black,denim and white. Meanwhile, every girl should have a spiked statement necklace this season (jewellery & weapon in one!). Summer footwear wise, I'm seeing lots of stores stocking block heel, ankle strap sandals. Comfy, easy to walk in and great with skinnies or boyfriend/cropped trousers.
Russian Doll Print Top
Megan Spike Statement Necklace
Clarks Sharna Balcony Leather Sandal
Next up, my coat of choice this SS13 (and you do know, we'll need a coat this summer!) is a parka. Littlewoods have this  great lightweight one in a wide range of sizes. Fabulous sunnies are a must - I love a neutral shade so these Marc Jacobs ones are perfect and co-ordinate well with a blush cross-body handbag.
So Fabulous Lightweight Parka
Marc by Marc Jacobs Circle Detail Glasses
Mischa Barton Crossbody Bag
 The wedge is back and is bigger than ever this year. Pick a neutral shade like these Clarks ones and they will be more wearable day and night during the warmer weather. Cropped trousers are everywhere and these hot pink ones would work well styled with a lace top like this one from Fearne Cotton.
Fearne Cotton Lace T-Shirt
South Belted Crop Trousers
Clarks Silky Smooth Wedge Sandals
Then....as I was browsing, I found something wonderful. Remember my holy grail of handbags, my black Fossil bag from this post? Well, it comes in a light tan colour too! Seriously tempting...
Fossil Explorer Fold-Over Bag
If you're on Pinterest, do drop by and say hi and you can re-pin any of these pieces if you have a SS13 wishlist board yourself. I should say, all items are also available on the UK website too by clicking on this link. Any favourites for you amongst this lot? 
Have a good weekend and stay safe and warm if you're in the parts of the country affected by the snow x  
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Friday, 22 March 2013

Belfast Fashion Week Opening Night - Leopard Print Style!

Inspired by the specs you all preferred on my post yesterday, I headed into the opening night of West Coast Cooler Belfast Fashion Week all leoparded up. My sister will NOT like this - I know! This opening show showcased the SS13 George at Asda range. I was very impressed by what I saw on the catwalk and now need to pay Asda a visit. Photos to come but firstly - here's my homage to Bet Lynch.. (in fact, I seem to be channeling more than one Coronation St. character this week judging by the comments!)
Sipping a West Coast Cooler with my Blogging Bestie Gemma-Louise
Photo Credit - Jeff @ Belfast Times
In absolute love with two aspects of this outfit in particular. My bargainous leopard heels from M&S and my lace/pearl top from Room 31.
Boyfriend Jeans - Gap
Mid-Heel Leopard Pumps - M&S (currently reduced!)
Black Blazer - ASOS
Cream Lace & Pearl Detail Top - Yumi @ Room31
Scarf - eBay
And here's the top on it's own..so flattering. Not too clingy with lovely pleating detail down the front. 25% off if you use SGS25 at the checkout too! Note that I sized up to a 12 in this top. Yumi tends to come up a bit small. Or else I'm in denial about being a 10 on top!
But onto the catwalk fashion...this year's BFW shows are being held in the Ulster Museum - an amazing setting. This is what greeted us as we took our seats..
Cute Floating Puppies
Once the show began, it was outfit after outfit of affordable, wearable (in better weather) options from George at Asda with no single item costing more than £22.
Photo Credit - Stephen Potter
Photo credit - Stephen Potter

Photo Credit - Stephen Potter
Photo Credit - Stephen Potter
Photo Credit - Stephen Potter
It really is a super wee collection - neons, florals, monochrome, boucle - they're all there at perfect prices for the stylish yet budget conscious woman. I promise to pay Asda a visit in the next couple of weeks to try some of it on for you. In the meantime, you can check out what's available in your local Asda or online at Asda.com (some items yet to arrive - do sign up to their email alert to find out when the high summer collection becomes available)
Meanwhile, the show goes on at the Ulster Museum tonight and tomorrow night with lots more designer and high street fashion to check out. If you're lucky enough to have a ticket for either of these sold out shows, enjoy and keep warm and safe en route! 
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Thursday, 21 March 2013

My Marmite Specs from Specsavers

Unlike many of the reviews I do on here, this one is for a company I've been a customer of for over 15 years - Specsavers - and it was in their Lisburn store that last week, I acquired my new marmite spectacles. Everyone who has met me wearing them since I picked them up on Saturday has either completely hated them or absolutely loved them so I'm quite excited about sharing on the blog to see what you all think <braces self>
Now for those of you who wear glasses, you'll know the drill regarding visits to the optician. It's an amazing health check for your eyes, going beyond assessing your sight to ruling out a number of sight-threatening medical issues. Since my last test, Specsavers are now taking photographs of the back of patient's eyeballs. So you really come out with the security of knowing your eyes are super healthy (albeit a bit short-sighted in my case).
The back of my left eyeball!
So sight test done, I was let loose in the shop to chose some new glasses from the Designer RangeI knew I wanted full-on statement glasses this visit. At the grand old age of almost 40, I am officially fed up with sensible specs. My prescription hasn't changed in years so I already have an accumulation of corporate-appropriate eyewear suitable for job interviews and funerals. This was fun-glasses time! Cue photo montage of me trying on basically every mad looking frame there was..
I then whittled it down to two - my marmite ones and some cat's eye leopard ones. And here's the thing - I could have both thanks to Specsaver's buy one get one free arrangement. Perfect.
Left - Gok Wan 18 & Right - Osiris B26
You can try both on online if you click on the links!
All in all the sight test and glasses choosing took just over an hour. 48 hours later, the specs were on my face. I call that first class customer service. And I've not even mentioned the staff in the Lisburn store who went over and above the call of duty to ensure I was looked after. Running in to the lab to bring out frames that had sold out but could be ordered in and showing me staff members with the same frame style themselves. But at the same time, not rushing me and not being too pushy. I like that because choosing glasses can be quite stressful - they are a very visible accessory so you want to be happy with your choice.

 So here are some photos of me wearing the new glasses. Over to you guys - which do you prefer?

PS Thank you to Specsavers UK and especially to the team at Specsavers on Bow Street, Lisburn for supplying me with my new glasses.


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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Outfit Round Up via Instagram!

I've got a new obsession - Instagram! I swore I wouldn't go there, thinking I was already social media over-subscribed but then Joanna over at Poppy's Style raved about it so much, I caved...
Just over a week later, I've uploaded almost 30 photos, have 66 followers and am well and truly hooked. For those of you who've never explored it, I would describe it as falling somewhere between Twitter (using hashtags for trends/subjects and your profile is open for all to see but personal details don't have to be shared) and Facebook (ability to comment infinitum and 'like' photos without interacting) but essentially, it's all about the photos..the gorgeous Instagram filtered photos. The filters can make any old boring picture look epic!
The good side of joining Insta is that I've been more disciplined about taking photos of my outfits. Instead of having to cajole a willing photographer and find great light and surroundings, I can simply take a mirror shot, add a lovely filter and bob's your uncle...I'm a photographic genius!
Tuesday at the Charity Shop
Burgundy Jumper & Scarf - H&M
Jeans - Warehouse
Tan Wedge Ankle Boots - Aldo
Necklace - Vintage
Wednesday at the Stormont Fashion Show (blogged here)
Thursday at the MAC (blogged here)
Friday - Girls' Night Out
Boyfriend Jeans - Gap
Cream Lace & Pearl Top - Room 31
Black Boucle Jacket - Gok @ TU
Hairy Pumps - M&S (old)
Saturday - Messages & Kids' Activities Galore
Poncho - TK Maxx
Blouse - TK Maxx
Black Trousers - Heatons
Long Black Riding Boots - Hobbs
Sunday - Family Time
Denim Shirt - Sainsburys
Red Jeans - Room 31
Cream HeatTech Top - Uniqlo
Scarf - M&S
Suede Boots - Mango
Today - At home with poorly little one
Navy Wool Dress - Benetton
Cream Heattech Top - Uniqlo
Peacock Feather Scarf - Charity Shop
Necklace - Freedom @ Topshop
Boots - Mango
Navy Thermal Tights - Primark
Having posted all these photos, I'm realising that I should perhaps find some consistency with the filters (effects) that I put on my pictures but hopefully, if you've never used it before, you can kind of get the picture? (scuse the pun)

Before I sign off, I'm pleased to announce my Hot Squash competition. Click on this link to find out how to enter - it's really simple and you could win two great prizes. The closing date is the 29th March. Good luck!
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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Monochrome & Red at The MAC

Last week, Mr SGS and I had a rare day when we both had a few hours off and the kids were in school so we took a trip we'd been meaning to make for a few weeks now - to The MAC in Belfast where the buzz is all about the Andy Warhol Exhibition that runs until the 26th April across 3 floors of this amazing building. 
I have to say, I was blown away by both the building and the exhibition. How lucky we are to have this on our doorstep. The exhibition is free and there's a coffee shop/restaurant on site so it makes for a lovely morning out, with or without the kids.
I have been channelling my monochrome lots over the past few days...today I added some red and a very old M&S sixties style coat that always gets a few outings each winter..
Black/White Spotty Coat - M&S (similar here)
Black Jumper - Warehouse (similar here)
Red Wool Mini Skirt - M&S (similar here)
White Shirt - H&M (similar here)
Black Ankle Boots - Moda in Pelle
Thermal Tights - Primark


I do love this skirt but was lamenting the fact that I don't have many shorter tops to wear with it. But then I had a brainwave - why not wear it with a longer jumper tucked in? So that's what we have today - it's a Warehouse tunic knit that in fact isn't much shorter than the skirt so as well as being an ingenious way to make an outfit, it also kept me extra warm for the day!

Now despite the snow forecast for this week, I'm pressing ahead with a competition to win a lovely spring-like top from Hot Squash. Watch this space - I'll be posting details very soon.....and here's hoping it helps to lift the mood and the temperature. Keep warm! x
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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Stripes at Stormont

Last night I attended Style At Stormont, a very special fashion show organised by Action Mental Health Northern Ireland and held in Parliament Buildings at Stormont - a stunning setting. For the occasion, I treated myself to a new dress, one I'd seen at the recent Warehouse SS13 launch:
Back Detail Stripe Dress - Warehouse
Black Power Shoulder Blazer - ASOS (now reduced to £30 - size 10 only)
Suede Shoe Boots - M&S (similar here & here)
Patent Clutch - LK Bennett
Necklace - Stella & Dot (borrowed) 
Notice anything? If you've read this blog for a while you'll have seen everything except the dress (and necklace) before. The clutch, shoe boots and blazer are key pieces that I wear on almost every night out. Wardrobe staples - check them out here, here and here...amongst others! If you have these right, you never need worry about what to wear on a night out.
The dress from the front is beautifully cut with clever side panels and....surprisingly, pockets! But it's the back that really catches the eye. It's got a lovely cut out detail. Now I'm not normally a fan of bare backs but this amount, I can live with.
I was travelling to the event with Patricia, a local Stella & Dot representative so she offered to provide me with a statement piece for the evening. I was thinking something chunky and silver with black but oh no - Patricia knew this this neon 'Spring Awakening' double strand necklace would be perfect. And she was right!
Patricia was herself wearing a gorgeous green Stella & Dot Jolie statement necklace and Sharon, another friend of mine who travelled with us to the show wore this incredible limited edition Virgina Bib.
Back to the show...apart from looking forward to spending an evening with friends and checking out gorgeous summer fashion from House of Fraser, I also came along to the event to hear my good friend and fellow blogger, Gemma-Louise from 'That Belfast Girl' speak about her own struggles with mental health issues. Inspirational stuff from an inspirational girl and how stunning Gemma-Louise looked in her JS Collection black gown with embellished shoulders.
And before I forget, there was fashion...neon, monochrome, candy colours and floral gorgeousness...and Michael Buble'esque entertainment in the form of the talented James Huish. A great night for a great cause.


Show photos courtesy of Stephen Potter Photography
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