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

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Massive Boden Try On - Part 1

With my Boden party this Thursday (if you're in the area, please come!), I received two early boxes of stock. These are the high summer items that are about to hit the catalogue and are not currently included in the party set yet. I'll add them to the set when it arrives with me so that mine and subsequent parties have the latest stock. But in the meantime, I get to play with it all so I've tried on literally everything that arrived in a 10 or 12. Even items I'd not normally consider ordering - like skirts - yes, I even got my legs out for this post. That's dedication for you :)
First up - the bistro crop trousers. These are fantastic. I have them in white already and the fit is brilliant, they are a lovely weight of fabric and the colours and patterns available are great. Suitable for work, casual wear and going out.
I'm a 12 in these - they do seem to come up a little bit small (says she in denial). This is a new allium print pattern in blue and off white (available later this week).
Next up, a halter-neck jersey dress. Fits perfect in a 10. Great dress for a pear shape and super flattering length.
Skirt number 1 and loving it. It's called the sarong skirt. It zips up like a regular skirt but has a cute tie detail at the side. Beautiful bright colour and very flattering on.  Comes up small. I'm wearing a 12.
Next, a couple of items that didn't work so well on me. The navy shift dress has a gorgeous neckline but the material just doesn't hang nicely. I seem to need a 12 on the hips but it feels like it would be too big on the waist if I sized up. 
Then we have the sleeveless version of Boden's famous towelling dress - perfect for the beach. I can see the point of this if you live or are holidaying somewhere warm but in my mind, the fabric is still too heavy for hot weather, I think it's one of those items for a chilly Donegal beach - with sleeves and a hood - not without!
Back to items I liked. This next one is a dress length but is made more like a t-shirt/tunic as it's got a jersey back and a woven/material front. The little cap sleeves are jersey also. It's so comfy and I adore the pattern. It's a little big on me in the 12 so I would go for a 10 in this one.
Next up a stunning ruffle wrap dress that was a joy to wear. Such gorgeous jersey and with lovely detail like a button on the neckline to prevent too much boobage exposure. Perfect summer item - throw it on and you're dressed! This size 10 is too neat for my liking so I'd be happier in a 12.
Below the dress are two jersey tops. The first (on the left) I didn't like on the hanger but loved it on. I would size up to the 12 as it felt a bit neat across my waist. The one on the right I DID like on the hanger but didn't like on. It was a bit too long as a tunic but too short as a dress. Lovely detail on the neckline and a great colour but I couldn't see it working in my wardrobe.
The jersey maxi dress was next on my list. I had featured on the blog recently in a dark purple so these two patterns are new to the range. The red/purple was my favourite colour of the two but in a 10 was a bit too short. The yellow/green is a 12 and the length was perfect without being much bigger in the bust/waist. 
Another great dress here - perfect for a day event like a Communion or Christening. It's a beautiful shift style with great structure to it - it's a heavy sheeny cotton with some piping detail. In this one, the 12 was too big (I'm holding it in at the back!) so I would order a 10 in it.
Skirts again and another one that while I loved the pattern, I didn't think it would look nice on - but I was wrong. A really pretty print for the summer with some lovely muted colours.
This next top was my most favourite item. I love this style of top - high neckline, collar and sleeveless - a great shape if you're not busty. It's white linen with cream stitching and detail on the collar and around the hem which was difficult to pick up in the photos. I'm wearing a 10 here which fits me but feels slightly neat. I'll order in the 12 and see how I get on.
And finally, a maxi skirt. Loved the shape of this but the print felt a bit too big. Gorgeous colours though.
So that's my Boden try on Part 1. When the rest of my stock arrives tomorrow, I'll do another quick post showcasing my favourite pieces.
Meanwhile, only the items I've linked to are currently available on the Boden site. The rest will launch on Thursday and I'll add the links when they do. Meanwhile, if you are too far away to come to the party but want to order anything virtually and support my nominated charity in the process, drop me a mail to schoolgatestyle@yahoo.co.uk.
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Sunday, 28 April 2013

A Photo Shoot with Fenn Wright Manson!

It was such an honour to be invited over to a very special press & bloggers day at Fenn Wright Manson's office in London last week. As well as getting a sneak peek at the AW13 range (more to come - Im not allowed to show any pictures yet!) us bloggers got to try on all of the SS13 range (which is currently available) and have our photographs taken by a professional!
While I was in the styling suite, I was joined by my blogging buddies Kat from Does My Bum Look 40 and Natalie from Glam Rosie and here we all are before we started dressing up
Within minutes of this shot, we started trying on from the rails around us. This next top is one of FWM's best sellers. It's a beautifully fitting silky top with a rear exposed zip and it comes in a few different colours. So practical and one of those classic pieces you would have in your wardrobe for years. I tried on the cobalt blue one first:
Bella Roll Sleeve Top - Cobalt
Next I tried on a coat I'd seen online and fallen in love with. It's difficult to see with the angle I'm standing at but it's got the most amazing embellished detail on the right side, the shoulders and the cuffs. You can see it better on the website picture.
Colette Embellished Mac
Millie Top
Great minds and all that...
Natalie & I - Bella Roll Sleeved Top in Navy/Orchid
Kat - Bella Roll Sleeved Top in Electric Blue

Again, difficult to see the detail on my photo (check the website image!) but this short navy jacket was a big hit with everyone. Classic shape, gorgeous fabric and another wardrobe classic.
Versailles Collarless Jacket
It was so lovely trying on these beautiful pieces in our own styling suite and with our own professional photographer! Some of the items are on sale right now too and if you sign up to the FWM newsletter, you'll get a discount off your first order AND free delivery!
There were a few pieces that I didn't have time to try or weren't in my size in this collage below:
Clockwise from top:
Laurel Jacket
Verdi Trouser
Mabel Jumper
Leyla Silk Dress
And I'll leave you with some images from the rest of the SS13 range. 
Thanks Fenn Wright Manson for a lovely day!

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Friday, 26 April 2013

The Wedge Trainer AGAIN!

Oh no, I hear you say. I'm banging on about wedge trainers again. You'd think after all the times I've debated, tried on and analysed, I'd just LET. IT. GO.
But no...the lovely peeps at Zalando asked me to chose a couple of pairs of shoes from their website and I saw these for a mere £23 (free delivery too!). 
I thought, right, let's get this out of my system once and for all. I'll over-look my irrational fear of laces in shoes (don't ask) and go for a plain black pair (including importantly for me, a black sole)..
Even&Odd Lace Up Wedge Trainer
First things first, they look 100 times better in real life than they do online. Secondly, they are surprisingly comfy. I ordered a 6.5 which came up a tiny bit big but I popped in a soft insole and they are perfect. Thirdly, £23? Seriously...I spent that in the airport buying magazines to bring home to the kids & hubby last week. Bargainous.
Now for the outfit I wore them with. Same jeans as yesterday's post coz that's how it rocks with me. If they're comfy - I wear them to death! Cold day so I went for a cosy loose knit and a bright scarf to cheer it all up a bit.
Even&Odd Lace up Wedge Trainer - Zalando
(kind of loving the other two colours now too!)
Black Oversized Knit - TK Maxx (random brand)
Distressed Jeans - Maison Scotch (similar here & here)
Scarf - Heatons
Necklace - Mango (sale)
White Vest - Primark (similar)
Ok, so I've *kind of* chickened out a bit with these because as Sera quite rightly said on Avenue 57 (where I posted a picture of these the other day), they are not unlike regular wedge ankle boots - the trainer thing is not that obvious. And that's why I'm finding them easier to wear. I'm easing myself in gently and maybe that's an idea for other Wedge Trainer virgins who can't make up their mind?
What a week of discovery - midi dresses and now wedge trainers! Why, next I'll be in the dungarees, eh Joanna?? And if you've not seen Joanna rocking her dungarees yet, why not?
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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Yellow Jacket & Distressed Jeans

I am loving this yellow jacket that's found a new lease of life in my wardrobe. It's an older one from M&S and now that neon is so on trend and I've got this great scarf from TK Maxx with a splash of yellow in it, I find myself wearing it lots lately. It's a great anti-dote to the rubbish weather as well. Cheers me up to wear it and hopefully does the same to others...either that or it hurts their eyes a bit as it's actually way brighter in RL... 
Yellow Jacket - Limited Collection @ M&S (Similar here & here)
Scarf - TK Maxx (similar here & here - omg I've found MORE scarves I want!)
Distressed Jeans - Maison Scotch (similar here & here)
Navy Suede Ankle Boots - M&S (not *that* similar but navy boots are hard to come by!)
Navy Top - Dorothy Perkins (similar)
White Vest - Primark (similar)
The jeans were a total bargain. If you're in Belfast, head upstairs in Benetton on the Lisburn Road to see if they are still selling off Harrison AW12 stock. I picked up these Maison Scotch distressed skinny jeans for £30. Down from £120. There were a few pairs left in stock. Stunning quality and the absolute perfect fit for a pear. They go up and over my hips and are narrower at the waist. No gaping waistband and no belt needed! 

And here's what was underneath - kept it a bit more subtle to counteract the yellow!
I'm so sorry for not looking at the camera in any of these shots. More drama at the back door. Suffice to say, these were the best of a bad lot. 
Why can't I be like Kendi and Wendy...with their photographic husbands/lovers clicking away with top of the range SLR cameras and a lens for every occasion. Encouraging, experienced with actual photographic qualifications/training. Ensuring they get THE best shot of their beautiful subject. 
No, I get a 4 year old at the back door with a battered HTC phone. 


Actually, considering that, they're not bad photos really...

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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Can a Mama rock a Midi?

When I say mama, I mean me, with 3 kids and 2 school runs and floors to be mopped (in-between blogging). Can a midi dress really fit in my life? I didn't think so but Ruth at Room 31 wasn't taking no for an answer. She showed me a stunning picture of Nicola Payne wearing hers, Nicola started tweeting words of encouragement and before I knew it, this beauty had landed in my hall..and it was love at first sight - two of my favourite colours and a great pattern.
Niamh Black/Mocha Midi Dress - £14 (25% off with SGS25!)
I studied it for a while trying to decide if it was me. It put me in mind of a woman I saw in the airport last week with a jersey dress on. It was your classic wrap jersey dress and while she had an amazing figure and the print was gorgeous, the look seemed a bit dated. It got me thinking that perhaps the jersey wrap dresses I would have worn in the past at work have been replaced by these midi dress. The same concepts apply - usually well printed (excellent disguise), jersey material, super comfortable. And better than that, these are longer, with no gaping v-necks and no risk of a gust of wind showing your undercrackers to the world. I started liking even more...
A test shot was instagrammed...and the response was favourable. 
Ok, maybe I can pull this one off after all! Bring on the photoshoot and bring on an accomplice - Fiona from Avenue 57, whom Ruth had sent a similar dress to and here we are in all our glory..
Both unsure of this style of dress, we styled our respective frocks without conferring as we knew this would make it more interesting. Here are the two looks I created. The first one is the going out option:
Shoe Boots - Autorgaph at M&S
  Necklace - Promod 
Cropped Black Jacket - Dunnes

But I want to be able to wear this on the school run so I changed the jacket and shoes and added a scarf. On reflection, the scarf is a bit heavy looking but I picked such a cold day to do these pictures and couldn't bear to take it off.
Denim Jacket & Pumps - M&S
Scarf - H&M
Dark Green Leather Bag - DKNY

Before you rush off to check out Fiona's blog and how she styled hers, here are my styling tips for midi dresses. (Remember, I'm not a stylist - it's not the law and could very well be a load of tosh that the fashion police will seek me out for)
  1. Team with a shorter jacket to balance out the proportions
  2. Offset the neat fit of the dress with a chunkier heel or a shoe boot.
  3. Spanx (or similar - try TK Maxx) are great for getting a smooth line underneath. This applies all the time actually. I wear mine EVERY day.
  4. You don't have to be skinny to wear these dresses. In fact, they are super flattering on curvy girls because of the pattern

Note : I'm wearing a size 12 but given the nature of these dresses, anything from a 10-14 would have fitted me.

I'll leave you with an out-take from my photo session. I'll set the scene - two 4 year olds riding bikes past me every 5 seconds as they sped around the house, 9 year old complaining about taking the photos and asking me what I was going to pay him, husband asking why we were all out in the garden on such a cold morning. This was my last outfit and I wasn't sure about the shoes anyway. I gave up after this. Some days, you have to quit when you're ahead..
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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Gloucester Street & Mulberry Love

This outfit was not as summery as I'd hoped for Saturday. It was a bright day but not one bit warm. Sob. But I got a photo on Gloucester Street....who knew there was a Gloucester Street in Belfast?!
Jacket - Gok for Tu @ Sainsburys
Boy Fit Jeans - Gap
Scarf - Grey Version of Yesterday's
Black Suede Boots - Office (similar)
White Long Sleeved Top - H&M
Grey Long Sleeved Top - Uniqlo
The white material under my arm is a re-usable shopping bag.

It runs parallel to Chichester Street for anyone interested - at the High Court end. Nice spot for a photo.

I had a little something to pick up in Belfast for Joanna over at Poppy's Style. All I can say is that it's GORGEOUS and will be featuring on her blog very soon. Anyway, a kid-free half hour saw me drop by the Mulberry counter for some window shopping. 
A Mulberry is probably a bit clich├ęd as a 40th present and they are SO expensive but a girl can dream eh? In previous online peeks, the small Mulberry Lily (below left) was a favourite as like the idea of a cross body bag that can be worn day or night. But the medium Lily (below right) is also gorgeous and seems more practical?
The lovely Mulberry lady wrote out the details on a card along with the price <gasp>. Do I combine my birthday money from husband and all the extended family for one item or do I keep the money to buy a number of lovely less expensive items? Decisions, decisions...

Before I go I had to share this gem from today. The girls are doing a Girls Brigade display on Friday and part of it involves them dressing up as mummy. This picture shows them trying on some of my tunics/short dresses...

Strike a pose, eh? Wonder where they got that from? I'm getting a worrying flash-forward of nightclubs and those photos my nieces & their friends put on FB where they do that sucky-cheek thing and do cool hand signals.... 
<drinks more wine and tries not to think about it>

Avril x
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Friday, 19 April 2013

Leopard Print & Tan Suede

Remember my charity shop bargain jacket from earlier this week? Well, I mentioned that I'd picked up a second item and finally, I'm getting round to sharing...some divine Boden tan suede ankle boots. I know Sue and Gemma-Louise will tell me off for buying MORE ankle boots but these are immaculate and they fitted me perfectly and are so comfortable...have I given enough reasons yet? How about I share a picture of them?
Note: Any navy in the pictures is an illusion (i.e. rubbish camera). It's all about the black today..


I don't normally mix browns and blacks but I fancied wearing my leopard print scarf so the black worked well...and of course the Specsavers Leopard specs just had to be part of the act!
Boots - Boden (similar)
Scarf - eBay (similar from a different seller)
Necklace - Mango
Jeans - Gok @ TU
Black Oversized Tee - H&M (similar)
Glasses - Specsavers
It was an outfit that I felt so comfy in - some days, I think it's nice to embrace a bit of black. But of course, the sun is coming out this weekend so perhaps, just perhaps, we'll get to wear a bit of colour and dare I say it, get some flesh out? Bring it on!
Night night from a very tired blogger..Axx
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London Snapshots....with Fenn Wright Manson, & Other Stories & the Queen's house!

Just in the door from an amazing day at the Fenn Wright Manson press & bloggers event in London. It was a fantastic interactive day where bloggers got to try on the SS13 range and have our photos taken so I'm looking forward to showing you those photos over the next couple of days. 
For now, here are some memories of my day...
 Was a bit late for the event as I got caught up in the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace!
In good company..
Trying on SS13 and satisfying my Navy Love
Gorgeous Prints for SS13

Met Natalie my boot twin!
Paid a visit to & Other Stories on Regent Street
At the Airport with my new perfume obsession 
and the K-Middy sticker book - have seen it all now!
Home with my Fenn Wright Manson Rose Candle and ready for bed..talk tomorrow!
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Monday, 15 April 2013

My Waterproof Family!

You'll have seen me feature my new Target Dry Emily Parka on a few recent posts (currently in stock on this link!) but today the whole family features on the blog, thanks to the team at Target Dry, who sent something waterproof and windproof for Mr SGS and the little ones too. Well there was nothing for it but the entire SGS Target Dry family had to go for a day out of waterproof, windproof fun!
The girls are wearing the Rascal rain suit. I'm a huge fan of rain suits for kids as they are great for layering up with coats in colder weather (as we did here) but also to wear in less cold weather over their clothes. Perfect for trips to the beach as I seem to have bred children that want to run into the sea no matter what the weather is like. These suits are lightweight and tiny when packed away, easy to put on and take off and have plenty of room underneath for the layers and to allow for growth. My girls are about 105 cm tall and are wearing the age 5-6 suit which is a little big for them but will do them for well over a year from now. 
Mr. SGS and the wee man are wearing two very different jackets. The kid's one is the Mac in a Sac packaway rain coat in the Malibu colourway (oh, the irony of that name!). It's lightweight, windproof and waterproof and has proved to be invaluable during recent hockey and rugby practice in the pouring rain. In the words of my son, 'It's SO waterproof, you can wear it for hours and none of the rain gets through! Much better than any other anorak I own!' Sounds perfect for the balmy Irish weather and being lightweight, it's going to work year round. Again, I went bigger, ordering the age 11-13 for my 143cm son to allow for layering and growth. 
Mr SGS is wearing the Pioneer jacket in a size L, which is a warmer option than the mac in a sac. It's got the excellent wind-proof and waterproof properties of the other coats but is made from a slightly heavier material. It's also been worn during recent rain at the side of the hockey field and hubby is especially impressed with the warm pockets.
Our day out was to the egg hunt at Mount Stewart, a local National Trust property. It was great fun with the kids really getting into the spirit of it - to the extent that we had to tweet for some of the answers (hence the phone in Mr SGS's hand above! Don't judge but none of us have watched or read any of the Harry Potter series but thanks to the power of Twitter, we soon found out the name of some random dog!
Bless the kids, they ran all the way off the track to this stag sculpture thinking the clue was there but it wasn't. Cue confused faces and Dad re-checking the map!

And of course, I wore my brilliant Emily Parka (more pictures here), which I layered over a fur gilet. Also sported my snow boots (in April). The only bit of me that was cold were my knees...furry knee warmers anyone?
A great day out and we were warm and dry throughout despite the freezing weather. You know the saying about bad weather and appropriate clothing? Well that.
Thank you to Target Dry for kitting out the whole family with the most wonderful, practical clothing. We have no excuse not to get out and about on every rubbish day now.
If you're interested in any of the items we're wearing or anything else on the Target Dry site, don't forget to use SCHOOLGATE15 at the checkout for 15% off.
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