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

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Babyliss NEW Big Hair Review

Now my hair is the longest it's ever been, I've been struggling to style it myself. I'm determined not to cut it off though so when Elizabeth (who blogs here and keeps me sane at swimming classes each week) told me her Babyliss Big Hair means she finds her long hair so much easier to manage AND she no longer goes to the hairdressers for regular blow-dries, I knew it was time to try one out. 
So I took the people at Babyliss up on their offer for me to review one of their products. The next day, my New Big Hair arrived (impressive service) and I've spent the last few weeks trying it out.
It's called the NEW Big Hair because it's an improved version. It's got a more advanced bristle brush than the older version and has ionic technology which helps the hair to look even more shiny and super smooth.

Now if you're interested in buying one of these, I urge you to look at this video from QVC - click on the Video Tab on top of the photograph to start the show as per the image below! 
It shows celebrity hairdresser Beverley C demonstrating the Babyliss live on TV. I personally found this really useful to watch because even though I'd read the instruction manual, I learned a few tricks from Beverley for getting the best finish. There are also loads of video tutorials on You Tube that will show you how to get the best result.

For the best results, use it on hair that is already 80% dry. So either blast dry your hair for a bit or leave it to dry naturally.

Then you take a section of hair (big grips are your friend here!), turn on the Big Hair and run the brush through the section. Once you've got the hang of that, you can start using the rotating brush to style the hair. Now this does take a bit of getting used to. There are two buttons that rotate the brush either way. You will very likely have a few moments where the hair gets wound up a bit too fast but just rotate the brush the other direction to unwind. There are two heat settings with the lower heat setting having a slower rotating brush so you might want to start out using it to prevent any knotted hair as you become accustomed to the technique.

This double rotation means you can curl the hair outwards or inwards or both ways for a gorgeous tousled hair look.

The verdict? I used to go for a blow dry about 3 times a month as I couldn't manage my hair myself. I've only been once for a blow dry since I got my Big Hair and that was because I had a voucher that was about to run out. I normally pay £8 for my blow-dry so I've already saved myself more than the Babyliss cost. I'm enjoying doing my hair when it suits me and achieving a salon look at home. I only wish I'd gotten one a year ago!

The Babyliss is available in most good electrical outlets and online stores...the best price currently with a reputable brand is in Boots, where it's £39.99 with 156 Boots Advantage Points (and more if you've Advantage Card vouchers) and free pick up from your local store (£2.95 delivery). It's also available here on the QVC website for £36.36 plus £4.95 postage.

If you are searching online, just make sure you're not paying over the odds for the older version. Look out for 2885U if you want this newer version! Some retailers are still charging around £40 for the older one (2777U).

Ax

Disclaimer - my Babyliss New Big Hair was provided to me free of charge but the review is all my own. I only keep and review items that I genuinely use and am happy to recommend to readers.

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Thursday, 19 December 2013

60% off bargains from Boden!

There are some benefits to being stuck in bed a few days before Christmas - I get to surf the sales as soon as the email notification comes out! Boden contacted me this morning to let me know that some items have gone to 60% off and it felt like my duty to let you know about this AND pick my favourites..
Kicking off with these gorgeous slippers. I fell for them at my party as they are incredibly soft and cosy but they felt a bit expensive at almost £40. Now they're only £15.60 - get in there! Perfect present too and at that price, worth keeping a pair in the bottom drawer for a teacher or a friend..all sizes currently available
Cosy Slipper Boot
Thinking ahead to spring now and these neutral brogues will look fab with boyfriend jeans, skinnies and dresses. Boden shoes are beautifully made so at just under £50, these are a steal. Available in half sizes too!
Finally for footwear - the Sixties Sling Back has gone to 60% off also (apart from the leopard colour way) and at £39, is a great price for a wardrobe staple. The colours with the most sizes available now are navy and black patent:
Accessories - and the Chelsea Bag is reduced by 60% in the Gladioli & Cobalt:
and at £11.60, this purse is another fab bottom drawer item. The perfect teacher present!
In clothing, I think the Perfect Cosy Parka is great value at £67 (black only). It's a really substantial coat - not my favourite colour in it but there's no denying it's a quality coat for that price.
I completely and unexpectedly fell for this Fair Isle Cardigan at my party. The colours are brilliant and it's super cosy. It's definitely in my basket!
This is another top that I took a fancy to at my party and it's now down to £27.60
The super flattering Brondesbury top is 60% off in this and the trailing flower colour way - the other colours are between 25% and 40% off.
Many of the colour ways in the Bistro Crop Trouser are reduced right down to just £23.60, including these great black ones with cobalt blue spots. Perfect for day or night
These utility style trousers are another great spring buy and are also down to just under £24. I wear my grey Uniqlo ones so much and have been on the look out for a green/brown pair recently
And there's SO much more if you have some Christmas money and can think ahead. There's swimwear for £15, white or navy cotton kaftans for the beach for £15-£20, summer colour jeans (long and cropped) priced from less than £15. What better way to brighten up a cold wintery day? But that's my basket filled and I'm off now to try to streamline it a bit. Hope you manage to nab yourself a bargain too!

Oh and I saved the best for last...there's still time for mainland UK pre-Christmas delivery!

Ax

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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

All I want for Christmas....

...is to feel better! What a week - with too much of it spent in bed. It would appear that the bugs the kids so kindly brought home to me, have finally taken their toll. I'd no sooner got through the Choir's big Christmas concert on Saturday night (check out our video here!) and I was down for a day in bed. Crawled back out of my pit on Monday to sing with the choir again - this time at Castlecourt and I'm now back in bed again. But building strength for yet another pre-Christmas gig, tomorrow evening (Thursday) at 6.45pm in House of Fraser, Belfast. If you're near Belfast, do come in to hear us on the 2nd Floor at the escalators. We will be filling the whole store with joy - it's always a great gig and you can pick up our new CD there too. Or online here if you're further afield.

But being in bed has given me some time to think about what I want for Christmas. Hubby was relieved to hear that there are just 2 things on the list so everyone's going to club together for me this year:

First up, UGG boots - I know, I know...not everyone's favourite footwear but I love them for around the house and they are so cosy. My current UGG slippers are about 4 years old and they were such a good buy as they have many more years left in them but I really wanted a pair of chestnut short boots so I have the option of wearing them out if I'm nipping to the shops or on the school run (but NOT with my PJ's - I promise!)
I've been shopping around and currently, you can pick them up in a few reputable retailers (to avoid fakes) for the same price. The Classic UGGs are rarely discounted so it's not a big risk to get them for Christmas.

Available here:

Second item is an iPhone 5c. My first ever Apple phone. I've been on SIM only for about 6 months with an 18 month old HTC which in fairness to it, is working ok, albeit very slowly and with occasional hissy fits where it just shuts itself off or won't let me answer calls and texts. So I'm arranging a new contract with my existing provider and am hopeful of a little white box under the tree on Christmas Day!
iPhone 5c
And that's it - who says women are hard to buy for?? Wish I could share my hubby's presents to give you husband inspiration but he reads the blog...so you'll have to wait until after Christmas - or email me!
Hope you're all having a good week,

Ax
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Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas Party Outfit - brightened up with some Hot Squash

I don't have too much in the way of going out clothes - if it's a toss up between a day and a night item in the shops, the day one will win each time. But I do get out now and again and it's nice to have a few options to fall back on, in my case black tops/jeans or dresses!
So I've just found the perfect item for giving your black a bit of a lift this Christmas and New Year....this Hot Squash 'Throw On Jacket'
I struggle a bit with jackets on a night out. Generally speaking, I find I need to take them off - I either feel a bit corporate in them or they are just too heavy to wear all night. But this wee jacket is perfect. It's smart enough to make your black jeans ok for a night out but it's light enough to keep on all evening - and that's a bonus if you don't want to get your arms out. It would also work great over a little black dress and with jeans and a white top for daytime so I'm looking forward to wearing it year-round.
It made my night out SO easy to dress for - Black skinny jeans from Primark, black long line vest from M&S (both old) and my statement necklace from Chocolat Jewellery.
And my Zara patent heels that I got for Catherine's wedding finished the outfit off nicely. I wish I went out more so I could wear them more!
Surprisingly comfy, which turned out to be a good thing as the original restaurant we'd booked weeks earlier AND paid a deposit to, greeted us at the door with the news that they had no table for us and could we go somewhere else. On the busiest Christmas Party night in Belfast - erm...no! We stood for a full hour while my friends and the restaurant themselves tried to find somewhere else for us to go. In the end, the guys at Deanes, a few doors up, were able to give us a table at 10pm and we couldn't have gotten a better welcome. Very much appreciated as we were all feeling a bit fed up and hungry by then. We had a great table, fab food and the main man himself, celebrity chef, Mr Michael Deane, invited me into the kitchen for a twitter photo with some of his team.
So all's well that ends well thanks to the guys at Deanes.

So, back to my fab coral jacket - you can find it on the Hot Squash website here and Jenny at HotSquash has kindly offered me a discount code for School Gate Style readers. 20% off if you use SCHOOL at the checkout - valid until the 31st December! It also comes in a cobalt blue which I think would look amazing on Christmas Day over my LBD...

Ax




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Saturday, 14 December 2013

Have I ever told you how much I like grey?

A short post today with lots of grey - it's just such an easy colour to wear and I'm constantly drawn to it when I'm shopping.
This is what I wore to the girls' Nativity Play yesterday - I blubbed throughout. Even when children other than mine were performing. I blame the hormones!


Scarf - School Gate Style Shop
Coat - Zara (old - others below)
Grey Combat Style Skinny Trousers - Uniqlo (sold out)
Grey Boots - Clarks (AW12 - similar below)
Grey Top - Dorothy Perkins (SS12)

Grey Handbag - Siopaella, Dublin
Pendant - Lola & Grace Swarovski
I hope you're having a good weekend. I'm recovering from a book-club Christmas night out last night and I'm heading shortly to the Gospel Choir's big Christmas concert in Belfast. I'm so looking forward to a restful day tomorrow but I will do a quick post to show you what I wore out last night - it's a great little addition to my wardrobe that I can't wait to share...and it's not grey!

Enjoy your Saturday night!
Ax
SHOP THE POST

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Thursday, 12 December 2013

Autumn Colours & Hush Puppies

Loving this milder weather - still cool enough to require a coat and scarf but I'm getting to wear one of my favourite coats lots. It's this Hobbs quilted coat that's actually quite lightweight so not suitable for a really cold or wet day but the colour really lends itself to autumn. It's a style of coat that Hobbs repeat each year with some small changes. This year's one is almost sold out online - only a few blacks left here.
Today my new Hush Puppies got a trip out but frustratingly, I couldn't test their waterproof-ness as it was so dry! They are leather but they are from a new range by Hush Puppies that are waterproof, have a cushioned footbed and anti-friction technology. They've also got the most amazing tweed lining right down to the toes that keeps your legs and feet super warm.


I was looking everywhere for a nice pair of tan boots so these fit the bill perfectly. They are so comfortable, really warm and the fact that I can wear them in all weathers is a big plus. I'll definitely let you know how I get on with them in the rain.
Fit-wise, I would say they are better suited for wider feet and wider legs. I have quite a wide foot so the 6.5 fits me perfectly (I would often have to size up to a 7 in a narrower boot). I don't have wide legs however but I was able to adjust the width at the top of the leg to remove any gape. Result!

Worn today with my gold striped jumper from H&M, Skinny jeans from Gok @ TU and scarf from M&S - all old items. The scarf always generates requests about where to find similar ones so I've had a look about and here is the only one I can find with similar colours:
M&S - Marcel Wanders
Sorry - not much of a selection. If anyone does see anything similar, do let me know. 
Hope you're having a good day - we're off now to see Santa at Hillmount Garden Centre!

Ax

Disclaimer: These boots were gifted to me by Hush Puppies but the opinions are my own. I only chose gifted items that I like, would genuinely wear myself and happily recommend to others! I wasn't paid to write this post

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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Biker Style Coats & Vitamin C...and an Avenue 57 bargain!

I took advantage of a special offer Fiona was running last week in her Avenue 57 shop and snapped up this fab black cardigan for 25% off! I'd had my eye on it for a while and there was a black cardigan gap in my wardrobe so the discount sealed the deal. It's hard to see the detail in the black - but the lighter colours on the link show it off better. It's got wool and alpaca in it too so it's lovely and cosy.
I'm not normally a huge fan of black for daytime but I have a few tops that are too light for this time of year and I'm hoping I can get some wear out of them now that I have this cardigan in my wardrobe.
Today though, I felt like wearing coloured jeans as I've been wearing regular denim so much lately. I added my Next scarf which has cobalt, black and grey in it. A brilliant buy. I've worn it more than once before on this blog. My Matalan black coat completed the outfit.
Black Coat - Matalan (sold out - similar here & here & my coat edit is below)
Black Cross-Over Cardigan - Avenue 57 (only available in grey & cream now)
Cobalt Jeans - Boden (similar here)
Scarf - Next (old - similar here & here £££)
White Top - H&M (old)
The photos were taken by a poorly 5 year old with my new camera. Can you see the nervousness in my eyes?! She did really well though and I hadn't the heart to get her to come out again to take another one with my feet in it as she'd chopped them off in all the others so for the record, I wore my Clarks black ankle boots.
Seriously fed up with illness in this house. Both girls were poorly when we were in Tipperary, leading to some sleepless nights for me and now we're home, they seem to have swapped ailments and I'm writing this post in-between running up and down the stairs to them. Meanwhile, I'm popping these super-pills from Neal's Yard. I will NOT succumb!
I hope you all had a good weekend. For those of you who placed orders in the shop over the weekend, they are all winging their way to you as of today. For all of you waiting on the red leopard scarf (and there are lots!) it's currently still en-route to me. I had hoped it would come today but it's now looking like it will be Thursday. I will email everyone in the next 24 hours to process the transactions so that they can go straight out in the post as soon as they arrive! Thanks so much for your patience.

Ax

Biker Style Zipped Coat Edit
Next (UK)

Zara
Next (UK) 
Oasis at ASOS
Mango

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Saturday, 7 December 2013

Leaves, Layers, Leopard & Ponchos

Another building the outfit post for a cold day today. Starting with a very plain and boring base - navy square cut top from Dorothy Perkins, indigo skinnies from Tesco and Clarks grey ankle boots.
Brightened up with a bit of bling from the shop - the large leaf necklace:
Add a bit of colour with my red leopard scarf, also from the shop, which picks up the navy nicely. It's out of stock at the moment but I've loads more coming in on Tuesday afternoon! Email if you want to reserve one - schoolgatestyle@yahoo.co.uk.
Finally, I added my cosy poncho from TK Maxx (bought last year) and my favourite Canonbury Clutch from Boden:


I know ponchos aren't for everyone but I'm a huge fan. They're just so easy to throw on and are brilliant if you drive a lot. And they hide everything. I've done an edit of my favourites below. 
With a cross-body bag, this is the perfect outfit for a Friday which includes swimming classes...where I end up carrying bags and coats for all 3 kids..at once!

Ok - time to hit the road to Tipperary with my girls. I'll be back in a couple of days! Have a great weekend everyone,
Ax
Hush
M&Co
Debenhams
Wallis
H&M


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