Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Grey Cashmere Poncho - Gray & Osbourn AW14

I can't believe it's taken me until now to appreciate how amazing 100% cashmere is. I've had cashmere mix knitwear before but I'm afraid Gray & Osbourn have totally spoiled me this season with this 100% Cashmere Poncho by Helene Berman...and given me a taste for higher end investment knitwear.
It's been perfect for this warmer weather where a coat is too heavy but there's a chill in the air in the mornings and evenings. These photos were taken on a trip up to the North Coast last week where my son had an away rugby game. It felt like the middle of summer at times but the poncho was invaluable on the side of the rugby pitch and at the harbour where it was decidedly nippy.
I like that it's split on one side which addresses one of the frustrations with ponchos. You simply have the open side on the arm that you carry your  handbag on .... genius!
Grey Cashmere Poncho - ℅ Gray & Osbourn
Jeans - M&S Limited Edition (via charity shop)
Black Ankle Boots - Seven Boot Lane (AW13)
Scarf - Pull & Bear (AW12)
Breton Top - Boden
I was also sent this amazing Smith & Canova Leopard Trim handbag - a complete surprise and I am so excited about it as I was looking everywhere for a leopard handbag that wasn't too 'in your face'.
It's a great size for chucking everything in - which I did on the weekend away. In fact, in these pictures, it was holding an adult sized fleece that I'd just bought in the outdoor shop in Portstewart (which has Target dry coats for £30 and 40 at the moment for anyone local - thanks for the tip-off Kathryn S!)
Black Leather Smith & Canova Leopard Detail Handbag - ℅ Gray & Osbourn

Two great items that are going to get worn lots this autumn/winter. Thanks to Gray & Osbourn for sending me these items and thanks to you for supporting the brands that help keep School Gate Style in style!



Monday, 29 September 2014

Grey Floral Trousers & Kingsmill Winners

I blow hot and cold with the floral trews but for some reason, these grey/blue ones have endured many a wardrobe clear-out. They are a great length on me and there's grey in them...always a winner. This time round, I teamed them with the grey oversized sweater I picked up in H&M the other day.  It's such a great jumper - comes in a few colours. Can highly recommend it and it's had tons of compliments.
Patterned Jeans - TU at Saisburys (very old!)
Grey Oversized Knit - H&M
Boots - Clarks (past season)
Circle Pendant - School Gate Style Shop

The trousers are quite busy so I kept it simple with this gorgeous circle pendant from the shop. It's a lovely, easy to wear lightweight piece - perfect for this outfit:

Finally, at long last - here are my Kingsmill winners! There were 107 entries and winners were selected randomly using Random.org.
I've contacted all 5 winners already - congratulations to....
S Kane (Blog Comment)
C Killen (Facebook)
E Taylor (Blog Comment)
L Thompson (via Facebook)
L Little (via Facebook)
Thank you everyone for your support on this one. More info on the new Kingsmill product coming soon..


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Damart AW14 Lookbook - Black Gilet & Blouse

I've featured Damart on the blog before...a brand that my mother used to buy  from many moons ago but one that is having a revival amongst younger customers thanks to the power of an amazing Lookbook. A perfect example of how valuable it is for brands to invest in a stylist and a great photographer. When Damart invited me to pick something from the look book, these images appealed to me the most..

How well do these items translate to the 'mum on the street'? Well, Damart sent me their black faux fur gilet and the paisley patterned blouse to find out.

Quality-wise, I was impressed with both items. The blouse is a heavyweight polyester that hangs really nicely. It also has a lovely pleather detail at the shoulder and on the pockets. I ordered a 10 in this and it fits perfectly though I could have gotten away with a 12 and had a looser, longer fit.

Meanwhile, the gilet is made from a good quality fur which is soft and doesn't cast. I ordered the size 10 in this...you might want to size up if you plan to wear it over a jacket but I prefer the neatness of the 10 when worn alone - I'll still be able to wear mine over my biker jacket without closing it.

Blouse & Gilet - ℅ Damart
Jeans - New Look (SS14)
Grey Ankle Boots - Clarks (past season - similar here)
Cream Vest - Zara Basics
Long Silver Charm Necklace - School Gate Style Shop

Another great range from a well established brand that is making inroads into a new younger market. You can check out the interactive look book on this link.
Before I go - my fellow bloggers Donna and Michelle have also featured Damart on their blogs this week so take a look to see what they styled up from the look book.
Back tomorrow with the Kingsmill winners...sorry for the delay - not enough hours in the day!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Leopard Love

Some days you just want to wear black and this one was of them so my new H&M jumper was perfect. I was wearing my favourite leopard specs so it seemed right to add a leopard scarf to tie it all together nicely. I love these in-between season days where you can add bits of your autumn/winter wardrobe but it's still warm enough for pumps.
I spent the day in the car (or so it seemed) running from the school drop off to appointments to school pick ups and onwards to a drama run and finally a Gospel Choir concert so I didn't bother with a handbag all day. I picked up this gently loved Clarks wallet from a Facebook friend who hadn't really used it and it's perfect as it's big enough to store my phone and lippy in....a bit like a mini clutch! The best bit is that it's leopard too...I love to be co-ordinated!
Black Oversized Top - H&M
High Waisted Skinny Jeans - New Look
Leopard Scarf - eBay (about 4 years ago!)
Leopard Specs - Specsavers (past season)
Wallet - Clarks
Black Ballet Pumps - Emmy Twenty

Loads to share over the weekend, including the winners of the Kingsmill bread prizes.....I'm off to pick them now so will be back soon with the announcement!



Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Wearing Metallic Boots...

You might remember I mentioned these metallic boots in my round up of the best ankle boots for AW14. It all started with a notion in my head that I wanted some bronze boots. Additionally, I was scouring the internet for comfortable boots knowing that my heel wearing would be limited this winter. Dina recommended Esska as a great brand for comfort and they had these bronzed beauties new in stock - I love it when a plan comes together. I'm a sucker for an interesting back story also - busy mum who was an architect and retrained as a shoe designer.
There was a major tick in the comfort box when I tried them on - supportive but with a bit of a bounce to absorb impact. And the packaging was great too.
But how to wear them? Now I will be honest, I struggled with them initially as I thought they stood out too much on me...they felt a bit too shiny. But I did the usual googling and 'pinteresting' thing to get some inspiration..
Bronze Collage
...and tried them out at home a few different ways and realised that they work best if you go with the bronze/warm tones....leading to this outfit, which I wore the other day.
Jacket - Warehouse (old via eBay)
Scarf - Present (old)
Jeans - Limited @ M&S
Mint Green Top - Primark (old)
Boots - Esska Amy Bronze

Having seen a few other pictures on google in recent days, I also think they'll look lovely with a blazer style jacket and a big scarf - in a nod to the equestrian  look...a bit like this outfit seen on Melanie Sykes recently. Though I'm not sure if I'm ready for the peaked hat yet though...
Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 17.07.43

Another addition to my ankle boot collection....in my defence, I didn't keep the M&S pointy ones...but while I'm fessing up, I might have 'acquired' a different pair from elsewhere...more later this week!



Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Banishing Greys with Peter Mark....and buying greys in H&M

Yesterday, I headed into Belfast to have my greys zapped by the guys at Peter Mark. They have a promotion on at the moment with 20% off all colour with cutting/styling until the 15th November and they're open on a Monday...that's a win/win for me. If I need to go into Belfast for whatever reason, Monday is my day as it's quiet in town, easy to get parked and it starts my week off in an organised way. I can get all my returns done, visit the bank and do a bit of shop research...more on that below!
But first up, it was an appointment with Martina at Peter Mark, Arthur Street. The salon is lovely on Mondays...I'm sure the service is just as good on other days of the week but I enjoy it so much more when there are fewer people there....and fewer hairdryers on the go and it does seem like you get fussed over even more. Here is the messy before shot...
She did an amazing job and the best bit? It took just over an hour. I don't have time to sit in a salon for 3 or 4 hours to have my colour done so it was great to be in and out so quickly. With a latte in one hand and September's Vogue in the other, Coldplay playing on the sound system, it was so chilled and lovely.
Throw in a back pummelling chair and a gorgeous head massage at the basin...and I was tweeting 'If Carlsberg did Monday mornings...'
I didn't get it cut this time - just a tiny trim at the front but it was enough to make it all sit lovely again and I was bouncing out the door ready for a bit of solo shopping.
I'm on the hunt for neutral tops at the moment - lightweight knits/jersey but with something interesting going on with them - in navy, grey and black (and if I saw a nice cream one, I'd always buy it). The only shop that impressed was H&M where I brought 12 items into the fitting room. Not a problem on a quiet Monday :)
Here are a selection of the ones I tried on with links where I've been able to find them...

Grey with Pleather Sleeves & Grey Linen Mix Top
Navy/Cream Blouse (too shapeless) & Quilted Shoulder Knit (pleather a bit cheap looking) - can't find links online for either.
Navy Spot Jumper (too short) & Grey Jewelled Sweatshirt (too bulky)
and finishing with two cream ones that I can't find online...the first one was nice but was full of static. The second one was too see-through.
And here are the ones I actually bought..this first one was on the sale rail and is the black version of the creamy coloured one I picked up the other week. I wasn't really looking for a short sleeved top at this time of the year but it can be layered and it was only £4. It's from the H&M Conscious Collection and is a thicker cotton (no online link)
These two are very lightweight knits....I just liked the pleather detail on the sleeve of the black one and the grey has some lovely detail too on the front and back. More than you'd expect for £14.99.
Grey Oversized Jumper & Black Pleather Sleeved Oversized Jumper
Finishing with what I wore..no full length shots today so it's a combo of the picture above and this..
Scarf Print Square Cut Top - Mary Portas SS13
Jeans - Limited @ M&S
Pumps - Emmy Twenty
Necklace - School Gate Style Shop
Faux leather quilted Jacket - H&M SS14

Just a final reminder for anyone local who hasn't yet done my Kingsmill survey. I'd be so grateful if you could pop over on this link - it will literally take 1 minute. I really appreciate your help - thanks to everyone who has helped out so far. The survey closes at 5pm today and I'll announce the winners tomorrow! x


Friday, 19 September 2014

The Waterproof Bum-Covering Warm Coat Post

I did one of these posts last year and since the middle of August, I've had several requests to do a round up of the best school run coats for the 2014/15 school year. In this post, I've included a range of styles and budgets to hopefully suit everyone. As always, please share with me any great finds you've had in the comment section...I love to find out about new brands, especially if you've been road-testing yours for a while.

Starting with a local brand which I've championed on here a few times - Target Dry. I have two of their coats - the Emily and the Georgia - both parkas...but the Emily is not padded so I use it more this time of year (it's reduced at the moment on this link). Word of these coats has spread to Mumsnet with quite a few mums on there buying them and the feedback remains very positive. It seems that for the price point, these are a great 'all-rounder' coat. Waterproof enough & warm enough for a typical wet or cold day in this part of the world and you don't have to sacrifice style - with the right boots and scarf, these functional coats look great too! Meet the Target Dry Georgia Parka - with two new colours this winter:
TargetPArka Collage

For warmth alone, you can't beat a down filled coat. But it must be real down - not polyester. These are great if you're a mum who has to stand around outdoors at football/rugby/hockey training as they will keep you toasty warm and if we get snow like we did a couple of winters ago, they're amazing..in fact, a necessity for snowy weather. With down fill, you're looking for fill rating which typically goes from 400-800...the higher the number, the warmer the coat. Starting with the classic - North Face...expensive but according to anyone who has one, well worth the investment - it's a 700 fill.
A more affordable option is this one from Trespass with a 400 fill - so more of a lightweight option but really well priced at the moment and this khaki colour is great.
Finally, Uniqlo do an amazing range of lightweight down coats, jackets and gilets that are really well priced. I can't see what the rating is on these, but I suspect they're something similar to the Trespass one. The great thing about Uniqlo is the range of colours - this is a lovely navy shade:

Read the labels when you're looking at a performance waterproof coat to see what the MM measurement is. This website explains it really well but basically, for most of us on the school run, unless you're regularly walking in a deluge of rain, you'll be grand with a 5000mm coat like the Target Dry ones above. I used to have a Merrell and I have to admit, it was impressive in heavy rain...really impressive! So it remains my choice for this category..and a super bargain from Sports Direct (buyer beware...but as long as you don't need to change it, you *should* be ok) there's only 8 and 10 left...mine was a 10 and I'd say if you're busty, you would need to size up generally with the Merrell.

Also available on this website for £129 in a few other colours and sizes and here in black only for £124.
nother brand I've recently heard about is Protected Species ultra waterproof coats. They're at a slightly higher price bracket to the Merrell but the reviews I've read are amazing so worth a look if you're looking to invest.

This category is here by special request as I've had some people ask me for my favourites of the high street parkas.  Parkas are generally not waterproof but you can often find waxed finish ones like this one from M&S Collection
This Indigo one seemed to be a bit waxy also but is listed on the website as being cotton so perhaps not as water resistant:
Next up - I like this one from Oasis - it's grey, so a little bit different to the usual khaki green colour.

My parka buying tips are to size up - they should be a bit oversized - and if you can, find one with a dipped fishtail at the back as it's just more in keeping with the trend. My own parka is from Warehouse and they have a new season version on this link - the removable inner layer is great & makes the coat very wearable year-round.
Overall, to tick the waterproof, bum-covering, warm boxes, I still stand by the All Rounder option as the price point is so good for what you're getting AND it ticks the parka box too.  If you've got some extra money, I'd lean towards paying for more waterproofing and make sure you give yourself room to layer for warmth underneath. Meanwhile - please share any great options I've not covered here as well as any feedback you have on the ones I've featured.

Have a great weekend - back on Monday with more boots! I've been busy buying and returning....



Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Bringing some Style to the School Lunchbox!

I'm always being asked to work with non-fashion brands and most cases, I decline, unless they meet two criteria - they're a local NI brand and one that is a genuine part of my life outside of clothes and beauty. Well, Kingsmill meets those criteria - locally made here in Belfast (news to me too!) and a critical part of my day to day. Love it or hate it (I hate it) - the school lunch box can get very monotonous after a few weeks back at school.

So during October, I'm teaming up with Kingsmill, Northern Ireland's top selling bread, to launch an exciting new product that is sure to give lunchtime a new lease of life. Ahead of the launch, I need some help from local readers of School Gate Style...and in return, you could win a year's supply of Kingsmill bread!

What do you have to do? Simply answer some questions on this anonymous survey....it will only take a few minutes and no personal details like names or email addresses are needed -  you need only say which county of Northern Ireland you live in.

But if there's no personal details involved, then how do I win the bread I hear you ask? Well, to be in with a chance of winning one of 5 prizes - yes FIVE - simply leave a comment below this blog post (or below the Facebook post if you are unable to comment here) giving me your name and confirming you've completed the survey. It's as simple as that!

The survey runs for one week until Tuesday 23rd September and soon after, I'll be announcing the bread-winners...see what I did there?

Thanks in advance for your help and for supporting the brands that support this blog :)


Open to residents of Northern Ireland only
Closing date - Tuesday 23rd September
Prize is a book of vouchers redeemable for Kingsmill products - based on an average family's annual consumption.
Winners will be chosen at random using Random.Org and will be contacted to provide a postal address.


Monday, 15 September 2014

Navy Striped Jacket

I bought this navy striped jacket last summer when we were up on the North Coast and I've worn it quite a bit but have only featured it on the blog a couple of times...it's the usual dilemma with distinctive coats & jackets. I love how they brighten up a neutral outfit like it does here but you're a bit limited in how you can wear them and it's more obvious to others (including blog readers!) when you wear multiple times.
Jacket - Esprit SS13 (similar here & here)
Jeans - Maison Scotch c/o Feather & Stitch
Cream Blouse - M&S AW13 (similar here & here)
Navy Quilted Handbag - Dune from TK Maxx (similar here & here)
Navy Pumps - Alice Field from Zalando (old but current season here)
Gold Geo Necklace - SGS Shop

Quick post today as I'm off to the wholesalers to restock the shop - lots of pieces sold out over the weekend - the lariat one I featured on Instagram was a particular favourite. It's just such a great piece, especially if you're not a fan of big statement pieces or short necklaces.
Silver Lariat Necklace - £12
This one has been popular too. In fact, I wore it to a choir concert on Friday and someone in the audience asked for details and bought one the next day! Sorry the photo is a bit blurry - it was taken later on after the concert (and a late night Tesco shop!). There are better photos in the shop on this link.
Grey Crystal Bib - £18

Hope you're having a good Monday - back later today (hopefully) with a special post for my local readers :)



Sunday, 14 September 2014

Head to Toe for £100 in Boden Clearance!

This weekend,  Boden Clearance is at up to 80% off! You can check out the whole range by clicking here:

I know that Boden can be pricey when it's at full price but I probably buy about 70% of my Boden stuff in Clearance as their sale is really good with decent reductions. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could make a complete outfit for less than £100. Now it would have been easy to just pick the items most reduced with limited sizes but I did my best to select items that have at least 3 or 4 sizes left in stock. I also focussed on items that are suitable for autumn dressing and that are classic enough to stand the test of time.
Boden Clearance Collage
Richmond Blazer - £23.70, Pleat Detail Top - £10.50, Navy Printed Scarf - £25 (new season), Parchment Chino - £19.60, Summer Loafer - £20.70, Navy 

OK, OK..so the scarf is new season....but it's gorgeous!

Finishing with a quick outfit from yesterday - wearing a the Soho spotty blouse from Boden clearance that I only ordered last week (thankfully not further reduced this weekend!). A total bargain also and a brilliant neutral alternative to a breton. It's a silk/viscose mix too so is lovely and soft to the touch.
Soho Blouse - Boden Clearance
Parka (with detachable fur lining and trim) - Warehouse (AW13 - this year's version here & similar here)
Jeans - Replay
Cream Vest - Zara
Sunglasses - Moschino from TK Maxx Clearance!
Black Leather Ballet Pumps - Emmy Twenty

Hope you've had a good weekend,





Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Black & Cream

A quick update this evening....I had hoped to blog earlier this evening but then time got away from me. Ever looked at the clock one minute and it's 8.30pm and the next thing you know, it's 11pm? Well - that just happened.

I shared this blouse with you on my post from last week where I had been in H&M and done a bit of a try on. I'm really pleased with it and love how it makes my biker jacket look more feminine. I'm also loving this in-between weather where you can wear a light blouse/jacket/ankle boot combo again. In my comfort zone for sure.
Biker Jacket - YAS (past season)
Cream/Black Blouse - H&M
Jeans - Gap Premium Skinny - Gap Outlet
Black Ankle Boots - Clarks (AW12)

This is the first I've worn a heel in months - I had a few elastic ankle moments but mostly was able to keep upright. My back has actually been amazing this past week with virtually no pain as long as I stay upright. Drop a £20 on the floor and I'll have to let you have it but that's ok - I have children with healthy backs who are willing to pick everything up for me...well mostly everything other than shoes & laundry.
I have to give my friend Kate credit for her help in this regard. Even though my back pain had eased, I was left for the past few weeks with residual sciatic pain down my leg that wouldn't go away. Kate is an advanced reflexologist and told me about a particular reflexology movement that works on pressure points in the heels and helps ease sciatic pain. Well, for a few seconds it hurt like hell and almost made me cry but it was only for a moment of a blissful 1 hour treatment that completely relaxed me. Reflexology really is amazing. Next day, the sciatic pain was gone and a week later, it's still gone! If you're local, check out Kate's Facebook page here. She's doing adult treatments for £20 & kids are just £10 during September - it's a great stress reliever for the whole family as the AQE/GL looms!

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