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

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Trying on my Boden Delivery!

Despite my overdraft, I sneaked in a little Boden delivery this week. But it doesn't really count as between some late returns (that were credited to my account rather than refunded) and a gift voucher, I had enough to treat myself to a few things that I was still wishing for in the sale.
I kept it neutral and looked for classic pieces as per my 2014 resolutions...and here's how I got on with what arrived.
First up, the Evie Bag in Tan. I've been hankering after a tan handbag for a while now and ordered and sent back the drawstring one from Boden a couple of months ago. I really wanted a cross body so I've been keeping an eye on the Evie in the sale and it seemed stuck at the £59 level so I bit the bullet. Just as well as it's currently out of stock in the tan but available in other colours. Keep checking back if you want one and phone their customer services also. They can nab you a returned one before it hits the site if you're lucky!
Evie Suede & Leather Bag - Boden
And here it is in the flesh...mirror photos today as I'm home alone!
The suede is so soft - that's what won me over. It's not a rigid bag - quite pliable and fits loads - much more room inside than the Canonbury Clutch. I like the top handle too - which gives you the option of taking the long strap off.
Verdict - KEEP

The second item is the Lightweight Button Back Jumper. I've been keeping an eye out for a nice grey jumper and I loved the detail of the buttons down the back. It's more fitted than the other button back jumpers on the Boden site but stock is limited - only a pink/grey pattern is left. I ordered it in the Dark Grey but can't show you the website photo as it's no longer available in this colour. Here's the closest I can find on google:
Lightweight Button Back Jumper - Boden
and here it is on me:
So I ordered a 12 as the reviews indicated it came up a bit small but it comes up a LOT small! It looked tiny when I took it out of the packaging and while it fitted, it's a little too neat for my purpose. I think it would work great with a pencil skirt or tailored trousers for work but it was too neat to layer over a shirt or long sleeved top.
The buttons down the back didn't help as they were gaping a bit because of the neatness of the fit. I've never understood why so many button back tops are not sewn up at the back. It is pointless having usable buttons right down the back of a top or jumper. They are impossible to close up and when they gape, it makes your back cold! 
Verdict - RETURN

Third item was the Emma top in grey. I've loved my navy version of this as worn on this post but again, the sizing was neat (or else the Christmas selection boxes are catching up on me!) so I ordered the grey in a 14. 
Grey Emma Top - Boden
The grey is more of a marl than the photo indicates and I would say it's darker too. Here it is on me..
It's a perfect fit...and I've ordered the navy in a 14 now. At only £10.50, I think it's a great buy. Not for everyone but it gives me the illusion of a bust and skims over the mum tum. If you're busty, it's probably not going to work as well as it's quite narrow over the rib area.
Verdict - KEEP

Last item is the Bow Front Blouse in ivory. I tried this on at my party in the plum colour and loved it but I wanted a brighter colour for spring and thought it would work well with my navy jersey jacket from Next. Here it is on the website where it's a bargainous £20 at the moment:
Bow Front Blouse - Boden
and here it is on me:
I really wanted this one to work and I dithered over it the longest. I tried it with my navy jacket and it was just ok. I stood in front of my wardrobe and thought about the things I wear the least and patterned blouses are the main culprit. They're just a bit too dressy for my lifestyle and a bit too distinctive to wear frequently with the same bottom half. I concluded that while it looked nice with my faded jeans, that was its only option for me. I would find it too prim and proper with navy trousers or jeans. Right about then, I realised I was trying too hard to think of ways to wear it. Always a cue to return.
Verdict: RETURN

So what do you think? Did I do the right thing?! I'm consoling myself with the thought that it will be lovely to have some credit in my account to spend when I'm fading half-way through Frugal February!
Ax 
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Monday, 27 January 2014

The January Style Challenge 5 - Perfect Faded Jeans

The last item in my January Style Challenge is not really a big reveal as I've already worn them loads on the blog, Instagram & Avenue 57 over the past few weeks. But there was a reason for that - I wanted to show how they've earned their place this month. 
You see, I've loved wearing my distressed straight cuts from Maison Scotch and my boyfriend jeans but I was on the lookout for a pair of proper skinnies in a slightly distressed wash - to work my existing wardrobe a bit more and to dress down some of my looks - covering both of my 2014 style resolutions.
My perfect distressed skinnies are from Gap and are called the 'Always Skinny' and I picked them up on my recent visit to the Outlets at Banbridge. I expect they are available in most Gap outlet stores as they had tons of them in Banbridge. I bought them in a US6/UK10 Size 28 and they definitely come up on the big side as I'm not really a 10 in jeans. Cost-wise, they were £22 with a promotion that day. 
Here they are worn today with an ancient burgundy oversized sweater from H&M, my Betty Barclay perfect white shirt from this post and some 5 year old burgundy long boots from Bertie:
And just to prove how useful they've been, here are just some of the occasions I've worn them over the past two weeks, in many cases with older items that I've not worn for a while. First up, two blog outfits that I've already written about here and here:

Next, a variation on top left - worn for some grammar school visits for my son. Feeling old so it was nice to wear some hip jeans!




They were also worn out on a mucky walk in this post:
And finally, with my pink Warehouse coat, scarf from the shop and the brown suede boots that I dyed ages ago. These jeans are the first pair that have really worked with these boots.
They also featured on Saturday's post with my grey cocoon cardigan and I know they are going to continue work hard in my wardrobe. As well as the colour, I'm loving how tight they are at the ankle and the fact that the length is perfect, requiring no adjustments when worn with boots.
And that's it - with 5 days to go, I've completed my January challenge, which in fairness, wasn't that tricky as it involved buying stuff! As for Frugal February...now that's another story... I've put a date in my diary for May to look back on these 5 items to see if they really did earn their keep...was it worth resisting everything else on those sale rails? Because it wasn't easy in a few shops!
As always, link up with any of your recent sale blog post OR new jeans blog posts please - last chance this month!
Ax 
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Saturday, 25 January 2014

Cosy Cocoon Cardigan

Today was one of those great Irish weather days. One minute it's bright, cold and sunny so you nip out in your sheepskin boots to pick up the grocery order. By the time you get to Tesco - it's chucking it down....and then, just as you've been soaked for the second time getting the groceries into the house, the sun comes out. And it's done that continuously ALL day...hence we've got indoor photos, tho predictably, as I type this, it's sunny again!
Today I decided to dig something older out of the wardrobe. This is an alpaca-mix cocoon style cardigan from The Wall London, which is lovely and cosy for around the house. I got it in the charity shop about a year ago but haven't worn it much. So in preparation for Frugal February, I've been thinking about ways to re-style these older items so that I'm not tempted to buy anything new!
It tones in really nicely with this checked square scarf from M&S - another oldie. It's a square shape so difficult to tie but I think I've finally sussed it - just draping over one shoulder and tying once to the side. It's got lovely silvery threads going through it and features the grey of the cardigan, navy and taupe.
The cardigan is a bit like a poncho style really so it can be a bit of a PITA when you're cooking or filling the dishwasher. But mostly it's just a cosy blanket of a cardigan - perfect for days when I'm working from home.
Cardigan - The Wall London (old - similar here & here)
Scarf - M&S (old)
Jeans - Gap
(Use DEALSGAP for 20% off this weekend only)
Navy Top - Boden
Navy Ankle Boots - M&S (old - but these are a great option)
Just a wee note for anyone using the shop - I've had some issues with the platform provider, Tictail, this weekend and a number of you have contacted me to tell me you haven't been able to place your orders. I'm so sorry about this and I have flagged it with Tictail. In the meantime, if there's something you want, please just drop me an email to schoolgatestyle@yahoo.co.uk and I'll arrange a Paypal invoice for you. Thank you.

I hope you've had a lovely weekend so far. I'll back soon with my final January Style Challenge item and already, I'm writing the posts for next week's Frugal February. It starts on Saturday and I hope you'll join me for a month of making the most of what you already have in your wardrobe.
Ax
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Thursday, 23 January 2014

The January Style Challenge 4 - The Perfect School Run Trainer

Item 4...at long last! And wait for it (especially Joanna and Gemma Louise, to whom I've long professed that I'll never go down this fashion route) - it's a pair of trainers! But not any old trainers - no, some trendy 'non-sporting' ones. 
I saw Michelle and Sue sharing their New Balance ones in burgundy & grey recently and it finally clicked that they *could* actually work on the school run. 

They look great with boyfriend or skinny jeans and a darker colour means they aren't too sporty looking. Another consideration is that in recent months, my bad knee (pensioner speak) has not been liking heels for daytime :(

After much deliberation and ordering and sending back,I decided I wanted navy or blue ones and thanks to a sale at Surfdome and a gift voucher - I was able to snap these Onitsuka Tiger ones up for just £15.48....to be precise! Frustratingly, they are now back up to full price on the site now...sorry.


Onitsuka Tiger Colorado - Surfdome
Now they're definitely a marmite item - I know that. I wouldn't have gone near them with a barge pole as little as 2 months ago and I declared more than once that 'trainers are only for the gym'. But I was mindful that in the past I've been too quick to write off trends that I've ultimately ended up wearing. Boyfriend jeans was one and can you believe it - skinny jeans too (about 4 years ago!). I think half of the issue is getting your head around something looking different...and it helps if you then realise that 'the something' is unbelievably comfortable and you can run instead of hobble to catch that bus or toddler. And in the spirit of pushing myself outside a comfort zone (2014 resolution), I'm celebrating that these are a bit different and will take getting used to. I can do this!
If you need some inspiration, Marlene has some great pictures on her blog here. And if you're firmly in the 'no trainers for daytime' camp, then just admire my scarf and coat and breton top instead :)
Coat - BHS
Scarf - Next SS13 Sale
Breton Top - Petit Bateau (similar)
Jeans - H&M
Trainers - as before
Once again - if you've bought any fab sale items this January OR in this case, if you've a trainer post you want to share, please use the linky!

Thank you lovelies..
Ax

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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Hats, Scarves & Boy's Coats...

I've a few things to show you on the blog today...first up, I'm wearing a hat. Purely to cover the grey as it's been 9 weeks since my last colour. I'm booked in for the 3rd February so you can be sure of a few hats between now and then - oh and copious amounts of Colour Wow!
Secondly, my coat. It's wool and it's grey (which you know I love) and it was reduced to £10! Bargain. But where, I hear you ask? Well, in the boy's/boys' (where DOES that apostrophe go??) department of Dunnes Stores...size 32-34" chest. Which (thanks to years of working in Penney's (Primark) kids-wear many moons ago), is the last size before a men's Small - so fits a boy around age 13-15. I actually looked at it for my son originally and then decided it was too big...but then took a notion to hide at the very back of the store and try it on - as it could look a bit weird to see a grown woman trying on children's clothes, no? 
Anyway, it was purchased on the basis that if I tire of it in a couple of years, my son can have it. It's another one of those win/wins = no brainer.
Coat - Dunnes (boys'/boy's department - similar here & here)
Jeans - Gap
Jumper - All Saints (from a charity shop years ago!- similar here)
Boots - Clarks (old - similar here & here)
Handbag - Siopaella Consignment Store
Hat - H&M (old)
Lastly, the scarf. My absolute favourite of all the samples I ordered last week and I will share some of them with you all very soon as I would love your opinions. 
I do love a stripe and when it includes pink and grey, it's a winner in my book. I will definitely be ordering this one for the shop though it will be about 3 or 4 weeks before it's likely to arrive. But you can email me to book one. It will be £12 (plus £2 postage)
Where did I take this outfit today? On a trip to Moira to my favourite haunt - The Fat Gherkin, where I met Emma from Adventures of an Unfit Mother...who lived up to her name because we were so deep in conversation, she forgot to pick up her son from nursery! But all's well that ends well. She wasn't *too* late...and it just meant we had to make another date to continue the conversation very soon. 
I should say, if you're looking for a fabulously written blog, I can't recommend Emma's enough. Twice winner of a MAD Blog Award, her regular posts brighten up my week immensely and not just because I know her but because she has a true gift for writing. There's a book in this woman and I want to read it.
Before I go, I know you're all wondering about January Sales Essential Number 4 - it's almost ready - as is Number 5. They're going to be like buses and will arrive one after the other very soon...
Till then my friends,
Ax

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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Comfy Choir Shoes from Hotter

Since joining Belfast Community Gospel Choir, I've struggled to find footwear to wear on a long concert night. We're usually at a venue a couple of hours before a gig starts for a sound check so usually BEFORE the concert starts, my feet are sore! I guess I could wear flat shoes but l like to wear a heel as it looks so much smarter. 
My quest for comfortable heels started back in September and included some sites that I maybe wouldn't have looked at before - including Hotter, a site I thought was just for my parents. It would appear not - meet my new choir shoes 
Glamour Heels c/o Hotter Shoes
So I knew I needed two things in my choir shoes - a decent 'frontage' to keep the shoe on when we run up the aisle and onto the stage at the beginning and while we move throughout the gig AND a sturdy heel. I wanted the height but needed a decent heel giving me this height. These shoes ticked all the boxes:

Ok, so they're not super trendy but I know a lot of my readers need something comfortable for work that doesn't look like a granny shoe. 
And here I am on Saturday night, ready for a gig. Wearing a Warehouse plain jersey faux-wrap dress I bought years ago. It's a brilliant dress (when worn with the right support underneath - unforgivable otherwise!) as it's not too tight and restrictive and not too warm - it's hard to keep cool singing your heart out under the lights!
Now I'll be honest and say that my feet do still hurt at the end of a concert - any heel worn for 4 or 5 hours straight will hurt in my experience but these shoes, used with some sole pads have been the most successful heels I've worn at a concert to date and with 2 more concerts in the next 2 weeks, they're earning their keep!
Thank you Hotter Shoes
Ax
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Friday, 17 January 2014

Day to Night in a Camel Coat from Gray & Osbourn

Right about the time I was searching high and low for a classic camel coat, I got an email from Gray & Osbourn asking if I'd like to road-test something from their site. I went straight to the 'Coats & Jackets' section and was thrilled to find this Eugen Klein wool & cashmere coat. Now Gray & Osbourn is a website that mainly features brands aimed at a more mature customer but one thing I've discovered since I started this blog (and since finding my Betty Barclay white shirt!) is that you can get some of the best quality basics from these brands as well as on-trend pieces. I've picked a few good examples from G&O further down this post.
I wanted to see how versatile this camel coat could be so in this post, I've styled it for both day and night.
First up - daytime and you can't beat navy with camel. I've dressed down the coat a little with distressed skinnies, suede ankle boots and navy & white layered tops. First up - the daytime look with an Insta picture I shared on Avenue 57 - where the coat proved popular
Camel Coat - Eugen Klein @ Gray & Osbourn
Jeans - Maison Scotch (old - similar)
Navy Square Cut Jersey Top - Dorothy Perkins (similar here & here)
White Jersey Top - Dunnes (similar)
Stone Suede Ankle Boots - Mango (similar)
 For the nighttime look, it's a quick switch out of the boots and into my leopard heels. And if there's one match made in heaven, it's camel with leopard...I feel some leopard flats calling to me for daytime...
Coat & Jeans as before
Leopard Heels - M&S (similar here & here)
Black Pleather Top - M&S (out of stock)
Necklace - Accessorize (out of stock)
I just adore the stitching detail in this coat and the benefit of the wool/cashmere mix is that even though it's not a thick heavy coat, it's incredibly cosy and really holds the heat in. 
Have to mention the necklace, which was given to me by my friend Lisa when she called for coffee the other day. She saw it in Accessorize in the sale and bought it for me - her words were 'I looked at it and immediately thought of you!'

Unfortunately, the coat is now out of stock as it was snapped up during the sale..but the good news is that the Gray & Osbourn sale is still on. Here are my favourite pieces:
Flattering Navy Basic Top - every wardrobe should have one!
Gorgeous Knitted Breton Top - on sale!
G&O Textured Jacket
Riva Elastic Riding Boot
and before I sign off - some of my favourite items from the new range for SS14:
Perfect Black Pumps from Van Dal

Stunning Jacket from Helene Berman
Another great jacket - this time from Gerry Weber
Right - I'm off now to start writing about my Sale Essentials Item Number 4. Back soon!
Ax

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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Parka & Pink and a Blogger meet-up!

Well, the parka's getting plenty of use at the moment. I'm not finding it overly warm if I'm honest. Don't get me wrong - it's cosy but not as warm as my Target Dry Georgia. But then again, it's made from cotton material with a fleece half lining, as opposed to insulated 100% waterproof & windproof material - it does make a difference! Today, I layered up with some pink for a walk with the kids, 
Parka - Warehouse (now on sale with more sizes in some stores)
Pink Jumper - Gap (old - similar here & here)
White Jersey Top - Dunnes 'stretch' range (similar)
Jeans - Gap Outlet (similar here & here)
Scarf - Harlequin Scarf from SGS Shop
Boots - Fly London (old - alternatives here, here & here)
Hat - M&S Boys Dept





It's the colour for me - I'm just loving the khaki. But I was talking to the Target Dry people the other day and for AW14, their Georgia Parka will come in a khaki green with a new softer (removable) fur trim. Looks gorgeous - oh and it also will come in Purple. Available from later this year and here's a sneak peek!


After the walk, I had some visitors to the house - Trea from Treasures 'n' Pleasures (currently 30 weeks pregnant and looking supers stylish!) & Rosanna from Silverbrogues. We had such a great catch up all afternoon, chatting about everything and anything! So lovely to have some blogging friends living nearby. In-between coffees and kitkats, we managed a couple of quick photos and suffice to say, I'm feeling a bit under-dressed for a style blogger meet-up....better suited to a walk in the forest!
Off now to post off a load of parcels to everyone who bought from the shop sale. Thank you for all your support. Not much left now but the good news is that this clears the way for some new stock to come in. Watch this space!
Ax
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