The Beauty of Basics - Tops

So I mentioned on my last blog post about how I've been getting back to basics and loving it. I don't know what the catalyst was but I no longer want a complicated wardrobe where I have to match things up or create me lazy!

Instead, I've stripped my wardrobe right back to a basic (mostly) neutral palate, where patterns are no longer playing a part and my day to day dressing decisions are so much easier now! I'm just adding in a few statement coats for interest. Why didn't I think of this sooner?

I think because I blog, I thought this kind of wardrobe would be a disaster...that I'd have you all falling asleep but then I thought, is this not the holy grail of the busy mum? The capsule that works perfectly together, makes each day a doddle to dress for and has the bonus of making you look effortlessly stylish all the time. Because that's what clean, structured basics do. When I browse Pinterest or look at friends who's style I admire, that's the common theme. Simplicity, clean lines and mostly neutral colours.

I'll cover off bottom half, coats and accessories on future posts but for today, here is a selection of the tops I've recently sourced for my new wardrobe. Amazing, basic, quality pieces that have slotted in perfectly with the rest of my clothes.

First up, these jersey tops from River Island are fab. As soon as I felt them in the shop, I HAD to have one. They feel like cashmere - super soft. I bought the dark grey one first and wore it for the first time in Boston. The shape is really flattering and they're very cosy so I've been back since to buy the black one. There has been a little bit of bobbling on the grey one but it's not that noticeable and I love it too much to get annoyed about it. It washes well (and tumble dries) too. The dark grey isn't on the link above but it's on this link here - inexplicably called the 'Dark Grey Super-Soft Hanky Hem Top'! I've bought the 12 in both of mine.

This draped asymmetric top is also River Island and is a bit more interesting shape-wise. It's called grey but it's more like a khaki colour in real life. It does also comes in a charcoal grey, which I've only seen in-store...not online and black also - on this link. This top has a bit more potential to cling so I bought the size 14.
Next up, I saw this Topshop top on my friend Helen (in cream) and went straight into town the next day to buy the black version. It's just a gorgeous shape and I like that it's a bit shorter than many of my tops, but is still flattering with the sleeve fluting and the split hem details on the sides. This has also washed really well and only needs a lick of the iron before wearing again.

Every season, I look for a few long sleeved jersey tops and this year, I've found these ones from M&S. At just £8, they're perfect, wash well and keep their shape. They're also a nice length as so many jersey tops are too short on my torso.
Finally, I found a brand called Cable & Gauge at TK Maxx and if you're in your local store, check them out as the cotton is lovely and soft and they're really well priced. I think it's a US store and some of the range online is horrific but I've bought a couple of great basic cotton tops a bit like this one and they're lovely and soft.

Finishing with a couple of outfits from Instagram (where I am most active!). I know it's been a bit quiet on here the last couple of weeks but I've not stopped blogging permanently I promise and thanks to all of you who've been in touch to enquire. It's just been a bit busy and I felt like having a break so I could focus on some other stuff. Back with a bang and inspired by my leopard skirt below, I've a great post about statement skirts coming up.

Red Coat - Boden past season
Grey Top - River Island (as above)
Black Jeans - Top Shop Joni (AMAZING!)
Black Boots - Ash Jalouse
Black Scarf - Zara

Black Coat - Gerard Darel (past season)
Leopard Skirt - Marc Cain (past season)
Black Top - River Island (as above)
Grey Scarf - Zara
Grey Boots - Seven Boot Lane (BACK IN STOCK!)

Hope you're having a good Monday,



The Lidl Waterfall Jacket

Since I saw the Lidl AW15 range launch back in August, I've been keeping an eye out for a few pieces I earmarked. One of these is the suede effect waterfall jacket, which goes on sale tomorrow in Lidl stores for just £9.99.

By a stroke of luck, I was able to secure one yesterday and get a few photos so you could see what it looks like on a non-model and then be able to get your hands on one as soon as you've dispatched the kids to school tomorrow!!

The material is difficult to describe other than 'suede effect'. It's stretchy like jersey, making the jacket really comfy to wear and it's got a smooth feel to it...just like a soft suede would. It's a real touchy-feely piece!
I'm wearing a size S - which is a 10-12 and I would say that it comes up generous. And a bonus for anyone with short but strong arms (as I have) - it's cut generously on the arms but not too long in the sleeve. So there's no issue with wearing a light knit underneath.

I initially thought it would be more of an evening or a dressy piece but in fact, I think it will work really well in daytime too because of the stretch. Simply add a white top & jeans!
I also tried it with a cream cami top I got in tesco for a more dressy look....the waterfall neckline looks great with this style of top.
All in all, it's a great jacket for the price. It also comes in a taupe colour way (see press image below) and will be in Lidl stores tomorrow morning at 9am!


Kelly Green

My maiden name is Kelly so I'm rather drawn to the colour even though it's a little cooler than I should wear with my colouring. I spotted this Zara coat in Deja Vu today and brought it home on appro (amazing service that Ruth offers) and although it is quite lightweight, I think I'm going to keep it as it's just such a great antidote to the rubbish weather and our warm winter (so far) lends itself well to a coat of this weight.

Wearing it today with a very simple jeans and white tee combo. I've been going majorly back to basics with my wardrobe these past few weeks and have a post coming up on some of the best basic tops I've found on the high street. And I'm talking really basic - black, grey, white and cream. Patterns are off the menu for the time being - ever had that happen to you? Even a stripe is feeling like a bit too much - who'd have thought?!

Also loving these jeans which I picked up in TK Maxx by a company I'd not heard of before - Kings of Indigo. Nice fit and just the right amount of distressing for less than £25 (RRP £97) - result.
Coat - Zara via Deja Vu Belfast
White Long Sleeved Jersey Top - M&S
Distressed Jeans - Kings of Indigo via TK Maxx
Boots - Seven Boot Lane
Rose Gold Disc Pendant - SGS shop - sold out but similar here

Before I go, two things to tell you about. Firstly, I saw lots of Boden in TK Maxx yesterday so if you're a fan, you might want to take a look in your local store. There's some of it online on this link and prices are good. Also, there's 20% off coats and jackets in M&S on this link - the unseasonably warm weather is definitely playing havoc in the shops so make the most of the opportunity!




My Adidas Superstars

I'm a convert - long after the initial blogger rush. But that's how I roll. I like to wait and watch these trends as they don't always suit everyone and don't always last. Plus there wasn't really a cheaper alternative - it's the genuine article or nothing.
The trip to Boston was the catalyst in the end as I was reading about how comfy Adidas Superstars are and how people had bought them and worn them on the first day to walk miles. This was a bonus as I wanted something I knew I could walk around the city in - but something that wasn't a running trainer...something a little bit edgier that would work nicely with the black capsule I was bringing with me.

In the end, I bought them from ASOS as they had my size and could deliver next working day and in fairness to ASOS, they came on the day promised - even though the next day isn't guaranteed in NI.

Initial impressions were good - I was a little unsure of the toe detail but the comfort was not in question. Size wise, I went for the 6 which equates to a 39 and one third (??) and they fitted perfectly with a trainer sock.

Did they meet the Boston brief? Defintely! They were worn on the journey to Boston (cue airport bathroom selfie)
and all day the second day as we walked around the city. No breaking in needed...they were amazingly comfortable.
And now I'm home, they're getting well worn too....with pretty much the same combination so no need for more photos!

In terms of how to wear...hands up, they're not for the trainer faint hearted but they completely 'edge' up an outfit if you're trying to keep your look youthful without trying too hard. For me, they work best with a slightly distressed jean and a structured coat or jacket. I have seen other women wear them with black jeans but I'm not a fan myself as I find the white with black to be too much of a contrast. I've also worn mine with culottes (see last blog post) and it's a good look to try too....though I wasn't overly comfortable in it...maybe one to get used to.

But here are a few inspirational shots from Pinterest to help you if you've been dithering about buying...



Are you all still out there??!

I'm sorry I've not blogged before now but I've just not had the time....still coming down from the high that was Boston and things have been busy at home too.
First up, Boston was amazing - just the best trip ever as I really relaxed and enjoyed it, putting any worries about home or the kids out of my mind. Hubby had everything under control.
Relaxed Avril - not often seen!
We arrived on the Thursday afternoon and went straight to a performance, which kept us up until about 10pm US time! So what better a plan after that than to go out - until about 4am US time! I thought I'd not have the energy to keep going the next day but it's interesting how much easier tiredness is without kids around and with the adrenaline rush of performing every day.

Outfit wise, it was black, black and more black....the hero pieces for me were my Adidas Superstars which I walked and walked in (blog to follow), my new black coat from Deja Vu, which was worn every day and my Aldo brogues, again so comfy for all the walking we had to do between gigs and for the time standing and singing.
Even on our nights out, it was black all the way! Made for a very uncomplicated wardrobe.

Shopping-wise, I really under performed. We were close to the shops in our hostel so it was easy to nip out and buy regularly. I however preferred to stay at the hostel and chat to my choir friends. It was such a great trip for getting to know choir friends I've not really spoken to before. There are 120 of us in BCGC and we only meet twice monthly at a busy rehearsal with just limited talking time. There were about 48 of us in Boston so it was a great opportunity to spend quality time with each other.

But I did buy a watch on the last day. Hubby offered me to buy something as a memento of the trip and I had a rose gold watch of some description in my mind. I explored the Fossil and MK options but they weren't really ticking my boxes as I wanted some element of silver or grey - and then I saw this DKNY one with grey leather strap and brushed metal detail..
Since I came home, I've been wearing lots of black too...
...and there have been some developments on the work front. All I can say at this stage is that I will be working with two different IT companies in the coming months. I'm not sure how it will work in terms of juggling with the family but both companies have been amazing about flexibility and working from home etc. I'll tell more if and when I can but I have to be honest and say that it's going to impact on my blog a little and I hope you'll forgive me on that front - just till I get myself into the new routine. I've mentioned before that the shop will close soon - so whatever stock is there won't be replaced. Don't hesitate if there's something you like!

What the work developments mean is that you'll be seeing me in somewhat smarter clothes - there's not a dress code in either office and many of my new co-workers wear jeans but I want to wear more of my dresses and skirts and keep my casual stuff for my downtime. At least at the start - who knows where that might go.

So I've a few blog posts coming up in the next week - never fear. I've been perusing the shops and doing a bit of trying on...all in the name of research. I've also been sourcing a formal dress for the choir Christmas concert. Fun and games!

Hope you're having a good week,

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