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

Monday, 31 August 2015

Recycling Fashion

Over the past week, I've had a bit of recycled fashion come my way via a couple of channels. Firstly, Joanna over at Poppy's Style has been selling off her unwanted stuff and I also hit the jackpot in the Barnardos charity shop in Limavady (random, I know...we were there on a mid-week break!)

So first up, this top came from the charity shop - one of those patterns and colours that catches your eye. I knew with the nude colour going through it that I could style it with my nude sandals and bag for a night out...and I got the opportunity on Friday night at a surprise birthday party for my friend Nikki.
Top - M&S Limited Collection via Barnardos Retail
Jeans - Gap Outlet
Nude Sandals - Debenhams (past season)
Sparkle Bracelet - Gifted

and here is the bag I brought with me - a structured quilted bag in a neutral beige/grey colour with gold chain strap.
I actually bought a few of these in for the shop but the mark up and postage/packaging would have made them £35 so I didn't stock them in the end as it felt a bit expensive for a non leather bag. I did LOVE it on Friday night though and it got me wondering? In any case, this one is sold out but I have 2 in black if you're interested...
drop me a mail to schoolgatestyle@yahoo.co.uk.

Then on Saturday, to help my hangover, the postman delivered a parcel from Joanna....all the way from the USA!! Now it had 4 items in it - the main one being this coat..had to take a picture straight away to share with Joanna
Coat - M&S (Past Season)
Monochrom Breton Top - Hush (AW14)
Jeans - Vero Moda
Ballet Pumps ℅ Shoe Therapy (blog to follow - these are AMAZING!)

Then there was this quilted sleeve knitted cardi that I'd tried on in M&S last year and then missed out on. Bingo!!
and the other 2 items were an M&S knitted biker cardigan in two colour ways - black/natural and natural/black (which I'm wearing below) It's perfect for this time of year so I wore that afternoon on a walk with the kids and onward to a BBQ with friends. Again it was just right for standing around on a coolish night.

Monochrome Biker Cardi - M&S (past season)
Jeans & Black Top - F&F at Tesco (past season)
Slip On Trainers - Dune London (past season)
Necklace - SGS Shop

There's something quite satisfying about being able to wear and love an item that has been previously loved and doubly so when you find items that are simply stunning and you admired when they were in stock. I'd love to hear about your great finds too if you want to share them in the comments.

Meanwhile, it's off to bed for me and I suspect quite a few mums....proper BACK TO SCHOOL tomorrow and I'm immediately heading to Rogue Hair after the school run to have the greys covered and the out of shape bob put back into shape. Will share it all on Instagram :)

Good luck with the return to routine again my friends,

Ax
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Sunday, 30 August 2015

#MSFW - Marisota Shapeology Fashion Week - Occasionwear


This week it's Marisota's Shapeology Fashion Week featuring 5 key autumn/winter trends with a youtube trend catwalk video and supporting posts for each trend from some of your favourite bloggers...including me!

I was excited to be asked to be part of this event, hosted by Mark Heyes...basically, anything involving Mark Heyes is a no-brainer for me. When I met him back in June, I was struck by how passionate he is about incorporating trends into every woman's wardrobe, regardless of age or size.  He's worked closely with Marisota over a few seasons both in a stylist capacity and in the design of his own range - Ava.

The trend I chose to feature from the 5 was Occasionwear...simply because I wear casual stuff all the time on the blog so I thought it would be a nice change to wear something a bit glam. Also, I adored this Joanna Hope jumpsuit and knew it would be brilliant for choir gigs.
What a bonus to know it is made in the UK. It's that kind of jersey that just hangs beautifully and will never crease.
To put with the jumpsuit, I was sent this Joanna Hope Cluster Necklace - a great basic that will work with so many outfits:

I was also sent an oversized black glitter clutch - again another classic piece that's going to be used lots:
But the Sole Diva Plain Court Shoes were the star of the show for me because I struggle to find pointed courts that are comfy. These are an amazing fit and the heel height is perfect - they feel dressy but I can actually walk properly in them. Final bonus is that they have a rubber sole meaning that they're non slip. It's such a simple concept - why don't more shoe manufacturers do this?

And here I am with the entire outfit on
with nowhere to go on this occasion...but I'll be wearing it for my first BCGC concert in a couple of weeks. Size wise, I'm wearing a 12 in the jumpsuit and I would say it's very much true to size.

Do take a look at the Shapeology pages on the Maristota website, there's 15% off if you like the brand on Facebook and next day delivery is only £3.99. Also take a look at the trend videos to get Mark Heyes' take on the different trends - they're all on this link and the occasion wear one includes my outfit!

Ax
Disclaimer - I was sent this outfit free of charge by the team at Marisota but the words are all my own and I was not paid to write about it. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog.

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Friday, 28 August 2015

#LittleLoves - Feeling Old, Flapjacks & Fish

It's been too long since I did a #LittleLoves post! Ever week, I get to Friday and do a face palm when I realise I've missed the boat. So I started this one 5 days in advance to be sure I got it ready on time for today! As usual, you can join up via Morgana's blog on this link.

Read
I read two book in the last fortnight. The Sudden Departure of the Frasers is a great page turner, in the style of The Girl on the Train, with alternate chapters following the past and present. I finished it in 3 days and even enjoyed the ending, which is often so disappointing with these kinds of books.
The other one I flew through was Us by David Nicholls. A heartwarming and hilarious account of a couple whose son is about to leave home and whose marriage is wobbling. Again, it alternates between the present and the past to give background to the challenges they're having as a couple and manages to make you laugh out loud while also feeling a great sadness for what's happening. Thoroughly enjoyed it and I now want to visit Venice like you wouldn't believe.
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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

ASOS Delivery & Cream Top PERFECTION!

I've had an ASOS delivery today - we'd just come home from our 2 days away so it was lovely to see the Hermes van pull up to take my mind off being back to porridge. In the parcel was a couple of pairs of cropped wide trousers that I spotted in the sale last week and had to order as together they cost just over £20...with free delivery and free returns - nothing to lose.
The first ones are from the Tall range - my thinking was that they would definitely be long enough - as all of the other pairs I've tried so far in my search have been too short.
First impressions were that they looked TINY! I ordered the 12 and the waistband looks more like a very small 10...but luckily, the high waist means it hits at my slimmest part and I just about fit them. Here they are on me - 

the top isn't quite what I'd wear with them but overall, I do like the shape and the material...length wise, they may be an inch or so too long but that's easily fixed. They're a fairly lightweight material with a texture going through them and they hang really nicely.
Size-wise, they're definitely more like a 10 so you may need to size up - especially if you're more of an apple shape. But the best bit - they're £11...no brainer! Keeping these.

Next up, it's another bargain - these have since been reduced to £8.50 but I paid £11.
They're more lightweight and floaty and size-wise, are true to size. I ordered the 12 and they fit bigger than the last pair. They sit wider & baggier though - not quite as 'flowing' as the navy pair so for that reason, I think they might look better if they were a bit shorter too. In this photo, I've turned up one leg a bit just to see how it looks (note the uncertain face!)
The colour is more green in real life and they are lovely and cool to wear so I am considering keeping and using some magic tape to turn them up a couple of inches with a view to wearing with trainers (as styled above by ASOS) or sandals

Overall, I'm not sure if this style of trouser will be too dressy for my school run but I'm thinking if I wear them with a denim or biker jacket, they will work. I'm also looking forward to trying the navy ones with long boots in winter.

Finishing with what I'm wearing today and as per the blog title, I've found cream top perfection - once again from Hush. Meet the Laura top...
Hush Laura Top - £40 (10% off and free delivery/returns using AWXX15)
What is hard to see on this photo is that it's got a quilted jersey finish which is lovely and soft and not rigid like quilted tops can sometimes be.

Size-wise, I'm wearing the 12 and I need every bit of it around the hips. With a zip at the rear neckline and a great length of sleeve, this top is going to be worn and worn. While Hush gifted this top to me to review (knowing my love of a cream top), I will be buying a further one as I'm so pleased with it and as you know, I wear my cream tops ALOT! There's 10% off with free delivery and returns, using the code AWXX15.
I'm also wearing my best charity shop purchase in a long time - some pointed navy flats from M&S (with Insolia). They'd never been worn and cost only £4.95 from the Barnardos Charity Shop in Limavady - my new favourite town!
Jeans - Gap Outlet
Necklace - Warehouse Sale
Pointed Flats - M&S

Hope you're all having a good week...we had panicked school trouser exchanging this afternoon. Fingers crossed he doesn't grow again before Friday's first day at big school (blubarama awaits!)

Ax
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Monday, 24 August 2015

Ripped Jeans - all patched up!


I'm a lover of distressed jeans but the rips can be so hit and miss - rips that look cool when you're standing can be deeply unflattering when you sit down! Equally when you're a busy mum, you find yourself bending and kneeling lots, meaning that the rips can become bigger over time.

My first distressed pair of jeans were my Only patch jeans, bought last year from ASOS. With two small rips, they were perfect until repeated wearing resulted in this...
I tried an iron-on patch I bought online but it just didn't work. I guess the rip is in a place where there's lots of pressure and after just one wear, it started to peel off so I brought them to The Zipyard to see if a professionally applied patch would work....and I have to say that for only £6, the result was pretty impressive...
Inspired by this, I decided this week to regenerate a few other pairs in my wardrobe. First up, a recent purchase I got in the Gap outlet at Junction One for just £11. They have their rips a few inches above the knee so they were particularly awful looking when I sat down. But the fit was good otherwise (I find Gap jeans really great for fit) and I liked the colour.
Next, another fairly recent addition to my wardrobe, my Vero Moda jeans, already had patches underneath the rips but they all peeled off after one wash, which was disappointing as these had become favourite jeans of mine.

Lastly, my Replay skinnies are a fab fit but they were just a bit too long. Over the winter, this wasn't a problem as I cut them and wore ankle boots to cover the hemline. However, I've not been able to wear them all summer as the ends are a bit tatty from my less than perfect scissor action.
I brought all three to The Zipyard this week and had extra large patches put into the Gap and Vero Moda jeans and a hem put on the Replay ones. Because I chose large ones, each patch was £6 but I felt that was well worth paying because not only do they sew around the perimeter of the patch, the team there also sew around the rip itself. It's a double securing of the weak point and as I've found with my Only jeans (which I had patched back in May and have worn lots since), those patches aren't going to budge easily.

To make 3 pairs of jeans wearable again, I paid £37 in total - 5 large patches & 1 hem. The quality of the work was first class and super fast too. Yes, if you're handy with a sewing machine, you'll probably feel that was expensive but for same day fixing up of 3 pairs of favourite jeans, it was a better use of my time to get the experts to do it for me.....plus I don't have a sewing machine anyway :)

It got me thinking that perhaps you might like the look of ripped jeans but feel they are too revealing so this could be a good option to still get the effect without having to tan random parts of your legs (I have actually done this).

Finishing with Sunday's outfit which includes my new Gap jeans and a graffiti wall...which I got very excited about when we came across it on our walk to the market in Belfast...
Jacket - Dunnes Stores (8 years old!)
Jeans - Gap Outlet & patches!
Shoes - Dune London (AW14)
Top - M&S (SS15)
Cross Body Bag - Prada (SS13)
Necklace - Next (SS15)

Ax


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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Review - Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion - #AveenoSkincareSecrets


A few weeks ago, I was approached by the people from Aveeno to see if I'd like to review their Daily Moisturising Lotion for a couple of weeks and report back. Now while I'd heard of the brand, I'd never used it before but clearly I was out of the loop here because as soon as I shared the product on social media, I was inundated with comments from readers:

'Excellent lotion. Motorising cream is terrific. I use it for my son's eczema when it flares up. The only cream that doesn't leave me with big greasy hands!!', Diane
'Really great lotion... my daughter has eczema and this is great on her skin.. I use it too!', Celine
'I use this as a hand cream - it's AMAZING', Fiona
'Love it! Use it on myself and my girls. All of the Aveeno range is fab', Kimberly
'It's the best moisturiser in my opinion', Suzanne
'I love #aveeno I use it all the time, and have it at work and in every room of the house!, Caroline
'I use this moisturiser every day faithfully, one of the best', Geraldine
'I have used it for years. It has really helped my skin and that of my family. Our doctor and dermatologist recommended it. We all suffered from horrific eczema and using the oil and cream daily has meant we have not had an eczema attack for many years. I'm so thankful for Aveeno - the products changed my life and that of my family', Nicky 
'Can't live without Aveeno', Lyn


and the ladies of Avenue 57 love it too...


'Been using it for years, love it!', Ellie
'It's brilliant. I have eczema and this stuff stops dryness and calms irritation almost immediately. There's no sting and no grease - feels lovely. Can't recommend it enough!', Ruth
'I've used this on and off for about five or six years. Very good stuff', Tracey

I could go on and on - that's just a taster. I soon realised that I've been missing out on an amazing product and a budget one at that. It comes in 2 sizes - the 200ml has an RRP of £5.10 & the 300ml has an RRP of £7.14...though you'll often find them on offer, I'm reliably informed by another reader :)
It's difficult to find a non-greasy lotion that actually moisturises. Well Aveeno has this nailed - it soaks in fast and leaves skin feeling soft and soothed but you can get dressed pretty much straight away without risking greasy stains on fabrics....and the pump dispenser makes it so simple to use.
Two weeks on, I'm completely sold and can see why you guys all love it. It's a pleasure to use and my skin feels softer and healthier. The annoying bumps I get on my upper arms are less obvious and my knees are super smooth. It's been fantastic for my summer fake tan regime too, ensuring a less streaky and patchy bronzing experience....and the tan is lasting longer.

As part of this review, I was asked by Aveeno to share my #AveenoSkincareSecrets....mine is as simple as it gets but it works like you wouldn't believe. Drink more water! I never used to - I always found myself in the car on the school run realising I was parched with thirst. I'd been running around all day and hadn't stopped to take a glass of water.
A suggestion from a friend back a few months ago, led to me buying an 800ml reusable flip top water bottle that I fill in the morning first thing and bring with me in the car. This means that every time I'm stuck in traffic or about to park up, I drink from it. Once I am back home, it sits on the kitchen counter or beside my computer and it gives me the constant hydration that is more beneficial to skin than gulping down full glasses at longer intervals apart. So simple but it works!

And because the best skincare secrets come from friends, I'm tagging my friend Nic over at Strawberry Blonde Beauty Blog because when it comes to beauty, she knows her onions.

Please feel free to share your #AveenoSkincareSecrets on my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed - using the hashtag. 

Ax
Disclaimer - this post was sponsored by Aveeno - all words & views are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog...and for supporting this blog in the first place!
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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The AW15 Wish List Begins....

Although today was gorgeous and sunny, the reality is that winter is on its way and I'm loving all the AW15 stock appearing in the shops and online. So I thought I'd share on this post what's caught my eye so far and made it onto the wish list for the upcoming season.

First up, a camel coat. I'm frustrated at this gap in my wardrobe. For the past couple of seasons, I've tried to find one that suits me and I know now that the traditional male single breasted shape isn't good on me. Then I saw this beauty on the Hush website and I reckon it's a winner with the high neckline and collar...adore how it's styled here too. An investment piece for sure but you can't go wrong with a classic piece like this.
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Sunday, 16 August 2015

The North Coast...sale shopping, hay bales & Scented Scandles

We took advantage of an offer of our friend's house and a reasonably ok weather forecast to dash up the North Coast for 4 days. It's my favourite place in Northern Ireland...as soon as we arrived on Monday evening, it was onto Portstewart Strand for a walk...

Lightweight Waterproof Parka - Target Dry (past season but the Alexa or Aintree are similar)
Jeans - Vero Moda (past season)
Trainers - Nike (Kildare Outlet)
On Tuesday, we headed into Coleraine for a coffee, a trip to Poundland (kids' holiday treat!) and a quick look in the shops (mum's holiday treat). We come up North in August most years and there's always a great sale in Moore's of Coleraine - a very traditional department store which has lots of brilliant brands like Hunter, Esprit, Second Female etc..along with some more familiar high street brands like Monsoon and French Connection.
I tried on a few tops..this first one is Seasalt - loved the print but the sleeves were a bit 'floaty' for me:
Next, this short sleeved lightweight knit from Hobbs was down to £9!
Loved this Esprit top with the breton stripe at the sides. Sadly, the 14 was too big but if anyone sees this locally to them in a 10 or a 12, I'd pay for it to be sent over to me...absolutely LOVED it!
This next jacket wasn't in the sale - it's new stock at Miss Selfridge (available on this link). Just caught my eye as I walked past and I had to try it on. It's only £35 - quite lightweight...but a little short on me.
This last one is the only purchase I made - it's from Seasalt and I can't find it online. There's a better picture of me wearing it further down:
Then it was over to Mussenden Temple and Downhill - a National Trust property near Coleraine with amazing views down to Benone Strand and the rail line to Derry.
There were hay bales all over the meadow here and the kids had so much fun climbing over them...
....ok, so I may have joined in :)
Quilted Jersey Jacket - Next (SS15 Sale)
Jeans & Trainers as before
Wednesday we headed over to the Carrick-a-Rede bridge - another National Trust venue - one we've not been to for a couple of years. It was SO busy with tourists but the queues moved well. That walk across the bridge always gets the heart racing..
though it's over so fast as there's always so many people behind you so you don't get time to stop and panic. Just as well! Here's one of the views from the other side....truly stunning:
and here's what I wore - it was a warm day but we all had our raincoats with us just in case...
Top - F&F at Tesco
Jeans & Trainers as before
Thursday was the day we'd been waiting for weather wise and it did not disappoint meaning that I could at last ditch the jeans and trainers. We headed for Portrush and while the kids & hubby headed to the West Strand, I took a detour up a side street nearby to visit Karen, who owns Filthy Velvet and makes the most fab candles (or Scented Scandles as she likes to call them).
I had heard great things about them from my blogging buddy Dawn, who wrote about them here, so I wanted to sniff them all for myself. Brace yourself - they're not your usual sweetly named candles...these are just a little bit cheeky but smell amazing with great staying power and the ability to fill a big room.
Now there are some names a bit more cheeky than others and having 3 kids who can read and ask questions to beat the band, I didn't opt for my favourite one which is called Sexting...just my 2nd and 3rd ones, Me So Thorny (Indian Rose) and WTF (Winter's Traditional Fragrance...obviously!).

Others I loved and will get again included Big Pants (clean linen) and Posh Tart (apple tart)..oh and I discovered you can peel off the labels so that's made me add Sexting back onto the shopping list!
They make fab gifts for your friends - especially Knocked Up - which is a baby powder smell....love it!
You can order them on the website here - free delivery for orders over £15...oh and Karen also sells 'Filthy Bits' wax melts...
So after that lovely meeting, I was back down to the beach for a few hours with the family..
Navy T-Shirt - Next
White Vest - Gap Outlet
Denim Shorts - TU at Sainsburys (preloved)
Sandals - Topshop
Cross Body - Gap
Then once everything was covered sufficiently in sand, we headed up into the town for the amusements, a fish and chip supper and the crazed spending of the last of the holiday pocket money (the kids...not me!)
Friday saw the weather turn so it was a pack up & clean morning followed by a long wet drive home....took the photo at  home after changing in to different jeans and shoes.
Top - Whitestuff (SS15 Sale)
Jeans - Gap Premium Super Skinny
Wedge Sandals - Clarks (old)
Necklace - short one from the Warehouse sale, long one from my shop.

Another week in the bag - two more to go and we've just one treat left for the kids that they don't know about yet. The week after next, we've booked a 2 night break in a hotel family room - the first time we've ever stayed in a hotel together. Eek....5 in a room....does that actually work in practice?!

Ax
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