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

Friday, 21 July 2017

M&S Summer Style | More Yellow Sandals!

I'm aware the M&S sale is in full swing so I wanted to share a couple of pieces that I was asked to style up as one of them is in the sale and is such a steal and the others are a complete bargain (without being in the sale) but you'll want to get them ASAP as they are going to be lovely to wear in the gorgeous weather coming up next week.

Starting with this cream skirt which I can't find online but I have seen in-store. It's from M&S Collection and it's not something that appealed online but I saw it in the store and held it up against me and it just swished so fabulously, I had to have it. It's quite dressy but easy to dress down with trainers and a denim jacket. And don't mind anyone who tells you you can't wear cream and white. I love them together.
Skirt - M&S
(currently own about 6 of these cotton t-shirts...some colours are in the sale!)
Jacket - H&M

Next, the yellow version of the sandals I reviewed on this post. I knew they would be super comfortable already and had been thinking about them ever since I chose the black and cream version over the yellow earlier in the summer AND since I realised I would struggle to wear the heeled yellow version until my back settled down. But I have to tell you that the heeled yellow ones are now in the sale for £11! Limited sizes - don't hesitate.
They're perfect with my M&S top from my last blog post, which has since sold out. Not because of me I should say...that would be a lofty statement. It was down to limited stock before I mentioned it. This is a stunning alternative with all sizes available as I write.
Bardot Top - M&S (similar here)
Jeans - Topshop Jamies
Oh and I'm standing in the middle of the road because it was the 12th July parade that day and the traffic was at a standstill!

Last share today because I'm being shouted at for working on holidays but this watch is a TOTAL steal. It's not been off my wrist since I got it. It looks way more expensive than it costs and it's been brilliant for wearing up on the beach as it's easy to wipe clean - bracelet wrap straps are awful when you get near sand. I originally thought I'd not worry about losing or damaging it on holidays but I actually would be gutted if I did!


Ok - better get back to the family. We're not away, away...just up at the coast for a few days. Don't want to venture far in case of my back....which is sore sore sore after my trip to London. But don't tell the husband. It was worth it for the fabulous time I had. I'll update you on here when I can but in the meantime, there are some photos on Facebook and Instagram.

No update on the back btw...still waiting on an injection date and popping the pills in the meantime. Hope you're all well - back soon! 

Ax

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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Blush Velvet & Navy

A quick post featuring some items I've been wearing lots and loving in recent weeks.
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Sunday, 9 July 2017

Outfits Galore | Pain Update

The trouble with Instagram is that it's killing blogging a bit. But I am reminded daily by you lovely readers that not everyone is on Instagram. I have a loyal group of followers who aren't actually on any social media at all (🙌🏼)  and who only follow me on here. So every now and again, I'm asked 'how is your back' & 'what have you been wearing?' and I look on my phone to find a plethora of pictures I've been meaning to share on the blog but didn't get around to.

So strap yourself in - here's the rundown of worthy outfits from the past couple of weeks, followed by a back update. And if you do follow me elsewhere, you might not have seen them all....I do like to keep a few exclusives for on here.

Starting with my favourite outfit in a long time - that evening I decided to give pain the middle finger and go sashaying with my girls on the 'end of term' night out. I wasn't able to wear heels but I think I got away with it and more importantly, I wasn't asked to leave the bar because of my 'sports attire'. The dress is probably more wedding appropriate but I loved it too much to leave behind after my personal styling session with Katherin. How fab that it works with trainers. Gamechanger.

Dress - Coast (I always need to size up in Coast so this is a 12)
Faux Leather Biker Jacket - H&M (currently in store on the sale rail)
Trainers - Adidas Stan Smiths (wearing the boys 5.5)
Handbag - Boden (past season)
Next up, and it's another one of Katherin's picks that again is probably on paper, more of an occasional dress. But Katherin suggested wearing it with skinny jeans or shorts in a kimono style and I love how this works too!
Shorts - Ancient preloved from Tu Clothing
Cream Vest - Gap Outlet
Pom Pom Sandals - Menarys
Next up, yet another Katherin pick. I didn't realise I had these all one after the other - it's the order they loaded from the phone but I guess that's the point of going to a personal stylist...you get stuff you actually end up wearing! The top is Monsoon and it's not really something I would have picked myself but it's brilliant dressed down with these American Eagle ripped jeans (which I got on preloved). 
Jeans - American Eagle
Sandals - Max Mara (preloved from DejaVu)
All picked my me this time - this dress is a couple of years old now but it comes out each summer looking as good as new....
Bag - from my own shop
Next up - there's a theme again as I have the denim jacket/dress combo going on. This dress is from the current Zara sale and although it's not showing online, I saw several of them in Zara in Belfast so it's worth calling in if you've one near you. Go in early - while it's all tidy. It's a jumble sale from 11am onwards.
And the bag is one I've not shown before...it's a smaller tan version of the navy one from the photo above. Unfortunately, there aren't any left...sorry. I had hoped to stock even just a few of them but it's not to be.
Dress - Zara
Sandals - Topshop (SS16)
Denim Jacket - as above
Bag - as discussed above!
Back to the Katherin love again with this very different silhouette. You'll have seen this jacket on my birthday styling session post and I've had lots of you ask me about it since I showed this picture on Instagram so for information, I'm wearing the size 10 and I'd say it's true to size. It's tight on the arms for any fellow weight-lifting girls but it works ok for me as long as I don't try to put anything chunky underneath. Which I wouldn't want to anyway. 
Cream Short Sleeved Top - 'Only' at Menarys
Indigo Skinny Jeans - F&F Clothing (old)
Nude Suede Loafers - Seven Boot Lane (SS15 - similar here & here)
More skinny jeans next - this time from River Island last year. I don't wear them nearly enough but every time I do, I think 'I should wear these more often'. Fab with grey.
Skinny Cargo Jeans - River Island (similar here & here)
Trainers - Adidas Stan Smiths as before
Grey Short Sleeved Jumper - Benetton (AW16)
White Vest - stolen from the 13 year old's underwear stash. He never wears vests and had about 5 of these lovely pure white ones that are now too small for him. Thank you.

And I'm getting up to date now with this picture from yesterday. If you do follow me on social media, you'll have seen the outtake already. This is the well-behaved version. I kind of wish this dress was about 2 inches longer - I think it would just work better with my proportions. 
Dress - Warehouse (I'm wearing the 12)
Cross Body Wallet - Accessorize (sale in-store)
Rose Gold Sandals - Lidl (SS16)
And finishing with today - yesterday's hot sunshine in the past. These jeans reminded me that I've put on half a stone since my back started playing up in April. That's the half stone that no-one else notices going on. Only your clothing tells you. I'm ok with it...don't get me wrong. There's a reason. But it's still a bit disheartening seeing all the hard work of the past 2 years being slowly undone. Some of it has been down to poor food choices though so I'm leaving the unbearably tight jeans on for the rest of the day to remind me anytime (everytime) I reach for the biscuit tin.
Jeans - old Kings of Indigo from TK Maxx
Jacket - Urban Outfitters (past season but this one is FAB)
T-shirt - Rutgers University shop (NYC trip 2014)

And there you go - I'm exhausted & I'm sure you're fed up looking at my bake. But we're all caught up now and I can go back to all the other blog posts I still haven't written...and probably won't write for another few days, knowing me.

Finishing with a pain update, again for those of you who haven't had to sit through my Instagram Stories whitterings. I met a spinal consultant on Monday (privately...aarrggh) and he's suggested 3 potential paths for me. 
1. Do nothing and hope it goes away 😱. The plan that's not been working out so good for me so far.
2 . Spinal Injection for approx 3-6 months of pain relief which would allow me to get back training again and build up core strength to support the back...and hopefully avoid number 3...
3. Spinal surgery to remove the bulge. Routine, 1 hour surgery which works well but does have pitfalls including the fact that it doesn't get rid of back pain - just the referred leg pain.

After much reflection, feedback from people who've already been down one or more of these paths and lots of advice from medical friends, I'm going to opt for the injection for now and put my name on the NHS waiting list for the surgery. In the hope that I'll not need it but at least my name is there and given there's a 6-12 month waiting list, it might be good timing should the injection effects wear off and the pain returns. Many people have told me that the injection has resulted in them avoiding the surgery for many years so do tell me if that's the case for you or someone you know. I've also heard a couple of disheartening stories about injections too so please don't send those particular case studies my way at the moment. I'm trying really hard to be positive!

Key to my decision to get the injection as soon as possible (i.e. pay for it), is the pain I've been in since late last week. I feel like I'm being guided a bit from above in that regard. I'm really sore - back to levels I've not seen for a while and I am just WORN OUT. I know so many of you have been here too. The clothes keep me going, as do the happy smiles in the photos but I'm all out of energy right now. I'm a complete needle-phobe so maybe I needed wiping out to help with the decision.

I'll keep you posted - both on here and on social. It might not happen for a couple of weeks because of 12th holidays here and the surgeon's schedule. Meantime, I'll do my best to keep smiling!

Lots of love to you all.....thank you for the support now and always.

Ax
PS for anyone local and interested, I'm seeing Mr Eugene Verzin privately and I can recommend him.  He was recommended to me by my physio and by a number of medical and non medical friends. He works out of 352 and the Ulster Independent Clinic. This is most definitely NOT sponsored...oh no. I've just paid for the consult (online) and the less said about that, the better. And no, I don't have private health and definitely don't get me started about the whole NHS vs Private scenario. I could rant about it for days....
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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

OOTD | TK Maxx(i) Dress

See what I did there? Blog title genius in the making!
Here's another amazing dress that I picked up for a mere £16.99 in my local TK Maxx and since I got it a couple of weeks ago, I've worn it 5 times. That's an impressive price per wear so soon after purchase.
QED London Navy Floral Print Wrap Maxi Dress - TK Maxx (only size 8 left - I'm wearing the 12)
Apart from a slightly dangerous wrap detail that you need to be mindful of on a windy day (learning on the job 😳), it's just got a fab colour combo that happens to work amazingly with my new blush trainers from New Look.
I like how my navy David Jones bag works well with it - dressing it up a little. I think the trainers take it down a notch, the bag lifts it up a notch. All in all, nicely balanced
Bag - David Jones (contact me to buy - I may be able to get more!)
And the gold in my bag is allowing me to wear lots of my gold jewellery (not a fan of mixing metallics). Since I got my gold watch I'm enjoying wearing the various gold coloured pieces that I've already got and a few new pieces I've picked up recently.
Crystal Double Chain Necklace - Past Season from my own shop

And a big shout out to H&M for this fab stretchy cropped denim jacket, which has been a fantastic addition to the wardrobe over the past couple of months. I've worn it so much - it's not for everyone given the cropped cut and neat fit and it's definitely not for wearing with jeans for me but it's great with dresses as it nips in at the waist beautifully. I'm wearing the 10 - could have probably done with the 12 but there wasn't one in stock.

Getting on well with the Tripod - the kids and the bribery may be a thing of the pass....

Ax
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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Beautiful Bedding | Foxford Woollen Mills

So one of the highlights of being stuck in my bed for much of April and May was being sent the most DIVINE bedding from Foxford Woollen Mills.
Foxford Woollen Mills is an Irish company which was started in a convent in Foxford, Co Mayo, on the River Moy. Now my mum is from Mayo and we always had Foxford blankets in our house and in the car. Everyone had a checked blanket in their car in the 1970's and 80's. It was the law.

But as well as that family connection to Mayo, Foxford actually have a shop closer to me in Dungannon - as part of the Linen Green development in Moygashal and in fact, they stock our Field Day candles. Additionally, the team from Foxford came to meet me at the Showcase Trade Show I attended in Dublin in January and were so impressed with the new range that they now stock it in the Mayo shop too.
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Sunday, 2 July 2017

Beauty Spotlight | House of Fraser Belfast

I was invited recently to try out the new Beauty Spotlight at House of Fraser Belfast, which is their collection of trending beauty products - the must haves of the season that all the beauty bloggers and press are raving about. 
Seeing as I'm a bit of a beauty numpty, though keen to increase my knowledge, I took up the offer to come along and have since been testing some of the products - rather intensively and critically I'd like to think.....I'm always honest about beauty stuff whether the brands like it or not.

Starting with Colour Wow and I've used their grey hair powder for a few years and would rate it very highly. It's more of a faff to put on than the l'Oreal spray but it does look more natural and doesn't colour the scalp to the same degree. But Colour Wow are keen to emphasise that they are not all about grey coverage. Their products are for anyone with coloured hair who want their colour to last longer and look better and top of the list for achieving this is their range of Bionic Tonics. Think cocktails for your hair but good, non hangover-inducing cocktails with amazing healthy ingredients that have been tested and proven to revive coloured hair.
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Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Mango Blue Dress | and a few alternatives

I'm gutted that this dress is sold out because it's definitely up there as one of my top 3 dresses of the summer. I have linked to a few similar ones at the bottom.
I got it during my birthday session with Katherin in Victoria Square and it was one of those that I didn't even have to think about twice. As soon as I looked in the mirror, that was that. Even though it was pricy for Mango, I wanted it. 
It looks great with tan so the perfect opportunity to dig out these tan Topshop sandals from last year. I got the black in these too and tended to favour it last summer. This summer, I seem to be wearing the tan more often.
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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A Sale Worth Checking Out...

I am sorry for the lack of blogging....you know why I've not been able to blog but I've a TON of photos backing up and lots of blogs to write so now that the pain has settled a little bit, I'm hoping to get them all up here over the next 2 weeks.

But I just wanted to pop on quickly to let you know that one of my favourite sales has started - over at Seven Boot Lane. Their shoes are amazing but can be outside our budgets so this is the time to grab them. Stock is limited so don't delay (as I did last season with the grey ankle boots I really really wanted but hesitated over - disappeared overnight)

The entire sale is on this link but to help you, here are my favourites, starting with my pick of the SS17 collection, the Jade Slip On Trainer. Size down in these - I have the 38 and I'm normally a small 39. They are SO comfortable and I have worn them way more than I've shown on the blog. They just lift a plain black outfit and they've been a godsend recently as they are so comfortable.
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Monday, 12 June 2017

Some Outfits | Some Slap

I've so many blog posts to write but my back is giving me grief again and I'm limited in how long I can sit at my computer. So this is just a quick fly through outfits from the past week/10 days, starting with one from the launch of the BPerfect Cosmetics counter at Medicare Chemist at Forestside Shopping Centre. As well as being my favourite tan and favourite local chemist, I knew some of my blogging friends would be there too. It was a lovely wee evening, made even better by the fact that my twins were welcomed along...they took this stunning photo beside 'Store Room A15' - instagram gold :) 
Jacket - ASOS (old)
Jeans - River Island (SS16)
Trainers - Adidas Stan Smiths
Black Cross Body Bag - Prada (40th birthday present)
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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Guilt Free Shopping | Silver Story Jewellery

As well as the disappointment of pulling out of the Belfast Marathon Relay team in May, I was gutted to not be able to get involved in the choir fundraising at the time for the Northern Ireland Hospice (our nominated charity)...it's a bit hard to get sponsored for a race you aren't actually running!

So I wanted to find another way to support the hospice and what better way to do it than to combine fundraising with my love of shopping! 

My friend Ursula, who is based in Scotland had been telling me about her new affordable, ethically sourced silver jewellery business Silver Story and I have been so impressed with the quality of the items I ordered back a few months ago so I have arranged with her to run a online jewellery sale with 20% of the sales going to the Hospice.

The sale started online this weekend and runs until the 21st of June so all you have to do is head over to the Silver Story website, chose whatever takes your fancy, add to your cart and use AVFREESHIP to the discount code at checkout. That will give you FREE UK shipping on all orders over £15 and will identify the sale as being mine, therefore ensuring the 20% is allocated to the charity.
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Thursday, 8 June 2017

Birthday Fun at Victoria Square | Epic Try On Post

It wasn't a significant birthday but I have to say that last Friday was one of my most memorable ones - thanks to a lovely treat from Katherin, the Personal Stylist at Victoria Square Shopping Centre. She and I have become friends since I went into see her first a few months ago. We just clicked and I love her understated, non-pushy approach and her ability to pick just the right pieces from what can be an overwhelming shopping centre - there's literally SO much choice and not enough time (for me anyway).
I had been messaging Katherin about trainers (she's so helpful when I'm dithering) and mentioned that I had birthday money and vouchers to spend so when she got a last minute gap in her styling diary, she invited me in to help me spend them. And here's what greeted me in the styling suite in the basement of the centre.....

I've talked about the personal shopping service before on the blog and it really is brilliant. Not only because someone else does all the hard work finding what's going to suit you (using a questionnaire you complete in advance), but that the suite itself is pure luxury with leather sofas, huge changing rooms, mirrors and prosecco....and in my case, birthday cake!
And then the trying on began.
I'll warn you now, this post is not just photo heavy...it's culotte heavy...but there are plenty of other things too. My remit for Katherin was some casual summer dresses, a couple of tops, possible pair of trainers and a pair (or two) of culottes. 
I should say here also that I always ask Katherin to push my boundaries a little bit so there are some curveballs in this post. It was interesting that we both knew before I tried them on, what was going to work and what wouldn't. The importance of dressing for your body shape was never more apparent. More on that in a bit...
So starting with culottes and the good news for those of you asking about my black Warehouse culottes is that there is a similar black pair to mine in the Warehouse SS17 collection AND they come in pink and navy too. I'm trying the pink on to show you better the shape and style - dark colours are so hard to photograph. These seem to come up a bit on the small side - I'm wearing the 10 and they are too neat. I bought the navy version in a size 12 in the end.

Pink Pintuck Culottes - Warehouse (also come in navy and black) 
First pair of trainers of the day and these navy ones are Kurt Geiger. They would be great for a narrow foot as I struggled to put them on my wider foot. Love but not enough to buy at full price. Going to watch for these in the sale.
Navy culottes again - these ones are Ted Baker. The fit was amazing and they are so beautifully made with lots of pleated material. But I had already fallen for the navy version of the pink Warehouse ones above and was conserving my budget. Look amazing with the trainers:
Floral culottes this time - from Warehouse. Again, I'm wearing the 10 but would need the 12. Super pretty and a nice way to wear floral this summer if you're a bit shy of all over print and don't want to look too girly:
But it was the top that won me over. It's Ted Baker and is a dream to wear - fits beautifully and the off the shoulder part doesn't budge. I'm wearing the size 2 and it basically went with everything. Here it is with more culottes, this time Ted Baker ones. Wouldn't this make the most perfect wedding or event outfit? And with it being separates, you'd get so much more wear out of it all. 
Moved from culottes (briefly) to a skirt and I had high hopes for this pink and red pleated skirt from Warehouse but the 10 was a bit neat on me and I would have liked it to be a little bit longer. I tried the 12 too but it was too big. I think I've put on a bit of weight around my middle with being off my feet and out of the gym...or maybe Warehouse sizes have got smaller? Yeah, the latter...I'm sure of it :)
Still got that Ted Baker top on - didn't want to hand it over and it was good to see it with jeans. These are the Warehouse pin-up jeans....very like a boyfriend fit really though they come up small. So unusually for this style, you might want to size up. I'm in the 10 and bet into them (the term that I used on Instagram the other day and that so many of you loved. For those of you not on Insta, it's an Irish term that means what you're wearing is a too tight!)
Changed the top...for another black off the shoulder top. And here's where I start gushing about Guess. I have never set foot in the shop but Katherin picked some AMAZING pieces from it. And that's where a personal shopper comes into its own as the Guess shop in Victoria Square is huge and it does have a lot going in in it so it was fab to have someone else pick and chose from the range. Also, I always thought Guess was a bit overpriced and that put me off but it does seem to have become a more affordable. Some amazing bags including this red one that I can't stop thinking about.

The first Guess piece I tried is this lace bardot top. It's too short for me (and my long torso) to wear with jeans, which is a huge shame as I love the lace detail but it would be great with high waisted skirts or culottes. I can't find it online but it was about £40/50 I think (more Guess further down, including something I bought)

Top - Guess (not online)
Jeans & Trainers - as before
Oh and by the way, the slip on trainers in the two photos above are Miss KG. They're so pretty and a lovely mix of trainer/pointed shoe/metallic/neutral.

This next top is Warehouse and is the one that got away. If it goes into the Warehouse sale (due to start later this week), I'm all over it! It's cotton and a lovely fit - I'm wearing the 10.
Another top, this time Mango and what a perfect one for holidays. Light and loose with a kind of linen mix going on, it is the kind of top I'd use over my swimsuit if I was going on a beach holiday. (By the way, it says 'Bonjour' on the front)
But all the tops got blown out of the water by this metallic one from Monsoon which I honestly, wouldn't have looked at twice on the hanger in store. It's very simple, a light cotton jersey knit but it's got a sublte sheen to it and a dipped back. Metallics can be tricky to wear during the day but this one is ideal as it's not too bling. The colour is perfect for my warm toned skin and at just £39, I had to have it.
This next top is a great one for day or night and is perfect for anyone who prefers to hide their arms. It's another Monsoon one and is a lightweight linen mix knit. The colour is a coral shade - perfect on my skin tone. Looks rubbish on the website - way nicer on.
And I'm wearing it here with another piece I fell in love with and bought - a blush coloured All Saints jacket. Complete curveball. I just love the shape and style. I think it's because I like a bit of structure but it's got a casual vibe going on too. Timeless and effortless - thinking skinnies, jeans and a top on a night out...just a little different to my usual black blazer. But also super wearable to work and on the school run too.
More AllSaints now and this fine striped top is so flattering and also really wearable. It's got a layered front and looked great worn over the boyfriend jeans here:

Daisy Strip Tee - All Saints
Jeans - Warehouse (as before)
And tucked into these Mango striped Culottes too (not online):

Trainers - Kurt Geiger (as before) 
And with this navy Warehouse asymmetric skirt with side split. Another piece I'm considering picking up in the sale. Though I'm aware of the risk of navy overload...
Ok, moving onto some dressier pieces and you'll notice I've tried most of these on with trainers or with bare feet. Not because I had to but because I wanted to. I already know all of these will look amazing with a stiletto or a nude high heel sandal etc but so much of the occasion wear we buy sits unworn in our wardrobe so I wanted to see how wearable they could be with sandals or a pair of trainers and a biker jacket on a casual night out or even during the day.

First up, this jumpsuit is from Ted Baker and it's simply stunning. Breathtaking and a beautiful fit. Perhaps not so easy to dress down though with the gorgeous lace detail. The fit was fabulous - even for a long bodied gal like me.
Then I fell in love with this red dress from Coast...perfection for my body shape with the deep cut shoulders, the nipped in waist and full skirt. 
When I saw it with the biker jacket...well you can see it written all over my face. Love. I think although this is a super dressy dress, I can pull it off for a night in the pub, a daytime blogging event or a BBQ.

Ruby Pleated Midi Dress  - Coast
Jacket (H&M) & Trainers - my own
only problem is that the 12 was a bit too big on the bust for me but I bought it anyway and I'm watching for a 10 coming into the store over the next week or so. If it doesn't come, I'll investigate having it tailored to fit - it's a jersey material on the top half so it should be easy enough to alter.

The Coast store in Victoria Square is the exclusive stockist of the Flora Royal Horticultural Society Limited Collection and this is one of the pieces. Not one to wear with trainers admittedly but it's such a stunning dress with that gorgeous shoulder detail. Perfect for a wedding and the colour way means it would work year round.
This next one is more sports luxe and looked great with trainers. It's Warehouse and is made from a thick knit material that is clingy but also a bit sucky in. The colour is navy. 
The shape is great on my figure but it's a little heavier than I was looking - I really wanted some more floaty summery dresses. This next Warehouse jumpsuit is more along the lines of what I was looking. How stunning? Would need to wear a vest but I could work with that. This is the 10 and it came up a bit like the culottes in that it was neat on my bottom half & perfect on the top. Easier to get away with the neatness though given the pattern.
Next, it's more separates. This time, the bardot top is from Warehouse. Katherin, seeing how much I loved the Ted Baker one, pulled this less expensive option for me. It certainly gives the same effect though there is a good difference between the two of them in terms of weight and quality. I bought this top in the end though as it was a bit more casual and longer in the body than the Ted Baker one.
Wearing it with another Guess piece and these are for the tall long legged girls reading. They are wider trousers that hang like a maxi skirt. Absolutely stunning. Check out the link to see them on a taller model with heels.
You can really see the disparity between my top and bottom half in them - dressing is all about proportions! Sadly they would need altering and very high heels. Definitely go check out Guess if you're tall and struggle to find maxi items that are long enough.
Next - some green (another one of my colours) and this Phase Eight dress looked like frumpville on the hanger. 
But it fits SO well and the dipped hem detail gives it a bit of SS17 oomph. And look how it rocks with a biker jacket...
Completely different dress when it's styled like that. Just shows you doesn't it?
More Warehouse and this is a sleeveless shirt dress in a rust colour. 
And here it is closer up with the jacket. I liked but didn't love. Mainly because I knew I had an even better dress coming up next...

Open Back Sleeveless Dress - Warehouse
(Jacket & Trainers - my own)
Look at this Mango fabulousness. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for in my dress search. A little bit longer, not too mad a pattern, cut away arms, high neck, POCKETS....and wait until you see the back:
(to be worn with a strapless bra btw) It's an absolute dream - there was no deliberating about it - straight on the yes rail. Sadly it's sold out online as I've since seen a few bloggers wearing it but there were definitely some on the rails in the Mango in Victoria Square.

Moving onto another more dressy option from Phase Eight that would work well for a wedding etc. The most beautiful bird print...
Although I liked it with the biker, I think it took away from the beauty of the dress a little. Definitely one for heels at the races or a wedding.
Moving onto the curveballs and Katherin wanted to take me out of my comfort zone with a few shorter dresses. But you can see easily that even though I'm slim and can get away with some stuff that's not really for my body shape, these shorter dresses don't really do me any favours.
This amazing All Saints dress is a case in point. Stunning but not for my shape. Apple ladies out there - this is a great one for you.
This next Mango one worked a little better - such a pretty holiday dress but I'd never wear it in Belfast realistically. Gorgeous embroidery. Not online unfortunately. So much seems to be sold out on the Mango website.
And there were a few others I didn't even take photos of - too awful! But I got back into my comfort zone with the next dress. Another gem from Guess and another one for the buy rail. This maxi dress is just fabulous, not only for the summer time when I can see me wafting around with a denim jacket and tan sandals but it's also going to look fab buttoned just to the waist with skinny jeans - like a floaty long blouse. Not online unfortunately - but definitely in store in Victoria Square.
It's a great example of something I wouldn't have tried on in-store but it was an instant yes. It's a teeny tiny bit booby for me for daytime but I'm planning to wear a nude slip underneath.

We are nearing the end - hang on in there (if you're still with me!) and this next one is another off-piste but a great example of how working with Katherin means you can successfully mix brands from different shops - not always easy to do unless you're a pro-shopper.
The top is All Saints and the wide trousers are another piece from the Coast Limited Edition Royal Horticultural Collection, exclusively available in Victoria Square. Not for trainers - imagine a sky high pair of nude barely there sandals.
The top is a brilliant piece that would work with so many outfits and it's got that nod to underwear/outerwear going on too. I'm not showing it to it's fullest beauty with my pink bra underneath. A nude bra or a strapless one would work better.
Another dress that can be dressed up or down is this green lace one from Coast. I loved it because it reminds me of my black Warehouse midi dress. It was a 10 though and too tight....Coast does come up small so if you're in between sizes, size up.
Another curveball, this pink frill dress is from Mango. Such a fun dress and a fab warm pink for my skin tone but you can see how it isn't the right shape for me - definitely one for shorter torsos and longer legs.
More Coast again and this is a brilliant dressy dress for an occasion and it is going to work in winter as well as summer, thanks to the rich violet colour. A warm blue that works well for me:
More tops now - sorry for jumping around a bit but this is just the order I tried the clothes on in and how the phone then loads the photos onto the blog for me. These next 2 tops are Warehouse and the first one needs more boobs unfortunately. Brilliant print though that also comes in a dress and jumpsuit.
This is more my shape in a top and the colour is great too.
Next I need to tell you about the jeans I'm wearing here. They are the softest stretchiest black skinnies  and they are from Coast's Friday Collection. The fit is impeccable and they are smart enough that you could get away with them for a dressier outfit occasion or even work. I was seriously impressed and they come in a range of colours. Well worth checking out.
Sticking with the same white t-shirt but trying on another skirt - from you've guessed it...Warehouse. Fab though I did feel a little bit like I should be in a diner with the Fonz. Different top and perhaps not trainers for this one. But another great example of a separate that can work at an event or casually.
And speaking of trainers, you may have noticed that I finally took off my Topshop trainers and replaced them with these floral ones from Office. They are Katherin's own and were out of stock in store, which was no bad thing perhaps!
They're not available online sadly but worth a try if you see them online. In Victoria Square, they are in the Office concession in House of Fraser. I'm wearing a size 39.

Last item of the day and I originally wrote off this dress but Katherin begged me to try it before I got dressed again. And I loved it! Was so surprised! 

Tiger Button Through Dress - Warehouse 
(Jacket & Trainers are my own)
However it is cut for a bigger bust so it was a reluctant hand back. It comes in a few different prints and some plain colours too if it's a style you'd like to try and you have the boobage to carry it off.

I was EXHAUSTED after all that - and quite sore but there was just enough time to get a quick photo with my shopping bags. To summarise, I got navy culottes & the black bardot top in Warehouse, the green floral dress in Guess, the blue floral dress in Mango, the red dress of my dreams in Coast, the blush jacket in All Saints and the gold/metallic top in Monsoon. ALL my birthday money was spent and I also cleared a birthday gift card given to me by the team at Victoria Square. Oh and I spent a few quid of my own too. Phew. I literally was shopped out and starving.
So the final treat of the day was a meal for the whole family (who came in to meet me after my shopping) in Prezzo in Victoria Square. This chain is better known across the water and I must confess that we'd never been in it before but WOW - seriously impressed. And I'm not just saying that. I wasn't required to mention it here and wouldn't have if I wasn't happy to recommend. 
It's like Pizza Express but a bit more refined and in my opinion has better food and service. The kids were so well looked after and the menu choice for them was excellent.
The kids and I opted for pizza and my husband ordered the risotto - both were delicious though the portions were huge and neither myself nor the kids could finish our pizzas. But that wasn't a problem - our waiter made us up a box to bring home and we all had gorgeous pizza again the next evening! How flipping awesome...no cooking for 2 days.
Anyway, we will be back to Prezzo and I need to shout out to Liam, the manager, who made our meal very special and looked after us so well. Tell him I sent you if you're in - he's there 6 days. Phenomenal hard worker.

We were back in the house for 9.30pm and I was officially beat. My back was aching and I was ready for bed but I was also pumped because it was my birthday. So I did what any birthday girl would do on her special day. Had a herbal tea and filled my hot water bottle. This is 44.

Ax
Thank you to the marketing team at Victoria Square and to Katherin Farries, the Personal Stylist at VSQ for making my birthday so special. I wasn't paid to come in that day, nor am I being paid to blog about it. I was supplied with some vouchers for the centre that I added to my birthday money and some of my own cash. Our meal was supplied free of charge by the team at Prezzo. Again, no obligation to blog or share...but I genuinely wanted to because I was so impressed. Thank YOU for supporting the brands who support this blog xx
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