Sunday, 29 January 2017

Running Gear from M&Co #MakeAChange

I'm obsessed with gym gear and can't stop buying it. Partly because my laundry situation is a disaster at home and I can never get it turned around fast enough but also because it's hard work pounding the streets and going to the gym on these cold winter days and nights so it makes it so much easier if you've a nice new pair of leggings or vest to wear.

Now I've mixed views on buying gym gear in terms of budget vs branded. Generally speaking I think if you're a outdoor runner, leggings are worth spending more on but tops/vests and fleeces are not. If you're just going to the gym or doing a class indoors, you can mostly get away with unbranded items. But when it comes to footwear - don't even think about going cheap. A complete false economy in so many ways. Invest in the best pair you can and if you're doing any kind of running - even if you're just starting the C25K, always, always, always get your gait checked in a good sports shop...I go to Sportique in Magherafelt...chain store sports shops offer the service but they're not as good and you will just end up buying ££ trainers that aren't quite right. 

But back to clothing and every now and again, I'll come across a decent budget brand for gym gear and that's what this post is all about. The team at M&Co offered to send me some of their new range to try out at the gym and on a few runs. The range is called Training Zone and you can see it all and read about it on this link.

First impressions were good...it all looks great and there's not too much scary branding or mad patterns on any of it - a big tick from me! The leggings & vest were both size 10's and fitted me perfectly. The vest is a neat fit one - not a baggy one but not super tight so I would be confident to wear it with the leggings for a gym class.
The leggings are probably my favourite - definitely up there with the best of the less expensive brands. I'll need to update this post once I've washed them a few times but they're good and opaque, not too shiny, hold well to the body, are good and high waisted and don't need pulled up at all during workouts. Really impressive for £20!

The zipped top was a little on the big side for me, even though it's only a 10. I'd definitely be sizing down in it to an 8. But actually, I have quite a few tighter tops and so it's nice to have one that I can add a layer underneath for running on a colder evening.
As well as these three items, M&Co sent me a running bottle and some socks too - the latter was seriously needed as I struggle to keep the sports socks moving through the laundry system....mostly because I wear them with ankle boots but also because my son borrows them from me regularly at the moment as his feet aren't much bigger than mine.

The verdict so far? Well, the whole outfit did an intense kettlebell HIIT class last week and aced it. No legging readjustment needed and the vest didn't ride up or get clingy. Like I said above, I'll update this post when I've washed and worn the leggings a bit more but overall, I'm impressed and I know I'll wear these pieces on repeat for the foreseeable. I think the prices are competitive and I'd definitely buy again from the range based on what I've been sent. 


Ax
Disclaimer - I was gifted these items for the purpose of the review. I wasn't paid to write this post and all the words are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog.
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Saturday, 28 January 2017

The last of the sales on a trip to Magherafelt!

Regular readers will know that I've been up to Magherafelt a few times in the past year. I have a friend there whom I love to catch up with over a coffee and I can't help it if the town happens to contain some of my favourite boutiques. Which are all on final sale. I call that all the win/wins.

(Can I also get it out here at this early stage and say that the challenge is making me shop like a trooper....boredom about what I'm wearing has translated into non-stop buying of new stuff. Yet another reason to be glad the challenge is almost over. Never again!)
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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A Trip to Showcase Ireland

I'm just home from 3 days in Dublin at Showcase Ireland and I wanted to do a quick blog post to share some of the lovely Irish brands I came across at the show. It was such a privilege to meet the people behind the brands and have time to talk and look at their ranges. 
I'm also going to share 2 of my cheat outfits - I showed you the try on session on my last post and although I didn't have time to take a photo on Sunday, I do have pictures of me wearing the two dresses that I bought after that try on.

So just for some context, Showcase is a trade show for shops and departments stores to come and look for new stockists and I was there with my day job - which in turn was there in its new identity - Field Day Ireland. One of the reasons Alix asked me to come work for her was to help with the rebranding of the company and the launch of our new luxury candle brand Field Apothecary Ireland.

Both Field Apothecary & Field Day Ireland will launch officially in March so for now, I'll just show you the images of our new look and feel and I'll share all the gorgeous new fragrances and tell you where you can find them once we do the changeover officially and the website build is complete (my next few week's work - eek!). So until then, we are Bog Standard - with a sale starting soon! Here's the main range which looks and feels very similar but with some fab new fragrances like 'Gorse' and 'Fireside'
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30 Day Challenge Fail || Warehouse

My blog posts are proving to be a bit sporadic! Work has been hectic and home has been hectic and I spent the last few days in Dublin at the Showcase Ireland tradeshow which required a fair bit of advance planning and long days of hard work while there. But I'm home now and have a few days off to catch up.
Knowing I had the show to go to and not having factored it in when I pulled together my 30 items, I was in a panic about what to wear. So, early on Saturday morning, I went to my fail-safe store - Warehouse - and here's what I tried on, starting with a sale dress which was down to £18 and had an additional 20% off.
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Saturday, 21 January 2017

30 Day Challenge Update || Days 12-21

It's been a while but fear not, I haven't fallen off the 30 day wardrobe wagon (YET) although I've felt like throwing myself off it once or twice. But actually, boring and all as it is, it's pretty simple to get dressed every day - I've so little choice...

Before I share my outfits from the past week, I have a dilemma ahead of me in the shape of a trade show in Dublin starting tomorrow (Sunday). It's an upmarket, designer-led trade show and I don't think my 30 items are going to cut the mustard. I did a panic shop yesterday in the dregs of the M&S sale (big mistake), coming home with a leopard print pleated skirt and a pair of straight cut jeans that are too big *eye roll*. An equally panicked ASOS order is also going back - I bought a dress that I can't actually get on me.....it's got a ridiculously tight underskirt that has no stretch. But fear not - I had a successful try on in Warehouse this morning...more on my next post.

But what have I been wearing this past week? I missed a few days of photos but I'll try to re-create photos from those days before the end of the challenge....if I can remember. You'll have to take my word for it that on Day 11, I wore my tweed New Look Skirt with my black cashmere crew neck. Day 12 was a denim shirt, black jeans and green crew neck kind of day:
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Friday, 13 January 2017

Beauty || Hits & Misses

I saw a post about beauty hit and misses the other day and it piqued my interest so I had a think about the products I've been loving over the past few months and decided to share...along with some of the less successful ones. Though I tend to donate or throw them away so I don't have many in the house to photograph.

Starting with make up/fragrance and after my visit to Kiko back in August, I'm a huge fan of so much of their range. It was a real struggle to whittle it down to only 2 items (otherwise, this blog post would have been twice as long!). The two I've picked are the Anti-Age Foundation (in Linen Beige) and the Neo Muse Eye Palette.

Starting with the foundation and before I found this one, I would always have said that the one item in your make up bag you should spend money on is foundation and up until now, I always have. However, this Kiko one has impressed me more than any other. The colour and coverage is perfect and it lasts really well all day. I'm sceptical about the anti-age aspect of it but it's got a slight luminosity to help with fine lines. It's £11.10 in the sale at the moment - with a full price RRP of £15.90 and it's got an SPF of 15. I've been assured by the Kiko team in the Belfast shop that just because it's in the sale, it's not being discontinued...but I bought 2 just in case!
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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Something to look forward to || Day 10

I've discovered the perfect antidote to the 30 day wardrobe challenge - looking at new season collections and picking the things that I can buy in February!
HOWEVER - I'm going to struggle to wear some of the trends I'm seeing online - namely wide sleeves and ruffles so I'm expecting lots of frustration as I try them on. The main issue is that my arms are short - so the likes of this next top from Marks & Spencer, which I adore, is going to end up flapping around my knuckles. Fine for blog photos and for prancing about on coffee dates and trips to the city but completely frustrating for doing anything practical in the home or office. 
I will try it on in hope though and report back.
And now to ruffles. SO much of the new season has them down the arms and across both shoulders. This I can't do as I've already got quite developed arms and shoulders and I start to look like an Eastern European hammer thrower.
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Sunday, 8 January 2017

Day 6, 7 & 8 || Scarf Tying Advice

I'm just going to fire these pictures up as I'm not sure what more I can say about them....perhaps 'You've seen it all before'...or 'Yawn'? Starting with today's outfit which went to church and into Belfast briefly but mostly could be found in the kitchen.
Trainers - New Balance (similar on link)
Cashmere Knit - Gray & Willow (similar on link - not cashmere)
Cross Body Bag - Boden (past season)
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Thursday, 5 January 2017

30 Day Challenge || Days 4 & 5

Well that was a bit of a mad 24 hours! I'm honestly overwhelmed by the reaction to the name change. I've had emails and comments, messages and phone calls. I have still to reply to so many of them (and I will) but for now, I want to sincerely thank you all for your support. I was so scared about changing the name and for some crazy reason, I kickstarted the process while making the dinner. I mean, seriously??
I ended up in a total tizzy with hungry kids, basketball runs and doorbells ringing, all while I was trying to remember endless passwords and work out how to put a CNET something or other onto my URL provider while redirecting other URLs and clearing caches...my head was spinning for hours afterwards! But I did it - without any help from any tech people....I did try to enlist someone but there's no-one out there who helps with Blogger - most bloggers seem to use Wordpress these days.

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Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Time for change.....

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I'm interrupting your enjoyment of the 30 day style challenge to share a bit of a change on here. Please don't adjust your sets - this is School Gate Style....reborn! To be honest, I've been wanting to change the blog name for a long time but a part of me was worried about the impact the change might have, another part couldn't decide when would be a good time to do it and a further part of me was unable to come up with a good enough name to properly represent what I want the blog to be from here on in. It's fair to say the final one there was the main hold up!

To focus me, I added it to my new year resolutions but even at that, I didn't really intend to do it so soon. However, I mentioned to my husband about it and he started coming up with names for me and before I knew it, I was playing about with words and searching for websites & URL's online. With all credit to himself, I've renamed it A Life To Style - which allows me to move away from an entirely fashion-led blog into something with wider scope to include fitness, interiors, food etc. I'm not sure what I'm going to be sharing on those fronts yet but what I do know is that I'm not fashion savvy enough to have a fashion only blog. I'm asked all the time about running, fitness, interiors and food. They're all things I'm passionate about but have always felt didn't fit in a blog called School Gate Style.

Additionally, School Gate Style while it was relevant when I started out, has always jarred with me a little as it does play into the whole pressure on mums at the school gate thing, something I've struggled to remove myself from. Every September, I'm asked to comment on some article or other about how women should dress on the school run and it drives me mad because that was never what the blog was about. And I mostly do the school run in gym gear these days too so I'm hardly qualified to comment!!

A Life To Style is exactly where I am right now. I'm not saying I'm an expert or have it all sorted. I'm just finding my way like most of us are - looking to inject a bit of style and life into the day to day. Whether that be finding a balance with work & home, paring back your wardrobe as I'm doing with the challenge, finding a bargain in the sales or simply working out what to cook for dinner.

I hope you like the name as much as I do and that technology won't hinder your enjoyment of the blog. I've done the rename/redirects and social media changes all by myself and so I'm just crossing everything that it's working ok. Please do let me know if you come across any glitches. My head is fried trying to keep on top of it all!

The style challenge will continue as of tomorrow - I've just taken photos for Day 4 but I'm too exhausted to share so I'll combine them with Day 5 and share in my next post.

Oh and if you follow me on Bloglovin' just give me a couple of days to rejig the feed - they need to rename the blog on there too and it's a manual process.

Thank you as always for your support of my wee blog which turns 5 in a couple of weeks. I'll be doing a special giveaway to celebrate reaching 5 years, the rename AND the end of the style challenge - watch this space!

Ax



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Tuesday, 3 January 2017

January Sales Haul || Day 3 of the Challenge

First up, thank you to everyone for your encouragement following my last post. I got so many lovely emails, comments and messages. I really appreciate it and for those of you who have asked, I will definitely keep updating you on the challenge here on the blog as well as on social media. I realise now that there are quite a lot of readers who don't use social media and would rather follow the blog here on the website.

I'm delighted to hear that lots of you are going to do the challenge with me and that's so encouraging too. I hope it helps you to streamline your wardrobe in some small way - and makes getting dressed a bit easier. I think it will also help you work out what key pieces are missing from your wardrobe. I'm already making a list for February.

But I just wanted to quickly share what I got in the sales as promised. First up, some knitwear and I bought two merino crew necks in the Benetton sale. Some colours were reduced to £25 and others to £15. I picked up two that had been reduced to £15....one green and one pink - you can see them in the photo below and I'm wearing the pink one in the next photo. Bright for me I know but I wear black and navy bottoms to work all the time and wanted to brighten myself up a bit!
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Monday, 2 January 2017

30 Day Wardrobe Challenge || Days 1 & 2

So as I was dithering about this blogging malarky, I got a great comment from Becs on my last post suggesting I try the 30 x 30 challenge. It fits really well with paring back my wardrobe and perfecting a capsule, so I read into it a little more and decided this morning to give it a go. The idea is that you pick 30 items from your wardrobe which you mix and match during the month, creating a new outfit every day. Most bloggers I've seen do the challenge have also not spent any money in the month but I'm not promising I'll do that. It's just a step too far for this January sales loving girl!!
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