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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