Monday, 28 August 2017

Playing Safe on a Night Out | All Black

I had 10 minutes to change ahead of a night out with the girls but that rushed and safe outfit felt good all evening and it got me thinking about what we grab to wear when under time pressure and the tendency I have to go straight for black in these moments.

Bright colours and patterns are all very well but the reality is, when I think about the items that work hardest in my wardrobe, they're not coloured...they're black.

I think it's because I remember wearing the coloured stuff and instantly recall the event or night out that I last wore it. Is that just me?! My memory is rubbish at the best of times but I can remember outfits - and who saw me wearing them. Go figure.

Anyway, this is what I wore on the night out and if you scroll down, I'm sharing some black pieces that will work hard in your wardrobe:
Jersey Culotte Jumpsuit - Warehouse AW16 (this seasons version in red & navy)
Biker Jacket - H&M SS17 (similar here)
Loafer Mules - River Island SS17 (similar here)
Red Cross Body Bag - M&S SS17 (similar here)

Starting with these pleated culottes from Warehouse which I almost bought last season and I know I'll buy this. They seemed a bit wintery when I looked at them in June but I'm really feeling them now.
I've got this real leather cross body bag and it's been on my shoulder pretty much every day since it arrived. Brilliant size and an amazing price:
My slip on loafers have come into their own this past couple of weeks. They're the perfect transition shoes this autumn. The coloured embroidery though can feel limiting and I think I'd wear a plain pair more. These ones from Dune are stunning in real life - I saw them today.
This next item is my Christmas wish list investment piece - I've been looking out for a biker jacket with gold hardware and this one ticks the box. A bit more elegant than a standard biker with the sleeve detail too. I've seen it in real life and it's even nicer than it looks online. Here's hoping it's still in stock in my size in December:
And finishing with a top that will take you to many a 'do', with skinny jeans, tucked into a skirt, under a blazer...I've last year's version of this top and I'm asked all the time where can it be found. I know River Island can be hit and miss (quite often the latter) but they do great black tops. I have so many from there that I wear again and again.

Call me boring but all of the above would earn their keep in no time in my wardrobe and that is the most important thing for me. Anyway, if it's good enough for all those chic French women, then I'm not giving up my black for anyone.

But having said that, I'll be back with a little bit of colour on my next post. Did anyone else get the back to school day completely wrong? No, just me then? What a relief that a friend messaged today to tell me it's tomorrow (Tuesday) and not Thursday.  And that I'd bought the uniform a couple of weeks ago....and it still fits!

Happy back to school one and all...

Ax
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Saturday, 19 August 2017

7 Tips - Embracing the Casual Dress

Let's talk about wearing dresses. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll have seen my collection growing by the week in my usual 'behind the curve' style but I think the reason I was slow to embrace the trend and possibly why so many women tend to avoid dresses, is that I didn't want to look too 'dressed up' in my casual daily environment. 

I think it was connecting trainers with a dress that won me around but even at that, I had to wear the look a few times before I felt fully comfortable. I urge you, as I do with all trends - get an inexpensive starter item and give it a go. Sometimes you just have to get used to yourself in the mirror with a different silhouette/proportions. I can guarantee you the compliments will flow because there's not a woman out there who doesn't look better in a well fitting dress.

If you're still on the fence, here are a few hints and tips for embracing the dress trend:

1. Opt for a dark print. This will ensure you don't feel too 'out there' on your first frock foray. Also, smaller prints will look less showy and will be less memorable than a large pattern.

2. Start with a shirt dress with buttons down the front. This is the most casual style of dress and one that can be worn in lots of different ways, including over your skinnies kimono style, if you decide the dress trend isn't for you. I've shared a few suggestions down at the bottom of this post.

3. Keep your shoes and jacket casual - a dress is just that...dressy. So off-set this formality with some informality, be it a denim jacket, trainers or some flat sandals.

4. Opt for a midi length - much easier to wear than maxi and less of a faff with car doors, steps and puddles. Overall, I prefer a longer midi - something below mid-calf but the best length will depend on your height & footwear choices. Don't let the length put you off though because ⬇️ point 5!

5. Your tailor is your friend. Dresses are generally easy and inexpensive to shorten so don't be held back by your height. If you love a dress but it feels a bit long, know that it can so easily be shortened to the length that perfectly suits you.

6. Get your jacket length right. A dress generally suits a shorter fitting jacket, ideally one that nips at the waistline of the dress. I invested in new denim and biker jackets that sit much higher on my top half than any others I own. But this allows you to extend the wearing season of your dresses beyond summer.

7. Find a great pair of trainers. My Adidas Stan Smith trainers are probably the most widely available, neutral, dress-approporitate trainers that I own. I recommend the plain white but you tend to get offers on the ones with a colour on the trim. I wear the boys size 5.5 - cheaper than the ladies ones!

So before I show you some great dresses available online, here are 4 (eek) of my recent dress purchases, starting with a Marks and Spencer sale steal from Per Una - I know, PER UNA!? Which is why it was probably in the sale. If it had been in the Limited Collection, I think it would have been snapped up super fast.
I ended up buying the 14 in this dress as I loved it so much and it was the only one left but it must be fairly neat fitting (or I put on more than 5kg since April) as it fits me fine. Here I am wearing it on a night to the theatre with my blogging friend Emer D.
Dress - M&S SS17 Sale - similar here
Jacket - H&M SS17 Sale - similar here
Orange Clutch Bag - Yoshi - similar here & here

The next one is from TK Maxx and was only £14.99. It's a bit of a nightmare to wear from an indecent exposure point of view and so I wear a slip underneath. Love the print and the wrap style. I've worn this one with a denim jacket and the biker and it works really well with both.

Next up is the absolute find of the summer - from Peacocks. Unfortunately, last time I looked, it was sold out in all sizes bar size 16. Size wise, it does come up big. It's a gorgeous gorgeous dress that is going to work so well in Autumn too as it's gone long sleeves. It's VERY long but I refer you to point 5 above! I may shorten this to midi length actually...mulling over:
Jacket - H&M - similar here
Bag - Accessorise - similar here & here

Finally, this Zara sale find has proved to be a hard worker. I bought it without trying on and was full sure I'd have to return but the colours are great and it fits perfectly.
Dress - Zara Sale
Sandals - Topshop SS16
Tan Cross Body Bag - David Jones - similar (on sale) from Whistles here & from Modalu here 

As all of mine are frustratingly out of stock, here are a few that are in stock online at the moment. And never fret about buying dresses at this stage in the year because they will all work with ankle boots in autumn. The first few aren't shirt style, but I adore the prints. Scroll down for a few button down ones.

Don't be put off by the open back on this first one. Simply wear a vest underneath it. The print is stunning and it's only £10. There are no size 10's left so I've ordered a 12 to see what it's like and I'll report back.
This next one is in AW's hottest colour, forest green so it's absolutely going to work beyond summer. Simply layer it over a slip on cooler days
This Mango one is in the sale too - their prices have really shot up recently so this is just about affordable in the sale. Limited sizes left
Irish company, iClothing (who deliver to the UK too) have some gorgeous AW options too. It's difficult to properly assess this one without a model photo but I adore the print and I think would be amazing with long boots in winter
This Boden one is firmly on my wish list - it's pricy but absolutely stunning. Thinking about having a Boden party this year but I'm unsure if their prices are generally getting a bit too high? 
Sugarhill Boutique at House of Fraser here and finally, it's one with buttons down the front so it would be perfect worn kimono style too!
Finishing with another shirt style dress for the shy of pattern - from M&S
And just to show you what I mean about wearing the dresses kimono style, here's me in the Zara one (from my last post)
Dress - as before
Jeans - Tesco (old)
Cross Body Bag - Mint Velvet - similar here

Oh and to finish....if you're still on the fence with the dresses and think it's a bit late in the summer to be buying one, don't forget that you can layer a jumper or sweatshirt over your dresses when the weather starts to cool, turning your favourite dress into a skirt! I'm already planning a few outfits in this vein...

Hope you're having a fab weekend....I'm packing for a trade show in Dublin and guess what's in my bag? Dresses - 4 of them. There's another reason why they are amazing....one item on and you're dressed!

Ax

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Thursday, 17 August 2017

My Viscata Espadrilles

On Sunday, I took my new espadrilles (and the twins!) to Bangor on a day out. I've been looking for a pair of navy wedge heel espadrilles since giving up my search for navy sandals. I saw Fran rocking hers on her Instagram and it clicked with me that espadrilles were the way to go - the perfect navy summer shoe that will actually end up being wearable for way more of the year than a sandal will. I'm thinking of those nice spring days in May when you're not ready to get the toes out...and those rainy days in August when you still want to believe it's summer....
Anyway, less of the weather, here I am on an actual ok day in August:
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Sunday, 6 August 2017

Lighthouse Raincoat for a mixed up Summer 💙

I know it's summer but when it comes to this part of the world you still need a raincoat. A good one. Especially this week! And this summer, I have been gifted this gorgeous blue one from Lighthouse Clothing - the lifestyle brand of local performance clothing brand, Target Dry.
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Friday, 4 August 2017

All the Holiday Shhhtyle.....and that bloody back again

While we were on holidays the husband told me I go on too much about my back on here. Apologies if you agree but there is big news on the back this week so I'm talking about it again. It's at the bottom of this post so ignore away if you want to! 
Meanwhile, I need to share with you all my holiday style. Don't be expecting any organised capsule packing post here. I packed the WORST bag of rubbish to wear thanks to a hangover. But because of my trip to London (blog post coming next!) I was able to grab a few more bits from home to help me through the second week. The thing is that it's so hard to pack for a staycation on the North coast. We had amazing 25 degree heat as well as rain and cold. We also had sunny days where it was baltic and rainy days where it was hot. You'd have needed 4 wardrobes!

But I'll kick off with my (hungover) outfit for the journey up north....
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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

16 Week Blow-dry at Monet Hair Belfast

Today I had a treatment on my hair that I've been wanting to do for ages. And I know it's only day 1 but I'm excited to share with you as my hair feels AMAZING - like it's never felt before. It's a QOD 16 Week Blow-Dry, available exclusively in Northern Ireland at Monet Hair on the Lisburn Road.

The salon opened last month and as per most events over the summer, I missed the opening because of my back. But I heard so many great stories about it and was reading up about the QOD 16 week treatment and just decided as a treat to my weary body, to give it a go.

So to set the scene, my hair is ok - it's not mad mad frizzy but it is very thick, coarse hair and needs to be worked with after I wash it myself. So much so, I mostly can't be bothered and I regularly pay £11 for a blow dry at Metro in Stranmillis. And here's where the thick coarse hair becomes a winner because a professional blow dry lasts me a full week. 

But with my swimming lessons and the summer holidays, it's been difficult to book blow dries and to get the full week out of them so when I add up what I spend on my hair over a period of 3-4 months, I figured this was worth a try.

So here's the before picture - outside the salon...
Skirt - M&S
T-Shirt - M&S
Trainers - Adidas Stan Smiths
Jacket - H&M
Handbag - Accessorize
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