Saturday, 30 September 2017

Seven Boot Lane | AW17 | Discount Code

It's my favourite post of the season - my Seven Boot Lane review and discount code, which I know several of you have been waiting for. More on that in a moment but first, I want to introduce you to Grace....the grey ankle boot of your dreams.
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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

What's in my Wardrobe?

I'm asked all the time about how much clothing I have and where I store it so last week when I did my AW changeover and a massive tidy and clear out, I immediately took ALL the photos - the chances of it staying tidy for more than 24 hours was low.

So meet my wardrobe - my one and only. It's 3 metres long, split into 3 sections. It's not the pretty wardrobe I would choose if money was no object but our bedroom is small and our bed is big so I had to go for practicality (on a budget) over beauty. In our last home, we had loads more space (hence the big bed) and I also had the use of a full sized wardrobe in a spare room. I used it all...proof that if you have the space, you'll fill it. More on that later...

Back to the wardrobe and when we moved, I was being quoted in or around £3k for a 3 metre built in wardrobe that would have had to stay in the room forever. This was around £800 and it's not fully built in - it's just fixed to the wall temporarily, meaning neither my carpet nor the original picture rail had to be cut. It also means that if I take the notion, I can move it to another room or we can bring it with us if we ever move.  
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Sunday, 24 September 2017

A Leopard Print Shoe Find | Van Dal

I posted this next picture on Instagram a few weeks back as I couldn't believe where these gorgeous shoes came from and it was clear that many of you who saw them on there couldn't believe it either.
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Friday, 22 September 2017

Blogging Friendships | Nikki @ Midlife Chic

I originally wrote these words as part of my post about the Issa launch at House of Fraser but as I typed them, I got to thinking that they really warranted a post of their own. Plus as that last post was so picture heavy, I knew the story of a blogging friendship would get lost in the midst.

Nikki Garnett and I have been in regular contact since she set up her blog, Midlife Chic in 2014. I could tell from the first post that it was going to be a brilliant blog. She has such a beautifully pitched writing style which really sets her apart from other bloggers in this demographic.  

The reason for this is that as well as being a genuine and lovely person, Nikki knows her stuff. She's got a wide experience in marketing and publishing, including 9 years at Selfridges, where she was responsible for editing customer magazines. When I found this out about her, it immediately made sense because what comes across in Nikki's blogs is her knowledge of how fashion works. I learn something from every blog post. It's not just about sharing what's in the shops each seasons, Nikki tells you WHY that product is in the shops. The colour choices, the range selection, the thinking behind it - fascinating. This post is a good example.
My sister in law has become a huge fan and I think she sums it up really well. Nikki's blog is not just about Nikki herself. It's not a 'what I wore' kind of blog with endless photos and poses in the same outfit. Yes, she shows you her outfits and how she works her wardrobe. But she does it in a hugely informative way - usually mixing and matching with her existing wardrobe or showing you how a range will work for different occasions.
We've been fortunate enough to meet at 3 different events in London over the past year alone, the most memorable of them being the Issa/House of Fraser event I referred to above.
Nikki chose a gorgeous emerald green dress from the Issa range in a flattering wrap style and rather than our usual selfies, this time we actually got a lovely photo together thanks to the security men at Kensington Palace. Who I should say were highly amused at the two of us getting our blog photos on the avenue leading up to the palace. Nothing like a bit of banter to relax you for a photo. And a photobombing jogger.
It was a wonderful night and after a number of occasions of meeting Nikki during the day, this was our first night out together and boy did we made the most of it, ending up in Nikki's hotel showing Japanese tourists how to do a tequila slammer and chatting to a man from Co Wicklow!

Here's to blogging friendships. In a hugely competitive place, it's wonderful to find genuine ones.

If you don't follow Nikki already, you'll find her blog on this link. She's also active on Facebook and Instagram - click on the words to link straight through.

Ax
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Saturday, 16 September 2017

Not Jeans

I'm not good at wearing trousers. I like what I like and I stick to it so my current trouser options are skinny jeans or culottes. But I know that my slimmest part is at my waist so in theory, a paper-bag style trouser should work? The website description for these trousers says that they're 'leg elongating'...I need ALL of that.

But first, let me tell you how I ended up buying them. Picture the scene - I'm in rainy London wearing a maxi dress and getting increasingly frustrated by wet hems and the trip hazard navigating tube stations with a suitcase so I ducked into Oliver Bonas to find something else to wear. I had a dress in mind but then I spotted these chinos...
Trainers - Seven Boot Lane (past season)

Fit wise, they're generous, so I'm wearing the 10. The material is lovely - an autumn/winter weight of chino material that feels smooth - if that makes sense? It means they hang beautifully and don't crease. 
Now I'll hold my hands up here and say that despite the nipped in waist, they're not *the* most flattering trousers on me. Yes, they nip me in at my slimmest part but they do add fabric to my widest part - my hips.
My blogging friend and photographer Marlene, agreed with me and so I got to thinking that a longer line jacket would better off-set this. Zoom forward a week and I'm wearing them again with my new M&S Navy Biker. Much better I think.
Trousers & trainers - as before
Stripe Top - H&M (past season)

And as an aside, I need to talk more about this biker jacket because it's such a find. The most perfect shade of navy and it fits like a dream. I'm looking forward to wearing it lots this autumn/winter.

So that's my foray into a different kind of trousers...maybe it'll make me braver? I'm actually looking forward to trying these with a killer heel on a night out...I think they could look pretty cool.

And a huge thank you to my friend Marlene for taking the top two pictures. It was just wonderful to have an afternoon with her in London eating dim sum and frozen yogurt. I even got to feature on her Instagram page - check it out on this link - 'mother with a drinking problem by a London canal'!

Hope you're having a lovely weekend,

Ax
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Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Relaunch of Issa London - Exclusively at House of Fraser

Last week, I had to pinch myself a LOT. I was invited along to the re-launch of one of Kate Middleton's favourite brands, Issa London, literally in Kate's back garden at the Orangery in Kensington Palace!
It is a beautiful building, with massive windows overlooking the gardens and the set up for the event was stunning with a rainbow of colours along the long table. I sat at the Orange/Yellow section. You can see the effect (and the string quartet) on the next photo:
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Saturday, 9 September 2017

Hanging out with Katrina in The Make Up Dept

Last Friday, the kids went back to school and I finally took up an offer from my friend Katrina, skincare and make up guru, to come see her at her place of work - the Make Up Dept. which is part of the At One Relaxation Space in Portview, on the Lower Newtownards Road.
Katrina is a make up artist for film and TV (Game of Thrones among others!) and also helps out with MUA training at Pamela Smyth's Make Up Dept., where you'll find short courses teaching Film/TV make-up, Special Effects and also a course covering the basics of make up application, ideal as a starting point for all.

Anyway, Katrina invited me to down to do my make up (she's always looking for challenging faces!) and take some photos. Her expertise in make up and skincare would ensure I got lots of info on the right things to use on my face and then her background in fashion styling would ensure fab photos! And of course, we would get to chat for hours and catch up after way too long.

My beautification started with Skyn Iceland Firming Eye Gel Masks, which were left on for 10/15 minutes.
While we waited, Katrina applied some moisture to my skin and then we talked foundation. I'm gutted that Kiko have stopped making my favourite foundation - the Anti Age - so I brought what I've got left of it to Katrina to see if she knew of another one that has a similar consistency and coverage.

Katrina felt that the Chanel Healthy Glow Foundation was a good alternative. The coverage is amazing and I am now going to try it out myself. The colour number 40 was the best match for me.
Over this, she used her 'if you only buy one thing' product - the Bronzing Makeup Base from Chanel - which I can confirm was used on Jamie Dornan in The Fall. If it's good enough for Jamie...
Next, some cream blusher which Katrina is a huge fan of. Her favourite? Rosie for Autograph. She chose Natures Blush for me and I loved it - it was much more coral than I would normally use.
Jumping on rapidly to the eyes and lips which didn't take long at all and looked so natural.
Until Katrina added some glamorous plum gloss from Flormar for my photo shoot...
And then we headed upstairs to the studio room for photos. I wore something VERY different for me - a shift dress in a scarf print, past season from Oasis. I picked it up in DejaVu last month with the intention of wearing with black tights when the weather gets cold but I'd had a spray tan that morning and I had new navy boots from Ash to show off so I thought I'd push the boat out and do a short dress with ankle boots for once.
I'm honestly not sure it's really me - I get away with it but it's not the most flattering thing I've ever worn. But on an aside,  I learned so much about how to stand and pose. Katrina is amazing at this stuff.
Dress - Oasis (Past Season)
Boots - Ash - The Dressing Room (sold out)
Denim Jacket - H&M (Past Season)
Then, a quick change and it was back on the school run albeit a little more glam than normal!!

You can find Katrina on this link and find out more about the courses available at the Make Up Dept on this link. And you have GOT to read about the Head Melt treatment that Pamela offers upstairs in the At One Centre. Absolute bliss...I will be treating myself to this very soon.

Ax


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Sunday, 3 September 2017

#Spenditwell AW17 with M&S | School Gate Style

Remember School Gate Style? I thought given the time of year, I'd resurrect it for a blog post or two because my favourite season is about to start and there are some absolutely amazing pieces coming into M&S. And I'm getting this in ahead of the game because already the shoes are limited stock!
You may remember I worked with M&S on the Spring/Summer ‘Spend It Well’ campaign and it was all about realising what's important in in life and enjoying it. My favourite line from the official blurb was something along the lines of burning the posh candle - not keeping it for best, so straight away, I knew it was right up my street.

For Autumn, it's about looking at making space and time for ourselves once the routine starts back and the season changes. About doing things that bring you joy and make us feel good about life. Now my first reaction to reading this was that all you need to do is book a ticket to the BCGC Christmas Concert where joy is a guaranteed! But I find buying shoes and coats comes a close second :)

One of the interesting aspects of the collection is the continued blurring of lines between smart and casual. As someone who works part time, I'm loving this - when I last worked in an office, it was formal wear all the way and I had two distinct wardrobes going on - work and casual. Now, with it being acceptable to wear trainers with dresses and skirts with boots, your wardrobe can work much harder for you, at work & at the weekend, allowing you to get much more wear from each piece.

With this in mind, I picked 4 pieces that have that smart/casual flexibility. 4 items that can be worn together as a complete outfit but also individually with so much of my existing wardrobe.

Starting with the item that's going to sell out first - the shoes. I've seen these on some instagram profiles over the past couple of weeks and in fact, I tried on the blush pink version during the summer.
I know burgundy is a big colour every AW but this season, it's bigger than ever. Along with forest green, you're going to find something burgundy in every shop this autumn so there's so much scope to make these shoes work with other outfits. I'm already on the look for a midi/maxi dress with burgundy - and a couple of scarves.
Comfort wise, these are great and they're especially good for me with my back issues as they give me a little bit of height without the heel.

Next up, I'm asked every AW about a coat that can work practically on the school run, while being stylish and I think this is a strong contender. It's a trench so it's a pure classic - effortlessly stylish and flattering and it will never go out of fashion but it's also got a hood (removable - I took it off for these photos) and Stormwear functionality which makes it waterproof.
As well as being a gorgeous coat, it completely ticks the smart and casual boxes because you could wear this over a fully corporate trouser suit and kick ass but then you can throw your skinny jeans and trainers on and you are good to go on the school run.
Oh and it's fleece lined - so so soft and lovely!
You know how much I've loved my midi skirts recently but lots of you have told me that the style isn't the most flattering given the amount of material around the hip area - especially with pleated versions. Well I think this skirt will appeal because it's got the cut of a pencil skirt, the ultimate flattering fit for a pear shape, with a bit of a 2017 update in the form of a frill hem, which brings it to a much more current length and allows you to dress it down with flats, boots or trainers. But add some stilettos and you're SMOKIN'! 
Finally, I read the reviews on this roll neck and realised this is a wardrobe basic I've missed out on up until now. Apparently people buy them in bulk every year? The range of colours is gorgeous and since it arrived and I tried on, I've ordered the winter white and the plum. Just the most perfect basic piece for your wardrobe and only £17.50.

I'll be honest and say that as I ordered it all, I wasn't sure if it would definitely work together. I loved how the shoes tied in with the roll neck but would the coat work over it all? I'm so happy it does.

I also thought I'd feel like a bit of a wally in the middle of August trying on winter clothes but luckily, the Belfast weather obliged and it felt like October - with even a few leaves at my feet!

You can find the first drop of the new Marks & Spencer AW17 range on this link and for when it gets cooler, the knitwear range is going to hit in October and I've heard it is worth waiting for.

Ax
Disclaimer - I was gifted these products for the purpose of the review but I wasn't paid to write this post, nor was I obliged to. The words are all my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog

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Saturday, 2 September 2017

#HOFXmas17 | Competition Time

Back in July, I was invited over to London to preview the Christmas collection for 2017 at House of Fraser. I held off blogging about it until now because so many of the items I saw and fell in love with weren't due to hit stores until autumn....and well, it's a Christmas preview and I can't really deal with Santa stuff until the kids go back to school.
I also wanted to give away my goody bag from the event but it was way too Christmassy to show you before now - more on that further down this post!

So here are the things I completely fell in love with at the press show. Where they've come into stock, I've added a link but if they've not dropped yet, there's no link.
Loved the displays of Christmas party wear...
and the range of logo tees and sweatshirts are fab this year (not yet in stock)
This is my favourite one though...watching out for it to come into stock...
There was tons of Christmas decoration inspiration with different rooms done in different styles..
The giftware room was my favourite though..
And we got a sneak preview of the Charlotte Tilbury advent calendar!
There was more makeup and fragrance than I could take in...
And to celebrate the start of all this fabulousness coming into stores, I'm giving away my goody bag contents from the day along with a little extra I bought myself - a House of Fraser voucher. I really do appreciate that if it wasn't for everyone who reads this blog, I'd not get the chance to go to these events so I want to give a little back.
So for a chance to win a zipped clutch from Therapy, a Lilou et Loie body cream in black amber & saffron shaped like a Christmas bauble, a cute Christmas deer decoration AND a £50 House of Fraser voucher, simply follow the instructions on the rafflecopter widget below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Competition closes on Saturday 9th at 00.01(i.e. Friday night) and it's open internationally. Rafflecopter will chose a winner at random and they will be notified by email. No cash alternative.

Good luck!

Ax
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