One Hot Squash Dress - Four Ways

I love these kinds of challenges - style one item multiple ways. Because that's how my wardrobe has to work - if I can't make three or four outfits out of one item, it doesn't make the cut. When Jenny at Hot Squash offered me a dress for this post (and a special discount code for School Gate Style readers - see below!), I chose a dove grey one. Grey is my favourite neutral - it just goes with everything and complements, rather than contrasts (as black does) other colours like pink, blue and yellow.
The style of dress is something I don't have in my wardrobe at the moment. A shorter, jersey, day dress. Perfect for the warmer weather, especially as it's made from the Hot Squash coolfresh fabric which keeps you cool when it's warm. The material is also great for packing as it's crease resistent and lightweight.

Here's the dress I chose as worn by the Hot Squash model. 
Pleat Jersey Dress - Hot Squash
It's going to be hard to follow that but hey, this blog is all about how these things look on a 5'6" pear shaped mum of 3 - not a blonde amazonian goddess :)

Look number 1 is the school gate look - denim jacket, flat pumps, scarf. 
I'm nothing if not consistent :)
Cropped Denim Jacket - M&S SS12 (similar)
Scarf - TK Maxx (AW12)
Navy Pumps - Zalando
Look number 2 is going outside my comfort zone a bit. Inspired by Katy Hill (whom I saw at Britmums), I decided to try the ankle boot with a dress look. And I liked it more than I thought I would! Also love how the grey and camel worked so well together:
White Vest - Primark
Boots - Mango (AW12)
Handbag - The Sac (old_)
For Look 3, I wanted an smarter option to show how well this dress can go from day to night or from casual to the office. I added a statement necklace, black belt, heels & a cropped black jacket:
Necklace - School Gate Style Shop
Jacket - Dunnes Stores (not that similar but would work well too)
Black Leather Court Shoes - New Look (similar here)
Elastic Belt worn with clasp at the back - New Look (similar here)
Finally - Look 4 - it goes beautifully with my rainbow scarf....ok, I know this scarf matches LOTS but it does look particularly fab with this dress. Another casual day look that I'm going to enjoy wearing..
Scarf - old and not from my shop (sadly)
White Vest - Primark
Sandals - Boden (now down to £35!)
Necklace - gifted

As I mentioned above, the good news is that there is a Hot Squash discount code for School Gate Style readers. If you use DRESS at the checkout, you'll get 20% off. Sweet.

Thank you to Hot Squash for supplying me with this dress. I am wearing a size 10 in this dress. I would say the fit is pretty spot on. If you are between sizes and bigger in the bust, you should size up.
As always, I was not obliged or paid to blog about it and all views are my own. 


Britmums Live - What I Wore, Saw & Heard

Even though it's overwhelming to try to condense a weekend of Britmums Live into one blog post, I'm going to try - starting with a big thank you to my outfit sponsors - Marks & Spencer and TK Maxx. Both brands made the 'OMG - what will I wear??!' dilemma disappear with some wonderful separates that combined to make the perfect capsule wardrobe for a tiny cabin bag.
The event kicked off on Friday afternoon and here's what I wore to the afternoon sessions and the BiB's Awards -
Petite Cotton Rich Textured Jacket - c/o M&S
Per Una Tribal Warrior Necklace - c/o M&S
Black Jeans - TK Maxx
Black Clutch Bag - c/o TK Maxx (not online)

The afternoon was really informative - I attended a branding session about blogs and brands working together, followed by a session about creating a media kit, with some wonderful advice from Helen Willis (Actually Mummy).
Then it was time to meet up with Fiona, Kat and Marlene and have a glass of bubbly before the Brilliance in Blogging Awards. I love this photo taken by the Panasonic team at the champagne really sums up the atmosphere on the night:
Fiona, Marlene & I
Photo Credit - Panasonic
Our table had three winners - School Gate Style was not one this time but I got to share in the celebrations of the Style winner, Rachel from Vintage Folly, the Photography winner, Marlene (above) from Chocolate, Cookies & Candies and the Craft winner, Emma from My Little 3 and Me...and the celebrations went on for many hours afterwards....

Day 2 and it was all about the orange...
Per Una Speziale Jacket - c/o M&S (not online)
Cream Top - TK Maxx (not online)
Navy Jeans - M&S
Diamante Bow Cage Panel Sandal - c/o M&S
Coccinelle Bag - c/o TK Maxx (not online)
Necklace - c/o Atterley Road
I attended sessions on the legal aspects of blogging and managing accounts but my favourite session involved the fabulously be-spectacled Alison Rothwell who educated us in the mysterious (to me) area of Search Engine Optimisation (how people find your blog online). It's less of a mystery now - thanks Alison!
Lunchtime saw me meet another of my style blogging online friends who I've never met in real life - the lovely Emma from Fashion Mommy and then we all headed down for the most eagerly anticipated session - the Style one - why so, I hear you ask? 
Well because of the wonderful panel of course....
Spot anyone you recognise?
L-R Cherry Menlove, Jen Stanbrook, Mrs Orangina & Fiona Blake

(Photo Credit - Jen Stanbrook)
I hope it was an interesting session for the bloggers who attended. We covered the best ways to show your style, coping with negative feedback, how to find your niche and we all agreed that our style has definitely evolved and changed and continues to do so as time goes on. Just as well in my case, some may say ;)
Then it was airport time and I had the difficult task of trying to cram the contents of a generous goody bag into the afore-mentioned tiny cabin case. I finally pulled into the driveway at 11.45pm on Saturday night. Phew!

Would I recommend Britmums to other bloggers? I think it's a great event if you're a parenting/general lifestyle blogger and particularly if you're a newbie. It gives you the opportunity to liaise directly with brands and sign up to become an ambassador for well known companies like Panasonic and Butlins Holidays. For style bloggers the brand presence is less relevant BUT if your blog is new, you will find tons of useful information about what you need to do to get it noticed, make it look amazing and start earning money from it.

I think I did it - Britmums Live 2013 in one post. I've left LOADS out - the Fox's Biscuit Lounge, the Madagascar penguins, the owl from Harry Potter, the amazing venue, the budget hotel with paper walls where I felt like I had been invited to the party next door, the friendships made, the contents of the goody bag (everyone always wants to know what's in the goody bag!). So if you click here, you can read about 80 (and counting) blog posts from other attendees that will include most of the above 
(but not the hotel bit I hope)
 Till next time x


And the winner is...

A bit sooner than expected (well, it was do this or hoover...), the Rafflecopter widget has done its 'thang' and chosen a winner at random...

Well done Liz - I've sent you an email and once you reply with your address, I shall get the goodies posted out to you!

Thank you to everyone who entered - I was genuinely overwhelmed at the response. As I type, I'm stashing some fab items for the next giveaway...


Home from Britmums in Green & Grey...

So Britmums Live is over for another year and it was a truly impressive event - the team behind it can be very proud. It was informative, inspirational and motivational. Even though it is primarily a parenting blogger event, there were many generic sessions that any non-parent blogger would find hugely beneficial, from SEO techniques and accounting/legal issues to understanding the new Google rules about no-follow mean feat.
Today, I'm recovering from a long journey home and some serious sleep deprivation so my bed is calling - this will be short but I do promise a few posts on what I wore the two days at Britmums, the results of the Brilliance in Blogging Awards on Friday night and what we got up to at the Style Blogging session I was a panelist for on Saturday afternoon.
Inspired by the fabulous Kate from Wit Wit Woo, who calmed this nervous panelist yesterday, I wore my green jeans today...oh and before you ask about the scarf, it's not from my shop, it's from a tiny boutique in Cornwall and I am trying my best to get something similar for the shop - with zero success to date :(
Green Jeans - Room 31 (similar here & here)
Grey Long Sleeved Top - Uniqlo (similar here & here)
White Vest - Primark
Navy Pumps - Zalando
Rainbow Scarf - Uneeka Cornwall (not online)
Just two things before bed, if you ordered from the shop since Thursday evening, your order will be posted first class tomorrow and if you've not entered my competition yet, there is only an hour or so left before it closes - click here for full details! Winner announced on Monday evening. Till then...xx


Floral Floaty Jacket & Tan Cross Body

Today was a debut for this little floaty jacket/top which was originally from Primark but I picked it up in the charity shop recently with the tags still attached. Loving the colours - it's perfect with blue jeans and tan accessories.
Floral Jacket - Primark (similar here & here)
Jeans - Gap Boyfriend
Sandals - Boden
White Vests - M&S and Primark basics
Necklace - Cos (sold out)
Tan Cross Body - Fat Face
Another lovely day in Belfast so the toes were out again. This time in my Boden strappy sandals that I've worn so much since I got them at my party in May. They are a great blue/purple colour and seem to match so much in my wardrobe. They're also very comfortable - perfect for wide feet.
The jeans are my Gap Boyfriend - as opposed to my Gap Boyfit. These boyfriend ones are a slimmer fit so work better with the loose top though the ones I link to above are not the exact ones I have. They seem to change the style each year and mine are past season.
Underneath, I'm wearing two white vest tops - I find it more flattering to layer them - it helps with the mum tum. As does the control vest underneath :)
The necklace is unfortunately, not one of mine. It's from Cos - I got it on my last trip to London in February and it's sold out now. 
And I'm finally featuring this Fat Face cross body bag which I got last summer and I've used it lots but just haven't taken photos of it ever. It's a super bag for a busy day like today as it's light and has a lovely soft woven strap that doesn't dig into your neck. It's leather too and comes in at just £45 - the one I linked to above is a slightly different version for SS13.
Ok - off now to get prepped and preened for Britmums Live so this is my last post until Sunday, when I'll share with you what I wore both days and how I got on at the awards on Friday evening and on the style panel on Saturday afternoon. Wish me luck!

Have a great weekend and if you're coming to Britmums, see you there xx


Coral Cowl Neck Top

I do really love a cowl neck top and this one I got in Heatons for Mothers' Day back in March, was perfect for today as the sun is back out again! I love how the neckline hangs and the draping effect on the front - it's a very flattering top. 
Coral Cowl Neck/Draped Top - Heatons (out of stock)
Distressed Skinny Jeans (rolled up) - Maison Scotch (similar)
Black Patent Sandals - LK Bennett at The Outlet Village
Rose Cluster Necklace - SGS Shop
Instead of pairing the top with black trousers as I did the last time I wore it, I wore my bargainous distressed Maison Scotch jeans (last seen here) - turned up. This is a great way to get wear out of your skinny jeans this time of year. I've seen quite a few trendy fashion peeps doing this wide turn up so thought I'd give it a go!
Wearing with one of the new necklaces in my shop, which seems to have sneaked its way into my own collection! It's the Rose Cluster Necklace and I love how it sits high on the neckline.
Cowl necks seem to work better with less norkage - hence they work a treat on me! I guess the volume of fabric gives a fuller effect up top. Which is good for hippy girls too. As my own top has sold out in Heatons Online (tho may be available in-store), here are a few other lovely cowl neck tops in the shops at the moment....
Clockwise L-R
Pied a Terre, Avenue 57, Kaliko, Fat Face, Fenn Wright Manson (bargain!), Oasis
and I was surfing the Hot Squash site earlier and found no less than three lovely options..
All available at Hot Squash
Before I finish up, there's still time to enter my competition for a chance to win a load of goodies worth almost £200! Click here for all the details! Thanks to everyone who has entered so far x


Red, White & Blue with Ness

It's a controversial colour scheme in Northern Ireland - particularly so close to the 12th July but I'm not talking flags today - I'm talking coats.
I was asked by the team behind Ness, a fashion label based in Scotland, to pick a couple of items from their latest collection. Unbelievably (for me), I had never heard of Ness prior to their email. They have a flagship store on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and there's certainly a Scottish feel to some of their range but mostly, it's a fun, practical, affordable range of clothing - not unlike Boden or Joules in places but with its own individual flair.
I chose the Evelyn Shower-proof Mac in Navy as I know how useful and wearable a navy lightweight mac is. Loving the red & white detail that just sets this apart from any old navy mac..
Coat - Evelyn Navy Mac c/o Ness Clothing (size 10)
Red Jeans - Room 31 (sold out)
White Vest - Primark
Denim Shirt - Sainsburys
Handbag - Vintage
Navy Pumps - c/o Zalando
Heart Shaped Umbrella - c/o Love Umbrellas

In terms of the detail, it's a heavier cotton/polyester material, lined in a silky material to make it easy to put on and take off. It has lighter blue and white piping around the edges, pockets and cuffs and a large pleat on the back with a button/belt detail which nips the coat in a bit and is adjustable. I ordered the 10 and I would say it's neat fitting so if you're between sizes or more blessed in the bust department than I, size up!

It got it's first outing to Belfast yesterday for a Fathers' Day family trip and kept up the red, white, blue colour scheme of the coat. Love an opportunity to wear these red jeans.

We headed to the market first for a quick catch up with Jeff from Belfast Times who was kind enough to keep with my colour scheme...
(can you tell who doesn't like getting her photo taken?!)
...and then onwards for a walk along the Lagan river to see the preparations underway for the G8 this week. President Obama is speaking in the Waterfront Hall today so there was a significant security presence and lots of areas cordoned off in preparation. But that did mean that the kids got to talk to a friendly police constable who let them take a look inside her Land Rover - and try out police hats too! Such excitement!
Hope you all have a super week - Britmums Live starts on Friday so I'm busy planning outfits for the two days and trying to work out how to fit everything into a tiny cabin suitcase....eek! I'm really excited for the weekend, the line up is amazing and I'm looking forward to meeting many of my blogging friends there. Do let me know if you're going too! x



Competition Time!

It's been a while since I've had a competition on the blog so this is a bit of a bumper one with lots of lovely prizes:
First up - some goodies courtesy of Menarys' new in-store gift shop, Raspberry Hill. They have kindly given me a Lola Rose soap bag with 4 travel size products inside, a Fizbag re-usable shopping bag and a Swarovski Crystal nail file with case in a gift box.
Next, some gorgeous body products courtesy of Mama Mio Skincare. Bootcamp for Tummies (which contains two powerful products), Boob Tube Bust & Neck Firmer (with magic shimmer!) and Nexercise Firming Neck & Jawline Concentrate. All the Mama Mio products are paraben free and contain powerful natural ingredients.
Finally, from my own shop, a Harmony (Desigual inspired) scarf and a Mixed Shapes Necklace:
Total prize fund - £200!

To be in with a chance to win this fab hamper of gifts, just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter competition app below. The competition will close at Midnight (GMT) on Monday 24th June and the winner will be announced the next day. 
(Open to readers in the UK and Europe only)

Good luck and thanks for entering x

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Same Outfit - One Year On!

Due to a recent birthday related splurge, I'm on a spending ban for just over a month (one week down - four to go!). So I've been looking over old blog posts for outfit inspiration. We tend to have so much hanging in our wardrobes and as new items get added, it's sometimes difficult to remember what goes well with what. One benefit of a blog is you can look back at any time to see what you were wearing in a previous season. I last wore this outfit on this post back in July 2012
and here it is today:
Pink Jeans - Kaleidoscope
Grey T-Shirt - Primark (similar)
White Vest - Kaleidoscope
Navy Pumps - c/o Zalando
Grey Pearls Scarf - River Island originally
 (but also available in the shop)
New additions this year are my new grey glasses I bought from Firmoo a couple of weeks ago on an email offer. The glasses were completely free - I only had to pay the postage. Well worth signing up to their emails if you are a glasses wearer.

Also new is my arm candy from my new favourite jewellery store, Susie Ho - created by Sue, the blogger behind Susie So So blog. I ordered the pearl bracelet for my birthday (as June's birthstone is pearl but usually pearl jewellery is so old fashioned!) and Sue kindly added the denim crystal one in the middle as a gift. The wider bracelet on the right is from Boden and was a birthday present from my 10 year old nephew and godson, Evan.

Missing from this year's photo are the metallic pumps. I loved them and they were such a great neutral shoe but were a killer to wear on my wide feet and I eventually donated them to the cancer shop. Also missing is the lovely back-drop. The rain put paid to that today!

So tell me - how good are you when it comes to re-cycling outfits? Do you also have favourites that come out year after year?

Off to photograph the prizes for the competition now - watch out for another post from me later with full details x



Scarf Storage

Now that I'm selling scarves, a few people have contacted me asking about scarf storage. 
Where do I keep all the scarves I own...that constantly growing collection? 
Up until recently, I folded them on two deep shelves in my wardrobe. It worked ok but invariably, every few months, it would become a big messy pile of scarves all tossed in on top of each other and I could never find the one I wanted easily.
Messy Scarves!
So after some research online, I purchased one of these scarf holders at Ikea..
It's simply a series of hoops that have been woven together with a soft string that doesn't catch on the scarves. It folds down on top of itself as per the first picture and then opens up to hang as per the picture on the right. You loop one scarf on each loop and this is what you end up with..
This is holding 32 scarves - which was about the number I have. I did ditch 6 or 7 of them in the process of tidying my wardrobe. It is quite heavy once full and although it can hang in the wardrobe, for ease of use and for space reasons, I've hung mine on the back of the spare room bedroom door. No more rummaging through a mess of scarves, I can now hold the scarves against what I'm wearing to find the perfect match - and I've found myself using scarves I've not worn in ages so it's a great way to utilise your collection.

The upside to this is that I freed up two huge shelves in my wardrobe, allowing me to store my handbags here and create an extra shelf for shoes. Result!
This scarf storage solution is available in Ikea but for anyone who doesn't have an Ikea near them or who (like me) find themselves spending £60 on Diam bars, plastic food bags and coloured napkins every time they go to Ikea for just one thing, I do have some for sale in the shop. To cover my costs (petrol, paypal and energy expended in Ikea hell), I have to sell them for £ obviously, if you have an Ikea down the road - go get one there! 

Just a note about pricing. My shop is set up to charge £2 postage for all the items in the store, regardless of weight or size. This scarf storage hanger costs more than that to post to addresses in the UK, therefore I've had to increase the item cost to £11 to cover this additional postage and to cover packaging & paypal costs.


Another Sports Day & Castlecourt Blogger Event

Today we had sports day at the nursery and this time, I did do the mothers race. Mainly because it was only a 50m sprint (not a 400m torture that they make us do in my son's school) Photo proof at the bottom of this Hunter pumps were the perfect footwear choice!
Straight after, I headed into Belfast to a blogger/press event at Castlecourt - another of our big shopping centres. This is what I wore:
Mint Green Foil Detail Top - Primark (SS12)
Boy Fit Jeans - Gap
Black Cropped Jacket - Dunnes (old)
Handbag - the 'baby' from Prada
Waterproof Quilted Pumps - Hunter c/o Atterley Road
Silver Overlapping Leaves Necklace - SGS Shop
As part of the event, I got to have my make-up done at the Urban Decay counter in Debenhams by the lovely Rebecca. Not a brand I've ever tried before as I've quite honestly been put off by the name of it. But I was very impressed with their Weightless Ultra Definition foundation and was given a 2 week supply to try out before I commit to buy. I wish more companies did this. It's the best way to ensure you're investing in the right colour and texture for your face. I was very pleased with the finish, so much so, I did a close-up face pic. Not normally brave enough to do that - filter free too!
After a feed of bagels from the Bagel Factory and cupcakes from Johnnie Cupcakes, we left with a lovely goody bag:
and full details of a great 'Recycle Your Wardrobe' event running next Saturday (22nd June) in the mall in front of Debenhams. Personal stylists from Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins & Gap will be showing you how to make the most of the wardrobe you already have as part of National Recycling Week. If you're in the area, drop by for some fashion inspiration at 11am, 3pm and 4pm!
to finish, I promised you a mums' race photo and here goes. For the record, I was robbed - a gang of the mums took off before Mrs Simpson said 'GO'. Robbed I tell you...



From Sandals to Waterproof Shoes...

What a difference a day makes! One minute, I am sashaying about in my maxi dress and sandals...
Maxi Dress - Tesco (now online in Tall & Petite options!)
Sandals - Clarks via TK Maxx
Necklace - SGS Shop
..and the next I'm wearing waterproof shoes (and my Target Dry parka when outside)... 
Scarf Print Neon Top - H&M (SS12)
Skinny Jeans (rolled up) - Heatons
Necklace - Pluck & Devour
Waterproof Pumps - Hunter c/o Atterley Road 
But every cloud and all that - I get to show you my most recent purchase from Atterley Road. The Hunter Aubrey Waterproof Ballet Pumps
Yes, Hunter, the wellington boot people make shoes too! In fact, I featured a different pair on the blog last week as part of my Atterley Road wishlist. While making up the wishlist, I took a fancy to these black ones and I'm very pleased with them. The fit is good for my wider than average foot and I love the embellishment and the quilted effect.

Luckily, I avoided the worst of the rain while out and about today so I didn't need to test the waterproof-ness of them but I can report that they are super 'grippy'! Now this is important for a klutz like me who manages to slip and fall over at regular intervals. Especially in the charity shop where I've come a cropper many times on the laminate floor there. Today - I had no such problems. My 40 year old hips breathe a sigh of relief :)

Was just thinking today, I haven't run a competition for a while so I'm going to get cracking this week and make up a goody bag of stuff to give away! 
Watch this space - will get it up on the blog by the weekend! x



Sports Day

Well, could you believe it, I accidentally missed the mothers' race! What a shame...
But I have to say, parent races aside, our school does sports day very well. I love that it's on a Saturday as it becomes a lovely day out with a picnic and mostly all the working parents/grandparents can come. 
It's held in the newly refurbished Mary Peters Track so the kids get to run like they are in the Olympics with a packed auditorium cheering them on. Add in good weather and it made for a fantastic day. And my boy brought home gold - what a star!
Proud mums at the finish line!
The refurbished Mary Peters' Track
Maxi Skirt - Matalan
Vests - M&S Basics
Necklace - School Gate Style Shop
I'm afraid I'm right out of wardrobe inspiration this week with the hot weather. I don't get my bare legs out in public usually and I've gone right off linen trousers this summer (neither event makes much sense - I blame advancing years!) so the Matalan maxi skirt is earning its keep...worn this time with mauve & white layered M&S vests, mauve jewelled sandals and my favourite necklace from the shop - this clear heart necklace. As soon as I saw it, it had to be mine!
Totally forgot to take a picture of my new Coach wristlet while we were there so here's a photo taken at home:
It's a fabulous birthday present from my friend Joanna. Fits my phone, cards and cash and is perfect for these sunny days when I don't want to be carrying around a heavy bag or in the case of sports day, when I'm already carrying a picnic bag.

I'm off now to make the most of the evening sunshine with a glass of wine.....I do hope you've had a great weekend where you are. Until tomorrow x

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