Sunday, 27 October 2019

I asked on Instagram what people REALLY think about Influencer Marketing | Part 2 | Brands & PR Companies

And now for blog post number two where I share the feedback I received when I asked on Instagram what brands and PR agencies should do differently when it comes to influencer marketing.
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I asked on Instagram what people REALLY think about Influencer Marketing | Part 1 | Bloggers

It’s the blog post I promised. To give some context to those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram, I asked on Friday for some honest feedback about influencer marketing. A friend of mine had called me out on a couple of brand things that I was involved in recently – in a lovely honest way - but it brought back to me something I've been mulling over for more than a year now. If a friend who supports me in everything I do is questioning it, has influencer marketing finally had its day in its current form? Are the majority of people simply fed up with endless group events and gifting en masse, unboxings and trips away and is this style of influencer marketing in fact negatively impacting the brands it is supposed to be promoting?
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Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Excel Clothing - 25% off for 1 Day Only

Last Monday, I went into local boutique, Excel Clothing in Bangor to do one of my try-ons. It was great timing as I was hosting a fashion show for them at the weekend and it was a chance for me to see and try some of their gorgeous AW19 arrivals.
I was blown away by the selection and it was so lovely to meet the owner Gillian. She's an expert buyer and has her finger on the pulse of retail. Loved talking to her and loved trying on...but then I got wind this week that there's a 1 day, in store only, offer for 25% off everything - this Saturday, 25th October.
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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

What I've Been Wearing 14 | Style

Another update on my outfits recently...transitional dressing is in full swing this month! Starting with a recent one from this week. It was one of those mornings when you wake up late and can't think what to wear. But I had a couple of meetings and it was my son's school prize giving so I had to make a bit of an effort!! So I called on all the wardrobe basics....
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Friday, 18 October 2019

How to Detox your Wardrobe in 5 Easy Steps

Last week saw me do a long overdue Wardrobe Detox on my own wardrobe....and it reminded me to re-write and publish my 5 step approach to tackling your own. It's really easy - all you need is to set aside about 3 hours (ha, I hear you say...but you can also break it up into chunks as I did...2 hours in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon). Like everything that takes time, it's well worth every minute and I can't overestimate how amazing it makes you feel.
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Monday, 14 October 2019

Sofa Workshop & Dwell in Belfast DFS | Interiors | AD

Last weekend I was invited to visit Belfast's newest interiors destination on Boucher Road. With significant investment and creating up to twenty jobs between them, sofa manufacturer and retailer DFS, alongside partner brands dwell and Sofa Workshop, are co-locating in a spectacular new space full of design inspiration and with a great range of price points and I was one of the first people thought the doors!
Dress - Topshop (affiliate link)
Boots - Next (AW17)
Blazer - Mango (SS19)
Bag - Zohara (AW19 - gift)

For a start, I wasn't aware that DFS owned Sofa Workshop and dwell - on the day I found out they also own Sofology - another brand that will join the site in 2020, making this location a real one-stop sofa spot. Of course, this makes so much sense - it allows one location to cater for a wide range of customer needs and budgets and also ensures that the craftsmanship of sofa manufacture stays in the UK as it's operating at a scale that can really compete. I started my tour around the DFS store which has been transformed since I was last there. While it does have a clearance section where there are bargains galore to be found, the core season range is beautifully displayed with all of the interior goals going on in each furniture setting.

Key to their offering is the So Simple range where you choose your perfect style from a selection of 8 contemporary and comfortable sofas, that come in a range of sizes and a choice of fabrics. You can see your style mocked up online, including 360 degree views and videos to ensure you pick the right style and fabric for you. 

There are also some collaborations with well known brands like French Connection and Joules
Next, I headed upstairs to check out the new dwell store, a first for the island of Ireland and a real feast for the eyes.

It has a broader furniture offering, specialising in gorgeous functional dining & coffee tables, sideboards, display and entertainment units. It also sells some sofas and beds

...and mirrors....the best selection of mirrors I've seen in one shop. 

There are also some beautiful pieces to adorn your sideboards and occasional tables

especially if you love pugs...

The rug display was impressive and overall, prices are really affordable considering the high quality of the pieces.


My third destination was the new Sofa Workshop next door...

the first time SW have been back in Belfast in over a decade. It was sorely missed - I remember going to look for it when we moved house and being so disappointed to realised it had shut a number of years before. It's so great to see it again and I know from mentioning this on my social channels that many of you local readers feel the same.

Sofa Workshop is renowned for creating bespoke furniture - you get to customise to a much deeper level than most sofa shops and their fabric collection is incredible.

What stood out for me in Sofa Workshop is the new manager, Lynne Higgins. My daughter was with me and sat down on a sofa while I was browsing. Next thing I could hear her chatting away and I could tell from the conversation that it was with someone who was really good with kids. Turns out it was Lynne and I asked if she'd worked in teaching or childcare. Well I wasn't far off - she used to manage the Build a Bear shop. So basically a retail saint in my eyes! Sofa Workshop have recruited well here.

My favourite pieces were from the V&A collection - just look at the fabrics!

All told, a great morning spent but actually on a more significant level, this is GREAT news for the city of Belfast. At a time of massive uncertainty and quite frankly fear, it's so encouraging to have big businesses investing in our city, having faith in the economy and bringing more beautiful furniture to the city. Now to convince the husband that we need to change the 20 year old black leather sofa in our front room....Ax

*This blog post was writing in collaboration with DFS | All the words and images are my own.

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Friday, 4 October 2019

The 3 Shoe Styles you need for AW19 | M&S | AD

As part of my paid collaboration with M&S this month, I'm looking at footwear and at this time of the year, there are 3 types of footwear that in my view, you need to have in your wardrobe so you're ready for the season ahead....and as it happens, each one addresses a question I get on a regular basis...

1. Trainers
I'm asked all the time where to get well priced, comfortable, white leather trainers and every time, I share these ones - they have been my consistent favourites since I got them way back at the end of February and the best bit is that they're getting better with age - more and more like a certain designer brand that are sold already distressed.
I'm also drawn to these ones online as I love that they're completely plain white - they remind me of my Seven Boot Lane ones that my 10 year old has taken ownership of. The reviews are not good - never a deal breaker for me though as I personally never leave reviews...I reckon like TripAdvisor, people are faster to leave a negative than a positive one. Instead I went into my local shop and tried them on and I can give them the thumbs up - the quality is great. Size down though!

2. Loafers
Next most popular footwear question I get asked is about flat shoes for work. I do wonder if anyone actually wears heels to work these days? Perhaps in the office but I suspect not to and from - we've all become so accustomed to wearing flat, comfortable shoes, it seems running in heels has become a bit of a lost art. 
My go to for a smarter foot is a loafer and M&S have delivered in this department with bells on in these beauties. I have them in the animal print but the red and black are both gorgeous. All the Gucci vibes and so comfortable too!

For a change from black, how about these classic berry coloured ones...so wearable with black/brown/grey/green..

3. Boots
Third question I get is how to extend midi/maxi dress wearing into the colder weather and there are two types of boots that tick that box - slouchy long boots and chunky, hiking style ankle boots. But the chunky ones are great for jeans too so I'll kick off with them and these first ones are a nice gentle nod to the trend. They're an elegant shape with a fab buckle detail and they're not too heavy and hiking-like.
These next ones though are a proper hiking style option but very wearable - the brown doesn't get a good review online but I prefer the black anyway...I think the brown will look too much like an actual hiking boot. But seriously how good is it that these are properly in fashion? So amazing and practical for the wet and rubbish winter days. I tried these on yesterday in a size 6 and they were so comfortable.

Moving onto the slouch look and this style will keep your dresses in use for way longer this winter - add some leggings or thick tights and you'll have none of the cold ankles that shorter boots can give you. These are the ones I like the most in M&S and they come in a grey suede 
as well as classic black
Great heel height for daily wear but also a nice neat shape for wearing out. Don't wear with jeans though - no matter what you see on the M&S website. They go from 'seriously on trend' to 'hickorama' if you wear them with blue jeans. The M&S website is improving but it's got a bit to go yet when it comes to styling...

Ax
Disclaimer - this post was written as part of my monthly collaboration with M&S. I was not gifted any of the footwear. My links are affiliate so that M&S can track the traffic that comes from here to their website and they may pay me a small commission if you buy and keep any of the items I've linked to. This commission is entirely ploughed back into this website to help with upkeep/security/URL licence etc. It doesn't change the cost of the item for you, nor does it preclude you from availing of other offers and discounts. Thanks for supporting the brands that consistently support this blog and help keep it going x
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Wednesday, 2 October 2019

The Perfect AW19 Wardrobe Addition | Style

Like many of you reading, I'm trying to buy less and make more considered purchases. It's not easy - I struggle like most, especially in this blogging game when you're forever being presented with the latest arrivals and trends.

One thing that's helped is taking a more strategic approach to my wardrobe additions, instead of just picking up everything and anything I like the look of. For AW19, mindful of my lighter hair, I decided to look for some soft warm pink tones that would work well with the burgundy, browns, blacks and greys that I like to wear in the autumn winter and that I already have quite a lot of. Pieces that would give me more options with my existing wardrobe and that really get me excited to wear them.
This skirt ticks all these boxes...
As is so often the case for me, it came to my attention when I saw another woman wearing it with a chunky black knit. Just one look and I knew it was exactly what I was looking for this AW19. It's midi/maxi-length with lovely pleated detail and black in the pattern - that last detail is so important for me as I know I get the most wear out of things that have a black base or black in the pattern.
They say you should only buy something if you can think of three things it can be worn with in your existing wardrobe. I knew this skirt would work with the pink trench coat I got recently in Stradivarius, a black leather biker, a stone coloured blazer, an oversized black knit, a deep red crew neck, a striped hobbs crew neck, several of my slogan t-shirts, black biker boots, trainers, long brown boots....need I go on?

I wore it twice last week alone and then took it to Donegal with me at the weekend, where my photographer friend Gillian Robb, took some pictures for me...oh the difference a good photographer makes. I always feel at ease with Gillian and she knows I like the pictures taken fast and with minimal fuss. It's what makes her such a great family and business photographer...you can see her work on her website here.

In these shots, I'm wearing it with a couple of my favourite burgundy pieces - suede ankle boots from Seven Boot Lane that I bought in one of their sales a few years ago (oh how I miss SBL - there are very few places that can make boots as nice as they did) and a faux leather burgundy biker jacket that I snapped up also in the sales, this time from Great Plains (I also have it in dark green....for another day)
Hoodie - Part Two from Seven Limavady (gift)
Bag - Gianni Conti from McKillens Ballymena

I'll be honest, I'm not that good with colour and I stood for ages looking in the mirror before we went out to do these shots, unsure if it was just a bit too matchy-matchy...but I embraced the colour and I love the result. I think I'd change the bag if I was wearing it again though. What to, I don't know...but that's the beauty of outfit shots.

Perhaps you're thinking that a skirt like that isn't going to be as practical in the colder winter months but with the addition of tights and boots, I think it will. I love a bit of floral in winter too - it really lifts the mood so with my 11 year old Hobbs long brown boots and a camel coat, I think it will be good to go on a colder day.

But for now, while the weather is in this lovely transitional state, I'm going to wear this skirt as much as possible with burgundy...these boots and the biker haven't been worn as much as I thought and I love that this skirt has given them a new lease of life!

On an aside, is that backdrop amazing? I've a blog post in the pipeline to tell you more about my Donegal trip to an amazing retreat space in Dunfanaghy run by an amazing friend. Just waiting on some of the images to come through first. I've not been in Donegal for a few years and I'd forgotten how breathtakingly beautiful it is. Well worth the drive - I wish I could have stayed longer.

Ax

Disclaimer - all items purchased by me, apart from the hoodie. Some affiliate links used. Not a sponsored blog post.

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